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.

Posts about Lions

One More Summer Spasm - Thundery Hot Front on Thursday - El Nino: Sizzle or Fizzle?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: August 19, 2014 - 11:47 PM

Mission Impossible

It's a logical, reasonable question. "Paul, will it rain on my yard this evening?" We respond with probabilities and words like "isolated" and "scattered" thundershowers.

"You have Turbo-Doppler! Why can't you tell me if the storms will hit MY HOUSE?"

Welcome to the world of random weather. We can tell when conditions are ripe for storms, but will your neighborhood be the 10 to 20 percent of the state that sees rain?

In spite of 3 KM resolution models that update every hour the state of the art still can't answer that question with a high degree of confidence. A line of storms? That's straightforward. But hit-or-miss, "popcorn" instability showers? Good luck. Radar on a phone is probably your best tool for pinpointing rain chances for your GPS location. Anything else is an exercise in hand-waving.

Today looks quiet: no pulsating red blobs on Doppler. Storms rumble in Thursday with high humidity. Friday will be the better day to graze the healthy food choices at the State Fair, with highs near 90F. I'll be at the Star Tribune booth around midday to hang out with Vineeta Sawkar and babble about the dew point.

Near 90F Sunday, then a breath of fresh, September air next week.

* 3 KM HRRR model from Tuesday courtesy of NOAA and HAMweather.


Future Radar. Here is 60-hour NOAA NAM guidance showing the next wave of warm frontal thunderstorms pushing across southern and central Minnesota late tonight into Thursday morning. A counterclockwise swirl of showers pushes across the Great Lakes, with a possible severe storm outbreak pushing thru the Ohio Valley into the Mid Atlantic states. Monsoon-related T-storms flare up over the Rockies, but no colorful blobs appear over California, where the drought continues to deepen. Loop: HAMweather.


Accumulated Rainfall Potential. NOAA high-res models print out as much as 2-3" rain for the Twin Cities metro by Thursday night as a (hot) front surges north. If skies clear fast enough behind these storms the mercury may hit 90F on Thursday with dew points sweltering close to 70F. The maps look more like late June than late August into Sunday, but much cooler air knocks the mercury into the 60s and 70s much of next week with half as much water vapor in the air by Monday. If you're looking for comfortable weather for the Minnesota State Fair you may want to wait until next week. Guidance: HAMweather.com


El Nino: Fizzle or Sizzle? What happened to the much-anticipated, much-hyped El Nino event of 2014? It's still coming, according to NOAA's climate.gov. Here's an excerpt of a good post and update: "...In summary, we continue to favor the emergence of El Niño in the coming months, with the peak chance of emergence around 65% (i.e. there is a 35% chance of El Niño not occurring).  ENSO forecasters do not expect a strong El Niño (we can’t eliminate the chance of one either), but we are not expecting El Niño to “fizzle.”  In fact, just in the last week, we have started to see westerly wind anomalies pick up near the Date Line.  Literally and figuratively, we may be witnessing the start of ENSO’s second wind."

Graphic credit above: "Two consecutive years of Niño-3.4 index values for El Niño episodes that peaked during the Northern Hemisphere winter. The thick black line shows the values of Niño-3.4 for the current year (2014) up to present. The dashed (solid) horizontal line shows where the Niño-3.4 index is equal to 0.5°C (0°C). Data based on weekly OISSTv2."  Figure by Michelle L’Heureux, Climate Prediction Center.


California's Record Heat Is Unlike Nothing You've Ever Seen....Yet. Here's an excerpt of a story that puts California's heat into perspective, courtesy of Bloomberg: "If hot thermometers actually exploded like they do in cartoons, there would be a lot of mercury to clean up in California right now. The California heat this year is like nothing ever seen, with records that go back to 1895. The chart below shows average year-to-date temperatures in the state from January through July for each year. The orange line shows the trend rising 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. The sharp spike on the far right of the chart is the unbearable heat of 2014. That’s not just a new record; it’s a chart-busting 1.4 degrees higher than the previous record. It’s an exclamation point at the end of a long declarative sentence..."

Graphic credit above: National Climatic Data Center.


"Severe" Drought Covers Nearly 99.8% of California, Report Says. Here's an excerpt of a Los Angeles Times story, which includes an amazing infographic that shows the evolution of California's drought: "Drought conditions may have leveled off across California, but nearly 100% of the state remains in the third-harshest category for dryness, according to the latest measurements. For the past two weeks, California's drought picture has remained the same, halting a steady march toward worse. But the breather has allowed the state to recover only ever so slightly..."


British Columbia Has Spent More Than 3 Times Its Wildfire Fighting Budget. News1130 in Vancouver has the story; here's the intro: "The province is paying a pretty penny when it comes to fighting forest fires this summer. Around $200 million has been spent in the last few months, blowing past the original budget of around $60 million. And since the season is not over yet, that number is expected to grow. Kevin Skrepnek with the Wildfire Management Branch says when it comes to the size and severity of fires, this year has been the worst we have seen since 2010..."

Photo credit: Wildfire Management Branch.


Cheap Hurricane Hype? Is it just noise - or a signal for something we need to keep an eye on? A tropical wave east of the Lesser Antilles has a 50% probability of strengthening into a tropical system within 5 days, according to NOAA NHC. The forecast for midday Wednesday, August 27, one week from today, shows a tropical storm or hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico on the GFS, but the ECMWF (European) model isn't buying it, not yet. If you live along the Gulf Coast you might want to keep an eye on this. I tend to favor the ECMWF, especially with tropical development, but it would be unwise to ignore the GFS altogether. GFS model: Weather Bell; ECMWF guidance: WSI.


Summer of Research to Improve Hurricane Forecasting. In addition to flying into hurricanes (the USA is still the only nation on Earth that does this on a routine basis) NOAA is using two Global Hawk drones to go where no aircraft can go, providing additional data streams that may help forecasters, especially with intensity. Here's an excerpt from NOAA: "...Such targeted observations help significantly improve forecast models for predicting hurricanes, especially when the data can be gathered on a nearly continuous basis for an extended period in areas not now being observed. This fall, NOAA will join with NASA to launch two 115-foot wingspan Global Hawks. These unmanned aircraft will take off from Wallops Island, Va., on several data-collecting missions during five weeks at the height of Atlantic hurricane season.  “With the Global Hawk we can fly farther out over the ocean and get to storms that manned aircraft cannot reach..."

Photo credit: "Releasing dropsonde. The Global Hawk can deploy multiple dropsondes at altitudes up to 65,000 feet to collect measurements of temperature, pressure, relative humidity and wind speed and direction." (NOAA).


Danger: Shifting Tracks. Data shows that hurricanes are reaching peak intensity consistently farther north, another symptom of a warming atmosphere and shifting weather patterns. Here's a clip from MIT Technology Review: "Powerful, destructive tropical cyclones are reaching their peak intensity farther from the equator and closer to the poles, according to a study coauthored by an MIT scientist. The study, published in Nature, shows that over the last 30 years, tropical cyclones—also known as hurricanes or typhoons—have been moving poleward at a rate of about 33 miles per decade in the Northern Hemisphere and 38 miles per decade in the Southern Hemisphere..."

Map credit above: "Tropical storm tracks from 1985 to 2005 reflect the poleward migration of cyclones over the last three decades. Such storms now tend to peak farther away from the equator."


Airborne Phased Array Radar Could Spur a "Quantum Leap" in Hurricane Forecasts. Meteorologists do a good job with track, but predicting intensity changes is more problematic. Will a next-generation doppler system help? Here's an excerpt of a story at The Capital Weather Gang: "Forecasts for the tracks of hurricanes have made huge strides over the past 15 years, improving by over 50 percent. But forecasts for the intensity of hurricanes have lagged, with only modest gains in accuracy seen very recently. A new technology under development at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), known as Airborne Phased Array Radar (APAR), could be a game-changer for improving forecasts for hurricane intensity and other types of severe weather, according to those familiar with the project..." (3-D visualization of Hurricane Katrina: NASA).


Hurricane Camille: What If It Struck New Jersey? As waters continue to warm could more intense hurricanes systematically find their way farther north, threatening larger population center of the Northeast? The idea isn't as far-fetched as it sounds. Here are a few excerpts from an article at Asbury Park Press: "...Camille's surge was about 25 feet high while Sandy's storm tide (storm surge and astronomical tide) was roughly 14 feet at Sandy Hook, according to NOAA. Moreover, Camille's estimated peak winds were more than twice as strong as Sandy's....Experts have told me over the years that a Category 4 storm is the strongest hurricane that could threaten New Jersey because ocean waters aren't as warm off our coast as they are down south. Still, the storm surge from a Category 4 storm would move up to several miles inland in parts of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, according to maps on the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management website..."

Map credit above: "Hurricane Camille's storm surge was 24.6 feet high along part of the Mississippi coast." (Photo: NOAA Satellite and Information Service).


Tornado-Proof Shelter for Holdrege Students. Here's an elementary school in Nebraska that is taking the lead in protecting students and staff, an excerpt of an interesting story at KHGI-TV: "...Safety is what parents want and demand when leaving their kids in the hands of teachers. Now those in Holdrege can breathe a sigh of relief as a new storm shelter can withstand 250 mile per hour winds is being built. Todd Hilyard, the superintendent for Holdrege Public Schools looked over the latest plans for the new elementary school.  "All of this, both the exterior walls as well as the interior, are masonry block walls with rebar and concrete fill as well as a concrete roof on top of the storm shelter," he said. "I think every superintendent's heart is in the right place and unfortunately these are expensive areas to build..."


Secrets of Iceberg That Sank The Titanic Revealed In New Study. It turns out 1912 may not have been much of an above-average year for big icebergs. Then again, all it takes is one. Here's an excerpt from a story at Huffington Post: "...Aside from reshaping long-held theories about the Titanic tragedy, the new findings -- described in a paper published online in July 2014 edition of the journal Significance -- may hold an important warning for seagoing vessels today. “As use of the Arctic, in particular, increases in the future, with declining summer sea ice the ice hazard will increase in waters not previously used for shipping," the researchers conclude in the paper. "As polar ice sheets are increasingly losing mass as well, iceberg discharge is increasing... and increasing global warming will likely cause this trend to continue."


In Silicon Valley, Mergers Must Meet The Toothbrush Test. I like the sound of this - pay for things you use every day. Here's an excerpt of an interesting article at The New York Times: "When deciding whether Google should spend millions or even billions of dollars in acquiring a new company, its chief executive, Larry Page, asks whether the acquisition passes the toothbrush test: Is it something you will use once or twice a day, and does it make your life better? The esoteric criterion shuns traditional measures of valuing a company like earnings, discounted cash flow or even sales. Instead, Mr. Page is looking for usefulness above profitability, and long-term potential over near-term financial gain..."

Graphic credit above: Liz Grauman/The New York Times.


The NSA Has Nothing on Google. Do you want to see exactly where you were, on any day in the recent past, courtesy of Google Maps? If you are logged into Google, use Google Maps and (obviously) have location services turned on, this should work for you as well. Click on location history at google.com and you can take a virtual walk down memory lane as see every place you've been going back months (years?). The very definition of TMI...


Robin Williams, Connectedness and The Need to End The Stigma Around Mental Illness. Arianna Huffington takes a look at what all of us can learn, and how we can help those struggling with depression, in this article at Huffington Post; here's a clip: "...So while of course each instance of suicide is different, and while the reasons that people choose to take their own life are complex and individual, as we ask "why" about Robin Williams, we should also broaden the question. Why tens of thousands of people? What is happening that so many people make this irrevocable choice? What are we missing in our culture? How can we open up the conversation on this issue to make other choices seem more realistic and appealing?..."


Taku-Tanku Portable Tiny House Can Be Towed With a Bike. This is looking better and better all the time. Can I jam in a big-screen TV and flush toilet? Two words: low maintenance. Here's a clip from a story at Gizmag: "...The Taku-Tanku is aimed at being compact and affordable. Its interior can accommodate two to three people and has a compartment to store some luggage or belongings. It is also equipped with solar-powered LED lights. There are no frills inside, however. The house is simply said to be easy to build with off-the-shelf and re-purposed materials, and able to provide shelter in a variety of landscapes..."


So Bad It's Good. The worst TV commercial ever made? I've actually seen worse, but in a way this campy, off-tune, train-wreck of a :30 spot for a Missouri shopping mall is pure genius. It may be awful, but 1.3 million people have checked it out on YouTube. Who do you think is getting the last laugh?




81 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

80 F. average high on August 19.

88 F. high on August 19, 2013.

August 19, 1904: Both downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul were hit by tornadoes. This was the highest official wind ever recorded in Minnesota over one minute (110 mph in St. Paul).


TODAY: Warm sunshine, still pleasant. Winds: SE 10. High: 84

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clouds, a few T-storms likely. Low: 70

THURSDAY: Muggy and hot, few T-storms with locally heavy rain. Some PM sun. Dew point: 70. High: near 90

FRIDAY: Drier, still steamy with more sun. Dew point: 67. Wake-up: 69. High: 89

SATURDAY: Sticky sun, PM T-storms. Dew point: 69. Wake-up: 70. High: 87

SUNDAY: Partly sunny. Stinking hot. Wake-up: 68. High: near 90

MONDAY: Blue sky, breathing much easier. Dew point: 53. Wake-up: 63. High: 73

TUESDAY: Sunny start, late showers. Dew point: 49. Wake-up: 57. High: 72


Climate Stories...

How The World's Biggest PR Firm Helps Promote Climate Change Denial. Here's the intro to an eye-opening story at Motherboard. What a shock, it's all about the money: "When a recent Guardian survey asked top public relations firms if they would refuse to represent organizations that denied climate change, the response was encouraging: ten of the largest said they would. Decidedly less inspiring was the response of the world's single biggest PR company, Edelman, which said it would not rule out helping corporations spread messages of climate change denial.  This shouldn't be too surprising, seeing as how it's already doing precisely that. A lot. Edelman helps polluting companies use TV ads, astroturf groups, and slick websites to promote climate change denial around the globe..."

Photo credit above: "CEO Richard Edelman speaking at Davos in 2011." Image: Robert Scoble/Flickr


Did Global Warming Cause "The Great Flood of 2014?" Detroit meteorologist (and friend) Paul Gross provides a thoughtful, scientifically accurate answer to that question at clickondetroit.com; here's an excerpt: "People have been asking me if last week’s historic flood was caused by global warming.  The short answer is NO, but read on because this answer requires an explanation.  Weather systems develop all the time, and have been doing so for as long as we’ve had weather on this planet.  The weather system that developed and dumped a once-every-500-year rain event on metro Detroit last week may have developed anyway. HOWEVER, our warming climate might have made that weather system a heavier rain-producer than it might have been..."


Snow Has Thinned on Arctic Sea Ice. Here are some of the latest findings from The American Geophysical Union: "Scientists have been tracking snow depth on Arctic sea ice for almost a century, using research stations on drifting ice floes and today’s radar-equipped aircraft. Now that people are more concerned than ever about what is happening at the poles, a new study confirms that snow has thinned significantly in the Arctic, particularly on sea ice in western waters near Alaska. The new assessment, accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, a publication of the American Geophysical Union, combines data collected by ice buoys and NASA aircraft with historic data from ice floes staffed by Soviet scientists from the late 1950s through the early 1990s to track changes over decades..."

Photo credit above: "Researcher Melinda Webster uses a probe to measure snow depth and verify airborne data. She is walking on sea ice near Barrow, Alaska in March 2012. Her backpack holds electronics that power the probe and record the data." Chris Linder / Univ. of Washington.


Antarctica Could Raise Sea Level Faster Than Previously Thought. Here's a clip from a story at redorbit.com that caught my eye: "Ice discharge from Antarctica could contribute up to 37 centimeters to the global sea level rise within this century, a new study shows. For the first time, an international team of scientists provide a comprehensive estimate on the full range of Antarctica’s potential contribution to global sea level rise based on physical computer simulations. Led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the study combines a whole set of state-of-the-art climate models and observational data with various ice models. The results reproduce Antarctica’s recent contribution to sea level rise as observed by satellites in the last two decades and show that the ice continent could become the largest contributor to sea level rise much sooner than previously thought..."

File photo credit: Eric Mohl/Special to the Star Tribune. "Stunning views like this one compel people to brave the seas to get to Antarctica."


Meet The Companies That Are Trying To Profit From Global Warming. As I've said (ad nauseum) climate change and climate/water volatility represents a threat, and an opportunity. Many, even most of the solutions will come from the private sector. Here's an excerpt of a story at Vox: "...Greenland has taken advantage of the warming Arctic — which is melting the ice and opening new mining opportunities — to push for independence from Denmark. The government is already anticipating millions of dollars in new tax revenue as oil and gas rush north. Alcoa even has plans for a massive aluminum smelter there — powered by Greenland's rivers of melting ice. Dutch engineers are selling their storied flood-management expertise to countries threatened by sea-level rise. One company, Dutch Docklands, is pitching visions of floating cities to regions that could eventually find themselves underwater..."

Photo credit above: "Tasiilaq, Greenland — one country that could stand to benefit from a warmer climate." Christine Zenino/Flickr


A Global Warming "Speed Bump"? Here's an excerpt of a good explanation of what's really happening, increasing trade winds pulling some of the excess heating of recent years into the oceans. Almost like the planet is trying to compensate for our stupidity. Here's a clip from The Union of Concerned Scientists: "...Even as a car slows down to go over a “speed bump,” there is no question the car is still advancing down the road. Similarly, the global average surface temperature trend of late is like a “speed bump” and we would expect the rate of temperature increase to speed up again just as most drivers do after clearing the speed bump. We keep getting questions about this air temperature trend that has more to do with where the excess heat is primarily going — the ocean — and the rate at which heat transfers to the deep ocean, as well as other factors that can temporarily offset the influence of heat-trapping gases..."


What I Learned From Debating Science With Trolls. Here's an excerpt of a post at The Conversation, one of many tactics used by denialists; this one focused on perverting Galileo's legacy: "...The Galileo Gambit is a debating technique that perverts this history to defend nonsense. Criticisms by the vast majority of scientists are equated with the opinions of 17th century clergy, while a minority promoting pseudoscience are equated with Galileo. Ironically, the Galileo Gambit is often employed by those who have no scientific expertise and strong ideological reasons for attacking science. And its use isn’t restricted to online debates..."

Graphic credit above: "Galileo Galilei understood the power of observations." Wikimedia

Hint of Dog Days - Why Extreme Weather May Be Increasing in Frequency

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: August 12, 2014 - 11:24 PM

"...We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for..." - Robin Williams, as John Keating in Dead Poet Society. Source: IMDb.


Hint of Dog Days

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it" said Russell Baker. Except for a Bangladesh-like June and a few severe wind episodes there hasn't been all that much suffering this summer.

I still don't see anything resembling an old-fashioned heat wave but, with high confidence, I can predict that neighbors and complete strangers will be griping about drippy dew points within a few days - forecast to hold near 70F from Saturday into most of next week.

That's one of the trends we're tracking: summers aren't appreciably hotter on average in Minnesota (the real warming signal is showing up in winter, especially at night), but dew points are running consistently higher. Warmer air can hold more water vapor, meaning higher humidity levels; more moisture available to spark extreme rain events.

The heaviest T-storms should track south of Minnesota into the weekend; a relatively dry spell with temperatures in the 80s - even a shot at 90F next week. More like mid-July.

In today's weather blog: America's low-orbiting weather satellites may be in trouble. And new research confirms an uptick in extreme weather; odd jet stream gyrations that cause the weather to become "stuck".


A Minor Case of the Dog Days. Soak up the low dew points, because it'll feel like early July again by late week, with tropical air lingering into next week. Highs will reach the mid-80s, and I could see a 90F or two next week. The arrival of this steamy warm front sets off isolated T-showers Friday into Sunday, a better chance of T-storms by the middle of next week.


Super Soakers Push Across New England. The same front that flooded much of Detroit and Baltimore will push heavy T-storms across New England today, enough rain for flash flooding in some communities. Monsoonal T-storms pop up from near Phoenix to Salt Lake City, a few random storms flaring up over the Pacific Northwest. 60-hour WRF Future Radar courtesy of NOAA and HAMweather.


More Like June. By August the atmosphere should be stabilizing with fewer thunderstorms capable of severe weather and flash flooding. Tell that to residents of the Northeast, where some 2-5" rains are possible again today. Dry weather dominates over the central USA, locally heavy rain over the Rockies from late afternoon instabilty T-storms. 60-hour WRF rainfall totals: NOAA and HAMweather.


"Unprecedented" Flooding Event in Detroit Fits Global Warming Pattern. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman has the story at Mashable; here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...Paul Gross, chief meteorologist for WDIV-TV in Detroit, that the event was absolutely unprecedented in his long career in the city.

I have lived my entire life and worked my entire career here, and I have never seen as widespread a flooding event. Yes, I vividly remember the May 2004 historic month of rain — our second wettest month ever with 8.46 inches of rain — but that was a bunch of rainy days that really added up.

I also remember some individual intense thunderstorms that flooded ONE freeway. But I don't ever remember EVERY freeway being flooded out.

The storm, which is likely to have caused tens of millions in damage to a city that is already struggling economically, is an example of the type of event that is already occurring more frequently and severely due to manmade global warming..."

Photo credit above: "Cars are stranded along a flooded stretch of Interstate 75 in Hazel Park, Mich., Tuesday, August 12, 2014." Image: Carlos Osorio/Associated Press.

* Live-blogging severe flash flooding in the Detroit area, courtesy of The Detroit Free Press.

* Drivers swim to safety at I-696 and I-75 in metro Detroit. Details at WXYZ-TV.



Extreme Weather Becoming More Common, Study Says. Details of the new paper are below (in the climate story section), but it shows the possible link between large-scale, long-term climate shifts and day to day weather. So far there is correlation, but no causation, no final smoking gun proving the link. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "..Climate scientists in Germany noticed that since 2000 there have been an “exceptional number of summer weather extremes, some causing massive damage to society”. So they examined the huge meanders in the high-level jet stream winds that dominate the weather at mid-latitudes, by analysing 35 years of wind data amassed from satellites, ships, weather stations and meteorological balloons. They found that blocking patterns, which occur when these meanders slow down, have happened far more frequently. “Since 2000, we have seen a cluster of these events. When these high-altitude waves become quasi-stationary, then we see more extreme weather at the surface,” said Dr Dim Coumou, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “It is especially noticeable for heat extremes...”


Extreme Summer Heat, Rain On Rise As Weather Gets Trapped - Study. Picking up on the new research released Monday here's a slightly different perspective from Reuters: "...We are warming our atmosphere by emitting carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, but the increase in devastating heatwaves in regions like Europe or the U.S. seems disproportionate," lead author Dim Coumou said in a statement. Climate change was disrupting the flow of the jet stream, which blows from west to east around the Earth and forms waves high in the atmosphere that can be thousands of km (miles) from crest to crest. "In periods with extreme weather, some of these waves become virtually stalled and greatly amplified," it said. "While a few days have little impact, effects on people and ecosystems can be severe when these periods are prolonged..."


California Drought: San Francisco Poised To Require Water Rationing. SFGate has the story - here's the introduction: "San Francisco water users would be forced to reduce outdoor watering by 10 percent - or face penalties - under a proposal by utility officials who are poised to add the city to a growing number of California communities that are rationing water amid one the worst droughts in decades....It would apply primarily to large customers who use the bulk of their water outdoors, like schools, golf courses, shopping centers and condo complexes..." (File photo: AP Photo/Richard Vogel).


"Remarkable" Warming Reported in Central California Coastal Waters. Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "...The upper ocean within 50 to 100 miles of the coast has been 3.6 to about 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than what’s typical for this time of year, mostly south of the Golden Gate, he said. “Scientists and many others that are interested in our ocean are paying close attention to this warming because it will likely impact marine life, and it could impact marine life beyond this summer,” he said..."

Map credit above: "Satellite images show the warming reported off the Central California coast during the first three weeks of July." (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).



Sweden's Massive Forest Fire Lit By Record Temperatures. Nature World News has more details on the highly unusual wildfire impacting Sweden; here's a clip: "...As of August 7, the fire was deemed a national emergency, and the Swedish Armed Forces was mobilized to aid firefighters and help facilitate an orderly evacuation of affected and threatened areas. A fire of this size is extremely uncommon in Sweden, which traditionally experiences fores fires that encompass a few square miles at most, according to the International Forest Fire News. In fact, fires are so rare in the region that the Swedish movement actually prescribes controlled burning of old and dried brush to promote healthier woods..."

Photo credit above: "A massive forest fire in Sweden has been raging for 11 days, and has grown into the largest fire the country has seen within the last four decades. This fire is occurring in the wake of the highest temperatures Sweden has ever experienced on record, and experts are quick to point out that this is no coincidence." (Photo : USDA)


The Legacy of Florida's Year of Four Hurricanes. The Orlando Sentinel has a good recap of a very crazy year: 2004. Here's a clip: "For six weeks, Florida reeled under the assault of four hurricanes. First Charley struck Port Charlotte Aug. 13, 2004, with 150-mph winds. It blasted its way into Central Florida five hours later with winds clocked at 105 mph at Orlando International Airport. Hurricane Frances followed on Sept. 5 with lashing winds and drenching rains that would total 14 inches in metro Orlando. Tree limbs tore down power lines. Roofs were peeled from homes. Thousands sweltered without electricity. Then Ivan came ashore near Pensacola with 120-mile-per-hour winds and a storm surge that swamped coastal towns. And Jeanne struck the same area as Frances on Sept. 25, adding insult to injury..."

Hurricane Ivan file photo courtesy of NASA.


America's Weather-Tracking Satellites Are In Trouble. It's the low-earth satellites that are triggering the greatest concern; here's an excerpt of a good overview from Popular Mechanics: "...Those polar-orbiting satellites, a primary and its backup, are the ones in crisis. The primary satellite—a short-term pathfinder built to test emerging technologies—was never really intended for use. Its backup isn't much better: an aging satellite with failing sensors that passed its predicted life expectancy last year. We would send up a replacement now, but it's still being built. When it is ready, should it survive launch, it could take until as late as 2018 to transmit usable data. Which means that, depending on when our current satellites stop working, the U.S. could be without crucial data for years. That's worse than inconvenient. It could cost us trillions of dollars, and hundreds, if not thousands, of lives..."


* 75 year anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. How did film makers simulate a tornado? Think socks. KCTV in Kansas City has an interesting article with more details.


"Massive Florida Red Tide" Is Now 90 Miles Long and 60 Miles Wide. C'mon kids - let's go swim in the red ocean! What is going on off the southwest coast of Florida? Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "There's a massive red tide blooming off the coast of southwestern Florida and it appears to be growing. The red tide is patchy, but researchers say it stretches an amazing 60 miles wide and 90 miles long in the Gulf of Mexico. Just a few weeks ago it was reported to be 50 miles wide and 80 miles long. Even at its new size it's not the most colossal bloom recorded in this part of the world, but it is the biggest since 2005, according to Hayley Rutger, a spokeswoman with Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium..."

File photo credit above: "A 2006 algae bloom creeps toward Little Gasparilla Island, Fla. Scientists say a massive bloom in the Gulf of Mexico could reach the state's southwestern coast this month." (Paul Schmidt / For The Times).


Can Weather Patterns Help Predict Disease Outbreaks? Here's an excerpt of an interesting story and video at CNN: "Scientists and meteorologists are able to predict the weather - could they apply the same technology to predicting epidemics like Ebola? Carlos Watson, co-founder and editor of OZY, appeared on "New Day" Friday to discuss the efficacy of climate change data and technology, and how it could prevent future outbreaks. Researchers have found that there could be correlations between weather patterns and the development of disease in a specific region..."


U.S. Capability To Respond To The Next Great Disaster. As populations continue to grow, with more people living in (vulnerable) regions near rivers and sea level, the potential for major disasters continues to increase. Here's a story from a story pondering hypotheticals at The Brookings Institution: "..But as global populations grow, especially along the Asian littoral, and as certain storms or large-scale weather patterns are perhaps intensified or at least shifted by climate change we need to be ready for worse. Superimposing the bands of devastation from some of the above on more populated areas helps one see the realm of the plausible.  What if the Fukushima nuclear accident had affected reactors near Tokyo, with its population of some 30 million?  What if a future Typhoon Haiyan targets Shanghai?  What if a massive earthquake hit Karachi, Pakistan or sent a tsunami into the heavily populated areas of coastal East Asia?..."

Map credit: "Population density of Asia and the Asia-Pacific. Darker colors indicate more people." (NASA).


Is Sunscreen a Lifesaver or a Poison? Or does it lull us into receiving far more sunshine than we really should? Everything in moderation, right? Here's an excerpt of an interesting story that had me running for shade at FiveThirtyEight: "... People who are fair-skinned have higher skin cancer rates, and their pigmentation matters more than where they live. What is less well established, at least in the data, is whether sunscreen mitigates these risks. The theory behind sunscreen is very sound. Sunscreen absorbs UV light, blocking it from reaching the skin, and UV light exposure is linked with cancer. In practice, however, the evidence on the relationship between sunscreen use and skin cancer is more limited..."


How Weather and Climate Models Work - Or Why Meteorologists Learn Calculus. Yes, I still have nightmares about Math 102, "Advanced Partial Differential Equations". Nasty stuff (and I still can't balance my checkbook). Here's an excerpt of a good explainer from Dan Satterfield at AGU, The American Geophysical Union: "Numerical weather models have come light years over the  last 30 years, and despite what you may think, they make it possible to make very accurate weather forecasts for as much as 5-7 days into the future possible. Have you ever wondered just how they work? It’s not something that you can cover in a few paragraphs, but it is not all that hard to get a basic understanding of how it’s done, and if you will give yourself 50 minutes and pay attention, you will (I hope) find it very fascinating. You will also not just see greek when you see an equation like this somewhere!..."


How To Cover The Robin Williams Story Responsibly. Borrow a term and concept from physicians, the Hippocratic Oath: "...but first, do no harm". I thought Al Tompkins brought up some very good points in a recent article at Poynter - here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...One of the most common mistakes that journalists can make in covering suicide is to advance the notion that one big thing caused someone to take their life.  Suicide is a complex response that usually involves lots of factors including mental illness. In fact, suicide experts estimate 90 percent of suicides have some connection to mental illness and/or substance abuse. Both are treatable..."

"...The truth is that depression has nothing to do with bravery or courage. It is a monster that strips those traits away before it even gets warmed up. If anything, Robin Williams' suicide is another reminder that all the talent and humor in the world is no match for the power and darkness of depression. The way I see it, if you can fight off depression for 63 years and make others laugh and feel good, you are one courageous dude...." - Dave Pell, author of NextDraft.


Dealing With Depression. On Monday SAVE (suicide awareness - voices of education) had it's annual golf tournament at the TPC Course in Blaine. Many of the golfers and sponsors have had first-hand experience with the ravages of suicide, and were there to support prevention efforts, finding new ways to get a critical message out: mental health issues tend to be ignored until it's too late. There are treatments and medications that can help people struggling with depression. News of Robin Williams taking his life struck like a thunderbolt, and it highlighted the reality: it doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, famous or infamous - depression can strike anyone. It's up to us to search for symptoms, be aware, and get the people we care about the help they need - in time. Here's more from SAVE, based on Bloomington, with an international outreach:

"SAVE is saddened to hear about the passing of Actor Robin Williams and expresses our condolences to his family and friends.  At SAVE we know well the tragedy of suicide and the impact it has on everyone.  It you would like to know more about how to prevent suicide, we have information on the warning signs and what you can do to help someone.  If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or harming yourself, please call us (7283) or you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (8255) 24 hours a day / 7 days a week..."

* more Americans now die of suicide than car accidents, according to the CDC and New York Times.

"...I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; dismissing the concerns of a genuine depression sufferer on the grounds that you’ve been miserable and got over it is like dismissing the issues faced by someone who’s had to have their arm amputated because you once had a paper cut and it didn’t bother you. Depression is a genuine debilitating condition, and being in “a bit of a funk” isn’t..." - Dean Burnett at The Guardian.


Hit The Reset Button On Your Brain. Our businesses and friendships often require that we stay connected to The Matrix, but our long-term mental health requires that we disconnect and give our brains a break; so argues an important story and study highlighted at The New York Times; here's a clip: "...Every status update you read on Facebook, every tweet or text message you get from a friend, is competing for resources in your brain with important things like whether to put your savings in stocks or bonds, where you left your passport or how best to reconcile with a close friend you just had an argument with. If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods. Your social networking should be done during a designated time, not as constant interruptions to your day..."


Electric-Drive Paddleboard for Anglers? Gizmag had an article about some pretty cool retrofits for a paddleboard if you're looking for new (quiet) ways to get that trophy lunker; here's a clip: "Always looking for a new excuse to run its electric jet drive through the water, WaveJet has released a new board designed for fishing. The Pau Hana Big EZ Angler is the jet-powered stand-up paddleboard that provides stand-up fishermen with a new way to quietly troll the local fishing hole..."


80 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

81 F. average high on August 12.

80 F. high on August 12, 2013.

August 12, 1964: A taste of fall over area with 26 in Bigfork and 30 in Campbell.


TODAY: Sunny and pleasant. Dew point: 55. Winds: NW 10. High: 82

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear, still comfortable. Low: 61

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, still dry. High: 83

FRIDAY: More clouds, stray T-shower. Wake-up: 64. High: 85

SATURDAY: Some sun, thunder risk. Dew point: 68. Wake-up: 66. High: 86

SUNDAY: Steamy sun, free sauna. Isolated late-day T-shower? Dew point: 70. Wake-up: 70. High: 85

MONDAY: Humid. Risk of T-storms. DP: 71. Wake-up: 69. High: 84

TUESDAY: Feels like mid-July. Hot sun. Wake-up: 70. High: 87


Climate Stories...

Arctic Methane Could Accelerate Climate Change. Unknown unknowns. We like to think, as a species, that we know all the various paths the future might take, but when it comes to climate and potential tipping points...we don't know nearly as much as we think we know. Here's a clip from The Green Optimist: "...Unfortunately, climate change due to rising CO2 levels is generating a spiral effect, a positive feedback loop, which could lead us to a dangerous situation. Dr. Box colorfully notes that, if even a fraction of Arctic carbon is released, we’re “f-bombed as a species.” The problem is that warmer temperatures are increasing the temperatures of ocean currents, as well as air currents, which is leading to melting ice caps, permafrost, and the undesirable effects that these generate in their own turn. For example, some theorize that the recent hole that opened up in the Yamal Peninsula, Northern Russia, could actually have been caused by a collapsed pingo, that is, melted permafrost leaving a cavity, which caved in. It may also have been accompanied by a release of natural gas, which is commonly found in the area..."


Tom Skilling on Climate Change. Chicago Tonight at WTTW-TV has an interview with one of the best TV meteorologists on the planet, Tom Skilling (and a great guy too). Here's an excerpt: "...You know, I’m often asked why scientists only focus on the negative aspects? If you look at both human society and ecosystems, they’ve both adapted to changes in the climate when the changes are little. The changes we’re seeing now are occurring 10 times faster. A rapid change makes it difficult for both ecosystems and human societies to adapt to it..."


Ebola and Climate Change: Are Humans Responsible for the Severity of the Current Outbreak? Alarmist hype? Maybe. Newsweek has the story that attempts to connect the dots; here's a clip: "...Humans are the major driver of emerging diseases,” says Jonathan Epstein, an epidemiologist at the non-profit EcoHealth Alliance who studies Ebola and other infectious disease. “Things like agricultural expansion and deforestation...and certainly travel and trade — these are things that manipulate our environment and allow pathogens to get from animal hosts to people and then travel around the world.” In a study published in 2012, researchers asked national infectious disease experts in 30 different countries whether or not they thought climate change would affect infectious disease patterns in their countries. The majority agreed..."


Don't Believe The Hype. 5 Reasons To Be Pessimistic About Climate Change. I have my moments of pessimism - can we, as a global society, really get our arms around this problem in time, in a concerted, thoughtful way that won't wreck the economy? This will be our Moon Shot and Manhattan Project rolled into one for the 21st century. Here's an excerpt of a more downbeat assessment at The Week: "...While the EPA's new regulations on power plants are a welcome first step, they are not carved in stone. The EPA will likely face numerous legal and legislative challenges before its rules are implemented. Meanwhile, climate change denial remains the mainstay of a significant portion of one half of the American political spectrum. Messaging aimed at muddying the waters — of both the science of climate change and the political imperative in tackling it — has not abated. As Slate's Will Oremus has reported, deniers are now willing to acknowledge some aspects of the scientific reality, but are quick to interject that the cure will be worse than the disease..." (Photo credit: Leslie Berg).


Quasi-Resonant Circulation Regimes and Hemispheric Synchronization of Extreme Weather in Boreal Summer. It's a long title for a fairly straightforward concept, a symptom of rapid warming, especially at northern latitudes, which may be impacting the wavelength of global Rossby waves, creating conditions more favorable for an elongated (high amplitude) jet stream, one more prone to extreme weather, severe heat and excessive rains. For several years I've been wondering if it was my imagination, if we really were seeing tangible evidence of a more amplified jet stream capable of more frequent weather extremes over the Northern Hemisphere? Or was there hard data - research, to back up these observations? Here's a summary of a technical, but very important new paper from Coumou, Petoukhov, Rahmstorf, Petri and Schellnhuber at PNAS.org: "...The recent decade has seen an exceptional number of boreal summer weather extremes, some causing massive damage to society. There is strong scientific debate about the underlying causes of these events. We show that high-amplitude, quasi-stationary Rossby waves, associated with resonance circulation regimes, lead to persistent surface weather conditions and therefore to midlatitude synchronization of extreme heat and reainfall events. Since the onset of rapid Arctic amplification around 2000, a cluster of resonance circulation regimes is observed involving wave numbers 7 and 8. This has resulted in a statisticially significant increase in the frequency of high-amplitude quasi-stationary waves with these wave numbers. Our findings provide important insights regarding the link between Arctic changes and midlatitude extremes..."

Slow Summer Fade - Two Tropical Systems Heading to Hawaii

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: August 5, 2014 - 11:08 PM

Slow Summer Fade

The reptilian, attracted-to-shiny-objects part of my brain doesn't want summer to end. I look forward to changing into my scruffy after-work uniform of shorts, t-shirt & flip flops.

But I also realize that a full, stomach-churning cycle of the seasons is required for replenishment and renewal of nature. Minnesota wouldn't be home to Great White Pines, walleye navigating crystal-clear lakes or bumper crop harvests without a reliable annual winter smack.

Even so, Back To School sales, State Fair jingles & football on the tube all leave me feeling nostalgic; like coming to the end of a great novel you never want to put down.

Vonnegut said it best. "And so it goes".

Heavy T-storms slosh across southwest Minnesota into Thursday, but the metro area on up to the Brainerd Lakes may stay dry into Saturday. Highs push into the low 80s with sticky dew points - warm enough for the lake or that favorite adult beverage out on the deck.

T-storms push in Sunday - a slight cooling trend by late next week.

Both Iselle and Julio should reach Hawaii as tropical storms later this week; a wet 1-2 punch. The remains of Bertha may break a heat wave in the U.K.

Oh, only 141 days until Christmas!


Close Encounter of the Soggy Kind. Heavy showers and T-storms capable of 2-3"+ rains will track fro South Dakota into Iowa, brushing southwestern Minnesota with a potential for flash flooding today and tonight. Additional flash flooding is possible over Missouri Thursday into Friday; potentially severe T-storms from near Lake Tahoe to the Wasatch Range. 4 KM WRF Accumulated Rainfall: NOAA and HAMweather.


Sign of the Times. We've lost about 1 hour of daylight; nights are longer - giving the temperature more time to reach the dew point, sparking lazy clouds: fog. On the high-res 1 KM visible loop you can see stratus clouds and fog over southwest Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota warming up in response to surface heating. Loop: HAMweather.


Double Trouble for Hawaii: Iselle and Julio. Discover Magazine has more information on the tropical systems pushing toward Hawaii later this week, forecast to arrive as tropical storms; here's a clip: "Heads up Hawaii: Double trouble is headed your way in the form of two tropical cyclones. The image above, acquired Monday (Aug. 4) by NASA’s Terra satellite, shows the situation: Hurricane Iselle to the left, and Tropical Storm Julio to the right. Both are expected to affect the Hawaiian Islands in the coming week..."


To Save Lives, Scientists Probe the Secrets of Towering Wildfire Clouds. Also known as "pyrocumulus"; Mashable has a fascinating article with some remarkable photos; here's an excerpt: "...As of Tuesday, about 490,000 acres were burning across the U.S., with 12 large fires burning in California, 11 in Oregon and four in Washington, according to the National Fire Information Center in Boise, Idaho. Some of these fires have launched plumes of smoke up into the jet stream, where it has been carried eastward, obscuring the sky across Minnesota and Wisconsin. The clouds associated with these fires can resemble volcanic eruptions and sometimes they even generate their own lightning and thunder, in which case they are renamed “pyrocumulonimbus.” (Pyro is the Latin word meaning “fire.”)..."

Photo credit above: Oregon National Guard. "Pyrocumulus cloud observed by Oregon National Guard F-15 fighter jets."


An "Extreme Weather" Bill? H.R. 5314 — the Preparedness and Risk Management for Extreme Weather Patterns Assuring Resilience Act of 2014, is a bi-partison effort to better prepare the United States for extreme weather events. Here's an excerpt from Republican Herald: "...Since 1980, the U.S. has experienced 151 weather-related disasters costing more than $1 billion each, with cumulative costs more than $1 trillion, the bill states. The federal government spent $100 billion in 2012 alone dealing with droughts, storms, floods and forest fires. “The changes that I’m proposing should help the government save billions of dollars in the long-run,” Cartwright said. The bill references a 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office stating federal efforts to prepare for extreme weather events are uncoordinated, including its cooperation with tribal, state and local governments..."


Pentagon Weather Satellites Raise Hacking Vulnerability, Watchdog Finds. Roll Call has the intriguing and worrying details; here's a snippet: "No one has ever done a security assessment of a Defense Department weather satellite program used by the Pentagon to monitor potential battlefield conditions, according to an inspector general report. There might not even ever be a security assessment to make sure it meets DOD’s standards, in fact. And because that system is interwoven with another program by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, it makes that one more vulnerable to hacking..."


The Is The Equation for Happiness. Who knew you could come up with math to predict your state of happiness? Time Magazine has more details: "...The researchers were not surprised by how much rewards influenced happiness, but they were surprised by how much expectations could. The researchers say their findings do support the theory that if you have low expectations, you can never be disappointed, but they also found that the positive expectations you have for something—like going to your favorite restaurant with a friend—is a large part of what develops your happiness..." (image credit: Robb Rutledge, UCL).


At What Age Are We The Most Popular We'll Ever Be? Assuming we were ever popular in the first place? I would get 6 months old, diapers, cute smile. But new data suggests the magic age for maximum number of friends may be closer to 29. First: define what a friend really is. Do Facebook "friends" count? The Independent has more details; here's an excerpt: "...The reason for this is because we apparently share the strains of working in high-pressured environments and spend more hours in the office than ever before. The data also found that those working in marketing have the most friends at work, just ahead of chefs, servicemen and women, artists and designers, and finally those in HR..."

Image credit above: "Study says the most friends we're ever going to have at any given point is 80."


The Greatest Documentaries of All Time. That's a tall order, but the British Film Institute has a pretty good start on this project; here's a clip: "What are the greatest documentaries ever made? We polled 340 critics, programmers and filmmakers in the search for authoritative answers. Nick James introduces our poll while, below, we list the critics’ top 56 documentaries. Across the page, you can see the filmmakers’ top 35 films. Individual lists and comments from a sample 50 critics and 50 filmmakers can be found in our September 2014 issue, while full versions of all the entries will be posted online on 14 August..."


81 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

82 F. average high on August 5.

81 F. high on August 5, 2013.

August 5 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: Twin Cities NWS:

1969: Tornadoes sweep across northern Minnesota, hitting Ely, Backus, Outing and Dark Lake. Damage could still be seen 20 years later in the BWCA.

1866: Torrential rain dumps 10.30 inches at Sibley in 24 hours. Widespread flooding occurs washing out bridges and drowning many people. In Fillmore County it is known as the "Wisel Flood" because 3 members of the Wisel family perished in the flood.


TODAY: Partly sunny, a dry sky. Dew point: 59 Winds: SE 10. High: 80

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, touch of ground fog. Low: 64

THURSDAY: Some sun, T-storms flare up over southwest MN. High: 82

FRIDAY: Hazy sun, a bit sticky. Dew point: 61. Wake-up: 65. High: 83

SATURDAY: Murky sun, T-storms rumble in late. Wake-up: 66. High: 82

SUNDAY: More clouds and humidity with more widespread T-storms. Wake-up: 68. High: 81

MONDAY: Clearing skies, less humid. Dew point: 54. Wake-up: 65. High: near 80

TUESDAY: Sunny and beautiful. Low humidity. Wake-up: 63. High: 80


Climate Stories...

Climate Change May Increase The Number of Hawaiian Hurricanes. Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground reviews recent research suggesting a 2-3X increase in hurricanes impacting the Hawaiian Island Chain by the end of the century as waters warm and patterns shift north; here's an excerpt: "...But with two hurricanes potentially threatening the islands in the coming week, and Tropical Storm Flossie having passed with 100 miles of the islands in 2013, it is fair to ask, could climate change be increasing the odds of tropical storms and hurricanes affecting the Hawaiian Islands? A 2013 modeling study published in Nature Climate Change, "Projected increase in tropical cyclones near Hawaii", found that global warming is expected to increase the incidence of tropical storms and hurricanes in Hawaii..."


This is Climate Change: Ohio's Water Crisis was a Man-Made Disaster. It's a combination of factors: heavier summer rains sparking more run-off, coupled with warming water on the Great Lakes. Here's a clip from Salon: "...Welcome to life — weird, chaotic, scary, disruptive — in a changing climate. The direct cause of Ohio’s water problems, according to city officials, was likely an algae bloom in Lake Erie. The cause of the algae bloom? In a word: Us. The lake, the world’s largest freshwater system, has been increasingly overwhelmed by an influx of phosphorus: runoff from industrial agriculture and from urban sewage treatment plants. Meanwhile, summer has been becoming hotter and longer, conditions that promote the algae’s spread..."

Image credit above: "Satellite image of 2011 Lake Erie bloom (the most severe in decades)." (Credit: MERIS/NASA).


Lake Erie Algae Bloom Matches Climate Change Projections. More details from Scientific American; here's an excerpt: "...It’s a combo of more rainfall; that climate change is predicted to cause more severe rain events. And more rainfall means more nutrients and higher nutrients mean more toxicity,” Timothy Davis, an ecologist at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, said. An increase in heavy rainfall is already being seen throughout the U.S. The Midwest has seen a 37 percent increase in the amount of rain falling in heavy precipitation events since the late 1950s, the second-highest increase in the U.S. over that period..."

Photo credit above: "A sample glass of Lake Erie water is photographed near the City of Toledo water intake crib, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, in Lake Erie, about 2.5 miles off the shore of Curtice, Ohio. More tests are needed to ensure that toxins are out of Toledo's water supply, the mayor said Sunday, instructing the 400,000 people in the region to avoid drinking tap water for a second day. Toledo officials issued the warning early Saturday after tests at one treatment plant showed two sample readings for microcystin above the standard for consumption, possibly because of algae on Lake Erie." (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari).


Climate Change Skeptics Rejected By PR Firms. Here's an excerpt of an interesting development from Headlines and Global News: "A handful of the world's top public relations companies declared they will not represent clients who say man-made climate change doesn't exist, The Guardian reported. In what is bound to be a game-changing decision in the global warming debate, ten PR firms said they will not work with anyone who denies climate change or tries to block policies meant to check air pollution by limiting carbon emissions..."

Photo credit: "The world's top PR firms- which are often accused of playing a role against environmental protection, announced they will not take clients who deny climate change exists." (Photo : Reuters).

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 climate.gov: "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 Money.com 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. Wired.com 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:

Tornadoes:

  • 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 Current.org: "...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 gainesville.com: "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 opencanada.org: "...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...."

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