Sunday, June 15, 2014

Stalled Hot Front = More Downpours and Flash Floods Likely This Week

76 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
79 F. average high on June 15.
76 F. high on June 15, 2013.

.64" rain fell Sunday at KMSP.

5.73" rain so far in June in the Twin Cities.
2.04" average rainfall for the first half of June.
1.39" rain fell in 2013 between June 1-15.

Weather Stress

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning how to dance in the rain" wrote Vivian Greene. Then again some of us are genetically incapable of dancing.

The older I get the more respect I have for the chaotic fluid of air sloshing above our heads, and the new forces we've inadvertently unleashed. Mother Nature is like my wife. I feel both admiration and awe, but I don't pretend to fully understand her either.

Minnesotans are talking about the weather more than usual - if that's possible. Our weekend storm was perfectly normal, for mid-October. Most of the metro saw 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain but a few communities near Willmar and Red Wing saw a month's worth of rain. Throw in Saturday's stupefying "gravity wave" sparking 68 mph straight-line winds, with no T-storms in the area, and you have a lost weekend.

Can we have a do-over?

Then again the sun came out on Father's Day, and the sound of rain up at the cabin sparked excessive napping. Quality nap-time is a gift from on high.

A surge of hot air stalls nearby, treating us to more scattered T-storms this week with a high probability of more downpours and excessive rains. Expect a run of 80s, another 1-2" rain by Saturday, and whimper-worthy dew points above 70F by midweek. Yes, we're finally transitioning into summer.

Keep dancing.

1.85" additional rain by Thursday morning (00z NAM).
2.5" additional rain next 9 days (12z ECMWF).
2.8" additional rain next 16 days (00z GFS).

48-Hour Rainfall Amounts. Red Wing gets the golden rain gauge award, with 4.42" of rain since Saturday. Much of the Twin Cities metro picked up 1.5 to 2.5" of rain. More details from the Twin Cities NWS.

Flood Warnings Resume - More Thunderstorms in the Forecast. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Brainerd Dispatch focusing on river flooding: "...The flood warning continues for the Mississippi River at Aitkin and Fort Ripley. The river near Fort Ripley was just above flood stage at 10.3 feet and rising. It's expected to increase to 11.9 feet by Friday causing minor flooding or rural areas. The new crest is compared to a previous crest this time of year of 9.7 feet on June 15, 2005. In Aitkin, the Mississippi, at 12.2 feet Sunday morning, was also rising with minor flooding expected. The river may reach 13.8 feet by Friday leaving some roads covered with water. The latest Aitkin crest compares to an earlier crest of 13.3 feet on May 7, 2013..."

Another 1-3" Rain by Saturday? Models show a significant chance of more heavy T-storms tonight, again late Tuesday, Wednesday, with Thursday possibly the wettest day of the week. I wouldn't be at all surprised for many communities to see a few more inches of rain before we finally dry out over the weekend.

Midwest Monsoon Season. At some point the sky has to run out of water, right? Not so fast. A stalled (hot) front just south of Minnesota will trigger more T-storms over the next 5 days; no continuous rains, but when it does decide to rain downpours falling on saturated ground may lead to more flash flooding. NOAA models suggest another 2-6" of rain for the Upper Midwest by next Monday; heaviest rains falling on southeastern Minnesota.

Don't Forget to Recycle Your Weather Map. I know it appears like I just keep inserting the same Future Radar loop, day after day, but this is the latest data, which pretty much looks like what I showed last week. The strongest T-storms flare up over the northern USA and Great Lakes as hot air expands northward, while California stays dry and dusty. 12 km NAM guidance: NOAA and HAMweather.

Back to the 80s. After a chilly day on Saturday you'll finally be able to dust off the shorts and pretend it's summer out there - a streak of 80s likely into the weekend. In fact 90F isn't out of the question Tuesday and Wednesday in the Twin Cities. Storms are likely by tonight, again Wednesday, with the best chance of (numerous) T-storms coming on Thursday. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Study: Florida More Vulnerable to Twisters than Midwest. Although frequency is lower, when tornadoes do hit Florida the damage, injury and deathtoll is higher, due to a combination of factors: population density and a greater percentage of mobile homes tops the list. Here's an excerpt from the Pensacola NewsJournal: "...Florida leads the country in deaths calculated per mile a tornado is on the ground, followed by Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio and Alabama, according to an analysis of the past three decades by the federal Southeast Regional Climate Center at the University of North Carolina. That’s because Florida is No. 1 in so many factors that make tornadoes more risky: mobile homes, the elderly and the poor, said center director Charles Konrad II, who headed the new work. “People are just much more vulnerable in a mobile home than they are in a regular home,” Konrad said..."

Photo credit above: "Florida’s death rate of 2.4 deaths per 100 miles of tornado ground track is more than 2 1/2 times that of Oklahoma and nearly five times that of Kansas." (Photo: Jay Reeves/AP).

Real Tornado Alley Much Farther South. Are we seeing an eastward shift in Tornado Alley over time, or is this just a function of tornadoes impacting more populated regions of the USA? Here's an excerpt of an AP story at "...Oklahoma and Kansas may have the reputation as tornado hot spots, but Florida and the rest of the Southeast are far more vulnerable to killer twisters, a new analysis shows. Florida leads the country in deaths calculated per mile a tornado races along the ground, followed by Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio and Alabama, according to an analysis of the past three decades by the federal Southeast Regional Climate Center at the University of North Carolina. That's because Florida is No. 1 in so many factors that make tornadoes more risky: mobile homes, the elderly and the poor, said center director Charles Konrad II, who headed the new work..."

Map Shows Energy Installations In Extreme Weather's Path. Climate Central just ran a story that caught my eye - here's a clip: "...Are there natural gas, oil pipelines or electricity transmission lines that could break and leak in the flood or storm surge? Are oil and gas wells nearby that could flood and leach hydrocarbons into the river? Those answers can be found online using the U.S. Energy Information Administration's interactive U.S. Energy Mapping System, which shows all the major energy infrastructure for any given address in the U.S. It allows anyone to look closely at what power plants, refineries, oil wells, power lines and other installations might exist in a place that is vulnerable to extreme weather..."

Interpreting How Climate Change Affects Extreme Events. Here's a good 2 page overview (PDF) from NOAA. An excerpt: "The vulnerability of coastal regions to storm surge flooding is expected to increase with future sea level rise and coastal development, although this vulnerability will also depend on future storm characteristics. It is virtually certain (99-100% chance) that the frequency and intensity of daily heat extremes will increase, and there will be fewer cold extremes. It is very likely the frequency of heavy precipitation events will increase over many regions, but there is uncertainty around effects on flooding in specific areas..."

11 Maps That Explain The U.S. Energy System. Vox has a fascinating article that helps to put things into perspective; here's an excerpt: "...Wind has been rising fast, albeit from a low base. In 2008, wind provided about 1 percent of the nation's electricity. That rose to 3.6 percent in 2012 and 4.1 percent in 2013. There are two big reasons for that rapid growth: The federal government has provided both tax credits and subsidies (with a big boost in the 2009 stimulus bill). What's more, many states now have laws requiring utilities to get a certain portion of their electricity from renewables. (One notable exception here is the Southeast.)..."

Are You Smarter Than a 6th Grader? Our kids and grandkids will be cleaning up many of our messes, but you can't help but be impressed with a group of 6th graders in Charlotte, North Carolina, building apps (!) to lower the risk of flood disasters. Here's a video and excerpt from WSOC-TV: "A group of 6th graders in Charlotte created a flood level detection device and smartphone app to alert people when there is flooding in their neighborhood. The device is such a success the team won a regional science completion and is headed to Washington D.C. on Monday. A state of emergency was declared in North Carolina last summer due to summer floods that left the western part of the state under water. It was the worst flash flooding the area has seen in decades.  This device was made to help better prepare people for situations like this..."

TODAY: Warm sun, PM T-storms. Dew point: 62. Winds: S 15. High: 85
MONDAY NIGHT: T-storms likely, downpours possible. Low: 67
TUESDAY: Tropical with some murky sun. T-storms pop up. Dew point: 70. High: 87
WEDNESDAY: Uncomfortable. A few storms. Dew point: 72. Wake-up: 70. High: 86
THURSDAY: More numerous T-storms, downpours. Wake-up: 72. High: 81
FRIDAY: Partly sunny, T-storms up north. Wake-up: 66. High: 84
SATURDAY: Warm sun, PM storms southern Minnesota. Wake-up: 65. High: 85
SUNDAY: Blue sky, slight dip in humidity. Wake-up: 63. High: 84

Climate Stories.

Safer Climate Disasters. The ultimate risk management challenge? An article at Prague Post outlines the trends - here are a few nuggets that caught my eye: "...For example, the data for major disaster events in 2013 suggest that for the first time in many years, more people were affected by storms than by floods. Though it is too early to draw definitive conclusions, in the long run storms may contribute more significantly to the global costs of disasters, which already exceed $100 billion annually. However, we cannot simply look to past climate events to predict future patterns. Since 2008, for example, more than 150 million people worldwide have been displaced by disasters that few predicted. And worse disasters will surely occur as the changing climate interacts with other social ills such as poverty, environmental degradation, population growth, urbanization, and poor land use..."

Museums Tiptoe Around Climate Change. I'm happy that there is no ambiguity about climate science at the Minnesota Science Museum, where facts, data and trends are still accurately respected and represented to the public. That's not the case in other science museums around the USA. Here's a clip from The Dallas Morning News: "...Museums across the country face challenges in presenting climate change to the public at a time when the issue has become politically fraught. A series of interviews with museum experts revealed that many factors stand in the way of an institution’s complete and accurate portrayal of global warming: the difficulty of presenting a complex subject in a clear, engaging way; the rapid pace of new findings about the effects of climate change vs. the amount of time needed to design exhibition materials; and a desire to avoid stirring up controversy with donors, visitors and political representatives..."

Photo credit above: File 2012/Staff Photo. "A globe in the Dynamic Earth Hall shows the earth over time. The museum’s donors and its board of directors don’t have a say in museum content, said Steve Hinkley, vice president of programs at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science."

Global Warming Poses Threat to Southwest Water Supply. The Desert Sun has a comprehensive update on rapidly depleting reservoirs and acquifers serving the southwest USA; here's the intro: "The biggest reservoir in the United States is dropping 1 foot each week. Lake Mead's rapidly sinking water level is set to reach an all-time low in July, driven down by a 14-year drought that scientists say is one of the most severe to hit the Colorado River in more than 1,200 years. The water behind Hoover Dam supplies vast areas of farmland and about 25 million people in three states, and this critical reservoir stands just 40 percent full..."

Map credit above: "Changing Climate in the Desert Southwest"" Climate data from weather stations across the Southwest show that average temperatures have risen during the past 20 years as compared to average temperatures before 1960. Increases in average lows have been especially pronounced. Average annual precipitation declined slightly across the region, with some areas receiving more rain and others receiving significantly less." Source: National Climatic Data Center. Data analysis and interactive map: Robert Hopwood, Lynne Stephenson and Ian James.

Arctic Warming Taking The Edge Off Extreme Winters. Will harsh winters like the one much of the USA just muddled through become more common or less common in the years to come? Here's a clip from new research at Nature Climate Change highlighted in this story at Planet Earth Online: "...The jet stream is driven by the difference in temperature between the Arctic and the tropics. The faster pace of warming in the Arctic over recent decades has seen that gap begin to shrink. This trend is set to continue for decades to come, and many feared that this could bring more extreme winters in the future. But Screen's research suggests the warming of the Arctic will instead take the edge off cold northerly winds. 'Autumn and winter days are becoming warmer on average, and less variable from day to day,' he says. 'Both factors reduce the chance of extremely cold days...'

Models "Grossly Underestimate" Costs of Global Warming, Nicholas Stern Says. Could our assumptions about costs and benefits be wrong by an order of magnitude or two? Here's an excerpt from The Sydney Morning Herald: "...The revised model by Dr Dietz and Professor Stern takes into account the likelihood that the ability to generate new wealth would be affected by extreme weather and other impacts from climate change, such as the destruction of coastal or water infrastructure. By contrast, the current model in use only accounts for effects on output rather than the capital itself..."

Climate Change Will Have Broad Psychological Effects. Climate change-related PTSD? Women, children and the elderly will be most impacted. Here's an excerpt from Imperial Valley News: "Climate change will have significant negative impacts on Americans’ health and psychological well-being, due to an increase in the frequency and severity of climate-related natural disasters and other climate-related changes in the environment and weather. Likely effects, which will increase as climate change’s physical impacts accelerate, include stress, anxiety, depression and a loss of community identity, says a new report from the American Psychological Association and ecoAmerica. Climate change is also likely to result in an increase in post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions because of the rise in the number and severity of natural disasters, according to the report..."

NASA To Launch First Satellite To Chart Levels of Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere. Bloomberg has the details; here's the introduction: "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration plans to launch July 1 its first satellite dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere. The $465 million Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission seeks to provide a more complete picture of human and natural sources of carbon dioxide globally, as well as sinks where carbon dioxide is absorbed. On average, the Earth's plants and oceans absorb about half of the nearly 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere each year from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities..."

Photo credit above: JPL/NASA "NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite, dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere."

Global Climate Change Is Worsening Instability And Making It Harder To Keep The Peace. Just another rant from a flaming liberal with an ax to grind? Not quite. Here's an excerpt from a Veteran Army Officer, Former Obama Admin Official at DOD, Truman National Security Project Fellow and MBA Candidate at UC Berkeley Haas School at Huffington Post: "...From rising sea levels to increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, and storms, to resource scarcity, the effects of climate change are already exacerbating security risks abroad and threatening our military installations here at home, putting critical infrastructure at risk. In Pakistan, record-breaking floods in 2010 inundated more than one-sixth of the country, rendering large swaths of ungovernable territory vulnerable to recruitment efforts from extremist groups. In Syria, the historic five-year drought from 2006 to 2011 destroyed livelihoods for millions of rural farmers and herders, who then sought relief in urban centers that were not prepared to accommodate the overwhelming influx of people..."

Melting Glaciers a "Climate Tipping Point", Bonn Meeting Told. Here's an excerpt from Irish Times: "World leaders need to ensure that global warming is kept low enough to avoid “pulling the plug” on vast ice shelves in Antarctica, thereby causing a catastrophic sea level rise across the globe, a leading scientist warned yesterday. Dr Anders Levermann, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, noted last month’s major scientific report warning that a collapse of large sections of the west Antarctica ice shelf had already begun and was now “unstoppable”..."

Photo credit above: "Dr Anders Levermann told a side event at the UN climate talks in Bonn that the Earth has entered a new era of irreversible climate change: “West Antarctica has tipped and there isn’t anything we can do about it.” Photograph: Reuters/Australian Antarctic Division.

Climate Change Historians Will Look Back And Ask "Why Didn't They Act?" Because of greed, special interests, ignorance, inconvenience and inertia. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "Most historians think about the past. Some study the present. Very few, it has to be said, write about the future. But Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard professor in the history of science, believes that our inertia in the face of climate change will puzzle academics for centuries to come. “The historian of the future will look back on today and ask, what happened? Why didn’t they act on what they knew?” she says in her sunny office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, surrounded by rocks that speak of her own past as a geologist. Oreskes’ latest book, The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future, imagines a Chinese scholar in 2393 analysing the slow-motion disintegration of 21st-century democracies as they fail to tackle a growing environmental catastrophe..."

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