Saturday, August 1, 2015

Severe Threat Later Today - Earth Now Halfway to U.N. Global Warming Limit

82 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.
83 F. average high on July 31.
84 F. high on July 31, 2014.

August 1, 1955: A thunderstorm in Becker County dumped a foot of rain at Callaway.

An Unlikely Weather Map

Weather is a deep dive into chaos theory. Computers help but model simulations only go so far. I've been scratching my head more than usual in 2015. From extreme drought to raging floods in Texas. A record-setting wet July across the Midwest; surplus soil moisture helping to depress corn prices. Record 100-degree-plus heat grips Oregon and Washington state. A record summer for wildfires in Alaska.

August is prime time for hurricanes, but Florida has gone nearly a decade (!) without experiencing one of these fearsome storms. A recent poll suggests 1 in 3 Floridians won't evacuate if a Category 1 hurricane is steamrolling their way. Crazy. Apathy may breed disaster down the road.

A surge of moisture coupled with strong wind shear and instability aloft could spark strong to severe T-storms by evening, especially over the southern half of Minnesota. I'm just hoping my power stays on this time. Sunday looks drier with 80s and a light breeze. Longer range guidance hints at a few 70s by late next week.

I'm a glass-half-full guy but it's been a memorable summer: just warm enough, not too humid and an almost ideal rainfall pattern for farmers; just a handful of severe outbreaks. Perfect.

Slight Severe T-storm Risk. NOAA SPC has a slight risk of severe thunderstorms later toda over southwestern Minnesota, the greatest potential for hail and damaging winds south and west of the Twin Cities. Will the power stay on? Place your bets.

West Coast Heat Wave Threatens All-Time Records. Here's an excerpt from The Weather Channel: "...It's a fitting end to what will be one of the hottest Julys on record in parts of the Northwest. Seattle, Washington, and Astoria, Oregon, were both seeing their hottest July on record as of July 29, according to data from the Southeast Regional Climate Center. For Seattle, July 2015 could beat out August 1967 for the hottest month on record if the final average temperature for July exceeds 71.1 degrees. July was the third warmest on record through July 29 in Portland, Oregon, and fourth warmest on record for Yakima, Washington. High temperatures at or above 100 degrees are forecast for the Portland, Oregon, area through Friday, with middle to upper 90s expected this weekend..." (Interactive graphic: AerisWeather).

Crazy-Warm Temperatures Over Southwest Oregon and Northwest California. Cliff Mass provides good perspective on the blazing heat gripping the Pacific Northwest; here's an excerpt: "How often do you see temperatures of over 100F at a coastal location, with cool ( roughly 50F) water close at hand?   Well today for one!  Let's head down to the southwest corner of Oregon, near Brookings.   This is a region often called the Banana Belt of Oregon for having "tropical" temperatures any month of the year. Here is a map showing you today's maximum temperatures (F) over SW Oregon and NW California. Over 100F AT THE COAST at Brookings and at Gold Beach, just to its north..." (Heat index forecast above: AerisWeather).

Gulf Coast Soaking. Although model guidance (including the ECMWF) doesn't show any imminent tropical development, a temporarily stalled frontal boundary focuses heavy showers and T-storms on the Gulf Coast, with Tampa and Ocala picking up some 5-6"+ rains over the next 7 days. The heaviest storms should slosh south of Minnesota into next weekend.

A Tale of Two Seasons. It will very much feel like summer over the Southwest and southern Plains into mid-August, but a series of unusually strong storms pushing across Canada will puff almost September-like air into the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and New England, taking the edge off the heat and humidity. GFS guidance from NOAA goes out 10 days.

A Southwestern Slow Broil. The 500 mb wind forecast for the evening of August 14 (GFS) shows a stalled heat-pump high pressure ridge keeping near-record heat from California and Oregon into the central Plains; some slight relief east of the Mississippi River. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

What Warming Means for 4 of Summer's Worst Pests. A longer mosquito season in Minnesota? Just what I wanted to hear. Details via Climate Central; here's a snippet: "...As temperatures around the country rise, the areas that are conducive to such mosquitoes could expand, and the insects could start to emerge earlier in the year, meaning more opportunities for bites that could spread disease. After an unseasonably warm late spring, summer, and early winter in 2012, the U.S. experienced a West Nile Virus outbreak linked to the Asian Tiger mosquito, with some 5,600 people becoming infected. Asian Tiger mosquitoes tend to die off when temperatures venture outside a range from 50°F to 95°F and when relative humidity dips below 42 percent. A Climate Central analysis examined how warming would affect this range for cities around the country, showing how many more “mosquito suitable” days there were now compared to 1980..."

Interactive Wildfire Map. Here's a resource from Climate Central, showing wildfires around the USA. The west coast is bad enough with the ongoing drought, but check out Alaska, which on this map appears to be a suburb of hell.

Florida's Extended Hurricane Drought. No hurricanes in nearly 10 years? The Weather Channel takes a look at this (historic) quiet spell and a growing sense of apathy, especially among younger Floridians; here's an excerpt: "...There's little doubt that Florida's recent history with hurricanes – or lack of them, actually – plays a significant role in this. More than 9 1/2 years have passed since the last hurricane to make landfall in Florida (2005's Hurricane Wilma), by far the longest stretch of consecutive hurricane-free years for the state since 1851. Previously, the state's longest hurricane-free streak lasted five years, from 1980 to 1984. That's especially impressive when you consider the coastline of Florida spans more than 1,260 miles, and an average of eight hurricanes have formed each year since 2005. Since Wilma, more than 1 million people have moved to Florida, according to the latest U.S. Census data..."

Hurricane Wilma file image: NOAA.

Record Rains in July. Here's an excerpt of AerisWeather meteorologist D.J. Kayser's excellent blog post on record rains this month across much of the USA east of the Rockies: "...Heavy rain once again fell over parts of the central and southeast United States, leaving some locations with over 10″ of rain during the month. Indianapolis, IN, saw their wettest MONTH on record this July, with 13.14″ falling through July 29th. The previous monthly record for the Crossroads of America was 13.12″ back in July of 1875. It’s also been wet in parts of Texas (more on that in a moment) with 8.26″ falling in Abilene, TX, making it the wettest July on record..."

Devastating Floods Might Be More Common Than We Thought, Study Says. The Los Angeles Times has a summary of recent research; here's an excerpt: "...But some of the worst floods in coastal areas are caused by the unfortunate concurrence of big storm surges with high rainfall – a double-whammy for flooding, because it can result in the sea spilling over onto land while rivers and urban drainage systems overflow onto the streets. By examining these two phenomena together, researchers showed that heavy precipitation and high seas are occurring in tandem more often in many coastal cities, especially along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the U.S. The results were published this week in Nature Climate Change...."

Photo credit above: "The chances of heavy rainfall and high storm surges occurring in tandem is increasing, which puts U.S. cities at greater risk of flooding, researchers say. Above, water flows over the Industrial Canal floodwall in New Orleans in 2008." (Eliot Kamenitzd / The Times-Picayune via AP).

Younger Floridians Discount Hurricane Threat. The fact that the USA hasn't experienced a Category 3 or stronger hurricane in a decade is one factor. Older people remember - and tend to have respect for hurricanes. But if you've never experienced one? Here's an excerpt from The Jacksonville Democrat: "Those who experience hurricanes rarely lose their awe for the forces of nature. Many young people, though, have no idea of the kind of devastation hurricanes can cause. Those are some of the conclusions that could be drawn from a July Mason-Dixon poll of Florida residents 10 years after the record breaking summer of hurricanes Katrina, Dennis, Rita and Wilma. “That millennial group — some of the younger ones were in elementary school the last time there was a hurricane,” said J. Brad Coker, managing director of the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc..." (File photo: NASA).

In Microsoft's Nokia Debace, A View of an Industry's Feet of Clay. Disruption is no longer the exception but the rule. Smart companies are disrupting themselves (faster) before others do it for them. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...Microsoft “just couldn’t imagine that a company that was once as strong and dominant as Nokia could have virtually no value.” He compared the swift rise of Apple and the withering fortunes of Nokia, BlackBerry and other once-thriving manufacturers to the arrival of an infectious virus. “We tend to think the strong will survive,” Mr. Dediu said. “But a virus is a very small thing that kills big things.” He continued: “It’s easy to say Microsoft was foolish and blame the chief executive. But when it happens to everyone, it’s an extinction event. A whole bunch of companies were disrupted. And it happened in the blink of an eye...” (Image credit here).

Obama Wants The U.S. To Be At The Forefront of Supercomputer Technology. Call me crazy but this sounds like a pretty good idea to me. Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "President Obama has signed an Executive Order calling for the US to significantly up its game in the supercomputer space. The effort, known as the National Strategic Computer Initiative (NSCI), will aim to build the world's fastest supercomputer by 2025. The NSCI initiative will be an multi-departmental research, development and deployment effort focusing on the creation of a brand new supercomputer. The mission statement is essentially to make sure that the US has the most capable machine a decade from now, allowing for high-end computational problem solving in both the public and private sectors..." (Image: Sam Churchill)

Solar Now Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels For Many Small Businesses. EcoWatch has the story; here's the intro: "Solar power is the fastest-growing sourc eof electricity in the country, and now mom and pop shops can take part in the boom. Solar panels are usually seen on the roofs of residential buildings, schools, large companies or government institutions, but now, SolarCity is expanding its services to small and medium-sized businesses, or SMRs, the company announced. This move essentially allows local businesses to cut ties to their utility and save money against rising electricity costs with renewable energy..." (photo credit: flickr).

TODAY: Warm sun, few strong to severe storms by evening? Winds: West 10. High: 84

SATURDAY NIGHT: Strong T-storms possible, some packing hail and high winds. Low: 64

SUNDAY: More sun, isolated T-storm risk. High: 86

MONDAY: Sunny, less humid. DP: 53. Wake-up: 65. High: 82

TUESDAY: Comfortable sunshine. Loving August. Wake-up: 62. High: 80

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, probably dry. Wake-up: 62. High: 82

THURSDAY: Sunny intervals, hints of September. Wake-up: 60. High: 79

FRIDAY: Showers and T-storms, some heavy. Wake-up: 61. High: 77

Climate Stories....

Earth Now Halfway to U.N. Global Warming Limit. New Scientist has the details; here's the intro: "It's the outcome the world wants to avoid, but we are already halfway there. All but one of the main trackers of global surface temperature are now passing more than 1 °C of warming relative to the second half of the 19th century, according to an exclusive analysis done for New Scientist. We could also be seeing the end of the much-discussed slowdown in surface warming since 1998, meaning this is just the start of a period of rapid warming. “There’s a good chance the hiatus is over,” says Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado..." (Graph credit: Kevin Cowtan of the University of York).

How The Pentagon Is Preparing For Climate Change In Each Part of the World. The Washington Post takes a look at a recent Defense Department report; here's an excerpt: "The Pentagon made the case Wednesday that the locations in the world most prone to instability and bloodshed also are the ones where climate change has the greatest impact, and laid out details about how top regional commanders are preparing for it. A report required by Congress covers a variety of climate issues affecting the military, noting how rising seas and severe weather can impact missions. But it also provides little-known details about how each geographic combatant command — a COCOM, in military-speak — is addressing climate change in the part of the world where they oversee operations..."

Photo credit above: "A helicopter crew working with the Coast Guard lowers a rescue swimmer into the Arctic Ocean during a joint search and rescue exercise near Oliktok Point, Alaska, on July 13." (Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst/ Coast Guard).

"Force Multiplier". The world is awash in risk. Climate change adds additional risk to the equation, with implications for food and water supplies, agriculture, migration and the potential for revolution (exhibit A: Syria). Here's more perspective on the Pentagon report from

Climate Models Are Even More Accurate Than You Thought. Professional climate deniers like to squawk about how unrelieable the climate models are in the hands of those "alarmist climate scientists". It turns out they've been closer to the mark than you might think. Here's a summary of an article at The Guardian: "...There’s a common myth that models are unreliable, often based on apples-to-oranges comparisons, like looking at satellite estimates of temperatures higher in the atmosphere versus modeled surface air temperatures. Or, some contrarians like John Christy will only consider the temperature high in the atmosphere, where satellite estimates are less reliable, and where people don’t live. This new study has shown that when we do an apples-to-apples comparison, climate models have done a good job projecting the observed temperatures where humans live. And those models predict that unless we take serious and immediate action to reduce human carbon pollution, global warming will continue to accelerate into dangerous territory..."

Graphic credit above: "Comparison of 84 climate model simulations (using RCP8.5) against HadCRUT4 observations (black), using either air temperatures (red line and shading) or blended temperatures using the HadCRUT4 method (blue line and shading). The upper panel shows anomalies derived from the unmodified climate model results, the lower shows the results adjusted to include the effect of updated forcings from Schmidt et al. (2014)."

* The Carbon Brief has more perspective on climate models vs. reality and actual performance metrics.

Evangelicals Back Carbon Reduction Plan. Protection for the unborn apparently extends to future generations of unborn as well; here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "More than 170 evangelical leaders have sent President Obama a letter backing a Clean Power Plan that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants. The plan, which is expected to be released Monday (Aug. 3), aims to cut carbon pollution by 30 percent from 2005 levels. Coal industry leaders have said the plan will increase costs and have a minimal effect on climate change. The letter from evangelicals says that 230,000 “pro-life Christians” have contacted the Environmental Protection Agency in support of the plan..."

Drought-Hit Forests Store Less Carbon Dioxide Than Thought: Researchers. Here's the intro to a story at Reuters: "The world's forests are taking longer than expected to recover from increasingly frequent droughts, meaning their ability to store climate-changing carbon dioxide is smaller than previously thought, Utah University researchers said on Thursday.  If forests are absorbing less carbon dioxide, then the effects of climate change will be worse than past models had predicted, the Utah study published in the journal Science said..." (File image: The Energy Collective).

Jeb Bush: Humans Contribute to Climate Change. Is the GOP taking baby-steps toward acknowledging the reality of man-made climate change? It would appear so, based on Jeb Bush's recent (encouraging) interview with Bloomberg, featured at TheHill; here's the intro: "GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush says human activity is contributing to climate change and the country has an obligation to work to stop it. “I think it’s appropriate to recognize this and invest in the proper research to find solutions over the long haul but not be alarmists about it,” Bush said in an interview published Thursday with Bloomberg BNA. “We should not say the end is near, not deindustrialize the country, not create barriers for higher growth, not just totally obliterate family budgets, which some on the left advocate by saying we should raise the price of energy so high that renewables then become viable,” he added..."

Step Outside - Climate Change is Here. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from the Editorial Board at The Sacramento Bee: "...if global warming doesn’t feel like a threat by now, it ought to. Last week, 16 leading scientists joined the former lead climate scientist for NASA in warning that glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland could melt 10 times faster than anyone thought. James Hansen, one of the first predictors of climate change – “alarmist and also right,” as Slate called him – reported that the goal we had all been told was safe, limiting global warming to a 2-degree Celsius temperature increase, actually won’t begin to control the damage. In as little as 50 years, according to the study published last Thursday in the open-access journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, sea levels may rise 10 feet or more, inundating the world’s coastal cities..."

Before The Time of Global Warming, Spring Sprung Later. Here's a snippet from a story at Inside Climate News: "...According to one of the largest troves of ecological data from the past, living organisms are already responding to the rise in temperatures from global warming. By digitizing more than 11,000 records from the 19th century that chronicled the flowering of plants and trees, the springtime arrival of migrating birds, and the annual onset of frog mating calls, researchers at the Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program in Harlemville, N.Y. have shown that spring is arriving as much as 14 days early as climate change accelerates..." (File photo: NASA).

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