Friday, June 12, 2015

Half-Decent Weekend - Quiet Start to Summer - Minnesota Is Entirely Drought Free

79 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.
78 F. average high on June 12.
66 F. high on June 12, 2014.

June 12, 2001: A severe thunderstorm in Kandiyohi County produced wind gusts of 119 mph and tennis-ball sized hail.
June 12, 1917: The ice pack finally breaks up in Duluth, one of the latest ever.
June 12, 1899: A killer F5 tornado ripped through New Richmond, WI. Unfortunately, about 1000 extra people were in town for a circus. 117 people were killed and 200 were injured. 300 buildings were destroyed and a 3000 pound safe was carried a full block.

No Regrets

I turned 57 yesterday, which is remarkable, because in my head I'm still 23. My body disagrees. I miss the old days, the mid-80s, when columnist Nick Coleman referred to me as "weatherboy". Oh, the memories.

My wife and I are travel junkies; we're now up to 47 countries and counting. With so many people we care about facing serious health challenges we're not going to wait. We want to see as much as we can right now. Take nothing for granted.

Live a life of no regrets.

We've been on a weather winning streak as of late. Think about it: the drought is over, farmers relieved, water in our lakes. No heat waves or biblical floods, and severe weather has been spotty to non-existent; no major tornado outbreaks or car-denting hailstorms.

We have been blessed with relatively benign weather.

The best chance of a pop-up shower today comes east of the St. Croix River in Wisconsin. Most of the weekend will be dry; near 70F today - more sun and a shot at 80F Sunday. A perpetual parade of Canadian cool fronts will keep the epicenter of blast-furnace heat well south of Minnesota, with temperatures very close to average for this time of year. Nice.

An easy summer? Hey, a guy can dream.

Mixed Bag. Much of central Minnesota will see little or no rain this weekend. Sprinkles or light showers are most likely today over southeast and far eastern Minnesota and Wisconsin. An eastbound front shoves a few T-showers into the Red River Valley and northern Minnesota by Sunday afternoon. Source: Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Lurking Cloudcover. Dry, Canadian exhaust behind Thursday's fickle storm scoured away the clouds Friday, leaving us with brilliant sunshine and a fresh breeze, as good as it gets in June (or any month, come to think of it). A return flow from the southeast may bring some of those clouds and a few spotty showers and sprinkles back into eastern Minnesota and Wisconsin today. 1 km visible loop: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Welcome Whiplash. Minnesota is now entirely drought-free, with recent heavy rains and a lack of sustained heat, soil moisture is in good shape, statewide. The turn-around has been dramatic. Graphic above courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Completely Drought-Free. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows pockets of dry weather from Garrison and Hinckley to Duluth and far northern Minnesota, but the entire state is now drought-free. That was fast.

All or Nothing. California continues to wither; water restrictions are becoming even more severe, while east of the Rockies the rains have no intention of stopping anytime soon. Heaviest amounts should stay south of Minnesota and Wisconsin, with an arc of 3-6" in the next week forecast from Columbus and Indianapolis to Kansas City, Wichita and Oklahoma City. The last thing Texas needs is more rain, but NOAA ensemble guidance prints out over 8" of rain near Houston and Galveston by next Friday evening, the 19th, as a possible tropical depression comes in off the Gulf of Mexico.

NAM Guidance. NHC, the National Hurricane Center, isn't convinced yet (only a 10% probability of tropical formation as of Friday night) but the NAM brings what appears to be a tropical depression or even a tropical storm into coastal Texas by late Monday or early Tuesday of next week. Heaviest showers stay south of Minnesota today and Sunday; a sprinkle or light shower can't be ruled out today, especially east of St. Paul. A few spotty T-storms may sprout tomorrow with more sun (and instability). Loop: NOAA.

No Hot Fronts In Sight. I keep waiting for sizzling air to surge north (and linger), but it's not to be looking out the next week to 10 days. In fact a cooling trend is predicted for late next week; the best chance of heavy rain and strong T-storms 1 week from today with highs holding in the 60s, according to NOAA guidance. Take all of this with a grain of salt, but the headline is: no sweaty weather brewing anytime soon.

Free A/C. NOAA's GFS model looking out 2 weeks shows a few closed lows rippling just north of Minnesota, each one kicking up showers and cool exhaust. With this aggressive zonal pattern, more typical of early May, hot air won't be streaming north of the Iowa border anytime soon. It looks very hot for the southern half of the USA, but Minnesota and northern tier states get a break through the end of June.

A Hot June 9th. Mark Seeley has details on Tuesday's heat spike across the state in this week's edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk: "Tuesday, June 9th brought southerly winds, plenty of sunshine and the warmest temperatures across the state since July of last year.  Over 50 Minnesota climate stations reported daily high temperatures of 90°F or greater, topped by 99°F at a few locations.  Some communities tied or set new high temperature records, including:

99°F at Madison
98F at Browns Valley
97°F at Marshall
96°F at Minnesota City Dam
96°F at La Crosse, WI
95°F at Sioux Falls, SD (tied record)
93°F at Rochester (tied record)..."

El Nino Muscles Up, A Promising Sign For A Wet Winter in California. It may be a little early for celebration. Although the odds of a wet fall and winter are higher, not all El Nino events result in copious rains for California. Time will tell. Here's a clip from a Los Angeles Times story: "...It's "evolving nicely,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center. “Should we see a really strong event, that tilts the odds toward a wetter winter for you guys” in California. The next few months will tell, he said, "whether this takes a life of its own … or this backs away a little bit.” How strong El Niño will be by winter, which is California’s rainy season, is important. Very strong El Niños in the past -- notably in the winters of 1982-83 and 1997-98 -- have brought substantial rainfall to all of California..."

Photo credit above: "In this Friday, June 5, 2015, photo, Tony Corcoran looks at the map on his smartphone while driving through the neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, Calif. Corcoran is one of several people who spend their spare time these days canvassing the tony communities of Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and elsewhere, looking for people wasting water during the worst California drought in recent memory." (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong).

85% Chance El Nino Lingers Into Next Winter - Little Relief Expected for California Drought. The implications? Most (but not all) El Nino warm phases in the Pacific result in milder, tamer winters for Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. An interesting correlation but would I bet the farm on that? Nope. Here are a couple of excerpts from a long discussion from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center: "There is a greater than 90% chance that El Nino will continue through Northern Hemisphere fall 2015, and around an 85% chance it will last through the 2015-16 winter...Across the continguous United States, temperatures and precipitation impacts associated with El Nino are expected to remain minimal during the Northern Hemisphere summer and increase into the late fall and winter (the 3-month seasonal outlook will be updated on Thursday June 18th). El Nino will likely be a contributor to a below normal Atlantic hurricane season, and above-normal hurricane seasons in both the central and eastern Pacific hurricane basins.."

Watch Out For Flood-Damaged Cars Coming Out of Texas. More complications from the recent (biblical) floods in Texas. The Consumerist has some good advice - here's a link and excerpt: "... When a car is destroyed in a flood and sold to be rebuilt or “salvaged,” there’s supposed to be a special notation on the title. That doesn’t always happen, or you may not realize what a different state’s salvage title notation looks like. How can you protect yourself from unknowingly buying a flood-damaged vehicle? First, check multiple sources when performing a background check on your vehicle: our mildew-free colleagues down the hall at Consumer Reports recommend cross-checking multiple sources for signs that there’s been some shenanigans with the car’s title..."

California Is Sinking, And It's Getting Worse. That's what happens when you drill ever-deeper into aquifers, in search of dwindling underground water supplies. Here's an excerpt of an eye-opening article at "California is sinking – and fast. While the state’s drought-induced sinking is well known, new details highlight just how severe it has become and how little the government has done to monitor it. Last summer, scientists recorded the worst sinking in at least 50 years. This summer, all-time records are expected across the state as thousands of miles of land in the Central Valley and elsewhere sink. But the extent of the problem and how much it will cost taxpayers to fix are part of the mystery of the state’s unfolding drought..."

The U.S. Produces More Oil Now Than Saudi Arabia, And Other Tectonic Shifts In The Energy Sector. Quartz has the jaw-dropping story - here's an excerpt: "...Changes on the supply side should be pretty obvious. Thanks to controversial fracking techniques and massive investments in shale, the US has raised its oil output dramatically. It now produces more of the stuff than Saudi Arabia for the first time since 1991—a fact that gives an extra edge to the two countries’ battle for energy supremacy..."

This Big Texas City Will Soon Be Powered Entirely By Wind and Sun. And it's not the People's Republic of Austin, either. ThinkProgress has the details; here's an excerpt: "...Located about 30 miles north of the Texas capital in a deeply conservative county, the city of Georgetown will be powered 100 percent by renewable energy within the next couple years. Georgetown’s residents and elected officials made the decision to invest in two large renewable energy projects, one solar and one wind, not because they reduced greenhouse gas emissions or sent a message about the viability of renewable energy — but because it just made sense, according to Mayor Dale Ross..."

Photo credit above: flickr/ Jeffrey W. Spencer.

Pothole-Tracking For Your Vehicle? Jaguar is about to launch an ambitious new feature - I shudder to think what the cost is here in the USA. Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "Jaguar Land Rover claims that potholes cause £2.8 billion (US$4.3 billion) worth of damage every year in Britain alone. Often lurking unseen until it's too late, they can puncture or shred tires, damage wheels and suspensions, and break axles. Now the company is developing the Pothole Alert system, which can not only identify the location and severity of potholes, broken drains, raised manholes, and similar hazards, but can warn other vehicles about them as well..."

Japan May Soon Have Toilets In Elevators. I can't tell you how many times I've had to go while hurtling up and down in a small metallic tube. I wish I had thought of this. Actually there's a good reason, at least on paper. The Washington Post has an excerpt: "...According to Kyodo, the Japanese government called meetings with the country's elevator industry to discuss the idea after a magnitude-8.1 earthquake struck south of Tokyo on Saturday evening, causing about 19,000 elevators in the city and nearby to stop working. People were trapped in 14 elevators and it took 70 minutes to rescue some of them, officials told Kyodo. If a larger earthquake strikes, the problem could be far, far worse..." (Tokyo skyline: Wikipedia).

TODAY: Cool with more clouds than sun, best chance of a shower over WI. Winds: SE 10. High: 71

SATURDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds. Low: 62

SUNDAY: More sun, warmer with an isolated T-shower. Winds: E 10. High: near 80

MONDAY: Stray shower, then clearing skies. Wake-up: 63. High: 80

TUESDAY: Sunny, less humid. Dew point: 53. Wake-up: 58. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Unsettled, few T-storms nearby. Wake-up: 59. High: 75

THURSDAY: Partly sunny and sticky. DP: 61. Wake-up: 57. High: 79

FRIDAY: Sunny, refreshing breeze. Wake-up: 60. High: 77

Climate Stories...

Polar Bears Are Now Eating Dolphins In The Arctic. Unusually warm water is luring dolphins far from their traditional waters, as reported at VICE News; here's the intro: "The good news: Polar bears, imperiled by climate change, appear to have found something new to eat. The bad news: It's dolphins. Scientists studying bears on the Arctic shores of Norway found several of the white-coated predators feasting on the remains of white-beaked dolphins, which appeared to have become trapped under the ice of a fjord..."

Photo credit above: Jon Aars/Norwegian Polar Institute.

New Charges of Climate Skeptic's Undisclosed Ties to Energy Industry Highlight Journals' Role as Gatekeeper. PLOS, the Public Library of Science, has an interesting blog post; here's an excerpt: "...Thanks to documents obtained from court settlements, whistleblowers and investigations by reporters and U.S. congressmen, we know that corporations hire scientists to write studies that help delay regulations, defend products worth billions and discredit research to protect their bottom line. Reviews of studies in several high-stake fields, including pharmaceutical research, chemical toxicity and passive smoking, have found a “funding effect.” Researchers who receive funding from industry in these fields, the reviews show, are more likely than those who don’t take industry money to publish results in line with the company’s interests..."

How The Pope Could Turn U.S. Climate Politics Upside Down. Here's a snippet from a story at Bloomberg Business: "...Climate change is about to join the list of things faith leaders are always on our case about. Are the values celebrated in church preeminent in the workplace? Is our lifestyle consistent with what we believe? These are questions Francis wants Catholics, and everybody else, to begin asking themselves when it comes to global warming and global poverty, closely related issues.   “This is not about Al Gore,” says Mitch Hescox, head of the Evangelical Environmental Network, which promotes care of the earth among evangelical Christians. “This is about being a disciple of Jesus Christ.”

Photo credit above: "Pope Francis" talks with Poland's Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz during a private audience at the Vatican, Friday, June 12, 2015." (Gabriel Bouys/Pool Photo via AP).

Pope Francis: "Let Us Modify Our Relationship With Natural Resources". Here's an excerpt from Religion News Service: "People must change their lifestyles and attitudes to help defeat hunger, Pope Francis said Thursday (June 11), a hint of what may be coming in his much-anticipated environmental encyclical next week. “We must begin with our daily lives if we want to change lifestyles, aware that our small gestures can guarantee sustainability and the future of the human family,” said Francis, addressing delegates at a conference hosted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. “Let us modify our relationship with natural resources, land use, consumption, and eliminate waste. Thus shall we defeat hunger,” he added..."

Climate Change Making Poison Ivy, Oak Stronger, Scientists Say. has the details on why we may soon have more of an itch that a scratch can't reach; here's an excerpt: "...This isn't the first time researchers are warning the public about the renewed growth of the poisonous plants. In 2006, a study was published linking rising carbon dioxide levels with larger, stronger poison ivy, oak and sumac plants.  Jacqueline Mohan, then an assistant professor at University of Georgia, conducted that study with multiple types of plants, and the poisonous cousins were the winner by a wide margin, according to PBS. “It was the most responsive species to the higher carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Mohan said. “The average little tree that I measured grew 8 percent faster. And poison ivy grew 149 percent faster than it would have under ambient, normal carbon dioxide conditions...” (File photo: Joe Lamp'l/MCT).

The Weird Effect Climate Change Will Have On Plant Growth. The negatives may outweigh the positives; here's a clip from a story at NEWSWEEK: "...Climate change affects a number of variables that determine how much plants can grow. A 7% decline in the average number of freezing days will actually aid plant growth, according to the study, which relied on an analysis of satellite data and weather projections. At the same time, extreme temperatures, a decrease in water availability and changes to soil conditions will actually make it more difficult for plants to thrive. Overall, climate change is expected to stunt plant growth..."

Tree Rings Confirm Unprecedented Warming in Central Asia. Here's the introduction to a story at "...A new study of tree rings from Mongolia dating back more than 1,000 years confirms that recent warming in central Asia has no parallel in any known record. In recent decades, temperatures have been ascending more rapidly here than in much of the world, but scientists have lacked much evidence to put the trend into a long-term context. The study does not implicitly raise the issue of human-induced warming, but is sure to be seen as one more piece of evidence that it is at work. The study appears in the journal Quaternary Science Review...

Photo credit above: "Researchers sample a dead tree in northern Mongolia." Credit: Nicole Davi.

15 Facts About Sea Level Rise That Should Scare The (Crap) Out Of You. Here's an excerpt of a guest post at "...In terms of dollars at risk, Guangzhou, China, in the Pearl River Delta, is more vulnerable to sea-level rise than any other city in the world, according to the World Bank. Many of the most vulnerable cities should look familiar, especially to Americans. After Guangzhou, Miami, New York and New Orleans are next..."

Image credit above: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, EPA.

These Low-Lying Nations Say They're Going To Sue Fossil Fuel Companies. VICE News has the story; here's the introduction: "Faced with an expected future of rising seas and more powerful storms, Pacific Islanders say they're going to take carbon polluters to court to preserve "our people and our environment." "As the people most acutely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, we will not let the big polluters decide and assign our fate," states the "People's Declaration for Climate Justice," issued this week in Vanuatu. "Our rights and ability to survive must not be dictated by the continued addiction to the burning of fossil fuels..."

Climate Change Is A "Moral Issue", Says Archbishop On Papal Encyclical. NPR has the interview; here's an excerpt that caught my attention: "...Well, Catholic Church teachings are based on scripture, and scripture from the book of Genesis tells us that we are stewards of creation, that the Lord has entrusted us the earth. And he expects us to be good stewards. Part of that stewardship would be to care for creation in ways that are helpful and in ways that also preserve it for future generations. So I think the pope is not talking out of a vacuum. You have to remember that Pope Benedict was called a green pope because he was the one that put solar panels on the roof of the Paul VI Audience Hall. And I think now with this new encyclical, maybe Pope Francis will be known as the greener pope..."

NASA Releases Dataset of Global Climate Change Predictions Up To 2100. Here's a snippet from "...NASA has released a dataset setting out how rainfall and temperature patterns are likely to change in the coming decades. The data covers 21 climate models, mapping how our environment could change due to growing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The information for the dataset was compiled as part of the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) – a collaborative analytical platform that harnesses the power of state-of-the-art supercomputing, combining it with NASA remote-sensing data to provide scientists with direct access to huge pools of data..."

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