"Critical Fire Danger" Today (95 F. high today - 40 degrees cooler within 1 week)
- Blog Post by: Paul Douglas
- September 11, 2012 - 6:47 PM
Today is 9/11, eleven years since our country was attacked.
83 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
74 F. average high for September 10.
89 F. high on September 10, 2011.
40 mph wind gusts possible over southern Minnesota today.
Red Flag Warning posted, meaning a high risk of rapidly-spreading brushfires. Details below.
31. Today should be the 31st day this year at or above 90 F. in the Twin Cities, the most since 1988 (44).
Last 90 of 2012? Who knows. The way this year is going we may see another 90 in mid-October. I don't see any more 90+ readings looking out 2 weeks though. The NAM models have lost their digital minds, predicting upper 90s to near 100. I think that's a stretch, but low to mid 90s seems reasonable. Wrong word for September 11.
Shorts & Jackets. Typical September fare: A/C one day, a week later rummaging around for jackets and sweat shirts. Heat peaks today, highs in the upper 60s to near 70 the latter half of the week before recovering into the 70s over the weekend. The ECMWF (European) model above shows highs in the 50s by Monday and Tuesday of next week.
0 Oklahoma tornadoes from June thru August, one small silver lining to a persistent drought. No, you can't get tornadoes under a blazing 100-degree sun. The only other time this has happened during meteorological summer: 2003. Source: Oklahoma Mesonet.
"All genuine learning is frightening. It’s new, and therefore unknown, at first, and we’re naturally frightened of the unknown.” - Tom T. Tashiro, in an important post from ABC News journalist Bill Blakemore, below.
"...As a Republican business owner, entrepreneur, meteorologist and father of two upbeat, optimistic boys, I may not fit the stereotype of a "global warming alarmist." I'm an Evangelical Christian. I'm enthusiastic about streamlining government and letting the markets work. But unlike some, I see no inherent struggle between my faith and the ability of science to improve our understanding of the world. The Creator gave me a brain, to think and reason, and react to facts on the ground. And I'm disillusioned, because some in my party are pro-science-denial, and on the wrong side of history..." - excerpt of a story I wrote for Huffington Post; details below.
Extreme Fire Danger. A "Red Flag Warning" is posted for much of Minnesota today, meaning a high threat of brushfires, which may move quickly once started (due to 35 mph wind gusts). The combination of low humidity, high winds, bright sun, low 90s and lingering drought has created a ripe environment for rapidly-moving fires. Details from NOAA:
...RED FLAG WARNING ACROSS NEARLY ALL OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MINNESOTA TUESDAY... .THERE WILL BE A BRIEF BREAK IN THE FIRE DANGER TONIGHT INTO EARLY TUESDAY AS WINDS DECREASE AND RELATIVE HUMIDITY INCREASES. HOWEVER...DANGEROUS FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS WILL REDEVELOP ON TUESDAY ACROSS MOST OF SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL MINNESOTA. TEMPERATURES WILL RISE INTO THE UPPER 80S TO LOWER 90S UNDER THE CONTINUED INFLUENCE OF STRONG SOUTHERLY WINDS. MINIMUM RELATIVE HUMIDITY VALUES WILL DROP NEAR 20 PERCENT ONCE AGAIN...RESULTING IN HIGH FIRE DANGER CONDITIONS. WIND GUSTS BETWEEN 30 AND 40 MPH ARE POSSIBLE...ESPECIALLY ACROSS SOUTHERN MINNESOTA IN THE AFTERNOON.
Peak Wind Gusts. Models show south winds of 30+, a few models showing winds blowing as hard as 40-45 mph. from the south. That's why forecasters are so concerned about today's fire risk. Graphic: Iowa State. Go Cyclones!
Weather Story. Welcome to the 31st day of 90+ heat this year in the Twin Cities. A strong pressure gradient will whip up southerly winds gusting over 30-35 mph. at times. Combined with dew points in the 40s, bright sun and a lingering drought, conditions will be ripe for brushfires to start, and spread rapidly. A cooler front pushes thru late tonight, a wavel of low pressure rippling along the front will spark a period of rain over southern Minnesota Wednesday, heaviest south/west of the Twin Cities.
Today's Map. The WRF, valid 4 pm central time, shows a quiet Tuesday across most of the USA. A tight pressure gradient whips up strong winds over the Midwest, the east coast cools off with heavy T-storms limited to south Florida. Monsoon T-storms pop up over the Desert Southwest, no relief from the heat (or brushfires) over the Pacific Northwest.
Brushed By Rain. It's not nearly enough, but we're in no position to bargain with Mother Nature. A cooler front arrives tonight, a wave of low pressure rippling east along this front throws up a shield of stratiform rain Wednesday into early Thursday, some .50"+ amounts south of the MSP metro, closer to 1" near Des Moines. Little rain is expected north of St. Cloud.
Summer Hangover. At some point (next week?) it will cool off significantly, but summer heat is spilling over into mid-September; 1,778 warm weather records in the last week. For an interactive map with details for every record high (red dots) and record warm nighttime low (yellow dot) click here; courtesy of Ham Weather.
2012: A Year Like No Other. Data from NOAA NCDC shows 2012 temperature trends considerably warmer than previous record-warm years, like 1998 and 2006. What makes the numbers even more extraordinary was the fact that a La Nina cooling phase was still in place thru May, which should have had a cooling effect for the contiguous USA. It didn't quite work out that way.
Newfoundland On Watch As Tropical Storm Leslie Approaches. The very latest news (and video) from Canada's CTV News; here's an excerpt: "Tropical storm and hurricane watches are in effect for parts of coastal Newfoundland as the island braces for the arrival of tropical storm Leslie. The storm is currently centred in the Atlantic, having buffeted Bermuda Sunday with strong winds but little damage. It continues to churn toward Atlantic Canada, and is expected to make landfall in Newfoundland Tuesday morning, according to the most recent statement from the U.S. National Hurricane Center...Leslie will arrive almost two years after Hurricane Igor pounded Newfoundland as a Category 1 hurricane. It dumped 200 millimetres of rain, caused $200 million in damage and was blamed for the death of one man."
Landfall. The GFS model above (valid 2 am today) brought "Leslie" ashore as a strong tropical storm or minimal hurricane near Prince Edward Island, Canada. As of late last night sustained winds were 70 mph - Leslie still capable of a storm surge of 4-8 feet to the right/east of where the core of the storm comes ashore.
Two Tornadoes Hit New York City As Severe Weather Lashes Area. More on Saturday's severe weather outbreak across the Northeast from CNN: "Severe weather barreled across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic on Saturday as a powerful cold front brought heavy rain, high winds and at least one tornado into a beachfront neighborhood of New York City. A waterspout with winds up to 70 mph churned onshore and turned into a tornado toward Breezy Point, officials said, a Queens neighborhood on the western edge of the Rockaway peninsula. Amateur video captured images of the twister spiraling a mixture of sand and debris, which was largely flung onto a nearby baseball field, according to Ross Dickman, a National Weather Service spokesman."
Photo Of The Day. Elliot Ramage, a former co-worker of WeatherNation TV meteorologist Aaron Shaffer, shared this photo from the Gateway Building at Casper College, in Casper, Wyoming. This one image sums up (for me) the magnitude of the blaze outside of Casper. Amazing.
Another Perspective Of The Casper Blaze. Details from Brandi Southworth and the WeatherNation TV Facebook page: "Photo taken at 2:30 MT from my driveway in Casper, Wyoming! The smoke is filling the sky to the East!"
A Hellish Sight. Thanks to Cal Fire for sharing this FB post and photo: "The Scotts Fire burns on Cow Mountain in Lake County."
Honorable Mention: Sky-Scribble. When conditions aloft are ripe, jet contrails can persist for a long period of time, criss-crossing the sky like some giant version of tic-tac-toe. WNTV meteorologist Bryan Karrick snapped this photo near Cologne, Minnesota.
The Weatherman Is Not A Moron. Perhaps my favorite headline (ever), Nate Silver at The New York Times does a good job capturing the uncertainty of weather prediction, how far we've come, and the limits to meteorological accuracy; here's an excerpt: "...These meteorologists are dealing with a small fraction of the 2.5 quintillion bytes of information that, I.B.M. estimates, we generate each day. That’s the equivalent of the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress about three times per second. Google now accesses more than 20 billion Web pages a day; the processing speed of an iPad rivals that of last generation’s most powerful supercomputers. All that information ought to help us plan our lives and profitably predict the world’s course. In 2008, Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired magazine, wrote optimistically of the era of Big Data. So voluminous were our databases and so powerful were our computers, he claimed, that there was no longer much need for theory, or even the scientific method. At the time, it was hard to disagree..."
Supercomputers Aid Hurricane Prep. An interesting article from computerworld.com; here's a snippet: "Thanks to advances in computing power and storm surge modeling systems, Louisiana officials bracing for Hurricane Isaac's arrival last month had more detailed data about the storm's potential impact than they had seven years earlier when they were preparing for Hurricane Katrina. Researchers at university supercomputing centers in Texas and Louisiana used real-time data to inform emergency workers about what would happen once the hurricane sent water into canals, levies and neighborhoods. When Katrina hit in 2005, tools for modeling storm surges, while good, were rudimentary compared with what's available today. Back then, Louisiana used computer models with up to 300,000 "nodes," and it took six hours to run a simulation."
"Lights in Motion": Aurora Over Denali. This is a remarkable time-lapse of the Northern Lights over Alaska; 8,000 individual images over the course of 3 months, courtesy of Jacob W. Frank. The HD YouTube footage is here.
And You Thought I-494 Was Bad? We only get a little taste here in Minnesota. If you've driven in Chicago or Washington D.C. or (God-forbid) Los Angeles, you know how bad it can be. The worst traffic jam ever? Hard to pin down firm statistics, but the jam above in Beijing was 60 miles long, and lasted 11 days. Details from Google Plus.
The Fish Are Biting Again. It was a long, hot summer for Minnesota anglers - record warmth keeping many of the big fish down deep. Now that lake water temperatures are finally cooling off a bit, some are having more luck. Tom Rusch from Minnesota caught this good-looking Northern on Pelican (using night-bobbers) last weekend. Maybe I have a shot. Then again...
Historic Weather on September 10 (source: local Twin Cities NWS Office)
1980: 3.35 inches of rain fell in the St. Cloud Area.
1942: A line of thunderstorms raced across Minnesota at 70 mph, destroying 651 barns in a 30 mile wide, 180 mile long path.
1931: Summer still had its grip on Minnesota with 111 degrees at Beardsley.
1931: The daytime high in St. Cloud was 96 degrees.
1900: The soggy remains of the Galveston Hurricane brings 6.65 inches of rain to St. Paul over two days.
1807: Thick smoky weather noted at Pembina.
Summer Breeze. 83 F. for a high is fairly impressive, considering the sun was as high in the sky yesterday as it was on March 31. With gusty south winds and bright sun daytime highs ranged from 79 at Eau Claire to 83 St. Cloud and Twin Cities, 86 at Redwood Falls.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Red Flag Warning for high fire risk. Hot sun, gusty winds. Dew point: 47. Winds: S 25+. High: 92
TUESDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, still breezy. Low: 65
WEDNESDAY: Cloudier, cooler. Late showers expected. High: 72
THURSDAY: Damp start, partial clearing. Low: 54. High: 68
FRIDAY: Partly sunny, comfortably cool. Low: 50. High: 69
SATURDAY: Plenty of mild sun. Low: 51. High: 73
SUNDAY: Hit the lake! Sunny and warmer. Low: 58. High: near 80
MONDAY: Last mild day in sight. Clouds increase. Low: 60. High: 79
31 and Holding?
Some years summer comes reluctantly, warm fronts tire before reaching our lofty latitude. Not this year. A gusty south wind lures the mercury into the 90s again this afternoon. Silver lining: Gulf moisture isn't bubbling north this time; a dew point in the 40s will make it feel reasonable out there much of the day.
The Grassland Fire Index reaches extreme categories today for a convergence of factors: 90s, bright sun, low humidity and winds gusting over 30 mph. Remember, Minnesota's biggest fires have taken place in September and October, especially after hot, dry summers.
Welcome to the 31st day this year at or above 90, the most since 1988 (44). This may be the last 90, but we'll see more 80s, possibly by Sunday.
A forecast of 5 inches of rain over 3 days would qualify as "great weather" right above now.
Significant rain is possible from Des Moines to Madison and Chicago the latter half of the week, but this next storm will stay just south/east of Minnesota, brushing us with light rain late Wednesday.
That old adage "when in a drought don't forecast rain" rings true.
A chilly front arrives next week; maybe one day in the 50s? Yes we're long overdue for a cool "correction".
Bloggers' Hall of Amnesia. A recent paper from Stephan Lewandowsky, Winthrop Professor, School of Psychology at the University of Western Australia has drawn a lot of of recent attention (and the ire of climate denying bloggers everywhere). His research suggests that conspiracy theoriests also tend to deny climate science. Maybe we shouldn't be surprised. Here's an excerpt of his latest post at shapingtomorrowsworld.org: "The publication of my paper on conspiracist ideation was met with nearly-instant accusations. First out of the gate was the claim that I did not contact 5 “skeptic” or “skeptic-leaning” blogs to link to the survey. I initially did not release those names because I was concerned about the privacy issues involved, as I explained here. Because a release of names cannot be undone—whereas a delayed release harms no one—I decided to seek guidance from various institutions, foremost among them my own university, before deciding whether or not to release those names. Shortly thereafter, the first of the 5 bloggers, Mr McIntyre, found his misplaced email. This leaves us with 4 bloggers whose identity had to remain confidential until now. I am pleased to report that I received advice from executives of the University of Western Australia earlier today, that no legal or privacy issues or matters of research ethics are at stake in this matter.
I am therefore now releasing the names of those 4 remaining bloggers:
- Dr Roger Pielke Jr (he replied to the initial contact)
- Mr Marc Morano (Climatedepot; he replied to the initial contact)
- Dr Roy Spencer (no reply)
- Mr Robert Ferguson (Science and Public Policy Institute, no reply)"
America Is Only Nation Where Climate Scientists Face Organized Harrassment. Australia comes in a close second, according to climate scientists I know and respect. Here's a snippet of a story from InsideClimate News: "The harassment faced by U.S.-based climate scientists has been well documented in the media—but not the harassment of scientists in Europe, Canada or the rest of the world. That's because there hasn't been much to report. While outspoken scientists of human-caused climate change in the United States endure torrents of freedom of information requests, hate mail and even death threats from skeptics, their counterparts abroad have been free to do their work without fear." Image credit: "Map of global temperature anomalies." NASA.
Republican Meteorologist To Mitt Romney: My Top 10 Reasons For Republicans To Accept Reality On The Climate. I'm waiting by the phone (does anyone do that anymore?) but so far no call from Gov. Romney's campaign. My reason for writing this article: the need to get past denial and climate conspiracies and come up with pro-business solutions that lessen the risk, and put more Americans back to work. This is America's Energy Moon-Shot, and I'm waiting for Mr. Romney or President Obama to step up and connect the dots. Solving this problem will force us to innovate in ways that will ultimately expand the economy and GDP. There is a smart way to do this. I'm no policy-wonk, I'm a bewildered meteorologist, shaking my head at the weather maps every other day. We passed "normal weather" a long time ago.
Denial-trolls will call me a RINO (Republican In Name Only). I could care less. I'm saying what a number of TV meteorologists would like to say, but can't, because of ignorant news directors, ratings pressures and research concerns (every on-air "talent" is constantly tracked and evaluated; their "Q Scores" help to determine if their contracts ultimately get renewed). Antagonize too many viewers by including climate science in your weathercast and you may not have a job for long. It's sad it's come to this, but that's reality.
20 years from now I hope to be able to look back and conclude that I did everything in my power to help alert readers to the trends - and implications for their families. If I can do that, then all the name-calling will have been well worth it. Alarmist? If you're not yet alarmed by what's going on, worldwide, you're not paying attention. Here's an excerpt from my latest Huffington Post article: "During the Republican National Convention in Tampa, climate change became a punch line. "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet" Mitt Romney said.
(Pause for polite laughter)
"My promise is to help you and your family."
All well and good. But denying climate change won't help any American family or our fledgling economy. And looking at the world with carbon-colored glasses, or using Solyndra as an excuse to snub renewables and clean-tech, is not only short-sighted, but makes America less competitive on the world stage. According to the World Economic Forum, America's global competitiveness fell from 1st to 7th place since 2007. Should we just accept that most breakthrough energy technologies are originating in China and Europe, where there is no more "debate" about climate trends? Why is America still questioning the science? For political entertainment? Something tells me Mother Nature may get the last laugh...."
The Elephant We're All Inside. ABC journalist Bill Blakemore has done some terrific reporting on climate change in recent years. Is the media being too timid in its ongoing coverage? Will we look back in 10 years at this time and think "too little, too late?" Here's an excerpt from a recent article: "A number of the world’s professional climate scientists are perplexed by — and in some cases furious with — American news directors. “Malpractice!” is typical of the charges this reporter has heard highly respected climate experts level — privately, off the record — at my professional colleagues over the past few years. Complaints include what seems to the scientists a willful omission of overwhelming evidence the new droughts and floods are worsened by man made global warming, and unquestioning repetition, gullible at best, of transparent anti-science propaganda credibly reported to be funded by fossil fuel interests and anti-regulation allies. As scientific reports about the speedy advance and devastating impacts of man made global warming have grown steadily more alarming, surveys have shown most mainstream American news organizations covering it less and less over the past two years."
TV Forecasters: Connect Climate And Extreme Weather! The story from Huffington Post - here's a clip: "This summer, as the melting Arctic turned into an hourglass marking the time we have left to address climate change, it became obvious we have reached that "Pearl Harbor moment" on global warming. Actually, it's been more of a "Pearl Harbor year" -- unusually warm winter, destructive wildfires out West, corn-killing drought in the Midwest, record-breaking high temperatures, flooding from Hurricane Isaac. World Resources International has compiled a mind-blowing timeline on this year's extreme weather and climate events...." File photo: Wikipedia.
Climate Change Expert Calls For Nuclear Power "Binge" To Avert Global Warming. I have mixed feelings about nuclear, having grown up in the shadow of TMI in Pennsylvania (I was 23 miles downwind during the disaster in 1979, our bags were packed, we were prepared to evacuate our home and never return). But new generations of nuclear are safer. We still have the waste problem to deal with, but now it's a matter of pick your poison. Which energy source will do the least harm to the environment long term? Here's a clip from a story at The Guardian. "A leading British academic has called for accelerated research into futuristic geo-engineering and a worldwide nuclear power station "binge" to avoid runaway global warming. Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, said both potential solutions had inherent dangers but were now vital as time was running out. "It is very, very depressing that politicians and the public are attuned to the threat of climate change even less than they were 20 years ago when Margaret Thatcher sounded the alarm. CO2 levels are rising at a faster than exponential rate, and yet politicians only want to take utterly trivial steps such as banning plastic bags and building a few windfarms," he said." Photo: Wikipedia.
© 2014 Star Tribune