Thursday, August 6, 2015

Thunder Risk Increases into Saturday - Deadly Typhoon Souledor Threatens Taiwan

82 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
82 F. average high on August 5.
81 F. high on August 5, 2014.

August 6, 1969: Tornadoes sweep across northern Minnesota, hitting Ely, Backus, Outing and Dark Lake. Damage could still be seen 20 years later in the BWCA.

August 6, 1866: Torrential rain dumps 10.30 inches at Sibley in 24 hours. Widespread flooding occurs washing out bridges and drowning many people. In Fillmore County it is known as the "Wisel Flood" because 3 members of the Wisel family perished in the flood.

A Summer To Remember

"Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine" wrote Anthony J. D'Angelo.

Meteorologists take special delight in making you feel worse than you thought possible. In winter it's wind chill and "Winter Misery Index". In summer it's dew point and heat index.

Remember, Minnesota has some of the most extreme swings in temperature and moisture in North America with an average of 30 "life-threatening" days every year - severe lightning, flooding, tornadoes, cold, snow & blizzards. You get the picture.

But let's give credit where credit is due: this summer has been extraordinary. No treadmill of washed-out weekends, no extended streaks of gasp-worthy heat. The MSP metro has experienced only 2 days of 90-degree plus heat. During an average summer: 13 days of 90s.

The drought is over, another bumper harvest is imminent. It truly has been a summer to remember.

We'll see blips of heat in the coming weeks but the core of the heat wave remains out west, sparking massive fires from California to Alaska.

T-storms bubble up by tonight but most of the weekend looks sunny; highs in the mid-80s. Another 3-star, blue-ribbon, award-winning weekend?

We are so lucky.

Slight Severe Storm Threat. NOAA SPC has a small chance of severe storms over portions of central and southwestern Minnesota, generally south and west of the metro area. Although an isolated tornado can't be ruled out the primary risk is 1"+ diameter hail and potentially damaging straight-line winds, with the best chance after 5 PM. Stay tuned for possible watches and warnings later today.

Partly-Thundery Weekend. Our string of nice (dry) mostly-agreeable weekends may be about to come to an end. The 00z run of the 12KM NAM model shows a few T-showers popping later oday, but even stronger storms possible Saturday, especially Saturday night along a warm frontal boundary. Plan your outdoor activities for the morning and midday hours Saturday and you'll have a better chance of success (with less running and screaming...)

84-Hour Accumulated Rainfall. Here's a time-lapse of predicted rainfall amounts into Sunday morning, a plume of heavy rain from the Ohio Valley intot he Carolinas, more strong storms flaring up across the Upper Midwest, with the heaviest rains falling Saturday night. Source: NOAA and AerisWeather.

1-2" Amounts Saturday Night? I wouldn't bet the farm on this - after all it's only a computer model, but the NAM shows a plume of 1-2" rains setting up from northern Nebraska into the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin Saturday night. Source: NOAA and WeatherBell.

NAM Guidance. It seems we have a theme going. The ECMWF isn't as wet as the NAM solution, which shows .31" of rain by Friday morning, but the main event coming Saturday night. The 700+ helicity values Saturday night hint at strong to severe thunderstorms capable of wind damage. I'm not convinced, but it bears watching.

Time Warp. Here are the temperatures a few towns in northern Minnesota woke up to Wednesday morning. Jacket-worthy. No, make that gasp-worthy! What month is this again?

Earth's Most Powerful Storm of the Year Roars Across Pacific. Here's the intro to a story at USA TODAY: "Food, water, cots, generators, and other federal emergency supplies were being rushed Tuesday from Hawaii and Guam to help Saipan after the Earth's most powerful storm of 2015 — Super Typhoon Soudelor — blasted through the tiny U.S. island in the Western Pacific. The storm continued its violent march through the Pacific Ocean with sustained winds of more than 160 mph and gusts approaching 200 mph — the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center said Tuesday..."

* 15 meter waves reported with Typhoon Souledor. Details via SBS.

Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Wednesday morning, August 5, 2015

* Typhoon Soudelor forecast to strengthen into a Category 3-4 typhoon before reaching Taiwan Saturday PM (local time) - late Friday night USA time. Unusually warm Pacific Ocean water may result in an extreme storm capable of widespread damage. This may turn out to be a high impact event for Taiwan and local interests should be on high alert.

* Tropical Storm Guillermo continues to weaken, expected to track north of Hawaiian Island Chain - strong surf and flash flooding risk for islands.

* latest enhanced IR imagery of Typhoon Soudelor from NOAA is here.

Tracking Soudelor. This storm was producing sustained winds of 180 mph with gusts to 220 mph yesterday. It has weakened slightly, but most models show strengthening into a Category 4 typhoon (same thing as a hurricane) within 24 hours, with sustained winds of 140 mph shortly before reaching the island of Taiwan.

Wind Damage Potential. Although it is still early to try and isolate impacts from Soudelor, a swath of severe to catastrophic wind damage and 10-20 foot storm surges are possible over central Taiwan. Right now it appears the worst impacts will remain south of the capital of Taipei but this could change, depending on the final track of the typhoon.

Hawaii Spared Major Damage from Guillermo. Some flash flooding and mudslides can't be ruled out, along with minor storm surge flooding and coastal beach erosion (especially near high tide) on the northern and eastern coasts of the Hawaiian Islands, but the storm continues to weaken over time - impacts to facilities and staff will be minor to moderate.

We will continue to keep an eye on the Pacific, specifically Typhoon Soudelor, which may impact Taiwan as a very powerful and damaging storm within 48 hours.

Paul Douglas, Senior Meteorologist, AerisWeather

Summer In Baghdad: Beneath the Heat and Hijab. Here's a clip from a fascinating explanation of what it's like to be in Iraq during the most oppressive months of summer. Most Americans have no idea of what it's like to function under the conditions this reporter (Anne Barnard) experienced; here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...It was my hardest experience reporting in Iraq’s heat, and it was a function of both climate and conflict. That combination has tortured Iraqis for decades during the long summers, bringing on what many describe as a kind of heat-induced temporary insanity. A day out in peak Iraqi heat leaves you feeling as if the force of gravity has multiplied and thirsty with a panic akin to suffocation. But the bigger problem – thanks to chronic power shortages wrought by a series of wars – comes when the home you return to is not much cooler..."

Photo credit above: "Anne Barnard in Najaf, Iraq in 2004 where she was reporting for The Boston Globe in extreme heat." Credit Sa’ad al-Izzi.

Hurricane Sandy Still Taking A Toll Nearly 3 Years Later. Futurity has some statistics that made me do a double-take; here's an excerpt: "Hurricane Sandy continues to affect the lives of tens of thousands of New Jersey residents, who are still dealing with unfinished repairs, disputed claims, and recurrent mold—after-effects that are linked to an increased risk of mental health distress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression. According to the Sandy Child and Family Health Study, a study of 1 million New Jersey residents living in the hurricane’s path, more than 100,000 New Jersey residents experienced significant structural damage to their primary homes. Of those people, 27 percent are still experiencing moderate or severe mental health distress and 14 percent report still signs and symptoms of PTSD two and a half years after the storm..."

Study Claims Perovskite Solar Cells Can Recoup Their Energy Cost Within 3 Months. The only thing anyone can predict with a high degree of accuracy: more disruption is coming, prices will continue to fall as innovation into clean-energy sources accelerates. Details via "Scientists at Northwestern University and the U.S. Department of Energy have found that perovskite cells, one of the most promising solar technologies of recent years, can repay their energy cost over 10 times faster than traditional silicon-based solar cells. The finding confirms that, once issues related to cell longevity are ironed out, perovskite cells could soon bring us solar energy on the cheap, and do so with less impact on the environment over their lifetime..."

* More details from Northwestern University here.

Russia Just Laid Claim To A Vast Chunk Of The Arctic. The next geopolitical and militaryy flashpoint: the oil-rich waters of the Arctic. Here's an excerpt from Vice News: "Vladimir Putin has long considered the Arctic a Russian "sphere of special interest," and on Tuesday, Russia formally petitioned the UN for a large chunk of Arctic territory. Russia is hoping to use a little-known international treaty — The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea — to claim a 460,000 square mile section of the frozen landmass that's thought to contain nearly 5 billion tons of oil. The move is the latest in an international scramble for the oil-rich and strategically significant Arctic..."

U.K. Government to Citizens: "Take Your Vitamin D Supplements". The older I get the more I appreciate having the sun out (most days). That's somethings residents of Britain don't take for granted, according to Quartz: "The UK’s lack of sunshine is no longer just an ice-breaker between two strangers—it may also be a health worry. The government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has recommended that Britons should take supplemental vitamin D as a precaution. No sun can mean a lack of vitamin D, as that is where humans get 90% of the vitamin..."

The Age of the Robot Worker Will Be Worse For Men. No robot would want to do my job. Just saying. Half of all jobs obsolete in the not-too-distant future? Here's an excerpt from The Atlantic: "...This pattern holds for many of the most gender-biased occupations. Men hold 97 percent of the 2.5 million U.S. construction and carpentry jobs. The Oxford study estimates that these male workers stand more than a 70 percent chance of being replaced by robotic workers. By contrast, women hold 93 percent of the registered nurse positions. Their risk of obsolescence is vanishingly small: .009 percent..."

Airbus Patents Design for Mach 4-Plus Supersonic Jet. Will it be built? One regret is never scraping together the cash to take a flight on the supersonic Concorde. Gizmag has the tantalizing details: "If there's one area where the 21st century has gone backwards technologically, it's in supersonic passenger flight. With the grounding of the Concorde fleets in 2003, flying faster than the speed of sound reverted to a military monopoly, but that hasn't kept engineers from trying for a revival. Now Airbus' Marco Prampolini and Yohann Coraboeuf have been granted a US patent for an "ultra-rapid air vehicle" designed to fly at 20 km (12.4 mi) higher than conventional aircraft and over four times the speed of sound – twice the speed of Concorde..."

How Will Ad-Blocking Software Change The Web-Content Industry? Is this the beginning of the end for ad-supported sites? Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "...Observers weren’t fooled by the last-day session placement and careful euphemism (“content” means “ads”). True to the “if it bleeds, it leads” dictum, we were treated to the usual clamor, from accusations of short-sighted tactics—Apple is at war with Google and wants to monopolize mobile advertising with iAds; publishers will blacklist Safari on iOS9—to predictions of calamity—content blocking will upend the Web, your favorite webiste is about to die, content creators are under attack:You realize that ‘bloat’ pays the salaries of editorial, product, design, video, etc etc etc, right?...” (Photo credit: before and after ad-blocking).

An Alien Sky. Thanks to Mark Tarello and Johannah McKinney Cheek in Harrodsburg, Kentucky for Tuesday's wild display of something you just don't see every day: "undulatus asperatus clouds". Nice.

Putting Golfball Size Hail To Good Use. You have to hand it to Wisconsin residents - they know what to do with big chunks of ice falling from the sky. Thanks to the Green Bay office of the National Weather Service for the chuckle!

TODAY: Unsettled, few T-storms late - some may be severe south/west of MSP. Winds: S 10-15. High: 80

THURSDAY NIGHT: T-storms likely, some packing locally heavy rain. Low: 65

FRIDAY: Damp start, slow PM clearing. High: 81

SATURDAY: Partly sunny - heavy T-storms possible PM hours, especially Saturday night. Winds: South 5-10. Wake-up: 68. High: 85

SUNDAY: Fading sun, more noticeable humidity - stray storms late PM. Wake-up: 69. High: 84

MONDAY: Few showers and T-storms. Wake-up: 67. High: 79

TUESDAY: Sunny and beautiful. Wake-up: 64. High: 84

WEDNESDAY: Blue sky, light winds. Perfection. Wake-up: 66. High: 86

Climate Stories...

Why Power Suppliers Most Affected by EPA Plan Don't Hate It. Bloomberg Business has the article - here's an excerpt: "Opponents of President Barack Obama’s plan to cut power-plant emissions say utilities will be among the casualties. You wouldn’t know it to hear from the power providers themselves. For a group that must dramatically alter the way it does business to comply with the proposal, utilities don’t sound very annoyed. In fact, the industry’s main trade group said the Obama administration “seems to have responded to some of our key concerns.” The new rules will even boost profits for some..."

Where Does Minnesota Fall in Clean Energy Plan? has the story - here's a link and excerpt: "...David Thornton, an assistant commissioner with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, said it will take weeks for his staff to analyze Minnesota's obligations under the revised rule the EPA released Monday. But so far, he said, he's encouraged. "We think this final plan is a more balanced, fair plan, and it does a better job of recognizing the kind of work we've already done here in Minnesota," he said. So even if Minnesota's target is as high as 40 percent, Thornton said, when it comes to the things the state's utilities will need to do to meet it — the efforts could be minimal..." (File photo:

* If you're up for a little light reading, the entire EPA Clean Power Plan, all 1500+ pages is here.

Arctic's Melting Ice Shrinks Shipping Routes. One silver lining to diminishing arctic ice: ships will burn less fuel as they navigate to their destination; here's a clip from Climate News Network: "The disappearing Arctic ice cap will boost trade between north-west Europe and countries such as China, Japan and South Korea by making the sea routes far shorter, according to economic analysts. The new sea route will alter world trade, making northern countries richer, but causing serious problems for Egypt, which will lose a large chunk of revenue currently gained from ships coming through the Suez Canal. One advantage to the environment − according to a discussion paper from the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis − is that ships will burn far less fossil fuel to reach their destination..."

* A link to the paper referenced above is here.

A "Fine Canadian Wine". Don't laugh - it's coming. Here's an excerpt from Montreal Gazette: "...Temperatures in Quebec may rise enough by 2050 that vineyards could start growing vitis vinifera grapes, which are used for such wines as chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon, according to work presented by climate scientists Philippe Roy and Isabelle Charron at the American Geophysical Union’s Joint Assembly, which was held in Montreal in May. Quebec’s wine industry has been growing steadily..."

Photo credit above: "As the climate gets warmer, new research suggests Quebec vineyards may be able to grow an increasing number of grape varieties." Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette.

The Oil Crash Has Caused a $1.3 Trillion Wipeout. Bloomberg Business reports - here's the introduction: "...It’s the oil crash few saw coming, and few have been spared as it erased $1.3 trillion, the equivalent of Mexico’s annual GDP, in little more than a year. Take billionaire Carl Icahn. When crude was at its peak in June 2014, the activist investor’s stake in Chesapeake Energy Corp. was worth almost $2 billion. Today, oil has lost more than half its value, Chesapeake is the worst performer in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Icahn has a paper loss of $1.3 billion. The S&P 500, by contrast, is up 6.9 percent in that time..."

Republicans Say Green Groups Had Outsized Influence on EPA. Here's the introduction to a story at Bloomberg Business: "Republican lawmakers said the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups had an inappropriate influence on developing the Obama administration’s regulation to curb carbon emissions from power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency released the final rule Monday, and it was hailed by NRDC and others as a major step toward addressing the risks of global warming. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday released a compilation of e-mails between the groups and administration officials to show “collusion” in crafting the rule..."

Climate Change Could Give San Francisco The Climate of San Diego, Scientists Say. Here's a blurb from The Washington Post: "...Having the best climate is a bold boast, and the sign got climate scientist Ken Caldeira of Stanford University’s Carnegie Institute of Science thinking about how he might test the town’s claim to fame. His research, published Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports, indicates which city may actually have the nicest climate — and which city could take the title in the next 100 years if humans fail to curb carbon emissions and mitigate climate change..." (AP Photo/Eric Risberg).

Obama Didn't Kill Coal, The Market Did. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Bloomberg View: "...The overblown political rhetoric about the plan tends to obscure the market reality that the coal industry has been in steady decline for a decade, partly as a result of the natural gas boom, but mostly because consumers are demanding cleaner air and action on climate change. Communities across the U.S. have led the way in persuading utilities to close dirty old coal plants and transition to cleaner forms of energy. The Sierra Club’s grass-roots Beyond Coal campaign (which Bloomberg Philanthropies funds) has helped close or phase out more than 200 coal plants over the past five years..." ) File photo credit: Elaine Thompson, Associated Press).

We Are The Asteroid. The five previous mass extinctions on Earth were tied to asteroids and (mostly) volcanic eruptions on a planetary scale. What is unique about this period is the speed of change, the rate at which we are adding greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. Are we undergoing a 6th extinction? Here's a link to a YouTube video from Yale Climate Forum: "Leading Scientists compare current Human pressure on the planet's life support systems to great Extinction events of the past."

Here's Where Over 90% of the Extra Heat from Global Warming Is Going. Business Insider has the article; here's a clip: "The average surface temperature around the world has increased by roughly 1.08 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 40 years, but that number would be a lot larger if it weren't for the oceans. "To date, the oceans have essentially been the planet's refrigerator and carbon dioxide storage locker," Hans-Otto Pörtner, who is a researcher at the Alref Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centra for Polar and Marine Research, told ScienceDaily. "For instance, since the 1970s they've absorbed roughly 93% of the additional heat produced by the greenhouse effect, greatly helping to slow the warming of our planet..."

Glaciers Melting at "Unprecedented" Rate. CBS News highlights new data that shows an acceleration of glacier ice loss, worldwide. Here's an excerpt: "According to a wide-ranging new study, in the first part of the 21st century, glaciers are melting faster than at any point in the last 165 years -- and possibly any point in recorded history. Published Monday in the Journal of Glaciology by the World Glacier Monitoring Service, the findings represent thousands of observations going all the way back to the 1600s. That includes more than 40,000 on-site measurements of glacier thickness, images from planes and satellites, and reconstructions based on historical pictures and texts...."

Image credit above: "The top image shows the Swiss Rhone Glacier in June 2007; the second image shows the same glacier in June 2014." Simon Oberli.

World's Glaciers Melting At Fastest Rate Since Record-Keeping Began. Globally 3 times the ice volume stored in the Alps is lost every year, according to new research highlighted at Huffington Post; here's a clip: "The world's glaciers have melted to the lowest levels since record-keeping began more than 120 years ago, according to a study conducted by the World Glacier Monitoring Service that was released on Monday. The research, published in the Journal of Glaciology, provides new evidence that climate change has spurred the rapid decline of thousands of the world's ice shelves over the past century. The first decade of the 21st century saw the fastest loss of ice since scientists began tracking it in 1894 -- and perhaps in recorded history, WGMS reported..."

Methane in Atmosphere May Greatly Exceed Estimates. Which is problematic, considering methane is a greenhouse gas far more concentrated and potent than CO2. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "A device commonly used to measure the methane that leaks from industrial sources may greatly underestimate those emissions, said an inventor of the technology that the device relies on. The claim, published Tuesday in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, suggests that the amount of escaped methane, a potent greenhouse gas, could be far greater than accepted estimates from scientists, industry and regulators. The new paper focuses on a much-heralded report sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund and published by University of Texas researchers in 2013; that report is part of a major effort to accurately measure the methane problem..." (File image: ThinkProgress).

Can Forests Rebound From Severe Drought? has the story - here's the link and an excerpt that caught my eye: "...Dr. Anderegg, who studies climate change at Princeton University, found that living trees took an average of two to four years to recover post-drought. There was just one exception: California and Mediterranean regions actually grew faster after a drought. "We don't have a clear answer as to why this was," Anderegg says. "One possibility is that these regions tended to be dominated by oak forests, and we found that oaks tended to recover relatively quickly..."

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