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2014 Twin Cities Precipitation Nearly Double Long-Term Average - More Storms Brewing

  • Blog Post by: Paul Douglas
  • June 17, 2014 - 9:06 AM

Wet and Wild

What do I do for fun when I'm not handcuffed to the Doppler? I've been watching the World Cup for comic relief. But who to root for, other than the home team? I base my loyalty on two important factors: which country has the best climate and/or best cuisine? Sorry England. Not this year.

Anything to take our minds off the jumble of severe storms, sauna-worthy dew points and nagging flood risk. As I've been explaining (ad nauseum) for years when weather stalls bad things can happen. Droughts and heat waves can amplify suddenly. If you're stuck next to a storm or frontal boundary that's not moving the threat of flooding goes up exponentially.

Such is the case this week, with a warm front temporarily stalled over northern Iowa - a soggy runway for thunderstorms to keep blossoming and redeveloping along, resulting in another 2 to 4 inches of rain by the end of the week for some communities. You may want to check that sump pump in the basement.

Skies dry out a bit on Friday; the arrival of a slightly cooler, drier airmass may set off (isolated) weekend T-storms. If it's any consolation next week does look drier, statewide.

June rainfall is already more than 3 times the normal amount, to date. The record? 9.82 inches in 1990.

We may come close.

Photo credit above: "Luckman Nour fishes from the flooded shoreline at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, Minn., Sunday, June 15, 2014. Flood waters and strong winds overturned some sail boats and downed trees from Saturday's rain on Lake Nokomis." (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Jerry Holt).


Monday Severe Outbreak. NOAA databases show an extensive swath of wind and hail damage across far southern Minnesota yesterday, wind gusts as high as 80-85 mph with numerous reports of flash flooding. Over 3" fell near Rochester with 3-5" amounts over far southwestern counties. Here's a complete list of weather-related damage.


Another Severe Soaking. The corn crop across southern Minnesota can't be in very good shape with the recent swarms of heavy rain storms. Yesterday as much as 2-5" of rain fell on far southern Minnesota, enough rain for serious flash flooding in a number of communities. NWS Doppler radar estimates show .5" of rain across most of the metro, closer to an inch over the southeastern suburbs.

From the Twin Cities National Weather Service:

...FLOOD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR WASECA...STEELE AND FREEBORN
COUNTIES UNTIL 900 AM CDT...

AT 445 AM CDT...LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS REPORTED THAT SEVERAL
ROADS REMAINED CLOSED IN EACH OF THE THREE COUNTIES EITHER DUE TO
BEING WASHED OUT OR THAT WATER REMAINED ACROSS THE ROAD.

NO ADDITIONAL RAIN IS EXPECTED THIS MORNING. HOWEVER...SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS MAY REDEVELOP OVER THE AREA LATE THIS AFTERNOON AND
EVENING.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

BE ESPECIALLY CAUTIOUS AT NIGHT WHEN IT IS HARDER TO RECOGNIZE THE
DANGERS OF FLOODING. IF FLOODING IS OBSERVED...ACT QUICKLY. DO NOT
ENTER THE WATER. TURN AROUND AND MOVE UP TO HIGHER GROUND. DO NOT
STAY IN AREAS SUBJECT TO FLOODING WHEN WATER BEGINS RISING.

FLOOD STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN
1100 PM CDT MON JUN 16 2014

...THE FLOOD WARNING CONTINUES FOR THE FOLLOWING RIVERS IN
MINNESOTA...

  COTTONWOOD RIVER AT NEW ULM AFFECTING BROWN COUNTY
  MINNESOTA RIVER AT MONTEVIDEO AFFECTING CHIPPEWA...LAC QUI PARLE AND
  YELLOW MEDICINE COUNTIES
  SAUK RIVER AT ST CLOUD AFFECTING STEARNS COUNTY
  CROW RIVER AT ROCKFORD AFFECTING HENNEPIN AND WRIGHT COUNTIES
  REDWOOD RIVER NEAR REDWOOD FALLS AFFECTING REDWOOD COUNTY

.OVERVIEW...THE FOLLOWING RIVER FORECASTS ARE BASED ON OBSERVED
RAINFALL OF ONE TO FOUR INCHES LAST WEEKEND...AND AN ADDITIONAL
QUARTER OF AN INCH...TO NEAR THREE INCHES OBSERVED ON MONDAY
...WITH HEAVIEST AMOUNTS ON MONDAY OVER SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA.
THE FORECASTS ARE ALSO BASED ON FORECASTED RAINFALL OF BETWEEN
FOUR TENTHS OF AN INCH...UP TO ONE INCH DURING THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

Twins. Professional storm chaser Dustin Wilcox took this remarkable photo of dual tornadoes, roughly 1 mile apart, near Pilger, Nebraska on Monday.


Tornado Hits Pilger, Nebraska; Numerous Injuries, At Least One Dead. Here's a clip from a story at omaha.com: "...NWS meteorologist Barbara Mayes said the tornadoes that touched down were about a mile apart. The tornadoes did not hit Stanton, but they caused extensive damage in Pilger and some rural areas around that town of about 380. At least one of the tornadoes lifted off the ground several times before touching down again. "It was like God dragged two fingernails across the the land," said Gregg Moeller of Wisner..." (Photo credit above: Krisa3G).

Tornado spotted near Clear Lake, Iowa. Details here.


Ripe For More Soaking T-storms. Models show another 1 to 1.5" of rain between now and Thursday, but the official NWS forecast calls for a potential for as much as 2.7" of rain by Thursday as T-storms flare up along a stalled frontal boundary. Source: Iowa State.


Nagging Puddle Potential. 7-Day rainfall estimates from NOAA show very significant rains in excess of 3-5" possible from Montana into the Dakotas and much of the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and Ohio Valley; repeated volleys of T-storms forming along thhe leading edge of hot, steamy air.


Swarms of Storms. NOAA's 12 km NAM Future Radar product shows numerous T-storms flaring up over the next 84 hours, heaviest rains from Minnesota into Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan, where flash flooding problems will persist.


Steamy Dew Points. Weatherspark data shows dew points in the upper 60s to nar 70F into Thursday, followed by a cooler, drier Canadian flow next week as dew points drop into the 50s, meaning nearly half as much water in the air. Thursday still appears to be the wettest day of the week.


Pressure Tendencies from Saturday's "Gravity Wave". My friend, Dan Lilledahl, who is a meteorologist at Delta Airlines in Atlanta, sent me this graph from MSP International Airport, showing Saturday's sudden dips and rises in atmospheric pressure. The sharp fall in barometric pressure created a partial vacuum near the surface - air rushing into that vacuum created several hours of powerful straight-line winds, peaking at 68 mph at the airport.


Risk of Storm Tide Topping NYC's Seawall Is 20 Times Greater Than 1800s. AccuWeather has a story that deserves a look; here's the intro: "An increased storm tide flowing high enough to exceed Manhattan's seawall defenses is 20 times greater today than it was 150 years ago, according to a new study published in a journal of the American Geophysical Union. The increased risk comes in large part to rising sea levels in New York Harbor, bringing with it the risk of extensive flooding on a more frequent basis, co-author Stefan Talke said..."

Photo credit above: "In this Oct. 29, 2012 file photo, streets in the Brooklyn borough of New York are flooded under the Manhattan Bridge as a surge of seawater is pushed into New York City by Superstorm Sandy." (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File).


The Future of Hurricanes, a $10 Trillion Question. That's the approximate dollar value of insured American properties in the potential path of hurricanes. It's been relatively quiet since 2005, but at some point - statistically - our luck will run out. Here's a clip from a story from the Philadelphia Enquirer at Florida Realtors: "...Experts say the lull represents the calm between the storms, and a bleak-or-bleaker debate continues over whether the Atlantic basin will be a busy tropical-storm brewery for perhaps the next two decades -- or in perpetuity. With an estimated $10 trillion worth of insured property in hurricane-target areas, the outcome is of importance not only for coastal residents and property owners, but for every U.S. taxpayer. From fiscal 2005 through 2013, hurricanes consumed more than $60 billion in federal disaster money, 75 percent of all Federal Emergency Management Agency aid, or about $500 per U.S. household. That doesn't capture the full tally for the hybrid storm Sandy, or the estimated 24 billion tax dollars all but lost to the U.S. Treasury by the National Flood Insurance Program..."


University of Alabama Researchers Show Small Changes Can Make Big Difference During Tornadoes. An article at Insurance Journal caught my eye - here are a few excepts focused on (building/construction) lessons learned in the wake of killer tornadoes from Oklahoma to Alabama: "...From the data collected in 2011, the researchers concluded that light-frame wood structures will not be able to withstand a direct hit from the forces of powerful EF4 or EF5 tornadoes which produce winds stronger than 166 mph. However, based off the three studies, it’s estimated 85 percent of the damage area left behind by an EF4 or EF5 tornado experience winds from EF0-EF2 tornadoes, or winds less than 135 mph....In the areas with lower wind speeds, the root for failure of residential structures was often the garage, according to the Moore damage assessments. When the garage door is breached during a tornado, it typically leads to pressurization of the garage, subsequent loss of roof over the garage and collapse of the garage walls..."


A Look at 2013 Flooding in Southern Alberta by the Numbers. A stalled rain-maker created serious weather havoc across southern Alberta, Canada last year at this time; here's a recap of some of the damage and displacement from The Province:

100,000: The estimated number of people affected by flooding. (Source: The Alberta Government)

985: Kilometres of road closed due to flood damage. (Source: The Alberta Government)

$70 million: The amount of money the government loaded onto 56,000 prepaid debit cards for flood evacuees. (Source: The Alberta Government)...

File photo above: Calgary Herald.


How Dad's Improve Their Kids' Lives, According To Science. Yes, my father looks younger than I do, which fills me with a wide range of emotions, mostly envy and admiration. I wish I got more of THOSE genes. I'm don't pretend to be a super-father - I'm still learning on the job, a job for which there is no manual or tutorial. Here's an excerpt from an interesting article at Vox: "We all think we know a lot about fathers and what they do for their kids, but what do we really know?" he told me in a recent interview. A science writer who'd published books on mental illness and space exploration, Raeburn did a comprehensive survey of scientific research on fatherhood. The result is his newest book, Do Fathers Matter? Raeburn found that fathers play a huge role in their children's lives, even before they're born. "Fathers have much more effect on children than even I would have guessed — and I was biased in favor of fathers to start with," he said..."


Rowing 2,400 Miles from Monterrey to Hawaii? This seems like a good idea on paper, but in reality? Check out the story at The San Francisco Chronicle.


Why You Should Only Spend $500 On Your Next TV. With 4K OLED right around the corner I'm feeling even more technologically inadequate than usual. 1080 HDTV is so 2007. Here's an excerpt from Wired: "Welcome to the awkward HDTV transitional phase. If you need to buy a new TV right now, what do you do? Bet big on an UltraHD TV and wait for 4K content to become as plentiful as HD? Splurge on an early-generation OLED, then kick yourself in two years when they become more affordable? Buy a massive, high-end 1080p set, then regret it when everybody flocks to your buddy’s house to watch Super Bowl 50 on his 4K OLED? At this moment, your smartest move is to go cheap..."


NFL May Track Footballs Using Magnetic Fields. Did the ball penetrate into the end zone? Sometimes it's tough to tell, even with instant-replay. Here's an excerpt of some new technology that may remove some of the guesswork, courtesy of Gizmag: "Have you ever wondered how game officials know if the football has passed the goal line, in situations where it's hidden under a pile-up of players? Well, sometimes they don't know, and they just have to hope that it isn't moved as the players get up. A team of researchers from North Carolina State University, Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research, however, may have a solution. They're developing a method of tracking a football via low-frequency magnetic fields..."


Sports-Loving Dog Watching The World Cup. Check out Georges on YouTube, who doesn't seem to mind who wins or loses. I wish I could get this excited.


85 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.

79 F. average high on June 16.

86 F. high on June 16, 2013.

.18" rain fell at KMSP International yesterday.

5.91" rain so far in June.

1.4" rain fell from June 1-16 last year.

20.38" precipitation so far in 2014.

11.77" average precipitation as of June 16.


June 16 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: Twin Cities NWS:

2010: The largest single-day tornado outbreak in Minnesota history occurred with 48 tornadoes across the state, and set the stage for a record breaking tornado year that finished with 113 tornadoes statewide. There were three EF-4 tornadoes and four EF-3 tornadoes in Minnesota on this day. Four tornado fatalities occurred, which was the highest number since July 5, 1978

1954: Hailstorm at St. Cloud injures many people.


TODAY: Sticky sun much of the day, few T-storms by evening. Dew point: 69. Winds: SE 10. High: 86

TUESDAY NIGHT: More T-storms likely, locally heavy rain. Low: 71

WEDNESDAY: Muggy, more T-storms pop up late. High: 87

THURSDAY: More numerous T-storms. Flash flooding? Wake-up: 70. High: 82

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, a bit drier. Wake-up: 69. High: 86

SATURDAY: Warm sun, isolated late-day storm. Wake-up: 68. High: 85

SUNDAY: Sunny start, late-day thunder. Wake-up: 66. High: near 80

MONDAY: Sunny, less humid. Dew point: 62. Wake-up: 63. High: 81


Climate Stories...

Climate Change and National Security: A House Divided. Buried deep in The National Defense Authorization Act (HR 4435 is an ammendment that specifically prevents the military from factoring climate change into future readiness plans and strategies. Here's a clip from The Houston Chronicle: "...Nestled in Title III, Subtitle B, Section 320A is a “prohibition on use of funds to implement certain climate change assessments and reports.” It reads:

None of the funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to implement the United States Global Change Research Program National Climate Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, the United Nation’s Agenda 21 sustainable development plan, or the May 2013 Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order No. 12866.

This amendment, in effect, keeps the Department of Defense from preparing for or performing any military activities that include any construction related to climate change. For example, it precludes protecting facilities such as the Norfolk Naval Base from changes in sea level..."


New Economic Model Shows Risks from Climate Change are Bigger Than Previously Estimated. Here's the introduction to a story at The London School of Economics and Political Science: "A new version of a standard economic model shows that the risks from unchecked climate change are bigger than previously estimated and strengthens the case for strong cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new paper by Simon Dietz and Nicholas Stern which is published today (16 June 2014). The paper, which has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication in a forthcoming issue of ‘The Economic Journal’, found that living standards could even start to decline later this century unless the growth in annual emissions of greenhouse gases is checked..."

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