Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Very Soggy Pattern - Flashes of Summer Heat Early Next Week

75 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.
76 F. average high on June 5.
78 F. high on June 5, 2014.

.49" forecast rainfall this weekend at MSP (most of that falls tonight).

June 6, 1864: Light frost reported in St. Paul as chilly air mass moved over the state.

Go With The Flow

"Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend" said Theophrastus, a Greek philosopher who lived over 2,300 years ago. Some things are timeless; immortal. Like the mutual attraction of weekends and puddles.

The drought is history for all but 12 percent of far northern Minnesota. May was the warmest since 2012 with frequent rains; the cycle favoring showers on the weekends, which is bumming a lot of people out.

12 weekends of summer, each one sacrosanct, and over-scheduled. But then again an old friend set me straight about weather patterns and our place in the universe. "Nature doesn't owe us any favors. We're all just along for the ride."

If the planets align and the sun shines on the Edina Art Fair or Grand 'Ol Days in St. Paul consider yourself extra-blessed.

A sloppy front drags showers across the state today with some half inch amounts. Have a Plan B (indoors) but nothing severe is expected.

Winds shift to the northwest Sunday; the nicer, warmer, sunnier day of the weekend with a few instability storms sprouting up north by late afternoon. 80s return next week with a shot at 90F Tuesday before cooling down a bit. Ready for a hot front?

Careful what you wish for.

A Very Wet May. Here's a clip from meteorologist D.J. Kayser's weather blog (who also works with me at AerisWeather): "After a dry start to the year (we covered that last month here), May really ramped up the precipitation across the state of Minnesota, with many areas picking up much needed rainfall to help the drought situation and help get some moisture into the crop fields. However, some of it was too much, as there were reports of “downed out portions of fields” according to the USDA crop report that was issued for the week ending May 24th. According to Minnesota climatologist Mark Seeley, this May will likely be one of the top fifteen wettest Mays on record for the state, and is the fifth straight May with above average rain..."

A Persistently Soggy Pattern. The animation above shows accumulated precipitation forecast by the .25 degree GFS model from NOAA looking out the next week. Note the 2-5" amounts predicted for much of the Upper Mississippi Valley, a moist plume extending out of the Gulf of Mexico, and the track of fizzling "Blanca", which should spare Cabo San Lucas, Mexico hurricane conditions. Loop: AerisWeather.

7-Day QPF. Here is NOAA's blending of all models and ensembles, showing a widespread region of 1.5 to 2.5" rains for Minnesota, over 3" near Sioux Falls and Omaha, and flash flood potential for the Gulf Coast.

Not All Bad. The best chance of showers comes tonight (NAM prints out .49" of rain) with partial clearing tomorrow and temperatures warming up rapidly early in the week, peaking near 90F Tuesday before cooling off. That puff of cooler air will set the stage for a stalled east-west frontal boundary capable of supporting heavier showers and T-storms late next week. MSP meteogram: Weatherspark.

June 2015: Cold Start, Followed By Rain. Soil moisture is now adequate across most of Minnesota for farming and gardening - let's hope we don't have a June as wet as 2014 (wettest, statewide, in the state's history). Here's an excerpt from Dr. Mark Seeley at Minnesota Weather Talk: "The month of June started with cold temperatures earlier this week.  On June 1st many northern cities were visited by frosty temperatures including International Falls, Bigfork, Cloquet, Hibbing, Crane Lake, and Gunflint Lake.  It was as cold as 37°F at Preston (Fillmore County) in southern Minnesota but no frosts were reported in that section of the state.  A few observers reported record low temperatures for the date including: 29°F at Ely, 27°F at Floodwood, 26°F at Orr, 25°F at Embarrass, and 24°F at Togo (Itasca County), also the coldest temperature in the nation on June 1st this year..."

Most of Minnesota Is Drought-Free. What a difference a week makes. A month too. In just the last week the percentage of Minnesota in moderate drought has fallen from 24% to 12%. Last week 87% of the state was abnormally dry; now that number is down to 51%. As you can see on the U.S. Drought Monitor map above most of the state, especially central and southern counties now have sufficient soil moisture. Amazing how fast the pattern turned.

Sea Levels In Retreat A Sure Sign El Nino's Grip is Tightening. Here's the intro to an interesting story at The Sydney Morning Herald: "El NiƱos are well known for unleashing droughts, hotter-than-usual weather and paradoxically worse frosts in Australia, but they also drive remarkable - if temporary - changes to global sea levels. While the shifts under way are so far barely discernible along the Australian coast, pointers of the forces are more evident in countries to Australia's north. "The western Pacific has already dropped about 20cm below its normal height, and the eastern Pacific - because it's warmed up, it's expanded – is 20-30cm higher than normal," Andrew Watkins, head of climate prediction services at the Bureau of Meteorology, said..."

El Nino To Disrupt Rains, Cut Africa, East Asia Harvests, Scientists Say. Reuters takes a look at some of the potential impacts of a rapidly warming Pacific ocean creating a domino effect, downwind. Here's a snippet: "...Parts of China, Indonesia and India are also expected to be seriously affected by El Nino this year, Oscar Rojas, a senior official at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview on Monday. "We are monitoring for extreme droughts," Rojas said, adding that it is not yet possible to estimate potential crop losses. The El Nino phenomenon is based on Pacific Ocean waters becoming unusually warm, and altering global weather patterns. The last El Nino happened in 2009-2010, and it usually lasts about one year..."

June 3 Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies above courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

America's Forests Are Facing A Wildfire Crisis. National Journal provides some perspective on the perpetual drought out west and the possible impact on fire potential later in the season; here's an excerpt: "...This summer's wildfire season could be even worse—and it very likely will break the bank. Bone-dry conditions in the West put vast stretches of California, Oregon, and Washington at risk for devastating wildfires. The U.S. Forest Service predicts that it could spend as much as $1.6 billion fighting fires this year. Over the past decade, wildfires have grown larger and more severe. A changing climate, intense drought, property development near parks and forests, and a build up of quick-to-ignite forest debris have all contributed to a new normal of costly and difficult-to-contain wildfires..." (File image: U.S. Forest Service).

10 States Where Hurricane Damage Will Cost The Most. Fortune has an interesting story about hurricane risk - Florida is in a class by itself. Here's an excerpt: "...But with every hurricane season, millions more homes are put at risk of damage from storm surges. The real estate data firm CoreLogic released a report on Thursday that estimates that this hurricane season, 6.1 million homes will be at risk of such damage, the total value of which is a staggering $1.5 trillion. Some of the places where homes are most at risk, like Florida and Louisiana, might not surprise you. But Hurricane Sandy proved that the Northeast isn’t safe from serious storm surge damage, and states as far north as Massachusetts are in peril..."

The Climate Context for India's Deadly Heat Wave. Climate Central takes a closer look at historic levels of heat gripping India and whether a warmer climate is making the heat worse; here's an excerpt: "...It is expected that extreme heat waves will become more common worldwide as a rising average global temperature, which has increased by 1.6°F since the beginning of the 20th century, tips the odds more in their favor. Because this link is one of the most robust between climate change and extreme weather the budding field of extreme event attribution has focused much attention on trying to pinpoint what role warming may have played in particular events. One of the first attribution studies came in 2004, and found that warming made the heat wave that hit Europe in 2003 and killed some 70,000 people at least twice as likely. A study published just last year found that now such a heat wave is 10 times as likely to happen as it was just a decade ago..."

What's The Difference Between "Partly Cloudy" and "Mostly Sunny"? A question that comes up all the time - here's an excerpt of a good explainer at Gizmodo: "...Mostly Sunny” and “Partly Cloudy” are apparently interchangeable, and apply when the OCC is between 26% and 50%.”Partly Sunny” and “Mostly Cloudy” can also be synonyms, when the OCC is between 51% and 69%, although “Mostly Cloudy” can be applied for OCC up to 87%. At an OCC of 88% and above, the sky is considered “Cloudy” or “Overcast...”

Apocalypse Now! The Eight Most Likely Ways We're All Going To Die. This article from Gizmodo UK cheered me up - now I get to pass it on to you, so you can cheer up a friend or family member. Here's an excerpt: "...Pretty likely this one, given previous form (well flagged, dinosaurs), and given the number of potential asteroids out there to get on a collision course with, it’s frankly amazing we’ve got this far. Scientists are keeping a close eye on the skies with the next major collision tipped to be Asteroid 2012 TC4, making an unwelcome appearance on October 2017. Luckily TC4 is reckoned to be about 40m across, which should only dent the earth - a more serious proposition being the 1km-wide asteroid 1950 DA, which has a 1 in 4000 chance of annihilating civilisation as we know it on 16 March, 2880. In the immortal words of Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, makes you feel a bit insignificant really…"

Ray Kurzweil: Humans Will Be Hybrids by 2013. Imagine Siri as a permanent inhabitant of your brain, now super-charged by the cloud. She's now available 24/7 to help you - or judge you - or track you. I'm sold! Here's an excerpt from CNN Money: "...Kurzweil predicts that humans will become hybrids in the 2030s. That means our brains will be able to connect directly to the cloud, where there will be thousands of computers, and those computers will augment our existing intelligence. He said the brain will connect via nanobots -- tiny robots made from DNA strands. "Our thinking then will be a hybrid of biological and non-biological thinking," he said..."

Mermaids Not Welcome in Edmonton Pools. No, you can't make this stuff up. Here's a clip from CBC News: "...Others, calling themselves mermaid advocates, say anyone should be able to swim with a tail. "Other mermaids in Canada are afraid that a ripple effect is going to happen, more bans will happen," Visinski says. Mermaid tails have been on the market for a few years but recently started gaining popularity in Canada..."

Photo credit above: "Krista Visinski, seen wearing here in Edmonton on May 30, 2015, is determined to be a mermaid even if the city won't let her don her tail in public pools." (Jason Franson/Canadian Press).

TODAY: Clouds increase. Showers, possible thunder. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 71

SATURDAY NIGHT: More showers, grumble of thunder. Low: 63

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, a nicer day. PM instability T-shower up north. Winds: NW 10. High: near 80

MONDAY: Sunny, almost hot. Dew point: 60. Wake-up: 64. High: 85

TUESDAY: So this is what summer feels like. Hot sunshine. Wake-up: 67. High: 89

WEDNESDAY: Drop in humidity. Isolated T-storm. Wake-up: 68. High: 82

THURSDAY: Showers & T-storms likely, some heavy. Wake-up: 63. High: 75

FRIDAY: Storms far south, sunshine north. Wake-up: 59. High: 73

Climate Stories....

Pope Francis The Chemist Should Give Congress a Science Lesson. TIME Magazine has the Op-Ed; here's an excerpt: "...Pope Francis defies the liberal-conservative divide that shapes Congress, and given his straightforward, pull-no-punches approach, he will likely challenge both Democrats and Republicans to reject the “throwaway culture” that he has repeatedly denounced during his papacy. In particular, the pope is likely to challenge Republicans to accept the reality of climate change and to support measures that would protect the environment. Meanwhile, he’s likely to challenge Democrats on abortion, as he treats the issue as integral to social justice and the defense of human rights..." (File Photo: AP)

Tar Sands Resistance March Today. The march is TODAY in St. Paul, ending at the Capital lawn for a big rally. Details here: "The biggest action against tar sands ever in the region is today, starting at noon at the Mississippi River just behind Union Depot in downtown St. Paul. Thousands of folks from across the Midwest will be gathering to stand up against carbon-intensive tar sands and in favor of renewable energy. (Tar sands oil, one of the world's dirtiest fuels, crosses northern Minnesota right now on Enbridge's Alberta Clipper pipeline, with lots of expansion plans in the works.) The speaker lineup includes author and activist Bill McKibben as well as Winona LaDuke. If you can make it out, do -- this is important."

Here's Why The Global Warming Hiatus Might Not Exist. Climate Central has an explanation; here's an excerpt: "The global warming hiatus — a decade-plus slowdown in warming — could be chalked up to some buoys, a few extra years of data and a couple buckets of seawater. That’s the finding of a new study published on Thursday in Science, which uses updated information about how temperature is recorded, particularly at sea, to take a second look at the global average temperature. The findings show a slight but notable increase in that average temperature, putting a dent in the idea that global warming has slowed over the past 15 years, a trend highlighted in the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report..."

Norway Votes To Dump Coal Investments. Divestment efforts continue, worldwide, starting with the dirtiest of fossil fuels: coal. Here's an excerpt from Politico: "Norway is going ahead with one of the most ambitious plans to date for pulling investment from companies that mine and burn coal, after the parliament voted unanimously in favor Friday afternoon. The plan requires the country’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), the world’s second-largest investor with a market value of €837 billion, to divest its shares in businesses that rely on coal mining and coal-fired power generation for 30 percent or more of their work or revenue. Before selling, however, the GPFG can also urge companies to green up..."

Photo credit above: "Coal production at a mine in Barentsburg, Svalbard". | EPA.

All Children Deserve A Healthy Future. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from Rev. Mitch Hescox at National Catholic Reporter, who heads up EEN, The Evangelical Environmental Network (full disclosure: I'm on the board): "...Every child, born and yet-to-be born, deserves the promise and holy covenant of clean air and a healthy climate. What's more, every child deserves to reach the fullness of his or her God-given intellectual abilities. If we continue to rely on toxic mercury-emitting, coal-burning power plants, we risk harming our children's achievements. Today, nearly one out of every six babies born in the U.S. has harmful mercury levels in his or her blood, which can easily affect developing children's brains, causing brain damage, developmental disabilities, neurological disorders, lower intelligence and learning difficulties..."

Science Under Siege, Part 1. Kudos to CBC, the Canadian Broadcast Company, for a series of science denial. Climate science is the the tip of the iceberg, it seems. Here's an excerpt: "Are we living through an Anti-Scientific Revolution? Scientists around the world are increasingly restricted in what they can research, publish and say -- constrained by belief and ideology from all sides.  Historically, science has always had a thorny relationship with institutions of power. But what happens to societies which turn their backs on curiosity-driven research? And how can science lift the siege?  CBC Radio producer Mary Lynk looks for some answers in this three-part series..." (Image credit: Robert Short/CBC).

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