More October than May – Patterns Slow, Sluggish – Prone to Flooding Rains

65 F. maximum temperature yesterday at MSP.
73 F. average high on May 30.
79 F. high on May 30, 2016 in the Twin Cities.

May 30, 1998: A devastating line of storms hits east central Minnesota. 100 mph winds rip through Scott and Dakota County. Over 500 homes are damaged in Washington County. 15,000 trees are lost in the Twin Cities metro area, and 500,000 people lose power in Minneapolis.
May 30, 1985: A tornado hits Lakefield, and the Twin Cities report 67 mph winds.

Summer Is In No Particular Hurry This Year

Forgive me for I’ve overslept. I went to bed in late May and awoke in mid October. Man am I groggy.
So is the atmosphere over North America, it seems. Weather systems are slow and sluggish; the circulation creeping along in slow motion, as if powered by a handful of (drained) AAA batteries; fronts and storms more prone to getting “stuck”. Where have you heard that before?

The atmosphere is warming and capable of holding more water vapor, more fuel for storms. And if the weather is, in fact, slowing down, the potential for flooding goes up.

2016 brought 160 natural disasters across North America with 19 major floods in the USA; the most since records were started in 1980, according to reinsurance company Munich Re. At the rate we’re going 2017 may be just as wet.

Today brings back vibrant memories of Halloween with 50s and a cooling breeze. The sun shines bright on Wednesday, with a rare and wondrous warm front by late week. 80s on Friday! The ECMWF (Euro) keeps us cool and wet next weekend; NOAA models drier & milder.

Real summer heat? 10 days away, give or take a year.
Ditto. I know it looks like I’m unbearably lazy. “Paul keeps cutting and pasting the same blasted weather map into his blog!” It sure seems that way, but that’s because the weather is in a blocking/holding pattern, one that favors wet weather east of the Rockies. Unusually cool air spills out of Canada into the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes; more waves of showers and T-storms pushing across New England and the Mid Atlantic. East of Denver – when in doubt – just predict rain. Odds are you’ll be right. 84-hour NAM: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.

Cool Bias Continues. Just when I think we’re turning a corner into summer, up pops another corner. ECMWF guidance shows a brief warm-up by late week, followed by another cool, wet and windy weekend. NOAA models are milder and drier – let’s hope they verify. Twin Cities numbers: WeatherBell.

Slow Motion Warming Trend. My confidence level is low – I really shouldn’t even be showing you this, because the GFS model has been flip-flopping solutions in recent days. Yesterday it hinted at a warm ridge for the west coast and Pacific Northwest, now it shows a cold, stormy trough for Seattle and Vancouver with warmer than average temperatures east of the Rockies. Let’s see if the long-range forecast crystallizes a bit on Wednesday. Somehow I doubt it.

How Do the Chemicals in Sunscreen Protect our Skin From Damage? Experts agree that there is no such thing as a “safe level of exposure to the sun”. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting explainer at Scientific American: “…The majority of people apply between a quarter to a half of the recommended amounts, placing their skin at risk for sunburn and photodamage. In addition, sunscreen efficacy decreases in the water or with sweating. To help consumers, FDA now requires sunscreens labeled “water-resistant” or “very water-resistant” to last up to 40 minutes or 80 minutes, respectively, in the water, and the American Academy of Dermatology and other medical professional groups recommend reapplication immediately after any water sports. The general rule of thumb is to reapply about every two hours and certainly after water sports or sweating. To get high SPF values, multiple UVB UV filters are combined into a formulation based upon safety standards set by the FDA. However, the SPF doesn’t account for UVA protection…”

Pakistan’s Hottest Day Recorded in Turbat. 122F in the shade? Here’s an excerpt from The Express Tribune in Pakistan: “Citizens of Turbat sweltered through the hottest day recorded in Pakistan’s history, as the mercury shot up to 53.5°C on Sunday. The temperature equalled the one measured on May 27, 2010 in Mohenjo Daro which broke a 12-year record – 53°C in Larkana on May 31, 1998….”

Cyclone Mora: Bangladesh Tries to Evacuate One Million. A staggering number of people may be impacted, and much of Bangladesh is close to sea level and extremely vulnerable to storm surge and inland flooding. Here’s an update from BBC: “Bangladeshi authorities are trying to evacuate up to a million people before a powerful cyclone makes landfall. Cyclone Mora is likely to hit the eastern coast early on Tuesday, the meteorological department said. Port cities in the south-east have been asked to display the highest warning system known as “great danger level 10″. Ports further west are on level 8. The cyclone formed after heavy rains in Sri Lanka caused floods and landslides that killed at least 180 people. The worst flooding in 14 years on the island has affected the lives of more than half a million people. More than 100 people remain missing…”

Satellite imagery: CIMSS, University of Wisconsin – Madison.

How Rising Seas Drowned the Flood Insurance Program. Unless you have very deep pockets and an iron-reinforced stomach I’d avoid property within a few feet of sea level. The bubble bursts when people no longer have access to the flood insurance mandated by their mortgage bankers. Climate Central reports on a growing headaches for coastal residents: “…Today, the NFIP is effectively bankrupt. It owes the U.S. Treasury nearly $25 billion – money it borrowed from federal taxpayers to cover its obligations in Sandy, Katrina (2005), and Hurricane Ike (2008). No one expects that money to be repaid. Some coastal state lawmakers are even calling for Congress to write off the massive debt, contending it is the only way the troubled insurance program, which is up for reauthorization this year, can regain its financial footing. Wiping away the debt will help. But it is only a matter of time until the next big storm drains the coffers again. Even relatively weak hurricanes cause hundreds of millions in damage, while monster storms like Katrina and Sandy cause billions. Complicating matters, the NFIP has improbably subsidized thousands of risky properties along the coast – low-lying houses that flood over and over – by charging them below-market premiums to entice them to join the program. Now the federal flood program faces no less than an existential threat. As seas rise, coastal floodplains are expected to expand, exposing more property to routine flooding, surge, and waves. By some estimates, hundreds of thousands of U.S. houses could be underwater by century’s end and a trillion dollars worth of property at risk…”

Photo credit: “Aerial photo of damaged homes along New Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy.” Credit: Greg Thompson/USFWS/flickr

Looming Sunset of Flood Insurance Deal Stirs Angst in Florida, Congress. Because right now U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing federal flood insurance, making it more affordable to live along the coast. Here’s an excerpt from The Naples Daily News: “…Congress is considering dramatic changes to the NFIP, which has a $25 billion debt that its director says cannot be repaid. But disagreements remain over how much homeowners should be required to pay for flood insurance to make the program more solvent. The program, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has traditionally charged premiums at about 40 to 45 percent of their full cost, with taxpayers subsidizing the rest. If lawmakers can’t reach an agreement, a lapse in FEMA’s legal authority to write new policies could disrupt real estate sales in flood-prone areas around the country…”

Miami file photo: Lynne Sladky, AP.
Remembering the Great St. Louis Tornado of 1896. NOAA NCEI takes us back to May 27, 1896: “…In less than half an hour, the tornado carved a three-mile-wide path of destruction across St. Louis. It would most likely be rated as an EF4 today, with winds estimated between 168 and 199 mph. While it was just one of nearly 40 tornadoes to touch down in the central and southern parts of the country between May 15 and May 28, the Great St. Louis Tornado of 1896 still remains the third deadliest tornado in the United States. This single tornado is estimated to have killed at least 255 people and injured another thousand. According to the May 29, 1896, edition of the Chicago Tribune (link is external), “In all probability the exact number of those whose lives were crushed out by falling walls or who met their fate under the waters of the raging Mississippi will never be known...”

Photo credit: NOAA Photo Library. “When it was dedicated in 1874, the Eads Bridge in St. Louis was the first to be constructed of true steel and was touted as being “tornado-proof.” For two decades, the bridge had resisted several storms and floods, bolstering its indestructible reputation. But, on May 27, 1896, a fearsome tornado wreaked havoc across St. Louis that not even the mighty bridge could completely withstand.”
Weather Service Staff Shortages Have Led to Burnout Among Employees. Here’s an excerpt of a post at Government Executive: “Officials at the Government Accountability Office reported this week that an extensive hiring backlog at the National Weather Service has led to burnout among meteorologists at the agency, who are frequently shifting schedules and working overtime. NWS plays a vital role in tracking weather across the country, frequently sending out warnings and advisory alerts to Americans when severe storms are imminent. But the agency, which is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the Commerce Department, has suffered from an acute hiring backlog stemming back to sequestration in 2013. According to a GAO report released Wednesday, as the sequester took effect, NOAA implemented an agency-wide hiring freeze, during which time NWS saw some attrition in its ranks...”
Lyme Isn’t the Only Disease Ticks Are Spreading This Summer. After reading a post at WIRED.com I’m tempted to wear a space suit during my next nature hike: “…Scientists like Armstrong estimate that POW is only prevalent in about 4 percent of deer ticks, way lower than the 30 to 40 percent prevalence of Lyme disease. But here’s the thing. Lyme disease, which is caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium, takes about 48 hours to transmit; if you find a tick on your body and remove it within a day or two, you can usually escape a Lyme infection. POW, on the other hand, goes from the tick’s body, through its saliva, and into your bloodstream within a few minutes of a bite. So even though it’s not in many ticks, if the right one gets you, there’s not much you can do. The most public health officials can do is recommend wearing long sleeves and pants when hiking, and using repellents on your skin, gear and clothing...”
Work Hard – But Keep Your Expectations Low. We put such pressures on ourselves, when the author of a story at Quartz argues we should try and stay neutral – accepting of any outcome: “…The pressure to succeed—or to define success conventionally—can be subverted with neutrality. Things can go just so or totally awry once you understand that all things are fine, their upsides and downsides to be determined. According to the Tao Te Ching, gain is loss and loss is gain. Successes create pressures that are unpleasant and even big failures can be instructive, thus are fundamental to success. That perspective provides resilience, the ability to keep going instead of getting stuck imaging how things could or should be or will be when things go some other way...”

 

Florida’s Siesta Beach – Best Public Beach in the USA? The Washington Post reports: “Everyone has their own Memorial Day tradition — grilling or boating or visiting monuments honoring our country’s fallen soldiers. For Dr. Beach, the official start of summer means the release of his annual list of the Top 10 Beaches in America. A win is the Nobel Prize in sand. This year’s laureate: Siesta Beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast. “Powder white sand so soft and so white — almost 100 percent pure quartz crystal! Water is emerald green, clean and clear,” Stephen “Dr. Beach” Leatherman wrote of his No. 1 pick. “Very safe beach that is hundreds of yards wide, perfect for families.” Since 1991, the Florida International University professor has compiled the best sandcastle-building and wave-riding spots in the nation...”

Photo credit: “Siesta Beach on Siesta Key, off the coast of Sarasota, Fla., snags the No. 1 spot on Dr. Beach’s annual Top 10.” (Chris O’Meara/AP).
* Dr. Beach’s Top 10 Beach List is here.

TODAY: Mostly cloudy, few showers and sprinkles. Winds: NW 10-20. High: near 60

TUESDAY NIGHT: Partial clearing. Low: 47

WEDNESDAY: Ring the church bells! Bright sunshine. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 71

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, more humid. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 55. High: 78

FRIDAY: Some sun, sticky. T-storm late. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 62. High: 82

SATURDAY: Cooler, showers and T-storms. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 58. High: 66

SUNDAY: Cool with clouds and showers. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 53. High: 59

MONDAY: Intervals of sun, getting better. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 48. High: 64

Climate Stories…

Climate Change is Killing New England’s Moose. Can Hunters Save Them? A story at InsideClimate News explains a strange paradox: “…The moose mortality crisis, however, might contain its own solution. Eventually, so many moose will die that there won’t be enough to spread so many ticks. The cycle, in theory, will break. But how long that takes, and whether the moose population will ever be able to recover, is what Rines and her colleagues are grappling with. “The question then becomes, do you push the population down to certain levels purposely,” she said, “or do you just let ticks kill them off, in what amounts to a terrible death?” In short, should hunters be permitted to speed up the process? The dilemma points to a question facing wildlife managers and conservationists throughout the world. Global warming is altering climatic conditions faster than many animals and plants can adapt…”

Photo credit: “New Hampshire’s moose population is on the decline as warmer temperatures allow ticks to flourish later into the winter.” Credit: Peter Pekins/University of New Hampshire.

What Happens If The U.S. Withdraws From the Paris Climate Change Agreement. CBS News reports: “…Scientists said it would worsen an already bad problem and make it far more difficult to prevent crossing a dangerous global temperature threshold. Calculations suggest it could result in emissions of up to 3 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide in the air a year. When it adds up year after year, scientists said that is enough to melt ice sheets faster, raise seas higher and trigger more extreme weather.  “If we lag, the noose tightens,” said Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Climatic Change...”
100 Practical Ways to Reverse Climate Change. I picked up a copy of the book – it’s a worthy read and it underscores the truth: we don’t need a miracle energy source. We already have the technology to keep the lights and world economies powered up without fossil fuels. It will be a transition, but one we have to make to avoid a worst case scenario. Here’s an excerpt from National Geographic: “At a time when the science of global warming is under attack and many people complain of climate change fatigue, some cheering news occurred last month: A book about climate change became a New York Times bestseller in its first week of publication. Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by environmentalist Paul Hawken, is the first environmental book to make such a splashy debut since Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe in 2006. Kolbert’s book warned of cataclysm; Hawken’s tries to prevent it…”

Photo credit: “Buildings with green roofs, like this one in Stuttgart, Germany, don’t use as much energy as standard buildings and emit fewer greenhouse gasses.” Photo by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel, National Geographic Creative.
Fossil Fuel Associations Scramble to Quit Kids Climate Lawsuit Before Discovery Deadline. Keep an eye on this suit; details via EcoWatch: “In an unusual procedural move, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers filed motions Thursday requesting the court’s permission to withdraw from the Juliana v. US climate lawsuit, brought by 21 young people. The associations are following the lead of the National Association of Manufacturers, who filed a similar motion to withdraw on May 22. Now, all three trade association intervenor defendants have filed motions to withdraw from the case, evading last night’s discovery deadline. These motions are especially unusual after numerous legal efforts have tried to get a federal court in Oregon to throw out the lawsuit. For any defendant to leave the litigation, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin must grant permission…”

Photo credit: “Banner created by Alliance for Climate Education.”

What the U.S. Could Learn From the Dutch on Climate Change. We’re already taking advantage of their sea walls and levee technology as seas continue to rise and nuisance flooding increases. But there are other lessons, according to MIT Technology Review: “Earlier this month, the Netherlands completed one of the largest offshore wind farms in the world, as an accelerating wind boom finally helps the country make real progress on its renewable energy goals. The 600-megawatt Gemini wind park, operating 150 turbines in the North Sea, will serve some 1.5 million citizens. Several other major offshore wind farms are under development as well, which will collectively push total wind capacity to nearly 4.5 gigawatts by 2023 (see “The Wind Fuels the North Sea’s Next Energy Boom”). “As a country we were heavily dependent on fossil fuels, and our way to renewables has been bumpy,” Sharon Dijksma, the nation’s minister for the environment, told MIT Technology Review this week. “So this government decided that we needed to step up the pace…”

Photo credit: “The Gemini wind farm includes 150 turbines in the North Sea.”