Monday, July 29, 2013

Cool Bias Into Early August (latest on Flossie and Dorian)

79 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
83 F. average high for July 29.
80 F. high on July 29, 2012.

Saturday: nicer, sunnier, drier day of the weekend.

2-6 F. temperatures run a few degrees below average into at least the first week of August.

Beware of... Flossie?

Tropical Storm Flossie is roughing up Hawaii with flooding rains and surging seas at this hour. I know, "Flossie" sounds like a dentist's mascot. Ironically, this Flossie is taking a path almost identical to another Hurricane Flossie in 2007, a Category 4 that passed south of Hawaii. Once a decade Hawaii gets a sloppy tropical smack. The last devastating storm? Iniki in 1992.
Jurassic Park. The computer screen image above, courtesy of, shows the EarthWatch (previous company) storm imagery from Hurricane Andrew that was superimposed over the mythic island of Jurassic Park to create the special effects Spielberg wanted for the movie. Top image courtesy of Universal Studios.

While filming the movie "Jurassic Park" Hurricane Iniki pummeled the island chain. It was a close call. "We were at the Westin on Kauai, and they told us to seek shelter in the basement" Steven Spielberg told me many years ago. The basement? That works in a tornado, but in a hurricane a vertical evacuation is safest - the 3rd or 4th floor of a well-constructed building.

Morning showers herald the approach of a warmer front today; more numerous T-storms Wednesday as another puff of Canadian air approaches. Comfortable sunshine spills over into next weekend, highs in the 70s to near 80. About as good as it gets.

Check the blog below for updates on "Dorian", which may regain tropical storm force soon as it moves into an area of warmer ocean water and weaker wind shear. Some models drift Dorian into south Florida, possibly the eastern Gulf of Mexico by the weekend - and there's a chance it could be a hurricane by then. Stay tuned.
"...According to NASA, Greenland and Antarctica are losing three times as much ice each year as they did in the 1990s. Summer sea-ice cover is half as big as it was from 1979 to 2000, and many scientists are predicting an ice-free Arctic by the end of the dec­ade. Not so long ago, the Northwest Passage, the storied northern route from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans, required an icebreaker ship to navigate it. This summer, people are attempting the passage in a sea kayak..."- from a Rolling Stone article; details below.

A Hot Weather Hiatus. I still don't see anything hot or humid through the first week of August, possibly longer. ECMWF guidance shows a dry, comfortable spell (upper 70s and low 80s) from Thursday into Saturday (nicer day of the weekend). Another cool front is shaping up for the first half of next week, highs in the low to mid 70s.

Partial Relief Northern USA - Will Dorian Redevelop? The 84-hour NAM model data (courtesy of NOAA) shows the soggy remains of Dorian regenerating into a possible tropical storm, approaching Florida as early as Florida. I'm not so sure. The storm will have to overcome persistent wind shear to have a chance of redeveloping into a tropical storm. Showers and T-storms are most likely from the Central Plains into the Ohio Valley, the next cool push sparking a soggy spell for the East Coast by Wednesday and Thursday.
Weekend Temperature Records. No, I really don't want to dwell on this, but it's worth recapping that MSP did, in fact, set a record for the coolest July 27 on record, with a high of only 64F. St. Cloud set a record on Sunday for the chilliest morning low ever recorded on July 28. Data courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service.

A First - Fur In July. Before I get flamed by PETA let me assure you that I have no idea if that's real fur or not. Regardless, thanks to Nancy Jamieson from Bloomington for reminding us how chilly Saturday was - 50s much of the day at MSP. Good grief.

More Football Weather Than Baseball Weather. Thanks to my friend and former colleague Sonya Goins for sending in this photo from a Friday night (baseball) game. A July to remember....or forget.

Hawaii Hurricane Tracks. Hurricanes are relatively rare in Paradise (or as close as we can come in the USA). The last devastating hurricane was "Iniki" in 1992, which swept in from the south. Source: USGS.

Significant Hawaiiian Storms Since 1950. Kanoa, Fefa, Diane and Gilma took paths similar to Flossie, according to NOAA data.

Deja Vu - All Over Again. I was surprised to see that another Flossie threatened the Hawaiian Islands back in 2007. This one was a Category 4 hurricane with 140 mph sustained winds - mercifully the storm weakened and passed south of Hawaii. The storm name wasn't "retired" because it didn't result in severe damage and/or loss of life. Thanks to Aaron Shaffer and WeatherNation TV for passing this nugget along.

More Perspective On Hawaiian Hurricanes. Matt Daniel has some very good information and context in his WeatherGlobe segment at; here's an excerpt: "...Hawaii rarely sees tropical cyclones directly affecting the region. The last time a tropical storm struck Hawaii directly was back in 1958. There have been hurricanes and tropical depressions that have impacted Hawaii after 1958, but not from a direct hit by a tropical storm. The last major tropical cyclone to affect Hawaii was Category 4 Hurricane Iniki in 1992, which was the most damaging hurricane to strike the Hawaiian Islands in recorded history. A large majority of the tropical systems that have affected Hawaii never actually made a direct landfall on one of the islands. As you can see in the image above, direct tropical cyclone hits are a rare occurrence..."

Image credit above: "Climatology for tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific Ocean." Image Credit: NOAA.

Hurricane Tips From Cuba. The USA and Cuba are cooperating in at least one area: meteorology - as reported by The New York Times: "...This shared destiny has led to a rare truce between the two nations, which have had no bilateral relations for more than 50 years. Their meteorological agencies exchange satellite data, jointly analyze radar and collaborate on storm forecasting. When a storm is approaching, “we call the National Prognostic Center or they call us, whoever gets to the phone first,” said Lixion Avila, a senior specialist at the United States government’s National Hurricane Center. Dr. Avila called Cuba one of the United States’ most valuable meteorological partners. “Cuba has a long history of excellent forecasting with a tremendous record of data,” he said..."

Photo credit above: Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press. "A driver in Havana during Hurricane Sandy last year, which dealt a huge blow, Killing 11 people."

Will Dorian Intensify? Models are literally all over the map, but NOAA's newest, most powerful model, the HWRF (purple track) shows the storm reaching Cuba within 72 hours. Source: NOAA NCEP.

Dorian Intensity. The same HWRF model (purple) shows Dorian's wind speeds decreasing over time - other models show intensification. This is why meteorologists get migraines and tug at gray hairs.

Heatwaves Will Make Crops Produce Smaller Grains. Much of Europe is wilting from extreme heat, experiencing the same weather whiplash as much of the USA, veering from drought to flood, back to drought. The Guardian has the story - here's a clip: "The wheat is usually green at this time, but its already gone brown," says Laurence Matthews, overlooking a bone-dry and dusty field on his 3,000-acre farm near Dorking in Surrey. "It's like a tinderbox: there's a real risk of fire." The summer heatwave is having a dramatic effect on his crops. "Without water, the plants just shut down," he says. But it is the twists and turns of increasingly erratic weather that is making farming more difficult, Matthews says. "In spring 2012, it was unbelievably dry and hot, then from April it just rained right through to 2013, which made it very difficult to get our crops established." The autumn-sown crops that survived the deluge developed only short roots, as the soggy soils made drawing up water easier. But the sudden heatwave this summer has left the crops without the deeper roots they need to flourish. "We'll get smaller grains," he says..."

Photo credit above: "Summer heatwaves are having dramatic effect on crops." Photograph: Gary Hawkins/Rex Features

How Big A Threat Is Car Hacking? Reuters has a hair-raising story, especially if you're driving a hybrid or EV right now; here's an excerpt: "Car hacking is not a new field, but its secrets have long been closely guarded. That is about to change, thanks to two well-known computer software hackers who got bored finding bugs in software from Microsoft and Apple.  Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek say they will publish detailed blueprints of techniques for attacking critical systems in the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape in a 100-page white paper, following several months of research they conducted with a grant from the U.S. government..."

TODAY: AM showers, patchy clouds with peeks of PM sun. Dew point: 60. High: 75

TUESDAY NIGHT: An isolated shower or T-shower possible. Low: 62

WEDNESDAY: Unsettled, more humid with a better chance of T-storms. Dew point: 64. High: 78

THURSDAY: Blue sky, less humidity. Dew point: 52. Wake-up: 58. High: near 80

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, still pleasant. Wake-up: 59. High: 81

SATURDAY: Probably the nicer day of the weekend. Plenty of sun, comfortable. Dew point: 54. Wake-up: 57. High: 79

SUNDAY: Clouds increase, showers and T-storms late. Wake-up: 58. High: 78

MONDAY: Showers & T-storms, a potentially soggy day. Wake-up: 60. High: 74

Climate Stories...

Greenland Melting. Did soot from wildfires in Colorado and Canada help to accelerate ice melt over Greenland last year? Here's another eye-opening article from Rolling Stone, focused on the rate of melting in Greenland, implications for sea level rise, and Jason Box, whose recent documentary "Chasing Ice" provided start time-lapse images that made it hard to refute the dramatic changes underway in the Arctic. Here's an excerpt: "...It was all a tad melodramatic, perhaps. But Box doesn’t shy away from bold strokes. As he sees it, the general public has been betrayed by the reluctance of climate researchers to speak about the dangers of climate change with sufficient urgency. For Box, this has never been a problem. In 2009, he announced the Petermann glacier, one of the largest in Greenland, would break up that summer – a potent sign of how fast the Arctic was warming. Most glaciologists thought he was nuts – especially after the summer passed and nothing happened. In 2010, however, Petermann began to calve; two years later, it was shedding icebergs twice the size of Manhattan. Another example: In early 2012, Box predicted there would be surface melting across the entirety of Greenland within a decade. Again, many scientists dismissed this as alarmist claptrap. If anything, Box was too conservative – it happened a few months later. He also believes that the climate community is underestimating how much sea levels could rise in the coming ­decades...”

Taking Action. You can help fund Jason Box and his experiments in Greenland and the Arctic. His Dark Snow Project is using crowd-sourcing to accelerate the budgeting of trips necessary to prove his theory: that man-made pollutants, including soot, are accelerating Arctic snow and ice melt.

Still No Support For "Global Warming Slowdown". The "no warming in the last 15 years" meme simply isn't grounded in science. Ideology, superstition and wishful thinking - absolutely, but the data doesn't support the claim, especially factoring deep-heating of the world's oceans. Discovery News has the story; here's a clip: "A new set of studies from the British government’s Meteorological Office has addressed the claims by climate change skeptics that global warming has “stopped” or “paused” or is “slowing down.” The claims generally rest on two assertions: That global temperatures have either been stagnant, or have increased very little, since roughly 1998; and that new studies suggest that ‘climate sensitivity’ – the amount that average temperatures are expected to increase in response to a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – may be lower than expected. The Met Office’s response is a trio of reports that, in style and length, resembles a set of ‘Climate Cliff Notes,’ and which, taken in order, provide a step-by-step assessment of the skeptical claims..."

* a 29 page PDF overview from the UK Met Office is here.

More Wildfires = More Warming = More Wildfires. Another positive feedback loop, although the affects will be anything but positive, according to Mother Jones. Here's an excerpt: "...Scientists have known for some time about the risk of large-scale carbon emissions from thawing permafrost. But in recent years, they've become increasingly attuned to an additional—and very worrisome—aspect of this threat. As climate change proceeds, larger and more intense wildfires are increasingly scorching and charring the forests of the north. While these fires have always been a natural and recurring aspect of forest ecosystems, they now appear to be undergoing a major amplification. And that, in turn, may further increase the threat of permafrost thawing and carbon releases—releases that would, in turn, greatly amplify global warming itself (and potentially spur still more fire activity). "You have this climate and fire interaction, and all of a sudden permafrost can thaw really rapidly," explains Jon O'Donnell, an ecologist with the National Parks Service's Arctic Network. Scientists call it a "positive feedback," and it's one of the scariest aspects of global warming because, in essence, it means a bad situation is making itself worse..."

Photo credit above: "A fire burns alongside a still frozen river in the Alaska wilderness." .

Why It Finally Makes Political Sense To Talk About Climate Change. There's a growing body of poll numbers and research that show that voters, especially younger voters, care deeply about climate change, and are more likely to vote for a candidate who acknowledges the science. The National Journal has the story - here's a clip: "The administration is paying attention to polls showing that championing climate policies is now potentially a political winner and—perhaps more significantly—that denying the science that demonstrates human activities cause climate change, as Republican candidates did in 2012, is a clear political loser. In particular, White House officials are heeding a poll released earlier this year by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. It found that 58 percent of registered voters say they will consider a candidate’s position on global warming when deciding how to vote; among that group, 83 percent say global warming is happening, and 65 percent believe it is caused by human activity. Just 5 percent of registered voters believe global warming isn’t real and say that belief would influence their choice for president..."

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