Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Thursday Soaker Brewing - Republican Entrepreneur Pledges $175 to Push GOP on Climate Change

92 F. high temperature at MSP yesterday, 3 degrees shy of the record high for June 9.
77 F. average high on June 9.
70 F. high on June 9, 2014.

June 9, 2002: Extensive flash flood began across northwest Minnesota. 14.55 inches would fall over the next 48 hours near Lake of the Woods. Floodwaters covered the city of Roseau. The Roseau River looked like a large lake from a satellite view.

June 9, 1913: Strange mirage in Duluth. Ships appeared to be floating in the air over Lake Superior.

Failing Forward

"You can't stop the waves but you can learn to surf". How much of life is talent, timing or luck? Great question. The most important attribute isn't heritage, upbringing or even education.

It's curiosity.

Questioning everything, wondering (out loud) how to make things better, faster, stronger, cheaper. I sure don't have the answer key - but one thing Americans do better than anyone else: we tinker, experiment and fail. Unlike other countries there's no stigma for failure. We fail forward, until we succeed. Ask any entrepreneur. If you're not failing it means you're not really trying.

To be a synoptic meteorologist is to embrace failure. Because you can't learn how to predict the weather out of a textbook. It's trial and error. And error - and error. You learn from your mistakes, in public, without a safety net.

Expect a slightly cooler breeze today with generous sunshine and a dip in humidity levels; the next round of showers and T-storms arrives Thursday. Some 1-3 inch rainfall amounts may soak far southern Minnesota; flash flooding can't be ruled out from the Twin Cities to the Iowa border.

Skies should clear Friday midday and afternoon - mild sunshine on tap for Saturday's big Minnesota Military Family Tribute Dedication Ceremony at the State Capitol in St. Paul.

Tuesday's Severe Thunderstorms. A broken squall line of intense to severe storms boiled up late in the afternoon and evening, dropping 1.75" diameter hail near Becker. A few severe storm warnings were issued, but the storms cooled things off quickly, providing some much-needed relief from 90-degree heat. Satellite loop: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Alien Sky. I snapped this photo yesterday around 7:30 PM as strong storms were pushing into Hennepin County. Winds gusted to 50 mph with a few minutes of pea-size hail. Yet boaters remained on the lake, much to my amazement.

Broiling Tuesday Heat. You thought it was hot in the Twin Cities? Montevideo, Appleton and Morris all reached at least 99F yesterday. Mercifully dew points were in the low to mid 50s, which made it feel a little more tolerable.

Severe Weather Reports So Far in 2015. Here are the locations of tornadoes and funnels (red), 1"+ hail (green dots) and straight-line wind damage (blue) for Minnesota and Wisconsin so far this year. All things considered it's been pretty quiet - no devastating squall lines or major tornadoes impacting heavily populated areas. So far we've been pretty lucky. Source: NOAA SPC.

Moderately Warm - Extremely Wet. Heavy showers and storms are spaced about 2-3 days apart; a good chance of heavy showers and T-storms over southern Minnesota Thursday, again Saturday night and Tuesday of next week. Temperatures average a few degrees above normal through the end of next week. No extended heat spells brewing just yet. Source: Weatherspark.

Thursday Soaker Potential. Last night's 00z NAM run from NOAA prints out 3.6" of rain for the Twin Cities Thursday into early Friday. If we come close to those amounts there may be some flash flooding in the metro late Thursday into rush hour Friday morning.

Trending Even Wetter. Thursday's heavy rain will be focused on far southern Minnesota and Iowa; in fact the next 2-3 storms will take a more southerly track. NOAA models suggest some 3-6" rainfall amounts from from the Plains to the Midwest and Great Lakes over the next 7 days. If this forecast verifies I could see some flash flooding and even river flooding from southern Minnesota to Madison, Des Moines and Chicago.

2014 Billion Dollar Weather Disasters. Here's an update on last year's major weather and climate disasters, courtesy of NOAA NCDC: "Updating our January release on the number of billion dollar weather and climate events last year, in 2014, there were eight weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States that cumulatively caused over $17 billion in losses. This makes 2014 similar to 2013, which had nine events and over $24 billion in losses (CPI-adjusted). Since 1980, the year 2011 had the most billion-dollar events (16) while 2005 remains the most damaging year with over $200 billion in losses (CPI-adjusted)."

May Was Wettest Month on Record for Contiguous USA. Here's an excerpt from NOAA's NCDC, The National Climatic Data Center: "...The May precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 4.36 inches, 1.45 inches above average. This was the wettest May on record, and the wettest month of any month, in the 121-years of record keeping. For the spring season, the contiguous U.S. precipitation total was 9.33 inches, 1.39 inches above average, and the 11th wettest on record. This analysis of U.S. temperature and precipitation is based on data back to January 1895, resulting in 121 years of data..."

A few highlights from May:
-  U.S. temperature average was 0.6 degrees F. above average and near the median value in the 121 year record.
-  11th warmest spring on record for the contiguous U.S.
-   Wettest May on record and the wettest month of any in the 121-years of record keeping.
-   Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island had record warmth in May.

* Thanks to Chad Merril at Earth Networks for passing these nuggets along.

Rainy May Sets Record for Soggy U.S. More perspective from Climate Central; here's a clip of a recent article: "...Because of global warming, such heavy downpours are on the rise in the U.S.; a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, which gives rainstorms more fuel. A new Climate Central analysis shows that Texas has seen a 20 percent increase in the heaviest 1 percent of rainfall events in the past 65 years. Individual cities have seen even higher increases: McAllen, Texas, for example, has seen a 700 percent increase in such downpours and Houston a 167 percent uptick. On the other end of the rainfall spectrum, a lack of rain played a role in the considerable warmth that baked Alaska in May. Not only did Alaska see a statewide average temperature for the month that was 7.1°F above average, but it also got the earliest 90°F day in state history..." (Image credit: "Temperatures across Alaska on May 23, 2015." Courtesy of NOAA).

Everybody Out! Evacuating An Entire City to Prep for Fire Season. Bloomberg Business reports on the logistics of trying to evacuate an entire town - a drill meant to prepare residents for a potentially extreme fire season; here's an excerpt: "...Despite the record spending, there’s little evidence that pouring money on the flames is decreasing fire size or destructiveness. Fire seasons now burn six times the acreage they did 40 years ago and three times the number of homes that went up in smoke just 20 years ago. The increases can be blamed on a hundred years of fire suppression, which has allowed fire-adapted forests to grow unnaturally thick, and climate change, which has lengthened drought and fire intensity in kind. Even though fires are proving harder to control, and extinguishing them is bad for forest health, agencies continue to fight wildfires because 140 million people live in fire-prone areas in the U.S. In other words, it’s a matter of public safety..."

The Deadly Combination of Heat and Humidity. The New York Times has a good article and explainer on wet bulb temperature, and how it's a better indicator of heat stress than traditional dew point. Here's an excerpt: "...These heat waves will only become more common as the planet continues to warm. They don’t just affect tropical, developing countries; they’re a threat throughout the world. The July 1995 heat wave in the Midwest caused over 700 deaths in Chicago. The August 2003 heat wave in western Europe led to about 45,000 deaths. The July-August 2010 heat wave in western Russia killed about 54,000 people..."

Hurricanes Can Inflict Major Damage Beyond Their Predicted Paths. Here's a snippet of a good article and timely reminder from James Franklin at NHC, The Conversation, and Scientific American: "...Nearly 20 years later, even as the science has progressed, Max Mayfield’s advice is still sound—don’t focus on the skinny black line! Forecasts are uncertain, and an appreciation of that uncertainty is essential to smart decision-making when hurricanes threaten. To help educate users, NHC has established a web page dedicated to forecast accuracy. Please drop by and have a look to see how well our forecasts measure up. And finally, even though NOAA and others are expecting a relatively quiet 2015 Atlantic hurricane season, remember: it takes only one bad storm in your neighborhood to make it a bad year for you." (Hurricane Isaac file photo: NASA MODIS).

Better Hurricane Observation Techniques Over The Decades Make Big Storms Less Deadly. Here's an except of an interesting story at Live Science: "...Landline telegraph reports and, after 1910, radio ship reports formed the observational basis of real-time forecasts until Joseph Duckworth flew a single-engine instrument-training airplane into the “Surprise” Hurricane of 1943. Once aviators realized they could penetrate to the centers of hurricanes and live, aircraft reconnaissance of hurricanes became routine. Observational tools were still primitive — visual estimation of wind direction and speed based on the appearance of the sea and extrapolation of surface pressures from altitudes of a few hundred feet..."

Photo credit above: "The unnamed Categor 4 hurricane that slammed into Galveston, Texas, Sept. 8, 1900 remains the deadliest to ever hit the United States, having killed at least 8,000 people (estimates vary) and leveling virtually the entire town." Credit: NOAA Photo Library.

Deadliest Tornado in New England History. The Boston office of the National Weather Service has an infographic on the Worcester, MA tornado of June 9, 1953, whick killed 94 people and injured over 1,000. It was a rare F4, up to a mile wide at times.

Our Fate Is Tied To Our Ocean. Here's the introduction to a story at Huffington Post: "It's not an exaggeration to say that we depend upon the ocean for our very existence. It regulates our climate and our weather. It generates half of the oxygen we breathe. It provides food and income for billions of people. Covering almost three-quarters of the planet, the mighty ocean is -- without a doubt -- a natural resource like no other. Our fate is inextricably tied to the ocean's fate and the ocean is in trouble..."

President Obama's Eulogy For Beau Biden. Thanks to Dave Pell for providing the full text of the President's remarks at medium.com - honoring an amazing man. It's some of the most beautiful writing I've ever encountered. Here's an excerpt: "...We do not know how long we’ve got here. We don’t know when fate will intervene. We cannot discern God’s plan. What we do know is that with every minute that we’ve got, we can live our lives in a way that takes nothing for granted. We can love deeply. We can help people who need help. We can teach our children what matters, and pass on empathy and compassion and selflessness. We can teach them to have broad shoulders..."

Photo credit above: "President Barack Obama pauses as he delivers the eulogy in honor of former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, Del., Saturday, June 6, 2015. Biden, the vice president's eldest son, died at the age of 46 after a battle with brain cancer." (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

How Safe is Air Quality on Commercial Planes. The BBC takes a look; here's a snippet of their report: "...Aviation lawyer Frank Cannon believes pilots and cabin crew are at greatest risk, and as a result of exposure to contaminated air could become unfit to fly. He believes in some instances pilots may be willing to hide cognitive dysfunction or memory deficits caused by the poor air quality for fear of losing their jobs, which puts others at risk. In other instances, he says, pilots may not be aware of the symptoms, meaning they similarly continue to fly while unsafe to do so..."

TODAY: Sunny, a bit less humid. Dew point: 55. Winds: NW 10. High: near 80

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and more comfortable. Low: 62

THURSDAY: Showers & T-storms, heaviest southern Minnesota. High: near 70

FRIDAY: Damp start, then rapid clearing. Wake-up: 59. High: 76

SATURDAY: Fading sun, dry most of the day. T-storms at night. Wake-up: 58. High: 77

SUNDAY: Rain tapers, slow PM clearing. Wake-up: 61. High: 80

MONDAY: Sticky, intervals of sun. Dew point: 64. Wake-up: 65. High: 83

TUESDAY: Next round of showers, T-storms. Wake-up: 63. High: 77

Climate Stories...

Spring Climate Recap. The map above was generated by NOAA NCDC, which has more details on major weather and climate events during spring of 2015 here.

Coal-Plant Rules Proposed by EPA Survive Challenge in Federal Court. Here's the latest from The New York Times: "A federal court on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by the nation’s largest coal companies and 14 coal-producing states that sought to block one of President Obama’s signature climate change regulations. The lawsuit, Murray Energy v. E.P.A., challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. If enacted, the rule could shutter hundreds of such plants, freeze construction of future plants and slow demand for coal production in the United States..."

File photo credit above: "In this Tuesday Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. The Obama Administration’s hotly debated plan to cut the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide coming out of the nation’s power plants will save about 3,500 lives a year from also reducing other types of pollutions, a new independent study concludes." (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

Risk of Flooding Rises With Global Warming, Says Study. We're witnessing more frequent bursts of extremely heavy rain. In many cases Infrastructure designed and built in the 20th century can't keep up with 21st century downpours. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Toronto Star: "...Peak rainfall during storms will intensify as the climate changes and temperatures rise, leading to increased flash flood risks, especially in urban areas, new research from Australia indicates. Scientists at the University of New South Wales in Sydney analyzed about 40,000 storms from three decades in Australia and found that warming temperatures are dramatically disrupting rainfall patterns within storms..."

Image credit above: Virginia Department of Transportation.

Republican Pledges $175 Million To Push Party on Climate. An unlikely headline, signs of a growing schism within the GOP on environmental matters. Here's an excerpt from Politico: "A Republican entrepreneur is putting a whopping $175 million behind a campaign whose message will have some party stalwarts seeing red: The GOP needs to deal with climate change. North Carolina businessman Jay Faison will launch a social media and online advertising blitz, backed by state and national digital advocacy efforts and a series of strategic grants, as part of a $165 million campaign run through the ClearPath Foundation..."

Secretive Donors Gave U.S. Climate Denial Groups $125 Million Over Three Years. Wonder why there's so much confusion and disinformation out there? It's bought and paid for. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "The secretive funders behind America’s conservative movement directed around $125m (£82m) over three years to groups spreading disinformation about climate science and committed to wrecking Barack Obama’s climate change plan, according to an analysis of tax records. The amount is close to half of the anonymous funding disbursed to rightwing groups, underlining the importance of the climate issue to US conservatives. The anonymous cash flow came from two secretive organisations – the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund – that have been called the “Dark Money ATM” of the conservative movement..."

Faith Groups Seek Climate Deal Boost From Pope, Pilgrimage. Here are a couple of excepts from a story at Thomson Reuters Foundation: "...Climate change has begun to motivate religious leaders and believers over the past two years because "it has become an issue with a human face" as the effects of extreme weather - such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines - and sea-level rise have become clearer, he said...The organisers of the People's Pilgrimage said anyone can undertake their own journey, and share the details via an interactive website: http://peoplespilgrimage.org/..."

Pope Francis is a Christian, Not a Communist. Breaking news, courtesy of New Republic; here's an excerpt: "...Suspicion of the types of accumulation that characterize capitalism—including the massive build-up of wealth among a small number of unimaginably rich plutocrats—is therefore more common to Christianity than the unreserved embrace of the same that is now typical of American right-wingers. Rather than asking if Pope Francis’ positions on reducing inequality and protecting the environment are products of communism, it would be much wiser and more insightful to ask if conservative rejection of environmentalism and egalitarianism are really products of Christianity..."

Photo credit above: Luca Zennaro/Pool Photo via AP.

We're All Climate Change Deniers At Heart. Some more than others. Here's an excerpt of an interesting read at The Guardian: "...In fact, if a cabal of evil psychologists had gathered in a secret undersea base to concoct a crisis humanity would be hopelessly ill-equipped to address, they couldn’t have done better than climate change. We’ve evolved to respond more vigorously to threats that are immediate and easy to picture mentally, rather than those that are distant and abstract; we’re more sensitive to intentional threats from specific humans, rather than unintentional ones resulting from collective action; we’re terrible at making small sacrifices in the present to avoid vast ones in future; our attention is seized by phenomena that change daily, rather than those that ratchet up gradually over years..."

Montana Farmers Union Releases Report on Climate Change's Impacts. KPAX.com reports on the effects of a warmer, more volatile climate on Montana's agricultural sector; here's an excerpt: "...Since 1900, the average temperature in Montana has risen 2.4°F.  Research shows that producers will have to prepare for a number of challenges as the impacts of climate change are felt, including reduced water availability in mid-late summer, increased pressure from weeds and pests, a reduction in the yield and quality of grains, and more occurrences of severe weather and drought. Dr. Fabian Menalled, a professor in MSU's Dept. of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, is studying how climate change could impact Montana's grain producers..."

How Young People Are Tackling Climate Change. The Guardian interviewed a number of young people for their views, perspectives and what they're doing to help; here's an excerpt that resonated with me: "...As I drove home after the meeting, I kept on trying to make excuses as to why I was justified in driving to the meeting. But I couldn’t get over the fact that at my heart I was a hypocrite. I am expecting my government to take radical action; I am expecting those around me to give a damn; but I myself haven’t made the radical change in my life. As yet, I still haven’t – but I can’t ignore my hypocrisy now. Perhaps my greatest motivation is that, as a Christian preacher, I cannot stand in the pulpit preaching “change” with any integrity unless I am willing and have taken steps to make that change!..."

Image credit: The faces behind #groundup.

Lindsey Graham Urges Action on Climate Change. Is the GOP orthodoxy on fossil fuel support breaking down or is Senator Graham whistling in the wind? Personally, he's the voice of science-sanity in the wilderness, and we wish him well in his quest to become President of the United States. Here's an excerpt from Politico: "...If I’m president of the United States, we’re going to address climate change, CO2 emissions in a business-friendly way,” the South Carolina senator said. “I do believe that climate change is real.” ”When 90 percent of the doctors tell you you’ve got a problem, do you listen to the one?” Graham added, in a nod to the vast majority of scientists who say climate change is real and caused by human activity..." (Photo credit: AP).

Richard Parker: The Price of Ignoring Climate Change. From crippling droughts to biblical floods, Texas, along with Florida and California, appear to be some of the first states to be directly impacted by a warmer ocean and warmer seas, sparking more weather extremes and whiplash. A columnist at The Dallas Morning News is challenging Ted Cruz and other climate change skeptics/denialists on the science; here's an excerpt: "If Ted Cruz wants to be president, then I have an invitation for him: He should spend the next year not campaigning but instead cleaning mold out of homes and hauling and burning debris along the Blanco River. The reality is that there is a profound disconnect between the politicians of Texas and the 27 million Texans who increasingly feel the effects of climate change. Texas is getting hotter and drier before much of the rest of the country, and that only makes storms worse as they defy nearly every model. The science is clear; only the politicians are fuzzy..."

File photo credit above: "Mark Baker takes photos of the Trinity River in Dallas on Saturday, May 30, 2015. The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for portions of Central and South Texas, which could see as much as five inches of rain Saturday if a storm system stalls over the area." (AP Photo/Rex C. Curry).

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