Thursday, September 25, 2014

Potentially Postcard-Worthy Weekend. Countries Most at Risk of Sea Level Rise

65 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
68 F. average high on September 24.
76 F. high on September 24, 2013.

.04" rain fell at MSP International Airport yesterday.
.4" of snow fell at MSP International Airport on September 24, 1985. Ouch.

September 24, 1998: A wind gust to 78 mph was reported at Staples Municipal Airport, just to the north of Staples in Wadena County. In Todd county, trees were blown down in the city of Staples. Buildings were damaged at a farmstead on the northwest edge of the city. A roof was torn off of Stern Rubber Company. Rooftop heating and cooling units were ripped off McKechnie Tool and Engineering. In Mille Lacs County, 3 inch hail was reported, damaging many automobiles.
September 24, 1929: Willmar experiences a deluge that dropped 5.22 inches in 24 hours.

Peak Fog Season

There are high clouds (cirrus), mid-level clouds (altocumulus) and low clouds (stratus). And then there are lazy clouds, stratus that forms at ground level, which we refer to as fog.

September is prime time for fog; the combination of lingering summer moisture and longer nights, which allows the temperature to fall to the dew point, allows invisible water vapor to condense out into visible cloud droplets.

Some of our most vexing challenges: predicting hurricane intensity, forecasting flash floods more than 3 hours in advance, pinpointing where tornadoes will touch down more than 30 minutes into the future, and how thick and stubborn a fog layer will be.

If fog lifts into stratus and doesn't burn off temperatures can be 10-15F cooler than they would be with the sun peeking out.

Any fog this morning should give way to a few "bright intervals" (as meteorologists at the BBC might say). Expect warm sun Friday into Monday with temperatures 10F degrees above average. 80F is not out of the question this weekend. Tuesday thunder ushers cooler air into Minnesota, with highs dipping into the 50s by late week.

Take nothing for granted, especially late September warm fronts.

Colors Close To Peak Up North. This may be THE weekend to take a drive along Lake Superior's North Shore, if you're so inclined. The latest Minnesota DNR fall color map shows colors peaking near Lutsen and Grand Marais, as well as near Alexandria, Wadena and the Moorhead area - lot's of color from Lake Mille Lacs into the Brainerd Lakes area and much of northern Minnesota. Peak color in the MSP metro area is probably 7-10 days away.

Evening Weather Map. The predicted map this evening, courtesy of UCAR, shows soaking rains from New York City to Norfolk and portions of Florida, with gusty rains pushing into the Pacific Northwest, greatly reducing the fire risk. A stiff south wind boosts temperatures 10-15F warmer than average for the Plains and Upper Midwest.

Fine Weather Into Early Next Week. A temporarily stalled bubble of high pressure keeps us relatively balmy from Friday into Tuesday of next week as highs reach the upper 70s to near 80F. Not too shabby considering the average high now is in the upper 60s, with a sun angle as high as it was back in the third week of March. Thunder is possible Tuesday, more showers Wednesday before a cooler front has us considering jackets and sweatshirts by the end of next week; European guidance suggests highs in the 50s one week from today. Source: Weatherspark.

Nervous Their Airline Hubs Will Fly Away, Cities Race to Flood-Proof Their Airports. Because the reality is this: many big-city airports were built within a few feet of sea level. Here's an excerpt from Next City: "...As extreme weather events become more frequent, the airports of the world — often built on flat, low-lying land that was easy and inexpensive for municipalities to purchase or reclaim — are suffering the perils of their geography. “First and foremost, the history of trade put most major cities on the water,” says Richard Barone, director of transportation programs at New York City’s Regional Plan Association, which has done considerable research on the area’s aviation infrastructure. “And before the jet-age, planes often landed on the water, so as airports expanded, they did so on fill and reclaimed land...”

Photo credit above: "A plane on the tarmac of Bangkok’s flooded airport in 2011." (Photo by AP / Aaron Favila).

Can Flood-Monitoring Be Crowd-Sourced? Yes, there's an app for that too, according to an article at Emergency Management; here's a clip: "...Jeff Stern, state coordinator of VDEM, said in a statement that the map shows only the "worst-case scenario" of a particular storm. "It's not a real-time map," Stern cautioned, "so people still need to listen carefully for local evacuation instructions during an actual storm." The map can be found at There, users can click on the "storm surge tool," type in an address and see the projected impact for that location. Storm surge is the damaging coastal water that's pushed ashore by the strong winds of a hurricane or tropical storm, over and above the tide..."

Photo credit above: "Damage caused by the September 2011 heavy rains and flooding in Fairfax County." Flickr/Virginia Department of Transportation.

NFL Tried Too Hard To Control Message. Oh to be the poor PR guy or gal at the NFL. I wonder if they've outsourced this thankless job to India. Here's an excerpt of a story at ESPN: "...Some people don't like the outsize role football plays in American politics and urban development. Some think a violent game should not be the United States' national sport. Some think football has become the eggplant that eats the budget of big public universities or is accorded too much importance at high schools. Some people are angry with how the super-rich owners of the NFL wallow in subsides while restricting health care assistance to former players and are happy to have cheerleaders dance half-naked but refuse to pay them minimum wage, let alone treat them fairly..."

Brave New Phone Call. The the plain (and slightly sad) voice call be resurrected and made interesting again? If you have an answer please call me on my rotary phone landline. "Talko" has people talking, at least about the app, but will it get you talking on your smartphone again? Here's an excerpt from Medium: "...Gaps like this mean opportunity, and Ozzie’s solution is Talko, his ploy to restore the human voice to primacy in the digital age. The app’s key innovations allow people to build conversations as if they were collaborative documents — adding to these artifacts both in real time and asynchronously. (The most striking aspect of Talko is how seamlessly it mixes live interactions and monologues into a single stream.) And in another paradigm shift, everything is archived by default, allowing people the same persistent access to their meetings and conversations that they now have with email and documents..."

New Mushroom Species Discovered In London Grocery Store. You can't make this stuff up. Here's the intro to a story at CBC News: "What's a good place to look for undiscovered species? Remote rainforests? The deep ocean? What about your local grocery store? That's where Bryn Dentinger and Laura Martinez-Suz, mycologists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in London, recently discovered three new kinds of mushroom. They were found in a package of dried porcini mushrooms from a grocery store in "southwest greater London" that the scientists tested using a technique called DNA barcoding. Dentinger had previously used the technique while researching mushrooms at the Royal Ontario Museum and the University of Toronto..."

Image credit above: "Samples of the new mushroom species are shown in the original packet, purchased at a grocery store in southwest greater London." (Bryn Dentinger/Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew).

TODAY: Fog and low clouds. Some sun later. Winds: S 8. High: 72
THURSDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, more patchy fog possible. Low: 60
FRIDAY: Partly sunny and balmy. High: 78
SATURDAY: Warm sun, feels like August. Wake-up: 60. High: 79
SUNDAY: One last cruise on the lake? Hazy blue sky. Wake-up: 59. High: 78
MONDAY: Partly sunny, too nice to work. Wake-up: 58. High: 77
TUESDAY: Clouds increase, late thunder. Wake-up: 60. High: 76
WEDNESDAY: A bit cooler, leftover showers. Wake-up: 61. High: 75

* image credit:

Climate Stories...

Flooding Risk From Climate Change, Country by Country. Which country has the most long-term risk from rising seas? China might have some issues in the years ahead, according to an article at The New York Times; here's the introduction: "More than a quarter of Vietnam’s residents live in areas likely to be subject to regular floods by the end of the century. Four percent of China’s residents — 50 million people — live in the same kind of areas. Across the globe, about one person in 40 lives in a place likely to be exposed to such flooding by the end of the century, absent significant changes. These figures are the result of a new analysis of sea levels and flood risk around the world, conducted by Climate Central and based on more detailed sea-level data than has previously been available..."

Humans Don't Do "Future" Well, And That Could Doom Us If We're Not Careful. We're all hard-wired to focus on the present, but peering out over the horizon and taking steps to avoid headaches down the road? We have insurance policies for our homes, cars and earthly treasures, but what about Earth itself? Here's a clip from Reuters: "...One problem is that, as a species, we do not do “future” well. “We are very concrete people,” Weber explained, “who have been wired to live for the here and now, which was a good idea in distant evolutionary times when our ancestors had to respond to immediate threats.” The biological instincts that we needed to survive when a raiding party attacked, for example, don’t translate well to abstract dangers that won’t fully materialize for decades. Especially if the future threat is as complex and uncertain as that posed by climate change. But the problem is also the approach. “Everything is messaged negatively,” Weber said. “It’s always gloom-and-doom scenarios...”

Watch Arctic Sea Ice Retreat To One Of It's Lowest Levels in Years. At last count it looks like the 6th lowest extent of summer sea ice at the top of the world. Here's a clip from National Journal: "The amount of ice at the poles is always in flux. In the summer, the ice recedes. In the winter, it grows. So just as the Antarctic ice sheet has grown to its largest size ever (winter is just ending in the Southern Hemisphere), the Arctic ice sheet has receded to its sixth-smallest level since 1978.   "The Arctic has lost about 11,100 square miles of ice per day so far this September, nearly the twice the average 1981-2010 rate," The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang reports. While it isn't known why the Antarctic sheet has grown so much this year, it doesn't mean the continent is safe from the effects of global warming..."

James Cameron On Getting Over Dread, Despair and Yourself Long Enough to Believe in Climate Change. I'm not a fan of the word "believe". I think acknowleging the science is possibly a better way to frame this. Esquire has the interview; here's a snippet: "... Look, you’ve always got your denier community pundits, that’s gonna be a given any time somebody sticks their head up and talks about the climate crisis. All the deniers line up and try to poke holes in your science with their ridiculous arguments. They’re like a Pez dispenser, I can predict exactly what they’re going to say, and it’s all wrong. But people do listen to it, unfortunately. Anybody should have a healthy skepticism when a celebrity opens their mouth on an issue. How well schooled are they on that issue? What the star power brought us was reach and interest on the part of an audience. We’re trying to go to the grass roots, and we’re trying to talk to people with this show who wouldn’t normally watch something on the environment..." (Image: National Science Foundation).

Vatican to U.N. Summit: Climate Change is Man-Made and Man's Responsibility. We talk so much about rights in this country, what about responsibility, to ourselves and future generations? Vatican Radio has an audio excerpt; here's an excerpt of their story: "The Holy See has called for “an authentic cultural change” to combat climate change which is man-made and therefore man’s responsibility. That was the focus of an address delivered Tuesday evening to the UN Climate Change Summit in New York by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin..."

For Obama, Cheerleading on Climate Change Is Easier Than Leading. The New Republic has the story; here's a clip that caught my eye: "...But Obama had to make a big deal about what the U.S. has done already because he couldn't make such a big deal about what the U.S. will do in the future. His administration is now putting in place major new regulations on power plantsa critical move that will make a significant reduction in U.S. emissions and allow it to hit targets that Obama set years ago, during negotiations in Copenhagen. But simply hitting those targets isn't enough. To avoid the most catastrophic scenarios of climate change, the nations of the world must do more to reduce emissions that continue to rise every year..."

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