Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Slight Cooling Trend for Start of Minnesota State Fair - Potential Grows for "Hermine" Threatening Florida and Gulf Coast

84 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.
80 F. average high on August 23.
70 F. high on August 23, 2015.

August 24, 2006: Tornadoes and large hail strike southern Minnesota. One person died and 37 were injured when a strong tornado began 4 miles west-southwest of Nicollet in Nicollet County, and moved almost due east for 33 miles to near Waterville in Le Sueur County. Many storm chasers captured the tornado on video. The largest hail reported was grapefruit-sized at New Prague in Scott County.
August 24, 1934: Early cool air invades southern Minnesota. Rochester and Fairmont have lows of 34 degrees.

Clearing, Trending Cooler. Tropics Heating Up

I don't know much. Just ask my wife. But here is what I suspect: 1). Skies will clear today with a cooling trend into Friday morning. 2). Sunday looks like the nicer, drier day of the weekend. And 3). I will never (ever) own real estate along the Gulf Coast. Ever. Because I'd wind up spending way too much time watching The Weather Channel. Worrying about massive, Texas-size storms with names.

Life is too short.

The ECMWF (European) model, which provided an 8-day heads-up with Superstorm Sandy in 2012, is trying to bring a tropical storm (Hermine?) into Florida by Sunday. Gulf of Mexico water temperatures are unusually warm; high-octane fuel for hurricane intensification, and this storm MAY strike the Gulf Coast Tuesday of next week. Let's hope it steers clear of Louisiana.

A wet start gives way to lukewarm sunshine today, with highs near 80F. A whiff of autumn Thursday leads to a slow weekend warming trend; a juicy warm front may spark numerous showers and T-storms Saturday. Sunday looks better - potentially lake-worthy.

The atmosphere is shifting gears as we limp into fall.

Imagery above courtesy of Aeris Maps Platform (AMP).

Tropical Briefing. Aeris meteorologist Kristin Clark takes a look at the tropical wave (99-L) that may intensify into a tropical storm or hurricane in the days to come. NOAA's GFS model keeps killing the storm, but the ECMWF (European model) pulls it into Florida as a tropical storm, with possible strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico early next week. Check out her report here.

Let's Hope This Doesn't Verify. And I seriously doubt it will, but we should pay attention to all the models, looking for trends. The European has been fairly consistent for 2 days now, pulling "Hermine" into southern Florida Sunday, then out over the bathwater-warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where significant intensification is possible. Models tend to do a much better job with track than intensity, so take everything with a huge grain of salt until we get within 48-72 hours of landfall. ECMWF solution valid next Tuesday at 1am, courtesy of WSI Corporation.

Getting Better Organized? As of late last night the convection circulation associated with 99-L was becoming slightly more concentric, but it still has a long way to go before reaching tropical storm strength. Conditions are favorable for strengthening, especially as it (possibly) enters the Gulf of Mexico early next week. Source: NOAA.

Spaghetti Plot. Here are the various tropical model solutions for 99-L, keeping the core  of the storm north of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. Confidence levels are still low; people living along or near the Gulf Coast and Florida should pay attention. I don't even want to imagine a scenario where this storm pushes more heavy rain into Louisiana.

Tracking Aftershocks in Italy. Using the (free) Aeris Interactive tool you can track tremors, worldwide. Here is what we were looking at last night; a peak magnitude of 6.2 of the Richter Scale.

Taste of Autumn for Day 1 of the Minnesota State Fair. Expect a stiff northwest breeze, a mix of clouds and sun and afternoon highs in the low 70s. In the shade it may border on chilly (for some) but most of us will find it refreshing.  Temperature plot: Aeris Enterprise.

Another Cool Correction - Mellowing Out Next Week. I'm not yet convinced temperatures will hold in the 60s on Saturday (possible if it rains long and hard enough) but Sunday should be the drier, brighter, milder day of the weekend, with a good shot at low 80s returning by the middle of next week. ECMWF forecast: WeatherBell.

Heat Lingers for Much of USA into Early September. We should see fairly frequent cool frontal passages over the next 2 weeks; no sign of significant heat building close to home anytime soon. That said, I doubt we've seen our last 90-degree day of 2016.

47th Anniversary of Hurricane Camille. WBRC.com in Birmingham has a good recap of this monstrous, Category 5 storm: "Wednesday marks the 47th anniversary of Hurricane Camille making landfall along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, devastating the coastline and the Pine Belt. Camille made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane just after 11 p.m. in Pass Christian with winds of 175 mph. Other estimates placed the winds near 190 mph with gusts of 230 mph. The exact speed will never be known since Camille destroyed all of the weather sensors along the coast at landfall. Storm surge reached 24 feet along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which was the highest storm surge ever recorded before Katrina. Camille is the second of only three storms to ever make landfall as a Category 5 in the United States, the others being the 1935 Labor Day hurricane in the Florida Keys, and Hurricane Andrew in 1992..."

Photo credit: "In 1969, Hurricane Camille slammed into the Mississippi coast." Source: NOAA.

Extreme Weather Like the Louisiana Floods Should Serve As A Warning. Here's an excerpt from the Editorial Board at The Washington Post: "THE FUTURE is being rigged against vulnerable people by a system in which government and industry are complicit. No, we are not talking about the electoral system — we are talking about the climate. The warming of the globe, spurred by humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels, is weighting the dice, as scientists often put it, in favor of increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather phenomena. Extremely high temperatures are the easiest to predict as warming proceeds. Also relatively foreseeable is heavier rain, because warmer air carries more moisture. In other words, do not be surprised if the country sees more costly disasters such as the flooding that hit Baton Rouge over the past week. The Louisiana inundation is probably the worst natural catastrophe the country has seen in four years..."

Photo credit: "Floodwaters surround a damaged home in St. Amant, La., on Aug. 21." (Jonathan Bachman/Reuters).

115,000 Louisiana residents have signed up for federal flood assistance. Details from ABC News.

5 Reasons Some Were Unaware of One of the Biggest Weather Disasters Since Sandy. Dr. Marshall Shepherd explains at Forbes: "...The American public is somewhat conditioned to perceive a named or higher-category storm as more of a threat. The meteorological conditions that produced the Louisiana floods never received an official “name.” One NOAA Weather Prediction Center discussion actually referred to it as ”sheared inland tropical depression” or a monsoon depression. While this is meaningful to the meteorological crowd (maybe), this certainly is not going to resonate with the average citizen. Whatever it “was,” more rainfall fell in parts of Louisiana than some cities in California have seen in three to five years..." (File image: NOAA).

Why Obama Must Pay Attention to the Louisiana Floods. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from Eric Holthaus at Newsweek: "...Words matter. And since Obama has staked a big part of his legacy on climate change, he owes it to the victims of the flooding in Louisiana, and the potential victims of future climate-related disasters, to address the clear and present threat of climate change directly in Louisiana. The President not only has the ability to improve the lives of the victims of this tragedy, by motivating attention and donations to help their plight, but to save countless future lives as well. To intentionally avoid this responsibility is unforgivable. To be a true leader, you have to change the status quo; when you're trying to lead on climate you have to change the status quo much faster than "normal" politics might say is possible..." (Photo: American Red Cross).

These Louisiana Politicians Are Demanding Flood Aid, But Voted Against Sandy Relief. Here's an excerpt of a column at The Los Angeles Times: "Call it logrolling or one hand washing the other, a generally recognized fact in Washington is that if you want something for your district, it pays to agree to the same thing for another guy’s district. That point may have been lost on three Louisiana Congressmen when they voted against a $50.5-billion relief package for the victims of Superstorm Sandy. The 2012 storm ravaged coastal communities in New Jersey and New York. Now they’re in the position of needing the same sort of aid for their own state. How will that play out?..."

Photo credit: "Voted against Sandy aid, wants Louisiana aid: Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La. (center)"  AP.

California Firefighters Stretched Thin As Blazes Sweep State. The Associated Press reports: "California's state fire department is stretched thin just as the bone-dry state enters the peak of its wildfire season, with vacancy rates exceeding 15 percent for some firefighters and supervisors. The vacancy rate is more than 10 percent for some fire engine drivers, according to statistics provided to The Associated Press. A five-year drought and changing weather patterns have transformed what once was a largely summertime job into an intense year-round firefight, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Janet Upton..."

Photo credit: "Laura Sutton, center, the wife of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighter Nick Sutton, joins others at a rally calling for shorter hours and higher wages to retain firefighters, at the Capitol, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif. Statistics provided to The Associated Press show vacancy rates exceeding 15 percent in some CaliFire positions." (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Parachuting into Forest Fires for $15 an Hour. Good grief, talk about underpaid. Here's an excerpt from CNN: "Smokejumpers are elite firefighters who parachute out of airplanes and into fiery forests -- extremely dangerous work that pays just $15 an hour. That's what the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management pay them to drop into the smoke-choked Western mountains and wild lands. Smokejumpers haul 100-pound packs of equipment and dig trenches, or fire lines, using a pick-axe called the Pulaski, which looks like a Medieval weapon. The fire lines are basically trenches cleared of any flammable vegetation used to stop the blaze from spreading..." (File photo: NOAA).

U.S. Warning: Zika Could Spread to Gulf States, Persist For One to Two Years. The Washington Post reports: "The National Institutes of Health’s Anthony Fauci warned that Texas and Louisiana could be next for Zika. In the weeks since mosquitoes carrying the virus hit U.S. borders, they have already spread from a small suburban community in South Florida to Miami’s most popular tourist spot, South Beach. The development prompted a travel advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday urging pregnant women to avoid the area. Fauci, director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” said the situation is likely to get worse soon..."

Image credit: "The Post's Brady Dennis talks with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about the process of getting a potential Zika vaccine tested and ready for the public." (Video: The Washington Post/Photo: Sammy Dallal for The Washington Post).

EPA: North Texas Earthquakes Likely Linked to Oil and Gas Drilling. The Texas Tribune reports: "Federal regulators believe “there is a significant possibility” that recent earthquakes in North Texas are linked to oil and gas activity, even if state regulators won’t say so. That’s according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s annual evaluation of how the Texas Railroad Commission oversees thousands of injection and disposal wells that dot state oilfields — underground resting places for millions of gallons of toxic waste from fracking and other drilling activities..."

Inside Shanghai Tower: China's Tallest Skyscraper Claims To Be The World's Greenest. Here's a clip from The Guardian: "...The Shanghai Tower, reaching 632 metres, is the third “supertall” tower on the city’s iconic skyline. Looking out from the 119th floor, the city lies below like a toy model, a densely packed mass of streets and high-rise buildings. China loves a world record, and its new building boasts plenty, including the world’s fastest elevators, highest hotel and restaurant, and tallest viewing platform. Reassuringly, it also required the largest ever cement pouring for the foundations. But most importantly, the 128-storey tower also claims to be the world’s greenest skyscraper. Awarded the top green rating, LEED Platinum, the government is hailing the tower as a sign of China’s growing green credentials..."

Photo credit: "The newly completed Shanghai Tower, China’s tallest building, rises above the city." Photograph: Gensler

Elon Musk Leads Tesla Effort to House Roofs Entirely Out of Solar Panels. "Solar shingles" is the operative phrase here, according to a story at The Guardian: "A new venture spearheaded by Elon Musk will create house roofs made entirely of solar panels, in a sweeping expansion of Tesla’s clean energy ambitions. Tesla has finalized a $2.6bn deal to buy solar power company SolarCity to produce solar “shingles” – photovoltaic material that would be fashioned into the shape of a house roof. “I think this is really a fundamental part of achieving differentiated product strategy, where you have a beautiful roof,” Musk said. “It’s not a thing on the roof. It is the roof...” (Photo credit here).

America's First Offshore Wind Farm May Power Up a New Industry. Justin Gillis reports at The New York Times: "...By global standards, the Block Island Wind Farm is a tiny project, just five turbines capable of powering about 17,000 homes. Yet many people are hoping its completion, with the final blade bolted into place at the end of last week, will mark the start of a new American industry, one that could eventually make a huge contribution to reducing the nation’s climate-changing pollution. The idea of building turbines offshore, where strong, steady wind could, in theory, generate large amounts of power, has long been seen as a vital step toward a future based on renewable energy. Yet even as European nations installed thousands of the machines, American proposals ran into roadblocks, including high costs, murky rules about the use of the seafloor, and stiff opposition from people who did not want their ocean views marred by machinery..."

Photo credit: "One of five turbines that make up the Block Island Wind Farm, the first offshore wind farm in the United States, off the Rhode Island coast." Credit Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times.

11 Reasons To Be Excited About The Future of Technology. Medium has an uplifting, optimistic preview of what's to come: "In the year 1820, a person could expect to live less than 35 years, 94% of the global population lived in extreme poverty, and less that 20% of the population was literate. Today, human life expectancy is over 70 years, less that 10% of the global population lives in extreme poverty, and over 80% of people are literate. These improvements are due mainly to advances in technology, beginning in the industrial age and continuing today in the information age. There are many exciting new technologies that will continue to transform the world and improve human welfare. Here are eleven of them..."

MSP: 3rd Best (Large) Airport in the USA. So says Trip Advisor and after spending time at airports around the world I agree that it's always good coming home to MSP: "...Presented for the first time this year, the awards highlight the most popular domestic airports in four categories: shopping, dining, large airports and medium airports (based on their size classification by the FAA). Award winners were determined based on findings from a survey of more than 114,000 TripAdvisor travelers from the U.S..."

TODAY: Wet start, then clearing skies, breezy. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 82

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, more comfortable. Low: 59

THURSDAY: Cool sun for Day 1 of the State Fair, a few PM clouds pop up. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 75

FRIDAY: Sunny, best day in sight. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 57. High: 77

SATURDAY: Showers and T-storms likely. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 60. High: 72

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, isolated T-shower. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 63. High: 81

MONDAY: Plenty of sunshine, quiet. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 64. High: 84

TUESDAY: Warm sunshine, no complaints. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 65. High: 85

Climate Stories...

In Streak of Extreme Storms, What's the Role of Warming? Climate Central connects the dots: "...A 1-in-1,000-year event — “we’re talking about something that’s not likely to ever happen” — would be 21 inches falling over the same time period, he said. There were nine stations in the area that topped that 1-in-1,000 level, two of which saw more than 25 inches in just two days. The highest rainfall was recorded in Watson, La., which saw 31.39 inches. That obliterated the previous two-day rainfall record by more than 7 inches. “It’s just insanity,” Keim said. Half of southern Louisiana received 10 inches or more of rain, and it’s possible that more homes were flooded in this event than by Hurricane Katrina, Keim said. Many of those homes hadn’t flooded during the previous flood of record, in 1983, or at any time since. “The whole region just got absolutely hammered,” Keim said..."

Photo credit: "Flooded homes are seen in St. Amant, La., on Aug. 15, 2016." Credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman.

A Widening 80-Mile Crack is Threatening One of Antarctica's Biggest Ice Shelves. Chris Mooney reports at The Washington Post: "...It’s called an ice “shelf” because the entirety of this country-sized area is covered by 350-meter-thick ice that is floating on top of deep ocean waters. The crack in Larsen C grew around 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) in length between 2011 and 2015. And as it grew, also became wider — by 2015, yawning some 200 meters in length. Since then, growth has only continued — and now, a team of researchers monitoring Larsen C say that with the intense winter polar night over Antarctica coming to an end, they’ve been able to catch of glimpse of what happened to the crack during the time when it could not be observed by satellite. The result was astonishing..." (Image credit: Project MIDAS).

Global Warming Has Now Made The Northwest Passage a Thing. Phil Plait explains at Slate: "...Roald Amundsen was the first to successfully make his way through. It took him three years in a small ship starting in 1903, and included getting stuck in ice three times. Fast-forward. On Aug. 16—just days ago—a 250-meter-long, 1,070 passenger cruise ship, the Crystal Serenity, set sail, and is expected to make its way through the Northwest Passage in just eight days. How can it do so? Global warming. Over the past few years, the Arctic has warmed so much that the fabled passage has become a reality. The ice melts so much in the summer that it’s not only possible for ships to make their way through the archipelago, but it may be commercially viable to do so..."

Climate Change Could Cost Millenials Trillions of Dollars in Lifetime Income. Mashable has details: "Americans in their 20s and 30s could lose trillions of dollars in potential lifetime earnings as climate change disrupts the global economy and weakens U.S. productivity, according to a new report by NextGen Climate said. If countries fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit the amount and pace of global warming, a 21-year-old college graduate today could lose $126,000 in lifetime wages and $187,000 in long-term savings and investments, the report found. This would outrank the lost income due to student debt or wage stagnation..." (File photo: Peter Morgan, AP).

It's Hard to Talk About Climate Change. This Storytelling Project Wants To Make It Easier. Here's an excerpt from Vox: "...If people are aware of climate change, why do so many seem to ignore discussions about the future? And how do you engage people in the conversation? That's what DearTomorrow, an online project founded in 2014, is tackling.  Co-founders Trisha Shrum and Jill Kubit are asking people to create messages, photos, and videos to be opened in the years 2030 and 2050. The idea came about after Shrum heard a speech by Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Figueres said she had a dream where children look at her and ask, "You knew about climate change. What did you do?..."

Tracking Changes in Great Lakes Temperature and Ice: New Approaches. Here's an excerpt from NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory: "In a new study, scientists from GLERL, the University of Michigan, and other institutions take a new look at changing ice cover and surface water temperature in the Great Lakes. The paper, set to be published in Climatic Change, is novel in two ways. While previous research focused on changes in ice cover and temperature for each lake as a whole, this study reveals how different regions of the lakes are changing at different rates. While many scientists agree that, over the long term, climate change will reduce ice cover in the Great Lakes, this paper shows that changes in ice cover since the 1970s may have been dominated by an abrupt decline in the late 1990s (coinciding with the strong 1997-1998 winter El NiƱo), rather than gradually declining over the whole period..."

Map credit: "The panel on the left shows the change in seasonal ice cover duration (d/yr) from 1973 to 2013, and the panel on the right shows the change in summer surface water temperature (°C/yr) from 1994 to 2013." Maps created by Kaye LaFond for NOAA GLERL.

Flooding, Extreme Weather and Record Temperatures: How Global Warming Puts It All Together. Here are 2 excepts from the blog of the Union of Concerned Scientists:

Louisiana, August 2016: “I’m going home to see if I have a home”.
Ellicot City, Maryland, July 2016: “Oh my god. There’s people in the water”.
West Virginia, June 2016: “23 dead, thousands homeless after devastating flood”.
What do these events (and 5 more since April 2015) have in common? They were all considered very low probability, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hydrometeorological Design Studies Center created maps of annual exceedance probabilities (AEPs) for all of them...One can’t help but notice that over these 15 months, 8 rain events were off the probability charts, so to speak. Yes, climate change fingerprint is on these events, including the Louisiana flood, considered the worst natural disaster in the US since hurricane Sandy. Special conditions mainly fueled by climate change were behind this record event..."

Photo credit: "Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake."

Historical Documents Reveal Arctic Sea Ice is Disappearing at Record Speed. Dana Nuccitelli reports at The Guardian: "Scientists have pieced together historical records to reconstruct Arctic sea ice extent over the past 125 years. The results are shown in the figure (above). The red line, showing the extent at the end of the summer melt season, is the most critical. Arctic sea ice extent in recent years is by far the lowest it’s been, with about half of the historical coverage gone, and the decline the fastest it’s been in recorded history..."

Graph credit: "Time series of Arctic sea ice extent, 1850-2013, for March (blue line) and September (red line)." Illustration: Walsh et al. (2016)

Think It's Hot Now? Just Wait. Climate scientist Heidi Cullen connects the dots at The New York Times: "July wasn’t just hot — it was the hottest month ever recorded, according to NASA. And this year is likely to be the hottest year on record. Fourteen of the 15 hottest years have occurred since 2000, as heat waves have become more frequent, more intense and longer lasting. A study in the journal Nature Climate Change last year found that three of every four daily heat extremes can be tied to global warming. This map provides a glimpse of our future if nothing is done to slow climate change. By the end of the century, the number of 100-degree days will skyrocket, making working or playing outdoors unbearable, and sometimes deadly..."

Young Conservatives to GOP on Climate: Hello? Are You Listening? Here's an excerpt from MTV: "...A Monmouth poll from December found that 75 percent of Americans aged 18 to 34 think the government should be doing more to prevent climate change. On top of that, groups that cater to conservative climate-caring types have been proliferating as Earth keeps breaking temperature records. There is Meyaard-Schaap’s aforementioned Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, which tries to get politicians and faith leaders to think about climate change as a moral issue. There are Young Conservatives for Energy Reform and republicEN, which advocate that being conscious of the environment is just economically smart. They definitely aren’t in total agreement with the more progressive and familiar environmental groups out there when it comes to how to solve, or at least mitigate, climate change, favoring free markets and local solutions with no regulations, but they are in firm agreement on the science and the fact that they want their party to acknowledge that this problem exists in the first place..."

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