Friday, July 21, 2017

Thunder Risk Today - Cooler & Drier Sunday - Worst of Heat Stays South of Minnesota

83 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities on Friday.
84 F. average high on July 21.
95 F. high on July 21, 2016.

July 22, 1972: Copious amounts of rain fall in parts of Minnesota, with 10.84 inches of rainfall in 24 hours at Ft. Ripley. 14 inches of rain is measured at a farm in Morrison County.


The Importance of Summertime Situational Awareness

A recent flash flood tragedy in Arizona, with 10 members of one family swept to their deaths by a surging wall of water, got me thinking about the limits of technology.

What could they have done differently, so they'd still be with us today? Apps on smart phones and a portable NOAA weather radio increase the odds of hearing a warning in time but there are still gaps in coverage. You can call up Doppler radar on your phone now, and take note of a distant storm's track before hitting the water. On volatile summer days it's a good idea to have a designated "weather-watcher", someone who can tap you on the shoulder when it's time to go. The grim reality: in spite of Doppler and streamlined warning services there technology won't save us, the government won't save us. Its up to each of us to take responsibility for our personal safety.

A stray T-storm can't be ruled out today, but winds swinging around to the northwest will pull more comfortable air into town Sunday and Monday, as dew points dip into the 50s.

The worst of the heat stays south of Minnesota into early August, but odds still favor a real summer. MSP has picked up 9 days above 90F so far in 2017. Average is 11. 2016 brought 13 days above 90.
A little perspective: 1988 saw an astounding 44 days above 90 degrees!


90-Degree Days in the Twin Cities. So far in 2017 a total of 9 days at or above 90F. This compares to a summer average of 11 days, but 13 days > 90F were reported last year. To keep things in perspective during the heat wave and drought of 1988 a total of 44 days at or above 90F were observed at MSP!




Adequate Soil Moisture for the MSP Metro. Rainfall amounts are running close to average since the start of meteorological summer on June 1.

Drying Out Up North. Although not nearly as dire as the drought gripping the Dakotas and Montana, counties near Bemidji are running a 4-6" rainfall deficit since May 1. In start contrast to southeastern Mnnesota and a huge hunk of Wisconsin, where it won't stop raining.

How Unusual is 100-Degree Heat in Minnesota? It turns out it's not all that unusual at all, according to my friend and climate guru, Dr. Mark Seeley. Here's an excerpt from his latest Minnesota WeatherTalk: "...The statistics for the past 40 years (my time as Extension Climatologist) show that 80 percent of the time (32 years), a temperature of 100 degrees F or higher is measured somewhere in the state. More often such readings come from western or southern Minnesota counties. For example, 19 of the 40 years the highest temperature in the state was measured in Traverse, Lyon, Lac Qui Parle, or Redwood Counties. These statistics conform to those of our state climate history all the way back to the second half of the 19th Century. Most of the all-time daily high temperature records for the state come from climate stations in Big Stone, Traverse, Lac Qui Parle, and Yellow Medicine Counties. On rare occasions the state's highest daily temperature for a given year may come from southeastern Minnesota, as was the case in 1985 when Theilman (Wabasha County) reported 103 degrees F on June 10th..."


Dangerously Hot. Check out the heat index on Saturday: 106F at Wichita and Kansas City, 113F at St. Louis. Today appears to be the worst day for heat and humidity, followed by slow improvement by early next week.






Serious Dog Days. NAM guidance pulls a few bands  of heavy showers and T-storms across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes today into the Mid Atlantic by Sunday, providing slight relief from the blazing heat and obnoxious humidity levels. Garden-variety instability T-showers sprout over the Gulf Coast, with monsoonal T-storms over the desert southwest, a few capable of flash flooding. The west coast remains dry; no weather-related help for the brushfires near Yosemite. Loop: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.

Seasonably Warm. The epicenter of discomfort passes south of Minnesota into next week, with temperatures generally within a few degrees of the average high (84F). I still think Sunday will bring 70s with a brief dip in dew point - it should feel better out there. Twin Cities ECMWF data: WeatherBell.


Nagging Heat - Slight Relief Far North. The heat wave of '17 shows no signs of letting up over the southern half of the nation, but as we've been mentioning in recent days a series of feeble Canadian cool fronts should provide slight relief for far northern cities, from Seattle to the Twin Cities, Chicago, Cleveland and New England by early August.




Midpoint of Summer. Temperatures tend to peak roughly 1 month after the Summer Solstice, although there is some variation across North America (hottest weather in south Texas and south Florida doesn't come until August).


Editorial: Envisioning a Chicago Future Without Massive Flood Damage. Development of land in flood-prone suburbs is coming back to bite much of Chicago this summer as waves of heavy thunderstorms produce widespread flooding. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from the Chicago Sun Times Editorial Board: "The massive flooding ravaging parts of the Chicago area is doing hundreds of millions of dollars of damage, and all because of a basic failure of planning. It is foolish that so many homes and businesses stand in low-lying areas that are susceptible to flooding. It need not be that way. Among possible solutions, we support a call for the federal government — which already is spending billions of dollars on flood insurance for some properties that flood again and again — to buy out more homes and businesses that repeatedly flood and raze them as the owners voluntarily move elsewhere. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, on its own, already has done some of this..."

Photo credit: "Flooding continued Monday in Fox Lake, Ill., along the Chain O' Lakes."
(Gilbert R Boucher II/Daily Herald via AP)

Security Camera Catches Tornado Winds Lifting Car. And this was a small tornado; exhibit A why you don't want to be in or near a vehicle when tornado-force winds are possible. Here's a clip from UPI.com: "A New York state man's home security camera captured the moment strong winds from a tornado lifted his car off the ground. Kevin Karas posted a video to Facebook showing footage from a home security camera that was pointed at his driveway in Hamburg during a Thursday storm that saw two tornadoes touch down in the town. The video shows Karas' car becoming briefly airborne in the high winds before crashing into a nearby tree..."
The video shows Karas' car becoming briefly airborne in the high winds before crashing into a nearby tree.


Shocking Secrets About Lightning, Exposed. I enjoyed an article written by Matthew Cappucci, writing for Capital Weather Gang. Here are a couple of excerpts: "...The phenomenon is a spectacular sight to behold, and was widely viewed on May 18 in Bethany, Okla., at the “antenna farm.” Here, more than a dozen thousand-foot-high towers are all crammed into a three-square-mile plot of land, and the results can be electrifying. On this particular day, at least 20 bolts of lightning shot upward into the cloud from the towers, especially strange considering the storm had already left. Some even assert that this type of lightning is caused by humans, since it is almost exclusively caught leaping from man-made structures...However, the charge of lightning can offer quite a bit of key information about the strike. Positive flashes, for instance, are considered particularly dangerous, because they originate from the top of severe thunderstorms. Here, the “electric potential” is strong enough to give rise to supercharged lightning bolts, oftentimes three- to 100-times more powerful than ordinary lightning. These “sparks on steroids” have a high enough peak current that they are able to travel many miles from the parent storm cloud, posing a danger to folks that may find themselves under otherwise clear skies and sunshine..."

Photo credit: "Lightning strikes in Cape Cod Bay, Mass., on May 23, 2014." (Matthew Cappucci)




New Forecast Models Could Give You An Extra Hour to Hide From a Tornado. This may be overstating the capability, at least looking out 5-10 years. And early research suggests that if the warnings are too long many people are tempted to get into vehicles to try to escape the area vs. hunkering down in the basement, which is obviously counterproductive (last place you want to be during a tornado is in your car or truck). Here's an excerpt from ScienceAlert: "...Warn on Forecast could eventually provide severe weather warnings up to three hours in advance, say the researchers working on the technology, and in the case of its first trial run it gave Oklahoma residents 90 minutes to brace themselves for large hail and tornadoes. "We had a picture of the storms and their evolution before they became life-threatening," says one of the team, science operations officer Todd Lindley. "We used this model guidance to forecast with greater lead time and greater confidence." Today, tornado warnings are issued by forecasters manually studying satellite data and volatility in the atmosphere, but WoF takes in more data and analyses its patterns in ways human brains aren't equipped to..."

Image credit:" WoF produces a "firehose" of data, say researchers. NOAA.


Photo credit: Niccolò Ubalducci/Flickr.com



The World's Plastic Problem. According to a story at Quartz the vast majority of all the plastic humans have ever made is still sitting somewhere on the planet: "In total, according to a paper published today (July 19) in Science Advances, humans have made 8.3 billion metric tons of new plastics since 1950. And, thanks in large part to the global popularity of single-use plastic packaging, half that total was made in just the last decade. The problem is plastic doesn’t ever really disappear—at least not on any timescale that would be relevant to humans. Recycling plastic helps some, but it doesn’t make it go away, it just delays the date at which it ultimately ends up in a landfill. So each year, the plastic we make piles onto the plastic we made the year before, and the year before that, and so on..."

Photo credit: "Recycling only delays the day a plastic object ends up in a landfill." (Reuters/China Daily)

Fortune 500. Fortune is out with the latest list: Walmart at the top, Apple is #3: "This year’s Fortune 500 marks the 63rd running of the list. In total, Fortune 500 companies represent two-thirds of the U.S. GDP with $12 trillion in revenues, $890 billion in profits, $19 trillion in market value, and employ 28.2 million people worldwide..."


Healthier Living Could Reduce Worldwide Dementia by a Third, Report Says. The Washington Post has more detail: "Up to one-third of the world’s dementia cases could be prevented by addressing factors such as education, hypertension, diet, hearing loss and depression over the course of a person’s lifetime, according to a new report presented Thursday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London. The report was compiled by the first Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention and Care, which brought together 24 experts from around the world to review scores of studies and synthesize them into a model showing how lifestyle modification could reduce dementia risk. Around 47 million people have dementia worldwide, and that number is projected to triple by 2050..." (File photo: BBC).

Hip-Hop Is Bigger Than Rock Music, Thanks to Nobody Buying Albums. An interesting development, courtesy of Quartz: "...According to Nielsen Music’s latest semi-annual report, hip-hop (including R&B) is now the biggest genre in the US, overtaking rock music for the very first time. Hip-hop claims 25.1% of all music consumption, while rock music is at 23%. Why this happened has as much to do with US’s listening methods as it does the undeniable talent of many modern-day rappers. In the 1990s, CD sales still dominated. Digital-music streaming has now outstripped physical album sales and iTunes downloads as the primary way people listen to songs; with this new order comes both a new audience and a revamp of music charts..."

The Abstract Beauty of One Of The World's Harshest Climates. Atlas Obscura has an eye-opening photo essay: "...In these regions—some of the most sparsely populated in the world—it’s essential to be prepared. Otherwise, says photographer Luca Tombolini, “you just aren’t in the condition to photograph because you’re probably thinking about how to save yourself.” Tombolini photographs deserts with an eye for “plays of symmetries and purity.” His large format images show pastel-hued dunes that form sweeping, abstract shapes, and endless horizons under bleached blue skies..."

A 9-Year Old Tripped, Fell and Discovered a Million-Year-Old Fossil. The New York Times has an amazing story: "Jude Sparks was only 9 years old when he made a remarkable paleontological discovery. While out for a walk wiith his family in Las Cruces, N.M., in November, Jude had been running to hide from his younger brothers when he tripped and fell. He found himself face to face with something that, he said, looked like "fossilized wood." "It was just an odd shape," Jude, now 10, said in a phone interview on Tuesday. "I just knew it was not something that you usually find." It looked like a massive jaw, and Jude's younger brother Hunter thought it belonged to a cow skull. His parents, Michelle and Kyle Sparks, thought it resembled the remains of an elephant. So they took a picture of the object to investigate further..."

Photo credit: "Jude Sparks sitting beside the fossilized remains of a Stegomastodon." Peter Houde.

Steam Train in China Ignites Coal Mine Particles in the Air. How bad is the air pollution in China that the air catches on fire? Reminds me of the infamous Cuyahoga River catching fire in northeast Ohio back in 1969. Yes, by all means let's abolish the EPA so our air can spontaneously combust! Here's a link to an amazing video clip at theCHIVE.

* Then again, maybe this is all perfectly natural. Check out the (R-rated) Reddit comments. I've never seen anything like this in the USA. Either way coal sure does make for colorful train rides.




TODAY: Sticky sun, still humid with a T-storm risk. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 88

SATURDAY NIGHT: Drying out, a bit better out there. Low: 65

SUNDAY: More clouds than sun, more comfortable. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 79

MONDAY: Bright sun, very little wind. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 58. High: 81

TUESDAY: Unsettled, few T-storms around. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 63. High: 86

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, seasonably warm. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 65. High: 84

THURSDAY: T-storms rumble across southern MN. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 66. High: 83

FRIDAY: Blue sky, fairly comfortable. Winds: NE 3-8. Wake-up: 63. High: 84


Climate Stories...

In Miami, Battling Sea Level Rise May Mean Surrendering Land. Reuters explains: "...Mayor Philip Levine, who was elected on his promises to protect Miami Beach from rising waters, says the city will invest even more if necessary in adaptation strategies to protect more than $40 billion worth of properties. But on the other side of Biscayne Bay, in Miami’s Shorecrest neighborhood, a novel idea is taking shape: Instead of trying to keep the water out of the notoriously flood-prone area, officials are considering surrendering some developed land to nature, to accommodate inevitably rising seas. The idea is controversial and expensive, as it involves demolishing properties and moving people and businesses away. But officials say it’s a long-term solution, unlike Miami Beach’s temporary remediation efforts..."

File photo: NOAA.

Gov. Candidate Chris King: Climate Change is Biggest Threat to Florida's Economy. With rising seas (not a climate model, but actual observations of water levels rising) Florida is ground zero for climate change, an issue that may help to sway elections one way or another in the future. Here's an excerpt from Tampa Bay Times: "Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King today made his case for how economic growth and fighting climate change go hand in hand. His rivals for the Democratic nomination, Gwen Graham,  Andrew Gillum and possibly Philip Levine, make climate change and environmental protection top priorities too..."

Climate Change Will Be Very Bad for Dallas County. Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and California are additional states already seeing early impacts of a warming climate and/or rising seas. Here's an excerpt from D Magazine in Dallas, Texas: "...A new study led by climate scientists and economists at the University of Chicago and the University of California, published last month in Science, drives that point home. It takes a detailed county-by-county look at how climate change will affect communities across the U.S., finding that Texas and the South are especially vulnerable to projected economic losses caused by global warming, as desirable jobs move to wealthier and cooler climes to the west and north, and an unpredictable climate wreaks havoc on agriculture and industry. (An emboldened mosquito population is another issue.)..."


Glacier National Park Still Has Glaciers, For Now. I want to get out there to see the glaciers ASAP, after reading a story at USA TODAY: "There’s good news and bad news regarding the future of Glacier National Park. The bad news has to do with science. Long-term studies indicate that the famous ice fields that inspired the park’s name are, in fact, shrinking. And, yes, the same research predicts that all 25 named glaciers likely will be gone by 2030. The good news, if you can call it that, is that these large-scale changes are still at least a decade away, and the park has plenty of grandeur to go around until then. Grandeur like blue-green Lake McDonald, which is more than 9 miles long and sits like a mirror in one of the most picturesque valleys of the West. And the knee-buckling vistas at Many Glacier, the heart of the park, from which visitors can spy jagged mountains, those aforementioned glistening glaciers, and (if you’re lucky) abundant wildlife, including moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and grizzly bears..."

Documenting Glaciers in the Dying Days of Ice. Here's an excerpt from a Climate Central Special Report: "National Parks have grown up with photography. So it’s only fitting that in the last days of ice in Montana’s Glacier National Park, Lisa McKeon is using a camera to show how quickly climate change has killed off the park’s namesakes. After all, it’s one thing to note that of the park’s 150 glaciers that existed in the late 1800s, only 25 of them remain today. But it’s another to see what that cold, hard fact looks like on the landscape. For nearly 20 years, McKeon, a U.S. Geological Survey biologist, has prowled dusty archives to find old photos showing the splendor of the park’s glaciers in decades past. Those images have taken her to bushwhacking through the forest and to the highest reaches of the park so she can recreate those images. Put the old and the new images side-by-side and it’s impossible to ignore the visual evidence of how rapidly climate change has eaten away at the ice..."

Photo credit: "Park visitors eating dinner at Cracker Lake, a glacial-fed lake in Glacier National Park's backcountry." Credit: Jacob Frank/National Park Service.

Photo credits: "Blackfoot Glacier and Jackson Glacier in 1914 and 2009. They used to be joined as a single glacier but are now split in two because global warming has melted the ice away." Credit: E.C. Stebinger/Glacier National Park (left). Lisa McKeon/U.S. Geological Survey (right).

Innovate, Award-Winning Way to Visualize CO2 Emissions. Of course, one of the many challenges of talking about a warming blanket of CO2: the gas is clear and odorless - almost invisible, unless you have the right equipment. The Post and Courier explains: "...Featuring in-depth reporting about plankton, sea-rise and coral reefs, the “Every Other Breath” series featured the use of a rare thermal imaging camera to show readers what emissions of carbon dioxide look like from buses, planes and other everyday sources of CO2. The Post and Courier is said to be the first newspaper or magazine to use such a device for a news story..."

Photo credit: "As part of The Post and Courier's Every Other Breath series, the newspaper obtained a one-of-a-kind thermal imaging camera from FLIR to document everyday sources of invisible CO2 emissions."

$7 Trillion/Year to Remove CO2 From the Air? According to climate scientist James Hansen that's the number, if we continue to sit on our hands and kick this down the road a few more decades. Details at Quartz: "The world has been slow to realize the immense financial and human costs of climate change. Would that change if we realized just how much worse it could get? That’s the hope of new research led by James Hansen, a Columbia University professor and former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Hansen’s research estimates that if the world were to delay reducing carbon emissions until a later date, it could cost as much as $6.7 trillion per year for at least 80 years after that date to reign in the effect of those emissions on the climate. For comparison, all the countries in the world combined spend about $2 trillion annually on defense. That fact makes “the war on climate change” an apt metaphor..."


Climate Change is Killing Us Right Now. Not as much in the USA, not yet, but the author of a story at New Republic argues that even under a best-case scenario nearly half of humanity will be regularly exposed to potentially deadly levels of heat by 2100: "...These scenarios are supported by the science. “For heat waves, our options are now between bad or terrible,” Camilo Mora, a geography professor at University of Hawaii at Manoa, told CNN last month. Mora was the lead author of a recent study, published in the journal Nature, showing that deadly heat days are expected to increase across the world. Around 30 percent of the world’population today is exposed to so-called “lethal heat” conditions for at least 20 days a year. If we don’t reduce fossil-fuel emissions, the percentage will skyrocket to 74 percent by the year 2100. Put another way, by the end of the century nearly three-quarters of the Earth’s population will face a high risk of dying from heat exposure for more than three weeks every year..."


Paying People to Not Cut Down Trees Pays Off, Study Finds. Deforestation is another (very) significant source of CO2, since fewer trees means less of a carbon sink available (trees breathe in CO2 and exhale oxygen). Here's an excerpt from InsideClimate News: "Across dozens of villages in rural Uganda, researchers have explored what they believe could be an easy way to help tackle climate change: paying landowners to leave their trees standing. The concept is simple—and controversial, because critics say it can foist the burden of cutting emissions onto developing countries. But the researchers, led by an economist from Northwestern University, found that these financial incentives—or "payments for ecosystems services"—have both a climate and economic benefit, something that had not been firmly established in previous studies..."


Methane Seeps Out as Arctic Permafrost Starts to Resemble Swiss Cheese. Here's the intro to a story at InsideClimate News: "Global warming may be unleashing new sources of heat-trapping methane from layers of oil and gas that have been buried deep beneath Arctic permafrost for millennia. As the Earth's frozen crust thaws, some of that gas appears to be finding new paths to the surface through permafrost that's starting to resemble Swiss cheese in some areas, scientists said. In a study released today, the scientists used aerial sampling of the atmosphere to locate methane sources from permafrost along a 10,000 square-kilometer swath of the Mackenzie River Delta in northwestern Canada, an area known to have oil and gas desposits. Deeply thawed pockets of permafrost, the research suggests, are releasing 17 percent of all the methane measured in the region, even though the emissions hotspots only make up 1 percent of the surface area, the scientists found..."

Image credit: "In parts of northern Canada's Mackenzie River Delta, seen here by satellite, scientists are finding high levels of methane near deeply thawed pockets of permafrost." Credit: NASA Earth Observatory.


Robert Redford: "To Save the World, Start Small". The solutions will be organic, bottom-up, not top-down, dictated more by economics than politics. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Time.com: "...Our choice is no longer the economy vs. the environment. It is now the economy and the environment. Addressing climate change will help both. Ignoring it risks both. This is not a revelation in many of our cities and towns. There, the idea that climate change is “political” is dissolving. If you are the mayor of a coastal town that now floods regularly or a farming town that just experienced several “once-in-a-hundred-years” droughts within a couple years, politics is the furthest thing from your mind. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Mayors are usually our most direct connection to government. They see the immediate ways in which our communities are threatened and reinvented. Fighting climate change can be opportunity for such reinvention..."

Image credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring.

2017 Is So Unexpectedly Warm It Is Freaking Out Climate Scientists. Joe Romm explains why at ThinkProgress: "Normally, the hottest years on record occur when the underlying human-caused global warming trend gets a temporary boost from an El Niño’s enhanced warming in the tropical Pacific. So it’s been a surprise to climate scientists that 2017 has been so remarkably warm — because the last El Niño ended a year ago. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Tuesday that the first half of 2017 was the second-warmest January-June on record for Earth, topped only by 2016, which was boosted by one of the biggest El Niños on record..."

Graphic credit: "January–June 2017 global surface temperatures (compared to the 20th century average) in Degrees Celsius." CREDIT: NOAA.

Climate Change Will Force Today's Kids to Pay for Costly Carbon Removal Technologies, Study Says. The Washington Post explains: "The longer humans continue to pour carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the closer we draw to leaving the next generation with an unmanageable climate problem, scientists say. A new study, just out Tuesday in the journal Earth System Dynamics, suggests that merely reducing greenhouse gas emissions may no longer be enough — and that special technology, aimed at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, may also be necessary to keep the Earth’s climate within safe limits for future generations. The research was largely inspired by a landmark climate change lawsuit brought by 21 children against the federal government, which is scheduled to go to trial in February 2018, and will be used as scientific support in the case. In fact, its lead author, Columbia University climatologist and former NASA scientist James Hansen, is a plaintiff on the case, along with his now 18-year-old granddaughter..."

Photo credit: "New research suggests that if immediate and significant emissions reduction efforts are undertaken — amounting to a decline in global carbon output by at least 3 percent annually starting in the next four years — then less carbon extraction will be needed." (Martin Meissner/AP).

Scientist Spreads the Word on Climate Change, by Biking Across America. WTOP NewsRadio in Washington D.C. has the story: "...He recently discussed the book with WTOP’s Shawn Anderson and Hillary Howard, and highlighted some of the moments in which he witnessed the dramatic impact of global warming. In Idaho and Montana, Goodrich rode his bike (and 50 pounds of gear) into wildfire-affected areas. In Kansas, he pedaled through 100-degree heat and punishing hot winds. And across the front range of the Rockies, he saw particularly dramatic evidence of its impact: massive amounts of dead trees caused by the mountain pine beetle. The pest used to be killed off by extreme cold, but “those kinds of winters don’t happen anymore, and the population of this beetle has just exploded,” he said..."

Photo credit: "Goodrich rides on the Hi-Line along U.S. 2 in northern Montana. Glacier National Park can be seen in the distance." (Courtesy David Goodrich).

Thursday, July 20, 2017

New Favorite Numbers are 8-3-0. Flash Flood Risk Today - Dangerous Heat Spreads East

89 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.
84 F. average high on July 21.
93 F. high on July 21, 2016.

July 21, 2002: Dew points reach 84 degrees at Madison, Morris, and Olivia. This ties the all time highest dew point reading in Minnesota, as recorded by the State Climatology Office.
July 21, 1934: Extreme heat hits western Minnesota, and the temperature topped out at 113 at Milan.



Weather Shocker: More Showers and T-storms Today

This summer, when in doubt, just predict puddles. There's a 7 in 10 chance you'll be right.
Severe to extreme drought is gripping much of the Dakotas, but soil moisture across most of Minnesota is in fairly good shape.

During the summer months weather systems slow down; light jet stream steering winds aloft can cause frontal boundaries to stall. That's what happened Wednesday night, with 4-7 inches of rain southeast of the MSP metro. It was another case of "training storms"; T-storms redeveloping over the same counties, much like train cars passing over the same section of track.

A similar set-up today may result in spotty flash flooding and even a few severe T-storms. Saturday looks lake-worthy with mid-80s, but comfortable 70s return Sunday & Monday. The very worst of the heat stays south of Minnesota into August.

WCCO Radio, The Big 830 is legendary, a Minnesota institution. People have been trying to have me institutionalized for some time. It may just be a good fit.

I'll be continuing my Conservation Minnesota blogging duties and joining Jordana Green from 3-6 pm every Monday thru Friday on the radio dial.

Dangerous Heat Surging East. NOAA has issued an Excessive Heat Warning for much of the central USA,  including Wichita, Kansas City, St. Louis, Peoria, Des Moines and Omaha for a potentially dangerous combination of temperature and humidity. Heat Advisories are in effect from the Great Plains to Raleigh and Washington D.C., but Heat Warnings are now in effect for Philadelphia and New York City. Flood watches are posted from southeastern Minnesota and much of Wisconsin into northern Illinois, another elevated flood risk for Utah and western Colorado. Map: Aeris AMP.

Tracking Wednesday's Derecho. AerisWeather AMP has a radar loop from 7 am Wednesday to 1 am Thursday; showing the long-lasting damaging wind event stretching from eastern South Dakota across southern Minnesota into the Chicago area. My thanks to meteorologist D.J. Kayser for teeing this up.



"Training Thunderstorms" Wednesday Night. East-west frontal boundaries that stall in mid-summer can often become a focal point for flash flooding, as waves of thunderstorms blossom and dissipate, new ones taking their place. Before you know it you have 4-7" of rain, which was the case along the Mississippi River Wednesday night - heaviest amounts in southwest Wisconsin.

Several Hundred Homes Evacuated in Arcadia, Wisconsin. A nearby stream overflowed its banks and people had to be evacuated, according to U.S. News.

Moderate Flash Flood Risk Rochester to Madison, Rockford and Chicago Today. NOAA models suggest another "training storm" episode shaping up, a conga-line of storms rippling along a nearly stationary frontal boundary. The result may be some 3-6" rains in a short period of time, capable of serious urban and river flooding.

84-Hour Rainfall Outlook. NOAA's 12 KM NAM model prints out some 2"+ rains from the Twin Cities to Milwaukee (best chance today into early Saturday), but bands of flooding storms may push into upstate New York and Pennsylvania by late weekend. Source: Tropicaltidbits.com.

Friday Severe Storm Threat. NOAA SPC shows a slight risk from the Northern Plains and Upper Mississippi Valley into the Midwest and Lower Great Lakes. The primary risk is hail (and straight-line wind damage; even a slight risk of another derecho).

What a Choice: Sauna-Like Heat or Severe Storms? Models spin up the strongest storms from the Dakota and Minnesota into the Great Lakes and New England over the next 48+ hours, along the leading edge of slightly cooler, drier, more tolerable Canadian air. Much of the rest of America will fry in the 90s, with a heat index of 100-110F from Washington D.C. to Dallas. Future Radar: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.



Sunday Heat Index. Not a great weekend to visiting the nation's capital. Washington D.C. was built on swampland neither Maryland nor Virginia wanted, and that this weekend will be a blunt reminder that you don't want to spend much time outside in D.C. during July or August. The heat index may push 110F Saturday and Sunday afternoon from Baltimore and Wilmington into the Carolinas - in the danger zone.

Early August: Slight Relief Northern Tier of USA. Heat is forecast to be relentless from California into the Rockies and Plains the next couple of weeks, but a few puffs of Canadian air may take the edge off the worst of the heat from Seattle and the Twin Cities to Buffalo and Boston.

WetBulb Globe Temperature: More Accurate Than Heat Index? A NOAA link explains the difference between Heat Index and Wet Bulb Temperature, which seems to be a better measure of what the combination of heat and humidity (and direct sunlight) really feels like: "The WetBulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) is a measure of heat stress in direct sunlight, which takes into account: temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle and cloud cover (solar radiation). This differs from the heat index, which takes into consideration temperature and humidity and is calculated for shady areas. If you work or exercise in direct sunlight, this is a good element to monitor. Military agencies, OSHA and many nations use the WBGT as a guide to managing workload in direct sunlight..."

Hit By Lightning: Tales from Survivors. Any desire you ever had to boat, golf or swim during a thunderstorm will be dashed after reading this story at The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "...Dr. Mary Ann Cooper,  a professor emerita at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and an expert on lightning injuries, said lightning can cause a wide range of damage, from tingling and numbness to cardiac arrest and lasting brain injury. About two-thirds of people lose consciousness, she said. Fewer than half suffer marks on their skin. And most are hurt by electricity as the current travels through the ground. The Weather Service estimates only 10 percent of those hit by lightning die. It's not a club anyone wants to join, but survivors often crave one another's company..."

File photo: Florida Tech.



Very Close Call with a Flash Flood. This guy is very, very lucky. This is the same Arizona flash flood that claimed 9 lives last weekend, all from the same family, an incomprehensible tragedy. Here's an excerpt from WJBD.com, including video from ABC's Good Morning America: "An eyewitness who captured video of the powerful flash flood that killed nine people this weekend in Arizona questioned during the ordeal whether he would even survive to talk about it. "You make the wrong step and you get sucked under. You just pray you make the right decision," Brandon West of Chandler, Arizona, told ABC Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV. West, 36, a friend and his dog named Lucky were headed to the area for a swim in the hot weather, KNXV-TV reported, when they encountered the rolling tide of black water, thick with debris. West not only survived but managed to record what he saw on video..."


Deaths of 9 in Arizona Raise Questions About Flood Warnings. Not to minimize this horrific event for the people involved, but technology only goes so far. The warning system is good, but not foolproof. If you're swimming in a creek, odds are you don't have your cell phone on you, beeping, vibrating the latest warning. There's a place for technology, paranoia and personal responsibility too. Here's an excerpt from US News: "...The storm dumped up to 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) of rain in an hour, prompting a flash flood warning from the National Weather Service. Though the service sent out a flash-flood warning over cellphone networks, service in the remote area is patchy at best. Unless they had a weather radio, the swimmers would have been unaware. Officials have said people headed to wilderness areas should check weather alerts ahead of time to determine whether it's safe. They note that it's hard to predict where rain will fall in the desert Southwest, and people should know that heavy downpours can cause flash flooding. That hasn't stopped people from saying more should be done to protect the public from flash floods. Steve Stevens, a volunteer firefighter with the nearby Water Wheel Fire and Medical District, said there needs to be a way for visitors to get flash flood alerts on their phones..."

File photo: Tom Reel, San Antonio Express-News.

At Midway Point: 2017 is Second Hottest Year on Record. Andrea Thompson reports at Climate Central: "...Personally, I wasn't expecting it to be as warm as it has been,” Ahira Sanchez-Lugo, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate scientist, said in an email. “After the decline of the strong El Niño I was expecting the values to drop a bit and rank among the top five warmest years. This year has been extremely remarkable.” The odds are good that 2017 will stay in second place through the end of the year, and it is even more likely that it will remain in at least the top three hottest years. NOAA released its global temperature data for June on Tuesday, and ranked June as the third warmest in its records. The four-warmest Junes in its records have all happened in the past four years..."

Graphic credit: NASA. "How monthly temperatures differ from the 1951-1980 average. So far, 2017 ranks behind only 2016 for the temperature for the first six months of the year."

First Half of 2017: Fewer Weather-Related Losses Than 2016. Munich Re is tracking the trends. Here's an excerpt from Intelligent Insurer: "...Overall losses came to $41 billion. The corresponding figure for the first six months of 2016 was $111 billion; the average for the last ten years $102 billion. Insured losses totalled $19.5 billion (previous year: $32 billion; ten-year average $29 billion). The highest overall losses in the first half-year were caused by the floods in Peru in February and March with a figure of $3.1 billion, $380 million of which was insured. The costliest event for insurers was a powerful thunderstorm in the US in early May, with insured losses of $1.8 billion and overall losses of $2.2 billion. The high number of severe thunderstorms in the USA is presumed to have been at least partially influenced by a natural climate phenomenon, according to Munich Re, especially in the first quarter of 2017: the tropical eastern Pacific off the northwest coast of South America was exceptionally warm, a phenomenon that the Peruvian authorities have dubbed “coastal El Niño”, despite the fact that it is not a full-blown El Niño event..."

The World's Plastic Problem. According to a story at Quartz the vast majority of all the plastic humans have ever made is still sitting somewhere on the planet: "In total, according to a paper published today (July 19) in Science Advances, humans have made 8.3 billion metric tons of new plastics since 1950. And, thanks in large part to the global popularity of single-use plastic packaging, half that total was made in just the last decade. The problem is plastic doesn’t ever really disappear—at least not on any timescale that would be relevant to humans. Recycling plastic helps some, but it doesn’t make it go away, it just delays the date at which it ultimately ends up in a landfill. So each year, the plastic we make piles onto the plastic we made the year before, and the year before that, and so on..."

Photo credit: "Recycling only delays the day a plastic object ends up in a landfill." (Reuters/China Daily)

In The Heart of Coal Country, State Officials Bet on Renewable Energy. CNBC has the report: "...When Kiran Bhatraju, a native of Pikeville, Kentucky, and the CEO of renewable-energy company Arcadia Power, heard that a coal company would be converting an old strip mine into a solar farm, he expected huge backlash. But his community's reaction was the opposite. "The mayor, local politicians and people in coal country are ready and excited about new jobs in the renewables industry," Bhatraju said. "The entire community has been rallying behind the project because it will retrain and put miners back to work..."

File photo: Berkeley Energy Group.

Clean Energy Is Trouncing Oil, Gas and Coal in Trump Era. So says Bloomberg, which has metrics to back it up: "...As clean-energy stocks climb, investors have pumped more money into wind and solar. U.S. investments totaled $14.7 billion during April, May and June, up 51 percent from the previous quarter to mark the highest level since 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. European investments rose 10 percent, to $8.8 billion. “We are seeing catalysts for these markets driven by the fact that people increasingly realize clean energy is more profitable than conventional energy,” said David Richardson, an executive director at Impax Asset Management, which focuses on sustainability and has about $8.7 billion under management, up 32 percent this year..."

Why the Grim Reaper of Retail Hasn't Come to Claim Best Buy. A story at The Los Angeles Times caught my eye; here's an excerpt: "...His first move was to match any rival’s prices, especially those at Amazon, so that in-store shoppers no longer needed to buy elsewhere. “We had no choice, we had to take price off the table and match online prices,” Joly said.  That appeals to customers such as Scott Vellman of Los Angeles, who bought the “Battlefield 1” video game for his Xbox One player at Best Buy’s store in Atwater Village last week after Best Buy matched its $50 price on Amazon. “I bought it here [instead of online] because I didn’t want to wait for it to ship,” Vellman said. Best Buy next sped up its delivery times, in part by expanding its national distribution centers, and beefed up its website and phone app so that customers could order online and pick up their products at the stores or have them delivered..."

Netflix Takes on Hollywood. Will people still be going to movie theaters in 5 years? I hope so, but some days I'm not so sure. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "...There is a war in Hollywood right now and the war is the Netflix model versus the Hollywood model," said Ross Gerber, president and chief executive of Gerber Kawasaki, a wealth and investment management firm based in Santa Monica. Over the past decade movie attendance has trended downward, just as ticket prices have steadily increased, according to data compiled by Box Office Mojo. And opening night for many movies outside the blockbuster genre has lost some of its luster, analysts say. "Nobody is going to the movies," Gerber said. "If it's not a tent-pole movie, people don’t care anymore." Gerber envisions a new model where Netflix customers are granted access to newly released movies, perhaps for a onetime $40 fee, or as part of a monthly premium subscription..."

Robots Will Make The Best Fake News. Here's something to look forward to, courtesy of Bloomberg View: "...Human beings can doctor images such as photographs, but it’s laborious and difficult. And faking voices and video is beyond our capability. But soon, thanks to machine learning, it will probably be possible to easily and quickly create realistic forgeries of someone’s face and make it seem as if they are speaking in their own voice. Already, lip-synching technology can literally put words in a person’s mouth. This is just the tip of the iceberg -- soon, 12-year-olds in their bedrooms will be able to create photorealistic, perfect-sounding fakes of politicians, business leaders, relatives and friends saying anything imaginable. This lends itself to some pretty obvious abuses. Political hoaxes -- so-called “fake news” -- will spread like wildfire. The hoaxes will be discovered in short order -- no digital technology is so good that other digital technology can’t detect the phony -- but not before it puts poisonous ideas into the minds of people primed to believe them. Imagine perfect-looking fake video of presidential candidates spouting racial slurs, or admitting to criminal acts..."

Fortune 500. Fortune is out with the latest list: Walmart at the top, Apple is #3: "This year’s Fortune 500 marks the 63rd running of the list. In total, Fortune 500 companies represent two-thirds of the U.S. GDP with $12 trillion in revenues, $890 billion in profits, $19 trillion in market value, and employ 28.2 million people worldwide..."

Interrupted Sleep May Lead to Alzheimer's, New Studies Show. The Washington Post has the details: "Getting a solid night’s sleep is crucial not only for feeling good the next day — there is increasing evidence that it may also protect against dementia, according to new research presented Tuesday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London. Three studies by researchers at Wheaton College found significant connections between breathing disorders that interrupt sleep and the accumulation of biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. Treating the problems with dental appliances or CPAP machines that force air into airways could help lower the risk of dementia or slow its progress, the researchers said..."

File photo: Finding Mastery.

This Rare Medical Condition Makes You Love Everyone. A story at National Geographic made me do a double-take: "A child that can’t stop hugging people, has no fear of strangers, and loves everyone equally—sounds beautiful, right? Not always. People with Williams syndrome, a rare genetic condition, face problems every bit as challenging as those with autism, from learning difficulties to trouble forming friendships. As Jennifer Latson reveals in her moving book, The Boy Who Loved Too Much: A True Story Of Pathological Friendliness, it can also be immensely difficult for parents. The syndrome, whose sufferers have a surfeit of oxytocin, aka the love hormone, affects roughly 1 in 10,000 people worldwide, with 30,000 in the U.S..."

Photo credit: "Raising children with Williams syndrome can pose some unique challenges, such as setting boundaries with strangers." Photo by Joel Sartore, National Geographihc Creative.

Hip-Hop Is Bigger Than Rock Music, Thanks to Nobody Buying Albums. An interesting development, courtesy of Quartz: "...According to Nielsen Music’s latest semi-annual report, hip-hop (including R&B) is now the biggest genre in the US, overtaking rock music for the very first time. Hip-hop claims 25.1% of all music consumption, while rock music is at 23%. Why this happened has as much to do with US’s listening methods as it does the undeniable talent of many modern-day rappers. In the 1990s, CD sales still dominated. Digital-music streaming has now outstripped physical album sales and iTunes downloads as the primary way people listen to songs; with this new order comes both a new audience and a revamp of music charts..."

The Abstract Beauty of One Of The World's Harshest Climates. Atlas Obscura has an eye-opening photo essay: "...In these regions—some of the most sparsely populated in the world—it’s essential to be prepared. Otherwise, says photographer Luca Tombolini, “you just aren’t in the condition to photograph because you’re probably thinking about how to save yourself.” Tombolini photographs deserts with an eye for “plays of symmetries and purity.” His large format images show pastel-hued dunes that form sweeping, abstract shapes, and endless horizons under bleached blue skies..."

A 9-Year Old Tripped, Fell and Discovered a Million-Year-Old Fossil. The New York Times has an amazing story: "Jude Sparks was only 9 years old when he made a remarkable paleontological discovery. While out for a walk wiith his family in Las Cruces, N.M., in November, Jude had been running to hide from his younger brothers when he tripped and fell. He found himself face to face with something that, he said, looked like "fossilized wood." "It was just an odd shape," Jude, now 10, said in a phone interview on Tuesday. "I just knew it was not something that you usually find." It looked like a massive jaw, and Jude's younger brother Hunter thought it belonged to a cow skull. His parents, Michelle and Kyle Sparks, thought it resembled the remains of an elephant. So they took a picture of the object to investigate further..."

Photo credit: "Jude Sparks sitting beside the fossilized remains of a Stegomastodon." Peter Houde.




TODAY: Humid with strong to severe T-storms. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 84

FRIDAY NIGHT: Muggy with more T-storms. Low: 69

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, stray PM T-shower possible. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 86

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, cooler. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 66. High: 79

MONDAY: Pleasantly sunny and mild. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 58. High: 78

TUESDAY: Intervals of sun, a bit stickier. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 61. High: 82

WEDNESDAY: Unsettled, passing T-shower? Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 66. High: 85

THURSDAY: Warm sun, storms should stay south. Winds: NW 3-8. Wake-up: 67. High: 83


Climate Stories...


Methane Seeps Out as Arctic Permafrost Starts to Resemble Swiss Cheese. Here's the intro to a story at InsideClimate News: "Global warming may be unleashing new sources of heat-trapping methane from layers of oil and gas that have been buried deep beneath Arctic permafrost for millennia. As the Earth's frozen crust thaws, some of that gas appears to be finding new paths to the surface through permafrost that's starting to resemble Swiss cheese in some areas, scientists said. In a study released today, the scientists used aerial sampling of the atmosphere to locate methane sources from permafrost along a 10,000 square-kilometer swath of the Mackenzie River Delta in northwestern Canada, an area known to have oil and gas desposits. Deeply thawed pockets of permafrost, the research suggests, are releasing 17 percent of all the methane measured in the region, even though the emissions hotspots only make up 1 percent of the surface area, the scientists found..."

Image credit: "In parts of northern Canada's Mackenzie River Delta, seen here by satellite, scientists are finding high levels of methane near deeply thawed pockets of permafrost." Credit: NASA Earth Observatory.


Robert Redford: "To Save the World, Start Small". The solutions will be organic, bottom-up, not top-down, dictated more by economics than politics. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Time.com: "...Our choice is no longer the economy vs. the environment. It is now the economy and the environment. Addressing climate change will help both. Ignoring it risks both. This is not a revelation in many of our cities and towns. There, the idea that climate change is “political” is dissolving. If you are the mayor of a coastal town that now floods regularly or a farming town that just experienced several “once-in-a-hundred-years” droughts within a couple years, politics is the furthest thing from your mind. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Mayors are usually our most direct connection to government. They see the immediate ways in which our communities are threatened and reinvented. Fighting climate change can be opportunity for such reinvention..."

Image credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring.

2017 Is So Unexpectedly Warm It Is Freaking Out Climate Scientists. Joe Romm explains why at ThinkProgress: "Normally, the hottest years on record occur when the underlying human-caused global warming trend gets a temporary boost from an El Niño’s enhanced warming in the tropical Pacific. So it’s been a surprise to climate scientists that 2017 has been so remarkably warm — because the last El Niño ended a year ago. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Tuesday that the first half of 2017 was the second-warmest January-June on record for Earth, topped only by 2016, which was boosted by one of the biggest El Niños on record..."

Graphic credit: "January–June 2017 global surface temperatures (compared to the 20th century average) in Degrees Celsius." CREDIT: NOAA.

Climate Change Will Force Today's Kids to Pay for Costly Carbon Removal Technologies, Study Says. The Washington Post explains: "The longer humans continue to pour carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the closer we draw to leaving the next generation with an unmanageable climate problem, scientists say. A new study, just out Tuesday in the journal Earth System Dynamics, suggests that merely reducing greenhouse gas emissions may no longer be enough — and that special technology, aimed at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, may also be necessary to keep the Earth’s climate within safe limits for future generations. The research was largely inspired by a landmark climate change lawsuit brought by 21 children against the federal government, which is scheduled to go to trial in February 2018, and will be used as scientific support in the case. In fact, its lead author, Columbia University climatologist and former NASA scientist James Hansen, is a plaintiff on the case, along with his now 18-year-old granddaughter..."

Photo credit: "New research suggests that if immediate and significant emissions reduction efforts are undertaken — amounting to a decline in global carbon output by at least 3 percent annually starting in the next four years — then less carbon extraction will be needed." (Martin Meissner/AP).

Scientist Spreads the Word on Climate Change, by Biking Across America. WTOP NewsRadio in Washington D.C. has the story: "...He recently discussed the book with WTOP’s Shawn Anderson and Hillary Howard, and highlighted some of the moments in which he witnessed the dramatic impact of global warming. In Idaho and Montana, Goodrich rode his bike (and 50 pounds of gear) into wildfire-affected areas. In Kansas, he pedaled through 100-degree heat and punishing hot winds. And across the front range of the Rockies, he saw particularly dramatic evidence of its impact: massive amounts of dead trees caused by the mountain pine beetle. The pest used to be killed off by extreme cold, but “those kinds of winters don’t happen anymore, and the population of this beetle has just exploded,” he said..."

Photo credit: "Goodrich rides on the Hi-Line along U.S. 2 in northern Montana. Glacier National Park can be seen in the distance." (Courtesy David Goodrich).

Regulators Deciding Whether to Raise "Social Cost of Carbon in Minnesota". We're paying a price for reliance on fossil fuels, in short-term air pollution health-related costs, and longer-term climate risk. Are all the costs being factored into a "free market"? Here's an excerpt from Star Tribune: "The costs of climate change — in other words, putting a price on greenhouse gases — will be hashed out before Minnesota utility regulators over the next week, and it’s guaranteed to be both complicated and contentious. Minnesota was a pioneer in affixing a price to carbon dioxide back in the 1990s and is still one of only a handful of states with such a standard. Environmental and energy groups want the state’s carbon pricing formula to be revised, adopting the federal government’s “social cost of carbon.” “In the 20 years since the state specified the cost of carbon dioxide, there has been a wealth of new information published on the health and climate impacts of burning fossil fuel,” said J. Drake Hamilton, science policy director for St. Paul-based Fresh Energy, a renewable energy advocacy group..." (File image credit: Reuters).


Climate Change Will Bring Coastal Flooding. Here's a snippet of an Op-Ed from the Editorial Board at San Antonio's Express-News: "...This fits a broader prediction for America’s coasts from the Union of Concerned Scientists. At present, about 90 communities across America face such chronic flooding. But that will nearly double to 170 communities by 2035 under moderate projections for sea level rise. By 2060, it will jump to 270 coastal communities. And by 2100, nearly 500 coastal communities. A more extreme projection says 670 coastal communities will face chronic flooding by the end of the century. These projections can be useful for planning purposes. How close to the coast should communities build hospitals, refineries, schools? What land can communities set aside to ease flooding? What actions should be taken to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate warming to limit the toll a warmer world will take on future generations? Like other reports on climate change, this coastal flooding report warns of an outsized impact on the poor as well as the business and security concerns that come with a warming world..."

File photo: Walt Jennings, FEMA.



Threat of Lyme Disease Spreads North.  Another unwelcome symptom of a warming climate. Here's an excerpt of an interview at Yale Climate Connections: "...The problem is not just in Maine. Annual reported cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. have more than doubled over the past 20 years. Foley says part of the reason is that warmer winter temperatures have allowed the ticks to thrive in new areas, so more cases are now reported in places like upstate New York, and the upper Great Lakes region.

Foley: “The expansion north is certainly associated with climate change.”

And it’s not just rising temperatures. Changes in precipitation, humidity, and vegetation can also affect tick populations and the transmission of Lyme disease..."

Global Warming Melts Ice, Alters Fabled Northwest Passage. Here's a clip from AP and The Washington Post: "More than a century has passed since the first successful transit of the treacherous, ice-bound Northwest Passage by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in 1906. Now The Associated Press is sending a text, video and photo team through the passage, where global warming is melting sea ice and glaciers at an historic rate, altering and opening up the Arctic in a way unprecedented in recorded history. Although the passage presents an attractive shortcut for maritime traffic between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, only a dozen or two vessels attempt to navigate the poorly charted Canadian Arctic Archipelago during the brief summer window each year. Many are sturdy coast guard icebreakers, adventure cruises and thrill-seekers in small, nimble boats hoping to pick their way through fields of floating ice that can easily strand unprepared mariners..."

Photo credit: "Polar maritime lawyer Scott Joblin, from the Australian National University in Cambria, looks over a map aboard the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica as it sets sail in the North Pacific Ocean toward the Bering Strait, Thursday, July 6, 2017. A group of international researchers is sailing into the Arctic Sea aboard the Finnish icebreaker to traverse the Northwest Passage and record the environmental and social changes that are taking place in one of the most forbidding corners of the world." (David Goldman/Associated Press).


Scientists Warn Climate Change Could Bring the Dust Bowl Back Out of the History Books. Of course land use techniques and farming practices have improved dramatically since those dark, dusty days back in the 1930s. Could it happen again? Gizmodo has details on a new study: "...In a study published on July 17 in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers at Princeton University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory used satellite data from 2003-2015 to resolve some of the lingering uncertainty on prior dust activity models. Their research projects that “climate change will increase dust activity in the southern Great Plains from spring to fall in the late half of the twenty-first century – largely due to reduced precipitation, enhanced land surface bareness, and increased surface wind speed.” In other words, deforestation and the mega-droughts which are increasingly becoming a feature of our changing climate are likely to create conditions ideal for the return of massive dust storms..."

File photo: "A dust storm in April 1935 about to give Stratford, Texas a very bad day." Photo Courtesy NOAA