One Of The Best Weeks of Summer Rolls On

I'm relieved and habitually surprised when it's NOT raining these days. A soggy, slurpy sky seems to be the atmosphere's default mode - more years than not.

Certainly this year. July was the 12th wettest since 1872 with 6.5 inches of rain at MSP. Year to date, the Twin Cities are at 24.8 inches; the 6th wettest year on  record as of July 31. Turns out 6 of the 10 wettest January thru July periods at MSP were since 1990. The trend is wetter.

Which makes this week very special: 5-7 dry days in a row? Shocking. Minnesotans may have to turn on their sprinklers by late week. Although a few pop-up thundershowers may sprinkle your lawn for free this weekend. Most of Saturday and Sunday should be sunny, sticky and dry, with highs from 85 to 90F. The best chance of a renegade storm? After the high temperature of the day - around 5 pm - when the atmosphere is most unstable.

Although the epicenter of sauna-like heat remains south of town, we WILL see more 90s by late September.

Don't pack away the short shorts yet. 


Perfectly Average Thursday. Predicted highs and sky conditions courtesy of Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Predicted Rainfall by Sunday Evening. ECMWF guidance shows little or no precipiation for most of central and southern Minnesota between now and late Sunday; the best chance of pop-up thundershowers up north, especially this weekend. Map: WeatherBell.


Stagnant Pattern. Although NOAA's 2-week GFS forecast shows slight relief from the heat for the Great Lakes and New England, much of the USA is forecast to be under the influence of stalled high pressure over the western USA. Stating the obvious: plenty of summer heat left to go.


Year To Date: 6th Wettest Year on Record at MSP.  24.81" of precipitation fell on the Twin Cities from January 1st to July 31st, making it the 6th wettest start to any year on record at MSP. I couldn't help but notice that 6 of the 10 wettest years since 1872 have taken place since 1990.


12th Wettest July on Record at MSP. 6.48" of rain at MSP in July would make it the 12th wettest July on record, according to National Weather Service data.


How Better Weather Forecasts Are Chaning The Way Cities Are Run. A story at Curbed.com caught my eye; here's a snippet: "...The increase in lead time before potentially dangerous events has given weather agencies much more time to communicate risks to residents. Hurricane Harvey, which hit Houston in 2017, ended up dropping a record-breaking 51.88 inches of rain on parts of the city. A dire warning issued by the National Weather Service that conveyed the severity of the predicted rainfall long after the hurricane made landfall was credited with saving lives. But more time is only part of the equation, as illustrated by Hurricane Katrina striking the Gulf Coast in 2005. “We had a pretty good two, or two-and-a-half, day forecast,” says Blum about Katrina. “Technically speaking, that was excellent for the time: It was better than average for the previous decade of hurricane forecasts...”


Ozone Season Lengthens Across Country. Climate Central has details: "Last week, we showed that hot summer temperatures are linked to air stagnation—which is increasing in most of the country. Stagnation traps harmful air pollutants like PM2.5 and ground-level ozone. This week, our new report takes a deeper look at ground-level ozone, the pollutant that exceeds national standards in counties that house 124 million Americans. Unlike natural stratospheric ozone, which protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, ground-level ozone is a pollutant. It forms when heat and sunlight allow the reaction of two other pollutants: nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. These chemicals come from industrial plants, electric utilities, vehicle exhaust, wildfire smoke, and oil and gas extraction. High heat can accelerate this process. The resulting ground-level ozone can build up to unhealthy levels—especially without wind or rain to mix up the air..."


New Bill Aims to Break Cycle of Repeated Flooding and Rebuilding. Definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. That old proverb came to mind reading a post at WPDE.com: "...This is a chance for us to tell local communities that when you have property that has had several losses, there's a chance for you to take a second look and figure out whether that's a place where you need to build something in the future," Scott said. Scott says 1% of properties that have flooded repeatedly have received 33% of the payout from FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). He says that may not sound like a lot-- but it is. From October 2015 to September 2016, the NFIP paid out about $140 million in total claims in South Carolina. Scott says the large portion of that insurance payout that goes to properties that rebuild repeatedly have placed an enormous financial burden on the program, which many flood victims rely on..."

Graphic source: Fourth National Climate Assessment, 2018 and NOAA.


Home Are Being Built the Fastest in Many Flood-Prone Areas, Study Finds. A story at The New York Times left me shaking my head; here's the intro: "In many coastal states, flood-prone areas have seen the highest rates of home construction since 2010, a study found, suggesting that the risks of climate change have yet to fundamentally change people’s behavior. The study, by Climate Central, a New Jersey research group, looked at the 10-year flood risk zone — the area with a 10 percent chance of flooding in any given year — and estimated the zone’s size in 2050. Then the group counted up homes built there since 2010, using data from Zillow, a real estate company. For eight states, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, Mississippi and South Carolina, the percentage increase in homes built in the flood zone exceeded the rate of increase in the rest of the state. There are many reasons construction persists despite the danger..."

Photo credit: "" Jane Beiles for The New York Times.


Record-Breaking Tornado Season is Pummeling Mobile Home Residents. Here's an excerpt of a post at talkpoverty.org: "...Tornadoes in the South can be particularly deadly because there’s a relatively high percentage of the population there living in mobile homes — and most of those homes are spread out in rural areas, meaning lots of people with few options to escape the path of powerful tornadoes. Alabama and the Carolinas are consistently among the top five states with the most residents living in mobile homes — as well as in modular or manufactured housing, which is intended to be in a fixed location, but is similarly dangerous in severe storms. According to the Manufactured Housing Institute, residents of manufactured housing have a median household income of just under $30,000 per year. Protecting these low-income, far-flung populations with limited resources from major storms isn’t easy. That made them a subject of particular interest to researchers involved in a recent University of Maryland study examining mobile homes..."

Graphic above: NOAA SPC.


Behind the Forecast: 5G vs. Accurate Forecast? Hopefully that's a choice we won't have to make, but a story and video at WAVE3 News caught my eye: "Would you trade an accurate weather forecast for the ability to scroll through social media and surf the internet on your phone faster than ever before? Soon, we may be making that choice. In March 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auctioned off the 24-gigahertz frequency band to wireless phone carriers in preparation for the next generation of cell phone service or 5G. The sale netted the United States $2 billion. 5G technology would make our phones more reliable and 100 times faster than on current networks. However, for this to work, there needs to be a move to radio frequencies not currently used for cell phone service. Many meteorologists and other scientists fought this decision because of the potential to unintentionally set weather forecasts back decades..."


Could Renewable Natural Gas Be the Next Big Thing in Renewable Energy? What a load of crap! A post at Yale E360 is a worthy read; here's the intro: "In the next few weeks, construction crews will begin building an anaerobic digester on the Goodrich Family Farm in western Vermont that will transform cow manure and locally sourced food waste into renewable natural gas (RNG), to be sent via pipeline to nearby Middlebury College and other customers willing to pay a premium for low-carbon energy. For the developer, Vanguard Renewables, the project represents both a departure and a strategic bet. The firm already owns and operates five farm-based biogas systems in Massachusetts; each generates electricity on site that is sent to the grid and sold under the state’s net-metering law. The Vermont project, however, is Vanguard’s first foray into producing RNG — biogas that is refined, injected into natural gas pipelines as nearly pure methane, and then burned to make electricity, heat homes, or fuel vehicles..."

Photo credit: "A manure and food waste-to-energy facility at Bar-Way Farm in Deerfield, Massachusetts." Vanguard Renewables.


Parents Are Giving Up Custody of Their Kids to Get Need-Based College Financial Aid. Working the loopholes, or outright fraud. A story from ProPublica may leave you steamed; here's the intro: "Dozens of suburban Chicago families, perhaps many more, have been exploiting a legal loophole to win their children need-based college financial aid and scholarships they would not otherwise receive, court records and interviews show. Coming months after the national “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal, this tactic also appears to involve families attempting to gain an advantage in an increasingly competitive and expensive college admissions system. Parents are giving up legal guardianship of their children during their junior or senior year in high school to someone else — a friend, aunt, cousin or grandparent. The guardianship status then allows the students to declare themselves financially independent of their families so they can qualify for federal, state and university aid, a ProPublica Illinois investigation found..."

Photo credit: "The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus pictured on Monday." (Kristen Norman for ProPublica Illinois).


Scientists Create Contact Lens That Let’s You Zoom In When You Blink Twice. But when can I take a picture by just staring? CNET.com has the amazing story: "It is absolutely the stuff of science fiction: a contact lens that zooms on your command. But scientists at the University of California San Diego have gone ahead and made it a reality. They've created a contact lens, controlled by eye movements, that can zoom in if you blink twice. How is this possible? In the simplest of terms, the scientists measured the electrooculographic signals generated when eyes make specific movements (up, down, left, right, blink, double blink) and created a soft biomimetic lens that responds directly to those electric impulses. The lens created was able to change its focal length depending on the signals generated. Therefore the lens could literally zoom in the blink of an eye..."

Photo credit: "Enhance!" Thomas Trutschel.


Feds Warn UFO Enthusiasts Not to Storm Area 51. CNN reports: "They've got a plan to raid Area 51 and "see them aliens." But what will happen if they actually do it? Over one million people have signed up to a joke Facebook event, calling on users to meet at Area 51, the US Air Force base in Nevada that's long been a source of alien conspiracy theories, in September. The U.S. Air Force is not as lighthearted about the situation as folks on the internet are.  "[Area 51] is an open training range for the U.S. Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces," a spokeswoman told The Washington Post. "The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets..."


80 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

83 F. average high on July 31.

87 F. high on July 31, 2018.

August 1, 1955: A thunderstorm in Becker County dumps a foot of rain at Callaway.


THURSDAY: Partly sunny, mostly nice. Winds: S 7-12. High: 82

FRIDAY: Sticky sunshine. Winds: SE 3-8. Wake-up: 65. High: 86

SATURDAY: Hot sun, late-day T-storm up north. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 67. High: 88

SUNDAY: Lake-worthy. Muggy. Storms north. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 69. High: 88

MONDAY: Hot and sweaty statewide. Winds: SW 10-20. Wake-up: 70. High: 90

TUESDAY: Frontal passage. Few T-showers. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 72. High: 83

WEDNESDAY: Sunny and less humid. Very nice. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 63. High: 82


Climate Stories....

Climate Makes An Appearance At Debate: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: "Climate change made up 11 percent of the questions asked at CNN's first presidential debate Tuesday evening--up from six percent at the NBC debates in June--as moderators first introduced the issue nearly an hour and a half into the debate. Media Matters reports that eight of the 10 candidates onstage were invited by moderators to weigh in on topics including the Green New Deal and eliminating gas-powered cars, while the other two candidates were asked about the Flint water crisis. In keeping with the progressives versus moderates theme seen in other topics at the debate, Media Matters notes that moderators directed their questions initially at some of the centrist candidates onstage, and the questions were structured around the feasibility of progressive proposals like the Green New Deal. As Kate Aronoff writes in The Guardian, little-known candidates John Delaney and John Hickenlooper got more speaking time on Tuesday night than climate change has gotten in all three debates thus far." (Media Matters, Washington Post $, LA Times $, Mother JonesHuffPost, Politico. Commentary: The Guardian, Kate Aronoff op-ed, The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer analysis. Fact checks: AP, Washington Post $).


Audiences Are (Finally) Paying More Attention to Climate Stories. Here's a snippet from a story at Columbia Journalism Review: "...In response to a request from CJR, Hang analyzed climate-related articles in roughly 1,300 media websites worldwide (mostly in North America and Europe) between January 2017 and June 2019. Looking at the first quarter of each year, she found that the number of “engaged minutes” site visitors spent with climate stories in the first quarter of 2019—in other words, the minutes people spent reading—had almost doubled from the time spent in previous years. “The amount of time and attention readers are paying to climate change is strong and growing stronger,” Hang says. The jump in interest has been noticed at the Los Angeles Times, where, over the past year, the average climate story has outperformed average stories in other news sections, in terms of total audience, subscriber audience, and conversions from reader to subscriber..."


Meanwhile, in Boston:


Don't "Demonize" Energy Firms: BP Climate Boss Says Climate Activists Should Avoid Polarizing Society. Decades of industry-funded spin, misinformation and denial also tends to have a polarizing effect. CNBC.com has the story: "...BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley urged climate activists not to “demonize” companies, following several weeks of protests designed to highlight how fossil fuels contribute to climate change. The energy giant has been targeted by climate activist groups on numerous occasions in recent months, with demonstrators increasingly angry about the lack of progress toward a lower carbon future. “I don’t think it helps anything to demonize companies or groups. It gets society polarized and it is really hard to move through big complex problems when you set that up,” BP CEO Bob Dudley told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Tuesday..."


Higher Temperatures = More Stagnant Air. Climate Central explains: "...Heat and stagnation are closely linked. Climate Central analyzed this link using the NOAA/NCEI Air Stagnation Index—which incorporates upper atmospheric winds, surface winds, and precipitation to calculate the daily level of stagnation—and summer high temperatures. Since 1973, 98% of the cities analyzed show a positive correlation between summer high temperatures and the number of summer stagnant days. Only five cities along the California coast lack this correlation;  their local heat comes from downsloping, offshore winds such as the Santa Ana winds, which mix up the air and limit stagnation. However, that doesn’t preclude those cities from having more stagnant days or unhealthy air..."


"Everything is Changing": Farmers Seek Solutions, Not Slogans, On Climate Change. CBS News continues an excellent series; here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...Angel continues, "Some of the ideas being advocated for greenhouse gas reduction, such as a carbon tax or the promotion of a vegan diet, would have significant impacts on farmers. That makes my job of talking to farmers about climate change a lot harder."  To bridge the political and cultural gap on the issue, Adams suggests ditching what he considers the loaded term "climate change" and replacing it with more neutral discussion of extreme weather. "When you stop and talk about it that way, you get more understanding of it than just plain, 'do you believe in climate change?'," he said.  The research supports this. "Terms like 'increasing weather variability,' 'long-term weather patterns' and 'extreme weather events' and their local impacts are less controversial than the topic of climate change," Arbuckle and his Iowa State University colleagues write..."


Climate Scientists Drive Stake Through Heart of Skeptics' Argument. Yes, this time really does appear to be different, driven by man-made emissions. Here's an excerpt of a summary of new research highlighted at NBC News: "Global warming skeptics sometimes say rising temperatures are just another naturally occurring shift in Earth’s climate, like the Medieval Warm Period of the years 800 to 1200 or the Little Ice Age, a period of cooling that spanned from roughly 1300 to 1850. But a pair of studies published Wednesday provides stark evidence that the rise in global temperatures over the past 150 years has been far more rapid and widespread than any warming period in the past 2,000 years — a finding that undercuts claims that today’s global warming isn’t necessarily the result of human activity..."


Greta Setting Sail: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: "Teen Swedish activist Greta Thunberg will sail across the Atlantic to attend a UN climate change summit this fall, she announced on Twitter Monday. Thunberg, who had been seeking a way to travel to the United States without flying, will hitch a ride on the 60ft racing boat Malizia II. Unlike transatlantic flights, which emit enough CO2 to melt 30 square feet of Arctic ice, the boat's solar panels and underwater turbines enable it to make zero-emissions journeys." (New York Times $, CNN, The Guardian, APReuters, CBSGizmodo)


Ethiopia Breaks Tree-Planting Record to Tackle Climate Change. BBC News reports: "Ethiopia has planted more than 350 million trees in a day, officials say, in what they believe is a world record. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is leading the project, which aims to counter the effects of deforestation and climate change in the drought-prone country. Some public offices have been shut down to allow civil servants to take part. The UN says Ethiopia's forest coverage declined from 35% of total land in the early 20th Century to a little above 4% in the 2000s..."

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