Thursday, August 14, 2014

Back Into The Soup - July Flashback into Next Week

80 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.
81 F. average high on August 14.
78 F. high on August 14, 2013.

August 14, 1936: St. Paul swelters with a high of 108.

A Slippery Outlook

Dan Spencer summed it up best. "On cable TV they have a weather channel — 24 hours of weather. We had something like that where I grew up. We called it a window." That window comes in handy.
One of the frequent complaints I hear out on the street: "Paul, with all due respect, you're a bonehead. How can I read the paper and watch TV and get 5 different forecasts? Aren't you guys all using the same models?"

Good point. The best forecasts still use a man-machine mix. People and experience guide which models are have the best chance of approximating reality. And much like a financial planner sifting through Wall Street data, it all comes down to interpretation. In some countries meteorologists HAVE to use the official government forecast. Here in the USA we are free to disagree. We have the freedom to be wrong.

Storms prowl the state today; the best chance of getting wet south/west of MSP. The weekend looks sunnier, drier and warmer; highs surging into the 80s.

The maps look more like mid-July - a sluggish jet stream pumping tropical air north, sparking more beefy thunderstorms next week. We may even hit 90F once or twice.

Summer started slow but we're making up for lost time.

Increasingly Thundery Midwest: Flash Flood Potential Omaha & Sioux City. A surge of tropical air sets off T-storms over southwestern Minnesota today; a better chance of storms reaching the MSP metro late Saturday as highs surge well into the 80s to near 90F. Cooler air follows on Sunday, before temperatures heat up again next week. A stalled cut-off low keeps cool, showery weather over New England; orographic storms flaring up across the Rockies; more storms capable of flash flooding from near Daytona Beach to Miami. 4 KM NAM 60-hour rainfall accumulation: NOAA and HAMweather.

A Sticky Rut. Temperatures drop off a bit Sunday and Monday, but latest NAM guidance is hinting at upper 80s Saturday, again the end of next week. With frontal boundaries lurking nearby we'll have a low-grade thunder risk into next week; the best chance of storms late Saturday, again Monday. Dew points will be noticeable, brushing 70F much of next week. Don't write summer heat & humidity off just yet.

45 Photo of Hurricane Camille 45 Years Later. Camille may still have the distinction of being the most severe hurricane to hit the U.S. coast in recent history; an extreme Category 5 with sustained winds over 200 mph. in New Orleans takes a look back at this remarkable and terrifying display of nature at its worst; here's a clip: "...That was hardly the case on the Gulf Coast, where the Category 5 storm struck early the next morning between Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian after its rains had inflicted heavy flooding upon Plaquemines Parish. Some reports put Camille's top wind speed at 200 mph, but the exact velocity will never be known because the storm destroyed the measuring instruments. Camille laid waste to the coast. New Orleanians empathized, not only because they had endured massive hurricanes, too - most notably Betsy in 1965 - but also because the Gulf Coast had always been a place to smile about..."

Photo credit above: "Pass Christian, Miss., Civil Defense Director Parnell McKay looks over the town's main business district after Hurricane Camille vlew through." (Photo by Jack Thornell, Associated Press)

It's Mid-August. Where Are All The Atlantic Hurricanes? Bloomberg has a reality check - here's an excerpt: "...So, what’s with the Atlantic? After just about two and half months, hurricanes Arthur and Bertha are all the Atlantic has managed to come up with. While it may seem as though the Atlantic is failing to keep up with the larger ocean, the basin is pretty much on pace in terms of the long-term average. The Atlantic can usually be expected to produce its third storm of the season, which began June 1, by today, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. Of course, if the recent past is considered, the Atlantic looks almost anemic..."

A Tornado-Proof Home? That may be too much to hope for if a stray EF-5 passes overhead, but tornado-resistant? Possibly. My next home will be shaped like a flying saucer, capable of sinking underground at the flip of switch, with a periscope so I can check to see if it's safe to go outside. That sounds cozy. Here's an excerpt from a video and story at in Oklahoma City: "Round shaped buildings have gained ground in Oklahoma. Residents might recognize the dome shaped buildings that have been around for a while like the Gold Dome in Oklahoma City and the Red Barn in Arcadia. Now, monolithic domes are acting as safe houses. Designers and builders also claim they are tornado proof..."

The Growing Threat From An EMP Attack. To paraphrase George Carlin, don't sweat the thundershowers. nuclear explosion high above America could knock out communications and electricity to most of the USA, knocking us back to the mid-1800s. And most or all of the risk posed to America's power grid could be removed for around $2 billion, roughly what we give to Pakistan every year, according to this Op-Ed at The Wall Street Journal; here's a clip: "...In December 2012, the North Koreans successfully orbited a statellite, the KSM-3, compatible with the size and weight of a small nuclear warhead. The trajectory of the KSM-3 had the characteristics for delivery of a surprise nuclear EMP attack against the U.S. What would a successful EMP attack look like? The EMP Commission, in 2008, estimated that within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease and societal breakdown..."

Crowd-Powered Journalism Becomes Crucial When Traditional Media Becomes Unwilling or Unable. Twitter once again transformed the news cycle with events unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri. Here's an excerpt from Gigaom: "Amid all the trolling and celebrity hoo-ha that takes place on Twitter and other social-media platforms, occasionally there are events that remind us just how transformative a real-time, crowdsourced information platform can be, and the violent response by local police to civil protests in Ferguson, Missouri on Wednesday is a great example. Just as the world was able to see the impact of riots in Tahrir Square in Egypt during the Arab Spring, or military action against civilians in Ukraine, so Twitter provided a gripping window into the events in Ferguson as they were occurring, like a citizen-powered version of CNN..."

All The Myths That Are Fit To Print: Why Your News Feels Familiar. News repeats itself in regular, almost predictable cycles? That's news to me, but I found this story at Reuters interesting; here's an excerpt: "...Sometimes the news actually repeats itself, as in the case of Clinton. Such man-made cycles as elections, the Olympics, and wars lend themselves to retreaded coverage, as do the natural cycles of hurricane and tornado seasons, droughts and floods, and summer forest fires. Reporters and editors pack new events into old, familiar templates. But the periodicity of the news has another cause, as press scholar Jack Lule discovered more than a decade ago in his book Daily News, Eternal Stories. Lule proposed that the news was less a pure journalistic creation than it was the modern expression of ancient myths..."

What Does The Exploding Rate of Boomer Suicide Say About Us? Like many of us, I've seen the shockwaves created by suicide, the tsunami of pain this causes family, friends and colleagues. Here's a clip from a timely but disturbing article from PBS's Next Avenue: "...Whether it’s biochemical or situational, the net result is the same: People are stressed to the max, financially struggling, pessimistic about their prospects and don’t have the traditional means of support previous generations relied on to get them through wars, epidemics and economic downturns. In the past, people had family and community to turn to for support and strength and hope. Today we’re a fractured society, with families strewn around the country or globe, and our ancestors' belief that “family is glue” all but eroded. Even people who didn't have close family had strong religious convictions or a network of neighbors. We’re a Velcro society, and we all know what a weak substitute that is..."

Dr. Drew on Media Coverage of Depression: "Stop Thinking About It As A Sensitive Topic." Amen. We don't stigmatize people who have diabetes. "You don't need insulin - just get over it!" Depression is no different - it's a chemical imbalance in the brain, and the message is clear: treatment options are available that can help. Here's a clip from a story at TVNewser: "...And one cable news host with expertise on the subject has a message for TV news talent and journalists. “Stop thinking about it as a sensitive topic,” Dr. Drew Pinsky told TVNewser in an interview this afternoon. “Think of it like a topic like any other medical condition, like a cardiac problem, or a lung problem; it just happens to affect the brain.” “It’s disturbing to me we talk about things like inner demons, which, for God’s sake, is sort of a language that comes out of the Middle Ages. They’re not inner demons; it’s a brain state precipitated by complicated interactions with the environment and it’s a biology that has a medical treatment...”

The Future of College. Is "Minerva" the future of higher education, guest lectures and frat parties optional? What would we possibly do without college football on Saturday. "Read?" Here's an excerpt of a great story and compelling vision of the future at The Atlantic: "...Indeed, the more I looked into Minerva and its operations, the more I started to think that certain functions of universities have simply become less relevant as information has become more ubiquitous. Just as learning to read in Latin was essential before books became widely available in other languages, gathering students in places where they could attend lectures in person was once a necessary part of higher education. But by now books are abundant, and so are serviceable online lectures by knowledgeable experts..."

Illustration credit above: Adam Voorhes.

SeaWorld Stock Tanks as "Blackfish" Controversy Cuts Into Profits. Here's an excerpt from AP and Huffington Post: "Shares of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. (SEAS) fell Wednesday after the theme park operator reported second-quarter profit and sales that missed Wall Street expectations and cut its outlook for the year. The Orlando, Florida-based company also said it believes attendance during the period was hurt by negative publicity surrounding its treatment of killer whales, which are trained to perform tricks. A documentary last year called "Blackfish" suggested that the company's treatment of the killer whales provokes violent behavior from them, which in turn has led to the death of trainers..."

Salmon Canon Fires 40 Fish a Minute. No, not a new, unfortunate 4th of July custom and much different than a Salad Shooter. Think fish migration. Here's a clip from CNET: "...Artificial water constructions -- such as dams -- can therefore pose a serious problem. Fish can become disoriented, or get injured or killed due to turbines or spillways, and their travel times can get longer due to the disruption of natural water flow. One solution is the fish ladder, a structure that is designed to help migratory fish negotiate the changed waterways. Or you could just fire them through a cannon..."

Photo credit above: Michelle Starr/CNET.

TODAY: More clouds, a few T-storms, best chance south/west Minnesota. Dew point: 64. High: 82
FRIDAY NIGHT: A few T-storms, especially far southern MN. Low: 65
SATURDAY: Hot sun, T-storms by Saturday night. Winds: NE 8. High: 88
SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, cooler with another shower or two. DP: 64. Wake-up: 67. High: 79
MONDAY: Sticky, PM T-storms. Dew point: 68. Wake-up: 69. High: 83
TUESDAY: Some sun, lingering T-shower. Wake-up: 67. High: 84
WEDNESDAY: Intervals of sun, feels like July. Wake-up: 68. High: 86
THURSDAY: High humidity. Steamy sun. DP: 69. Wake-up: 69. High: 88

Climate Stories....

Rising Sea Levels Could Threaten Global Megacities Soon, Says Study. The rate of ice melt has been faster than climate models predicted 20-30 years ago. When we say we're in uncharted waters, we mean it quite literally. Here's an excerpt from International Business Times: "...Antarctica was until recently seen as a player only in the long-term. Glaciers in the Amundsen Sea region contain enough water to raise global sea levels by 4 feet (1.2 meters), according to a NASA report in May. Another report in the National Geographic had quoted a recent study that the oceans can rise up to 6.5 feet (2 metres) by 2100, enough to submerge many cities along the US East Coast. A complete meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet could submerge London, it said..."

Global Warming is Moistening The Atmosphere. The Guardian had a story that confirmed my suspicions; here's a clip: "...The authors show that the long-term increase in water vapor in the upper troposphere cannot have resulted from natural causes – it is clearly human caused. This conclusion is stated in the abstract,
Our analysis demonstrates that the upper-tropospheric moistening observed over the period 1979–2005 cannot be explained by natural causes and results principally from an anthropogenic warming of the climate. By attributing the observed increase directly to human activities, this study verifies the presence of the largest known feedback mechanism for amplifying anthropogenic climate change.

Heavy Downpours Increasing: Scientists. No kidding. Wet areas are getting wetter, dry areas drier. Where have you heard that before? Oh right, the climate models predicted this 30 years ago. From climate theory to reality. Here's an excerpt from ABC News: "...Record-breaking rain storms like the ones this week, climate scientists say, are something people should get used to as they continue to warm the planet. It doesn’t take much warming to have a significant impact on rain storms. For every one degree of temperature rise, the atmosphere can hold 7 percent more evaporated moisture, say scientists. (Temperatures in the U.S. have risen by as much as 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895.) “When it rains, it pours,” says Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. “Global warming encourages what would have been a normal rainstorm to become a real downpour and increases the risk of flooding...”

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