Sunday, July 10, 2011

Biggest Heatwave of 2011 Shaping Up? (scientists hit back against climate contrarians)

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

TODAY: Damp start, then sunny, still sticky. Winds: NW 10-15. High: near 90

MONDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear, more comfortable. Low: 68

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, less humidity- it will feel MUCH better out there. High: 82

WEDNESDAY: Sunny start, nighttime storms likely. Low: 63. High: 79

THURSDAY: Scattered T-storms, sticky again. Low: 65. High: 81

FRIDAY: Hot sun, "dog days" return to Minnesota. Low: 72. High: 92

SATURDAYHazy sun, muggy. Few T-storms possible. Low: 75. High: 93

SUNDAY: Lake-loitering weather. Few storms flare up. Very hot & humid. Low: 74. High: 94

92 F. high in the Twin Cities on Sunday, 8th of 2011 (3 more than normal, as of July 10).

72 F. dew point reported in the Twin Cities Sunday evening. Dew points drop into the 50s by Tuesday, nearly half as much water in the air than yesterday.

111 F. in Wichita, Kansas on Sunday. Not only was it a record for July 10, it was the hottest day in Wichita since 1980.

106 F. at Joplin, Missouri Sunday, warmest temperature in 25 years.

105 F. high at Oklahoma City yesterday, the 12th day of 100+ heat in a row (21 days above 100 so far this year).

The "Main Event"? All the models bring 90-degree heat back into Minnesota later this week as a massive ridge of high pressure pushes northward across the Plains into the Upper Midwest, Ohio Valley and Great Lakes. Long-range models suggest that the combination of 90-degree heat and dew points rising well into the 70s will make it feel like 105 as early as Friday, possibly 110-115 by Sunday in the Twin Cities!

Heatpump High. 500 mb winds are forecast to (finally) lift well north, allowing a massive ridge of high pressure to stall over Missouri, spreading 90s into the Upper Midwest, 100 degree heat possible as far north as Des Moines and Chicago by the end of the week. The map above is valid Saturday evening at 7 pm.

Photo Of The Day: Storm "Ring". I snapped this photo (off my iPad) last Friday when a few isolated T-storms were popping south of the Twin Cities metro. Those circular lines are "outflow boundaries", rain and hail-cooled air reaching the ground and spreading out into miniature cool fronts, moving away from the cluster of storms in ever direction. I thought this was pretty cool. Then again, I am a geek.

Monday Severe Risk. An eastbound cool front stalls out, running out of "cool push", acting as a meteorological magnet for more strong/severe storms later today from the Black Hills of South Dakota to Des Moines, Chicago and Columbus. Map courtesy of SPC.

Monday Evening Weather Map. The NAM/WRF model shows the most numerous showers/storms over the Great Lakes and Ohio River Valley, stretching westward to Omaha and Cheyenne, Wyoming. More instability storms sprout along the Gulf coast and central Florida - Texas remains bone-dry.

Expanding Heatwave. 100s shift to the north and east, reaching Kansas City, St. Cloud, Memphis and Huntsville, Alabama. Meanwhile a push of cooler, Canadian air drops temperatures into the 70s from the UP of Michigan and northern Minneosta westward to the the Dakotas, unusually cool weather persisting over the Pacific Northwest.

Denver Residents Still Cleaning Up After Flood. Flash flooding last week dumped out 2" of rain in less than an hour or two over the Denver suburbs. The has more details on the aftermath: "Dealing with floods during severe weather season isn't anything new for the Mayfair neighborhood at East 14th Avenue and Jasmine Street. But what's new this time is the amount of damage the flood left behind."In about an hour we got waist deep water," said Kate McNellis, a Mayfair resident. "It just pours into the crawl space."About 4 feet of water poured into McNellis' crawl space. That was enough to damage her water heater. "I wish I didn't have to pay for it again, but here we are," said McNellis.Just two years ago, McNellis had to replace another water heater because of flood damage. Still, McNellis feels lucky, even after shelling out about $1,500 for her repairs."I just couldn't believe my eyes," said Randy Riggin, a neighbor across the street.The flood waters created a river on the neighborhood street, that flowed right into his backyard and down to his basement."It was like a giant sink drain and everything was pouring down into it," said Riggin.There was so much water that every room his Riggin's 950-square-foot basement had damage."I knew everything was being destroyed in a matter of seconds," said Riggin. "Thirty years of personal items that can't be replaced."

Home Improvements Can Protect Homes, Lives In Tornadoes. Some helpful advice on how to reinforce your home and make it more storm-proof from the Kansas City Star: "It can take seconds for a monster tornado to tear a stick-built Midwest house to shreds. But even much weaker winds have damaged regional residences this storm season. We’ve seen the destroyed roofs and broken windows that prove it. Fred Haan, a mechanical engineering professor at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., builds 5-inch-tall houses with little holes drilled inside them — small-scale versions of our life-size abodes — to see how they fare versus tornadoes big and small. A giant simulating machine at Iowa State University creates twisters that are 3 feet in diameter. The models are typically demolished in seconds. “The main issue with houses in the Midwest is the lack of strong connections,” says Haan, whose academic research helps lead to better storm-shielding products. Relying on gravity, roofs rest on walls sitting atop foundations, and there is nothing fastening those components together. Unfortunately, saving frame-construction houses from 200-mph winds that occur in EF-4 or EF-5 tornadoes, such as the May 22 Joplin tornado, is almost impossible. But there are steps to help strengthen houses so they can survive more than a 3-second gust of 90-mph wind, the standard to which most houses in the Midwest are built."

Mental Health Professionals: Emotional Storm Brewing. Many Joplin tornado survivors are experiencing the meteorological equivalent of PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. The Joplin Globe reports: "JOPLIN, Mo. — When 30 percent of a town is blown away, something is bound to give. Local psychologists say they are seeing increasing numbers of people with agitation, anxiety and depression. Patricia McGregor, a psychologist with Thompson and McGregor, of Joplin, has seen a significant increase in adult clients in the wake of the May 22 tornado. “A lot of these people are direct survivors who have lost family members to the storm,” she said. “They have lost their homes, lost their vehicles, lost their jobs. And, there are the health care workers who were at one or the other of the hospitals who were not prepared to experience what they went through.” So far, three suicides have been linked to the tornado, according to Ozark Center, the mental health arm of Freeman Health System. In a given year, Joplin has six to 12 suicides, said Rob Chappel, coroner of Jasper County. Calls to the local mental health crisis hot line — 347-7720 — have increased significantly. Between May 22 and July 6, the crisis hot line received 1,752 calls, according to Debbie Fitzgerald, crisis intervention coordinator with Ozark Center. Of those, 40 involved people who were having suicidal thoughts. By comparison, the hot line received 371 calls in the month of April."
How To Prepare Disabled And Elderly For A Hurricane. There is nothing more terrifying for a senior citizen (or someone with a physical impairment) than an oncoming hurricane. Here are some good tops from Linda Hersey at, steps you can take before the storm: "People who are elderly or have special needs also require special care in an emergency, such as a hurricane.  Here are six tips to help St. Petersburg residents who are elderly or have special needs prepare:

1.) Register for special assistance. If you will need to evacuate to a shelter and require special assistance, the city asks that you register in advance by calling 727-551-3822. 

2.) Special equipment needs. If you require respirators or other electric dependant medical equipment, you should make prior medical arrangements with your physician. Florida law requires utility companies to offer a priority reconnection service for people with disabilities who use power-dependent equipment such as battery-operated wheelchairs or life-support systems. Call your utility company now, so you can be placed on a priority list.

3.) Educate yourself. The Pinellas County Office of Emergency Services offers a wealth of information for special needs and elderly citizens. If you will need assistance in an evacuation, you will need to fill out a form with the County Emergency Management Agency. Call Pinellas County Emergency Management at 727-464-3800 to receive a form by mail."

8th Day Above 90 This Year. After a thundery start (flash flood warnings for many southern Twin Cities suburbs early Sunday morning) the sun came out and it got HOT. Highs ranged from 89 at Eau Claire to 92 at St. Cloud and the Twin Cities, 93 at Crystal. Morning storms were fickle: only .08" rain fell at MSP International Airport, while downtown St. Paul picked up .41".

Why Dew Point?

"Paul, why do you insist on babbling about dew point? Whatever happened to good 'ol relative humidity?" Fair question. Dew point is an ABSOLUTE measure of how much water is in the air - one number that instantly summarizes how it really feels out there. A dew point of 60 is humid, 70 is tropical; we've had 8 hours of 80-degree dew points since 1945. The all-time record is 81 set in July, 1999. A seemingly reasonable relative humidity of 40% (with an air temperature of 95) is oppressive. Dew point is straightforward & simple.

There is a trend toward higher summer dew points, more water vapor the air, more potential fuel for storms (and floods). No, you're not imagining it. Minnesota is becoming more humid over time.

A wind shift to the northwest will begin to drop the drippy dew point later today, but highs flirt with 90 as sun returns statewide. Dew points dip into the 50s tomorrow, a burst of fresh, Canadian air able to shove storms & tropical humidity south & west of town through midweek. Storms return Wednesday night, heralding the arrival of another hot front: low to mid 90s likely Thursday thru the weekend. We'll just get a small taste of the Great Heatwave of 2011.

An Erosion Of Trust. takes a close look at climate skepticism, denial and a well-orchestrated (and funded) process of intimidation in this pdf story: "Last November, a catchy music video popped up on YouTube and attracted thousands of fans. Called ‘Hide the Decline’, the video featured a caricature of climate researcher Michael Mann admitting that he had committed fraud while creating his famous ‘hockey-stick’ graph of temperatures over the past millennium. Accompanied by a kitten playing the guitar, the cartoon image of Mann joyfully sings, “Making up data the old hard way, fudging the numbers day by day.” The video wasn’t funny to the real Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. A lawyer wrote to the group responsible for it, threatening to sue them for defamation and for using a copyrighted image. The video was promptly taken down and a new version — without the copyrighted photo — appeared on YouTube. Mann has grown weary of dealing with the various groups that are criticizing him. “In reality, these groups are guilty over and over again of defamation, slander and libel, but that is far more difficult to fight legally,” Mann says. “Even if you were to prevail, you would have invested potentially several years of your career, and frankly those of us who love doing science are not willing to do that.”

Are Scientists Hitting Back Against The Contrarians? The short answer is yes. More from the Climate Change Task Force: HERE is an extraordinary letter published in the journal Science, signed by 255 members of the US National Academy of Sciences, including 11 Nobel Prize laureates. It says: "Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence." Further, "We also call for an end to McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them."  See the press release for the 2010 Climate B.S. of the Year Award. The Union of Concerned Scientists UCS has announced a program to organize scientists from around the country to beat back misinformation and educate decision makers and the public about the real facts on global warming. A recent UCS email states: "The Union of Concerned Scientists is leading a campaign to promote climate science facts and return the public’s attention back to the urgent need to rein in global warming emissions and implement common-sense solutions to our country’s energy needs." Academics are speaking out against a recent attack against the climatologist Michael Mann by the Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli; see HERE and HERE. This attack has disturbing academic freedom implications and is clearly politically motivated. U-Va. has gone to court to stop the AG. 39 school faculty members urged the administration to fight Cuccinelli. A UCS analysis HERE shows that the attack makes basic factual errors. Cuccinelli's demand was denied by the circuit judge on August 30, 2010. The MIT climatologist Kerry Emanuel wrote a very hard-hitting essay: "Climategate": A Different Perspective, which is discussed above A remarkable series of rebuttals to climate contrarians/deniers/"faux-skeptics" has appeared on The Conversation, an Australian academic site. HERE is the book Global Warming and Political Intimidation - How Politicians Cracked Down on Scientists as the Earth Heated Up by Raymond S. Bradley (University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geosciences and director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst).

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