Monday, June 4, 2012

"A Fine Summer Day" (strong late-week T-storms, 90s by the weekend)

84 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.

75 F. average high for June 4.

84 F. high last year, on June 4, 2011.

Dry weather on tap today, highs reaching the mid-80s with a southeast breeze at 5-10 mph.

.77" rain predicted for MSP by Friday (NAM model). A few T-showers are possible Wednesday, heavier T-storms Thursday and Friday as a vigorous warm front approaches Minnesota.

Slight severe risk Thursday and Friday. Conditions may be ripe for an MCS system to form late each night, a mesoconvective system, capable of heavy rains and frequent lightning.

12 days at or above 80 F. so far in 2012 in the Twin Cities.

5 days above 80, as of June 4, 2011.

Weekend "Hot Front". Once again I'm going out on a shaky limb, predicting 90s for the weekend; basing that outlook on the European ECMWF model (above), which has done a consistently better job than the GFS model for Days 3-10 in recent months. Saturday looks dry: low to possibly mid 90s. A few T-storms may relieve the heat and humidity by late Sunday and Sunday night. with a cooling trend early next week.

Drippy Dew Points Imminent. Here's the dew point prediction for KMSP, courtesy of Iowa State (go Cyclones!). Dew points are expected to peak this weekend in the low to mid 70s. Factor in highs in the low to mid 90s, and it may feel like upper 90s to near 100 Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Note to self: lake water temperatures are in the upper 60s to near 70. This may be the best cabin weekend of the summer season, to date.

8" rain reported in parts of central and southern Maine over the weekend, over 7" reported at Portland, Maine.

98 F. high at Salt Lake City, Utah Monday, breaking the old record of 96 F in 1988. Source: NOAA.

Palmer Index. Here is a running tally of moisture conditions across the USA. The Red River Valley is still running a 4"+ rainfall deficit, but parts of central and east central Minnesota are showing a 2-3" rainfall surplus, for the first time all year. Palmer Index courtesy of NOAA.

84 Hour Rainfall PredictionAfter a dry day today (make the most of it) an approaching warm frontal boundary will leave the atmosphere irritable, capable of a few T-showers Wednesday, with a possibility of stronger T-storms Thursday and Friday. The heaviest (.5 to 1.5") rainfall amounts are forecast to fall north/east of the Twin Cities.

The United (Stormy) States of America. This interactive Ham Aeris map shows the last week's worth of severe storm reports from coast to coast, over 3,000 at last count.

Montana "Hailers". National Weather Service employees captured these photos of 1-2" hail, which covered the ground near Potomac, Montana on Monday. Photos via Facebook.

That's One Way To Collect Hail. Thanks to for showing us the proper way to collect penny-size hail in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on Sunday. A funny YouTube clip is here: "Zaxk having fun in the rain and hail."

A Threatening Sky. Thanks to the Yosemite Conservancy for sharing this photo taken yesterday.

Tuesday Severe Risk. A few storms may exceed severe criteria (1" diameter hail and winds over 58 mph) in northern Montana, southern Georgia and the Florida Panhandle, according to NOAA SPC.

Outlook: Smoky Sunsets? NOAA's "Fire Detect" URL shows the location of every active wildfire in the USA, as well as resulting smoke plumes. As hot air pushes north late in the week I wouldn't be surprised to see a few extra-red, smoky sunsets across Minnesota and much of the Upper Midwest.

Warming Trend. The extended 8-14 day outlook from CPC (NOAA's Climate Prediction Center) shows a significant warming from the Upper Midwest into New England through mid-June.

Missouri River Flooding: Sand Poses Major Problem For Farmers (Photos). Here's a snippet from The Huffington Post: "MISSOURI VALLEY, Iowa (AP) — Mason Hansen guns his pickup and cranks the steering wheel to spin through sand up to 4 feet high, but this is no day at the beach. Hanson once grew corn and soybeans in the sandy wasteland in western Iowa, and his frustration is clear. Despite months spent hauling away tons of sand dropped when the flooded Missouri River engulfed his farm last summer, parts of the property still look like a desert. Hundreds of farmers are still struggling to remove sand and fill holes gouged by the Missouri River, which swelled with rain and snowmelt, overflowed its banks and damaged thousands of acres along its 2,341-mile route from Montana through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. The worst damage and the largest sand deposits were in Iowa and Nebraska."

Hurricane Forecast For 2012: Cloudy With Chance Of Landfall. I have this nagging gut feel (nausea?) that it's going to be an above-average summer and autumn for hurricanes impacting the USA. I hope I'm wrong. Here's an excerpt of a story at Property Casualty 360: "The Atlantic Hurricane Season starts this week, and forecasters are calling for a normal number of storms—but some warn that the odds are in favor of a U.S. landfall. Catastrophe-modeler RMS released its pre-season commentary, saying conditions remain right for the total number of tropical storms “to be near the long-term average of 10.7 tropical storms.” RMS notes that while some existing conditions could drive higher Atlantic basin-activity, other factors, such as higher wind shear over the Atlantic, have increased “the likelihood of a near-normal season in 2012.”

Officials: New Orleans Ready For Hurricanes. I hope those officials are right; here's an excerpt from Insurance Journal: "The Army Corps of Engineers — responsible for the massive rebuilding of hurricane protection after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — and leaders from around the metropolitan area say they’re working closely on emergency planning as the new hurricane season officially gets under way June 1. With billions of dollars invested in new levees, floodwalls and other flood protection, and an overhaul of cooperative emergency planning that emerged from the Katrina disaster, officials say citizens should have greater confidence that if tropical weather sweeps out of the Gulf of Mexico this year the systems and infrastructure in place are up to the test."

Photo credit: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert.

Storm Of Money: Hurricanes, Insurance And The Secret Black Boxes That Make Our Rates So High. Wonder why your insurance rates are so high? Charleston's Post and Courier has a must-read article; here's an excerpt: "Some things are certain: As the earth spins, air moves swiftly around the equator, creating the trade winds. It’s also certain that storms will form because the sun shines bright where these trades blow, turning sea water into sky-high clouds of steam that inevitably collapse, a process announced by torrents of rain and thunder. And we know for sure from history and physics that a few of these air masses will spin counterclockwise, slowly at first, then faster and with enough momentum to flatten cities, alter destinies, and if hooked into some fantastic electric grid, pack enough energy to light every bulb on earth." Photo credit: Post and Courier.

"Ask Paul". Weather-related Q&A.


"The last three years have been brutal for insurance companies writing business in Minnesota due to the severe weather. Do you think our current weather patterns are here to stay, ie, get used to it?"
Thank you,

Kevin Burkholder
Vice President - Personal Lines
RAM Mutual Insurance Company

Kevin - great question. The trends are pretty convincing in the severe weather department. Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground believes the last 2 years have been the most severe for the USA since 1816. We're seeing more extreme weather events, more hail and more downpours, in fact, the number of severe, 3"+ downpours across the Upper Midwest has doubled in the last 50 years. There's no strong link (yet) between climate change and tornadoes, but there's little doubt that excessive rainfall events are on the rise, probably hail too, and this pattern will almost certainly accelerate as we pump more greenhouse gases into the atmossphere in the years ahead.


Hello Paul,

"I just wanted to hear your opinion and ask you a question. I don't know if it's "Ironic", but you mention in your blogs that warmer atmosphere holds more water. Since this was the warmest spring, doesn't it still link to this 2nd wettest spring since it was warmer?"


Israel - there's little doubt in my mind that warmer = wetter (and more severe). A warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor, loading the dice in favor of more (extreme) rainfall events, and that's what we're seeing in the data. Spring of 2012 was the warmest, and second wettest on record. 2010 was Minnesota's wettest year - and brought the most tornadoes the state has ever witnessed (145). I've been accused of being an "alarmist", but if you step back and really look at the trends, they are a bit alarming.

In A Skirmish To Control The Screens. Here's an excerpt of an interesting article from The New York Times: "Given the relentless battles by tech companies to win new smartphone users, you would think that the tiny screen is the only one that matters. Those battles are part of a larger war for three screens: smartphones, tablets and televisions. The most important facet of these devices won’t be the sharpness of the display or the sleekness of the design — they will, after all, essentially be the same: flat pieces of glass of varying sizes. What we will want most from these screens is their ability to communicate with one another like a group of gabbing teenagers in the middle of school recess."

A Fine Summer Day. As far as the atmosphere is concerned summer really began back on June 1, marking the stretch of what is, historically at least, the 90 warmest days of the year. A few instability T-showers popped from Duluth to Hayward, Wisconsin, .12" of rain at Duluth. Highs ranged from 57 at Grand Marais to 84 at St. Cloud and the Twin Cities, 86 at Redwood Falls.

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

TODAY: Warm sun, pleasant. Best day in sight. Winds: E 5-10. High: 83

TUESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and mild. Low: 62

WEDNESDAY: Sticky, few T-storms possible. High: near 80

THURSDAY: Unsettled, risk of thundershowers. Low: 63. High: 82

FRIDAY: More numerous storms. A few may be severe. Winds: W/SW 8-15. Low: 65. High: 83

SATURDAY: Free sauna. Hot sun, very humid. Dew point: 73. Winds: SE 10. Low: 68. High: 92

SUNDAY: Hottest day yet? Sunny and tropical. Dew point: 74. Winds: S 10. Low: 69. High: 94 (heat index near 100).

MONDAY: Still steamy with showers and T-storms. Not as hot. Low: 68. high: 83

Camping Storm Safety

Here's a rare nugget of good news on the climate front: the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that the USA cut greenhouse gas CO2 emissions by 430 million tons (7.7%) since 2006. The bad news: global CO2 levels reached a new high in 2011 (31.6 gigatons). Details on the blog.
So what?

A warmer atmosphere holds more water, loading the dice in favor of more severe storms and flash floods.

What do you do if a severe thunderstorm approaches your campsite? Situational awareness is crucial. With portable NOAA Weather Radios and apps on smart phones there's no reason why you have to be surprised by storms. True, you may not get a great cell signal up in the BWCA.

Your vehicle offers more protection than a soggy sleeping bag. Are there restrooms nearby? Better than nothing. The danger is lightning and falling trees - so try to find an outcropping of rocks to ride out the storm.

A dry, quiet Tuesday gives way to a slight thunder risk Wednesday; a better chance of storms Friday as hot, humidifed air pushes north.

You'll want to evacuate to your favorite lake - highs reach the 90s Saturday and Sunday with dew points in the 70s.

A 100 F. heat index? We'll come close.

Climate Stories....

Climate Scientists Lament A Nation Stuck On The Wrong Debate. Here's an excerpt from a story at "The global warming debate in Congress, the states and on the campaign trail centers on two issues: Is Earth warming, and if so are humans to blame? But ask most climate scientists, and they'll tell you that these are the only questions not in dispute. Climate change is a matter of how bad and by when, they'll say—not whether. "Scientists are inherently skeptical," says Lonnie Thompson, a paleoclimatologist at Ohio State University, who has led studies of glaciers and ice sheets in 16 countries. "After enough evidence and observation, though, you have to start to accept findings. That is what happened with climate change. This wasn't a rash conclusion."

Photo credit above: "NASA scientists study changing conditions in the Arctic as part of the agency's ICESCAPE mission, or Impacts of Climate on Ecosystems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment/Credit: NASA, Kathryn Hansen.
Climate Change Stunner: USA Leads World In CO2 Cuts Since 2006. Here's a bit of good news - not sure how much of this CO2 reduction was a symptom of the recession/depression we just muddled through, but the Vancouver Sun has a ray of good news; here's an excerpt: "The world has yet to figure out how to stop the relentless increase in climate pollution. But mixed in with all the bad news there was one shining ray of hope. One of the biggest obstacles to climate action may be shifting. As the IEA highlighted:
"US emissions have now fallen by 430 Mt (7.7%) since 2006, the largest reduction of all countries or regions. This development has arisen from lower oil use in the transport sector … and a substantial shift from coal to gas in the power sector."
How big is a cut of 430 million tonnes of CO2? It's equal to all CO2 from all Canadians outside Alberta. From a US perspective, it's equal to eliminating the combined emissions of ten western states: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada."

Beyond Season's End: Sportsmen Concerned About Climate Change. Many farmers and fishing and hunting enthusiasts have told me stories about changes they're witnessing, literally out in the field, with their own eyes. It's a slow-motion transformation, but that northward shift in flora and fauna climate scientists were predicting 30 years ago? It's happening. Here's a post from Climate Denial Crock of the Week: "Rising summer temperatures pose a threat to coldwater brook trout in the Adirondacks, a recent study shows. Researchers recorded air and water temperatures over the course of 11 summers and correlated readings to spawning activity. A rise of 1.8 degree Fahrenheit delayed spawning by approximately one week and reduced the number of nests. Late spawning is likely to delay the emergence of fry, which could uncouple synchronicity with the emergence of prey. Water temperatures near 70 degrees Fahrenheit stress the fish, which do not have sufficient energy to feed. Consequently the growth of their reproductive organs slowed. High temperatures effectively caused the trout to shut down in the middle of the summer, the paper’s authors said."

The Planet Wreckers: Climate-Change Deniers Are On The Ropes - But So Is The Planet. Here's an Op-Ed from Bill McKibbon at Huffington Post: "It’s been a tough few weeks for the forces of climate-change denial. First came the giant billboard with Unabomber Ted Kacynzki’s face plastered across it: “I Still Believe in Global Warming. Do You?” Sponsored by the Heartland Institute, the nerve-center of climate-change denial, it was supposed to draw attention to the fact that “the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.” Instead it drew attention to the fact that these guys had over-reached, and with predictable consequences. A hard-hitting campaign from a new group called Forecast the Facts persuaded many of the corporations backing Heartland to withdraw $825,000 in funding; an entire wing of the Institute, devoted to helping the insurance industry, calved off to form its own nonprofit. Normally friendly politicians like Wisconsin Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner announced that they would boycott the group’s annual conference unless the billboard campaign was ended."

Global Warming And Hurricanes. Here's a snippet of a story at the Grand Cayman Observer: "Although there is a strong consensus among scientists that human-induced carbon dioxide emissions are causing a greenhouse effect and thus raising surface temperatures on Earth, other scientists staunchly oppose the idea.  One of those opposing scientists is William Gray, a meteorologist who pioneered seasonal hurricane forecasts while working at Colorado State University, where he remains professor emeritus of atmospheric science.  Among his theories based on his scientific observations, Gray doesn’t believe that carbon dioxide emissions are having any measurable effect on the formation of tropical cyclones. "

* image of Hurricane Ivan above courtesy of NASA.

How Climate Change Is Growing Forests In The Arctic. Here's an excerpt of a story in Time Magazine: "If there’s a single lesson for early 21st century life on the planet Earth, it’s this: everything connects. That’s true whether we’re looking at the global economic system, where sickness is now spreading from the Euro zone to China to a wobbly U.S., or the global environment, as we can see in a new study showing the Arctic rapidly responding to climate change by sprouting sudden trees in the tundra. Researchers in Britain and Finland studied an area of 38,600 sq. mi (100,000 sq. km) in what’s known as the northwestern Eurasian tundra, which stretches from western Siberia to Finland."

Photo credit above: B.C. Forbes. "Growing shrubs in the Arctic of western Siberia."

Nuclear, Coal Power Face Climate Change Risk - Study. Reuters has the story; here's an excerpt: "SINGAPORE, June 4 (Reuters) - Warmer water and reduced river flows will cause more power disruptions for nuclear and coal-fired power plants in the United States and Europe in future, scientists say, and lead to a rethink on how best to cool power stations in a hotter world. In a study published on Monday, a team of European and U.S. scientists focused on projections of rising temperatures and lower river levels in summer and how these impacts would affect power plants dependent on river water for cooling. The authors predict that coal and nuclear power generating capacity between 2031 and 2060 will decrease by between 4 and 16 percent in the United States and a 6 to 19 percent decline in Europe due to lack of cooling water."

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