85 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.
83 F. average high on July 30
83 F. high on July 30, 2014.

July 31, 1961: Downpour in Albert Lea with 6.7 inches in 24 hours. Source: MPX National Weather Service.

Canadian Payback

Mea culpa.

Roughly 7 months out of the year the term “Canadian cold front” is a pejorative, a negative, cringe-worthy expletive. “Canada exports wheat, oil, hockey players and cold fronts!” But give credit where credit is due: much of America is broiling; tens of millions of our brethren wilting under a heat index above 100F. But a persistent west/northwest jet stream wind flow aloft has allowed a conga-line of (refreshing, wondrous!) Canadian cool fronts to burp south of the border, taking the edge off the heat from St. Paul to Detroit and Boston.

I’m sending a Hallmark thank you note to Canada for the comfortable, sun-scrubbed sky outside my window. A/C optional? Highly unusual for late July.

Fasten your seat belt and prepare to ride out some of the best weather of the year: 80s into next week, with occasional puffs of Canadian air keeping the dew point very tolerable – little chance of severe weather or monsoon rains. A few T-storms may pop up late Sunday, but most of the upcoming weekend will be dry and pleasantly warm.

Rainfall since June 1 is running 3.7 inches above average in the Twin Cities. No drought, no storms, no midsummer sweat. What’s not to like?

Record Rains in July. Here’s an excerpt of AerisWeather meteorologist D.J. Kayser’s excellent blog post on record rains this month across much of the USA east of the Rockies: “…Heavy rain once again fell over parts of the central and southeast United States, leaving some locations with over 10″ of rain during the month. Indianapolis, IN, saw their wettest MONTH on record this July, with 13.14″ falling through July 29th. The previous monthly record for the Crossroads of America was 13.12″ back in July of 1875. It’s also been wet in parts of Texas (more on that in a moment) with 8.26″ falling in Abilene, TX, making it the wettest July on record…”

Drought-Free. It’s remarkable how quickly the late spring drought has faded east of the Rockies. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows a few pockets of dry soil, but a total lack of drought from the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes into the Ohio Valley. One measure of how good the weather has been over such a huge area: favorable soil moisture and the prospect of a record corn harvest has depressed prices.

Best Chance of T-storms: Saturday Night. Model guidance brings a weak trough of low pressure through late Saturday, capable of a few hours of showers and thunder. By Sunday winds shift around to the northwest and we dry out with another welcome dip in humidity. The forecast looks relatively dry as we sail into early August.

An Extended Heat Wave For Much of America. Frequent intrusions of cooler, drier Canadian air will continue to take the edge off the heat from Minnesota across the Great Lakes into New England, but much of the USA fries under sweltering 90 and even 100-degree heat into mid-August, based on the 14 day GFS outlook at 500 mb.

Summer Swelter: Heat Wave Scorches from Coast to Coast. USA TODAY takes a look at broiling heat afflicting much of America; here’s an excerpt: “Yes, it’s summer, and it’s supposed to be hot, but this is a bit on the extreme side. As of 2 p.m. ET Wednesday, 110 million Americans in at least 35 states were sweltering under a temperature of least 90 degrees, according to WeatherBell meteorologist Ryan Maue. About 35 million people were enduring a heat index of at least 100 degrees, he said…”

Devastating Floods Might Be More Common Than We Thought, Study Says. The Los Angeles Times has a summary of recent research; here’s an excerpt: “…But some of the worst floods in coastal areas are caused by the unfortunate concurrence of big storm surges with high rainfall – a double-whammy for flooding, because it can result in the sea spilling over onto land while rivers and urban drainage systems overflow onto the streets. By examining these two phenomena together, researchers showed that heavy precipitation and high seas are occurring in tandem more often in many coastal cities, especially along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the U.S. The results were published this week in Nature Climate Change.…”

Photo credit above: “The chances of heavy rainfall and high storm surges occuring in tandem is increasing, which puts U.S. cities at greater risk of flooding, researchers say. Above, water flows over the Industrial Canal floodwall in New Orleans in 2008.” (Eliot Kamenitzd / The Times-Picayune via AP).

Younger Floridians Discount Hurricane Threat. The fact that the USA hasn’t experienced a Category 3 or stronger hurricane in a decade is one factor. Older people remember – and tend to have respect for hurricanes. But if you’ve never experienced one? Here’s an excerpt from The Jacksonville Democrat: “Those who experience hurricanes rarely lose their awe for the forces of nature. Many young people, though, have no idea of the kind of devastation hurricanes can cause. Those are some of the conclusions that could be drawn from a July Mason-Dixon poll of Florida residents 10 years after the record breaking summer of hurricanes Katrina, Dennis, Rita and Wilma. “That millennial group — some of the younger ones were in elementary school the last time there was a hurricane,” said J. Brad Coker, managing director of the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc...” (File photo: NASA).

Manitoba Tornado Was An F2: Environment Canada. Here’s the intro to a story at The Winnipeg Sun: “A massive tornado that struck western Manitoba this week has been given an preliminary rating which puts it in the category of large and violent, but not the worst that nature can serve up. Environment Canada says the twister that roared through the Virden region near the Saskatchewan boundary Monday evening was of the high-end EF2 variety. Such tornadoes can pack wind speeds ranging from 179 kilometres an hour to 218 kilometres an hour — capable of lifting cars, ripping out trees and damaging roofs...”

Photo credit above: “This twister that tore through southwestern Manitoba on Monday night has been classified as an F2.” (GREG JOHNSON/TORNADO HUNTERS PHOTO).

3-Hour Canadian Tornado Likely One Of The World’s Longest. I still have trouble believing that this was ONE TORNADO, rather than a series of tornadoes spinning up under the same parent supercell. Then again these days I wouldn’t rule anything out. Here’s a clip from USA TODAY: “he massive tornado that roared across the Canadian province of Manitoba late Monday was on the ground for nearly 3 hours — likely one of the longest-lasting on record in Canada and perhaps the world. No injuries or deaths were reported. The longest tornado recorded is the infamous Tri-State tornado that lasted for about 3.5 hours, ravaging the Midwest in March 1925 and leaving hundreds of people dead in its wake…”

Frame grab credit above: “A screen grab of Monday’s tornado in Manitoba, which was on the ground for nearly 3 hours.” (Photo: TVNWeather.com).

July 12 Storm Damage Clean-up Continues. Thanks to AerisWeather meteorologist Todd Nelson, vacationing up at Craguns Resort on Gull Lake with his family. He sent me these photos on Wednesday, and said “All I can hear is distant chainsaws…huge piles of lumber everywhere!

Evidence of Microburst Winds at Maddens Resort. State Representative Mark Anderson and his wife Barbara took me out on Gull Lake Sunday to get a first-hand look at the damage in the Brainerd Lakes area. This is the employee housing at Maddens, missing much of the roof, evidence of severe wind damage everywhere. This is in line with Duluth NWS wind estimates of 100 mph in a series of downbursts. Much like a tornado the damage swaths were fickle and spotty, many areas spared, but other pockets of extreme damage, trees snapped like toothpicks. The damage path was linear, no evidence of rotation found in tornadic winds.

Awe-Inspiring. This is one of the photos I shared with the GCOLA, the Gull Chain of Lakes Association Gala event Monday evening up at the Grand View Lodge (which also suffered tree damage, but nothing like the southern end of Gull Lake). I snapped this panorama on my trusty iPhone about 4 miles east of Schaefer’s grocery store in Nisswa, just north of Co. 13. It looked like the fist of God came crashing down, snapping trees in a swath maybe half a mile wide, again, consistent with severe downburst or microburst winds.

Poleward Shift in Derecho/Downburst Winds with Warming Climate? In response to a reader’s question about frequency of these kinds of damaging, freakish wind storms I asked state climatologist Greg Spoden about trends he’s witnessed. Are we imagining an increase, or does the data confirm an increase in these derecho/downburst wind events? Here is what Greg wrote:

The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center offers an excellent overview of derechos and derecho climatology here. In their section on derechos and climate change they reinforce Paul’s comment about a poleward shift in the corridors of maximum derecho frequency.” – Greg Spoden, State Climatologist

An Unusually Soggy July. AerisWeather meteorologist D.J. Kayser has an interesting blog post focused on the number of days with 1″ or more of rain, compared to long-term averages; here’s an excerpt: “…As you may have noticed above, both St. Cloud and the Twin Cities saw rain totals of over an inch this morning. So, we break out the 1″+ rain tracker once again today! The Twin Cities is now up to three days this year, all occurring during the month of July, with at least one inch of rain – half way toward the yearly average of six. St. Cloud has now seen nine days this year with at least one inch of rain, one away from matching the number seen during 2014. This also marks the fourth one inch or greater rain this month in St. Cloud…”

How To Stay Safe When The Big One Comes. Here’s a follow-up to the recent (terrifying) piece in the New Yorker focused on the probability of a monster 9.0+ earthquake impacting the Pacific Northwest. This (new) New Yorker article puts the threat into better focus and context and provides advice on steps residents can take to lower their risk; here’s an excerpt: “…So a better analogy than toast is this: the Cascadia earthquake is going to hit the Pacific Northwest like a rock hitting safety glass, shattering the region into thousands of tiny areas, each isolated from one another and all extremely difficult to reach. That’s why Murphy’s plan involves, in his words, “leasing, buying, or stealing any helicopter I can get my hands on.” Helicopters can’t do everything, but they can, at least, get almost anywhere. (FEMA has also made arrangements with the U.S. Navy Third Fleet to conduct a massive sea-lift operation for those stranded on the coast—but, for logistical reasons, it will take the fleet seven days from the time of the quake to arrive.)...”

Solar Now Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels For Many Small Businesses. EcoWatch has the story; here’s the intro: “Solar power is the fastest-growing sourc eof electricity in the country, and now mom and pop shops can take part in the boom. Solar panels are usually seen on the roofs of residential buildings, schools, large companies or government institutions, but now, SolarCity is expanding its services to small and medium-sized businesses, or SMRs, the company announced. This move essentially allows local businesses to cut ties to their utility and save money against rising electricity costs with renewable energy...” (photo credit: flickr).

What It Feels Like To Go Viral. Here’s an excerpt of a fascinating piece from Pacific Standard: “Let’s get some definitional housekeeping out of the way: There is no pageviews threshold for what a piece of #content needs in order to, as they say, “go viral.” It’s a moving target that shifts from person-to-person, organization-to-organization, on a monthly, even daily, basis. If you normally have 2,000 daily readers, then you get 20,000, that’s viral. If you’re the New York Times and you get 20,000, something has gone horribly wrong. Pageviews matter, but relativity matters more...”

TODAY: Sunny, breezy, comfortable. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 83

FRIDAY NIGHT: Clear and pleasant. Low: 63

SATURDAY: Sunnier day of the weekend. Winds: W 10. High: 84

SUNDAY: Some sun, late-day T-storm risk. Wake-up: 63. High: 85

MONDAY: Blue sky, less humid again. Wake-up: 66. High: 81

TUESDAY: Pinch me. Remarkably nice! Wake-up: 61. High: near 80

WEDNESDAY: Less sun, stray T-shower possible. Wake-up: 64. High: 81

THURSDAY: Intervals of sun, few complaints. Wake-up: 62. High: 79

Climate Stories….

Jeb Bush: Humans Contribute to Climate Change. Is the GOP taking baby-steps toward acknowledging the reality of man-made climate change? It would appear so, based on Jeb Bush’s recent (encouraging) interview with Bloomberg, featured at TheHill; here’s the intro: “GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush says human activity is contributing to climate change and the country has an obligation to work to stop it. “I think it’s appropriate to recognize this and invest in the proper research to find solutions over the long haul but not be alarmists about it,” Bush said in an interview published Thursday with Bloomberg BNA. “We should not say the end is near, not deindustrialize the country, not create barriers for higher growth, not just totally obliterate family budgets, which some on the left advocate by saying we should raise the price of energy so high that renewables then become viable,” he added...”

Step Outside – Climate Change is Here. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from the Editorial Board at The Sacramento Bee: “…if global warming doesn’t feel like a threat by now, it ought to. Last week, 16 leading scientists joined the former lead climate scientist for NASA in warning that glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland could melt 10 times faster than anyone thought. James Hansen, one of the first predictors of climate change – “alarmist and also right,” as Slate called him – reported that the goal we had all been told was safe, limiting global warming to a 2-degree Celsius temperature increase, actually won’t begin to control the damage. In as little as 50 years, according to the study published last Thursday in the open-access journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, sea levels may rise 10 feet or more, inundating the world’s coastal cities…”

Before The Time of Global Warming, Spring Sprung Later. Here’s a snippet from a story at Inside Climate News: “…According to one of the largest troves of ecological data from the past, living organisms are already responding to the rise in temperatures from global warming. By digitizing more than 11,000 records from the 19th century that chronicled the flowering of plants and trees, the springtime arrival of migrating birds, and the annual onset of frog mating calls, researchers at the Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program in Harlemville, N.Y. have shown that spring is arriving as much as 14 days early as climate change accelerates...” (File photo: NASA).

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article29473891.html#storylink=cpy

New Report from Anti-Poverty Group Debunks Claim That Coal Is Good For Poor People. Here’s the intro to a story at ThinkProgress: “The coal industry and its supporters often argue that coal is still a relevant energy source because it’s cheap, and cheap electricity reduces energy poverty. But on Tuesday, Oxfam Australia directed an entire report to Australia’s government, saying that for the one billion people living without electricity, coal is more expensive than renewable energy sources. “Renewable energy is a cheaper, quicker, and healthier way to increase energy access,” the report states. “Coal is ill-suited to meeting the needs of the majority of the people living without electricity...”

On The Economics Of The End of The World As We Know It. At the risk of sticking a toe into a puddle of gloom and doom – how do we measure and price risk, including the risk of cataclysmic changes brought on by climate change? Here’s an excerpt from The Economist: “…However, estimating these benefits means that we need to determine the value of a reduction in preventing a possible future catastrophic risk. This is a thorny task. Martin Weitzman, an economist at Harvard University, argues that the expected loss to society because of catastrophic climate change is so large that it cannot be reliably estimated. A cost-benefit analysis—economists’ standard tool for assessing policies—cannot be applied here as reducing an infinite loss is infinitely profitable…”

Defense Department to Congress: Global Warming is a “Present Security Threat”. My youngest son flies helicopters for the Navy – I can tell you for the fact that the U.S. Navy is taking climate change, climate volatility and rising seas very seriously. Andrew Freedman at Mashable has the story – here are a few snippets that got my full undivided attention: “For the first time, the U.S. Department of Defense has detailed what it views as its greatest challenges related to climate change. In a report to Congress, the Defense Department said that global warming poses a “present security threat, not strictly a long-term risk.” The report, delivered to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday and publicly released Wednesday, further stated the Defense Department is “already observing the impacts of climate change in shocks and stressors to vulnerable nations and communities,” including in the United States, the Arctic, Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America…..Studies published in June found that humanity is rapidly depleting a third of the world’s largest groundwater aquifers, with the top three most stressed groundwater basins in the political hotspots of the Middle East, the border region between India and Pakistan, and the Murzuk-Djado Basin in northern Africa...”

Photo credit above: “Thick smoke and flames from an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition rise in Kobani, Syria, as seen from a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014.” Image: Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press.

The full report from the Defense Department is at defense.gov. See also: Global warming helped trigger Syria’s civil war.

Climate Change Will Cause Increased Flooding in Coastal Cities. Here’s an excerpt from Forbes: “…Another paper, published yesterday in Nature, had less fanfare than the Hansen paper, but shows the severe danger of flooding in coastal regions, particularly in the United States. This risk isn’t directly from sea-level rise, but from the intensification of storm surges and increased precipitation that are secondary effects of climate change. Flooding risk in any particular place depends on a number of factors: the flatness of land right by the water, how steep the continental shelf is off the coast, the number and severity of storms, etc. That’s why much of the state of Florida is at greater risk than coastal cities in California. As the Nature paper shows, heavier rainfall combines with storm surges, the rush of water toward the shore during major storms, to amplify flooding...”

Image credit above: “Florida as seen from the Space Shuttle in 1998. Flooding from climate change is threatening much of the coastline, including major cities in Florida.” (Credit: NASA)

Get Ready for Ugly As Markets Begin To Deal With Climate Crisis. Here’s an excerpt of a story at EcoWatch that made me do a double-take: “Advocates of “market-based” climate solutions paint pastel pictures reflecting smoothly adjusting macro-economic models. Competitive markets gradually nudged by carbon pricing glide into a low carbon future in a modestly disruptive fashion, much as sulfur pollution from power plants was scaled back in the 1990’s. But commodity markets for oil and gas don’t work that way. These real markets are poised to savagely strand assets, upset expectations, overturn long established livelihoods and leave a trail of wreckage behind them—unless climate advocates start owning the fruits of their own success and preparing for the transition. Schumpeter’s destructive engine of capitalism is about to show its ugly side...” (File photo: Shutterstock).