Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 33 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist for WeatherNation TV, a new, national 24/7 weather channel with studios in Denver and Minneapolis. Founder of Media Logic Group, Douglas and a team of meteorologists provide weather services for media at Broadcast Weather, and high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster. His speaking engagements take him around the Midwest with a message of continuous experimentation and reinvention, no matter what business you’re in. He is the public face of “SAVE”, Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education, based in Bloomington. | Send Paul a question.

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Sticky Stretch into Sunday. Twin Cities: 9th Hottest Urban Heat Island in USA

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: August 22, 2014 - 4:29 PM

City Sizzle

The urban heat island is real; cities are hotter than surrounding suburbs. That's why climate records are maintained at sites well away from the asphalt and concrete of city cores.

The planet is warming, but cities are heating up much faster. A new report from Climate Central finds that the Twin Cities metro has the 9th most intense summer urban heat island of America's top 60 cities, with a daily average rural-urban temperature difference of 4.3F. Las Vegas is at the top of the list; The Strip a whopping 7.3F warmer than surrounding deserts.

80 percent of Americans live in cities and the urban heat island is heating up our metro areas much faster than rural areas. Details on the blog below.

Clouds kept us a bit cooler yesterday, but hazy sun should lure the mercury well into the 80s today and Saturday; low 90s possible Sunday with a debilitating dew point near 70F. Serious Dog Days.

I expect a dry sky at the State Fair today and much of tomorrow; a few storms rumble in late Saturday.

Mother Nature appears manic: a sizzling Sunday gives way to fresh air by midweek - lows near 50F by Thursday. Heat builds again late next week as 80s return.

Summer spills into September this year.


Getting Sunnier. This morning's fog and stratus has been slow to burn off, but the 1 KM visible loop shows drier air eroding stubborn low clouds over east central Minnesota - a good chance of spying the sun by the dinner hour into this evening (no T-storms expected). Loop: HAMweather.


* Graphics above courtesy of Climate Central, which has the full PDF report here.


Hot And Getting Hotter: Heat Islands Cooking U.S. Cities. Climate Central highlights the large (and growing) difference in temperature between the downtown urban core, experiencing additional heating from asphalt and concrete surfaces, versus outlying suburbs. The differences on a sunny, summer day can be extraordinary, as much as 10-20F. or more. Here's an excerpt: "...With more than 80 percent of Americans living in cities, these urban heat islands — combined with rising temperatures caused by increasing heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions — can have serious health effects for hundreds of millions of people during the hottest months of the year.  Heat is the No.1 weather-related killer in the U.S., and the hottest days, particularly days over 90°F, are associated with dangerous ozone pollution levels that can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks, and other serious health impacts. Our analysis of summer temperatures in 60 of the largest U.S. cities found that: 57 cities had measurable urban heat island effects over the past 10 years. Single-day urban temperatures in some metro areas were as much as 27°F higher than the surrounding rural areas, and on average across all 60 cities, the maximum single-day temperature difference was 17.5°F..."


Saved By Stubborn Cumulus. A Heat Advisory was issued for a time yesterday from the southern suburbs into south central Minnesota as overheated air pushed into Minnesota. But lingering clouds kept temperatures cooler than they would have been had the sun stayed out for a few hours. There was enough instability for T-storms to bubble up; one sparked a possible tornado touchdown near Mountain Lake at 5:20 PM yesterday. Visible loop: HAMweather.


Drier Friday - Late Saturday Storm Risk. 4 KM NAM model data from NOAA shows the next wave of heavy T-storms rumbling across Minnesota late Saturday and Saturday night, but today should be partly sunny and dry with a light north/northeast breeze. Heat spikes Sunday (low 90s?) before a big cool-down early next week. 60-hour accumulated rain loop: HAMweather.


A Serious Case of the Stickies into Sunday. Long-range guidance shows a dew point in the upper 60s to near 70 today into Sunday, followed by a whiff of Canadian air much of next week as dew points tumble into the 40s and 50s. Storms are possible late Saturday, likely late Sunday as cooler air approaches; another round of showers Tuesday, especially southern Minnesota. We dry out Wednesday - Friday of next week as temperatures slowly warm up. I could see a few sweatshirts coming out up north by Thursday morning.


Ramsey, Hennepin Among Counties Getting Flood Assistance. Many areas are still cleaning up and repairing flood damage from June's onslaught of rain. June was the wettest month in recorded Minnesota history, statewide, and 37 counties are now getting assistance from FEMA. Here's more from The Star Tribune: "Hennepin and Ramsey counties will be eligible for federal funds for emergency relief and reconstruction following flooding in June, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced Thursday. That brings the number of Minnesota counties receiving flood assistance to 37, plus three tribal governments. Dakota County is still assessing its damages, according to state officials..."

File photo credit above: "In a Friday June 27, 2014 photo, homes are surrounded with sandbags in Prior Lake , Minn. for protection from flood waters by Prior Lake. Minnesota communities are trying to bounce back from last month's flooding as damage estimates continue to rise." (AP Photo/The Star Tribune,Kyndell Harkness)


El Nino: Down, But Not Out. Here's an excerpt of an in-depth look at ENSO and what will probably still be a mild to moderate El Nino event later in 2014 and early 2015, courtesy of International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University: "...Most of the set of dynamical and statistical model predictions issued during late July and early August 2014 predict a transition from neutral ENSO conditions to weak El Nino conditions during northern early fall 2014 with some further warming predicted into late fall and winter 2014-15. Development of El Nino conditions appears approximately 50% likely for the Aug-Oct or Sep-Nov seasons of 2014, and rises to 70-75% by Nov-Jan and Dec-Feb 2014-15..."


63 Trillion Gallons of Groundwater Lost in Drought, Study Finds. This story at The Los Angeles Times provides perspective, and a few staggering statistics; here's a clip: "The ongoing drought in the western United States has caused so much loss of groundwater that the Earth, on average, has lifted up about 0.16 inches over the last 18 months, according to a new study. The situation was even worse in the snow-starved mountains of California, where the Earth rose up to 0.6 inches. Researchers from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the U.S. Geological Survey estimated the groundwater loss from the start of 2013 to be 63 trillion gallons — the equivalent of flooding four inches of water across the United States west of the Rocky Mountains..." (Latest U.S. Drought Monitor data is here).


Hurricane Hype Is Here To Stay - Forecasters Must Adapt. Because now everyone is an armchair meteorologist, and can tweet information that is dubious or outright malicious. I echo many of meteorologist Jason Samenow's concerns over at Capital Weather Gang; here's an excerpt of what he had to say about recent hurricane-hype: "...Many weather communicators want the public to understand the full range of possibilities.  We want the public to appreciate that model simulations for storms more than five days into the future aren’t realistic.  We lament that armchair meteorologists (amateurs, students, novices, etc.) post unreliable model simulations on social media – without any context - of a storm obliterating a coastal city. We cringe when these suspect forecasts are shared thousands of times, misleading an unknowing public. While some us are secretly envious of the attention, we ultimately worry about a loss of public trust in weather forecasting when they are wrong (most of the time)..."

* ECMWF forecast valid next Wednesday evening courtesy of WSI. The European model hints at a close encounter for the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but keeps any tropical system offshore. We'll see.


A Wildly Erratic GFS Solution. 3 days ago the GFS was hinting at a possible tropical landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast near Louisiana. 2 days ago eastern Florida was in the crosshairs. Yesterday's 18Z run (above) shows a possible hurricane bearing down on Bermuda. If the trends continue residents of Spain had better watch out. Translation: confidence levels are still VERY low, but the situation bears watching. Map: Weather Bell.


New Study Reveals The Lingering Economic Devastation Left by Hurricanes. The negative impact from hurricanes can linger not only years, but decades after a major strike. Here's an excerpt of a story that caught my eye, courtesy of Business Insider Malaysia: "... A full fifteen years after a hurricane or typhoon strikes a country, that country’s per capita GDP will be lower by 0.38% for each meter per second of top wind speed than it would have been without the cyclone. So, a storm whose top wind speed was 10 m/s, or about 22 miles per hour, would have its per capita GDP lowered by about 3.8% fifteen years later, compared to a stormless baseline. The authors also note that cyclones have a much more severe effect on countries with multiple storms. Because each hurricane or typhoon negatively affects GDP in the long term, multiple storms over a period of time can have effects that add up..."

Graphic credit above: Hsiang and Jina, July 2014


Using GPS To Improve Tropical Cyclone Forecasts. Here's an excerpt of a forecast from UCAR in Boulder, Colorado focusing on promising new technology that may be able to help pinpoint cyclone track and intensity: "One of the challenges in forecasting tropical cyclones is that measuring atmospheric conditions over the open ocean is extremely difficult. New research indicates that the COSMIC microsatellite system, which uses a technology known as GPS radio occultation to observe remote regions of the atmosphere, can significantly improve predictions of tropical cyclones. Forecasts traditionally draw on observations taken by instruments on Earth’s surface or by radiosondes, which are lifted into the atmosphere by balloons. But both these approaches are limited in hard-to-access places, like the open ocean. In contrast, GPS radio occultation measurements can be made almost anywhere, and they are unaffected by clouds, light rain, or airborne aerosols..."

Image credit above: "By using GPS signals to monitor the atmosphere in three dimensions, the FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC satellite constellation has led to improved global weather monitoring, especially in data-sparse regions." (Image courtesy UCP/COSMIC).


How The "Year of Four Hurricanes" Changed Florida's Readiness. New communications tools exist that weren't around 10 years ago, but amazing platforms like cell phone texts, Twitter and Facebook can transmit not only essential, accurate information and warnings, but also rumor, inuendo and misinformation. Here's an excerpt of what's changed (for the better) from Emergency Management: "...Communications: When the 2004 storms struck, Twitter did not exist. Neither did the iPhone. A new website called TheFacebook had just been created in a Harvard dorm room. When it came to hurricanes, the latest news arrived via television, the Web and radio. Today, when a storm gets close, text alerts will go out to anyone within range of South Florida cellphone antennas, even if their phone has a Cleveland or New York City area code. Emergency managers also plan to rely heavily on social media to get the word out. At the Broward County Emergency Operations Center, about 40 volunteers have been trained to monitor Facebook and Twitter for information on people trapped, in need of food or dealing with other emergency situations, said emergency manager Miguel Ascarrunz..."

Photo credit above: "Charley was the first of four hurricanes to strike Florida in 2004." (Andrea Booher/FEMA).


Twins: A Gold Mine for Research. I married a twin. And no, I don't get them confused. That could be fatal. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating tale from The Atlantic: "This is one party where virtually no one shows up alone. Two thousand sets of twins packed into the small city of Twinsburg, Ohio earlier this month to celebrate their twin-ness at a three-day festival called Twins Days. Throughout the weekend, twins marched in the “Double Take” parade, competed in look-alike contests, and snapped photos with one another at a welcome wiener roast on Friday night. Though the festival is meant for twins, there is another group that is just as eager to attend this annual celebration of shared genetics—scientists..."

Photo credit above: "Each year, thousands of attendees dress alike for Twins Days. These twins were taking a dip in the pool at the Bertram Inn and Conference Center in Aurora, Ohio on the first day of the festival." (Charles Robinson).


Ripening Leaves? Media Logic Group meteorologist Susie Martin snapped this photo of a sugar maple leaf in Eden Prairie. The leaves are leaving...in late August? It's way too early for that.


You Can't Make This Stuff Up - Or Can You? There's some debate online about whether this video clip of a guy in Australia stalking a dust devil is real. I've looked at it pretty carefully, and I don't think this was done with special effects. Impressive, but can he get life insurance? Check it out here.



85 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

80 F. average high on August 21.

88 F. high on August 21, 2013.

.07" rain fell at MSP International Airport yesterday.

August 21 in Minnesota Weather History:

1910: Daylight is dimmed in Duluth due to smoke from Rocky Mountain forest fires.

1870: Downpours across southern Minnesota with 5 inches at Sibley, and 3.49 at Ft. Snelling. Much of the wheat crop was damaged.


TODAY: Partly sunny, sticky and dry. Dew point: 67. Winds: NE 5. High: 85

FRIDAY NIGHT: Warm and sultry. Low: 71

SATURDAY: Murky sun, T-storms rumble in late. Dew point: 70. High: 86

SUNDAY: Stinking hot. Hot sun much of the day. Late day storm risk. Wake-up: 74. High: 91 (Heat Index near 100 by late afternoon?)

MONDAY: Blue sky, less humid. Dew point: 56. Wake-up: 67. High: 80

TUESDAY: Clouds, few showers likely. Wake-up: 63. High: 74

WEDNESDAY: Some sun, fresh air! Dew point: 49. Wake-up: 57. High: 72

THURSDAY: Bright sun, spectacular. Dew point: 47. Wake-up: 52. High: 76


Climate Stories...


Jet Stream Changes Driving Extreme Weather Linked Again to Global Warming, Arctic Ice Loss. Here's a story, video and links to research from ThinkProgress; an excerpt:

Weather extremes in the summer — such as the record heat wave in the United States that hit corn farmers and worsened wildfires in 2012 — have reached an exceptional number in the last ten years. Man-made global warming can explain a gradual increase in periods of severe heat, but the observed change in the magnitude and duration of some events is not so easily explained. It has been linked to a recently discovered mechanism: the trapping of giant waves in the atmosphere. A new data analysis now shows that such wave-trapping events are indeed on the rise.

A number of studies in recent years have linked this quantum jump in extreme weather to global warming and the warming-driven loss of Arctic ice (see here and here). Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences has been at the forefront of this research. She explains her findings in this video..."


Greenland's Late August Rain Over Melt Ponds Is A Glacial Outburst Flood Hazard. Robert Scribbler has an interesting post; here's an excerpt: "Glacial melt ponding on steep ice faces. Above freezing temperatures for an extended period. Storms delivering rainfall to the glacier surface. These three events are a bad combination and one that, until recently, we’ve never seen before for Greenland. It is a set of circumstances directly arising from a human-driven warming of the great ice sheet. And it is one that risks a highly violent and energetic event in which melt ponds over-top and glaciers are flushed and ripped apart by surges of water rushing for scores of miles over and through the ice sheet..."

Map credit above: "GFS temperature and rainfall analysis for Greenland on August 21, 2014. Note the above freezing temperatures and rainfall over the region of the Jacobshavn Glacier for today." Image source: University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer.


Climate Change Scientists Call On Colleagues To Speak Up On Global Warming Debate. Here's a video and excerpt of a story at The Sydney Morning Herald: "...One of Australia’s most senior climate scientists has called on his colleagues not to sit on the sidelines of the political debate about global warming and other environmental issues, given the evidence they present asks society to consider fundamental changes. In a speech to be given to the Australian Academy of Science on Tuesday evening, Dr Michael Raupach will say environment scientists' position in the public debate had changed because they were now presenting evidence requiring society to make major choices in response..."


Meet The Climate Deniers Who Want to be President. What has happened to the Republican Party? You can't be pro-free markets and strong on defense, and still acknowledge basic science, at least when it comes to climate change? At some point I hope cooler (smarter) heads prevail. Younger voters are taking this subject very seriously and will vote accordingly. Here's an excerpt from a story by Ben Adler at Grist: "...The Republicans basically fall into four categories: (1) Flat-Earthers, who deny the existence of manmade climate change; (2) Born-Again Flat-Earthers, who do the same, but who had admitted climate change exists back before President Obama took office; (3) Do-Nothings, who sort of admit the reality of climate change but oppose actually taking any steps to prevent it; and (4) Dodgers, who have avoided saying whether they believe climate change is happening, and who also don’t want to take any steps to alleviate it. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker fall into the latter category.  The Do-Nothings are blue and purple state governors, Chris Christie of New Jersey and John Kasich of Ohio..."


Late-Night TV's Top 5 Moments in Denial-Busting. Forecast The Facts has links to some of the more memorable climate denier-debunking's; here's an excerpt and link to the videos: "Jon Stewart just delivered an epic takedown of climate change deniers, but that was hardly the first time late night TV has taken them on. Check out the top five moments in climate denial busting below — and share widely!"

Warm with a few Thundery Lumps - T.S. Iselle Delivers Hawaiian Punch - A Real Close Encounter for Steven Spielberg from a Hawaiian Hurricane 22 Years Ago

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: August 8, 2014 - 8:52 AM

Hawaiian Punch

Is there a state with "perfect weather"? San Diego has the best climate in America, on paper, but they're running out of fresh water. Hawaii has to be near the top of the list, a tropical paradise where severe weather is extremely rare.

While helping with special effects for "Jurassic Park" Steven Spielberg described how life imitated art. During filming on Kauai in 1992 Category 4 "Iniki" struck. They evacuated Spielberg and his film crew to the basement of the hotel. "You realize you could have drowned from the storm surge. In a hurricane you want to be on the third floor or higher" I told him. His eyes got very big. We changed the subject.

"Iselle" just struck the Big Island with near-hurricane force winds, for the first time on record. Maui and Oahu will be brushed by tropical storm conditions; the rough equivalent of a severe thunderstorm - one that lingers for 12-18 hours.

It puts our Sunday T-storms into perspective. A ridge of high pressure keeps us sunny, hazy & warm into Saturday. A storm may sprout late Saturday - a better chance Monday - with a welcome dip in humidity by midweek.

But any storms will be small and brief, without names.

I can live with that.


Predicted Wave Heights. The most significant (15-20 foot) waves should remain offshore, just east of Hilo, but significant storm surge damage can't be ruled from Iselle, especially on the windward (eastern) coast of the Big Island, near Hilo. Source: NOAA.


Wind Damage Potential. One of the models we look at (TAOS) shows potentially severe wind damage in and around Hilo, with moderate to widespread damage from sustained high winds across much of the Big Island. How the winds react to encountering Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two towering volcanoes, is an open question, since Big Island hasn't been hit by a hurricane or tropical storm since at least 1949. Only light/minor damage is expected from winds in Maui and Oahu, but heavy rains may spark flash flooding.


What To Expect From Hawaii's First Hurricane Landfall in 22 Years. Meteorologist Eric Holthaus has some interesting nuggets and perspective at Slate; here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...Hawaiian hurricanes are rare. So rare that the National Weather Service doesn’t quite know what will happen, especially with Iselle’s circulation interacting with the two huge volcanoes on the Big Island, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The volcanoes could help to disrupt Iselle’s circulation, or they could even enhance its winds. A message from the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu highlighted the risk:

In Hawaii, mountainous terrain accelerates hurricane and tropical storm winds causing extremely high winds that can destroy buildings, structures, trees, vegetation and crops..."

Animation credit: NOAA's WaveWatch III Model.


A Real Close Encounter: How 1992 Hurricane Iniki Disrupted the Filming of "Jurassic Park", and Put Steven Spielberg & Crew at Risk. You can't make this stuff up. A previous company ("EarthWatch") helped with some of the special effects in Jurassic Park - 3 dimensional animations for control room scenes, with scientists tracking a mythical storm approaching Jurassic Park. Foreshadow. In real life Category 4 Iniki chased the film's director, Steven Spielberg, and his crew into the basement of the hotel as the real-life storm approached, which may have been a precarious place to be. Remember, in a tornado you want to be below ground, if possible, but with the storm surge risk near the water in a hurricane you want to be on the third floor or higher of a well-constructed building, away from outer walls and windows. That's the unlikely topic of today's first Climate Matters segment: "Hurricane Iselle brings back memories for Paul Douglas. He tells the story of a meeting with Steven Spielberg when Hurricane Iniki impacted the production of Jurassic Park and how Spielberg learned a valuable hurricane safety tip."


Improved Long-Term Forecasts at Heart of National Hurricane Center's Goals. Claims Journal has an article focusing on new tools and capabilities from NHC, and a look at just how far we've come; here's an excerpt: "...Our track forecasts, for example, have been getting better year by year. Since 1990, our 48 hour track errors have come down from 200 nautical miles on average to about 70,” Franklin said. “Our three day forecast errors have come down in that period from about 300 nautical miles to 100 today.” According to Franklin, intensity errors have remained stable while storms have gotten stronger in a shorter amount of time..."


NOAA: Chances For Below-Average Hurricane Season Have Increased. The Capital Weather Gang puts it all into perspective; here's the intro: "If this year’s hurricane season has seemed quiet so far, it will likely continue to do so. In an update to the Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts there is a now a 70 percent chance of a below-normal season. There is only a five percent chance of an above-normal season. From NOAA: The updated hurricane season outlook, which includes the activity to-date of hurricanes Arthur and Bertha, predicts a 70 percent chance of the following ranges: 7 to 12 named storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which 0 to 2 could become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, 5; winds of at least 111 mph)..."


How Rare is "Iselle"? The Hawaiian Islands have been hit by 2 hurricanes since 1949: Dot in 1959 and Category 4 Iniki in 1992. Since 1949 the Big Island, Maui and Oahu have only been brushed by tropical depressions. Here's some additional perspective in our second installment of Climate Matters: "Hurricane Iselle bears down on Hawaii and should make landfall soon. That got us thinking. How rare are hurricanes in the Hawaiian Islands? WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas has more information in this Climate segment."


Isolated Saturday Storms. The farther west you travel, away from MSP, the better the odds of a stray T-storm or two late Saturday and Saturday night, in response to a weak upper level disturbance. Latest guidance suggests Sunday may actually be the sunnier, warmer, drier day, with T-storms potentially holding off until Sunday night.


Steamy Into Monday, Then Relief. Highs poke around in the low 80s today, Saturday and Sunday before cooling off slightly next week. After a spirited round of Monday T-storms (wettest day in sight) dew points drop off into the upper 40s and low 50s by midweek, so it will feel a lot more comfortable out there. A slow warming trend, and rise in humidity levels, is likely again toward the end of next week. Graph: Weatherspark.


60-Hour Accumulated Rainfall. More flash flooding is possible from the Middle Mississippi Valley into the Tennessee Valley as storms train along a lingering boundary; some 3-5" amounts can't be ruled out. Most instability storms puff up west of MSP into Saturday, but a stray storm could drift into the metro late Saturday or Saturday evening. 4 KM WRF data: NOAA and HAMweather.


Minnesota: Cooler than Average July, Still Drought-Free! No kidding. Here's an excerpt of a post from the Minnesota DNR:

  • July precipitation totals across Minnesota were light in all but a few locations. In some portions of southwest and south central Minnesota, monthly rainfall totals were less than one inch. July rainfall in most counties fell short of historical averages by one to three inches.
    [see: July 2014 Precipitation Map  |  July 2014 Precipitation Departure Map  | July 2014 Climate Summary Table]
  • The most notable heavy rain and severe weather event of July occurred on the evening of the 21st and the early morning hours of 22nd. Severe storms swept through portions of northern Minnesota bringing damaging winds and torrential downpours.
    [see: Heavy Rain and Severe Storms: July 21-22]
  • Average monthly temperatures for July in Minnesota were two to three degrees below the historical average at most locations. Extremes for July ranged from a high of 96 degrees F at Hutchinson on the 21st, to a low of 36 degrees F at Brimson (St. Louis County) on the 4th and Embarrass (St. Louis County) on the 16th.

Californians Have The Perfect Solution To The Drought - Paint The Lawn Green. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to do the same thing, or replace grass with no-maintenance mulch. Green dirt? Here's a clip from a story at Quartz: "...The story is far from unique. Companies that promise to paint lawns are cropping up all over California. The service lets homeowners cut back on water use without sacrificing curb appeal.  But the cosmetic cover-up masks an ugly reality: The Golden State is three years into what has now become its worst drought on record. And it’s only getting worse. The US Drought Monitor upgraded the intensity last week with a warning that more than half the state is now experiencing “exceptional” drought—the most severe category, according to federal researchers..."

Photo credit above: "It will just smell different." AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes.


Photos: Johnstown Then And Now, Embracing The History of Flood City. I don't think any of us can imagine what it must have been like when a wall of muddy water and debris overwhelmed the city of Johnstown, like an inland tsunami. NewsWorks does a good job of capturing the horror, and recovery - here's a clip: "...In June 1889, newspapers from around the world published sensational headlines that read "Horros of Horrors," "Awful Calamity. Johnstown Wiped Out!" and "Fire Finishes All Left By The Flood." On the last day of May, the South Fork Dam collapsed — sending a wall of water nearly 40-feet high from the man-made Lake Conemaugh, 14 miles through the river valley to Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Houses, churches, train cars and trees were ripped from foundations and swept away in flood waters. Piles of debris rushed down the Little Conemaugh River and became trapped in the arches of the Pennsylvania Railroad Stone Bridge near the center of Johnstown..."

Photo credit above: "Johnstown Then and Now. Bird's eye view of Johnstown, Pa. after the flood of 1889." (Image courtesy of the Library of Congresss)


The $2 Trillion Risk You Haven't Heard About. Maybe you have, if you've been paying attention. I've posted a few articles about the risk of a major X-Class solar flare (G4 or G5 strength) and what it could do to not only communications but the grid. It's something our corporate customers are most concerned about, even more than hurricanes and rising seas. Here's an excerpt from The PBS NewsHour: "There’s a 12 percent chance of something really disruptive hitting Earth in the next decade. How worried should we be? Very, says astronomer Donald Goldsmith. To put that risk in context, that’s about the same likelihood of another earthquake striking California. But the risk Goldsmith warns about is a lot less publicized: a type of solar flare, known as a coronal mass ejection, could cause economic damages up to $2 trillion, according to the National Academy of Sciences. (NewsHour science reporter Jenny Marder explained how the sun ejects these balls of gas in this 2011 story.) These potentially destructive solar storms are in the news this summer because of a recently published paper revealing just how close a CME came to hitting Earth two years ago. If this extreme solar storm had hit in July 2012, the University of Colorado’s Daniel Baker said, “We’d still be picking up the pieces....” (File photo above: AP).


See Power Plants Most Vulnerable to Flooding. Climate Central has an article and links to new tools that focus in on infrastructure, including power plants, most susceptible to storm surge, river and flash flooding. Here's an excerpt: "It doesn’t take rising seas for electric power plants and other energy infrastructure in the U.S. to flood. Major 100-year floods can do that without the help of climate change. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s new mapping tool announced Wednesday shows how such a flood could drown some of the nation’s most critical energy infrastructure — power plants, oil and gas wells, solar power installations, etc..."

Map credit above: "U.S. Energy Information Administration map of the flooding potential in Tampa, Fla. The blue shade represents 100-year flood risk, encompassing power plants south of downtown."


Bakken Oil Pipeline Would Bisect Minnesota, Cross 144 Waterways. InsideClimateNews has details that had me sitting up a little straighter in my chair - here's an excerpt: "...The 616–mile Sandpiper pipeline is one of the first major pipelines designed to carry crude oil out of the booming Bakken Shale region of North Dakota.  It will begin in the northwest corner of North Dakota and cross into Minnesota then pass 299 miles through the heart of the state to Superior, Wisc. Once running, it could carry nearly 10 million gallons of crude oil a day—an estimated 20 percent of the oil produced in the Bakken—to refineries in the Midwest and East and Canada...Yet the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has faulted the proposed route, saying it "shows a significantly higher potential for environmental damage" than other possible routes. It is asking for a detailed risk analysis of the proposed route that assesses the potential for leaks, how much oil might be spilled, and how it could affect groundwater, surface water and aquatic life..."

Map credit above: Paul Horn/InsideClimate News.


Box Office: Why "Into The Storm" Might Hit Hardest in Tornado Alley. The movie, an unofficial sequel to "Twister" (?) kicks off this weekend; here's a clip from The Hollywood Reporter: "...Remembering how well Twister did, many Midwestern theater chains expect a bump for Into the Storm, directed by Steven Quale and starring Richard Armitage and Sarah Wayne Callies.  "Especially in Oklahoma and southern Missouri, it should be really strong," says Brock Bagby, director of programming at Kansas-based theater chain B&B Theatres, which has locations throughout the Midwest. "I don't know if it's coping or it's just more interesting because it affects them," he tells The Hollywood Reporter. "In L.A., you’ve never seen a tornado." An executive at one of the country’s largest chains agrees. "I haven’t heard any complaints," he says..."

Image credit courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


Tidal Power Generator Unveiling Hailed as Landmark. Power from the natural tidal ebb and flow of the seas? If costs continue to come down (much like solar) it could be another viable, zero-carbon source of electricity. Here's a snippet from The BBC: "...The 150-tonne demonstration device with a frame as high as a seven-storey building has been built in Pembroke Dock by Mustang Marine, recently saved from administration. It will generate energy from tidal currents on the sea bed. Tidal Energy Ltd claims the patented DeltaStream device will be Wales' first grid-connected freestanding tidal turbine..."

Photo credit: Tidal Energy LTD. "Seven-storey high generator has been built by Mustang Marine in Pembroke Dock."


This Car May Soon Be The World's First Street-Legal Vehicle Powered By The Sun. The Washington Post has the story - here's the intro: "Hayden Smith and his racing team are euphoric. They had spent the last weekend of July obliterating a world speed record that had stood for more than a quarter of a century. Once certified, the Sunswift eVe, built by students hailing from Australia’s University of New South Wales will reign as the fastest electric car to cover 500 kilometers (310 miles). More importantly, the achievement brings it one step closer towards becoming the world’s first street-legal solar-powered car..." (Image credit: "Meet the Sunswift eVe.")


Is A One-Way Journey (to Mars) Wrong? I can think of a number of people I'd love to send on a one-way journey to the Red Planet. I'll bet you could list a few people too. Let's start a petition. In the meantime a writer at the online community site, Mars One, explains why a few (crazy) folks might be inspired to take a one-way trip: "...Is a one-way mission insane? Here's how Mason Peck responded to the question: "There are many motivations for becoming one of the first settlers on Mars, none of them insane in my opinion. These include:

* A noble sense of self-sacrifice, in you believe that extending human presence into the solar system will help to ensure the survival of the species."

* A desire for the immortality that comes with fame, despite the risk to life and limb. In some sense, putting  yourself at risk helps ensure your influence on the history of humanity will outlive your physical being..."


83 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

82 F. average high on August 7.

77 F. high on August 7, 2013.

August 7, 1930: A record high of 102 is set at Redwood Falls.


TODAY: Partly sunny, clouds & PM T-storms southwest MN. Winds: E 10. High: 82

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy metro, storms southwestern MN. Low: 64

SATURDAY: Hazy sun, T-storm possible late, especially west of MSP. Dew point: 60. Winds: SE 10. High: 82

SUNDAY: Warm sun, sticky. Storms north/west Minnesota. Wake-up: 66. High: 84

MONDAY: More numerous T-storms, locally heavy rain. Dew point: 66. Wake-up: 67. High: 79

TUESDAY: Sunnier, turning less humid. Dew point: 53. Wake-up: 61. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Bright sun, light winds. Dew point: 48. Wake-up: 56. High: near 80

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, seasonably warm. Wake-up: 59. High: 80


Is a one-way mission insane? Here’s how Mason Peck responded to the question:

“There are many motivations for becoming one of the first settlers on Mars, none of them insane in my opinion. These include:

  • “A noble sense of self-sacrifice, if you believe that extending human presence into the solar system will help ensure the survival of the species."
  • “A desire for the immortality that comes with fame, despite the risk to life and limb. In some sense, putting yourself at risk helps ensure your influence on the history of humanity will outlive your physical being."
  • “A desire for personal accomplishment, or overcoming a challenge, the same sort of thing that drives people to join expeditions to the summit of Mount Everest."
- See more at: https://community.mars-one.com/blog/is-a-one-way-journey-wrong#sthash.8TpgtvHE.dpuf

Climate Stories...

For Most Of Us A Warmer World Has Become "The New Normal". Here's an excerpt of a story from Reuters and Huffington Post: "Global warming has been going on for so long that most people were not even born the last time the Earth was cooler than average in 1985 in a shift that is altering perceptions of a "normal" climate, scientists said. Decades of climate change bring risks that people will accept higher temperatures, with more heatwaves, downpours and droughts, as normal and complicate government plans to do more to cut emissions of greenhouse gas emissions. "Because the last three decades have seen such a significant rise in global and regional temperatures, most people under the age of 30 have not lived in a world without global warming," Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told Reuters..."


NOAA: Ocean Acidification Rises, Marine Economy Sinks. Here's a clip from an article at EcoWatch: "...But a new study, funded by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), says growing acidification of Alaska’s waters, particularly those off the southern coast, threatens the state’s whole economy—largely dependent on the fishing industry. The study, which appears in the journal Progress in Oceanography, says that not only will the state’s commercial fishing sector be badly hit by a growth in acidification, but it will also affect subsistence fisherpeople whose diet mainly consists of the catch from local waters..."


What CEO's Are Starting To Do About That "Huge Gap" Obama Mentioned. Companies stated sustainability intentions vs. what they spend on D.C. corporate lobbyists to maintain the status quo are often at odds, according to this piece from Eric Roston at Bloomberg; here's a clip: "...A consultancy based in Stamford, Connecticut, called Framework LLC, in 2011 compared sustainability reports and corporate 10-K disclosures for the 100 top companies chosen annually by Corporate Responsibility Magazine. The study found that just eight companies had "a large degree" of overlap between 10-K and sustainability reports: Merck & Co., Campbell Soup Co., Intel Corp., Freeport-McMoran, Weyerhaeuser Co., Newmont Mining Corp, Xcel Energy and Coca-Cola Co. Twenty-eight companies had disclosures that raised "somewhat" similar topics and 60 had minimal overlap. Four didn't intersect at all..."


Climate Change Damages Europe's Forests. Climate News Network has the story - here's an excerpt: "...The authors show that damage caused by forest disturbance has increased continuously over the last 40 years in Europe, reaching 56 million cubic metres of timber annually in the years from 2002 to 2010. Analysis of scenarios for the decades ahead suggest this trend will continue, with the study estimating that forest disturbance will increase damage by another million cubic metres of timber every year over the next 20 years. The study says this increase is roughly equivalent to 7,000 football fields’ worth of timber. The authors say climate change is the main driver behind the increase. Forest disturbance did not increase much beyond present levels in their simulations while climate conditions remained stable..."

Photo credit above: "Forest fire damage such as this in Portugal is expected to increase." Image: Osvaldo Gago via Wikimedia Commons.

A More Comfortable Front - "Bertha" Sighting

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: August 3, 2014 - 11:22 PM

Just Keep Smiling

I'm older, but no wiser, yet one thing I know: Minnesota Nice evaporates when you're standing in line for a Paul McCartney concert and the sky begins to leak.

"Paul, if it rains you're in trouble!" a women scowled, repeatedly poking me with hypodermic fingernails. Really? I checked Doppler on my cell phone (something my team at a former company, Digital Cyclone, invented in 2001) and was gratified to see others in the crowd quietly doing the same. "Ma'am the shower is ending. And it won't snow. That I can promise you."

Here's the thing: I love the weather. I do my job for free. They pay me (actually I pay myself) to put up with noisy skeptics. It's a never-ending MBA in public relations and crowd control. No wonder I'm neurotic.

A northeast breeze drops dew points to comfortable levels today; most of the T-storms stay south and west of MSP into midweek.

Thursday appears to be the wettest day, with sunshine and 80s next weekend luring you back onto the lake. After record June floods and mostly-lousy weekends in July we're trying to cram an entire summer into August.

Soak it up because the ECMWF hints at 60s for highs by the middle of next week.

PS: the sprinkles ended in time for McCartney's amazing rendition of "8 Days a Week".

No flurries either.


Definition of Isolated Thunderstorms. When it rains hard in your yard the probability of precipitation goes up to 100%, but the high-res visible loop from Sunday shows showers and T-storms over less than 5-10% of the area during the midday and afternoon hours; cumulonimbus flaring up ahead of a slightly cooler and drier front that will leave us breating a bit easier today and Tuesday. Loop: HAMweather.


A Summerlike Week. Next Week? Not So Much. 80s will be the rule this week, with the exception of Thursday, when showers and T-storms will keep temperatures in the 70s. You'll notice a welcome dip in dew point today, but humidity levels creep up as the week goes on, a very lake-worthy weekend shaping up with mid-80s possible both days. A cool frontal passage sparks more heavy T-storms Monday, followed by a possible temperature tumble next week. Source: Weatherspark.


Moisture Plume. The amount of tropical moisture available to a stalled East Coast frontal boundary is impressive, and I could see some isolated 6" amounts near Wilmington North Carolina by 2 AM Wednesday. Slightly cooler, drier air pushes south into Minnesota and Wisconsin; monsoon T-storms producing localized flash flooding from California's Sierra Nevada into Las Vegas and possibly Salt Lake City. 4 KM WRF data: NOAA and HAMweather.


Carolina Flood Potential. 7-Day accumulated rainfall guidance shows some 4-5" amounts possible from near Charleston to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, capable of ongoing flooding headaches. More heavy showers and T-storms are likely to dump 1-3"+ rains from near Sioux Calls to Des Moines and Kansas City. Source: NOAA.


A Close Call from Bertha. No, not Bertha Butt (one of the Butt Sisters), but Tropical Storm Bertha, which may grow to minimal Category 1 hurricane status by Wednesday, well east of the US coast. But the Carolinas will be brushed by strong winds and rip currents, moisture from Bertha fueling additional heavy showers and T-storms with potential flash flooding for the Outer Banks. Storm track: NOAA NHC.


Gov. Brown Declares State of Emergency for California Wildfires. Here's the latest from The Los Angeles Times: "Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday declared a state of emergency due to the effects of several wildfires burning in central and northern California counties. Thousands of acres have burned in El Dorado, Amador, Butte, Humboldt, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Modoc, Shasta and Siskiyou counties, which have been suffering from lightning strikes and high temperatures. Some homes have burned..."

Photo credit above: "This July 28 photo by the U.S. Forest Service shows flames and smoke in the Sierra National Forest." (Burt Stalter / U.S. National Forest Service via AP).


As Wildfires Burn Through Funds, Washington Seeks New Way To Pay. Nothing like running out of money to sharpen one's focus. Maine Public Broadcasting reports; here's an excerpt of a very interesting interview: "...Together, the Interior Department and the Forest Service, which bears the lion share of wildfire fighting responsibilities, have budgeted over a billion dollars for firefighting this year. That's five times more than 20 years ago, and even that may not be enough, if recent years are any guide. There are other costs associated with wildfires, says Rachel Cleetus, a senior climate economist with the Union of Concerned Scientists..."

Photo credit above: "Smoke rises from a fire in Burney, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. A pair of wildfires burning without restraint about 8 miles apart in northeast California became the focus of state and federal firefighters as authorities reported that one of the blazes had destroyed eight homes and prompted the precautionary evacuation of a small long-term care hospital." (AP Photo/Record Searchlight, Clay Duda)


Downright Dismal Images of the Western Drought, A Record-Setter in California. The acceleration of drought out west, especially California, is remarkable. Climate Central provides additional perspective; here's a clip: "...California is turning brown and you can see it from space. Look at the difference between June 2011 and June 2014 in the animation of NASA images below. Note the dwindling snowpack, as well. Sierra Nevada snowpack was just 18 percent of normal this spring..."

Animation credit: "Pair of images above from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite." (NASA).


10 Cities Running Out Of Water. Most of them are in California, as USA TODAY reports: "...Based on data provided by the U.S. Drought Monitor, a collaboration between academic and government organizations, 24/7 Wall St. identified large U.S. urban areas that have been under persistent, serious drought over the first seven months of this year. The Drought Monitor measures drought by five levels of intensity: from D0, described as abnormally dry, to D4, described as exceptional drought. For the first time in the Drought Monitor's history, 100% of California is under at least severe drought conditions, or D2. It was also the first time exceptional drought of any kind — the highest level — has been recorded in the state..."


Otherworldly Downpour Precedes Deadly Landslide in India. When it does rain it's falling harder, with tragic consequences at times. Here's a clip from The New York Times: "When the storm came to this tiny village on Wednesday morning, with a resounding blast and mere seconds of a downpour so heavy it could not be called rain, Dilip Bhagwa Lembeg was walking to his paddy fields. He heard the blast, looked up to the hill behind him, and saw that the mango trees on the hilltop were trembling. Seconds later, most of the houses in the area were gone..."

Photo credit above: "Villagers watch a rescue operation standing by mud and slush at the site of a landslide in Malin village, in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. Heavy rains hampered efforts Friday by hundreds of rescue workers digging through heavy mud and debris, as the death toll from a landslide that engulfed an entire village in western India crossed 50". (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool).


Extreme Flash Flooding In Italian Tourist Town Kills 4, Injures 20. The UK Daily Mail has details on another tragedy. Is the rain falling harder or is this just the media doing a better job of reporting extreme rains that have always been with us? I suspect the former, but I'm keeping an open mind. Here's a clip: "At least four people have died after a flash flood swept revelers at a village festinval in Italy into a river. A furious torrent carried off cars, kiosks and villagers, who were celebrating the traditional "Feast of the Omens" in Molinetto della Croda, near Venice. Around 200 people had taken shelter under a tent when "an avalanche of water" struck, leaving more than 20 people injured, four badly, authorities said..."


Heavy Rain Paralyzes Life Across Turkey. Istanbul was hit by a rare tornado; here's an excerpt from Today's Zaman: "İstanbul was hit by heavy rain on Saturday evening, causing water to collect on several roads, bringing traffic to a standstill. Many locals, heading home from work, were trapped in their vehicles when floodwater accumulated on the roads. Flooding caused traffic jams and congestion problems throughout the city. Municipal workers worked all night to clear streets across the city...."

Photo credit above: "A tornado struck the İstanbul neighborhood of Kasımpaşa amid fierce rain on Saturday." (Photo: Cihan).

Science Fair Project Spins Up NASA Hurricane Study. Are hurricanes becoming larger, and if so what are the economic implications? Should we be focusing less on wind speed and category and more on the size of a storm? Here's an excerpt of a fascinating study from NASA JPL: "...They found that the common practice of using only wind speed to represent hurricanes in economic hurricane damage models is inadequate for large storms, such as 2012's Hurricane Sandy. Zhai and Jiang are the first to quantify the economic impacts of increasing hurricane size. Analyzing 73 hurricanes from 1988 to the present, Zhai and Jiang found that a doubling in size, without a change in wind speed, more than quadruples the economic loss a hurricane causes. Tripling its size multiplies the loss by almost 20 times..."

Photo credit above: "Alice Zhai and Jonathan Jiang." Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.


Researchers Take New Approach To Hurricane Forecasting. Track predictions are consistently accurate, but how do we make that quantum leap and make a more accurate hurricane (intensity) forecast? News 92 FM in Houston has an interesting story; here's an excerpt: "...Forecasters have gotten pretty good at forecasting a hurricane’s path, but when it comes to intensity forecasting, especially intensity just before landfall, researcher Alex Soloviev of Nova Southeastern University says there just hasn’t been much progress. “During the last 25 years or so, there has been no serious improvement in forecasting of hurricanes,” Soloviev said..." (File photo of Hurricane Katia: NASA).


A Look At Some of History's Most Intense Hurricanes. RNN and WDAM.com have a good recap of some of America's superstorms; here's an excerpt: "Here’s a look at some of the most intense hurricanes to hit the United States.

Labor Day hurricane, 1935: This hurricane is still ranked as the most intense hurricane to ever hit the U.S. nearly eight decades after it struck the Florida Keys. Residents in the area had very little warning or chance to evacuate, as the storm was predicted to pass south. Survivors told The Associated Press their families only knew something was wrong in the hours before landfall when their barometers began showing low readings. While no wind speeds are available, the storm’s pressure was measured at 892 millibars, one of the lowest ever recorded. The unnamed hurricane killed 408 people in the Keys, many of them World War I veterans working on a local construction project..."

File photo above: Hurricane Andrew, 1992. "Many houses, businesses and personal effects suffered extensive damage from one of the most destructive hurricanes ever recorded in America. One million people were evacuated and 54 died in the hurricane." (Source: FEMA).


Only 6% of Weather-Related Deaths from 2006-2010 Were from Severe Weather. It may be counterintuitive, but the vast majority of the roughly 2,000 American weather-related fatalities were due to extreme cold and extreme heat. More details from WWLP.com.


Dramatic Image of Supercell Wins National Geographic Contest. Yes, this is one of the most spectacular photos I've ever seen of a strongly rotating thunderstorm. These are the extreme storms that often produce damaging hail and tornadoes. More from The Capital Weather Gang: "A beautiful, dramatic image of a Colorado supercell thunderstorm won first place in National Geographic’s 2014 Traveler Photo Contest. The image, taken by photographer Marko Korošec of Slovenia, is a striking representation of the power of thunderstorms in North America. Low precipitation supercells, like this one in Colorado, are most common in the high plains of the United States. They provide excellent opportunities to visualize the rotating updraft — part of what makes these storms so dangerous..."

Photo credit above: "The Independence Day" – "While on storm chasing expeditions in the Tornado Alley in USA I have encountered many photogenic supercell storms. This photograph was taken while we were approaching the storm near Julesburg, Colorado on My 28th, 2013. The storm was tornado warned for more than one hour, but stayed an LP storm through all its cycles and never produced a tornado, just occasional brief funnels, large hail and some rain." (Photo and caption by Marko Korošec / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)


After Ebola. The world is a dangerous place, but all other risks pale compared to virus and pandemic. That's the argument of this harrowing story at The New Yorker, including the story of Patrick Sawyer, the only American to die from ebola so far, was scheduled to fly to Minnesota - he never had a chance to get on that plane: "...But as the world’s worst Ebola epidemic yet spreads through western Africa, it is important to remember that we won’t always see something. “The single biggest threat to man’s continued dominance on this planet is the virus,” the Nobel Prize-winning biologist Joshua Lederberg once wrote. Few epidemiologists would disagree. There is no bomb, no poison, no plan of attack with the potential to do as much damage..."

Image credit above: "A woman in protective clothing drives an ambulance after departing Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta., Ga., en route Emory University Hospital in Atlanta Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014. A specially outfitted plane carrying Dr. Kent Brantly from West Africa arrived at a military base in Georgia. Brantly was taken to the Atlanta hospital. Another American with Ebola is expected to join him at the hospital in a few days." (AP Photo/John Bazemore).


When It's Bad To Have Good Choices. I've noticed for some time (in me). More choices sounds great, but it also makes me more neurotic - having to choose. This is why you never wander into Byerly's on an empty stomach. Here's a clip from The New Yorker: "...Perhaps, then, what we’re really seeing is how the old fear of missing out plays out in the brain. We’re surrounded by great choices to make, great places to be, great things to do—and that’s wonderful. But when we’re made to commit to one, just think of everything that gets away. Shenhav himself refers to it as the “neural correlates of First World problems.” We know that someone else is eating that delicious ice cream that we passed up—or filling that job that we turned down..." (Image credit: Psychology Today).


88 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.

82 F. average high on August 3.

80 F. high on August 3, 2013.


TODAY: Partly sunny, less humid. Dew point: 56. NE 8. High: near 80

MONDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear, more comfortable sleeping. Low: 57

TUESDAY: Comfortable sunshine. Dew point: 54. High: 80

WEDNESDAY: Sun fades, isolated thunder late. Wake-up: 55. High: 82

THURSDAY: Wettest day of the week. T-storms likely. Wake-up: 58. High: 76

FRIDAY: Unsettled, spotty T-storms. Wake-up: 63. High: 81

SATURDAY: Warm sun, hit the lake. Dew point: 59. Wake-up: 62. High: 84

SUNDAY: Sticky sunshine, feels like July. DP: 63. Wake-up: 63. High: 85


Climate Stories....

Ignoring Climate Change is Risky Business. U.S. News has the article following up on the recent "Risky Business" report; here's the introduction: "The U.S. faces significant and diverse economic risks from climate change.” No, that’s not a scary pronouncement from the Obama administration to justify its climate policies. That’s the first sentence of the report “Risky Business”— from a staid committee co-chaired by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former George W. Bush administration Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and retired hedge fund founder Tom Steyer — urging the business community “to rise to the challenge and lead the way in helping reduce climate risks...”


Minnesota: Likely Impacts 2020-2039. Here's a graphic from the recent "Risky Business" report, detailing the changes that may be coming to Minnesota and the rest of the planet. It's a worthy read.


Global Warming Kicks up Record Pacific Trade Winds. Remember that everything in the atmosphere-ocean-cryosphere system is interconnected. It's one big domino effect and we're in uncharted waters. Here's an excerpt from Discovery: "Rapid warming of the Atlantic Ocean is "turbocharging" Pacific equatorial trade winds, according to new research. These are the strongest trade winds since recording began in the 1860s, according to scientists from the University of New South Wales and the University of Hawaii. "The increase in these winds has ... amplified the Californian drought, accelerated sea level rise three times faster than the global average in the Western Pacific and has slowed the rise of global average surface temperatures since 2001," the study's authors report..." (image above: iStock).

* more on this research at phys.org and nature.com.


Where Should You Ride out Global Warming? Hint: It's Not The South. Here's an excerpt of an interesting analysis at al.com: "University of Washington atmospheric science professor Dr. Cliff Mass says in his blog this week that the Pacific Northwest is the spot in the lower 48 states to ride out global warming. Mass starts out by assuming global warming is real and "will take hold" later this century. Here's why he says the "Pacific Northwest is the place to be."

1. Sea level rise

It's not a big problem in the Pacific Northwest, Mass says, because of the general rise in elevation along Northwest shorelines. "Forget Florida," he says flatly. And South Alabama's beaches won't fare much better, his map indicates..."

Image credit above: "Based on U.S. Geological Survey publications including threat maps, meteorology professor Dr. Cliff Mass shows the coast areas most vulnerable to rising water caused by global warming." (Cliff Mass Weather Blog).


Why The Northwest Is A Potential "Climate Refuge" From Effects of Global Warming. Here's another look at Cliff Mass's recent post, and I certainly don't disagree that The Pacific Northwest has many things going for it when it comes to climate volatility, access to water and rising sea level. I'm not sure how this doesn't devolve into a PR scuffle (brought to you by the Local Chamber of Commerce!) My town will do better than your town, etc etc. I would argue that Minnesota, the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes may also fare well, as wet areas become even wetter in the years to come, which will bring it's own unique set of problems and issues. Time will tell. Here's an excerpt from KPLU News: "...So, I can go through one item after the other of major changes that are going to happen under global warming. And most of them will not produce serious effects here in the Northwest,” Mass said. Mass also cites researchers at Portland State University, who have published a study suggesting the Willamette Valley could become a place to ride out worsening conditions of a warming planet."

Map credit above: "The colored dots plot out expected effects of climate change." Courtesy Cliff Mass.


New Study Sees Warming Atlantic Behind a Host of Recent Climate Shifts. Andrew Revkin reports at The New York Times; here's the intro: "Using climate models and observations, a fascinating study in this week’s issue of Nature Climate Change points to a marked recent warming of the Atlantic Ocean as a powerful shaper of a host of notable changes in climate and ocean patterns in the last couple of decades — including Pacific wind, sea level and ocean patterns, the decade-plus hiatus in global warming and even California’s deepening drought. The study, “Recent Walker circulation strengthening and
Pacific cooling amplified by Atlantic warming
,” was undertaken by researchers at the University of New South Wales and University of Hawaii
..."


China's Surprise on Climate Change. Yes, the effort to wean ourselves off fossil fuels has to be a global effort, and China now emits more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the USA. They're starting to realize they have a longer term problem, and challenge. How do you keep the lights on, grow the economy, move more people into the middle class, with far less carbon-based pollution? Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at USA TODAY that caught my eye: "...Taking a long view, Chinese leaders see the threats posed by rising sea levels, droughts and other effects of climate change. For all these reasons, China is considering its first mandatory cap on coal use. Whether that will happen, or be sufficient, remains uncertain. Sustaining economic growth that has lifted a million people out of poverty remains China's overriding priority. Signals of its intentions could emerge at climate talks next month in New York, in December in Peru and next year in Paris. That's where the United States comes in. As the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, China and America hold the key on global warming..."

Monsoon Season: Flash Flood Watches & Warnings

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: June 1, 2014 - 9:26 AM

Super Soakers

I'm thoroughly enjoying the Mosquito Olympics, now playing out in my buggy backyard (available on ESPN7). If the rains keep up I'm going to need a low-flying helicopter to cut my lawn.

Welcome to monsoon season in Minnesota. Rainfall for the last 30 days is already 3-8 inches above average for portions of central Minnesota, and the rains just keep on coming. Once again, for the umpteenth time in recent memory, weather systems are stalling, and when weather gets stuck you need to pay close attention.

A stalled frontal boundary snaking across Minnesota will ignite more heavy T-storms again today; heaviest rains on the cooler north/west side of the front - but the MSP metro may see tropical downpours capable of (another) 1-2 inches, enough for standing water and garage-worthy grad parties.

Have a Plan B and hope for the best.

A ripple of low pressure keeps gulley-washers in the forecast into Monday but Wednesday's storm may steer showers and storms south of the metro. We slowly warm late next week with spotty weekend T-storms. Right on cue.

I'm still betting on a wetter than average summer, statewide, but El Nino may keep us warmer and drier the latter half of 2014.

Keep the faith.


3.7" near Jordan.

4" Cottage Grove

4.25" Hudson, Wisconsin

4.43" Sauk Centre

2.6" Breezy Point, on Pelican Lake

* Click here for rainfall and flash flood details, courtesy of NOAA.

* more Minnesota rainfall amounts from CoCoRaHS.


Storm Rainfall. Check out some of the rainfall amounts from near Sauk Centre to Little Falls and Brainerd; Doppler radar estimates of 4-8" in less than 24 hours. To put that into perspective that's 1-2 month's worth of rain since Friday morning. Some of the northern and western suburbs of the Twin Cities, as well as Dakota county, picked up 2-4" of rain from training thunderstorms overnight.


Metro Rainfall Estimates. These amounts are based on Doppler radar estimates - the purple shaded regions saw 3", everything shaded white or gray at least 4-5" of rain. Heaviest amounts have been observed from near Henderson to Chaska, another region of 4"+ amounts from near Woodbury and Hudson to Baldwin and Knapp, Wisconsin. Over 1 month's worth of rain in 24 hours.



Flash Flood Warning. Flash Flood Watches are posted for much of Minnesota today. Here are the latest details for the Twin Cities metro - the greatest concern in the short term is for residents who live along Minnehaha Creek. Details from NOAA:

...FLASH FLOOD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR SOUTH CENTRAL WRIGHT...
WASHINGTON...EASTERN SIBLEY...SCOTT...RAMSEY...EASTERN MCLEOD...
HENNEPIN...NORTHERN DAKOTA...CARVER AND SOUTHEASTERN ANOKA COUNTIES
UNTIL 1000 AM CDT...

AT 755 AM CDT...LIGHT TO MODERATE RAIN WAS STILL OCCURRING ACROSS
THE WARNED AREA. RADAR ESTIMATES AND REPORTS FROM OBSERVERS INDICATE
THAT BETWEEN 1 AND 4 INCHES OF RAIN HAS OCCURRED ACROSS THE AREA
OVER THE PAST 6 HOURS.

RUNOFF FROM THIS EXCESSIVE RAINFALL WILL CAUSE FLASH FLOODING TO
OCCUR. SOME LOCATIONS THAT WILL EXPERIENCE FLOODING INCLUDE...
BLOOMINGTON...BURNSVILLE...DOWNTOWN MINNEAPOLIS...DOWNTOWN ST PAUL...
EDEN PRAIRIE...SHAKOPEE...ST LOUIS PARK...AFTON STATE
PARK...CHANHASSEN...CHASKA...EAGAN...EDINA...EXCELSIOR...LAKEVILLE...
MINNETONKA...NEW PRAGUE AND NORTH MINNEAPOLIS.

RESIDENTS NEAR MINNEHAHA CREEK SHOULD BE ALERT FOR FLOODING. THE
CREEK IS EXPECTED TO CREST WELL ABOVE THE LEVEL IT REACHED IN LATE
MAY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

DO NOT DRIVE YOUR VEHICLE INTO AREAS WHERE THE WATER COVERS THE
ROADWAY. THE WATER DEPTH MAY BE TOO GREAT TO ALLOW YOUR CAR TO CROSS
SAFELY.

REPORT FLOODING TO THE NEAREST LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY SO THAT THEY
MAY TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION TO CLOSE FLOODED ROADWAYS. THEY WILL
RELAY YOUR REPORT TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN THE TWIN CITIES.

Rising Minnehaha Creek Leads to Flood Warnings. KARE-11 has an update on the ongoing flood potential on Lake Minnetonka, which empties into Minnehaha Creek: "...Currently, Lake Minnetonka's water level is 930.21 feet. The MCWD is discharging water from the Gray's Bay Dam into Minnehaha Creek. Due to high lake levels, water is also flowing over the emergency spillway north of the dam, which has an elevation of 930 feet. As a result of heavy rains this spring, the lake level has been at or above 930 since May 9 and there is no additional capacity in the lake or Minnehaha Creek for more rainfall, increasing the likelihood for flooding in some areas..." (photo: Matt Passolt).


Lingering Flash Flood Potential. NOAA's RAP model thru 4 PM Sunday shows more showers and heavy T-storms flaring up along a stalled frontal boundary. Based on this guidance I could see the Flash Flood Watch extended into late Sunday or early Monday. Future Radar: HAMweather.com.


84-Hour Future Radar. NOAA's 12 km NAM model finally dries us out during the day Monday as winds swing around to the west and heavy T-storms pinwheel into the Great Lakes. A dry Tuesday gives way to another risk of showers and thundershowers Wednesday, with the greatest potential for heavy rain south of the Twin Cities.


Protecting Your Home From Disasters. Here's a clip from a timely story at The Wall Street Journal: "Many homeowners are flirting with disaster - and they may not even know it. Natural catastrophes and severe weather events that cause major damage are occurring more frequently and inflicting more costly harm. Insurers have responded by putting stricter limits on their liability for losses, forcing homeowners to take on a greater share of the risk. The result is a growing financial incentive to prepare wisely..."

Photo credit above: "Residents of Joplin, Mo, survey the damage after a tornado hit the city in May 2011." Associated Press.


Reflecting Back on Historic (El Reno) May 31, 2013 Tornado. KOCO-TV has a good recap of a massive EF-5 that struck outside Oklahoma City; here's a clip: "...The tornado also had smaller tornadoes within the larger circulation. These are called sub-vortices. Thanks to the help of research meteorologist Gabe Garfield, we know that one of the more intense sub-vortices moved on the ground at 180 mph. It was also stationary at times. The Doppler On Wheels (DOW) measured a 255 mph wind gust in one of the smaller tornadoes just south of I-40. There were also satellite tornadoes, or tornadoes that occur outside of the main circulation. The main gigantic tornado also spawned a tornado with clockwise winds. Most tornadoes have counter-clockwise winds..."


Late Start to Planting Season. Here's a clip from the latest installment of Dr. Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk Newsletter: "...There were numerous reports of hail during the month, and two tornadoes were reported on May 8th, near St James and Madelia. Straight line wind damage occurred near Waseca, Montgomery, and Red Wing damaging buildings, trees, and powerlines. This cool, wet spring produced a late planting season for farmers, but nearly all of the state corn acreage was planted by May 30, and over half of the soybean acreage was planted as well. Southern Minnesota farmers began harvesting alfalfa the last week of the month. Moderate drought remained in the extreme southwestern counties of the state..."


Dust Storm Kills 12 in New Delhi. The Times of India reports.


How To Read The Mind of a Wildfire. An article at The Atlantic has some details about how tree rings and computer models are being tapped to gain a greater understanding of wildfires; here's a clip: "...When fires do burn, they're more destructive, often killing the big trees along with the small. “What's being released in a fire is the accumulated capital stored up through years of photosynthesis,” Falk says. “You're not destroying the carbon, hydrogen, or oxygen molecules. They're just being liberated.” And on a tremendous scale: even a relatively small fire of a couple hundred acres can pump out energy equivalent to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and can push a mushroom cloud of hot air, ash, and soot miles into the sky..."

Animation credit above: "A FIRETEC animation of a 1996 blaze in Malibu." (icess.ucsb.edu).


The Wealthy, English-Speaking Country Starbucks Can't Conquer. Here's a snippet of a fascinating business case study at Quartz: "...The Seattle-based chain also has a large and growing presence in international markets: Seoul has more Starbucks locations than New York City does, and Canada has more stores on a per capita basis than anywhere else in the world. There is, however, a wealthy international market where the coffee chain has struggled: Australia. That might seem surprising, given it is one of the world’s wealthiest countries and is also completely obsessed with coffee..."


Virgin Spaceflights Cleared For Take-Off. Will my 250k get me peanuts and a drink? That, and a sturdy barf bag? The FAA cleared the way for low-orbit trips later this year, as reported by CNN Money: "...Virgin Galactic has been gearing up to offer space flight services for the general public and has said it wants to start offering flights by the end of 2014. Branson and his family will be on Virgin's first space flight. Virgin Galactic said it has accepted more than $70 million in deposits from about 580 individuals. That's about 10% more than the total number of people who have ever gone to space..."

* more fascinating details on Virgin Galactic's upcoming "flights" at The Houston Chronicle.


86 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.

74 F. average high on May 31.

79 F. high on May 31, 2013.

.05" rain fell as of 7 PM Saturday at MSP International Airport.

May 31 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: Twin Cities NWS.

1993: St. Cloud reported its latest ever freezing temperature.

1897: Cold night in Tower. The temperature drops to 18.


TODAY: Flash Flood Watches and Warnings.Tropical humidity. More showers and T-storms. Downpours likely with localized flooding problems. Dew point: 68. Winds: S 10. High: 81

SUNDAY NIGHT: A few more showers, possible thunder. Low: 67

MONDAY: Early thunder? Showers slowly taper. High: near 80

TUESDAY: Peeks of sun, drying breeze. Dew point: 55. Wake-up: 61. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Showers and T-Showers brush far southern MN. Sun central/north. Wake-up: 57. High: 77

THURSDAY: Warm sun much of the day. Dew point: 60. Wake-up: 58 High: 78

FRIDAY: Hazy sun, pop-up T-storms possible. Wake-up: 60. High: 81

SATURDAY: Sticky sun, storms up north. DP: 64. Wake-up: 62. High: 83

* photo above courtesy of John Siegrist, who snapped this photo at Ruttger's on Bay Lake.


Climate Stories...

Climate Change Meets Kitchen Table As Issue Gets Personal. Will curbing emissions from coal-fired plants be a net positive or negative, when it comes to everything from energy bills to human health? Here's an excerpt of a post at Bloomberg Businessweek: "The White House, as it prepares to announce new limits on carbon emissions, is working to transform the debate from distant threats to more immediate issues. President Barack Obama wants to shift the conversation from polar bears and melting glaciers to droughts in Iowa and more childhood asthma across the nation. Opponents are also making the issue personal. They’re homing in on the rules’ potential kitchen-table impact, raising the prospect of higher utility bills and job losses. They expect those arguments to resonate with voters as the country is still recovering from the worst recession in seven decades..."


Global Warming and the Vulnerability of Greenland's Ice Sheet. Climate models have consistently underestimated the rate of ice melt in Greenland (and the Arctic). Here's an excerpt of a story at The Guardian: "...This work is important because in the past decade or so, it has been found that Greenland is losing ice, lots of ice, to the world’s oceans. As a consequence, Greenland is one of the significant contributors to sea level rise. The level our oceans will rise to in the next decades and centuries depends strongly on how fast the Greenland ice sheet will melt. This study is novel because of the way it combined measurements with mass-conservation calculations. The method allowed far better resolution of the thickness of Greenland glaciers and the shape of the valleys beneath the glaciers. The shape and depth of these valleys is important for moderating the speed of ice flow to the oceans. In fact, in the paper, authors state, “the overall state of mass balance of the ice sheet is affected by considerable uncertainties in bed topography and ice thickness...”


GOP Science Deniers Threaten National Security. Not my headline, but from a marine veteran who is hot under the collar. Here's a snippet of his Op-Ed at Marketwatch: "...The Republican Party is now officially on record as the party of climate-science denialism. These research programs, ongoing and widely used by the Pentagon in strategic national defense planning for many years, could, if the Senate agrees, become illegal to use. Yes, this Marine veteran is mad as hell. GOP science deniers have “crossed the line,” they’re now messing with national security. America is now under attack from an enemy within, irrational science denialism, a toxic mind-set, a spreading, self-destructive mental virus. Yes, this is a “War on America.” The military has been using climate-science research for decades. This vote is self-destructive. These research studies are essential in our national defense..."


Obama Is Planning His Biggest Climate Policy Yet - And He Doesn't Need Congress. Vox has more details on the upcoming rule changes regarding coal-fired energy; here's an excerpt: "...Early reporting suggests that the EPA will set overall emissions limits for each individual state. Power companies in those states will have a variety of options for getting below that limit — using more efficient technology, boosting their use of solar or wind or nuclear, or even joining regional cap-and-trade systems that require companies to pay to emit carbon-dioxide. Early reports suggest that US coal plants could ultimately have to reduce their emissions around 20 percent (though we still don't know the baseline — more on that below). Those coal plants, in turn, are responsible for about 28.7 percent of all US carbon-dioxide emissions.."

Graphic credit: Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.


How Obama's Power Plant Emission Rules Will Work. More details, and a Q and A, from The Washington Post; here's a clip: "Obama says the rules are essential to curb the heat-trapping greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. Critics contend the rules will kill jobs, drive up electricity prices and shutter plants across the country. Environmentalists and industry advocates alike are eagerly awaiting the specifics, which the Environmental Protection Agency will make public for the first time on Monday and Obama will champion from the White House..." (File photo above: Matt Brown, AP).


The All of the Above Energy Strategy as a Path to Sustainable Economic Growth. More details and light reading in this 43 page PDF from The White House.

Upgraded to "Moderate": Significant Severe T-storm Risk Today (Fishing Opener Weather Outlook)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: May 8, 2014 - 8:51 AM

Severe Risk upgraded to "Moderate": a few large, violent tornadoes are possible over central and southern MN later today; details below.


"...The stakes are high, as nearly five million Americans and hundreds of billions of dollars of property are located in areas that are less than four feet above the local high-tide level..." - Huffington Post.


Iceberg-free Opener?

There's nothing more enjoyable than fumbling with a fishing rod, wrapped in multiple layers like The Michelin Man, shivering uncontrollably as you grip that can of ice-cold beer, on the lookout for slabs of lake ice.

Amazingly, weather for Saturday's Fishing Opener looks better than that: AM peeks of sun - dry early with PM rain showers and a south breeze at 10 mph (minor walleye chop). Expect dawn temperatures near 40F - highs in the low 60s north to upper 60s on Twin Cities lakes. With a falling barometer and showers in the forecast you might actually catch some fish this year.

Good luck.

I wish I had better news for mom. An embroidered umbrella might make a lovely gift for Mother's Day this year. Expect some rain late Sunday, even heavier on Monday as a storm spins up just to our east. Grilling optional.

Expect some watches/warnings later today; some storms packing hail, even a stray tornado can't be ruled out. It's ripe for severe, but pinpointing which towns will see hail/high winds, more than 30 minutes in advance, is a fool's errand. Keep an eye on the sky today and be ready to move to a shelter.

Enjoy 60s into Saturday but temperatures stumble to April-like levels (50s) by early next week.

Oy vey.


.95" rain by Friday morning at KMSP. (00z NAM model)

Fishing Opener weather details below.


Volatile. Warm air surging north will spark severe storms from Minnesota south to Texas today; a few isolated tornadoes can't be ruled out. Locally heavy rains may trigger flash flooding in some communities; the next round of (lighter) showers pushing into Minnesota in time for Saturday's Fishing Opener. NAM Future Radar courtesy of NOAA and HAMweather.


Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Thursday morning, May 8, 2014.

* Volatile, potentially violent storm pushing into Upper Midwest, capable of a widespread severe storm outbreak, including 2" diameter hail, damaging straight-line winds, and a few large, long-track EF-2+ intensity tornadoes capable of extensive damage and injury.

* As we predicted last night NOAA SPC has upgraded the risk to "Moderate" from the Twin Cities southward to Des Moines, meaning an enhanced threat of (large/violent) tornadoes later today.

* Be alert for possible issuance of PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) Tornado Watches and even Tornado Emergencies, disseminated with confirmed tornadoes on the ground are moving into more heavily populated areas.

* Greatest tornado risk appears to be between 4 PM and 8 PM this evening.


Upgraded to Moderate Threat. Whenever NOAA SPC goes with a Moderate or High Risk of severe storms there's an inherent implication that we won't be tracking small, brief, garden-variety tornadoes later in the day. There's enough low-level moisture, instability and wind shear aloft to sustain long-lasting, long-track supercell thunderstorms. These are the especially damaging storms capable of baseball-size hail and large tornadoes. The Moderate Risk area includes much of the Twin Cities metro area, Willmar, Mankato, Albert Lea, Mason City, Fort Dodge, Spencer, Ames and metro Des Moines. This is the area most ripe for the large tornadoes, and "families" of tornadoes that form in quick succession, capable of significant injury or loss of life.


Isolating The Risk. Although it's impossible to say, this far in advance, where tornadoes may touch down 8-12 hours from now the greatest potential runs from central Minnesoeta into central Iowa, where there is a 1 in 10 chance of an EF-2 to EF-5 intensity tornado within 25 miles of any point. The risk is considerably lower in Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Madison and Dallas, although a few tornadoes from Oklahoma City to Tulsa may be large and intense.


EHI: 7 PM This Evening. Our internal Alerts Broadcaster models show a significant risk of violent storms over the southern third of Minnesota, where meteorological conditions may converge for a significant outbreak later today.


Tracking Potential Supercells. Our internal WRF model guidance shows powerful storms sprouting south/west of the Twin Cities by 5 PM (upper left), a second line forming in advance of a cold front by 7 PM may also spin up tornadic thunderstorms from central Minnesota to near La Crosse, Waterloo and Des Moines (upper right).

Summary: This is prime time for severe storms and tornadoes across much of the central USA,  and today promises to be another busy day tracking potentially dangerous cells on Doppler radar. Staff at facilities within 200 miles of I-35 should be on alert, with an even higher state of readiness (and weather paranoia in general) over Iowa and the southern half of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, Mankato, Rochester and Albert Lea. I expect as many as 2-5 large/violent tornadoes by evening. As always, the big question/concern: will they hit sparsely populated farmland or urban/suburban areas? Monitor Alerts Broadcaster Alerts for your specific county - we will continue to assess the situation and pass along any subsequent Tornado Emergencies as quickly as possible. A little well-deserved paranoia will go a long way later today.

Paul Douglas - Senior Meteorologist - Alerts Broadcaster.


Forecast Calls for Walleye Widows. Many of us are packing up, ready to ship out late Friday or first thing Saturday. Minnesota's Fishing Opener is an institution, and a family tradition passed down from generation to generation. Here's a clip from the Minnesota DNR: "Minnesota anglers consider the fishing opener -- when walleye, northern pike, and sauger become legal game on the state's inland waters -- one of the defining moments of their year. Minnesota's Walleye Fishing Opener is the Saturday two weeks before Memorial Day weekend. This allows most walleyes to spawn before being caught by anglers..."


A Late Ice-Out. Ice is off most Minnesota lakes, local reports suggest Gull Lake just became entirely ice-free earlier this week. Expect patchy ice on far northern lakes though. For an interactive map check out the Minnesota DNR site.


Fishing Opener Weather. Expect morning wake-up temperatures shortly after dawn on Saturday ranging from upper 30s northern lakes to about 43-44F for metro lakes; afternoon highs in the low 60s north to mid 60s central Minnesota, possibly upper 60s closer to Lake Minnetonka and White Bear Lake. The chance of showers will increase during the day, although I expect a dry start to the day, statewide. Maps: NOAA.


Light Winds Saturday Morning. The map above shows expected wind speed/direction at 8 AM Saturday, generally from the south at 5-10 mph; only a light walleye chop this year.


U.S. Climate Has Already Changed, Study Finds, Citing Heat and Floods. The NY Times map above shows observed warming: 1991-2012 data vs. longer term historical averages (1901-1960). What jumps out at me is the warming over far northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, over 3F at Hibbing. This refutes the skeptical argument that "it's all urban heat island showing up in the data). This is exactly what climate models have been predicting for more than 30 years. Here's an excerpt of a very good summary of the latest NCA, National Climate Assessment, from Justin Gillis at The New York Times: "...One of the report’s most striking findings concerned the rising frequency of torrential rains. Scientists have expected this effect for decades because more water is evaporating from a warming ocean surface, and the warmer atmosphere is able to hold the excess vapor, which then falls as rain or snow. But even the leading experts have been surprised by the scope of the change. The report found that the eastern half of the country is receiving more precipitation in general. And over the past half-century, the proportion of precipitation that is falling in very heavy rain events has jumped by 71 percent in the Northeast, by 37 percent in the Midwest and by 27 percent in the South, the report found."


 

Extended Outlook: Growing Risk of Owning Beachfront Property. I guess if you can afford the (rapidly increasing) insurance premiums go ahead and roll the dice. Certain areas are more vulnerable than others, due to rising seas and land subsidence, metro areas like Miami, Tampa and New Orleans. Water levels are already rising - that's not a climate model, but actual observations. The big question is how much higher, and how quickly. That's the subject of today's Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over which cities are most vulnerable to rising sea levels. What causes the sea level increases besides climate change? What can we expect to see by 2100?"


Tornado Hunter Wants To Walk Into A Twister. I hope he has a chat with his life insurance guy first. No, I would not try this at home. I suspect he's watched the movie "Twister" one too many times. Here's an excerpt from CBS St. Louis: "...Steve Green is a self described “tornado hunter.” In 2004, he spent $500,000 on an armored vehicle and drove right into a tornado. Now, 10 years later, he’s going to try to walk into a twister. His plan is to drive a 4×4 vehicle with a motorcycle attached out in front of the storm, jump on the bike, get in front of the winds, screw himself into the ground using corkscrews (think of what you’d tie a dog leash to) and hold on tight..."


MAT-TER Designs Typhoon-Resistant School for the Philippines. One of my favorite tech sites, gizmag.com, has the details: "In recent years, Gizmag has reported on several architectural projects which aim to aid those living in areas prone to natural disaster, including the Bamboo Lakou community and Blooming Bamboo home. Californian studio MAT-TER is the latest firm to throw its hat in the ring, with a modular, passively-cooled, and typhoon-resistant school that's due to be constructed in the Philippines later this year..."


60 Years: The Road To Color Television Took A Complex Path. I know I'm dating myself but I still vividly remember my first color show (I Dream of Jeannie). It was magic. TVNewsCheck has a fascinating story about the rocky and litiguous transition from black and white to color; here's a clip: "...In the six decades since that first broadcast, the color pictures have gotten better, the screen sizes larger and the cameras smaller. Only the need for rearrangement of furniture — which is called for with each new generation of audio and video equipment — has remained unchanged. However, to those who saw that first color broadcast, it’s the “wow factor” that still comes to mind. Perhaps Omaha’s then mayor, Glenn Cunningham, after seeing those first color pictures at the Paxton Hotel, put it best: “It was most amazing thing I’ve ever witnessed.”


Air-Purifying Billboard Does The Work of 1,200 Trees. This is the best use I've seen of billboards. I'd actually stare at this one, and give thanks for innovation and human ingenuity. Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "Billboards could do more than just advertise, if scientists at the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Peru have their way. While UTEC's earlier billboard produced drinkable water, its latest creation scrubs the air free of pollutants. According to the team, a single billboard can do the work of 1,200 trees, purifying 100,000 cubic meters (3.5 million cubic feet) of air daily in crowded cities..."


65 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

67 F. average high on May 7.

78 F. high on May 7, 2013.


TODAY: Windy, warm and humid. Scattered storms, some turning severe. Large hail, damaging winds and a few tornadoes can't be ruled out. Winds: SE 15. High: 76

THURSDAY NIGHT: Evening storms, some strong. Low: 52

FRIDAY: Breezy and cooler. Showers taper early, some PM clearing. High: 61

SATURDAY (FISHING OPENER): Some sun early, PM showers likely. Wake-up: 43. High: 68

MOTHER'S DAY: Early sun, rain arrives PM hours. Wake-up: 54. High: 59

MONDAY: Periods of rain, fairly foul. Wake-up: 47. High: 55

TUESDAY: Partial clearing. Hello April. Wake-up: 44. High: 61

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, light showers. Wake-up: 44. High: 56


Climate Stories...

Climate Change is Happening, Here and Now. Jeff Nesbit takes a look at how the hypothetical has become real at U.S. News; here's an excerpt: "...Climate change isn’t a computer model, a fuzzy prediction, a cute picture of polar bears on shrinking icebergs, or some far-off, distant threat that people who aren’t born yet will have to deal with. It’s here, now – and it’s disrupting our lives. It’s affecting food prices through extended droughts and flooding basements in extreme rainfall events – the types of dry and wet extremes that scientists have been telling us for years would be part of a changing world. Now we can see these things with our own eyes, out our own windows..."

* Increasing CO2 Threatens Human Nutrition. Here's the abstract at Nature.


Observed Temperature Increases. This isn't output from a climate model, but rather observed temperature increases: 1991-2012 mean temperatures vs. the 1901-1960 average. Parts of southern Alabama have cooled, but the vast majority of the USA has warmed, with the greatest warming over the northern and western USA, precisely what climate models were predicting 30 years ago. Source: National Climate Assessment.


Minnesota: Trending Wetter Over Time. It's basic physics: as the atmosphere warms it can carry more water vapor, fueling heavier rains. In general wet areas are getting wetter, dry areas drier. But the increase in precipitation has been most pronounced from the Dakotas and Minnesota into the Midwest and New England. Data: 1991-2012 mean precipitation vs. 1901-1960 average. Source: National Climate Assessment.


Which U.S. Cities Are The Most Vulnerable To The Impacts of Climate Change? The report cited in this Washington Post article delve into resiliency; climate change is one of many factors to consider. Here's an excerpt: "...Climate change is only one of the factors that go into a city’s overall vulnerability rating. It includes an analysis of a city’s vulnerability to rising sea levels, hurricanes and typhoons, wildfires, floods, droughts, and vulnerability to earthquakes and tsunamis. Among U.S. cities, Los Angeles and Seattle are among the most vulnerable to climate change, according to Grosvenor’s rankings. And Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C are among the least vulnerable to climate change, at least among U.S. cities..."

Graphic credit: Grosvenor.


The Risks To U.S. Water Resources from Climate Change. Climate scientist Peter Gleick includes a long list of potential impacts on water, as described in the latest National Climate Assessment; here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "...There are hundreds of pages of information, observations, projections, and conclusions to absorb -- almost all of it bad news. Here, in short form and in the actual wording from the NCA (with page numbers from the "Highlights" summary report), are some of the most important conclusions related to U.S. water resources:

  • Agriculture, water, energy, transportation, and more, are all affected by climate change." (p.33)
  • Climate change is already affecting societies and the natural world (p. 32)
  • Climate change affects more than just temperature. The location, timing, and amounts of precipitation will also change as temperatures rise. (p. 29, Figure)..."

The G.O.P. Can't Ignore Climate Change. Here's the introduction to an Op-Ed at The New York Times from Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah and U.S. Ambassador to China: "TO waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.” These words were spoken by one of the nation’s most passionate conservationists: Republican President Teddy Roosevelt. I admire him for his pragmatism and individualism — foundational traits of the Republican Party. We must summon these qualities and apply them immediately and stoutly to the issue of climate change..."


On Climate Change, Republicans Can't Deny Reality Forever. Here's a clip from an Op-Ed at The Washington Post: "...One look at the comments sections of news articles on this report tells a depressing story. Many conservatives still believe that climate change is an elaborate hoax, that somehow thousands of scientists all over the world have conspired with public officials, the media, and who knows how many other people to pull off history’s greatest scam, and also managed to keep anyone from spilling the beans on the conspiracy. It isn’t all conservatives who feel this way; Republicans as a whole are split on the question. But the faction that inspires fear in Republican politicians — Tea Partiers — are the ones who most fervently believe it’s all a scam..."


Americans Start To Feel Effects of Climate Change. Here's a clip from a story at Politico: "...Rising temperatures will mean more heat-related deaths, asthma and spreads of infectious diseases, while longer pollen seasons will burden people who have allergies. Children, the elderly, the poor and some racial minority communities are especially vulnerable..."


Global Warming: The Inevitability Trap. The problem seems insurmountable, beyond the grasp of any one person to affect change. Which can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. "Nothing I can do about it, may as well sit back and watch TV". Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "Is the biggest hurdle on climate change outright denial? Or is it the sense that of being overwhelmed and too late, that there's nothing we can do? As K.C. Golden writes in an excerpt from my newly updated political hope anthology The Impossible Will Take a Little While, defeat is certain only if we accept it as such. What we often call preordained only becomes so through our resignation. So the only way to discover what's achievable is by taking action, trying new approaches, expanding the bounds of the possible..." (Image: NASA).


Climate Change Impact No. 326: The Birds Start Sleeping Around. Bloomberg has one of many curious side-effects of a warming climate; here's a clip: "Those monogamous birds? Another casualty of climate change. As it gets hotter here on Earth, they're more apt to start cheating on each other, according to the U.S. National Climate Assessment, released today. Scientists have said for years, decades even, that climate change is going to be rough. Storms, fires, heat extremes -- the works. The research tends to get more solid and detailed every year. It's all laid out in the Assessment, and it's mostly a bummer..."

Photo credit: Wikipedia.


Voices: Climate Change - It's Here. USA Today has an Op-Ed that shows how impacts are already being felt around the nation; here's an excerpt: "...In Norfolk, Va., where the sea level is rising, I met Bob Parsons and Jennifer Priest, whose homes have repeatedly flooded. In Spicewood, Texas, drought has triggered severe watering restrictions. Resident C.J. Teare was using soapy water left from washing clothes to try to keep her decades-old oaks alive. And in the Chicago area, doctors and patients said allergies are getting worse as the pollen count rises — and that's also linked to a rise in heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions..." (Flood photo above: AP).