Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Maps Look Like May - Is "Seasonal Lag" Another Symptom of a More Volatile Climate System?

Maybe it's time to play the Lotto:

77 F. yesterday's high in the Twin Cities.
77 F. average high on June 10.
77 F. high on June 10, 2013

(No, I can't remember ever seeing this before, a perfect match. Maybe it's a good omen. Then again...)

June 10 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: Twin Cities NWS:

2001: Severe weather over central Minnesota. An unofficial wind gust of 119 mph is reported at a seed farm 1 mile northwest of Atwater. A storm chaser's car was battered when he got too close to the storm. Most of the windows in the car were broken.
1996: 5.91 inches of rain fell at Mankato. Mudslides closed roads including Hwy. 169. Mud pushed a trailer home 20 feet down a hill.
1922: Hailstorm at Maple Plain causes much damage to crops.

Seasonal Lag

I may be hallucinating (again) but it sure seems like our seasons are being time-shifted, just like the TV shows you control with your DVR remote control. Think about it. April felt like March, May was chilly and April-like, now June is trending cooler & wetter, more typical for May.
When does perception become reality?

Weather is always erratic and chaotic, but Minnesota springs since 2011 have been unusually wet - autumn warmth now lingers later in the season - winter snow and ice often not building up until December.

A few years does not a trend make, but once again the core of the jet stream, the main superhighway for storms, is locked 300-500 miles farther south than average. Unusually strong storms are spinning up along this sharp thermal boundary, squeezing out very heavy amounts of rain.

Since January 1 MSP has picked up nearly 18 inches of precipitation, second only to 1965 for the wettest start to a year. By the way, NOAA's GFS model prints out another 3 inches over the next 16 days, the ECMWF shows 2.7" of additional rain by next Wednesday. We may yet break that 1965 rainfall record.

T-storms are likely tonight and Saturday into Sunday AM. The ECMWF hints at severe storms and flooding by the middle of next week. Not a 90F in sight.

Forget the calendar. It's still May.

2.7" rain predicted by ECMWF over the next 10 days.
2.07" rain forecast for KMSP by the GFS model over the next 16 days.

Remarkably Persistent. West of the Rockies the weather map looks like something out of July or August, the weather consistently sunny, hot and dry (with a risk of a brushfire). East of the Rockies much of America is in an almost May-like pattern with an unusually strong jet stream positioned farther south than usual for the second week of June. That, in turn, will spin up a series of strong storms over the northern tier states, capable of flash flooding and severe weather outbreaks. Showers and T-storms push from the Mississippi Valley to the east coast by Thursday; showery rains brushing the Pacific Northwest. NOAA NAM Future Radar: HAMweather.

84 Hour Rainfall Outlook. 12km NAM guidance shows the heaviest swath of rain over the Red River Valley tonight into early Thursday, with some 2-3" amounts. Heavy rains capable of flash flooding are possible west of Washington D.C. between now and 1 AM Saturday; a 7" bullseye west of Little Rock. Map: HAMweather.

River Flooding Potential. The North Central River Forecast unit of NOAA is predicting an enhanced risk of flooding on the Red River in the coming days, due to repeated storms capable of dropping some 2-4"+ rainfall amounts.

Way Out On A Soggy Limb. I'm struck by how vigorous the storms are over the northern USA, a pattern more typical of late April or early May. The jet stream is still trending farther south than usual for the second week of June, and that may spin up a significant storm by the middle of next week. In fact ECWMF guidance valid next Wednesday evening hints at flooding rains and a possible severe T-storm outbreak from the Dakotas and Minnesota into Wisconsin. Map: WSI.

Unlikely Tornado Stats. Which NWS office has issued the most tornado warnings so far this year? Jackson, Mississippi (65), followed by Denver (62). Much of the central and southern Plains, the heart of Tornado Alley, has been unusually quiet. That may have something to do with the persistent drought of recent months - little moisture available to fuel supercell thunderstorms, especially in April and May, when tornado season peaks from Wichita to Oklahoma City and Abilene. One silver lining to the drought, which has eased a bit in recent weeks with torrential rain. More details on today's edition of Climate Matters: "We all have a natural fear of tornadoes and hurricanes, but when does it cross the line to a phobia? WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over lilapsophobia, the irrational fear of tornadoes and hurricanes and explains why in the "Superbowl of Tornadoes" it's not so crazy to have it."

Map Shows U.S. Tornado Locations by Latitude, Longitude. Here's an excerpt of an interesting meteorological nugget, courtesy of USA TODAY: "...The maps were created by Tim Brice, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in El Paso and were making the rounds on the weather Twitterverse Monday. Brice used U.S. tornado data from 1950 to 2013 from the Storm Prediction Center. The latitude that had the most tornadoes was 39.8 degrees North, with 510 tornado hits, Brice says. The spikes in tornadoes by latitude appear to correspond to the central and southern Plains, with a "gap" due to the high mountains of the Appalachians..."

Annual Tornado Count Is Low - For Now. Although the national tornado count, to date, is running lower than average there's little room for complacency. Here's an excerpt of a good update from TheIndyChannel.com: "...This year, the U.S. has seen 546 tornado reports to date. In 2005, that number was 579. Last year, it was 516. A week into June, the number is right in the middle of 2005 and 2013. Looking at these two years closest resembling this season, there are still two very different results. Last year was one of the quietest tornado seasons on record, ending up with 943 at the end of the year. But 2005 was closer to the average, with a total of 1216..."

Hurricane Researchers Eye Low-Level Flights To Gauge Hurricane Strength. More of that military drone technology is trickling down to the rest of us. Here's a Wall Street Journal story excerpt explaining the importance of gathering real-time data in the lowest few thousand feet of a hurricane, something only a drone can do: "...Hurricane researchers for years have deployed an array of aircraft to help predict a storm's strength and path, form "Hurricane Hunter" turboprops that flyin to its core to unmanned Global Hawks that cruise high above it. But one of the most critical areas of a hurricane - its lowest section, where the sea and winds churn violently - has largely been off-limis because of the perils of sending manned aircraft there. Now, scientists think they have a cost-effective solution: a drone called the Coyote designed to venture into that turbulent zone for as long as two hours and beam back a stream of data that paint a more precise picture of a storm..."

Photo credit: Defense-Update.com, which has more information on the Coyote drone here.

Flash Flood Warning vs. Flood Warning. What's The Difference? There is lingering confusion over this terminology: flash flood warnings are issued for extreme rains that trigger street and stream flooding in a matter of minutes or hours - flood warnings usually imply longer-term flooding on area rivers that may take days to unfold. Here's an excerpt of a good explainer from WBBJ-TV in western Tennessee: "..Well the biggest thing about a Flash Flood Warning is it can occur just very quickly," Clements said. "A big downpour right there or just a massive amount of water that would hit in a short amount of time. It could hit any area." Clements says poor drainage or backups in sewers and ditches are usually to blame. "Its just like traffic congestion. If you're trying like everybody to leave a venue at one time, you just can't get everybody out at once. It backs up." Clements said. A Flood Warning, however, may not be issued until after the rain has stopped due to continual runoff into our rivers and streams. A lot of that runoff can be attributed to the large amount of construction over the area during the past few years..."

92 Percent of Americans Have Survived a Natural Disaster, But Many Admit They May Not Be Prepared For The Next Big One. Here are some harrowing statistics in an article from WSJ.com, PRNewswire and Allstate: "...Despite the frequency of severe weather, a new survey released by Allstate shows people may not be as prepared as they should be for the next big storm. Ninety-two percent of Americans surveyed have lived through a disaster. Seven percent of the people polled say they or someone in their family was injured when a disaster impacted their community. The survey findings also revealed ...

* More than 90 percent of Americans have not practiced an evacuation plan or a way to escape if a major storm is approaching.
* 64% of Americans have not created an inventory list of the belongings in their home.
* Nearly a third of Americans (30%) would take their chances and ignore evacuation orders in the face of an imminent natural disaster...."

3 Ways Big Data, Supercomputing Change Weather Forecasting. Accurate, industry-specific weather is critical, considering an estimated 33% of the world's GDP is weather-sensitive. Here's an excerpt of a story at InformationWeek: "...Unfortunately, improving our ability to predict the weather is challenging, both scientifically and computationally. Supercomputing has played a major role in enabling predictive models since the 1950s and remains at the cornerstone of today's weather and climate modeling. Constantly improving computational capabilities have allowed scientists and forecasters to produce results faster than ever while also investigating increasingly complex phenomena and producing specialized forecast products. From model performance to system and data management, weather prediction presents unique high-performance computing challenges..."

Weather May Truly Affect Arthritis Pain. Considering that water is the largest component in our bodies, small but sudden changes in atmospheric pressure may have an effect, at least on some people who suffer various aches and pains. Here's an excerpt of an interesting Reuters Health story at lifescript.com: " For people with osteoarthritis of the hip, pain levels tracked with the weather over the course of a small two-year study, Dutch researchers say. They looked at reported pain levels in a previous study of arthritis, then went back to weather records to document the conditions each day. It turns out the participants' aches were just a little worse and joints just a little stiffer when humidity and barometric pressure levels rose. "This is something that patients talk about all the time," Dr. Patience White told Reuters Health. A rheumatologist and vice president for Public Health Policy and Advocacy for the Arthritis Foundation, she was not involved in the study..."

Dont' Blame The Weather, Walmart: 4 Ways Perfectionists Tackle Problems. Maybe it's human nature to blame the weather for problems (including less profitability), but how often do you see executives thanking a spell of good/quiet weather for great results? Here's a clip from a story at Forbes: "...Chief executives blame middling results on Mother Nature surprisingly often, while good weather seldom gets credit for strong earnings. Research shows that managers are susceptible to what psychologists call the “fundamental attribution error”: Forces beyond our control get disproportionate credit for negative results and much less mention when performance is exemplary. One study of letters to shareholders in annual reports found that executives attributed 60 percent of favorable outcomes to internal causes, but only 27 percent of unfavorable outcomes..."

Wedding Photos Capture Approaching Wildfire. Potentially dangerous? Absolutely, but this has to be one of the most amazing wedding photos ever captured, anytime, anywhere. Here's a link to more photos and the story at FOX2now.com in St. Louis: " An Oregon couple nearly had to put their wedding on hold when a Bend wildfire interrupted their ceremony. The bride, April Wolber, said the Rock Springs Ranch just outside of Bend “just felt like the dream location.” “It’s just kind of become our place,” she said. April Wolber and her husband Michael were getting ready for the biggest day of their lives. But as the ceremony start time neared, the Two Bulls wildfire was growing nearby.  Photographer Josh Newton captured these images of the fire approaching..."

Photo credit above: Josh Newton.

Interesting But Beside The Point. This tweet from the Kansas City office of the National Weather Service caught my eye. A straight conversion from rain to snow yields some eye-popping numbers, as much as 40" of snow. Keep in mind that cold air can't hold as much water vapor as warm, tropical air, so the odds of this actually happening are very small - unless a winter storm were to stall overhead for 3-4 days.

Hubble Captures The Most Comprehensive Image of the Universe Yet. This is pretty amazing; here's a clip of a longer story at Gizmag: "A newly-released picture taken by the Hubble Telescope is adding more color to the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) image by detecting thousands of galaxies in the ultraviolet spectrum. The study, called the Ultraviolet Coverage of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (UVUDF), directly imaged stars and other celestial bodies that would have been impossible to observe on the ground, and gives astronomers critical information that will prove useful as the launch of the more powerful James Webb Space Telescope approaches..."

Photo credit above: "The Hubble Space Telescope has taken a long-exposure picture of space in the ultraviolet, revealing newly formed stars and galaxies." (Image: NASA/ESA)

Human Face Shaped By Millions of Years of Fighting, Study Finds. Here's an excerpt of an interesting story at The Telegraph: "Millions of years of fist fights have altered the human face to leave men's jaws more robust than women's, a study has found. Evidence suggests it evolved to minimise damage from bruising altercations after our ancient ancestors learned how to throw a punch.."

Photo credit above: "Evidence suggests that men's jaws have evolved to minimise damage from bruising altercations after our ancient ancestors learned how to throw a punch." Photo: Alamy.

Meet Shaheen and Waslawi, Your World Cup Predicting Camels. As good a way as any to pick winners, in my humble estimation. Details from The Wire; here's a clip: "...The camels chose their winners by eating a pile of mushed up dates next to the flag of their choosing. However, Al Jabri remains dubious about this method, as well as the ability of camels to make such precious predictions. “They are camels, not humans,” he told The National. “Camels don’t understand football. It’s an animal, not a person.” Still, no point the ruining what has now become as integral a part of the World Cup as football songs and chants."

Ultimate Father's Day Gift: The Best Bacon of the Month Clubs. Because nothing says I Love You better than consistent shipments of bacon. Here's a clip from a story at About.com: "Bacon is all the rage these days and it's hard to argue with its popularity. Is there anything in the world more delicious than bacon? There's chocolate covered bacon, bacon cupcakes, bacon candy, bacon-infused vodkas... You name it, someone is probably making it. But what about good old strips of bacon just fried up in a pan? The way it was meant to be! Not that thinly sliced, flabby, chemical-filled junk they sell in the supermarket, but hand-made, all natural artisan bacon made on the farm or in the butcher shop. There's nothing better..."

TODAY: Warm sun, clouds increase late. Dew point: 57. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 81
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: A few showers, possible T-showers. Low: 57
THURSDAY: Showers north; turning windy & cooler. High: 66
FRIDAY: A cool, blue sky. Evacuate to cabin early. Wake-up: 53. High: 76
FRIDAY NIGHT: Dry and mild metro - thunderstorms push into far western MN. Low: 59
SATURDAY: Unsettled and more humid, heavy T-storms likely. High: 75
SUNDAY: T-storms taper, some PM sun. Wake-up: 63. High: near 80
MONDAY: Sunny start, more thunder late. Wake-up: 64. High: 80
TUESDAY: Muggy. Ripe for more T-storms. Wake-up: 65. High: 82

Climate Stories...

From Beer to Insurance: Businesses Bet on Climate Change. At least the smart ones are already hedging their bets as they see the symptoms of a more volatile climate system showing up in their bottom line. Here's a clip from a story at NBC News: "...Some big companies already are paying to counter weather-related damage. More than 60 S&P 500 companies have spent money to offset climate change, according to a report last month from the Carbon Disclosure Project, which assesses companies and the environment. Gap, for example, absorbed higher cotton costs after precipitation and drought changes in China, according to the carbon project report. Floods in Thailand in 2011 hit local manufacturing, which affected Hewlett-Packard's revenues. Dr. Pepper Snapple Group noted potential water supply and climate changes could put $2.5 billion of its cost of sales at risk..."

Photo credit above: Jason Alden - OneRedEye via SABMiller.

Severe Weather Bigger Concern for Manufacturers Than Federal Emissions Rules That Could Raise Utility Bills, Report Says. Does increasingly extreme weather, worldwide, pose a much larger cost basis on manufacturers and supply chains than recent EPA mandates for fossil fuel energy production?  Columbus Business First has the story - here's a clip: "...Business Forward, a liberal business policy group, looked at the issue using auto manufacturing – the nation’s largest manufacturing sector – as an example. The conclusion? An increase in electricity prices still is dwarfed by the cost of a severe weather event. The implication being that while fewer carbon dioxide emissions, as called for by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, may raise utility costs, reducing emissions mitigates climate change, meaning weather may not be as crazy and weather-related work stoppages for manufacturers might drop..."

* The report referenced in the article above is here.

Global Warming's Flooding Could Hit L.A. Sooner Than Expected. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Informer at laweekly.com: "...Climate Central has released new forecast data, including an interactive map (below), on global warming's coastal effects for L.A. It found that  ... coastal flooding could affect 6,000 L.A. County residents, $1.4 billion in property, 32 miles of public roads, and 34 sites listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as potential sources of contamination. If it weren't for protection "features" such as beach ridges and tidal gates, the damage would be worse, Climate Central says..."

Climate Change Heats Up "Quants" vs. Old School Forecast Battle. Using historic (analog) weather data to predict the future? Good luck with that. Here's the intro to an interesting story at Reuters: "Computer scientists are picking a new fight with old school meteorologists, claiming finally to have cracked the code on weather forecasting at a pivotal, profitable moment for the field, as climate change roils commodities markets and industries. Banks and traders are reporting outsized profits, and losses, on everything from natural gas to grains as severe weather causes extra price volatility; power grid operators are struggling with bouts of extreme cold or droughts that crimp supplies while demand spikes; and more and more retailers and manufacturers are using forecasts to manage inventories..."

President Tong And His Disappearing Islands. Climate change and rising seas is no longer a theory for the Pacific island nation of Kiribati - it's an existential threat. Here's an excerpt from The New Yorker: "Anote Tong is the President of Kiribati, a country of some hundred thousand citizens, which is disappearing under the sea. Kiribati (pronounced keer-ree-bahss) is made up of thirty-two atolls and a raised coral island that straddle the equator in the middle of the Pacific, and reach barely six and a half feet above sea level. The country’s marine territory surrounding the small islands, which total two hundred and sixty-six square miles, is the size of India. When the tide is high, the water closes in ominously on the shores..."

Photo credit above: Kadir van Lohuizen/NOOR.

Vermont Climate Change Report Warns of Catastrophic Flood Risk. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Chicago Tribune: "...The report, based on records from weather data to farmers' observations on when ice thaws on ponds and plants bloom, found that average temperatures in Vermont have risen by 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit (0.7 C) and average annual rainfall has risen by 5.9 inches (15 cm) since 1960, with almost half the growth coming since 1990. It projected that average temperatures in the state would rise another 3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 C) by 2050, with the most pronounced changes in winter months and overnight temperatures. One major risk posed by rising temperatures and more intense rain storms is flooding similar to what the state experienced in August 2011 when the remnants of Tropical Storm Irene blew through, washing out 500 miles (800 km) of roads, cutting off towns and destroying homes..."

File photo above: "Derrick Arbuckle watches from the top of a parking garage as the Whetstone Brook floods downtown Brattleboro, Vt. on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011. The remnants of Hurricane Irene dumped torrential rains on Vermont on Sunday, flooding rivers and closing roads from Massachusetts to the Canadian border, putting parts of two towns underwater and leaving one young woman swept away and feared drowned in the Deerfield River." (AP Photo/The Brattleboro Reformer, Chris Bertelsen).

No comments:

Post a Comment