Thursday, September 17, 2015

Symptoms of a "Juiced" Atmosphere - Record 2.37" Rain Soaks MSP Thursday - Hottest Meteorological Summer on Record, Worldwide

78 F. high at MSP Thursday.
71 F. average high on September 17.
77 F. high on September 17, 2014.

2.37" rain fell at MSP International Airport, a new 24-hour rainfall record for September 17.

September 18, 1997: An F3 Tornado destroyed several buildings and numerous others damaged. Hundreds of trees were knocked down. A number of cattle were also killed in a barn that collapsed. One man was injured when the tornado engulfed his car and threw it into a nearby woods. A second man was critically injured when his garage collapsed. He died several weeks later. The total path length of the tornado from 1 NE of Lastrup to Onamia was 17 miles. Total property damages were estimated at $1.7 Million. In total, 6 tornadoes touched down in Morrison, Mille Lacs, and Kanabec.
September 18, 1991: Duluth got a 2.5 inch summer snowstorm. (Fall was still five days away)
September 18, 1971: A brush fire at Lake Alexander in Morrison County started a 10-foot wide, 50-foot high "fire whirl." It moved out over the lake, overturned a 1,800 pound pontoon boat, and then dissipated as it moved back to shore.
September 18, 1903: 3.75 inches of rain fell in the Minneapolis area.

Suddenly September
Warming Up Again Next Week - MSP Rainfall Record Thursday

"A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain" wrote Robert Frost. Yes, I've found many banks are happy to lend you money - if you don't really need it.

All of us are getting a return on our summer weather investment; an extra month of summer this year. The maps look more like mid-August than mid-September. We shouldn't be too shocked.
Meteorological summer was the hottest since global records began in 1879. All that heat that's been going into the oceans is starting to juice the atmosphere; the El Nino now brewing in the Pacific may be one of the strongest on record.

Which is a long way of saying September will be considerably warmer than average across Minnesota. After cooling off today 70s return next week; GFS model data hinting at more 80s about 8-10 days from now.

The ECMWF ("Euro") had the right idea clearing us out late tonight. All the models show a cool, sunny Saturday. Take a light jacket to the Gophers game.

After yesterday's monsoon rains (a record 2.37" fell at MSP) it's a relief tracking a dry, comfortable weekend.

The Monsoons of September. With a month like this who needs June? 24-hour Doppler radar rainfall estimates show a wide swath of 2-3" rains over the east metro from Thursdays waves of downpours, some 4-5" estimates from Amery to Barron. That's a month or more's worth of rain falling in one day. Source: MPX National Weather Service in the Twin Cities.

Real-Time Winds. The folks at have done an amazing job visualizing weather, including this frame-grab from yesterday, showing surface winds (and a powerful storm swirling in the North Atlantic).

Mild Bias into Late September. NOAA's GFS model, looking out 10 days (above) shows a few residual showers later today, instability showers but nothing severe expected, followed by weekend clearing. A warm frontal boundary sparks a few T-storms the latter half of next week; GFS guidance is still hinting at a few 80s the last weekend of September. More July than September.

Symptoms of El Nino. NOAA CPC (Climate Prediction Center) predicts a mild bias for Alaska, the west coast, the northern USA and much of New England for October (top graphics) and October thru December (bottom graphics). At the rate we're going, with the temperature anomalies we're seeing across the northern hemisphere, that's not hard to believe.

Less Snow This Winter for Minnesota and Wisconsin? That's a hypothetical, I don't pretend to have the answer, but I'd bet a stale bagel that we'll wind up with less snow than average, as El Nino shifts the main branch of the storm track south of Minnesota; more mild, Pacific air penetrating well inland than during a typical winter (when polar winds dominate). My confidence level is low, every El Nino is different, but the probability of a milder winter is significantly higher. Snowfall could go either way (there's no obvious correlation with El Nino) but NOAA CPC predicts drier weather from January thru March, 2016 from Montana to Minnesota to the Great Lakes. Californians are hoping this forecast verifies, with wetter than normal weather predicted from the southwest USA to Florida and the East Coast.

The Planet Set 3 Major Heat Records in August. Joe Romm has the sweaty details at ThinkProgress; here's a clip: "Like a broken record, we are breaking records for temperature over and over and over again. NOAA’s latest monthly State of the Climate Report reports that the Earth just experienced the hottest August on record, the hottest summer (June to August) on record, and the hottest year to date..."

97% Odds 2015 Will Be Warmest Year on Record. Where have I seen the 97% number before? Right, that's the percentage of published, peer-reviewed climate scientists who see a human role in the warming underway, worldwide. El Nino is turbocharging that warming as unusual warmth in the Pacific juices the atmosphere. Here's an excerpt from NOAA's "...These circumstances raise an interesting question: given the global surface temperature data through July 2015, what is the likelihood that 2015 will be the warmest year on record? A few of us at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) decided to investigate. To answer this question, we consider two approaches that rely only on historical statistics that describe how the remainder of the year may play out. In other words, we don’t rely on any physical predictors such as El NiƱo conditions or forecasts of future weather or climate. We use only the well-documented, quality-controlled historical monthly global surface temperature data archived at NCEI...."

Hottest August on Record, Worldwide. It was also the hottest meteorological summer. Here's an excerpt from NOAA NCDC: "...The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for August 2015 was 0.88°C (1.58°F) above the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F) and the highest August in the 136-year record. This value surpassed the previous record set in 2014 by 0.09°C (0.16°F). Most of the world's surface was substantially warmer than average and, in some locations, record warm during August 2015, contributing to the monthly global record warmth. This was the sixth month in 2015 that has broken its monthly temperature record (February, March, May, June, July, and August)..."

Hottest Summer on Record. Here's a link to a YouTube video, courtesy of Climate Nexus: "June, July and August 2015 were the hottest months ever recorded. The extreme events of the summer, from record breaking temperatures to deadly heatwaves and uncontrollable wildfires, preview a dangerous new norm of a warming world."

Tsunami Impacts in Southern California. The 8.5 quake that ripped across Chile produced an additional half foot to just over a foot of water for coastal California early Thursday morning. Source: NOAA.

The California Wildfires: What's Making This Season so Wild? The New York Times has a good explainer and interview; here's a snippet: "...Two reasons: drought and heat. Vegetation in California, from the mesquite scrub in the desert to the tall pines in the Sierra Nevada, is as dry as kindling after a yearslong drought, the worst in the state’s recorded history. So fire catches more easily, spreads faster and carries farther on the wind. The state’s major reservoirs hold less than half the water they typically contain at this time of year, many wells have run dry, and underground aquifers are so depleted that in some places, the ground has been sinking as much as two inches per month..."

Photo credit above: "A news crew runs from flames southeast of Middletown, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, as winds kick up the Valley fire." (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

August Smashes Global Heat Record as Giant El Nino Builds. Here's an excerpt from The Sydney Morning Herald: "...Climate models indicate sea surface temperatures in the central tropical Pacific are likely to rise further over the next few months, coming close to, or possibly exceeding, monthly values observed during the 1997–98 event," the Bureau of Meteorology said in its fortnightly update on Tuesday. The years 2005, 2010 and 2014 have all been warmer than 1998 but 2015 is shaping up to be hotter yet. Since the effects of El Ninos tend to linger, climate experts are now pointing to 2016 as a possible rival for the next hottest year on record..."

AP File photo credit: "Wildfires and drought have been widespread across the western US this northern summer."

El Nino To Peak By End of 2015, Followed By Rapid Weakening: Australia Weather Bureau. Details via Reuters: "Climate models suggest the 2015 El Nino will peak around the end of the year and will then rapidly weaken within three months, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said on Tuesday. The 2015 El Nino is expected to be the strongest event in nearly 20 years, the bureau has said previously..."

The Blob In The Northeast Pacific Ocean. Hakai Magazine has an interesting article focused on the perpetual puddle of unusually warm water in the Pacific (not directly related to El Nino). Here's an excerpt: "For the past couple of years, researchers from California to Alaska have witnessed a warm-water phenomenon mess with the coastline’s marine food web. It’s like watching a horror B-flick unfold: suddenly, a strange miasma emerges, things get weird, and everyone starts behaving differently. Appropriately, a scientist nicknamed this tepid ocean broth The Blob. “It’s the type of thing you might expect to happen once in a millennium,” says Richard Dewey, associate director of science with Ocean Networks Canada. The abnormally warm water is the result of a low-pressure system off Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, called the Aleutian Low, which makes the mid-latitude jet stream go haywire. There have been drastic effects on both the marine environment and weather..."

Image credit above: Mark Garrison.

Global Fish Stocks Drop 50 Percent. Have Oceans Passed a Point of No Return? Here's the intro to a story at Christian Science Monitor: "The number of fish swimming in the world's oceans has declined by nearly half in just 40 years. That's according to a recent report by the environmental advocacy group WWF, which found that amount of fish in the ocean has decreased by 49 percent since 1970. The environmental advocacy organization's Living Blue Planet Report uses a marine planet index to track 5,829 populations of 1,234 species. The species in the index were analyzed by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and include a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish..."

Photo credit above: "Gulf menhaden carcasses washed along the shoreline of Packery Channel in Corpus Christi, Texas, Sept. 14. The world's fish stocks have declined by nearly 50 percent in the past 40 years, according to a WWF report published Tuesday." Paul Silva/Texas Parks & Wildlife Department/AP.

How Foul Weather And Physics Can Turn a Crane Into a Tragedy. WIRED has another interesting story; here's an excerpt: "...Wind is a crane’s greatest foe, and even a perfectly set-up structure is susceptible. This is because the boom acts like a giant lever that the wind can push upon. “If you think about it, the higher up you have the boom, the less wind it will take to push the crane over,” says McGettigan. On the evening of the collapse, Mecca’s airport weather station showed sustained winds around 25 mph. This does not account for gusts—which could have been much higher—or how wind behaves when it encounters tall, clustered buildings like the ones that surround the Grand Mosque..."

Photo credit above: "Muslim Pilgrims walk past the site of a crane collapse that killed over a hundred Friday at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. Saudi Arabia has in part blamed the construction giant Saudi Binladin Group for the collapse last week of a crane at Mecca that killed more than 100 people and injured over 350 ahead of the hajj." (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy).

Solar Energy is Growing Very, Very Fast. It's Just Still Not Fast Enough. Here's a clip from a Chris Mooney article at The Washington Post: "...That’s a lot of growth over the next 7 years – solar is still under 1 percent of total generation right now — but also still a relatively small percentage of U.S. electricity. By contrast, last year Germany got 6.9 percent of its total electricity from solar energy. 2022 is also the year when the Clean Power Plan kicks in — and along with favorable economics, it too will favor solar (and wind). However, if solar is only at 2 to 3 percent of our electricity generation at that time — with wind currently at about 5 percent and also projected to grow — then seven years from now, the large bulk of U.S. electricity will still come from fossil fuels..."

Found: A GoPro That Went to the Edge of Space and Got Lost for Two Years. How cool is this? Details via Atlas Obscura: "In June 2013, after months of planning, five friends launched a GoPro to the edge of space. They attached the camera to a weather balloon, along with a phone that logged the contraption's location and was programmed to send back a message once it returned to cell phone range. They sent the phone off from a spot about 20 miles from the Grand Canyon. It went up, up, up…and then disappeared. They never heard back from the phone about its location and figured they'd miscalculated at some point..."

Photo credit above: "What the GoPro saw." (Photo: chanmnb/Imgur)

LAPD Gets a Tesla Model S. Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "The Los Angeles police department has been loaned a Tesla (TSLA) Model S P85D, the all-wheel drive car that can accelerate from 0 to 60 in just over 3 seconds. The starting price for the car is normally $105,000..."

A Holy Crap Moment: Snakes in a Toilet. If you're heading to Australia - well, you've been warned. Here's a clip from Buzzfeed: "Tradesmen working at the property made the discovery and contacted Budd earlier this month, 7 News reported. Budd, 26, wrote on the Townsville Snake Catchers Facebook page that the 3-metre carpet python had sought shelter in the toilet to cool down. “He decided to be difficult and went down the toilet through the U-bend so we had to remove the toilet to get him out,” he added..."

Photo credit: Elliot Budd / Via

TODAY: Cooler with more clouds than sun, late PM shower? Winds: N 8-13. High: 66

FRIDAY NIGHT: A few evening showers, clearing late. Low: 50

SATURDAY: Sunny and Septemberish. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 69

SUNDAY: Sunny and milder. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 52. High: 74

MONDAY: Sunny, a warmer wind. Wake-up: 55. High: 77

TUESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Wake-up: 58. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Isolated T-storm possible. Wake-up: 59. High: 75

THURSDAY: What September? Hazy sun. Wake-up: 58. High: 77

Climate Stories....

Republican Candidates Questioned on Climate Change. If you watched Wednesday evening there seemed to be less denial about the science, but concerns raised about how dealing with climate change would necessarily grow the government and cripple the economy. Here's an excerpt from ClimateWire and Scientific American: "...Still, Christie touted his state’s effort to reduce emissions through nuclear energy and solar power. “Nuclear needs to be back on the table in a significant way in this country if we want to go after this problem,” Christie said. Rubio also tried to defend himself against the skeptic label, saying scientists “can measure the climate.” “You can measure it,” he added. “That’s not the issue we’re discussing. Here’s what I’m skeptical of. I’m skeptical of the decisions that the left wants us to make, because I know the impact those are going to have, and they’ll all be on our economy...”

Exxon Believed Deep Dive into Climate Research Would Protect Its Business. Here is an excerpt from the second installment of an investigative series from InsideClimate News: "...Exxon documents show that top corporate managers were aware of their scientists' early conclusions about carbon dioxide's impact on the climate. They reveal that scientists warned management that policy changes to address climate change might affect profitability. After a decade of frank internal discussions on global warming and conducting unbiased studies on it, Exxon changed direction in 1989 and spent more than 20 years discrediting the research its own scientists had once confirmed. After reading the first chapter of InsideClimate News' series on Exxon's carbon dioxide research, the company declined to answer specific questions. In an email, Exxon spokesman Richard D. Keil said he would no longer respond to inquiries from InsideClimate News, and added, "ExxonMobil scientists have been involved in climate research and related policy analysis for more than 30 years, yielding more than 50 papers in peer-reviewed publications..."

Photo credit above: "Researchers conducted Exxon's first climate-related project aboard the Esso Atlantic tanker, pictured here, between 1979 and 1982."

Global Warming's One-Two Punch: Extreme Heat and Drought. One amplifies the other. Dr. John Abraham at the University of St. Thomas wrote this article for The Guardian; here's an excerpt: "...I have covered extreme weather quite a bit recently, because the science is so compelling and new. But a new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by doctoral student Omid Mazdiyasni and his advisor Amir AghaKouchak takes a fresh look at this topic. Instead of just looking at heat waves or just looking at precipitation, they looked for concurrent events. Droughts can be caused by reduced precipitation. Hot weather speeds evaporation and damages the environment. But droughts and high temperatures can happen at the same time. These concurrent-event droughts are particularly harmful, they can set in fast and severely..."

House Republicans Plan to Call for Action on Climate Change. Here's an encouraging bit of news, courtesy of NationalJournal: "A co­ali­tion of House Re­pub­lic­ans is gear­ing up to make waves by call­ing for ac­tion to fight cli­mate change on the eve of Pope Fran­cis’s vis­it to Cap­it­ol Hill. Ten Re­pub­lic­ans have so far signed onto a res­ol­u­tion af­firm­ing that hu­man activ­ity con­trib­utes to cli­mate change and en­dors­ing ac­tion to re­spond to the threat of Earth’s chan­ging cli­mate. The res­ol­u­tion is ex­pec­ted to be un­veiled as early as Thursday. Rep. Chris Gib­son, a New York Re­pub­lic­an, led the charge in craft­ing the res­ol­u­tion and con­vin­cing oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans to speak out in sup­port..."

Time to Sue Governments for Climate Inaction? Dutch Lawyer Things So. Cue the attorneys - and the potential Mother of All Class Action Lawsuits. Here's an excerpt from Reuters: "Citizens should launch lawsuits against governments that shirk their climate change responsibilities, a leading lawyer has said after successfully suing the Dutch government. Roger Cox surprised legal experts in June by winning a landmark case in The Netherlands, compelling the government to slash greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. It is currently on course to reduce emissions by 17 percent by 2020. It was the first time a court has determined what the minimum level of emissions reduction should be for a developed country by 2020, Cox told an audience in Toronto on Tuesday..." (Image:

Capitalism Must Evolve to Solve the Climate Crisis. Here's a clip from an interesting essay at Australia's The Conversation: "...Capitalism is, in fact, quite malleable to meet the needs of society as they emerge. Over time, regulation has evolved to address emergent issues such as monopoly power, collusion, price-fixing and a host of other impediments to the needs of society. Today, one of those needs is responding to climate change. The question is not whether capitalism works or doesn’t work. The question is how it can and will evolve to address the new challenges we face as a society. Or, as Anand Giridharadas pointed out at the Aspen Action Forum, “Capitalism’s rough edges must be sanded and its surplus fruit shared, but the underlying system must never be questioned...”

New Web Tool Aims To Help You Divest From Fossil Fuel Stocks. Vote with your dollars. Here's an excerpt from Inside Climate News: "...Andrew Behar, who runs a foundation that promotes socially responsible investing, shared your curiosity. So he sat down at his computer to figure out how much of his retirement fund depended on the growth and success of fossil fuel companies. What he discovered was disturbing. And what he came up with is It’s a web platform that makes it easier for investors to assess the holdings in their portfolios. It was a natural project for Behar, who is chief executive of  As You Sow, a 23-year-old nonprofit in Oakland, Calif., which  promotes shareholder activism and dialogue with corporations..."

GOP Moderates to Push to Fight Climate Change. TheHill has the story - here's an excerpt: "A group of moderate Republicans is working on a resolution calling for action to fight climate change. The effort, led by Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) seeks to get at least some in the GOP on the record as agreeing with Democrats and the vast majority of scientists that the climate is changing and that human activity is to blame. But it would stop short of endorsing any particular policy to reduce greenhouse gases, instead calling for research into what could be done about it, according to a GOP aide familiar with the declaration. The lawmakers are planning to introduce their non-binding legislation Thursday, exactly a week before Pope Francis speaks to Congress..."

Meteorological Reality From An "Albino Unicorn". Here's an excerpt of an article I wrote for Climate Central's amazing new web site, WXshift: "...The concern among perpetual skeptics is that merely acknowledging the problem will automatically grow government, adding new layers of choking regulation and withering, wasteful bureaucracy. I get it. How does capitalism cope with such a slow-motion and vexing problem? Our way of life demands perpetual growth and growth requires energy, which up until recently was exclusively carbon-based and ultimately polluting. But I’m a naively optimistic serial entrepreneur – we can keep the lights on and power the economy without relying on 19th and 20th century extraction-based technologies. Thank Moore’s Law. The price of clean, renewable solar power has dropped 80% in 5 years. At this rate everyone will soon tap the free power of the sun. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t want to save money. Even if you don’t give a whiff about climate change you may switch to renewables because going green will put more green back into your wallet. Remove all subsidies, including fossil fuels. Let the markets work. Wind. Geothermal. Geogas. Hydropower. Biofuels. Tidal power. Allow consumers to choose the cheapest, cleanest energy alternatives available. Freedom of choice applies to energy, too..."

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