Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Summer On Indefinite Pause (highlights of 2012 NOAA State of the Climate)

77 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
82 F. average high for August 7.
88 F. high on August 7, 2012.

T-shower today; dry weather returns Friday and Saturday (highs in the 70s)

Showers possible Sunday, especially southern Minnesota.

80 F. highs return next week, maybe some upper 80s within 2 weeks.


Combination of golf ball size hail AND 60 mph straight-line winds resulted in severe hail damage in Eden Prairie, Edina and Bloomington - billions of ice chunks propelled to the ground with far more force than during a typical thunderstorm (not accompanied by a severe gust front).

"...Since records have been kept in 1880, all 10 of the warmest years ever have been in the past 15 years, NOAA records show..." - from a story focused on a summary of 2012 global weather and climate statistics from NBC News.

Storm Stories

Living in Minnesota is like playing the Weather Lotto on a daily basis. "Will my home be damaged?" "Will beachball-size hail turn my vehicle into tapioca pudding?" "Will rain turn my commute into a slow-motion nightmare?"

Any hail greater than 1 inch in diameter is capable of damage. Edina saw 2 inch hail, golf ball-size, from Tuesday's severe "supercell" storm, which we tracked all the way from near Fargo. As mentioned above, the (severe) hail damage in Eden Prairie and Edina was the result of the combination of ping pong size hail and straight-line winds topping 60 mph turning those ice-chunks into tiny artillery shells.

Tip-offs that a storm is especially severe: nearly continuous lightning (non-stop static on your AM radio) - and a "shelf cloud": an ominous, low-hanging, shovel-like appendage, which suggests potentially damaging straight-line winds. A Tornado Watch was posted Tuesday, another tip-off that storms could turn violent.

My best advice? Pay attention, to local media, NOAA web sites and smartphone apps. There are steps you can take to be more weather-aware.

A T-shower may sprout later today ahead of the next cool front, a push of (fresh!) air that may leave you rummaging for a sweatshirt Friday. Although cool for a dip in the lake, the sun should be out Saturday - showers may brush southern Minnesota Sunday. No 90s are brewing, but we may sample 80F next week. A/C optional.

Metro Area Cleaning Up After Hailstorm Downed Trees, Shattered Glass. What made the severe storm so damaging late Tuesday was the combination of large (ping pong size) and severe straight-line winds in the 60+ mph range, which turned those hailstones into billions of wind-swept battering rams. Here's a good summary from The Star Tribune: "Hundreds of people in the Twin Cities worked to clean up downed trees, shattered glass, and other debris Wednesday, scrambling to find out if their insurance would pay to repair the damage caused by a fierce hailstorm. More than 70,000 Xcel customers lost power at some point during the Tuesday night storm and its aftermath, most of them concentrated in Eden Prairie, Edina, St. Louis Park and Bloomington. By Wednesday evening, refrigerators were humming and lights were glowing in all but a few thousand of those homes. Traffic signals in Minneapolis also went dark Tuesday night, causing motorists to drive gingerly through many intersections until power was restored late Wednesday morning..."

Photo credit above: "The rear window was shattered on a new Chevy Cruze at Suburban Chevy, where every single car, (around 1000) were hail damaged at the Chevy store and nearby Metropolitan Ford in Eden Praire after yesterday's severe storms."

ECMWF Guidance. The Euro is hinting at a few showers or T-showers today (much smaller risk of severe storms than Tuesday); another chance Sunday. More significant rain and embedded storms are likely the latter half of next week as warmer, more humid air approaches from the Plains.

Plan B Sunday? I'm not convinced we're going to see a washout Sunday, but models suggest a few hours of showers, with the best chance of puddles over southern Minnesota. Otherwise, it's a dry forecast Friday, Saturday, and Monday and Tuesday of next week.

Midday Sunday. ECMWF guidance, valid midday Sunday, shows a weak wave of low pressure tracking along a nearly stationary front just south of Minnesota. The result may be a few hours of showers, best chance morning hours - especially southern Minnesota. Map: WSI.

Same Old Story. A persistent frontal boundary, seemingly glued in place, separates almost September-like air over the northern USA from hot, tropical air over the Deep South. A series of weak storms ripping along this boundary will spark more heavy rain, some 4-5" amounts from eastern Kansas into the Ohio Valley, complicating and prolonging flooding problems. 5-Day QPF: NOAA.

In Search Of A Warm Front. Highs approach 80 next week, closer to average, and long-range GFS guidance shows some upper 80s, maybe a 90 or two, by August 20-22. I still suspect we'll see a couple more hot fronts in late August and even early September.

NOAA: 2012 Was One Of The 10 Warmest Years On Record Globally. Another data point; details from NOAA: "Worldwide, 2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record according to the 2012 State of the Climate report released online today by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The peer-reviewed report, with scientists from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., serving as lead editors, was compiled by 384 scientists from 52 countries (highlights, full report). It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments on land, sea, ice, and sky. “Many of the events that made 2012 such an interesting year are part of the long-term trends we see in a changing and varying climate — carbon levels are climbing, sea levels are rising, Arctic sea ice is melting, and our planet as a whole is becoming a warmer place," said Acting NOAA Administrator Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D. “This annual report is well-researched, well-respected, and well-used; it is a superb example of the timely, actionable climate information that people need from NOAA to help prepare for extremes in our ever-changing environment..."

State of the Climate in 2012 Report available here.

Image credit above: "Wrangel Island, Chukchi Sea, in the early morning (left). Trees take hold as permafrost thaws near the Altai Mountains in Russia (right). These photos are from the covers of the 2012 State of the Climate Report, edited by scientists from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center and published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society." Photo Credit: Kate Stafford, Sergey Kirpotin - Tomsk State University, Terry Callaghan - EU-Interact
World Continues To Broil, NOAA's 2012 Report On Warming Finds. Here's an excerpt from a comprehensive story at NBC News: "A new massive federal study says the world in 2012 sweltered with continued signs of climate change. Rising sea levels, snow melt, heat buildup in the oceans, and melting Arctic sea ice and Greenland ice sheets, all broke or nearly broke records, but temperatures only sneaked into the top 10. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday issued a peer-reviewed 260-page report, which agency chief Kathryn Sullivan calls its annual "checking on the pulse of the planet." The report, written by 384 scientists around the world, compiles data already released, but it puts them in context of what's been happening to Earth over decades. "It's critically important to compile a big picture," National Climatic Data Center director Tom Karl says. "The signs that we see are of a warming world..."

Image credit above: Dan Pisut / NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab. "Surface temperatures in 2012 compared with the temperature average from 1981 to 2010."

State Of The Climate 2012. In today's Climate Matters video segment we highlight some of the main findings in NOAA's summary of global weather in 2012; the warmest on record for the USA and 8th/9th warmest, worldwide: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over some of the highlights from the recently released State of the Climate. Hundreds of climate scientists contributed to the report and the news isn't promising."

Drought Is Transforming New Mexico Into Desert. The trends are unmistakable, as documented by The Los Angeles Times and Salon; here's an excerpt: "Los Angeles Times reporter Julie Cart traveled to the Rio Grande Valley, where animals are dying, crops are failing and the Rio Grande has been nicknamed the “Rio Sand.” People are subsisting on trucked-in water or attempting to dig deep wells that cost upwards of $100,000.The question many here are grappling with is whether the changes are a permanent result of climate change or part of cyclical weather cycle. [Chuck] Jones, a member of the governor’s drought task force, is cautious about identifying three years of extreme drought as representing a new climate pattern for New Mexico. It could be a multi-year aberration. Nonetheless, most long-term plans put together by cattle ranchers, farmers and land managers include the probability that the drought is here to stay..."

Photo creditCity of Albuquerque/Flickr)

Reverse! Sun's Magnetic Field On The Brink Of 180-Degree Flip. Because there isn't nearly enough to worry about out there. The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has the story - here's the introduction: "It’s nearly time for the current solar cycle’s second half. And stunningly, the sun’s magnetic field will rearrange itself to mark the transition. “The sun’s polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero, and then emerge again with the opposite polarity,” Stanford solar physicist Phil Scherrer tells NASA.  The flip could happen at any time. “It looks like we’re no more than 3 to 4 months away from a complete field reversal,” solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University tells NASA. NASA describes the flip as a “big event” as the field reversal emits a current stream that extends billions of miles beyond Pluto. The flip won’t affect weather on Earth, but space weather may get a bit bumpy..." (Image credit: NASA).

False Sense Of Security: Your TV, Car, Neighborhood May Be Hackable. I'm not sure who would want to hack my TV and see my DirecTV viewing schedule, but hey, have at it! Here's a clip from "The cyber security convention DefCon and its corporate counterpart, Black Hat, that are held annually in Las Vegas present a unique tableau where the traditional (and traditionally overstated) conflict between underground hacking culture and corporate and government security professionals is suspended with the goal of openness and education. If you enjoy and own technology and gadgets of any kind, the conferences highlight a looming security crossroads that affects every layperson. Gizmag takes a look at some of the more important hacks from this year..."

Image credit above: "DefCon and Black Hat highlight the fact that companies often seem more concerned about the appearance of security rather than the reality." (Photo: Shutterstock)

FAA Clears Drones For Civilian Use. Because who doesn't want their own, personal drone? More details from our geeky friends at "Despite being constantly in the news, UAVs haven’t been seen much in the skies of the US except in military training areas or by law enforcement agencies. That’s beginning to change, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announcing that is has issued operating permits for a pair of civilian unmanned aircraft to a company based in Alaska. The two unmanned aircraft are the AeroVironment Puma, which is a hand-launched, battery powered UAV that uses an electro-optical and infrared video camera for surveillance, and the other is the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle; a small, long-endurance craft based on a fish-spotting design..."

Photo credit: "A ScanEagle in service with the US Army." (Image: Boeing).

Amazon Founder Says He Clicked On Washington Post By Mistake. I really like comedian Andy Borowitz's take on the recent purchase at The New Yorker; here's an excerpt: "SEATTLE (The Borowitz Report)—Jeff Bezos, the founder of, told reporters today that his reported purchase of the Washington Post was a “gigantic mix-up,” explaining that he had clicked on the newspaper by mistake. “I guess I was just kind of browsing through their website and not paying close attention to what I was doing,” he said. “No way did I intend to buy anything.” Mr. Bezos said he had been oblivious to his online shopping error until earlier today, when he saw an unusual charge for two hundred and fifty million dollars on his American Express statement..."

TODAY: Some sun, passing T-shower. Winds: SW 5-10. High: 75

THURSDAY NIGHT: Evening shower, then clearing, breezy and cooler. Low: 58

FRIDAY: Refreshing sunshine, a few PM cumulus. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 74 (60s up north)

SATURDAY: Lukewarm sun, better day of the weekend. Winds: E 5. Wake-up: 55. High: 77

SUNDAY: More clouds. Few showers overspread southern Minnesota. Wake-up: 59. High: 73

MONDAY: Blue sky, very pleasant. Dew point: 50. Wake-up: 58. High: 79

TUESDAY: More sun, turning warmer. Wake-up: 62. High: 81

WEDNESDAY: Few T-storms likely. Dew point: 63. Wake-up: 63. High: near 80

Climate Stories...

NOAA Report Says Arctic Sea Ice Is Disappearing At Unprecedented Rate. The Guardian has the story - here's a clip: "...The biggest changes in the climate in 2012 were in the Arctic and in Greenland, said the report, which is an annual exercise by a team of American and British scientists. The Arctic warmed at about twice the rate of lower latitudes, the report found. By June 2012, snow cover had fallen to its lowest levels since the record began. By September 2012, sea-ice cover had retreated to its lowest levels since the beginning of satellite records, falling to 1.32 million square miles. That was, the report noted, a whopping 18% lower than the previous low, set in 2007, and a staggering 54% lower than the mark for 1980. The changes were widespread on land as well, with record warm permafrost temperatures in Alaska and in the Canadian Arctic, the report's authors noted. On 11 July last year, Greenland experienced surface melting on 97% of the ice sheet. The record-breaking events indicate an era of "new normal" for the climate, the researchers said..."

Photo credit above: "By September 2012, sea-ice cover in the Arctic had fallen to its lowest level since the beginning of satellite records." Photo: Steven J Kazlowski/Alamy.

Highlights From NOAA's 2012 State Of The Climate. An executive summary is here.

Climate Change On Pace To Occur 10 Times Faster Than Any Change Recorded In The Past 65 Million Years. Here's a clip from Stanford University: "Not only is the planet undergoing one of the largest climate changes in the past 65 million years, Stanford climate scientists Noah Diffenbaugh and Chris Field report that it's on pace to occur at a rate 10 times faster than any change in that period. Without intervention, this extreme pace could lead to a 5-6 degree Celsius spike in annual temperatures by the end of the century. The planet is undergoing one of the largest changes in climate since the dinosaurs went extinct. But what might be even more troubling for humans, plants and animals is the speed of the change. Stanford climate scientists warn that the likely rate of change over the next century will be at least 10 times quicker than any climate shift in the past 65 million years..."

Image credit above: "The top map shows global temperatures in the late 21st century, based on current warming trends. The bottom map illustrates the velocity of climate change, or how far species in any given area will need to migrate by the end of the 21st century to experience climate similar to present." Courtesy Stanford University.

Study Questions Nature's Ability To "Self-Correct" Climate Change. Here's a clip from a story at ScienceDaily: "Forests have a limited capacity to soak up atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a new study from Northern Arizona University. The study, available online in the journal New Phytologist, aimed to explore how rising atmospheric carbon dioxide could alter the carbon and nitrogen content of ecosystems. By performing tests on subtropical woodland plots over an 11-year period, the researchers found that ecosystem carbon uptake was not significantly increased by the high CO2 treatment—in contrast to expectations. While plants did contain more carbon when CO2 levels were increased, soil actually lost carbon due to microbial decomposition; both factors essentially balanced one another out..."

Just The Facts, Madam, The Facts Won't Do. Here's an excerpt of an interesting post from Bart Verhaggen at My View On Climate Change: "Climate science is hardly the only issue on which the public has a vastly different view than the relevant experts. Chris Mooney writes:
Surveys that measure the public’s views on evolution, climate change, the big bang and even the idea that the Earth revolves around the sun yield a huge gap between what science tells us and what the public believes.
But contrary to what many scientists think, more information doesn’t necessarily lead to the public accepting the scientific view: Take climate change. The battle over global warming has raged for more than a decade, with experts still stunned by the willingness of their political opponents to distort scientific conclusions. They conclude, not illogically, that they’re dealing with a problem of misinformation or downright ignorance — one that can be fixed only by setting the record straight..."

Study: Watching Fox News Makes You Distrust Climate Scientists. Breaking news? Probably not, but now there's some empirical evidence and polling data to prove the claim. Here's an excerpt from Mother Jones: "In the past several years, a number of polls have documented the huge gap between liberals and conservatives when it comes to their acceptance of the science of climate change. Naturally, then, researchers have increasingly turned their attention to trying to explain this dramatic divide over what is factually true. And it wasn't long before they homed in on the role of conservative media in particular—thus, a number of studies (e.g., here) show that watching Fox News increases your risk of holding incorrect beliefs about the science of climate change. Now, a new paper just out in the journal Public Understanding of Science takes this line of inquiry further, beginning to unpack precisely how conservative media work to undermine the public's acceptance of science. The paper shows that a distrust of climate scientists is a significant factor underlying the modern denial of global warming, and moreover, that watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh both increase one's level of distrust of these scientific experts..."

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