Conservation Minnesota

Comfortable Canadian Breeze – Summer Heat Next Week – Will "Hermine" Threaten Florida Early Next Week?

82 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
79 F. average high on August 24.
67 F. high temperature on August 24, 2015.

6.20″ rain so far in August.
3.44″ normal rainfall for August, to date.

August 25, 1976: The Roy Lake Fire results in 2,600 acres burned during a drought.
August 25, 1875: A tornado strikes near Hutchinson.

Fresh Air For The Fair – Welcome Touch of Autumn

The question comes up fairly often: what is the biggest challenge for meteorologists? It’s a loaded question, and every forecaster you ask will have a different answer.

Predicting the extent and timing of floods is very difficult. We can tell when conditions are ripe for tornadoes, but can’t pinpoint which communities until they actually spin up. Blizzards are a source of perpetual migraines; where will the heaviest snow bands set up?
In my opinion nothing quite rivals a hurricane. If you’re wrong millions of people may needlessly evacuate. If you’re wrong, and a storm strengthens rapidly, thousands could die. The models continue to improve, but they’re not perfect (and never will  be).
ECMWF (European) guidance hints at a tropical storm impacting south Florida by Sunday, possibly intensifying into a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Right now we don’t know what we don’t know.
Plan on a cool breeze today with afternoon cumulus clouds and low humidity. Fresh air for Day 1 of the State Fair. Friday looks sunny & ideal, but a few T-showers may sprout Saturday. Sunday should be the milder day of the weekend.
Summer weather lovers don’t despair: 80s return next week.

Rare Late-August Tornado Outbreak Across Indiana. I counted at least 8 separate tornado touchdowns, probably more. Here’s an excerpt at Indystar.com: “Meteorologists were still working to answer a lot of questions Wednesday night after a storm system that spanned much of Central Indiana produced several tornadoes. National Weather Service teams were deployed to evaluate extensive damage left in the wake of a storm, meteorologist Joe Skowronek said. An apparent tornado leveled a Starbucks in Kokomo, about 50 miles north of Indianapolis, though no injuries were reported. The storm that produced the tornado began in neighboring Carroll County and traveled straight east before leveling buildings and tearing the roofs off houses, Skowronek said...”


Supercell. WCPO.com has video of the apparent tornado that swept across Kokomo, Indiana – early indications suggest EF-3 strength, with estimated winds approaching 165 mph.


Couplet. The radial velocity display on the Indianapolis NOAA Doppler showed strong inbound and outbound velocities, suggesting very strong rotation in the Kokomo area – one of several supercell thunderstorms that spun up tornadoes Wednesday afternoon.


Still Sloppy. The circulation around Invest-99 is still disorganized, the result of considerable wind shear and even Saharan dust being entrained into the system. Conditions may better favor intensification within a  few days, especially if/when this storm enters the Gulf of Mexico, which has water in the 84-87F range




Spaghetti Plot. Again, keep in mind that models tend to do a better job with tropical track than intensity. Models remain in fairly good agreement that Invest-99 will track northwest, the core of the (messy) storm remaining over warm water, which favors slow intensification. Odds are this system will reach South Florida as a tropical storm (Hermine) by Sunday.


Sunday Evening: Tropical Storm Hermine? The ECMWF (Euro) seems to want to believe that a weak to moderate tropical storm will impact south Florida late Saturday into Sunday. It’s still too early for specifics, but the European model has been consistent bringing a tropical  storm across south Florida for the last 3 days now. Model guidance: WSI.


Still Not Buying It. Yesterday at this same time ECMWF guidance hinted at landfall in southwest Louisiana; now the 12z Wednesday run is predicting landfall over the Florida Panhandle. There is still a huge disparity in model runs – and confidence levels remain very low. But could Hermine strengthen into a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico early next week? Absolutely.


Fair Forecast: Best Chance of Showers Saturday. Expect a dry, comfortable sky today and Friday, but the approach of milder air may set off a few showers, even a stray T-shower Saturday. Right now I don’t see an all-day wash-out, but a few hours of showers can’t be ruled out. Models show a range of .12″ to .32″ of rain falling at Falcon Heights on Saturday. Source: Aeris Enterprise.


Milder Day: Sunday. Temperatures may not climb much above 70F on Saturday, but we expect more sun on Sunday with a southeast breeze and highs near 80F. A better day, if you prefer lukewarm weather.


Comfortable Weekend – Heating Up Again Next Week. ECMWF model guidance shows a streak of 80s returning next week; even a shot at 90F one week from tomorrow. Source: WeatherBell.



Recovering From Katrina: Will New Orleans Become the World’s Climate Beacon? Deutsche Welle has an interesting read; here’s a clip: “Vitally, too, the city has become a testing ground for innovative water management projects, including the construction of river gates to mimic flooding and create sediment. These will hopefully replace some of the 2,000 square miles of Louisiana’s wetlands ecosystem that have disappeared due to erosion. In addition, the astounding Lake Borgne Surge Barrier – a 26-foot-high, 1.8-mile-long concrete- and steel-wall nicknamed by locals “The Great Wall of Louisiana” – was constructed to block deadly lake surges. “What’s really resulted from Katrina is that now we have a better water management program,” Musso said. “I believe that in a post-Katrina world, the right people turned up. I think that the city is going to be better in the future than it’s ever been...” (File photo: Wikipedia).

47th Anniversary of Hurricane Camille. WBRC.com in Birmingham has a good recap of this monstrous, Category 5 storm: “Wednesday marks the 47th anniversary of Hurricane Camille making landfall along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, devastating the coastline and the Pine Belt. Camille made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane just after 11 p.m. in Pass Christian with winds of 175 mph. Other estimates placed the winds near 190 mph with gusts of 230 mph. The exact speed will never be known since Camille destroyed all of the weather sensors along the coast at landfall. Storm surge reached 24 feet along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which was the highest storm surge ever recorded before Katrina. Camille is the second of only three storms to ever make landfall as a Category 5 in the United States, the others being the 1935 Labor Day hurricane in the Florida Keys, and Hurricane Andrew in 1992…”
Photo credit: “In 1969, Hurricane Camille slammed into the Mississippi coast.” Source: NOAA.


5 Reasons Some Were Unaware of One of the Biggest Weather Disasters Since Sandy. Dr. Marshall Shepherd explains at Forbes: “…The American public is somewhat conditioned to perceive a named or higher-category storm as more of a threat. The meteorological conditions that produced the Louisiana floods never received an official “name.” One NOAA Weather Prediction Center discussion actually referred to it as ”sheared inland tropical depression” or a monsoon depression. While this is meaningful to the meteorological crowd (maybe), this certainly is not going to resonate with the average citizen. Whatever it “was,” more rainfall fell in parts of Louisiana than some cities in California have seen in three to five years...” (File image: NOAA).

California Firefighters Stretched Thin As Blazes Sweep State. The Associated Press reports: “California’s state fire department is stretched thin just as the bone-dry state enters the peak of its wildfire season, with vacancy rates exceeding 15 percent for some firefighters and supervisors. The vacancy rate is more than 10 percent for some fire engine drivers, according to statistics provided to The Associated Press. A five-year drought and changing weather patterns have transformed what once was a largely summertime job into an intense year-round firefight, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Janet Upton...”
Photo credit: “Laura Sutton, center, the wife of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighter Nick Sutton, joins others at a rally calling for shorter hours and higher wages to retain firefighters, at the Capitol, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif. Statistics provided to The Associated Press show vacancy rates exceeding 15 percent in some CaliFire positions.” (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California’s Ocean Waters Due For a Cooling Trend After Period of Damaging Heat, Scientists Say. But the latest guidance suggests La Nina may not be as strong as earlier predicted. Here’s an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: “As a series of marine heat waves linked to climate change has thrown ocean ecosystems out of whack from Australia to the coast of California, a cooling trend called La Niña has given scientists hope that water temperatures could come back into balance. But so far, the cooling weather pattern — predicted to follow as a result of last winter’s El Niño — remains squeezed by warmer ocean temperatures along a narrow stretch of the Earth’s equator...”

Graphic credit: NOAA, “La Niña developing.” (@latimesgraphics)


U.S. Warning: Zika Could Spread to Gulf States, Persist For One to Two Years. The Washington Post reports: “The National Institutes of Health’s Anthony Fauci warned that Texas and Louisiana could be next for Zika. In the weeks since mosquitoes carrying the virus hit U.S. borders, they have already spread from a small suburban community in South Florida to Miami’s most popular tourist spot, South Beach. The development prompted a travel advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday urging pregnant women to avoid the area. Fauci, director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” said the situation is likely to get worse soon…”

Image credit: “The Post’s Brady Dennis talks with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about the process of getting a potential Zika vaccine tested and ready for the public.” (Video: The Washington Post/Photo: Sammy Dallal for The Washington Post).


Largest Oil Companies’ Debts Hit Record High. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Some of the world’s largest energy companies are saddled with their highest debt levels ever as they struggle with low crude prices, raising worries about their ability to pay dividends and find new barrels. Exxon Mobil Corp. , Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC and Chevron Corp. hold a combined net debt of $184 billion—more than double their debt levels in 2014, when oil prices began a steep descent that eventually bottomed out at $27 a barrel earlier this year. Crude prices have rebounded since, but still hover near $50 a barrel...”


EPA: North Texas Earthquakes Likely Linked to Oil and Gas Drilling. The Texas Tribune reports: “Federal regulators believe “there is a significant possibility” that recent earthquakes in North Texas are linked to oil and gas activity, even if state regulators won’t say so. That’s according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s annual evaluation of how the Texas Railroad Commission oversees thousands of injection and disposal wells that dot state oilfields — underground resting places for millions of gallons of toxic waste from fracking and other drilling activities...”


Apple Becomes a Green Energy Supplier, With Itself as Customer. The New York Times reports: “The words are stenciled on the front of the Apple Store, a glass box sandwiched between a nondescript Thai restaurant and a CVS pharmacy in downtown Palo Alto: “This store runs on 100 percent renewable energy.” If Apple’s plans play out, it will be able to make that claim not only for its operations throughout California but also beyond, as the company aims to meet its growing needs for electricity with green sources like solar, wind and hydroelectric power…”
Photo credit: “A worker helps install new solar panels at a First Solar plant outside Cholame, Calif. Apple will purchase the electricity generated by the plant to power its stores in California.” Credit Andrew Burton for The New York Times.

Why Uber Is Going to Test Its New Self-Driving Car in Pittsburgh. The future is arriving sooner than expected. Here’s the intro to a Washington Post story: “Silicon Valley is the land of the beta test, the constant tweak, where companies habitually release products still in development to see how they work in the hands of consumers. Last week, that iterative approach, so ubiquitous in software, entered a new realm when Uber announced that it would begin testing a fleet of 100 self-driving cars for hire in Pittsburgh by the end of the month. The move means that the streets of a large American city, one that gets an average of 41 inches of annual snowfall and has more than 400 bridges, will become the company’s laboratory. And the test subjects will be real people who summon the vehicles, some weighing more than two tons with turbocharged engines, with their smartphones...”

Photo credit: “A self-driving Ford Fusion hybrid car is test-driven Aug. 18 in Pittsburgh. Uber said that passengers in Pittsburgh will be able to summon rides in self-driving cars with the touch of a smartphone button in the next several weeks.” (Jared Wickerham/AP)


Tesla Touts Speed and Driving Range With New Upgraded Battery. Here’s an excerpt at Reuters: “Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O) crowned itself the maker of the world’s fastest production car on Tuesday, saying a new version of its Model S all-electric sedan can accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in just 2-1/2 seconds. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said the company will offer a larger upgraded battery pack for performance versions of its Model S and X vehicles that will extend range, while also allowing for super fast acceleration. Tesla has long laid claim to bragging rights in the highly competitive luxury car market. But Tuesday’s news is unlikely to change the equation on a host of challenges the company faces, from production and finances to regulation…”

Photo credit: “A Tesla Model S charges at a Tesla Supercharger station in Cabazon, California, U.S. May 18, 2016.” REUTERS/Sam Mircovich/File Photo.


Here’s How Solar Roofs Fit Into Elon Musk’s Master Plan. Vox has details: “Earlier this month, Elon Musk made news again when he announced his intention to offer solar roofs, a product he sensed might need a few words of clarification. “It’s a solar roof as opposed to a module on a roof,” he said on an earnings call about the planned merger between his electric car company, Tesla, with his cousin’s solar panel company, SolarCity. “It’s not a thing on the roof, it is the roof.” This wasn’t technically the first mention of the solar roof — it also appeared in Musk’s Master Plan, Part Deux, released in July...”

Photo credit: “Dow Chemical’s PowerHouse solar shingles, on a homeowner’s roof.” (YouTube)


Electric Vehicle Sales On Track for Mainstream Adoption. Greentech Media has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…The 2016 Global EV Outlook from the International Energy Agency (IEA) also said last year was a pivotal one for EV and PHEV sales. “The year 2015 saw the global threshold of 1 million electric cars on the road exceeded, closing at 1.26 million,” said the organization. “This is a symbolic achievement highlighting significant efforts deployed jointly by governments and industry over the past 10 years. In 2014, only about half of today’s electric car stock existed. In 2005, electric cars were still measured in hundreds…”


Inside Shanghai Tower: China’s Tallest Skyscraper Claims To Be The World’s Greenest. Here’s a clip from The Guardian: “…The Shanghai Tower, reaching 632 metres, is the third “supertall” tower on the city’s iconic skyline. Looking out from the 119th floor, the city lies below like a toy model, a densely packed mass of streets and high-rise buildings. China loves a world record, and its new building boasts plenty, including the world’s fastest elevators, highest hotel and restaurant, and tallest viewing platform. Reassuringly, it also required the largest ever cement pouring for the foundations. But most importantly, the 128-storey tower also claims to be the world’s greenest skyscraper. Awarded the top green rating, LEED Platinum, the government is hailing the tower as a sign of China’s growing green credentials...”

Photo credit: “The newly completed Shanghai Tower, China’s tallest building, rises above the city.” Photograph: Gensler.


Is There a Place in America Where People Speak Without Accents? Right here! Hey, Minnesotans don’t have accents, do we? Atlas Obscura explains: “…But the vaguely Midwestern basis for General American has stuck around in surprising ways. Most Americans do not really believe they have an accent; this is a reasonable, if inaccurate, thought, as most people are surrounded by others who speak the same way they do. But the Midwest is a particularly bizarre place, and Preston knows that better than anyone. Preston is a pioneer in the study of perceptual dialectology, the study of how normal people think about dialects: where they come from, where they are, what they consist of…”

Photo credit: “Minneapolis. The classic Midwestern accent is a result of the Northern Cities Vowel Shift.” (Photo: Joseph Sohm/shutterstock.com).




TODAY: Some sun, cool breeze at the Minnesota State Fair. Winds: W 10-15. High: 73

THURSDAY NIGHT: Clearing and cool. Low: 54

FRIDAY: Early jackets. More sun, less wind. Winds: SW 5-10. High: 74

SATURDAY: Unsettled, a few showers in the area. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 58. High: 72

SUNDAY: More sun, milder day of the weekend. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 60. High: 79

MONDAY: Plenty of sun, warming up. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up:  63. High: 85

TUESDAY: Less sun, stray T-storm possible. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 64. High: 83

WEDNESDAY: Sticky with widely scattered storms. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 65. High: 85


Climate Stories…

Climate Change: Warning of Extreme Events, and a Move Into Uncharted Territory. An article and new study featured at The Sydney Morning Herald caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…Already, at about 1 degree warmer than pre-industrial times, parts of the world are experiencing more frequent and intense extreme events – heatwaves, unusual dry spells, dumping rainfall, massive coral bleaching. The report says the upper end of current climate extremes would be “the new normal” at 1.5 degrees warming – which could be just 10 to 20 years away under the current trajectory. At 2 degrees, the picture is much less clear – the climate system would move into uncharted territory…”



This Chart Shows Why Insurers Are Climate Change Believers. When people ask if “I believe” I tell the the truth: I believe in God, I acknowledge and continually test the science surrounding climate volatility and weather disruption. Here’s an excerpt at Fortune: “Whether they’re paying for hurricane cleanup or reimbursing farmers for lost livestock and crops, insurers foot much of the bill for disasters associated with climate change. The chart below shows just how big that bill can get; the cost of insured weather catastrophes has been soaring far faster than inflation. Just about every company in the property and casualty insurance business carefully tracks climate data these days (the data for the chart above, for example, comes from Swiss Re)...”

Changing Opinions on Climate Change, From a CNN Meteorologist. I give Chad Myers at CNN a lot of credit. It’s OK to change your mind, based on a preponderance of evidence and data. Here’s an excerpt of his post, explaining why he now acknowledges that man-made climate change is real: “…2010 was a turning point for me. That year was the hottest year on record, even though there was a La Niña present, a process that should have cooled the planet. Down went the other potential causes: There were no volcanoes producing huge amounts of CO2. The sun was not getting hotter. Satellite-derived temperature readings ruled out the heat-island effect. Even “The Pause” (the so-called period post-1998 that showed very little warming of the planet for about 15 years) had been shattered. They are all now called “zombie theories,” long since debunked myths about climate change that skeptics will continually bring up to counter the facts of man-made climate change…”


Russia Posed Military Threat in Melting Arctic, say UK MP’s. Here’s the intro to a story at Climate Home: “Russian military expansion in the Arctic as a result of the melting ice-cap is a potential threat to the UK, a Parliamentary inquiry has concluded. Moscow has invested millions of dollars in two ice-breakers and new miltary bases MPs heard, with new nuclear submarines also likely to join its Northern Fleet. “The melting Arctic ice-cap may have significant defense annd security implications for neighboring states,” said the Defense Committee report, which was published on 5 July...”

Photo credit: “Russia has invested in new Arctic ice breakers.” (Pic: Christopher Michel/Flickr).


Bill Nye: Climate Change to Blame for Louisiana Floods. Flooding probably would have happened anyway, but a warmer Gulf of Mexico and atmosphere with more water vapor overhead supercharged the storms, making the flooding worse. Here’s an excerpt from CNN.com: “…Nye said due to the effects of climate change, the region will be hit again by these smaller storms and suffer more catastrophic floods. “As the ocean gets warmer, which it is getting, it expands,” he explained. “And then as the sea surface is warmer, more water evaporates. And so it’s very reasonable that these storms are connected to these big effects.” Lost lives and damaged homes won’t be the only tragic effects, either. The storms will be just as devastating in the long-term. “What will probably happen is people will move,” Nye said…”


In Streak of Extreme Storms, What’s the Role of Warming? Climate Central connects the dots: “…A 1-in-1,000-year event — “we’re talking about something that’s not likely to ever happen” — would be 21 inches falling over the same time period, he said. There were nine stations in the area that topped that 1-in-1,000 level, two of which saw more than 25 inches in just two days. The highest rainfall was recorded in Watson, La., which saw 31.39 inches. That obliterated the previous two-day rainfall record by more than 7 inches. “It’s just insanity,” Keim said. Half of southern Louisiana received 10 inches or more of rain, and it’s possible that more homes were flooded in this event than by Hurricane Katrina, Keim said. Many of those homes hadn’t flooded during the previous flood of record, in 1983, or at any time since. “The whole region just got absolutely hammered,” Keim said…”

Photo credit: “Flooded homes are seen in St. Amant, La., on Aug. 15, 2016. Credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman.


A Widening 80-Mile Crack is Threatening One of Antarctica’s Biggest Ice Shelves. Chris Mooney reports at The Washington Post: “...It’s called an ice “shelf” because the entirety of this country-sized area is covered by 350-meter-thick ice that is floating on top of deep ocean waters. The crack in Larsen C grew around 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) in length between 2011 and 2015. And as it grew, also became wider — by 2015, yawning some 200 meters in length. Since then, growth has only continued — and now, a team of researchers monitoring Larsen C say that with the intense winter polar night over Antarctica coming to an end, they’ve been able to catch of glimpse of what happened to the crack during the time when it could not be observed by satellite. The result was astonishing...” (Image credit: Project MIDAS).


Global Warming Has Now Made The Northwest Passage a Thing. Phil Plait explains at Slate: “…Roald Amundsen was the first to successfully make his way through. It took him three years in a small ship starting in 1903, and included getting stuck in ice three times. Fast-forward. On Aug. 16—just days ago—a 250-meter-long, 1,070 passenger cruise ship, the Crystal Serenity, set sail, and is expected to make its way through the Northwest Passage in just eight days. How can it do so? Global warming. Over the past few years, the Arctic has warmed so much that the fabled passage has become a reality. The ice melts so much in the summer that it’s not only possible for ships to make their way through the archipelago, but it may be commercially viable to do so...”


Climate Change Could Cost Millenials Trillions of Dollars in Lifetime Income. Mashable has details: “Americans in their 20s and 30s could lose trillions of dollars in potential lifetime earnings as climate change disrupts the global economy and weakens U.S. productivity, according to a new report by NextGen Climate said. If countries fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit the amount and pace of global warming, a 21-year-old college graduate today could lose $126,000 in lifetime wages and $187,000 in long-term savings and investments, the report found. This would outrank the lost income due to student debt or wage stagnation…” (File photo: Peter Morgan, AP).


It’s Hard to Talk About Climate Change. This Storytelling Project Wants To Make It Easier. Here’s an excerpt from Vox: “…If people are aware of climate change, why do so many seem to ignore discussions about the future? And how do you engage people in the conversation? That’s what DearTomorrow, an online project founded in 2014, is tackling.  Co-founders Trisha Shrum and Jill Kubit are asking people to create messages, photos, and videos to be opened in the years 2030 and 2050. The idea came about after Shrum heard a speech by Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Figueres said she had a dream where children look at her and ask, “You knew about climate change. What did you do?…”

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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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