Thursday, June 30, 2011

Near 100 Today (weekend relief, few T-storms return by Monday)

Paul's Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:

TODAY: Hot sun, tropical humidity levels. Feels like 105-110 by mid afternoon. Storms by evening. Winds: SW 10-20. High: 98 (heat index in the 104-108 range by mid afternoon).

FRIDAY NIGHT: T-storms, a few strong to severe. Low: 67 (late)

SATURDAY: Best day of the holiday weekend. Bright sun, less humid. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 84

SATURDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and comfortable - dry statewide. Low: 63

SUNDAY: Plenty of sun, less wind - lower humidity. Winds:S 5-10. High: 82

SUNDAY NIGHT: Growing chance of T-storms. Low: 68

4th of July: Some AM sun, then increasing clouds, sticky. Few T-storms likely later in the day. Winds: S 10-15. High: 86

TUESDAY: More sun, a drier day statewide. Low: 70. High: 86

WEDNESDAY: Sunny, very pleasant. Low: 68. High: 85

THURSDAY: Sunshine lingers, no weather-gripes. Low: 65. High: 84


95 yesterday in the Twin Cities, Heat Index as high as 108.

98: predicted high today in the metro area, some thermometers may brush 100 before winds shift to the west/northwest by evening and temperatures start to fall. Heat index by early afternoon: 105-110.

Excessive Heat Warning in effect for Hennepin/Ramsey counties through the evening hours.

* No, this isn't "proof" of global warming. This is "weather", not "climate". An excessively hot day in early July doesn't prove AGW any more than a chilly day in April disproves climate change. It's consistent with climate change theory, but proves nothing.

124 Degree Heat Index: Atlantic, Iowa Thursday afternoon. 99 degree temperature + 82 degree dew point = 124 H.I.

4th of July Overview:

Saturday: Sunny, stiff breeze, less humid (dew point: 60-64). Northwest winds 10-15. Rising barometer. Highs: 83-88

Sunday: Plenty of sun, slightly cooler with less wind (dew point: 55-59). Winds: Southeast 5-10. Steady barometer. Highs: 78-83

4th of JulySome sun early, then increasing clouds (dew point: 63-68). Showers & T-storms likely later in the day. Winds: S 10-15. Falling barometer.

"...The damage this spring broke records. Last week, a report from Aon Benfield, a re-insurance company, estimated $21 or $22 billion in damage from severe weather so far this year...The damage total reported by Aon does not include damage from flooding, drought and wildfire.

" - article on losses suffered due to extreme weather in 2011, details below.

2010: 874 weather and climate-related disasters resulted in 68,000 deaths and $99 billion in damages worldwide. (Pew Center White Paper, details below).

Even Hotter Today? The 1 pm temperature a few meters above the ground is forecast to be 94.2 F. - which means the actual air temperature in the downtowns may be close to 97-98 by early afternoon. 100 degrees is not out of the question.

Blazing Saddles. A Heat Advisory is in effect for much of central/southern Minnesota, almost all of Wisconsin, southward to Missouri, where Excessive Heat Warnings are posted (purple counties). An Excessive Heat Warning is also posted for Hennepin and Ramsey county, where the "urban heat island" (more asphalt/industry) will boost temperatures by another 5+ degrees. The NOAA watch/warning map for the USA is here.

Dangerously Hot On Thursday. Data below from the local NWS office:

Photo Of The Day. This may be one of the most spectacular photos I've ever seen, in this case a tornadic supercell approaching a truck stop in Nebraska. Details from The Telegraph: "A stormchaser has turned his hobby into a job, driving tens of thousands of miles every year to take spectacular photographs of extreme weather. Mike Hollingshead jumps in his car and races after storm warnings in the hope of capturing shots of tornadoes. He follows about 40 storms each year, clocking up around 20,000 miles. June 17, 2009. Mike says, "this photograph was taken at the end of the day after seeing 3 tornadoes from the storm. The supercell is moving towards the York, Nebraska truck stop." Remarkable.

Arrival Of Cooler Air May Set Off A Few Severe Storms...

Friday Severe Threat. SPC has much of Minneosta and western/central Iowa in a "slight risk" of isolated severe storms today, the leading edge of cooler, drier Canadian air destabilizing the atmosphere - spinning up a few cells capable of large hail, highs winds, even an isolated tornado.

Saturday: Free A/C. A brisk northwest wind (10-15 mph with a few higher gusts during the afternoon) will usher in cooler, drier Canadian air into Minnesota. Dew points fall through the 60s, highs in the 80s under a mostly sunny sky. Not bad at all. NAM model map above valid at 1 pm Saturday, showing T-storms pushing across Wisconsin into Chicago, a bubble of high pressure over the Dakotas drifting eastward, a contrast in pressure whipping up a stiff northwest breeze - it may be a little choppy on area lakes Saturday.

Sunday: Slight Cooler, Less Wind. Sunshine should still be the rule much of Sunday, more clouds and a few PM pop-up showers possible over the Red River Valley, but that bubble of high pressure should linger for blue sky much of the day, highs in the upper 70s to low 80s, winds swinging around to the southeast at 5-10 mph or less. NAM model map above valid 1 pm Sunday.

Monday: Few Atmospheric Firecrackers? Monday appears to be the most unsettled day of the 3-day holiday, a southerly flow on the backside of the high pumping moisture north again, sparking more clouds and a few scattered T-storms, especially late afternoon and evening hours. I still don't envision a steady, stratiform rain - this should still be "convective", hit-or-miss showers and T-storms, especially after 3 or 4 pm. The best odds of getting in a dry outdoor event: morning and midday hours Monday.

Friday Highs. Much of America will sizzle today, highs topping 100 in as many as 10 states. Predicted highs range from 98 in the Twin Cities to 97 in Chicago, close to 100 at Kansas City, low 100s in Oklahoma City and Dallas. Seattle will experience the 295th day in a row without seeing 80 degrees. The all-time record is 313 days. Map courtesy of Ham Weather, a division of WeatherNation.

Friday Precipitation Outlook. The latest NAM/WRF model predicts strong/severe storms from Minnesota southward to Missouri, along the leading edge of cooler, drier, more comfortable Canadian air. More heavy T-storms will help to ease the drought across Florida, a few spotty showers over interior New England and along the Gulf Coast. The west looks dry, still cool over the Pacific Northwest, seasonably warm for the southwestern USA. Map above valid at 7 pm, showing expected precipitation for the previous 6 hours.

1         30          2011
2         29          1953
3         28          1914
4         27          2010...1952
5         26          1934...1925...1911


Nuke Query: What If Dam Breaks? A chilling throught, with a low probability of taking place, but has a look at what a massive failure of dams located upstream of Omaha might mean for the nuclear power plants on the Missouri River: "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is asking for an explanation of the flooding that would occur should a dam break upstream of two Nebraska nuclear plants it monitors. Combined, the six U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dams on the flood-swollen Missouri River comprise one of the largest reservoir systems in the country. The dams are releasing historic amounts of water during what will be a summer of managed flooding in the Missouri River valley. On Wednesday, the NRC regional office that oversees Nebraska sent an official request to the corps for its 2009 and 2010 analyses of what would happen if a dam fails. Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station, 19 miles north of Omaha, has been taken offline because of the flooding. The river surrounds the plant to a depth of about two feet. About 70 miles south of Omaha, Cooper Nuclear Station remains online. On Thursday, the river was about three feet below the level that would require the plant to shut down. Anton Vegel, director of the division of reactor safety for the Arlington, Tex., office of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission made the request to Col. Robert J. Ruch, commander of the Omaha District of the corps. The Omaha district oversees the dams. The dams themselves have had some issues, according to the corps, but nothing that affects their integrity, said John Bertino, head of dam safety for the Omaha district. While the amount of water being released from them is a record, the amount of water being held behind the is not, he said."

Flood Evacuation In Percival, Iowa After Levee Breach. Here is raw footage of the evacuation from WHO-TV in Des Moines.

Tornado Tips: How To Stay Safe Before, During And After The Storm. The Las Vegas Review-Journal has a good recap on what you should (and shouldn't) do during a tornadic storm:

* "Taking shelter at home. An essential part of tornado safety is knowing where to go when it's time to take shelter. If your home has a basement, you should go down into it. If possible, go under a sturdy table and/or cover yourself with something that will protect you from falling debris, such as a mattress or a sleeping bag. Think about where heavy objects are on the floor above you and do not position yourself under them. If your home does not have a basement, go to a small, windowless room or a stairwell positioned in the center of the ground floor of your house. Cover yourself with a mattress or other protection from falling debris and crouch as low to the floor as possible, covering your head with your hands.

* Taking shelter on the road. Driving during a tornado is dangerous, but if you are on the road when the warning is issued or a storm is sighted, it's important to know what to do. Whenever possible, pull over safely and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If there are no buildings around, pull over to the side of the road and go to low ground well away from vehicles. Lie flat, face down and protect your head with your arms. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can cause traffic hazards."

Texas Drought Declared Natural Disaster. The combination of debilitating heat and "exceptional drought" is wiping out crops across Texas. More details from Huffington Post: "Drought and wildfires have lead to the decision by the US Department of Agriculture to declare the entire state of Texas a natural disaster.KCBD in Lubbock reports that in all, 213 counties in Texas have lost at least 30 percent of their crops or pasture. The disaster declaration will allow farmers and ranchers to qualify for emergency loans at lower interest rates. "This is a disaster," Texas farmer Scott Harmon said. "This is a train wreck."

The Entire State Of Texas Has Been Declared A Disaster Area. Another perspective on the deepening drought in the Lonestar state from Business Insider: "More than 200 Texan counties have been designated drought disasters by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and all remaining counties now qualify for federal aid. KCBD in Lubbock reports that 213 counties have lost at least 30 percent of their pasture or crops to wildfires and drought. The natural disaster designation allows farmers and ranchers to qualify for low-rate emergency loans. South Plains farmer Scott Harmon told KCBD, "This is a disaster. This is a train wreck. We've never seen anything like this before. People are scared, they don't know what to do and what's going to happen to them next." Harmon's family have been farming their small piece of Texas since the 1920's....Texas Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples told 103.5 things are bad and they will probably get worse:

We are currently ranked as the third-worst drought on record in Texas. But each passing day moves us closer to the number one year. It is a true calamity. The impact is heartbreaking,” says Staples. “We’ve had over two million acres of dry land cotton being declared 100% abandoned. We have livestock producers that are liquidating their herds, something they’ve spent their entire lifetime building up. It’s just a dreadful set of circumstances.”

Agricultural losses may exceed the 2006 record of $4.1 billion. More than 70 percent of the state is in a full blown drought and three million acres have been burned by wildfires."

Driest Consecutive 9 Months Ever Recorded In Midland, Texas. Here's a post from the NWS: "From October 2010 through June 2011 Midland International Airport has received 0.18 of an inch of precipitation. This is by far the least amount of precipitation that has fallen in any 9 consecutive month period since record keeping began in 1930. Here is a list of the top ten driest consecutive 9 months at the airport from 1930-2011."

Wild Weather Draining Fragile State Budgets. The story from the Southeast Farm Press: "Drought, floods, thunderstorms and tornadoes brutally hit the United States this spring and hurricane season hasn't started yet. With people and government budgets suffering from weather costs, what will summer bring?

 Meteorologists at predict four direct hits on the United States by tropical systems this year. Cleanup costs from those storms will drain already fragile state budgets hit by extreme weather this spring.

 The damage this spring broke records. Last week, a report from Aon Benfield, a re-insurance company, estimated $21 or $22 billion in damage from severe weather so far this year. Aon Benfield's report included uninsured losses from April and May's tornadoes and severe storms. Aon said that in those two months, the amount of severe weather insured losses is three times the U.S. annual average (1990-2010).

 The damage total reported by Aon does not include damage from flooding, drought and wildfire.

 Flooding of the Mississippi River from Illinois to Louisiana caused between $850 million and $2 billion in damage, John Michael Riley, agricultural economist at Mississippi State, said.

 In Minot, N.D., $90 million is the preliminary estimate for flood damage to public facilities. With the flood waters still high, there is no prediction on damage to homes and other private property.


Active Fires. Wildfires continue to burn from California east to the Carolinas and Florida. Click here to see the latest information from the North American Forest Fire Incident Display System.

Fire Threat. The fire situation remains critical from northern Arizona into the central Plains states, map courtesy of NOAA.

Airplane Deployed To Monitor Air Over New Mexico Fire. The concern is radioactive materials being stored at the Los Alamos Nuclear Lab, but so far there are no indications that any of these 55 gallon drums have been compromised by the wildfire. USA Today has the latest: "LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — The government sent a plane equipped with radiation monitors over the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory Wednesday as a 125-square-mile wildfire burned at its doorstep, putting thousands of scientific experiments on hold for days. Lab authorities described the monitoring as a precaution, and they, along with outside experts on nuclear engineering, expressed confidence that the blaze would not scatter radioactive material, as some in surrounding communities feared. "Our facilities, our nuclear materials are all safe, they're accounted for and they're protected," said lab director Charles McMillan. After firefighters spent Wednesday setting fires to create a burned out area west and south of the lab, Los Alamos County Fire Chief Doug Tucker said he is confident that the fire won't spread onto the facility. "It's looking real good right now," Tucker said Wednesday night. "By having that buffer I'm pretty confident that we'd be able to stop any spot fires from coming into the lab." A 10-mile fire line along a highway has held since Monday, save for a one acre spot fire that started on lab grounds that was quickly extinguished."

TRMM. Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission. NASA is using a low-orbiting satellite to scan tropical storms and hurricanes from low-orbit. Here is some data gathered on Tropical Storm Arlene from TRMM; more details here: "The image (above) is the result of automatic processes designed to show the latest hurricanes and typhoons (tropical cyclones) observed by the TRMM satellite. The images are made and stored in near "realtime". TRMM VIRS, TMI and PR are processed for use in these displays. The "A" to "B" line on the static image on the left below is drawn where the highest value of radar reflectivity was found. Animations show multiple vertical cross sections (slices) of Precipitation Radar reflectivity."

Freakish Weather Out West...

Snow In The Lake Tahoe Area On June 29! Check out this YouTube clip. Snow was accumulating above 7,000 feet on Wednesday - pretty remarkable for so late in the season: "Lake Tahoe woke up to snow above 7300 feet. This is the second snow of June. It has been over 12 years since it has snowed every month of the year but it does happen. This could be one of thoes years. The Lake Level is at 6228. 0. Flood stage begins at 6228.7 Warm weather should return on thursday and back to the 80's for 4th of July week end. This rain could save us from wild fires over the long week end."

"EarthWeek". Highlighting The World's Weather Extremes. This is an interesting web site, showcasing some of the more noteworthy extremes and highlights over the last 7 days. According to EarthWeek: "The week's hottest temperature was 116.1 degrees Fahrenheit (46.7 degrees Celsius) at Nema, Mauritania. The week's coldest temperature was minus 101.9 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 46.7 degrees Celsius) at Russia's Vostok Antarctic research station."

Airplanes Found To Trigger Rain, Snow. An intriguing story from CBS News and AP: "WASHINGTON - Airplanes flying through super-cooled clouds around airports can cause condensation that results in more snow and rain nearby, according to a new study. The correct conditions for this inadvertent weather modification occur about 5 percent of the time - but 10-to-15 percent in winter - according to Andrew J. Heymsfield of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., lead author of the study appearing in Friday's edition of the journal Science. Aircraft take off into the wind, he noted, so if they are generating extra ice particles upwind of an airport, the result can be snow right on the airport. That might mean planes will require more de-icing, he said, though other researchers weren't so sure. The team was investigating holes or canals that are sometimes seen drilled in clouds after an airplane has passed through. Studying six commercial airports, they found that increased snow and rainfall occurs in areas where the unusual cloud holes appear, usually within 60 miles (100 kilometers) of the airport. Places farther away from an airport are more likely to be at higher altitudes, above the clouds. The added rain or snowfall occurred when conditions in the clouds were super-cooled. That means the clouds were made up of water droplets that were colder than freezing, but which had not yet frozen. Water in the atmosphere can remain liquid at temperatures below freezing if it doesn't have any type of nucleus to freeze onto, such as bits of dust or salt. It will freeze without a nucleus when it gets very cold, however - about minus 40 degrees(minus 15 Celsius). It turns out, when an airplane passes through one of these clouds the movement of air around the tips of the propeller, or over the wings of a jet, causes a sudden cooling of the air, sometimes down to the critical point where the droplets freeze. They then can fall to earth as snow or rain, depending on whether or not the air is warm enough to melt them on the way down."

We Have To Fix E-Mail. I couldn't agree more - I spend WAY too much of my day deleting spam and clicking through mind-numbing e-mails. There has to be a better way. The New York Time's David Pogue has a few ideas (subscription may be required to read the full text): "I’ll admit it: I have an e-mail problem. At this moment, there are 1,944 unanswered messages in the Inbox of my private account, and 2,730 in the Inbox of my public account. And that’s after taking a deep breath and deleting all the unanswered ones from 2008 and 2009, which I realized would be too embarrassing to answer anyway. I’m a special case, of course. My e-mail address is published everywhere, and I write about a subject that’s among the most baffling in the world — technology. Many people write me in hopes of getting “what should I buy” advice, seeking “how do I fix it” information or just responding to something they’ve read. Still, I’m not the only one with an e-mail problem. Among my friends, many have hundreds or thousands of messages sitting unanswered at this moment. It’s a broken system, for sure. Yesterday, someone posted a Web site called the E-mail Charter. It’s 10 principles that are designed to ease the problem. This isn’t a new idea; you can find similar articles all over the Internet. (You can also find “zero-inbox” advocates online: people who advocate filing all e-mail every day, so you always leave work with an empty Inbox. To me, though, that’s just a self-fakeout. You’re just shuffling the same unanswered messages into folders.)"

Social Media + Broadcast TV = Killer App. TVNewsCheck has the story: "A study found that more viewers chatted and tweeted while watching live TV during the past season and the top 10 most popular "social shows" are all aired on broadcast networks. Such social viewing is giving rise to a new metric, social impressions, that bolsters the gross ratings points. Stations are also discovering the value of tying local programming in with the Facebook and Twitter. The more dedicated the fans of a show are, the more impact their social media presence has. Maureen Bosetti, EVP of broadcast and buying for Optimedia US, recently told Media Daily News that social media considerations allow “us to tap into sponsorship opportunities across multiple platforms and amplify our client’s message where consumers are most engaged.” The social media effect is also showing up in the strategies of television stations. Gannett Broadcasting has done a number of marketing promotions on its NBC affiliates built around late-season entry, The Voice. The result? Most of those six Gannett stations in the top 25 markets are ranked either first or second in the time period during which the show airs. And latenight local programming, for virtually all of Gannett’s 11 NBC affiliates, has seen noticeable bumps in the ratings. Can local television broadcasters take advantage of the social media/television interaction to directly benefit one of our greatest assets: local news? "

Worst Weatherman? Not so fast - I think this guy does a fine job. Just needs to pick out a shirt that isn't ChromaKey green next time. Give him a chance...

Sizzling Thursday. Poor Grand Marais - they missed out on the hot weather party, a high of only 57 on Thursday. That compares to 93 at St. Cloud and 95 in the Twin Cities, where the heat index rose as high as 108 F.

"Free Sauna"

Here in Minnesota summer isn't on a dimmer-switch. It's either "on" or "off". Welcome to Dubai (with natural lakes!) Today may be even hotter than Thursday was: upper 90s, a 1 in 3 shot at hitting 100 for the second time this year.

Leave it to a meteorologist to leave you feeling worse than you thought possible. Winter brings wind chill, now it's the "heat index", the combined effect of heat & moisture.

Since 1945 MSP has experienced only 20 hours of dew points of 80 or higher. When there's this much water in the air your body can't cool itself naturally by sweating. A Heat Warning is still posted; take it easy out there.

T-storms tonight may be severe, marking the leading edge of Canadian Relief. Winds shift around to the northwest Saturday as a bubble of high pressure settles overhead. In theory, that should mean abundant sunshine Saturday and much of Sunday. A wave of low pressure rippling along a frontal boundary over Iowa may set off T-storms on Monday, the 4th, especially later in the day. Highs: mostly in the 80s. Lake-friendly weather Saturday & Sunday with winds in the 10+ mph range. Have a Plan B for the 4th, but I still suspect that the first half of the day will be dry & "grill-worthy".

Part 1: "Storm Warnings: Extreme Weather Is A Product Of Climate Change". John Carey, writing for Scientific American, has a series focused on the extreme weather gripping much of America. 2010 may have seen the most frequent (and severe) weather outbreaks since 1816, according to the Weather Underground's Chief Meteorologist Jeff Masters. Is this all a coincidence, or is the 4-5% increase in water vapor "loading the dice" in favor of more flooding, more severe local storms and heavier winter snows? "In North Dakota the waters kept rising. Swollen by more than a month of record rains in Saskatchewan, the Souris River topped its all time record high, set back in 1881. The floodwaters poured into Minot, North Dakota's fourth-largest city, and spread across thousands of acres of farms and forests. More than 12,000 people were forced to evacuate. Many lost their homes to the floodwaters. Yet the disaster unfolding in North Dakota might be bringing even bigger headlines if such extreme events hadn't suddenly seemed more common. In this year alone massive blizzards have struck the U.S. Northeast, tornadoes have ripped through the nation, mighty rivers like the Mississippi and Missouri have flowed over their banks, and floodwaters have covered huge swaths of Australia as well as displaced more than five million people in China  and devastated Colombia. And this year's natural disasters follow on the heels of a staggering litany of extreme weather in 2010, from record floods in Nashville, Tenn., and Pakistan, to Russia's crippling heat wave. Increasingly, the answer is yes. Scientists used to say, cautiously, that extreme weather events were "consistent" with the predictions of climate change. No more. "Now we can make the statement that particular events would not have happened the same way without global warming," says Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo. That's a profound change—the difference between predicting something and actually seeing it happen. The reason is simple: The signal of climate change is emerging from the "noise"—the huge amount of natural variability in weather."

Part 2: "Global Warming And The Science Of Extreme Weather". Here is the second part of John Carey's 3-part series at Scientific American: "Extreme floods, prolonged droughts, searing heat waves, massive rainstorms and the like don't just seem like they've become the new normal in the last few years—they have become more common, according to data collected by reinsurance company Munich Re. But has this increase resulted from human-caused climate change or just from natural climatic variations? After all, recorded floods and droughts go back to the earliest days of mankind, before coal, oil and natural gas made the modern industrial world possible. Until recently scientists had only been able to say that more extreme weather is "consistent" with climate change caused by greenhouse gases that humans are emitting into the atmosphere. Now, however, they can begin to say that the odds of having extreme weather have increased because of human-caused atmospheric changes—and that many individual events would not have happened in the same way without global warming. The reason: The signal of climate change is finally emerging from the "noise"—the huge amount of natural variability in weather. Scientists compare the normal variation in weather with rolls of the dice. Adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere loads the dice, increasing odds of such extreme weather events. It's not just that the weather dice are altered, however. As Steve Sherwood, co-director of the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales in Australia, puts it, "it is more like painting an extra spot on each face of one of the dice, so that it goes from 2 to 7 instead of 1 to 6. This increases the odds of rolling 11 or 12, but also makes it possible to roll 13."

Part 3: "Our Extreme Future: Predicting And Coping With The Effects Of A Changing Climate. Here is the final part of John Carey's 3-part Scientific American series on climate change and extreme weather events - a look at what recent trends might mean for the future: "Extreme weather events have become both more common and more intense. And increasingly, scientists have been able to pin at least part of the blame on humankind's alteration of the climate. What's more, the growing success of this nascent science of climate attribution (finding the telltale fingerprints of climate change in extreme events) means that researchers have more confidence in their climate models—which predict that the future will be even more extreme. Are we prepared for this future? Not yet. Indeed, the trend is in the other direction, especially in Washington, D.C., where a number of members of Congress even argue that climate change itself is a hoax. Scientists hope that rigorously identifying climate change's contribution to individual extreme events can indeed wake people up to the threat. As the research advances, it should be possible to say that two extra inches (five centimeters) of rain poured down in a Midwestern storm because of greenhouse gases, or that a California heat wave was 10 times more likely to occur thanks to humans' impacts on climate. So researchers have set up rapid response teams to assess climate change's contribution to extreme events while the events are still fresh in people's minds. In addition, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is preparing a special report on extreme events and disasters, due out by the end of 2011. "It is important for us emphasize that climate change and its impacts are not off in the future, but are here and now," explained Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, during a briefing at United Nations climate talks in CancĂșn last December."

Extreme Weather And Climate Change: Understanding The Link, Managing The Risk. Here is the Pew Center White Paper, written by Dan Huber and Jay Gulledge: "Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance company, began compiling global disaster data in 1980. In that data set, 2010 had the second-largest (after 2007) number of recorded natural disasters and the fifth-greatest economic losses.4 Although there were far more deaths from geological disasters—almost entirely from the Haiti earthquake—more than 90 percent of all disasters and 65 percent of associated economic damages were weather and climate related (i.e. high winds, flooding, heavy snowfall, heat waves, droughts, wildfires). In all, 874 weather and climate-related disasters resulted in 68,000 deaths and $99 billion in damages worldwide. The fact that 2010 was one of the warmest years on record as well as one of the most disastrous, begs the question: Is global warming causing more extreme weather? The short and simple answer is yes, at least for heat waves and heavy precipitation.5 But much of the public discussion of this relationship obscures the link behind a misplaced focus on causation of individual weather events. The questions we ask of science are critical: When we ask whether climate change “caused” a particular event, we pose a fundamentally unanswerable question (see box). This fallacy assures that we will often fail to draw connections between individual weather events and climate change, leading us to disregard the real risks of more extreme weather due to global warming.

Increases In The Number Of Days With Very Heavy Precipitation: 1958-2007. From the Pew Center White Paper referenced above:

Fire Up The Grill, Not The Atmosphere. Here's an Op-Ed from the New York Times: "FOOD is responsible for 10 to 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. By many estimates, cooking represents more of a meal’s carbon footprint than transport. For certain vegetables, it accounts for more emissions than agriculture, transport and disposal combined. Fourth of July, the national celebration of combustion, presents an opportunity for atonement. I’m not advising you to forsake grilling this holiday and join the ranks of raw-foodists. Nor do I believe that we can reverse climate change by eating burgers rare instead of well done. But a little creative thinking can reduce this year’s Fourth of July carbon emissions without gustatory sacrifice. And maybe that awareness will carry into other days and other parts of our lives."

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