Thursday, July 17, 2014

Smoked Sunshine. NOAA: Climate Change is Getting Worse

79 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.
84 F. average high on July 17.
94 F. high on July 17, 2013.

July 17 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: Twin Cities NWS:

2000: Fall apparel made an early debut on this cold day with a 60 degree high temperature at the Twin Cities, 54 at Brainerd and 52 at Cambridge.
1986: A KARE TV news helicopter captured live footage of a tornado as it hit the northern suburbs of Minneapolis. It touched down in Brooklyn Park and continued to Fridley. The tornado, an F-2 in magnitude, caused $650,000 in damages
1970: Tornado slices right through the center of Miltona.
1867: Possibly the greatest "unofficial" rainstorm in Minnesota history. 36 inches was recorded in 36 hours near Sauk Center. Disasterous flooding in central Minnesota. The Pomme De Terre river was impassible. A courier attempted to cross on horseback and drowned. Flooding was also on the Mississippi with millions of logs lost on the river.

Smoked Ribs

As you slather on your SPF 50 sunscreen and stare up at a hazy-milky blue sky, realize that smoke from Canadian wildfires is drifting over Minnesota - swept along by jet stream winds aloft. Extreme heat is baking much of western Canada and the USA, sparking a rash of wildfires 1,500 miles upwind. The smoke plume is too high to smell anything unusual, but a few cherry-red sunsets are possible in the days ahead.

What was probably the most comfortable week of summer gives way to a warming trend in the coming days; highs top 90F by early next week. Weather models hint at a few spotty T-showers Saturday & Sunday - maybe a severe weather outbreak next Tuesday as superheated, tropical air sparks an MCS system; a statewide swarm of strong to severe storms.

That's pure speculation, but there's little doubt drippy dew points will top 70F by Monday and Tuesday. Men will sweat, women will glow, pets will pant. July the way we always knew it could be.

Note to self: the ability to tan or burn has nothing to do with temperature, and everything to do with sun angle; how high the sun is in the southern sky. You can get thoroughly fried in July, even when temperatures are in the 60s and 70s.

Tracking The Smoke. NOAA has a suite of online tools that display the latest position of significant smoke plumes from western fires.

Oregon, Washington Declare States of Emergency To Battle Wildfires. Here's the lead to a story at The Christian Science Monitor: "Worsening wildfire activity prompted the governor's offices in both Washington and Oregon to declare a state of emergency, a move that enables state officials to call up the National Guard. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has issued an emergency declaration in response to wildfires, Wednesday..."

Photo credit above: "Plumes of smoke from the Leavenworth wildfire arc in the sky as seen from Highway 2 at Highway 207, west of Leavenworth, Wash. on Thursday, July 17, 2014. Worsening wildfire activity has prompted the governor's offices in both Washington and Oregon to declare states of emergency." (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Mike Siegel).

Building Heat. 100s over the Dakotas this weekend? It looks increasingly likely that the heat dome gripping the east will migrate into the Plains and Upper Midwest; highs brushing or topping 90F in Minnesota and much of the Midwest again by early next week. Meanwhile New England enjoys fresh, clean Canadian air. 2-meter NAM Future Temperatures: NOAA and HAMweather.

Rough T-storms Southern USA to Carolinas. NOAA's Future Radar product (12 km NAM) shows strong storms from Oklahoma City and Little Rock to Nashville and Raleigh over the next 72 hours; a few T-storms popping over northern and central Minnesota by the weekend as steamy air returns. Loop: HAMweather.

California Farms Are Sucking Up Enough Groundwater To Put Rhode Island 17 Feet Under. Here's an excerpt of a story at Mother Jones that shows the severity of the rolling drought in California: "...In a normal year, about one-third of California's irrigation water is drawn from wells that tap into the groundwater supply. The rest is "surface water" from streams, rivers, and reservoirs. This year, the state is losing about one-third of its surface water supply. The hardest hit area is the Central Valley, a normally fertile inland region. Because groundwater isn't as easily pumped in the Valley as it is on the coasts, and the Colorado River supplies aren't as accessible as they are in the south, the Valley has lost 410,000 acres to fallowing, an area about 10 times the size of Washington D.C...."


Risk of Earthquake Increased For About Half of USA. Say what you will about our increasingly erratic, jaw-dropping weather, but at least Minnesota is earthquake-free! We have that going for us. Here's an excerpt from The Kansas City Star: "This undated handout image provided by the US Geological Survey (USGS) shows an updated federal earthquake risk map. A new map dials up the shaking hazard just a bit for about half of the US and lowers it for nearly a quarter of the nation. The U.S. Geologic Survey updated Thursday its national seismic hazard maps for the first time since 2008, taking into account research from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami off the Japanese coast and the surprise 2011 Virginia temblor."

Image credit: USGS/AP Photo.

Read more here:

45 Years Ago We Landed Men on the Moon. How is that even possible, especially considering the onboard computers during the Apollo missions had a fraction of the computing power your smartphone has today? The Atlantic has a terrific pictorial walk down memory lane, focused on the awe-inspiring journey of Apollo 11; here's a clip: "...Years of effort, dangerous experiments, and bold missions led up to the Moon landing, an event watched on live television by millions around the world. Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin "Buzz" E. Aldrin left the Earth on a Wednesday, landed on the Moon on that Sunday, spent a bit more than two hours walking on its surface, deploying experiments and collecting samples, then splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean the following Thursday, after 8 days off-planet. Collected here are 45 images of that historic mission, a "giant leap for mankind," 45 years ago..." (Image: NASA).

NASA Air Traffic Control Software To Improve Spacing Between Planes. Gizmag has an interesting story - here's an excerpt: "As with all technology, the tools used for air traffic control are always improving. Recently, for example, it was announced that the first remote air traffic control tower would open in Sweden. In a smaller evolution, NASA has provided the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with software to better manage the spacing between planes..."

Your Sunscreen Is Really Out of Date. Here's What Congress Is Doing About It. Another reason to take the sun, like everything else, in moderation. NationalJournal has an article that made me do a double-take; here's a clip: "The U.S. may finally catch up to other countries in sunscreen technology. The ingredients that make their sunscreen superior have been awaiting approval—or any sort of decision—from the Food and Drug Administration for at least 12 years, with the last over-the-counter sunscreen ingredient approved by the agency in the 1990s. There are currently eight such ingredients stuck in the system. Meanwhile, these technologies have been available in Europe, Asia, and Central and South America, sometimes for more than 15 years. As a result of the backlog, American consumers have been unable to buy the sunscreens that provide the most effective protections against harmful rays..."

A Fish Oil - Alzheimer's Connection? Yahoo News has a story about new research showing a possible connection between fish oil and a lowered risk of Alzheimer's. Here's a clip: "Fish oil is touted as a magical potion that boosts fertility, heart health, and weight loss and promotes a clear complexion, while lessening the effects of depression, ulcers, diabetes and many more conditions. But there’s another benefit to these glossy little capsules: They may prevent Alzheimer’s disease. .."

Our Bees, Ourselves. All around the world colonies of honey bees are dying and the causes may be manifold. We should be paying close attention, according to a story at The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "...But in the midst of crisis can come learning. Honeybee collapse has much to teach us about how humans can avoid a similar fate, brought on by the increasingly severe environmental perturbations that challenge modern society. Honeybee collapse has been particularly vexing because there is no one cause, but rather a thousand little cuts..." (File photo: Wikipedia).

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, warm breeze. Dew point: 57. Winds: S 15. High: 81
FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 65
SATURDAY: Warm sun, isolated T-shower late? High: 82
SUNDAY: Sticky sun, stray PM storm. Dew point: 67. Wake-up: 67. High: 87
MONDAY: Sunny and stinking hot. Dew point: 72. Feels like 98. Wake-up: 72. High: 91
TUESDAY: Steamy, T-storms - some severe? Wake-up: 75. High: 83
WEDNESDAY: Clearing, less humid. Dew point: 63. Wake-up: 69. High: 85
THURSDAY: Intervals of sun, still feels like July. Wake-up: 70. High: 87

Climate Stories...

NOAA: Climate Change Is Getting Worse. No warming in 15 years? Think again - much of the additional warming is going into the world's oceans (and cryosphere - melting Arctic and Greenland ice faster than computer models predicted). Here's the introduction to a story at The Hill: "Changes in the earth's climate are increasing at a steady rate, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned Thursday in a new report. Greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels, global temperatures and super storms are all trending upward, NOAA said. "These findings reinforce what scientists for decades have observed: that our planet is becoming a warmer place." NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan said in a statement Thursday..."

Is Global Warming Causing Extreme Weather Via Jet Stream Waves? The Guardian has the story; focusing on trends I've seen with the jet stream, especially since 2010 or so - more high-amplitude waves capable of accelerating heat/drought and flooding, since these long, looping kinks in the upper level wind flow tend to move slower. Here's a clip: "...People who follow this site and the climate literature no doubt are aware that a hotly debated topic has arisen in recent years. I have written about studies that have linked loss of Arctic ice and warming of the Arctic region to more severe undulations in the jet stream. That research is still in its infancy and consequently, very exciting. While the idea that global warming increases jet stream undulations have been challenged by others, it is clear that some recent observations support the hypothesis..."

Image credit: Climate Reanalyzer (, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA.

Global Warming Threatens Chicago Tourism. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Chicago Sun Times: "...Severe rainstorms also have the power to frustrate business. As the river rises because of rainfall, it becomes challenging for tour boats to fit underneath Chicago’s many bridges. This in turn means the Chicago Harbor Lock may have to open the gates that separate the Chicago River from Lake Michigan to restore the river to safe levels and protect residents from basement flooding. In the past 25 years all Chicago River lock gates were opened six times for flood control purposes. The worrisome part of that statistic is that four of these six times have occurred since 2008 with the latest just occurring on July 1..."

Top 10 Warmest January – July Periods. Global temperature anomalies courtesy of NASA GISS:

2010       .73C
2007       .69C
1998       .69C
2002       .68C
2014       .65C
2005       .64C
2004       .57C
2013       .56C
2009       .55C
2004       .54C

White House Unveils Climate Change Initiatives. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...One of the projects involves shoring up the power supply during climate catastrophes, and the Department of Agriculture on Wednesday will award $236.3 million to improve electricity infrastructure in the rural areas of eight states. A government study released in May concluded that climate change will strain utility companies’ ability to deliver power as extreme weather damages power lines and hotter temperatures drive surges in demand..."

Global Warming Reaches New Records. Voice of America reports; here's an excerpt: "Scientific evidence about the rising of average global temperatures seems to be piling up. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, average global temperatures in April, May and June this year were the highest since the beginning of official records, in 1891..." (Image: NASA).

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