Thursday, August 13, 2015

Heat Index Near 100F Later Today? From Global Warming "Pause" to "Play"

85 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Thursday.
81 F. average high on August 13.
83 F. high on August 13, 2014.

August 13, 1964: A taste of fall over area with 26 in Bigfork and 30 in Campbell.

Medium Rare

For only the third time this summer the mercury will top 90 degrees later today. Throw in a sauna-like dew point in the mid-70s and it should feel like 95-100F by late afternoon. Smoke from western wildfires will keep our sky hazy.

I've gone ahead and issued a Small Cooler Advisory and Hot Vinyl Car Seat Warning. Doctor Douglas recommends immediate evacuation to your favorite lake, pool or the nearest Dairy Queen.

Remember, we're just getting a taste; faint hiccups of heat - the epicenter of a smothering heat blob staying just south of Minnesota into next week. Nothing like Germany, where more than 100 cities tied or broke all-time record highs in the last week. Berlin hit 102F, the hottest ever recorded. Keep in mind most Europeans don't have A/C. Maybe in their cars, but not at home. My relatives in Bavaria have been taking long air conditioned drives thru the countryside to cool off.

Steamy heat today and Saturday gives way to a few rough T-storms Sunday. Computer models bring another surge of heavy rain into town Tuesday and Wednesday. ECMWF guidance pulls a sweatshirt-worthy(!) burst of cool air into Minnesota in 9 days.

What a strange and wonderful summer it's been.

Will El Nino 2015 Rival The Strongest Year on Record? Right now the warming of the Pacific looks comparable to the 1997-98 El Nino; according to NOAA there's a 90% probability it will linger into the winter. Here's an excerpt from "...The waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean are heating up, scientists say, building towards a strong El Niño event that could rival the intensity of the record 1997 event that wreaked weather-related havoc across the globe, from mudslides in California to fires in Australia. According to the latest forecast released Thursday by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, this year's El Niño is "significant and strengthening..." (Image credit above: NOAA).

Where Are The Hurricanes? El Nino Keeps a Tight Lid on the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Tropical guru Brian McNoldy has a good post at Capital Weather Gang explaining how a combination of wind shear from a brewing Super El Nino and Saharan dust is inhibiting hurricane formation in the Atlantic - here's the intro: "We’re nearly halfway through the typical Atlantic hurricane season, and yet not a single hurricane has formed. It’s not a totally abnormal season yet, but it is a testament to the intensity of the strengthening El Niño in the tropical Pacific, and the season is becoming more of an outlier with each passing day that we don’t see a hurricane. As expected, hurricane activity has been notably suppressed thanks to El Niño. Much to the delight of many coastal residents, conditions across the typical formation zones have been hostile to hurricanes — a situation that does not look like it will be changing any time soon..."

Map credit above: "So far this hurricane season has been crickets. Enhanced water vapor satellite image over the Atlantic from 11:45 am EDT today. Medium to darker blues indicate dry air in the mid-upper troposphere." (NRLMRY).

Surge in "Danger Days" Just Around The Corner. Minnesota will be in better shape than much of the USA - one benefit of being a suburb of Canada. Connecting the dots, looking at the trends and models, Climate Central has produced an effective time lapse that shows where we may be heading; here's an excerpt: "...A danger day is when the combination of heat and humidity (also known as the heat index) make it feel like it’s 105°F or hotter. Warming temperatures are about to push U.S. cities into a new regime where danger days happen regularly. Of the 144 U.S. cities Climate Central analyzed, only 12 of them averaged more than one danger day per year since 1950. Most of those cities are clustered in the South where humidity tends to be worst in the morning while temperatures peak in the late afternoon. But by 2030, a whopping 85 cities — home to nearly third of the U.S. population -- are projected to deal with at least 20 danger days annually..."

Today: Most Uncomfortable Day? The combination of 90-degree heat and dew points ranging from 70-75F will make it feel like 95-100F by mid afternoon; a few models are hinting at 100-105F heat indices by late afternoon (if the sun stays out we have a chance of reaching these values later today). Source: Iowa State.

Wet, Stormy Spell Next Week. Take advantage of a mostly-dry sky today and Saturday, because storms come rumbling back into town Sunday ahead of a week cool front. Another heat surge passing to our south spins up another storm capable of heavy showers and T-storms the middle of next week. The GFS model also suggests a push of much cooler air after August 23 or so. Source: NOAA.

Watering Optional - Again. NOAA model ensembles print out some 1.5 to 2" rains (as an average) over northern Iowa and southern Minnesota over the next 7 days; another sloppy bulls-eye over the Gulf Coast and Florida.

More June than August. Models are in fairly good agreement, suggesting a heavy rain event by next Wednesday and Thursday, the GEFS ensemble hinting at over 4" of rain. What month is this again. Graphic: Aeris Enterprise.

Two Days Complaining About The Heat - Then a Correction. I still suspect that European guidance above is running a few degrees too cool for today and Saturday. If the sun is out we should hit or top 90F both days with a heat index in the oh-zone. Storms Sunday mark the leading edge of slightly cooler, drier air - the next frontal boundary stalling nearby as waves of low pressure spark more waves of showers and heavy T-storms Tuesday PM into Wednesday night; another wet smack a week from Saturday.

Central and Eastern Europe Simmering in Historic Heat Wave. Although the duration of extreme heat is less than 2003, the intensity is even greater. Jason Samenow has the story at The Capital Weather Gang; here's a snippet: "...Central and eastern Europe are in the grips of a record-breaking heat wave, that may persist for at least another week to ten days. A number of locations in Germany set all-time highs last Friday and more records are likely to fall over the coming days, particularly in eastern Europe. The heat wave commenced late last week. On Friday, Weather Underground meteorologist Bob Henson reported Berlin was among more than 100 towns and cities in Germany that tied or broke all-time record highs. Berlin hit 102 degrees (38.9 Celsius) breaking its previous hottest temperature of 101.5 degrees (38.6 Celsius)..."

Map credit above: "Forecast for average temperature difference from normal Monday-Friday this week." Image obtained using Climate Reanalyzer, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA.

Extreme Heat Events On The Rise. More severe heat waves in a warming world? That's what climate models have predicted for 30+ years. Is it a function of better reporting or an actual trend? Data from 2013 research authored by Dim Coumou and Alexander Robinson shows 1, 2 and 3-sigma heat events (a 3-sigma event would be 3 times the standard deviation - an exceptionally rare occurrence). Here's an excerpt from their paper: "Climatic warming of about 0.5 ° C in the global mean since the 1970s has strongly increased the occurrence-probability of heat extremes on monthly to seasonal time scales. For the 21st century, climate models predict more substantial warming. Here we show that the multi-model mean of the CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project) climate models accurately reproduces the evolution over time and spatial patterns of the historically observed increase in monthly heat extremes..."

* For readers fluent in German you can click here to get more information from Stefan Rahmstorf at, who adds: "This should give a bit of context to the various heat waves happening around the planet this summer. The data clearly show the high incidence of extreme heat is part of a systematic long-term trend, not some black swan. And El Niño only plays a minor part. During 1950-1980, when also lots of El Niños happened, we had nothing like the current levels of extreme heat, which are even during normal years without El Niño much more widespread even than with the massive 1982/83 El Niño."

Los Angeles Is Protecting Its Water Supply With Millions of Little Black Balls. It's all about slowing the rate of evaporation from rapidly dwindling reservoirs. Here's a clip from a curious story at Fusion: "California is getting desperate enough in its historic drought to deploy the ultimate weapon: Balls. Shade balls. Shade balls are tiny plastic black spheres that are dumped en masse into reservoirs as a conservation and protection measure. As the Los Angeles Daily News reports, you need a lot of them to be effective, and L.A. has released about 96 million of them into its Van Norman reservoir. So what can a black plastic ball do to help the water supply? Quite a lot, actually..."

Photo credit above: "The Los Angeles Reservoir is covered with over 90 million black plastic balls in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. The city has completed a program of covering open-air reservoirs with floating "shade balls" to protect water quality. The 4-inch-diameter plastic balls block sunlight from penetrating the 175-acre surface of the reservoir, preventing chemical reactions that can cause algae blooms and other problems." (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

A Look Back at Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years Later New Orleans' Tourism Industry Thrives. has an interesting article about the comeback of New Orleans, a city many wrote off after Katrina decimated the area in 2005; here's an excerpt: "Ten years after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the city's tourism has not only rebounded. It's practically been reinvented. New Orleans had just 3.7 million visitors in 2006, the first full year after Katrina. Last year, there were 9.5 million visitors. The city has 600 more restaurants than 10 years ago. And hotel occupancy rates are higher than they were before the levees broke Aug. 29, 2005, flooding 80 percent of the city and killing hundreds..." (File image: NOAA).

Can This Innovative Shore House Withstand Another Hurricane Sandy? I'd like my next home to float - one way to lick flash flooding and wicked storm surges. Don't laugh - they're already using them in the Netherlands. Here's an excerpt from "Could this house have stood up against Hurricane Sandy? That's what Stevens Institute of Technology students and professors believe. They have designed a $330,000 home that they say would stand up against Category 3 hurricane with 130 mph winds and emerge undamaged.This home is their submission to the U.S. Department of Energy's biennial national "Solar Decathlon" competition this fall. It is therefore also solar-powered and cost-efficient using 90 percent less energy than conventional homes thanks to special materials, students said..."

Photo credit above: "Stevens Institute of Technology graduate student A.J. Elliott, 24, shows off the house's innovative shutter design. The shutters have solar panels attached, he said." (Laura Herzog | NJ Advance Media for

The Geeks Are Taking Over The Weather Channel. We are a nation of weather geeks, so I see this as a very good sign. Remember when "geek" was a slur? Now it's a compliment, at least among true, die-hard weather enthusiasts. Here's an excerpt of an Andrew Freedman story at Mashable: "The geeks are back at the Weather Channel, and they're ready to return the network to its nerdy roots. That's the message the network is sending with the new show, "Weather Underground TV," which will air five nights a week from six to eight p.m. eastern time, beginning on August 24. The network hopes there are enough weather geeks out there to justify the move and give them a ratings bump, after a long-term ratings decline and recent plateau in prime time viewership. This move comes as the network sees its audience increasingly turning to the Internet for weather information, including the company's own apps..."

When Is The Sun's Next "Superflare" Due? The odds are small in any given year, but there's no room for complacency. Here's an excerpt from Science/AAAS: "...But when can we expect the next superflare? Astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, studied 84 sunlike stars and observed 29 of these supersized solar flares over a 4-year period to find out how often they occur. Good news! A star like our sun will probably experience such an extreme flare only once every 250 to 480 years—astronomers say 350 years is the most likely scenario..."

Image credit above: NASA/SDO/GOES-15.

Do You Have What It Takes To Predict The Future? The Reality Behind Becoming a Meteorologist. Thanks go out to The Vane for providing a little perspective and background on the difficult science meteorologists deal with every day; here's a clip: "...A new reality show is throwing folks in front of a green screen and jamming them into wind tunnels to see if they have the guts to be America’s next great weatherperson. It’s common to brush off meteorologists as a group of lying guessers, but it takes an incredible effort to accurately predict the future every day. Meteorologists on Twitter are rumbling with an uneasy curiosity over a new reality show on a cable network famous for Conan and preempting episodes of Seinfeld to show midday baseball games..."

Eco-Friendly 3D Printed Supercar. Will the day come when you can "print" your next vehicle? Don't laugh - expect the unexpected. Here's the intro to a story at Reuters: "A California automotive start-up is hoping their prototype supercar will redefine car manufacturing. The sleek race car dubbed 'Blade' didn't come off an assembly line - but out of a 3D printer. Kevin Czinger of Divergent Microfactories has spent most of his career in the automotive industry. One day he realized that no matter how fuel-efficient or how few tailpipe emissions the modern car has, the business of car manufacturing is destroying the environment..."

Once In A Lifetime Shot: A Tornado and a Rainbow. In my 40+ years tracking weather I can't remember ever seeing a photo like this. Spectacular is a serious understatement. Details via The Weather Network: "...On a cloudy day in May, amateur meteorologist Jason Blum captured a once-in-a-lifetime shot, featuring two very different atmospheric phenomena in the same frame. Blum was on a storm chase near Eads, Colorado with his 14-year-old son when they found themselves less than a kilometre away from a tornado and a rainbow . "What I love about storms is their power," Blum says in a press release..."

TODAY: Sweaty sunshine. Dew point: 73. PM Heat Index: 95-100F. Winds: SW 8. High: 92

FRIDAY NIGHT: Warm and sticky. Low: 72

SATURDAY: Hot sun, windy. Drier day of the weekend. Winds: South 10-20. High: 92

SUNDAY: Few hours of showers, T-storms. Wake-up: 73. High: 84

MONDAY: Sunny, less humid. Dew point: 61. Wake-up: 65. High: 80

TUESDAY: Showers and T-storms develop. Wake-up: 62. High: 79

WEDNESDAY: Still soggy, more showers, T-storms. Wake-up: 65. High: 83

THURSDAY: Wet start, then clearing. Wake-up: 66. High: 82

Climate Stories....

Is The Global Warming "Hiatus" Over? El Nino and the PDO can mask the larger signals related to greenhouse gases, but there's little doubt the atmosphere and oceans continue to warm. Here's a snippet of a timely story and links to research from NCAR's Kevin Trenberth at The Conversation: "...While the rate of surface temperature increase has been mostly upward from about 1920 and the recent rate is not out of step overall, there are two hiatus intervals with much lower rates of temperature increase. The first was from about 1943 to 1975, and the second was from 1999 to 2013. In a paper entitled Has There Been a Global Warming Hiatus?, I find that natural variability through interactions among the oceans, atmosphere, land and ice can easily mask the upward trend of global temperatures. For climate scientists to improve climate models, better understanding of these variations and their effect on global temperatures is essential..."

Graphic credit above: "Seasonal global mean surface temperatures from NOAA, after 1920, relative to the mean of the 20th century. The seasons are defined as December-February, etc. A 20-term Gaussian filter is used to show the decadal variations (heavy black curve). (middle) The seasonal mean Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) anomalies, in units of standard deviation. The positive (pink) and negative (light blue) PDO regimes are indicated throughout the figure. (bottom) Decadal average anomalies (starting 1921-1930) of GMST (green) along with piecewise slopes of GMST for the phases of the PDO (yellow). Kevin Trenberth/Data from NOAA, Author provided."

If There Really Was a "Pause", the Atmosphere Just Hit Play. Here's a clip from a Washington Post story authored by Chris Mooney: "...Not that any of this is good news for skeptics — Trenberth says that the warming trend seems to have since resumed, that temperatures rose in 2014, and that they are spiking even more this year. He expects that global warming advances “more like a rising staircase than a monotonic rise” — and has previously suggested that we’re in the middle of a “jump” in temperatures. The debate matters, though, because Trenberth wants to people to see that there really are major natural wobbles that will always prevent the global temperature rise from simply being a linear one..."

Shell Arctic Drilling "Risky" - Ex BP Boss Lord Browne. Yes, what can possibly go wrong. Here's an excerpt from the BBC: "Drilling for oil in the Arctic may harm Shell's reputation and cost it dear, the former BP boss Lord Browne has said. Shell has just started preliminary drilling in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea after several setbacks. The firm’s CEO Ben van Beurden said he had gone on a “personal journey” before deciding the risks were containable. But Lord Browne urged caution, saying the company's long-term reputation could be affected..." (File photo: (Daniella Beccaria/ via AP).

Green Groups: Arctic Drilling "Inconsistent" with Obama's Climate Change Crusade. Here's an excerpt from, courtesy of The Houston Chronicle: "The Obama administration’s fight against climate change is undermined by Shell’s quest for new oil reserves in the Arctic Ocean, environmentalists warn in a report Thursday. The ongoing Arctic drilling is “inconsistent” with efforts to stay within a global carbon budget by limiting fossil fuel use and restraining greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius, according to the assessment. “If we are serious about tackling the global climate crisis, we need to stop exploring, expanding and ultimately exploiting fossil fuels,” says the report from Greenpeace and Oil Change International, which promotes a transition to alternative energy sources..."

Study Finds "Detectable Effect" of Climate Change in Texas' Devastating May Floods. Extreme weather attribution is an emerging field, but there is a growing body of evidence that a warmer (wetter) atmosphere is spiking many storms, including the biblical floods that struck Texas and Oklahoma in late spring. Here's an excerpt from ThinkProgress: "A new study directly links human-caused global warming to the catastrophic flooding in Texas and Oklahoma this spring. In May, more than 35 trillion gallons of water fell on Texas — enough to cover the entire state in eight inches of water. More than two dozen people were killed, and it was the wettest single month on record in both Texas and Oklahoma. A new peer-reviewed study from Utah State and Taiwanese researchers concluded, “There was a detectable effect of anthropogenic [manmade] global warming in the physical processes that caused the persistent precipitation in May of 2015″ over the southern Great Plains...”

File photo above: "Tex Toler watches the Llano River rise on Friday, May 29, 2015 in Llano, Texas, after another round of heavy rains." (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman/TNS).

5 Ways To Convince People To Actually Do Something About Climate Change. Co.Exist at Fast Company has an upbeat story with some good information - here's an excerpt on why it pays to keep it local, local, local: "...Instead of talking about global effects, Stoknes says we'll have more success by targeting messages to local areas. After Hurricane Sandy, New Yorkers get sea level rise; Californians now get what long-term drought looks like. Messages can build on those local stories, or on current health effects, like asthma that's already a result of air pollution. Activists can also use local pride to ramp up solutions. One suggested message: "Never mind the fighting in Congress—here in Louisiana we need to build our own preparedness and resilience..."

Folks In These U.S. States Don't Believe In Global Warming. It's not a matter of "belief" - it's acknowledging the science and the trends; here's an excerpt from "...The map provides estimates of what Americans believe about climate change, their perceptions of climate risks and support for policy options, with breakdowns for all 50 states, 435 congressional districts, and 3,000-plus counties in the U.S. Nationally, an average of 63% of adults ‘believe global warming is happening,’ the study shows. County-level estimates of belief that global warming is happening range from a low of 43% in Trimble County, Kentucky to a high of 80% in New York County, New York. Based on the map, these are the states where the fewest number of people agree that global warming is happening, followed by the states where the most people agree it’s happening..."

* Map courtesy of Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

"Future Generations" Sue Obama Administration Over Climate Change. I'm still waiting for the Mother of All Class Action Lawsuits to materialize. Here's an excerpt from "One kid says that his family’s farm has been damaged by drought and wildfire. Another says that his childhood home has been devalued by rising sea levels. A third alleges an assault on his whole culture as man-made climate change upends the natural world. These and 18 other “youth plaintiffs” (ages 8 to 19) sued the federal government on Wednesday, walking a first-of-its-kind constitutional claim up the courthouse steps in Eugene, Oregon. The kids argue that inaction on climate change is a violation of their right to life, liberty and property. And they demand that President Obama, seven federal departments and the Environmental Protection Agency act immediately to preserve the climate for “future generations...”

Muslim Scholars Prepare Call For Action on Climate Change. Bloomberg Business has the story; here's an excerpt: "Islamic scholars and religious leaders are preparing a call for action on climate change that will say it’s the religious duty of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to fight global warming. The declaration will be made in Istanbul next Tuesday during a two-day meeting in the Turkish city coordinated by three religious-environmental groups, according to Climate Action Network, a network of non-governmental organizations..."

Is Climate Change A Factor in Walleye Drought on Lake Mille Lacs? Fish biologists interviewed for a New York Times article brought it up as one of several possible explanations as Mille Lacs continues to warm; here's an excerpt: "...There is little agreement on the reasons for the apparent drop-off in the walleye population, but experts at the state’s natural resources agency say that larger prey — especially large walleye — appear to be eating younger walleye in alarming numbers. This could be because of a shortage of other fish like perch or tullibee, species that large walleye typically like to eat, but that have struggled to survive as lakes in Minnesota have gradually warmed as a result of climate change, some fish biologists say..."

Photo credit above: "A 26-foot fiberglass walleye statue greets visitors at Mille Lacs Lake in Garrison, Minn. The state has ordered an early end to the walleye fishing season amid concerns about a declining population." Credit Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times.

2015 Global Temperatures Are Right In Line With Climate Model Predictions. Here's a snippet of a Guardian story from St. Thomas climate scientist John Abraham: "...The heavy dashed line is the average predicted temperature including updated influences from a decrease in solar energy, human emitted heat-reflecting particles, and volcanic effects. The dashed line is slightly above the colored markers in recent years, but the results are quite close. Furthermore, this year’s temperature to date is running hotter than 2014. To date, 2015 is almost exactly at the predicted mean value from the models. Importantly, the measured temperatures are well within the spread of the model predictions..."

Graph credit above: "Comparison of the most recent climate model simulations with actual global surface temperature measurements." Created by Gavin Schmidt.

Study Shows No Link Between Sunspots and Climate Change. The Space Reporter has the article; here's an excerpt: "A new study conducted by a team of researchers from the US, the UK, and Germany shows solar activity has not increased significantly since the 18th century and is therefore not responsible for rising global temperatures on Earth. Many who reject the notion that human activity is responsible for global warming have long attributed that warming to sunspots resulting from increased solar activity. Presented at the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) 29th General Assembly in Honolulu on Tuesday, the new study discredits a method of counting sunspots first devised during the 1990s as “fundamentally flawed...” (File image: NASA).

First Click: Climate Change Deniers, Like Fanboys, Don't Care About Your Science. For some there will never be enough evidence, according to an article at The Verge; here's an excerpt: "...When you think about it, climate change deniers aren’t too different from flat-earthers, birthers, or people that believe the moon landings were filmed inside a Hollywood studio. Kahan's science shows that your scientific arguments don't matter to people with a cultural predisposition to distrust the powers at be. It also helps explain the futility of arguing with fanboys...The flame wars found in the internet comments on gadget and environmental articles are really just the flailing insecurities of individuals rationalizing their own choices.."

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