A Break from Swamp-like Heat Into The Weekend

I just got back from Garmisch, in the Bavarian Alps of Germany, where I celebrated (mourned) a very big birthday. I should stop my whining. To paraphrase Richard Gere: don't regret growing older, it's a privilege denied to many.

My wife asked me for a weather update every morning. I'd look out the window and shrug helplessly. "I'm off duty! Take sunglasses and umbrellas. One of them will be the right call".

Waterproof apparel comes in handy again today, with more showers over southern Minnesota. Stormy weather shifts just to our south Wednesday into Saturday, with sunshine and low 80s. No beastly heat is imminent.

June is running 5F warmer than average at MSP, and long-range models are hinting at 90s by the 4th of July, so take advantage of any free, Canadian A/C in the coming days.

A conga-line of "training storms" dumped 2 months worth of rain near Duluth and far northwestern Wisconsin (Douglas County), resulting in flash flooding that brought back some memories of a mega-rainfall event in 2012. NOAA says that was a 500-year flood. This may have been similarly rare. 

Welcome to the Jungle. You could certainly feel the moisture in the air over the weekend - much of that water ultimately came down from near Duluth into far northern Wisconsin over the weekend. Bring Me The News has details: "Serious Flash Flooding from extreme rainfall totals in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin have forced extensive road closures, and Douglas County to declare a State of Emergency and issue no travel advisories for the entire county.  Douglas County is located directly south of Duluth and includes the City of Superior, where the south side of the city has seen the Nemadji River make an astonishing rise from 5.53 feet at midnight June 16 to just above 30 feet at 8 p.m. Sunday, more than two feet higher than the previous record. It rose an unbelievable 22 feet, from 8 feet to 30 feet, in a 15-hour time period on Sunday..."

Serious Rainfall Amounts. Check out 72-hour rainfall totals as of Monday morning, showing 3-5" weekend rainfall tallies in the Duluth area, with over 6-7" reported from the southern suburbs of Duluth into far northern Wisconsin, with up to a foot of water in some communities - about 6 to 8 weeks worth of rain falling over a 3-day period for much of the Northland.

Heaviest Rains Stay South. The map above shows predicted rainfall totals between now and Friday morning; some 3-4" amounts predicted for parts of South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. The best chance of showers over southern Minnesota comes today. 00z NAM guidance: NOAA and pivotalweather.com.

Comfortably Warm. Temperatures trend above average into the weekend, but no ridiculously hot fronts are brewing into the first half of next week. ECMWF for the Twin Cities: WeatherBell.

Heating Up for the 4th? It's early (it always is) but models hint at a heat-pump high pressure ridge expanding across the Plains into the Midwest in early July, which may set the stage for a run of 90s around the 4th of July. Keep in mind that, historically, the hottest weather of the year comes in mid-July, about 3 weeks after the Summer Solstice.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Monday, June 18th, 2018:

  • Rounds of rain – heavy at times – are expected through at least the middle of the week along the Texas Gulf Coast due to a disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico and an upper level low.
  • Widespread rainfall totals of 3-7”, with isolated higher amounts especially near the coast, are expected to impact areas like Houston, Galveston, Beaumont, Corpus Christi and South Padre through Wednesday.
  • This heavy rain may lead to flood concerns, especially if the heavy rain lingers into the second half of the week. However, since dry conditions have been in place across this region, it’ll take some time for the soil to become saturated. While Flash Flood Watches are not currently in place across this region, they may be needed later in the week.

Heavy Rain Potential. Rounds of heavy rain are expected through at least the first half of the week across parts of southern and southeastern Texas as tropical moisture flows into the region. This is due to a tropical wave and slow moving upper level low approaching the region. Through Wednesday evening, a widespread 3-7” of rain is expected to fall in southern and southeastern Texas, with potentially 10-15” in localized areas near the coast. Some of the heaviest rain is expected to fall Tuesday and Wednesday.

Excessive Rainfall Outlooks. While the soil is currently dry due to moderate to extreme drought conditions across the region, we will be watching the potential of flash flooding to increase toward the middle of the week with continued rounds of heavy rain. The Weather Prediction Center has placed a Moderate Risk of excessive rainfall that could lead to flash flooding from Houston to Corpus Christi both Tuesday and Wednesday. Right now it appears localized flooding – mainly streets in urban areas – will be the greatest concern, especially near the coast where back building storms into the Gulf of Mexico could develop. Those storms would have the potential to drop 3-6” of rain in a short amount of time.

There is also a Moderate Risk of excessive rainfall that could lead to flash flooding across parts of Nebraska and Kansas Tuesday and Tuesday Night. Multiple rounds of storms could cause flash flooding Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday Night across this region, with rainfall totals of 1-3”+ possible.

Summary. Tropical moisture in association with an upper level low will be the focus for rounds of heavy rain across the Texas Gulf Coast through at least the middle of the week. A widespread 3-7” of rain is expected to impact areas like Houston, Galveston, Beaumont, Corpus Christi and South Padre through Wednesday, with potentially 10-15” in localized areas near the coast. This heavy rain could bring the potential of flash flooding to the region Tuesday into Wednesday.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

Sea Level Rise Threatens Over 300,000 U.S. Homes, Says Report. The Daily Beast has the details: "Sea-level rise driven by climate change is set to destroy U.S. coastal communities, according to new research, with as many as 311,000 homes facing floods every two weeks within the next 30 years. The rising oceans are set to repeatedly flood residences by 2045 if greenhouse-gas emissions aren’t severely cut, the experts warn. “The impact could well be staggering,” said Kristina Dahl, climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “This level of flooding would be a tipping point where people in these communities would think it’s unsustainable. Even homes along the Gulf Coast that are elevated would be affected, as they’d have to drive through saltwater to get to work or face their kids’ school being cut off. You can imagine people walking away from mortgages, away from their homes...”

Photo credit: John Sommers II / Reuters.

Flooding Surges in U.S. Coastal Cities, Thanks to Relentlessly Rising Sea Levels. A story summary at Minnpost caught my eye: "Last year was a record-breaker for flooding in cities along the U.S. coasts, according to a new federal assessment  — and the horrific trio of hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma wasn’t really the problem. The analysis, issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week, looked closely at flooding in nearly 100 locations around the country, as measured by tide gauges that have been in place for a century or so. And there was plenty of flooding outside the hurricane zones, much of it chronic and attributable to rising sea levels. Some was driven by lesser storms, like the nor’easters of last February and March. But in nearly half the cases, weather was considered a minor contributor or no factor at all..."

Photo credit: REUTERS/Brian Snyder. "In the “flood year” running from May 2017 through last April, about one-fourth of coastal cities tied or broke their previous record for tidal flooding; leading that list were Boston, above, and Atlantic City."

Picture Postcard Perfect. James Hammett captured this amazing shot near Laramie, Wyoming (yes, that Wyoming) on June 7, 2018. Wow.

7 Years After Joplin Tornado, Mercy Builds Hospitals With Disasters in Mind. Every threat is an opportunity, as narrated by St. Louis Public Radio: "...What you’re asking is did the structure, and the elements that make up the structure, they perform to a level that the patients can survive the storm,” Gould said. “You’re asking a lot more of a structure than you would in a typical building.” The windows Mercy designed for Joplin are so strong, Farnen said they are essentially “bulletproof.” “We tested some of the glass in Joplin with the fire department … they decided they couldn’t get through the glass and they would have to go through the building to get to the patient,” he said. The new hospital wing in Festus doesn’t house critical patients, so instead it has the next level of windows: laminated safety glass that can withstand winds of more than 100 miles an hour..."

Photo credit: "The scene outside the St. John's after the Joplin 2011 tornado. The building was one of the only structures in the tornado's path left standing." Credit Mercy Hospital.

The Next Plague is Coming. Is America Ready? The short answer appears to be no. Here's a clip from a little light reading at The Atlantic: "...On average, in one corner of the world or another, a new infectious disease has emerged every year for the past 30 years: mers, Nipah, Hendra, and many more. Researchers estimate that birds and mammals harbor anywhere from 631,000 to 827,000 unknown viruses that could potentially leap into humans. Valiant efforts are under way to identify them all, and scan for them in places like poultry farms and bushmeat markets, where animals and people are most likely to encounter each other. Still, we likely won’t ever be able to predict which will spill over next; even long-known viruses like Zika, which was discovered in 1947, can suddenly develop into unforeseen epidemics..."

Photo credit: Jonno Rattman.

Best States to Avoid Psychopaths? Quartz has a vaguely reassuring story (for people living in the Midwest): "Sometimes, it can feel like there are psychopaths everywhere. If you live in the United States, it’s now possible to move to less psychopathic environs, thanks to new research ranking 48 contiguous states by psychopathy. Connecticut wins the dubious award of most psychopathic state in the US, followed by California in second, and New Jersey third. New York and Wyoming tie for joint fourth place, followed by Maine. The least psychopathic state is West Virginia, followed by Vermont, Tennessee, North Carolina, and New Mexico…Earlier research shows that psychopathy is composed of disinhibition, boldness, and meanness…"

(Minnesota is ranked 33rd in the USA based on the research, if anyone asks).

A New Disease: Gaming Disorder. CNN reports: "Today, the World Health Organization will add a new condition to its list of diseases: gaming disorder. Parents have often grumbled about "digital heroin," and the WHO announcement backs them up. Gaming disorder, the group says, has characteristics similar to substance abuse and gambling disorders: taking precedence over other activities, loss of control of these behaviors and significant distress and impairment of relationships. But not all psychologists agree the designation is warranted. One said that in his experience, those addicted to gaming are using it more as a coping mechanism for either anxiety or depression..."

Photo credit: DIY Health Academy.

The World May Soon Be Awash in Advanced, Lethal Drones. Well, that's lovely. The Center for Public Integrity has details: "U.S. military forces face a growing threat from sophisticated and often deadly drones, due to the broad proliferation of related weapons and surveillance technologies that until recently have largely been in the hands of friendly countries, according to a new report prepared for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The global spread of these technologies was supposed to be controlled by a system of export controls created by the West to block the spread of advanced missiles, but that system has failed to obstruct the development of drones that have potent surveillance and destructive power by potential American adversaries, the report says. Countries like China, Russia, Iran, and even the United Arab Emirates are not only producing lethal drones but in some cases exporting both the drones and their underlying technologies..."

File photo: uavglobal.com.

Comparing Average IQ In All 50 States. A few surprises here....California is 48th? Minnesota is #5. Inc.com has the story: "People are getting dumber, according to science. There are a lot of theories why IQ tests are falling. Some say it's bad food, poor schools, or obscene amounts of screen time. Others suggest it's a matter of people with lower IQs having more kids, who inherit their lower numbers. You've seen Idiocracy, right? The thing is, there's a lot of variation among the U.S. states in terms of IQ averages. So while the nation as a whole averages roughly a 98 IQ, individual states range as much as six points higher or four points below the national average..."

Manufactured Confusion in the World of Soccer. The BBC has a curious story: "South Korea's coach, Shin Tae-yong, says he made his players wear different numbered shirts in recent matches to confuse opponents who he says cannot tell them apart… "We switched them around because we didn't want to show our opponents everything and to try and confuse them," said Shin. "They might know a few of our players but it is very difficult for Westerners to distinguish between Asians and that's why we did that..."

File photo: The Korea Herald.

TUESDAY: Showers south, sun north. Winds: NE 10-15. High: 75

TUESDAY NIGHT: Slow clearing. Low: 60

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, dry statewide. Winds: NE 8-13. High: 82

THURSDAY: Plenty of sun, warm breeze. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 63. High: 83

FRIDAY: Blue sky, relatively comfortable. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 60. High: 81

SATURDAY: Sunny intervals, probably dry. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 61. High: 83

SUNDAY: Less sun, risk of a T-shower. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 64. High: 82

MONDAY: Unsettled, PM showers and T-storms. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 65. High: 81

Climate Stories....

Minnesota Temperature Trends in June Since 1895. Although the warming signal is most pronounced during late winter and early spring, Junes are trending warmer, statewide, according to data from NOAA NCDC.

Capitalism is Killing the Planet and Needs to Change. So says investor Jeremy Grantham, who has a history of getting it right. We have privatized profits and socialized costs, when it comes to pollution of all types, including long-term CO2 and methane pollution. CNBC has more: "Jeremy Grantham, the longtime investor famous for calling the last two major bubbles in the market, is urging capitalists and "mainstream economists" to recognize the looming threat of climate change. "Capitalism and mainstream economics simply cannot deal with these problems. Mainstream economics largely ignore [them]," Grantham, who co-founded GMO in 1977, said Tuesday in an impassioned speech at the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago. "We deforest the land, we degrade our soils, we pollute and overuse our water and we treat air like an open sewer, and we do it all off the balance sheet." This negligence is due in large part to how short-sighted corporations can be, Grantham said. "Anything that happens to a corporation over 25 years out doesn't exist for them, therefore, as I like to say, grandchildren have no value" to them, he said..."

Antarctica Ice Loss Has Tripled in a Decade. If That Continues, We are in Serious Trouble. Chris Mooney reports for The Washington Post: "Antarctica’s ice sheet is melting at a rapidly increasing rate, now pouring more than 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean annually and raising sea levels a half-millimeter every year, a team of 80 scientists reported Wednesday. The melt rate has tripled in the past decade, the study concluded. If the acceleration continues, some of scientists’ worst fears about rising oceans could be realized, leaving low-lying cities and communities with less time to prepare than they had hoped. The result also reinforces that nations have a short window — perhaps no more than a decade — to cut greenhouse-gas emissions if they hope to avert some of the worst consequences of climate change..."

Photo credit: "Crevasses near the grounding line of Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica." (Ian Joughin/University of Washington).

Rate of Melting Accelerating. Nature.com has the paper referenced in the Washington Post article.

Antarctica Is Melting Three Times Faster Than a Decade Ago. More perspective and analysis from The New York Times.

Photo credit: "Icebergs in the northern Weddell Sea off Antarctica." CreditJohn Sonntag/NASA.

Climate Visuals. Here's a site I just discovered that tries to frame the climate challenge in a way that better resonates: "The images that define climate change shape the way it is understood and acted upon. But polar bears, melting ice and arrays of smoke stacks don’t convey the urgent human stories at the heart of the issue. Based on international social research, Climate Visuals provides seven principles for a more diverse, relatable and compelling visual language for climate change..."

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