Conservation Minnesota

A Pleasant Break from Hot & Nasty – Recap on Severe Storm Damage Up North

1.13″ of rain drenched MSP International Airport yesterday.

85 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.
82 F. average high on August 4.
82 F. high on August 4, 2015.

August 5, 1904: A Detroit Lakes woman is hit by lightning. It melts her hairpins and the steel in her corset, but does not kill her.

An Order of Amazing Weekend Weather – To Go

“Hi, I’d like a Weather Happy Meal. Blue Sky, over easy. A side of Low Humidity, washed down with a Cool Breeze. And a Big Gulp of Good Sleeping Weather please?”
No problem. Please pull forward.

Imagine if we could make weather to order. Human hubris has no limits, it seems. Ever since the first washed-out campfire at the local cave we’ve tried to hack the weather. Cloud-seeding can squeeze more snow and rain out of some clouds, but this is still more hand-waving than science. That said, 52 nations, including the USA, have weather modification programs.

Tinkering with the sky – what can possibly go wrong?

Personally I’d like to enjoy the warmth, without snarling thunderstorms trying to blow me off the map. We get a break into Monday as a cooler, cleaner bubble of high pressure pushes out of Canada. Expect highs from 78-82F with comfortable dew points in the 50s into Sunday.

80s return next week with a dash of humidity, but the core of antiperspirant heat stays south of Minnesota the next 2-3 weeks. Minor heat here – with frequent T-storms.

Drought optional this year.


* Image credit here.

Significant Storm Damage Brainerd Lakes Area Early Thursday. Here’s a link to raw chopper damage video and a story from KSTP.com: “…It’s just another hit, last year was a July 12 storm, right around the 12th of this year another one,” said Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl. “Now this makes it the hat trick. We’re dealing with tons of lines down, trees on roofs and vehicles.” Dahl says County Road 115, Ojibwa and County Road 127 were heavily damaged by the early morning storms. Emergency crews are working to open the roads and restore power...”


Swaths of Significant Damage. A friend of mine (Pete Schenck) snapped these photos yesterday after severe storms pushed across the Brainerd Lakes area. The photo on the left is from the Nisswa cemetery; the picture on the right is on the west side of Pelican Lake. Numerous reports of trees down and power out up north.


Babe the Blue Ox Topples Over During Severe Storms. Numerous reports of downed trees and powerlines with power outages all across the Northland; here’s an excerpt from Duluth News Tribune: “A famed Minnesota attraction – known in folklore for its strength – toppled over during an overnight severe storm early Thursday morning in the region. Babe the Blue Ox, at Paul Bunyan Land in Brainerd, was put back on his feet later Thursday morning, the destination’s Facebook page showed…”


Tracking Standing Water. The animation above shows the condition of area highways as a line of strong  to  severe T-storms pushed across the state Thursday morning. The bright red/purple highlights areas of extreme rainfall rates, standing water and likely hydroplaning as derived by our internal models. Source: Aeris Enterprise.


Fairly Comfortable Weekend. After a few steamy, thundery days we get a nice break today into Sunday with highs in the upper 70s to low 80s and dew points dipping into the 50s, meaning far more comfortable than recent days. A dash of heat returns by the middle of next week, but no extended or persistent heat waves shaping up. Graphic: WeatherBell.


Light Weekend Winds. Models show sustained winds in the 5-10 mph range much of Saturday and Sunday as a weak bubble of Canadian high pressure has the good fortune of passing directly over Minnesota. Graphic: Aeris Enterprise Mobile.


Generous Weekend Sunshine. Cloud cover forecasts call for 10-40% over the weekend; afternoon instability cumulus giving way to clearing skies overnight. Clouds increase by Tuesday as warmer, stickier air approaches.



Wet, Warm and Wild. Here’s an excerpt from the AerisWeather Blog: “A total of 22 locations saw a top ten wettest July on record, mainly across the mid-section of the country. A few location up in the Northwest, however, did break into the top ten as well. Some of these top ten locations included:
  • Wichita, KS (9.67″)
  • Columbia, MO (10.91″)
  • Bismarck, ND (5.10″)
  • New York-JFK Airport (6.06″)
  • Glasgow, MT (3.42″)

Steamy July for Much of the USA. Aeris Consulting Meteorologist D.J. Kayser takes a look at which cities experienced some of their hottest July temperatures on record at AerisWeather Blog:

“…Electric costs were high across parts of the nation during the month of July as temperatures reached record levels in spots. In total, twelve long-term climate locations across the South and Southeast saw their warmest Julys on record. This included places such as:

  • Columbia, SC (average temperature: 87.2)
  • Tampa, FL (average temperature: 84.9)
  • El Paso, TX (average temperature: 88.7)

Some of the cities on the map above not only saw their warmest July on record, but technically their warmest calendar month ever on record as well. These three cities were the “lucky” ones able to do so:

  • Charleston, SC (average temperature: 86.2 – previous warmest month ever: 86.1 in July 1986)
  • West Palm Beach, FL (average temperature: 86.2 – previous warmest month ever: 85.7 in July 2011)
  • Midland, TX (average temperature: 88.2 – previous warmest month ever: 88.0 in June 2011)...”

Witness to a Flash Flood. Amanda Pruzinsky describes how the FEMA app on her phone alerted her to an impending mega-flood last Saturday in Ellicott City, Maryland. I have the FEMA app on my phone – it’s definitely worth the time to download this powerful (free) app. Here’s an excerpt from EPA: “…No one had any way of knowing that an otherwise ordinary day would end in such devastation. Everyone was chatting about the rain when an alarm hit our smart phones. Another summer storm, another flash flood warning, everyone glances at their phones and continues on with their evening. Its 8:11 p.m., only a few minutes after the flash flood warning to our phones.  The heavy rainstorm had turned into the warned flash flood in less time than I can comprehend. Everyone is glued to the windows in the front of the restaurant yelling over the sound of the raging water, watching even after the basement filled with water, power went out, and alarms came on. We continued watching for over an hour as the river of brown water swept away cars, rolled huge dumpsters, toppled street signs, cut the power lines, and raged like it would last forever...”

* More on FEMA’s mobile app here.



Improving Hurricane Intensity Forecasts. Models do a pretty good job with hurricane track, but intensity is much more difficult to predict. NASA is about to launch 8 new CYGNSS “micro-satellites” that may help; here’s an excerpt: “Hurricane track forecast accuracy has improved since 1990, but there has been little improvement in intensity forecast accuracy. A new NASA mission using eight micro-satellites will make accurate measurements of ocean surface winds in and near the eye of the storm throughout the lifecycle of tropical cyclones, typhoons & hurricanes. The Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) will probe the inner core of hurricanes to learn about their rapid intensification. The mission will launch on Nov. 21, 2016, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on a Pegasus XL rocket. The University of Michigan is developing CYGNSS…” (Image credit: NASA).


How Soviet and American Hurricane Fliers Set Aside Cold War Politics for Science. Jack Williams has a fascinating story at Capital Weather Gang; here’s a clip that made me do a double-take: “…Unknown to the United States before Gilbert, Russian airplanes had flown out of Cuba into Hurricane Emily in 1987, Hurricane Floyd and Tropical Storm Chris the month before Gilbert. After Gilbert in 1988, the Russians flew into Hurricanes Gabrielle and Hugo, Tropical Storm Iris and Hurricane Jerry in 1989. In 1990, they flew into Hurricane Klaus and Tropical Storm Marco. The Russians also flew into several Pacific Ocean typhoons out of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (commonly called North Vietnam in the United States) from 1984 until 1990. They didn’t risk conflicts with U.S. hurricane hunters; the United States had ended typhoon flights in 1987…”

Image credit: “Hurricane Gilbert, 1988.” (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).


Got An Extreme Weather Event? NOAA Tool Searches for Climate Link. Here’s more information from InsideClimate News: “…Now, a new searchable tool from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows, county by county, whether or how climate change will change the likelihood of these extreme events in the decades to come. The project is an updated version of NOAA’s interactive Climate Explorer, part of the agency’s U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit. David Herring, the toolkit’s program manager, said the site was designed to allow local governments, small business owners and natural resource managers to plan for a future of warming-fueled extreme weather. The Explorer includes maps and charts on how temperature and precipitation patterns could change on a local level through 2100…”



Is The Heat Index Real? The short answer is yes. More context from Mental Floss: “…The heat index is the temperature it feels like to your body when you factor in both the actual air temperature and the amount of moisture in the air. If the heat index is 103°F, that means that the combination of heat and humidity has a similar physical impact on your body as it would if the actual air temperature were 103°F. Even though it’s tempting to think of the heat index as an exaggerated temperature that only exists to make the heat sound worse than it really is, scientists came up with the measurements after decades of medical and meteorological research devoted to studying the impact of heat and humidity on the human body. It’s the real deal...”

Major Changes For 3 U.S. Weather Models Are Coming. Here’s the intro to a story from Dr. Marshall Shepherd at Forbes: “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that major changes are coming to three of its weather prediction models. To the weather community and enthusiasts this is a big deal. However these changes also have impacts for a society which depends on weather forecasts for day-to-day operations, agriculture, aviation, national security, emergency response and more…”

Image credit: “Improved resolution of newly announced NOAA weather forecast model.” Courtesy of NOAA.


Countries Are Spending Millions to Control the Weather. Here’s Why. Yahoo News has an interesting story and background: “This summer, China set aside $30 million for a controversial project that involves shooting salt-and-mineral-filled bullets into the sky. Their mission? Make it rain. The project is part of a larger campaign of so-called weather modification techniques that the country has been using since at least 2008, when they claim to have cleared the skies for the Beijing Olympics by forcing the rain to come early. China is far from the only nation trying to bring (or stop) the rain. At least 52 countries — including the United States — have current weather modification programs, 10 more countries than five years ago, according to the World Meteorological Organization...”

Weather Disasters Can Fuel War in Volatile Countries. Scientific American has the story – here’s an excerpt: “Following the warmest two years on record and spikes in violence that fueled a global refugee crisis, climate scientists on Monday reported that armed fighting is prone to follow droughts, heatwaves and other weather-related calamities in turbulent countries. Nearly a quarter of deadly armed conflicts in the countries with the most diverse ethnic makeups from 1980 to 2010 were found to have occurred at around the same time as an extreme weather event. “It’s significant that you can make that statement—that nearly 25 percent of those conflicts coincided with some type of climate-related disaster,” said Jonathan Donges, a Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research scientist who helped lead the new study…”

Photo credit: “African countries like Uganda are among the world’s most ethnically diverse, and they are also vulnerable to climate change. New findings suggest peace will be harder to achieve and maintain in places like Uganda as the climate changes.” Credit: AMISOM Public Information/Flickr


Exxon Official Says a Ban on Fossil Fuel is Unrealistic. The Wall Street Journal has the story – here’s an excerpt: “…The Exxon official said the company is concerned about the risks climate change poses, and that it encourages the use of renewable and other alternative fuels. But he said, for example, that even while the use of wind and solar power will rise faster than any other energy source through 2040, those two will still amount to less than 3% of total energy use. “There are billions of people who need to read, need to learn, need to improve their standard of living,” he said. “You simply cannot do this without fossil fuels…”
Photo credit: “Stacks and burn-off from the Exxon Mobil refinery are seen at dusk in St. Bernard Parish, La.” Photo: Associated Press.

Clean Air and Healthy Communities Can’t Be Optional. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at TheHill: “…Pollution that she knows is making her children and others sick even as she and her neighbors pay higher utility bills than neighbors in less polluted areas. In low-income communities and communities of color throughout the country, stories like Washington’s are common – and unnecessary. 68% of African-Americans live within 30 miles of a coal plant, major sources of deadly pollutants. 80% of Latinos live in areas that don’t meet federal EPA airquality standards. Systemic racism inpacts the very air we breathe…”


Our Consumption of Earth’s Natural Resources Has More Than Tripled in 40 Years. What would sustainable markets, sustainable capitalism look like? Huffington Post has the details: “Limestone and steel for our homes, wheat and vegetables for our dinner, fossil fuels for our industries: we rely heavily on our planet’s natural resources to survive. Yet we’re using up these resources at such an unsustainable pace that we may be “irreversibly” depleting some of them ― and critically damaging our Earth in the process, according to a new United Nations report. The report from the International Resource Panel, part of the UN Environment Program, said extraction of primary materials has more than tripled in 40 years. Rising consumption driven by a rapidly growing middle class is fueling the rate…” (Image credit: NASA).

Wind-Powered Cargo Ships Could Help Cut Your Carbon Footprint. Here’s an excerpt from Mashable: “Amid the dozens of cargo ships now steering through the North Sea, one vessel stands apart: the Avontuur, a 144-foot-long schooner powered only by the wind and sun. Stocked with crates of artisanal gin and vodka, the emissions-free cargo ship is making its maiden voyage from the tiny town of Elsfleth in northwest Germany and around the tip of Denmark to Rostock, on Germany’s northeast coast. After Rostock, the crew plans to spend the next one to two years hauling organic wines, fair trade coffee and other sustainable fare to ports across Europe, North America, the Caribbean and, eventually, Australia…”


How Big a Threat Will Zika Be At The Olympics? Here’s the intro to an analysis at The Wall Street Journal: “Brazil is experiencing a widespread outbreak of the Zika virus. In May, some health experts published an open letter calling for the Olympics to be postponed or moved. Others, like the World Health Organization, say the Games should go on. Fears have led a few athletes to drop out, while two teams have deployed technology to reduce the risk of transmission. Visitors are planning to take extra precautions. Will the Olympics fuel the global spread of the Zika virus?...”

Map credit: Sources: Brazil’s Health Ministry (cases); Kraemer MUG et al., eLife Sciences, University of Oxford (index).

Health Secrets of the Amish. Here’s a segment I’d like to see on QVC. Turns out tracking dirt into the house may not be such a bad thing, after all. Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “…The findings also reiterate the theme that genes aren’t destiny. Disease emerges from the dance between genes and environment. The asthma epidemic may stem, at least in part, from the decline of what Graham Rook, an immunologist at University College London, years ago called our “old friends” — the organisms our immune systems expect to be present in the environment. The newly sneezing upper classes in the 19th century may have been the first to find themselves without these old friends. Now most of the developed world has lost them. The task at hand is to figure out how to get them back. One answer may come from the Amish cowshed.” (File image: Wikipedia).


Sub-Sub-Sub Island on Victoria Island. Curious about what a third-order island is? And are you as concerned as I am that Ken Jennings is an alien sent here to a). kick our butts at Jeopardy and b). observe the human race? Here’s an excerpt from Atlas Obsura: “…Eight years after making his claim to fame among the international community, Jennings drew attention from the much smaller community of extreme geography fans. In January of 2012 Jennings announced that, after countless hours of scanning Google Earth, he had found the world’s largest third order island, a nameless isle within Victoria Island. That is: an island inside a lake, which is completely surrounded by another island, which is completely surrounded by another lake, which itself located on Victoria Island, which is located in the Arctic Ocean. (Pinpointed on Google Maps here.)…” (Images: NASA).




TODAY: Comfortable sunshine! Winds: NW 10-15. High: near 80

FRIDAY NIGHT: Clear and pleasant. Low: 61

SATURDAY: Plenty of sun, no complaints. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 81

SUNDAY: Blue sky, a little more humidity. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 63. High: 83

MONDAY: Partly sunny and muggy. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 64. High: 84

TUESDAY: Some sun, risk of bumping into a T-storm. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 68. High: 86

WEDNESDAY: Lot’s of sun, bordering on hot again. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: 70. High: near 90

THURSDAY: T-storms, locally heavy rain? Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 71. High: 82


Climate Stories…

“I Cried… Right Into My Mask”: Scientists Say Guam’s Reefs Have Bleached Four Years Straight. The Washington Post reports; here’s a clip: “…And there’s been no sign of a break this summer. After a recent dive in Guam’s Tumon Bay, Raymundo took to Facebook to describe her shock at the devastation. “I consider myself to be fairly objective and logical about science,” she wrote. “But sometimes that approach fails me. Today, for the first time in the 50 years I’ve been in the water, I cried for an hour, right into my mask, as I witnessed the extent to which our lovely Tumon Bay corals were bleaching and dying.” While not all of the shallow reefs around Guam have been so severely affected, the damage to the Tumon Bay corals is particularly worrying because that area is so important for tourism, Raymundo said…”

Photo credit: “Healthy coral and bleached coral at Guam’s West Agana site in 2014.” (Photo by Laurie Raymundo)


Unitarian Universalists Sue For Right To Use Solar Panels, Cite Religious Freedom. ThinkProgress has the story: “A Unitarian Universalist church is suing the town of Bedford, Massachusetts for denying a request to install solar panels on its property, arguing that authorities are infringing on the congregation’s right to express their religious belief in clean energy solutions. According to RLUIPA Defense, the First [Unitarian Universalist] Parish in Bedford applied for a “certificate of appropriateness” to install solar panels on its Meetinghouse earlier this year, only to be denied by the town’s Historic District Commission. In response, the congregation filed a complaint on June 27 based on an unusual argument: that the denial violated their congregation’s free exercise of religion, specifically the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as Article II of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights…”

Photo credit: AP Photo/Mel Evans. “Solar panels are seen on the roof of St. Mark Lutheran Church, in Trenton, NJ in 2007“.

U.S. Signed Pact To Keep Exxon Climate Probe Confidential. Reuters has more details: “A pact that 15 U.S. states signed to jointly investigate Exxon Mobil Corp for allegedly misleading the public about climate change sought to keep prosecutors’ deliberations confidential and was broadly written so they could probe other fossil fuel companies. The “Climate Change Coalition Common Interest Agreement” was signed by state attorneys general in May, two months after they held a press conference to say they would go after Exxon, the world’s largest publicly-traded oil and gas company, and possibly other companies. The signed agreement has not been made public until now, and Reuters reviewed a copy of it on Thursday…”

Photo credit: “A view of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas – September 15, 2008.” Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi.


Zillow Says Climate Change Could Leave 2 Million U.S. Homes Underwater – Literally. GeekWire has the story; here’s the intro: “The U.S. housing market is finally recovering from the Great Recession — but now comes the tide of an equally insidious threat: Climate change. New Zillow research shows that unchecked climate change could leave 1.9 million homes underwater by 2100. Underwater, in this case, does not refer to negative equity. If sea levels rise by the estimated six feet in 85 years, about two percent of U.S. homes are at risk of being submerged. Those properties are worth a total $882 billion, according to Zillow.…”
Photo credit: “Waterfront properties on Lake Union in Seattle.” (Photo via Shutterstock).


The 10 Most Startling Facts About Climate in 2015 – The Warmest Year on Record. Jason Samenow looks at the data and trends at Capital Weather Gang: “Last year was unequivocally the warmest year on record for Earth. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Tuesday released a 300-page report documenting the historic warmth as well as scores of other aspects of 2015’s climate. The hefty report, State of the Climate in 2015, was produced by more than 450 scientists from 62 countries around the world — more than any previous edition. Every single direct indicator of temperature described in the report leaves no doubt that 2015’s global surface temperature towered over any year preceding it. Numerous other climate indicators related to temperature exhibited characteristics consistent with such historic warmth…”

* Download State of the Climate in 2015 from the American Meteorological Society.


2015 Set Frenzy of Climate Records. Andrea Thompson has more perspective at Climate Central: “The report, now in its 26th year and published as a special edition of the journal Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, was put together by 456 authors in 62 countries and provides a checkup of Earth’s health. “We have to understand how the planet is changing and varying . . . in order to understand where we may be going in the future,” Thomas Karl, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, said during a press teleconference. While a strong El Niño provided a boost to global temperatures last year, the main driver of the planet’s temperature surge, as well as other climate trends, is the warming caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And just as many of the records of 2015 broke those set only one year earlier, 2016 has broken or is poised to break several of 2015’s records...”

Image credit: Ocean heat content in 2015 and trends over time.” Credit: NOAA


Fewer Americans Doubt Climate Change – But Confidence Is Up On Both Sides. CSMonitor.com has the latest findings: “Two-thirds of all Americans are confident that climate change is real, and well-supported by evidence, according to a new National Survey on Energy and Environment (NSEE), a twice-yearly study from the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, the number of respondents who say there is no solid evidence of global warming is at a record low: just 15 percent, versus 24 percent one year ago.  The NSEE has been measuring public opinion on climate change since 2008, when 72 percent of respondents said global warming was a reality…”


Documenting Glaciers In The Dying Days of Ice. You might want to see Glacier National Park while there are still glaciers to see. Here’s the intro to a photo essay from Climate Central: “National Parks have grown up with photography. So it’s only fitting that in the last days of ice in Montana’s Glacier National Park, Lisa McKeon is using a camera to show how quickly climate change has killed off the park’s namesakes. After all, it’s one thing to note that of the park’s 150 glaciers that existed in the late 1800s, only 25 of them remain today. But it’s another to see what that cold, hard fact looks like on the landscape…”

Photo credit: “Park visitors eating dinner at Cracker Lake, a glacial-fed lake in Glacier National Park’s backcountry.” Credit: Jacob Frank/National Park Service.


Conservatives Must Embrace The Fight Against Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at TheHill that resonated: “…In my view, the main reason why most conservative politicians deny climate change is because they believe the issue is simply a front to grow government. Denying the problem of climate change is easier than debating solutions. Most of the solutions proposed thus far have involved imposing more red tape and stringent regulations. What these conservatives don’t realize is that they have an opportunity to boost their image, win votes, and promote free enterprise and libertarian policy solutions by tackling the climate change issue head on rather than ceding the issue to liberals who use climate change as a vehicle for big-government policies...”

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About Paul Douglas

Paul Douglas
Paul Douglas is a meteorologist, author, entrepreneur, and software expert in Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota. He is a nationally recognized meteorologist with over 30 years of broadcast television and radio experience.
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