Sunday, June 14, 2015

Wet & Cooler Than Average Next 2 Weeks - Tropical Trouble Heading for Texas - Can We Limit Warming to 2 C?

85 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.

79 F. average high on June 14.

66 F. high on June 14, 2014.

June 14, 1981: Tornado hits Roseville, destroying homes and damages Har Mar Mall.
June 14, 1956: 8 inches of rain fell in the Ivanhoe area in 3 and a half hours. 100 thousand dollars in damage to crops.
June 14, 1943: Torrential downpours cause flooding in the Twin Cities and east central Minnesota. 2.5 inches of rain fell in St. Paul in two hours. In addition, four streetcars were hit by lightning.


This is my favorite time of year, just before the dog days, wilting humidity and kamikaze-mosquitoes. I have a lot more energy in June, which may have something to do with 15 hours and 35 minutes of daylight.

Almost 2 hours more than Miami. A far cry from December 21, when a reluctant sun sneaks above the horizon for a meager 8 hours and 46 minutes.

Staring at the morning weather map I am struck by 2 things: a real summer (defined as an extended streak of 80s and 90s with gasp-worthy humidity levels) is nowhere to be found, looking out through the first week of July. A series of cool fronts dribbling out of Canada keep any sauna-like heat and humidity well south of Minnesota for at least 2, maybe 3 weeks. These transfusions of almost September-like air set up persistent frontal zones capable of frequent showers and T-storms. I see a wet, cooler-than-average bias through the 4th of July.

The other gob-smacking trend: flood-plagued Texas and Oklahoma are about to get a visit from "Bill". As of Sunday evening NOAA NHC had raised the risk of cyclone formation to 70 percent. A plume of tropical moisture arrives by Tuesday with some 5-10 inch rains and more extreme flooding.

Tropical Trepidation. You can't blame residents of Texas and Oklahoma for being nervous; many towns are still cleaning up from record floods just 3 weeks ago. And along comes "Bill", what may soon become Tropical Storm Bill pushing across the Gulf of Mexico toward coastal Texas. This system, laden with moisture, will move slowly, focusing some 5-10" rainfall amounts along its path, with upwards of 15" in a few spots. That volume of rain, falling on saturated ground, may result in more severe/extensive flooding from Houston to Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Kansas City, Indianapolis, even Detroit within 84 hours. NAM guidance above: NOAA.

Relatively Comfortable - More Soggy Spells. Showers and T-showers are spaced about 2 days apart now, with showers tapering this morning, a dry Tuesday giving way to more showers and possible thunder Wednesday, again late week when a few of the storms may be strong to severe, depending on the location of a warm frontal boundary. Temperatures run a few degrees below average into at least next week. Source: Weatherspark.

Free A/C. A lingering cut-off low keeps a comfortable, Canadian flow from the Upper Midwest into the Great Lakes and New England later this month, while heat sizzles the southwestern USA and much of the deep south. Any hot fronts will have to wait until after the 4th of July. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Sunday morning, June 14, 2015.

* Growing risk of tropical storm formation in the Gulf of Mexico, with heavy rain and flash flooding (and river flooding) impacting Texas and Oklahoma the first half of this week.
* National Hurricane Center: 60% probability of Tropical Storm Bill within 48 hours.
* Inland flooding potential from southern Plains into Corn Belt later this week - impacts possible as far away as St. Louis and Indianapolis.

Gaining Strength. The Sunday morning satellite shows an area of (very) disturbed weather extending from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula into the Gulf of Mexico, a broad area of cloudiness and embedded showers and T-storms. As winds aloft weaken conditions will become more favorable for strengthening. Just two days ago the probability of a tropical storm in the Gulf was 10%. Now it's up to 80%. Image credit: WeatherTap.

Projected Path. Models are converging on landfall from (Bill?) within 48-72 hours from now, somewhere between Galveston and Corpus Christi, Texas. That implies this tropical system coming ashore in a late Tuesday/early Wednesday timeframe. The heaviest rains will fall to the right (east) of the storm track, with the soggy remains of any tropical storm extending 500-1000 miles inland, increasing the risk of flash flooding from Little Rock to Louisville later in the week.

NAM Solution: Monday night. NOAA's NAM model may be rushing things a bit, but the latest model run shows heavy rain reaching Houston late PM hours tomorrow with a closed center of circulation just offshore. NAM solution above: WSI Corporation.

ECMWF Solution: Midday Wednesday. The European model seems to do a consistently better job, especially with tropical development, than NOAA's NAM or GFS model, although the new HWRF model is a strong contender. I tend to put a little more stock/faith in the ECMWF, which hints at landfall between Corpus Christi and Galveston Wednesday morning. Image credit: WSI.

Rubbing Salt In A Very Wet Wound. The ground is saturated/waterlogged after recent historic rains across Texas and Oklahoma. It won't take much additional rain to spark more urban and river flooding. The map above shows total predicted rainfall over the next 7 days, according to NOAA's GFS model. Some 5-10" amounts are possible from Houston and Dallas to Oklahoma City, Tulsa, St. Louis, Peoria, Indianapolis and Louisville. Image credit: Tropical Tidbits.

Summary: It's that time of year again. A high sun angle has heated up the Gulf of Mexico, and in spite of El Nino (which tends to hamper tropical development by creating consistently stronger winds high above the tropics) it appears that conditions favor tropical development in the Gulf of Mexico. Factoring in recent (extreme) rains across much of Texas and Oklahoma we are sending out this briefing, raising the very real scenario of more extensive flooding as (Bill) comes ashore sometime Tuesday or Wednesday. Areas that were flooded a few weeks ago may flood again, with rainfall amounts reaching 5-10" in some areas along and east of the tropical track. We'll keep you posted.

Paul Douglas. Senior Meteorologist, AerisWeather

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..." (Hurricane Irene image: NASA).

Blown Away: Wind Tunnel Highlights Hurricane Dangers. A story at USA TODAY about recreating the effects of hurricane winds has a good reminder: 1992 was an El Nino year, but it produced Category 5 Hurricane Andrew, which ravaged south Florida. All it takes is one. Here's an excerpt: "...However, if we look back to 1992, that was the hurricane season of Hurricane Andrew, and that was also another El NiƱo year," he said. "All it takes is one hurricane to come ashore and do devastation." Another catastrophic storm was Hurricane Katrina, which will mark its 10th anniversary this year. That massive system killed more than 1,800 people and caused more than $100 billion in damage..." (1992 Hurricane Time Lapse: NOAA).

TODAY: Morning showers, then clearing. Winds: N 10-15. High: 79

MONDAY NIGHT: Clear and more comfortable. Low: 57

TUESDAY: Comfortable with fading sun. T-showers may arrive Tuesday night. High: 74

WEDNESDAY: Showers and T-storms likely. Wake-up: 59. High: 71

THURSDAY: A risk of sunshine. Soak it up. Wake-up: 61. High: near 80

FRIDAY: A few strong T-storms? Dew point: 62. Wake-up: 63. High: 81

SATURDAY: Heavy showers and T-storms. Wake-up: 66. High: 82

SUNDAY: Morning sun, PM T-showers. Wake-up: 64. High: 77

Climate Stories...

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..."

Pope Francis To Explore Climate's Effect on World's Poor. The New York Times reports; here's an excerpt: "...By wading into the environment debate, Francis is seeking to redefine a secular topic, one usually framed by scientific data, using theology and faith. And based on Francis’ prior comments, and those of influential cardinals, the encyclical is also likely to include an economic critique of how global capitalism, while helping lift millions out of poverty, has also exploited nature and created vast inequities. “We clearly need a fundamental change of course, to protect the earth and its people — which in turn will allow us to dignify humanity,” Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who oversaw the drafting of the encyclical, said at a conference on climate change this spring at the Vatican..."

Angry U.S. Republicans Tell Pope Francis to "Stick With His Job and We'll Stick With Ours". That quote from the Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma; here's an excerpt of a story at The Guardian: "...In the US for the past 10 years we have allowed climate change to become an ideological political issue instead of being the moral issue that it is,” said the Rev Mitchell Hescox, leader of the Evangelical Environmental Network. “The idea that climate change is a liberal issue has just permeated the thought of those in the conservative movement, and those in the denier campaign have taken advantage of that to continue to drive home the message that climate change is not a moral issue,” added Hescox, who identifies himself as a conservative. But it gets much harder to dismiss climate change as a fringe concern of liberals such as Al Gore, and environmental regulations as a sneaky first step to sweeping regulations and a government takeover of private lives, once the pope becomes involved..."

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