I'm happy to be tracking a few red blobs on Doppler - a thundery pattern lingers into Wednesday, the worst of the heat and humidity shoved just south of Minnesota this week. If the sun stays out for a few hours (possible, not likely) 90 is still possible thru Thursday, but we'll all feel a little relief from the heat & humidity later this week. More on the nagging drought gripping much of the USA, and a must-read article on climate change at The Rolling Stone by Bill McKibbin. Have a good one - "thunderwear" recommended as you wander out the door today - watch for a few strong to potentially severe storms later.
Updated: July 24, 2012 - 9:31 PM
Severe Storm Watch. NOAA SPC has issued a watch for much of central and northern Minnesota until 4 am - it includes Fargo/Moorhead, Alexandria, Brainerd and Detroit Lakes, calling for the possibility of large hail (1-2" diameter) and wind gusts over 60 mph. Details:
URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH NUMBER 516 NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK 910 PM CDT TUE JUL 24 2012 THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF NORTHWEST AND NORTH-CENTRAL MINNESOTA EASTERN NORTH DAKOTA EFFECTIVE THIS TUESDAY NIGHT AND WEDNESDAY MORNING FROM 910 PM UNTIL 400 AM CDT. HAIL TO 2 INCHES IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 70 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS. THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 55 STATUTE MILES NORTH AND SOUTH OF A LINE FROM 80 MILES WEST SOUTHWEST OF FARGO NORTH DAKOTA TO 15 MILES EAST NORTHEAST OF BRAINERD MINNESOTA. FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE ASSOCIATED WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU6). REMEMBER...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS. SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAN AND OCCASIONALLY DO PRODUCE TORNADOES. OTHER WATCH INFORMATION...CONTINUE...WW 514...WW 515... DISCUSSION...ELEVATED TSTMS HAVE RECENTLY DEVELOPED SE JMS...TO THE N OF SURFACE FRONT...LIKELY BEING FORCED BY INCREASING WAA/ISENTROPIC ASCENT WITHIN EXIT REGION OF STRENGTHENING NOCTURNAL LOW-LEVEL JET. BASED ON 00Z ABR SOUNDING...AMBIENT ENVIRONMENT IS CHARACTERIZED BY STEEP MIDLEVEL LAPSE RATES AND MUCAPE OF 3000-3500 J/KG. WHEN COUPLED WITH 40-45 KT OF EFFECTIVE-BULK SHEAR...SETUP WILL BE SUPPORTIVE OF SUPERCELLS CAPABLE OF LARGE HAIL AND PERHAPS LOCALLY DAMAGING WIND GUSTS. AVIATION...A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL SURFACE AND ALOFT TO 2 INCHES. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE WIND GUSTS TO 60 KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO 500. MEAN STORM MOTION VECTOR 28020.
Happy To See Red. It's a bit hard to read, but all those red smears imply at least 3" of rain in just the last 24 hours. The map above shows Doppler radar-estimated rainfall amounts; some 1-2" amounts for the southern suburbs, 2.5" amounts in Wright county, closer to 3" in Glenwood as storms continue to fire up along a stalled frontal boundary. Another 1" or more of rain may soak farms and gardens, with the best chance of heavy rain tonight and Wednesday over central Minnesota.
Severe Threat Up North. An approaching storm will destabilize the atmosphere, sparking strong to severe storms across the Dakotas, reaching Minnesota after 11 pm. A storm can't be ruled out in the MSP metro, but the probability is much higher over central and northern Minnesota overnight. NWS Doppler at 9:31 pm.
96 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
83 F. average high for July 23. It's fallen one degree since early July.
85 F. high on July 23, 2011.
23 days at or above 90 F. this year in the Twin Cities.
+7.4 F. July temperatures are running over 7 F. warmer than average in the metro, to date.
Slight severe storm risk today over central and southern Minnesota.
Nagging Boundary. The 3:30 pm visible (WeatherTap) satellite loop shows evidence of a lingering frontal boundary just south and west of the MSP metro - more strong to potentially severe storms are likely later this afternoon into the nighttime hours. South of the front the sun should be out much of the afternoon, boosting the mercury well into the 90s again.
Slight Relief. After reaching upper 80s to near 90 (with a few hours of sun) today through Thursday temperatures cool off slightly Friday, before warming again over the weekend. No more 100-degree days in sight, but we may come close to 90 again Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Graphic above: ECMWF model.
10" rain fell on the Twin Cities July 23, 1987 (9.15" of that fell in 5 hours). It was the largest rainfall event in Twin Cities history. Details below.
Bejing: heaviest rain in 6 decades impacting an estimated 2 million residents; the Chinese government is now under intense criticism for not doing a better job of warning citizens about the impending flood - details below from The Christian Science Monitor. Photo: Weather Underground.
3.7 x 10-00. "June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe." - from a Bill McKibbin article at The Rolling Stone; details below. Photo: NASA.
"A recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that by century’s end, climate change will lead to more than 150,000 extra heat-related deaths in the U.S., and a 2010 article in Environmental Health Perspectives that looked just at Chicago projected between 166 and 2,217 extra deaths every year during the last two decades of the century." - from a story below focused on excessive heat and increasing mortality among the elderly from Climate Central.
"Writing in journal Nature, 22 researchers from the field of paleontology, ecology, geology, and population biology equate mankind’s unkind impact on the planet to global events millions of years ago that caused mass extinctions. “Humans are now forcing another such transition, with the potential to transform Earth rapidly and irreversibly into a state unknown in human experience,” wrote the authors." - excerpt from an article at takepart.com; details below.
An Interview With Local Climate Scientist John Abraham. Details below the 7-Day.
Monday Record Highs:
106 F. Topeka, Kansas
109 F. Valentine, Nebraska
104 F. North Platte, Nebraska
105 F. Omaha, Nebraska
99 F. Mason City, Iowa
102 F. Indianapolis, Indiana
Shocking Satellite Images Of How Drought Is Impacting U.S. Crops. Covestor.com has the story - here's an excerpt: "These maps just released from the Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory at Kansas State University and Farm Futures show the impact of this summer's severe heat wave and drought on U.S. crops. They're based on satellite data taken over a two-week period. Here's a comparison of this year's vegetation to the 23-year average for this period (brown indicates 'decreased biomass' and green indicates 'increased biomass)."
5-Day Rainfall Outlook. NOAA HPC's latest rainfall outlook shows the best chance of heavy showers and storms over the northern tier states from Minnesota's Arrowhead and the U.P. of Michigan into upstate New York. The drought continues to worsen over the Central Plains.
Welcome Rain. Tricking these T-storms is an act of futility (best chance tends to come nighttime hours into the early morning hours - another threat around the dinner hour. Models are hinting at well over an inch of rain for the MSP metro from now through Wednesday; a relatively dry spell from Thursday into Saturday.
Best Chance Of Soaking Rains: Up North. The latest NAM model prints out some 2" amounts from near Brainerd to Duluth, closer to .50 to .75" for the immediate metro area.
Child Deaths In Hot Vehicles Rise To 14 After Incidents In Texas, West Virginia. A reminder not to even think of leaving a kid in a car seat, even for a few minutes. The Jackson Examiner, Johnny Kelly, has more details on recent (preventable) tragedies: "The 2012 death toll from children being left in hot vehicles has sadly reached 14 after two separate incidents since Friday in Texas and West Virginia. Authorities say a 3-year-old boy died after being left in daycare center van in Dallas, Texas on Friday. According to NBC 5-TV, Dallas Fire-Rescue received the call from Little T's Tiny Tot Daycare, just before 5:15 p.m. CT."
"Dallas police Lt. Scott Walton said the little boy was left in a hot van outside the daycare after a field trip for possibly over two hours. The child was given CPR as he was transported to Baylor Hospital but doctors pronounced him dead at the hospital."
As Climate Change Worsens Elderly Face Deadly Heat. The story from Climate Central; here's an excerpt: "The summer of 2012 isn’t even half over, and already the U.S. has been hit with two crushing heat waves, and in both cases, the searing temperatures have literally been lethal. Public health-workers know all too well that whenever the mercury soars, people die — especially the elderly, whose bodies are less resilient to stress than those of younger folks. Climate change is only going to make things worse: as the planet warms over the coming century, climatologists project that heat waves will only get worse. That’s on top of a population that continues to age overall, expanding the number of likely victims."
Photo credit above: "flickr/Matt McGee".
Beijing Floods Unleash Online Criticism Of Government. Here's an update on the recent (record) flash flooding in Beijing and the political consequences for China at The Christian Science Monitor: "For 16 hours on Saturday, sheets of unrelenting rain pummeled China’s capital, reportedly the heaviest storm in six decades. By Sunday, Pan Anjun, deputy chief of the Beijing flood control headquarters, had tallied the damage. As the Chinese newswire Xinhua reported: At least 37 people had died in storm-related damage or events, including 25 who drowned, six who were trapped in collapsing buildings, five who were electrocuted by fallen power lines, and one who was struck by lightning. 500 flights into or out of Beijing Capital Airport were canceled. 736 homes were flooded. 66,000 residents in the hardest-hit areas had been temporarily located, many from the suburban district of Fangshan. At least 31 roads or bridges had collapsed. All told, Mr. Pan estimated 2 million people were affected..."
Photo credit above: "A car damaged by floods is seen after heavy rainfalls hit Zhou Kou Dian Village, Fangshan district, near Beijing July 22. The Chinese capital's heaviest rainstorm in six decades killed at least 37 people, flooded streets and stranded 80,000 people at the main airport, state media and the government said on Sunday." REUTERS
1987 Twin Cities "Super Storm". On July 23, 1987 over 10" of rain soaked the southern suburbs - shutting down I-494 for a couple hours with flash floods. Thousands were impacted by the severe thunderstorms, a "train echo effect" that produced 3 months of rain in one long evening. More details from Wikipedia: "The largest flash flood in Twin Cities history occurred on July 23–July 24, 1987. Dubbed locally The Super Storm, more rain fell from this event than any other in recorded Twin Cities history. The storm caused damage to 9,000 homes, killed two people, and caused $27 million in damage. Some areas in the southern metro area recorded 11 inches (279 mm) of rain. The 9.15 inches (232 mm) that fell on July 23 is the largest official single-day rainfall for the Twin Cities. Overall, at least 10 inches (254 mm) of rain fell over 93 square miles (241 sq miles), and at least 4 inches (100 mm) fell over 1,460 square miles (3,781 square miles). This event was voted the eighth most significant weather event in the state of Minnesota during the 20th century. Three days before this event on July 20–July 21, up to 9 inches (230 mm) of rain fell over some of these same areas. These two storms combined to help the Twin Cities to their wettest summer on record, with 23.52 inches (597 mm) of rain falling from June to August."
Here are a few videos of the event, courtesy of Tom Oszman at TCMediaNow:
"Super Storm" Coverage
KARE-TV Sunrise (with Paul)
KARE-TV Evening Coverage (with Paul)
WCCO's Debbie Ely in standing flood water night of the storm
"Thought some of this might be enjoyable on the blog being (July 23) is the anniversary." - Tom Oszman.
Anatomy Of A "SuperStorm". The Minnesota Climatology Working Group has more on the 25th anniversary of the SuperStorm here: "Any resident over the age of 30 who lived in the Twin Cities remember where they were on July 23, 1987. The largest rainfall event in Twin Cities' history began in the late evening and within six hours, ten inches of rain fell at the Twin Cities International Airport, causing massive flooding especially in the southern and western parts of the metro."
Tricia's Gardening Tips. With the dry conditions in place I asked Master Gardener Tricia Frostad for a few tips on what people can be doing in their own gardens. Here is her advice:
"One way to reduce stress on your lawn is to let your grass grow longer. Many of us have Kentucky Bluegrass, and it should be kept to a height of at least 3". Taller grass will help shield the soil and conserve moisture. It will also reduce weeds (which by the way also take up moisture, so keep your gardens weeded as well).
It is always more efficient to water early in the morning or in the evening. In the garden, drop irrigation or soaker hoses generally do a much better job of watering at the base of plants, where the water is needed. Deep watering allows the plants to develop longer roots, which will help sustain them much better in dry weather than more shallow roots, which can occur from frequent short waterings. Typically plants require about 1" of water per week, however, in this hot, dry weather, you will need to apply that inch more than weekly.
One clever trick I've learned is to take an empty milk container and poke about 10 small holes in the lower side with a pin. Fill it with water and set it next to your larger plants (like tomatoes). This method works much like a soaker hose to ensure that roots get watered.
The most important factor for conserving water in hot weather? Mulch! You want about a 3-4" layer of mulch around plants to preserve moisture and prevent the ground for becoming hard and dry.
Remember too that droopy leaves on a hot afternoon are not always cause for alarm. In hot sunlight some plants can close their stomata to reduce transpiration. It's like a natural defense mechanism. Once the sun goes down and air temperatures cool, the plants will resume their normal functions and the leaves will perk up."
Thanks Tricia. Some good and timely advice.
"Ask Paul". Weather-related Q&A:
"I had a small argument with some friends of mine Saturday night that I would like you to clear up. A small storm was in Marshal, MN, and coming toward us here in Mankato. They saw lightning and said "that's heat lightning". I told them that's a misnomer and said it's from a storm in the distance. They had their fancy iPhone and replied that there is such a thing. Well, I disagree.
What's your stance on this? Thanks in advance."
Greg - you won that bet. You're absolutely right. On a clear night it's possible to see flashes of lightning hundreds of miles away, reflecting off haze and high cirrus clouds. But thunder is rarely heard more than 10 miles away. There is no such thing as "heat lightning". It is simply the flash of distant lightning - too far away to hear the thunder. Good work!
"I have really enjoyed your blog and your Star Tribune page. I think meteorology and the natural world are fascinating. I’m sure you don’t want to hear this, but to me at least, the constant daily discussion on climate change is depressing. Is it real? Quite possibly it is. I don’t know. I’m not a climate scientist and I do not spend my time reviewing the science. Call me an ostrich if you want, but it upsets and depresses me to think about it. There is so much unhappiness and bad news in the world. Maybe I am overly sensitive, but it all really gets to me and brings me down. I don’t know if man is responsible for the apparent climate change. Quite probably he is, as mankind has done disastrous things to our planet. On the other hand, we know from science and history that climate change has occurred previously- even before humans were on the earth. So is this all because of man, or is it a combination of things?
I’m not disagreeing with your beliefs. I’m saying that your beliefs can be extremely depressing. What can I do about stopping climate change? What can I do about a lot of ills in the world? Like everyone, I have my beliefs and causes that I support with time and money. I do my best to do what I can to live in a green way, but I am tired of feeling guilty because I am not making stopping climate change my top priority – not that I would be particularly effective anyway. I respect your opinions and knowledge, I just don’t want to read about the impending disaster Every Single Day. As I said, it makes me feel hopeless and that it will happen anyway, no matter what I do or don’t do. I have really enjoyed your blog, but I can’t take the daily diet of gloom.
What about publicly designating a day or two a week when you will not write about climate change and will focus on other interesting topics? I try to skip over climate change in your blog, but it’s hard not to see it and then start feeling beyond sad."
Kathleen - I really struggle with this, more than you know. Every day I wrestle with how much climate information to include in the daily weather column, print and blog. The last thing I want to do is depress you (or anyone else). There's enough depressing news out there. And yet I also believe that the climate issue is - without question - the biggest environmental threat facing the planet in the 21st century and beyond. It's more than an environmental threat, it's an existential threat. So to not say anything, to abstain from talking about climate trends altogether, in the face of an increasing tsunami of evidence, would be doing a disservice to readers.
How do you balance this? It's true - on the blog you can more easily skip over the stories that you may find depressing or distressing. In print, due to space limitations, I try to provide a few headlines (when there is something new to report, some breaking news that I believe is important or timely), and then point readers to the blog for more details. I'm open to suggestions on how to better balance climate news.
My priority is Minnesota weather, but weather and climate have become hopeless intertwined. The background hum of a warmer atmosphere is now the "Meteorological Muzak" that flavors all weather, making heat waves hotter, droughts more severe, and rainfall more intense. It's become increasingly impossible to separate them out as time goes on. I'll keep trying to find the right balance (yes, there will be days where I go a fairly long stretch without mentioning climate trends or breaking stories). But this is a big deal. You should be concerned, but better yet, channel that concern into constructive outlets: contact your representatives in Congress and tell them of your concerns. Assume nothing. Work toward shrinking your carbon footprint and educating friends, colleagues and family members about climate trends. Ignoring this won't make the problem go away, as good as that sounds. Thanks for the note - and please know that I share your concerns and will try to balance the bad news with solutions and suggestions focused on things we can all do to lessen the long-term risk.
One thing I will try to do more of: present possible solutions, steps we can all take to make a difference over time. The scope of this challenge requires international cooperation, and smart regulation of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. But consumers that gravitate toward greener, more sustainable solutions, products and services will be sending a powerful message to the markets. This is what has to happen, and will unfold over time. Psychologists say that many people aren't willing to accept a big problem until and unless there are viable solutions. With climate change there is no silver bullet, but plenty of (green) buckshot.
I'm including climate information so that you and your family can take steps to better prepare for this new (warmer, stormier) world we seem to be transitioning into (more details below).
Here are a few more thoughts from climate scientists (and journalists) I trust:
"Once you realize that individuals can't solve the problem on their own, then the point of telling people what's to come isn't to get them to do a lot of stuff that is green. Indeed, part of the psychological opposition among some to the science is the feeling that people are only telling them the science to get them to do green stuff.
So what I generally do now is explain that they need to understand this because is going to dramatically affect some of the big choices they and especially their children are going to have to make.
Should you own beachfront property? A lot of folks do or think about it.
Should you plan to retire to the Florida or the SW?
Where should you think about retiring to in 20 years?
Are they in a 1000-year flood zone?
What about some of their major long-term investments -- a farm, a ranch, a back-up generator, then you can get into solar panels.
What should their kids study in school to be employable in a globally warmed world?"
- Joe Romm, Think Progress
"When I teach the climate change course I get the same reaction so it is critical that people understand they have CHOICES that can greatly impact the future in a POSITIVE sense. I use energy efficiency to get the ball rolling because we can all immediately begin saving money. Of course, that is just a small part of what we need to do but it is a positive and immediate action we can take. Once folks realize that the solutions are not gloom and doom two things happen:
1). They are willing to listen and to act on more difficult choices.
2). They get pissed at government inaction and make their voices heard.
See my post in the local online newspaper:"
"I think you should do a blog post that features the three-part series "Earth: The Operator's Manual". I show one after each exam in my cc course and these films have a huge positive message. All can be viewed online at:"
- Scott Mandia, Professor of Physical Sciences, Asst. Chair. Suny Suffolk
The Ostrich Syndrome: 1). Ignoring it does not help. 2). Doing something about the problem helps in the long run, but.... (mitigation) 3). Meanwile we have to live with the consequences. 4). That means planning for the expected changes in sensible ways (vulnerability, adaptation, building resilience)... 5). and developing coping strategies for when those don't work (coping).
- Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the USA National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
"Don't stop. I got 45 years of the same thing on a different subject. "Why do you always report the bad news?" My answer was always the same: "Because it is the news. We tell you what's wrong, your job is to fix it." You are telling people in a large audience, and regularly that we've broken something. I'm sure you'll get lots of good suggestions about how to approach the optimism piece of this. There is, I'm assured, reason for optimism. But, don't be pushed off the subject by people who feel depressed by the truth. They should feel depressed by the truth."
- Don Shelby, former WCCO-TV anchorman and Emmy award-winning journalist
New Coating Technology Promises Self-Cleaning Cars. Will this eventually put car washes out of business? Stay tuned; in the mean time here are details from gizmag.com: "Nissan’s "Scratch Guard Coat” has been healing fine scratches on the company’s cars for a few years now, and the technology has also made its way into an iPhone case. More recent developments have produced coatings to heal more substantial scratches and scrapes using nano-capsules. Now researchers at The Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) have developed a coating that is not only self-healing, but also promises to free car owners of the tiresome chore of washing the car."
Photo credit above: "A new self-cleaning coating technology could mean the end of the tiresome chore of washing the car (Photo: Shutterstock)"
Five Men Agree To Stand Directly Under An Exploding Nuclear Bomb. Say what? Were these guys having a bad day or what? A truly head-shaking article from NPR; here's an excerpt: "They weren't crazy. They weren't being punished. All but one volunteered to do this (which makes it all the more astonishing). On July 19, 1957, five Air Force officers and one photographer stood together on a patch of ground about 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. They'd marked the spot "Ground Zero. Population 5" on a hand-lettered sign hammered into the soft ground right next to them. As we watch, directly overhead, two F-89 jets roar into view, and one of them shoots off a nuclear missile carrying an atomic warhead. They wait. There is a countdown; 18,500 feet above them, the missile is detonated and blows up..."
Photo credit above: "Atom Central/YouTube."
Earliest Spiral Galaxy Ever Observed Puzzles Astronomers. Some interesting details from gizmag.com: "When astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to scout a remote patch of the sky and investigate the early stages of galaxy formation, they stumbled upon something which they did not expect. They realized that the distant spiral galaxy BX422, appearing to us as it was only three billion years after the Big Bang, seems to be uncharacteristically well-formed for its young age. By studying its features, which are in direct contrast with our current knowledge of galaxy formation, scientists hope to shed more light on how spiral galaxies – including our own – are formed."
"Most of life is hell; it's filled with failure and loss. People disappoint you. Dreams don't work out - hearts get broken. And the best moments of life, when everything comes together, are few and fleeting. But you'll never get to the next great moment if you don't keep going. So that's what I do. I keep going." - Political Animals, USA Network. Yep, that pretty much sums it all up.
Another Stinker. At least dew point temperatures were in the low 60s in the metro, but I saw a steamy dew point of 76 at Rochester by mid afternoon - tropical air just south of MSP. Monday highs ranged from 81 at International Falls and Hibbing to 90 St. Cloud, and 96 in the Twin Cities, after a sultry morning "low" of 77.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Unsettled and sticky with lot's of clouds; few T-storms likely. Dew point: 68. Winds: SE 8. High: 88
TUESDAY NIGHT: Showers and T-storms, locally heavy rain. Low: 73
WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, humid and stormy. Heaviest rain and T-storms central and north. High: 85
THURSDAY: Slightly less humid. Late-day T-shower? Low: 71. High: 87
FRIDAY: Sunnier, drier statewide. Dew point: 62. Low: 65. High: 83
SATURDAY: Sunny, a bit warmer. Low: 66. High: 86
SUNDAY: Some sun, isolated T-storm possible. Low: 68. High: 88
MONDAY: Still muggy; more numerous storms. Low: 67. High: 86
Like everyone else I have my evening routine: shower, shorts, lake. In that order. If I don't get an hour or 2 of quality sit-by-the-lake time, reading the papers, digging into a novel on my trusty iPad, I feel like something is missing. I crave this me-time; my wife thinks I'm anti-social.
It's been a good summer to sit by the lake or evacuate to the cabin: 23 days at/above 90 F.
Minnesota is on the northern edge of a sprawling drought. No more "threat of rain" or "risk of a storm". Now it's an Opportunity For Rain.
Sunday I drove from my boyhood home of Lancaster, PA (Amish country) to the Twin Cities in 17 hours, chugging along in a 16 foot rental truck loaded with furniture. Great fun. During our 1,100 mile ordeal not a drop of rain. It summed up a torrid summer; the sky just doesn't want to cook up showers.
Droughts can be self-perpetuating. Once moisture is baked out of topsoil there's little water left to evaporate into late-day instability T-storms.
A cooler front sparks random storms today and Wednesday (heaviest rains over central Minnesota).
We may hit 90 again Thursday, but I suspect the worst of our Guam-like heat wave is behind us now.
Cue the T-storms!
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)
Global Warming's Terrifying New Math. If you read only one article related to climate change - make it this one from Bill McKibbin at The Rolling Stone; here's an excerpt: "If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven't convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe."
Climate Emergency: A Five-Part Action Plan. Playing off McKibbin's article above, here's one suggestion for how we move forward - an excerpt from a Huffington Post article: "The extreme heat, storms and drought sweeping most of the nation are finally convincing a large majority of Americans that climate change is upon us. According to Bloomberg News, 70 percent of Americans now believe the climate is changing. It's late to be getting to solutions, but now, perhaps, we're finally ready to take on the challenge. Bill McKibben lays out how dire the picture really is in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone: We've already warmed the planet by 0.8 degrees centigrade, and the weather is getting frightening. At the Copenhagen Climate Conference, the one thing the world agreed on is that we must stay within a 2-degree centigrade heat increase -- although climatologist Jim Hansen has called even that level of increase a recipe for disaster. And if current trends continue, we're headed for much more global heating. But powerful oil, gas and coal companies have blocked needed action. With billions in profits, they have plenty of money to channel to political campaigns, climate-denying think tanks, and right-wing media. Together, these groups have prevented progress."
Climate Change: It's Real, And It's Dangerous. Here's an excerpt from the National Catholic Reporter: "Vast raging forest fires, a gigantic wind and thunderstorm system, and boiling, record-breaking temperatures have helped to further convince millions of us -- including the majority of climatologists -- that the earth's climate is dangerously changing, and human-induced global warming is at the heart of it. A few weeks ago, a massive "land hurricane" starting in the upper Midwest plowed a deadly, destructive path south and east toward the mid-Atlantic. And with two long months still to go, this summer has already produced huge, blazing wildfires in Montana, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, and especially Colorado, where Gov. John Hickenlooper declared, "This is the worst fire season in the history of Colorado." A leading climate scientist, Jonathan Overpeck, told The Associated Press that this summer's weather so far is "what global warming looks like. ... The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire." (For excellent segments, go to: democracynow.org/special/extreme_weather.)"
Climate Science: The Gathering Storm. The Guardian has an Op-Ed about recent climate trends; here's an excerpt: "After the driest winter on record, Sir David Attenborough wouldn't be the only Briton to blame the wettest English summer ever on global climate change, on some inexorable shift in the planetary machinery that upsets all reasonable expectation. There is a connection, although no single meteorological episode in any locality could ever be directly linked to global warming: this flood or that cyclone might have happened anyway. Even the increasing frequency worldwide of climate-related disasters, along with the lives, homes and harvests lost, cannot be entirely blamed on the steady increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Population growth and economic development each year deliver more potential victims, with more to lose. Finally, the measured increase in the intensity of extreme events – ever fiercer heatwaves, ever more violent floods – rests on an uncertain premise: if systematic weather records in many parts of the world are barely a century old, what does it mean to declare something "the worst ever" or a "once in a century" flood?"
Loading The Climate Dice. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from Paul Krugman at The New York Times: "....How should we think about the relationship between climate change and day-to-day experience? Almost a quarter of a century ago James Hansen, the NASA scientist who did more than anyone to put climate change on the agenda, suggested the analogy of loaded dice. Imagine, he and his associates suggested, representing the probabilities of a hot, average or cold summer by historical standards as a die with two faces painted red, two white and two blue. By the early 21st century, they predicted, it would be as if four of the faces were red, one white and one blue. Hot summers would become much more frequent, but there would still be cold summers now and then. And so it has proved. As documented in a new paper by Dr. Hansen and others, cold summers by historical standards still happen, but rarely, while hot summers have in fact become roughly twice as prevalent. And 9 of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000." "FutureDude" Talks With Climatologist John Abraham. One of my favorite local techies and graphic artists, Jeff Morris, also known as "FutureDude" has an in-depth conversation with local. St. Thomas climate scientist John Abraham; here's an excerpt: "I have to admit that I’m a little unnerved when it comes to our weather. As a fan of meteorology, I’ve been paying attention since I was a kid. I have noticed a trend toward wild weather patterns since the late 90’s. Since then, things in my area (the Upper Midwest) have gone to extremes year after year: 500-year floods, then severe droughts; record snowfalls, then the next season virtually no snow at all. We went from an extremely dry winter and spring (I didn’t shovel snow all season, and I live in Minnesota!) to record rainfalls in a matter of days. Now we’re in a drought once again. It just doesn’t seem right. With tens of thousands of high temperature records broken weekly across America and over 60% of the country in a severe drought — I, like many, are wondering if much worse things are looming over the horizon. It’s beginning to feel like one of those dark apocalyptic movies. Except this time, it’s real."
Winemaking Adapts In Face Of Changing Climate. Uh oh - when climate change starts to impact coffee and wine I'm paying attention now; details from Canada's CBC Network and Yahoo News: "Maybe icewine will be produced in new areas across Canada. Maybe winemakers will try their hand at drying grapes artificially off the vine. Or perhaps vineyards will pop up in areas not known as wine regions. In the face of changing climate conditions, Canadian grape growers, wine producers and scientists are turning their attention to finding the best ways to adapt. Climate change can be a controversial topic for some folk, but not for those at the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Brock University, deep in the heart of Ontario's Niagara wine region."
Photo credit above: Janet Davison/CBC. "Winter temperatures are increasing in Niagara, where a microclimate on land near Lake Ontario has helped a grape and wine industry flourish."
Top 10 Things Climate Change Is Making Worse Right Now. Here's an excerpt from a post at truth-out.org: "...Here are 10 impacts we're seeing right now that climate change is very likely worsening, in some cases playing a major role:
Rising Food Prices
Over half of the Continental U.S. is now facing severe drought–the worst in fifty years. As a result of extreme temperatures and little rain, corn production suffers although analysts predicted record production at the start of the year. In coming months, record-high food prices will continue to rise, affecting thousands of supermarket products. See also "Story of the Year: Warming-Driven Drought and Extreme Weather Emerge as Key Threat to Global Food Security."
Goodbye Glaciers, Sea Ice
This week, an iceberg twice the size of Manhattan tore itself off of one of the largest glaciers in North Greenland, following another break of comparable size in 2010."
Science Says Earth On Brink Of Catastrophic Tipping Point. Takepart.com has the story; here's an excerpt: "Citing the toxic confluence of rising temperatures, rampant population growth, and the clearing of more than 40 percent of the planet’s surface for urban development or agriculture, a team of international scientists says Earth could be nearing an ecological meltdown. Writing in journal Nature, 22 researchers from the field of paleontology, ecology, geology, and population biology equate mankind’s unkind impact on the planet to global events millions of years ago that caused mass extinctions. “Humans are now forcing another such transition, with the potential to transform Earth rapidly and irreversibly into a state unknown in human experience,” wrote the authors.
Photo credit above: "While cool to look at, this melting glacier and the waterfall it births certainly isn't cool for the planet." (Photo: Jan Tuve Johanson)
Who Is "Most To Blame" For Global Warming? Here's an excerpt of a post from ABC News environmental reporter Bill Blakemore: "Who’s most to blame for global warming? Nobody meant it to happen. But it has, and there’s no debate among the world’s scientists about which country is “most responsible.” That is, about which nation has injected the greatest amount of the heat-trapping invisible gas CO2 into to the atmosphere, where a lot of it remains for years, piling up and only adding to the heat. The answer: United States has, with China a distant second. And figured on a per person basis, the “most responsible” is the United Kingdom, with the United States a close second, Germany a close third, and China a distant seventh."
How Global Warming Is Impacting Stock Prices. Here's an excerpt of an interesting article at triplepundit.com: "Heat waves and droughts magnified by global warming are exacting an economic tax on America’s middle class through higher prices and increased health care costs. Now this global warming tax is hitting the stock valuations of American companies.
Global warming’s economic tax hits restaurant stocks
The most visible evidence of how global warming could impact a company’s stock price occurred on July 20 with sharp declines in restaurant stock prices. Led by Chipotle’s stunning 20+% stock drop all the major restaurant stocks including McDonalds took a hit as stock analysts incorporated global warming’s heat and drought impacts upon restaurant food costs, profit margins and sales if higher menu prices trigger a consumer search for lower cost options."
Global Warming: In Geoengineering We May Trust. Groundreport.com has the story; here's an excerpt: "At least, there is reason to believe in a short-term source for respite, geoengineering, if a feared level of climate change is about. Geoengineering is now likely for large scale-deployment more than ever, as weather anomalies globally have become a serious cause for concern and news of rising levels of carbon emissions continue to come. Geoengineering is the scientific answer to the tepidity of world leaders, towards a global agreement to mitigate global warming-causing greenhouse emissions. Geoengineering (or climate engineering) is a general name for certain technologies aimed at reducing solar radiation available to the earth, or at removing carbon dioxide (a major greenhouse gas) from the atmosphere."
This post is from the Paul Douglas on Weather blog
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