Friday, August 19, 2011

Weekend Outlook: Mostly Nice (lower humidity). Another deadly stage-collapse

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

TODAY: Some sun, humid, stray shower or T-shower (best chance south/east of MSP). Dew point: 65. Winds: NW 10. High: 82

FRIDAY NIGHT: Showers linger over southern MN - partial clearing central/northern MN. Low: 59


SATURDAY: Partly sunny - noticeable drop in humidity, A few PM showers/T-showers (best chance north/west of St. Cloud). Dew point: 58 Winds: SE 7-12. High: 78

SATURDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, a bit more comfortable. Low: 63

SUNDAY: Partly sunny and quite comfortable. Risk of a PM shower over far southern MN. Dew point: 54 Winds: SW 7-12. High: 81

MONDAY: More showers and T-storms arrive late, warming up. Dew point: 65 High: 85

TUESDAY: Steamy and very warm again. More PM T-storms. Dew point: 69. Low: 70. High: 89

WEDNESDAY: More sun, still quite warm. Low: 69. High: 88

THURSDAY: Plenty of sun, probably dry. Low: 68. High: 83


Dew Point/Wind/Weather Predictions For The Twin Cities:

Today: 65 (W/NW: 10-15) Few T-showers, best chance south/east of the Twin Cities. [77-83 F.]

Saturday58 (North: 3-8) Mix of clouds and sun. PM pop-up shower near Alexandria and Wadena. [74-79 F.]

Sunday: 54 (West: 5-10) Patchy clouds, shower far south, partly to mostly sunny central/northern MN. [75-80 F.]

4 dead in Belgium from yet another stage collapse, this time at a rock concert. Violent, straight-line T-storms winds are to blame.

Abolish The EPA! The USA should be more like China, which is experiencing strong growth (at the expense of the environment). There is no equivalent of the EPA in China. That's why many days in and near major cities you can't see the sky, you can't breathe, and you'd be well-advised to drink only bottled water. The consequences of zero environmental protections below.


Hurricane Next Week? Is this meteorological hype, or are the long-range models onto something? Normally I would dismiss a 180 hour forecast (the GFS forecast above is valid next Thursday evening at 7 pm). But we've had similar solutions for the last 2-3 days, so I'm inclined not to dismiss this out of hand. The GFS shows a strong tropical storm or possible hurricane centered near Cuba. It may just be noise in the models - I want to see a few more model runs to see if there's continuity from one model run to the next. Residents of Florida and the southeastern USA from Savannah to the Outer Banks of North Carolina should stay up on the latest forecasts - my gut is telling me that next week may be a busy week for storm-tracking. See the latest GFS model run for yourself here - courtesy of NCAR in Boulder.


Friday Severe Risk. A quieter day is on tap for much of America - SPC is predicting a few strong/severe storms from Cheyenne into western Nebraska and northwestern Kansas.


Photo Of The Day. We're getting some great content on the WeatherNation Facebook page. This photo was tweeted to us by Steven Harrell, who says his brother took it Thursday morning near Carolina City, in North Carolina. More details and video clips from live5news.com.



Texas Drought Facts:

  • Only 93% of the state is in extreme or exceptional drought, compared to 94% last week.
  • 94 percent of pasture and rangeland is rated as poor or very poor and nearly all of the hay supply is being brought in from other states.
  • Statewide agricultural losses in 2011 could be double the record of $4.1 billion in 2006.
* Click here to see the latest NOAA Drought Monitor map for Texas.

In 2011, Record-Tying Nine Billion Dollar Weather Disasters. USA Today reviews what is rapidly turning into an historic year for severe weather across the nation: "With hurricane season still ahead, a record-tying nine $1 billion weather disasters have already racked the nation this year, federal, state and private forecasters reported Wednesday. Following on the heels of the 60-mph wind gusts that collapsed a stage and killed five at the Indiana State Fair on Saturday, the National Weather Service estimates that weather disasters have cost more than $35 billion this year, based on insurance estimates. Recent flooding in the Midwest along the Missouri and Souris rivers topped the $2 billion damage mark. "The nation is increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather," National Weather Service Director Jack Hayes says. The year has been marked by floods, drought and tornadoes, such as the May twister that killed 160 people in Joplin, Mo. Meanwhile, a Texas heat wave has cost $5.2 billion in crop and livestock losses so far "It doesn't take a wizard to predict that 2011 will go down in history," Hayes says."


One Week's Worth of Rainfall. Here are Doppler radar rainfall estimates for just the last week, some 5-7" amounts from near Baltimore, Wilmington and Philadelphia to New York City. Much of south Florida has been drenched with 2-4" of rain' similar amounts from the Twin Cities into the central and northern Plains - while the west has been bone-dry. Click here to see the latest information from NOAA.


Best Chance of Rain: Southern Minnesota. A fizzling cool front will focus the heaviest showers and T-storms over south central and southeastern Minnesota over the next 48 hours, the latest NAM model predicting some .5 to 1"+ amounts from near Albert Lea to Rochester and Winona.


Today: Cool Frontal Passage. The (NAM) forecast for 1 pm today shows the leading edge of cooler, more comfortable, Canadian air pushing across the state, with the best chance of (mostly PM) showers and T-storms just south/east of the Twin Cities.


Saturday: "Dirty High". Although the main frontal boundary gets nudged into central/southern Wisconsin tomorrow, a few residual, PM pop-up showers may sprout, especially from Alexandria and Wadena to Bemidji. Even so, most of the day should be dry with dew points in the 50s. The best odds of seeing the sun: morning and midday hours.


Sunday: Anemic High Pressure. By 1 pm Sunday the NAM/WRF model shows a few showers near the Iowa border - but dry weather should prevail across most of Minnesota, skies getting sunnier the farthern north you go.

What Really Happened At The Indiana State Fair? Here's an excellent story from WTHR-TV in Indianapolis, focusing on wind speeds, building codes and construction methods, trying to get to the bottom of why that stage came down, killing at least 5 fans. Meteorologist Tim Marshall is interviewed and provides additional perspective about the disaster.


Another Deadly Stage Collapse. This time in Belgium. The BBC has the latest: "At least two people have been killed at the Pukkelpop music festival in Belgium after a sudden storm caused two stages to collapse, reports say. Television pictures from the scene, about 65km (40 miles) east of Brussels, showed fallen stage rigging and people scrambling for cover. About 60,000 people were believed to be at the event, one of Europe's largest outdoor festivals. Matt Cole reports."


Four Die As Storm Hits Belgium Fest; U.S. Band Safe. MSNBC has the very latest here:
"A storm slammed an east Belgium open-air music festival as American band Smith Westerns was on stage, killing four people and injuring more than 70 others, officials said. Video from the Pukkelpop festival near the town of Hasselt showed stage equipment dangling in high winds as rain-soaked concertgoers ran for cover. Chicago-based band Smith Westerns was on stage when the structure collapsed around them, NBC station WMAQ reported. None of the band members were injured but their equipment was destroyed. Winds toppled trees and blew over the Chateau tent, dining tent and several sponsor booths, said media outlet Nieuswblad.be. Heavy rain and hail drove the audience to seek shelter in festival tents. A collapsed metal frame blocked the main entrance, preventing many from leaving when the storm swiftly moved in and dumped up to four inches of rain, witnesses said."


Joplin Defies Odds, Just By Opening Schools. This is a major achievement, considering the level of (total) destruction triggered by the F-5 (2 mile wide) tornado that ripped across the city. The New York Times reports: "JOPLIN, Mo. — When the schools here were reduced to red-brick rubble in the deadly tornado three months ago, abruptly ending classes just before final exams, district leaders made a promise that seemed like a long shot: the new school year would start on time....The school year arrives as the city continues to regain its footing after the tornado killed 160 people, the most in the United States in more than a half-century, and destroyed thousands of homes as it tore across a third of Joplin on May 22. The cratered landscape has been tidied somewhat since then, and there are signs of rebirth like the wood frames of replacement homes, the “opening soon” declarations on rebuilt businesses and the green shoots on the storm-stripped trees, raising the hope that at least a few of them may survive.  The most anticipated indication of progress, one that led residents of a nearby retirement home to line the street cheering for the arriving teenagers, has been the opening of the schools." (photo credit above: NOAA Visualization Laboratory).


An Alternative To The Weather Channel: "WeatherNation". O.K. I won't make a habit of this, but I'm reposting an article from meteorologist Jason Samenow at the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, about our new 24/7 channel dedicated purely to meteorology and covering America's (increasingly severe) weather patterns. Here's an excerpt: "Many long-time viewers of the The Weather Channel have lamented a transition from exclusive live weather programming to more taped programs and documentaries, sometimes referred to as “weathertainment.” And some have called for an alternative - a channel where you can get live current weather reporting all the time. Enter Paul Douglas, Founder and CEO of Broadcast Weather. Douglas, founder of the first company, Digital Cyclone, to have a cell phone weather application in 2001 (sold to Garmin in 2007), has a launched a new national weather network called Weather Nation TV

Paul graciously responded to questions about this network over email.

1) Tell us a little about Weather Nation TV. What exactly is it and how can we tune in? 
 
Paul Douglas: WeatherNation is a new, 24/7 national weather channel that has already launched on cable systems and (simultaneously) on Facebook (in the upper left click on “WNTV 24/7 Video Stream” to see the live channel on Facebook).

At a time when severe weather appears to be increasing, nationwide, we believe there’s room for a second voice when it comes to meteorology and keeping Americans updated on rapidly changing weather patterns - a channel devoted to weather, 24/7. No documentaries, specials or movies, just cutting edge graphics, a heavy emphasis on social media, and a staff of degreed meteorologists (most of whom have their Certified Broadcast Meteorologist seals). We’re very serious about the meteorology part of the equation."


Local Twin Cities National Weather Service On Facebook. Speaking of FB, our own (MPX) NWS office, based in Chanhassen, is now available - some great information here. Check it out.
Tornado Alley Upgrade Recommended For New Houses In Oklahoma City. NewsOK.com has the story: "Whole houses will never be as safe as safe rooms during tornado season — but they can be safer. Homebuilders know it, but absent demand they're reluctant to incorporate the necessary construction techniques and features. The solution is to educate homebuyers to ask for them, said John Bourdeau, a hazard performance analyst with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That will happen if top builders add “high-wind” packages to their regular offerings and start talking up the Tornado Alley upgrade, said Bordeau, who is in Oklahoma from FEMA's Region XI headquarters in Denton, Texas, through early October talking to builders. Competition will do the rest, he said, if “the best of the best builders” take the lead.'


Spacecraft Sees Solar Storm Engulf Earth. Here's a post from NASA (an unsual number of significant solar storms in recent weeks - I still think you may get a peek at the Northern Lights in the nights to come). "For the first time, a spacecraft far from Earth has turned and watched a solar storm engulf our planet. The movie, released today during a NASA press conference, has galvanized solar physicists, who say it could lead to important advances in space weather forecasting. “The movie sent chills down my spine,” says Craig DeForest of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.  "It shows a CME swelling into an enormous wall of plasma and then washing over the tiny blue speck of Earth where we live.  I felt very small.”


BP Investigates New Oil Sheen Near Grand Canyon Block In Gulf of Mexico. The article appears at Huffington Post. Here's an excerpt: "LONDON -- Oil giant BP is investigating a new sheen in the Gulf of Mexico with a remote-controlled mini-sub but says there is no immediate indication it was the result of a new oil spill. A catastrophic April 2010 explosion at BP's Macondo well in the Gulf killed 11 men and led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, although BP's description of the site of the new sheen and a statement from a U.S. official seemed to indicate that the discovery wasn't near where the Macondo well blew up. A sheen is a shiny coating that floats on the surface of the water, and could come from leaked or spilled oil. BP did not make clear what the source of the sheen was, but told The Associated Press it was not found near "any existing BP operations." BP said in a statement Thursday the sheen was found near two abandoned exploration well sites in the Green Canyon Block in the Gulf of Mexico. According to an online map by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Green Canyon Block – a large square-shaped area of water south of Louisiana – is south and west of the Mississippi Canyon Block where BP's Macondo well blew up." (file photo above courtesy of NASA and nola.com).

Gold Prices Rise: Welcome To The New American Gold Rush. Yep, should have bought gold a few years ago. But are we setting ourselves up for yet another bubble? Huffington Post has the story: "NEW YORK -- For what is normally a sleepy month, there are so many customers at the Gold Standard, a New York company that buys jewelry, that it feels like Christmas in August. Uncle Ben's Pawn Shop in Cleveland has never seen a rush like this. Welcome to the new American gold rush. The price of gold is on a remarkable run, setting a record seemingly every other day. Stomach-churning volatility in the stock market this month has only made investors covet gold more. Some want it as a safe investment for turbulent times. What worries some investors is that many others are buying simply because the price is rising and they want to make money fast. "Is gold the next bubble?" asks Bill DiRocco, a golf company manager in Overland Park, Kan., who shifted 10 percent of his portfolio earlier this year into an investment fund that tracks the price of gold. He stopped buying because the price kept rising. In October 2007, it sold for about $740 an ounce. A little over a year later, it rose above $1,000 for the first time. This past March, it began rocketing up. On Wednesday, it traded above $1,793 an ounce, just shy of last week's record of $1,801."

Apple's Spaceship Campus Revealed. Wow. Gizmag.com has the details: "With the success that Apple has achieved over the past decade, it's perhaps no surprise that it has outgrown its original "Infinite Loop" campus and is in need of a new flagship headquarters to bring the teams together under one roof. Since Steve Jobs will undoubtedly have been the driving force behind the building's conceptual design and hey, it's Apple, the architecture for the new campus is unlike anything else ever built. Indeed, Apple saw fit to engage London-based ├╝ber-architect Sir Norman Foster and his team, a company known for its unashamedly modern, hi-tech and unique approaches to large buildings such as the Stanstead and Hong Kong airports, the American Air Museum, the Berlin Reichstag, the Dallas Opera House, The Smithsonian and part of the World Trade Center re-development. The statistics of the proposed building are staggering."


Anderson Cooper Loses It. "This Has Actually Never Happened To Me Before." TVNewser has the details of CNN's Anderson Cooper losing his composure - this is pretty funny, and after watching the Dow and Nasdaq I could use something to laugh about right about now: "CNN’s Anderson Cooper couldn’t keep it together during his Ridiculist segment tonight. It was about French actor Gerard Depardieu who is accused of urinating on the floor of a Paris-Dublin flight. During the pun-filled segment (“yellow journalism flushed from our memories”) Cooper lost it when he read the line about how the cleaning crew “should thank their lucky stars this wasn’t De-part-two. “This has actually never happened to me,” Cooper says through giggles."


Baby Porcupine. Cue the aahhs and ooohs. Very cute. Thanks to my friend up in Herbster, Wisconsin, Pete Schenck, for passing this along.


Friday Recap. T-storms brushed far southwestern Minnesota, a few severe from near Sioux Falls, SD into western Iowa. We salvaged a nicer-than-expected day (severe storms never materialized). Highs ranged from 79 at Duluth to 83 in St. Cloud, 84 in the Twin Cities and 88 at Redwood Falls.




An "Irritable" Sky...



Map courtesy of NCDC. Click here for the pdf document.

Weekend: A "Dirty High"

I have a hunch we're living through the most severe year on record, nationwide. According to NOAA, America has seen 9 billion-dollar-plus weather disasters, tying the all-time record (2008). And we haven't even gotten through hurricane season. The safest states? Utah, Wyoming, Arizona & New England.

Long-range models consistently bring a hurricane ("Harvey"?) into the Caribbean next week. It's been nearly 2 years since the USA has suffered a direct hit. That puts our garden-variety T-storms into perspective.

A "dirty high" tries to push into Minnesota today - not the strong push of fresh Canadian air we'd like to see. Close proximity to a stagnant frontal boundary coupled with a cold swirl of air aloft ignites a few storms - best chance south/east of the Twin Cities today and tonight. A partly sunny start to Saturday may give way to a few pop-up instability showers, mainly over western and northern MN (even there most of the day looks dry and comfortable, with highs in the 70s and dew points in the 50s). Sunday may be a bit sunnier/drier statewide, enough blue sky for 75-80, dew points in the low to mid 50s, typical for early September. All in all, not a bad weekend.

No 90s so far in August, but next week will be "warm enough" - a string of mid to upper 80s.
Finally, the USA has seen 109 "billion dollar plus" disasters since 1980. The southeastern U.S. has been hit hardest (floods, tornadoes & hurricanes). Only 1 billion dollar event in Minnesota: 1998, when hail sparked $2 billion in damage.


It's Time For Meteorologists On TV To Stand Up For Science. Meteorologist Joe Witte, who has worked in Washington D.C. and at a network level, has a post to his fellow colleagues, TV meteorologists around the USA. I couldn't agree more. Here's an excerpt of his Op-Ed at AGU Blogosphere:  "Can we really trust TV weather forecasters for accurate information about the science of climate change? Not really, more and more Americans think. That’s according to the recently released results of George Mason University/Yale’s survey of Americans’ attitudes toward climate change, which shows some interesting observations about who is seen as a trusted source of climate information. (Full disclosure: The author is associated with the GMU Center for Climate Change Communication and is a former meteorologist for ABC7.) In May, 52 percent of U.S. citizens picked for this study reported strongly trusting or somewhat trusting “television weather reporters.” But 48 percent said they distrust them. So currently it is almost a 50/50 split. This level of trust in TV forecasters is down a whole 14 points since another polling in Nov. 2008. What has happened between then and now to account for this rising suspicion of TV meteorologists?"

Rick Perry's Made Up "Facts" About Climate Change. Here's a story from the Washington Post: “I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized. I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. I think we’re seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change. Yes, our climates change. They’ve been changing ever since the earth was formed. But I do not buy into, that a group of scientists, who in some cases were found to be manipulating this data.”
— Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Aug. 17, 2011
 
This is a pretty sweeping statement about global warming by the newly announced GOP candidate for president. Perry has long been a skeptic of the science behind global warming, having highlighted that stance in his book, “Fed Up!”

But these remarks, made in New Hampshire on Wednesday, seem to take his skepticism to a new level, with significant and specific allegations:

1. A substantial number of scientists have manipulated data so they will have dollars rolling into their projects. 

2. Almost weekly or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.
How true is this?"


Rick Perry Defends His Climate Change Denial. Here's a post at scienceblogs.com: "In his book Fed Up, Rick Perry came out solidly in the climate denial camp, repeating long-discredited claims of that the underlying science is fraudulent. ThinkProgress quotes him writing:
"For example, they have seen the headlines in the past year about doctored data related to global warming. They know we have been experiencing a cooling trend, that the complexities of the global atmosphere have often eluded the most sophisticated scientists, and that draconian policies with dire economic effects based on so-called science may not stand the test of time. Quite frankly, when science gets hijacked by the political Left, we should all be concerned. … And it’s all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight. Al Gore is a prophet all right, a false prophet of a secular carbon cult, and now even moderate Democrats aren’t buying it."
Perry was, it should be noted, Al Gore's Texas committee chairman when Gore ran for President in 1988. And Perry must have missed the headlines when about a dozen separate investigations refuted claims of "doctored data" or other manipulation. The claim of a "cooling trend" is easily refuted, as are claims that climate science is too hard or that climate change policy would be too hard.
But on the stump in New Hampshire, Perry doubled down, telling reporters:

"I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized. I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. I think we're seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change. Yes, our climates change. They've been changing ever since the earth was formed."

* photo credit above: Washington Post.


Bashing EPA Is New Theme In G.O.P. Race. The New York Times has the story: "WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency is emerging as a favorite target of the Republican presidential candidates, who portray it as the very symbol of a heavy-handed regulatory agenda imposed by the Obama administration that they say is strangling the economy. Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota wants to padlock the E.P.A.’s doors, as does former Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas wants to impose an immediate moratorium on environmental regulation. Representative Ron Paul of Texas wants environmental disputes settled by the states or the courts. Herman Cain, a businessman, wants to put many environmental regulations in the hands of an independent commission that includes oil and gas executives. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the former Utah governor, thinks most new environmental regulations should be shelved until the economy improves. Only Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, has a kind word for the E.P.A., and that is qualified by his opposition to proposed regulation of carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to global warming."

China doesn't have the equivalent of an Environmental Protection Agency, at least not yet. The result: levels of pollution that Americans can't even comprehend. This is what happens when greed and profits trump sustainable growth and environmental stewardship:


Climate Scientist Sees No Choice But To Risk Arrest At Keystone XL Protests. The story from solveclimatenews.com: "WASHINGTON—His climatology career at Ohio State University is advancing swimmingly. He's never had a brush with the law. And his wife is eight months pregnant with their first child. So staying home for the next several weeks in Columbus, Ohio, rather than risking arrest in the nation's capital certainly seems the ideal choice for professor Jason Box. But the 38-year-old has never reveled in the idea of an intellectual or physical comfort zone. His natural inquisitiveness — plus a dose of idealism and commitment — is why Box is intent on participating in his first-ever act of civil disobedience. The cause? Trying to convince President Obama that approving the extension of a controversial oil sands pipeline — the proposed $7 billion, 1,702-mile Keystone XL — would be the equivalent of lighting a fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet."

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