Thursday, June 7, 2012

Friday Thunder (mid-90s Sunday...warmest 12 months on record for MSP)

82 F. high temperature on Thursday in the Twin Cities.
76 F. average high for June 7.
103 F. high temperature on June 7, 2011.
6" rainfall estimates near Hanley Falls yesterday. Details below.

.19" rain predicted today in the cities - showers and T-showers possible.
.30" rain scheduled for Sunday night into Monday morning as a cooler front arrives.
90-92 F. Saturday; dry with a south wind at 15-25 mph.
92-97 F. Sunday; south/southwest winds at 15-30 mph - showers and T-storms possible after 5 pm.

Hot Spell. We're still on track for highs near 90 today, low 90s Saturday and possibly mid 90s Sunday. After cooling to near 70 for a high Tuesday temperatures warm again, reaching 90+ again by the end of next week, according to the ECMWF model.

Trending Warmer. It's fascinating to see the ECMWF take the lead, and the other (U.S.) models catching up as time goes on. The European model was predicting 90s for the weekend as early as Sunday of this week, while the GFS was predicting low 80s. Each run got progressively warmer - now most of the models are suggesting 90+ Saturday and low to mid 90s on Sunday. Graphic courtesy of Iowa State.

"Record and near-record warmth dominated the eastern two-thirds of the nation during spring," according to the National Climatic Data Center report. "Thirty-one states were record warm for the season. Only Oregon and Washington had spring temperatures near normal." - from a USA Today article about a record warm spring for the USA; details below.

The "New (Warmer) Normal". Minnesota is heating up, which, on the face of it, sounds like a pretty good thing. There will be plenty of silver linings in the years to come as we continue to warm: longer growing seasons, less snow and ice, a more temperate climate that will attract new residents. Less fear of Minnesota's "brutal winters". The downside: more extreme weather and record downpours.... and potentially more pests, more ticks and beetles that aren't killed off during our (warmer) winters, meaning a rising risk to our North Woods. Pete Boulay at the Minnesota Climatology Working Group sent me this e-mail yesterday:

"The 12 month period from June 2011 to May 2012 is the warmest June to May temperature in the Twin Cities, going back to 1872. I arrive at 51.7 F. for the average temperature, and that beats second place (2005-06), when the average temperature was 49.5 F.

We are also the warmest year to date from 1891-2012 (January 1 - June 6), although that probably isn't too surprising."

Here's the Top 3 (Warmest) Years for MSP (1891 - 2012):

1). 43.7 F. 2012
2). 42.9 F. 1987
3). 41.1 F. 2006

USA Had Warmest March-May On Record. Here's an excerpt from USA Today: "The surreal heat that enveloped much of the USA this spring turned out to be a record breaker: Federal scientists announced today that the spring was the warmest ever recorded in U.S. history. Climatologists define spring as the months of March, April and May; weather records go back to 1895. "Record and near-record warmth dominated the eastern two-thirds of the nation during spring," according to the National Climatic Data Center report. "Thirty-one states were record warm for the season. Only Oregon and Washington had spring temperatures near normal."

Second Warmest May - Hottest Spring On Record For USA. Details from NOAA NCDC: "The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during May was 64.3°F, 3.3°F above the long-term average, making it the second warmest May on record. The month's high temperatures also contributed to the warmest spring, warmest year-to-date, and warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895."

"Train Echo Effect". Much like the cars in a train pass over the same section of track, showers and thunderstorms kept redeveloping over the same counties of central Minnesota yesterday, resulting in some extreme rainfall amounts. MPX Doppler estimates show some 6" amounts near Hanley Falls.

Severe Threat. SPC is predicting a slight risk of severe storms over northern New England, northern Wisconsin and parts of Montana later today - the threat shifts to North Dakota and the Red River Valley Saturday as a slow-moving cool front pushes east.

118 mpg? The new Honda Fit is the most fuel-efficient car in the USA, but be prepared to dig deep into your wallet. Details below.

Severe Storms Hit Metro Denver. has the details: "DENVER — Unusual overnight severe weather hit the metro area Wednesday into Thursday, bringing lightning, thunder, heavy rain, hail and flooding to much of the region. Despite several Tornado Warnings, there were no confirmed tornado touchdowns with the round of late night storms. Hail hit the southern and western parts of metro Denver especially hard. Several inches were on the ground Thursday in places such as Castle Rock, Parker and Highlands Ranch. Some roads were flooded and there was a lot of standing water around the city. Motorists needed to allow extra time for their morning commute Thursday."

Photo caption above: "Hail at I-25 and Founders Pkwy. Castle Rock, Colo. June 6, 2012."

Supercells In Unlikely Places. It's a short YouTube clip, but unlike anything I've seen recently, video taken by Joe Prince up in Bethel, Alaska! I had no idea Alaska even experienced rotating, "supercell" thunderstorms.

Holland Tornado. How good is your Dutch? I guess a tornado needs no captions, even when it touches down in Europe - this one is particularly fascinating to watch from beginning to end. Details via YouTube: "Prachtige beelden met schokkend commentaar op de tornado die ons prachtige montfort trof op 7 juni 2012. De daken worden letterlijk van de huizen gerukt door de onmenselijke kracht van deze natuurramp!"

Image Of The Day: Enterprise Moves To Intrepid. Thanks to Bill Ingalls of NASA for sharing this moving photo. Details: "Atop a barge on Wednesday, June 6, 2012, the space shuttle Enterprise was towed on the Hudson River past the Statue of Liberty on its way to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, where it will be permanently displayed."

Welcome To Hurricane Season Circa 2012. The story from Huffington Post; here's an excerpt: "A hard rain's gonna fall. Question is how hard and how often. June 1 marks the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season. This year the atmosphere kind of jumped the gun by spawning two named Atlantic storms -- Alberto and Beryl -- in May. That fast start out of the gate notwithstanding, the official hurricane forecasts for 2012 envision a fairly ho-hum year: see here, here and here. For example, the forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has a 70 percent chance of:
  • nine to 15 named storms (with minimum wind speeds of 39 miles per hour),
  • four to eight hurricanes (with minimum wind speeds of 74 miles per hour), and
  • one to three major hurricanes (Categories 3 to 5 with minimum wind speeds of 111 miles per hour)."

Study: Storm Surge From Hurricanes Threatens 4 Million Homes. USA Today has an eye-opening story - here's an excerpt: "A survey of the USA's vulnerability to hurricane-driven storm-surge damage found that more than four million homes worth over $700 billion are at risk along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Storm surge — the massive mound of water that builds up and comes ashore as a hurricane moves over the ocean or Gulf of Mexico— is typically the most dangerous aspect of hurricanes. The report, released this morning by research and consulting firm CoreLogic of Santa Ana, Calif., found that Florida is the state most prone to storm-surge damage, with about 1.4 million homes at risk, worth a total value of $188 billion."

Photo credit above: "Maggie Dagrossi walks through flooded streets in Brooklyn, N.Y., in August 2011, shortly after Hurricane Irene hit New York City." By Chris Maddaloni, Gannett.

New York City At High Financial Risk For Hurricane Damage. Talk about a worst-case scenario; The Christian Science Monitor has an important story - here's an excerpt: "When people think of hurricane damage they usually think of Miami or New Orleans, but a new report suggests the greatest financial risk of all may be much farther north: the greater New York City area. Data analysis firm CoreLogic said in a new report released on Thursday that the U.S. metropolitan area at greatest risk, both in the number of properties affected and the potential value of damage, was New York City. For the firm's purposes, the area also includes Long Island and northern New Jersey. "The summer of 2011 gave us some startling insight into the damage that even a weak storm can cause in the New York City metro area," CoreLogic vice president Howard Botts said."

Photo credit above: "The skyline of midtown Manhattan in New York is seen at sunset from Jersey City, New Jersey June 3. Pictured are the New York Times Building (L), the GE Building at Rockefeller Center (2nd L), the Conde Nast Building (2nd R) and the Bank of America Building (R)." Gary Hershorn/REUTERS

If A Hurricane Hits We'll All Pay. Here's an excerpt from an Op-Ed in The Miami Herald: "....Contrary to news reports that continue to quote individuals who believe the mention of crippling hurricane tax assessments is nothing more than a scare tactic, the proof is in the numbers, and there are some things we know for certain: 

• Citizens is far from the insurer of last resort, with approximately 25 percent of Florida’s homeowners insurance market and rates that are about 40 percent below where they need to be to cover its risk. Citizens claims are subsidized by non-Citizens policyholders, which account for the 75 percent of Florida homeowners who have private homeowners insurance. So, 75 percent of Floridians are not only paying for their own risk but are also being taxed (assessed) to help pay past storm claims for Citizens policyholders. And, depending on the severity or frequency of storms that make landfall in Florida this year, unfortunately and in all probability, they will be required to pay more in the future."

Chevy Volt Plug-In Sales Surge In California, Outsells 'Vette Too. Details from The Washington Post: "It's quite the morning for electric-car news today, but we didn't want to let one from yesterday slip by either. After a lumpy start to sales of the Chevrolet Volt, it appears that California dealers now can't keep the range-extended electric car in stock. According to an analysis of registration data from January through March provided by R.L. Polk, the Detroit Free Press reports that California bought more Volts by far--837 of them--than in the second-highest state, which was Michigan at just 232."

118 MPG? Honda Fit Most Fuel-Efficient Car In USA, But Steep Cost To Buy Electric Car. The Washington Post and AP have the story; here's a clip: "DETROIT — At 118 miles per gallon, the Honda Fit electric vehicle is the most fuel-efficient in the United States. But getting that mileage isn’t cheap — and it isn’t always good for the environment. Honda announced the eye-popping figure Wednesday, making the small, four-door hatchback more efficient than electric rivals like the Ford Focus, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. It goes on the market this summer in Oregon and California. The electric Fit has an estimated price tag nearly twice as high as the gasoline-powered version. It would take 11 years before a driver makes up the difference and begins saving on fuel."

Toyota Vehicle-To-Home Technology Turns Prius Plug-In Into Emergency Generator. O.K. Line up those Priuses in the parking lot so we can keep the lights on - pretty cool idea though, especially when power goes out after a thunderstorm rumbles through. Details from "Electric vehicle charging has been a hot topic for years, but it's mostly been a one-way discussion: how the EV charges from a given home charging system. Toyota turns the conversation around, experimenting with how the home can draw power from the EV. Toyota's vehicle-to-home (V2H) charging system offers two-way charging between the Prius Plug-in and a home power supply. Obviously, the Prius Plug-in's small lithium-ion battery isn't enough to pull a home off the greater electric grid, but Toyota envisions the two-way system working as an emergency generator during blackouts."

"Groggy Boy After Surgery". In the mood for a funny video clip; check out this entry to StupidVideos: "This young guy is just out of surgery, and despite feeling a little dizzy, his confidence seems to be just fine!"

Lightning Fail. Thanks to for passing this useful nugget along. I need to remember this...

Feels Like June. Temperatures were fairly uniform statewide yesterday with a mix of clouds and sun, slightly higher humidity levels, and a band of persistent (heavy) showers and storms during the morning/midday hours over parts of western and central Minnesota. Highs reached 82 at the Twin Cities, 83 St. Cloud, with .26" rain at Redwood Falls.

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

TODAY: AM thunder? Hot sun. Dew point: 64 Winds: SW 15+. High: 89

FRIDAY NIGHT: Muggy, T-storms up north. Low: 68

SATURDAY: Hot sun. Dew point: 66. Winds: S 10-20. High: 92

SATURDAY NIGHT: Warm and sultry - dry. Low: 71

SUNDAY: Sizzling, uncomfortably hot and humid. Dew point: 70. Winds: High: 96

SUNDAY NIGHT: T-storms arrive, some heavy. Low: 69

MONDAY: Morning showers, thunder. Slow clearing, less humid. Dew point: 61. Winds: NW 10. High: 82

TUESDAY: Comfortable sun. Dew point: 54. Low: 57. High: 72

WEDNESDAY: Few T-showers likely. Dew point: 55. Low: 56. High: 75

THURSDAY: Partly sunny and sticky. Dew point: 63. Low: 60. High: 85

Warming Trend

Consulting meteorologist Dean DeHarpporte sent me an e-mail earlier this week, the tone one of incredulity. "Paul, the numbers are startling. Our last subnormal month at MSP was May 2011, when it was 0.9 F degrees below average. Since then all months have been above average, 7 of them by more than 5 degrees." DeHarpporte added that the last 12 months have averaged 5.6 F above normal, but 2012 is 7.4 F above average; on track for the warmest year since 1891.

It's the "new normal": no more gradual heat waves that build over many days. Now we usually experience sudden "heat spikes".

I don't expect any records but we should hit 90 today - low to mid 90s Saturday & Sunday before a cooler front provides a surge of Canadian relief. The dreaded dew point may top 70, making it feel even more oppressive.

The atmosphere will be "capped", meaning too hot and dry aloft for any storms to fire until late Sunday. Get thee to a lake, pool or air-conditioned shopping mall, stat!

A cooling trend returns, highs in the 70s much of next week, although we may warm back into the 80s by the end of the week.

Finally, Pete Boulay at the Minnesota Climate Office reports the 3 warmest years at MSP have occurred since 1987. Eye-opening details on the weather blog.

Climate Stories...

Climate Change Message Needs To Be Closer To Home To Hit Home, Researchers Say. Details from " In a project that aimed to analyse of , the researchers focused on ‘psychological distance’ in prompting people to go greener and the significance of uncertainty as justification for inaction. The study, led by Dr Alexa Spence, found that in general the closer people felt to the problem, the more concerned about climate change they were. It also recommends that more needs to be done to communicate the global impacts of climate change and highlight the severity of the problem....She said: “Climate change is abstract, and if we make it more real for people then they are more likely to act sustainably.”

Waffling On Climate Change? Consult Friends, Not Science. I found this article to be something of a head-scratcher but the bottom line is this: people often defer to friends and "group-think" when it comes to potentially complicated, scientific challenges like climate change. It's easier to agree with an influential friend than to dig into the science and reach your own conclusions, based on the facts. Here's an excerpt of a Reuters article: "....A hierarchical individualist who expresses anxiety about climate change might well be shunned by his co-workers at an oil refinery in Oklahoma City. A similar fate will probably befall the egalitarian communitarian English professor who reveals to colleagues in Boston that she thinks the scientific consensus on climate change is a hoax. In other words, people form opinions about climate change based on their worldview and the views of the communities to which they belong. Science, yet again, has little to do with it. These findings give heft to the vague feeling that’s been dogging climate campaigners, that political affiliation, not science, is what determines a stance on climate change."

Climate Change: It's The Science. Here's a snippet from Gannett's Green Energy Blog: "When talking about climate change, the question that almost invariably comes up is — how do we know that the current warming of the earth’s atmosphere and oceans is the result of human activity and not just a natural cycle? This is a valid question and not often well discussed, so I have to hand it to the Union of Concerned Scientists  (motto: Independent science, practical solutions) who have lived up to their name with a new book, “Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living.” The book  — and an interactive website the group has launched  – sets readers a challenge of cutting their personal greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent and lays out a range of well-documented, science-based options for achieving the reductions by making changes in their everyday lives."

Warming Nears Point Of No Return, Scientists Say. An ominous headline from The San Francisco Chronicle: "The Earth is reaching a "tipping point" in climate change that will lead to increasingly rapid and irreversible destruction of the global environment unless its forces are controlled by concerted international action, an international group of scientists warns. Unchecked population growth, the disappearance of critical plant and animal species, the over-exploitation of energy resources, and the rapidly warming climate are all combining to bring mounting pressure on the Earth's environmental health, they say. Scientists from five nations, led by UC Berkeley biologist Anthony Barnosky, report their analysis Thursday in the journal Nature."
Are We Nearing A Planetary Boundary? The New York Times has the story; here's an excerpt: "The earth could be nearing a point at which sweeping environmental changes, possibly including mass extinctions, would undermine human welfare, 22 prominent biologists and ecologists warned on Wednesday. Acknowledging in a new paper that both the likelihood and timing of such a planetary “state shift” were uncertain, the scientists nonetheless described warning signs that it could arrive within a few human generations, if not sooner. The problems are familiar by now: they include a planetary warming that, while slow on the scale of a human lifetime, is extremely rapid on a geologic time scale, the scientists said."

Geoengineering Projects: Global Warming Solution Or Climate Disruption? The story from Huffington Post: "LONDON (Reuters) - Large-scale engineering projects aimed at fighting global warming could radically reduce rainfall in Europe and North America, a team of scientists from four European countries have warned. Geoengineering projects are controversial, even though they are largely theoretical at this point. They range from mimicking the effects of large volcanic eruptions by releasing sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere, to deploying giant mirrors in space to deflect the sun's rays. Proponents say they could be a rapid response to rising global temperatures but environmentalists argue they are a distraction from the need to reduce man-made carbon emissions."

Are There Errors In The IPCC Reports? Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "Every five to seven years, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produces a detailed and influential report summarising the science of climate change. The accuracy of these documents came under scrutiny in early 2010, after two highly publicised errors were discovered in the 'Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability' part of the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). One was the claim that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 – hundreds of years earlier than the accepted figure – and the other was an incorrect number for the percentage of land in the Netherlands that is below sea level. Both mistakes were acknowledged by the IPCC and corrected in statements and errata notes."

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