Monday, June 15, 2015

Relatively Mild, Quiet June for Minnesota - T.S. Bill Threatens Texas With More Extreme Flooding

78 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
79 F. average high on June 15.
76 F. high on June 15, 2014.

June 15, 1989: Scattered frost across Minnesota with the cold spot at Isabella with 29.
June 15, 1892: An estimated F5 tornado struck just north of the MN/IA border, killing 9. Large house timbers were found embedded in the ground three miles away from their foundations.

In Search of "Perfect"

"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it" said Salvador Dali. Where is the perfect place to visit or retire, a 21st century Garden of Eden with no weather drama? Good luck finding it.

California comes close, but it's running out of water - in the midst of historic drought. Arizona is sunny, but to paraphrase Sam Kinnison "You're living in a DESERT!" Florida? Too many storms with names. Hawaii comes very close, in spite of island fever and high prices. Seattle? Perfect, for drizzle-lovers.

It's probably human nature to want what you can't have. I like the changing of the seasons and traditions that come with a vibrant climate. Never a dull moment here.

Minnesota's weather can be maddening, but be glad you're not stranded in Texas, for many reasons. A tropical storm sweeping in off the Gulf of Mexico may drop some 10 inch rainfall amounts from Houston and Dallas to Tulsa; severe flooding possible hundreds of miles inland.

Comfortable sun fades by afternoon, half an inch or more of rain here on Wednesday. A swarm of T-storms returns Friday and Saturday; a few may turn severe. ECMWF guidance prints out 2.3 inches of rain by June 25.

Mostly-warm and partly-soggy. Yep, almost perfect.

* photo credit above: Pete Kreshitour.

Alerts Broadcaster Update: Issued Monday evening, June 15, 2015.

* As expected, the tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico has strengthened into Tropical Storm Bill, with sustained winds of 50 mph.
* The main threat is still excessive rainfall capable of more historic to catastrophic flooding across Texas and Oklahoma Tuesday and Wednesday, but severe flooding will extend many hundreds of miles inland, days after landfall.
* Latest model guidance suggests eventual flooding impacts may be greatest inland, closer to San Antonio and Austin.

Tropical Storm Bill. The storm in the Gulf of Mexico continues to gain strength and may hit the coastline of Texas Tuesday with sustained winds of 60 mph. The odds of Bill reaching hurricane status tless than 1 in 3. Latest statistics:

LOCATION...27.1N 94.2W
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...
* Baffin Bay to High Island Texas
RAINFALL:  Bill is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 4
to 8 inches over eastern Texas and eastern Oklahoma and 2 to 4
inches over western Louisiana and western Arkansas, with possible
isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches in eastern Texas.

WIND:  Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach the
coast within the warning area tonight.

STORM SURGE:  The combination of a storm surge and the tide will
cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising
waters.  The water could reach the following heights above ground if
the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide...

Upper Texas coast...2 to 4 feet
Western Louisiana coast...1 to 2 feet

Projected Path. The map above shows the latest National Hurricane Center estiminate of where the storm center will track. Historically the heaviest rains fall along and to the right (east) of the storm track. The relatively slow forward motion of "Bill" will prolong heavy rain, with some isolated 12" amounts possible, especially closer to San Antonio and Austin. Map: NOAA NHC.

Tropical Storm's Worth of Rain for the Ohio Valley? NOAA's HWRF hurricane model prints out some excessive 5-10" rains by Thursday or Friday as far away as St. Louis, Champaign-Urbana, Indianapolis, Dayton and Columbus. Facilities nearly 1,000 miles inland may be impacted by severe flooding, days after landfall. Source: WeatherBell.

GFS Model: 2-3 Month's Worth of Rain in 48-60 Hours. GFS guidance confirms excessive rains, hinting that Oklahoma City and Tulsa may pick up as much, or even more rain than portions of central and eastern Texas. Other major metro areas that may be impacted by severe flooding later this week include St. Louis, Evansville and Louisville.

Greater Flood Risk for San Antonio and Austin than Houston? This is still very speculative, but late evening runs of high-resolution weather models show some 12-16" rainfall amounts over the next 40 hours near San Antonio. If this verifies (still a big if) subsequent flooding could be catastrophic. The reality: it's still terribly difficult isolating exactly where thunderstorms will stall and "train", new storms popping up replacing old storms, tracking repeatedly over the same counties. Metro Houston will experience at least 3-6" of rain, which will spark moderate to major flooding, possibly rivaling the problems of 3 weeks ago. But I'm starting to believe that the most extreme rains and floods will come farther inland, from San Antonio and Austin northward to Abilene, Wichita Falls and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Severe flooding will probably extend into Oklahoma City and Tulsa by Tuesday Wednesday. RPM guidance: WSI

Timing The Next Wave of Flooding. NOAA's NAM model brings the first surge of heavy showers and T-storms into Texas as early as this evening. the heaviest rains may fall from Houston to Dallas and Oklahoma City Tuesday into Wednesday morning. Forecast model maps: AerisWeather.

Battening Down The Hatches. NWS Doppler radar at 10 PM Central shows a few initial spiral bands of heavy showers and T-storms approaching the coast, but the core of the storm, and some of the heaviest rains, are still 12-18 hours away. Texas state officials released  weather safety tips for Texas residents:
  • Assemble an emergency kit that includes essential documents, supplies and provisions; plan how all family members and pets will respond in case of evacuation.
  • Consider any special needs for individuals with disabilities or the elderly.
  • When severe storms threaten, the safest place to be is indoors. If you are outdoors, seek shelter in a home or large building.
  • Avoid areas already flooded and avoid any fast-flowing water; keep in mind that flood dangers are even harder to recognize at night.
  • Be extremely cautious of any water on roads or in creeks, streams, storm drains or other areas – never attempt to cross flowing streams or drive across flooded roadways – and always observe road barricades placed for your protection.
  • Remember that dangerous waters can seem deceptively calm, and if you encounter flooding, move to higher ground.
  • Monitor weather radios and news broadcasts for updated information on current and anticipated severe weather.
  • Always heed warnings and instructions provided by local officials and emergency management personnel.
Summary: We are closely monitoring the evolution of Tropical Storm Bill. Major to historic, even catastrophic flooding is possible for portions of Texas and Oklahoma. The recent I'm mentioning catastrophic is due to the obvious: May was the wettest on record for Texas and Oklahoma. Soil is waterlogged, saturated. Any additional heavy rain will quickly result in run-off and urban and river flooding. Although the short-term threat is greatest for Texas and Oklahoma facilities from Joplin and St. Louis to Louisville, Indianapolis and Columbus should track the movement of Bill's soggy remains. I expect very significant flooding well inland, days after landfall.

Paul Douglas, AerisWeather Senior Meteorologist

Hurricane Forecasters Struggle To Make Sense of Social Media. There is so much clutter, noise and nonsense on Twitter, FB, Instagram, Snapchat - people commenting on comments. Which is all good fun until a deadly storm is approaching. And then who are you going to believe, a spokesman for The National Hurricane Center, or some (idiot) second-guessing the official track of the storm? It's a free country, you can say what you want, believe what you want. Even if it gets you killed. Here's an excerpt of an interesting article at "Social media is an effective way to keep tabs on Katy Perry or stalk your ex, but how does it fare when a life-threatening emergency arises? Hurricane forecasters don’t seem keen on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as emergency-management tools, the Post’s Eliot Kleinberg reports from the National Hurricane Conference. They fret about the dilution of the old media model of news delivered straight from the experts’ mouths to your eyes and ears..."

Wet, But Not "Texas Wet". And to think just a few months ago the state of Texas was experiencing severe to exceptional drought. Expect some sun today but clouds increase by afternoon, another round of showers later tonight into Wednesday. We warm up a bit late in the week with strong to potentially severe T-storms Friday into Saturday.

Here's What NBC Can And Can't Do With Brian Williams. Vanity Fair has an update; here's an excerpt: "...After a flurry of media leaks, it appears Williams will not be returning to his old job at NBC Nightly News. The burning question now becomes if, as multiple media reports indicate, NBC really does want to keep Williams at the network in some other capacity, what on earth should they do with him? It’s a daunting problem, and one that the news division’s new chief, longtime Williams friend Andrew Lack, has, by most accounts, had his people studying for weeks. Lack’s directive, according to a report by CNN’s Brian Stelter, has been to “think creatively,” suggesting that almost any role other than the anchorman at Nightly News is on the table..." (File photo: Brad Barket/Invision/AP, File).

Music Is Free Now - And The Industry Only Has Itself To Blame. NewStatesman takes a look at something that would have seemed unthinkable as recently as the 1990s - here's a clip: "...Stephen Witt’s How Music Got Free details decades of foolishness in the industry and its decline in the 21st century by focusing on three simultaneous developments: the construction and massive growth of the Universal label, Brandenburg’s efforts to get the MP3 taken seriously and the contemporaneous development of the internet, on which a tiny group of hip-hop fans and computer geeks slowly dismantled a multimillion-pound industry..."

Image credit above: "Sound investment: the history of the record industry is a tale of technology, stars and shady deals." Photo Montage by Dan Murrell.

"Blizzard" of Mayflies Closes Bridge in Pennsylvania. ABC News has the gag-worthy details: "It was a scene straight from a nightmare. A town in Pennsylvania was invaded by swarming mayflies on Saturday night, causing three separate motorcycle accidents and closing a bridge for several hours, fire chief Douglas Kemmerly told ABC News today. The Wrightsville Fire Department responded to a motorcycle crash along the Veterans Memorial Bridge between the towns of Columbia and Wrightsville. Firefighters and police were bombarded by nickel-sized mayflies that turned the sky into a “blizzard,” Kemmerly said..." ) Photo credit: Todd Nissly, Wrightsville Fire & Rescue).

TODAY: Fading sun, quite comfortable for June. Dew point: 49. Winds: E 5-10. High: 73

TUESDAY NIGHT: Cloudy with showers developing late. Low: 61

WEDNESDAY: Cool with showers likely, locally heavy rain possible. High: near 70

THURSDAY: Plenty of sun, very pleasant. Wake-up: 60. High: 78

FRIDAY: T-storms likely, a few may be severe. Wake-up: 62. High: 81

SATURDAY: Still unsettled - showers and T-storms, sticky. Wake-up: 64. High: 80

SUNDAY: Unsettled, a few PM showers. Wake-up: 61. High: 75

MONDAY: Warm sunshine, late night thunder? Wake-up: 59. High: 78

Climate Stories...

Confronting Climate Change: Science, Education and Solutions. Climate Generation; a Will Steger Legacy is putting on a free presentation at the Science Museum in St. Paul this evening, featuring noted climate scientist and IPCC contributor Ben Santer. If you're interested in the topic and you have some time this evening the program runs from 7 PM to 9 PM. Details here: "Keynote speaker Ben Santer is a climate researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, specializing in the statistical analysis of climate data sets and the identification of human factors in climate variables. Santer received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, where he also holds a Ph.D in Climatology from its Climatic Research Unit. He served as convening lead author of the climate-change detection and attribution chapter of the 1995 IPCC report..."

Naomi Oreskes, a Lightning Rod in a Changing Climate. Justin Gillis has the story at The New York Times; here's a snippet: "...Her core discovery, made with a co-author, Erik M. Conway, was twofold. They reported that dubious tactics had been used over decades to cast doubt on scientific findings relating to subjects like acid rain, the ozone shield, tobacco smoke and climate change. And most surprisingly, in each case, the tactics were employed by the same group of people. The central players were serious scientists who had major career triumphs during the Cold War, but in subsequent years apparently came to equate environmentalism with socialism, and government regulation with tyranny..."

Iconic Keeling Curve Designated a Landmark. Here's more background from Climate Central: "The American Chemical Society has named the graph that charts that rise — called the Keeling Curve, so named after the scientist who began the CO2 measurements — as a National Historic Chemical Landmark. “The Keeling Curve is an icon of modern climate science,” Thomas J. Barton, the most recent past president of the ACS, said in a statement. The recognition that CO2 levels were building in the atmosphere thanks to human activities underpins the science of global warming..."

The Weather Channel Confronts Republicans on Climate Change. Eric Holthaus at Slate takes a look at an ambitious new campaign to raise awareness - focused at conservatives; here's an excerpt: "...The series of short videos, called Climate 25, is surprisingly political for a venue like the Weather Channel, and most are aimed at making the case for urgent action from a conservative, Republican angle. Among the featured speakers are U.S. Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby (Ret.); Henry Paulson, a former CEO of Goldman Sachs who served as secretary of the treasury under President George W. Bush from 2006 to 2009; and Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever. At one point, Christine Todd Whitman, the EPA administrator under George W. Bush, addresses Republicans directly, saying, “It’s our issue...”

Climate Engineering Would Cool Down The Climate - But It May Not Save West Antarctica. Chris Mooney at The Washington Post takes a look at geoengineering our way out of a warming climate, and the potential impact on West Antarctica; here's a clip: "...But it’s also very risky — there are many possible unintended consequences of geoengineering. Thus, the only reason to really consider it is if you’re on the verge of climate impacts so severe — impacts like, say, the potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, leading to 10 or more feet of global sea level rise — that it becomes the lesser evil. That’s why a new study recently accepted in Geophysical Research Letters could be so significant. For it calls into question whether geoengineering — at least using sulfate aerosols — can actually save this ice sheet, which is already beginning to be destabilized in our warming world..."

* the research abstract referenced above is here.

These Are The Countries Most and Least Interested in Climate Change. Mashable takes a look; here's an excerpt: "...The countries with the lowest climate change-related search volume are Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, Russia and Iraq. Syria, where drought played a role in leading to the country's current civil war, may rank low partly because ongoing fighting has led to intermittent power outages in Damascus and elsewhere. The two highest-ranked cities for climate-based searches are both in the Philippines, which is currently the world's most disaster-prone country. With frequent flooding in Manila, massive typhoons and volcanoes, the Philippines is becoming an emerging player in global climate talks..."

Paris 2015: The Harvests Are Coming Earlier, The Snow-Line Is Retreating, French Nonchalance Is Being Tested By A Warming Climate. Here's an excerpt from The Sydney Morning Herald: "...But in the meantime, signs of change are becoming ever more evident. In the Bordeaux region of south-west France, grape vines – long known to be a useful biological gauge of climate – are being harvested about two weeks earlier than 20 years ago, Planton says. Other regions are seeing similar shifts in the grape season, such as In the Champagne industry around Reims, about 150km north-east of Paris. There, the important flowering of vines has started 10 days earlier over recent decades..."

The World Is Off Course To Prevent 2 Degrees C of Warming, Says Energy Agency. Chris Mooney reports at The Washington Post; here's the intro: "In a major report to be released Monday, the Paris-based International Energy Agency — which provides independent energy analysis and has 29 member countries, including the United States — will state that current national commitments to cut greenhouse gases are ambitious but still insufficient to keep the world below two degrees Celsius of warming above preindustrial levels. At the same time, the agency will also offer a path forward, showing how the world, with a bit more ambition, could peak its emissions by the year 2020 and get onto a safer path..." (File image: NASA).

Collapse of Ancient Ice Sheet Triggered Global Climate Change Events. Not all ice ages are created equal. Here's a clip from a story at Design & Trend: "...To our surprise, the sequence of climate events 135,000 years ago looks very different from what happened at the end of the last ice age, about 20,000 to 10,000 years ago," study lead author Dr. Gianluca Marino, of The Australian National University, said in a statement. "Ice-ages may superficially look similar to one another, but there are important differences in the relationships between the melting of continental ice sheets and global climate changes..."

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