Thursday, August 11, 2011

Storms Today, Foul (cool/windy/showery) Saturday, Sunny Sunday

84 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday. Normal high for August 11 is 81.

1.28" rain between now and Saturday, most of that coming today (NAM model).

Foul Saturday: over .25" rain predicted Saturday; the wetter, cooler, nastier day of the weekend). E/NE wind: 10-20 mph.

Sunday: nicer day with more sun, light winds (east/northeast at 8-13), dew points near 59.

17 tornadoes so far in 2011 in the Twin Cities (MPX) forecast area. That's a preliminary number. Source: NOAA.

30 tornadoes across the entire state of Minnesota so far this summer season. Source: SPC.

Warmer Than Average Into October? CPC, the Climate Prediction Center, is predicting a slight bias toward warmer than average temperatures through the first half of autumn. I'm not surprised - in recent years we've seen a trend toward warmer (longer) falls across the Upper Midwest. More details below.

"...2011 was a record month for tornadoes in the United States with 753 tornadoes that killed more than 360 people, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That deadly month was followed by the Joplin twister, the deadliest single tornado since modern recordkeeping began in 1950. The tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri on May 23 killed more than 150 people, had winds topping 200 mph, was three-quarters of a mile wide and had a track lasting six miles. What can you do to protect your family from something like that? " - story below focusing on safety precautions for tornadoes from MNN.

"...For Navy Capt. Tim Gallaudet, global warming isn't a political matter — it's a practical one. Over the next few decades, Arctic summers are expected to become ice-free, creating another ocean for the Navy to factor into its long-term planning. "The ice," he says, "doesn't vote." Gallaudet, who holds a Ph.D. in oceanography, is the deputy director of the Navy's climate change task force, which was established in 2009. It's part of a growing effort by the military and intelligence communities to get a grip on the national security implications of global warming." - article below on the military implications of melting Arctic ice.

Relief For Dallas. NWS Doppler radar Thursday afternoon showed outflow boundaries put down by strong storms in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, the leading edge of cooling relief. Before the storms hit the temperature reached "only" 96, meaning the streak of consecutive 100-degree days stops at 40 days/row. Now, about that drought...

Taking The Edge Off The Heat. The same cool front that sparked waves of severe storms from Nebraska to Oklahoma also pumped cooler air southward. For the first time in 40 days the mercury did NOT hit 100 at Dallas. More details:
  • Waco, TX consecutive 100°+ streak reached 43 days Thursday, overtaking the #1 spot in 1980.
  • Dallas, TX consecutive 100°+ streak ended at 40 days Wednesday at the #2 spot. Thursday’s high was 96. #1 is 42 in 1980.
  • Wichita Falls, TX consecutive 100°+ streak reached 51 days Thursday. #2 is 42 in 1980.
  • Oklahoma City’s consecutive 90°+ streak ended at 71 days Wednesday, tying the #1 spot in 1980.

Friday Severe Risk. According to SPC a few T-storms may spark 1"+ hail and 58 mph+ winds from southern Minnesota southward to Tulsa and Little Rock.

Friday: Wettest Day In Sight. The NAM/WRF model is printing out some 1-2" rains from the southwestern suburbs of the Twin Cities to Mankato and Willmar, lesser amounts over central Minnesota. The best chance of Friday storms: early morning, again mid/late afternoon.

"Plan B" Saturday. Systems are moving slower, Saturday now looks considerably wetter across Minnesota, showery rains (and a cool northeast wind) much of the day, highs holding in the 60s north to low 70s south. Consider a good movie. "Another Earth" is a great flick, playing at the Uptown Theater in Minneapolis. 5 stars.

Sunday: A MUCH Better Day For Outdoor Plans. No question now, Sunday will be the better day of the weekend as a bubble of high pressure drifts over Minnesota, highs in the upper 70s (north) to low 80s (south) - dew points in the upper 50s with light winds.

An Unusually Severe Summer For Minnesota. According to the Twin Cities NWS 563 severe storms have been reported as of August 4; that's just in the Twin Cities (MPX) coverage aread, with 17 preliminary tornadoes. From the local NWS office:

"This year, namely over the past five weeks, the environments have continuously supported storm structures for damaging winds more so than other types of severe weather.  Over the past 34 days, there have been 16 (47%) with at least one report of severe weather in the CWA."

2011 Severe Storm Details. Click here to see a map of the all the locations of severe weather reports in the MPX (Twin Cities) coverage area. More details: 

"From June 30th through August 2nd, a span of 34 days, the NWS Chanhassen CWA was under at least a slight risk for 23 of them (68%).  From July 14th through August 2nd, a slight risk or higher severe threat was in effect 16 of those days, an astounding 80%."

One Silver Lining. Wind shear has been insufficient for tornadic storms this summer; nothing like 2010 when Minnesota lead the nation with the most confirmed tornadoes. I had to do a triple-take, but SPC now reports 145 tornadoes, statewide, during 2010. Wow.

Fear Realized: Evidence Of Leaping Asian Carp In St. Croix River. Uh oh. This may be the only way I'm ever going to catch a fish on the St. Croix (bring your football helmets). Not good. The Star Tribune has more details: "Water samples from the St. Croix River have tested positive for genetic material from invasive and hyperactive silver carp, suggesting that the leaping species may be present in the river as far north as the dam at St. Croix Falls, state officials announced Thursday. Similar testing for a stretch of the Mississippi River in St. Paul turned up no evidence of any species of Asian carp, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Known as environmental DNA (eDNA) testing, the results do not provide the number of fish present, their size or whether they are breeding, the DNR said. So far, no silver carp have been caught in the St. Croix. Two bighead carp, a cousin of the silver carp, have been caught in the river - one in 1996 and another on April 18 of this year. Some scientists say that if the large and voracious carp establish a foothold in the Great Lakes and other Midwest waterways, they could unravel the food web by gobbling plankton needed by smaller fish that feed prized sport varieties such as walleye and trout."

Texas Drought Update. Severe or "exceptional" drought conditions now cover nearly 95% of Texas. It's the worst 1-year drought in Texas history, the 2nd worst (overall), second only to the Great Drought of 1950-1957. Source: NOAA Drought Monitor.

Expanding Drought Conditions. It's nothing like what Texas and parts of the south are enduring, but parts of the Midwest are now too dry, according to NOAA's Drought Monitor.

Crews Check Storm Damage In Enid, Kremlin (Oklahoma). A couple of tornadoes swept across Oklahoma late Monday, sparking considerable damage. The only silver lining: these storms marked the leading edge of (much) cooler air, marking a dramatic end to the record-breaking heat wave that has gripped much of the central and southern Plains. KOCO-TV reports: "Residents ventured out after sunrise on Sunday to get a better idea of how much damage a series of tornadoes have done.Tim Porter said he was forced to take cover in the cab of a pickup truck."It was bouncing like a basketball, up and down, up and down," he said. "It twisted it, but the pickup saved our lives."His neighbors barely had time to put their goats away and take cover in a shed. Every tree in their yard is now gone.Search and rescue crews went door to door last night to check on residents in northern Enid after a twister touched down around 10 p.m."

Enid Oklahoma Shocked By (Hurricane-Force) 96 MPH Winds. Severe thunderstorms late Monday caused considerable damage across Oklahoma - marking a loud (and violent) end to the Great Heat Wave of '11. Here's an Op-Ed from "Oklahomans are used to tornadoes, drought, blizzards and extreme temperatures. But now, we’re being required to endure hurricanes? Most Enid residents were stunned to witness hurricane-force winds Monday as a fast-moving storm whipped through town, leaving shredded trees and utility poles and damaged roofs in its wake. We’re lucky the storm lasted less than 30 minutes. Can you imagine what it would be like to endure sustained 70-90 mph winds for several hours? We pride ourselves in Oklahoma on being weather aware. Our state has developed some of the best weather forecasting technology in the world. We know to expect warnings for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Still, straight-line winds at 96 mph are pretty unusual in our state. Monday’s storm, however, showed one of the best features about living in Oklahoma — our neighborly attitude."

Safety Precautions For Tornadoes. The Mother Nature Network (MNN) has some solid advice focused on tornado preparation and recovery, a good recap of do's and don'ts: "This year’s deadly spring drives home the necessity of preparing for tornadoes: April 2011 was a record month for tornadoes in the United States with 753 tornadoes that killed more than 360 people, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That deadly month was followed by the Joplin twister, the deadliest single tornado since modern recordkeeping began in 1950. The tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri on May 23 killed more than 150 people, had winds topping 200 mph, was three-quarters of a mile wide and had a track lasting six miles.

What can you do to protect your family from something like that?
Before a storm
  • If you live in an area at high-risk for tornadoes, consider building a safe room in your home. A safe room must be built to withstand high winds and flying debris. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides free plans for building a safe room in your basement or by reinforcing a bedroom closet or bathroom. You can download safe room information and plans on FEMA’s website.
  • Pack an emergency preparedness kit that will meet the needs of you and your family for three days. The kit, of course, will be handy in the wake of any natural or man-made disaster. An emergency preparedness kit needs to include food and water for each member of your family for three days, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight, spare batteries, first aid kit, can opener, local maps, moist towelettes, toilet paper, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation."

Leaders Say Minot Flood Is Lesson For Fargo Area. The details from my favorite news weekly, Bloomburg Businessweek: "A devastating flood in North Dakota's fourth-largest city that wiped out thousands of homes and businesses shows why people in the Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., area should fund a $1.8 billion Red River diversion project, state and local leaders say. Right now there's not enough money to pay the bill, North Dakota Sens. Kent Conrad and John Hoeven said Wednesday during a Senate Budget Committee hearing in a city commission room where Fargo leaders have mapped out strategy to fight three straight major floods. "Those of us on the budget committee, we do have to try and get things to add up," Conrad said. "And right now they don't add up." (photo credit: AP).

90-Day Temperature Outlook. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is predicting warmer than average temperatures across much of the eastern and southern USA from August thru October.

90-Day Precipitation. CPC is forecasting wetter than average weather into October for the Northern Plains (bad news for residents along the Missouri River) and the southeastern USA.

Private Weather Forecasters In High Demand. What may be the most severe/extreme 18 month weather pattern for the USA ever recorded is creating significant demand for meteorological companies that can help companies lower risk, help with supply chain logistics, send out time-sensitive alerts, and increase efficiencies and profitability. (Full disclosure: my companies: WeatherNation, Broadcast Weather, Smart Energy and Ham Weather, are all involved in similar enterprises, adding intelligence to raw data streams to help companies make smarter decisions, save time and money, and keep operations going with less exposure to extreme weather).

Here's a good overview of the opportunity from the Insurance Journal and Reuters: "Heat and drought are parching the southern U.S. plains, floods and tornadoes have shattered long-standing records, and the tropical Atlantic is steaming into the traditionally busiest part of the hurricane season. With commodity markets across the globe in the thrall of extreme weather, private-sector meteorologists are increasingly providing custom-tailored weather intelligence to the financial world. This time of year their services are in high demand. “It grows quiet down here from 11 to 12 and it’s because they’re waiting for the midday weather update, waiting for the next piece of information,” said Matt Pierce, analyst for who has been on the trading floor at the Chicago Board of Trade for more than 10 years. While government forecasters provide broad public advisories, traders, hedge funds and corporations are employing their own staff meteorologists or relying on the 300 U.S. commercial weather vendors for forecasts targeting specific locations and industries. “We let our customers know so they can hedge their risks long in advance, before many in the market are even aware a weather-related event is on the horizon,” said Matt Rogers, a long-range forecaster at Commodity Weather Group LLC."

One Very Big Oops. My brother, Kent, (who lives and works in China) sent me this. Unless someone spent entirely too much time with Photoshop I suspect it's probably true:

(1) An underground garage was being dug on the south
side of the building, to a depth of 4.6 meters (15 ft).

(2) The excavated dirt was being piled up on the north
side of the building, to a height of 10 meters (32 ft).

(3) They dug right up to the base of the building.
Then the rains came.

(4) The building experienced uneven lateral pressure
from north to south.

(5) This resulted in a lateral pressure of 3,000 tonnes,
which was greater than what the un-reinforced pilings
could tolerate. Thus, the building toppled completely
over in a southerly direction.

* Apparently construction crews built 13 stories on grade, 
with no basement,  and tied it all down to hollow pilings with 
no rebar.

An Alarm Clock With Motivational Messages? Just what I need - an alarm clock that nags me every morning when I stumble out of bed. has the details: "While Gizmag has covered quite a number of alarm clocks in the past, the My Wake Up Call motivating messaging system certainly stands out as a unique way to rise and shine. There is no denying the sincerity and inspiring nature of the messages which the creator/inventor - fitness trainer and former Broadway star Robin Palmer - claims will give listeners a positive outlook, helping to set the tone for the rest of the day. Over a dozen themed messages are available that promise to help listeners reach their goals, from workout inspiration and wealth creation, to weight loss and grief counseling. Presented by wellness experts, the messages are downloaded to smartphones and iPods, or are available on CD. "I now have a family, with a typical, hectic lifestyle", explains Robin. "I kept wishing for an affordable personal trainer to motivate me to wake up and work out in the morning, before the day's schedule started. I knew the importance of starting my day right, and wanted an inspiring coach to wake me up positively."

Another Remarkable Day. The sun was out, winds were light, dew points were low (50s) - as good as it can ever get on the 11th day of August. Highs ranged from 80 at Alexandria to 84 at St. Cloud, the Twin Cities and Redwood Falls.

"fruit with life experience" courtesy of Bent Objects.

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

TODAY: A few showers and T-storms (locally heavy rain possible). Severe storms possible far southern MN. Dew point: 62. Winds: S 10-15. High: 76

FRIDAY NIGHT: Lingering showers, a few heavy T-storms. Low: 63

SATURDAY: Windy and cool with showers likely. Fairly unpleasant. Dew point: 61 Winds: N 10-20. High: 72

SATURDAY NIGHT: Any showers taper, slow clearing late as winds begin to diminish. Low: 61

SUNDAY: Sunnier, nicer day of the weekend. Dew point: 53. Winds: East 5-10. High: 81

MONDAY: Partly sunny. Storms possible far west? Dew point: 63. Low: 64. High: 83

TUESDAY: Passing shower, T-storm. Low: 68. High: 86

WEDNESDAY: Plenty of warm sun, drier day. Low: 68. High: 85

THURSDAY: Heavier showers, T-storms likely. Low: 69. High: 84

Deep Breaths

Step away from the Farmer's Almanac. Before you suffer a self-inflicted panic attack over the upcoming w-w-winter, consider a few thoughts. You think the 7-Day weather accuracy is bad? The 6-month outlook is pure guesswork at this point. NOAA says there's a 50/50 chance of a weak La Nina cooling of Pacific water returning by winter - which MIGHT tip the odds over in favor of a slightly snowier-than-average winter. The risk of another winter with 86.6" or more of snow? About the same as me becoming a designated hitter for the Twins. 

The Climate Prediction Center shows a slight bias toward warmer & wetter than average through October but I wouldn't bet the farm on that one. Bottom line: we don't know what we don't know. Maybe we'll get a break?

An eastbound cool front ignites a few T-storms today; some may turn severe south of the Minnesota River. A cool north wind whips up a few whitecaps on your favorite lake Saturday (winds gusting to 20). Showers are likely Saturday, a few hours of rain - systems are moving slower, which will prolong rain much of tomorrow; shades of September in the air. Sunday looks like the better day: more sun, less wind, low 80s. 

No 90s in sight, but the State Fair is coming. Keep the shorts handy, eh?

Climate Stories...

Is The CIA's Climate Work On The Chopping Block? Melting Arctic ice will accelerate deep-sea drilling for oil and natural gas in the coming years, which may lead to conflict with Russia (and Canada?) over deep-sea mineral rights. The Pentagon and CIA is taking climate change seriously, but funding to study the geopolitical implications of a warming earth (and thinning polar ice cap) may get caught up in a political scuffle in Washington D.C. -  according to an article at MNN, the Mother News Network: "For Navy Capt. Tim Gallaudet, global warming isn't a political matter — it's a practical one. Over the next few decades, Arctic summers are expected to become ice-free, creating another ocean for the Navy to factor into its long-term planning. "The ice," he says, "doesn't vote." Gallaudet, who holds a Ph.D. in oceanography, is the deputy director of the Navy's climate change task force, which was established in 2009. It's part of a growing effort by the military and intelligence communities to get a grip on the national security implications of global warming. Not surprisingly, some of these programs have received a chilly reception from congressional Republicans. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), one of Congress' fiercest opponents of taking official action on climate change, has made it his mission to kill the CIA's Center on Climate Change and National Security; he once offered a budget amendment to shutter the office. "The CIA's resources should be focused on monitoring terrorists in caves — not polar bears on icebergs," he has said. Barrasso's measure failed, but other Republican lawmakers — including the chairman and ranking member of the House and Senate intelligence committees, respectively — have also expressed skepticism about the CIA's climate work."

Arctic Ice Melt Could Pause In The Near Future, Then Resume Again. Here's an excerpt of a story from UCAR in Boulder: "Although Arctic sea ice appears fated to melt away as the climate continues to warm, the ice may temporarily stabilize or somewhat expand at times over the next few decades, new research indicates. The computer modeling study, by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, reinforces previous findings by other research teams that the level of Arctic sea ice loss observed in recent decades cannot be explained by natural causes alone, and that the ice will eventually disappear during summer if climate change continues. But in an unexpected new result, the NCAR research team found that Arctic ice under current climate conditions is as likely to expand as it is to contract for periods of up to about a decade. “One of the results that surprised us all was the number of computer simulations that indicated a temporary halt to the loss of the ice,” says NCAR scientist Jennifer Kay, the lead author. “The computer simulations suggest that we could see a 10-year period of stable ice or even a slight increase in the extent of the ice.  Even though the observed ice loss has accelerated over the last decade, the fate of sea ice over the next decade depends not only on human activity but also on climate variability that cannot be predicted.” Kay explains that variations in atmospheric conditions such as wind patterns could, for example, temporarily halt the sea ice loss. Still, the ultimate fate of the ice in a warming world is clear."

Past Climate Change Caused Largest Extinction Of Life On Earth, Killing 70% of Organisms, Says Study. The story from the International Business Times: "A devastation of conifer forests about 250 million years ago was caused by tree-killing fungi whose growth was triggered by global climate change, says a University of California, Berkeley, study that warns it could happen again. The study, published online Aug. 5, will appear in the print edition of the journal Geology in September. In what is considered the largest extinction of life on earth, 95 percent of marine organisms and 70 percent of land organisms died, due to heavily altered climate caused by high amounts of gas and dust thrown into the atmosphere. According to scientists, the climate change occurred as a result of volcanic eruptions in the region now identified as Siberia. The scientists say filamentous (thread-like) microfossils commonly preserved in Permian rock are relatives of a group of aggressive and deadly fungi, rhizoctonia, which today is known for members that attack and kill plants."

Photo: Long Range Weather - Global Temperatures

Groups Concerned U.Va. Will Turn Over Documents In Global Warming Case. The Washington Post has the latest: "Four groups say they are worried the University of Virginia may unnecessarily disclose private correspondence from scientists in the case involving the work of former professor Michael Mann. The state’s flagship university has fought requests to release documents under Virginia's freedom of information laws to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), but the groups say they are now concerned about a May 24 agreement U.Va. made to provide some documents to the American Tradition Institute.Environmental Law Center. The four groups — the Union of Concerned Scientists, the American Association of University Professors, the American Geophysical Union and Climate Science Watch — sent U.Va. a letter late Tuesday. “We believe the agreement is in conflict with the university’s previous statements and actions on this issue and it threatens the principles of academic freedom protecting scholarly research,’’ they say in the letter."

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