Thursday, August 30, 2012

Better Than Average Labor Day Weekend Weather (Isaac update; 3rd hottest MN summer on record)

92 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.
78 F. average high for August 30.
71 F. high on August 30, 2011.
1.38" rain so far in August; 2.8" less than average, to date.
+.2 F. After a cool couple of weeks, recent warmth has pulled the average MSP temperature for August to two/tenths of a degree F. above average.

Summer Data Bank:

28 days at or above 90 so far this year. Average is 13.
3rd hottest summer since 1891. Only 1988 and 1934 were a fraction of 1 F. warmer.
44% Based on NWS cooling degree data we used 44% more electricity to cool our homes and offices this summer.

Summer Warmth, But A September Puff Is 1 Week Away. The ECMWF keeps temperatures about 5-10 degrees F. above average through the middle of next week, but highs may slip into the 60s and low 70s by the end of next week.

Unusually Nice (For A Holiday Weekend). The ECMWF model keeps MSP dry Saturday and Sunday with highs in the 80s and a light breeze. There's a slight risk of a shower Monday morning, but no all-day rains are expected. Pretty miraculous for Labor Day Weekend!

100% Probability of Great, Live, Local Music. The Lost Wheels is having a CD release party and concert in Minneapolis Saturday night. These guys are really good. Trust me. I'm a weatherman. Details below.

“The adverse impacts of climate change are happening right now. Climate change is not only ruining our summer, it is an indication of longer-term consequences,” the report said. “Heat waves, warming water, floods, droughts, wildfires and insect and pest infestations are the new reality of an ever-warming world.” - excerpt from a story at The Hill, details below.

Soggy Swirl. The soggy remains of "Isaac" are pushing north across the Mississippi River Valley, soaking Arkansas and southern Missouri. Thursday evening IR image courtesy of the Naval Research Lab.

Isaac: A Drought-Denting Extra-Tropical Rainstorm. The models are in pretty good agreement that what's left of Isaac will push toward Kansas City and St. Louis, then veer east into Peoria and Indianapolis, unleashing excessive rains on drought-parched counties across the Midwest and Ohio River Valley. Rain is coming too late to help farmers this year, but Isaac's soggy remnants may help to recharge soil moisture and underground aquifers.

Instant Deluge. When you move to St. Louis, Louisville or Cincinnati, the last thing you probably think about is a washed-up hurricane washing out your Labor Day plans. NOAA HPC is printing out some 4-8" rainfall amounts from Missouri to West Virginia from Saturday into Monday of next week.

Washout! Here's what a tropical storm can do, turning creeks into raging rivers, washing out highways from the sheer force of moving water. Photo courtesy of WKRG.

Not Recommended. This is how many people mee their maker, crossing flooded-out roads. All it takes is 2 feet of rapidly-moving water to turn your vehicle into a boat, with potentially tragic consequences. As the NWS likes to say, "turn around, don't drown!" Find a detour or stay put until waters recede. Thanks to Anna Mills and WeatherNation TV for passing on this pic taken near Mobile, Alabama.

Not Again. Although the new and improved ($14.5 billion) levee system protected metro New Orleans, the outlying parishes didn't fair nearly as well, in fact in some areas flooding rivaled Katrina, 7 years ago (almost to the day). Details: "Residents evacuate their flooded neighborhood, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in LaPlace, La. Isaac staggered toward central Louisiana early Thursday, its weakening winds still potent enough to drive storm surge into portions of the coast and the River Parishes between New Orleans and Baton Rouge." (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Isaac Headlines:

* Flooding areas north and south of New Orleans, and officials had to scramble to evacuate and rescue people as waters quickly rose.
* Along the shores of Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans, officials sent scores of buses and dozens of high-water vehicles to help evacuate about 3,000 people as rising waters lapped against houses and left cars stranded
* Floodwaters rose waist-high in some neighborhoods, and the Louisiana National Guard was working with sheriff’s deputies to rescue people stranded in their homes.

Severe Flooding. Details: "A submerged cow is stranded amid debris in floodwaters after Isaac passed through the region, in Plaquemines Parish, La., Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. Isac staggered toward central Louisiana early Thursday, its weakening winds still potent enough to drive storm surge into portions of the coast and the River Parishes between New Orleans and Baton Rouge." (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

* The LouisianaNational Guard ceased rescue operations in Plaquemines Parish, saying it felt confident it had gotten everyone out. There were no serious injuries. National Guard spokesman Capt. Lance Cagnolatti said guardsmen would stay in the area over the coming days to help.
* To the east, evacuations were ordered in a sparsely-populated area as a lake dam threatened to break near the Mississippi-Louisianaborder. Officials in Tangipahoa Parish, La., feared the water it would pour into the already swollen river would flood low-lying areas downstream. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said officials there would release water at the dam.
* The hardest-hit area was Plaquemines Parish, southeast of New Orleans, where floodwaters overtopped at least one levee on Wednesday and left many homes under about 12 feet of water.

Entire Louisiana Parishes Submerged. Details: "A car sits submerged after Isaac passed through the region, in Plaquemines Parish, La., Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. Isaac staggered toward central Louisiana early Thursday, its weakening winds still potent enough to drive storm surge into portions of the coast and the River Parishes between New Orleans and Baton Rouge." (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

* Parish President Billy Nungesser said U.S. Army National Guard troops and local sheriff’s office officials were going house to house through the area on Thursday to ensure that there were no deaths or injuries.
* Clearing weather permitted the use of military helicopters, mostly UH-60 Blackhawks, to aid in the operation.
* In St. John the Baptist Parish, northwest of the city, about 3,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes before dawn on Thursday due to storm surges from Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas, authorities said.
* In Slidell, a town of about 27,000 people northeast of New Orleans, storm surge from Lake Pontchartrain left the Eden Isle community under about a foot of water.
* Emergency services rescued about 350 people from Slidell homes and neighboring communities hit by more severe flooding, local authorities said.

A Lonely Walk. Although downtown New Orleans dodged a bullet with Isaac, surrounding suburbs (not protected by the new levee) weren't nearly as lucky. Details: "A man walks through floodwaters from Tropical Storm Isaac in Jean Lafitte, La., Aug. 30, 2012. The storm's once fierce winds slowed to 45 miles per hour on Thursday as it moved out of southern Louisiana and headed north, continuing to bring heavy rains and flooding." (Michael Appleton/The New York Times)

* Nearly half of Louisianaelectrical customers lost power and another 150,000 were out in neighboring Mississippi. Louisiana’s Public Service Commission said 901,000 homes and businesses around the state — about 47 percent of all customers — were without power Thursday. Utility company Entergy said that included about 157,000 in New Orleans.
* New Orleans’ biggest problems seemed to be downed power lines, scattered tree limbs and minor flooding. One person was reported killed, compared with 1,800 deaths from Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi.
* Multibillion-dollar defenses built to protect New Orleans itself, after it was ravaged by Katrina almost exactly seven years ago, passed their first major test, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Storm Surge Aftermath. Tides rose 8-12 feet across coastal Mississippi and Louisiana, and although water levels dropped slightly today as Isaac's winds diminished, coastal areas remained engulfed in water. Details: "Debris lines the parking lot of the Pass Christian Harbor on Thursday, August 30, 2012." (Amanda McCoy/Biloxi Sun Herald/MCT)

* A Coast Guard helicopter hoisted a couple and their dogs early Thursday from a home in LaPlace, between the Mississippi Riverand Lake Ponchartrain, The couple was taken to New Orleans and reported in good condition.
* The oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico region has so far reported no major storm-related damage to infrastructure. Energy production was expected to start ramping up again, after nearly grinding to a halt as Isaac closed in on Louisiana on Tuesday.
* President Barack Obama declared federal emergencies in Louisiana and Mississippi late Wednesday, allowing federal aid to be freed up for affected areas.

Mystery Ship Near Fort Morgan. Look what washed up on the beach at Gulf Shores, Mississippi - whipped along by Isaac's storm surge, wreckage of an old shipwreck. Details from Meyer Vacation Rentals via Facebook: "Look what Isaac uncovered! The first recent appearance of this mystery ship, believed to have been a blockade runner during the Civil War, was during Hurricane Ivan in 2004. In 2008, Hurricane Ike gave us a bigger glimpse. And now in 2012, Hurricane Isaac is giving us a nearly full view. Hmmm . . . 2004, 2008, 2012. All hurricanes with names beginning with I. All within a couple of weeks on the calendar. While we hope it's the end of the pattern, we must admit it sure is interesting to see it appear!"

Hurricane Leslie? Still a tropical storm, "Leslie" is forecast to become a hurricane, and then recurve to the north/northwest, posing some risk to Bermuda. The map above shows a strong Category 3 Hurricane Leslie next Friday, September 7. Odds are it will stay out to sea, but an approaching trough of low pressure may nudge Leslie farther to the northwest. New England will probably experience strong swells from this major hurricane; right now the odds of landfall over the USA are small, less than 1 in 10.

The Drought's Silver Lining: No Metro Tornadoes in 2012. All those red dots (34 in all) are confirmed tornado touchdowns this year, concentrated over western and southern Minnesota, but no touchdowns within 50 miles of the Twin Cities. Duluth saw a waterspout/tornado, only the second one on record for Duluth/Superior, and the first since the 1950s! Map above courtesy of NOAA SPC.

Hurricane Isaac Drives Up Gas Prices. Could That Affect The Election? The Washington Post has the story; here's an excerpt: "According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Isaac has forced 93 percent of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico to come to a halt. That’s a loss of 1.3 million barrels daily of crude, about 22 percent of all U.S. oil production. Five gasoline refineries in the Gulf and four crude pipelines have also closed temporarily. It’s not surprising, then, that gas prices are now jumping even higher, to about $3.80 per gallon. Gas prices had already risen 40 cents per gallon in the last two months after the United States tightened oil sanctions against Iran and a refinery exploded in Venezuela. Isaac is adding even new pressure. So, could these higher fuel prices sway the November election?"

Severe Weather Warnings: Twitter, Text or TV? Here's an interesting story from Information Week: "NOAA awarded four grants, worth a total of $879,000, in an attempt to understand and improve the use of various media in delivering timely information in a way that encourages people to take action to protect themselves.  The grants are in support of NOAA's Weather-Ready Nation initiative. Experts from the agency's Storm Prediction Center, National Severe Storms Laboratory, and weather and river forecast centers will work with the award recipients. Twitter, text, email, the Web, or traditional media--what's the best source of information in the face of life-threatening weather conditions like Hurricane Isaac? The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded four research grants to find out. "

Advanced Tornado/Hurricane Shelter Panels From Recycled Materials. Here's an interesting post from Clean Technica: "Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham have designed new storm shelter panels made from recycled materials that have passed the National Storm Shelter Association’s tornado threat test. The new panels are a part of a new high-tech shelter they are designing."
Sony's 84" 4K TV In Stores By The End Of The Year. HDTV is so 2005. According to Sony and other TV manufacturers it's almost obsolete, because now there's 4K TV! They have to come up with a better name though. Details from; here's an excerpt: "The biggest announcement from Sony’s IFA press conference, if you’re going purely by the size of the device, was the unveiling of its KD-84X9005 BRAVIA LCD TV. Packing an 84-inch LCD panel with 3,840 x 2,160 pixels (that’s a total of 8.29 megapixels), the KD-84X9005 is Sony’s first 4K television and outdoes Sharp’s AQUOS LC-90LE745U in resolution, although not in size. In another first, the edge-lit LED unit also features passive 3D instead of the active 3D seen in the company’s previous 3D models."

* if you really have your heart set on a monstrous 145" 4K TV, check this out. Only one small problem: there's no 4K content...yet.

Galactic Service: Virgin Airlines Offers One Frequent Flier A Trip To Space. It's pretty high up on my bucket list: seeing Earth (and weather) from 200 miles above the ground; at some point the prices will come down, right? No time soon, I fear. TechCrunch has the story; here's an excerpt: "Virgin America is one of my favorite airlines to fly on — it’s kind of like the airline of the future, with interactive displays in every headrest, cool lighting, an animated safety video, and there’s almost always WiFi on board. But Virgin is looking to be even more futuristic, promising the customer with the most miles at the end of the year a chance to upgrade to Galactic status. That’s right, the person who flew the most on Virgin Airlines will win a ride to space courtesy of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Starting now through August 7, 2013, the contest will allow the most frequent flier to take a trip on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, a carbon composite commercial space craft."

Experimental Device May Keep Trucks From Jack-Knifing. Technology will save us! Maybe not, but I found this entry from interesting: "If there’s one thing that truck drivers don’t want their articulated tractor/trailer rigs to do, it’s jack-knifing. This typically occurs when the tractor skids on the road, and the momentum of the trailer causes it to swing out from behind, ultimately resulting in the tractor and trailer being folded up against one another – not unlike a jack knife’s body and blade. The folded rig usually ends up blocking the road, and the tractor can’t undo the situation under its own power. Fortunately, Greek researchers have recently created a system that they claim could greatly reduce jack-knifing."

Paul's Prediction: An Up and Coming Minnesota Band: "The Lost Wheels". O.K. I'm a little biased here, but I know great music (and lyrics) when I hear it. If you like rock and blues you'll really like these guys. They have a unique sound and an energy that you don't find very often. Here's the deal: they just released their first CD "Chipper" and they're having a CD Release Party & Concert Saturday evening. If you've had your fill of sugar-on-a-stick at the State Fair and looking for something a little different, come by, say hi, and support local Minnesota music in the process. There's a 94% probability you'll have a good time.

Where: 331 Club in NE Minneapolis, Saturday at 9 pm.
Band members:
Dan Warner - Lead Vocals and guitar
Walt Kruhoeffer - Lead guitar and Slide guitar
Brian Rubin - Drums
Evan Clark - Bass and Keyboards

Style of music: Blues / rock. With a little bit of funk and southern rock mixed in.
Name of the Album: "Chipper" (Our debut 6 song EP) 
Sites: - Main Site - Facebook @thelostwheels - Twitter

Day 28. Thursday was the 28th day this summer season at or above 90 F. in the Twin Cities. Yes, that's quite enough. I still think we may see 1-3 more before heavy-duty cold fronts start dive-bombing south of the border, but then again a). I kind of like the heat (even without A/C) and b). I'm a naive optimist and I want summer to hang on indefinitely. Under a partly sunny sky highs ranged from 82 at Alexandria to 85 St. Cloud, 92 in the Twin Cities and 97 at Eau Claire.

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

TODAY: Some relief. Sunny, cooler, and less humid. Dew point: 46. Winds: NE 10-15. High: 84

FRIDAY NIGHT: Clear and comfortable. Low: 67

SATURDAY: Partly sunny. The more comfortable day of the weekend. Dew point: 57. Winds: SE 15. High: 86

SUNDAY: Sticky, hotter with hazy sun. Dew point: 65. Winds: South 15+. Low: 66. High: near 90

SUNDAY NIGHT: More clouds, slight chance of a shower or T-shower. Low: 69

LABOR DAY: Isolated early shower, then clearing - less humid. Dew point: 61. High: 86

TUESDAY: Still muggy, late T-storms. Low: 68. High: 83

WEDNESDAY: Stormy start, slow clearing. Low: 62. High: near 80

THURSDAY: Clouds increase, late rain in the day. Low: 58. High: 75

3rd Hottest Summer

You just enjoyed/endured the 3rd hottest summer on record. Only 1988 and 1933 were a fraction of a degree hotter, according to Pete Boulay, at the climate office. 28 days of 90+. Average is 13. Two days of 100+, the most since 1988. Based on NWS cooling degree data we've used 45 percent more electricity to cool our homes. Ouch.

July was rough, but records show 177 hours of drippy, 70+ dew points. Average for the summer season is 180 hours.

A stubborn heat-pump high nudged the jet stream 500 miles farther north; severe storms detouring over Canada. No metro tornadoes in 2012, but Duluth saw the second (weak, EF-0) tornado in it's history! That, and a 1 in 500 year flood. Very odd.

Yes, it's been hot, and a brewing El Nino may tip the scales in favor of another milder winter. But snow lovers should keep the faith. 1988 was a scorcher, but MSP picked up 25 inches of snow between October and December of that year.

Here's some fun party trivia: the first flurries up north are about 30 days away, on average.
Warm sun prevails into Labor Day; a 1 in 3 chance of a brief Monday shower. Soak up the heat because jacket weather is brewing for late next week.

Summer's last hurrah?

Climate Stories....

A New Record Minimum Of The Arctic Sea Ice Extent. More details on the new record for ice loss at the top of the world, smashing the old record set in 2007. Here's an excerpt from JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency: "Melt season in the Arctic Ocean came in the summer of 2012. The Arctic sea ice is shrinking at an unprecedented rate this year and set a record minimum. A record minimum sea-ice coverage of 4.21 million sq km was observed by satellite on 24 August 2012, one month earlier than previous minimum record set on 24 September, 2007."

Arctic Collapse Dramatically Increases Global Warming. It's a feedback effect, less ice results in a darker albedo (ocean water absorbs more infrared radiation than ice), which causes more warming, which melts more ice, which causes more warming, etc. A domino effect. Here's an excerpt of an article at The University of Manchester: "Writing in Nature, the scientists, led by Stockholm University, discovered that much more greenhouse gas is being released into the atmosphere than previously calculated, from and ancient an large carbon pool held in a permafrost along the 7,000 km desolate coast of northernmost Siberian Arctic – dramatically increasing global warming. As the temperature climbs carbon, stored in vast ice walls along this Arctic coast called Yedoma, covering about one million km2 (four times the area of the UK), is pouring into the Arctic Ocean in one of the world’s most remote and desolate regions. 

 This region is experiencing twice the global average of climate warming. While satellite images reveal thousands of kilometers of milky-cloudy waters along the Arctic coast, suggesting a massive influx of material, the Yedoma has remained understudied largely due to the region’s inaccessibility. By studying the thaw-eroding slopes of a disappearing island, the team found that the tens-of-thousands year old coastal Yedoma carbon is rapidly converted to CO2 and methane, even before being washed into the sea

Graph above courtesy of the Arctic Sea-Ice Monitor.

Report: Climate Change Promises More Tough Summers. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Hill: "...While it is difficult to point to any one specific weather incident as the result of human activity, the report said the abundance of abnormal conditions indicate climate change is a reality. NWF said the nation must adopt more solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy to stunt climate change. “The adverse impacts of climate change are happening right now. Climate change is not only ruining our summer, it is an indication of longer-term consequences,” the report said. “Heat waves, warming water, floods, droughts, wildfires and insect and pest infestations are the new reality of an ever-warming world.” Despite record temperatures, crippling drought and raging wildfires this summer, President Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney have avoided talking about climate change on the campaign trail."

Antarctic Methane Could Worsen Global Warming: Scientists. Here's a snippet of a Reuters story: "Large volumes of the greenhouse gas methane could have been produced under the Antarctic Ice Sheet over millions of years, which could add to global warming if released into the atmosphere by a thaw, a study said on Wednesday.  Scientists from the universities of Bristol, Utrecht, California and Alberta simulated the accumulation of methane in Antarctic sedimentary basins using models and calculations. They found it was likely there were micro-organisms there that would have been able to convert the ice sheet's large deposits of organic carbon into the potent gas. If present, methane would most likely be trapped under the ice."

The Cultural Divide Over Climate Change. Once again Doug Craig at posted a thoughtful article that nails the problem: beyond using climate change as an ideological and political football, there is a problem related to science literacy in the USA; here's an excerpt: "Andrew Hoffman recently wrote a piece for the Stanford Social Innovation Review in which he argued that a scientific consensus on climate change is irrelevant if we cannot attain a social consensus on this critical concern. We are too divided culturally and politically to establish a common ground. One reason, Hoffman suggests for this sorry predicament is scientific illiteracy. "With upwards of two-thirds of Americans not clearly understanding science or the scientific process and fewer able to pass even a basic scientific literacy test, according to a 2009 California Academy of Sciences survey, we are left to wonder: How do people interpret and validate the opinions of the scientific community? The answers to this question can be found, not from the physical sciences, but from the social science disciplines of psychology, sociology, anthropology, and others."

Common Sense And Global Warming. Here's a portion of an Op-Ed at "...What do we do about it? The transition from coal to natural gas is a help. Nuclear power can provide a bridge, at the very least maintaining its share of the American power supply. A move to more efficient cars will help. Any changes must be phased in so that they do not hurt the economy. The best solutions would stimulate the economy and create jobs while combating global warming."

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