Tuesday, August 4, 2015

An Early September - More Details on Historic EPA Clean Power Plan

80 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
82 F. average high on August 3.
88 F. high on August 3, 2014.

August 3, 1904: Half of Waconia was destroyed by an F4 tornado. Thirty homes were utterly destroyed, and the debris was carried for miles.

August 3, 1898: Storms dump 4.5 inches of rain on Montevideo. Soure: Twin Cities National Weather Service.

What August?

I am in big trouble.

I forgot to set my alarm clock and somehow slept thru the entire month of August; waking up on September 4. I missed my father's 85th birthday, the big SAVE golf tournament at TPC in Blaine to benefit suicide awareness on August 10, and the wide array of heart-healthy foods and exotic-people-watching at the Minnesota State Fair.

My 7-Day Outlook calls for narcolepsy.

What the heck happened to August? Climate data indicates average highs drop from 83F on August 1 to 78F by the 31st. It wouldn't be August without the Dog Days, sweaty dew points and obnoxious Back to School Sales. I missed it all.

A brewing Super El Nino may spark some head-scratching weather into the winter months, with a warm bias likely over much of the USA into spring of 2016. No, this early puff of autumn doesn't mean an early fall or a harsh winter is imminent. This still falls under the heading of normal weather variability.

Temperatures trend below average into late next week as we enter a drier pattern now. T-showers are possible by Thursday, again on Monday of next week.

August is prime time for wildfires and tropical storms. The hottest days are behind us, at least on paper. Let's see if Mother Nature plays along.

Floods Swamp Tampa Area. Swarms of heavy thunderstorms sprouting along a temporarily stalled frontal boundary have squeezed out excessive rains on much of Florida for 2-3 weeks, with Tampa bearing the brunt of flash flooding, as reported by USA TODAY; here's an excerpt: "...Heavy rain caused widespread flooding in the Tampa Bay area Monday, closing roads, forcing evacuations and delaying air travel. Up to 1 1/2 feet of rain fell in parts of the Tampa metro area the past 10 days, the National Weather Service said. Measurable rain has fallen for 14 days consecutively in Tampa. By Monday morning, Tampa already exceeded its average August rainfall with more than 8 inches of rain, and it's only Aug. 3, the Weather Channel reported..."

Midwestern Storms: 1 Dead, 16 Injured, Lollapalooza Music Festival Briefly Evacuated. The Weather Channel has video and more details; here's an excerpt: "...One person died and 15 others were transported to local hospitals after strong winds toppled a tent at the Wood Dale Prairie Fest in Wood Dale, Illinois, the Chicago Tribune reported. Among those hurt, at least three were seriously injured, the report added. In a statement released Sunday, Wood Dale Mayor Nunzio Pulice said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased and we are also praying for all those who were injured or affected by this tragedy..."

Circus Tent Collapses In New Hampshire, Killing Two. As meteorologists this is one of our greatest fears: hundreds or thousands of people outside, at the mercy of severe storms. Where are spectators or fans to go? Back to their vehicles in the parking lot? If there are no significant shelters (preferably below ground, below grade) nearby, if all you have is a tent, or even an open-air stadium, the options for safe shelter are few. The New York Times reports.

Flash Flood Risk Thursday? It's early to making such pronouncements, but NAM guidance hints at a few waves of heavy showers and T-storms rippling along a stalled frontal boundary Thursday and Thursday night, capable of some heavy rainfall amounts across central Minnesota. With any luck Florida will finally dry out.

84 Hour Rainfall Prediction. This is courtesy of NOAA's 12 km NAM model, and it shows the heaviest rains pushing across the Ohio Valley and central Minnesota by Thursday and Thursday night. California remains bone-dry and prone to erratic wildfires. No sign of El Nino-fueled rains kicking in just yet. Source: AerisWeather.

Summer On Hold. It may look and feel a little more like early September than early August out there for the next 10-12 days. No drippy dew points, no extended stretch of 90s, no Dog-Day-babble on the radio or TV. Mornings will be a little on the cool side but afternoons will be very pleasant with dew points mostly in the 50s. The best chance of storms: Thursday, again Monday of next week. Source: Weatherspark.

Missing: One Year's Worth of California Rain. Climate Central puts California's historic drought into stark perspective; here's a snippet: "...The study’s researchers pin the reason for the lack of rains, as others have, on the absence of the intense rainstorms ushered in by so-called atmospheric rivers, the ribbons of very moist air that can funnel water vapor from the tropics to California during its winter rainy season. Overall, the study, accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, found that California experiences multi-year dry periods, like the current one, and then periods where rains can vary by 30 percent from year to year. Those wet and dry years typically cancel each other out..."

Graphic image credit above: "California’s accumulated precipitation debt from 2012 to 2014 shown as a percent change from the 17-year average using the TRMM mission’s multi-satellite observations." Credit: Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio

Heat, Drought Cook Fish Alive in Pacific Northwest. Here's an excerpt from USA TODAY: "Freakishly hot, dry weather in the Pacific Northwest is killing millions of fish in the overheated waters of the region's rivers and streams. “We’ve lost about 1.5 million juvenile fish this year due to drought conditions at our hatcheries,” Ron Warren of Washington State's Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement. “This is unlike anything we’ve seen for some time..."

Photo credit above: "This Sept. 10, 2014 photo provided by the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game shows a mixture of wild and hatchery-raised sockeye salmon released into Redfish Lake in central Idaho to spawn naturally." (Photo: Chris Kozfkay, AP)

Expert Analysis Finds That The Clean Power Plan Is Not A Threat To Midwestern Power Grid Reliability. Here is the intro to a J. Drake Hamilton analysis at Fresh Energy: "Working toward an electricity system that aggressively lowers carbon pollution requires a well-operated regional power grid for success. Today’s interconnected electric power grid is reliable, affordable, and increasingly carries clean electricity. Tomorrow’s integrated electric grid must be cleaner still, as well as reliable and affordable. The emerging modern, efficient power grid must be designed and operated to reduce environmental impacts, including allowing Minnesota and its neighbors to comply with the nation’s first (and long overdue) limits on carbon pollution from our existing coal-burning power plants; these standards, to be finalized this summer, are known as the Clean Power Plan..."

The Dangers of Mercury Poisoning. Even if you don't care one whiff about man-made climate change, weather and water volatility or the implications for your kids and grandkids, you should be aware of the side effects of fossil-fuel generated power; specifically mercury poisoning downwind of these plants. Taller stacks have turned this from a local into a regional issue and scrubbers can't catch all the carcinogenic pollutants released. There's only so much you can do to clean up inherently dirty fossil fuels. Here's an excerpt from EEN, The Evangelical Environmental Network that caught my eye: "Mercury emitted from power plants drops from air to earth and presently contaminates over 6 million acres of freshwater lakes, 46,000 miles of streams, and 225,000 wetland acres across the U.S. Every state has a fish consumption advisory. Mercury contaminated fish are often eaten by pregnant women. Mercury and other heavy metal toxins pass across the mother’s placenta and enter the bloodstream of her unborn child. A protective shield around the developing child’s brain is not fully formed until the first year of life. Mercury easily crosses into the developing child’s brain causing brain damage, developmental disabilities, neurological disorders, lowered intelligence, and learning difficulties..."

Jimmy Carter: The U.S. "Is An Oligarchy With Unlimited Political Bribery". Other than that how are we doing? More fall-out from the Supreme Court's Citizen United ruling. Here's the transcript of a recent interview at The Intercept: "Former president Jimmy Carter said Tuesday on the nationally syndicated radio show the Thom Hartmann Program that the United States is now an “oligarchy” in which “unlimited political bribery” has created “a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.” Both Democrats and Republicans, Carter said, “look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves....” (Photo: Pete Muller, AP).

Can Singapore Save Democracy? Here's a snippet of an Op-Ed at Bloomberg View: "...Democracy has not been much in evidence in the workings of the European Union’s technocrats, or indeed among the radicals of Syriza. Feckless wars, special-interest lobbyists, and political dysfunction have made the U.S. resemble late Byzantium rather than the small-town civic haven witnessed by Tocqueville. The runaway candidacy of Donald Trump exposes a growing constituency for demagogues in the world's oldest democracy..."

Once In A Blue Moon: ISS Transits Moon. Here's an excerpt of an explainer at SpaceFlight Insider: "...After the “Blue Moon” that took place on Friday, July 31, NASA photographers worked to capture the transit of the orbiting laboratory in front of the Moon’s disk. While the photographers working on this effort accomplished the feat with relative ease, it is a little more difficult than just aiming one’s camera at the Moon and snapping a picture..."

Great Leaps Forward in Ice Cream History. Too cool for ice cream? It's NEVER too cool for ice cream. Here's an excerpt from Digg: "...For millennia, humankind has gathered and stored natural ice and snow in order to preserve food and chill drinks — snow was sold in the markets of Athens in the fifth century, and wealthy Romans, inspired by Middle Eastern sherbets, recklessly disobeyed the medical advice of their day by mixing ice chips to their wine. But simply adding ice is not enough to freeze sherbet into sorbet: to do that required the creation of a substance that was colder than ice..." (Image: JoyReactor).

TODAY: Sunny and beautiful. Dew point: 54. Winds: NW 10. High: 79

TUESDAY NIGHT: Clear and comfortable. Low: 60 (50s in the suburbs)

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, closer to average. Wake-up: 60. High: 82

THURSDAY: Few T-showers in the area. Wake-up: 65. High: 78

FRIDAY: Sunny intervals, a drier day. Wake-up: 66. High: 81

SATURDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Wake-up: 67. High: near 80

SUNDAY: Hazy sun, isolated T-shower. Wake-up: 66. High: 83

MONDAY: Better chance of T-showers. Wake-up: 66. High: 80

Climate Stories...

Obama Unveils Plan To Sharply Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The New York Times reports; here's an excerpt: "...He also sought to wrap the policy in the legitimacy of transcendental values, noting that Pope Francis had issued an encyclical in June, calling action on the issue a “moral obligation.” Even as Mr. Obama acknowledged the steep resistance from coal-producing states and industry critics to a plan that could lead to the closing of hundreds of polluting coal-fired plants, he said it was up to the United States to adopt tough standards so that other countries like China would feel compelled to take similar steps. “When the world faces its toughest challenges, America leads the way forward,” the president said. “That’s what this plan is about...”

Obama Takes a Crucial Step on Climate Change. I may not agree with his politics, but I admire what he's doing for the environment and future generations by standing up to entrenched special interests. President Obama was one of the driving forces behind the EPA's new Clean Power Plan, which incentivizes states to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but builds in the flexibility to tailor reductions for each state. It actually moves the needle and proves to other nations that we are serious. Yes, he may be thinking about his own legacy, but also the legacy of our children and grandchildren at the same time. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from The New York Times: "...Power plants are the largest source of such pollution in the United States, responsible for more than a third of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions. This greenhouse gas is the main driver of climate change, yet, until today, most plants could emit the pollutant in unlimited quantities. The president’s plan is important not only because of the reductions it will achieve in domestic emissions. It also signals to the international community that America is serious about reining in its contribution to the global problem of greenhouse gas pollution. This message is particularly salient as the world’s nations prepare to gather in Paris in December to negotiate a new climate agreement..."

5 Myths About The New U.S. Climate Plan: What You May Not Know. National Geographic provides some timely perspective; here's a clip: "...Still, coal will be hit hard. Once the dominant source of U.S. electricity, it’s been on the wane in recent years as it’s struggled to comply with federal limits on mercury emissions and lower natural gas prices. Coal, which generated 34 percent of U.S. power in the first five months of this year—down from 49 percent in 2007, emits about twice as much carbon as natural gas when burned. The rule will shutter more coal-fired power plants. It’s likely to more than double the number of closures by 2040, the EIA recently forecast. Most shutdowns will occur by 2020, cutting coal power generation by one-fifth..."

Photo credit above: "West Virginia, where this coal-fired power plant is located, and other coal-heavy states face pressure to cut emission as part of a new Obama Administration proposal." Photo by Skip Brown, National Geographic.

Do Americans Have Enough Zeal for Obama's Climate Change Plan. We know the EPA's new Clean Power Plan will create more billable hours for lawyers hired by fossil fuel interests who have every incentive to fight this, but will Americans get on-board? Here's an excerpt from Christian Science Monitor: "...But perhaps most important to the survival of the president's new vision of American energy is the support of the American people. President Obama has now put the US on a path largely pioneered by a handful of Western European nations, such as Sweden and Germany. Particularly in Germany's case, those experiments have not gone smoothly. Germany now has some of the highest energy prices in Europe. But public support has remained strong, even as energy companies have pushed back on the changes. In short, the residents of those countries wanted to be green-energy leaders, so they have been..."

The Moral and Scientific Urgency of EPA's Clean Power Plan. Joe Romm makes the case at ThinkProgress; here's the intro: "The next few years are unprecedented in human history. We know with unusually high scientific certainty that the near-term choices we as a nation and a species make about carbon pollution will determine whether or not we will destroy our livable climate in the coming decades — thereby ruining the lives of billions of people irreversibly for centuries to come. We have no right to destroy the soil (and other elements of a livable climate) for our children and future generations — a point Thomas Jefferson explained was universally self-evident in a 1789 letter to James Madison..."

Sea Level Rise Set To Accelerate in Coming Decades. Forget "debating the science", which is no clear-cut and unambiguous; what would all the presidential contenders do to address the low-grade risks associated with man-made climate change like the steady rise in sea level? That's not a climate model, that's reality. Here's an excerpt from The Union of Concerned Scientists: "...Over the next 30 years—the short length of a typical home mortgage—sea levels are expected to rise a foot or more in locations up and down the Eastern seaboard and along the Gulf coast. More than three million Americans live within three vertical feet of the average high tide line. They face growing threats from coastal storms and flooding events. Now is the time to prepare our communities for rising seas. Now is the time to take action to reduce the carbon emissions that are driving global warming. The next president will play a pivotal role in this effort..."

Which Advanced Country Has The Most Climate Skeptics? Hint: It's Not The United States. DeSmogBlog takes a look way down under; here's the intro: "It's not necessarily a competition you should be particularly keen to win, but which country in the world has the most climate change “sceptics”? Most people would probably hazard a guess at the United States, what with its preponderance of climate science denialist think tanks, conservative television and radio hosts and politicians who think it’s all a hoax. But a new study that analysed identical surveys carried out across 14 industrialised nations has found that when it comes to climate science denial, Australia tops the pile..."

Tracking The Retreat of Arctic Ice. I'm sure it's just another cosmic coincidence. Phys.org has the story; here's an excerpt: "Not so long ago, skeleton staff overwintering at the Ny-Alesund research centre could walk on the Arctic town's frozen bay and race their snow mobiles across its surface. Now there is liquid water even in the coldest months, the glaciers are retreating at a rate of hundreds of metres per year, and alien species from warmer climes are making the bay their home, say longtime residents of the sparsely-populated town on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. "In the 1990s, we could cross the bay in snow mobiles," recalled Juergen Graeser, a technician at the Franco-German Awipev research station which collects weather, atmospheric and chemical data. "The last time we could walk on it was in the winter of 2003-04..."

Image credit above: "Not so long ago, skeleton staff overwintering at the Ny-Alesund research center could walk on the Arctic town's frozen bay and race their snowmobiles across its surface."

No comments:

Post a Comment