Thursday, June 5, 2014

January - May: Second Wettest in 144 Years in the Twin Cities

78 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.
76 F. average high on June 5.
60 F. high on June 5, 2013.

03" rain fell at KMSP yesterday.

June 5, 1864: Light frost reported in St. Paul as chilly air mass moved over the state.

Manila (with lakes)

The Great Atmospheric Spigot in the Sky is either ON or OFF. Not much in-between lately. Either we're tracking drought, brush fires and water shortages, or we're in a perpetual flood, reporting on swamped fields and overflowing lakes and rivers.

According to Minnesota's Climate Office the first 5 months of 2014 was the second wettest in 144 years of record-keeping. 2012 and 2013 also ranked among the five wettest of all-time for that 5 month period. A fluke or a trend?

Great question. I wish I had a great answer.

Then again June is our wettest month of the year in Minnesota, the worst month to plan outdoor weddings and grad parties. That statistic will become increasingly evident in the coming weeks.

More T-storms fire up later today ahead of an advancing cool front; showery rains spill over into much of Saturday as we cool into the 60s. We salvage a fine Sunday, the nicer day of the weekend for the Edina Art Fair. More rain is likely Monday, again Wednesday as temperatures mellow.
Wedging in your outdoor plans will take patience, planning and luck.

ECMWF guidance hints at 90F by the end of next week with drippy dew points. And more T-storms.
Turn off the sprinkler until further notice.

.92" of additional rain in the Twin Cities by Monday morning (NAM model).

Thursday Severe Weather Reports. Although there were no confirmed tornado touchdowns in Minnesota, a few funnel clouds were spotted over far southwestern counties. The Twin Cities National Weather Service has a list of severe weather reports.

A Sloppy Holding Pattern. Soaking rains and T-storms linger over the central and southern Plains into Monday, as a series of weak cool frontal passages spark waves of storms over the northern USA. For Minnesota the best chance of rain comes later today and Saturday (T-storm risk by late afternoon today; showery rains on Saturday with temperatures stuck in the 60s). After a brief, fleeting break with sunshine Sunday more rain and storms return by Monday.

Stuck. I've said it before (ad nauseum) and I'll say it again. Weather systems - increasingly - are falling into extended holding patterns where frontal systems and storms stall for days, even weeks at a time. Historic drought continues to build across California and much of the western USA, while flooding rains are possible from Oklahoma into the Ohio Valley over the next 7 days; some 4-7" amounts are possible. Much of Minnesota picks up 1" of rain by Monday afternoon, maybe 2" or more over western and southwestern counties. 7-day rainfall outlook: NOAA.

Weekend Details. ECMWF guidance shows a T-storm risk by late this afternoon and evening, but as the atmosphere cools and stabilizes I expect just rain showers Saturday (probably no lightning). Sunday still looks like the nicer day of the weekend for outdoor plans, more rain - possibly heavy - Sunday night into Monday. Our soggy rut spills over into next week. Graph: Weatherspark.

Lake Minnetonka Water Level Reaches All-Time High on Tuesday. At the rate we're going Lake Minnetonka water levels may not return to "normal" until late July. Here's an excerpt from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District: "Water levels remain at historic highs across the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District after record-setting rains this spring. After reaching a new record high of 930.66 feet above sea level on Tuesday, June 3, Lake Minnetonka’s water level has ebbed slightly to the current reading of 930.65 on Thursday, June 5. The District continues to discharge water at a rate of 300 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the Gray’s Bay Dam, according to the DNR-approved operating plan, and additional water is flowing over the spillway north of the dam at a rate of 269 cfs. For more on 2014 dam operations, see below. The Lake Minnetonka Conservation District has approved an emergency high water ordinance for Lake Minnetonka, which imposes minimum restrictions across the entire lake effective immediately. For more information, visit"

High-Water Drama: Rains Swell Lakes, Especially Minnetonka. Here's a clip from a story and video at The Star Tribune: "...The high-water drama is especially noticeable on Lake Minnetonka, the metro area’s biggest and busiest recreational lake, where a floating bog that looks like an island had to be lassoed and anchored back into place Wednesday after it drifted away on high water and blocked a channel. Although the sprawling lake’s water level dropped a fraction of an inch Wednesday from the record it had attained Tuesday, officials continued to warn of a continuing risk of floating obstacles — trees, parts of docks that have been pulled apart, pieces of firewood and other yard items the rising water has abducted..."

A Leaky Sky: First 5 Months Second Wettest in 144 Years for Twin Cities. Yes, it's wet out there, and I see a continuation of our wetter than average pattern looking out 1-2 weeks, which is about as far out as we can gaze with any skill at all. Until the core of the jet stream lifts north of the U.S. border (consistently) our sloppy pattern will continue. Here's an excerpt from the Minnesota Climatology Working Group: "...Precipitation totals since April 1 are far above historical averages. For large portions of Minnesota, season-to-date precipitation totals rank above the 90th percentile when compared with the historical database during the April-plus-May time period. It was Minnesota's third consecutive meteorological spring (March - May) of exceptionally high precipitation totals. In the Twin Cities, 2014 continued a rather remarkable streak of wet starts to the calendar year. The January 1-through-June 1 precipitation total (16.84 inches) in the Twin Cities was the second highest of the 144-year record. 2012 and 2013 also ranked among the five wettest all-time for that five-month period..."

Higher Crest in St. Paul. Latest guidance from NOAA's Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service shows a weekend crest of 13.3 feet on the Mississippi River in St. Paul. That's roughly a foot higher than models were predicting 2 days ago. Minor flooding is possible at 14 feet, so some inundation and overflow is likely.

Winter Fog Becoming Rare in California. The perpetual drought has created fewer foggy mornings in California's Central Valley, and that has additional implications, according to NASA's Earth Observatory; here's an excerpt: "From time to time, in the wake of winter rain, dense fog fills the wide valley between California’s Sierra Nevada and Coastal Range. Called Tule fog, the phenomenon is as much a part of winter in the Central Valley as snow is in the mountain. In recent years, however, the fog has come less often. In fact, since 1981 the number of fog days between November and February has decreased by 46 percent, according to a recent study. The decrease is bad news for California’s fruit and nut farmers..."

NASA imagery acquired January 17, 2011.

The Flying Four-Wheeler of Nettleton. I'm assuming straight-line winds did this. Or massive amounts of alcohol. Thanks to Ryan Vaughan and Craig Miller for passing this one along via Twitter.

These Are The Most Popular Foods in America. Yes, we love our cheese, and mozzarella still triumphs over cheddar. There's some news you can use. Here's a clip from a story at Time Magazine that left me awfully hungry: "New data from the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) lets you peek into the kitchens of Americans and find out how they’re eating—based on what they’re buying. The ERS’s Food Availability data measures yearly supplies of several food commodities in the U.S., and this year, some of the most interesting results are that sweet foods like ice cream appear to dropping, though we tend to mostly like our fruit in juice form and pizza and tomatoes round out our favorite veggies..."

Graphic credit: USDA.

How The NSA Could Bug Your Powered-Off iPhone, and How to Stop Them. Yes, when you power down your smart phone it's only playing dead. With all the privacy concerns I'm going back to fax machines and CB radio. Who's with me? Here's an excerpt from Wired: "Just because you turned off your phone doesn’t mean the NSA isn’t using it to spy on you. Edward Snowden’s latest revelation about the NSA’s snooping inspired an extra dose of shock and disbelief when he said the agency’s hackers can use a mobile phone as a bug even after it’s been turned off. The whistleblower made that eye-opening claim when Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News, holding his iPhone aloft during last Wednesday’s interview, asked, “What can the NSA do with this device if they want to get into my life? Can anyone turn it on remotely if it’s off? Can they turn on apps?..."

Photo credit above: Josh Valcarcel/WIRED.

Death Map: The Most Common Causes of Death in Each State. Here's a little Friday pick-me-up. Can excessive blogging be fatal? Here's a clip from the story at Slate that caught my eye, making me even happier to call myself a Minnesotan: "...By contrast, the age-adjusted death rates for the top 10 causes of death are all lower in Minnesota than they are nationally. It makes sense, then, that the most recent estimates by the CDC have the life expectancy in Minnesota as nearly five years longer than in Alabama..."

Map data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Map by Ben Blatt/Slate.

How Comments Shape Perceptions of Site's Quality - And Affect Traffic. Did you ever read an online comment that made you change your mind? It's a rare, diary-worthy moment. So much noise, so little wisdom. Here's an excerpt from The Atlantic: "There’s a game I like to play sometimes. It’s called “How many Internet comments do I have to read until I lose faith in humanity?” All too often, the answer is: one comment. From The Atlantic to Yahoo to YouTube, online comments are often ignorant, racist, sexist, threatening, or otherwise worthless. But you knew that already. There’s plenty of anti-comment sentiment on the web—some humorous, some more scholarly—and despite the hopes of media democratizers, there’s now widespread agreement that Internet comments are terrible..."

"Hey Joe": A Caffeinated Cry for Help? Come to think of it, I need one of these gadgets (productivity tools). Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "With portable espresso machines, French press mugs and other brewing gadgets percolating up all over the place and coffee shops on every second street corner, you'd be forgiven for wondering, does procuring a cup need to be any more convenient? For a pair of Atlanta-based entrepreneurs, the answer is, yes, which is why they developed the Hey Joe mug that can prepare a brew on demand, meaning a fresh cup of coffee is only ever a push of a button away..."

TODAY: Warm sun, warmer than average. Dew point: 62 Winds: SW 8. High: 83
FRIDAY NIGHT: Showers and T-storms likely. Low: 59
SATURDAY: Fairly foul. Cool with showery rain. Winds: NE 10-15. High: 65
SUNDAY: The nicer day of the weekend. Partly sunny. Winds: SE 8. Wake-up: 53. High: 75
MONDAY: Periods of rain, possible thunder. Wake-up: 56. High: 72
TUESDAY: Sun returns, not bad at all. Wake-up: 55. High: 79
WEDNESDAY: Early sun, PM T-storms. Wake-up: 60. High: 81
THURSDAY: Hot & sticky. Feels like summer. Wake-up: 63. High: 86

* 90F isn't out of the question by the end of next week.

** Rainbow photo courtesy of Marlo Lundy.

Climate Stories....

Climate Change Isn't Just About Climate Anymore. The military implications of a rapidly changing climate are just as important as the economic costs; here's a clip from a story at Voice of the Valley in Washington State: "...We can’t separate this out and say climate change is an energy problem and not a national security problem,” said Representative Adam Smith, (D-Wash.). Research indicates that changing rainfall patterns can undermine agricultural productivity and food security, leading to conflict. More droughts can force migrations, which increase stress on weak governments. Melting sea ice will open new shipping lanes through the Arctic, which will affect military operations and international trade. All of these changes have implications for the Pacific Northwest and the nation as a whole..."

Taking Climate Change Seriously. Jim Wallis has a thoughtful essay at Huffington Post, talking about the moral and spiritual imperatives of dealing with the reality of climate change; here's an excerpt: "...On climate change, the narratives of science will not be enough. Neither will extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy, which capture our attention momentarily but offer a glimpse of the storms that are projected to grow worse and more frequent.I believe the most compelling narratives for dealing with climate change must be moral ones, theological ones, and biblical ones, especially if we are to reach and engage the faith community -- which every successful social movement must do. God's instructions in Genesis to be good stewards of the world God has created are central now. And generational ethics are central to that..."

Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains How Republicans Blew It On Climate Change. Chris Mooney has the interview at Mother Jones; here's an excerpt: "...Tyson is know for being fairly non-confrontational; for not wanting to directly argue with or debate those who deny science in various areas. He prefers to just tell it like it is, to educate. But when we talked he was, perhaps, a little more blunt than usual. "At some point, I don't know how much energy they have to keep fighting it," he said of those who don't accept the science of climate change. "It's an emergent scientific truth." Tyson added that in the political sphere, denying the science is just a bad strategy. "The Republican Party, so many of its members are resistant to embracing the facts of climate change that the legislation that they should be eager to influence, they're left outside the door," said Tyson. "Because they think the debate is whether or not it's happening, rather than what policy and legislation can serve their interests going forward..."

Image credit above: "Neil deGrasse Tyson in this Sunday's final episode of Cosmos." .

Here's How Much U.S. Summers Have Warmed Since 1970. Climate Central has the article; here's an excerpt: "...The notable blue spot in a sea of red is the Upper Midwest, where substantial parts of Iowa and the Dakotas have seen a slight cooling trend since 1970. Interestingly, that region is actually home to some of the fastest-warming states when you look at the change in annual average temperatures. Winters in particular have warmed dramatically there over the past 40 years. Of the 344 climate divisions, which are set by the National Climatic Data Center and divide the country into climatically-similar zones, less than 10 percent have seen a summer cooling trend..."

Graphic credit: "A map showing summer temperature trends in the U.S. since 1970."

States Most Impacted by Global Warming since 1984? Maine, Vermont, New Mexico & Texas. Here's a clip from The Star Tribune: "...All but one of the lower 48 states have warmed since 1984. North Dakota is the lone outlier, and cooled slightly. Ten states — Maine, Vermont, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware, New Mexico, Connecticut and New York — have gotten at least 2 degrees warmer in the past 30 years. Since 1984, 92 percent of the more than 500 cities and smaller regions within states have warmed and nearly two-thirds of them have warmed by at least a degree..."

If You Think The Climate Hasn't Warmed Since 1998, Think Again. Here's a graph in the latest National Climate Assessment, courtesy of a post from Dr. Jonathan Koomey: "One of the most common Internet memes about climate is the idea that the earth hasn’t warmed since 1998.  This erroneous claim is based on cherry picking data and ignoring the increase in the heat content of the oceans, which is where most of the historical warming has been stored.  This issue is explored fully in this section of the website Skeptical Science, as well as another page that explores the right and wrong ways to understand trends, but I recently saw a nice graph that boils it all down..."

Graphic credit: "The last five decades have seen a progressive rise in Earth’s average surface temperature. Bars show the difference between each decade’s average temperature and the overall average for 1901 to 2000. The far right bar includes data for 2001-2012." (Figure source: NOAA NCDC).  National Climate Assessment, p.796, Figure 7 in Appendix 4."

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