Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Thursday Soaker - Comfortable Next 1-2 Weeks

84 F. high temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.
83 F. average high on August 2.
88 F. high on August 2, 2016.

August 3, 1896: A violent hailstorm destroys two thirds of the crops in Swift County.

Hints of Autumn Here While Pacific Northwest Bakes

My oldest son and his wife live in Seattle, a city that's staggeringly beautiful - when the sun is out. On a recent visit I managed to embarrass myself by asking a manager at their apartment why the A/C wasn't working on a particularly hot day. He looked at me like I had horns. "Sir, this is Seattle. We don't NEED air conditioning."

Until now. In 120 years of record-keeping the mercury at KSEA has only topped 100F on 3 days. Triple-digit heat is possible today, a problem for many, since only 1 in 3 locals have A/C.

While the Pacific Northwest bakes Minnesotans may reach for jackets & sweatshirts later today as a north wind keeps the mercury in the 50s & 60s, with over an inch of rain. Typical for early October. With the Dakotas suffering through debilitating drought, remind me not to whine about puddles, especially on a weekday.

Our break from summer heat lingers the next 1-2 weeks. Weekend temperatures may not climb out of the 60s up north with mainly PM instability showers.

I'll say it, because I know what you're thinking. Summer is FAR from over. Lot's of warmth left!

* 84-hour Future Radar animation: NOAA NAM and

7-Day Rainfall Outlook. It's a wet pattern (again) from Colorado's Front Range to the East Coast, with some 3-5" amounts possible over the next week from Denver to Tulsa to Panama City. 2-3" amounts may fall from central Minnesota into New England.

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..."

Downright Reasonable. Comfortable weather lingers into next week, although many will consider today unseasonably, unreasonably cool for early August. ECMWF forecast for KMSP: WeatherBell.

Real-Time Wildfires. Wondering why there's so much haze in the air? There's a good chance it's smoke from fires in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada being pushed east by prevailing winds aloft. Map courtesy of NOAA.

Slight Severe Risk Today. Portions of the Midwest may experience large hail, damaging winds and even a few tornadoes later today - the greatest risk from the Quad Cities and Madison to Chicago and Peoria, according to NOAA SPC.

Thursday Flash Flood Threat. The best chance of thunderstorms dropping rains in excess of flash flood criteria today will come from Santa Fe to Amarillo - another enhanced risk area from the Florida Panhandle to Savannah and Charleston.

Day 3-7 Weather Threats. NOAA CPC has a detailed summary of potentially problematic weather starting on Saturday: "...A cold front is forecast to stretch from the Northeast to the Carolinas to the Southern Plains at the start of the period. Multiple low-pressure systems are forecast to develop along the western end of the front and move toward the Mid-Atlantic throughout the early half of next week. A slow moving low-pressure system is forecast over the Gulf of Alaska. During week-2, active weather is likely from the Southern Plains to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, as well as some potential for active weather in the Pacific Northwest and southern Alaska.

  • Heavy rain across portions of the Northeast, Sat, Aug 5.
  • Heavy rain across portions of the Central Plains, the Middle Mississippi Valley, the Lower Mississippi Valley, and the Southern Plains, Sun, Aug 6.
  • Heavy rain across portions of the Central and Southern Rockies, Tue, Aug 8.
  • Heavy rain across portions of the Mid-Atlantic, the Central Appalachians, and the Northeast, Mon-Tue, Aug 7-Aug 8.
  • Heavy rain across portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley the Southern Plains, the Middle Mississippi Valley, Mon-Tue, Aug 7-Aug 8.
  • Heavy rain across portions of the Southeast, Tue, Aug 8.
  • Much above normal temperatures across portions of the Pacific Northwest, the Northern Rockies, and the Northern Great Basin, Sat-Sun, Aug 5-Aug 6.
  • Much above normal temperatures across portions of the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Rockies, Mon-Tue, Aug 7-Aug 9.
  • Flooding occurring or imminent across portions of the Middle Mississippi Valley, the Great Lakes, and the Upper Mississippi Valley.
  • Heavy rain across portions of the Central Plains, the Middle Mississippi Valley, the Lower Mississippi Valley, and the Southern Plains, Thu-Sat, Aug 10-Aug 12.
  • Heavy rain across portions of mainland Alaska, Tue, Aug 8.
  • Slight risk of much above normal temperatures for portions of California, the Central Great Basin, the Pacific Northwest, the Northern Rockies, and the Northern Great Basin, Thu-Sun, Aug 10-Aug 13.
  • Moderate risk of much above normal temperatures for portions of the Northern Great Basin, Thu-Sat, Aug 10-Aug 12.
  • Severe Drought across the Central Plains, the Northern Plains, Hawaii, the Middle Mississippi Valley, California, the Southern Plains, and the Southwest.

Mid August: Steamy Western 2/3rds of America. Only New England and the coastal Pacific Northwest will escape the heat roughly 2 weeks from now, as a hot ridge reestablishes itself over the Rockies and Plains. Peak heat may be behind us, but by all means don't write summer off just yet.

Wheat Prices Fall as Drought Worsens. Todd Hultman has an update at The Progressive Farmer; here's an excerpt: "Heading into August, we have had plenty to talk about in grains this year. But the king of price moves so far has been Minneapolis wheat, where drought in the northwestern Plains wreaked havoc with this year's spring wheat crops. The shorthand explanation is that drought caused spring wheat prices to go higher. That is true, but beware of a common trap that comes with that easy explanation. For producers and traders both, this year's spring wheat rally offers a good example of what to expect from prices in drought situations..."

Image credit: "This chart compares September Minneapolis wheat prices in 1988 and 2017 -- two years when drought was a serious problem in the northwestern Plains. In 1988, prices peaked long before drought conditions got better and the same appears to be happening in 2017." (Source: DTN ProphetX).

How To Escape the Cycle of Flood, Rebuilt, Repeat. Pay people enough to move to higher ground? Sounds like a pretty good idea. Here's an excerpt from Louisiana's "...And the issue the study cites -- properties that flood repeatedly -- is even more pertinent in Louisiana and locally. More than 30,000 “severe repetitive loss” properties have been insured through the federal program, according to FEMA data the environmental group obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The properties have flooded an average of five times, on average every two to three years, and are the most flood-prone homes in the program. Sixty percent of the homes are valued at less than $250,000. They represent 0.6 of the 5.1 million properties insured but account for a disproportionate 9.6 percent of all damages paid between 1978 and 2015, totaling $5.5 billion. Almost one out of every 10 of these properties received insurance payments that cumulatively exceeded the home’s value..."

Photo credit: "Grand Caillou Elementary School is surrounded by floodwater in September 2008 after Hurricane Ike. Repeat flooding forced the school to close and move to higher ground." The Courier and Daily Comet/File.

Navy Testing Small Robotic Drones to Monitor Hurricanes and Natural Disasters. A story at Daily Mail Online made me do a double-take: "The U.S. Navy is testing tiny robot drones that fly in swarms like cicadas to collect data. The CICADs - or 'close-in covert autonomous disposable aircrafts - are designed to be cheap enough that a bunch can be dropped simultaneously from the sky and even into storm conditions like hurricanes. The Naval Research Lab has been working on the technology in various ways since 2011, but the focus of this specific iteration - MK5 - is a shape that would allow them to be stackable..."

Photo credit: "The Naval Research Lab has been working on the technology in various ways since 2011, but the focus of this specific iteration - MK5 - is a shape that would allow them to be stackable."

Tesla Surprises With 310-Mile Range Model 3. Here's a clip from ThinkProgress: "...The car makes Tesla the leader in “price-per-mile of vehicle range.” In fact, nobody but Tesla sells a 300-mile range electric car, and Bloomberg’s Tom Randall calls it “a jaw-dropping new benchmark for cheap range in an electric car.” OK, “cheap range” may not be the perfect phrase for a car sold at these prices — but Tesla is really competing with the high-end of the mass market cars. “BMW and Mercedes should be concerned,” Bloomberg warns..."

Image credit: "The unexpectedly sleek and button-free dashboard of Tesla’s Model 3." CREDIT: Tesla.

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..."

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.

The Case of "The Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat" is Finally Being Investigated. To which we raise our collective hands and shout HALLELUJAH! Yahoo Finance reports: "These days, airlines get to decide how much legroom they give passengers. But a new court order is pressuring aviation officials to set a mandate for seat size.  On July 28, judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia called out the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), urging it to review what one judge called, “The Case of the incredible Shrinking Airline Seat.” The court order was actually inspired from a petition originally filed by Flyers Rights in 2015. In that document, the consumer advocacy group raised concerns over the safety of passengers if seats continued to decrease in size. They believe that passengers wouldn’t be able to swiftly vacate a plane in an emergency, because the cabin is so cramped with seats. The petition also points to health concerns, like deep vein thrombosis, which can occur if blood flow is restricted in the leg..."

Trump Wanted a Cheaper Air Force One. So the USAF is Buying a Bankrupt Russian Firm's Undelivered 747s. Defense One has the details: "...The 747s that will be transformed for Presidential transport were originally ordered in 2013 by Transaero, which was Russia’s second-largest airline until it went bankrupt in 2015. Boeing built two of the four jets in the order, but the airline never took ownership of them. Typically, an airline makes a 1 percent down payment when it orders a plane, then pays the balance in installments. Transaero did not fulfill its scheduled payments, according to an industry source..."

File photo credit: "Take-Off Runway 26 with Pdt Donald Trump on board." Thierry Bourgain.

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..."

TODAY: Cool, soaking rain, heavy at times. Winds: NE 10-15. High: 65 (50s up north)

THURSDAY NIGHT: Rain tapers to showers. Low: 55

FRIDAY: Cool, damp start, then slow clearing. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 75

SATURDAY: Some AM sun, few PM showers. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 57. High: 73

SUNDAY: Best chance of showers after lunch. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 58. High: 74

MONDAY: Plenty of sunshine, milder. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 57. High: 77

TUESDAY: Warm sun, late-day T-storms. Winds: SW 10-20. Wake-up: 62. High: 82

WEDNESDAY: Unsettled, leftover showers possible. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 60. High: 74

Climate Stories...

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..."

2017 Second Hottest Year to Date on Record (And It's Not The Sun). Dana Nuccitelli explains at The Guardian: "...For a long time one of the favorite climate denier myths involved claiming that we hadn’t seen any global surface warming since 1998. That myth has fallen by the wayside since 2014, 2015, and 2016 each broke the global surface temperature records previously set in 2010 and 2005 (which were also both hotter than 1998). Yet the myth persisted for years because 1998 was anomalously hot due to the monster El Niño event that year, which meant that global temperatures weren’t much hotter than 1998 until 2014 to today. Now the first six months of 2017 have been 0.3°C hotter than 1998, despite the former having no El Niño warming influence and the latter being amplified by a monster El Niño. In 1998, there was also more solar energy reaching Earth than there has been in 2017..."

Graph credit: "Total solar irradiance data (red) and linear trend (orange) since 1950 from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics Solar Irradiance Data Center at the University of Colorado." Illustration: Dana Nuccitelli.

Seas Rises, Trees Die. Climate Change Before Your Eyes. ABC News reports: "They're called "ghost forests" — dead trees along vast swaths of coastline invaded by rising seas, something scientists call one of the most visible markers of climate change. The process has occurred naturally for thousands of years, but it has accelerated in recent decades as polar ice melts and raises sea levels, scientists say, pushing salt water farther inland and killing trees in what used to be thriving freshwater plains. Efforts are underway worldwide to determine exactly how quickly the creation of ghost forests is increasing. But scientists agree the startling sight of dead trees in once-healthy areas is an easy-to-grasp example of the consequences of climate change. "I think ghost forests are the most obvious indicator of climate change anywhere on the Eastern coast of the U.S.," said Matthew Kirwan, a professor at Virginia Institute of Marine Science who is studying ghost forests in his state and Maryland. "It was dry, usable land 50 years ago; now it's marshes with dead stumps and dead trees..."

Photo credit: "In this July 16, 2017, photo, the sun rises on a "ghost forest" near the Savannah River in Port Wentworth, Ga. Rising sea levels are killing trees along vast swaths of the North American coast by inundating them in salt water. The dead trees in what used to be thriving freshwater coastal environments are called “ghost forests” by researchers. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton).

Here's Where Climate Change Could Generate Toxic Air Pollution. PBS NewsHour has the story; here's a clip: "Climate change could choke parts of the planet. Global shifts in temperature and precipitation can create pockets of two air pollutants — ozone and fine particulate matter — around populated areas, according to a study published Monday in Nature Climate Change. In a business-as-usual scenario, the consequence would be 60,000 extra deaths annually by 2030 and more than 250,000 deaths per year by 2100. The investigation offers a sense of what places could see the greatest benefit by curbing climate change..."

Map credit: "Estimates for mortality due to fine particulate matter in 2100. Orange and red shading indicate areas where mortality will increase by thousands or tens of thousands, respectively. Light blue and dark blue show where mortality will decrease by thousands or tens of thousands, respectively." Map by Silva RA et al., Nature Climate Change, 2017.

Mysterious Craters Blowing Out of Russia Could Mean Trouble For the Entire Planet. Again, what could possibly go wrong? Here's an excerpt from "In northern Siberia, rising temperatures are causing mysterious giant craters — and even more dire consequences could be in store, say climate scientists. The Russian province's long-frozen ground, called permafrost, is thawing, triggering massive changes to the region's landscape and ecology. It could even threaten human lives. "The last time we saw a permafrost melting was 130,000 years ago. It's a natural phenomenon because of changes in the earth's orbit," said professor of earth sciences at the University of Oxford, Dr. Gideon Henderson. "But what is definitely unprecedented is the rate of warming. The warming that happened 130,000 years ago happened over thousands of years … What we see happening now is warming over decades or a century..."

Photo credit: CNBC.

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