Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Whispers of 2012 (drought will probably continue to worsen into September - warm/dry bias likely)

78 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.
77 F. average high on September 3.
92 F. high on September 3, 2012.

90 F. heat possible Friday, Saturday, again Tuesday of next week.

Dry bias continues next 1-2 weeks. Showers and T-storms possible late Sunday into Monday.

The Mississippi Creek

How dry is it out there? At a Rotary talk yesterday in St. Cloud SC Times Newspaper Editor John Bodette pulled me aside. "Have you seen how low the Mississippi is now? People are seeing rocks and boulders that haven't been visible for decades!" The impact on river-cooled power plants? We'll see.

No more "threat of storms" or "risk of rain". Now, as it was much of spring, we speculate on the OPPORTUNITY for showers.

State Climate data shows this year's Minnesota State Fair was the warmest since 1931. Six days above 90F; the third warmest on record.

My unscientific poll of friends, family members & complete strangers at Target leads me to believe that 88% of Minnesotans are just fine with the most recent cool front.

Soak it up, because more heat is building: 90F highs return by Friday & Saturday. Another 90F high or two is possible again next week. It's been a strange, chopped-up summer - I'm not surprised the heat is spilling over into September.

I don't see a drop of rain before Saturday, when "ridge-rider" T-storms track across northern Minnesota. Monday appears to have the best likelihood for welcome rain - but I'm seeing a warm, dry bias into most of September.

photo credit above: Dave Schwarz, Editor of Photography, St. Cloud Times. "Photo shot on the Mississippi between Becker and Clearwater on Friday, August 23."

Precipitation Needed To End Drought. It's deja vu, all over again. Although not as severe as late spring, moderate drought is now impacting most of Minnesota. NOAA data suggests 3-6" of rain is required to end the drouught across much of Minnesota. Map above: Ham Weather.

Third Warmest Minnesota State Fair On Record. It was the warmest state fair since 1931, the most 90-degree days, but third warmest overall. Accurate data goes back to 1885; here's an excerpt from the Minnesota Climatology Working Group: "The 2013 Minnesota State Fair saw the most 90 degree high temperatures on record with six as of August 29. There have also been four Minnesota State Fairs where the temperature was greater than or equal to 90 degrees on five days: 1922, 1931, 1960 and 1991. State Fair dates along with with Minneapolis/St. Paul Area weather data for those dates can be found in this table."

Friday Heat. No, not a new action-thriller debuting this fall on TNT, but a prediction, based on (all) model guidance. The 4 km. NAM model shows highs near 90F in the metro at 4 pm Friday afternoon, even some low to mid 90s over west central Minnesota. Don't write summer off just yet.

More August Than September. Temperatures and dew points won't be as high as last week, but the next 7-10 days will be a poignant reminder that summer warmth isn't done with us just yet. The best chance of 90F heat: Friday, Saturday, again Tuesday of next week, but temperatures should average 10-15F. above average into most of next week. Dew points drop to comfortable levels behind a very weak cool frontal passage Thursday before returning to the 60s this weekend. Chart: Weatherspark.

Kayak Fishing Increasingly Popular On Minnesota Waters. Rapidly falling waters on the Mississippi and other rivers have made handling a motorboat increasingly treacherous - kayaks are catching on as a way to navigate the shallow waters, and get closer to the best fishing. Here's an excerpt from The St. Cloud Times: "As the summer wears on and water levels drop, smallmouth bass anglers see possibility in every rock and riffle. But those same rocks and riffles make river fishing difficult, if not impossible, from a motorboat. Shallow boats and canoes have been used for years in mid to late summer when the water level drops. Manufacturers now produce specialized kayaks for fishing shallow waters. Kayak fishing is catching on in Minnesota, and the shallow, rocky stretch of Mississippi River from St. Cloud to Monticello is proving to be a popular spot to try it out..."

Shadow Of A Drought. Some troubling projections focused on the Ogallala Aquifer from this story at Esquire; here's a clip: "Our old friend, the Ogallala Aquifer, which is pretty much what keeps everything between the Cubs and the Dodgers from being a desert, is still in trouble. Usually, we stop by to see how they're trying to finagle our other old friend, the Keystone XL pipeline, through one slice of it or another. Even without the death-funnel, however, the aquifer continues to have problems of its own. "A vast underground lake beneath western Kansas and parts of seven other states could be mostly depleted by 2060, turning productive farmland back to semi-arid ground, a new study says.The life of the Ogallala Aquifer could be extended several decades, but only if water usage is reduced, a four-year study by researchers from Kansas State University found. "There is going to be agriculture production in Kansas and corn production and cattle production really for the foreseeable future," David Steward, lead author of the study, said in an interview last week. But without conservation, he said, "the future is bleak..."

Big Gains On California Wildfire. As of late afternoon the relative humidity at Yosemite National Park had risen to 65%, winds blowing at only 5 mph. More water in the air and less wind (spreading fiery embers) has given firefighters a little more breathing room - in fact they've made significant gains in recent days, as reported by Voice of America: "U.S. firefighters have made gains in battling a massive wildfire in California that is threatening a famous national park. The U.S. Forest Service said Tuesday firefighters have contained 75 percent of the so-called Rim Fire, up from less than 50 percent contained 36 hours earlier. Cooler temperatures and higher humidity have helped the nearly 4,400 firefighters battling the blaze on the edge of Yosemite National Park. The so-called Rim Fire has engulfed more than 95,000 hectares and covers 953 square kilometers. It has destroyed more than 100 structures since it started about two weeks ago.  The massive blaze is still some distance from Yosemite National Park's major attractions, including granite rock formations and waterfalls. But the wildfire has affected tourism at the park..."

Photo credit above: "In this photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, members of the Roosevelt Interagency Hotshot crew, from Fort Collins, Colo., gear up for a controlled burn operation as they fight the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in California Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013. The massive wildfire is now 75 percent contained according to a state fire spokesman." (AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service, Mike McMillan)

* California using prison inmates to help fight the Rim Fire? Details from examiner.com.

Struck By Extremes: From Flash Flood To Flash Drought. While 4,000+ firefighters make gains in the Rim Fire, meteorologists are tracking more moisture extremes east of the Rockies: serious flooding across portions of New England, while the sudden return of drought over the Midwest has been called a "flash drought". It's the speed at which things are happening that is unusual, as described in today's Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas looks at some of the extremes across the country. Heavy rains have brought flash flooding to the Northeast, while the drought has expanded into the Midwest."

ENSO-Neutral Or Limping Into A Mild El Nino? here are some of the model forecasts of SST, sea surface temperatures, showing a bias toward ENSO-neutral in the eastern equatorial Pacific, possibly even a mild El Nino warming event by spring of 2014. Data: NOAA NCEP.

Detecting Lightning Is Harder Than It Sounds. Triangulation is key, multiple antennas picking up the distant crackle of a cloud to ground strike. But is it possible to build a small (cheap) device that does the triangulation from one location? Easier said than done. Here's an excerpt of an interesting story at The Nashua Telegraph: "...What’s so hard about detecting one of the most powerful forces in nature? Nothing, of course – unless you need to do it accurately, quickly, cheaply and from far away because you’re, say, fighting forest fires or alerting boaters on Lake Winnipesaukee. Then it’s pretty difficult, especially the “cheaply” part. “You can get that sort of information now from national lightning networks, but they’re all subscription services,” said James Koermer, a professor emeritus in meteorology who is working on the sensor at his new home in Florida, the lightning capital of the U.S. by a long shot..."

Image credit above: "Lightning rolls through the sky over Sonic restaurant in the Denbigh section of Newport News, Virginia, Saturday, June 30, 2012, as severe thunderstorms moved through the area." (Rob Ostermaier/Newport News Daily Press/MCT)
$20,000 A Year For Flood Insurance? Sandy Survivors Face Tough Rebuilding Choices. U.S. News and NBC News document the escalating costs of living on or near the ocean, in the wake of Sandy. Here's the intro: "Thousands of homeowners in New York and New Jersey impacted by Hurricane Sandy are facing a tough choice that may thwart their efforts to rebuild: Comply with costly new federal construction guidelines or prepare to pay annual flood insurance rates that could top $20,000.New federal flood maps revealed in June added 68,000 structures in New York City and thousands more in New Jersey to flood zones. Now, affected homeowners are being forced to make drastic changes to their residences, such as elevating them on pilings, or incur punishing new insurance premiums that will take effect by mid-2015. Given the new rules, many Sandy survivors are grappling with whether they should alter their properties – or leave..."
Photo credit above: John Makely / NBC News. "Kevin Faller and Karen Spanover, of Toms River, N.J., learned that they would have to invest tens of thousands of dollars to elevate their home or else pay drastically higher flood insurance premiums."

New Zealand Has Warmest Winter On Record. The Guardian has the story - here's the intro: "Winter lacked an Antarctic chill this year in New Zealand, to record effect. Scientists said on Tuesday that the South Pacific nation had its warmest winter since record-keeping began more than a century ago. The average nationwide temperature was 9.5C (49.1F) for June, July and August, about 1.2C above average and 0.3C above the previous record set in 1984, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said. Record-keeping began in 1909..."

Photo credit above: "A bright sunny winter day at Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables, in the South Island of New Zealand." Photograph: Mark Mitchell/AP.

Help Save Lily. I love dogs, and this urgent plea caught my eye yesterday - sent to me by a friend. If you can make a donation please consider helping this adorable puppy. Details via gofundme.com: "Lily was only out of the hospital for 4 days and she is now back in again. She was acting very tired and had no energy to bounce around and play with her ball and wouldn't eat. She was very traumatized from her first stay in the hospital and would not let her owner out of her sight without whimpering. Now she has to endure more tests and x-rays and they think her pneumonia was never fully cured. Of course there are now several hundred dollars of more vet bills. We really want her to get better for good but she is so small and weak. I feel really bad for my sis who is over moon with this pup but was not prepared for these enormous bills. Please help if you can..."

TODAY: Plenty of sun, still pleasant. DP: 60. Winds: NE 5-10. High: 83

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and comfortably cool. Low: 56

THURSDAY: Sunny, less humid. Dew point: 51. High: 82

FRIDAY: Hazy sun, getting hotter. Dew point: 64. Wake-up: 64. High: near 90

SATURDAY: Sticky sun, T-storms up north. Wake-up: 70. High: 90

SUNDAY: Sunny start, PM clouds. Dew point: 62. Wake-up: 68. High: 83

MONDAY: Showers and T-storms. Wake-up: 64. High: 78

TUESDAY: Steamy sun. Storms north. DP: 67. Wake-up: 68. High: 89

Climate Stories....

Scientists: Climate Change May Offer Hurricane Help. Not sure about this one, but in the spirit of keeping an open mind, here's an excerpt from a story at National Geographic: "Many scientists have blamed global warming for more intense recent hurricane seasons and for the more destructive storms that are predicted in years to come, but a new study says climate change could eventually help safeguard the U.S. Atlantic Coast from hurricanes. Climate change might alter atmospheric conditions so that future hurricanes may be pushed away from the East Coast, according to a study published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The warming caused by greenhouse gases—thought to be the result of human activities such as burning fossil fuels—could redirect atmospheric winds that steer hurricanes. By the next century, the study's authors report, atmospheric winds over the Atlantic could blow more directly from west to east during hurricane season, pushing storms away from the United States..."

Image credit above: "A NASA computer model of Hurricane Sandy. A new study says climate change could make such storms less likely along the Atlantic Coast." Photograph by NASA/ National Geographic Stock.

The Pacific Ocean Fills In Another Piece Of The Global Warming Puzzle. Here's a clip from a story at The Guardian: "A new study published in the journal Nature incorporates temperature changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean into an advanced climate model, and finds that the model can reproduce observed global surface temperature changes remarkably well. Importantly, as authors Yu Kosaka and Shang-Ping Xie from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography explain, accounting for the changes in the Pacific Ocean allows the model to reproduce the slowed global surface warming over the past 15 years. It also accurately reproduces the regional and seasonal changes in surface temperatures, which adds confidence that their results are meaningful..."

Graphic credit above: "This graph shows the good match between temperatures in the Nature paper model (in red) and measured temperatures (in black). Just accounting for human and solar climate influences doesn't reproduce the recent surface warming slowdown (in purple)."

U.S. Study: Wind And Solar To Be Cost-Competetive By 2025. Business Green launches into the economics of renewables in this article; here's an excerpt: "Wind and solar power generation will be cost competitive with fossil fuels without recourse to federal subsidies by 2025, according to a new study from the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The study, released last month and titled Beyond Renewable Portfolio Standards: An Assessment of Regional Supply and Demand Conditions Affecting the Future of Renewable Energy in the West, argues that locating renewable energy assets in the most productive regions of the country could serve to slash the cost of clean electricity..."

U.N. Researchers: Global Warming Clock Is At "Five Minutes To Midnight". Here's an excerpt from an article at rawstory.com: "Humanity has pushed the world’s climate system to the brink, leaving itself only scant time to act, the head of the UN’s group of climate scientists said on Monday. “We have five minutes before midnight,” warned Rajendra Pachauri, whose organisation will this month release the first volume of a new assessment of global warming and its impacts. “We may utilise the gifts of nature just as we choose, but in our books the debits are always equal to the credits,” Pachauri told a conference marking the 20th anniversary of the environmental organisation Green Cross International, quoting fellow Indian Mahatma Gandhi. “May I submit that humanity has completely ignored, disregarded and been totally indifferent to the debits?..."

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