Friday, August 31, 2012

More 4th of July than Labor Day (Isaac flooding as close as Chicago?)

86 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.

78 F. average high for August 31.

85 F. high on August 31, 2011.

Today: most comfortable day; dew points near 50.

.02" rain predicted for Monday morning (NAM model).

Labor Daymost uncomfortable day as dew points rise into the mid-60s with a high near 90.

Warm Bias Into Tuesday, Then September-like. The ECMWF keeps highs in the mid 80s to near 90 from Sunday into Tuesday, but by next weekend highs may be stuck in the 60s...even some 50s up north? From shorts to sweatshirts in 3 days.

Labor Day Details. Dew points slowly rise over the weekend, the best chance of a (brief/fleeting) shower or T-shower Sunday morning. Highs on Labor Day may rise into the upper 80s, possibly hitting 90 in the metro for the 29th time this year.

$2 billion in damage from Hurricane Isaac? Details from Bloomberg Businessweek below.

"...The fact is, many people lack the resources to escape. Having no money, no mode of transportation and no friends or family in safe places means no choice but to weather the storm." - from an NBC News story on why some people won't (or can't) evacuate to a safe spot before a hurricane.

Photo credit above: "A man makes his way down a flooded street in a boat in the aftermath of Isaac Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, in Ironton, La. Isaac is now a tropical depression, with the center on track to cross Arkansas on Friday and southern Missouri on Friday night, spreading rain through the regions." (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Hurricane Isaac May Cost Insurers $2 Billion; AIR Says. Details from Bloomberg Businessweek; here's an excerpt: "Isaac, the storm drenching Arkansas after making landfall in Louisiana as a hurricane, may cost insurers as much as $2 billion in the U.S., risk-modeling firm AIR Worldwide said. The industry’s claims costs, including wind and storm-surge damage to residential, commercial and industrial onshore properties, will be at least $700 million, the Boston-based firm said today in an e-mailed statement. The estimates are a fraction of the $41.1 billion cost for Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 storm that struck Louisiana and caused flooding in New Orleans. Hurricane Irene, which lashed the U.S. East Coast last year, cost $4.3 billion."

Photo credit above: "Two sailboats, the Sweet Dreams, foreground and the Caribe, were swept from their docks by Hurricane Isaac to the parking lot in front and beside Shaggy's at Pass Christian, Mississipi, on Friday, August 31, 2012." (Tim Isbell/Biloxi Sun Herald/MCT)

149 Photos Capture Isaac's Fury. Huffington Post has a good recap, and there's only so much you can convey about a hurricane via text. The photos tell the story in a way no narrative ever will. Many locals, officials and members of the media didn't pay Isaac the respect it was due. Intensity (the "category" of the storm) is important when estimating storm surge coming ashore, but in the end the track and forward speed of the storm is even more important when calculating the duration of the storm surge and total rainfall amounts. Isaac stalled, stuttered and sputtered, hitting Louisiana twice as a Category 1 hurricane, but that big, lazy loop prolonged the extreme rains (and 8-12 foot storm surge), allowing a Category 1 storm to create damage more typically found in a Category 2-3 hurricane. More details: "As Gulf Coast states began to assess the damage from Hurricane Isaac, photos and video started to trickle in of the devastation. Although the death toll has been minimal compared to Hurricane Katrina, fatalities have occurred, and damage was extensive in some regions. Rising floodwaters from Isaac have forced thousands of evacuations, catching many by surprise, reported the Associated Press. Pictures of Isaac's impact reveal residents and homes caught in flood conditions. Up to half of Louisiana was left powerless on Thursday, and hundreds of thousands were in the dark in Mississippi."

Flooding Spreads North. Jalen Brown captured this photo of severe flooding at Pine Bluffs, Arkansas Friday. Pic via Twitter.

Isaac Rainfall Totals. NOAA data shows over 20" for metro New Orleans. Vero Beach, Florida picked up 16.6" over 4 days.

Tropical Swirl. Yes, those high clouds spreading into southeastern Minnesota are the forerunners of "Isaac", which has lost all tropical characteristics. Rain may spread as far north as Iowa and southern Wisconsin, the best chance of flooding from Missouri into central Illinois. IR satellite image: Naval Research Lab.

Drought-Denting Rains. NOAA HPC shows some 7"+ rains for Illinois, as much as 3" as far east as Pittsburgh, all from the soggy remnants of Isaac.

Flood Potential. NOAA has outlined the greatest potential for flash flooding from St. Louis to Peoria, Champaign/Urbana, Chicago and South Bend, Indiana.

Billion Dollar Flood-Protection System Around New Orleans Proves Reliable. It passed the first test, a Category 1 hurricane. Will it withstand a Category 4 or 5? We'll see, but so far so good, as reported by The Washington Post; here's an excerpt: "Seven years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers was desperately trying to plug breaches in the city’s broken and busted levee system. Since those catastrophic days, the Army Corps has worked at breakneck speed — and at a cost of billions of dollars — to install new floodgates, pumps, floodwalls and levees across New Orleans. The work paid off. A day after Isaac hit New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of Katrina, officials said the 130-mile flood protection system did its job."

Photo credit above: Vincent Laforet, Pool, File - Associated Press). "In this Aug. 30, 2005 photo, floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina pour through a levee along Innter Harbor Navigational Canal near downtown New Orleans, LA, a day after Katrina passed through the city."

Hurricanes Don't Scare Natural Gas Anymore. Fracking has changed the equation; gas and oil prices no longer spike (as much) when a hurricane is churning into the Gulf of Mexico, littered with drilling rigs. Marketwatch explains: "Even with much of the Gulf of Mexico’s energy production shut down as Hurricane Isaac approached the region earlier this week, the natural-gas market barely blinked — and that’s exactly what analysts said would happen. “Natural gas did not react like it has in previous storms because, with the rapid development of shale gas over the last several years, the Gulf is increasingly less important to overall gas supply,” said Kim Pacanovsky, managing director and senior research analyst for oil and gas at MLV & Co. in New York. As of Thursday, about 72.5% of the current daily natural-gas production in the Gulf was shut-in because of Isaac, according to U.S. government data. Price action in natural-gas market over the past few days, however, indicates just how little concern the market has for the production disruption."

Storm Psychology: Why Do Some People Stay Behind? Great question, and NBC News does a good job providing credible reasons why many people can't (or won't) evacuate to higher ground in advance of a hurricane. Here's an excerpt: "It’s the question so many of us have while watching news coverage of a hurricane or tropical storm like Isaac: Who are these people who don’t leave home even as an angry storm is advancing – and what are they thinking?! The short answer: For some, the up-and-leaving idea isn’t as easy as it sounds to those of us watching from a safe and dry distance. Actually, a 2009 article published in the journal Psychological Science sought to examine the reasons some people won’t evacuate, despite the urging or even mandates of city and state officials, by asking a group who would know: Hurricane Katrina survivors who weathered the storm at home."

Photo credit above: "Tony Miranda takes a break from clearing out his home after it was flooded by Hurricane Isaac in LaPlace, La., Friday Aug. 31, 2012." (AP Photo/The Advocate. Arthur D. Lauck)

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

Fantastic Friday. Is this the best time of the year in Minnesota? A loaded question, and highly subjective. But the combination of bright sun, low humidity and a fresh breeze made it awfully tough to concentrate. Highs ranged from 83 at Redwood Falls and Alexandria to 84 St. Cloud, 86 Twin Cities and 89 at Eau Claire.

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

TODAY: Sunny & pleasant. Dew point: 51. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 85

SATURDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and mild. Low: 66.

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, warmer and more humid. Dew point: 60. Winds: S 10. High: 88

SUNDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, chance of a shower or T-shower. Low: 68

LABOR DAY: Passing T-shower, then partial clearing, still very warm. Dew point: 66. Winds: W 5-15. High: 89

TUESDAY: Hazy sun, still sticky. Dew point: 63. Low: 64. High: 86

WEDNESDAY: Showers likely, then breezy, cooler. Low: 65. High: 78

THURSDAY: Feels like September! Less humid with plenty of sun. Low: 58. High: 72

FRIDAY: Comfortable sun, light winds. Low: 55. High: 74

Fantasy Weather Picks

Feeling good about your fantasy football team? This is the year. Victory is mine!

My oldest son, lead guitarist for "The Lost Wheels", is a football fanatic. "How can I possibly know how well Andrian Peterson's knee will hold up after Game 4?" Walt asked. I shrugged. Welcome to my world. Some things are not only unpredictable, but unknowable.

Every day I check the current maps and future models, choosing the one I think may do the best job, under these circumstances. But like an unexpected football injury - not every conceivable factor can be stuffed into a weather model. There was no way to forecast, in advance, that "training thunderstorms" would spark a 1 in 500 year flood at Duluth in June. No way to know, days in advance, that Hurricane Isaac would stall, and do a big loop off the coast of Louisiana, proloning the storm surge and extreme rains, causing a Category 1 storm to produce Category 3 damage.
Predicting the future is hard work; there's so much we can never know. A good metaphor for life, come to think of it.

No extreme heat or beach-ball size hail? It's a miracle, lake-friendly skies on a holiday! Comfortable 80s today, near 90 tomorrow as dew points rise into the sticky 60s. The best chance of a shower or T-storm: Monday morning/midday, but skies may clear during the afternoon. Not bad for the last holiday of summer '12.

It could be worse. So much worse. On August 30, 1949 Minnesota's earliest snow flurries on record were spotted at Duluth's new airport, up on the bluffs. 

Cue the groans!

Climate Stories....

Is Geoengineering The Answer To Climate Change? Tinkering with the atmosphere - what can possibly go wrong? Here's an excerpt of an interesting article at Smithsonian Magazine: "Climate change used to be thought of as a long-term worry; now, there’s good reason to believe we’re already encountering its effects. As the problem grows more urgent, some say we ought to take a radical approach: Instead of struggling in vain to limit greenhouse gas emissions, we should try to engineer systemsto directly stop the warming of the planet. This approach is known as geoengineering, and it might be the most controversial area in climate science. The term encompasses a wide variety of techniques. One company tried to fertilize the ocean with iron, to encourage the growth of algae to absorb excess carbon dioxide. Other scientists have suggested spraying clouds with seawater to increase their whiteness—and thus reflectivity—reducing warming by bouncing light back out to space. The U.S. government has even considered gigantic, sun-blocking mirrors in outer space as a last-ditch option if climate change hits a tipping point."

Photo credit above: "Geoengineering could replicate the cooling effects of a massive volcanic eruption as a tool to reduce climate change." Photo via Wikimedia Commons

GOP Platform Highlights The Party's Abrupt Shift On Energy, Climate. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "Over the past four years, the Republican Party has undergone a fairly dramatic shift in its approach to energy and environmental issues. Global warming has disappeared entirely from the party’s list of concerns. Clean energy has become an afterthought. Fossil fuels loom larger than ever. And one way to see this shift clearly is to compare the party’s 2008 and 2012 platforms. It may seem difficult to believe now, but back in 2008, the Republican Party’s platform (pdf) had a long and detailed section on “Addressing Climate Change Responsibly.” Here’s how it opened:
"The same human economic activity that has brought freedom and opportunity to billions has also increased the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. While the scope and longterm consequences of this are the subject of ongoing scientific research, common sense dictates that the United States should take measured and reasonable steps today to reduce any impact on the environment. Those steps, if consistent with our global competitiveness will also be good for our national security, our energy independence, and our economy."
Photo credit above: "No longer a Republican concern." (JOHN MCCONNICO / AP)

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