Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Comfortable Week Ahead (one Christian climate scientist's mission to convert non-believers)

71 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
77 F. average high on June 8.
72 F. high on June 8, 2013.

June 8 in Minnesota Weather History. Data: Twin Cities National Weather Service:

2002: Extensive flash flood began across northwest Minnesota. 14.55 inches would fall over the next 48 hours near Lake of the Woods. Floodwaters covered the city of Roseau. The Roseau River looked like a large lake from a satellite view.

1913: Strange mirage in Duluth. Ships appeared to be floating in the air over Lake Superior.

A No-Wake Life

Yesterday the noisy, high-speed boats normally buzzing Lake Minnetonka fell silent. Bloated cruisers puttered across an overflowing bay as if they were taking on water; people on paddle boards & kayaks moving in slow motion, enjoying the view.

"Don't fixate on the destination, enjoy the journey" a wise friend once told me. I may be over-thinking this - but it's a metaphor for modern life. As the velocity of our lives increases - overall satisfaction often suffers. Many of us now live frantic, fast-forward lives, tethered to our calendars, to-do lists and impossible goals.

"Slow down, look around, odds are you won't pass this way again." My friend was trying to live a no-regrets, no-wake life. Maybe he was onto something.

Mother Nature apparently got the memo: weather systems are limping along, with exceptional drought giving way to biblical floods over Oklahoma. Pulses of heat expand north across the Plains sparking waves of T-storms: only a slight shower risk today with a much better chance of getting wet Wednesday night, Saturday, again next Tuesday.

Comfortable 70s much of this week finally give way to sticky 80s by Sunday, the sunnier, warmer day next weekend.

Pray for a dry front.

84 Hour Future Radar. NOAA NAM guidance shows a few showers over far southern Minnesota today; possibly a passing shower in the MSP metro, but probably not anything heavy or sustained. A sloppy pinwheel of moisture soaks the southern Plains, pushing into the eastern USA by late Wednesday and Thursday - the west stays dry. Nothing new there.

MSP Meteogram. Weatherspark graphics tell the tale for the week to come; temperatures close to average, peaking at or just above 80F Wednesday before cooling off behind a weak cool frontal passage Thursday. Storm (some heavy) keep us cooler on Saturday, but we may finally warm into the 80s again next Sunday and Monday. The best chance of significant rain: Saturday, again Tuesday of next week.

June Light Over Northern USA. It's not exactly the Polar Vortex, but the models continue to show a slight cool bias over the U.S. - Canadian border into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. GFS data valid midday Saturday shows warmer than average temperatures from Canada into much of the Northern Hemisphere, as well as Texas and New England. Graphic: Climate Reanalyzer.

Tornado-less Start to 2014 In Wisconsin. So far in 2014 California has seen twice as many tornadoes as Minnesota (10 in CA vs. 5 so far in MN according to NOAA SPC). But no tornadoes yet in Wisconsin, the subject of an interesting post from; here's a clip: "So far 2014 has produced zero, yes zero tornadoes across the entire state of Wisconsin.  A typical year averages 23 tornadoes in the state.  The peak month for tornado activity is June. The lack of tornadoes so far in 2014 has now landed us in the top 10 for latest start to a tornado season.  Here is a look at where we currently rank and other place holders.  Tornado records date back to 1950 in Wisconsin.
  1. June 28, 1995
  2. June 25, 1950
  3. June 23, 1952
  4. June 19, 1951..."

Oklahomans Develop Blanket to Protect Youngsters in Tornadoes or Shootings. Not a bad concerpt, considering the leading source of death and injury from tornadoes is blunt head trauma (from flying debris). Here's a clip from a story and interview at News OK: "...A orange bulletproof blanket could come between a child and tornadic debris or a 9 mm bullet, forging a better “opportunity to survive.” The Bodyguard Blanket, made by ProTecht, is a bulletproof pad designed to protect students during disasters at school. The 5/16-inch thick rectangle features backpack-like straps that allow users to don it, and then duck and cover. “We’re trying to stop that blunt-force trauma when that rubble is falling down on a child, for instance,” said Steve Walker, who developed the idea...

Security Camera Captures Batesville, Arkansas Tornado Formation. I found this interesting, a developing tornado captured by security camera video; here's a link, courtesy of Severe Studios: "Multiple security cameras capture the moment a tornado hits Batesville, AR on Friday, June 6, 2014. Security camera footage from Josh Kemp as a tornado hits his business, Ozark Information Services, Batesville, Arkansas - on Friday 6/6/14 at 2:52pm."

Storm Surge Main Reason Evacuations Are Ordered During Hurricanes. Former NOAA NHC Director Max Mayfield pens an interesting article at in Miami; here's an excerpt: "...A scientific paper published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society by National Hurricane Center Deputy Director Dr. Ed Rappaport, on "Fatalities in the United States from Atlantic Tropical Cyclones," clearly shows the cause of deaths by various hazards over a 50-year period. 88 percent of storm related fatalities occurred in water-related incidents.  Storm surge was responsible for about half of the fatalities (49 percent).  Another 27 percent resulted from rainfall-induced freshwater floods, 6 percent from rip currents and large waves, and 6 percent from marine accidents within 50 miles of the coast..."

Graphic credit above: "Cause of death in the United States directly attributable to Atlantic tropical cyclones, 1963-2012." Ed Rappaport, NOAA NHC.

Hurricane Center Eyes Longer-Range Forecasts. NHC meteorologists do a good job tracking where tropical systems will go, and these forecasts will only get better with time. A story at Sun Sentinel and The Portland Press Herald does a good job of providing a little timely perspective on how far we've come; here's an excerpt: "Imagine knowing six or seven days in advance where a tropical storm or hurricane might strike land. It would give residents, businesses and the military plenty of time to prepare. The National Hurricane Center hopes to make that happen, but such long-range forecasts still are three to four years away because errors remain too large. “We’ll likely need a few more seasons to verify the accuracy of these forecasts,” senior hurricane specialist Dan Brown said. As of last season, the average six-day forecast track error was about 260 miles and the seven-day error about 315 miles. That’s about as good as four- and five-day track forecasts were a decade ago..." (2005 file image above: NOAA NHC).

Smog-Busting Roof Tiles Could Clean Tons of Pollution, Study Says. My hope is that potentially radical breakthroughs like this continue to originate in the United States. Here's an excerpt of a post at The Los Angeles Times: "UC Riverside researchers say they have demonstrated an inexpensive roof coating that gobbles up smog-forming pollutants and, if widely adopted, could clean tons of air pollution from Southern California each day. In a laboratory experiment, engineering students found that ordinary clay roof tiles sprayed with titanium dioxide removed 88% to 97% of nitrogen oxide pollution from the air. Nitrogen oxides, gases generated by fuel combustion and emitted from vehicle exhaust pipes, industrial stacks and power plants, react in sunlight to form ozone, the main ingredient of smog. But titanium dioxide, a chalky white compound, breaks down those pollutants into less harmful compounds..."
Image credit above: "A laboratory experiment found that the two tiles on the left, coated with a titanium dioxide mixture, removed up to 97% of nitrogen dioxide pollution from the air. At right, uncoated tiles. At top, a commercially available tile with titanium dioxide." (UC Riverside).

TODAY: Cool & cloudy, few showers likely far southern Minnesota; passing shower in the Twin Cities metro. Winds: SE 5-10. High: 67
MONDAY NIGHT: Slow clearing late, still cool. Low: 54
TUESDAY: Lukewarm sunshine, pleasant. High: 76
WEDNESDAY: Warm sun, T-storms at night. Wake-up: 56. High: 82
THURSDAY: Wet start, then partial clearing. Wake-up: 59. High: 74
FRIDAY: Plenty of sun, leave work early. Wake-up: 56. High: 78
FRIDAY NIGHT: Cloudy with T-storms late. Low: 58
SATURDAY: T-storms, locally heavy rain? High: 76
SUNDAY: Sunnier, drier day of the weekend. Wake-up: 60. High: 84

Climate Stories...

A Christian Climate Scientist's Mission to Convert Non-Believers. Listen to the interview with Katharine Hayhoe at NPR; here's an excerpt: "...Heyhoe says what Christians often question about climate change is if God is in control, how could this happen? Another argument she hears is the idea that humans could change climate threatens the sovereignty of God. "The answer to that is pretty simple: It's free will," she says. "God gave us the brains to make good choices and there's consequences to the choices that we make." And that's what climate change is, she says, a consequence of an industrialized society that depends on coal, oil and gas for many of our resources..."

"Science is Science": Obama Embraces Price on Carbon, Leaving Fossil Fuels in the Ground. Roughly 2/3rds of the global coal, oil and gas reserves in the ground if we don't want to blast past 2 degrees C. Here's a clip from a story at ThinkProgress: "...Given that the United States was one of the countless countries that signed off on the UN Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment report, Obama’s answer should not be a total surprise. “Science is science,” he said. “And there is no doubt that if we burned all the fossil fuel that’s in the ground right now that the planet’s going to get too hot and the consequences could be dire. ”I can’t recall Obama being as candid about the realities of climate change and what must be done to address it as he is in this interview. He goes on to say: We’re not going to be able to burn it all. Over the course of the next several decades, we’re going to have to build a ramp from how we currently use energy to where we need to use energy..."

First Caisson Submerged for Venice Flood Barrier. Like tiny island nations in the Pacific (and Miami Beach), Venice, Italy is another canary in the coal mine, threatened by rising seas. Here's an excerpt from a story at Construction News: "...The storm-surge barrier will be able to seal off the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. The storm-surge barrier is being constructed at the three inlets to the lagoon, at Lido, Malamocco and Chioggia. It is made up of a system of caissons containing movable flood gates. The system will only be closed in cases of extremely high water, similar to the Maeslant Barrier in the Netherlands. The storm-surge barrier is expected to come into use in 2017..."

Dear Millenials, We're Sorry. The armchair denialists who read a few blog posts or listen to talk radio and place their opinions on the same plane as thousands of scientists armed with trivial details like "facts" and "data" aren't doing their kids, or yours, any long-term favors, as argued in this Frank Bruni Op-Ed at The New York Times. Here's an excerpt: "...The country’s slowness to deal with swelling seas and melting glaciers is just one manifestation of our myopia, just one metaphor for our failure to reckon with the future that we’re visiting upon today’s children, who get more lip service than legislation from us. “If you’re going along with the status quo, it should be a crime to say that you care about our children and grandchildren, because you’re not putting your money where your mouth is,” Bob Kerrey, a Democrat who governed Nebraska for four years and represented that state in the Senate for another 12, told me recently..."

A Top Obama Aid Says History Won't Applaud Obama's Climate Policy. A good start, or too little too late? Time will tell. Here's an excerpt of an interview with Senior Obama Adviser John Podesta at Harper's Magazine: "...President Obama clearly grasps the urgency of the climate crisis and has taken important steps to address it. But it is his historical fate to be in power at a time when good intentions and important steps are no longer enough. Because the politicians who came before him, both in Washington and around the world, did not act boldly enough, Obama (like other current leaders) has a much steeper hill to climb. The science he is faced with — such as the latest declarations by the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that two thirds of earth’s remaining fossil fuel must be left underground if we are to limit temperature rise to 2°C — demand actions that seem preposterous to the political and economic status quo..." (Image above: NASA).

Insurer's Message: Prepare for Climate Change or Get Sued. Here's an update to the Farmers Insurance suit filed in Chicago - courtesy of NBC News: "...Earlier this week, the U.S. arm of a major global insurance company backed away from an unprecedented lawsuit against Chicago and its suburbs for failing to prepare for heavy rains and associated flooding it claimed were fueled by global warming. While legal experts said the case was a longshot, its withdrawal didn't alter the message it contained for governments: prepare now for climate change or pay the price..." (File photo above: AP).

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