Perfect Midsummer Day – Implications of a Major Tornado Hitting a Major U.S. City?

86 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.
83 F. average high on July 22.
88 F. high on July 22, 2013.

July 22, 1987: Greatest deluge ever in Twin Cities begins with 10 inches in six hours at the Twin City airport.

A Slippery 7-Day

Why do most TV stations put the weather segment near the end of the news? Why is the 7-Day Outlook the last element of weather presentations? Because that’s what people want to see. Broadcasters want you to stay tuned (and enjoy a few more commercials!)

The forecast, especially the long-range forecast, is always changing, which can be incredibly frustrating for everyone involved. What looked like a nice weekend on Monday can turn into a rainy mess by Thursday. How is that even possible?

Computer models update 4 times a day, based on the latest raw data: airport observations, weather balloons and satellite imagery from around the world. As new, high-octane fuel arrives the models adjust, and the forecast often shifts.

Much like a stock price changes based on earnings projections, competition and new breakthroughs, so does the weather forecast, with the greatest swings from Day 4-7. Today’s 7-Day accuracy is comparable to a 3-4 Day forecast 20 years ago. Not great, but gradually improving.

A comfortable Wednesday (dew points in the 50s) gives rise to more T-storms by Thursday; a few more T-storms decorate the Doppler by Sunday. Saturday should be the drier, warmer, more lake-worthy day.

Another transfusion of cooler, Canadian air arrives next week. More free A/C!


Damage Reports. Thanks to WeatherNation and KARE-11 for photographic evidence of the severe storms that ripped across northern and central Minnesota Monday night, producing estimated wind gusts as high as 70-80 mph. Tree damage was significant in McGregor and the Pelican Lake area, with numerous reports of mangled docks and capsized boats around Perham, Minnesota.

* The National Weather Service has a complete list of Monday night’s weather-related damage.


Comfortable Wednesday – Weekend Warm Front. Not a hot front this time, nothing like Monday, but 80s return by the weekend before cooling back down into the 70s next week. Dew points in the upper 40s and low 50s today give rise to sticky 60s by Saturday; then another hint of September by the middle of next week.


60-Hour Accumulated Rainfall. NOAA’s WRF model prints out some rain for the Pacific Northwest, which may ease the wildfire threat by the end of the week. A weak tropical disturbance keeps most of the showers and T-storms off the Carolina coast; potential flooding from persistent T-storms from New Mexico to near Little Rock. Animation: HAMweather.



Can Typhoon Matmo Impact Our Weather? New research shows a possible link between typhoons and hurricanes reaching a northern latitude, and subsequent amplification of ridges and low pressure troughs thousands of miles downwind. There’s a good chance the typhoon pushing into southern China may help to pull another surge of cool air into Minnesota next week; that’s the subject of today’s Climate Matters: “New research shows that when a hurricane or typhoon reaches above a specific latitude, it can throw the jet stream out of whack. What does it mean? WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over the new data and what it might mean for the lower 48. Also, why has the Atlantic hurricane season been relatively quiet?


Matmo Strikes Taiwan as Category 2 Storm. Here is an image of Typhoon Matmo as it approached Taiwan Tuesday, the eye of the storm coming ashore well south of Taipei. Image courtesy of Central Weather Bureau.


Nature’s Roadblock to Hurricane Prediction. Yes, there are more variables in play than we thought, according to this fascinating story from UCAR; here’s the intro: “The quiet Atlantic hurricane season of 2013 came as a surprise to many, as seasonal forecasts had consistently predicted an unusually large crop of named storms. A new study by scientists at NCAR and North-West University (South Africa) finds that internal variability—processes that unfold without being dictated by larger-scale features—can make one season twice as active as another, even when El Niño and other large-scale hurricane-shaping elements are unchanged. The results suggest that seasonal hurricane forecasts could be improved by conveying the amount of unavoidable uncertainty in the outlook…”

Image credit above: “Hurricane Mitch, the strongest storm observed in 1998, is the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record. Mitch caused more than 10,000 deaths, mainly due to torrential rainfall across Central America.” (Wikimedia Commons/NOAA satellite image.)


What If A Tornado Hit A Major U.S. City? Statistically it’s probably inevitable. There will be a public outcry; Congress will get in on the righteous indignation. “How could this happen? Why weren’t we warned?” You were warned, you just thought you were safe living in a big city. Wrong answer. A large tornado, drawing in heat and moisture from a 5-10 mile radius, doesn’t care about asphalt, concrete and a few high-rise buildings – a tornado is a process, not an object, and downtowns are not immune. Here’s an excerpt of an important story at USA TODAY: “A single violent tornado could cause as much as $20 billion in property damage — and countless casualties and deaths — if it hit a big city such as downtown Chicago, according to a report released Tuesday by Swiss Re, a global reinsurance company. “This would be the most severe tornado damage in U.S. history,” according to the report, which is titled U.S. Tornadoes: An Examination of the Past to Prepare for the Future…”

Image credit above: “The track of 2013′s EF5 tornado in Moore, Okla., is overlaid on ZIP codes in Cook County, Ill.” (Photo: Swiss Re).


Could Lightning Spur Headaches and Migraines? If sudden jumps in pressure can spark pain in arthritis sufferers, it isn’t much of a stretch to imagine that lightning might have some impact (beyond the obvious). Here’s a clip from Lifelong Health: “Lightning is associated with an increased risk of headaches and migraines, a new study suggests. This finding could help chronic sufferers better predict the likelihood of a headache or migraine and begin preventive treatment, the University of Cincinnati researchers said. The study found that chronic sufferers had a 31 percent greater risk of headache and a 28 percent increased risk of migraine on days when lightning struck within 25 miles of their homes. It did not, however, prove a cause-and-effect relationship between lightning and headaches…”


New Radar Improves Severe Storm Coverage. What is dual-polarization radar and why should you care? It’s another significant upgrade to Doppler radar technology, producing a flood of new data that can help us better isolated everything from precipitation types to the most dangerous supercell thunderstorms. Here’s an excerpt of a good summary at TVNewsCheck.com: “…The transition to dual polarization has produced logarithmic growth in the [weather forecasting] data, not just linear growth,” says Ardell Hill, president of broadcast operations at Baron Services, which served as a subcontractor on the NWS project. L3 Communications was the prime contractor. With the dual-pol data, TV meteorologists can do things they couldn’t do before — distinguish among rain, snow and hail in a storm; analyze wind shear to determine where a tornado may appear and how it may move; determine the size and shape of rain drops that helps in predicting flash flooding; and “see” the tornadic debris signature that says that a funnel cloud has actually touched down...”


How Will National Weather Service Radar Upgrades Boosting Warning Time of Tornadoes, Save Lives? AccuWeather.com has an interesting story detailing recent Doppler radar software upgrades at 132 out of 160 Doppler sites around the USA. Doppler provides a 3-D volumetric scan of the surrounding atmosphere, sampling 14 different levels. But as meteorologist Jesse Ferrell explains new software allows NWS forecasters to scan the lowest levels of the atmosphere with greater frequency, which should help with situational awareness and faster, more accurate storm warnings. Here’s a clip: “…Automated Volume Scan Evaluation and Termination (AVSET) and Supplemental Adaptive Intra-Volume Low-Level Scan (SAILS) are the two methods in which procedures were altered to make for a more productive use of limited time. Using SAILS, the radars will scan low levels twice for optimal viewing of storms during severe weather. Even though adding an additional look, the update interval will drop making for more accurate forecasts…”


Science Brings Clarity to Shifting Shores. How vulnerable is your favorite beach? Barrier islands aren’t static constructs; they are constantly shifting and evolving over time, in our spite of our best efforts to pave them over. Here’s an excerpt of a story highlighting a new tool from EPA: “…To help ensure safe and resilient coasts, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has created an online tool that allows anyone to interactively “see” past, present and future hazards. This tool — the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal — can aid in decisions that involve emergency preparedness, ecosystem restoration, and where and how to develop coastal areas. The tool runs on web browsers, tablets, and smartphones, and is designed for a wide-range of audiences, from federal and state agencies to non-governmental organizations, public entities, and private citizens


The Tech Utopia Nobody Wants: Why The World Nerds Are Creating Will Be Awful. Mmm. Mmm. Nothing better than soylent (green?) Forget George Orwell’s 1984 – what will the world look like when computers, apps and AI can do many or most of the jobs people are getting paid for today? Here’s a clip of an Op-Ed at The Guardian that caught my eye: “…This conflict – between consumers of technology and the geeks who pull us forward into uncharted sociocultural territory – is starting to become more pointed. We trained ourselves to value Facebook’s “open society” without privacy; we accepted the furtive mobile phone check as appropriate punctuation for a face-to-face conversation; we even put up with 3D cinema for a time. But this is too much. Now the blowback has arrived. The first signs of the emerging tech utopia we were always told about don’t look so great if you can’t code…”


These Are The Best (And Worst) Places in America To Raise Kids. For 30 years I’ve been telling friends and family out east that Minnesota is a great place to raise kids, and this story (and research) seems to confirm that. Huffington Post has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…The report looked at four indicators — economic well-being, education, health and family and community — in order to glean a ranking of the best overall states for children. Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa ranked the highest, while Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico were once again among the lowest. A map from the report (above) shows that states in the southern portion of the country fared worse than states farther north…”

Map credit: The Annie E. Casey Foundation.


In Event of Moon Disaster. This is chilling, the speech that President Nixon would have read had Apollo 11 astronauts become stranded on the moon. Here’s an excerpt from Letters of Note: “On July 18 of 1969, as the world waited anxiously for Apollo 11 to land safely on the surface of the Moon, speechwriter William Safire imagined the worst case scenario as he expertly wrote the following sombre memo to President Nixon‘s Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman. Its contents: a contingency plan, in the form of a speech to be read out by Nixon should astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become stranded on the Moon, never to return, followed by some brief instructions relating to its broadcast. Luckily for all those involved, the memo was never needed…” (Image: NASA).


Great Moments in Science (If Twitter Had Existed). I needed a laugh, and found this article from Dean Burnett at The Guardian to be funny and illuminating, in a snarky way. Has snark always been with us? Probably, now we just have better/faster ways to transmit our mock outrage. Here’s the intro: “Twitter is the source of a great deal of modern news, and scientists are often encouraged to tweet about their research. So what if Twitter had been around during the times of historic scientific breakthroughs and discoveries?


The Fasinating….Frustrating…Fascinating History of Autocorrect. Wired has a terrific story about Autocorrect; how we curse it (but need it) in this new, mobile, instant-gratification world; here’s an excerpt: “..Invoke the word autocorrect and most people will think immediately of its hiccups—the sort of hysterical, impossible errors one finds collected on sites like Damn You Autocorrect. But despite the inadvertent hilarity, the real marvel of our mobile text-correction systems is how astoundingly good they are. It’s not too much of an exaggeration to call autocorrect the overlooked underwriter of our era of mobile prolixity…”

Image credit above: David Sparshott.


For The Minnesotan Who Has Everything: A Robotic Snow-Blower? It’s up on Kickstarter and can be yours for a cool $1,800. It’s not totally automated, but (in theory) you can clear snow off your driveway while standing in your pajamas staring out the front window. Hmm. Here’s an excerpt from Gizmag: “…The small team has developed a remote-controlled snowblower dubbed the SnowBYTE. Unlike many other household robot cleaners, which go about their business autonomously, the SnowBYTE is a semi-autonomous design that requires the user to control its movements. Still, it does clear the snow from your driveway and/or sidewalk without you having to so much as look at the shovel in your garage…”



TODAY: Blue sky, low humidity, beautiful. Dew point: 51. Winds: NE 8. HIgh: 79
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and comfortable. Low: 60 (50s in the outlying suburbs).
THURSDAY: Clouds increase, PM T-storms likely. High: 79
FRIDAY: Partly sunny and warmer. Wake-up: 64. High: 82
SATURDAY: Hazy sun, lake-worthy. Dew point: 63 Wake-up: 66. High: 87
SUNDAY: Sunny start, PM thunder risk. Wake-up: 67. High: 81
MONDAY: Mix of clouds & sun, less humid. Wake-up: 60. High: 77
TUESDAY: Summer on hold again. Comfortable, clouds slowly build. Wake-up: 57. High: 76


Climate Stories….

Study: PBS NewsHour Airs Four Times More Climate Coverage than ABC World News. Here’s an excerpt from a recap of on-air coverage of climate science and trends at Media Matters: “A Media Matters study found that most network nightly news programs this year are on track to offer no more coverage of global warming than they did in 2013. However, PBS NewsHour remains a notable exception, covering climate change more than any other network and interviewing the largest number of scientists on the topic. During the first six months of 2014, PBS NewsHour produced more news that featured climate change than any other major network evening broadcast, continuing a trend that Media Matters identified in both 2012 and 2013. The program aired 28 stories that at least mentioned global warming, nearly as much as all coverage combined from ABC World News, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News during the same period, and four times the amount of coverage from ABC World News alone…”


I Crashed a Climate Change Denial Conference in Las Vegas. Brendan Montague has a long, morbidly fascinating article about the time he just spent in Las Vegas with climate science deniers and the alternative universe they inhabit; here’s the introduction to his story at Vice: “I’ve been researching the climate denial industry for almost three years and the best way to gather information about this incredibly small yet influential clique is to hang out with them. I attended their 2012 conference of the Heartland Institute, an oil and tobacco funded free market think tank that spends a lot of time and effort trying to call bullshit on what is clearly not bullshit – the science of climate change. My presence was clearly unwelcome – but I guess they forgot to scrub me from their email invitation list, because I got invited again this year, to their 9th International Conference on Climate Change in the deep heat of the Nevada desert amid the chaos of Las Vegas casinos...”


Mapping Climate Communication. Ecolabs Blog has an information-rich PDF that describes the progression of climate change communication since 1960 – worth a look. Check out the source of much of the climate disinformation dollars: Donor’s Trust.


Republicans Google “Climate Change” During Extreme Weather: Study. NBC News has the research findings and article; here’s a snippet: “…When Lang broke down the search data by political party and level of education, the findings were intriguing. Republicans and people from less-educated areas searched for climate-change-related terms during extreme temperatures, whereas Democrats and people from well-educated areas Googled these terms during changes in average temperatures.”


National Conversation on Climate Change Has Shifted; Just Look at Latest Calls for Action. Here’s an excerpt from Huffington Post: “…Seven Montana veterans cited similar themes when they framed climate action as form of patriotism. Writing in the Ravalli Republic last week, they said it was Americans’ shared duty to keep our nation safe and to reduce pollution that causes climate change. That same current runs through most calls for action: a desire to shield people from harm. Whether it is the four EPA administrators who served under Presidents Bush and Reagan or the Evangelical minister from Pennsylvania’s coal country, Americans from all walks of life recognize the need to protect our communities from the hazards of climate change…”


Humans Accepting Climate Change vs. Jell-O: The Coastal Effect. A recent New Zealand paper suggests that people living near the (rising) oceans are more likely to accept the science than people living well away from the coast. Minnesota science writer Greg Laden explains at scienceblogs.com: “…So, where does the bowl of Jell-O fit in to all of this? A recent study, in PLOS One, examines attitudes about climate change in relation to distance from the sea. The study takes place in New Zealand, but references other studies that look at similar things elsewhere. The bottom line is this: The farther a human lives from the sea, the less likely the human is to accept the reality of climate change science. Putting this another way, the father a bowl of Jell-O is from that which may poke it, the less poked it is, and thus, the less it develops, learns, evolves, gets smart...” (File image: Andrew Demp, Yale).


Deep Decarbonization: Truly Facing The Climate Challenge. Limiting the temperature increase to less than 2C above preindustrial times seems increasingly difficult, considering the level of (global) political inertia, argues Jonathan Koomey, a Ph.D. at Stanford. Here’s an excerpt of his report at Climate Science Watch: “…What the Deep Carbonization report finds should not be surprising to serious students of the climate problem, and it’s consonant with what leading analysts have known about this issue since the late 1980s. The report concludes that

  • Allowing business-as-usual emissions trends to continue endangers the future orderly development of human civilization in the 21st century.
  • Achieving a low emissions world and fostering sustainable development go hand in hand.
  • Meeting the 2 C degree warming limit will require drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the next few decades, but few countries have analyzed the implications of such reductions for their economies, and few politicians have fully understood those implications…”

Climate Change Is Far From The Only Cause Of A Rapid Rise in Disasters. It’s a big component, but land use, population and demographic trends are also increasing our vulnerability to disasters around the world. Here’s an excerpt of a story at The Guardian: “…Since 1970, the global population has nearly doubled. Cities have expanded fast, and populations have aged, leaving more people vulnerable to heatwaves. Many of those fastest developing cities are coastal, meaning that more people, infrastructure, and buildings are vulnerable to the flooding caused by storm surges or hurricanes, and enhanced by sea level rise. Even if not on the coast, cities have sprawled onto floodplains, where the poorest find shelter in flimsy buildings. There is simply more stuff, more people and more money in harm’s way than there was 40 years ago. Looked at globally, our exposure and vulnerability have increased markedly…”

Photo credit above: “The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, the most expensive disaster in recent history according to the UN.” Photograph: Larry W Smith/EPA.


“After Water”: How Do You Sleep At Night? How do climate scientists cope? Can you stay scientifically detached, yet optimistic about your kid’s future in an uncertain future? Here’s an excerpt of a story and audio clip from Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ: “…There’s research that backs up Derby’s worry. It shows that if you tell people about a possibly terrible future and you do not give them any sense of hope, they shut down. Scientists worry about that because they want people to act on the research. Morano said almost everyone she spoke to was optimistic technologically and pessimistic politically. “Over and over again people said, we can fix this. But we’re not doing it. And there’s no indication we will.” said Morano. One of the reasons for that political pessimism is because of how we think about time…” (Image credit: NASA).

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Breathing Easier by Midweek. June: Warmest on Record, Worldwide

92 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
76 F. peak dew point yesterday at 5:53 PM
84 F. average high on July 21.
81 F. high on July 21, 2013.

July 21, 1972: A significant downpour occurs over a portion of Minnesota, with 10.84 inches of rain in 24 hours at Ft Ripley. 14 inches of rain fell at a farm in Morrison County.

Pool-worthy

I stare at maps, data and statistics until I’m blue in the face, but sometimes a simple, off the cuff anecdote is best at summing up a very strange state of affairs.

Lou works down the hall and yesterday he was shaking his head. “I just took my first dip in my pool on Sunday” he sighed. “My grandkids have already been in, but this is the latest I’ve ever used the pool.” Yes, it’s been a bit cool to use the pool.

By the way that’s the definition of an optimist: a Minnesotan with a pool (or a convertible).
We’ve seen glimpses, flashes of summer, but no prolonged heat waves to speak of. During a typical summer (ha!) MSP picks up 14 days at or above 90F. Yesterday was only our second day above 90F so far in 2014.

The strongest storms rumbled north of MSP; there’s a slight chance of thunder early today, before a northerly breeze pumps more tolerable air into Minnesota. Dew points reach the 50s by Wednesday, when we’ll all be breathing easier.

More T-storms bubble up Thursday night into Friday, and although I can’t promise a thunder-free weekend, there should be enough sun for low 80s.

Another vortex of unusually cool air sets up over the Great Lakes next week, when highs dip into the 70s.

Hunch: maybe we’ll have half a summer?


Cooling Down by Midweek. After Monday’s sauna-like dew points in the mid 70s a north to northwest breeze blows drier, cooler, more comfortable air into town later today and tomorrow. In fact a 20 degree drop in dew point by tomorrow means half as much water vapor in the air than yesterday. Another warm frontal passage sparks scattered showers and T-showers Thursday and Friday; low 80s by the weekend. Meteogram: Weatherspark.


60-Hour Rainfall Amounts. NOAA’s 4 km WRF model shows the severe storms that roared across central and nothern Minnesota overnight, along with 2-3″ rainfall amounts. A tropical disturbance enhances rainfall amounts for the Carolinas; potential flooding from the Texas Panhandle into the Mississippi Valley. Loop: HAMweather.


June 2014: Warmest On Record, Worldwide. This follows a record warm May (with little or no influence from a predicted El Nino, at least not yet). Here’s an excerpt from NOAA NCDC: “The combined average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces for June 2014 was record high for the month, at 0.72°C (1.30°F) above the 20th century average. This surpasses the previous record, set in June 1998, by 0.03°C (0.05°F). Nine of the ten warmest Junes on record have occurred during the 21st century, including each of the past five years. June 2014 also marks the second consecutive month with record high global temperatures. With the exception of February (21st warmest), every month to date in 2014 has ranked among the four warmest for its respective month. Additionally, June 2014 marked the 38th consecutive June and 352nd consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average global temperature for June was June 1976 and the last below-average global temperature for any month was February 1985…”

* more on record June warmth worldwide and unusually warm ocean water temperatures from Climate Central.


Warmest June, Worldwide, Since Records Started in 1880. This, in spite of La Nada, an absence of El Nino warming in the Pacific. Coming after the warmest May on record, worldwide. That’s the subject of today’s Climate Matters: “NOAA’s National Climactic Data Center stats have come in for the month of June. For the 352nd month in a row, temperatures were above the 20th century average. 9 of the 10 warmest Junes have taken place since 2000 and the oceans are at their warmest since the 1880s. With the warming oceans, what does this mean for the El Niño forecast for this winter?


El Nino 2014: Coming Later and Weaker? Although warming of the equatorial Pacific is still underway, the strong westerly push of wind that would bring all that warm water to the surface is lacking, and the prospect of a (major) El Nino seems to be diminishing later this year – which may reduce the probability of soaking rains for California and the western USA. Here’s a summary of ENSO trends from NOAA NCEP.


Largest Oregon Wildfire is 4 Times The Size of Portland. KGW.com has an update; here’s an excerpt: “…But the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center said Monday that more lightning with the potential to start more wildfires is in the forecast for northern central Oregon. The largest wildfire burning in Oregon, the Buzzard Complex 45 miles northeast of Burns, reached almost 396,000 acres early Monday morning, roughly four times the area of the Portland city limits…” (AP photo above).


Massive Washington Wildfire Only 2% Contained. Mynorthwest.com has an update and video on the massive fire underway in central Washington State; here’s an excerpt: “The largest wildfire burning in central Washington is over four times larger than the size of Seattle and it’s only two percent contained. The Carlton Complex Fire in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is 237,890 acres or 371 square miles. It has destroyed at least 100 homes and one person has died while trying to protect his home from the flames. Chelan County Emergency Management says Highway 20 is closed between Twisp and Okanogan…”


Science Brings Clarity to Shifting Shores. How vulnerable is your favorite beach? Barrier islands aren’t static constructs; they are constantly shifting and evolving over time, in our spite of our best efforts to pave them over. Here’s an excerpt of a story highlighting a new tool from EPA: “…To help ensure safe and resilient coasts, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has created an online tool that allows anyone to interactively “see” past, present and future hazards. This tool — the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal — can aid in decisions that involve emergency preparedness, ecosystem restoration, and where and how to develop coastal areas. The tool runs on web browsers, tablets, and smartphones, and is designed for a wide-range of audiences, from federal and state agencies to non-governmental organizations, public entities, and private citizens…”


How A Sudden Flood of Oil Money Has Transformed North Dakota. InsideClimate News has the long and fascinating story of what’s happening just to our west. A gusher of cash, but is it sustainable, and ultimately good for the state? here’s a clip: “…Oil development has transformed this state to the point where it’s hard to find a place or person that hasn’t been touched by the boom. Energy companies have drilled more than 8,000 wells into western North Dakota’s rugged prairie since the beginning of 2010, quadrupling the state’s oil production. From July 2011 through June 2013, the state collected $4 billion in oil taxes, and is expecting a $1 billion surplus for the current biennium, not including an oil-funded sovereign wealth fund that will approach a balance of $3 billion. North Dakota is in the uncommon position of facing a labor shortage, spurring a state-run campaign to attract workers, paid for in part by Hess Corp…”

Photo credit above: “In what was once a quiet agricultural region of North Dakota, trucks now clog the roads and hundreds of flares burn off nearly a third of the gas produced by the wells.” Credit: Nicholas Kusnetz/Center for Public Integrity.


“World’s Largest” Hybrid Renewable Energy Project Unveiled in Jamaica. A combination of solar and wind, in a place that has plenty of both. Makes sense, and soon, dollars and cents. Here’s an excerpt from Gizmag: “Generating renewable electricity at home or in commercial buildings is becoming increasingly viable. WindStream Technologies has installed what it says is the world’s largest wind-solar hybrid array on an office roof in Kingston, Jamaica. The array is expected to generate over 106,000kWh annually...


America’s Airlines Are The World’s Most Profitable And Least Comfortable. Well this comes as a complete shock. Yes, I will pay/fly extra if you promise not to torture me in the air for 2-4 hours. If trends continue we’ll all be hanging upside down (like bats) and fed peanuts with a slingshot within 5 years. Here’s an excerpt from Quartz: “…The poor American performance should be no surprise to the airlines themselves. There’s been a deliberate effort in recent years, especially by American carriers, to make life on an airplane as miserable as possible. The strategy of cultivating loyalty by offering free upgrades has been replaced by one that charges customers for the privilege of comfort. The passenger who gets stuck sitting between a screaming baby and a sick person is more likely to pay extra to take refuge in an aisle, an exit row or a new seating category such as “economy plus” or “comfort economy…” 

Photo credit above: “Don’t even think about it.” Reuters/Tobias Schwarz.


Should Travelers Avoid Flying Airlines That Have Had Crashes In The Past? What is perception vs. reality looking at the statistics? Nate Silver has an interesting analysis at FiveThirtyEight; here’s a clip: “…Our preliminary answer, then, is that an airline’s track record tells you something about its probability of future crashes — although not a lot, and only if looked at in the right way. In particular, you should look toward an airline’s rate of dangerous incidents of any kind rather than its number of fatalities or fatal accidents. These near-misses are more consistent from period to period — and could result in a deadly crash the next time around. But there’s a better rule to follow. If you’re insistent on minimizing your crash risk, you should avoid airlines from developing countries…”

Graphic Credit: Flight Safety Foundation, FiveThirtyEight.


Best Apps To Prevent Travel Disasters. In light of the recent Malaysian Airlines tragedy in the Ukraine and rising instability around the world Huffington Post takes a deep dive with international situational awareness, including an app called “Smart Traveler”. Here’s an excerpt: “…Be the savviest world traveler with this mobile app from the U.S. Department of State, which rounds up official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, U.S. embassy locations, and more. Check your destination for updated safety and security alerts or access a list of embassies should you need help recovering a lost or stolen passport. You can access the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which can help your family and friends reach you in the event of an emergency, such as civil unrest in a foreign country. Best of all, the app features a great airport time-waster: Simply shake your device and get official information about a random country…”


Didn’t Read Facebook’s Fine Print? Here’s Exactly What It Says. Like the part about no (zero) privacy? It’s all about snooping around, trying to target ads. Here’s a clip from Huffington Post that made me take 3 steps away from my laptop: “…While some users may not mind being shown targeted ads to help them pick out a new TV, this example brushes over the full scope of items being marketed to you based on your data. For instance, according to a report from the Center for Digital Democracy, financial service companies have taken to Facebook for “data mining, targeting, and influencing consumers and their networks of friends,” and some companies are developing “new leads for their loan and refinance offers” based on users’ Facebook behavior…”


Meet The Online Tracking Device That Is Virtually Impossible to Block. Well here’s a spot of good news. Careful with those Google searches. Mashable and ProPublica have the story; here’s the intro: “A new, extremely persistent type of online tracking is shadowing visitors to thousands of top websites, from WhiteHouse.gov to YouPorn.com. First documented in a forthcoming paper by researchers at Princeton University and KU Leuven University in Belgium, this type of tracking, called canvas fingerprinting, works by instructing the visitor’s Web browser to draw a hidden image. Because each computer draws the image slightly differently, the images can be used to assign each user’s device a number that uniquely identifies it...”

Image credit above: David Sleight, ProPublica.


The Most Terrifying Thought Experiment of All Time. Worried about AI and the coming “Singularity”? I’m just trying to get through the week, but a lot of uber-intelligent techno-geeks are worried about the coming super (SUPER!) computers, and whether they will be a force for good or evil. Does just thinking about them increase their inevitability? Limitless computer power in the hands of a few billionaires and global conglomerates – what can possibly go wrong? Here’s an excerpt of a brain-teaser from Slate: “…If you believe the singularity is coming and that very powerful AIs are in our future, one obvious question is whether those AIs will be benevolent or malicious. Yudkowsky’s foundation, the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, has the explicit goal of steering the future toward “friendly AI.” For him, and for many LessWrong posters, this issue is of paramount importance, easily trumping the environment and politics. To them, the singularity brings about the machine equivalent of God itself…” (Image credit: Forbes).


In Event of Moon Disaster. This is chilling, the speech that President Nixon would have read had Apollo 11 astronauts become stranded on the moon. Here’s an excerpt from Letters of Note: “On July 18 of 1969, as the world waited anxiously for Apollo 11 to land safely on the surface of the Moon, speechwriter William Safire imagined the worst case scenario as he expertly wrote the following sombre memo to President Nixon‘s Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman. Its contents: a contingency plan, in the form of a speech to be read out by Nixon should astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become stranded on the Moon, never to return, followed by some brief instructions relating to its broadcast. Luckily for all those involved, the memo was never needed…” (Image: NASA).


Forget Speed, What’s the “Most Beautiful/Relaxing” Way to Get Across Town? I thought this nugget at gizmag.com was interesting. We’re all in a mad rush, but what if you could plot out the most aesthetically pleasing way to get from Point A to Point B? Here’s a clip: “Sometimes it’s preferable to take the scenic route to a destination rather than the shortest. It’s not an option available on online maps, but a new concept has shown that it could be. Yahoo researchers, in collaboration with the University of Turin, have found a way to quantify the beauty of different places and use the data to give directions. The research, headed up by Daniele Quercia at Yahoo Labs, sought to find a way to suggest routes that are emotionally pleasing. In addition to providing routes that are beautiful, it can provide routes that are quiet or that evoke happiness…”


Finally, Cake From a Spray Can! Here’s another remarkable example of American ingenuity; courtesy of The Boston Globe: “…McCallum wondered if he could borrow the technology from the whipped cream can and create a similar delivery mechanism for cake batter, in which an accelerant releases air bubbles inside the batter, allowing the cake to rise without the need for baking soda and baking powder. To his surprise, it worked…”


TODAY: Slight chance of early thunder, then clearing – still sticky. Dew point: 71. Winds: NW 15+ High: 86
TUESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, a bit less humid. Low: 63
WEDNESDAY: Comfortable sunshine. Dew point: 57. High: 80
THURSDAY: Sun fades, clouds increase, late night storms? Wake-up: 61. High: 79
FRIDAY: More numerous T-storms. Dew point: 60. Wake-up: 63. High: 78
SATURDAY: Partly sunny, isolated T-storm possible. Wake-up: 62. High: near 80
SUNDAY: More sun, lake-worthy. Dew point: 61. Wake-up: 63. High: 83
MONDAY: Sunny start, PM clouds, T-shower. Wake-up: 64. High: 82


Climate Stories….

Climate Change Is Far From The Only Cause Of A Rapid Rise in Disasters. It’s a big component, but land use, population and demographic trends are also increasing our vulnerability to disasters around the world. Here’s an excerpt of a story at The Guardian: “…Since 1970, the global population has nearly doubled. Cities have expanded fast, and populations have aged, leaving more people vulnerable to heatwaves. Many of those fastest developing cities are coastal, meaning that more people, infrastructure, and buildings are vulnerable to the flooding caused by storm surges or hurricanes, and enhanced by sea level rise. Even if not on the coast, cities have sprawled onto floodplains, where the poorest find shelter in flimsy buildings. There is simply more stuff, more people and more money in harm’s way than there was 40 years ago. Looked at globally, our exposure and vulnerability have increased markedly…”

Photo credit above: “The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, the most expensive disaster in recent history according to the UN.” Photograph: Larry W Smith/EPA.


Conservative Groups Spend Up To $1 Billion a Year To Fight Action on Climate Change. Well there’s a nice, big round number. Details and the original study courtesy of The Guardian; here’s a clip: “Conservative groups may have spent up to $1bn a year on the effort to deny science and oppose action on climate change, according to the first extensive study into the anatomy of the anti-climate effort. The anti-climate effort has been largely underwritten by conservative billionaires, often working through secretive funding networks. They have displaced corporations as the prime supporters of 91 think tanks, advocacy groups and industry associations which have worked to block action on climate change. Such financial support has hardened conservative opposition to climate policy, ultimately dooming any chances of action from Congress to cut greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet, the study found…”

Photo credit above: “A coal fired plant.” Photograph: John Giles/PA.


Explaining Global Warming in Less Than a Minute. It’s amazing how some grad students aren’t even aware of the basic physics of why increased greenhouse gases are trapping more warmth in the lower atmosphere. The Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley has a very good explanation that you might want to borrow; here’s a clip: “Earth transforms sunlight’s visible light energy into infrared light energy, which leaves Earth slowly because it is absorbed by greenhouse gases. When people produce greenhouse gases, energy leaves Earth even more slowly – raising Earth’s temperature. And that, in an ultra-brief nutshell, is how global warming works. This 35-word description can be a powerful tool in helping people understand the science behind global warming and climate change, said GSE Professor Michael Ranney, a cognitive psychologist. Global climate change seems urgent, given that it was just announced that November was the 345th straight month with temperatures above the 20th-century average…”


Climate Models Accurately Predicted Global Warming When Reflecting Natural Ocean Cycles. Has a perpetual La Nina cooling event in recent years and unusually strong trade winds masked some of the warming? When a complete look at atmospheric and oceanic trends are examined the much-hyped “pause” in warming doesn’t hold water. The Guardian reports; here’s a clip: “…The results of these studies give us two important pieces of information:

  1. When they reflect the actual changes in ocean cycles, climate models are quite accurate even in their short-term temperature predictions.
  2. The short-term slowdown in the warming of global surface temperatures is likely predominantly due to these ocean cycles.

The second point is supported by many recent studies finding that unprecedentedly strong Pacific trade winds have been churning the ocean and funneling more heat to the deeper layers, leaving less to warm the surface. All signs point to this being a temporary change, and once the oceans begin to switch back to more frequent El Niño conditions, we expect to see less efficient ocean heat absorption leading to accelerated warming of global surface temperatures…”

Image credit above: “Data from ocean-observing satellite Jason 2. Shades of red and orange indicate where the water is warmer and above normal sea level.” Credits: JPL/NASA.


“After Water”: How Do You Sleep At Night? How do climate scientists cope? Can you stay scientifically detached, yet optimistic about your kid’s future in an uncertain future? Here’s an excerpt of a story and audio clip from Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ: “…There’s research that backs up Derby’s worry. It shows that if you tell people about a possibly terrible future and you do not give them any sense of hope, they shut down. Scientists worry about that because they want people to act on the research. Morano said almost everyone she spoke to was optimistic technologically and pessimistic politically. “Over and over again people said, we can fix this. But we’re not doing it. And there’s no indication we will.” said Morano. One of the reasons for that political pessimism is because of how we think about time…” (Image credit: NASA).


Boston May Need Canals to Combat Climate Change. Will coastal cities have to rob Peter to pay Paul, allowing some neighborhoods to drown while protecting others? WGBH-TV in Boston takes a look at how the city is preparing for rising seas, and more frequent storm surge flooding; here’s a clip: “…The association is preparing to release a report suggesting the city should consider making room for the encroaching water with canals or lagoons. “There’s two big gnarly questions: One is – ‘What parts of the city are going to be allowed to flood, and what parts are we going to invest in to prevent flooding?’” Wormser said. “The other question is, ‘How do we pay for it?’” Boston may not be able to protect everything it wants, she said…”


Climate Change Already Having Profound Impact on Lakes In Europe. National Geographic’s News Watch has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…Not only are extreme weather events such as droughts and intense rainstorms becoming more common, climate warming is leading to increased algal growth and more frequent toxic algal blooms. It also affects the entire aquatic food web, including the number, size and distribution of freshwater fish species, according to the latest research. New evidence from studies in Europe shows that a warming climate, in particular, is already having a profound impact on lakes, according to Dr. Erik Jeppesen at Aarhus University in Denmark. As I have noted in earlier posts, this is an important issue because other studies show that lake temperatures are on the rise throughout the world…”

Photo credit above: “Lake Maggiore in Italy is an example of a lake already feeling the effects of climate change. In the 1990s, the population of coldwater fish species such as trout and whitefish declined dramatically.” Photo Credit: mbdortmund, Wikimedia Commons.


The Predictions of This Model Kills My Love of Models. The author of the paper looking at the impacts of climate change and warming (more acidic) oceans on marine life posted this article at Deep Sea News; here’s an excerpt: “…The premise of model is simple.  What happens to the total amount of deep-sea life under climate change?  If you took all the critters in the deep oceans and weighed them (we call this total biomass) the weight would be 110,000,000,000 kg (242,508,488,403 pounds).  This is the equivalent of 8,661,017 big yellow school buses, 18 times the number of them in the U.S. right now. The model of Jones and colleagues predicts that by 2100 that amount will reduced by 5.2% under continued climate change. That is a loss of life greater than the weight of 45,000 of those big school buses…”

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Jungles of Minnesota: Severe Heat, then Severe T-storms

Excessive Heat Warning posted for the Twin Cities today.

Moderate Risk of severe thunderstorms over much of Minnesota by this evening/tonight.

87 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
84 F. average high on July 20.
82 F. high on July 20, 2013.

July 20 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: MPX NWS:

2002: Dew points reached 84 degrees at Madison, Morris, and Olivia. This ties the all- time highest dew points seen by the State Climatology Office for Minnesota.

1934: Temperature topped out at 113 at Milan.

Heat Spike – MCS Risk

“Wow, I sure am enjoying this 100-degree heat index!” said no one, ever. Today will be a test: jungle-like heat and humidity, followed by an outbreak of potentially violent storms by tonight. Yes, something for everyone. And a far cry from last Monday, when a swirl of Canadian air had us reaching for sweatshirts and fiddling with our furnaces.

The good news, this instant-on heat wave lasts 1 day. Highs in the mid-90s, coupled with a drippy dew point rising into the upper 70s, will make it feel like 100-105F by late afternoon. The urban heat island adds a few more degrees, and there’s now an Excessive Heat Warning for the 7-country metro area.

The atmosphere becomes explosively unstable by late afternoon; a ripple of low pressure approaching from the Dakotas sparks a possible MCS by evening: a meso-convective system, which is a particularly intense, fast-moving squall line capable of 70-85 mph wind gusts.

NOAA SPC has elevated the risk to “moderate” across much of Minnesota. It may be tough getting much sleep tonight with all the crashing & banging. I could see power outages, so have flashlights & candles ready to go.

Relief arrives midweek as dew points drop into the 50s.

But today? Stay hydrated and keep an eye on the northwest sky.

* graphic above: Twin Cities National Weather Service.



WRF: 10 PM Tonight. NOAA’s high-resolution, 4 km WRF model shows a possible MCS or derecho pushing out of the Red River Valley into northern and central Minnesota early tonight, the bow-echo appearance suggestive of strong, even violent straight-line winds impacting the Brainerd and Alexandria lakes area, as well as Little Falls, Duluth. and possibly St. Cloud and the Twin Cities. The risk of wind damage appears greatest north of MSP. Map: HAMweather.


MCS Potential. NOAA’s 4 km WRF model shows a possible meso-convective system flaring up later today and tonight, pushing from the eastern Dakotas across Minnesota with potentially violent wind gusts and frequent lightning overnight. The strongest winds may pass just north of MSP, but it looks like a close call. Future radar: NOAA and HAMweather.


Moderate Risk = Strong Chance of Violent T-storms. NOAA SPC has much of Minnesota under a “moderate” threat of severe storms later today and tonight, with the greatest risk coming from straight-line wind gusts with a possible MCS or even a derecho. A 45% probability means a nearly 50-50 chance of severe weather within 25 miles of any city in the purple-shaded area, including St. Cloud, Brainerd and the Twin Cities.



Flash Flood Risk. NOAA WPC shows a slight chance of training T-storms with rainfall rates high enough to spark potential flash flooding from near Fargo, Little Falls and Brainerd to Duluth and the North Shore.


Excessive Heat Warning Twin Cities Metro – Heat Advisory for Greater Minnesota. The urban heat island will add at least 4-6F worth of additional heat later today, making it feel like 100-105. Here’s an update from the Twin Cities National Weather Service:

...DANGEROUSLY HOT AND HUMID CONDITIONS EXPECTED LATE MONDAY
MORNING THROUGH MONDAY EVENING...

AN EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR THE TWIN CITIES
METROPOLITAN AREA...WITH A HEAT ADVISORY IN EFFECT ACROSS THE
REST OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MINNESOTA AND FAR WESTERN
WISCONSIN...FROM LATE MONDAY MORNING THROUGH MONDAY EVENING. HIGH
TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED TO REACH THE LOWER 90S. THIS COMBINED
WITH OPPRESSIVE DEW POINTS IN THE MIDDLE TO UPPER 70S WILL RESULT
IN HEAT INDICES RANGING FROM 100 TO 110 DEGREES. THE WARMEST
CONDITIONS WILL BE FOUND IN THE MINNESOTA RIVER VALLEY.

...EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 11 AM TO 9 PM
CDT MONDAY...

* TEMPERATURES...HIGHS IN THE LOWER 90S WITH HEAT INDICES AROUND
  105 DEGREES.

* IMPACTS...GIVEN THE COOL SUMMER THUS FAR...THESE CONDITIONS MAY
  LEAD TO A HEIGHTENED RISK OF HEAT RELATED STRESS AND
  ILLNESS... ESPECIALLY FOR THE YOUNG AND ELDERLY...AND THOSE
  WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING.

More Big Swings in Temperature and Dew Point. Long-range guidance shows dew points in the mid 70s later today, about as sticky as it ever gets. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an 80F dew point somewhere between the Twin Cities, the Quad Cities and Madison by this evening. Extreme low-level moisture and instability fuels strong to severe storms tonight, followed by a puff of cooler, more comfortable Canadian air by midweek. T-storms may form along a warm front Friday; Saturday the more tolerable day of the weekend for outdoor plans. Not sure I’m buying 60s and rain for next Sunday (yet) but you’ve been warned.


A Super-Strong El NIno Is Now Off The Table. Here’s What That Means. Meteorologist Eric Holthaus takes a look at the dwindling prospects for a major El NIno warming event in the Pacific at Slate; here’s an excerpt: “…New data released Thursday by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society—a climate forecasting partnership between Columbia University and NOAA—shows that while ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific are still above normal, the atmospheric response has so far been sluggish. After an impressive ramp up earlier this year, that means the coming El Niño is increasingly likely to fall a bit flat…”


Northwest Wildfires: Situation Worsens With Five New “Large, Uncontained” Fires. Oregon Live has an update; here’s the introduction: “A dozen new wildfires have started in Oregon and six have started in Washington over the past 24 hours — covering more than 68,000 acres. That adds to an already fierce wildfire season in the Northwest, with 25 large, uncontained fires, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. The number of fires classified as “large” has increased by five since yesterday…”

Photo credit above: “Waterman Complex wildfire at Ochoco Pass.” Credit: InciWeb.


Wildfire Risk Increasing Every Year. Canada is experiencing the same trends as the western USA; here’s an excerpt from News1130 in Vancouver: “The total area affected by wildfires in British Columbia has been on an upward trend for years. While the numbers of hectares burned by wildfires goes up and down by the season, the 10-year average has been rising since 1991 according to government stats...”

File photo above: DNR.


Hopeful Signs for Hurricane Season. The Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida has an interesting article focused on hurricane potential. The combination of Saharan dust, more wind shear than usual and cooler ocean water temperatures may put a brake on tropical formation in the coming weeks. Then again, all it takes is one. Here’s an excerpt: “So far, it’s looking good for Florida as the heart of the hurricane season approaches. Consider:

• Abnormally strong bursts of Saharan dust are drifting over the Atlantic — and may subdue the tropics like they did last year, experts say.
• The tropical Atlantic is cooler than normal for the moment, making it harder for storms to bulk up…”


Wedding Goes On Despite Wildfire Raging Nearby. A few weeks ago it was a tornado, now it’s wildfires burning across the Pacific Northwest. Gannett’s NWCN.com has the story; here’s a clip: “Brides often worry if it’s going to rain on their wedding day, but Jennifer Faulkner never thought to worry about the power going out and a major wildfire raging just outside her wedding venue. “You have to roll with it, right? There’s no reason to waste your time turning into bridezilla,” she said with a chuckle…”



TODAY: Excessive Heat warning, severe storms possible by evening. Winds: S 10-15. Dew point: 77. High: 93 (heat index: 100-105).
MONDAY NIGHT: Tropical humidity levels with T-storms, some severe (especially north of MSP). Low: 75
TUESDAY: Unsettled, isolated T-storm possible. Dew point: 71. High: 86
WEDNESDAY: Sunny, breathing easier. Dew point: 57. Wake-up: 64. High: 81
THURSDAY: Less sun, few storms south/west. Wake-up: 61. High: near 80
FRIDAY: Sticky, few more T-storms. Dew point: 66. Wake-up: 63. High: 80
SATURDAY: The nicer day of the weekend; T-storms up north. Wake-up: 67. High: 83
SUNDAY: Early sun, PM showers, T-showers. Wake-up: 63. High: 73


Climate Stories….

The Carbon Taxes We’re Already Paying. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Los Angeles Times that caught my eye yesterday. We’re already paying a tax, we just don’t realize it yet. Here’s a clip: “…The fact is that American taxpayers are paying for the costs of climate change now. These costs don’t hit us all at once but sporadically, in different places and at different times. They don’t feel like a carbon tax, though they amount to one. Every time we use fossil fuels, we increase our tax burden, a burden that unfolds like a sequence of trap doors, just like climate change itself. The costs of recovering from climate-change signposts like Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Katrina and major drought are well documented. What’s less known are the costs — the trap doors — that have normally been accounted for in some ledger other than atmospheric chaos…”


Climate Change Broke Temperature Records in 2013. Inquisitr.com has a good summary of the state of the scientific consensus around global trends; here’s an excerpt: “The Inquisitr has reported on climate change many times in the past, speculating about the long term effects of global warming. Rumors of its damaging effects range from the extinction of redheads to the vulnerability of the military. While it’s still uncertain what will happen to the planet in the long run, few experts deny the existence of climate change or humanity’s influence on it. Some are still skeptical, of course, but NASA reports that 97 percent of scientists agree on global warming and cites a long list of scientific organizations that support the theory of climate change..”


Former Treasury Secretary Paulson Calls Climate Change “Biggest Risk of Our Time”. Paulson explains that it’s not just an environmental risk, but an ongoing and accelerating business risk. Here’s an excerpt of some recent comments in an interview at Oregon Live: “…If you include this into your business decision-making framework, there will be important investments you make which increase our resilience and ability to adapt to the changes that are coming. There will be important decisions you make geared toward replacing old technologies with newer, cleaner, more efficient technologies. Investors, in my judgment, really need to insist on getting full disclosures and really need to understand the risks on certain investments. They need to understand the associated carbon emissions. They need to understand risks around stranded assets…” (File photo: NASA).


Guest Opinion: If You Eat You Care About Climate Change. Here’s a clip of an Op-Ed from a farmer in Utah at Provo’s Daily Herald: “…You don’t have to be a climate change expert to understand severe weather. Why should you care? It’s pretty simple. If you drink milk or eat beef, you depend on alfalfa growers like me, because cows and cattle eat what we grow. We have been getting hit hard, and I think it is important for people in other parts of the country to understand how. Most of us here in the West are struggling through the worst drought in a century. It’s hotter, too. When crops are hit with extreme heat, they don’t grow as fast...”


Commentary: A Local Climate Change Laboratory. The author of this Op-Ed talks about the challenges facing Texas, from drought and sea level rise; not enough water – too much water (where it’s not wanted). Here are a few excerpts at The Indiana Gazette that made my head spin: “…Numbers indicate the competing interests: Due to the current drought, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 240 of Texas’ 254 counties as “primary natural disaster areas.” And the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reports that at least 48 cities are within 180 days of water exhaustion…And while fracking in the Eagle Ford shale has been an enormous boon to the economy of south Texas, it requires enormous amounts of water, somewhere between 2 million and 8 million gallons per well...” (File photo: Earthworks).


Well-Estimated Global Warming by Climate Models. Here’s another report that confirms the much-advertised “warming pause” is a myth; it’s critical to include the influences of ENSO on global trends, the El Nino – La Nina oscillation in the Pacific. Here’s an excerpt from Shaping Tomorrow’s World: “Has global warming “stopped”? Do models “over-predict” warming? There has been much recent talk in the media about those two questions. The answer to the first question is a fairly clear “no.” Global warming continues unabated. To illustrate, for the coverage-bias-corrected data published by Cowtan and Way last year, the temperature trend for the last 15 years up to and including 2013 is significant—in the same way that the trend was significant for the last 15 years in 2000 and in 1990. So from any of those vantage points, the Earth has warmed significantly during the preceding 15 years...”


An Anglosphere Climate Skeptic Bias? The chart above highlights the ongoing climate denial campaign in the USA, Britain and Australia. The Chinese have little doubt about what’s going on, which I find breathtakingly ironic, since they are now admitting the majority of global greenhouse gases. Graphic source: Global Trends Survey.

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Dangerous Levels of Heat and Humidity by Monday

79 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.
84 F. average high on July 19.
86 F. high on July 19, 2013.

July 19 in Minnesota Weather History:

1951: Tornado hits Minneapolis and Richfield killing five.

1909: 10.75 inches of rain fell in 24 hours at Beaulieu in Mahnomen County. This record would stand for over 50 years. Bagley received an estimated 10 inches.

Monday Hot Front

The weather has always been extreme. The notion of “average weather” is a statistical pipe-dream; it rarely happens in real life.

But tracking daily weather over the last 40 years I’ve noticed an increase in the frequency and intensity of weather extremes, not just here at home, but worldwide. Insurance companies and the Department of Defense are tracking these same trends; an apparent spike in instability, volatility and weather-whiplash.

Here’s another example: factoring in dew points in the mid-70s and temperatures in mid-90s tomorrow’s heat index could reach 100-105F. An Excessive Heat Watch is posted. That’s one week, to the day, after a miniature vortex of October-like air had Minnesotans reaching for jackets & sweatshirts. From wind chill to heat index in 7 days; a 60 degree jump in apparent “feels-like” temperature? That’s highly unusual for mid-summer.

Expect more sun (and heat) today, the warm-up act for Monday’s scorcher. T-storms Monday night and Tuesday may turn severe; the best chance of hail and damaging winds up north. We cool off by midweek before another warm surge sparks T-storms next Friday.

Tomorrow? A subtle (yet blunt) reminder that summer heat usually peaks in mid-July.


...DANGEROUS COMBINATION OF HEAT AND HUMIDITY POSSIBLE ACROSS THE
TWIN CITIES METRO MONDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING...

AN EXCESSIVE HEAT WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR MONDAY AFTERNOON AND
EVENING FOR THE TWIN CITIES METROPOLITAN AREA. HIGH TEMPERATURES
ARE EXPECTED TO REACH THE LOWER 90S MONDAY AFTERNOON. THIS
COMBINED WITH DEW POINTS IN THE MIDDLE 70S WILL RESULT IN HEAT
INDICES REACHING 105 DEGREES. IN ADDITION...IT WILL REMAIN QUITE
WARM MONDAY NIGHT WITH LOWS IN THE MIDDLE 70S.

Monday: 4 PM Predicted Temperatures. NOAA’s NAM model predicts highs in the mid-90s in the Twin Cities metro, some upper 90s possible over far west central Minnesota. 100-degree heat is possible from South Dakota across much of the Great Plains. Graphic: HAMweather.


Monday Dew Points. What takes Monday into “Heat Watch” territory is the combination of heat and humidity. NOAA NAM dew point forecasts show readings in the mid to upper 70s. That should make for a heat index in the 100-105F range by mid and late afternoon, increasing the potential for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Graphic: Weather Bell.


Monday Severe Risk. An MCS (meso-convective) system may bubble up along the leading edge of broiling, tropical air late Monday and Monday night, pushing across central and northern Minnesota, where the severe risk may be greatest Monday night into Tuesday. A few strong T-storms may brush the Twin Cities early Tuesday, but Little Falls, Brainerd and Duluth stand a better chance of hail and damaging winds. Map: NOAA SPC and HAMweather.


One Uber-Uncomfortable Day, Then Relief. Monday will be a poignant reminder of just how hot (and humid) it can get at this northerly latitude, but after a close call with strong to severe storms Tuesday winds swing around to the north/northeast, pushing much more comfortable air into town by midweek; dew points dropping into the 40s. Another warm front sparks T-storms Friday; right now next Saturday appears to be the better lake day with a small risk of T-storms. A week from Sunday? Don’t ask. Meteogram: Weatherspark.


Don’t Count on Another Dry July and August in Minnesota. For the record I agree – the pattern looks drier than June, but that isn’t saying much; I still expect above normal rainfall amounts into much of August. No “flash drought” this summer. Here’s an excerpt from The Star Tribune: “The past three summers have suggested a new weather adage for Minnesota: “In late July, the land gets dry.” Wet springs and early summers have given way to drought anxieties by State Fair time for the past three years. But in 2014, the wettest June on record statewide may have overpowered the budding trend. There’s simply too much water around — in saturated soils and wetlands, in brimful lakes and streams, in the very air itself — to break the rainy cycle, said University of Minnesota Extension meteorologist Mark Seeley…”

Photo credit above: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune. “Jeff Eagon, of Blaine, and his dog Zeus negotiated a waterlogged patch of ground near Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis last week.”


Record Cool Spell for Mid-July. There was no confirmed frost up north Wednesday morning, but we came very close. Dr. Mark Seeley highlights some of this past week’s weather oddities, specifically the record cool spell that swept southward out of Canada Monday into Wednesday. Here’s a highlight of this week’s Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…The cold air took residence for about 48 hours and brought new record cold mean daily temperatures (average of the maximum and minimum values for the day) to many communities on Tuesday, July 15th. Some of these records include: 55 F at Pipestone; 57 F at Windom; 58 F at Waseca and Grand Meadow; 59 F at Zumbrota, Austin, and Winnebago; and 60 F at Rochester. Finally, clear skies, high pressure, and calm winds brought some record minimum temperature values on Wednesday morning to northern and western parts of Minnesota. Some of the new records included; 35 F at Brimson; 38 F at Hibbing (tied 2007); 39 F at International Falls, Silver Bay, Crane Lake, Eveleth, and Orr; 45 F at Wheaton; and 46 F at Marshall and Worthington…”


2014 Wildfire Season Worse Than Usual Across the West. Here’s an update from The Christian Science Monitor: “…As of the weekend, there were 32 large active fires, most of those in the Pacific Northwest (18 in Oregon, four in Washington). So far this year, firefighters have had to deal with 30,151 blazes covering a total of 1,146,493 acres, and the forecast is for more of the same, according to the fire center: “Above normal fire potential will persist over much of California, the Northwest and the Great Basin in July…. In August, above normal fire potential will continue over most of California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Idaho…”

Photo credit above: “Forrest Harrison with his daughter Avery, 5, looks over the remains of his home. A fire racing through rural north-central Washington destroyed about 100 homes as it blackened hundreds of square miles.” Elaine Thompson/AP.


Worst Wildfire Season in Decades in Canada’s Northwest Territories. It’s the source of the milky-white pall of smoke drifting over Minnesota and much of the rest of the USA. Alaska’s Dispatch News has the article; here’s an excerpt that caught my eye: “…According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center, there have been 31 new fires in the past 24 hours across Canada, over 2,500 so far this year and well over 2.47 million acres burned to date, early in the season. According to Flannigan, in recent years, about 8,000 fires burn about 4.9 million acres of land each year in Canada. That’s about double the annual average of just 40 years ago, he says. Canada’s senior climatologist, Dave Phillips, says the southern Northwest Territories is experiencing the hottest, driest summer in some 50 years...”

Photo credit above: “This Tuesday, July 15, 2014 aerial photo provided by Canada’s Wildfire Management Branch shows the Mount McAllister wildfire in the northeastern region of the British Columbia province of Canada. An evacuation order has been issued for the District of Hudson’s Hope in northeastern British Columbia ahead of the wildfire which is threatening the community of about 1,150 residents.” (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, B.C. Wildfire Management Branch).


Erratic Polar Jet Stream Contributing to Historic Fires Across Canada & Siberia? Robert Scribbler has a very interesting post, focusing on the severity and aerial extent of fires raging unusually far north for July. Is polar amplification, triggered (in theory) by rapid Arctic warming, a factor? Here’s an excerpt: “…According to reports from Canada’s Interagency Fire Center, total acres burned to date are more than six times that of a typical year. A rate of burning that, according to a recent scientific study, is unprecedented not just for this century, but for any period in Canada’s basement forest record over the last 10,000 years...”

Photo credit above: NWT Fire Facebook.


Wind Turbines Could Rule Tornado Alley. Yes, we have the potential wind power to provide a significant percentage of a (revamped) power grid with wind energy from the Great Plains, where winds blow with amazing regularity, with or without tornadoes. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting story at Forbes: “…So wind has become our fifth largest power generator, and will capture fourth place from hydropower before 2030 since we’ve basically tapped out hydro in this country. However, although wind turbines are strewn throughout America, most of this generation is coming from Tornado Alley (Wind Electricity Generation In Tornado Alley; EIA). In the Tornado Alley states of Kansas, South Dakota and Iowa, wind generated 20%, 26% and 27% of the total electricity produced, respectively, and is now the second-largest electricity source in those states (EIA States). Some advantages of putting large numbers of wind turbines in Tornado Alley is they are ideally shaped to withstand extreme winds, they generally displace coal, and they don’t need to be on pristine natural lands…”


Hurricane Season: Beware of this $50 Billion Threat. The Motley Fool has an article that highlights the risk of (inland) flooding. Higher sea levels mean storm surges can push farther inland, threatening areas that aren’t accustomed to hurricane flooding. Here’s a clip: “…Though most homeowners aren’t aware, typical home insurance policies don’t cover damage from flooding. One of the reasons that flooding tops the threat list, over physical damage from hurricanes or tropical storms, is its ability to spread further than a storm’s footprint. While a storm surge (water pushed inland by strong winds) has a huge, direct impact on coastal areas, the same surge can effect areas much further inland.  Due to rising sea levels, water levels are already elevated, allowing flooding to spread further than in past years...”


Apps for Hurricane Season. GeekBeat.tv has a good overview of apps and web site resources for people living in Hurricane Alley; here’s a clip: “To get your information straight from the National Weather Service or National Hurricane Center you’ll need a Third Party App like NOAA Now for Android or “MyFoxHurricane” for both iOS and Android which bundles Fox News video along with the National Weather Service maps and information. For Windows Phone users there’s an unofficial Weather.Gov App. It pulls in maps and forecasts from the National Weather Service site. If you’d like to bypass third party apps and still get your information straight from the National Hurricane Center or the National Weather Service, just use the full mobile versions of those sites. They’ll work on any smartphone and are ad-free. Bookmark them today; you’ll thank us later…”


Seeing Things More Clearly. NOAA’s National Ocean Service has a story about how the agency used a new technique for obtaining aerial photographs in the wake of Hurricane Arthur, and why this is a step forward. Here’s an excerpt: “…These missions marked the first time that surveyors collected oblique imagery, or images taken at an angle rather than straight down, in response to a tropical cyclone. The advantage to this type of approach is that it allows the team to photograph a wider area and also improves the visibility of vertical structures, such as the sides of buildings, as opposed to only the tops of buildings as typically seen in traditional imagery.  In addition to the photos collected along the coast, the survey team evaluated a GoPro® to collect video during the flight. The goal of this new layered approach in aerial video and photo documentation is to provide and evaluate better visual context that might be missing in vertical photography alone — the sole type of imagery gathered by NOAA surveyors in past missions…”

Photo credit: A New Angle. “Imagery collected by NOAA in the aftermath of Hurricane Arthur tested new photographic techniques that may lead to more comprehensive post-storm surveys in the future. Shown here: the North Carolina coast near Rodanthe shortly after Hurricane Arthur passed through the area.”


Which Colors Do You Smell? I thought this curious article at Huffington Post was worth a mention; here’s an excerpt: “…A group of international researchers, led by Carmel A. Levitan at Occidental College, tested whether our association of colors with smells is universal (hard-wired in our brains) or based on cultural factors like language and frequent association between objects and smells. Previous studies are inconclusive: Some researchers have shown that connections between odors, musical notes, and geometric shapes are hardwired into our brains. But the color-odor connection isn’t always consistent; Canadians consistently associate almond smell with the color red, but in a separate study, Australians smelled blue…”



TODAY: Hot sun, windy. Dew point: 67. Winds: S 15-25. HIgh: 87
SUNDAY NIGHT: Warm and sultry. Low: 72
MONDAY: Excessive Heat Watch. Sunny, dangerously hot. Dew point: 75. Feels like 103F. High: 93
TUESDAY: T-storms likely, some severe up north. Wake-up: 78. High: 88
WEDNESDAY: Sunny and more comfortable. Dew point: 54. Wake-up: 66. High: 79
THURSDAY: Partly sunny, still pleasant. Wake-up: 62. High: 78
FRIDAY: Sticky, a few heavy T-storms. Wake-up: 61. High: 79
SATURDAY: More sun, pop-up PM T-storm? Wake-up: 64. High: 83


Climate Stories….

Water and Climate Change. As much as we need to methodically de-carbonize our economy over time; we have to find ways of powering the economy, keeping the lights on and adding new jobs with less water, as pointed out in this excerpt of an Op-Ed at The New York Times: “..Any blueprint for grappling with climate change must simultaneously factor in the water use involved in the technological options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a fact inadequately addressed in the United Nations report cited by Mr. Porter. Electricity technologies are no exception. As noted in a 2011 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, low-carbon-emitting electricity technologies are not necessarily low-water use. We need to carefully consider the carbon/water trade-offs…” (Image: ThinkStock).

Grim Harvest: Climate Change Sweeps Iowa Farms. Many farmers, initially skeptical about climate change, are reconsidering their views, considering their experiences out in the fields in recent years. Climate volatility has gone from theory to reality. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Live Science: “…He’s seen disease outbreaks when conditions are too wet, and lower yields when it’s too dry. Until recently, he was pretty skeptical that climate change had anything to do with it. “Before the last three or four years, I guess my vision of the world of climate change was about a few people trying to make money on the deal,” Gaesser said. He figured people were just marketing high-efficiency this and low-carbon-emission that, just to make a buck. “But as a farmer, in the last several years, we are actually seeing those changes happen here on the farm…” (File photo: Pascal Rossignol, Reuters).


White House Announces New Climate Change Initiatives. National Geographic has the story; here’s a clip: “…The National Journal runs down the individual efforts by agency, which include a more than $236 million award to fund eight states’ efforts to improve rural electric infrastructure and a new guide by the Centers for Disease Control that will help local public health departments assess their area’s vulnerabilities to health hazards associated with climate change…” (File photo: Matt Brown, AP).

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Heating Up: 90s by Monday. Smoke Plume Lingers over Minnesota

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

79 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.
84 F. average high on July 18.
94 F. high on July 18, 2013.

July 18 in Minnesota Weather History:

2000: A National Weather Service cooperative observer south of Tower reported a morning low of 29 degrees. Embarrass reported 31 degrees.
1987: The town of Floodwood lives up to its name with nearly 6 inches of rain in two days.

Extra Aqua

It’s been a curious summer.

I’ve developed a new exercise routine: dock-raising calisthenics, followed by aerobic basement-mopping and vacuuming.

According to the National Weather Service 2014 is still the wettest year on record, to date, in the Twin Cities.

For fun? I put on waders to ford my flooded lakeshore and sit in my boat. It’s the one with the cobweb racing stripe. OK, it’s more floating than boating. In the evening I watch a cherry-red sun slip below the northwest horizon and marvel at the massive gunmetal-gray smoke plume high overhead.
Canada’s Interagency Fire Center reports total acres burned more than 6 times the usual number, which may be unprecedented looking back 10,000 years.

The same surreal jet stream pattern that brought June floods and 35F to Brimson, Minnesota Wednesday morning is sparking 80s and lightning strikes near the Arctic Circle. The 7-Day calls for smoke, heat & storms.

Monday may be the hottest day yet this summer: low to mid 90s possible, with another swarm of jungle-like downpours (and potentially severe thunderstorms) by Tuesday, especially central and northern Minnesota.

A stray T-shower may bubble up for today’s Aquatennial Events in Minneapolis. Sunday should be the sunnier, drier day to enjoy a smoky sunset, served medium rare.


Extended MSP Meteogram. European model guidance suggests Sunday will be the warmer day of the weekend, with temperatures probably peaking Monday afternoon in the low 90s. A stray T-shower can’t be ruled out today along the leading edge of this next sticky airmass, but Tuesday looks like the most volatile day with a possible severe storm outbreak, followed by a slight dip in dew point the middle of next week.


Tuesday Severe Storm Outbreak? Leveraging CIPS Analog Threat Guidance from Saint Louis University confirms my theory that Monday night into Wednesday morning of next week may be a very active period for locally heavy rainfall and a potential severe T-storm outreak as a surging warm front, high dew points and significant instability combine with ample wind shear aloft. I would bet a stale bagel we’ll see severe storm watches and warnings next Tuesday.


2014: Still Wettest Year for MSP, To Date. Meteorologist D.J. Kayser confirmed with the local Twin Cities National Weather Service that it’s still the soggiest year on record, to date, looking back to 1871. 27.65″ of precipitation as of July 18, even wetter than 1965 and 2013.


Record Cool Spell for Mid-July. There was no confirmed frost up north Wednesday morning, but we came very close. Dr. Mark Seeley highlights some of this past week’s weather oddities, specifically the record cool spell that swept southward out of Canada Monday into Wednesday. Here’s a highlight of this week’s Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…The cold air took residence for about 48 hours and brought new record cold mean daily temperatures (average of the maximum and minimum values for the day) to many communities on Tuesday, July 15th. Some of these records include: 55 F at Pipestone; 57 F at Windom; 58 F at Waseca and Grand Meadow; 59 F at Zumbrota, Austin, and Winnebago; and 60 F at Rochester. Finally, clear skies, high pressure, and calm winds brought some record minimum temperature values on Wednesday morning to northern and western parts of Minnesota. Some of the new records included; 35 F at Brimson; 38 F at Hibbing (tied 2007); 39 F at International Falls, Silver Bay, Crane Lake, Eveleth, and Orr; 45 F at Wheaton; and 46 F at Marshall and Worthington…”


Worst Wildfire Season in Decades in Canada’s Northwest Territories. It’s the source of the milky-white pall of smoke drifting over Minnesota and much of the rest of the USA. Alaska’s Dispatch News has the article; here’s an excerpt that caught my eye: “…According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center, there have been 31 new fires in the past 24 hours across Canada, over 2,500 so far this year and well over 2.47 million acres burned to date, early in the season. According to Flannigan, in recent years, about 8,000 fires burn about 4.9 million acres of land each year in Canada. That’s about double the annual average of just 40 years ago, he says. Canada’s senior climatologist, Dave Phillips, says the southern Northwest Territories is experiencing the hottest, driest summer in some 50 years...”

Photo credit above: “This Tuesday, July 15, 2014 aerial photo provided by Canada’s Wildfire Management Branch shows the Mount McAllister wildfire in the northeastern region of the British Columbia province of Canada. An evacuation order has been issued for the District of Hudson’s Hope in northeastern British Columbia ahead of the wildfire which is threatening the community of about 1,150 residents.” (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, B.C. Wildfire Management Branch).


Fire Hotspots. Hundreds of fires are burning from the Pacific Northwest into much of western and northern Canada, in response to record heat and drought. The Canadian Wildland Fire Information System has the location of the most significant wildfires.


Erratic Polar Jet Stream Contributing to Historic Fires Across Canada & Siberia? Robert Scribbler has a very interesting post, focusing on the severity and aerial extent of fires raging unusually far north for July. Is polar amplification, triggered (in theory) by rapid Arctic warming, a factor? Here’s an excerpt: “…According to reports from Canada’s Interagency Fire Center, total acres burned to date are more than six times that of a typical year. A rate of burning that, according to a recent scientific study, is unprecedented not just for this century, but for any period in Canada’s basement forest record over the last 10,000 years...”

Photo credit above: NWT Fire Facebook.


Seeing Things More Clearly. NOAA’s National Ocean Service has a story about how the agency used a new technique for obtaining aerial photographs in the wake of Hurricane Arthur, and why this is a step forward. Here’s an excerpt: “…These missions marked the first time that surveyors collected oblique imagery, or images taken at an angle rather than straight down, in response to a tropical cyclone. The advantage to this type of approach is that it allows the team to photograph a wider area and also improves the visibility of vertical structures, such as the sides of buildings, as opposed to only the tops of buildings as typically seen in traditional imagery.  In addition to the photos collected along the coast, the survey team evaluated a GoPro® to collect video during the flight. The goal of this new layered approach in aerial video and photo documentation is to provide and evaluate better visual context that might be missing in vertical photography alone — the sole type of imagery gathered by NOAA surveyors in past missions…”

Photo credit: A New Angle. “Imagery collected by NOAA in the aftermath of Hurricane Arthur tested new photographic techniques that may lead to more comprehensive post-storm surveys in the future. Shown here: the North Carolina coast near Rodanthe shortly after Hurricane Arthur passed through the area.”


Hurricane Arthur Losses Will Not Exceed $250 Million: RMS. Claims Journal has a recap on damage to North Carolina from Hurricane Arthur; here’s an excerpt: “…Arthur is the first hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. What is unusual about Arthur, particularly for this time of year, is that it rapidly deepened to become a category 2 hurricane,” said Brian Owens, senior director, business solutions at RMS. “It’s also rare for hurricanes to form in early July, which climatologically is the quietest time of the hurricane season…”


Typhoon Rammasun Comes Ashore. Although sparing Hong Kong, Rammasun was estimated by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center to be a very strong Category 3-4 hurricane as it pushed into southern China Friday.

Image credit: ga2.cira.colostate.edu


Radar Track of Rammasun. Here’s an impressive radar animation showing reflectivity and accumulated rainfall estimates from the Super Typhoon that hit southern China. Animation credit here.


July 18, 1986 Brooklyn Park Tornado Coverage. Tom Oszman at TC Media Now has done a terrific job archiving video clips from local TV broadcasts over the last 40+ years; here’s a compilation of the coverage from July 18, 1986, the day KARE-11′s helicopter tracked a tornado from beginning to end. To this day I still look at the footage and shake my head in wonder.


Japan Earthquake Has Raised Pressure Below Mount Fuji, Says New Study. Guardian Weekly has the story; here’s the introduction: “Mount Fuji, or Fujisan as it is known in Japanese, is the highest point on the archipelago (rising to 3,776 metres) and the national emblem, immortalised in countless etchings. In June last year Unesco added it to the World Heritage list as a “sacred place and source of artistic inspiration”. But it is still an active volcano, standing at the junction between the Pacific, Eurasian and Philippine tectonic plates. Though it has rarely stirred in recorded history, it is still potentially explosive…”

Map credit above: “Proximity of Mount Fuji to the epicentre of the March 2011 earthquake.” Christine Oliver/Guardian Source: Le Monde.


A Real-Time Picture of How Flights Are Now Avoiding Ukrainian Airspace. The Washington Post’s Wonkblog has the article; here’s a clip: “In the wake of the crash of Malaysian Flight 17, likely shot down over the Eastern part of Ukraine, several airlines have announced they will be routing flights around Ukrainian airspace. Real-time data from aviation firm FlightRadar24 seems to confirm this: it currently shows just a handful of flights over Ukraine. Many flights appear to be skirting around the eastern and western edges of the country, with just a small handful in Ukrainian airspace proper…”


Heart Rate-Sensing Car Seats Could Alert Sleepy Drivers. Gizmag has the story – here’s a clip: “Falling asleep at the wheel is extremely dangerous both for the driver, and for others sharing the road with them. A team of researchers at Nottingham Trent University are working on a solution to this driving threat. They’re doing it with sensors in a car seat that detect the driver’s heart rate, and alert the driver if they start dozing off…”


Which Colors Do You Smell? I thought this curious article at Huffington Post was worth a mention; here’s an excerpt: “…A group of international researchers, led by Carmel A. Levitan at Occidental College, tested whether our association of colors with smells is universal (hard-wired in our brains) or based on cultural factors like language and frequent association between objects and smells. Previous studies are inconclusive: Some researchers have shown that connections between odors, musical notes, and geometric shapes are hardwired into our brains. But the color-odor connection isn’t always consistent; Canadians consistently associate almond smell with the color red, but in a separate study, Australians smelled blue…”


TODAY: Some sun, isolated T-storm possible. Dry for most towns. Dew point: 62. Winds: S 15+ High: 81
SATURDAY NIGHT: Isolated thundershower, a bit more humidity. Low: 67
SUNDAY: More sun, warmer & drier. Dew point: 67. High: 86
MONDAY: Sizzling sun. Feels like 95-100F DP: 70. Wake-up: 71. High: 92
TUESDAY: T-storms with heavy rain. Risk of a few severe storms. Dew point: 72. Wake-up: 74. High: 85
WEDNESDAY: Sunnier, less humid. DP: 63. Wake-up: 69. High: 84
THURSDAY: Typical July weather. Warm sunshine. Wake-up: 67. High: 85
FRIDAY: Some sun, spotty T-storms. DP: 68. Wake-up: 68. High: 84


Climate Stories….

Grim Harvest: Climate Change Sweeps Iowa Farms. Many farmers, initially skeptical about climate change, are reconsidering their views, considering their experiences out in the fields in recent years. Climate volatility has gone from theory to reality. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Live Science: “…He’s seen disease outbreaks when conditions are too wet, and lower yields when it’s too dry. Until recently, he was pretty skeptical that climate change had anything to do with it. “Before the last three or four years, I guess my vision of the world of climate change was about a few people trying to make money on the deal,” Gaesser said. He figured people were just marketing high-efficiency this and low-carbon-emission that, just to make a buck. “But as a farmer, in the last several years, we are actually seeing those changes happen here on the farm…” (File photo: Pascal Rossignol, Reuters).


White House Announces New Climate Change Initiatives. National Geographic has the story; here’s a clip: “…The National Journal runs down the individual efforts by agency, which include a more than $236 million award to fund eight states’ efforts to improve rural electric infrastructure and a new guide by the Centers for Disease Control that will help local public health departments assess their area’s vulnerabilities to health hazards associated with climate change…” (File photo: Matt Brown, AP).


Mysterious Siberian Crater Found at “End of the World” – Is There a Larger Story Here? Daily Kos has an article speculating on the cause of a crater recently created in Siberia – is it really a possible signal of underground methane explosions as that region of Russia continues to warm? Here are a couple of excerpts: “…A mysterious crater almost the size of a football field discovered in a remote part of Siberia’s Yamal peninsula known as the end of the world may have profound implications about the stability of Arctic methane  and catastrophic climate change…Permafrost in this area is melting in response to the rapid warming of the Arctic. The most likely cause of this crater is a methane explosion. See the update at at the end for a discussion that this crater was caused by the melting and collapse of an ice dome called a pingo. An Australian expert on Arctic landforms suggested pingo collapse created this crater, but Russian experts have not yet commented on his hypothesis…”


The Giant Siberian Hole: Yep, Media Does a Crap Job Reporting. It’s good to be skeptical (of everything) and Doubtful News takes a second look at the mysterious Siberian crater and counters some of the initial alarmism: “…The Arctic has experienced this melting of permafrost creating what is known as thermokarst - an alteration of the land surface due to the melting below. Russia’s permafrost areas have been measured to be warming from 0.03 to 2.8 degrees C per year. Make no mistake: This is significant and causes damage. There is no reason to think of this hole as the end of the world or the bottomless pit to hell. Smack the person who suggests this has something to do with UFOs. But, it is not doubtful news that the planet is warming catastrophically and methane explosions are realities. Closer inspection will reveal clues to whether that is what happened in this case…”

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