Thursday, August 3, 2017

August Sweatshirts - Don't Write Summer Off Yet - South Asia at Greatest Risk of Deadly Heat Indices as Planet Warms

67 F. maximum temperature in the Twin Cities yesterday (12:50 am).
82 F. average high on August 3.
91 F. high on August 3, 2016.

August 4, 1898: Storms dump 4 and a half inches of rain on Montevideo.



Summer Isn't Over - This Is More Like Halftime

Hold the phone, check your sources, stop the presses! Does anyone still say that? I detect a pervasive sense of persnickety panic in the streets. "Is summer over, Paul?" Shrug. "And is this a good time to re-balance my investment portfolio?" Yep.

It won't snow anytime soon. Put the ice scraper away. But I detect a wondrously-refreshing cool bias into mid-August, as a family of Canadian cool fronts pinwheel south of the border. Highs mostly in the 70s, nights dipping into the 50s? Unplug the air conditioner and open up the windows wide. Good sleeping weather in August. Wow!

A northwest breeze dries us out today with enough sun for mid-70s. A dew point in the low 50s will make it feel more like late September. Relatively cold air aloft may help to fire off instability showers both Saturday and Sunday; the best chance of a couple hours of rain late each afternoon. The weekend will be cool-ish and comfortable; not a complete wash-out.

Make the most of this break from muggy heat. NOAA's GFS model brings 90s back into Minnesota the 3rd week of August.

Summer isn't nearly done with us just yet.

As the Northwest Boils, An Aversion to Air-Conditioners Wilts. People are proud of living without A/C. That may be changing as the climate continues to warm, according to The New York Times: "...So has interest in air-conditioning, an amenity that generations of people in the Pacific Northwest proudly shunned. The evolution in attitude extends north of Portland: In 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the federal government found that the prevalence of residential air-conditioning in the Seattle area had more than doubled over about 11 years. (About 89 percent of occupied housing units nationwide have at least some air-conditioning)..."




Purple Haze. The sky had an otherworldly appearance in Seattle on Thursday, due to smoke from nearby wildfires. Photo credit: Walt Kruhoeffer, founder of Digital Harmonix.

Blistering Heat Wave Threatens Seattle. Only 1 in 3 people have A/C? Good grief - 100F heat may be more than an inconvenience, reports The New York Times: "...But the Southwest has something Seattle doesn't: More than 98 percent of housing units in Phoenix have air-conditioning, according to the most recent American Housing Survey, conducted in 2015. "This is definitely not a town that was built on air-conditioning, and usually we don't need it," Dana Felton, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Seattle, told The Seattle Times. "We have only hit 100 or more on three days in 120 years of keeping records, and on average we have only three 90-degree-plus days a year..."

Photo credit: Bterrik on Twitter. "Wildfire smoke intense out west! On the climb from @SeaTacAirport."



Small Landspout Tornado in Phoenix on Thursday. You don't see this very often; enough rotation to spin up a small, brief tornado south of downtown Phoenix yesterday.

Friday Severe Threat. The risk of damaging T-storms pushes into the northeastern USA later today, with the greatest potential for large hail and strong winds (even a few isolated tornadoes) from Cleveland and Columbus to Buffalo, Rochester, Pittsburgh and State College.

Free A/C East of Rockies. While the western USA continues to cook, a series of cooler fronts will push Canadian air deeper into the USA in the coming days, sparking a few rounds of heavy showers and T-storms from New England and the Ohio Valley into the Mid South. Only the Pacific Northwest remains dry. 84-hour NAM: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.

ECMWF Guidance. The forecast for the Twin Cities (top graph) suggests mid-70s over the weekend before instability showers bubble up. Brainerd will be a few degrees cooler, with nighttime lows worthy of sweatshirts and light jackets. What month is this again? Data: WeatherBell.


Warming Up Third Week of August. Any relief from the heat and humidity may be temporary; GFS guidance hinting at a warming trend east of the Rockies by the third week of August. Not as hot as July, but still plenty toasty for the eastern 2/3rds of America.


Tampa Bay's Coming Storm. The Tampa metro area is long overdue for a major hurricane, and when it strikes the damage toll may be greater than Katrina. Here's an excerpt from an eye-opening Washington Post story: "...Tampa Bay is mesmerizing, with 700 miles of shoreline and some of the finest white sand beaches in the nation. But analysts say the metropolitan area is the most vulnerable in the United States to flooding and damage if a major hurricane ever scores a direct hit. A Boston firm that analyzes potential catastrophic damage reported that the region would lose $175 billion in a storm the size of Hurricane Katrina. A World Bank study called Tampa Bay one of the 10 most at-risk areas on the globe. Yet the bay area — greater Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater — has barely begun to assess the rate of sea-level rise and address its effects. Its slow response to a major threat is a case study in how American cities reluctantly prepare for the worst, even though signs of impacts from climate change abound all around..."




Gas-Powered Cars Sputter Toward Obsolescence. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Bloomberg View: "Britain and France announced last month the death of the internal combustion engine, both scheduling it for 2040. Their ban on gas- and diesel-powered cars may only accelerate a process already well on its way, but it will help reduce the future effects of climate change and pollution now. The trend toward electric vehicles is coming from both government and industry. Norway and the Netherlands have also announced bans on gas-powered vehicles, scheduled for 2025. Meanwhile, Sweden’s Volvo Car Group has said all its motors will be electric by 2019. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that 54 percent of new car sales in 2040 globally will be electric, with falling battery prices making the technology price competitive by 2030. This move away from old-fashioned engines (if it’s not too soon to use that term) will require a greater commitment to responsible energy..."

Photo credit: "In need of a fill-up." Photographer: Jonathan Nicholson.

Environmental Regulation Makes America Great. So says Bloomberg: "...Needleman was a doctor whose breakthrough research documented the effects of childhood exposure to low levels of lead. He gave rewards to kids who saved their lost teeth for him. Then he tested those teeth for lead. "Children whose accumulated exposure to lead was highest in the group scored four points lower on an I.Q. test than youngsters whose exposure was at the lowest end," the New York Times reported in an obituary of Needleman published last week. Needleman established the link between an environmental hazard and intellectual impairment. But it was government regulation of the hazard that spared future children the debilitating effects of lead poisoning, and mitigated the damage it posed to the U.S. economy and society overall..."

File photo: Andy Wong, AP.

First Human Embryo Editing Experiment in U.S. Corrects Gene for Heart Condition. In 10-20 years will people be lining up to create "designer babies"? The Washington Post reports: "Scientists have successfully edited the DNA of human embryos to erase a heritable heart condition that is known for causing sudden death in young competitive athletes, cracking open the doors to a controversial new era in medicine. This is the first time gene editing on human embryos has been conducted in the United States. Researchers said in interviews this week that they consider their work very basic. The embryos were allowed to grow for only a few days, and there was never any intention to implant them to create a pregnancy. But they also acknowledged that they will continue to move forward with the science, with the ultimate goal of being able to “correct” disease-causing genes in embryos that will develop into babies..."

Venice, Invaded by Tourists, Risks Becoming "Disneyland on the Sea". Is it possible to love a place - to death? Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...If you arrive on a big ship, get off, you have two or three hours, follow someone holdinig a flag to Piazzale Roma, Ponte di Rialto and San Marco and turn around," said Dario Franceschini, Italy's culture minister,  who lamented what he called an "Eat and Flee" brand of tourism that had brought the sinking city so low. "The beauty of Italian towns is not only the architecture, it's also the actual activity of the place, the stores, the workshops," Mr. Franceschini added. "We need to save its identity." The city's locals, whatever is left of them anyway, feel inundated by the 20 million or so tourists each year..."

Photo credit: "Tourists taking gondolas in front of the Ponte della Paglia in Venice." Andrew Testa for The New York Times.

NASA is Hiring a "Planetary Protection Officer" To Guard Us Against Alien Life - and Vice Versa. Of course the reason aliens are seemingly uninterested in visiting Earth: they've watched our cable TV news programs and determined that there is no intelligent life here. Check out an excerpt from The Washington Post: "There's a vacancy at NASA, and it may have one of the greatest job titles ever conceived: planetary protection officer. It pays well, between $124,000 and $187,000 annually. You get to work with really smart people as part of the three- to five-year appointment but don't have to manage anyone. And your work could stave off an alien invasion of Earth or, more important, protect other planets from us. President Trump has expressed bullish enthusiasm for America's space program, signing an executive order last month resurrecting the National Space Council, on hiatus since the 1990s, and gleefully discussing the prospect of sending people to Mars..."

Setting Expectations for August 21 Solar Eclipse. Vox has a good update, including the ability to plug in your zip to know what the eclipse will look like (weather permitting, of course): "On Monday August 21, a solar eclipse will cut across the entire United States. And wherever you are, you will be able to see it. Even though the “totality” — the area where the sun is completely blocked out by the moon — is only 70 miles wide, the whole country (even Alaska and Hawaii) will experience a partial eclipse. This is what you’ll see, and the time you’ll see it, in your zip code. We recommend punching in a few different ones to see how the eclipse experience will vary across the country..."

For Minneapolis zip code 55403: "If you want to see the total eclipse, you'll need to travel 317 miles SW."

A Century of Eclipse Watching, in Photos. Are you ready for August 21? With some historical perspective here's a clip from Atlas Obscura: "On August 21, 2017, the moon’s shadow will cut a swath across the United States, from Oregon to South Carolina. In towns and cities in the path of totality—where the moon completely blocks the sun—hotels are in high demand. Airlines are promoting flights that coincide with the eclipse, and one is even offering a special eclipse-viewing charter flight. Millions of Americans near the path of totality are expected to hit the road to witness the first eclipse to cross both coasts since June 8, 1918. Still others will attend special events to be around fellow eclipse enthusiasts, including Atlas Obscura’s own Total Eclipse festival in Eastern Oregon. There is, in short, eclipse madness, and not for the first time..."

Photo credit: "Eclipse watchers at the Empire State Building, New York, 1932." AP Images

Millenials Unearth an Amazing Hack To Get Free TV: the Antenna. Remember those? Here's an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal: "...Let’s hear a round of applause for TV antennas, often called “rabbit ears,” a technology invented roughly seven decades ago, long before there was even a cord to be cut, which had been consigned to the technology trash can along with cassette tapes and VCRs. The antenna is mounting a quiet comeback, propelled by a generation that never knew life before cable television, and who primarily watch Netflix , Hulu and HBO via the internet. Antenna sales in the U.S. are projected to rise 7% in 2017 to nearly 8 million units, according to the Consumer Technology Association, a trade group..."

Would You Like Any Kale With Your Fries? I worked at McDonalds for a number of years - a generally good experience. But I'll still go with a doublecheeseburger please, hold the green stuff. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "...Last month, McDonald’s expanded its SCR line with a few sriracha-slathered offerings (quarter-pound burger, fried chicken breast, grilled chicken breast) topped with tomato, white cheddar, crispy onions and a mix of baby kale and spinach. It is reportedly the first time McDonald’s has ever used kale on a burger, more or less breaking a promise extended in a self-congratulatory, anti-elitist commercial from 2015, which insisted you’d never see kale on a Big Mac..."

Photo credit: "The new Sriracha Mac sauce from McDonald’s can be applied to a quarter-pound burger (above), grilled chicken or fried chicken." (Tim Carman/The Washington Post).




TODAY: Sunny breaks, refreshing. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 76

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and comfortable. Low: 58

SATURDAY: AM sun, a few PM showers or T-showers. Winds: SW 5-10. High: 77

SUNDAY: Some sun early, pop-up PM showers. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 59. High: 75

MONDAY: Lot's of sun, few complaints. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 58. High: 77

TUESDAY: Lukewarm sun, few T-storms late? Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 60. High: near 80

WEDNESDAY: Few showers and T-storms around. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 62. High: 76

THURSDAY: Plenty of sun, probably a better outdoor day. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 59. High: 78


Climate Stories...
Heat Waves Creeping Toward a Deadly Heat-Humidity Threshold. It's not (just) the heat, it's the humidity and the resulting heat index, as explained by InsideClimate News: "If global warming continues on its current pace, heat waves in South Asia will begin to create conditions so hot and humid that humans cannot survive outdoors for long, a new study shows. The deadly heat would threaten millions of vulnerable people in some of the world's most densely populated regions in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh—low-lying river valleys that produce most of the region's food. About 1.5 billion people live in the crescent-shaped region identified as the highest-risk area in a new study by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. The researchers combined global and detailed regional climate models to show where the most extreme conditions are expected by the end of this century..."

Why We Are Naively Optimistic About Climate Change. A post at NPR caught my eye: "...But if we could bring the cataclysmic clock a bit closer to us, what would be the timeframe that would make people start to care, hopefully fear, the horrendous oncoming destruction of our way of life? One million years? Too far out. One thousand years? Still, not really relevant. One hundred years? Okay, here it starts to get uncomfortable. Seventy years? Now we are within the lifetime of most people under 10 years old. So, if the world as we know it would cease to be in 70 years, people should start to take notice now. I have an 11-year-old and a 5-year-old. Barring unforeseen catastrophe, they will be around in 70 years. I would want their world to be better than mine, not worse. That should be the legacy of our generation. Unfortunately, we are failing, and those who deny it won't have to see the consequences of their choices. How comfortable..."

Activists Aim to Turn Sun Belt Into Front Line on Climate Change. Because as a general rule, the southern USA will be hit harder by rising seas, storm surge and debilitating heat indices than the northern USA. Here's a clip from The New York Times: "...But to Robert D. Bullard, a professor at Texas Southern University who some call the "father of environmental justice," the industrial revival that Mr. Trump has promised could come with some serious downsides for an already warming plaent. Professor Bullard is trying to bring that message to working class Americans like Mr. Guerra, and to environmental organizations that have, in his mind, been more focused on struggling animals than poor humands, who have been disproportionately harmed by increasing temperatures, worsening storms and rising sea levels..."

Photo credit: "Mr. Guerra at work. Seasonal temperatures in coastal southeast Texas are about 1.5 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than they were in the early part of the 20th century, the state climatologist said." Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times.

No, God Won't Take Care of Climate Change. Here's a clip from an Op-Ed at High Country News: "...I believe there is a strong religious argument to be made that we all have a responsibility to protect our planet. Caring for creation is emphasized in many religious texts, and in particular, by the Bible. Pope Francis wrote an entire encyclical on the subject — Laudato SI’, subtitled On Care for Our Common Home. In the case of my family’s religion, in the Book of Mormon as well as Doctrine and Covenants, God instructs his children to tread lightly upon the Earth, to be sure that we do not defile or pollute it, and to use the planet’s gifts sparingly and conscientiously..."

Photo credit: "The salt flats of the Alvord Desert in Oregon are near the Steens Mountains." Richard_Hicks/Flickr


Climate Change is Sapping Your Strength. Turns out carbon pollution may be robbing crops of protein and iron, according to Nexus Media: "We already know how prolonged drought, high heat and heavy rains prompted by climate change can wreak havoc on agriculture. But there is more disturbing news. If we do nothing, growing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide from emissions will seriously impair the nutritional value of wheat, rice and other staple crops, putting millions of people around the world in danger of protein deficiency, according to new research published in the journal in Environmental Health Perspectives. “These findings are surprising,” said Samuel S. Myers, senior research scientist in the department of environmental health at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who authored the study..."

File image: Pexels.

We're Underestimating How Many Diseases Are Likely To Be Sensitive to Climate. A story at Project Earth made me do a double-take: "The fear of climate change-driven, super-powered infectious diseases is real. As the recent viral (haha) New York magazine story on climate change doomsday scenarios articulated:
There are now, trapped in Arctic ice, diseases that have not circulated in the air for millions of years — in some cases, since before humans were around to encounter them. Which means our immune systems would have no idea how to fight back when those prehistoric plagues emerge from the ice.
Prehistoric plagues are worrisome enough, but what about your present day infectious diseases? What about Zika and Malaria? The prognosis is also grim: For every degree of temperature increase mosquitoes reproduce ten times faster. According to the World Bank, by mid-century around half the world’s population could be exposed to Malaria-carrying mosquitoes..."

File photo: USDA.

Video Shows Global Warming in More Than 100 Countries. Visualizing data trends is always challenging, but this is particularly effective. Vox explains: "Lipponen, a researcher at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, used publicly available data from NASA to demonstrate the rising temperatures across the world. This isn’t the first time the story of global warming has been told with the help of a mesmerizing graphic. Last year, Brad Plumer wrote for Vox about a viral GIF created by climate scientist Ed Hawkins, and David Roberts wrote about a set of clever climate GIFs inspired by the one Hawkins made..."

What Happened Next to the Giant Larsen C Iceberg? Here's a clip from The Guardian: "...At 5,800 sq km it is one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, with its calving leaving the Larsen C ice shelf about 12% smaller in area and at its lowest known extent. “The really interesting thing is that it didn’t just break through in one clean shot, it formed a lace-network of cracks first and then we were all waiting on tenterhooks to see which one would be the final pathway,” said Dr Anna Hogg, an expert in satellite observations of glaciers at the University of Leeds and member of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling. Now scientists say the iceberg has spawned further lumps of ice..."

Image credit: "View of the A68 iceberg on the 30 July 2017, taken from a European Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite image." Photograph: A. Fleming, British Antarctic Survey.

Germans, Unlike Americans, More Worried About Climate Change Than War or Terror. Newsweek reports: "...According to the poll, conducted by Kantar Emnid Institute for the publisher Funke Mediengruppe, 71 percent of Germans said they were most personally worried by climate change. Potential future wars were named as the most worrying issue by 65 percent and terror attacks by 63 percent. In the U.S., Gallup regularly asks Americans for what they consider to be the most important problem. The surveys are not directly comparable as Gallup allows respondents to choose only one option, while the German poll allowed multiple answers. But on Gallup’s July survey just 3 percent of Americans named “Environment/pollution” as their top issue, putting it behind terrorism, jobs, unemployment, poor governance and others..."

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