Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cooling Trend ("Lee" may flood New Orleans with 10-20" rain by Sunday)

94 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday, heat index topped 100 degrees.

47-50 F. dew point by Sunday & Monday, less than half as much water in the air than Thursday.

24.3" rain predicted for portions of southern Louisiana by Monday from a disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico that will, in all probability, strengthen into Tropical Storm Lee.
66 days above 100 F. so far this summer season in Dallas/Fort Worth.
96 days above 100 F. at Wichita Falls, Texas.
41 days above 100 F. at Houston, Texas.
93.9 F. average August temperature in Las Vegas (hottest August on record).

Showers most likely this morning, again Saturday afternoon.

Sunday: probably dry with more clouds than sun, gusty northwest winds (20 mph), highs holding in the 60s.

Labor Day: best day? Bright sun, light winds, highs near 70.

* An estimate released immediately after Irene by the Kinetic Analysis Corp., a Maryland-based consulting firm that uses computer models to estimate storm losses, put the damage at $7.2 billion in eight states and Washington, D.C. That would eclipse damage from Hurricane Bob, which caused $1 billion in damage in New England in 1991 or the equivalent of about $1.7 billion today, and Hurricane Gloria, which swept through the region in 1985 and left $900 million in damage, the equivalent of $1.9 billion today, according to the Insurance Information Institute. (source: AP)

* Past 2 summers in Washington D.C. hottest since records began in 1871.
* 10,297 heat-related weather records in August, nationwide.
* 4,826 high temperature records last month, more than twice as many as August, 2010. (source: NOAA).

Another Historic Flood For New Orleans? Yes, that's a 24.3" bullseye of rain for the southern coastline of Louisiana. Irene showed us what a (mere) tropical storm is capable of - 10-20" rains capable of historic flooding inland. "Lee" will probably strengthen into a tropical storm, as early as today, and then meander in the Gulf of Mexico, stalling and spinning for 2-3 days, prolonging tropical rains for the Gulf Coast. The result may be some extreme 10-20" rains for much of Louisiana, southern Mississippi and Alabama by Sunday. If this forecast verifies (still a big if), flooding in parts of New Orleans could rival Hurricane Katrina in 2005. QPF outlook courtesy of NOAA's HPC division.

Lee's Projected Path. Lee may temporarily stall over the Gulf of Mexico today and Saturday, dumping tropical moisture onto the Gulf Coast, where flooding may be extreme. The soggy remains of Lee are forecast to drift into Alabama, where more flash flooding is possible early next week.

Discussion From Brett Campbell at Baron Services:

The BAMS model has been showing tropical development for the past few days in the central Gulf of Mexico also with other models to varying degrees.  Development of this storm is expected to accrue slowly with little upper level support.  Even as of 10pm this evening, organization is still weak but models to show an upper level ridge to build over the storm over the next 24 hours which should make TD #13 (at least) become Tropical Storm Lee. 

Hurricane models are greatly spread with their solutions and NHC’s track to following closely to the SHIPS model.  With TD #13(Lee) have little steering support for the next few days, movement is expected to drift to the north then northeast as the expected upper level ridge drifts off to the east and southeast. 

The BAMS model has TD#13 moving slowly to the north then drifting around the Louisiana Gulf coast until late Sunday as the upper level ridge finally provides better steering.  Other models also depict this such as the HWRF, GFDL and GFS.  Was is to note is that even though this storms motion is questionable, the precipitation accumulations for the central Gulf Coast are huge.
The BAMS has been showing between 20 to nearly 25” of rainfall (22” at the 18z run) with the GFS not too far behind.  HWRF is around at least 15” and NAM up 20”. These totals are through 84hours or into Monday morning.  This cause major flooding concerns for New Orleans and low lying areas in the eastern areas of Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas.  Even with tropical storm force winds, this should be enough to keep the water piling in to the west.

Impact Of Lee? Here is a post from WeatherMatrix, highlighting the potential for excessive rainfall amounts along the Gulf Coast in the coming days - the result of "Lee": "This is one model's take on the rainfall that will fall on the Gulf Coast through next week -- over 10 inches from New Orleans to Mobile, AL."

Irene: Before/After Photos. has an extraordinary collection of photos that show the power of water, and the overwhelming extent of river flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.

Taxpayers Will Foot Big Share Of Post-Irene Cleanup Costs. From the L.A. Times: "Even if you don't live in the Northeast, Hurricane Irene is going to cost you. The storm left behind a swath of destruction that will prove extremely expensive, with early estimates pegging the damage between $2 billion and $7 billion. And taxpayers will be left footing much of the rebuilding bill. Blame a lack of flood insurance coverage in the Northeast, and a flawed federal insurance program that's billions of dollars in debt. Vermont illustrates the first problem. The state faces some of the worst flooding in its history and -– according to one analysis of 2010 flood insurance data –- could have a scant 3,600 federal flood insurance policies. That means people looking to rebuild will rely on payouts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and subsidized loans from the Small Business Administration. But those loans and payouts are unlikely to cover the cost of reconstruction, experts said. "The bottom line is, taxpayers are going to be left holding the bag due to the number of folks in the Eastern Seaboard that did not have flood insurance for this catastrophic event," said Mike Chaney, an insurance commissioner for Mississippi who has called for reforms to the troubled National Flood Insurance Program."

Many U.S. Homeowners Underinsured To Rebuild: Survey. Reuters has the story: "Nearly one in five homeowners does not have enough insurance to rebuild his home if it is destroyed in a disaster, market research company J.D. Power said on Thursday in its annual survey of insurance customer satisfaction. The survey comes just days after Hurricane Irene laid waste to tens of thousands of properties along the U.S. East Coast. The country's largest home and auto insurer, State Farm, has already received more than 52,000 claims, and estimates suggest U.S. insurers will lose up to $6 billion from the storm. J.D. Power said 16 percent of the 9,100 holders of homeowners insurance it surveyed were undercovered. On a 1,000-point scale, customer satisfaction among that 16 percent was 40 points lower than among those who said they were sufficiently covered."

Photo Of The Day: Katia From Space. Check out this spectacular image of Hurricane Katia out in the mid-Atlantic, courtesy of NASA: "Katia was a tropical storm gathering energy over the Atlantic Ocean when one of the Expedition 28 crew took this photo on Aug. 31, 2011, from aboard the International Space Station. The picture, taken with a 12-mm focal length, was captured at 14:09:01 GMT. Later in the day Katia was upgraded to hurricane status. Two Russian spacecraft -- a Progress and a Soyuz --can be seen parked at the orbital outpost on the left side of the frame."

Katia: A Near-Miss. Hurricane Katia may strengthen into a Category 3 storm (120 mph sustained winds) before making a turn to the north, and then northeast. Prevailing westerlies should be strong enough to nudge Katia away from the northeast coast of the USA early next week.

Honorable Mention: Double Rainbow. Thanks to Caroline Imler at CN2, an all-weather, sports and local political cable channel serving all of Kentucky (a client of ours). For more on what triggers double rainbows click here.

0140 AM MDT THU SEP 01 2011 

1. 93.9 DEGREES IN 2011
2. 93.1 DEGREES IN 1995
3. 93.0 DEGREES IN 2008
4. 92.9 DEGREES IN 1994
5. 92.5 DEGREES IN 2007

Warm Days This Summer. Only 3-4 out of 10 days this summer, on average, have been warmer than average from west central MN into parts of the Dakotas. Meanwhile 8-9 out of 10 days have been warmer than average across southern Kansas and Missouri. Here's an interesting post from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet: "The featured map presents an IEM computed analysis of the percentage of days this summer (since 1 June) that the daily high temperature was above average for that day. Portions of Kansas are shown above 90%! Most of Iowa is depicted around 50-60% as we have had stretches of hot and cool weather. Our actual weather for today will hot and sticky again with highs well into the 90s on Thursday."

A Year's Worth Of Records. NCDC records show nearly 60,000 heat-related records since September 1, 2010 for the USA. That compares with over 25,000 low temperature records (daytime highs and nighttime lows) in the last year.

FEMA Faces Another Storm. The story from the Sun Sentinel: "Irene is gone, but the storm proved one thing: The nation's emergency response agency has made strides since its "heck-of-a-job-Brownie" days. Following last week's storm, the Federal Emergency Management Administration has drawn accolades from all quarters — a far cry from the criticism that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Unfortunately, a different type of storm — this one brewing in the halls of Congress — threatens to undermine FEMA's work. Lawmakers spoiling for another budgetary brawl are putting FEMA in the untenable position of having to choose between decimated communities when providing dwindling post-disaster assistance. As a result, FEMA announced it won't consider new applications for permanent repair work in pre-Irene disaster zones, which now pits areas like tornado-whacked Joplin, Mo., against flood-weary Rutland, Vt. We understand the need for fiscal management. But there are duties where there should be absolute bipartisan agreement on the role of government, and this is one of them." (photo courtesy of

New Orleans Levees Get A Near-Failing Grade In New Corp Rating System. This could be more relevant than ever, with some models predicting over 10" of rain for the New Orleans area - not sure what (if any) impact this will have on the lower branch of the Mississippi River - too early to tell. has the story "A new Army Corps of Engineers rating system for the nation’s levees is about to deliver a near-failing grade to New Orleans area dikes, despite the internationally acclaimed $10 billion effort to rebuild the system in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, corps officials have confirmed. Preliminary rankings obtained by The Times-Picayune show that the corps believes there’s still a significant risk of flooding from major hurricanes or river floods that are greater than the design heights of Mississippi River levees and hurricane levees on both the east and west banks. In both cases, the levees were rated Class II or “urgent (unsafe or potentially unsafe),” on a scale of I to V, with V representing normal or “adequately safe.” The hurricane and river levees are designed to protect from surge created by a so-called 100-year hurricane, or a storm with a 1 percent chance of occurring. The ratings show that 500-year events, with a 0.2 percent chance of occurring in any year, will overtop the levees and cause significant flooding."

How To Avoid Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Droughts, Flooding. The safest states in the USA (from the standpoint of billion-dollar weather disasters?): Hawaii and Alaska. The L.A. Times has more: "Texas and Oklahoma are suffering from wildfires. The Southwest is parched by drought. The East Coast is still reeling in the wake of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene. So where should you go if you want to avoid pricey weather catastrophes? Oddly enough, Alaska or Hawaii. The National Climatic Data Center recently released a report cataloguing the most expensive weather-related disasters since 1980. The report includes a color-coded map that illustrates which states have suffered the most billion-dollar weather disasters during the 30-year span of 1980-2010. (The 2011 numbers have not yet been added to the map.) It may seem counterintuitive, considering the former's volcanoes and the latter's harsh winters, but Hawaii and Alaska are both in the pale blue category, meaning each state has only had one to three billion-dollar disasters since 1980. In the continental United States, the states that have suffered the least from expensive weather are Michigan, Maine and, ironically, Vermont; each saw a mere four to six billion-dollar disasters in the 30-year stretch."

Next NASA Earth-Observing Satellite Arrives In California For Launch. We rely on not only "geostationary" GOES weather satellites 22,300 miles above the equator, but low-orbit "POES" satellites that can take much higher resolution images, with additional sensors onboard capable of measuring winds, rainfall rates, etc. Here's a press release from NASA: "On Tuesday, Aug. 30, NASA's next earth-observing research satellite arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to begin preparations for an October launch. The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) is the first of a new generation of satellites that will observe many facets of our changing Earth. The satellite will collect critical data to improve our understanding of long-term climate change and short-term weather conditions. With NPP, NASA continues many key data records initiated by the agency's Earth Observing System satellites by monitoring changes occurring in the atmosphere, oceans, vegetation, ice and solid Earth."

Cloud Control: Giant Lasers Fired Into The Sky Could Be Used To Create Rainfall. The U.K's Daily Mail has the intriguing story (note to self: this won't happen in the USA anytime soon):

"Britons are notoriously obsessed with the weather, especially rainclouds. Now, according to scientists, it seems they will soon be able to create their own washout conditions. Using a powerful laser, researchers have created water droplets in the air. The technique, called laser-assisted water condensation, could one day unlock the secrets of weather cycles and enable humans to decide where and when it rains. While ‘cloud seeding’ has existed for some time it is not considered a safe way of creating rainclouds because it involves filling the atmosphere with small particles such as dry ice and silver iodide. This means that while raindrops can form, chemicals are often spread far and wide and potentially damage the environment."

Slice Of Life: We Ain't Seen Nothin'. Here's an interesting article from the Shelter Island Reporter: "Before 1950, hurricanes had no names. There might have been the odd storm that was labeled after an annoying politician or mythical beast, but for the most part they were just big storms. For example, the pacific cyclone “Yasi,” a real beast of a storm that struck the northeast of Australia last February, was named after the Fijian word for “sandalwood.” When they did start naming hurricanes, only women’s names were used. After almost 30 years of having their gender associated with ferocious natural disasters, the equal rights movement cried for justice and in 1979 Hurricane David became the first male hurricane. What I can’t figure out is why they don’t call male hurricanes himacanes, but never mind. One of the most violent hurricanes ever was Camille (sorry ladies) in 1969. This storm devastated the southeast with winds topping out at 190 mph. There are probably quite a few around here who remember that one, and there might even be some who remember the storm that took Long Island and New England by surprise in 1938. According to an excerpt from Everett Allen’s book, “A Wind to Shake the World” (Little, Brown, 1976), a yankee skipper had purchased a barometer and he couldn’t get the needle to budge off the bottom of the scale. Thinking it was defective, he took it back to the shop from where he had purchased it, and by the time he returned home his house had been washed into the sea. The magnitude of the storm was demonstrated by the discovery of papers from the town hall in Westhampton Beach, days later, in Vermont." (photo above courtesy of Wikipedia).

Steamy Thursday. A warm frontal boundary moved just north of the Twin Cities metro area, allowing the mercury to soar to 94 yesterday, 93 at Redwood Falls and 88 at St. Cloud. The Heat Index topped 100 at MSP by 3 pm.

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

TODAY: A few AM showers, PM clearing, turning breezy and less humid. Dew point: 64. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 75

FRIDAY NIGHT: Clearing skies, more comfortable. Low: 58

SATURDAYPartly sunny, less humid. Slight chance of a PM shower. Winds W 10-15. Dew point: 56. High: 77

SUNDAYPartly sunny, breezy and cool. DP: 48. Low: 55. High: 68

LABOR DAYBest day of the weekend? Bright sun. Light winds. Winds: SE 5-10. Low: 50. High: 72.

TUESDAY: Lot's of sunshine, lukewarm. Low: 56. High: 74

WEDNESDAY: Less sun, PM shower? Low: 58. High: 76

THURSDAY: Blue sky returns, very pleasant. Low: 59. High: 75

Photo courtesy of ABC News.


I had a chance to visit with some amazing Minnesotans at the Star Tribune booth, out at the Great Minnesota Sweat-Together, Wednesday evening. Note to self: check out the ketchup-flavored lip balm and amazing selection of T-shirts).

One fair-goer asked, "Paul, it's been a steamy summer - might that increase the odds of a milder winter?" Don't I wish. There is no scientific correlation between summer weather and what unfolds the following winter. My bootleg copy of the new Farmer's Almanac is warning of another "wild winter", but here's the deal: the odds of another winter with 86.6" snow in the metro area are slim. There's no strong La Nina cooling of the Pacific, which could tip us over into a colder, snowier pattern.
Meanwhile "Lee" may strengthen to tropical storm status; a few models have a meandering hurricane off the coast of Texas by Saturday morning. Some 8-12" rainfall amounts are possible along the Gulf coast.

A cooler front whips into town today with showers and temperatures falling thru the 70s. The weekend feels like September, a few instability showers possible late Saturday, mainly up north. It gets sunnier Sunday PM into Labor Day, the best day in sight!

Climate Change: An Eye On The Storms. The U.K. Guardian has the story: "When Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79 the residents of Pompeii were taken entirely by surprise. Inactive for more than 1,000 years, the local people living in its shadow didn't even realise Vesuvius was a volcano. But when it blew they had a choice: chance it and stay, or run. The eruption lasted two days, and from a town of 20,000 inhabitants, evidence of around 5,000 buried in the ash and pumice remains. It doesn't mean all the others got away, but some did, and it shows people were divided about what to do. Many Americans must have felt similarly torn when President Obama took the unusual step of warning about the "historic" threat from Hurricane Irene, and the residents of New York City were reminded of their vulnerability and immense natural forces as a state of emergency was declared. Some might see irony in the president's warning, as his administration was simultaneously committing itself to develop some of the world's dirtiest fossil fuels, such as backing a pipeline to carry oil from Canadian tar sands to Texas."

Can Climate Change Cause Mental Illness? Not sure about this one, but in the spirit of full disclosure, here's a story in the International Business Times: "As climate change and its impacts on our planet and society are still debated, a new report by the Climate Institute of Australia warns against the devastating effects of extreme weather events on communities' mental health.aking severe weather events in Australia as a point of focus for the study, the report also blames adverse weather on climate change and says: "Unabated, a more hostile climate will spell a substantial rise in the incidence of post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression - all at great personal suffering and, consequently, social and economic cost." The document, published this week, also warns that up to 20% of affected communities will suffer extremes stress, emotional injury, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse. The study found that as severe weather events in Australia increase in number, "climate change will have many adverse impacts on Australians' health - physical risks, infectious diseases, heat-related ill effects, food safety and nutritional risks, mental health problems and premature deaths."

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