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

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Mostly Mellow - Why Good Summer Weather is Depressing Corn Prices

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: September 17, 2014 - 9:53 PM

More Boom than Bust

Back in June, the wettest month on record for the state of Minnesota, who would have predicted that corn farmers would be faced with another record harvest, with results so amazing that prices have dropped below profitability? It's a testament to new seed varieties, precision farming, and a notable absence of drought and killing hail and wind storms.

"Another historically wet June has delayed corn and beans by 7-10 days" said Wayzata-based Al Kluis, who has been tracking Ag crop commodities for 40 years. But adequate soil moisture and growing degree days has left fields from the Dakotas to Ohio overflowing with corn, depressing prices.

How can good weather be bad for business? No, farming is not for the faint of heart.

Winds pick up today; the next frontal passage sparking T-showers late Friday. A wet start Saturday should give way to lukewarm sun with a shot at 80F before northwest winds cool us back down early next week. Temperatures may sink into the low 40s Tuesday morning, but Minnesota should avoid a frost. Long-range guidance shows 70s returning next week.

Nothing severe, no storms with names, no weather drama.

Plenty to like about September.


September Mellows. 70s are the rule into much of next week, even a few degrees above average, in spite of a cool-down early next week. Latest European guidance isn't nearly as chilly for Monday and Tuesday, as Minnesota experiences a glancing blow of Canadian air. The best chance of T-showers: late Friday and Friday night, but an instability shower may pop up Saturday afternoon, especially north of the Twin Cities. More showers and T-showers push in by Wednesday of next week. MSP Meteogram: Weatherspark.

60-Hour Accumulated Rainfall Forecast. NOAA's 4 KM NAM model prints out some 6"+ amounts for southeastern Arizona and southern New Mexico, with flash flooding possible as far east as Texas by Saturday morning. The remains of "Odile" are forecast to push east, possibly sparking flooding rains as far east as Wichita, Tulsa and Little Rock. Florida may also experience significant flooding in the coming days. Graphic: HAMweather.

Oh No, This Is Exactly How Last Winter Started. Early season snows from Rapid City to Denver; does this mean another winter tracking the dreaded Polar Vortex? Not necessarily, as meteorologist Eric Holthaus explains in this excellent overview at Slate; here's an excerpt: "...So, sticking to the science, what can we actually expect for the coming winter? Using the Climate Prediction Center’s freshly updated long-range model suite, now’s as good a time as any to take a first guess. These models take into account semi-stable patterns of ocean temperatures to predict areas of relative drought and excess rain and warmth and frigidity over the next few months, and their historical accuracy is better than a random guess..."

Image credit above: NOAA CPC NMME. "Breathe easy: This winter is looking warmer than average for most of North America."


Long-Range Winter Guidance: Models Trending Milder than Average. Would I bet the farm based on a 3-6 month climate model trend? Absolutely not. But to counter the growing sense of paranoia out there ("Paul, are we going to suffer through another polar vortex - is the Farmer's Almanac right?") I wanted to include the latest December-January-February guidance from various NOAA models. Not one shows a persistently bitter solution for Minnesota or the Lower 48 states - in fact temperatures anomalies range from .5 to 2C warmer than average. Not exactly a heat wave, but I still believe the upcoming winter will be a bit easier to take than last year.


NASA Ranks This August As Warmest On Record. Climate Central has more details; here's an excerpt: "While this summer may have felt like fall across much of the eastern half of the U.S., worldwide the overall picture was a warm one. This August was the warmest August on record globally, according to newly released NASA temperature data, while the summer tied for the fourth warmest. Central Europe, northern Africa, parts of South America, and the western portions of North America (including Alaska) were just some of the spots on the globe that saw much higher than normal temperatures for the month. Large parts of the oceans were also running unusually warm..."

Image credit above: "Temperature anomalies (in degrees Celsius) of various regions around the world in August 2014." Credit: NASA


NASA Releases IRIS Footage of X-Class Flare. Here's the intro to a story and video link from Science Codex: "On Sept. 10, 2014, NASA's newest solar observatory, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, mission joined other telescopes to witness an X-class flare – an example of one of the strongest solar flares -- on the sun. Combing observations from more than one telescope helps create a much more complete picture of such events on our closest star. Watch the movie to see how the flare appears different through the eyes of IRIS than it does through NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory..."

Image credit: NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory.


How America Forecasts The Weather. Here's an excerpt of an interesting interview with National Weather Service Dr. Louis Uccellini at Piqued: "...We are actually showing more success with [predicting] extreme events now than ever before and are now able to forecast the likelihood of an extreme weather event 4 to 8 days in advance.  However, [forecasting] the magnitude of the event still remains a challenge. We have seen some notable precipitation events in the past year such as the ones in Florida and in Georgia where heavy rainfall was predicted, but not the 20 inches that actually occurred. The same thing happened in Colorado last year, and it was a very tough forecast in that the atmosphere was not in one of its more predictable states..."


New Way to Predict Hurricane Strength, Destruction. Factoring in IKE seems like a big step forward. As Sandy demonstrated, even a marginal Category 1 hurricane can be catastrophic. The current system doesn't take into account size and ultimate strength. Here's an excerpt from ScienceDaily: "...The model predicts the amount of integrated kinetic energy within Atlantic tropical cyclones. This kinetic energy metric is related to the overall size and strength of a storm, not just the maximum wind speed. Predictions of this metric complement existing forecasting tools, potentially allowing forecasters to better assess the risk of hurricanes that make landfall. "We don't perceive this to be an alternative to how storms are explained to the public, but a complement," Misra said. Hurricane forecasts have traditionally focused on wind speeds as measured through the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale..."


Tornadoes Occurring Earlier in Tornado Alley. Another symptom of warming or a statistical fluke? Here's a snippet of some interesting new research highlighted at phys.org: "Peak tornado activity in the central and southern Great Plains of the United States is occurring up to two weeks earlier than it did half a century ago, according to a new study whose findings could help states in "Tornado Alley" better prepare for these violent storms. Tornado records from Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and northern Texas - an area of high tornado activity dubbed "Tornado Alley" - show that peak tornado activity is starting and ending earlier than it did 60 years ago..."

Photo credit above: "A supercell storm, known to produce violent tornadoes, forms in Courtney, Oklahoma in April 2014. A new study shows that peak tornado activity is occurring nearly two weeks earlier in Oklahoma, Kansas and northern Texas, according to a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters." Credit: Kelly DeLay/Flickr.


"Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index" Unveiled. We rate every other kind of natural disaster, why not the risk of wildfires? The Desert Sun has an interesting update; here's a clip: "A web-based weather monitoring system designed to “quantify” the risks of wildfires during Santa Ana windstorms will equip first responders and the public with the information they need to be prepared for an emergency, officials said Wednesday. U.S. Forest Service rangers, along with representatives from San Diego Gas & Electric and UCLA, jointly developed the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index, which was unveiled during a briefing at the USFS's Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center in Riverside..."

A supercell storm, known to produce violent tornadoes, forms in Courtney, Oklahoma in April 2014. A new study shows that peak tornado activity is occurring nearly two weeks earlier in Oklahoma, Kansas, and northern Texas, according to a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters. Credit: Kelly DeLay/Flickr

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-tornadoes-earlier-tornado-alley.html#jCp
Peak tornado activity in the central and southern Great Plains of the United States is occurring up to two weeks earlier than it did half a century ago, according to a new study whose findings could help states in "Tornado Alley" better prepare for these violent storms.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-tornadoes-earlier-tornado-alley.html#jCp
Peak tornado activity in the central and southern Great Plains of the United States is occurring up to two weeks earlier than it did half a century ago, according to a new study whose findings could help states in "Tornado Alley" better prepare for these violent storms.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-tornadoes-earlier-tornado-alley.html#jCpWhy Weather Matters When You're Depressed. Here's a clip from a story at Everyday Health that got my attention: "New research suggests that exposure to sunshine affects suicide rates, regardless of what time of year it is. Published in JAMA Psychiatry, the study looked at the relationship between daily suicide rates – 69,462 over 40 years – and hours of daily sunshine independent of season. The study linked higher rates of suicide with shorter durations of sunny weather – 10 days of fewer – regardless of season, says Norman Sussman, MD, professor of psychiatry and director of the Treatment Resistant Depression Program at NYU Langone Medical Center, who was not involved in the study..."How a Simple Blood Test Can Now Help Diagnose Depression. Fast Company has the story.

Study Links Increased Drilling With Earthquakes. Wait, injecting water and chemicals deep underground might have a downside? Imagine that. Here's a clip from a Wall Street Journal story: "A magnitude 5.3 earthquake that hit Colorado in 2011 was likely caused by the injection of wastewater into the ground, a process used in natural-gas drilling, according to new research to be released Tuesday. The new study, published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, adds more detail to a growing body of work seeking to establish and explain the connection between human activity and seismic events, known as induced quakes..."

Photo credit above: "The aftermath of an earthquake in Segundo, Colo., in 2011. Scientists have linked the magnitude-5.3 quake with nearby wastewater injection, a process used in drilling." Associated Press.


Together We Make Football. Grantland takes a look at the dark underbelly of America's favorite sport, the NFL and domestic violence; here's an excerpt: "...The video did something else. Its existence turned what had been a serious but abstract problem into a scandal. It brought greater awareness to the NFL’s long history of tolerating high rates of domestic violence, but it didn’t prompt most people to explore why. The story became a kind of conspiracy, talked about in excited tones. Had Goodell seen the tape? If he hadn’t, why hadn’t he? Was he incompetent? Who knew what, and when? Was there a conspiracy here? Who was lying? What else was the league hiding? Conveniently, these were questions with answers. This was a crime that could be solved. The problem had a clean solution: Get rid of Roger Goodell..."


Uh, Here's an Interesting Bit of Useless Trivia. Do you say um or uh? If you live in Minnesota or Wisconsin you may be predisposed to mumble uh vs. um. I know, fascinating. Here's more...uh...detail from Quartz: "...Every language has filler words that speakers use in nervous moments or to buy time while thinking. Two of the most common of these in English are “uh” and “um.” They might seem interchangeable, but data show that their usage break down across surprising geographic lines. Hmm. The map above shows a preliminary attempt to use the tremendous amount of linguistic data being produced on the web to understand how language works..."

Map credit: Quartz, Twitter, analysis by Dr. Jack Grieve.


Egypt's New Stamp Mixes Up Suez and Panama Canals. Someone's not getting a promotion. France 24 has the head-scratching details: "To celebrate the planned extension of the Suez Canal, Egypt decided to commission a line of stamps showing off the multi-billion dollar project. The only problem is that the designers seem to have confused their canals. Some of the stamps show the Panama Canal, located in Central America. Embarrassed authorities announced Sunday that they were halting the stamps’ production. .."

Image credit above: "On the left, Egypt's stamp of the "Suez Canal", on the right, a photograph of the Panama Canal."



77 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

71 F. average high on September 17.

67 F. high on September 17, 2013.

September 17 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: MPX National Weather Service:

1997: An F3 Tornado destroyed several buildings and numerous others damaged. Hundreds of trees were knocked down. A number of cattle were also killed in a barn that collapsed. One man was injured when the tornado engulfed his car and threw it into a nearby woods. A second man was critically injured when his garage collapsed. He died several weeks later. The total path length of the tornado from 1 NE of Lastrup to Onamia was 17 miles. Total property damages were estimated at $1.7 Million. In total, 6 tornadoes touched down in Morrison, Mille Lacs, and Kanabec.

1991: Duluth got a 2.5 inch summer snowstorm. (Fall was still five days away)

1971: A brush fire at Lake Alexander in Morrison County started a 10-foot wide, 50-foot high "fire whirl." It moved out over the lake, overturned a 1,800 pound pontoon boat, and then dissipated as it moved back to shore.

1903: 3.75 inches of rain fell in the Minneapolis area.


TODAY: Partly sunny and breezy. Winds: SE 10+ High: near 70

THURSDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, not as cool. Low: 58

FRIDAY: Unsettled, few T-showers expected. Dew point: 62 High: 75

SATURDAY: Partly sunny and mild. PM clouds, a few showers north of MSP. Wake-up: 64. High: 78, falling during the PM hours

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, cooler. Wake-up: 57. High: 68

MONDAY: Blue sky, hints of October. Wake-up: 49. High: 63

TUESDAY: Chilly start, bright sun. Dew point: 37. Wake-up: 43. High: near 71

WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, a few showers late. Wake-up: 47. High: near 70

* photo credit above: Dan Durkin.


Climate Stories...

U.S. Moves to Reduce Global Warming Emissions. Coral Davenport at The New York Times has the story; here's the introduction: "The Obama administration on Tuesday announced a series of moves aimed at cutting emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, powerful greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The White House has secured voluntary agreements from some of the nation’s largest companies to scale down or phase out their use of HFCs, which are factory-made gases used in air conditioning and refrigeration. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Red Bull, Kroger, Honeywell and DuPont, the company that invented fluorinated refrigerants, have agreed to cut their use and replace them with climate-friendly alternatives..."


Natural Disasters Displaced More People Than War in 2013, Study Finds. Here's a clip from an article at The Guardian: "Natural disasters displaced three times as many people as war last year – even as 2013 was a horrific year for conflict – with 22 million people driven out of their homes by floods, hurricanes and other hazards, a new study has found. Twice as many people now lose their homes to disaster as in the 1970s, and more people move into harm’s way each year, the study by the Norwegian Refugee Council found. “Basically, the combination of mega natural disasters and hundreds of smaller natural disasters massively displaces people in many more countries than the countries that have war and conflict,” said Jan Egeland, the secretary of the Norwegian refugee council..."

* Catholic Online has another perspective here.


Antarctic Sea Ice Set for Record High as Arctic Heads for 6th Lowest Extent. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...Figures released by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colorado, show that the so-called Arctic sea ice minimum – the point where the extent of sea ice there is at its lowest after the summer, before it begins to refreeze for winter – is expected to be confirmed imminently and would be millions of square kilometres below the long-term average. At 5.09m sq km, the extent of Arctic sea ice this year would be the sixth lowest on record, slightly worse than last year, though not as extreme as the record set in 2012 when it plunged to less than 3.5 million square kilometres..." (Graphic: NSIDC).


Antarctic Peninsula Glacier Recession "Unprecedented". The BBC has the story - here's an excerpt: "Glaciers around the Antarctic Peninsula are melting faster than ever despite more snowfall, say experts. Prof Neil Glasser, from Aberystwyth University, was part of a team who studied the ice-core data on a 4km long glacier on James Ross Island. He said over the next 200 years it "will become far smaller than at any point over the last 10,000 years." The research published in the journal Nature Climate Change says it will lead to an increase in sea level..."

Photo credit above: "The study looked at changes in glaciers over the last 10,000 years around the Antarctic Peninsula."


2014: Warmest Summer, Worldwide, Since 1891. This, according to JMA, The Japan Meteorological Agency, which adds: "The seasonal anomaly of the global average surface temperature in Summer (June to August) 2014 (i.e. the average of the near-surface air temperature over land and the SST) was +0.31°C above the 1981-2010 average (+0.65°C above the 20th century average), and was the warmest since 1891. On a longer time scale, global average surface temperatures have risen at a rate of about 0.66°C per century.."


Polar Vortex Excursions Linked to Global Warming. This is precisely what I've been seeing on the maps, especially since 2010: a slower-moving, higher-amplitude pattern over North America with weather becoming increasingly "stuck", stalled for extended periods of time, magnifying both flood, drought, heat and cold. Here's an excerpt from Slate: "Over the past year or so, I’ve written a few times on how the “polar vortex”—actually, deep meanders or excursions in the usually stable west-to-east direction of the polar cyclonic air stream—may be tied to global warming, but there hadn’t been enough research done yet to be sure. Well, here we go: A team of Korean and American scientists has made the connection. Warmer waters lead to more melting of Arctic ice, which destabilizes the polar jet stream. My Slate colleague Eric Holthaus has an excellent write-up of it, and I wanted to give him a signal boost here. Go read it..."


China, The Climate, and The Fate of the Planet. China is now the largest source of greenhouse gases, and Rolling Stone takes a look at how the zeal for economic growth, at any cost, may impact CO2 levels and the ability to contain worldwide warming within a level in which the world can still adapt. Here's an excerpt: "...The blunt truth is that what China decides to do in the next decade will likely determine whether or not mankind can halt – or at least ameliorate – global warming. The view among a number of prominent climate scientists is that if China's emissions peak around 2025, we may – just barely – have a shot at stabilizing the climate before all hell breaks loose. But the Chinese have resisted international pressure to curb their emissions. For years, they have used the argument that they are poor, the West is rich, and that the high levels of carbon in the atmosphere were caused by America's and Europe's 200-year-long fossil­fuel binge. Climate change is your problem, they argued – you deal with it. But that logic doesn't hold anymore..."

Photo credit above: "A red-alert smog day in China last year. Pollution has become a public-health hazard." Reuters/Landov.


Climate Expert: "Washington D.C. Faces Significant Risk of Record High Floods." Maybe this will wake up the politicians who refuse to believe the science and mounting evidence. Here's a video and story excerpt from The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang: "A rise in local tidal waters – fueled by global warming – virtually guarantees record flooding in Washington, D.C. over the next century, concludes a new analysis on sea level rise and flood risk. The analysis from Climate Central – a non-profit science communication organization based in Princeton, N.J. — finds that the cumulative risk of a record-setting flood grows by the decade as sea levels rise. “I would say the headline is that Washington, D.C. faces significant risk of record high floods within the coming few decades,” says Ben Strauss, Climate Central’s vice president for climate impacts..."


Fixing Climate Change May Add No Costs, Report Says. Overly optimistic? Or will the move toward zero-carbon invigorate global economies? Here's an excerpt of a New York Times story from Justin Gillis: "...A global commission will announce its finding on Tuesday that an ambitious series of measures to limit emissions would cost $4 trillion or so over the next 15 years, an increase of roughly 5 percent over the amount that would likely be spent anyway on new power plants, transit systems and other infrastructure. When the secondary benefits of greener policies — like lower fuel costs, fewer premature deaths from air pollution and reduced medical bills — are taken into account, the changes might wind up saving money, according to the findings of the group, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate..."


Jellyfish: It's What's For Dinner. Mmmm. Please pass the "jellyballs" please. I pray that never comes out of my mouth, but it turns out there is a large and growing appetite for jellyfish, as Modern Farmer explains. Here's a clip: "...At the Golden Island plant, the jellies are dried and shipped to China and Japan, where they are cut into long, thin strips and served in salads with cabbage and teriyaki sauce. If prepared right, the jellyfish are crunchy, like a carrot. Jellyfish are popular in China, along with other sea creatures like geoducks (those gigantic phallic clams from the Pacific Northwest) for similar textural reasons. But these sorts of foods are being embraced well beyond Asia. And as climate change and the global industrial agriculture system continue on what many view as a doomed course, we may have no choice but to eat foods that make sense ecologically — or can at least thrive in a changed environment..."


Major Food Companies Warn Climate Change Threatens Business. From first-hand meetings and observations I can tell you that Minnesota's largest food companies are paying close attention to climate change and increasingly erratic weather patterns, worldwide. There is very little science denial within these corporations. They can see the impact in their fields, and in the data. Here's an excerpt from Think Progress: "...While politicians continue to bicker over whether or not climate change exists, companies now have no choice in the matter — they must acknowledge the science and the risk and disclose the reality of that risk to their investors’ pocketbooks. Whether that risk actually manifests itself is another matter, but the fact that companies are increasingly putting climate change on their threat lists speaks volumes to the severity of the problem. Here are seven other big food companies that disclose to investors that climate change poses a threat to their products and bottom lines..."
 
Photo credit: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar.

No Rain for Decades: Stand By For The "Megadroughts", Scientists Warn. The Independent has the story; here's an excerpt: "...Experts warn the droughts could be even more severe than the prolonged water shortage currently afflicting California, where residents have resorted to stealing from fire hydrants  amid mass crop failures and regular wildfires. Megadroughts – which are generally defined as lasting 35 years or more – will become considerably more frequent as global warming increases temperatures and reduces rainfall in regions already susceptible, warns Cornell University’s Dr Toby Ault, the author of the new report..."

Welcome Canadian Breeze - Tornado Touchdowns near Gilman Sunday

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: August 25, 2014 - 12:02 AM

Big 3-0

"I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life" said comedian Rita Rudner.

What's it like being married to a weatherman? "Mostly sunny with occasional storms" my wife sighed. "I prefer sunshine". Laurie and I are heading to Dublin, Ireland to celebrate our 30th anniversary, watch some college football and enjoy occasional showers of Guinness. Volcano-permitting, that is.

I'm tracking the grumbling Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland, which may blow its top at any moment. A major Icelandic eruption in 2010 grounded millions of air travelers over 8 days, costing airlines nearly $2 billion. Dubuque is looking better & better. Cheaper too.

Yesterday's thundery frontal zone is pushing east; Canadian exhaust dropping humidity levels back down to tolerable levels. Dew points tumble into the 40s by midweek, meaning HALF as much water floating overhead. It now looks like showers stay south of Minnesota until Thursday & Friday, with a holiday weekend clearing trend and highs near 80F. A few storms may pop (right on schedule) on Labor Day.

What can possibly go wrong?

I can almost promise a lack of flurries.

Or volcanoes.


Sunday Severe Weather Reports. Funnel clouds were spotted near Rice, with tornado touchdowns at Granite Ledge (Benton County) and damage in the Gilman area. Elsewhere large hail was spotted just east of Brainerd, flash flooding near Fergus Falls and reports of storm-related wind damage east of Alexandria. A trained spotter reported 2.2" diameter hail 7.5 miles south of Hillman, in Morrison County, around 6 PM. The Twin Cities National Weather Service has an interactive map. Additional storm reports are here.


Late August Supercells. Sunday's late afternoon visible cloud loop shows the squall line that sprouted over central Minnesota, the most severe cells from near Brainerd to just north of St. Cloud. By late August the atmosphere is usually more stable (cooling near the surface, still warm aloft), so tornadic storms are unusual, but certainly not unprecedented. Imagery: NOAA and HAMweather.


Cristobal Stalks the Bahamas - Heavy Storms Push into the Great Lakes. The 60-hour accumulated rainfall map shows some heavy 2-4" amounts from near Wausau to near Madison and Chicago as slightly cooler air pushes east. This weak frontal zone stalls, sparking more heavy rain across Iowa by Tuesday and Wednesday. 4 KM NAM data: NOAA and HAMweather.


Trending Comfortable. Sick of dreadful dew points hovering near 70F? You're in luck. Canadian air drops moisture levels significantly, less than half as much water in the air by this time Tuesday. Dry weather should prevail today into Wednesday, the next surge of warm air sparking a few showers and T-showers Thursday and Friday. Long-range guidance shows some weekend clearing, with the best chance of rain (and storms) on Labor Day. With any luck the forecast will change as new data comes in.


Alerts Broadcaster Update. Here's an excerpt of a briefing that went out Sunday:

* Tropical Storm Cristobal intensifying - will impact Bahamas with tropical storm force conditions over the next 24 hours.

* All models show a track that keeps the core of Cristobal's strongest winds and storm surge at sea this week.

* Dangerous rip tides and some minor coastal flooding can't be ruled out across the Carolina coast Wednesday and Thursday of this week, especially close to high tide.


Better Organized. Satellite imagery shows a more symmetric storm circulation, less wind shear will favor additional strengthening in the coming days; Cristobal expected to become a Category 1 hurricane well east of the Carolinas late Wednesday night or Thursday morning.


Projected Track. NOAA's National Hurricane Center shows a track to the north/northwest into Wednesday, followed by a northeastward turn which should keep the brunt of Cristobal out at sea; but uncomfortably close for North Carolina's Outer Banks.


Rapid Intensification by Thursday. Warm Atlantic ocean water will fuel further intensification, and the ECMWF (European) model shows a potential for a Category 1-2 hurricane the latter half of this week with additional strengthening as Cristobal veers out to sea. Map: WSI.


General Model Agreement. Although far from perfect, models are all displaying a version of the solution, keeping Cristobal's core out to sea with a turn to the northeast after 96-120 hours. No models (we trust) are bringing Cristobal toward a U.S. landfall at this time.

Summary: We've been watching the evolution of Cristobal, and expect minor to moderate impact over the Bahamas today, especially Great Abaco and Grand Bahama (including the city of Freeport). Flash flooding is expected with winds in the 35-50 mph range in squalls over the next 24 to 36 hours. All computer solutions keep Cristobal's core of strongest winds, heaviest rains and highest storm surge east of the U.S. mainland, but minor lowland flooding is still possible along the Carolina coast by midweek - especially at local high tide. We'll keep an eye on Cristobal and keep you posted should there be a material change to our predictions.

Paul Douglas - Senior Meteorologist - Alerts Broadcaster


Hurricane Marie Now a Category 5 Off The Mexican Coast. Mercifully it is not expected to make landfall. More details at Gawker's The Vane: "Hurricane Marie is now a powerful Category 5 hurricane as it churns off the Mexican coast this evening, packing sustained winds of around 160 MPH. The eastern Pacific hurricane rapidly strengthened from a Category 1 to a Category 5 in just 24 hours. The intense storm is the fifth major hurricane to form in the basin so far this year, and Marie is the eastern Pacific's first hurricane to reach Category 5 intensity in more than four years. Thankfully, the hurricane will weaken as it continues to move northwest away from land..."


Farmer's Almanac Predicts "Super Cold" Winter, More Snow in Eastern U.S. I'm always shocked when Minnesota doesn't experience a super-cold winter. Take any long range forecast with a massive grain of salt, but I am going on record stating the odds of something similar to last winter's polar vortex are slim to nil. Cold with significant snow? Absolutely, but not the extreme levels of cold we endured last winter. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "The Old Farmer's Almanac, the familiar, 223-year-old chronicler of climate, folksy advice and fun facts, is predicting a colder winter and warmer summer for much of the nation. Published Wednesday, the New Hampshire-based almanac predicts a "super-cold" winter in the eastern two-thirds of the country. The west will remain a little bit warmer than normal..."


Researchers Dig Deeper Into Tornado Winds, Building Damage. Here's a clip from an interesting line of research described at The Ames Tribune: "...By measuring on the Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale, which evaluates storm damage to measure the strength of tornadoes, around 90 percent of all tornadoes are an EF3 or less. Sarkar, who has been at ISU for 14 years, believes the strength of tornado winds is debateable. The scale of a tornado is only determined after the damage has been examined. There are also many other factors that can throw off an examination such as the building's age, the material strength, construction quality and prior weaknesses caused by debris..."

By measuring on the Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale, which evaluates storm damage to measure the strength of tornadoes, around 90 percent of all tornadoes are an EF3 or less.

Sarkar, who has been at ISU for 14 years, believes the strength of tornado winds is debateable. The scale of a tornado is only determined after the damage has been examined. There are also many other factors that can throw off an examination such as the a building’s age, the material strength, construction quality and prior weaknesses caused by debris.

- See more at: http://amestrib.com/news/researchers-dig-deeper-tornado-winds-building-damage#sthash.uQtrvLaL.dpuf

Photo credit above: "A laboratory-simulated tornado at the ISU Tornado Simulator translates over a scaled model of buildings. Model tornadoes like this one will be used to further study near-ground wind and their loading effects on civil structures such as buildings to reduce tornado hazard." Photo: Bob Elbert/Iowa State University.


Iceland Volcano Experts: No Eruption Yet. As they say, the "situation is fluid". As in magma-fluid, and at some point that lava may reach the surface, like an enormous, angry pimple. The impact to trans-Atlantic flights is still unclear, but if history is a guide there could be serious implications in the coming weeks. Here's an excerpt of an update from a good source of local information, RUV: "...The most likely scenario is that an eruption has not begun. This morning we saw a large increase in seismic activity and tremors, so it was perfectly rational to assume that an eruption had begun. A subglacial eruption melts the ice and causes floods. We surveyed the glacier for three hours today. I can of course not assert that nothing has happened, but it is clear that there are no signs of abnormal melting or other signs that normally appear during a subglacial eruption..."

* The Icelandic Civil Protection Agency has continuous updates in a live-blogging format here.


What It Feels Like To Be The Last Generation To Remember Life Before The Internet. Are you old enough to remember a time before Netscape Mozilla's crude web browser and AOL "You've Got Mail"? Me too. I miss those simpler days when people used rotary phones and there was a place where you could gather to talk to your friends. It was called a "bar". That's why this story at Quartz caught my eye; here's a clip: "Technology has a lot to answer for: killing old businesses, destroying the middle class, Buzzfeed. Technology in the form of the internet is especially villainous, having been accused of everything from making us dumber (paywall) to aiding dictatorships. But Michael Harris, riffing on the observations of Melvin Kranzberg, argues that “technology is neither good nor evil. The most we can say about it is this: It has come...”

Photo credit above: "Michael Harris, the author of "The End of Absence." Hudson Hayden.


9 Things Good Listeners Do Differently. Part of the secret of business is knowing when to say no, and really listening to what clients and prospects are telling you. Less selling, more listening. Here's an excerpt from a story at Huffington Post that caught my eye (and ear): "...Part of effective listening is the effort to empathize with the person you're speaking with. Whether or not you're able to fully relate, your compassion won't go unnoticed. "Spend a moment putting yourself in their position, what's going through their head and what it must be like for them," Sacco says. "Understanding what their experience is even before you talk to them [can help you connect with them]. And it sounds bad, but even if you blow it, you're still better off because the other person will see the attempt..."


Isolated Downpour/Hailstorm. I took up the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Sunday, before the real hail storms arrived. It wasn't pretty. Belinda Jensen at KARE, and Kristin Clark at Media Logic Group - it's your turn!



89 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.

79 F. average high on August 24.

90 F. high on August 24, 2013.

.14" rain fell at MSP International Airport as of 7 PM yesterday.


TODAY: Partly sunny, less humid. Dew point: 58. Winds: W 10. High: 82

MONDAY NIGHT: Clearing and comfortable. Low: 59

TUESDAY: Intervals of sun, no drama. Dew point: 48. High: 73

WEDNESDAY: Blue sky, still pleasant. Wake-up: 55. High: 76

THURSDAY: Cloudy. Showers develop, coolest day. Wake-up: 59. High: 69

FRIDAY: Leftover shower or T-shower. Wake-up: 60. High: 72

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, lukewarm. Dew point: 61. Wake-up: 61. High: 76

SUNDAY: Peeks of sun, probably dry. Wake-up: 62. High: near 80


“Flatter me and I might not believe you.

Criticize and I might not like you

Ignore me and I might not forgive you

Encourage me and I will not forget you.” – William Arthur Ward


Climate Stories...

"Incredible" Rate of Polar Ice Loss Alarms Scientists. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "The planet's two largest ice sheets – in Greenland and Antarctica – are now being depleted at an astonishing rate of 120 cubic miles each year. That is the discovery made by scientists using data from CryoSat-2, the European probe that has been measuring the thickness of Earth's ice sheets and glaciers since it was launched by the European Space Agency in 2010. Even more alarming, the rate of loss of ice from the two regions has more than doubled since 2009, revealing the dramatic impact that climate change is beginning to have on our world..."

Photo credit above: "An artist’s impression of CryoSat-2, the European satellite which has revealed dramatic ice loss." Photograph: ESA.


What Iceland's Volcanoes Can Teach Us About Climate. Here's a brief excerpt from an interesting story at Climate Central: "...Glacial volcano research also helps improve climate change modeling by preserving a record of ice sheets that melted long ago. Think of the ice as a sort of cast for a lava sculpture. “When a volcano erupts, it copies the ice in a sense,” says Smellie. “The ice tells the volcano how to erupt, when it can erupt, and what kind of lava forms...”

Photo credit above: "Local flooding could be particularly severe in the case of an eruption, which would melt significant chunks of the Vatnajokull glacier." Credit: Gunnlaugur bor Briem/flickr.


Methane Is Discovered Seeping From Seafloor Off East Coast, Scientists Say. The New York Times has the latest; here's a snippet: "...In a paper published online Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, the scientists, including Adam Skarke of Mississippi State University and Carolyn Ruppel of the United States Geological Survey, reported evidence that the seepage had been going on for at least 1,000 years. They said the depths of the seeps suggested that in most cases the gas did not reach the atmosphere but rather dissolved in the ocean, where it could affect the acidity of the water, at least locally..." (Image: NOAA)


Climate Change and Drought Are Forcing Us to Upgrade our Water Systems. Public Radio International has an interesting article and interview, talking about the need to upgrade from Water 1.0 to Water 4.0. Here's a clip: "...Throughout history, he says, each time we have encountered seemingly intractable problems with water supply, we have found solutions. We create and adapt to new technologies and we “become comfortable with water that’s treated, or sewage that’s treated, or water that’s imported.” We're already familiar with one of the tenets of Water 4.0 — conservation. “Quietly, over the last 10 or 20 years, we’ve seen indoor plumbing change as people are, for example, switching out their top-loading washing machines for front-loading washing machines,” Sedlak points out. “We’ve saved a lot of water that way. [But] we can do better and we will do better...”

Photo credit above: "Wastewater treatment plant." Hasan Zulic; Creative Commons.


The Climate Swerve. The New York Times had an Op-Ed comparing the specter of climate change and impacts on future generations to nuclear proliferation and the prospect of nuclear war in the 1980s. Here's a clip: "...The experiential part has to do with a drumbeat of climate-related disasters around the world, all actively reported by the news media: hurricanes and tornadoes, droughts and wildfires, extreme heat waves and equally extreme cold, rising sea levels and floods. Even when people have doubts about the causal relationship of global warming to these episodes, they cannot help being psychologically affected. Of great importance is the growing recognition that the danger encompasses the entire earth and its inhabitants. We are all vulnerable..."


Climate Change and Implications for National Security. Here's an excerpt of a story at International Policy Digest: "...Over the 250 years carbon fuels have enabled tremendous technological advances including a population growth from about 800 million then to 7.5 billion today and the consequent demand to extract even more carbon. This has occurred during a handful of generations, which is hardly noticeable on our imaginary one-year calendar. The release of this carbon – however – is changing our climate at such a rapid rate that it threatens our survival and presence on earth. It defies imagination that so much damage has been done in such a relatively short time. The implications of climate change are the single most significant threat to life on earth and, put simply, we are not doing enough to rectify the damage..."

Photo credit above: Department of Defense photo. “If you wait until you have 100 percent certainty, something bad is going to happen…” – General Gordon R. Sullivan, Retired, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff.


Kansas' Climate Change Debate Settled in Europe. While Americans debate the science much of Europe is moving forward with plans to scale back the use of fossil fuels. What's missing here? Environmentally-minded Americans who care about this issue have yet to band together and exert political pressure. That will change in the years ahead (with our kids and grandkids out in front). Here's an excerpt from CJOnline.com: "...One of the key differences, King said, is the influence of Green parties within European nations. To get action on climate change, he said, environmentally-minded Americans must increase their influence in the political sphere. In Germany, the Greens hold about 10 percent of the seats in a 631-member parliament made up of five parties. Oliver Krischer, vice chairman of the German Green Party’s parliamentary group, said he hasn’t heard members of other parties say they believe human-caused climate change is a myth. “There might be some colleagues in the Bundestag that think so,” Krischer said. “You cannot look in their heads. But there is at least nobody that says climate change is an invention of some scientists...”

Photo credit above: Andy Marso, The Capital-Journal. "Jon Möller, a researcher with the Stockholm city government's climate and energy division, shows a map that includes the city's Royal Seaport, which citizens intend to make free of fossil fuels by 2030."


Portraits of Scared Scientists Seek to Drive Home the Critical State of Climate Change. The most frightening thing about climate change is that we continue to ignore it. Here's a clip from a story at PetaPixel: "Photographer Nick Bowers, Art Director Celine Faledam and Copy Writer Rachel Guest have teamed up to bring attention to the issue of climate change in a completely novel and frankly terrifying way with their portrait/interview project Scared Scientists. The title, in a way, says it all. Rather than bombarding you with obscure facts and figures or showing you photographs of receding glaciers, they focus on the scientists themselves..."


Dangerous Climate Change: Myths and Reality. Predicting the future is tenuous. Are we underestimating or overestimating the impacts of AGW? One thing is certain: the last time there was this much carbon, methane and other greenhouse gases floating overhead humans weren't on the planet. Here's an excerpt of an article at Climate Code Red focused on the myth (?) that climate change is "not yet dangerous": "...From this perspective, tipping points have already been passed, at less than 1°C of warming, for:

  • The loss of the Amundsen Sea West Antarctic glaciers, and 1–4 metres of sea level rise (Rignot, Mouginot et al., 2014; Joughin, Smith et al., 2014). Dr Malte Meinshausen, advisor to the German government and one of the architects of the IPCC's Representative Concentration Pathways, calls the evidence published this year of "unstoppable" (Rignot, 2014) deglaciation in West Antarctica "a game changer", and a "tipping point that none of us thought would pass so quickly", noting now we are "committed already to a change in coastlines that is unprecedented for us humans" (Breakthrough, 2014). 
  • The loss of Arctic sea-ice in summer (Duarte, Lenton et al., 2012; Maslowski, Kinney et al., 2012), which will hasten regional warming, the mobilization of frozen carbon stores, and the deglaciation of Greenland..."

Photo credit above: Jenna Dorsey.

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

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

City Sizzle

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer spills into September this year.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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

Graphic credit above: Hsiang and Jina, July 2014


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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



85 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

80 F. average high on August 21.

88 F. high on August 21, 2013.

.07" rain fell at MSP International Airport yesterday.

August 21 in Minnesota Weather History:

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

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


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

FRIDAY NIGHT: Warm and sultry. Low: 71

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

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

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

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

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

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


Climate Stories...


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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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..."