Official Winter Outlook: "Colder With Some Snow"
We want so badly to know the future. Which leaves us vulnerable to people and organizations that profit from the unknowable: Pentagon think tanks, get-rich-quick investment scams, and long-range weather guessers.
Full disclosure: I do have a copy of the Farmers' Almanac. It's a curiosity; fun to flip through - great stories and interesting observations. But there's no real evidence they can predict winter weather months in advance.
The forecast for the upcoming winter? "Cold, moderate snowfall. Not as harsh as usual." Harsh? Lately, 1 in 4 winters have been old-fashioned Minnesota butt-kickers. A 4-8 month outlook is like fantasy football, for weather. Buyer beware. The 7-Day Outlook is challenging enough.
Your drip-dries are drooping after last night's soaking. Showers begin to taper today, but a few more T-storms bubble up tomorrow. Mercifully we get a break this weekend with sunshine and mid-80s (insert applause here) before more T-storms rumble into town Monday. The ECMWF model suggests a significant risk of clouds/rain for Monday's eclipse.
What can possibly go wrong?
* Details on yesterday's tornadoes and excessive 3-4" rains below...
Touchdown. Here is the tornado that spun up around Nicollet shortly after 5 PM yesterday, one of as many as 4-6 tornadoes that formed late yesterday along an active frontal boundary moving from south to north. Instability was marginal, but moisture and low-level wind shear was sufficient to spin up a series of tornadoes. Unusual for mid-August but hardly unprecedented.
Tornado Reports. The list above is a bit misleading; some of these were the same tornado, observed from different locations. NOAA SPC will be updating the list as the day goes on and more information comes in.
Rotation. The Storm Relative Velocity signature (SRV) at 7:50 PM yesterday showed strong rotation near Prior Lake. There were reports of debris on Highway 212 - I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear of a touch down between Prior Lake and Shakopee.
Not Your Typical Tornadoes. Most tornadic storms track from southwest to northeast. Most, but not all. Yesterday's cells drifted north, even a little west of north. An animation from yesterday (7:50 to 8:15 PM) showed direction of motion and the cell that caused so much concern over the southwest suburbs.
Velocity Couplet. Here is what the Doppler velocity field looked like last night at 7:44 PM; hard to miss the couplet just west of Prior Lake. Again, what was surreal was a lack of thunder/lightning with these severe storms. Highly unusual - trying to track down a reasonable explanation why this was the case.
Unusual for Mid-August. As much as 4-6" of rain for parts of central and southwestern Minnesota? To put that into perspective that's nearly 2 month's worth of rain in less than 24 hours for some communities, the result of a very slow-moving storm causing rain to linger for an unusually long time over an unusually large expanse of real estate. Map above: Twin Cities National Weather Service.
Flood Watch. Not a flash flood watch, but a flood watch, a subtle but important distinction. Flash floods are produced by thunderstorms (in most cases) dumping extreme amounts of rain over a short period of time. Flood watches imply a longer-duration event, with more potential impact on creeks and rivers. The Flood Watch expires at noon today. Map: AerisWeather AMP.
Slow-Moving Storm Floods Upper Midwest. Some half-foot rainfall amounts are possible over central Minnesota this morning before the rain finally tapers, a pinwheel of moisture swirling into the Great Lakes and eventually New England. The trend is for drier weather to push into central USA in the coming days; a brief respite from the ongoing storm-parade east of the Rockies. 84-hour NAM model: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.
Flashes of Summer Warmth by Sunday. Today will be cool and damp as showers slowly taper, but a more lake-worthy spell of weather is shaping up for the weekend with highs in the 80s. ECMWF (European) guidance shows a cooling trend in time for the start of the Minnesota State Fair. Data: WeatherBell.
Monday Cloud Cover Outlook. The map above, valid 1 pm central time Monday, shows NOAA's latest prediction of cloud cover percentages; the best chance of eclipse-obscuring clouds over the Upper Mississippi Valley, the Southeast and 4-corners region of the Southwest. Check it out for yourself here.
The Worst Things That Could Go Wrong During the Total Solar Eclipse - And How to Be Prepared. The Washington Post reports; at the top of the list: "...Looking directly at the sun during the eclipse without proper eyewear would harm your eyes “like a magnifying glass on a leaf,” as one optometrist put it to The Washington Post’s Angela Fritz. Fritz reports: “Depending on the sky conditions, it only takes about a minute and a half for your eyes to be permanently damaged, and the damage is cumulative, meaning you don’t have to stare at the sun without looking away for it to be harmful — you may just be taking quick glances, but it’s still damaging your eye.” We are going to keep saying this, and saying this, and saying this: If you plan on viewing the eclipse, you will need to wear protective glasses. Regular sunglasses won’t do..."
Image credit: "Capital Weather Gang’s Angela Fritz explains what could happen to your eyes if you were to watch the Aug. 21 eclipse without special sunglasses and how to spot the ones that work." (Claritza Jimenez, Daron Taylor, Angela Fritz/The Washington Post)
Twin Cities Solar Eclipse: Path, Time, Duration and Weather. Here's an excerpt from Patch.com: "The of this solar eclipse will not be visible in Minnesota, but it can be observed here as a partial solar eclipse, according to timeanddate.com. The Moon will cover a large portion of the Sun, and it will be an amazing sight regardless.
Here's when it will happen in the Twin Cities:
- Starts: Aug. 21 at 11:43 a.m.
- Maximum point in Minneapolis: Aug. 21 at 1:06 p.m.
- Ends: Aug. 21, 2017 at 2:29 p.m.
What It Takes to Chase the Total Eclipse From Coast to Coast. CNET.com provides interesting perspective: "...According to Xavier Jubier's very useful total eclipse map, the shadow will be moving fastest when it hits the coast of Oregon in the morning at a speed of over 2,400 miles per hour (3,862 km/h). At that velocity, your only hope of keeping up with the eclipse would be a flight in one of world's fastest fighter jets. Because of the geometry of the Earth's surface, the eclipse shadow moves faster at the start and end of its path and at its slowest in the middle. That means that near the point of greatest eclipse in Kentucky, it will "slow down" to a mere 1,448 mph (2,330 km/h), which is just a little bit faster than the top speed of the commercial Concorde jet..."
Photo credit: "" Stephen Shankland/CNET.
Farmer's Almanac Outlook for Winter of 2018. Suspend your disbelief; let's light a candle and look out 4-8 months into the future! Good luck with that. Hey, I like to check out the winter outlook as much as anyone else, but please don't refer to this as a forecast or even a trend. There's no peer-reviewed science explaining the methodology involved, and the track record isn't particularly good. But it's fun to look at. Kind of like fantasy football - for weather: Here's an excerpt of a summary from Farmers' Almanac: "...Cold conditions are back! According to the Farmers’ Almanac’s 200-year-old formula, this winter is expected to be a bit more “normal” as far as the temperatures are concerned, especially in the eastern and central parts of the country–chiefly those areas to the east of the Rocky Mountains–with many locations experiencing above-normal precipitation...Break out the space heaters, umbrellas, and warm socks, because the Southeast will see below normal winter temperatures with an unseasonable chill reaching as far south as the Gulf Coast, with above-average precipitation. From the Great Lakes into the Northeast, snowier-than-normal conditions are expected. We can hear the skiers, boarders, and snowmobilers cheering from here!..."
July 2017 Ties July 2016 for Hottest Month on Record. NASA has details: "July 2017 was statistically tied with July 2016 as the warmest July in the 137 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. Last month was about 0.83 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean July temperature of the 1951-1980 period. Only July 2016 showed a similarly high temperature (0.82 °C), all previous months of July were more than a tenth of a degree cooler..."
Map credit: "A global map of the June 2017 LOTI (land-ocean temperature index) anomaly, relative to the 1951-1980 June average."
3 Tornadoes in 3 States, But No Warnings. What Happened? A story at USA TODAY caught my eye: "One tornado tossed a car like a toy, another reduced buildings to rubble, a third shredded trees to splinters. Three recent tornadoes hit three different states — New York, Oklahoma, and Maryland — yet no tornado warnings were issued before any of the twisters touched down. Do we have a problem? The National Weather Service, the federal agency that issues tornado warnings, says no. "There's no headline here," said Greg Schoor, acting severe weather program leader for the weather service, noting that they were all separate, unrelated events. "They were three examples of low-end tornadoes, and are not representative of what's going on nationally," he said, referring to how well the agency does with tornado warnings overall..."
Photo credit: "A tornado that swept through Tulsa, Oklahoma on Sunday injured at least 30 people, and severely damaged many businesses near the city's midtown. (August 7)." AP.
Does Rain Increase Joint Pain? Researchers Say No. NBC News takes a look at new research: "...The most widely accepted theory by medical professionals is that changes in barometric pressure also known as the weight of the air, can cause expansion and contraction of tendons, muscles, and bones, resulting in joint pain. Low temperatures, which may also increase the thickness of joint fluids, can also contribute to the pain that many experience. Still, the association between rainy or damp conditions and joint pain has not generated conclusive results. “I think science supports these theories, but the research has been conflicting,” says NBC News medical contributor and rheumatologist, Dr. Natalie Azar. “There have been a fair number of studies that have looked at this but the results have been inconsistent..."
There's Plague in Arizona. Authorities Warn of Fleas That Can Infect People and Pets. The Washington Post has more details: "Public health officials in two Arizona counties are warning residents about the discovery of plague bacteria, an endemic concern among those who live in the American Southwest but unsettling, nonetheless, given the disease's devastating impact on human history. Navajo and Coconino counties are adjacent to one another, and in each community the findings are identical: Fleas carrying Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague, were discovered this month and pose a potentially grave threat to people and their pets, especially cats..."
Graphic credit: "
How to Shelter From Fallout After a Nuclear Attack on Your City. Nothing any of us want to contemplate, but under the old Boy Scout motto of "be prepared" here's an excerpt from io9: "Terrorists have detonated a low-yield nuclear warhead in your city. How long should you hide, and where, to avoid the worst effects of radioactive fallout? We talked to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory atmospheric scientist Michael Dillon to find out. Yesterday Dillon published a paper on this topic in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A. He's spent his career researching how the government should respond to disasters with an airborne component, whether that's a chemical accident, an epidemic, or nuclear fallout. After poring over dozens of studies on how fallout behaves, and analyzing as many factors as possible related to urban detonations, he's come up with a disaster plan that he hopes can be implemented by first responders working with governments from the local to the federal level..."
Beer Is The Greenest Beverage. I'll drink to that. Nexus Media has the story: "...Some beer makers have found creative ways to conserve resources. In Hawaii, where freshwater supplies are limited, Kona Brewing uses condensation collected from its air conditioner to water the habaneros and chives used in its small-batch beers. In Alaska, dairy farms are hard to come by, so instead of selling its used malt as cattle feed, Alaskan Brewing uses its spent grain to fuel a steam boiler. Magnolia Brewing and 21st Amendment in San Francisco, by contrast, send their leftovers to ReGrained, a startup that turns old malt into beer-themed snack bars. Since even the most efficient breweries generate a certain amount of waste and pollution, some beer makers have sought ways to compensate. Last year, Brooklyn Brewery worked with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant trees across hundreds of acres of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. The trees will soak up carbon dioxide, offsetting pollution generated by the brewery’s Williamsburg, Brooklyn operation..."
Photo credit: "Solar panels at Sierra Nevada’s California facility." Source: Sierra Nevada
Why 88,000 American Jobs in Solar Energy Are At Risk. TheHill has details: "...Overall job growth in the solar industry is one of the brightest spots in the economy — and smart job growth policy should account for this matured market. Earlier this month, my organization CRES Forum, held a panel discussion to get into the weeds and understand exactly what jobs in the solar industry look like, how the U.S. solar industry is linked to the global economy and why the case before the commission matters. We learned that in 2016, there were over 260,000 jobs in the U.S. solar industry. One in every 50 new jobs created was in the industry, which is growing at 12 times the rate the rest of the economy. And growth in the solar industry is estimated to eventually lead to one million new jobs created across the supply chain through 2050..."
File image: Electrek.
End of the Checkout Line: The Looming Crisis for American Cashiers. The Guardian has details on disruption now underway: "...A recent analysis by Cornerstone Capital Group suggests that 7.5 million retail jobs – the most common type of job in the country – are at “high risk of computerization”, with the 3.5 million cashiers likely to be particularly hard hit. Another report, by McKinsey, suggests that a new generation of high tech grocery stores that automatically charge customers for the goods they take – no check-out required – and use robots for inventory and stocking could reduce the number of labor hours needed by nearly two-thirds. It all translates into millions of Americans’ jobs under threat..."
Photo credit: "A cashier, left, checks out items as a customer shops during the grand opening of the Whole Foods supermarket in Newark, New Jersey." Photograph: Julio Cortez/AP
The Case Against Free Speech for Fascists. Quartz has food for thought; here's a clip: "...Free speech absolutism is a faith. Though people marshal pragmatic arguments on its behalf, the real argument is a moral one. The ACLU and Greenwald are committed to free speech for all because free speech is their most important ideal—it is the good thing from which equality, freedom, and all other good things flow. For people who see themselves as anti-racists and anti-fascists first, however, the insistence that free speech will save us all rings somewhat hollow after this weekend. Given limited energy and resources, maybe defending the rights of violent bigots isn’t the noble choice in every case—especially when those bigots predictably use their platform to silence others. Free speech absolutists insist that free speech is the foundation of anti-fascism. But maybe anti-fascism is the basis of true free speech—in which case, defending the speech of bigots can, at least in some cases, leave us all less free."
Photo credit: Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share via Reuters.
Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? Are we really on the brink of a teen mental health meltdown related to smartphones and social media? Here's an excerpt from The Atlantic: "...More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been. They’re markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking’s attendant ills. Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones. Even when a seismic event—a war, a technological leap, a free concert in the mud—plays an outsize role in shaping a group of young people, no single factor ever defines a generation. Parenting styles continue to change, as do school curricula and culture, and these things matter. But the twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever..."
Illustration credit: Jasu Hu.
Apparently Friends Bring You More Health and Happiness Than Your Family. Marie Claire has details of a new study: "...And new research from Michigan State University underline this fact by saying ‘friends are a conscious choice.’ Running over two studies with 300,000 participants from the ages of 15 up to 99 from around the world, the conclusion showed that those who put a high value on friendships were happier and healthier in general...The research also concluded that those with strong social bonds increased their odds of living long by 50% because they can be a buffer against stress and can raise self-esteem – which is why we instinctually stop being friends with people who don’t feel good for us..."
2017's Best and Worst States to Grow Old. A story at caring.com caught my (aging) eye: "...Seniors need to consider everything from affordability to quality healthcare access, long-term care options, a variety of senior care services, and overall quality of life. Based on a comprehensive study incorporating senior living community reviews, nursing home costs, elderly well-being assessments and more, Caring.com has assembled its annual list of states that offer the best – and worst -- mixture of senior services, affordability, and overall quality of care for seniors. Unlike many roundups of “best places” for seniors to live, our survey was designed to capture the factors that make a state a healthy, affordable environment for the elderly..."
Map credit: Highcharts.com.
Insect Burgers. Swiss Supermarket to Sell Bug-Based Food. Pass. Here's an excerpt from Deutsche Welle: "...Coop, Switzerland's second-largest supermarket chain, announced on Monday it will start selling insect-based food for humans later this month, making it the first grocer to do so in the Alpine nation. The offered products are made of protein-rich meal worm produced by Swiss start-up Essento. The items will be sold in select Coop branches across Switzerland, including Geneva, Bern and Zurich. The decision comes after Switzerland revised its food safety laws in May, paving the way for the production and distribution of insect-based food, including "insect balls" and insect burgers (pictured above)..."
81 F. average Twin Cities high on August 16.
86 F. maximum temperature on August 16, 2016.
August 17, 1946: A tornado kills 11 people in the Mankato area around 6:52PM. A 27-ton road grader is hurled about 100 feet. Another tornado an hour later destroys downtown Wells.
TODAY: Showers slowly taper, breezy, cool and damp. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 71
THURSDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy with fog developing. Low: 60
FRIDAY: Early fog, few PM T-storms bubble up. Winds: NW 5-10. High: 78
SATURDAY: Partly sunny, better outdoor day. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 63. High: 82
SUNDAY: Hazy sun, feels like summer again. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 66. High: 85
MONDAY: More clouds, few T-storms around. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 68. High: 83
TUESDAY: Damp start, then slow clearing. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 65. High: 81
WEDNESDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 60. High: 80
Does Climate Change Cause Extreme Weather Events? A warmer climate correlates with hotter heat waves, more intense rainfall and deeper, more severe drought - but a causal connection with other forms of extreme weather isn't always possible. Here's an excerpt from Smithsonian.com: "...Thanks to advances in supercomputing and pooling hundreds of climate models developed by researchers across the world, they are also more statistically confident than ever in saying that intense storms, droughts and record-breaking heat waves are occurring with increased frequency because of humans. “Ten years ago we wouldn’t have been able to do so,” says Ken Kunkel, a climate scientist at North Carolina State University who also works with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But teasing apart individual weather events is harder. The planet’s history is dotted with unexpected, prolonged heat waves and sudden damaging storms far before humans began pumping out greenhouse gases. “The big challenge is that these kind of extreme events have always happened,” says Kunkel, whose work focuses on heavy storms that cause considerable damage in the U.S. But, he says, “Can you say, ‘This event was caused by global warming? No...'”
Trump Has Broad Power to Block Climate Change Report. ProPublica has details: "...In many ways, the 669-page “Climate Science Special Report” is utterly unremarkable. It is a review of existing science that concludes human activities are largely responsible for the warming of the planet. Worsening climatic and coastal impacts are almost inevitable unless the world’s industrial nations significantly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Its contents came as no surprise to foes or supporters of polices aimed at cutting climate-warming emissions. Earlier drafts, with the same basic conclusions as those in the submitted document, had been publicly posted and in wide review since January. What makes the report significant now is the challenge it poses to a White House that has been moving aggressively to reverse the Obama administration’s policies and rules on climate change. So far, the Trump administration has begun withdrawing the U.S. from the 2015 Paris Agreement, cut relevant environmental agency budgets and removed from some government websites language describing the risks of unabated global warming..."
Case for Climate Change Grows Ever Stronger. Here's the intro of an Op-Ed from the Editorial Board at USA TODAY: "Could proof grow any more powerful that humanity is responsible for a dangerously warming planet? Scientists studying Earth's atmosphere and oceans are finding ever more troubling evidence. Last year was the hottest on record, according to a report late last week from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report, by more than 450 scientists from 60 nations, also found that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and global sea levels are at their highest levels on record. Just as troubling were draft findings destined for the quadrennial National Climate Assessment. Scientists from 13 federal agencies found that a rapid rise in temperatures since the 1980s in the United States represents the warmest period in 1,500 years..."
138 Dormant Volcanoes Under Antarctica's Ice. A story at Quartz made me do a double-take: "...The big question is: how active are these volcanoes? That is something we need to determine as quickly as possible,” Robert Bingham, one of the author’s of the paper told The Guardian. “Anything that causes the melting of ice—which an eruption certainly would—is likely to speed up the flow of ice into the sea.” The connection could work the other way around too, according to Bill McGuire, author of Waking the Giant: How a changing climate triggers earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. Looking at historical records, McGuire said in a previous interview that melting ice caps could cause the Earth’s top layer to “bounce back” and trigger volcanoes..."
Photo credit: "Hidden monsters." (Reuters/Mark Baker).
Explaining the Lack of Rain in Spain (and Italy). The Economist looks at larger forces driving a hotter, drier climate for the Mediterranean: "...Nor, surprisingly, have scientists agreed on whether the intensity and frequency of droughts is increasing in Europe. Against a background of global warming, that might seem inevitable. But since evaporation (from sea, lakes and rivers) and evapotranspiration (from the land) lead to increased rainfall, higher temperatures do not necessarily cause more droughts. Problems do arise if the offsetting rainfall is unevenly distributed—as seems to be the case in Europe. Evidence has mounted over the past 30-odd years of a shift towards wetter winters in northern Europe and, says Mr Vogt, of “drier conditions in the Mediterranean, especially in spring and summer, the critical times of year for drought”. Gregor Gregoric, who co-ordinates the Drought Management Centre for Southeastern Europe, says that since the 1980s that region has suffered a significant drought on average every five years. Even his lush Slovenian homeland has been hit..." (Photo credit: EPA).
Climate-Risk Disclosure Moves Up Priority List at Vanguard. Pensions & Investments has more details: "Vanguard Group announced Monday that its investment stewardship team has made climate-risk disclosure a priority over the past year. The announcement came as Vanguard disclosed in a news release that money manager Walden Asset Management withdrew a shareholder proposal submitted to some Vanguard mutual funds seeking a report on proxy-voting policies related to climate change. "Climate change represents an evolving set of risks and opportunities for companies in many sectors. Vanguard has prioritized climate risk on our engagement agenda, and we have discussed the topic with more companies over the past year than ever before," said Glenn Booraem, investment stewardship officer, in the release..."
The Year Trump Was Elected Was So Hot, It Was 1-in-a-Million. The Guardian explains the odds: "2014, 2015, and 2016 each broke the global temperature record. A new study led by climate scientist Michael Mann just published in Geophysical Research Letters used climate model simulations to examine the odds that these records would have been set in a world with and without human-caused global warming. In model simulations without a human climate influence, the authors concluded:
- There’s a one-in-a-million chance that 2014, 2015, and 2016 would each have been as hot as they were if only natural factors were at play.
- There’s a one-in-10,000 chance that 2014, 2015, and 2016 would all have been record-breaking hot years.
- There’s a less than 0.5% chance of three consecutive record-breaking years happening at any time since 2000..."
File photo: Brad Birkholz.