Sunday, August 2, 2015

Touch of Early September - Details on Clean Power Plan

84 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
83 F. average high on August 2.
87 F. high on August 2, 2014.

August 3, 1896: Violent hailstorm destroys two thirds of the crops in Swift County.

"...General Mills is committed to doing our part to tackle climate change and we fully support the effective implentation of the Clean Power Plan", said Jerry Lynch, Chief Sustainability Officer at General Mills. "In particular, we applaud the efforts off our home state of Minnesota for the progress its energy officials are making in building a plan that will work cost-effectively for the families, farmers, municipalities and the business community alike..."

Generation Clean

Today's official launch of the Clean Power Plan represents the biggest action the USA (or any nation) has ever undertaken; the rough emissions equivalent of taking 150 million cars off the road. It goes beyond addressing climate change; it goes to the health of our children today.

"One in four kids has asthma, autism, ADHD or allergies - linked to how we use fossil fuels and petrochemicals" said Reverend Mitch Hescox, CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network. Full disclosure: I'm on their Board of Directors.

A record 365 companies and investor groups have announced support for the EPA's Clean Power Plan, including General Mills and Aveda. They believe we can find clean, carbon-free ways to power up the economy and keep people working.

There are viable, cost-effective alternatives to "drill baby drill". We didn't leave the Stone Age because we ran out of stones. We exited the Stone Age because we found a better way forward.

Welcome to September. A remarkably persistent northwest wind flow aloft ushers in a taste of mid-September this week with a streak of 70s. The heatwave gripping much of America will remain well south of Minnesota.

We may see a little smoke from western wildfires but Heat Index won't get much traction here for at least the next 2 weeks.

Non-Polluting Growth. Ceres has more on the Clean Power Plan; here's an excerpt: "In an unprecedented show of business support for tackling climate change, 365 companies and investors sent letters to more than two-dozen governors across the United States voicing support for the EPA Clean Power Plan for existing power plants and encouraging the states’ “timely finalization” of state implementation plans to meet the new standards..."

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..."

Obama Unveils Major Climate Change Proposal Today. Here's an excerpt of a summary at "...The plan will call for a reduction power-sector carbon pollution of 32% from 2005 levels in 2030 -- a 9% increase over the 2014 draft proposal, the official said. It will also call for a more aggressive transition to renewable energy. "Power plants are the single biggest source of harmful carbon pollution that contributes to climate change," Obama said in the video. "Until now, there have been no federal limits to the amount of carbon pollution plants dump in the air..."

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..."

Persistent Kink in the Jet Stream. The "ridiculously resilient ridge" out west is, in turn, treating the north central USA, Great Lakes and New England to more of a Canadian breeze with frequent outbreaks of cooler, drier, more comfortable air over the northern tier of the USA (east of the Rockies). This trend should continue into the first half of August. The map above shows 250 mb winds today, as predicted by the GFS, courtesy of Climate Reanalyzer.

Comfortable and (Relatively) Dry Week Shaping Up. NOAA's 84-hour NAM guidance shows the heaviest showers and T-storms staying south and west of Minnesota into Thursday morning. The best chance of some rain may come Thursday PM into Friday, with partial clearing in time for next weekend. Stay tuned.

7-Day Rainfall Potential. The best chance of heavy rain looking out the next week or so comes from Kansas City and St. Louis across the Ohio Valley into southern New England, where some 2-4" amounts are possible. More heavy rain is likely from Tampa to the Outer Banks, although the risk of tropical formation in the next 7-10 days is low.

What August? Are you sure it's not September 3 - did I sleep through the entire month of August? Hate it when that happens. Expect a very comfortable week with winds easing up a bit by Tuesday; the best chance of showers and a few T-showers late Thursday into Friday as surface winds peak. More showers may slosh into town late Sunday - right now Saturday appears to be the nicer outdoor day of the weekend.

Faint Whiffs of Warmth. GFS guidance is hinting at a few blips of 90-degree heat by mid-August, but there's little doubt the core of heat and beastly humidity will stay to our south and west, a persistent heat dome over the southern 2/3rds of America, with the worst heat out west where more records may fall. 500 mb wind forecast (GFS) valid the evening of August 16 courtesy of GrADS:COLA/IGES.

Iran City Hits Suffocating Heat Index of 165 Degrees, Near World Record. Pretty typical.....for the surface of Venus. Meteorologist Jason Samenow has the amazing details at Capital Weather Gang; here's an excerpt: "...In the city of Bandar Mahshahr (population of about 110,000 as of 2010), the air felt like a searing 165 degrees (74 Celsius) today factoring in the humidity. Although there are no official records of heat indices, this is second highest level we have ever seen reported. To achieve today’s astronomical heat index level of 165, Bandar Mahshahr’s actual air temperature registered 115 degrees (46 Celsius) with an astonishing dew point temperature of 90 (32 Celsius)..."

Graphic credit above: "Chart showing temperature, dew point in index in Bandar Mahshahr over last 36 hours, using National Weather Service heat index value calculations." (Brian McNoldy)

Dry Days Bring A Ferocious Start To The Fire Season. Here are a couple of excerpts from a story at The New York Times: "...It is all part of an extensive nationwide scorching. About 63,312 wildfires destroyed 3.6 billion acres of land across the country last year, at a cost of $1.52 billion to fight the fires. Early projections have placed this year’s cost even higher, at up to $2.1 billion, well beyond the $1.5 billion set aside by the federal Interior and Agriculture Departments, which administer more than 600 million acres of public lands. The Obama administration has asked Congress to place wildfires in the same category as hurricanes and floods, with a dedicated disaster fund to pay for their suppression..."

Photo credit above: "Firefighters walk under smoke from fires along Morgan Valley Road near Lower Lake, Calif., Friday, July 31, 2015. A series of wildfires were intensified by dry vegetation, triple-digit temperatures and gusting winds." (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The Adblocking Revolution is Months Away - With Consequences for Advertisers, Publishers and Google? iOS9 will allow you to block ads on Safari, on mobile and desktop. What will that mean for web sites that depend on advertising? Here's a snippet of an interesting read at The Overspill: "...Into this comes Apple, which guards the user experience on the iOS platform, its biggest moneymaker, very jealously. Apple’s executives and staff aren’t blind to the things that are going on; they use their phones, and they get the same experiences. User experience is what Apple puts above pretty much everything else, and they’ve decided that they don’t like it the experience available through the ad-supported web, and so they’re going to do something about it. Hence content blockers for Safari (and all web views) on iOS 9, which wasn’t announced onstage at WWDC but was one of those “Whoa!” moments on browsing through the Settings in the first iOS 9 beta..."

Major Flaw In Android Phones Would Let Hackers In With Just a Text. Here's an excerpt from a story at NPR: "Android is the most popular mobile operating system on Earth: About 80 percent of smartphones run on it. And, according to mobile security experts at the firm Zimperium, there's a gaping hole in the software — one that would let hackers break into someone's phone and take over, just by knowing the phone's number. In this attack, the target would not need to goof up — open an attachment or download a file that's corrupt..."

TODAY: Blue sky and a stiff wind. Winds: NW 10-20+ High: 79

MONDAY NIGHT: Clear and comfortably cool. Low: 59

TUESDAY: Sunny, less wind. Dew point: 52. High: 77

WEDNESDAY: Fading sun, still comfortable. Wake-up: 58. High: near 80

THURSDAY: Unsettled, passing T-shower possible. Wake-up: 60. High: 76

FRIDAY: Heavy showers & T-storms around. Wake-up: 59. High: 75

SATURDAY: More sun, a fine lukewarm day. Wake-up: 60. High: 80

SUNDAY: Sunny start, PM T-storm risk. Wake-up: 62. High: 81

Climate Stories....
Obama To Unveil Tougher Climate Plan With His Legacy in Mind. He's also considering future generations of unborn and the world they'll inherit. Here's the intro to a New York Times article: " In the strongest action ever taken in the United States to combat climate change, President Obama will unveil on Monday a set of environmental regulations devised to sharply cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s power plants and ultimately transform America’s electricity industry. The rules are the final, tougher versions of proposed regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency announced in 2012 and 2014. If they withstand the expected legal challenges, the regulations will set in motion sweeping policy changes that could shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants, freeze construction of new coal plants and create a boom in the production of wind and solar power and other renewable energy sources..."

* A Facebook video from President Obama and the White House explaining the need for the Clean Power Plan is here.

Does Global Warming Actually Increase Antarctic Sea Ice? Here's an excerpt from a good explanation at Discovery News: "...Here’s that scenario in simpler terms. While sea ice has been increasing, we know from analyzing satellite data that the ice covering the land mass of Antarctica has been melting rapidly. Hansen and colleagues think that as those ice shelves disintegrate, a lot of cold freshwater is draining into the Southern Ocean. That’s creating a cold surface layer that is causing sea ice to form. Underneath that, though, the salty, denser subsurface waters are still warming..."

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