Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Comfortable Breeze Returns - Staying Safe in the North Woods During Severe Storm Season

83 F. high temperature at KMSP Wednesday.
81 F. average high on June 22.
82 F. high on June 22, 2015.

June 23, 2002: Just a few weeks after torrential rains hit the area, another round of heavy rain hits northern Minnesota. This time up to eight inches would fall in a two-day period in parts of Mahnomen and St. Louis Counties.

Camping Up North? Take a NOAA Weather Radio

The death of Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz's brother during Sunday's severe storm in the BWCA was a painful reminder of the risks posed by high winds - with no suitable shelter nearby. Every summer the question surfaces: where should I go when thunderstorms rumble above my tent or camper?

A new generation of smartphone apps can deliver GPS-specific warnings, but cell phone coverage in the BWCA is spotty. Your best bet? Take along a portable NOAA Weather Radio, which should work almost everywhere. It may be impossible to avoid falling trees, but finding a cave, a clearing or even an outcropping of rocks provides some protection.

Someone should hurry up and invent an indestructible sleeping bag.

No drama today, just a transfusion of cooler air as high pressure passes overhead. Lake-worthy 80s return Friday with enough low-level moisture to fuel a few strong to severe T-storms Saturday. Enjoy a shot at 90F Saturday, because next week looks cooler and drier.

The heat wave gripping the southwest USA shows no sign of invading Minnesota anytime soon. 4th of July highs here may reach the 80s.

NOAA Weather Radio Coverage in Minnesota. Coverage is good, statewide, with the exception of a gap north of Bemidji. It's not perfect, but if you're camping in northern Minnesota, especially the Arrowhead or BWCA you stand a better chance of getting that severe storm warning via NOAA Weather Radio then relying on a cell signal. For more details from NOAA click here.

Next Severe Risk: Saturday. Today will be comfortable with 70s and lower dew points. Winds swing around to the southeast Friday, luring the mercury back into the mid-80s. By Saturday, with dew points in the low 70s, significant instabiity and wind shear overhead conditions may be ripe for a few strong to severe T-storms across much of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, according to NOAA SPC.

Saturday Heat Index: Low to Mid 90s. Although surface temperatures will be in the upper 80s to near 90F a high dew point will make all the difference - by late afternoon you may be hoping for a cooling shower, without beachball-size hail and tree-tangling winds. Heat Index forecast: Aeris Enterprise.

Heaviest Rains Track South of Minnesota. Here is the 10-day accumulated rainfall product from NOAA's GFS model, showing the heaviest rains from near Omaha to Chicago and the eastern seaboard. We'll see some rain Saturday, but right now it looks like much of next week will be dry. Source: AerisWeather.

Hot 4th of July? Not buying it just yet with conflicting model runs, but GFS guidance is suggesting low 90s on Monday, the 4th. Considering Minnesota's hottest weather usually comes 2-3 weeks after the solstice it isn't much of a stretch.

While Western USA Continues to Sizzle. The mean ridge axis is setting up over the western third of the USA, implying more record heat (and wildfires) for much of the west into at least mid-July. A light northwest flow at 500 mb may take some of the edge off the heat for the  Upper Midwest and Great Lakes.

The Southwest Burns as Record Heat Sparks Volatile Wildfires. Here's an except of a good summary at Mashable: "...A heat dome comprised of an intense, sprawling area of high pressure sat on top of the Southwest for a third straight day. Although it shows some signs of weakening, the heat dome may intensify again by early next week, raising the possibility of a prolonged hot and dry weather pattern in an already parched region. Firefighters are making some headway in containing fires across the Southwest, though exceedingly hot temperatures in the region aren't helping..."

Photo credit: "Smoke from wildfires burning in Angeles National Forest fills the sky behind the Los Angeles skyline on Monday, June 20, 2016." Image: Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP.

Kansas-Size Hailstones. Thanks to Jim and Jorie Lindner, who live on Little Pelican Lake, about 5 miles south of Breezy Point, for sending in what appears to be hailstones larger than baseball-size. That stone under the basket appears to be grapefruit size, something you'd expect to see near Wichita or Tulsa, not the North Woods of Minnesota.

Joplin Tornado Sparks Research Among Engineers, Meteorologists, Social Scientists. Here's an excerpt from The Joplin Globe: "...Marc Levitan, lead author of the study and the acting director of NIST, said the agency’s next focus is replacing the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale used to rate tornado strength. The EF rating is based on expert guesswork. After a storm, top meteorologists and structural engineers are sent photos of the damage, which they use to estimate wind speed. According to Levitan, a more precise method is needed to measure the strength of storms so that buildings can be constructed to weather the conditions they will actually face. “The EF scale is based on expert judgment,” he said. “We’re trying to do the analysis so we can replace the EF scale with engineering-based standards...” (Image credit: NOAA).

In 100 Years, $77 Billion Worth of San Francisco Property Could Be Underwater. Co.Exist has the story; here's a snippet: "...If you set plans for how you're going to build buildings and sea walls and protect infrastructure—and you invest billions over decades, and then it turns out that your estimates of sea level rise were too low—then the implications for cost are very significant." Not to mention the people living there. Around the city, more than 200,000 commercial and residential buildings—along with major infrastructure like the airport—are at risk from either temporary flooding or permanent loss due to sea level rise if the city does nothing to prepare. Even more dangerously, the risk extends well inland, and isn't limited to property directly on the coast..."

As Sea Levels Rise, Rotterdam Floats To The Top As An Exammple of How To Live With Water. Here's a clip from an interesting story at PRI, Public Radio International: "...All these innovations and more have made the Netherlands a mecca for people from other parts of the world that are confronting a future of rising seas. Delegations from abroad are constantly scouring the country for ideas, and the Dutch are more than eager to share their expertise — in no small part because Dutch engineers and consultants specializing in climate change adaptation and water management stand to benefit from international business partnerships. But that doesn’t mean they’re complacent.We keep on learning and adapting,” says Carola van Gelder, a senior advisor for the national water management authority and a lead on the Zandmotor project. “It’s not that we know it all, definitely not … That’s why we go abroad and look at other ways of dealing with climate change..."

Photo credit: "IJburg, a neighborhood of floating houses on the eastern edge of Amsterdam." Credit: Joris van Gennip/The GroundTruth Project.

Another Age of Discovery. Thomas Friedman at The New York Times makes the case that radical shifts in technology and innovation, disruption on a massive scale, can leave many people unsettled, their skills no longer in demand - which has political implications; here's an excerpt: "...Because, as in the Renaissance, key anchors in people’s lives — like the workplace and community — are being fundamentally dislocated. The pace of technological change is outstripping the average person’s ability to adapt. Now, like then, said Goldin, “sizable parts of the population found their skills were no longer needed, or they lived in places left behind, so inequality grew.” At the same time, “new planetary scale systems of commerce and information exchange led to immense improvements in choices and accelerating innovations which made some people fabulously rich...”

A Place at the Table. This documentary was launched in 2012, but the problem remains as relevant and critical as ever. "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams", said Eleanor Roosevelt. Those dreams can become daunting when you're hungry on a daily basis. An estimated 50 million Americans, including 1 in 4 kids, suffer from food insecurity. Much of America is a "food desert", with no easy availability of healthy fruits and vegetables. We're being incentivized, through generous government subsidies to agribusiness, to eat the wrong foods, and then wonder out loud why we have an obesity epidemic and more people than ever diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Watch this Netflix documentary, and then remind your state and national representatives that the richest country on Earth can do better: "A Place at the Table shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation, and that it could be solved once and for all, if the American public decides — as they have in the past — that making healthy food available and affordable is in the best interest of us all."

Can Netflix Survive In The New World It Created? Here's an excerpt of an interesting story at The New York Times Magazine: "...Just because Netflix had essentially created this new world of internet TV was no guarantee that it could continue to dominate it. Hulu, a streaming service jointly owned by 21st Century Fox, Disney and NBC Universal, had become more assertive in licensing and developing shows, vying with Netflix for deals. And there was other competition as well: small companies like Vimeo and giants like Amazon, an aggressive buyer of original series. Even the networks, which long considered Netflix an ally, had begun to fight back by developing their own streaming apps..."

Illustration credit: Erik Carter.

TODAY: Partly sunny, pleasant. Winds: NE 7-12. High: 76

THURSDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear, more comfortable. Low: 62

FRIDAY: Sunny, warm enough for the lake. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 85

SATURDAY: Some sticky sun. Few severe storms? Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 70. High: near 90

SUNDAY: Plenty of sun, turning less humid. Winds: W 10-20. Wake-up: 64. High: 85

MONDAY: Intervals of sun, almost comfortable. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 62. High: 77

TUESDAY: Mix of clouds & sun, no weather drama. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 58. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 57. High: near 80

Photo credit of illuminated mammatus clouds over North Dakota: Marshall Lipp.

Climate Stories...

A Peek Into the Relatively Sane Climate Debates Outside the United States. Grist takes a look at how conservative parties in just about every other country on Earth have accepted the science and are now focusing on solutions: "...Norwegian researcher Sondre B├ątstrand last year compared conservative parties  in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, and Australia, finding that the U.S. Republican Party alone was “an anomaly in denying anthropogenic climate change.” Even when conservative candidates argue against climate-change action in their home countries, scientific denial is rarely part of the conversation. Here’s a whirlwind tour of the climate and energy debate around the world (which is thoroughly blissful compared to U.S. politics).." (Image credit: NASA).

Nuclear New-Build Not Fast Enough to Curb Global Warming: Report. Reuters has the story; here's the intro: "Nuclear reactors are not being built rapidly enough around the world to meet targets on curbing global warming, a report by the World Nuclear Association, an industry body, said on Tuesday. The association, which represents the global nuclear industry, says 1,000 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity needs to be added by 2050 so nuclear can supply around 25 percent of global electricity. Last year, more nuclear reactors were under construction and came online than at any other time in the past 25 years and building times have improved..."

Photo credit above: "Two cooling towers and pressurized water reactors of the nuclear power plant of French supplier Electricite de France (EDF) are pictured in Cattenom, eastern France, January 27, 2016." Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay.

People Don't Trust Hypocritical Climate Scientists, Study Finds. Here's an excerpt of a story at Grist: "...According to the research, people are more forgiving of a climate scientist who flies often than one who lives in an enormous mansion. “If I live in a huge, gargantuan house … my credibility completely plummets,” Attari says. She suspects this is because people are more likely to understand that climate researchers are required to fly for work, while they have more choice over what they do at home. Some climate researchers have started to limit their flights, but it’s really hard, Attari says..."

Minnesota Second-Most Affected State in U.S. for Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an article that appeared at The Grand Forks Herald: "...Seeley presented this data, collected in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which showed significant climate changes in Minnesota in terms of increases in average temperatures, moisture and severe storms. In fact, he said Minnesota had the most significant changes in the country next to Alaska. "You happen to live here in northwestern Minnesota, where we're seeing your minimum winter temperatures rise at a pace of change that equates to five degrees per century - which is a pretty steep change," said Seeley, who says the average winter low increase in Minnesota is around 2 percent..."

Photo credit: "Climatologist Mark Seeley, shows the crowd attending the Climate Minnesota event Monday how winter minimum temperatures have been increasing over the past century. The event drew in advocates for action on the issue of climate change." DETROIT LAKES TRIBUNE/Paula Quam.

Scorching Hot Southwest is Climate Change in Action. Much of the USA is baking, and warmer background temperatures may be amplifying and magnifying the heat. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "...Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist and professor of meteorology at Penn State University, was in Phoenix on Friday when temperatures hit 106 degrees. He was speaking at a Democratic National Platform committee meeting, where he pointed to the extreme weather as “an example of just the sort of extreme heat that is on the increase due to human-caused climate change,” he told HuffPost. “The likelihood of record heat has already doubled in the U.S. due to human-caused warming,” he said, “and that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.” Daily records were also set in California, where Burbank reached 109 degrees and Palm Springs soared to 119..."

Photo credit: AP. "A home builder works at sunrise on Monday in Gilbert, Arizona, in an effort to beat the rising temperatures."

Loading Dice In Favor of More Intense Heat Events. The warm signal is already showing up, helping to make heat waves deeper and longer. Graphic credit: WXshift.

Seven Climate Records Set So Far in 2016. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "Every month this year has been the hottest on record globally for that month. May, data published this week by NASA revealed, was no exception. Nasa’s dataset, one of three main global surface temperature records, shows February recorded the highest anomaly against long term average temperatures...."

The Mistrust of Science. The New Yorker has an illuminating story; here's an excerpt: "...The scientific orientation has proved immensely powerful. It has allowed us to nearly double our lifespan during the past century, to increase our global abundance, and to deepen our understanding of the nature of the universe. Yet scientific knowledge is not necessarily trusted. Partly, that’s because it is incomplete. But even where the knowledge provided by science is overwhelming, people often resist it—sometimes outright deny it. Many people continue to believe, for instance, despite massive evidence to the contrary, that childhood vaccines cause autism (they do not); that people are safer owning a gun (they are not); that genetically modified crops are harmful (on balance, they have been beneficial); that climate change is not happening (it is)..."

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