Sunday, August 14, 2016

Summer Warmth This Week - Autumn Preview Next Weekend - Beware "Bolts from the Blue"

83 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
81 F. average high on August 14.
94 F. high on August 14, 2015.

August 15, 1936: St. Paul swelters with a high of 108.

Beware of Bewildering Bolts from the Blue

For 40 years I've been preaching the perils of lightning, and on Saturday I nearly got a taste of my own medicine. I was on our deck, grilling, skies clearing in the distance, a light rain falling.
Then a blinding flash of light and deafening crack of thunder - followed by a few choice words.

It was a "bolt from the blue", a reminder to wait 30 minutes after the last thunderclap before heading back outside. Lightning can travel 10 miles - horizontally.

Every year Americans are struck and killed by lightning, blue sky above; a distant thunderhead giving off a deadly spark. Be careful out there.

Warm sunshine today gives way to a few T-storms tonight and Tuesday. Daytime highs approach 90F Thursday and Friday before a late-week line of T-storms arrives, marking the leading edge of a hefty cool front - a preview of what's to come. Weekend highs hold in the 60s across most of Minnesota; lows dipping into the 40s and 50s.

Almost time to dig a sweatshirt out of cold storage.

In spite of a weak La Nina (cool) signal in the Pacific I expect a warmer than normal signal to linger well into October this year.

A Few Swarms of Storms. T-storms may be heavy late tonight into Tuesday (but probably not severe). There's a better chance of strong to severe T-storms late week, especially Friday, as a vigorous cool front approaches.

T-Storms Increase in Coverage and Intensity by Tuesday. Today should be dry, although a few T-showers may push into western and even central Minnesota by late afternoon. Storms become more widespread by Tuesday, followed by a drier day on Wednesday. 4km NAM Future Radar: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Summer into Friday, Touch of Autumn This Weekend? ECMWF model guidance hints at temperatures having a tough time cracking 70F in the MSP metro area next weekend, and highs should, in fact, hold in the 60s over much of the state with a stiff breeze. No, this doesn't necessarily mean an early fall is imminent. Graphic: WeatherBell.

90F By Late Week? NOAA models are in fairly good agreement, showing highs in the upper 80s to near 90F by Thursday,  possibly Friday, before the inevitable weekend temperature dip. Source: Aeris Enterprise.

Dig Out The Light Jackets. By Sunday morning temperatures are forecast to dip into the mid and upper 40s up on Leech Lake. This weekend will be our first (real) hint of late September.

Ridiculous Amounts of Rain. 20-30" of rain, based on Doppler radar estimates, one bulls-eye over Baton Rouge. That's 2 hurricane's worth of water, from a persistent storm that had no name. It wasn't a tropical storm, but a stagnant pattern, day after day of torrential rain, created the kind of flooding damage you'd expect to see from a tropical storm or hurricane. Graphic: ESRI and NOAA.

Louisiana Floods: Three Dead, Over 7,000 Rescued from Record Flood Levels. has details on historic flooding still underway across Louisiana: "Record levels of widespread flooding in Louisiana prompted Gov. John Bel Edwards to call the weekend rainfall a "major disaster," local TV station KTLA reported. "This is an ongoing event and we are still in the response mode," the governor said. "This is a major disaster." Edwards declared a state of emergency on Friday, which will remain in effect until September 10. At least three people have been reported dead in the floods. The first victim died on Friday in East Baton Rouge Parish, when he slipped and fell into the flood waters. He was 68..."

Photo credit: "In this aerial photo over Robert, La., stranded people wait on flooded U.S. Route 190 after heavy rains inundating the region Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says more than 1,000 people in south Louisiana have been rescued from homes, vehicles and even clinging to trees as a slow-moving storm hammers the state with flooding." (AP Photo/Max Becherer) (Max Becherer).

Thousands Displaced in Flood-Drenched Louisiana. More perspective via The New York Times: "After days of ruinously heavy storms in southern Louisiana, rain-swollen rivers and creeks continued wreaking damage across the state, inundating neighborhoods and submerging roads and highways. More than 7,000 people have had to be rescued from the flooding this weekend, Louisiana officials said, in a waterlogged stretch from the parishes to the north and east of Baton Rouge west past the city of Lafayette. Thousands of homes have been flooded, forcing more than 5,000 people to spend Saturday night in shelters. Those stranded by the waters found themselves further marooned by a massive cellular network failure..."

Photo credit: "On Saturday, residents evacuated from Providence Boulevard in Hammond, La., where floodwaters inundated homes." Credit Max Becherer/Associated Press.

Thousands Rescued, Motorists Still Stranded on Interstate in Flood-Soaked Louisiana. More details on another 500-year flood, courtesy of The Weather Channel: "...Steele then said emergency crews were waiting on daybreak to converge their air and boat assets for further rescue operations.  "It’s kind of an all hands on deck," he said in a phone interview. "We still have a situation where motorists are stranded on I-12, and it remains closed between here and St. Tammany Parish, so the whole interstate system from Baton Rouge to that location is still closed." In terms of the number of homes impacted, Steele said more than 1,000 have been flooded in Baton Rouge - a number that is expected to climb. In Livingston, more than 1,000 homes have been impacted, along with 200 in St. Helena Parish, and 500 or more in Tangipahoa Parish..."

Animation credit: "Aerial view before and after in Denham Springs, Louisiana." (After image: Patrick Dennis/The Advocate via AP, Before Image: Google Earth).

More Than 1,000 Rescued after "Unprecedented" Floods in the Deep South. VICE NEWS reports: "Three people are dead and more than 1,000 were rescued from their homes in Louisiana following what Governor John Bel Edwards described as "unprecedented, historic" rainfall and flooding. Heavy flood waters swamped not just Louisiana but also southern Mississippi. Edwards has declared a state of emergency, and national guard soldiers in boats and helicopters have been patrolling southern Louisiana, removing people from their homes where necessary. One town was cut off entirely, and highways were shut down by heavy flood waters..."

Photo credit: "Residents wade through floodwaters from heavy rains in the Chateau Wein Apartments in Baton Rouge, La., Friday, Aug. 12, 2016." (Gerald Herbert/AP)

The Times Picayune in New Orleans has live-blogging on the ongoing flooding disaster across Louisiana and Mississippi at

How To Help Louisiana Flooding Victims. CNN has details.

How Bad Is Your Air Conditioner For The Planet? Here are a few nuggets excerpted from a New York Times article: "...Air-conditioning presents other problems: As of 2009, nearly 90 percent of American homes have air-conditioners, which account for about 6 percent of all the country’s residential energy use. All that air-conditioning releases about 100 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. According to historians and others, the widespread availability of air-conditioning has allowed for more development in the hotter parts of the country — the South and the Southwest — where air-conditioning use is the highest in the country..."

Surveyed Scientists Debunk Chemtrails Conspiracy Theory. Here's the intro to a story at UCI News: "The world’s leading atmospheric scientists overwhelmingly deny the existence of a secret, elite-driven plot to release harmful chemicals into the air from high-flying aircraft, according to the first peer-reviewed journal paper to address the “chemtrails” conspiracy theory. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, the Carnegie Institution for Science and the nonprofit Near Zero organization asked 77 atmospheric chemists and geochemists if they had come across evidence of such a large-scale spraying program, and 76 responded that they had not. The survey results were published Wednesday in Environmental Research Letters. Heat from aircraft engines produces condensation trails that can be clearly seen from the ground. A small but vocal segment of the population firmly believes that these are composed not merely of condensed water vapor but of chemicals and elements such as strontium, barium and aluminum that powerful, high-level entities have been intentionally and covertly releasing into the atmosphere for decades..."

Photo credit: "A commercial airliner produces a condensation trail in the skies over California." Mick West

9 Pieces of Obsolete Tech That Just Won't Die. Here's a clip from Popular Mechanics: "Have you had to write a rent check lately? Or maybe fax some important documents? Despite things like Venmo and email that normal people use every day, these ancient bits of tech and culture just keep hanging on. There's clearly better technology, it's just that not everyone is using it. Here are nine outmoded technologies that just won't disappear..."

Image credit: Flickr CC BY 2.0/Blude.

See a Twinkling Galaxy and a Cosmic Green "Blob". I love this image, courtesy of NatGeo: "Feed your need for heavenly views of the universe with our pick of the most awe-inspiring space pictures. This week, a NASA spacecraft sees Ceres's dramatically cratered landscape, shadows drape Saturn's rings, and the night sky gets lit up by a supercharged meteor shower..."

Image credit: "Hubble looks out at Pisces B, a dwarf galaxy 30 million light-years away. Less than a hundred million years ago, it doubled its star formation rate—a sign that it fueled up by passing through dense gas." Photograph by NASA/ESA/Hubble.

TODAY: Warm sunshine. Winds: SE 5-10. High: 83

MONDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, T-shower late. Low: 66

TUESDAY: Sticky again, few T-storms likely. Winds: S 8-13. High: 83

WEDNESDAY: Sunnier, drier and hotter. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 67. High: 87

THURSDAY: Muggy, feels like prime-time summer. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 70. High: near 90

FRIDAY: Steamy sun, heavy T-storms arrive late. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 73. High: 88

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, cooler breeze. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 62. High: 72

SUNDAY: Feels like September. Peeks of sun. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 54. High: 69

Climate Stories...

Climate Guru Tells California Governor Not to Close Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant. Here's the intro to an explanation at Forbes: "On Thursday,a letter to Governor Jerry Brown of California, about how nuclear energy was essential to fighting global warming, was sent by Dr. James Hansen and the leading climate scientists in the world, plus a long list of environmentalists. The letter was prompted by a recent announcement by Pacific Gas & Electric Company to close its well-running, low-carbon, low-cost nuclear reactors at Diablo Canyon because of political pressure from the state of California and especially its Lt. Governor. The widespread claim—that dozens of nuclear plants merit subsidies to protect the earth’s climate—has been borne out by reality. At the same time, tax subsidies for renewables, plus low natural gas prices, are making reactors uneconomic in the short term..."

Photo credit: "Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County, California is at risk of premature closing for political reasons. On Thursday, a letter to Governor Jerry Brown of California, about how nuclear energy was essential to fighting global warming, was sent by Dr. James Hansen and the world’s leading climate scientists. The plant is safe, can withstand a large earthquake, tsunami and any other disaster, provides billions to the local economy, and produces more clean energy than all the wind turbines in California combined." Photo: John Lindsey.

A Court Ruling That Could Save the Planet. Bloomberg View has the story: "A federal court this week upheld the approach that the government uses to calculate the social cost of carbon when it issues regulations -- and not just the cost imposed on Americans, but on people worldwide. It’s technical stuff, but also one of the most important climate change rulings ever. The social cost of carbon is meant to capture the economic damage of a ton of carbon emissions. The assumptions that go into the analysis, and the resulting number, matter a lot, because they play a key role in the cost-benefit analysis for countless regulations -- not only the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, but also fuel economy rules for automobiles and trucks and energy efficiency rules for appliances, including refrigerators, microwave ovens, clothes washers, small motors, and clothes driers..." (Image credit: NASA).

Guest Post: Piecing Together the Arctic's Sea Ice History Back to 1850. Here's an excerpt of an interesting post at Carbon Brief: "...Most fundamentally of all, the new dataset allows us to answer the three questions we posed at the beginning of this article. First, there is no point in the past 150 years where sea ice extent is as small as it has been in recent years. Second, the rate of sea ice retreat in recent years is also unprecedented in the historical record. And, third, the natural fluctuations in sea ice over multiple decades are generally smaller than the year-to-year variability..."

Image credit: "Sea ice cover maps for the annual minimum in September, for the periods 1850-1900, 1901-1950, 1951-2000, and 2001-2013. The maps show the sea ice extent in the lowest minimum during each period, which are in years: 1879, 1943, 1995, and 2012."

Growing Corn Like It's 2065 To Study Climate Change Effects. The Star Tribune reports: "At the University of Minnesota, researchers are growing corn in greenhouses like it’s the year 2065. The effort is part of a long-term plan to study how corn will grow under weather conditions considerably different from today’s, predicted in climate change models for a half-century out. “Many models show that with increasing temperatures we could be seeing a reduction in corn yields, so that’s something we would like to investigate under controlled conditions,” said Tim Griffis, University of Minnesota professor of biometeorology and one of several researchers directing projects..."

Photo credit: "Richard TSONG-TAATARII, Star Tribune. "John Baker of the Agricultural Research Service is studying how climate change may affect crop yields."

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