Monday, September 15, 2014

Warming Trend into Saturday. NASA: August was Hottest, Worldwide, Since 1880

62 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
72 F. average high on September 15.
67 F. high on September 15, 2013.
.06" rain fell at MSP International Airport yesterday.

September 15 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: Twin Cities National Weather Service:

2006: A rapidly forming tornado hits Rogers just before 10pm, killing a 10 year old girl.
1992: New Market received nearly a foot of rain. A bridge collapsed from floodwater in northern Le Sueur County.
1955: An F1 tornado touched down in Mille Lacs and Kanabec Counties causing 1 fatality and $500,000 in damages.

Power of Perception

Every day I fall out of bed, rub my eyes, and gaze out the Amish Doppler (window) to get the most accurate, real-time weather report available. The Earth appears flat, but NASA scientists are convinced that we live on a big, lush, spinning sphere. I'm inclined to believe them.

With record rains in June, freak cold fronts in July and an early frost for much of Minnesota last Saturday the perception is that we just muddled through a very chilly summer. But National Weather Service data begs to differ. Cooling degree day data for MSP shows temperatures have been running close to average, yet significantly cooler than 2013.

Perception becomes reality, right? Some days it's hard keeping the big picture. My window keeps getting in the way.

More evidence of a high-amplitude pattern aloft with big swings in temperature: after nudging 80F late this week with sticky dew points in the 60s we cool off again Sunday; another early frost can't be ruled out Tuesday morning. Followed by 70s, even a crack at 80F late next week. You'll need shorts and jackets.

Hurricane Odile just whacked Cabo San Lucas, the strongest hurricane ever to hit Baja Mexico. Moisture from Odile may spark severe flash flooding over Arizona in the coming days.

Warming Trend - Frost Risk Early Next Week? Long-range guidance shows 70+ temperatures as early as Wednesday; 80F not out of the question by Friday and Saturday with a few scattered T-storms as dew points surge into the upper 60s. A strong cool front arrives Saturday PM hours; you start to feel the cool breeze Sunday with a big drop in humidity; as winds ease Monday night we can't rule out a frost Tuesday morning, especially outside the immediate Twin Cities. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Growing Flash Flood Potential Desert Southwest. Moisture from Hurricane Odile will spread up Baja Mexico, fueling intense and persistent monsoonal thunderstorms from near Phoenix and Tucson to Albuquerque in the coming days. I could see some 5"+ amounts capable of severe flash flooding. 60-hour accumulated rainfall: NOAA's 4 KM NAM model and HAMweather.

Odile Ravages Cabo San Lucas, Strongest Known Hurricane To Hit Baja Mexico. Here's an excerpt of a good recap from the always-interesting Capital Weather Gang: "...It’s very rare to get a major hurricane [ category 3 or higher] to reach the Baja Peninsula,” said Brian McNoldy, Capital Weather Gang’s tropical weather expert.  “I found just two previous storms in the records to make landfall as major hurricanes: Kiko (1989) and Olivia (1967).” McNoldy said Odile’s intensity exceeded Kiko’s and matched Olivia’s.  “Specifically in Cabo San Lucas, it was the most intense landfall,” McNoldy added..." (credit: CIMSS).

* The Wall Street Journal has raw footage of Cabo San Lucas before Odile struck.

The Impact of Solar Flares On The Human Mood and Psyche. Could CME's have an impact on the human mind or is this all a scientific stretch, the stuff of urban legend? Here's an excerpt of a post at Communities Digital News that got my attention: "...From 1948 to 1997, the Institute of North Industrial Ecology Problems in Russia found that geomagnetic activity showed three seasonal peaks each of those years (March to May, in July, and in October). Every peak matched an increased incidence of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and suicide in the city Kirovsk. One explanation for the correlation is that solar storms desynchronize our circadian rhythm (biological clock). The pineal gland in our brain is affected by the electromagnetic activity..."

California Just Banned Free Plastic Bags. Hold the Rejoicing. Mother Jones has a vivid reminder of why you want to use paper, not plastic - here's a clip: "...No one is sure how long a plastic bag takes to decompose, but estimates range from 500 to 1,000 years. Even then, they never fully biodegrade; they just break down into ever-tinier plastic pellets. Each year, tens of thousands of whales, birds, seals, and turtles die after getting entangled with bags or mistaking them for food. In 2010, a gray whale that was beached and died in Seattle was found to have more than 20 plastic bags in its stomach..."

Photo credit above: "Washed-up plastic bags along the Los Angeles River." .

Tsunami Survival Capsule Could Help Save Lives. If you live near sea level and an active earthquake fault this might look pretty good under the tree come Christmas morning. Ubergizmo has an interesting story and video clip; here's an excerpt: "Tsunamis do show how the forces of nature are not meant to be trifled with. In fact, after three years have passed where the earthquake and tsunami wreaked havoc in Japan, resulting in close to 20,000 deaths in the Land of the Rising Sun, work is being done with a U.S. company to deliver a ‘tsunami survival capsule’ which has the potential to save lives in the event of a future tsunami..."

Is Google's Self-Driving Car Ready For Prime Time? I'm holding off on placing my order after reading this article at IEEE Spectrum; here's an excerpt: "...IEEE Spectrum has now obtained the driving log of this test, and e-mails referring to it, under Freedom of Information legislation. Some of this information is not new. For example, Nevada officials shared that the Google’s autonomous Toyota Prius passed the test almost immediately. What has not been revealed until now, however, is that Google chose the test route and set limits on the road and weather conditions that the vehicle could encounter, and that its engineers had to take control of the car twice during the drive..." (Photo credit: Google).

Made in Chicago: World's First 3-D Printed Electric Car. Will there come a day when you can use a home 3-D printer to manufacture your next vehicle, to your specs? It sounds like science fiction, but I wouldn't entirely rule it out, either. has the video and story excerpt: "In a matter of two days, history was made at Chicago’s McCormick Place, as the world’s first 3D printed electric car—named Strati, Italian for “layers”– took its first test drive. “Less than 50 parts are in this car,” said Jay Rogers from Local Motors. Roger’s company is part of the team that developed the engineering process to manufacture an entire car with carbon fiber plastic and print it with a large 3D printer set up at McCormick Place by Cincinnati Incorporated..."

On Death and iPods: a Requiem. WIRED has an interesting essay about what our music (and devices) say about us. No more iPods and more than a few music lovers are in iDenial. Here's an excerpt: "...In all likelihood we’re not just seeing the death of the iPod Classic, but the death of the dedicated portable music player. Now it’s all phones and apps. Everything is a camera. The single-use device is gone—and with it, the very notion of cool that it once carried. The iPhone is about as subversive as a bag of potato chips, and music doesn’t define anyone anymore. Soon there will be no such thing as your music library. There will be no such thing as your music. We had it all wrong! Information doesn’t want to be free, it wants to be a commodity. It wants to be packaged into apps that differ only in terms of interface and pricing models. It wants to be rented..." (Photo credit: Jim Merithew/WIRED).

Smartphones Ruin More Than Your Sleep - They May Also Be Destroying Your Vision. Here's an excerpt of a story at Business Insider that made me do a double-take: "f you are buying a new iPhone, don't use it in bed — and not just because nighttime smartphone use messes up your sleep cycle. The blue light from personal electronic devices has also been linked to serious physical and mental health problems. Blue light is part of the full light spectrum, which means we're exposed to it by the sun every day. However, nighttime exposure to that light, which is emitted at high levels by smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other LED screens, may be damaging your vision. It also suppresses production of the hormone melatonin, which throws off your body's natural sleep cues..."

Photo credit: m01229/flickr

Is TV Stuck in the 70s? We have more channels than I recall in the 70s (when there were 4, give or take), but I still find it difficult to watch everything I'm paying for in the satellite/cable world. Here's a Charlie Rose video interview and story excerpt from Fortune: "...The reality is that cord cutting is happening whether or not these companies do anything or not,” says Rich Greenfield, an analyst with BTIG. “Multi-channel TV is in secular decline. It’s not rapid. It’s a slow melting. The question is what do you do to address it.” Ultimately, it’s not just recalcitrant content owners that are holding back the dream of a Web-like TV world. It’s also economics. Buying channels individually may not prove any cheaper for consumers—not after they spend ever-larger sums for broadband service that is sold by the same companies brought them the cable bundle..."

40 of the Healthiest Packaged Foods You Can Buy At The Supermarket. Like so many others I'm trying to make smarter decisions when it comes to food. Here's an excerpt of a story at Buzzfeed that caught my eye: "...To that end, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) publishes newsletters naming the healthiest brand-name foods you can find at the supermarket. To make their selections, CSPI, which is an independent organization that doesn’t take money from the government or the food industry, crunched data on calories, saturated fat, sodium, and other nutritional information, depending on the category. CSPI says the selections below, handpicked by its nutritionists just for BuzzFeed, taste good, too..."

TODAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: SW 10. High: 66
TUESDAY NIGHT: Clear and not as cool. Low: 50
WEDNESDAY: Plenty of sunshine, milder. Dew point: 50. High: near 70
THURSDAY: Fading sun, more wind. Wake-up: 51. High: 71
FRIDAY: Humid, growing thunder risk, especially Friday night. Dew point: 62. Wake-up: 58. High: 78
SATURDAY: Wet start, gradual clearing. Warm breeze. Wake-up: 63. High: 79
SUNDAY: Partly sunny, cooler breeze. Wake-up: 58. High: 68
MONDAY: Hints of October. Spotty frost late. Wake-up: 44. High: 57

Climate Stories...

Warmest August, Worldwide, Since 1888. We're on track for the 4th warmest year on record, globally, factoring land and ocean temperatures. The graphic above is courtesy of NASA GISS.

Climate Change: A Hole Too Big To Ignore. Why should we care about these strange holes appearing in Siberian permafrost? Canary in the coal mine? We'll see. Here's a clip from a story at The Jewish Daily Forward: "...Why should we care? The problem is that decaying organic matter releases high levels of methane, a carbon-based greenhouse gas that’s about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Tests of the air at the bottom of the first crater found methane content of 9.6%. That’s roughly 54,000 times higher than normal air (normal is 0.000179% methane). Three holes in Siberia aren’t the end of the world, of course. Not by themselves. But they’re part of an alarming pattern of methane leaks discovered recently that look like products of climate change..."

Image credit above: Wikipedia. "Bottomless: One of the giant craters that appeared in Northern Siberia this summer, a result of global warming."

Climate Activism's New Frontier is Targeting Fossil Fuel Investors. Churches are getting involved in the fossil fuel divestment movement, selling their investments in carbon-producing firms. Here's an excerpt from The Sydney Morning Herald: "...The report, funded by World Wildlife Fund UK, said the movement's real power lies in its ability to stigmatise the industry. "In almost every divestment campaign we reviewed, from Darfur to adult services, from tobacco to South Africa, divestment campaigns were successful in lobbying for restrictive legislation affecting stigmatised firms." It identified three stages of divestment, beginning with churches or bodies such as public health associations – who are motivated by ethical priorities – then moving to universities  or cities, and finally, investors such as banks and pension funds. The fossil fuels divestment campaign had moved rapidly to the second stage, the report said..."

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