Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Soaking T-storms Into the Weekend (heating up, dew points reach the drippy 70s)

2.57" rain predicted by Sunday morning (00z NAM model).

85 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
80 F. average high for June 19.
93 F. high on June 19, 2012.

Severe Potential

Welcome to the 19th chilliest spring since 1873, according to Pete Boulay at the Climate Office. One benefit of June cool fronts? They tend to put a damper on severe weather. We've gotten the rain, without the hail and wailing tornado sirens.

Southern Minnesota has experienced 3 small tornadoes; only 1 in Wisconsin in 2013 - a southward dip in the jet stream nudging the strongest T-storms well south of home.

That may be about to change. Under the heading of "Be Careful What You Wish For" the leading edge of hot, tropical air arrives later today and Friday, with enough instability and wind shear for a few severe storms. Be alert for watches and warnings later today and Friday.

These warm front often kick off swarms of very heavy thunderstorms at night. An MCS, or meso-convective system, capable of frequent lightning and flooding rains, may interrupt REM sleep the next few nights.

T-storms spill over into Saturday, pushing into northern Minnesota Sunday. And then it gets hot. 90F is likely by Sunday and Monday of next week. Factor in a dew point of 70-75 and it will feel sultry.

It won't be as hot & stuffy as 2012, but the Summer of 2013 will include occasional heat spikes to go with the thunderstorms.

Coolest Spring since 1996 in the Twin Cities:

19th coolest
17th wettest

Details from Pete Boulay at the Minnesota State Climate Office: "If you look at March 20 to June 20 (with two days missing for this year) 2013 is ranked at #19 coldest going back to 1873 for the Twin Cities with 50.2 degrees. We could creep up a little bit with the mild last two days. The years that have been colder over the past 30 years are 1996 (3-way tie with 1909 and 1950 for 8th coldest) and 1983 at the 14th coldest (tied with 1961). The coldest is 1907 with 46.5 degrees. Basically, it's been the coolest spring since 1996.

In the precipitation category for the Twin Cities, it looks like 2013 will come in 17th, with 13.05 inches, although we could go up a bit there with more rain! 2012 was 2nd, with 16.33 inches."

A Noisy Hot Front. The approach of very warm, humid air sets off swarms of thunderstorms into at least Saturday morning; a small percentage may produce hail and damaging winds, even an isolated tornado. Be alert for watches and possible warnings over the next 48 hours. Maps above: NOAA SPC.

A Soggy 48 Hour Spell. Heavy showers and T-storms are likely across the Upper Midwest into Saturday, possibly Sunday morning, as very hot, steamy air pushes north. Training thunderstorms may spark some 3-4"+ rains, and I could see some flash flooding. More heavy rain is likely over the coastal Carolinas; some 2-4" amounts possible over the next 5 days.

An Active Warm Frontal Boundary. Thunderstorms tend to increase during the overnight hours, as low-level winds focus on frontal boundaries. Conditions may be ripe for a few MCS (meso-convective) systems flaring up late each night, capable of torrential rains, gusty winds and frequent lightning. Storms spill over into Saturday, possibly Sunday morning. Keep your sun expectations low this weekend, but it will be warm and humid; highs in the 80s to near 90 with dew points in the low to mid 70s.

Unfortunate Timing. The 13th weekend in a row with rain? Looks like it. ECMWF model data keeps showers and T-storms into at least Saturday; Sunday the drier, sunnier (hotter) day. Dry weather may previal the first half of next week with highs in the 80s to near 90. Hot enough, but not "2012-hot".

Tornado Tales. Tuesday a tornado formed over the runways at DIA, Denver International Airport, causing hundreds of travelers and employees to scramble to find a suitable shelter - rumors of hundreds of fliers jammed into one rest room. In today's edition of "Climate Matters" I discuss POD and FAR (false alarm rates) that are still too high, urban tornadoes, dual polarization Doppler radar, and how land use and suburban sprawl is putting more Americans in the potential path of tornadoes: "Seeing the remarkable images from DIA Tuesday sparked some discussion about tornado locations and the impact of urban sprawl. Meteorologist Paul Douglas says there is no evidence that we are seeing more extreme tornadoes, simply more people in the way."

It's Ridiculously Hot In Alaska Right Now. Buzzfeed has some great photos and an explanation: "It might not be as bad as actual places that are actually hot, but remember, they don’t have many air conditioners in Alaska. It’s the hottest heat wave in the state since 1969, Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the online forecasting service Weather Underground, told the AP..."

  And The Weatherman Says There's More To Come. The jet stream has been unusually far south for most of spring, over North America and Europe, leading to cooler, wetter weather. And there may be a link to record melting of Arctic ice last fall having a domino effect on the winds that swirl around northern latitudes. Here's an excerpt from the International Herald Tribune: "...In recent years, however, the path of the jet stream has shifted southward, trapping cold air over much of Europe. But is it a natural phenomenon or yet another perverse consequence of global warming? The scientists hedged their bets. “There is some research to say some parts of the natural system load the dice to influence certain states of the jet stream,” according to Professor Belcher, “but this loading may be further amplified by climate change.” The current weather phenomenon is not unique. Europe underwent the effects of so-called Atlantic multidecadal oscillations in the 1950s and early 1960s and in the 1880s. The decline of Arctic sea ice, which some scientists blame in part on man-made climate change, is one of the factors cited as responsible for the recent unusual weather patterns..."

Photo credit above: "A spectator shelters from the weather during a rain delay at the Queen's Club grass court championships in London, Wednesday, June 12, 2013." (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

2NEWS Investigates: Which Safe Rooms Are Safest; Above or Below Ground? Here's an excerpt of a very interesting report (along with videos and photos) on safe rooms, enhancing existing rooms to survive a direct strike from a tornado, courtesy of KJRH-TV in Tulsa: "...Larry Tanner, research associate at the Wind Research Center, says most importantly your safe room must be designed and built to FEMA guidelines.  "They're all safe if they are tested products," said Tanner. However, in a below ground safe room you face the risk of debris blocking the exit, or flooding. The good news: No one has ever been killed in an approved safe room whether above or below ground. And after seeing video footage of cars picked up and tossed by tornadoes many of you asked whether above ground safe rooms will stand up to cars falling out of the sky?  Tanner says safe rooms built to FEMA guidelines handle a 3,000 pound vehicle being dropped on them no problem. "The 57 Cadillac draping over the sides of the shelter. That's virtually what we see all the time," Tanner said..."

The New Measure Of America. By this standard, and most others, come to think of it, Minnesota comes out looking very good. Here's the intro to a story from Marketplace: "According to some economists who have criticized standard economic metrics, we have more than enough ways to measure how the economy is doing -- gross domestic product, the unemployment rate, the Dow, to name just a few -- and not enough ways to measure how people are actually doing in the economy. An alternative metric to GDP, that gauges ‘human development,’ was advocated by the late economist Mahbub ul Haq, and developed by ul Haq and Indian Nobel economics laureate Amartya Sen. An adaptation of their Human Development Index (HDI) for the U.S. economy has been deployed by the Social Science Research Council to measure the well-being and opportunity of Americans. The group’s third installment is out today, entitled “The Measure of America 2013-2014....”

Graphic credit above: "The chart above shows the human development index for all 50 states. States with darker shading scored higher." (Source: Social Science Research Council)

Confirmed: One Billion Year Old Water Tastes "Terrible". Here's a snippet from a curious article at The Atlantic, for anyone who ever wondered what (really) old water tastes like: "...Last month, a paper published in Nature reported on some water that had been trapped 1.5 miles below the Earth's surface in Canada for a long while. How long? Based on an analysis of the isotopes of natural gases in the water, scientists believe it to be the oldest isolated water ever studied, at least 1 billion years old and maybe as old as 2.64 billion, slightly younger than the rocks that encased it.* For maybe half as long as the Earth's entire existence, this water has been sealed away, unexposed to the atmosphere. The next question: Is it drinkable? The answer: Not really, but a sip won't kill you. According to an interview in the Los Angeles Times, one of the paper's authors, Barbara Sherwood Lollar, has tasted it, and it was "terrible," she reports. "It is much saltier than seawater..."

Photo credit: J. Telling.

A Word About Vince. By now you're heard the news about Vince Flynn's tragic passing from prostate cancer. Like everyone else I was shocked, crushed, saddened. Vince was the real deal. Everyone knows he was a prolific writer, Matt Rapp's alter ego, but Vince was just a great all-around man, not only the guy you want to have a beer with, but a leader and mentor who gave back to his community. He took philanthropy seriously and did everything in his power to make Minnesota an even better place to live. WCCO's Frank Vascellero introduced me to Vince about 5 years ago, knowing I had a son considering military duty. Not only did Vince agree to talk with my son about serving in the Navy, but he took time out of his schedule to sit down and coach him in person, ultimately encouraging him to push forward at the Naval Academy and become an aviator. I'll never forget that gesture of kindness. He didn't have to do that. Vince Flynn never bought into his own promotion, the "New York Times best-selling-author" hype. He was just a guy from St. Paul who did OK for himself and his family. Vince had a heart of gold. He's going to be missed.

TODAY: More clouds - a few strong T-storms possible later. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 82

THURSDAY NIGHT: T-storms likely, locally heavy rain and frequent lightning possible. Low: 69

FRIDAY: Very warm and humid. T-storms, some severe. High: 85

SATURDAY: Unsettled & muggy , more T-storms likely. Wake-up: 73. High: 87

SUNDAY: Sticky, hazy sun. T-storms up north. Wake-up: 74. High: 91

MONDAY: Suddenly summer. Isolated T-storm. Wake-up: 70. High: 89

TUESDAY" Partly sunny, good lake/pool day. Wake-up: 71. High: 88

WEDNESDAY: More clouds than sun. Wake-up: 70. High: 86

* photo above courtesy of Paul Zunkel.

Climate Stories...

Obama Calls Climate Change The "Global Threat Of Our Time" In Berlin Address. Here's an excerpt from The Hill: "President Obama on Wednesday called climate change the “global threat of our time" in a speech in Berlin. Amid signs the White House is getting ready to unveil new executive-level steps to curb greenhouse gases, Obama linked fighting climate change to peace and justice while calling for bold action. “Peace with justice means refusing to condemn our children to a harsher, less hospitable planet," he said in a speech at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. "The effort to slow climate change requires bold action.” Obama touted his first-term work on green energy and boosting auto efficiency rules, but added: “We know we have to do more — and we will do more...”

Photo credit above: "President Barack Obama speaks in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2013. Obama is planning a major push using executive powers to tackle the pollution blamed for global warming in an effort to make good on promises he made at the start of his second term. "We know we have to do more — and we will do more," Obama said in Berlin." (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Science Of Why We Don't Believe Science. Here's the intro to a must-read article from Chris Mooney at Mother Jones, laying out a convincing tale of why more evidence, more facts and more data can actually reduce the odds of people "believing the science": “A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger, in a passage that might have been referring to climate change denial—the persistent rejection, on the part of so many Americans today, of what we know about global warming and its human causes. But it was too early for that—this was the 1950s—and Festinger was actually describing a famous case study in psychology. Festinger and several of his colleagues had infiltrated the Seekers, a small Chicago-area cult whose members thought they were communicating with aliens—including one, “Sananda,” who they believed was the astral incarnation of Jesus Christ. The group was led by Dorothy Martin, a Dianetics devotee who transcribed the interstellar messages through automatic writing..."
Illustration above: Jonathon Rosen.

U.S. Airports Face Increasing Threat From Rising Seas. Climate Central has the story - here's the intro: "When Hurricane Sandy struck New York City on October 29, 2012, the dark waters of Flushing Bay poured over the edges of LaGuardia Airport, flooding parts of the facility’s 7,000-foot long east-west runway, and damaging lighting and navigation systems. The floodwaters created an eerie image of jetways ending in water, as if they had been converted into boat ramps. This was not the first time that LaGuardia suffered major flooding during a storm, nor will it be the last. Due to climate change-related sea level rise, LaGuardia and other coastal hubs throughout the U.S. face a growing risk of flooding during even modest storms..."

Graphic credit above: "What LaGuardia Airport could look like at high tide with 5 feet of sea level rise, an amount that could occur by 2100, according to some estimates." Credit: Nickolay Lamm/StorageFront  interpretation of Climate Central data.

Where Is Global Warming Going? This graphic from Skeptical Science does a good job of summing up the answer: into the world's oceans: "A visual depiction of how much global warming heat is going into the various components of the climate system for the period 1993 to 2003, calculated from IPCC AR4  Note that focusing on surface air temperatures misses more than 90% of the overall warming of the planet."

Climate Science Debate Has Cost Precious Time. The Guardian has the story - here's a clip: "...The commission's updated analysis states that evidence of a "rapidly changing climate has continued to strengthen over the last two years", including, importantly, the link between climate change and extreme weather events. "It is clear that the climate system has already shifted, changing conditions for all weather," says the study. "While extreme weather events have always occurred naturally, the global climate system is hotter and wetter than it was 50 years ago. This has loaded the dice toward more frequent and forceful extreme weather events..."

Photo credit above: "There is increasing evidence of man-made climate change and extreme weather events, according to a new report." Photograph: David Gray/Reuters.

Climate Change Will Reshape World "In Our Lifetimes" - World Bank President. Here's an excerpt of an article from Thomson Reuters Foundation: "...After seeing widespread deaths from pollution last winter, “there’s a new spirit in China,” Kim said. The Asian giant, the world’s largest carbon emitter, is setting “really, really aggressive goals” on curbing climate-changing emissions, and are moving to establish what could be the world’s biggest national carbon market, he said.  Right now, “they’re more serious than any country I know” in terms of acting on climate change, Kim said. That, combined with what he said was strong political will in the White House to address the problem and moves to curb emissions from New Delhi to New York, could add up to changes that will eventually address “the huge bulk of the issue” – even if it’s not happening fast enough, he said..." (image: NASA).

Fracking Sucking Up Water In Drought Areas. This is going to become even more of an issue in the western USA, where water is already at a premium. Here's an excerpt from The Arizona Daily Star: "The latest domestic energy boom is sweeping through some of the nation's driest pockets, drawing millions of gallons of water to unlock oil and gas reserves. Hydraulic fracturing, the drilling technique commonly known as fracking, has for decades blasted huge volumes of water, fine sand and chemicals to crack open valuable underground shale formations. But now, as energy companies vie to exploit vast reserves west of the Mississippi, fracking's new frontier is expanding to the same lands where crops have shriveled and waterways have dried up due to severe drought..."

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