Tuesday, August 12, 2014

More July Than August - New Research Confirms Uptick in Extreme Weather

78 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
81 F. average high on August 11.
80 F. high on August 11, 2013.

.04" rain fell at MSP International Airport yesterday.

August 11 in Minnesota Weather History:

2000: Record setting dew points in Minnesota. The Twin Cities had a dew point of 76 with a rare 80-degree dew point at Faribault.

1821: The end of an eight-day heat wave at Ft. Snelling. Temperatures were in the 90's each day.

An Easy August?

"Every year, August lashes out in volcanic fury, rising with the din of morning traffic, its great metallic wings smashing against the ground, heating the air with ever-increasing intensity" wrote Henry Rollins.

If you've ever been to Florida, Phoenix or sub-Saharan Washington D.C. in August you know the definition of hot. With the jet stream lifting north into Canada winds over the USA are often light & stagnant this time of year, allowing haze, humidity (and pollution) to linger, adding sweaty insult to triple-digit injury.

But Minnesota has been relatively lucky: 90s have been rare; a few spasms of severe weather but no major tornado swarms or crop-damaging hailstorms. We've obviously dried out after June's statewide monsoon and so far August has brought more sunny, lukewarm days than July, with a touch of smoke from Canadian wildfires.

All in all a step in the right direction.

A dry, sunny sky lingers right into Saturday; just an isolated Thursday T-shower. Storms become more numerous Sunday as dew points rise to 70F. Cue the free sauna. Highs may brush 90F early next week.

Football and back-to-school hype is in the air, but don't write off the summer of '14 just yet.

An Active Cold Front. The same frontal boundary that sparked showers and a few T-storms from eastern Minnesota into Wisconsin Monday will spread locally heavy rains across the Great Lakes and Mid Atlantic region into New England by Wednesday. Some 2-3" rains are possible from the Delaware Valley to New York City. Heavy rain soaks portions of the Pacific Northwest, while California stays dry. 60-hour accumulated rainfall (4 KM WRF) model courtesy of NOAA and HAMweather.

Extended Outlook: July. Temperatures gradually cool in August, but I'm not seeing any sign of a significant cool-down, not yet. Today will be comfortably cool, but 80s return tomorrow into the weekend, maybe upper 80s by Saturday. After low dew points today humidity levels rise to near 70F by Sunday and much of next week, back in the oh-zone. The best chance of T-storms: Sunday into Tuesday of next week as tropical air approaches. Graph: Weatherspark.

How Tropical Weather Shook Up An Island Paradise. U.S. News has a good recap of Iselle's impact on Hawaii last week; here's an excerpt: "...While the Big Island helped curb Iselle, it also took the brunt of the storm. About 25,000 people lost electricity. Coffee farmers navigated flooded streets to check on their crops, and residents used chain saws to break up fallen trees blocking roads. Days later, thousands remained in the dark and were told to expect extended outages. Water, ice and other supplies were flown to the area called Puna, and roads cleared, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Sunday..."

Photo credit above: "Winds from Tropical Storm Iselle blow palm trees near a sign warning of the closure of Kualoa Regional Park in Honolulu on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. All of the public parks on Oahu were closed. Iselle came ashore onto the Big Island early Friday as a weakened tropical storm, while Hurricane Julio, behind it, is forecasted to pass north of the islands. Iselle is the first tropical storm to hit the state in 22 years." (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner).

Only 2 Meteorology (Hurricane Hunter) Airplanes Remain To Fly Into East Coast Hurricanes. What can possibly go wrong? Here's an excerpt of a story from Reuters and Scientific American: "A pair of aging airplanes that have flown into more than 100 hurricanes to provide data for U.S. meteorologists are receiving a retrofit this month that will leave just one available to fly when storms threaten the East Coast. Work on the two so-called hurricane hunters has been staggered over multiple years, ensuring one plane is always available to track a storm's intensity and path, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which operates the Florida-based planes. The retrofit comes at the peak of hurricane season, after the agency last week predicted fewer storms than normal would affect the Atlantic region for the rest of the year..."

In California, Record Heat Adding To Extreme Drought. Here's a clip from The Desert Sun: "The first half of 2014 was by far the hottest in California in 120 years of record-keeping, and that heat is exacerbating one of the most devastating droughts in state history. Month after month, the red and burgundy patches on the California drought map have been spreading, with 82 percent of the state now classified as being in "extreme" or "exceptional" drought on the U.S. Drought Monitor website..."

Photo credit above: "Cracks spread across the dry bed of parched percolation pond one at the Whitewater Groundwater Replenishment Facility near Palm Springs on Wednesday." (Photo: Crystal Chatham/The Desert Sun).

Chart: Your Tech-Peak Is In Your Mid-Teens; And It's All Downhill From There. Well that explains a lot. Quartz has the uplifting news; here's a clip: "If you think you’re a tech guru in the working world, think again. There is probably someone better than you out there, and it’s not an executive at a competing firm. Digital savviness peaks sometime between the ages of 14 and 15, and then drops gradually throughout adulthood, before falling rapidly in old age, according to a new study of 2,800 Britons..."

Why Names Are So Easy To Forget. Yes, I wish I could remember names with greater predictability. The Atlantic explains why it's so difficult for most of us - here's a clip: "...There are two types of storage in the brain: Long-term and short-term. The short-term variety is called "working memory," and it functions like a very leaky thermos. It doesn't hold much and it spills stuff out all the time. "You can hold just a little bit of information there and if you don't concentrate on it, it fades away rapidly," Paul Reber, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, told me in an email. "Information like a name needs to be transferred to a different brain system that creates long-term memories that persist over time..."

Against Happiness: Why We Need a Philosophy of Failure. We all want, need to experience happiness - maybe we have unreal expectations? Here's an excerpt of a pragmatically-depressing article at the UK's Prospect Magazine: "...But the spread of depression is partly a side-effect of our addiction to happiness. Conversely, understanding why we are so miserable should liberate us from being too miserable about it. We can feel good about feeling bad. In other words, we need a decent philosophy of failure to save everyone from thinking what failures they are..."

TODAY: Plenty of sun, breezy. Dew point: 49. Winds: NW 10+ High: 78
TUESDAY NIGHT: Clear - open up the windows. Low: 57
WEDNESDAY: Bright sun, very comfortable. High: 81
THURSDAY: Less sun, isolated T-shower possible. Wake-up: 61. High: 82
FRIDAY: Warm sun, leave work early. Wake-up: 63. High: 85
SATURDAY: Blue sky, almost hot. Dew point: 62. Wake-up: 66. High: 87
SUNDAY: Sticky, few T-storms. Dew point: 68. Wake-up: 68. High: 83
MONDAY: Hot sun, late PM T-storms. Wake-up: 69. High: 89

Climate Stories...

Quasi-Resonant Circulation Regimes and Hemispheric Synchronization of Extreme Weather in Boreal Summer. It's a long title for a fairly straightforward concept, a symptom of rapid warming, especially at northern latitudes, which may be impacting the wavelength of global Rossby waves, creating conditions more favorable for an elongated (high amplitude) jet stream, one more prone to extreme weather, severe heat and excessive rains. For several years I've been wondering if it was my imagination, if we really were seeing tangible evidence of a more amplified jet stream capable of more frequent weather extremes over the Northern Hemisphere? Or was there hard data - research, to back up these observations? Here's a summary of a technical, but very important new paper from Coumou, Petoukhov, Rahmstorf, Petri and Schellnhuber at PNAS.org: "...The recent decade has seen an exceptional number of boreal summer weather extremes, some causing massive damage to society. There is strong scientific debate about the underlying causes of these events. We show that high-amplitude, quasi-stationary Rossby waves, associated with resonance circulation regimes, lead to persistent surface weather conditions and therefore to midlatitude synchronization of extreme heat and reainfall events. Since the onset of rapid Arctic amplification around 2000, a cluster of resonance circulation regimes is observed involving wave numbers 7 and 8. This has resulted in a statisticially significant increase in the frequency of high-amplitude quasi-stationary waves with these wave numbers. Our findings provide important insights regarding the link between Arctic changes and midlatitude extremes..."

New Study Finds Fringe Global Warming Contrarians Get Disproportionate Media Attention. Equal time? Yes, right after we give time to gravity-deniers and members of the Flat Earth Society. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...Specifically, 30% of those few who said that greenhouse gases have caused an insignificant amount of global warming (or even cooling) reported frequent media coverage, compared to just 15% of climate scientists who said greenhouse gases have caused strong global warming. This disproportionate media coverage of fringe climate contrarians is a problem known as “false balance,” and has plagued not only politically conservative media outlets, but also purportedly neutral news organizations like the BBC. It stems from journalists believing it’s “balanced” to give “both sides” of every issue equal coverage, even if one of those sides represents the views of a small fringe of qualified experts..." (File photo above: Andy Wong, AP).

11 Ways Young People Have Revolutionized The Climate Debate. RTCC.org has the story - here's the introduction: "Young people are often the most passionate voices on climate change, and with reason - as the planet warms over the coming century, it is the future of the youngest at stake. As such, it is often youth that are the loudest and the most ambitious in calling for action, proving to be anything from serious combatants to potential allies to the politicians in charge..."

Photo credit above: "Young people sit around a wave-submerged negotiating table at the 2010 UN climate talks." (Pic: Bunkerfilms.com / 350.org)

Agricultural Giant Olam International Says Climate Change is "Absolutely a Reality". Australia's ABC Network has the story and video clip - here's the intro: "The head of one of the world's largest agricultural commodity trading companies is warning Australian primary producers to take climate change seriously. Olam International chief executive Sunny Verghese has told Landline that agricultural producers and processors need to take action now. "It is absolutely a reality that climate change is going to significantly impact agriculture," he said. "It impacts it both from the nexus it has with water, and the nexus it has with micro-climate as well, so it is probably the most important driver to future agricultural production, productivity and therefore price..."

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