Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Fine Week of Weather (cooler, drier bias to linger into first 1-2 weeks of August)

Record Lows reported in St. Cloud and Rochester Sunday morning.

53 F. low Sunday morning in the Twin Cities.
75 F. afternoon high at MSP.
83 F. average high on July 28.
83 F. high on July 28, 2012.

Wednesday: probably the wettest day of the week, best chance of showers & T-storms.

Dog Day Siesta

I really enjoy our Minnesota summers. Both weeks. "Have you ever seen it this chilly in July?" my oldest son asked me yesterday. No, but El Nino destroyed my long-term memory, so I can't be sure of anything.

I was helping him move all his...stuff. Oh, to be 25 and living in Uptown. And a perfect day for a move, more late September than late July. At least we salvaged one nice day.

And no, this early (or late?) outbreak of sweatshirts doesn't mean an early winter, or a particularly pernicious winter is ordained. It may be my imagination but weather patterns & jet stream configurations are very odd for mid-summer. A few notable scientists suspect a link to rapid warming at far northern latitudes. The maps I'm staring at aren't even close to being "normal" - for any season.
Our weather trends cooler, drier & sunnier than average the next 10 days as Canadian air leaks south in dribs and drabs. T-storms arrive Wednesday, then a couple of cooler puffs: Wednesday, again next weekend.

Today will be much too nice to work hard. Leave early to enjoy 50-degree dew points & a few decorative cumulus clouds. September is a spectacular month.

Maybe we'll see 3 Septembers in a row in 2013?

Sunday Records. Both St. Cloud and Rochester set record lows Sunday morning. 43 F. in St. Cloud? I can't recall seeing temperatures this cool over central Minnesota in July. It's still July right? Map: WeatherNation TV.

Saved By Stratus. Low clouds lingered much of Saturday night, diminishing radiative cooling, preventing a rash of record lows. Officially the Twin Cities missed a record by 2 degrees Sunday morning (52 F). There were plenty of 40s, well away from the urban heat island. Map: MesoWest.

Monday Departures From Average. Most people I've talked to don't miss the sauna-like heat or humidity, but a real cool front in late July was a bit jarring for many of us. Highs today run 5-10 F. cooler than average from the Twin Cities and Des Moines to Buffalo and Pittsburgh.

Cool Bias. 250 mb. winds midday Friday show northwest winds over Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and New England, swamp-like heat confined to the Central and Southern Plains. Northwesterly winds aloft may spill over into the first, even the second week of August, limiting just how hot it can get looking out 10-14 days. Map: Weather Bell.

A Fine Week Of Weather. Today will be that day you were daydreaming about back in early May (or Saturday for that matter). A few showers and T-storms arrive late Tuesday into Wednesday, followed by a series of cooler fronts: one arriving Friday, another over the weekend. An isolated T-shower can't be ruled out Sunday. Temperatures run about 2-4 degrees F. cooler than average into early next week.

Soggy Central Plains To Outer Banks. NOAA HPC's 5-day rainfall forecast calls for some 3-4" amounts near Wichita and Kansas City; potentially heavy showers and T-storms from the Mid Atlantic region to Florida.

High Amplitude Pattern - 3 Sigma Deviation From Normal. The north-south sweeps of the jet stream are highly unusual for late July, over North America and Europe. According to Steve Scolnik at CapitalClimate: "What is unusual for this time year is the huge amplitude of the upper-level flow; over 3 sigma deviation from normal over North America."
European Heat Wave. Highs are forecast to soar to record levels again toda from Italy and Austria into Germany and Poland, some mid to upper 90s possible as a huge ridge of high pressure expands northward. The same high-amplitude pattern affecting the USA and Canada is also showing up on the other side of the pond. Map:

Weather Service Models Running On New, Vastly More Powerful Supercomputers. Meteorologist Jason Samenow at the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has more information on the supercomputer upgrade; here's an excerpt: "The nation’s major weather forecasting models are now working their magic on a new supercomputing powerhouse. On Thursday, the National Weather Service (NWS) shifted its operational models onto a supercomputer more than double the power of its predecessor, capable of performing 213 trillion calculations per second....The NWS has entered into a bit of an arms race with the European Center for Medium-range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF), which currently runs the more powerful and, overall, more accurate global forecasting model. Following news of NWS’ planned computing upgrades in May, the ECMWF entered into a contract with supercomputer builder Cray to buy two new machines..."

Autumn Outlook. The map above shows predicted temperature anomalies for the globe between August and October, courtesy of EarthNow and the University of Wisconsin: "The data for the global temperature and precipitation outlooks are provided by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI). The IRI was established as a cooperative agreement between NOAA’s Climate Program Office and Columbia University. It is part of The Earth Institute, Columbia University. The data for these maps are constructed primarily from several climate models, with some minor tweaks by climatologists."

20 Gripping Photos Of Extreme Weather. Mashable has the story (and remarkable photos). Here's the intro: "Although her forces are still unmatched be even the most intelligent of man, we've at least been able to document her mood swings. And, perhaps, we even learn a thing or two about how to better understand her next time. We pored over thousands of extreme weather images to find out what Mother Nature had to say..."

Photo credit above: "Aurora Over Alaska: The digitally enhanced photograph taken in January 2005 shows a spectacular aurora borealis above the frozen landscape of Bear Lake, Alaska. The image was voted Wikipedia Commons Picture of the Year for 2006." Image: Joshua Strang, USAF, Wikipedia, caption via NASA.

The Nicest City In America. That was the pronouncement in the WSJ over the weekend. Yes, Minneapolis was featured in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal, a suggested 4-day itinerary, hitting some of the most unique restaurants, bars, culture and entertainment options. Not sure why they didn't spend any time in St. Paul, but the story in the "Off Duty" section of the WSJ was very complimentary. But we knew that already, right? Here's an excerpt (subscription may be necessary to read the full text): "This Midwestern city may bring to mind parkas before parks, and Vikings before biking, but Minneapolis is as sweet in summer as it is frigid in winter. The town is bisected by the Mississippi River and studded with lakes, ponds and parks. If basking in the outdoors isn't your thing, there is more than enough culture to fill a long weekend to overflowing: daring architecture, a vital art scene anchored by the contemporary-focused Walker Art Center and restaurants that deftly combine modern technique with heartland comfort. (Here even the chicest boĆ®te is still sure to dish up some "Minnesota nice.") So whatever your sensibility—Prince or prints, lamb tartare or lutefisk—a packed few days in Minneapolis is bound to satisfy, you betcha..."

Photo credit above: Ackerman + Gruber for The Wall Street Journal "WATER VIEW // Explore Lake Harriet at sunset."

TODAY: Plenty of sun, very pleasant. Dew point: 55. Winds: S 10. High: 77

MONDAY NIGHT: Clear to partly cloudy. Low: 61

TUESDAY: More clouds & humidity. Dew point: 60. High: 81

WEDNESDAY: Showers & T-storms likely. Wake-up: 65. High: 79

THURSDAY: Sunny, less humid. Dew point: 57. Wake-up: 60. High: 81

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, probably dry. Wake-up: 63. High: 80

SATURDAY: Blue sky, comfortable. Dew point: 53. Wake-up: 61. High: 79

SUNDAY: More clouds than sun, lukewarm. Wake-up: 60. High: near 80

Climate Stories...

June 2013 Is Best Month Yet For Electric Car Sales. Details from "Almost 9,000 plug-in electric vehicles have been sold in the U.S. during June of this year, bringing the total in the last 30 months to 110,000 plug-in electric cars. If you think you've been seeing more Teslas and Nissan Leafs on the streets, it's not your imagination -- there really are more of them on our roads. Just in the month of June of this year, almost 9,000 plug-in electric vehicles have been sold in the U.S. This adds to more than 110,000 plug-in electric vehicles that have been sold in this country in the last two and a half years, the Electrification Coalition reports. The Electrification Coalition is a nonprofit group composed of business leaders and industries, from battery manufacturers to automakers, and promotes the use of electric vehicles on a mass scale..."

Carbon Dioxide Power Plants: Could The Greenhouse Gas Be Used To Generate Electricity? Mother Nature Network and Huffington Post have the story; here's an excerpt: "Here's an interesting idea: What if the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by power plants while they generate electricity could be converted into a source of additional electricity? That's the idea behind a new paper published this week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. Written by a team of researchers in the Netherlands, the paper describes how CO2 could be mixed with a fluid electrolyte, generating electrical energy in the process. A press release from the American Chemical Society, which publishes the journal, calls this a "trash-to-treasure" story, saying it could help produce billions of kilowatts of energy every year while reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere..."

Internal EPA Report Highlights Disputes Over Fracking And Well Water. The Los Angeles Times reports on internal conflicts and disagreements at the EPA over the fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and water safety; here's the intro: "One year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency finished testing drinking water in Dimock, Pa., after years of complaints by residents who suspected that nearby natural gas production had fouled their wells. The EPA said that for nearly all the 64 homes whose wells it sampled, the water was safe to drink. Yet as the regulator moved to close its investigation, the staff at the mid-Atlantic EPA office in Philadelphia, which had been sampling the Dimock water, argued for continuing the assessment. In an internal EPA PowerPoint presentation obtained by the Tribune/Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau, staff members warned their superiors that several wells had been contaminated with methane and substances such as manganese and arsenic, most likely because of local natural gas production..."

Photo credit above: "A natural gas fracking operation on leased farmland near Dimock, Pa. The EPA says water from most wells in the area is still safe to drink, but critics and an internal EPA report suggest that the drilling method is causing methane contamination." (Caroline Cole / Los Angeles Tiems / December 27, 2011).

Potential Well Water Contaminents Highest Near Natural Gas Drilling, UT Arlington Study Says. has the story; here's the intro: "A new study of 100 private water wells in and near the Barnett Shale showed elevated levels of potential contaminants such as arsenic and selenium closest to natural gas extraction sites, according to a team of researchers that was led by UT Arlington associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry Kevin Schug. The results of the North Texas well study were published online by the journal Environmental Science & Technology Thursday. The peer-reviewed paper focuses on the presence of metals such as arsenic, barium, selenium and strontium in water samples. Many of these heavy metals occur naturally at low levels in groundwater, but disturbances from natural gas extraction activities could cause them to occur at elevated levels..."

Gangplank To A Warm Future. Here's a snippet from a New York Times Op-Ed: "As a longtime oil and gas engineer who helped develop shale fracking techniques for the Energy Department, I can assure you that this gas is not “clean.” Because of leaks of methane, the main component of natural gas, the gas extracted from shale deposits is not a “bridge” to a renewable energy future — it’s a gangplank to more warming and away from clean energy investments. Methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, though it doesn’t last nearly as long in the atmosphere. Still, over a 20-year period, one pound of it traps as much heat as at least 72 pounds of carbon dioxide. Its potency declines, but even after a century, it is at least 25 times as powerful as carbon dioxide. When burned, natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide of coal, but methane leakage eviscerates this advantage because of its heat-trapping power..."

North Pole Lake Found By Environmental Observatory, May Be Evidence Of Global Warming (Photo). International Business Times has the story; here's the intro: "The freezing tundra that was the North Pole is now home to a lake. A picture, obtained by the North Pole Environmental Observatory this week, shows a shocking wide-angled photograph of the location’s newest lake, possible evidence of global warming. According to experts, this isn’t the first or the most severe water mass to appear in the northern hemisphere. “I have seen much more extensive ponding,” principal investigator for the North Pole Environmental Observatory, James Morison, told The Atlantic Wednesday, who said the image is misleading. “Because we use wide-angle lenses, the melt pond looks much bigger than it is,” he said. The lake, which was photographed by the observatory’s weather buoy-attached camera Monday, is reportedly a result of the longtime decline of sea ice in the region due to global warming and the more recent increase in land temperature..."

Photo credit above: " A newly discovered lake in the North Pole was photographed by the North Pole Environmental Observatory Monday."  Facebook

The Truth Behind That $60 Trillion Climate Change Price Tag. A staggering number indeed - alarmist hype, or within the realm of scientific possibilty? Here's a clip from "This week, news broke that if all the methane off the East Siberian seafloor was released, the fallout would cost $60 trillion—a huge, staggering number. For comparison’s sake, the world’s GDP is $70 trillion. The findings assume that 50 gigatons of methane would be released over the course of 10-to-20 years in a warming pulse....Very large numbers make us sit up and take notice, but they’re also hard to grasp. What is climate change currently costing even without that warming pulse? A NRDC report estimates that American taxpayers, through the federal government, paid $100 billion in 2012—more than the cost of education or transportation. (And that doesn’t include what state and local governments, insurers, or private citizens paid.) Mann estimates the global cost at $1.4 trillion per year in coastal damage, droughts, fires, floods and hurricanes..."

Photo credit above: "An iceberg carved from a glacier floats in the Jacobshavn fjord in south-west Greenland." (Photo: Konrad Steffen / Reuters).

Adapt, Move Or Die: The Pressures Of Global Warming. Here's the intro to a story at Australia's The Conversation: "We all know that weather is not the same as climate, but it is surprising how our perceptions of global warming vary according to what we see outside our window. In the UK for example, last year’s washed-out summer took the focus off global climate warming in many people’s minds – maybe the current heatwave will change that. But regardless of what may be happening in our back yards, the long term trend is one of warming – which it has done globally by an average of 0.74C˚ over the past century. As the climate warms up, animals and plants have three main alternatives: they can either move to track the temperature, stay put and adapt to the warming, or die. Responding to variation in climate is not a new phenomenon for species – after all, many species responded to climate warming after the last ice ages..."

Photo credit above: "Don’t want to move home?" MissTessmacher.

Global Warming And The Future Of Storms. The Guardian has the story, co-authored by St. Thomas climate scientist John Abraham. Here's an excerpt: "...I asked Dr. Emanuel to summarize the present understanding of hurricanes, and he responded with the following insights:

• The incidence of high-intensity tropical cyclones (Safir-Simpson categories 3-5) should increase, and the amount of rainfall in these storms should increase, upping the potential for freshwater flooding. These changes will not necessarily occur where tropical cyclones develop and thrive today. "Indeed," wrote Emanuel, "it is likely that there will be decreasing activity in some places, and increasing activity in others; models do not agree on such regional changes."
• Though experts disagree on this point, Emanuel's work suggests that weak events (tropical storms and Cat 1-2 storms) will become more frequent.
• "Very little work has been done on the problem of storm size," wrote Emanuel, "what little research has been done suggests that storm diameters may increase with global temperature. This can have a profound influence on storm surges, which are the biggest killers in tropical cyclone disasters..."

Photo credit: Dr. Kerry Emanuel, MIT.

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