Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer on Temporary Hold - Cool Bias into 4th of July Weekend?

.49" rain fell in the Twin Cities yesterday.
72 F. Thursday high temperature.
81 F. average Twin Cities high on June 22.
83 F. high on June 22, 2016.

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.

A Cool and Showery Bias Into The 4th of July?

I just got back from Kansas City, where I gave a talk to America's TV meteorologists on climate messaging for conservatives; framing that highlights faith as well as science. Not sure it moved the needle, but I sense more traction with stewardship and Creation Care.

The increase in warm season rainfall is most pronounced in the Midwest and New England. Large hail MAY be on the increase, but it's unclear whether background warming has a role. Expanding suburbs means more expensive targets for severe weather to strike. Normalization of socioeconomic trends is an ongoing challenge.

I'm stalling because I really don't want to talk about weekend weather, or the 4th of July for that matter. A stubborn wrinkle of cold air aloft keeps us cool and showery this weekend with highs in the 60s. We warm up next week, but long-range models show another cooling trend in time for the 4th of July weekend. Upper 70s and low 80s for highs with spotty T-showers? We've seen worse.

Not exactly a postcard-perfect holiday but unlike Phoenix you won't burn the bottom of your feet walking the dog. Great news: no worries about heat stroke/sunburn anytime soon!

Photo credit: WCCO-TV meteorologist Mike Augustyniak. Thanks Mike!

Cool Bias Hangs On. No signs of sweltering heat spreading into Minnesota and Wisconsin, at least not looking out 2 weeks or so. A series of cool frontal passages will keep temperatures 5-10F cooler than average; highs mostly in the 70s through the period. Except for tomorrow and Sunday, when metro highs may not climb out of the 60s. ECMWF guidance: WeatherBell.

Tracking the Soggy Remains of Cindy. 12 km NAM guidance suggests the core of heaviest rain will track from Memphis to Louisville and Cincinnati today, possibly soaking Washington D.C. and Philadelphia with a few inches of rain by Saturday. A flush of Canadian air sparks instability showers from the Upper Midwest into the Great Lakes and New England, while strong to severe storms sprout from the southern Plains into the southeastern USA. The west coast stays mostly dry, with sizzling heat lingering over the southwest. 84 hour Future Radar: NOAA and

Hot Air Expanding North Second Week of July? The worst of the heat wave continues to grip the southwestern USA, but GFS forecasts for 500 mb looking out roughly 2 weeks suggest that heat may spread into the Midwest, Ohio Valley and Great Lakes. Remember that July is, historically, the hottest month of the year.

Sloppy Remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy. This (non-operational) GOES-16 visible loop (courtesy of the College of DuPage Nexlab, was taken yesterday during the early afternoon hours; a counterclockwise swirl of tropical moisture pushing flooding rains inito the Gulf Coast and Mid South.

Here is an excerpt of a Praedictix corporate briefing issued yesterday by meteorologist D.J. Kayser:

Heavy Rain Over The Past Few Days. Rainfall totals have already topped 8” in Gulfport, MS, and 9” in Pensacola, FL, over the past three days due to Cindy. This has caused flooding across the region, and any additional rain will only continue to prolong the issue.

Official Forecast Track. Steady weakening is expected throughout the day, with Cindy expected to become post-tropical tonight. The system will gradually make a turn northeast and accelerate over the next couple days, merging with a frontal system as we head into the weekend. Heavy rain that could cause significant flooding continues to be the main threat with Cindy. As of 7 AM CDT, a Tropical Storm Warning was in effect from High Island, TX to Morgan City, LA.

Additional Rain Potential. Additional heavy rain of 2-8” is expected over the next couple days on top of the 5-10” of rain that has already fallen along the northern Gulf Coast. This rain will only further increase the potential of flooding across the region, and could result in significant, potentially life-threatening flash flooding with many streams and rivers leaving their banks. Meanwhile, heavy rain will continue to spread north into the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys as the remnants of Cindy moves across the region, bringing the potential of 1-4”+ of rain.

Flash Flood Watches Continue. Due to the heavy rain threat, Flash Flood Watches continue across the region - as far north as Tennessee and Missouri. Due to significant rain that has already fallen along the northern Gulf Coast, any additional rainfall continues to pose the threat of life-threatening flash flooding. Due to the prolonged nature of the rain, the flooding potential could exist for some time.

Flash Flood Potential. Some of the heaviest rain today will occur along and in front of the overall path of Cindy. These areas have the best potential of 3-5" of rain today, with isolated totals up to a foot. Due to this, life-threatening flash flooding could occur across parts of eastern Texas, western Louisiana and southern Arkansas, leading to a “high” risk of excessive rainfall that could lead to flooding from the Weather Prediction Center. The flooding threat will continue into Friday as the system continues north and northeast into the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys.

Meanwhile the southwestern USA continues to bake:

The Science Behind Arizona's Record-Setting Heat Wave. Here are a few nuggets from Pacific Standard that made me do a double-take: "In the Arizona desert, as far back as weather records go, it's never been this hot for this long. By early Monday afternoon, the temperature was 111 degrees in Tucson, the first in a forecasted series of a record-setting seven consecutive days with highs above 110, the longest streak in city history. (The previous record, should it fall, was six days in a row in 1994.)...
  • The United States Border Patrol stepped up safety messages, saying "it is physically impossible for the average person to carry enough water to survive."
  • The National Weather Service also warned against walking pets outdoors, saying that at pavement temperatures above 162 degrees (consistent with air temperatures of 102), skin is instantly destroyed.
Also on Monday, American Airlines canceled 38 flights previously scheduled for Phoenix on Tuesday—simply because it will be too hot to fly..."

Seriously Hot. Check out a Reddit photo taken on Wednesday in the greater Phoenix area, showing a surface temperature of 168F. Asphalt + 120 F air temperature = first and second degree burns. Imagine living in your oven. That's what much of the southwestern USA is enduring this week.

Hot Dog Booties? Every threat is an opportunity. Esquire has a photo essay that includes the picture above and a photo credit from Tempe, Arizona: "Since hot pavement can burn dogs' paws, Phoenix radio station KSLX handed out protective booties at a PetSmart in Tempe, Arizona."

Phoenix: Second-Fastest Warming City in the USA. Praedictix meteorologist Kristin Clark explains: "...In the U.S. Phoenix is the second-fastest warming city over the past 50 years. We are fortunate in the States to have access to cooling technologies. Yet the increasing frequency of heat waves will negatively impact health with more heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Diseases could spread as insects thrive in newly warmed regions. More days with poor air quality will lead to asthma and poor respiratory health. Stresses on crops and worsening drought will impact agriculture. Elevated strains on the energy grid grow as demand for air conditioning increases. The use of energy increases as well as cooling costs. Hot how will it get at your house this week? Be sure to check the Praedictix local, regional and national forecast..."

New Tools To Help Visualize the Future of Drought. These new NOAA NCEI maps provide the perspective necessary to try and answer tough questions related to moisture. Here's an excerpt from the U.S. Drought Portal: "How much rain is it going to take for this drought to get better? What’s the likelihood that the drought will be over a month from now? If it doesn't rain again for the rest of the month, how bad could the drought get? Questions like these start creeping in when the landscape browns, when streams get low, when the sun starts baking our gardens. Californians were among those contemplating such things as drought intensified there from 2011 into this past winter. Folks in the Dakotas are asking those questions now. How bad can it get? There’s a tool that can help answer. Drought Termination and Amelioration pages from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) offer a customizable interface anyone can use to find information on..."

Map credit: "Based on the PHDI. PHDI is a primary measure of long-term drought but may not apply to all areas, including those with heavily managed surface water. No additional precipitation is needed for white areas. Values are in inches."

Warning System for Great Lakes Tsunamis Under Development. I had no idea - here's a clip from a fascinating article at "...Rapid changes in barometric pressure, often associated with fast-moving weather systems, can generate meteotsunamis. Although many meteotsunamis are too small to notice, large meteotsunamis can have devastating coastal impacts, including damaging waves, flooding and strong currents, that cause significant damage, injury and death. An average of 106 meteotsunamis are observed each year, according to the CIGRL. For example, in 2003 in Sawyer, seven people drowned in an incident initially attributed to rip currents, though the water level records indicated a moderate meteotsunami occurred around the time of the drownings..."

Photo credit: "A wave crashes over the pier at Pere Marquette Park in Muskegon Friday, Oct. 31, 2014." (Cory Morse |

Preparing for the Storm: Predicting Where Our Coasts Are At Risk. It's a complicated matrix of regular tidal forcings, sea level rise, land subsidence and storm-surge flooding, according to USGS: "...What Bandy needed was a model that accounted for waves breaking on the beach, for the shifting shape of the Outer Banks’ beaches and dunes, and how and where the interaction could cause coastal erosion. “That’s information the U.S. Geological Survey [USGS] can provide,” said Hilary Stockdon, project lead for the USGS National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards (NACCH). The USGS created a model that accurately predicts which areas of the beach are at risk to overwash or flooding from impending nor’easters and hurricanes. Combined with the offshore wave forecasts of the NWS, meteorologists like Bandy can now speak in specifics when warning officials and residents. The USGS created the model using more than a decade of carefully gathered data on how storms affect coastlines and by merging models of coastal waves and water levels with detailed mapping..."

The World's Most Catastrophic Floods, in Photos. The History Channel reviews some of the biggest killers on record, including the Great Johnstown Flood of 1889: "...The disaster began shortly after 3 p.m on May 31, 1889, when a dam on Pennsylvania’s Lake Conemaugh washed away following several days of drenching rain. The collapse unleashed some 16 million tons of water, which quickly turned into a 40-foot-high, half-mile-wide surge of mud and debris. An hour later, the wave struck Johnstown like a giant fist, crushing some 1,600 buildings and sweeping away everything in its path. When the waters finally receded, over 2,200 people were dead and many more were injured or homeless. The flood was later blamed on the poorly maintained dam, which was owned by a hunting and fishing club, but no one was ever held financially liable for the disaster..."

NOAA Data Helps Retail and Manufacturing Business Minimize Impacts from Weather and Climate. Here's an excerpt from NOAA NCEI: "...In the winter, in particular, the weather can dramatically influence economic activity related to the manufacturing and retail industries. A severe snowstorm may keep consumers from shopping at retail stores and dining at restaurants. And, winter weather can prevent goods from getting to market too. For example, when a major snowstorm caused a single-day shutdown in New York, it resulted in $152 million in lost sales (link is external). However, major snowstorms can be profitable for online retailers and the automotive repair industry. Since they account for $3.2 trillion or 17 percent of the U.S. GDP and an estimated 22 million jobs collectively, the performance of the manufacturing and retail industries is a top indicator of economic well-being. With the right data, manufacturers, retailers, and the companies that invest in them can understand and measure how weather is influencing their bottom lines and the country’s economy..."

File photo:

Senators Push Trump for Answers on Power Grid Malware Attack. Could one smart hacker sitting in his mother's basement on the other side of the world bring down the U.S. power grid? Here's a clip from a troubling story at "In one of his first public statements on his priorities as president, Donald Trump promised to develop a "comprehensive plan to protect America's vital infrastructure from cyberattacks." That has not yet materialized. And as new evidence has emerged that a piece of sophisticated malware caused a blackout in the Ukrainian capital last December, one group of senators wants answers now about the threat of Russian grid-hacking. In a letter to the president Thursday, 19 senators have called on the White House to direct the Department of Energy to conduct a new analysis of the Russian government's capabilities to disrupt America's power grid..."

Fisticuffs Over The Route to a Clean-Energy Future. Could the U.S. economy run on entirely-renewable sources like wind, solar and hydro? Probably not with today's antiquated grid, reports The New York Times: "Could the entire American economy run on renewable energy alone? This may seem like an irrelevant question, given that both the White House and Congress are controlled by a party that rejects the scientific consensus abouut human-caused climate change. But the proposition that it could, long a dream of an environmental movement as wary of nuclear energy as it is of fossil fuels, has been gaining ground among policy makers committed to reducting the nation's carbon footprint. Democrats in both the United States Senate and in the California Assembly have proposed legislation this year calling for a full transition to renewable energy sources..."

Head of the American Meteorological Society to Secretary of Energy: You're Dead Wrong on Climate. Meteorologist Dan Satterfield has a post at AGU Blogosphere: "There is just no doubt anymore that the warming of the last century is due to rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Yes, there are a ton of myths out there but no one who understands the basic science has any doubt. Even the latest surveys show that among those in the field the agreement is over 99%. So, when the Secretary of Energy goes on TV and says things that are preposterous, someone should correct him. Keith Seitter, the Exec. Director of the American Meteorological Society, has done just that..."

Image credit: "It’s the math. I’m quite sure that atmospheric scientists will be happy to explain this graphic to Secretary Perry." From the IPCC 2013.

Perry's Climate Change Comment "Flies in the Face of Science", Moniz Says. The Houston Chronicle reports: "Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Wednesday he was "disappointed" by his successor Rick Perry's recent comments that mankind was not the primary cause of climate change. "It flies in the face of science," he said. "But I had been encouraged by Secretary Perry's strong enthusiasm for the national labs and the innovation agenda. However there, the problem is the disconnect to the budget prepared by the administration." The comments came while Moniz was in Washington to announce the launch of a new nonprofit that he will lead. The Energy Futures Initiative will provide technical expertise and analysis on reducing carbon dioxide emissions to fight climate change..."

Rapid Nuclear Decommissioning Threatens Climate Targets, Says IEA. Reuters has the story: "Decommissioning nuclear plants in Europe and North America from 2020 threatens global plans to cut carbon emissions unless governments build new nuclear plants or expand the use of renewables, a top International Energy Agency official said. Nuclear is now the largest low-carbon power source in Europe and the United States, about three times bigger than wind and solar combined, according to IEA data. But most reactors were built in the 1970s and early 80s, and will reach the end of their life around 2020. With the average nuclear plant running for 8,000 hours a year versus 1,500-2,000 hours for a solar plant, governments must expand renewable investments to replace old nuclear plants if they are to meet decarbonisation targets, IEA Chief Economist Laszlo Varro told Reuters..."

File photo: NRC.

New Solar Paint Could Offer Endless Supply of Clean Energy. This is the kind of potential breakthrough we're going to need to power up world economies without harmful pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. Fusion reports: "Researchers at RMIT University in Australia have developed a solar paint that could offer endless supplies of clean energy. The paint captures water vapor from the surrounding air, and then uses energy provided by the sunlight to split the water into hydrogen and oxygen. Once harvested, the resulting hydrogen could power fuel cells (which can provide electric power) or go directly into powering combustion engines..."

Photo credit: Pixabay.

Obesity Now Kills More People Worldwide Than Car Crashes, Terror Attacks and Alzheimer's Combined. Vox has the discouraging trends: "...Since 1980, the obesity prevalence has doubled in more than 70 countries around the world — mainly in low- and middle-income regions — and it has steadily increased in nearly every other country. The study is the largest systematic analysis of obesity data ever done, with researchers combing the medical literature and crunching thousands of data sets on obesity in adults and children covering 195 countries. Here are their 5 most important takeaways A lack of exercise and too many calories have been depicted as equal causes of the obesity crisis. But they shouldn’t be, the NEJM authors said..."

Graphic credit: Javier Zarracina/Vox.

Stephen Hawking Calls for a Return to the Moon as Earth's Clock Runs Out. So don't sweat the thundershowers! Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "Humans are overdue for a return trip to the moon, Stephen Hawking has just opined. Speaking on Tuesday at the Starmus Festival, a science-slash-musical gathering, the astrophysicist offered two parts doom cut with one part scientific optimism. He argued that we should prepare for a cosmic exodus to take place in the next 200 to 500 years. “We are running out of space, and the only place we can go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems,” he said via video link to the audience gathered in Trondheim, Norway. “Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth...”

Photo credit: "Stephen Hawking on a New York stage during the announcement of the Breakthrough Starshot initiative in April 2016." (Lucas Jackson/Reuters).

Alabama Warns of Floating Fire Ants in Flood Waters. Just when you thought it couldn't get much worse comes a story at AP and "Floating colonies of fire ants could form in flood waters as Tropical Storm Cindy trudges inland. That's the warning from Alabama state officials, who say the insects known as red imported fire ants can present a potentially serious health threat to people and animals during severe flooding. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System said in a statement that the floating colonies may look like ribbons, streamers or a large ball of ants floating on the water..."

TODAY: Mild sun, PM shower possible. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 71

FRIDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds - what June? Low: 53

SATURDAY: Morning sun, PM clouds, showers. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 66

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, PM shower up north. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 52. High: 65

MONDAY: Sunny, free A/C continues. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 50. High: 69

TUESDAY: Sunny and milder. Feels like June. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 55. High: 79

WEDNESDAY: Humid, heavy showers, T-storms. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 59. High: 77

THURSDAY: Sunnier, drier - better lake day. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 62. High: 82

Climate Stories....

Exxon, BP and Shell Back Carbon Tax Proposal to Cut Emissions. Ironic that the oil majors around the world are coming around and addressing the elephant in the living room, but the administration is still advocating ambitious environmental policy right out of the 1950s. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "Oil giants ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Total are among a group of large corporations supporting a plan to tax carbon dioxide emissions in order to address climate change. The companies have revealed their support for the Climate Leadership Council, a group of senior Republican figures that in February proposed a $40 fee on each ton of CO2 emitted as part of a “free-market, limited government” response to climate change. The fossil fuel companies announced their backing for the plan alongside other major firms including Unilever, PepsiCo, General Motors and Johnson & Johnson..."

Photo credit: "Under the proposal, a $40 carbon tax, rising over time, would be levied on emissions in order to encourage a shift towards renewable energy sources such as solar and wind." Photograph: Franck Robichon/EPA.

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