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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Summer Time-Out from Heat & Humidity

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: July 28, 2014 - 10:30 PM

Summer Time-out

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it" wrote Russell Baker. We've had a few severe storm outbreaks and brief flashes of summer heat, but it hasn't been all that bad.

NOAA SPC reports only 20 Minnesota tornadoes in 2014; 134 separate reports of severe wind damage.

Yes, June was the wettest month in recorded Minnesota history, statewide, but we've dried out in July. MSP rainfall in July is over an inch below average, for a change. Based on cooling degree days since June 1 we've spent about 12 percent less than average cooling our homes and offices.

June monsoons have given way to a fairly pleasant spell of weather, which lingers much of this week. One caveat: a whirlpool of cold air aloft stuck over the Great Lakes may set off a few late-day instability T-showers, especially north/east of the Twin Cities.

The atmosphere normally cools by 3-5F for every 1,000 feet of altitude. If it gets colder/faster, a "steeper lapse rate", the risk of late day storms rises. Dew points creep up as the week goes on; 80s next weekend with a small chance of late-day pop-up storms.

No stalled fronts, EF-4 tornadoes, biblical floods or beachball-size hail.

I'm OK with that.

A Relatively Quiet Week - Slow Warming Trend into Next Week. Long-range guidance shows comfortable dew points in the 50s much of toda and Wednesday, rising into the low 60s again by Saturday; possibly mid-60s by Monday. Highs rise above 80F by Thursday with some mid 80s from Sunday into the middle of next week. Although a few instability T-showers are possible (especially from the MN Arrowhead into Wisconsin) most towns will stay mostly-dry into the weekend. MSP Meteogram: Weatherspark.

60-Hour Rainfall Potential. NOAA's 4 km WRF model shows heavy showers and T-storms today across northern New England, another plume of heavy rain and potential flash flooding from the central Rockies into the southern Plains by Wednesday, where some 2-4" rainfall amounts are possible, helping to take the edge off the drought. Dry weather persists over California and most of the western USA. Source: HAMweather.

2014 Severe Weather, To Date. Here is data from NOAA SPC showing 20 confirmed tornadoes over western and south central Minnesota so far this year - no touchdowns in the immediate Twin Cities metro. Statewide there have been 134 severe wind reports (gusts over 58 mph) and 101 reports of 1"+ diameter hail.

What's The Hold Up, El Nino? The ocean-atmosphere system in the Pacific isn't in synch, and that is delaying the warming expected earlier this year. Here's an excerpt of a good explanation at NOAA's "In the July 10 update and ENSO discussion, we said the atmospheric part of ENSO doesn’t seem to be responding to the ocean.  El Niño requires that both be in sync and coupled with each other.  Why is the atmosphere acting aloof to the rather warm ocean?  This development may be especially surprising to folks given the rumors and speculation of a very strong El Niño that followed March’s oceanic Kelvin wave. In June, the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia made an interesting observation that might shed light on the lack of coupling between the ocean and atmosphere.  They pointed out that an anomalous sea surface temperature (SST) gradient was not in place across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.  Like the gradient of a hill on a highway, an SST gradient describes a change in temperature across the ocean surface from one location to another..."

Graphic credit above: "The typical evolution of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies from April through December associated with El Niño.  These maps were created using lagged regression onto the wintertime Niño-3.4 index using monthly data from ERSSTv3b from 1980-2012.  The SST gradient is shown by the difference in near-to-below-average SST (white or blue) across the far western tropical Pacific and Indonesia and the above-average SST (red) across the central and eastern Pacific." Map by Michelle L'Heureux, Climate Prediction Center.

Parched West Is Using Up Underground Water. NASA JPL has the story - here's the introduction: "A new study by NASA and University of California, Irvine, scientists finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought. This study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal water management agency, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years..."

Photo credit above: "Surface-water depletion in the Colorado River Basin has left this "bathtub ring" of mineral deposits on Lake Mead, but groundwater loss is invisible." Image credit: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

A Satellite Image Tour of Planet Earth on Fire. Motherboard has a visual recap of fire season launching into full swing over the Northern Hemisphere; here's a clip: "Believe it or not, the 2014 wildfire season has not yet met its full potential given the widespread extreme droughts across the western United States. According to US Forest Service figures, the number of western fires to date is at about 70 percent of the 10 year average, while the total burned area sits at just less than half of the 10 year average. The tide is turning, however, with new fires bursting out nearly everywhere that they should be expected..." (Image: NASA).

Japan Heat Persists After Hottest Day of 2014 Leaves 11 Dead. Bloomberg has an update; here's the intro: "The Japan Meteorological Agency warned of extreme heat today in Tokyo and other areas after local media reported 11 people died and almost 1,900 were hospitalized yesterday on the country’s hottest day this year. A quarter of the agency’s 927 observation stations recorded 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher yesterday, the most so far this year, the Mainichi newspaper reported..."

Photo credit above: "A child stands under water fall to cool off at a park in Tokyo, Saturday, July 26, 2014. Heat wave continues in the metro areas as temperature goes up high at 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), meteorological bureau said." (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara).

Bees At The Brink. If you missed this 2-part series at The Star Tribune it's definitely worth a read; here's an excerpt that got my attention: "...In a struggle that echoes the scientific discord over climate change, both are striving to win the public to their side in a fight over the pervasive use of pesticides and the alarming decline of bees. Because whoever captures the heart of the public could influence the fate of the honeybee long before scientists or government regulators render a verdict. “Perception becomes reality,” said David Fischer, director of pollinator safety for Bayer AG, a leading manufacturer of the insecticides under debate. “We are a science-focused company. But that’s not going to convince beekeepers and the public...”

The Energy-Efficient Way to Punish Putin - And Protect The Planet. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Guardian: "..Energy efficiency makes sense not just to curb imports, but also to cut carbon emissions. The European commission’s work has shown that gas imports could be down sharply with a modest increase in ambition on renewables and energy efficiency. The technology is there: more renewable electricity; more biogas from waste; more insulation to curb heating demand; more ground- and air-source heat pumps to replace gas boilers at home; more solar thermal for hot water..."

Photo credit above: "A Gazprom employee at work in the Sudzha plant, just 200 metres from the Ukrainian border. 'The share of Russian gas in EU gas imports has been declining for many years.' Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov/EPA.

You Are Not Late. Afraid you missed the Internet Revolution? This author of this post at Medium happens to believe that we're just getting started, in fact we haven't even scratched the surface of what is possible, what's coming in the near term. There has never been a better time to take a swan dive into the deep end of the pool; here's a clip: "..So, the truth: Right now, today, in 2014 is the best time to start something on the internet. There has never been a better time in the whole history of the world to invent something. There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/risk ratios, better returns, greater upside, than now. Right now, this minute. This is the time that folks in the future will look back at and say, “Oh to have been alive and well back then!...”

10 Things Americans Have Suddenly Stopped Buying. Time's has an interesting list of items that aren't nearly as in-demand as they used to be, including white bread, gum, razors and guns. Now there's a shopping list. Here's an excerpt: "America is just not the clean-shaven, gun-buying, soda-drinking, Chef Boyardee-eating place it used to be. For a variety of reasons—including but not limited to increased health consciousness, the harried pace of modern-day life, and plain old shifting consumer preferences,—Americans have scaled back on purchases of many items, sometimes drastically so. Here’s a top 10 list of things we’re not buying anymore, at least not anywhere near as frequently as we used to..."

In Photos: The Most Ridiculous Laws in America. does a good job highlighting some of the best head-scratchers out there; here's a snippet of a funny article: "...If you know anything about Wisconsin, you could believe the state once required serving cheese with every slice of apple pie—something of an urban myth inspired by a short-lived law requiring cheese and butter be served with every meal. Some of the laws are totally reasonable anyway; you really shouldn’t fish with dynamite, and Rhode Island’s statute against transparent clothing is pretty clearly for the common good..."

Photo credit above: "In Nevada it is illegal for men who have mustaches to kiss women." Olivia Locher.

Walmart's Ice Cream Sandwiches Don't Melt In The Sun. Hey, right now that's the least of my concerns, but I did think this WCPO-TV story via Huffington Post was curious; here's an excerpt: "Last we checked, ice cream is supposed to melt if it isn't kept chilled. But Walmart's store-brand ice cream sandwiches don't even melt in the sun, according to a report from WCPO Cincinnati. The discovery was made by a local mom, Christie Watson, who noticed that a Great Value ice cream sandwich her son left out on their patio table hadn't fully melted -- even though it had been sitting out for 12 hours on an 80-degree day..."

77 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.

83 F. average high on July 28.

75 F. high on July 28, 2013.

July 28 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: Twin Cities NWS:

1917: Hottest temperature ever recorded in Minnesota with 114.5 degrees at Beardsley.

1849: Severe storms between 3 and 5 AM at the newly constructed post of Ft. Ripley. W.J. Frazier, Head Surgeon noted: "Rain and hail with much thunder and lightning and very high winds breaking many trees."

TODAY: Partly sunny, few Wisconsin T-storms late. DP: 53. Winds: NW 10. High: 78

TUESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear, still comfortable for late July. Low: 56

WEDNESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, pleasant. Dew point: 54. High: near 80

THURSDAY: Warm sun, stray late-day T-storm. Wake-up: 59. High: 81

FRIDAY: Sun much of the day. Late thunder? Wake-up: 61. High: 82

SATURDAY: Sunny, very lake-worthy. Dew point: 60. Wake-up: 62. High: 83

SUNDAY: Hazy sun, few late PM storms. Wake-up: 64. High: 84

MONDAY: Some sun, murky and humid. DP: 64. Wake-up: 64. High: 83

Climate Stories...

California: Bring Your Own Water. Thanks to David Horsey at The Los Angeles Times.

Now Two New Large Holes Appear in Siberia. The Siberian Times has the story and photo; here's a clip: "Millions of people around the world glimpsed the first giant hole after it was revealed by The Siberian Times here and on The Siberian Times TV here. Now news has emerged of two new similar formations in the permafrost, prompting more intrigue about their creation. Theories range from meteorites, stray missiles, a man-made prank, and aliens, to an explosive cocktail of methane or shale gas suddenly exploding. The version about melting permafrost due to climate change, causing a release of methane gas, which then forces an eruption is the current favorite, though scientists are reluctant to offer a firm conclusion without more study..."

First Observations of Methane Release From Arctic Ocean Hydrates. Are the mysterious "holes" in Siberia the result of methane release or some other process? Stockholm University reports on new data findings showing methane release in the Arctic Ocean; here's a clip: "Just a week into the sampling program and SWERUS-C3 scientists have discovered vast methane plumes escaping from the seafloor of the Laptev continental slope. These early glimpses of what may be in store for a warming Arctic Ocean could help scientists project the future releases of the strong greenhouse gas methane from the Arctic Ocean..."

The Military Battles Climate Change. Here's a clip from a story at Huffington Post: "...Nationally, there are plenty of concerns in store. Our country's infrastructure is in for major challenges as a result of extreme weather, rising sea levels, and flooding. The Pentagon is taking the correlation between climate change and the national security extremely seriously. Coastal Navy installations are at risk, especially Norfolk, Virginia, home to the "world's largest naval base." Military readiness is diminished when troops are diverted to humanitarian concerns brought on by the ravages of nature. Emergency Responders often require the assistance of the federal government..."

What Is Climate Change Doing To Our Mental Health? Grist has the story; including this excerpt that mirrors my experiences with storm survivors here in the USA: "...When you think about what climate change does, it basically increases the risk of weather-related disasters of one sort or another,” she said. “What happens from a psychological point of view is people get knocked down. Whenever people are knocked down, they have to get up again and start over. And the more that happens, the more difficult it is to keep getting up...” (Image credit: Amelia Bates).

Would Jesus Accept Climate Science? An interesting theoretical question and of course the answer is unknowable. But that free will thing keeps coming up in my discussions with other Christians. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Huffington Post: "...Whom should a Christian believe? Should they assume all climate scientists are just furthering a government agenda when they conclude that climate change is real? Or should they accept the science? The answer to that question lies in the exercise of free will. God gave us brains to make good choices. It's just important to remember that every choice has consequences..."

Extreme Weather - Canadians Better Get Used to It. The Globe and Mail has the Op-Ed; here's an excerpt: "...Over the last six decades, Canada’s average temperatures have risen 1.5 degrees Celsius, with warming happening much faster in northern Canada. The frequency of cold nights has dropped; the frequency of warm days has increased. The country, as a whole, has become wetter; sea ice is declining (as everyone knows) in the Arctic but also along parts of the Atlantic coast..."

Lake-Worthy Saturday. Tools For Staying Safer During Severe Weather While Camping

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: July 24, 2014 - 11:11 PM

Sitting Ducks

Camping in the North Woods can be a transcendent experience, at one with nature, disconnected from the rat race back home. Until severe thunderstorms turn those majestic towering pines into weapons of mass destruction.

Every summer the question arises: how do I protect myself when I'm cowering in a tent, trying to furiously dig a tornado shelter with a spoon? It's best to ride out storms in a shelter or even your vehicle. If none is available a cave or outcropping of rocks offers some protection against falling trees. There's no perfect solution.

Smartphone Doppler radar and warning apps don't always work, but NOAA Weather Radio has great reception statewide, even up in the BWCA. Take a portable radio and monitor the weather to lower the risk of unpleasant and dangerous surprises.

Storms rumble across the region this morning as warmer, stickier air pushes back into Minnesota. Plan your lake adventure for tomorrow - the sunnier, warmer, drier day of the weekend.

Southwest winds Saturday turn around to northwest Sunday - as temperatures fall through the 70s with a few windblown showers.

Next week looks dry and relatively comfortable; 80s returning by late week. Not a heatwave in sight.

Image credit above: Cherrystone Campground near Cherryville, Virginia Thursday, where at least 2 campers were killed and 24 others injured by high winds and falling trees. The Vane at Gawker has more details. Credit: @bl0windasies and WeatherNation.

Camping During Severe Weather. This question comes up every summer, and the truth is rather stark: you can only do so much to protect yourself in a tent, with trees nearby, trees that may come down when severe thunderstorm winds push through. If you have access to a shelter (of any kind) or even your vehicle that's always choice number one. Having a portable NOAA Weather Radio is a very good idea; here are more tips, courtesy of the Sioux Falls office of the National Weather Service:


  • Move to the campground shelter house. Get on your knees and cover your head.
  • If there is not a shelter house, evacuate your tent or camper and lie flat in a depression, such as a ravine, and cover your head with your hands.
  • Never get in your vehicle to escape a tornado!

Lightning, Wind and Hail:

  • If tenting, move to the shelter house or your hard-topped vehicle.
  • If no shelter is available, seek refuge in a cave or under a thick grove of trees that are taller than your tent.

Flash Floods:

  • Never camp next to streams, creeks, or rivers as heavy rain can cause water levels to rise rapidly.
  • Never cross rain swollen creeks, rivers, or streams as the under-currents will carry you downstream.
  • If flash flooding does occur, move to higher ground immediately!

Image credit above: Cherrystone Camp Ground, Virginia. @MDAnnunziata10.

Still Cleaning Up The Damage. A friend up on Pelican Lake (who lives near Breezy Point) sent me these photos late yesterday showing tree and dock/boat damage on the south side of Pelican from Monday night's severe storms.

New Technology Allows You To Send Texts Without Cell Service. This is another good idea, in the event the cell towers come down along with the trees - a fail safe for communicating with family, friends and emergency service providers. Gizmodo has more information: "Inspired by the downed cell towers and utility outages of Hurricane Sandy, the folks at goTenna wanted a way to keep smartphones connected even when the grid fails. What they came up with is a pocket-sized handheld antenna that lets users send texts and location info without cell service. And we got to see a prototype in action..."

A Tent Rated for 112 MPH Winds? Which sounds great, but will it protect me when that towering pine tree comes crashing down on me? That's an even bigger problem - camping in the North Woods has an obvious appeal, until the winds start gusting over 60 mph, and then those majestic trees take on a more sinister tone. Here's a clip from Gizmag: "...The tent features a reinforced version of the brand's Inflatable Diamond Grid meant to spread stress over a larger surface and maintain a solid structure in rough weather. According to the company, the Mavericks can stand up to 112 mph (180 km/h) winds, though it appears to have experienced just 96 mph (155 km/h) during an Ireland leg of the Storm Chase..."

I Want (free) FM Radio On My Smartphone! Another way to increase situational awareness - the ability to listen to radio weather reports, on your cell phone, anywhere you can get a cell signal. I didn't realize this, but smartphones have the capacity to receive FM signals, but (most) U.S. carriers have yet to activate this functionality, as described at "...Every smartphone today contains an FM chip, but unlike in Europe, most in the U.S. are not activated. This will change if consumers put enough pressure on service providers to activate the chips in their phones. There is no cost for manufacturers to activate the FM chips. Sprint has worked with the radio industry and agreed to do this with almost all of its smartphone models. We know change is possible, but it’s fair to say that many consumers are not yet aware of how little this would require of cellphone manufacturers and how great the benefit would be for consumers and listeners..."

Two Summerlike Days - Then Another Premature Hint of September. Expect 80s today, possibly mid to upper 80s in the metro area Saturday before winds shift to the northwest behind the next cool front; temperatures dropping through the 70s Sunday with PM showers; h ighs in the 70s much of next week before warming up late in the week. The best chance of T-storms: this morning, more showers Sunday PM hours, then a dry period Monday into Thursday of next week. MSP Meteogram: Weatherspark.

60-Hour Accumulated Rainfall. NOAA's 4 km WRF model shows the heaviest rains between now and Saturday evening over the Carolinas and Virginias; the approach of another Canadian cool front sparking locally heavy rain from North Dakota to the Minnesota Arrowhead late Saturday. Source: HAMweather.

A Dry Heat. So is my oven but I wouldn't stick my head inside. Phoenix set a record high of 116F Thursday. Image above courtesy of Randy Musil in Phoenix.

I Want My Mamma. Cumulonimbus mammatus, to be exact, which always make me hungry for ice cream. Thanks to Camille Kolles who snapped this photo Thursday evening near Medora, North Dakota.

Washington's Largest Wildfire: Seen From Space and Aerial Drone Footage. Meteorologist Brian Sussman in Portland has a link to some incredible drone footage of recent fire damage; here's an excerpt of his post: "...But the thing that really has my attention: groundbreaking and heartbreaking footage of the fire’s devastation from a drone. Even though I’ve personally covered many devastating wildfires during my days reporting for KHQ in Spokane, watching the video had a big impact on me. It’s powerful..."

Why Are Wildfires On The Increase? Here's a clip from a story looking at U.S. wildfire trends at The Ridgefield Press: "...In a recent study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers from the University of Utah analyzed a database of large wildfires in the western U.S. between 1984 and 2011 and found a significant increase in the number of large fires and/or the area covered by the blazes. From Nebraska to California, the number of large wildfires increased sevenfold per year over the study period, with the total area burned increasing by 90,000 acres a year on average..."

America Is Burning: The Fight Against Wildfires Gets Real. Men's Journal has a long, data-driven look at wildfire trends across the USA; they're burning bigger, longer and hotter. What is going on? Here's a clip: "...It's the same story throughout the South, much of the Southeast, and even parts of the Northeast – all of these regions have experienced record wildfires. Firefighters, forest managers, community leaders, and scientists tell the same tale: They've never seen so many fires of such size, intensity, and destruction. Another point of agreement: It's going to get much worse. "We can't manage wildfire any longer," says Miller. "It is out of our control..."

Photo credit: "In military terms, what these fires do is encircle the community. Then they close in," says fire-safety expert Bernhard Voelkelt, on land scorched by the May 2014 Etiwana Fire in Rancho Cucamonga, California." (Photograph by Peter Bohler).

Here Are Maps Of All 38,728 Tornado Warnings Issued Since 2002. The Vane at Gawker has another interesting story that provides more much-needed perspective. In the last 12 years only the area around Duluth, the Minnesota Arrowhead and a small patch of land from near Winona to Lake City, north and east of Rochester, has been tornado-warning-free. Maybe the bluffs on the Mississippi really do disrupt tornado inflow and help to inhibit formation. Here's an excerpt: "...These maps show all 38,728 tornado warnings issued between January 1, 2002 and around midnight on July 23, 2014. Over that twelve-and-a-half year span of time, there were three states that saw every square inch of land go under a tornado warning at least once: Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee..."

Florida More Vulnerable to Tornadoes Than Midwest. For a variety of reasons: southeastern tornadoes are often rain-wrapped and harder to detect and confirm from ground-level, fewer storm shelters, and a local population that is not as "tornado-aware" as residents of traditional Tornado Alley. Here's an excerpt from "Oklahoma and Kansas may have the reputation as tornado hot spots, but Florida and the rest of the Southeast are far more vulnerable to killer twisters, a new analysis shows. Florida leads the country in deaths calculated per mile as a tornado races along the ground, followed by Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio and Alabama, according to an analysis of the past three decades by the federal Southeast Regional Climate Center at the University of North Carolina..."

Photo credit above: "A damaged house in Sunrise after a possible tornado." AP Photo.

How Airliner Data Improves Weather Forecasting. Capital Weather Gang has another interesting article that caught my eye - here's an excerpt: "...More upper-air observations improve predictions not only of upper air changes, but also of the resulting ground-level effects. NWS offices also receive airliner take off and landing soundings because all participating airliners transmit reports of the temperature, wind speed and direction, atmospheric pressure, altitude, and latitude and longitude from the time the wheels leave the ground until they touch down on landing..."

Image credit: "Visualization of ACARS weather data coverage."  (NOAA)

Cell Phone Towers Monitor African Rains. Here's another novel approach to creating useable weather data where there are no high-resolution Doppler radars, at least not yet. ScienceNews has the story; here's a clip: "Distorted cell phone signals could help track the rains down in Africa. While not always noticeable, cell phones get worse reception during rainstorms. Raindrops garble specific frequencies in radio signals, an effect compensated for by cell phone companies. Scientists realized these tainted transmissions could be used to reconstruct rain patterns near cell phone towers and since 2006 have successfully implemented the technique in developed countries such as the United States..."

Photo credit above: "Rain Check: Weakened signals during storms from cell phone broadcast towers like these helped scientists monitor African rains." orangecrush/Shutterstock.

Why Has The Sun Gone So Quiet? Discovery News has the article; here's a clip: "...So although we know this is the weakest solar cycle on record, we may just be seeing part of a longer-term cycle that we haven’t been able to recognize as we haven’t been taking detailed notes of solar activity for long enough. “It all underlines that solar physicists really don’t know what the heck is happening on the sun,” added Phillips. “We just don’t know how to predict the sun, that is the take away message of this event...”

Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July, 2012. Two years ago we came closer to potential disaster than many of us realized at the time. Hey, who needs electricity? Here's an excerpt of a story at Red Orbit that left me a little weak-kneed: "...Baker, along with colleagues from NASA and other universities, published a seminal study of the storm in the December 2013 issue of the journal Space Weather. Their paper, entitled “A major solar eruptive event in July 2012,” describes how a powerful coronal mass ejection (CME) tore through Earth orbit on July 23, 2012. Fortunately Earth wasn’t there. Instead, the storm cloud hit the STEREO-A spacecraft. “I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did,” says Baker. “If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire..."

Image caption above: "This image was captured by ESA and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) on July 22, 2012 at 10:48 PM EDT. On the right side, a cloud of solar material ejects from the sun in one of the fastest coronal mass ejections (CMEs) ever measured." Credit: ESA/NASA/SOHO.

Picture This: Twin Waterspouts and Amazing Aurora. Climate Central has a post with a few awe-inspiring photos and video clips; here's an excerpt: "...Because we clearly can’t get enough images of cool space weather, we’ve got another great photo this week from our favorite astronaut photographer and tweeter, Reid Wiseman. Wiseman, from his perch on the International Space Station, got a spectacular picture of the aurora australis (that’s the Southern Lights, or the aurora at the South Pole). Aurora’s are created when charged particles spewed out by the sun are funneled by Earth’s magnetic field toward the planet’s poles..."

The End Of The Road. Our infrastructure is in rough shape, especially our antiquated highway system. Minnesota roads are in pretty good shape (with a few notable exceptions) but drive in other parts of the USA and Canada and you'll wish you were on a horse to smooth out the bumps. Here's an excerpt of a story focusing on the problem at "...Americans are well aware that U.S. infrastructure is in grim shape. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ latest report card on the condition and performance of U.S. infrastructure gives them an overall grade of D+ (the plus because the U.S. seems able to deal better with solid waste). More puzzling is the political storm over funding infrastructure maintenance and improvement. The problem of deteriorating, underinvested infrastructure blew up into a crisis in the United States early in the 21st century..."

Swarms of Mayflies on Doppler. Business Insider has the story of mayflies, so thick they showed up on Doppler radar out of La Crosse; here's an excerpt: "Once a year, the bugs emerge — millions of them. Every summer, they swarm en masse around the banks of the Mississippi River. It's mating season for mayflies. There are so many of them, in fact, that they can show up on weather radar. Check out this weather radar GIF from the evening of July 20, which shows clouds of flies leaving the Upper Mississippi River in Wisconsin and taking to the air to breed..."

Report: Climate Change Skeptics Could Reach Catastrophic Levels by 2020. Here's an excerpt of a morbidly funny "update" from The Onion: "...Specifically, the report revealed an alarming upsurge in the number of authors of discredited scientific studies questioning the reality of climate change, adversarial cable news show guests who scoff at the notion that humans can affect Earth’s weather patterns, and politicians whose opinions are controlled by fossil fuel company lobbying groups, all of whose increased presence in the world jeopardizes the planet’s vulnerable biosphere. Additionally, the report noted a shocking jump in the number of uninformed citizens among the public at large, whose widespread dissemination of misleading data, half-truths, and outright lies regarding climate trends has already facilitated the destruction of numerous natural resources and hundreds of species, while putting still others at imminent risk..."

82 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

83 F. average high on July 24 (the average high has come down 1 degree).

78 F. high on July 24, 2013.

July 24 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: MPX office of the National Weather Service:

2000: An F4 tornado hits the town of Granite Falls. One person is killed and there is 20 million dollars in damage.

1915: Frost hits northeastern Minnesota.

TODAY: T-Storms early, then sticky sun. Dew point: 65. High: 84

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and humid. Low: 68

SATURDAY: Nicer day of the weekend. Warm sun. Dew point: 64. Winds: SW 10. High: 87

SUNDAY: Cooler with some AM sun, PM clouds and showers. Winds: NW 15+ Wake-up: 65. High: 75

MONDAY: Blue sky, comfortable. Dew point: 47. Wake-up: 59. High: 74

TUESDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Wake-up: 57. High: 77

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, few complaints. Wake-up: 60. High: 78

THURSDAY: Some sun, stray T-shower. Dew point: 59. Wake-up: 62. High: 82

Climate Stories...

Report: Gulf and Atlantic Coasts Not Prepared For Sea Level Rise. Not a fan of big government, regulation and taxation? Some of the same people who rail against "the feds" will be the first to have their hands out, after the next inevitable mega-flood, super-storm or historic drought, expecting compensation, which is ironic, considering the fact that all U.S. taxpayers will be chipping in to clean up the mess and rebuild. Along the coast the cycle of destruction and rebuilding may become increasingly difficult to justify - and pay for, over the long run. Here's an excerpt of a sobering story at National Geographic: "...Today the federal government tends to bear the brunt of the costs after big disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, but it wasn't always that way. "The share of money paid by the federal taxpayer has increased substantially," says Baecher, noting that the federal government paid roughly 10 percent of reconstruction costs after hurricanes in the mid-20th century. But after Sandy, the feds ponied up about 75 percent of the costs. Federal taxpayers are not always getting a good return on their investment, says the report. There has been too much spent on rebuilding and too little spent on planning, preparedness, and mitigation of risk along the coasts, leaving communities vulnerable..."

File Photo: Butch Dill, AP.

Scientists Urge For Funds To Prevent Coastal Disasters, Not Just Recover From Them. Following up on the story above; here's a clip from a Huffington Post article: "...Such a shift would help the U.S. "move from a nation that is primarily reactive to coastal disasters to one that invests wisely in coastal risk reduction and builds resilience among coastal communities," a statement accompanying the report said. Since 2001, water has reached flood levels an average of at least 20 days per year in six eastern U.S. cities, including Atlantic City, New Jersey and Charleston, South Carolina -- which has more than $200 million in flood-control projects underway, the Reuters analysis found..."

File photo above: Peter Morgan, AP.

Climate Change Hits All Pentagon Operations, Official Says. The Hill has an update on how the Department of Defense is factoring climate change and more volatility/instability into their longer term plans; here's an excerpt: "All Pentagon operations in the U.S. and abroad are threatened by climate change, according to a Defense Department official. "The effects of the changing climate affect the full range of Department activities, including plans, operations, training, infrastructure, acquisition, and longer-term investments," Daniel Chiu, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for strategy and force development, told senators at a hearing on Tuesday..." (Image: Wikimedia Commons).

The NHL Just Said Climate Change Threatens The Future of Hockey. Press Progress has the story; here's a snippet: "...The National Hockey League now says it is worried that climate change could have a devastating impact on the future of hockey in coming decades. "Our sport can trace its roots to frozen freshwater ponds, to cold climates," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says in a letter accompanying the league's Sustainability Report, released Monday night. "Major environmental challenges, such as climate change and freshwater scarcity, affect opportunities for hockey players of all ages to learn and play the game outdoors." But the NHL isn't dropping its gloves to fight climate change just because it's a worthy cause — it's also in their "vested interest" as a business..."

Scientists Identify Potential Tipping Point. Here's an excerpt of a story at Nature World News that got my attention: "Scientists have long been concerned that global warming may push the Earth's climate system past a "tipping point," and a new study from Oregon State University (OSU) may have finally identified that threshold. According to the research, synchronization of climate variability in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans is that tipping point - where rapid melting of ice and further warming may become irreversible. This is what happened a few hundred years before the rapid warming that took place at the end of the last ice age about 15,000 years ago..."

Photo credit above: "Scientists have long been concerned that global warming may push the Earth's climate system past a "tipping point," and a new study from Oregon State University (OSU) may have finally identified that threshold." (Photo : Christine Zenino (Wiki Commons).

The Dark Snow Team Investigates The Source of Soot That's Accelerating Greenland Ice Melt. It's all interconnected and interrelated, as we're discovering (the hard way). Here's an excerpt of a Guardian story from St. Thomas scientist John Abraham: "...A number of natural processes cause ice to darken. The simple process of melting causes ice crystals to deform and reflect less light. In addition, pollen, sea spray, desert dust, pollution from industry and shipping cause darkening. However, there are also other causes. Recently, newly published research strengthens the idea that wildfire soot has driven extensive melt over the ice sheet, and in addition, that layers of refrozen water are themselves darkening factors that drive further melt..."

Photo credit above: "The Mount McAllister wildfire burns 34 miles (56 km) west of Chetwynd in British Columbia, in this handout photo taken July 14, 2014. Wildfires like this are one source of black soot." Photograph: Reuters.

The Danger of "Balanced" Climate Science In The Media. Because television likes a good on-air food fight. It's good for ratings. We should debate climate science right after the big gravity debate, and after we clear up whether the Earth really is round. NASA could have faked those photos from space. Wait, did we really even go into space? Did I mention the Earth sure looks flat from my window? All those scientists must be wrong. In it for the money! Sorry, I'm off my meds. Here's an excerpt from EcoWatch: "...The media, in attempting to offer “balanced stories” does a disservice to the public and policymakers by giving small handfuls of climate change contrarians significant attention despite the fact that nearly all climate scientists agree that climate change is underway and that it is human-caused. When they share equal airtime it sends the message that the science is more uncertain than it is. The questioning of science by the American right wing clearly does not accurately reflect the scientific consensus, and is detrimental to those interested in moving our economy down a sustainable path. Why then does the media still give skeptics equal amount of air time?..."

Climate Change: If We Pretend It Isn't Happening Will It Go Away. That seems to be the mandate of many in Congress today: if we just remove the funds we won't be able to study climate change and maybe we can just ignore the trends altogether. Yes, let's be conservative about everything! Except the environment and the atmosphere, of course. We'll just take our chances there. Here's an excerpt from The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists: "...On July 10, the House approved the fiscal 2015 Energy and Water Appropriations bill on a 253-170 vote. In the bill, Congress unfortunately cut funding for such things as renewable energy, sustainable transportation, and energy efficiency; perhaps even more worrisome, however, were a series of amendments successfully attached to the bill. Each would, in its own way, specifically prohibit scientists at the Energy Department from doing precisely what Congress should mandate them to do—namely perform the best possible scientific research to illuminate, for policymakers, the likelihood and possible consequences of climate change..."

Neil DeGrasse Tyson: "Cherry-picking Your Science Because It Conflicts With Your Philosophy?" Salon has an interview with the host of "Cosmos"; here's an excerpt: "...In science, when you perform experiments and observations, and when the experiments and observations begin to agree with one another, and they’re conducted by different people — people who are competitive with one another, people who are not even necessarily in your field but do something that relates to your field — you start seeing a trend. And when that trend is consistent and persistent, no matter who’s doing the experiment, no matter where the experiment is being done, no matter whether the groups were competitive or not, you have an emergent scientific truth. That truth is true whether or not you believe in it...."

Smoked Sunshine Served Hot - July About To Stage a Comeback

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: July 17, 2014 - 10:43 PM

As you slather on your SPF 50 sunscreen and stare up at a hazy-milky blue sky, realize that smoke from Canadian wildfires is drifting over Minnesota - swept along by jet stream winds aloft. Extreme heat is baking much of western Canada and the USA, sparking a rash of wildfires 1,500 miles upwind. The smoke plume is too high to smell anything unusual, but a few cherry-red sunsets are possible in the days ahead.

What was probably the most comfortable week of summer gives way to a warming trend in the coming days; highs top 90F by early next week. Weather models hint at a few spotty T-showers Saturday & Sunday - maybe a severe weather outbreak next Tuesday as superheated, tropical air sparks an MCS system; a statewide swarm of strong to severe storms.

That's pure speculation, but there's little doubt drippy dew points will top 70F by Monday and Tuesday. Men will sweat, women will glow, pets will pant. July the way we always knew it could be.

Note to self: the ability to tan or burn has nothing to do with temperature, and everything to do with sun angle; how high the sun is in the southern sky. You can get thoroughly fried in July, even when temperatures are in the 60s and 70s.

Tracking The Smoke. NOAA has a suite of online tools that display the latest position of significant smoke plumes from western fires.

Oregon, Washington Declare States of Emergency To Battle Wildfires. Here's the lead to a story at The Christian Science Monitor: "Worsening wildfire activity prompted the governor's offices in both Washington and Oregon to declare a state of emergency, a move that enables state officials to call up the National Guard. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has issued an emergency declaration in response to wildfires, Wednesday..."

Photo credit above: "Plumes of smoke from the Leavenworth wildfire arc in the sky as seen from Highway 2 at Highway 207, west of Leavenworth, Wash. on Thursday, July 17, 2014. Worsening wildfire activity has prompted the governor's offices in both Washington and Oregon to declare states of emergency." (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Mike Siegel).

Building Heat. 100s over the Dakotas this weekend? It looks increasingly likely that the heat dome gripping the east will migrate into the Plains and Upper Midwest; highs brushing or topping 90F in Minnesota and much of the Midwest again by early next week. Meanwhile New England enjoys fresh, clean Canadian air. 2-meter NAM Future Temperatures: NOAA and HAMweather.

Rough T-storms Southern USA to Carolinas. NOAA's Future Radar product (12 km NAM) shows strong storms from Oklahoma City and Little Rock to Nashville and Raleigh over the next 72 hours; a few T-storms popping over northern and central Minnesota by the weekend as steamy air returns. Loop: HAMweather.

California Farms Are Sucking Up Enough Groundwater To Put Rhode Island 17 Feet Under. Here's an excerpt of a story at Mother Jones that shows the severity of the rolling drought in California: "...In a normal year, about one-third of California's irrigation water is drawn from wells that tap into the groundwater supply. The rest is "surface water" from streams, rivers, and reservoirs. This year, the state is losing about one-third of its surface water supply. The hardest hit area is the Central Valley, a normally fertile inland region. Because groundwater isn't as easily pumped in the Valley as it is on the coasts, and the Colorado River supplies aren't as accessible as they are in the south, the Valley has lost 410,000 acres to fallowing, an area about 10 times the size of Washington D.C...."


Risk of Earthquake Increased For About Half of USA. Say what you will about our increasingly erratic, jaw-dropping weather, but at least Minnesota is earthquake-free! We have that going for us. Here's an excerpt from The Kansas City Star: "This undated handout image provided by the US Geological Survey (USGS) shows an updated federal earthquake risk map. A new map dials up the shaking hazard just a bit for about half of the US and lowers it for nearly a quarter of the nation. The U.S. Geologic Survey updated Thursday its national seismic hazard maps for the first time since 2008, taking into account research from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami off the Japanese coast and the surprise 2011 Virginia temblor."

Image credit: USGS/AP Photo.

Read more here:

45 Years Ago We Landed Men on the Moon. How is that even possible, especially considering the onboard computers during the Apollo missions had a fraction of the computing power your smartphone has today? The Atlantic has a terrific pictorial walk down memory lane, focused on the awe-inspiring journey of Apollo 11; here's a clip: "...Years of effort, dangerous experiments, and bold missions led up to the Moon landing, an event watched on live television by millions around the world. Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin "Buzz" E. Aldrin left the Earth on a Wednesday, landed on the Moon on that Sunday, spent a bit more than two hours walking on its surface, deploying experiments and collecting samples, then splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean the following Thursday, after 8 days off-planet. Collected here are 45 images of that historic mission, a "giant leap for mankind," 45 years ago..." (Image: NASA).

NASA Air Traffic Control Software To Improve Spacing Between Planes. Gizmag has an interesting story - here's an excerpt: "As with all technology, the tools used for air traffic control are always improving. Recently, for example, it was announced that the first remote air traffic control tower would open in Sweden. In a smaller evolution, NASA has provided the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with software to better manage the spacing between planes..."

Your Sunscreen Is Really Out of Date. Here's What Congress Is Doing About It. Another reason to take the sun, like everything else, in moderation. NationalJournal has an article that made me do a double-take; here's a clip: "The U.S. may finally catch up to other countries in sunscreen technology. The ingredients that make their sunscreen superior have been awaiting approval—or any sort of decision—from the Food and Drug Administration for at least 12 years, with the last over-the-counter sunscreen ingredient approved by the agency in the 1990s. There are currently eight such ingredients stuck in the system. Meanwhile, these technologies have been available in Europe, Asia, and Central and South America, sometimes for more than 15 years. As a result of the backlog, American consumers have been unable to buy the sunscreens that provide the most effective protections against harmful rays..."

A Fish Oil - Alzheimer's Connection? Yahoo News has a story about new research showing a possible connection between fish oil and a lowered risk of Alzheimer's. Here's a clip: "Fish oil is touted as a magical potion that boosts fertility, heart health, and weight loss and promotes a clear complexion, while lessening the effects of depression, ulcers, diabetes and many more conditions. But there’s another benefit to these glossy little capsules: They may prevent Alzheimer’s disease. .."

Our Bees, Ourselves. All around the world colonies of honey bees are dying and the causes may be manifold. We should be paying close attention, according to a story at The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "...But in the midst of crisis can come learning. Honeybee collapse has much to teach us about how humans can avoid a similar fate, brought on by the increasingly severe environmental perturbations that challenge modern society. Honeybee collapse has been particularly vexing because there is no one cause, but rather a thousand little cuts..." (File photo: Wikipedia).

79 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

84 F. average high on July 17.

94 F. high on July 17, 2013.

July 17 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: Twin Cities NWS:

2000: Fall apparel made an early debut on this cold day with a 60 degree high temperature at the Twin Cities, 54 at Brainerd and 52 at Cambridge.

1986: A KARE TV news helicopter captured live footage of a tornado as it hit the northern suburbs of Minneapolis. It touched down in Brooklyn Park and continued to Fridley. The tornado, an F-2 in magnitude, caused $650,000 in damages

1970: Tornado slices right through the center of Miltona.

1867: Possibly the greatest "unofficial" rainstorm in Minnesota history. 36 inches was recorded in 36 hours near Sauk Center. Disasterous flooding in central Minnesota. The Pomme De Terre river was impassible. A courier attempted to cross on horseback and drowned. Flooding was also on the Mississippi with millions of logs lost on the river.

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, warm breeze. Dew point: 57. Winds: S 15. High: 81

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 65

SATURDAY: Warm sun, isolated T-shower late? High: 82

SUNDAY: Sticky sun, stray PM storm. Dew point: 67. Wake-up: 67. High: 87

MONDAY: Sunny and stinking hot. Dew point: 72. Feels like 98. Wake-up: 72. High: 91

TUESDAY: Steamy, T-storms - some severe? Wake-up: 75. High: 83

WEDNESDAY: Clearing, less humid. Dew point: 63. Wake-up: 69. High: 85

THURSDAY: Intervals of sun, still feels like July. Wake-up: 70. High: 87

Climate Stories...

NOAA: Climate Change Is Getting Worse. No warming in 15 years? Think again - much of the additional warming is going into the world's oceans (and cryosphere - melting Arctic and Greenland ice faster than computer models predicted). Here's the introduction to a story at The Hill: "Changes in the earth's climate are increasing at a steady rate, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned Thursday in a new report. Greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels, global temperatures and super storms are all trending upward, NOAA said. "These findings reinforce what scientists for decades have observed: that our planet is becoming a warmer place." NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan said in a statement Thursday..."

Is Global Warming Causing Extreme Weather Via Jet Stream Waves? The Guardian has the story; focusing on trends I've seen with the jet stream, especially since 2010 or so - more high-amplitude waves capable of accelerating heat/drought and flooding, since these long, looping kinks in the upper level wind flow tend to move slower. Here's a clip: "...People who follow this site and the climate literature no doubt are aware that a hotly debated topic has arisen in recent years. I have written about studies that have linked loss of Arctic ice and warming of the Arctic region to more severe undulations in the jet stream. That research is still in its infancy and consequently, very exciting. While the idea that global warming increases jet stream undulations have been challenged by others, it is clear that some recent observations support the hypothesis..."

Image credit: Climate Reanalyzer (, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA.

Global Warming Threatens Chicago Tourism. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Chicago Sun Times: "...Severe rainstorms also have the power to frustrate business. As the river rises because of rainfall, it becomes challenging for tour boats to fit underneath Chicago’s many bridges. This in turn means the Chicago Harbor Lock may have to open the gates that separate the Chicago River from Lake Michigan to restore the river to safe levels and protect residents from basement flooding. In the past 25 years all Chicago River lock gates were opened six times for flood control purposes. The worrisome part of that statistic is that four of these six times have occurred since 2008 with the latest just occurring on July 1..."

Top 10 Warmest January – July Periods. Global temperature anomalies courtesy of NASA GISS:

2010       .73C

2007       .69C

1998       .69C

2002       .68C

2014       .65C

2005       .64C

2004       .57C

2013       .56C

2009       .55C

2004       .54C

White House Unveils Climate Change Initiatives. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...One of the projects involves shoring up the power supply during climate catastrophes, and the Department of Agriculture on Wednesday will award $236.3 million to improve electricity infrastructure in the rural areas of eight states. A government study released in May concluded that climate change will strain utility companies’ ability to deliver power as extreme weather damages power lines and hotter temperatures drive surges in demand..."

Global Warming Reaches New Records. Voice of America reports; here's an excerpt: "Scientific evidence about the rising of average global temperatures seems to be piling up. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, average global temperatures in April, May and June this year were the highest since the beginning of official records, in 1891..." (Image: NASA).

Atmospheric Perfection - Shot at 90 Early Next Week

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: July 16, 2014 - 10:28 PM

Tell Me a Story

That newfangled gadget (productivity tool) you just bought is obsolete by the time you unwrap it. Technology evolves, but one thing stays fairly consistent: people still respond to a good story.

Maybe it's in our caveman DNA, but we still love to gather around the fire, TV or nearest smartphone and tell each other stories.

Will computers ever remove the need for meteorologists to be involved in the weather story? Will Apple's Siri (version 6.3 in 2021) tell you what's happening outside and why? Maybe.

In 1976 there was 1 weather model (LFM). Today we have a firehose of data; hundreds of models to choose from. We are drowning in data and simulations of what (should) happen.

Studies suggest the best weather forecasts use computers and meteorologists, who rely on historical performance, intuition and gut feel. Stuff you can't program into a computer, at least not yet.

Some of the nicest weather of summer lingers into the weekend as cool exhaust from Monday's "vortex" lingers. Dew points rise into the steamy 70s next week as a hot front approaches.

The next chance of widespread T-storms comes Tuesday, so take full advantage of this extended dry spell.

And for the record: there's plenty of warm, summer weather left to enjoy.

Trust me, I'm a weatherman.

Warming Trend. Enjoy comfortable dew points in the low 50s today and early Friday, because long-range models show dew points topping 70F early next week. The good news: dry weather spills over into the weekend as temperatures rise into the 80s; a shot at 90F in the metro area early next week before cooling off a bit by midweek. Meteogram: Weatherspark.

Sweatshirt Nights for New England While Western USA Broils. NAM 2-meter temperatures show a cooling trend for much of the Northeast, while the Midwest and Plains heat up into the weekend, and temperatures continue to top 100F over much of Texas and the Southwest. 84-hour forecast: NOAA and HAMweather.

Top 10 Warmest January – July Periods. Global temperature anomalies courtesy of NASA GISS:

2010       .73C

2007       .69C

1998       .69C

2002       .68C

2014       .65C

2005       .64C

2004       .57C

2013       .56C

2009       .55C

2004       .54C

Top 10 Cities At Risk For Hurricane Damage. Insurance Business America has the article; here's a clip: "...Unsurprisingly, Florida leads the way for the highest number of homes at risk (2.5 million), containing the second- and third-ranked metro areas of Miami and Tampa. New York City represents the highest number of homes at risk (687,412) as well as the highest total value of homes exposed ($251 billion). With that level of risk, producers in the following 10 metro areas have a powerful case to present to home and business owners who have not yet purchased the proper coverage..." (Image above: NASA).

A Tornado "Lifejacket"? Keep in mind most serious, life-threatening tornado-related injuries are the result of blunt head trauma from flying debris. Could the right (reinforced) blanket really provide adequate protection during a tornado? Here's an excerpt of a story at "...Made from heavy-duty nylon, an impact gel product and Dyneema®, a high-tech body armor material, and modeled after the old Roman phalanx shields, the duo created a product dubbed BODYGUARD™. The product is a blanketlike, protective shield designed to "provide superior protection for children and teachers while at school..."

Image above courtesy of StormGuard and Protecht.

45 Years Ago We Landed Men on the Moon. How is that even possible, especially considering the onboard computers during the Apollo missions had a fraction of the computing power your smartphone has today? The Atlantic has a terrific pictorial walk down memory lane, focused on the awe-inspiring journey of Apollo 11; here's a clip: "...Years of effort, dangerous experiments, and bold missions led up to the Moon landing, an event watched on live television by millions around the world. Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin "Buzz" E. Aldrin left the Earth on a Wednesday, landed on the Moon on that Sunday, spent a bit more than two hours walking on its surface, deploying experiments and collecting samples, then splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean the following Thursday, after 8 days off-planet. Collected here are 45 images of that historic mission, a "giant leap for mankind," 45 years ago..." (Image: NASA).

A Huge New Craters is Found in Siberia, And The Theories Fly. NPR has the story and video; here's an excerpt: "The area of Russia is said to be called, ominously enough, the end of the world. And that's where researchers are headed this week, to investigate a large crater whose appearance reportedly caught scientists by surprise. The crater is estimated at 262 feet wide and is in the northern Siberian area of Yamal. The crater has been a magnet for attention and speculation since aerial footage of it was posted online last week, showing a gaping hole and what looks to be rocks and earth that exploded from within it..."

Your Sunscreen Is Really Out of Date. Here's What Congress Is Doing About It. Another reason to take the sun, like everything else, in moderation. NationalJournal has an article that made me do a double-take; here's a clip: "The U.S. may finally catch up to other countries in sunscreen technology. The ingredients that make their sunscreen superior have been awaiting approval—or any sort of decision—from the Food and Drug Administration for at least 12 years, with the last over-the-counter sunscreen ingredient approved by the agency in the 1990s. There are currently eight such ingredients stuck in the system. Meanwhile, these technologies have been available in Europe, Asia, and Central and South America, sometimes for more than 15 years. As a result of the backlog, American consumers have been unable to buy the sunscreens that provide the most effective protections against harmful rays..."

Our Bees, Ourselves. All around the world colonies of honey bees are dying and the causes may be manifold. We should be paying close attention, according to a story at The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "...But in the midst of crisis can come learning. Honeybee collapse has much to teach us about how humans can avoid a similar fate, brought on by the increasingly severe environmental perturbations that challenge modern society. Honeybee collapse has been particularly vexing because there is no one cause, but rather a thousand little cuts..." (File photo: Wikipedia).

Getting Rid of Cable TV: The Smartest Ways to Cut The Cord. Yes, the old-fashioned TV antenna is staging a comeback. In fact broadcast signals in HD are often sharper over the air than via cable. If you're sick of paying hundreds of dollars for channels you never watch, check out this article at The Wall Street Journal; here's an excerpt: "...I hadn't thought about a TV antenna since 1985, but it may be time to go back to the future. Today, the network channels  you can get free over the air can be crisp. And unlike that giant antenna that used to dominate Uncle Louie's roof, today's antennas, like the $70 Mohu Leaf 50 and the $90 Winegard FlatWave Amped, are slim enough to fit on a bookshelf..."

Free Broadcast TV Signals At Your Address. Check out this terrific on-line tool at, plug in your address and height of the (prospective) antenna above the ground and you get an instant (confidential) report on what (free) TV signals are available at your home. Pretty slick.

The Myth of Wealthy Men and Beautiful Women. The Atlantic has an interesting article that may challenge how you think about couples pairing up; here's an excerpt: "...The study concludes that women aren’t really out for men with more wealth than themselves, nor are men looking for women who outshine them in beauty. Rather, hearteningly, people really are looking for ... compatibility and companionship. Finding those things is driven by matching one's strengths with a partner who’s similarly endowed, rather than trying to barter kindness for hotness, humor for conscientiousness, cultural savvy for handyman-ship, or graduate degrees for marketable skills...."

Tesla Reveals Its Next Electric Car Will Be Called Model 3, Which Should Retail For Under $35,000 in 2017. The prices are coming down - I have a hunch many of our kids and grandkids won't think twice about driving EV's, especially if they can save money (and clean up the air) in the process. Here's a clip from The Next Web: "...Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk told Auto Express in an interview that the new vehicle will rival the BMW 3 Series. Though Musk wanted to name the car ‘Model E’ at first, his plans were derailed when Ford threatened to sue it, saying it wanted to use the name — so Model 3 it eventually became. The Model 3 will be smaller than the Model S, with Musk saying it should retail for around $35,000 (or around £30,000 in the UK) due to the use of cheaper batteries that Tesla will likely build in its upcoming Gigafactory..."

77 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

84 F. average high on July 17.

92 F. high on July 17, 2013.

July 17 in Minnesota Weather History:

2001: Lightning struck a Minnesota National Guard field training site located in Camp Ripley. Nearly two dozen Marine Corps reservists were sent to hospitals. Most were released after treatment

1952: 5.20 inches of rain fell in 3 1/2 hours at Moose Lake. Numerous basements were flooded and Highway 61 was impassable at Willow River.

1934: Frost damages crops across the north with 34 in Baudette and Roseau.

TODAY: A perfect day. Sunny. Dew point: 51. Winds: SW 8. High: 78

THURSDAY NIGHT: Clear and comfortable. Low: 59

FRIDAY: Sunny, breezy & warmer. Dew point: 56. High: 81

SATURDAY: Warm sunshine. Dew point: 60. Winds: S 15+ Wake-up: 61. High: 83

SUNDAY: Sticky sun, lake-worthy. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 63. High: 85

MONDAY: Mexican Vortex. Hot sun. Dew point: 68. Wake-up: 67. High: near 90

TUESDAY: Slight relief, few T-storms likely. Wake-up: 68. High: 86

WEDNESDAY: More sun, a bit less humid. DP: 60. Wake-up: 64. High: 84

Climate Stories...

White House Unveils Climate Change Initiatives. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...One of the projects involves shoring up the power supply during climate catastrophes, and the Department of Agriculture on Wednesday will award $236.3 million to improve electricity infrastructure in the rural areas of eight states. A government study released in May concluded that climate change will strain utility companies’ ability to deliver power as extreme weather damages power lines and hotter temperatures drive surges in demand..."

Global Warming Reaches New Records. Voice of America reports; here's an excerpt: "Scientific evidence about the rising of average global temperatures seems to be piling up. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, average global temperatures in April, May and June this year were the highest since the beginning of official records, in 1891..." (Image: NASA).

No Sweat. Coolest MLB All-Star Game on Record? Frost Potential North early Wednesday - 90s Next Week

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: July 14, 2014 - 10:49 PM

In town for the All-Star game? I predict you'll enjoy your stay in Minneapolis and enjoy a healthy serving of "Minnesota Nice" while you're here. What? It's "too cool for baseball?"

Well, unlike some stuffy American cities, where July heat can bake the paint off cars and make you want to live in your swimming pool, we prefer our summers fresh and comfortable, with a faint Canadian accent. In fact today is a little on the warm side for many of us! That's why you'll see throngs of smiling locals in shorts and sweatshirts.

Sort of a passive-aggressive thing we have going here. We ignore the weather we don't like. And we never, ever complain.

It may, in fact, be the coolest MLB All-Star Game since 1980 (if the first-pitch temperature is cooler than 68F). No haze, no smog. No raging storms - just popcorn cumulus clouds and a sprinkling of stars by 10 PM. Baseball the way it was meant to be.

A flawless Wednesday gives way to a warming trend later this week; the next chance of T-storms late Saturday.

Oh, if anyone asks (doubtful) Fairbanks, Alaska was warmer than the Twin Cities yesterday. And a light frost is possible over the Minnesota Arrowhead late tonight.


An All-Star Weather Report: Fresh Air; Frost Risk Northern Minnesota Wednesday Morning? In today's first Climate Matters segment I take a look at the crazy temperatures extremes across North America; wind chill over the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes, while the western USA and Canada fries under 90 and 100-degree heat. Blame (or thank) strange loops and permutations in the jet stream: "It's been all or nothing in the moisture department, why not temperature too? WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over the chilly temperatures over the Eastern half of the United States and the baking heat across the West. What is to blame?"

A July Vortex from Space. The gyre of unusually chilly air pinwheeling out of Canada showed up in yesterday's visible satellite image, a counterclockwise swirl centered over Duluth. As cool as it was at the surface, temperatures aloft were much colder, resulting in numerous instability showers, some heavy.

Whiff of Wind Chill. At 10 AM Monday the wind chill in Hibbing was a crisp 46 F. Not too bad considering the air temperature was a chilling 52 F. with a windblown rain falling. What month is this again?

A Crazed Jet Stream. Yes, winds aloft are redefining the meaning of "high amplitude flow", record heat surging across western Canada with 80s reported as far north as the Arctic Circle, while a gyre of October-like air swirls across the Upper Midwest into the Great Lakes, where temperatures are running 20-30 F. cooler than average. When, precisely, was the last time our weather was average?

A Mid-Summer Correction. NAM 2-meter temperature guidance shows free A/C pushing into the Ohio Valley and New England by midweek; sizzling 90s and 100-degree highs still commonplace from Texas into much of the western USA. There is a 1 in 3 chance of isolated frost by Wednesday morning over far northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and the U.P. of Michigan. Remarkable. Animation: NOAA and HAMweather.

Mother of All July Cool Fronts - 90F Next Week? Brisk weather continues today; in all probability tonight's MLB All-Star game will be the coolest ever played. We slowly warm in the coming days; a few T-storms popping up again late Saturday into early next week. All guidance shows a surge of heat next week, maybe a few days at or above 90F. Talk about a temperature turnaround. Meteogram: Weatherspark.

Lake Mead Levels to Drop to Historic Lows. More symptoms of a lingering, multi-year drought; here's an excerpt from PRWeb: "Lake Mead, the reservoir created by Hoover Dam, is anticipated this week to reach its lowest water level since the lake’s initial filling in the 1930s. The Bureau of Reclamation’s Boulder Canyon Operations Office is projecting the elevation to drop to 1,081.75 feet above sea level during the week of July 7, and to continue to drop, reaching approximately 1,080 feet in November of this year..."

Lake Mead Water Levels Since 1935. has more fascinating details, graphs and photos focused on the gradual decline of Lake Mead.

Driest Year Across California Since 1923-24. Lake Mead water levels are the lowest recorded since it started to fill up in the mid-30s. Looking at statewide data ithe period from June 30, 2013 to July 1, 2014 was the second driest in California history. That, and smoke plumes from western fires, is the subject of today's second Climate Matters segment: "Wildfires, extreme heat, and drought are all characteristics of the Western United States right now. What has one of the worst droughts in 500 hundred years brought with it? Shrinking reservoirs, including Lake Mead, can be seen all over the West. When will it end?"

6.5 Million American Homes Face Hurricane Risk. Realty Biz News has the story and highlights of a recent comprehensive study; here's the introduction: "More than 6.5 million homes along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts could be at risk of a storm surge from a hurricane, which could amount to nearly $1.5 trillion in potential reconstruction costs, according to the 2014 storm surge analysis conducted by CoreLogic..."

Image credit above: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center via photopin cc.

Surge Could Do Serious Damage Here. The Herald-Tribune looks at the implications of a hurricane storm surge for southwestern Florida, from Sarasota to Naples and Fort Myers; here's an excerpt: "Southwest Florida has more residential real estate at risk from storm surge damage than almost any other metropolitan area in the country, a new report shows. If a major hurricane were to strike here, it would cost nearly $43 billion to rebuild the homes destroyed by the storm and subsequent surge in the region, according to data from housing researcher CoreLogic. Statewide, more than two million homes could be impacted and cost nearly $500 billion to replace..."

Photo credit above: "Storm surge swallows up the public beach near the city pier in Naples in 2005, after Hurricane Wilma powered through the city. A new report indicates storm surge could damage thousands of homes in this region." H-T ARCHIVE / 2005.

Swimsuits for Snow Boots. Freak Summer Snow and Hail Hit Siberia, Urals. RT News has the photos and article; here's an excerpt: "Snowdrifts piled up on the roads of Russia's Ural region on Saturday as an abnormal summer snowstorm hit the region, bringing the area into the spotlight once again after last year's meteorite fall. Siberia also witnessed a downpour of giant hailstones. Residents of the cities of Chelyabinsk and Sverdlovsk, located in Russia's eastern Ural region, were taken aback when it suddenly started snowing in the middle of summer on Saturday..."

Vietnam's Overdue Alliance with America. I didn't think I'd live long enough to see this headline, but after touring Vietnam earlier this year, seeing their market-based economy and remarkable work ethic, and sensing a growing concern and unease about China's aspirations, some sort of alliance may be all but inevitable. Here's a clip from The New York Times: "...Because of China’s recent territorial grabs at sea and its complete disregard for international law, we are now back to square one. Without a major strategic realignment, Vietnam’s island territories will simply be gobbled up by China. Our country must dispose of the myth of friendship with China and return to what Ho Chi Minh passionately advocated after World War II: an American-Vietnamese alliance in Asia. Ho’s sympathies with the United States and its platform of self-determination for all peoples went as far back as the Paris Peace Conference after World War I..."

Tree Houses: High-End Style Goes Out on a Limb. Put up a flat-screen TV, WIFI and a flush toilet and I'm there. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Boston Globe: "...Regardless of where the house is built, however, clients look at it as an escape. And that’s exactly the way B’fer Roth likes it. He can install electricity and plumbing and all that if customers insist, but that’s not his preference, truth be told. “The whole point of a treehouse is getting away from all the stuff we’re inundated with in the luxuries of our homes,” he said. “My ideal treehouse doesn’t have all the trappings of the modern urban house...”

Photo credit above: Nelson Treehouse and Supply. "Nelson Treehouse and Supply of Fall City, Wash., built this treehouse with the varied rooflines and the Arts-and-Crafts-style elements on the Cape."

How Coffee Protects Against Parkinson's. Good thing I had my triple-shot latte this morning - it's now possible to rationalize away almost anything. Here's a clip of an interesting article at "...An epidemiological study of Parkinson's patients from two counties in south east Sweden examined a combination of a previously known protective factor – caffeine – and the genetic variant in GRIN2A. The findings show that individuals with this combination run a significantly lower risk of developing the disease..."

Stress-Busting Diet: Eight Foods That May Boost Resilience. I put down my donut just long enough to read an interesting article at NPR; here's a clip: "...There can be a bit of a vicious cycle," says , a professor of pediatrics and nutrition at Harvard University and a researcher at Boston Children's Hospital. "When we feel stressed we seek foods that are going to comfort us immediately, but often times those foods lead to surges and crashes in hormones and blood sugar that increase our susceptibility to new stresses..."

Photo credit above: "A nutrient-dense diet may help tamp down stress. And these foods may help boost our moods (clockwise from left): pumpkin seeds, sardines, eggs, salmon, flax seeds, Swiss chard and dark chocolate." Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Utilities to Battery-Powered Solar: Get Off Our Lawn. Grist has an interesting article for anyone considering trying to sell excess (free) solar energy back to the grid; here's an excerpt: "In Wisconsin, utilities are jacking up the price to connect to their electrical grid. In Oklahoma, utilities pushed through a law this spring that allows them to charge the people who own solar panels and wind turbines more to connect to their electrical grid. In Arizona, the state has decided to charge extra property taxes to households that are leasing solar panels. Welcome to the solar backlash..."

Apple Patent Hints the iPhone 6 Will Be Made of Indestructible Glass. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "A new Apple patent gives more weight to rumors that the next iPhone will be made of a nearly indestructible type of glass. Apple won a patent this week for “fused glass device housings," a new method of fusing together pieces of glass, which could be used to make casings for devices like the iPhone and iPad, Apple Insider reports..."

People Who Complain About Tornado Coverage Deserve To Miss Their Show. I understand the angst and frustration when the meteorologist interrupts your favorite show for a tornado warning. But here's the thing: TV stations are licensed by the FCC to serve the public interest. That very much includes passing on warnings for imminent, life-threatening weather from their local NWS offices. There are other (better) ways to get these warnings, including smartphone apps, but cut the poor TV meteorologist some slack. He's just doing his job. And you may think different (sorry Steve Jobs) when it's your neighborhood in the path of an EF-4. Here's a clip from The Vane at Gawker: "...Most television stations in the United States have policies in place that require their weather personnel to break into programming when a tornado warning is issued in their viewing area. As tornado warnings are only issued during imminent life-threatening severe weather situations, meteorologists need to get the word out as fast as they can so people in the way of the storms can take cover just in case the worst happens...

Runner Struck in the Head by Lightning, Finishes Third. And the gold medal winner for dumb-tenacity has to go to this guy - as reported by Fitish: "Over the weekend the Hardrock 100 ultramarathon wound its way through the mountains around Silverton, Colo. The men's winner set a course record. But more impressive or stupid or mind-boggling was that the third-place finisher, Adam Campbell of Canada, was struck by lightning. In the head. And then he kept running..."

65 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday, the coolest July 14 on record. Old record: 68 in 1884.

84 F. average high on July 14.

86 F. high on July 14, 2013.

.06" rain fell yesterday at KMSP.

July 14, 1980: Straight-line winds of nearly 100 mph causes enormous damage, mainly in Dakota County. 43 million dollars in damage was reported and 100 thousand people were without power.

TODAY: Fresh air. More clouds than sun. Winds: NW 15. Dew point: 46. High: 68

TUESDAY NIGHT: Great baseball weather (bring a sweatshirt). Slow clearing. Low: 52

WEDNESDAY: Bright sun, less wind. Perfect. High: 72

THURSDAY: Sunny, a bit milder. Dew point: 48. Wake-up: 58. High: 74

FRIDAY: Warm sunshine, more July-like. Wake-up: 60. High: near 80

SATURDAY: Sticky sun, T-storms late. Dew point: 65. Wake-up: 64. High: 82

SUNDAY: Patchy clouds, stray T-shower. Dry most of the day. Wake-up: 65. High: 81

MONDAY: Shocker: more T-storms, downpours. Wake-up: 64. High: 83

Climate Stories....

"Tornadoes of Fire" in N.W.T. Linked to Climate Change. Record heat (and sudden drought) has ignited a rash of wildfires across Canada's Northwest Territories, and the trends suggest warming since the 1970s is at least partly to blame for an increase in frequency, size and duration of wildfires. But is there a link to climate volatility? Here's an excerpt from Canada's CBC: "Climate change is responsible for more frequent and larger forest fires, such as the ones now plaguing the Northwest Territories, says an Edmonton professor. “What we are seeing in the Northwest Territories this year is an indicator of what to expect with climate change,” says Mike Flannigan, a professor of Wildland Fire in the University of Alberta’s renewable resources department. “Expect more fires, larger fires, more intense fires...”

Photo credit above: "A boy points to a fire on the other side of a lake near Gameti, N.W.T. Mike Flannigan, a professor of wildland fire at the University of Alberta, says climate change is responsible for the hot, dry conditions that are causing fires to burn out of control." (Jenn Wetrade)

How A Flood-Prone Village In The U.S. Moved To Higher, Drier Ground. Expect to see more of this in the years ahead. Here's an excerpt from Thomson Reuters Foundation: "...So Valmeyer (Illinois) did what many vulnerable, disaster-prone communities around the world have considered: It moved to safer ground. Climate change, coupled with deforestation to make way for cities and farms and population growth that results in people living in increasingly vulnerable places, is leading to more severe and frequent natural disasters, scientists say. Those disasters are forcing millions to relocate temporarily or even permanently to safer areas. An estimated 31.7 million people were displaced by weather-related disasters in 2012 alone, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre..."

Photo credit above: "A 1993 map of plans for a new Valmeyer, Illinois, located on a bluff above the old flood-hit town." Photo courtesy of Dennis Knobloch.

8 Charts That Show How Climate Change is Making The World More Dangerous. The Guardian has the story - here's a clip: "...Flooding and mega-storms were by far the leading cause of disaster from 2000-2010. About 80% of the 3,496 disasters of the last decade were due to flooding and storms. Seas are rising because of climate change. So are extreme rain storms. There is growing evidence that warming temperatures are increasing the destructive force of hurricanes..."

Dr. Jason Box Interviewed by Bill Maher. Jason Box is Chief Scientist for the Dark Snow project. His recent award-winning documentary "Chasing Ice" showed, in stark details, the rate of ice loss taking place at northern latitudes, worldwide. This interview took place on July 12, 2014; here's the clip on YouTube.

Climate Change: Birds Most Influenced by Precipitation, Not Warming Temperatures. Nature World News has a story focused on new research; here's an excerpt: "...Although it would seem that warming temperatures associated with climate change would most greatly influence animal species like birds, a new study shows that precipitation is actually the key to bird adaptation. Past studies have shown that warming temperatures can push some animal species - including birds - into higher latitudes or higher elevations. However, few have explored the role that precipitation has on how they adapt to their environment..."

Photo credit above: "Although it would seem that warming temperatures associated with climate change would most greatly influence animal species like birds, a new study shows that precipitation is actually the key to bird adaptation." (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

America's Oil Consumption is Rising, Not Falling, Outpacing China's. InsideClimate News has the details; here's an excerpt: "U.S. oil demand reversed course in dramatic fashion in 2013, as the nation's growth in crude consumption outpaced perennial leader China for the first time since 1999, according to oil company BP's annual compendium of world energy statistics. The U.S. increase follows two years of declines, and dampens hopes that the world's largest oil guzzler was permanently reining in its appetite for crude..."

Rupert Murdoch Doesn't Understand Climate Change Basics And That's a Problem. And that fundamental scientific ignorance and misinformation trickles down to his global media empire. The Guardian has the article; here's an excerpt: "...Rupert Murdoch's media outlets frequently publish opinion articles from non-experts who similarly downplay the risks we face from climate change. It's not surprising that Murdoch is misinformed on the subject if those biased non-experts are his sources of information. However, it's not just Murdoch who's being misinformed by these inaccurate and biased opinions, it's also the vast audience that his media empire reaches. Murdoch's media outlets are of course free to publish whatever misinformation they like. However, given their immense size and reach, it's difficult to offset the damage this misinformation causes to the public understanding about climate change..."