Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wettest Start To Any Year Since 1871 in the Twin Cities

81 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
80 F. average high for June 18.
75 F. high on June 18, 2013.

.51" rain fell yesterday at KMSP.

21.10" precipitation in 2014, as of Wednesday evening. That means 2014 is the wettest year, to date, since records were first kept in 1871.

20.70" previous record rainfall from January 1 to June 16 (2001).

Trending Wetter?

Wanted: young inventors creating strains of corn that can grow in standing water - new varieties of trees able to withstand severe winds & soggy soil - and more resilient highway materials to deal with temperature extremes and water drainage. A wetter, more volatile climate is a threat, and an opportunity for reinvention.

20 years ago climate models predicted wet areas would get wetter - dry areas would get drier. Call me crazy but that's pretty much what we're seeing on our maps.

Dr. Mark Seeley confirms 4 of the last 5 Junes have seen historically wet conditions over southern Minnesota. The Minnesota Climate Office lists four separate 1-in-1000 year flood events since 2004; 3 of them in southern Minnesota.

Coincidence - or a trend in the making? We'll see.

A slow-moving frontal boundary whips up more showers and heavy T-storms today; more flash flooding is possible, especially over far southern Minnesota. Warm sun Friday & Saturday gives way to a few T-showers Sunday as Canadian air starts to push south.

I see drier, cooler weather next week with a welcome dip in dew point. We may go 3-4 days with no rain, giving fields a chance to drain, river and lake water levels may recede a bit. At least we won't have a drought. And it's not snowing.


Flooding Swamps Mankato; 100K Acres of Crops Lost in Rock County. Here's an excerpt from The Star Tribune: "...The road closures resulted from heavy rain that fell shortly after midnight in Mankato and nearby areas, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). The storm also brought hail with it, the NWS added. “We’ve just gotten so much rain in the past couple of weeks that the soil’s had all it can take; the wetlands are soaking up as much as they can; the streams and lakes are running high,” said Craig Schmidt, service hydrologist for the National Weather Service. “A lot of our lakes have hit record or near-record levels. Everything’s high, and there’s just no place for the water to go...”

Photo credit above: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune. "Paul Zimmer kept watch over the rising Minnesota River from the closed Land of Memories Park in Mankato on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. The park at the confluence of the Minnesota and Blue Earth rivers is also the location of three of Mankato's fresh water wells. Zimmer is the water treatment plant maintenance foreman for Mankato."

Blue Earth County Impacted By Heavy Rainfall. Some extreme rainfall amounts were reported Tuesday night in the Mankato area; here's an excerpt of a report from Blue Earth County: "Between 4 to 6 inches of rain was reported in Blue Earth County overnight resulting in several road closures and impacts due to the heavy rainfall throughout rural areas and communities. Many homes are experiencing wet basements from the large amounts of rainfall, trees are down in a number of areas due to the unstable soil from the accumulation of many days of rain and river levels continue to rise. Northern portions of Blue Earth County have been impacted the most, including City of Mankato proper and Madison Lake..."

Minnesota's Current Weather Disaster - Don't Worry, We'll Be Fine. It's certainly a slow-motion disaster for farmers and homeowners experiencing flooded homes and basements. Minnesota science writer Greg Laden has a post detailing his personal experiences with the record rains, listing some of the wet weather headlines of recent weeks. Here's an excerpt of his post at "...One day in late May, Julia and I were taking pictures of people driving too fast through the lake that formed in front of our house form a major downpour. Early in that storm we witnessed a ground strike not too far away. A short while after that an ambulance came screaming by our house, coming from the direction of the ground strike to the hospital just south of us. Later we heard on the news that a woman at a little league game (which, frankly, should have been cancelled) was struck and transported to the hospital … that was certainly her. This morning, Mankato was flooded, a day or two ago a woman was rescued from her car that was eventually swept away by a river that does not normally exit. Flooding up on the Canadian Border has been epic. The entire state is under a Meteorological Siege..."

* more details on flooding across Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa at

Mission Impossible for Area Farmers. I often check out to see what farmers are saying about growing conditions around the country; here's a recent excerpt describing how wet weather is impacting operations:
  • 6/17 - Sibley County, Minn.: All the good to excellent corn must be elsewhere than in this county. Many fields still not touched due to wetness, corn small and yellow due to oversaturation. I expect some big surprises on actual acres planted and the actual yields we are a long way from being in the bin with this "huge" corn crop, odds are it wont be huge in Sibley County....

  • 6/17 - South Central Minn.: Corn Flat to the ground after last nights storm. Streak of Hail on some to our west. Many Acres under water. Corn was already yellow and uneven. Predicting severe storms every day this week. We don’t get record crops in this part of the country when it rains like this.

Slight Cooler and Drier Next Week. Long range guidance continues to show a slight dip in dew point next week with highs in the upper 70s to near 80. Today still looks like the wettest day, followed by a drier sky Friday and Saturday; a slight chance of another T-shower Saturday into Sunday. We may even experience a few dry days in a row early next week. That would be nice. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Tropical. A slow-moving frontal boundary pushes heavy showers and T-storms across the Upper Midwest today, reaching the Great Lakes and New England by late week. A few pop-up storms may help to break the heat from the Mid Atlantic to the Ohio Valley over the next 72 hours. NAM Future Radar: NOAA and HAMweather.

It's Not The Heat - It's The Humidity. Yes, grandma was right about that one. When there's this much water in the air your body can't effectively cool itself naturally via evaporation of sweat off your skin - and it's much easier to overheat. In today's Climate Matters I take a look at the dreaded Heat Index, a look at what NASA is tentatively calling the warmest May - worldwide - on record, JMA believes spring was the warmest on a global scale, and at the rate we're going 2014 may rival 2010 as the warmest year ever recorded, with or without El Nino.

Warmest Spring on Record, Worldwide. Here's an excerpt from a post by the JMA, Japan Meteorological Agency: "The seasonal anomaly of the global average surface temperature in Spring (March to May) 2014 (i.e. the average of the near-surface air temperature over land and the SST) was +0.28°C above the 1981-2010 average (+0.69°C above the 20th century average), and was the warmest since 1891. On a longer time scale, global average surface temperatures have risen at a rate of about 0.75°C per century..."

NASA May Anomaly Hints 2014 Will Be Hottest Year On Record. Even without El Nino kicking in fully temperatures are running well above average, worldwide, for 2014 to date, and at the rate we're going NASA believe we may set another global temperature record. Here's a clip from InsideClimate News: "Global average surface temperatures could be on track to chalk up a new record in 2014 if the trend set in the first five months of this year continues. Data released today by US agency NASA shows that May's global temperature anomaly – the variance with the long term average - was 0.76 C. This compares with the previous warmest Mays in 2010 (0.70 C) and in 1998 (0.68 C) - an El Nino year..."

Atmospheric Cry For Help. Record heat from the Mid Atlantic into the Ohio Valley, while residents of Big Sky, Montana dig out from a few inches of....snow? Thanks to Ethan Mark Thomas for sending this one in. This is the very definition of a baffling weather pattern.

Hurricane Danger Zone: The 10 Places Most At Risk. It's a bit counterintuitive, but this article at USA TODAY points out that some of the most vulnerable counties are inland; here's a clip: "...Surprisingly, the "top 10" counties are not along the coast, and many are actually well inland. This is because the people who live near the coast tend to be wealthier and are better able to prepare for the storms, Schroeder said. Inland counties in Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana were areas that were most concerning...

The top 10 counties most vulnerable to hurricanes:
Desoto, Fla.
Houston (County), Texas
Polk, Texas
Issaquena, Miss...."

21 Charts That Explain How The U.S. Is Changing. I found this graphical essay from Vox fascinating - here's an excerpt: "...One way the Census Bureau measures geographic shifts is by measuring the US's "mean center of population" — that is, "the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly" if all Americans weighed exactly the same. As of 2010, that point was near the village of Plato, Missouri. But this westward and southward doesn't necessarily mean that lots of Americans are packing up and moving west and south...rather, it simply means that the populations of the West and South keep growing faster than the Northeast and Midwest..."

Let's All Stop Saying "Disrupt" Right This Instant. Are you working on something "disruptive"? Are you sure? Here's a clip from a good story at New York Magazine: "..."Disruptive" doesn't mean "inventive," "unorthodox," or "cool." It has a specific, concrete definition that originated with Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen's 1995 paper, "Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave, and his 1997 book, The Innovator's Dilemma. Christensen defined "disruptive innovation" as the process by which "technologically straightfoward" services and products target the bottom end of an established market, then move their way up the chain until, eventually, they overtake the existing market leaders..."

The New Jet Age. Vanity Fair has a story and video on what may be the world's most amazing airport, Dubai International. Here's an excerpt: "...In January 2013, Dubai International opened Concourse A—aviation’s first facility dedicated entirely to Airbus A380 superjumbos. Located in Terminal 3, it is a magnificent building. Huge first- and business-class lounges connect directly to the A380 upper decks; economy-class passengers board from the lower level. The new concourse has already increased Dubai’s traffic to 75 million passengers a year, moving it past London’s Heathrow as the world’s busiest international airport. By 2018 that number is expected to pass 90 million, overtaking vast domestic hubs such as Atlanta and Beijing..."

Expresso in Space? Yes, decent coffee is coming to the ISS, the International Space Station. Here's an excerpt from Salon: "Last year Italian astronaut Luca Partmitano took questions from Astronaut Abby about his stint on the International Space Station. When asked what food he wished were available on the ISS, Partmitano responded: “The only thing I really miss, if we talk about food, is a real Italian espresso.” In November, the treat of hot espresso will be available for astronauts on the International Space Station..."

Photo credit: ISSpresso (Credit: screenshot)

TODAY: Unsettled and muggy with showers & T-storms. A few downpours. Dew point: 69. Winds: SE 10. High: near 80
THURSDAY NIGHT: More T-storms in the area, locally heavy rain possible. Low: 68
FRIDAY: Sunnier. Drier. Warmer. High: 86
SATURDAY: Nicer day of the weekend. Warm sunshine. Wake-up: 67. High: 88
SUNDAY: Some sun, risk of a T-shower. Wake-up: 71. High: 84
MONDAY: Partly sunny, probably dry. Wake-up: 69. High: 81
TUESDAY: More clouds than sun. Wake-up: 65. High: near 80
WEDNESDAY: Intervals of sun, less humidity. Dew point: 56 Wake-up: 63. High: 78

Climate Stories...

Global Warming Will Bring Electricity Sticker Shock, EIA Suggests. Good news for utilities and their shareholders? Perhaps, assuming the grid stays up. Here's a clip from a story at TheStreet: "...Similarly, if the coming summer follows the recent trend, temperatures will be uncomfortably warm. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association reports April of this year tied with April of 2010 for the warmest on record globally. The EIA is forecasting that, even as prices have risen a relatively modest 2.6% on average the average each year since 2012, U.S. residential electricity customer will spend 4.9% more during the coming summer thanks to increased temperatures and higher expected consumption. The Northeast will be especially hard hit..."

Climate Change Worries Insurance Companies and our Military. Here's an excerpt from Living Green Magazine: "Powerful voices in finance and the armed forces raise concerns about the risks of increasingly extreme weather events causing billions of dollars of damage and potentially igniting humanitarian disasters and regional conflicts. The risks associated with climate change have got some very important people worried – the people who pick up the bills, and those who clear up the mess or try to prevent it happening. The world s biggest and oldest insurance market, Lloyd’s of London, has published a report that urges insurers to include climate risks in their models. It says:  Scientific research points conclusively to the existence of climate change driven by human activity..."

Climate Change Threatens Tourism as Ski Slopes Thaw, Seas Rise. Reuters has the story - here's an excerpt: "...It also said that an increase of 1 meter (3 feet) in sea level rise this century - the upper bound of scenarios by the U.N. panel - would damage up to 60 percent of resort properties in the Caribbean and swamp many airports and ports. "Every part of the industry needs to ... think about what more can be done to adapt to climate change, as well as how to continue the process of reducing the impact of their operations on the environment," Stephen Farrant, director of the International Tourism Partnership, said in a statement attached to the report..." (File photo: AP).

Should Climate Change Come With A Warning Label? National Journal has the story of what's happening in Berkeley, California. Here's an excerpt: "We already require cigarette packs to include warning labels," Matthew Lewis, the co-chair of the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Sustainability at Berkeley told the Daily Californian earlier this week. "Requiring labels at gas pumps would similarly keep the harm of burning gasoline fresh in people's minds." Berkeley's Community Environmental Advisory Commission approved the plan Thursday. The proposal now awaits a City Council vote, which is expected to take place in the next few weeks..."

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