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Paul Douglas: Instability showers into Saturday

  • Blog Post by: Paul Douglas
  • June 27, 2013 - 11:44 PM

 

On The Verge of Disgust

 

There are days I'm tempted to push the Doppler into the lake. This is one of those days.

"Once you have all the information the decision is easy" my father likes to say. My 82 year old dad is in town thru the weekend. I'm scanning the models, trying to "get all the information" and decide if it's worth heading up to the cabin. Yeah, that muffled scream you hear is me.

An upper level storm, a twist of unusually cold air aloft, will spark gusty winds, whitecaps and a few showers today and Saturday morning; highs stuck in the 70s. Other than that it should be lovely.

Sorry Dad.

Timing is everything. And this summer The Force isn't with us, at least not on weekends.

Things look a little better for the 4th of July holiday. Most models keep the heaviest showers and T-storms south & west of Minnesota, highs in the 80s. It may be dry July 4th and 5th, then weekend T-storms. Lake-worthy? Yes, but my confidence level is low.

As annoying as our weather has been recently I'm trying to keep some perspective. Calgary, Alberta is mopping up from an historic, 1-in-500 year flood. Emergency cooling centers are open in LA. Death Valley may come close to the all-time WORLD record high of 134F this weekend. I guess I can live with showers and a few whitecaps.

 

Cool Pool. One of those dreaded "upper air disturbances" is about to rotate southward out of Ontario, Canada, destabilizing the atmosphere, sparking showers and T-storms, best chance afternoon and evening hours, when the temperature differential will be greatest. The odds of severe weather are low, but I expect to see a few downpours, maybe some pea-size hail. This unsettled trough of low pressure finally pushes thru late Saturday, setting the stage for sunnier, drier, warmer weather on Sunday.

* Thursday was the 4th day in a row of severe thunderstorms rumbling into the Chicago area. Today? Number 5.

 

More Promising For 4th? This back and forth with the models is maddening, and it lowers our overall confidence level in the extended outlook. Yesterday's ECMWF numbers looked cooler and wetter for the 4th with a significant storm tracking across the Plains into Minnesota. Today's 12z European run looks drier and warmer. We'll see. Keep your expectations low - maybe we'll all be pleasantly surprised.
 
 
Trending Drier (After Saturday). The latest 5-Day QPF shows very heavy rainfall amounts from Florida into the Outer Banks of the Carolinas (4-7" possible) with some 2-4" amounts over New England. A temporarily stalled storm in the upper atmosphere over the Ohio Valley will keep the East Coast in a soggy holding pattern, while the Upper Midwest (finally) starts to dry out.

 

Dialing Up A More Promising 4th of July Forecast? Don't Hold Your Breath. Here's the latest ECMWF model forecast for midday Thursday of next week, hinting at showers and T-storms over far northern Minnesota, more soggy, unsettled weather over the central Rockies and much of the East Coast. The best odds of a dry 4th? West coast, and Midwest into the Ohio Valley. Map: WSI.

 

Record for Hottest Temperature Ever Recorded On Earth: 134 F. on July 10, 1913 at Death Valley. Images above: WeatherNation TV.

 

But It's A Dry Heat! So is my oven, but I try not to make a habit of sticking my head inside. This might be a good day to call a friend in Phoenix and mention Minnesota's latest comfortable cool front. That almost makes up for the calls from friends in Scottsdale in January. Almost.

 

Heat Wave May Threaten World's Hottest Temperature Record. In fact the word "hot" doesn't quite do it justice. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman has the story at Climate Central; here's an excerpt: "A brutal and potentially historic heat wave is in store for the West as parts of Nevada, Arizona and California may get dangerously hot temperatures this weekend and into next week. In fact, by the end of the heat wave, we may see a record tied or broken for the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth. The furnace-like heat is coming courtesy of a “stuck” weather pattern that is setting up across the U.S. and Canada. By early next week, the jet stream  a fast-moving river of air at airliner altitudes that is responsible for steering weather systems — will form the shape of a massive, slithering snake with what meteorologists refer to as a deep “ridge” across the Western states, and an equally deep trough seting up across the Central and Eastern states..." (Graphic: National Weather Service).

 

Cooling Centers Open; "Life-Threatening" Heat To Hit L.A. Area. Details from the Los Angeles Times: "Officials in Los Angeles County announced Wednesday that cooling centers would be opening as the National Weather Service predicted "record-setting" and "life-threatening" temperatures across Southern California. The excessive heat is expected to last from Friday morning through Monday night with triple-digit temperatures across inland and mountain areas, the Weather Service said. The agency issued excessive heat warnings or watches from San Luis Obispo to San Diego counties..."

Graphic credit above: "Map shows locations of cooling centers in Los Angeles County." (Los Angeles County / June 26, 2013)

 

Surprise: New FEMA Maps Put More Of Edina In Flood Plain. Here's an excerpt from The Star Tribune: "...The new FEMA maps are part of a national effort to update and improve flood plain mapping, said Ceil Strauss, state flood plain coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources. In Minnesota, she said, the effect of the update, which calculates runoff from a 100-year flood, varies by county. In Washington County, twice as many properties were removed from flood zones as went in. But in other counties, flood plains were added around lakes, affecting more property owners. In Hennepin County, updated mapping provided more detail on elevation, changing the boundaries of flood plains along Minnehaha and Nine Mile creeks, Strauss said. “There are winners and losers there from the perspective of homeowners,” she said..."

 

Uncharted Waters. As I explain in today's edition of Climate Matters, I've been tracking weather for close to 40 years, and I've never seen anything like the last 3 years; the jet stream literally off the rails since about 2010 (when Minnesota saw the most tornadoes in the USA). Since then it's been one extreme after another, drought to flood to drought, serious weather whiplash: "The Jet Stream's normal West to East flow has been replaced by a Jet Stream with giant atmospheric wiggles. WeatherNation Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas explains how this impacts our day to day weather and leads to record heat in Alaska, historic flooding in Calgary and destructive wildfires in Colorado and the Southwest."

 

94F in Alaska? Weather Extremes Tied To Jet Stream. When I tell people that the pattern has changed, that the jet stream has become unrecognizable, I'm accused of hype (or worse). It turns out I'm not the only one making these observations. Here's an excerpt of a story at AP News: "...Consider these unusual occurrences over the past few years:

- The winter of 2011-12 seemed to disappear, with little snow and record warmth in March. That was followed by the winter of 2012-13 when nor'easters seemed to queue up to strike the same coastal areas repeatedly.

- Superstorm Sandy took an odd left turn in October from the Atlantic straight into New Jersey, something that happens once every 700 years or so.

- One 12-month period had a record number of tornadoes. That was followed by 12 months that set a record for lack of tornadoes.

And here is what federal weather officials call a "spring paradox": The U.S. had both an unusually large area of snow cover in March and April and a near-record low area of snow cover in May. The entire Northern Hemisphere had record snow coverage area in December but the third lowest snow extent for May. "I've been doing meteorology for 30 years and the jet stream the last three years has done stuff I've never seen," said Jeff Masters, meteorology director at the private service Weather Underground. "The fact that the jet stream is unusual could be an indicator of something. I'm not saying we know what it is." Rutgers' Francis is in the camp that thinks climate change is probably playing a role in this..."

Photo credit above: "This photo taken Monday, June 17, 2013, shows people sunning at Goose Lake in Anchorage, Alaska. Parts of Alaska are setting high temperature records as a heat wave continues across Alaska. Temperatures are nothing like what Phoenix or Las Vegas gets, but temperatures in the 80s and 90s are hot for Alaska, where few buildings have air conditioning." (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

 

Forecast for Death Valley/Furnace Creek This Weekend:

Saturday: Sunny and hot with a high near 128.

Saturday night: Mostly clear, low around 98.

Sunday: Sunny and hot with a high near 129.

Sunday night: Mostly clear with a low around 101.

Monday: Sunny and hot with a high near 129.

 

Roll Cloud. You might not want to fly your ultra-light into this cloud formation, evidence of potentially strong/violent straight-line winds out ahead of a thunderstorm downdraft. Thanks to Trista Dunsmoor in Watertown, South Dakota.

 

Fishing Tops List Of Lightning Death Activities. Another good reason to have a few radar apps on your smart phone in the boat, or a portable NOAA Weather Radio with you. Here's more from Yahoo News: "Most lightning deaths in the United States occur while people are enjoying outdoor activities, with fishing the most deadly, government weather officials say. From 2006 to 2012, 238 people died after being struck by lightning in the country — 82 percent of them male. Of the total number of victims, 152 were taking part in leisure activities, according to new findings from the National Weather Service . Fishing topped the list with 26 lightning deaths, followed by camping with 15 deaths, boating with 14, soccer with 12 and golf with eight, NWS officials said. Other lightning victims died while at the beach, swimming, walking, running or picnicking. [Electric Earth: Stunning Images of Lightning] Activities like fishing and camping may be most hazardous during a storm because they often require extra time to take shelter in a safe place, explained John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the NWS..." (photo image: discovery.com).

 

Marriages That Start On-Line Have A Better Track Record? National Enquirer? Nope, here's an excerpt from The National Academy of Science: "Marital discord is costly to children, families, and communities. The advent of the Internet, social networking, and on-line dating has affected how people meet future spouses, but little is known about the prevalence or outcomes of these marriages or the demographics of those involved. We addressed these questions in a nationally representative sample of 19,131 respondents who married between 2005 and 2012. Results indicate that more than one-third of marriages in America now begin on-line. In addition, marriages that began on-line, when compared with those that began through traditional off-line venues, were slightly less likely to result in a marital break-up (separation or divorce) and were associated with slightly higher marital satisfaction among those respondents who remained married..."

 

What High Water? I like this guy's attitude: he's going to enjoy his dock, no matter how high water levels get in northern Sherburne County. Thanks to KARE-11's Facebook page for this keeper: "Is this what your dock looks like? Barbara A. says her husband could not wait to have his coffee and read the paper on their dock this morning."

 

87 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

82 F. average high for June 27.

93 F. high on June 27, 2012.

+.1 F. June temperatures in the Twin Cities are now running a tenth of a degree F. above average for June, to date.

 

Thursday Numbers. 64F at Grand Marais? The town that June forgot. Hibbing picked up .81" from heavy showers and T-storms as of 7 pm yesterday. St. Cloud saw 85, with 87 in the Twin Cities and Redwood Falls.

 

 

TODAY: Clouds increase, stiff breeze, few showers, PM T-storm. Winds: NW 15-25 Dew point: 60. High: 78

 

FRIDAY NIGHT: Evening shower or T-shower, clearing late. Low: 63

 

SATURDAY: More clouds than sun, passing shower or T-shower possible. High 74

 

SUNDAY: More sun, the nicer day of the weekend. Dew point: 55. Wake-up: 59. High: 79

 

MONDAY: Perfect day to cheer The Twins. Bright sunshine. Wake-up: 58. High: 80

 

TUESDAY: Plenty of warm sun, still pleasant. Wake-up: 57. High: 82

 

WEDNESDAY: Warm sunshine, good travel weather. Wake-up: 61. High: 83

 

THURSDAY: Some sun, T-storms far north? Wake-up: 63. High: 83

 

Climate Stories...

Global Warming And The Politics Of Fossil Fuel. Here's an excerpt from The Christian Science Monitor: "We’re not going to be able to transition to a non-fossil-fuel economy overnight, Fen Montaigne, senior editor of Yale Environment 360, said in an interview with OilPrice.com. But if you keep approving tar sands projects, or massive pipelines, or drilling in the Arctic, when does it stop? It’s not mere anecdotal evidence: Visibly melting sea ice is the best evidence that the planet is warming. So prospecting for oil in the Arctic is a tricky endeavor that must be undertaken slowly and with extreme caution, argues Fen Montaigne, senior editor of Yale Environment 360, author of “Fraser’s Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica” and other books, and contributor to National Geographic, The New Yorker and Smithsonian magazines..."

Photo credit above: "Smoke billows from a chimney of the cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant in Dadong, Shanxi province, China." Andy Wong/AP/File.

 

Obama Unveils Climate Change Strategy: End of Line For U.S. Coal Power? Here's a clip from National Geographic: "Obama issued a memorandum directing the EPA to issue the regulation on new power plants by September, and to draw up proposed standards for existing power plants within one year. "I think many people don't realize that there are no regulations in place whatsoever to limit carbon pollution from coal plants," Hitt added. "So it's long overdue. And to get these standards across the finish line during the president's term we've got to get started." Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, called power plant carbon-emissions standards "the single most important thing we can do, as a nation, to confront this widening scourge" of climate change. "The president nailed it," she said. "This can't wait..."

Photo credit above: "The Capitol dome looms behind smokestacks of a coal-fired power plant in Washington, D.C. Obama announced plans Tuesday to issue new emissions regulations for U.S. power plants as part of a wider strategy to address climate change." Phtotograph by Tyrone Turner, National Geographic

 

What's In Obama's Plan To Combat Global Warming? Bloomberg has the story; here's a clip: "President Barack Obama's wide-ranging plan to combat global warming would for the first time put limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants. Obama on Tuesday announced plans to reduce domestic carbon dioxide emissions by 17 percent between 2005 and 2020 and "put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution." Other aspects of the plan would boost renewable energy production on federal lands, increase efficiency standards and prepare communities to deal with higher temperatures. The 12 hottest years on record all have occurred in the past 15 years..." (Image: NOAA).

 

Dark Snow Has Landed. A darkening of Arctic ice is responsible for much of the observed melting in Greenland. Peter Sinclair has the latest on new research at Climate Crock of the Week; here's an excerpt: "...The first research leg involved Dr. Stibal’s sampling of surface ice and sediment for microbiological and chemical analysis.  More on this is coming, but Marek’s research is certainly the most novel leg of this project, and may in the end turn out to be the most important. Ice sheet albedo is emerging as a key driver of Greenland surface melt – maybe THE key driver – and one reason could be that human influences are accelerating the growth of the naturally occurring algal community on the ice surface, which further darkens the ice sheet, causing even more solar heating..."

 

A Rowboat Expedition To The Arctic Made Possible By Climate Change. The Guardian has the story; here's the intro: "The Irish-Canadian team setting out next week to cross the Northwest Passage by row boat knows full well the hazards of the fabled journey through the Arctic: the unpredictable storms, the ice jams, the prospect of becoming prey for a polar bear. "They are the only animal out there that will actively hunt down a human being," said Kevin Vallely, a veteran adventurer who is part of the expedition. The four-man crew are due to set off in their 8-metre rowboat from Inuvik on 1 July, on a journey meant to showcase the extreme effects of climate change on the Arctic..."

Photo credit above: "The Irish-Canadian team will set out on 1 July across the Northwest Passage." Photograph: Mainstream Last First

 

President Obama Speaks On Climate Change. Here is the complete Tuesday speech at Georgetown from whitehouse.gov: "President Obama lays out his vision for a comprehensive plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change, and lead global efforts to fight it."

 

Obama Announces Sweeping New Global Warming Plan. Mercury News has the story; here's a snippet: "In the most sweeping action the federal government has taken to date to combat the warming of the planet, President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced the nation's first mandatory restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants. The new rules, a centerpiece environmental initiative of Obama's presidency, follow the lead that California set last year when it began to impose statewide greenhouse gas limits on power plants, factories and other industrial sources. Speaking at Georgetown University, Obama took a swipe at climate deniers and described global warming as a major threat to the nation's economy, farm production and its environment, noting that severe storms, droughts and forest fires already are on the increase. "We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury and arsenic and sulfur in our air and water," Obama said. "But power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into our air for free. That's not right. That's not safe. And it needs to stop..."

 

5 Takeaways From President Obama's Climate Speech. Here's a clip from The Washington Post: "What did we learn from President Obama’s climate speech Tuesday? Here are five takeaways.

1. He won’t duck the climate implications of Keystone XL, even though he may still end up approving it. Obama declared, “Our national interest will be served only if this pipeline does not significantly exacerbate the climate problem.” That means the administration will be analyzing whether approving the project will generate more greenhouse gas emissions than blocking it would. However in its draft environmental impact assessment, the State Department indicated that even if the president denies a permit to TransCanada to build the project, the oil in Alberta may be shipped to the U.S. by rail, leading to comparable emissions. So Obama’s final decision will largely depend on how his deputies crunch the numbers..."

Image credit: NASA.

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