Monday, July 22, 2013

Canadian Relief (a break from heat & humidity next 7-8 days; why warming hasn't slowed down, worldwide)

88 F. high on Monday in Minneapolis - St. Paul.
83 F. average high for July 22.
89 F. high on July 22, 2012.

Trace of rain fell yesterday at Twin Cities International Airport (MSP).

35 minutes. The amount of daylight lost since June 21. Sorry.

Reader Pet Peeves

"Paul, why does the forecast CHANGE so much from day to day. Knock it off!" I hear you, and I feel your pain. I wish the future was more predictable. Short answer: there are 4 major computer runs every day and scores of different models. Every run taps new data (satellites, weather balloons, surface reports) that "initialize" these computer simulations. This often means tweaks and revisions/changes to the forecast, which should (in theory) get a little more accurate as you approach the day/time in question.

Another irritant: "Paul, I watch 4 TV channels & get 4 different forecasts. Why?" In the end forecasting boils down to interpretation. Which model are you betting on? How will local factors impact the forecast? The best predictions use computers & the human element (past history, intuition - a bit of gut feel).

It's like sausage - you really don't want to know how it's made.

Canada is leaking again; expect blue sky & comfortable 50-degree dew points. A few showers late-week mark the leading edge of a real cool front; by Saturday you may need a sweat shirt up north. Sunday looks milder, a better lake day.

El Nino may be returning, a warmer phase in the Pacific. Could that mean a milder winter?

Hey, a guy can dream...

A Drier, Cooler Week. ECMWF guidance shows a big drop in humidity levels today, with dew points dipping into the low 50s. Clouds increase late Wednesday, the best chance of showers and possible thunder Thursday, then another transfusion of Canadian air in time for the weekend. Highs Saturday may hold in the low to mid 70s in the metro, maybe some 60s up north. Sunday looks a few degrees warmer, probably the better day for the lake. No hideous heat in sight.

Cooler Than Average. The normal high now ranges from 83-84F in the Twin Cities, and temperatures will run a good 2-5F cooler than average into at least early next week. You may need a sweatshirt if you're up early Saturday, with wake-up temperatures in the low 50s, maybe some 40s in the Brainerd and Alexandria Lakes area.

Mostly-Comfortable. With the exception of Thursday, dew points are forecast to be in the 50s most of the week into early next week. The approach of a frontal boundary may cause a brief upward spike in dew points Thursday, but this week will be MUCH more comfortable, overall, than last week. Graphic: Iowa State.

Family Of Cooler Fronts. A shift in the pattern with buckling jet stream winds will spill cooler, drier air southward, setting the stage for heavy T-storms over the Central Plains, and significant showers and T-storms over the East Coast thru at least midweek, with a potential for localized flash flooding. 5-Day QPF Rainfall Forecast courtesy of NOAA.

Flash Flood Potential. Our internal models show a significant risk of flash flooding from Syracuse, New York to the suburbs of New York City, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. - with some 3-5" amounts possible over the next 15 hours, exceeding flash flood guidelines.

It's A Boy! Did you hear? If you have a pulse, and don't live in a cave, odds are you have. The Dutchess of Cambridge gave birth to a healthy baby boy Monday afternoon, in the midst of the worst heat to grip the U.K. since 2006. Yes, always a weather angle. In today's edition of Climate Matters we also take a look at Arctic ice, on track for another potentially record low by September: "There's a weather angle to report with the Royal Birth. Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a baby boy at 4:24pm local time, July 22nd. The highly anticipated arrival comes on the hottest day in the United Kingdom since 2006. WeatherNation Chief Meteorologist has more on the UK Heatwave as well as global temperature trends."

Keeping Your Kids Hydrated In This Hot Weather. There's some timely, useful advice in this U.K. blog post at "...Note that the low humidity and dehydration, combined with long periods of cramped sitting, may increase the risk of developing blood clots in the legs.  Those most at risk are people aged over 60 years, those with a history of blood clots and women taking oral contraceptives, particularly if travelling on flights lasting more than 12 hours [2].
My top tips:
  • Always make sure that children have access to a regular supply of water, as they dehydrate faster.
  • On particularly hot days, always make sure you have access to enough water.
  • For car journeys, keep different sizes of water bottles e.g. smaller bottles for children and larger bottles for parents, in a cool bag with ice packs.
  • If not using a cool bag, keep bottled water in a cool, dry place to help maintain its quality.
  • For short and long-haul flights make sure you drink enough water before flying..."
Photo credit above: NOAA.

Sperling's Chill Cities. What are the best places in the U.S. to spend a cool, comfortable summer? We ranked #13 here in the Twin Cities on this list, which you can see at Here's an excerpt: "Summer heat and humidity can seem relentless, with no relief in sight.  Even moderately-high temperatures can be unbearable when combined with high humidity and nighttime temperatures that refuse to dip. But there are places around the United States which are reliably cool and comfortable, even during the warmest months – July and August.  I used our new Sperling Heat Index to identify the places with the desirable combination of moderate daytime temps, low humidity, and cool temperatures at night. Of the 50 largest metro areas in the United States, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco have the most comfortable summers, with mild temperatures, cool nights and humidity so low it’s barely noticeable.  (A full ranking of the 50 largest metros is at the end of this post, plus a ranking of  all 361 U.S. metros.)"

National Geographic has more information on where you can cool down, naturally, here.

Flash Flooding. Thanks to Andrew Schwisow for passing along this photo of extensive flash flooding in Columbus, Ohio Monday morning. July is a favored month for these fickle floods, when weather systems and embedded T-storms are moving very slowly, capable of "training echoes", storms redeveloping over the same counties for hours on end.

Subarctic Wildfires More Active Now Than In Last 10,000 Years. NBC News has the story - here's an excerpt: "Subarctic wildfire frequency is higher now than it has been at any other point in the last 10,000 years, new records show. The records, obtained from charcoal in the Yukon Flats of Alaska, have revealed the history of wildfire activity in the region known as the subarctic, the area just south of the Arctic Circle, from North America to Scandinavia and Siberia, where boreal forests dominate and winters are long and dark. But what the higher frequency of wildfires spells for the subarctic in a warmer future world is difficult to predict, researchers say..."

Photo credit above: Feng Sheng Hu. "Fireweed, which is bright pink in color, is a plant that often grows after an area has been burned. Here, fireweed is shown blanketing parts of Alaska's Yukon Flats, a fire-prone boreal region."

"Ask Paul" Weather-related Q&A:

"I read the viewing of Northern Lights are suppose to be really good this year. Can you tell me where is Minnesota is the best place to view the Northern Lights? Also, the date (s) and time?
Thank you in advance for your help."

Linda, I haven't had much luck seeing the Aurora Borealis during the spring and summer months in Minnesota; the best time to see the "Northern Lights", at least in my experience, is during the fall, especially October and November, with longer nights, clear air and a drop in haze/humidity it seems easier to take in a free show. That is IF you can get away from the light pollution glow of the Twin Cities. I've had the best luck at my cabin north of Brainerd. If you drive into the outlying suburbs, at least 20-30 miles away from the downtowns, you have a shot, especially on a clear, moonless night. Your best odds? After a major solar flare, when a display is most likely to take place. The Northern Lights is otherwise impossible to predict in advance. Here's a good resource to check on any given day to see if the display may extend into Minnesota, the Geophysica Institute, at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Good luck!

"Whats Fall weather going to be like.....?"
Thanks Paul!
Jerome and Kim Niss

Jerome and Kim, the short answer is "cooler", but that doesn't seem very satisfying. In recent years autumns have been trending longer and milder, in other words we seem to hang onto summer warmth a little longer than we did 30-40 years ago. There's a chance an El Nino (warming) phase may return in the Pacific, which correlates with milder falls and winters across Minnesota. But that just may be wishful thinking. Back to my original forecast. "Cooler".

What Exactly Is A "Meteo-Tsunami?" This is a new one for me too, but meteorologist Jeff Renner at KING-TV in Seattle has the answer: "A tsunami is a wave generated by seismic events-earthquakes-underwater. A meteo-tsunami is generated by weather, often big and sudden changes in air pressure. Meteo-tsunamis are less destructive than seismically generated tsunamis, though they can still be dangerous...and they don't just occur along ocean coasts. A 10 foot meteo-tsunami killed 7 people in Chicago on June 26, 1954." (Photo credit here).

A Rare Look At An Iridescent Cloud. It's fairly common to see these clouds in MInnesota. I thought this was an interesting article, courtesy of National Geographic - here's a clip: "...Iridescent clouds, known as "fire rainbows" or "rainbow clouds," occur when sunlight diffracts off water droplets in the atmosphere. And the recipe for these heavenly sights is actually pretty simple. Like common cloud-to-ground rainbows, iridescent clouds usually accompany thunderstorms. According to atmospheric phenomena expert Les Cowley, they often appear in the late afternoon, on very hot and humid days. This stems from the fact that most rainbow clouds form on top of cumulus clouds—the fluffy cotton-ball-shaped clouds we often see in children's drawings..."

Photo credit above: "This picture of an irridescent cloud was submitted by a National Geographic reader. The photo was taken in Noida, India." Photograph by Harish Venkatesh.

10 Most Expensive Photographs In The World. has the story (and photos with pricetags attached). Here's the intro: "Sometimes photographers amaze us with their art, the ability to uniquely reflect the world around us and get a look at it from a different angle. And sometimes doing something completely disgusting or normal so that it is impossible to understand why the work is recognised as a masterpiece. Anyway, these photos were sold for millions of dollars."

Photo credit above: "#1 Rhein II – Andreas Gursky (1999) $4.3 million."

12 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity. Having a rough day? Check out this link from Citizens Awareness Vanguard.

Photo credit above: "Two best friends on a swing." Source:

Nightclub Urinal Tells Patrons When They've Had One Too Many. Now here's some useful technology, courtesy of "Alcohol and driving definitely don’t mix, but those most in need of having their keys taken away are the worst judges of how much they've had to drink. As part of an anti-drink/drive campaign by Singapore’s Zouk nightclub, DDB Group Singapore developed the Pee Analyzer: a system fitted to urinals that tests patrons’ alcohol levels every time they take a trip to the bathroom..."

TUESDAY: Sunny, more comfortable. Dew point: 52. Winds: N 10. High: 78

TUESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and comfortable. Low: 57

WEDNESDAY: Fading sun, late night T-shower? High: 79

THURSDAY: Some sun, isolated T-shower possible. Best chance of showers all week. Wake-up: 63. High: 81

FRIDAY: Clearing, turning cooler. Dew point: 54. Wake-up: 64. High: 77

SATURDAY: Touch of September. Cool sun. Wake-up: 54. High: 74

SUNDAY: Plenty of sun, milder. Dew point: 58. Wake-up: 58. High: 78

MONDAY: Sunny start, clouds increase late. Wake-up: 61. High: 81

Climate Stories...

No, Global Warming Hasn't Stopped and Here's Why. An estimated 90% of warming is going into the world's oceans, not the air. James Temple has a good explanation of what's really going on at; here's a clip: “...When skeptics or deniers say look at this little graph that shows that temperatures are not warming anymore, they’re misleading or misreading or both,” said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, a research institute in Oakland. Now it is true that some scientists acknowledge a decline in the rate of temperature increases in recent years, what some have dubbed the climate change plateau or slowdown. But nothing about that is particularly reassuring — or gets us off the hook for our skyrocketing greenhouse gas emissions. First off, consider the conditions we’ve witnessed during this period. Regardless of the rate of increase in temperatures, globally nine of the ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 2000. “It would be absurd to use the hottest 10 or 15 years on record to argue that we don’t need to worry about the Earth getting even hotter,” said Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution in an email. We’re already living with the consequences of climate change, including more extreme weather events, melting ice caps, rising sea levels and more..."

Climate Change Slowdown Is Due To Warming Of Deep Oceans, Say Scientists. The Guardian has the story - here's the introduction: "A recent slowdown in the upward march of global temperatures is likely to be the result of the slow warming of the deep oceans, British scientists said on Monday. Oceans are some of the Earth's biggest absorbers of heat, which can be seen in effects such as sea level rises, caused by the expansion of large bodies of water as they warm. The absorption goes on over long periods, as heat from the surface is gradually circulated to the lower reaches of the seas. Temperatures around the world have been broadly static over the past five years, though they were still significantly above historic norms, and the years from 2000 to 2012 comprise most of the 14 hottest years ever recorded. The scientists said the evidence still clearly pointed to a continuation of global warming in the coming decades as greenhouse gases in the atmosphere contribute to climate change..."

Graphic credit above: "Temperature in the northern hemisphere since 1000 CE. Natural variation in the climate cycle does not contradict climate scientists' predictions." Graph: IPCC report

East Antarctica's Ice Sheet Not As Stable As Thought. ScienceNOW has the story; here's an excerpt: "Earth continues to hit temperature and greenhouse gas milestones—just a couple of months ago, multiple stations measured carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere of 400 parts per million, the highest in several million years. Many studies have tried to estimate how much and how rapidly the two great ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica might melt—and the one reassuring point has been the apparent relative stability of the eastern (and, by far, larger) half of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Now, a new study of past melting in East Antarctica suggests that over the long haul, the "stable" ice sheet may be more vulnerable to warming than thought..."

Image credit above: "Exposed. The East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) may be more vulnerable to global warming than thought. Sediments drilled offshore of the continent's Wilkes Land Subglacial Basin indicate that the basin was ice-free during parts of the warm Pliocene Epoch." Credit: Integrated Ocean Drilling Program

Nuclear's Safety Lesson For Fracking. What steps can be taken to make the extraction of shale gas as safe as possible? Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Baltimore Sun: "...I believe oil and gas companies could learn some important lessons from the U.S. nuclear industry, which has made the safe operation of nuclear plants its most important task. After the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, the nuclear industry adopted the axiom, "An accident anywhere is an accident everywhere," reflecting its concern that one major local accident could derail nuclear power worldwide. It instituted a strong safety culture, rooted in benchmarking with stringent safety and performance standards, continuous learning, information sharing among nuclear companies, and constant training of power-plant operators. To put all of this into practice, the industry created the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO). INPO's inspection teams conduct regular evaluations of nuclear plants, and it sets industry-wide performance goals. Last year, in several key areas, U.S. nuclear plants either matched or improved upon levels of performance from previous years. For example, there were 62 unplanned automatic or manual reactor shutdowns, matching a record low set in 2011..."

Image credit: University of Colorado, Boulder.

Climate Change Will Alter The Soil That Feeds Us. Here's the intro to a story from Climate News Network and Climate Central: "Global warming may be about to change the ground under our feet – and perhaps not in a good way. It could be about to affect one of the most important communities on the planet: the tiny microbes that make life possible for the rest of creation, according to new research by scientists in the U.S. and Spain. Cyanobacteria are almost everywhere, have been around for the whole of life's 3.5 billion history, and fix nitrogen from the atmosphere to fertilize plants and feed animals..."

Photo credit: "Soil – of a sort. Changes to microbial life may affect erosion and fertility of the soil we need." Credit: Arman333 via Wikimedia Commons.

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