Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Thursday Soaker - Fleeting Touch of Fall - Second Hottest Year to Date

89 F. maximum temperature in the Twin Cities on Tuesday.
83 F. average high on August 1.
85 F. high on August 1, 2016.
August 2, 1831: Unseasonably cool air moves into Minnesota with light frost reported at Ft. Snelling.

What August? Cool, Rainy Correction by Thursday

"In the long dusks of summer we walked the suburban streets through scents of maple and cut grass, waiting for something to happen" wrote Steven Millhauser in "Dangerous Laughter".

August is a very good month to soak up a Minnesota summer: the risk of hail, tornadoes and flash flooding recedes. The worst of the heat is behind us, at least in theory. Days are still long, with enough humidity to beckon us to the lake.

I see a cool bias for Minnesota, Wisconsin and much of the central USA into mid-August - more free A/C on the way. Enjoy low 80s today because Thursday will feel more like early October, with highs in the 50s and low 60s. Models print out 1-2 inches of rain Thursday, with a few PM instability showers spilling into the weekend. Plan any outdoor activities for morning or midday Saturday & Sunday and you have a pretty good shot.

Drought continues to deepen from the Dakotas into Montana, affecting the price of wheat. August can bring rapid drying, but I don't see that for Minnesota.

Don't write off more 90s by late summer. Hey, the State Fair attracts hot fronts!

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).

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.

Cool Bias Into Mid-August. While much of America fries, Minnesota will experience a couple waves of Canadian air, with highs mostly in the 70s the next 1-2 weeks. Weekend weather may be a little cool for the pool or lake, but otherwise I suspect most of us won't mind the comfortable front much at all. Twin Cities ECMWF guidance: WeatherBell.

Hints of Early Autumn Upper Mississippi Valley by Thursday. NAM model guidance brings an almost fall-like storm system from the Dakotas into Minnesota and Wisconsin by Thursday, with daytime highs in the 50s to low 60s. Meanwhile heavy T-storms prowl the south from Dallas to Florida, while the Pacific Northwest remains warm and dry. 84-hour Future Radar: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.

84-Hour Rainfall Potential. Models print out a stripe of 1-2" rains across central and northern Minnesota into Wisconsin and the U.P. of Michigan; as much as 4-5" possible near Ocala and Jacksonville. But from the Bay area to Salt Lake City to Boise and Seattle dry weather prevails into at least Saturday.

Heating Up Again Mid-August. After a cool bias over the next 1-2 weeks for much of the central USA long-range GFS model guidance shows warmth seeping back into much of the USA by August 15, with the exception of New England, where unseasonably cool weather lingers mid-month. More 90s are likely from California to the Plains.

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 dailycomet.com: "...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.

HBO Hacked: Game of Thrones Data Leaked. You just don't want to mess with Jon Snow, do you? Here's an excerpt from Entertainment Weekly: "...HBO recently experienced a cyber incident, which resulted in the compromise of proprietary information,” the network confirmed in a statement. “We immediately began investigating the incident and are working with law enforcement and outside cybersecurity firms. Data protection is a top priority at HBO, and we take seriously our responsibility to protect the data we hold.”  Hackers claimed to have obtained 1.5 terabytes of data from the company. So far, an upcoming episode of Ballers and Room 104 have apparently been put online. There is also written material that’s allegedly from next week’s fourth episode of Game of Thrones. More is promised to be “coming soon...” 

Dog Flu Cases Reported in Several Minnesota Counties. Star Tribune has the latest: "A rash of fast-moving canine influenza across several eastern and central Minnesota counties has prompted the state Board of Animal Health to start tracking the spread of the virus. Dr. Courtney Wheeler, a veterinarian with the state board, said seven dogs had tested positive for the virus as of Friday in Crow Wing, Kandiyohi, Ramsey, Sherburne and Wright counties, and the number of infected dogs is growing. The board updates its website with information about new cases every time a dog tests positive for the flu..."

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..."

TODAY: Fading sun, still warm. Winds: N 5-10. High: 82

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, showers late. Low: 60

THURSDAY: Unseasonably cool, heavy rain likely. Winds: NE 10-15. High: 64

FRIDAY: Drier, mix of clouds and sun. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 56. High: 76

SATURDAY: Some early sun, few PM showers. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 57. High: 73

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, late PM shower. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 56. High: 77

MONDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 58. High: near 80

TUESDAY: Warm sunshine, feels good. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 61. High: 82

Climate Stories...

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 MSN.com: "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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