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.

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

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

Sitting Ducks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Lightning, Wind and Hail:

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

Flash Floods:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

82 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

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

78 F. high on July 24, 2013.

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

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

1915: Frost hits northeastern Minnesota.

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

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and humid. Low: 68

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Stories...

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

File Photo: Butch Dill, AP.

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

File photo above: Peter Morgan, AP.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unknown Unknowns

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: July 23, 2014 - 6:15 PM

We don't know what we don't know. Models and simulations only go so far. Who knew, in advance, that a cascade of unintended consequences would kill nearly 2,000 Americans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005? Super-storm Sandy in 2012: barely Category 1 strength, but this mash-up of ex-hurricane and Nor'easter was the biggest Atlantic storm on record; a $70 billion 2x4 across the head.

Swiss Re just modeled what would happen if the 2013 EF-5 Moore, Oklahoma tornado hit Chicago. Over 100,000 residents might be impacted with $20 billion in damage.

Downtowns are tiny targets - we've just been very, very lucky. But at some point the law of averages catches up with you.

It's good to be perpetually paranoid - and leverage new technologies to keep up with increasing risk.

The next surge of warm air sparks T-storms tonight. We dry out Friday and highs should still surge into the 80s Saturday before late-day storms sprout.

Sunday won't win any awards; a push of cooler air sparks ragged skies & PM showers. Summer takes a siesta next week as highs dip into the 70s. More hints of September in the air.

Personally I don't miss the 90s or extended heat waves. Think of it as Summer Lite.


WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and comfortable. Low: 60 (50s in the outlying suburbs).

THURSDAY: Nice start, clouds increase late. High: 79. Winds: S10.

THURSDAY NIGHT: Chance of thunderstorms. Low: 66

FRIDAY: Partly sunny and warmer. High: 81

SATURDAY: Hazy sun, lake-worthy with late day storms. Dew point: 63 Wake-up: 68. High: 85

SUNDAY: Clouds, cooler with PM showers. Wake-up: 63. High: 82

MONDAY: Partly sunny, less humid. Wake-up: 57. High: 74

TUESDAY: Sunny start, late day T-Storm. Wake-up: 55. High: 77

WEDNESDAY: AM Sun, PM showers pop up. Wake-up: 56. High: 78.


This Day in Weather History
July 24th

1987: Deluge ends in the Twin Cities. Two-day totals include over a foot of rain at Bloomington. Nearly 10 inches in downtown Minneapolis and near 9 inches in St. Paul. At one time the water was as deep as 13.5 feet on I-494 near East Bush Lake Road. I-494 in Bloomington was closed for nearly 5 days.

1891: Heavy frost hits Elkton in Mower County in southeast Minnesota. The heavy frost killed all vegetables and corn. The low in Elkton was 34 and the Twin Cities had a low of 49.


Averages High/Low for MSP
July 24th

Average High: 83°

Average Low: 64°


Moon Phase for July 24th at Midnight
1.7 Days Before New Moon


MSP Temp Trend

After a very warm start to the work week, temperatures have leveled off a bit and will continue to cool into next week. In fact, temperatures early next week look to dip into the mid/upper 70s as another blob of cool air drops out of Canada.

More on the Monday Night Severe Storms

The National Weather Service out of Duluth, MN has a great write-up on the severe storms that rolled through northern MN on Monday Night. 

(Photo Courtesy NWS Duluth)

"A strong low pressure system, fueled by abundant moisture and instability, swept across the Upper Midwest and Western Lake Superior region Monday night into Tuesday morning. A line of severe storms developed along the cold front, and brought widespread damaging winds over nearly the entire Northland.

Monday, July 21st, brought south winds and a very hot and muggy air mass to the region. Temperatures across the Northland were in the upper 80s to low 90s. In addition to the heat, dew points were extremely high for this area and resulted in Heat Index values in the upper 90s to low 100s."

See the full story HERE:

July 1995 Heat Wave

"A record-breaking heat wave affected much of the Midwestern United States in mid-July 1995. The Chicago-area was especially hard hit, and about 750 residents succumbed to the intense heat and high humidity."

"A record-breaking heat wave affected much of the U.S. Midwest in mid-July 1995, and the Chicago area was especially hard hit. From Wednesday, July 12, through Sunday, July 16, 1995, the heat tied or broke a number of temperature records at Chicago’s official reporting station, O’Hare International Airport.

The heat peaked on July 13 when O'Hare Airport had a high of 104°F and a low of 81°F for an average of 93°F, 20 degrees above normal. The heat index—a combination of the temperature and humidity—soared to 119°F at both 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. CDT. That same day, at Chicago Midway International Airport, on the city’s southwest side, the heat index topped out at 125°F at 2:00 p.m. CDT, with a temperature of 103°F and dew point of 79°F. Even Meigs Field, which sits on a small peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan off the Chicago lakefront, reached 103°F with a heat index of 115°F."

Read more HERE:

Excessive Heat!

It's summer and triple digit heat is not uncommon in the Desert Southwest, but today there could be record/near record highs again! My mom (a transplant from Minnesota) texted me Wednesday morning and said her A/C broke! UGH!! This is what she sent me at 9:35am Wednesday (local Phoenix time).

Excessive Heat Continues

Excessive Heat Warnings continue across the Desert Southwest through Thursday. Actual air temperatures could approach 120° in spots. The forecast for Phoenix is 113° and the record is 114°!!

Wildfires Continue in the Western U.S.

With the recent warm and dry weather, several wildfires have cropped up due to isolated thunderstorms. Lightning can be a big contributor to wildfires in the summer months, especially from monsoon thunderstorms. The image below suggests where fires are currently burning.

As of Wednesday two of the big fires in the western U.S. were the Carlton Complex in Washington and the Buzzard Complex in Oregon. These fires have consumed several thousand acres; the Carlton Complex is considered the largest fires in the state of Washington's history. 

Buzzard Complex: Latest Info HERE

Carlton Complex: Latest Info HERE:

(Photo below of Buzzard Complex courtesy:

Fire Threat Thursday


Cool Temps on the Way for the Eastern U.S.

Looking at the temperature outlook by late weekend/early next week, it appears that we're in for another round of non-July weather as a blob of cool air heads out of Canada post cool front.

Temperature Outlook

According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, the 6 to 10 day temperature outlook from July 28th - August 1st shows a fairly significant chance of below normal temperatures during that time frame.

8 Years Ago...

It was 8 years ago (July 23rd) that the largest hailstone on record fell in Vivian, SD with a diameter of 8" and weighing nearly 2 lbs.!!

"A record setting hailstone was ultimately discovered in Vivian, measuring 8.0 inches in diameter, 18.625 inches in circumference, and weighing in at an amazing 1.9375 pounds!!  This hailstone broke the previous United States hail size record for diameter (7.0 inches - 22 June 2003 in Aurora, NE) and weight (1.67 pounds - 3 September 1970 in Coffeyvile, KS).  The Aurora, Nebraska hailstone will retain the record for circumference (18.75 inches)."

See the full story from the NWS HERE:

(photo courtesy: NWS Aberdeen, SD)

Weather Outlook

A storm system in the Pacific Northwest will send an impulse of energy east through the High Plains/Midwest over the next couple of days. A few strong/severe storms may be possible, but heavy rain will be an issue as well.

This impulse of energy will be responsible for some isolated strong storms across the High Plains/Midwest over the next couple of days...

Precipitation Outlook

According to NOAA's HPC, the 5 day rainfall forecast suggests a fairly decent blob of moisture across parts of the Midwest as our next system approaches through the end of the week. There is a chance that if the rain comes down hard enough, isolated flash flooding couldn't be ruled out in southeastern parts of MN through northern Illinois.

Tropical Update

Tropical Depression #2 in the Atlantic Basin was no longer by midday Wednesday. This particular system ran into dry air and stronger winds aloft, which basically killed it. Note the bright glare moving from right to left on the bottom part of the loop below. That's called "Sun Glint" !! The sun is reflecting off the Atlantic Ocean and the satellite is seeing the glare... pretty cool, huh?!

NHL Says Climate Change Threatens Future of Hockey

Now this would be a sad day... check out this story from HERE

"The National Hockey League now says it is worried that climate change could have a devastating impact on the future of hockey in coming decades.

"Our sport can trace its roots to frozen freshwater ponds, to cold climates," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says in a letter accompanying the league's Sustainability Report, released Monday night. "Major environmental challenges, such as climate change and freshwater scarcity, affect opportunities for hockey players of all ages to learn and play the game outdoors.""

Thanks for checking in and have a great rest of your week. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV

A Fine Wednesday - Will "Matmo" Spark Another Cool-Down Next Week?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: July 22, 2014 - 11:06 PM

A Slippery 7-Day

Why do most TV stations put the weather segment near the end of the news? Why is the 7-Day Outlook the last element of weather presentations? Because that's what people want to see. Broadcasters want you to stay tuned (and enjoy a few more commercials!)

The forecast, especially the long-range forecast, is always changing, which can be incredibly frustrating for everyone involved. What looked like a nice weekend on Monday can turn into a rainy mess by Thursday. How is that even possible?

Computer models update 4 times a day, based on the latest raw data: airport observations, weather balloons and satellite imagery from around the world. As new, high-octane fuel arrives the models adjust, and the forecast often shifts.

Much like a stock price changes based on earnings projections, competition and new breakthroughs, so does the weather forecast, with the greatest swings from Day 4-7. Today's 7-Day accuracy is comparable to a 3-4 Day forecast 20 years ago. Not great, but gradually improving.

A comfortable Wednesday (dew points in the 50s) gives rise to more T-storms by Thursday; a few more T-storms decorate the Doppler by Sunday. Saturday should be the drier, warmer, more lake-worthy day.

Another transfusion of cooler, Canadian air arrives next week. More free A/C!

Damage Reports. Thanks to WeatherNation and KARE-11 for photographic evidence of the severe storms that ripped across northern and central Minnesota Monday night, producing estimated wind gusts as high as 70-80 mph. Tree damage was significant in McGregor and the Pelican Lake area, with numerous reports of mangled docks and capsized boats around Perham, Minnesota.

* The National Weather Service has a complete list of Monday night's weather-related damage.

Comfortable Wednesday - Weekend Warm Front. Not a hot front this time, nothing like Monday, but 80s return by the weekend before cooling back down into the 70s next week. Dew points in the upper 40s and low 50s today give rise to sticky 60s by Saturday; then another hint of September by the middle of next week.

60-Hour Accumulated Rainfall. NOAA's WRF model prints out some rain for the Pacific Northwest, which may ease the wildfire threat by the end of the week. A weak tropical disturbance keeps most of the showers and T-storms off the Carolina coast; potential flooding from persistent T-storms from New Mexico to near Little Rock. Animation: HAMweather.

Can Typhoon Matmo Impact Our Weather? New research shows a possible link between typhoons and hurricanes reaching a northern latitude, and subsequent amplification of ridges and low pressure troughs thousands of miles downwind. There's a good chance the typhoon pushing into southern China may help to pull another surge of cool air into Minnesota next week; that's the subject of today's Climate Matters: "New research shows that when a hurricane or typhoon reaches above a specific latitude, it can throw the jet stream out of whack. What does it mean? WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over the new data and what it might mean for the lower 48. Also, why has the Atlantic hurricane season been relatively quiet?"

Matmo Strikes Taiwan as Category 2 Storm. Here is an image of Typhoon Matmo as it approached Taiwan Tuesday, the eye of the storm coming ashore well south of Taipei. Image courtesy of Central Weather Bureau.

Nature's Roadblock to Hurricane Prediction. Yes, there are more variables in play than we thought, according to this fascinating story from UCAR; here's the intro: "The quiet Atlantic hurricane season of 2013 came as a surprise to many, as seasonal forecasts had consistently predicted an unusually large crop of named storms. A new study by scientists at NCAR and North-West University (South Africa) finds that internal variability—processes that unfold without being dictated by larger-scale features—can make one season twice as active as another, even when El Niño and other large-scale hurricane-shaping elements are unchanged. The results suggest that seasonal hurricane forecasts could be improved by conveying the amount of unavoidable uncertainty in the outlook..."

Image credit above: "Hurricane Mitch, the strongest storm observed in 1998, is the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record. Mitch caused more than 10,000 deaths, mainly due to torrential rainfall across Central America." (Wikimedia Commons/NOAA satellite image.)

What If A Tornado Hit A Major U.S. City? Statistically it's probably inevitable. There will be a public outcry; Congress will get in on the righteous indignation. "How could this happen? Why weren't we warned?" You were warned, you just thought you were safe living in a big city. Wrong answer. A large tornado, drawing in heat and moisture from a 5-10 mile radius, doesn't care about asphalt, concrete and a few high-rise buildings - a tornado is a process, not an object, and downtowns are not immune. Here's an excerpt of an important story at USA TODAY: "A single violent tornado could cause as much as $20 billion in property damage — and countless casualties and deaths — if it hit a big city such as downtown Chicago, according to a report released Tuesday by Swiss Re, a global reinsurance company. "This would be the most severe tornado damage in U.S. history," according to the report, which is titled U.S. Tornadoes: An Examination of the Past to Prepare for the Future..."

Image credit above: "The track of 2013's EF5 tornado in Moore, Okla., is overlaid on ZIP codes in Cook County, Ill." (Photo: Swiss Re).

Could Lightning Spur Headaches and Migraines? If sudden jumps in pressure can spark pain in arthritis sufferers, it isn't much of a stretch to imagine that lightning might have some impact (beyond the obvious). Here's a clip from Lifelong Health: "Lightning is associated with an increased risk of headaches and migraines, a new study suggests. This finding could help chronic sufferers better predict the likelihood of a headache or migraine and begin preventive treatment, the University of Cincinnati researchers said. The study found that chronic sufferers had a 31 percent greater risk of headache and a 28 percent increased risk of migraine on days when lightning struck within 25 miles of their homes. It did not, however, prove a cause-and-effect relationship between lightning and headaches..."

New Radar Improves Severe Storm Coverage. What is dual-polarization radar and why should you care? It's another significant upgrade to Doppler radar technology, producing a flood of new data that can help us better isolated everything from precipitation types to the most dangerous supercell thunderstorms. Here's an excerpt of a good summary at "...The transition to dual polarization has produced logarithmic growth in the [weather forecasting] data, not just linear growth,” says Ardell Hill, president of broadcast operations at Baron Services, which served as a subcontractor on the NWS project. L3 Communications was the prime contractor. With the dual-pol data, TV meteorologists can do things they couldn't do before — distinguish among rain, snow and hail in a storm; analyze wind shear to determine where a tornado may appear and how it may move; determine the size and shape of rain drops that helps in predicting flash flooding; and "see" the tornadic debris signature that says that a funnel cloud has actually touched down..."

How Will National Weather Service Radar Upgrades Boosting Warning Time of Tornadoes, Save Lives? has an interesting story detailing recent Doppler radar software upgrades at 132 out of 160 Doppler sites around the USA. Doppler provides a 3-D volumetric scan of the surrounding atmosphere, sampling 14 different levels. But as meteorologist Jesse Ferrell explains new software allows NWS forecasters to scan the lowest levels of the atmosphere with greater frequency, which should help with situational awareness and faster, more accurate storm warnings. Here's a clip: "...Automated Volume Scan Evaluation and Termination (AVSET) and Supplemental Adaptive Intra-Volume Low-Level Scan (SAILS) are the two methods in which procedures were altered to make for a more productive use of limited time. Using SAILS, the radars will scan low levels twice for optimal viewing of storms during severe weather. Even though adding an additional look, the update interval will drop making for more accurate forecasts..."

Science Brings Clarity to Shifting Shores. How vulnerable is your favorite beach? Barrier islands aren't static constructs; they are constantly shifting and evolving over time, in our spite of our best efforts to pave them over. Here's an excerpt of a story highlighting a new tool from EPA: "...To help ensure safe and resilient coasts, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has created an online tool that allows anyone to interactively “see” past, present and future hazards. This tool — the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal — can aid in decisions that involve emergency preparedness, ecosystem restoration, and where and how to develop coastal areas. The tool runs on web browsers, tablets, and smartphones, and is designed for a wide-range of audiences, from federal and state agencies to non-governmental organizations, public entities, and private citizens...

The Tech Utopia Nobody Wants: Why The World Nerds Are Creating Will Be Awful. Mmm. Mmm. Nothing better than soylent (green?) Forget George Orwell's 1984 - what will the world look like when computers, apps and AI can do many or most of the jobs people are getting paid for today? Here's a clip of an Op-Ed at The Guardian that caught my eye: "...This conflict – between consumers of technology and the geeks who pull us forward into uncharted sociocultural territory – is starting to become more pointed. We trained ourselves to value Facebook’s "open society" without privacy; we accepted the furtive mobile phone check as appropriate punctuation for a face-to-face conversation; we even put up with 3D cinema for a time. But this is too much. Now the blowback has arrived. The first signs of the emerging tech utopia we were always told about don't look so great if you can't code..."

These Are The Best (And Worst) Places in America To Raise Kids. For 30 years I've been telling friends and family out east that Minnesota is a great place to raise kids, and this story (and research) seems to confirm that. Huffington Post has the story; here's an excerpt: "...The report looked at four indicators -- economic well-being, education, health and family and community -- in order to glean a ranking of the best overall states for children. Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa ranked the highest, while Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico were once again among the lowest. A map from the report (above) shows that states in the southern portion of the country fared worse than states farther north..."

Map credit: The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

In Event of Moon Disaster. This is chilling, the speech that President Nixon would have read had Apollo 11 astronauts become stranded on the moon. Here's an excerpt from Letters of Note: "On July 18 of 1969, as the world waited anxiously for Apollo 11 to land safely on the surface of the Moon, speechwriter William Safire imagined the worst case scenario as he expertly wrote the following sombre memo to President Nixon's Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman. Its contents: a contingency plan, in the form of a speech to be read out by Nixon should astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become stranded on the Moon, never to return, followed by some brief instructions relating to its broadcast. Luckily for all those involved, the memo was never needed..." (Image: NASA).

Great Moments in Science (If Twitter Had Existed). I needed a laugh, and found this article from Dean Burnett at The Guardian to be funny and illuminating, in a snarky way. Has snark always been with us? Probably, now we just have better/faster ways to transmit our mock outrage. Here's the intro: "Twitter is the source of a great deal of modern news, and scientists are often encouraged to tweet about their research. So what if Twitter had been around during the times of historic scientific breakthroughs and discoveries?"

The Fasinating....Frustrating...Fascinating History of Autocorrect. Wired has a terrific story about Autocorrect; how we curse it (but need it) in this new, mobile, instant-gratification world; here's an excerpt: "..Invoke the word autocorrect and most people will think immediately of its hiccups—the sort of hysterical, impossible errors one finds collected on sites like Damn You Autocorrect. But despite the inadvertent hilarity, the real marvel of our mobile text-correction systems is how astoundingly good they are. It's not too much of an exaggeration to call autocorrect the overlooked underwriter of our era of mobile prolixity..."

Image credit above: David Sparshott.

For The Minnesotan Who Has Everything: A Robotic Snow-Blower? It's up on Kickstarter and can be yours for a cool $1,800. It's not totally automated, but (in theory) you can clear snow off your driveway while standing in your pajamas staring out the front window. Hmm. Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "...The small team has developed a remote-controlled snowblower dubbed the SnowBYTE. Unlike many other household robot cleaners, which go about their business autonomously, the SnowBYTE is a semi-autonomous design that requires the user to control its movements. Still, it does clear the snow from your driveway and/or sidewalk without you having to so much as look at the shovel in your garage..."

86 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

83 F. average high on July 22.

88 F. high on July 22, 2013.

July 22, 1987: Greatest deluge ever in Twin Cities begins with 10 inches in six hours at the Twin City airport.

TODAY: Blue sky, low humidity, beautiful. Dew point: 51. Winds: NE 8. High: 79

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and comfortable. Low: 60 (50s in the outlying suburbs).

THURSDAY: Clouds increase, PM T-storms likely. High: 79

FRIDAY: Partly sunny and warmer. Wake-up: 64. High: 82

SATURDAY: Hazy sun, lake-worthy. Dew point: 63 Wake-up: 66. High: 87

SUNDAY: Sunny start, PM thunder risk. Wake-up: 67. High: 81

MONDAY: Mix of clouds & sun, less humid. Wake-up: 60. High: 77

TUESDAY: Summer on hold again. Comfortable, clouds slowly build. Wake-up: 57. High: 76

Climate Stories....

Study: PBS NewsHour Airs Four Times More Climate Coverage than ABC World News. Here's an excerpt from a recap of on-air coverage of climate science and trends at Media Matters: "A Media Matters study found that most network nightly news programs this year are on track to offer no more coverage of global warming than they did in 2013. However, PBS NewsHour remains a notable exception, covering climate change more than any other network and interviewing the largest number of scientists on the topic. During the first six months of 2014, PBS NewsHour produced more news that featured climate change than any other major network evening broadcast, continuing a trend that Media Matters identified in both 2012 and 2013. The program aired 28 stories that at least mentioned global warming, nearly as much as all coverage combined from ABC World News, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News during the same period, and four times the amount of coverage from ABC World News alone..."

I Crashed a Climate Change Denial Conference in Las Vegas. Brendan Montague has a long, morbidly fascinating article about the time he just spent in Las Vegas with climate science deniers and the alternative universe they inhabit; here's the introduction to his story at Vice: "I’ve been researching the climate denial industry for almost three years and the best way to gather information about this incredibly small yet influential clique is to hang out with them. I attended their 2012 conference of the Heartland Institute, an oil and tobacco funded free market think tank that spends a lot of time and effort trying to call bullshit on what is clearly not bullshit – the science of climate change. My presence was clearly unwelcome – but I guess they forgot to scrub me from their email invitation list, because I got invited again this year, to their 9th International Conference on Climate Change in the deep heat of the Nevada desert amid the chaos of Las Vegas casinos..."

Mapping Climate Communication. Ecolabs Blog has an information-rich PDF that describes the progression of climate change communication since 1960 - worth a look. Check out the source of much of the climate disinformation dollars: Donor's Trust.

Republicans Google "Climate Change" During Extreme Weather: Study. NBC News has the research findings and article; here's a snippet: "...When Lang broke down the search data by political party and level of education, the findings were intriguing. Republicans and people from less-educated areas searched for climate-change-related terms during extreme temperatures, whereas Democrats and people from well-educated areas Googled these terms during changes in average temperatures."

National Conversation on Climate Change Has Shifted; Just Look at Latest Calls for Action. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "...Seven Montana veterans cited similar themes when they framed climate action as form of patriotism. Writing in the Ravalli Republic last week, they said it was Americans' shared duty to keep our nation safe and to reduce pollution that causes climate change. That same current runs through most calls for action: a desire to shield people from harm. Whether it is the four EPA administrators who served under Presidents Bush and Reagan or the Evangelical minister from Pennsylvania's coal country, Americans from all walks of life recognize the need to protect our communities from the hazards of climate change..."

Humans Accepting Climate Change vs. Jell-O: The Coastal Effect. A recent New Zealand paper suggests that people living near the (rising) oceans are more likely to accept the science than people living well away from the coast. Minnesota science writer Greg Laden explains at "...So, where does the bowl of Jell-O fit in to all of this? A recent study, in PLOS One, examines attitudes about climate change in relation to distance from the sea. The study takes place in New Zealand, but references other studies that look at similar things elsewhere. The bottom line is this: The farther a human lives from the sea, the less likely the human is to accept the reality of climate change science. Putting this another way, the father a bowl of Jell-O is from that which may poke it, the less poked it is, and thus, the less it develops, learns, evolves, gets smart..." (File image: Andrew Demp, Yale).

Deep Decarbonization: Truly Facing The Climate Challenge. Limiting the temperature increase to less than 2C above preindustrial times seems increasingly difficult, considering the level of (global) political inertia, argues Jonathan Koomey, a Ph.D. at Stanford. Here's an excerpt of his report at Climate Science Watch: "...What the Deep Carbonization report finds should not be surprising to serious students of the climate problem, and it’s consonant with what leading analysts have known about this issue since the late 1980s. The report concludes that

  • Allowing business-as-usual emissions trends to continue endangers the future orderly development of human civilization in the 21st century.
  • Achieving a low emissions world and fostering sustainable development go hand in hand.
  • Meeting the 2 C degree warming limit will require drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the next few decades, but few countries have analyzed the implications of such reductions for their economies, and few politicians have fully understood those implications..."

Climate Change Is Far From The Only Cause Of A Rapid Rise in Disasters. It's a big component, but land use, population and demographic trends are also increasing our vulnerability to disasters around the world. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Guardian: "...Since 1970, the global population has nearly doubled. Cities have expanded fast, and populations have aged, leaving more people vulnerable to heatwaves. Many of those fastest developing cities are coastal, meaning that more people, infrastructure, and buildings are vulnerable to the flooding caused by storm surges or hurricanes, and enhanced by sea level rise. Even if not on the coast, cities have sprawled onto floodplains, where the poorest find shelter in flimsy buildings. There is simply more stuff, more people and more money in harm’s way than there was 40 years ago. Looked at globally, our exposure and vulnerability have increased markedly..."

Photo credit above: "The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, the most expensive disaster in recent history according to the UN." Photograph: Larry W Smith/EPA.

"After Water": How Do You Sleep At Night? How do climate scientists cope? Can you stay scientifically detached, yet optimistic about your kid's future in an uncertain future? Here's an excerpt of a story and audio clip from Chicago Public Media's WBEZ: "...There’s research that backs up Derby’s worry. It shows that if you tell people about a possibly terrible future and you do not give them any sense of hope, they shut down. Scientists worry about that because they want people to act on the research. Morano said almost everyone she spoke to was optimistic technologically and pessimistic politically. “Over and over again people said, we can fix this. But we’re not doing it. And there’s no indication we will.” said Morano. One of the reasons for that political pessimism is because of how we think about time..." (Image credit: NASA).


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