Monday, July 3, 2017

Watch for Storms Later - Hot Streak Next Week - Pondering Our Climate Legacy

81 F. Maximum temperature yesterday in the MSP metro area.
83 F. Twin Cities average high on July 3.
80 F. high temperature on July 3, 2016.

July 4, 1999: Severe winds knock down millions of trees in the BWCA, injuring 19 people.
July 4, 1962: An extremely heavy downpour falls at Jackson, dumping 7.5 inches of rain in two hours.

Risk of An Atmospheric Firecracker Later Today

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others" wrote Nelson Mandela. I hope you and yours have a memorable and safe 4th of July, regardless of the weather.

And for the record, I'm just a (reluctant) messenger. There is a small but vocal minority of people who believe meteorologists are somehow responsible for the weather. "If you just kick the Doppler or fiddle with your dials you COULD make it better!" If only. Truth be told, I don't want that responsibility. Earth's weather patterns were put into motion eons ago; we just manage to get in the way.

Much of today looks nice, with some sun dribbling through the clouds. T-storms bubble up later in the day, best chance west of the MSP metro. Have a Plan B but hope for the best. After nudging 90F Thursday T-storms flare up ahead of a cooler front arriving Friday & Saturday; another welcome dip in humidity. Soak it up, because models pull overheated air from the west into Minnesota next week.

I could see a multi-day streak of mid-90s next next week. Hello Dog Days!

Dog Days in Sight. This will will be sticky and even a little uncomfortable by Wednesday and Thursday, but after a brief cool-down Friday and Saturday temperatures shoot up next week. The heat we've been tracking out west finally spills into Minnesota by Monday; a few days in a row in the 90s a real possibility. Twin Cities numbers: ECMWF.

Mostly-Nice 4th. There will be exceptions: heavy T-storms from the southern and central Plains into Arkansas and Missouri; more T-storms flaring up over the Mississippi Valley and the Carolinas, while the western third of the USA enjoys hot sunshine.

Heat Expands North Next Week. The on-again, off-again heat wave looks to be back on tomorrow, spreading from the southern USA into the Plains, with a streak of days in the 90s. Heat indices push 105F by Monday from Pierre and Omaha to Houston, the Gulf Coast and much of Florida. Heat indices forecast above: NOAA NCEP.

July 6-17 Weather Hazard Potential. NOAA CPC does a good job tracking the larger long-term weather risk. Here is the update from July 3: "Synopsis: A cold front is expected to push southeastward across the eastern part of the U.S. during the first part of the period, with surface high pressure building in its wake. Anomalous upper-level ridging is forecast to dominate much of the western and northern U.S. during the entire period.


  • Heavy rain across portions of the Northeast, the Appalachians, the Mid-Atlantic, the Great Lakes, and the Ohio Valley, Thu-Fri, Jul 6-Jul 7.
  • Heavy rain across portions of the Carolinas, Sat-Sun, Jul 8-Jul 9.
  • Much above-normal temperatures across portions of the central and northern Plains, the Great Basin, the northern and central Rockies, the Middle and Upper Mississippi Valley, California, and the Pacific Northwest, Thu-Mon, Jul 6-Jul 10.
  • Flooding occurring or imminent across portions of the Middle Mississippi Valley.
  • High risk of much above-normal temperatures for portions of the Northern Plains, Tue-Wed, Jul 11-Jul 12.
  • Moderate risk of much above-normal temperatures for portions of the central and northern Plains, the Great Basin, the northern and central Rockies, and the Upper Mississippi Valley, Tue-Fri, Jul 11-Jul 14.
  • Slight risk of much above-normal temperatures for portions of the central and northern Plains, the Great Basin, the northern and central Rockies, the Middle and Upper Mississippi Valley, California, and the Pacific Northwest, Tue-Mon, Jul 11-Jul 17.
  • Severe Drought across the Southern Plains, California, Hawaii, the Northern Plains, and the Southwest..."

Small Cooler Advisory. The latest 2-week GFS guestimate for 500mb establishes a bubble of high pressure, a "heat dome" over much of the central and eastern USA. I want to see if there's any consistency run-to-run, but if this solution verifies much of the USA will be sweating out mid-July, with the possible exception of the Pacific Northwest.

Putting 115 Degrees Into Perspective. While we've been enjoying free Canadian A/C much of America is baking under a July sun. On Sunday I called one of my oldest buddies, Paul Magers, who just retired from KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, to see how he was coping with real heat out in his new home in Palm Springs. "It's forecast to be 115F in a few days. So you walk around thinking - hey - 107F doesn't feel so bad!" he laughed. I reminded him he was living in a desert. "Look, 80F is considered good sleeping weather out here." The thing is, no matter where we live, we all tend to rationalize our weather, no matter how good or bad it is on a regular basis. "Hey, it's not THAT bad!" I think it may be part of the human condition. There's no place on Earth with "perfect weather". Although Maui comes pretty darn close...

At Least 2 Tornadoes Confirmed in Maine Saturday. Details via "The National Weather Service confirms at least two tornades occurred in Maine on Saturday. Another possible tornado occurred near Harrison. Meteorologists say a high-end EF-1 tornado hit Bridgton. Several structures and vehicles were damaged by snapped trees on the west shore of Long Lake in the vicinity of Obelazy Lane. The tornado began on the southeast shore of Highland Lake before crossing through Bridgton..."

Photo credit: Jackson Witherill, Sebago Lake in Sebago, Maine July 1, 2017.

4 Tornadoes Confirmed Now. An update from NOAA shows the location and preliminary strength of all 4 tornadoes that touched down on Maine on Saturday. Yes, very unusual.

Deadly Flood Hits South, Central China; Heat Wave Grips North. Extreme examples of weather-whiplash reported in China by Hindustan Times: "...Xiangjiang, a major tributary of the Yangtze river, has exceeded its record flood level in the Hunan capital of Changsha. Floods in the city have swamped houses, uprooted trees, damaged cars and submerged roads. Across Hunan, the flooding has forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate, damaged crops and destroyed houses, causing a total direct economic loss of 8.26 billion yuan ($1.22 billion), the provincial civil affairs office said. In Guangxi, 16 people have been confirmed dead and 10 are missing after a flood hit the southwestern region after a storm, the official Xinhua news agency cited authorities as saying. Southern provinces produce some of China’s major crops..."

Photo credit: "Rescuers row as they transfer residents with a boat at a flooded area in Guilin, Guangxi province, China on July 2." (Reuters).

Historical Odds of Actually Seeing the August 21 Eclipse? Here's an interesting explainer, focusing on cloud climatology and where you stand the best chance of good (clear) weather for the total solar eclipse, courtesy of NOAA: "...Historically speaking, cloudiness may factor into each location’s chance for a good viewing. NOAA’s NCEI and the Cooperative Institutes for Climate and Satellites–North Carolina (CICS-NC) reviewed past cloud conditions for August 21. We found that the coasts could be susceptible to cloudier conditions and that increased cloud cover may be possible as the eclipse travels across the country east of the Mississippi River. Although the picture doesn’t particularly bode well at the coasts of Oregon and South Carolina, the chance for clearer skies appears greatest across the Intermountain West. If historical conditions hold true, Rexburg, Idaho, a two-hour drive west of Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, has a good chance for clearer skies. Casper, Wyoming, also holds promise. Other historically clear locations include Lincoln, Nebraska, and Carbondale, Illinois..."

Map credit: "The darker the dot, the greater the chance for cloudiness at the hour of peak viewing during the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Dots represent automated weather stations that reported the cloudiness data and show the 10-year cloudiness average for August 21, 2001–2010." Map developed by CICS-NC in cooperation with NOAA NCEI, Deborah Riddle.

Air Force Launches Investigation Into Tornado Damage of Jets at Offutt. Here's an excerpt from "...The lack of information has fueled discussion about the events leading up to the June 16 tornado. Some people have wondered whether the commanders of the 55th and the 595th should have ordered the jets flown out of the path of danger. That’s common practice when a hurricane threatens a military airfield, several retired military officers said. But tropical systems usually cover a wide area and come with a day or more of warning. “You can’t evacuate every time there’s a thunderstorm,” said retired Lt. Gen. Thomas Keck, a former 55th Wing and 8th Air Force commander. “You’re spending a lot of money and effort and time. I would never try to judge a sitting (wing) commander...”

Photo credit: "Six of the eight damaged RC-135 surveillance planes had been returned to s ervice a week after the storm." U.S. Air Force.

Think You Know Lightning? Think Again. New varieties of lightning are still being discovered and researched, as described in an informative NOAA post: "...Large thunderstorms are capable of producing other kinds of electrical phenomena called transient luminous events (TLEs) that occur high in the atmosphere. They are rarely observed visually and not well understood. The most common TLEs include red sprites, blue jets, and elves.

Red Sprites can appear directly above an active thunderstorm as a large but weak flash. They usually happen at the same time as powerful positive CG lightning strokes. They can extend up to 60 miles from the cloud top. Sprites are mostly red and usually last no more than a few seconds, and their shapes are described as resembling jellyfish, carrots, or columns. Because sprites are not very bright, they can only be seen at night. They are rarely seen with the human eye, so they are most often imaged with highly sensitive cameras.

Blue jets emerge from the top of the thundercloud, but are not directly associated with cloud-to-ground lightning. They extend up in narrow cones fanning out and disappearing at heights of 25-35 miles. Blue jets last a fraction of a second and have been witnessed by pilots..."
Illustration credit: "An illustration of different kinds of transient luminous events (TLEs)."

Texas Is Too Windy and Sunny For Old Energy Companies To Make Money. A nice problem to have - for consumers. Here's a clip from Bloomberg: "...In the cut-throat Texas energy market, the construction of these coastal wind turbines—some 900 in all—has had a profound impact. It’s been terrific for consumers, helping further drive down electricity bills, but horrible for natural gas-fired generators. They had ramped up capacity in recent years anticipating that midday price surge would mostly be theirs, not something to share with renewable energy companies. Without that steady cash influx, the business model doesn’t really work, the profits aren’t there and companies including Calpine Corp., NRG Energy Inc. and Exelon Corp. are now either postponing new gas-fired plants or ditching them all together. Wind power “is a disruptive technology and it’s increasing,” said Paul Patterson, a utility analyst at Glenrock Associates LLC in New York. “That’s a problem for other resources that are competing in that market...”

Photo credit: "Wind turbines at Avangrid Renewables’ Baffin Wind Power Project." Photographer: Eddie Seal/Bloomberg.

Solar Energy Soon to Surf the Wave of Profitability. Here's a clip from a post at National Geographic: "...Large-scale development of renewable energy will require world leaders to invest substantially in the energy sector. In a speech at Oxford University on March 22, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden stated that, “Of course, the energy transition is change on a global scale, and it must be embraced too. It is unstoppable. Every element of society—including Shell—has a role to play.” According to Bloomberg’s data, the cost of electricity produced by photovoltaic panels has decreased nearly 75% since 2009, and is on track to decrease an additional 66% by 2040. Onshore wind energy production costs have decreased 30% since 2009, and should decrease 47% during the timeframe that the report looks at. We must progress beyond the fossil-fuel energy model of energy on demand, toward a world where energy is produced cleanly..."

Graphic credit: "The decline of Fossil Fuels, fast but not fast enough to save our oceans." Bloomberg.

Consumers Union Study: Almost 90% of Americans Want Better Fuel Economy. Here's a post from "...Nearly 3 out of 4 Americans (73%) agree that the U.S. government should continue to increase fuel efficiency standards and enforce them, with nearly 80% of Americans agreeing that increasing the real-world average economy from 25 miles per gallon today to 40 miles per gallon is a worthwhile goal,” said Consumers Union in a statement..."

We've Been Worrying About the End of Work for 500 Years. Quartz provides some much-needed perspective: "...Now it’s become more and more of a mainstream topic of discussion. A lot of it I think is that the evidence has been piling up more and more. And so you can’t deny it.” “There’s the obvious evidence,” says Mcafee, “and then the serious rigorous research about the hollowing out of the middle class, the polarization of the economy, the declines in entrepreneurship and mobility. We weren’t as aware of those things three and a half years ago as we are today.” Many of the fears and reassurances prevalent in years long past remain today. “There will always be limits to how creative a computer can be,” read one HBR headline in 2017, much as the Metropolitan Record assured young women their jobs would not be replaced by the washing machine..."

Photo credit: "Will machines take over jobs? We've been wondering for hundreds of years."(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

Forget the Blood of Teens. "Metformin" Promises To Extend Life For a Nickel a Pill. Too good to be true? has the story: "...And Barzilai knows about the science of aging. He is, after all, the director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. And, as such, he usually talks about his plan with the caution of a seasoned researcher. Usually. Truth is, Barzilai is known among his colleagues for his excitability—one author says he could pass as the older brother of Austin Powers—and sometimes he can’t help himself. Like the time he referred to his plan—which, among other things, would demonstrate that human aging can be slowed with a cheap pill—as “history-making.” In 2015, he stood outside of the offices of the Federal Drug Administration, flanked by a number of distinguished researchers on aging, and likened the plan to a journey to “the promised land...”

Photo credit: Metformin pills. Will Warasila for WIRED.

The Slow, Secret Death of the Electric Guitar. And Why You Should Care. The Washington Post has an interesting story: "...The numbers back him up. In the past decade, electric guitar sales have plummeted, from about 1.5 million sold annually to just over 1 million. The two biggest companies, Gibson and Fender, are in debt, and a third, PRS Guitars, had to cut staff and expand production of cheaper guitars. In April, Moody’s downgraded Guitar Center, the largest chain retailer, as it faces $1.6 billion in debt. And at, the online retailer, a brand-new, interest-free Fender can be had for as little as $8 a month. What worries Gruhn is not simply that profits are down. That happens in business. He’s concerned by the “why” behind the sales decline..."

Image credit: "Vernon Reid found the music of Jimi Hendrix after he discovered Carlos Santana. He talks with The Post's Geoff Edgers about how the two guitar icons influenced his playing style." (Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post).

How Competitive Walking Captivated Georgian Britain. Many days I feel like I'm walking in circles, but not quite 751 miles-worth. Here's a strange tale from Atlas Obscura: "...Wilson was famous the country over for his endurance, but exactly why watching a man walk around in circles for weeks on end was so exciting is down to three peculiarities of late Georgian culture: the growing love of sporting spectacle and sport as entertainment, the deep and abiding affection for gambling, and the prominence of pubs. Pedestrian matches, along with boxing and horse racing, emerged at the very beginning of leisure culture, when the Industrial Revolution had begun to mean that more people had more free time and more free money. These matches prefigured the later sport-as-entertainment model: They were among the first organized sporting events for the masses, relying on both the athleticism of the participants and the pageantry of the event itself, offering a respite from the grim realities of working down a mine, in service, in trade, or on a farm..."

Illustration credit: "George Wilson, shown walking on a road lined with people, 1815." Wellcome Images, London/CC BY 4.0

4TH OF JULY: Mild sun, PM T-storm possible. Winds: SE 7-12. High: 82

TUESDAY NIGHT: Hit or miss for fireworks. Few T-storms taper. Low: 67

WEDNESDAY: Sticky sun, scattered T-storms in the area. Winds: S 5-10. High: 86

THURSDAY: Hot sun gives way to late T-storms. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 70. High: near 90

FRIDAY: Sunny, breezy and less humid. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 64. High: near 80

SATURDAY: Sunny and comfortable. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 59. High: 81

SUNDAY: Intervals of sun, trending warmer again. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 62. High: 84

MONDAY: Free sauna! Plenty hot & humid. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 68. High: 92

Climate Stories...

Climate Change Legacy: What Will Future Generations Think of Our Culture. Not sure, but I suspect they're going to be pretty pissed. "What did you know, when, and what did you do? Did you sit on your hands and chalk it all up to some far-fetched conspiracy theory, or were you part of the solution?" Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at CT Viewpoints: "...Looking back from the 22nd Century, what will you think of us? What will you make of the fact that in our preoccupation with comfort we were willing to make so many people’s lives so desperate?  That in our refusal to discipline ourselves we were willing to force so many into famine, privation, and disease?  That in our obsession with the good life we were willing to relegate so many people to death?  That in our stupor we were willing to condemn so many species — and jeopardize the survival of our own? Will you believe our failure to question the inevitability of carbon culture made us no better than the Nazis who claimed at Nuremberg they were merely following orders?  Will you inevitably see our crimes as grander and more ghastly? I fear I already know the answers to these questions.  I am not expecting your forgiveness..."

EPA Chief Pushing Governmentwide Effort to Question Climate Change Science. The Washington Post reports: "The Trump administration is debating whether to launch a governmentwide effort to question the science of climate change, an effort that critics say is an attempt to undermine the long-established consensus human activity is fueling the Earth’s rising temperatures. The move, driven by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, has sparked a debate among top Trump administration officials over whether to pursue such a strategy. A senior White House official, who asked for anonymity because no final decision has been made, said that while Pruitt has expressed interest in the idea, “there are no formal plans within the administration to do anything about it at this time...”

Photo credit: "Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is a driving force behind an effort to reevaluate climate science in numerous federal agencies." (Associated Press/Susan Walsh).

Secretary Perry, Let's Have That Climate Change Conversation. Here's an excerpt of an Op-ed from the San Antonio Express-News: "...Check out the department’s website where faculty have posted a unanimous statement about climate change. Here’s the quick version: Between 1880 and 2012, the average global surface temperature warmed about 1.5 degrees. These scientists say “it is extremely likely” humans caused more than half of that warming between 1951 and 2012. If we don’t do anything to limit emissions, the Earth will warm between 2.5 and 7 degrees. Our hearts sunk a bit when you said carbon dioxide is not the primary driver of global warming. That was a real “oops” moment, sir. Carbon emissions are the biggest driver of climate change..."

In Atlantic City, Residents Feel Injustice of Climate Change. The 1% will build walls or move to a more hospitable area; they have the money, the means to adapt. But the poorest among us? Here's a clip and video link from PBS NewsHour: "...The Climate Central scientists actually conducted analysis. They looked at hundreds of U.S. coastal cities and examined the increases that are expected in the flooding risks in each of those. They identified about 90 that face vey sharp increases in flooding risks. A lot of these cities tend to be built along bays, along rivers, near the massive estuaries. So, they have a very low topography and the highest risk ones tend to be along the mid-Atlantic and Atlantic City simply showed up as being one of the cities that faces the greatest risks. But in addition to that, it is also has great inequity among the rich and poor, it’s a city in economic decline right now. So, I want to examine (ph) how they’re adapting to the changes in sea level there..."

Some international perspective:

Satellite Data Show Global Warming Worse Than Thought. Financial Tribune explains: "Climate change deniers have long pointed to satellite data showing lower temperatures than those recorded on the ground. However, new research has found an explanation for this apparent discrepancy, The Independent reported. The orbit of satellites around the Earth gradually decays over time due to friction in the Earth’s atmosphere and this gradually changes the time they pass over any one spot and this obviously has a significant effect on the temperature. Using information from the satellites, the scientists, Carl Mears and Frank Wentz, of Remote Sensing Systems, a California-based research company, developed a new method of correcting for the changes. And what they found was startling. The rate of warming was about a third higher at 0.174 degrees Celsius per decade between 1976 and 2016, compared to 0.134°C per decade..."

"Long, Slow, Horrible". Former Defense Officers Warn of Climate Impacts on National Security. The worry extends to Australia, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald: "...I think the climate change threat is pretty damn serious and we have fiddled around in terms of getting in place the right systems to head off the worst outcomes," he told Fairfax Media, calling for measured adaptation by the military and other sectors and rapid global reduction of emissions. "The military have been working on it but their perspective is limited to responses to natural disasters and protecting bases. They are not at the forefront of heading off the challenge. That is the responsibility of the leadership at the very top and the community..."

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