Million Dollar Soaking - Welcome Cooling Trend

I underestimated rainfall amounts from the recent frontal boundary limping across the state; 1-3 inches of rain for many communities. I blame Ambien for my oversight.

This forecast may leave you a little sleepy: nothing severe - no weather drama shaping up into next week. Just a return of 70s and 80s, as blast-furnace heat shifts southward (where it belongs).

Once again America's weather weather is a tale of all or nothing. Extreme drought grips the U.S Southwest, while flooding rains from the soggy remains of "Alberto" stretch from Indiana to the Carolinas.

Ellicott City, Maryland has been struck by two 1,000-year rainfall events in the last two years. NOAA counts 25separate 500-year floods nationwide since 2010.

The sun should be visible much of today and Friday. Showers & storms may chase you indoors part of the day Saturday, but we salvage Sunday sunshine with pleasantly warm daytime readings.

The 6-day sauna is behind us, but I'm betting on a hotter than averagesummer. Not quite Dust Bowl '30s hot, but more than our average of 13 days above 90F.

Just a hunch. 

Million Dollar Rain. After the heavy snow of mid-April finally melted much of the state lapsed into a dry spell, especially central and northern counties. Tuesday's slow-moving, soaking rains helped, with a broad swath of 1-2" rains and localized 3" amounts.

Tuesday Soakers. Kenyon, Minnesota picked up 3.4" Tuesday and Tuesday night, with 2-3" amounts over many western and southwestern suburbs. Map courtesy of CoCoRaHS.

Above Average - But More Comfortable. It looks like mainly 70s and 80s into next week; still consistently above average (with the possible exception of Saturday) but no more obnoxious heat is brewing looking out 2 weeks or so. Twin Cities ECMWF: WeatherBell.

Heat Builds Again by mid-June? After a relatively comfortable start to June, GFS models build another hot ridge of high pressure from the desert southwest into the Plains within 2 weeks. Remember, our hottest weather of the year usually arrives in mid-July. Right.

Electifying Facts.  According to NOAA an average of 47 Americans are killed by lightning, annually. That said, the statistical odds of being a lightning victim this year are 1 in 700,000 - higher if you live in the Lightning Capital of the USA: Florida. The key is to avoid being the tallest thing in the area, which means avoiding lakes, fields and golf courses. The 30-30 rule: if you can count 30 seconds between the "flash" and the "bang" head for shelter (any building or vehicle). Then wait 30 minutes after the last strike to resume outdoor activities. Just because the rain stops doesn't mean the lightning risk is over.

One of the Hottest Mays on Record? Here's a clip from Dr. Mark Seeley in this week's episode of Minnesota WeatherTalk: "...Persistent warmer than normal temperatures for the balance of May will exacerbate the dryness, as daytime highs consistently reach 85 to 100 degrees F in many parts of the state. In fact based on the forecasts through May 31 the state will record one of the hottest months of May in history ranking with 1977, 1934, and 1988. Though statewide temperature records have not been broken, Fairmont, Tracy, Worthington, Canby, and Madison have all seen the mercury rise to 100 degrees F this month (on the 27th). The Twin Cities will likely record its 2nd hottest May , surpassed only by that of 1934 when a temperature of 106 degrees F closed the month on the 31st. For the Twin Cities only three other Mays have brought 4 consecutive days with temperatures in the 90s F, and those were 1874, 1934, and 1988. It is likely the Twin Cities will record 6 consecutive days in the 90s F during the current Heat Wave. More about May Heat Waves can be found at the Minnesota State Climatology Office web site..."

Hotter Years Mean Lower Exam Results. A Harvard study of 10 million US secondary students found hot weather negatively impacts their test performance. The BBC reports: "Students taking exams in a summer heat wave might have always complained that they were hampered by the sweltering weather. But this study, from academics at Harvard, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and Georgia State University, claims to have produced the first clear evidence showing that when temperatures go up, school performance goes down. The study, Heat and Learning, suggested that hotter weather made it harder to study in lessons in school and to concentrate on homework out of school..."

The Implications of Hotter Weather on Education. A story at Axios highlights additional research findings from the study referenced above: "...We argue that heat effects account for up to 13 percent of the U.S. racial achievement gap, both because black and Hispanic students live in hotter places than white students and because heat damages minority students’ achievement more than white students’ achievement," the paper notes.The paper adds another dimension to a thorny problem we wrote about recently how expansion of air conditioning worldwide provides a major boost in human well-being but also could make global warming even worse thanks to increased energy demand..."

Experts: "Alarming" Drought Conditions Hit U.S. Southwest. Here's a blurb from an update at The Denver Post: "Rivers and watering holes are drying up, popular mountain recreation spots are closing and water restrictions are in full swing as a persistent drought intensifies its grip on pockets of the American Southwest. Climatologists and other experts on Wednesday provided an update on the situation in the Four Corners region — where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah meet. They say the area is among the hardest hit and there’s little relief expected, and even robust summer rains might not be enough to replenish the soil and ease the fire danger. The region is dealing with exceptional drought — the worst category. That has left farmers, ranchers and water planners bracing for a much different situation than just a year ago when only a fraction of the region was experiencing low levels of dryness..."

Map credit: U.S. Drought Monitor.

A Building El Nino in 2018 Signals More Extreme Weather For 2019. Confidence levels are still low, but odds favor a warming El Nino phase establishing later this year. Here's a clip from Grist: "...These early warnings come with a caveat: Predictions of El Niño at this time of year are notoriously fickle. If one comes, it’s impossible to know how strong it would be. When it’s active, El Niño is often a catch-all that’s blamed for all sorts of wild weather, so it’s worth a quick science-based refresher of what we’re talking about here: El Niño has amazingly far-reaching effects, spurring droughts in Africa and typhoons swirling toward China and Japan. It’s a normal, natural ocean phenomenon, but there’s emerging evidence that climate change is spurring more extreme El Niño-related events. On average though, El Niño boosts global temperatures and redistributes weather patterns worldwide in a pretty predictable way..."

Wrapping Your Mind Around the Concept of a Thousand-Year Rainfall. The Capital Weather Gang provides context: "...A 1,000-year rain event, as its name implies, is exceptionally rare. It signifies just a 0.1 percent chance of such an event happening in any given year. “Or, a better way to think about it is that 99.9 percent of the time, such an event will never happen,” explained Shane Hubbard, a meteorological researcher at University of Wisconsin’s Space Science and Engineering Center. But people often fail to appreciate that when scientists declare that a storm is a 1,000-year, 500-year or 100-year event, it does not mean this extreme rainfall will necessarily happen that infrequently. These return intervals just express probabilities, which lead some to underestimate the risks they signify..."

Stunning Videos, Photos Reveal Enormity of Ellicott City Flood Devastation. Check out the images and videos at USA TODAY for a better idea of how bad this flash flood really was.

Photo credit: "Flood damage in Ellicott City, Md., on May 28, 2017. The National Weather Service said as much as 9.5 inches of rain fell in the area." (Photo: DroneBase via AP).

25+ 500-Year Floods Since 2010. This, according to NOAA. The flood that just hit Ellicott City may wind up being another 500-1000 year flood. Map credit: NOAA and The Washington Post.

When it Rains it Pours, and Sewage Hits the Fan. Well that's not good. Climate Central highlights a growing urban problem: extreme floods overwhelming sewage systems, which weren't designed for 21st century rainfall rates: "Record rainstorms across the U.S. in the past year have continued to make national news, causing billions of dollars of flood damage and killing dozens. But what has barely made headlines are that these floods often cause massive overflows of untreated sewage into streams, rivers, bays, canals, and even streets and homes. See the full report. Climate Central has investigated the extent of these sewage overflows. In most cases, we found reports that millions of gallons of untreated sewage were released into streets and waterways. These overflows can have devastating consequences for public health and the environment: they can trigger dangerous outbreaks of waterborne diseases and are often linked to fish kills..."

Mortality in Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria. Here's an excerpt from The New England Journal of Medicine that suggests a true death toll closer to 5,000: "...From the survey data, we estimated a mortality rate of 14.3 deaths (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.8 to 18.9) per 1000 persons from September 20 through December 31, 2017. This rate yielded a total of 4645 excess deaths during this period (95% CI, 793 to 8498), equivalent to a 62% increase in the mortality rate as compared with the same period in 2016. However, this number is likely to be an underestimate because of survivor bias. The mortality rate remained high through the end of December 2017, and one third of the deaths were attributed to delayed or interrupted health care. Hurricane-related migration was substantial..."

New Study Estimates Hurricane Maria Death Toll in Puerto Rico Could Exceed 4,000. The New York Times has the story: "As hurricane season begins this week, experts are still trying to count the number of deaths caused by last year’s devastating Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The latest estimate: roughly 4,600, many of them from delayed medical care. Residents of Puerto Rico died at a significantly higher rate during the three months following the hurricane than they did in the previous year, according to the results of a new study by a group of independent researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other institutions..."

Photo credit: "Houses that suffered damage from Hurricane Maria in San Juan, P.R., last October." Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times.

Hurricane Still Ravaging Mental Health: Minnesota Doctors Call Attention to Puerto Rican Children's Hidden Scars. Duluth News Tribune provides perspective: "...I think there is a lot of underlying stress in the whole situation on the island," said Dr. Miguel Fiol, an associate professor of neurology who is leading the group. With so many residents leaving for the mainland, Fiol pointed out, students have seen their friends uprooted and many schools are closing. While mental health advocates have called attention to the number of adults seeking help from suicide hotlines, children feel the stress, too, professionals know. "Children don't say 'I am anxious,' or 'I am depressed,' " Fiol said. "Kids may not express it. Some do, but a lot of them don't." Torres said teachers and administrators have encouraged students to talk in school about the strain, but many choose not to, pretending that life has returned to normal..."

Photo credit: "People in Villalba stood in line for gas after a power failure hit the island, still a common occurrence eight months after Hurricane Maria." Elizabeth Flores / Minneapolis Star Tribune.

What Happens If You Drive Into a Tornado? Take a Look. Generally a bad idea. Check out the story (and video) at National Geographic: "...However, for stronger tornadoes, it’s best to try and drive away using cross roads at right angles to the expected path of the oncoming funnel. If no escape route is available, the recommended action may seem counterintuitive. “Abandoning the vehicle and lying face down in the lowest place possible, such as a drainage ditch, is [recommended] over trying to ride out the tornado within the vehicle,” Seimon says. Even relatively weak tornadoes can overturn and roll vehicles, and stronger ones can lift them into the air completely and throw them long distances, causing injury and even death to any occupants..."

Red Sprites. Paul Smith snapped this remarkable photo on May 24 outside Edmond, Oklahoma - lightning extending from the top of a cumulonimbus into the ionosphere. Amazing.

NOAA Studies "Serious Problem" With New GOES Weather Satellite. Not good - hopefully engineers can get this resolved. CBS News reports: "Engineers are studying a significant cooling problem with the primary imaging system aboard the recently launched GOES-17 weather satellite that is limiting infrared observations critical to forecasting, officials said Wednesday. "This is a serious problem," said Steve Volz, assistant administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's satellite and information service. "This is the premier Earth-pointing instrument on the GOES platform, and 16 channels, of which 13 are infrared or near-infrared, are important elements of our observing requirements. If they are not functioning fully, it is a loss. It is a performance issue we have to address..."

File image: NOAA.

Pollution Crisis: Single-Use Straws May Be Banned Across Europe. Fortune reports: "The European Union’s executive branch has proposed an outright ban on a host of single-use plastic products, including straws and plates, in order to combat the growing plastic waste crisis. With plastics making up the vast majority of trash in our oceans and contaminating our drinking water, the European Commission on Monday proposed a new directive to mitigate the problem. It would ban single-use plastic items in cases where there are readily available, cheap alternatives made from more sustainable materials. The ban would take in plastic straws, plates, cutlery, cotton buds, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons—as well as single-use drinks containers, unless their caps and lids remain attached..."

File image: Sky News.

Four Rules for Learning How to Talk to Each Other Again. has some good advice: "...Here’s how to speak in a polity where we loathe each other. Let this be the Law of Parsimonious Claims:

1. Say nothing you know to be untrue, whether to deceive, confuse, or, worst of all, encourage a wearied cynicism.

2. Make mostly falsifiable assertions or offer prescriptions whose outcomes could be measured, always explaining how your assertion or prescription could be tested.

3. Whereof you have no evidence but possess only moral intuitions, say so candidly, and accept you must coexist with people who have different intuitions.1

4. When evidence proves you wrong, admit it cheerfully, pleased that your mistake has contributed to the general progress.

Finally, as you listen, assume the good faith of your opponents, unless you have proof otherwise. Judge their assertions and prescriptions based on the plain meaning of their words, rather on than what you guess to be their motives..."

File photo: iStock Photo, The Fiscal Times.

Please Don’t Roast Marshmallows Over the Erupting Hawaii Volcano, USGS Warns. states the obvious: "The U.S. Geological Survey took a break from giving serious updates about Hawaii’s Kilauea volcanic eruption to confirm that no, you should not roast marshmallows over the scorching hot volcanic vents. The USGS responded to one twitter user who asked, “Is it safe to roast marshmallows over volcanic vents? Assuming you had a long enough stick, that is? Or would the resulting marshmallows be poisonous?” “Erm,” the USGS replied. “We’re going to have to say no, that’s not safe. (Please don’t try!)...”

74 F. high in the Twin Cities on Wednesday.

74 F. average high on May 30.

60 F. high on May 30, 2017.

May 31, 1934: Extreme heat impacts the Twin Cities, with highs of 107 in St. Paul and 106 in Minneapolis. Rush City reached 110. Numerous cases of heat ailments affect people and livestock.

May 31, 1932: A heat wave hits southern Minnesota, with highs of 108 at Campbell, Fairmont, Faribault, and New Ulm.

THURSDAY: Partly sunny and warm. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 84

THURSDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear. Low: 65

FRIDAY: Plenty of sun, a dry day. Winds: E 8-13. High: 83

SATURDAY: Showery rain, possible thunder. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 62. High: 71

SUNDAY: Plenty of sun, nicer day of weekend. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 57. High: 76

MONDAY: Blue sky, very pleasant. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 58. High: 81

TUESDAY: Warm sunshine, take a comp day. Winds: E 7-12. Wake-up: 62. High: 84

WEDNESDAY: A bit stickier, late T-storm possible. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 66. High: 86

Climate Stories...

Does Global Warming Make Tropical Cyclones Stronger? The short answer appears to be yes. Here's an excerpt of an answer at RealClimate: "...Nevertheless, observational data support the expectation from models that the strongest storms are getting stronger. We focus here on the period from 1979, because this is the period covered by geostationary satellite data (thus no cyclones went unobserved) and also the period over which three quarters of global warming has occurred. These data show an increase in the strongest tropical storms in most ocean basins (Kossin et al. 2013). However, these data are not homogeneous but are estimated from a variety of satellite, and air- and ground-based instruments whose capabilities have improved over time. The homogenization of these data by Kossin et al. (2013), which is generally recognized as very careful, reduces the trends, but does not eliminate them. The strongest increase can be found in the North Atlantic (which is more than 99% significant) where the trend has likely been boosted by the decrease in sulfate aerosols over this period. One consequence of this increase is that in most major tropical cyclone regions, the storms with the highest wind speeds on record have been observed in recent years (see Fig. 1 based on reanalysis by Velden et al. 2017). The strongest globally was Patricia (2015), which topped the previous record holder Haiyan (2013)..."

Map credit: "The strongest storms for the major storm regions Western and Eastern North Pacific, North Indian, South Indian and South Pacific, Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico and open North Atlantic. Of these seven regions, five had the strongest storm on record in the past five years, which would be extremely unlikely just by chance. Irma was added by personal communication from Chris Velden, and a tie of two storms with equally strong winds in the South Indian was resolved by selecting the storm with the lower central pressure (Fantala)." (Graph by Stefan Rahmstorf, Creative Commons License CC BY-SA 3.0.)

Pentagon Prepares for Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of a post at Iowa City's Press-Citizen: "Four months ago the Pentagon, not for the first time, raised the alarm that climate change must be confronted.  The Department of Defense’s position has been certain for years.  As Secretary James Mattis has stated, “Climate change can be a drive of instability and the Department of Defense must pay attention.” The Military Command has been on watch at the urging of Congress for over a decade.  If the Pentagon is alarmed, it is time all of us recognize that while we may differ on causes, the overwhelming scientific consensus is that climate change is real. Forget the divides — conservative, liberal, libertarian or simply contrarian — the common good demands a strong defense.  On a tour for journalists in early 2016 at the Norfolk Naval Station, Capt. Dean VanderLey made the DOD position clear: “We talk about sea-level rise. You can measure it.”  The Pentagon avoids the politics, the divides; it cites a clear and present danger..." (File photo: AP).

"Sea, Ice, Snow, It's All Changing": Inuit Culture Struggles With Warming World. The Guardian has the post: "...Cunsolo is one of leading researchers into the links between climate change and mental health. She says the rapid changes happening in coastal Labrador are causing the Inuit to feel increased feelings of anxiety, depression and grief. They sense something is being lost, she said. “These changes are disrupting hundreds of years of knowledge and wisdom and connection to the land. That’s a scary thing for humanity,” Cunsolo said. Many of the Inuit in Rigolet are just a generation removed from the government relocation programs of the 1960s, when families were forced to abandon their nomadic ways and settle in larger communities. They say it’s in their blood to travel out into the wilderness..."

Photo credit: "The Inuit community of Rigolet on the northern coast of Labrador as seen in front of Hamilton Inlet." Photograph: Darren Calabrese

E-Mails Show Climate Change Skeptics Tout "Winning" Under Trump. Here's the intro to a story at TheHill: "A conservative think tank that seeks to battle global warming "alarmism" celebrated during President Trump's first year in office, according to correspondence obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request. Joe Bast, the co-founder of the Illinois-based Heartland Institute, wrote to allies in January that 2017 had been "a great year for climate realists" due to policies pursued by the Trump administration. The email referred to the White House's efforts to direct federal agencies to remove references to climate change from official documents. "This is what victory looks like," he wrote in October when noting that "global warming" wasn't mentioned in the EPA's strategic plan for upcoming years..."

Photo credit: Matt Brown.

The Best Place to Live Domestically as the World Warms. A story at The Good Men Project caught my eye; here's a clip: "...ND-Gain researchers stress that residents of just about any developed country (including the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, China and most of Europe) will likely be fine staying put given the fact that better-heeled governments are already gearing up to adapt to warmer temperatures, more intense storms, rising sea levels and other expected changes. On the flip side, the worst places to be may be mid-latitude developing countries, including most of Africa and South Asia. The countries ND-GAIN predicts will be hardest hit by climate change include Chad, Eritrea, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Niger, Haiti, Afghanistan and Guinie Bissau. Americans looking for the best place to live domestically as the world warms should also look north. Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, both blessed with plenty of water and plenty of terrain well above sea level, are generally acknowledged to be the best parts of the country to be in under a new climate regime..."

File image: NOAA.

Graphic credit: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Climate Change May Lead to Bigger Atmospheric Rivers. Here's are a couple of excerpts from "A new NASA-led study shows that climate change is likely to intensify extreme weather events known as atmospheric rivers across most of the globe by the end of this century, while slightly reducing their number...The results also show that the frequency of the most intense atmospheric river storms is projected to nearly double..."

File image: NASA.

Skewed Priorities? How Philanthropy Has Shaped Debates Over Climate Change. Here's the intro to a story at Inside Philanthropy: "Since the 1990s, U.S. foundations have played a major role in steering action to address climate change. The influence they wield, and their tendency to lock in on certain priorities, warrants a lot more attention. That’s the gist of a new research paper from Matthew Nisbet, a communications professor at Northeastern University, who hopes to invite more scrutiny of climate philanthropy. Nisbet is especially concerned about the lack of funder support for nuclear power, carbon capture and storage, and geoengineering. But more broadly, he’s examining how philanthropy can fuel a kind of orthodoxy of ideas and grantees, a criticism the sector’s fielded from multiple sides over the years. “From an academic standpoint, it’s understanding, how do we draw judgments about really complex science topics that are politically controversial?” Nisbet told me..."

Photo credit: "The indian point nuclear power plant in New York."

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Soggy Saturday - Salvageable Sunday - "Brown Ocean Effect"