Conservation Minnesota

At Least 7 Minnesota Tornadoes Yesterday – 90s Return by Sunday – Dangerous Heat Grips Arizona

74 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday.
79 F. average high on June 14.
85 F. high on June 14, 2015.

1.1″ of rain fell at MSP International Airport on Tuesday.

June 15, 1989: Scattered frost develops across Minnesota, with the coldest reading of 29 at Isabella.

Drying Out – A Little Severe Storm Perspective

Yesterday was a subtle (yet blunt) reminder that, historically, June is Minnesota’s wettest, most severe month of the year. Arguably the worst time for outdoor weddings and grad parties, too.

The approach of juicy, super-heated air from the south, coupled with twisting winds aloft, can create an environment where thunderstorms begin to spin. These rotating “supercells” can travel for hours, a protected updraft sparking large hail, even tornadoes.

Perspective is important: out of 100 thunderstorms only 10 will reach severe limits (58 mph plus winds and/or 1-inch diameter hail), and only 1 will ever produce a tornado.

Yesterday’s weather drama is fading as a drying northwest breeze chases storms into Wisconsin today. The sun comes out later, and stays out into most of Sunday with a gradual warming trend.
ECMWF guidance hints at mid-90s Sunday with a heat index that may leave you fleeing in search of a cool body of water.

But it can always be worse. Sunday’s predicted high in Phoenix is 118F, just shy of the all-time record of 122F, set on June 26, 1990. Truly gasp-worthy.


Meso-Circulation. The rotating mesocyclone that spun up a series of tornadoes near Mankato, Kilkenny and Waterville was amazing to track on Doppler. You can almost make out an “eye” to the system in the reflectivity display (top), coupled with a strong couplet on the velocity field (below). Small tornadoes spun up around this larger circulation, one I tracked for the better part of 4 hours yesterday.



Early Count: 7 Minnesota Tornadoes. This will change as NOAA conducts site surveys, but there may have been (at least) 7 separate tornado spin-ups yesterday across southern and west central Minnesota. I suspect most of these were smaller tornadoes, EF-0 and EF-1 but I wouldn’t be surprised to see swaths of greater damage. Check out the details at NOAA SPC.

Severe Coverage Twitter Stream. With access to Level 2 and Level 3 Doppler radar information you can follow along as we update severe weather reports; the big picture and drilling down to county level for more detail. Follow me on Twitter: @pdouglasweather.


More Storm Reports. I saw an official report of 2.2″ of rain at Lakeville; 2.3″ in Eagan. You can see the swath of wind-related damage over southern Minnesota with numerous reports of severe winds and tornadoes from near Mankato to Kilkenny. Map source: Twin Cities National Weather Service.


Heating Up Next Weekend. A couple of relatively comfortable days are shaping up – you’ll notice a drop in dew point tomorrow with a northeast breeze. But as winds swing around to the southeast, then south by Saturday temperatures surge into the 80s; ECMWF guidance still suggesting low to mid 90s Sunday. Graphic: WeatherBell.



You Will Never Guess What Kind of Weather is the Deadliest. Cities, with additional heat provided by the urban heat island, are most vulnerable to heat-related ailments. Here’s an excerpt from weather.com: “There are a number of significant weather events that residents of this great nation have to endure every year. Given three guesses as to which one produces the greatest number of fatalities, what would your answer be? Violent winds from a hurricane or tornado, lightning from thunderstorms, and rising floodwaters come to mind. But the weather event that actually produces the greatest number of fatalities is heat…”

Graphic credit: “Weather Fatalities Per Year.” (30 Year Average) (NWS).



Hottest Days on Record in Phoenix. Feel free to forward this to a friend in Scottsdale. 120F looks increasingly likely (air temperature) Sunday afternoon. Like Venus, with drive-thru restaurants. Graphic credit: AerisWeather.


Does It Get Hot Enough in a Car to Bake a Turkey? The unfortunate answer appears to be yes, according to Dr. Marshall Shepherd, reporting at Forbes: “…On Saturday June 11th, my kids and I placed piece of sandwich turkey in my car for 1 hour. The pan had a light coating of cooking spray. After an hour the turkey was baked to a crisp relative to a “control” piece. The initial temperature was 95 degrees F according to Weather Underground App, but we did not have a thermometer.  The car was placed in open sunlight. Given the chart developed by Grundstein and colleagues, it is theoretically possible that the temperature exceeded 140 degrees F, however due to intermittent cloud cover (reduction in sun exposure) we hypothesized that 20 to 25 degree increase was more likely…”

Photo credit: “Car baked turkey (left) and a “control” piece. Pan stayed in a car for 1 hour.” Photo courtesy of Dr. Marshall Shepherd.


Hottest May On Record With Year To Date Temperature. The coincidences just keep on coming, in spite of no El Nino warm phase in the Pacific. Here’s an excerpt from Hot Whopper: “Yes, another “hottest” on record – this time for May 2016. According to GISS NASA, the average for May was 0.93 °C, which is 0.07 °C above the previous hottest May, in 2014. Last month is the first time in seven months that the GISTemp monthly anomaly is one degree Celsius below the average from 1951-1980.  This month the anomaly is the ninth highest for any month, lower than all anomalies from October last year, and lower than that for January 2007. The average for the five months to the end of May is 1.15 °C, which is 0.29 °C higher than any previous January to May period. The previous highest was last year, which with the latest data had an anomaly of 0.86 °C...”

Image credit: “Global mean surface temperature for El Nino years.” Data source: GISS NASA


Future Temperature in Southwest Asia Projected to Exceed a Threshold for Human Adaptability. Too hot to live in the Persian Gulf and northern Africa? Here’s an excerpt of a recent abstract at Nature Climate Change: “…This threshold defines a limit of survivability for a fit human under well-ventilated outdoor conditions and is lower for most people. We project using an ensemble of high-resolution regional climate model simulations that extremes of wet-bulb temperature in the region around the Arabian Gulf are likely to approach and exceed this critical threshold under the business-as-usual scenario of future greenhouse gas concentrations. Our results expose a specific regional hotspot where climate change, in the absence of significant mitigation, is likely to severely impact human habitability in the future.”


Britain’s Royal Navy Warships Are Breaking Down Because Sea Is Too Hot. CNN reports: “Britain’s £1bn ($1.4bn) warships are losing power in the Persian Gulf because they cannot cope with the warm waters, MPs have been told. Six Type 45 destroyers have repeatedly experienced power outages because of the temperatures, leaving servicemen in complete darkness. During the Defence Committee hearing on Tuesday, MPs questioned company executives about the warship failures. “The equipment is having to operate in far more arduous conditions that were initially required,” Rolls-Royce director Tomas Leahy said...” (File photo: UK Royal Navy).


When It Comes to U.S. Weather Forecasting: Public, Private, or Both? Here’s a snippet of an Op-Ed at Forbes: “…Recently, there has been a shift in the “value-added” proposition of private companies. There are companies saying they can launch weather satellites or run their own weather models that can compete with NOAA’s GFS or the European model. For example, Panasonic  who has long been involved with systems to provide weather data from aircraft, recently claimed to have the best weather model in the world. This immediately sparked discussion. On a forthcoming episode of Weather Channel WxGeeks we speak to them about this claim. There are companies that claim they can offer a more nimble and cost-efficient option for the nation’s weather satellite program…”


New Forecast Model Aims to Predict Height of Ocean Waves During Storms. Northwest Herald has an interesting post; here’s an excerpt: “…The USGS is running its coastal change forecast model to predict how far a storm’s waves will push water up the beach – whether it will go just to the dunes, over the dunes, or even farther onto roads and property. Oceanographers are in the pilot stages of a new implementation of the model that would predict beach changes in all weather conditions. As part of the pilot program, hour-by-hour forecasts of potential beachfront changes caused by wave conditions are underway in some areas of North Carolina, Massachusetts and Florida, said USGS research oceanographer Hilary Stockdon. The pilot program runs all the time for all sorts of weather, not just big storms such as hurricanes and nor’easters. Eventually, the forecasts – which give details for the coming days – will be available for all Gulf and Atlantic states up to 102 hours before storms…”


The Weather-Predicting Tech Behind $62 Billion Monsanto Bid. Yahoo Finance has the story – here’s an excerpt: “…Signs of the transformation abound: drones providing bird’s-eye views of fields; mapping software locating underground water sources; sensor- laden tractors monitoring harvests in real time. It’s happening outside the fields, too. Cows’ meal portions are adjusted automatically based on their milk output. Infrared cameras identify chickens with fevers, protecting flocks. Adoption of digital tools comes amid concerns that food production isn’t keeping up with the world’s appetite. Crop yields have remained relatively flat in recent years, even as demand is increasing because of population growth and the rising middle class in developing nations such as China…”

Photo credit: “A John Deere & Co. Greenstar 2630 terminal.”



Save the Climate and Protect America: Build an “Underground Energy Interstate” Now. I found an Op-Ed at Capital Weather Gang fairly convincing; here’s the intro: “The two greatest threats the United States (and other nations) face could be solved by a single infrastructure project that could be done now with existing technology. The threat the Democrats see is climate change. The threat the Republicans see is terrorism on a massive scale. There are weapons, called Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) nuclear bombs, currently in the hands of nations such as North Korea that could be in the hands of terrorists in 15 years. An EMP bomb placed high above Kansas City, Kan., could wipe out the U.S. electric system and much of our digital electronics…”

File photo credit: “The Empire State Building towers over the skyline of a blackout-darkened New York just before dawn on Aug. 15, 2003.” (George Widman/AP).



Even in “Pristine” National Parks, The Air’s Not Clear. Smithsonian.com has the story – here’s an excerpt: “…In an analysis last year, the NPCA found that even parks with the most protection under the Clear Air Act—icons like Mesa Verde, Everglades, Yosemite, Acadia and Sequoia—continue to experience pollution that can affect wildlife and human health, as well as the climate. According to the National Park Service’s own data, ozone levels on the peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains, for example, are nearly twice those in nearby cities like Atlanta. Up to 90 percent of black cherry trees in the park (depending on location) have sickly yellow leaves and other signs of ozone damage, and visitors with asthma can have trouble breathing. In California, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks regularly have ozone pollution that exceeds the 70 parts per billion standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency…”

Photo credit: “The view looking into the Shenandoah Valley can be hugely obscured by haze.” (NPS photo).

Coal and Gas to Begin “Terminal Decline” In Less Than a Decade, Bloomberg Says. You could make a strong argument that the decline has already begun. Here’s an excerpt at ThinkProgress: “…It’s been clear for a while that coal demand is plateauing, if it hasn’t already peaked. But BNEF explains that of the “eight massive shifts coming soon to power markets,” #1 is “There Will Be No Golden Age of Gas.” Here is the core finding of BNEF’s “annual long-term view of how the world’s power markets will evolve in the future,” their New Energy Outlook (NEO):
Cheaper coal and cheaper gas will not derail the transformation and decarbonisation of the world’s power systems. By 2040, zero-emission energy sources will make up 60% of installed capacity. Wind and solar will account for 64% of the 8.6TW [1 Terawatt = 1,000 Gigawatts] of new power generating capacity added worldwide over the next 25 years, and for almost 60% of the $11.4 trillion invested.

File photo credit: Shutterstock.


Power Plants Are No Longer America’s Biggest Climate Problem. Transportation Is. Vox has an explanation; here’s the intro: “The story here is that the United States has made remarkable progress in greening its electricity sector since 2005. Whenever you see exciting headlines about renewable energy growth or the plunge in US emissions, those articles are usually talking about electricity. But power plants are only one-third of America’s CO2 emissions. Transportation, another third (and now the biggest source), remains tougher to address. In fact, since 2013, transport emissions have been creeping upward again…”

Graphic credit: Sam Ori. You can see the full data here.


Apple is Making So Much Clean Energy it Formed a New Company to Sell It. The Verge has details; here’s the intro: “Apple has created a subsidiary to sell the excess electricity generated by its hundreds of megawatts of solar projects. The company, called Apple Energy LLC, filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to sell power on wholesale markets across the US. The company has announced plans for 521 megawatts of solar projects globally. It’s using that clean energy to power all of its data centers, as well as most of its Apple Stores and corporate offices. In addition, it has other investments in hydroelectric, biogas, and geothermal power, and looks to purchase green energy off the grid when it can’t generate its own power. In all, Apple says it generates enough electricity to cover 93 percent of its energy usage worldwide...” (File photo: Apple Inc.)

Cable Industry Mobilizes Lobbying Arm to Block FCC Rules. Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “…So far this year, the agency has proposed reforming rules on set-top boxes so that people can pick any television device to receive cable and online video, which could cut into the industry’s $19.5 billion in annual set-top-box rental fees. The F.C.C. also unveiled broadband privacy rules that would make it harder to collect and share data on users for targeted advertising. And the agency also announced a plan to force cable and telecom companies to lease bandwidth to competitors in certain areas, with potential limits on how much they can charge, curbing revenue for such deals…”


Net Neutrality Rules Upheld by Federal Court. Internet is, in fact, a utility, at least according to the courts. Here’s an excerpt at The New York Times: “High-speed internet service can be defined as a utility, a federal court has ruled, a decision clearing the way for more rigorous policing of broadband providers and greater protections for web users. The decision from a three-judge panel at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday comes in a case about rules applying to a doctrine known as net neutrality, which prohibit broadband companies from blocking or slowing the delivery of internet content to consumers…”

How Glitch Fare Hunters Turn Airlines’ Tricks Against Them. Looking for ridiculously cheap tickets? Check out at article at Atlas Obscura; here’s a clip: “…For years, computer-savvy travelers have sniffed out these lucrative mistakes, sifting through airfare matrices for hours until they strike gold, and communicating with each other in code to keep airlines from following their trail. More recently, though, aggregators like Secret Flying have made it easier than ever to nab error fares. In the process, they’ve turned flight deal-seeking into a sport—and a dedicated community...”


TODAY: Partly sunny – a drier, milder day. Winds: W 10-15. High: near 80

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and more comfortable. Low: 61

THURSDAY: Plenty of sunshine, less humid. Winds: NE 7-12. High: 80

FRIDAY: Warm sunshine. Take a comp day. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 65. High: 85

SATURDAY: Sticky sunshine, plenty hot. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 67. High: 88

SUNDAY: Stinking hot, T-storms late? Heat index near 100? Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 72. High: 94

MONDAY: Storms taper, a bit of relief. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 75. High: 84

TUESDAY: Plenty of sun, cooler and less humid. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 66. High: 75


Climate Stories…

Wall Street Journal Accepts Environmentalist Ad But Charges Extra. The Washington Post has more details: “The Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages may be the beating heart of climate-change skepticism, but the newspaper apparently was willing to entertain an alternative view — for a price. The leading business newspaper is letting an obscure environmental group challenge the Journal editorial page’s orthodoxy on the issue, although it will cost the group thousands of extra dollars to run its kickoff ad on the page….”


Melting Arctic Could Supercharge Climate Feedback Loop. Here’s the intro to a story at Climate Central: “As global warming heats the Arctic, carbon dioxide emissions from melting permafrost could play a bigger role in worsening climate change than previously thought, according to a new study. Scientists have long considered methane emissions to be the biggest climate threat posed by thawing permafrost. Methane is more potent than carbon dioxide in the short term because as the gas is released into the atmosphere, it speeds global warming, leading to more thawing, more emissions and even more warming. The resulting cycle is known as a climate “feedback” loop…”

Photo credit: “Wetlands formed by thawing permafrost in northern Sweden.” Credit: distantranges/flickr


Climate Change is Shifting the Border Between Italy and Austria. VICE reports; here’s a snippet: “…Climate change is happening so fast and on such a huge scale that it’s forcing us to change the borders of a country,” said head of the mapping expedition, Marco Ferrari. While the border we were on had been monitored since the 1919 Treaty of St. Germain, Ferrari’s project, Italian Limes (“boundaries” in Latin), is the first time that it has been tracked consistently and accurately. The borders of a country are “something we always consider as stable, as a political device, the foundation of the modern state, the most sacred thing, but this huge natural transformation makes clear how disruptive and alarming these changes are,” he said…”

Photo credit: “Grafferner Glacier defines part of the border between Italy and Austria. The GPS tracking devices monitor the glacier’s melt and, in turn, that border’s movement.” Photos by Delfino Sisto Legnani.


At Ground Zero of Warming, Greenland Seeks to Unlock Frozen Assets. Reuters reports: “On top of the world, by a fjord in western Greenland, a remote hydro power plant is buzzing with extra water from the melt of ancient glaciers. This island at ground zero of global warming is seeking to be one of the few places on Earth to benefit. Outside the Buksefjord plant, the biggest of five hydro-electricity stations built in Greenland since 1993 in a push to move away from imported oil, cod that usually only thrive further south can be seen swimming in the clear water. And a worker at the facility is preparing to grow potatoes and turnips on land close to the Arctic Circle that is usually too cold for anything other than lichen and reindeer…”

Photo credit: “Children play amid icebergs on the beach in Nuuk, Greenland, June 5, 2016.” Reuters/Alister Doyle.


Flooding and Climate Change: French Acceptance, Texas Denial. EcoWatch has the story – here’s an excerpt: “Texas and France have a number of things in common. They’re roughly the same size. They were both republics. They have delectable, widely loved cuisines. And, just last week, both were battered by torrential rains and flooding turbocharged by human-made global warming. What’s different between them? Plenty, to be sure, but given that the recent deluge is the topic du jour, what’s most interesting are the diametrically opposite views French and Lone Star state officials hold about the climate change connection. For the French, it’s “Mais oui, bien sûr!” But as far as the Texans are concerned, “It just ain’t happenin’…”

Photo credit: “People watch the flood water levels of Seine river from Pont de l’Alma bridge with the partially submerged statue ‘Le Zouave’ in Paris, France, June 3.” Photo credit: EPA / Jeremy Lempin.


India Coal Pathway Central to Climate Challenge – Bloomberg. Here’s an excerpt at Climate Home: “China’s economic rebalancing will see its greenhouse gas emissions peak as early as 2025, forecasts Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Yet rising coal use in India and other emerging Asian markets points to a 5% increase in global emissions from 2015 levels by 2040. More bullish about renewable energy’s prospects than oil majors are, BNEF’s outlook nonetheless warns the transition is not going fast enough to meet international climate goals…” (Photo credit: Flickr/ECSP).


The War on Science. Science communicator Greg Laden has a review of Shawn Otto’s terrific (and important) new book; here’s an excerpt: “…People come to believe what they believe in a way that rarely involves scientific thinking. The human mind is not inherently rational in the sense we usually use the term today. The process of learning things, of inference, and developing habits that guide our reactions to the world around us, evolved to function well enough given our usual cultural, social, and ecological context. But the modern world presents challenges that are better addressed, and problems that are only solvable, with a scientific approach. Science is something we willfully impose on our own process of thought and, at the level of society, formation of policy and law...”

* Check out the podcast interview with author Shawn Otto at Ikonocast.


The Mistrust of Science. Continuing the the theme, here’s an excerpt of a recent New Yorker article: “…To defend those beliefs, few dismiss the authority of science. They dismiss the authority of the scientific community. People don’t argue back by claiming divine authority anymore. They argue back by claiming to have the truer scientific authority. It can make matters incredibly confusing. You have to be able to recognize the difference between claims of science and those of pseudoscience. Science’s defenders have identified five hallmark moves of pseudoscientists. They argue that the scientific consensus emerges from a conspiracy to suppress dissenting views. They produce fake experts, who have views contrary to established knowledge but do not actually have a credible scientific track record. They cherry-pick the data and papers that challenge the dominant view as a means of discrediting an entire field. They deploy false analogies and other logical fallacies. And they set impossible expectations of research: when scientists produce one level of certainty, the pseudoscientists insist they achieve another...”

Biggest U.S. Coal Company Funded Dozens of Groups Questioning Climate Change. Why? Because it was bad for the bottom line. Here’s an excerpt of a story at The Guardian: “Peabody Energy, America’s biggest coalmining company, has funded at least two dozen groups that cast doubt on manmade climate change and oppose environment regulations, analysis by the Guardian reveals. The funding spanned trade associations, corporate lobby groups, and industry front groups as well as conservative thinktanks and was exposed in court filings last month. The coal company also gave to political organisations, funding twice as many Republican groups as Democratic ones…”
Photo credit: “Peabody Energy has funded dozens of groups that question climate science, analysis shows.” Photograph: Jeff Roberson/AP


Poll: 65% of Miami Real Estate Professionals “Concerned” About Climate Change. I expect that number to rise over time; here’s an excerpt from Curbed Miami: “…Meanwhile, the majority think Climate Change is starting to affect the market, though buyers aren’t overly concerned just yet.

Its presence loomed larger this year, as 65 percent of survey respondents reported being concerned about the potential impact of climate change and rising sea levels on the real-estate market. According to the survey, buyers did not share the sentiment; only 22 percent mentioned it as an issue.

Image credit: Miami Herald.

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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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