81 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.
83 F. average high on July 25.
83 F. high on July 25, 2013.

.42″ rain fell at MSP International Friday morning.
2.24″ rain so far in July.
3.22″ average for July, to date.

28.07″ precipitation so far in 2014 at KMSP.
17.05″ average precipitation from January 1 to July 25.

July 25, 1981: Chilly morning across northland with 33 degrees at Roseau and Wannaska.

Orange Cone Alert

Oh to have the orange cone concession in Minnesota. Construction season is reaching its zenith with parking lot conditions statewide. Thank God for traffic data on Google Maps. No, our roads don’t heal themselves, and I have the utmost respect for MnDOT crews that toil away, in spite of lousy weather and rude motorists.

To honor their efforts I’ve installed orange cones in my office, around my recliner chair in the family room, even my bedroom. I’m repairing my life, so go slow and take it easy. Life isn’t a race.

Mother Nature has set up her own orange cones. It may be my imagination or sleep deprivation, but weather patterns still seem to be moving slower – more prone to stalling – increasing the flood risk east of the Rockies and historic drought out west.

Today will be the nicer day of the weekend to stall out on your favorite lake; enough sun for mid and upper 80s with a small thunder risk tonight. A cool front that would feel right at home on Labor Day arrives tomorrow with PM showers and a cool breeze; another big dip in dew point arrives early next week. Summer continues to pull its punch.

Now if I could just figure out how to install orange cones on Lake Minnetonka.

A Drier Spell. With the exception of isolated T-storms tonight, a few PM instability showers tomorrow and a stray T-storm or two Thursday the next week looks fairly dry, allowing water levels to continue to slowly recede. Highs surge well into the 80s today; a stiff northwest breeze keeps us 10+ degrees cooler with another whiff of early autumn by Monday and Tuesday. We warm up again the latter half of next week; more 80s likely next weekend. MSP Meteogram: Weatherspark.

60-Hour Accumulated Rainfall. Monsoonal T-storms may break the heat over southern Arizona, potentially severe storms rumbling across the Ohio Valley Saturday as the next surge of cooler, drier air pushes southward out of Canada. Heavy showers and T-storms blossom over New England while California continues to wither. WRF guidance: NOAA and HAMweather.

Predicting Hurricane Intensity: Study. Nature World News takes a look at the air-sea interface in a developing storm, a factor that may ultimately distinguish between garden variety hurricanes and the big ones, like Katrina, Andrew and Camille. Here’s an excerpt: “…Hurricane hunter aircraft can help determine wind speed, velocity, water temperature and other data, but this study may have been the first to figure out why or how a storm gets stronger or weaker. “The air-water interface – whether it had significant waves or significant spray – is a big factor in storm intensity,” Alex Soloviev, a professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center, said in a statement. “Hurricanes gain heat energy through the interface and they lose mechanical energy at the interface...”

NASA Satellites Reveal Shocking Groundwater Loss in Colorado River Basin. AP and Huffington Post have a story that made me do a double-take; here are a couple of excerpts: “…Groundwater losses from the Colorado River basin appear massive enough to challenge long-term water supplies for the seven states and parts of Mexico that it serves, according to a new study released Thursday that used NASA satellites…Since 2004, researchers said, the Colorado River basin — the largest in the Southwest — has lost 53 million acre feet, or 17 trillion gallons, of water. That’s enough to supply more than 50 million households for a year, or nearly fill Lake Mead — the nation’s largest water reservoir — twice…”

The Most Water-Consuming States Are The Ones In Drought. Yes, there’s a contradiction here, as Huffington Post follows up on the story above; here’s the intro: “…A national survey on water use in the U.S. showed that residents in states that get less precipitation use a lot of water in their homes — western states use an average of 138 gallons per capita every day, compared to 82 gallons in the midwest. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this is mostly because of the higher amount of landscape irrigation in the west. In other words, people striving for green lawns and lush plants in dry states have to water more often that people in places with lots of rain, or risk fines in some communities…”


The Cost of America’s Forest Fires Has More Than Quintupled In The Past 20 Years. The Washington Post has the stark numbers and trends. Here’s the introduction: “Wildfires are scorching the earth and burning through the United States’ bank account. More than 1.5 million acres of American forest have been burned to the ground so far this year, and that isn’t even all that much. Last year, nearly 4.5 million acres were scorched; the year before, almost 9.5 million. Forest fires have destroyed some 143 million acres since 1985, or roughly 5 million acres a year, on average…”

Graph credit above: “ National Interagency Fire Center.

Why Are Wildfires On The Increase? Here’s a clip from a story looking at U.S. wildfire trends at The Ridgefield Press: “…In a recent study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers from the University of Utah analyzed a database of large wildfires in the western U.S. between 1984 and 2011 and found a significant increase in the number of large fires and/or the area covered by the blazes. From Nebraska to California, the number of large wildfires increased sevenfold per year over the study period, with the total area burned increasing by 90,000 acres a year on average…”

America Is Burning: The Fight Against Wildfires Gets Real. Men’s Journal has a long, data-driven look at wildfire trends across the USA; they’re burning bigger, longer and hotter. What is going on? Here’s a clip: “…It’s the same story throughout the South, much of the Southeast, and even parts of the Northeast – all of these regions have experienced record wildfires. Firefighters, forest managers, community leaders, and scientists tell the same tale: They’ve never seen so many fires of such size, intensity, and destruction. Another point of agreement: It’s going to get much worse. “We can’t manage wildfire any longer,” says Miller. “It is out of our control…”

Photo credit: “In military terms, what these fires do is encircle the community. Then they close in,” says fire-safety expert Bernhard Voelkelt, on land scorched by the May 2014 Etiwana Fire in Rancho Cucamonga, California.” (Photograph by Peter Bohler).

Here Are Maps Of All 38,728 Tornado Warnings Issued Since 2002. The Vane at Gawker has another interesting story that provides more much-needed perspective. In the last 12 years only the area around Duluth, the Minnesota Arrowhead and a small patch of land from near Winona to Lake City, north and east of Rochester, has been tornado-warning-free. Maybe the bluffs on the Mississippi really do disrupt tornado inflow and help to inhibit formation. Here’s an excerpt: “…These maps show all 38,728 tornado warnings issued between January 1, 2002 and around midnight on July 23, 2014. Over that twelve-and-a-half year span of time, there were three states that saw every square inch of land go under a tornado warning at least once: Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee…”

Florida More Vulnerable to Tornadoes Than Midwest. For a variety of reasons: southeastern tornadoes are often rain-wrapped and harder to detect and confirm from ground-level, fewer storm shelters, and a local population that is not as “tornado-aware” as residents of traditional Tornado Alley. Here’s an excerpt from gainesville.com: “Oklahoma and Kansas may have the reputation as tornado hot spots, but Florida and the rest of the Southeast are far more vulnerable to killer twisters, a new analysis shows. Florida leads the country in deaths calculated per mile as a tornado races along the ground, followed by Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio and Alabama, according to an analysis of the past three decades by the federal Southeast Regional Climate Center at the University of North Carolina…”
Photo credit above: “A damaged house in Sunrise after a possible tornado.” AP Photo.

Why Has The Sun Gone So Quiet? Discovery News has the article; here’s a clip: “…So although we know this is the weakest solar cycle on record, we may just be seeing part of a longer-term cycle that we haven’t been able to recognize as we haven’t been taking detailed notes of solar activity for long enough. “It all underlines that solar physicists really don’t know what the heck is happening on the sun,” added Phillips. “We just don’t know how to predict the sun, that is the take away message of this event…”

Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July, 2012. Two years ago we came closer to potential disaster than many of us realized at the time. Hey, who needs electricity? Here’s an excerpt of a story at Red Orbit that left me a little weak-kneed: “...Baker, along with colleagues from NASA and other universities, published a seminal study of the storm in the December 2013 issue of the journal Space Weather. Their paper, entitled “A major solar eruptive event in July 2012,” describes how a powerful coronal mass ejection (CME) tore through Earth orbit on July 23, 2012. Fortunately Earth wasn’t there. Instead, the storm cloud hit the STEREO-A spacecraft. “I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did,” says Baker. “If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire…”

Image caption above: “This image was captured by ESA and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) on July 22, 2012 at 10:48 PM EDT. On the right side, a cloud of solar material ejects from the sun in one of the fastest coronal mass ejections (CMEs) ever measured.” Credit: ESA/NASA/SOHO.

What Does a 20% Probability of Rain Really Mean? NPR has the quiz, and the answer – it’s probably not what you expect; here’s an excerpt: “…We put the question above to a few folks across the country, and many of them came to different conclusions. Some thought a 20 percent chance of rain means you should definitely bring an umbrella, while others said they would be surprised if it even drizzled. And at least one person looked at the question the other way: There was an 80 percent chance it wouldn’t rain…”

The Down And Dirty History of TMZ. Here, while you click on this link and read a story that may appeal to your prurient interest I’m going to go and take another shower. Here’s an excerpt from Buzzfeed: “…TMZ’s real engine — what defines its mission, what legitimizes it and sets it apart — is a unique and controversial mix of scandal mongering and investigative journalism. But it’s also that mode that some have claimed is responsible for acquiring a video of Justin Bieber telling a racist joke and, over the course of four years, not publishing it. BuzzFeed spoke to nearly two dozen former TMZ employees, and it’s clear that Bieber’s tape was not the only near-priceless piece of dirt in the proverbial TMZ vault...”

IcyBreeze Cooler Doubles As A Portable Air Conditioner. And here I thought the iPhone (and pizza) were the only perfect creations. Gizmag has the details: “The need for an ice cold drink tends to go hand in hand with stinking hot temperatures. And while a chilled beverage can help to soothe from the inside, nothing brings on sustained comfort like a blast of cool air. The team behind IcyBreeze is looking to refresh from all angles with a cooler that works as a portable air conditioner, putting to use the ice-cold air inside…”

TODAY: Lake-worthy sun & warmth. Dew point: 58. Winds: SW 10. High: 86
SATURDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, isolated T-storm possible. Low: 64
SUNDAY: September-like. AM sun, PM clouds, showers. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 74
MONDAY: Partly sunny, comfortable. Dew point: 49. Wake-up: 58. High: 77
TUESDAY: Sunny and spectacular. Wake-up: 57. High: 79
WEDNESDAY: Plenty of sun, still very nice. Wake-up: 60. High: 81
THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, warmer. Wake-up: 63. High: 83
FRIDAY: Sun lingers, isolated PM T-shower? Wake-up: 64. High: 84

Climate Stories…

Stanford Biologist Warns of Early Stages of Earth’s 6th Mass Extinction Event. Well here’s a day-brightener. What’s that famous line from George Carlin? “Don’t sweat the thundershowers”. Here’s an excerpt of a press release from Standford University: “…In a new review of scientific literature and analysis of data published in Science, an international team of scientists cautions that the loss and decline of animals is contributing to what appears to be the early days of the planet’s sixth mass biological extinction event. Since 1500, more than 320 terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct. Populations of the remaining species show a 25 percent average decline in abundance. The situation is similarly dire for invertebrate animal life...”

Climate Change May Reduce Corn, Wheat Crop Yields. Here’s an opportunity for new strains of corn, wheat and beans that are more flood and drought tolerant. Bloomberg reports; here’s an excerpt: “Rising temperatures caused by climate change increase the odds that corn and wheat yields will slow even as global demand for the crops for food and fuel increases in the next 10 to 20 years, according to a study published in Environmental Research Letters. There is as much as a 10 percent chance the rate of corn yields will slow and a 5 percent probability for wheat because of human-caused climate change, said David Lobell, the associate director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University, and Claudia Tebaldi, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado…”

Photo credit: Trista Dunsmoor.

The Melting Arctic Makes Way For $20,000 Luxury Cruises. File this under climate change porn – here’s a clip from a story at Bloomberg Businessweek: “…Because of climate change and the melting of the Arctic, the cruise line Crystal Cruises plans to send passengers on what it bills as the first luxury ship to “traverse the Northwest Passage.” The ship, Crystal Serenity, will set sail beginning in August 2016 on ”a mystical Pacific-Atlantic sea route far beyond the Arctic Circle that for centuries captured the imaginations of kings, explorers and adventurers.” The cruise will last 32 days and fares start at $20,000…”

Photo credit above: Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP Photo.

Report: Gulf and Atlantic Coasts Not Prepared For Sea Level Rise. Not a fan of big government, regulation and taxation? Some of the same people who rail against “the feds” will be the first to have their hands out, after the next inevitable mega-flood, super-storm or historic drought, expecting compensation, which is ironic, considering the fact that all U.S. taxpayers will be chipping in to clean up the mess and rebuild. Along the coast the cycle of destruction and rebuilding may become increasingly difficult to justify – and pay for, over the long run. Here’s an excerpt of a sobering story at National Geographic: “…Today the federal government tends to bear the brunt of the costs after big disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, but it wasn’t always that way. “The share of money paid by the federal taxpayer has increased substantially,” says Baecher, noting that the federal government paid roughly 10 percent of reconstruction costs after hurricanes in the mid-20th century. But after Sandy, the feds ponied up about 75 percent of the costs. Federal taxpayers are not always getting a good return on their investment, says the report. There has been too much spent on rebuilding and too little spent on planning, preparedness, and mitigation of risk along the coasts, leaving communities vulnerable…”

File Photo: Butch Dill, AP.

Scientists Urge For Funds To Prevent Coastal Disasters, Not Just Recover From Them. Following up on the story above; here’s a clip from a Huffington Post article: “…Such a shift would help the U.S. “move from a nation that is primarily reactive to coastal disasters to one that invests wisely in coastal risk reduction and builds resilience among coastal communities,” a statement accompanying the report said. Since 2001, water has reached flood levels an average of at least 20 days per year in six eastern U.S. cities, including Atlantic City, New Jersey and Charleston, South Carolina — which has more than $200 million in flood-control projects underway, the Reuters analysis found…”

File photo above: Peter Morgan, AP.

Climate Change Hits All Pentagon Operations, Official Says. The Hill has an update on how the Department of Defense is factoring climate change and more volatility/instability into their longer term plans; here’s an excerpt: “All Pentagon operations in the U.S. and abroad are threatened by climate change, according to a Defense Department official. “The effects of the changing climate affect the full range of Department activities, including plans, operations, training, infrastructure, acquisition, and longer-term investments,” Daniel Chiu, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for strategy and force development, told senators at a hearing on Tuesday…” (Image: Wikimedia Commons).

The NHL Just Said Climate Change Threatens The Future of Hockey. Press Progress has the story; here’s a snippet: “…The National Hockey League now says it is worried that climate change could have a devastating impact on the future of hockey in coming decades. “Our sport can trace its roots to frozen freshwater ponds, to cold climates,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says in a letter accompanying the league’s Sustainability Report, released Monday night. “Major environmental challenges, such as climate change and freshwater scarcity, affect opportunities for hockey players of all ages to learn and play the game outdoors.” But the NHL isn’t dropping its gloves to fight climate change just because it’s a worthy cause — it’s also in their “vested interest” as a business...”

Scientists Identify Potential Tipping Point. Here’s an excerpt of a story at Nature World News that got my attention: “Scientists have long been concerned that global warming may push the Earth’s climate system past a “tipping point,” and a new study from Oregon State University (OSU) may have finally identified that threshold. According to the research, synchronization of climate variability in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans is that tipping point – where rapid melting of ice and further warming may become irreversible. This is what happened a few hundred years before the rapid warming that took place at the end of the last ice age about 15,000 years ago…”

Photo credit above: “Scientists have long been concerned that global warming may push the Earth’s climate system past a “tipping point,” and a new study from Oregon State University (OSU) may have finally identified that threshold.” (Photo : Christine Zenino (Wiki Commons).

The Dark Snow Team Investigates The Source of Soot That’s Accelerating Greenland Ice Melt. It’s all interconnected and interrelated, as we’re discovering (the hard way). Here’s an excerpt of a Guardian story from St. Thomas scientist John Abraham: “…A number of natural processes cause ice to darken. The simple process of melting causes ice crystals to deform and reflect less light. In addition, pollen, sea spray, desert dust, pollution from industry and shipping cause darkening. However, there are also other causes. Recently, newly published research strengthens the idea that wildfire soot has driven extensive melt over the ice sheet, and in addition, that layers of refrozen water are themselves darkening factors that drive further melt…”

Photo credit above: “The Mount McAllister wildfire burns 34 miles (56 km) west of Chetwynd in British Columbia, in this handout photo taken July 14, 2014. Wildfires like this are one source of black soot.” Photograph: Reuters.

The Danger of “Balanced” Climate Science In The Media. Because television likes a good on-air food fight. It’s good for ratings. We should debate climate science right after the big gravity debate, and after we clear up whether the Earth really is round. NASA could have faked those photos from space. Wait, did we really even go into space? Did I mention the Earth sure looks flat from my window? All those scientists must be wrong. In it for the money! Sorry, I’m off my meds. Here’s an excerpt from EcoWatch: “…The media, in attempting to offer “balanced stories” does a disservice to the public and policymakers by giving small handfuls of climate change contrarians significant attention despite the fact that nearly all climate scientists agree that climate change is underway and that it is human-caused. When they share equal airtime it sends the message that the science is more uncertain than it is. The questioning of science by the American right wing clearly does not accurately reflect the scientific consensus, and is detrimental to those interested in moving our economy down a sustainable path. Why then does the media still give skeptics equal amount of air time?…”

Climate Change: If We Pretend It Isn’t Happening Will It Go Away. That seems to be the mandate of many in Congress today: if we just remove the funds we won’t be able to study climate change and maybe we can just ignore the trends altogether. Yes, let’s be conservative about everything! Except the environment and the atmosphere, of course. We’ll just take our chances there. Here’s an excerpt from The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists: “…On July 10, the House approved the fiscal 2015 Energy and Water Appropriations bill on a 253-170 vote. In the bill, Congress unfortunately cut funding for such things as renewable energy, sustainable transportation, and energy efficiency; perhaps even more worrisome, however, were a series of amendments successfully attached to the bill. Each would, in its own way, specifically prohibit scientists at the Energy Department from doing precisely what Congress should mandate them to do—namely perform the best possible scientific research to illuminate, for policymakers, the likelihood and possible consequences of climate change…”

Neil DeGrasse Tyson: “Cherry-picking Your Science Because It Conflicts With Your Philosophy?” Salon has an interview with the host of “Cosmos”; here’s an excerpt: “…In science, when you perform experiments and observations, and when the experiments and observations begin to agree with one another, and they’re conducted by different people — people who are competitive with one another, people who are not even necessarily in your field but do something that relates to your field — you start seeing a trend. And when that trend is consistent and persistent, no matter who’s doing the experiment, no matter where the experiment is being done, no matter whether the groups were competitive or not, you have an emergent scientific truth. That truth is true whether or not you believe in it….”