July 16, 2001: Lightning struck a Minnesota National Guard field training site located in Camp Ripley. Nearly two dozen Marine Corps reservists were sent to hospitals. Most were released after treatment.
July 16, 1952: 5.20 inches of rain falls in 3 1/2 hours at Moose Lake. Numerous basements flood, and Highway 61 becomes impassable at Willow River.
July 16, 1934: Frost damages crops across the north with lows of 34 in Baudette and Roseau.
Heat Spike Brewing – But Nothing Like 1936
It’s going to get (stinking) hot, but perspective is called for. What we’re facing won’t be nearly as severe as July 1936, when Twin Cities high temperatures topped 100 degrees five days in a row; as hot as 108F in the metro area. The 1930s brought crazy heat, but it was localized to the Plains and Upper Midwest.
What has changed since then is dew points: they’re trending higher, meaning more summer humidity; more juice for flooding thunderstorms and dangerous heat indices, which factor temperature and humidity.
For the record I’m pro-corn, but research suggests irrigated fields of corn “sweat” at night. This “evapo-transpiration” adds additional water to the air, resulting in days when dew points are higher in southern Minnesota than along the Gulf Coast.
So yes, advances in farming may be adding a few degrees to the heat index during summer heat spikes across the Midwest.
By Wednesday & Thursday it may feel like 105-110F, but a northwest breeze provides slight relief on Friday.
Even so maps look hotter than normal into early August. Not run for the hills, 1936-hot, but hot enough for most.
July climate data above courtesy of the Minnesota DNR and State Climatology Office.
Corn and Climate: A Sweaty Topic. More on corn, evapotranspiration, rising dew points and the siting of weather instruments in a 2011 post at UCAR: “…Stephen Corfidi, a forecaster with the NOAA Storm Prediction Center, has been keeping an eye on Midwestern moisture trends for decades. “Subjectively, from analyzing surface data over my career, I would say with near certainty that surface dew points have increased in the upper-mid Mississippi and lower Ohio Valleys over the last 30 years,” Corfidi told me by e-mail. “In particular, it seems as though broad swaths (say, 300- to 50-mile–wide corridors) with surface dew points averaging in the mid 70s Fahrenheit are no longer uncommon.” NCAR’s Peggy LeMone was inspired by a chat with Corfidi to look further into the issue. As she explains in a 2007 blog post, corn is being grown in ever-more-dense fields, and this could be helping to boost dewpoints. However, the exact role of intensified cropping is difficult to isolate. Corn-based agriculture is shifting in a variety of ways, including the use of longer-season cultivars and earlier planting, as recently noted by scientists from NCAR and the University of Wisconsin–Madison…” (photo credit: Star Tribune).
Most Uncomfortable Days: Wednesday and Thursday. The combination of heat and humidity will create a Wednesday heat index near 100F; on Thursday the heat indices may rise as high as 105F in the Twin Cities, according to model guidance. Meteogram: Aeris Enterprise.
Temperature Inflation. Low 80s will feel warm and sticky today with last night’s storms adding water to the air, making it feel like 90F by afternoon. Imagine how it will feel out there Thursday, when air temperatures may reach mid to upper 90s close to home, according to ECMWF guidance. Mercifually it won’t stay that hot for long. Graphic: WeatherBell.
Nagging Heat Bubble into Early August. Compensating for a relatively comfortable May and June, the ridge axis is forecast to linger over the Plains and Rockies the next 2 weeks with highs in the 80s and a few 90s. Humidity levels will remain high with dew points (consistently) in the 60s and 70s, making it feel hotter. Real dog days this summer.
Is Excessive Heat and Youth Football a Dangerous Mix. The short answer is a qualified yes. The always-prolific and informative Dr. Marshall Shepherd takes a look at Forbes; here’s an excerpt that caught my eye: “…Coaches and parents would immediately pull kids from a lightning storm, yet the perception of heat as a risk is lower. Dr. Michelle Hawkins is the Climate, Weather and Health Lead in the National Weather Service (NWS) Climate Services Branch. She told me,
CDC found that over 650 people die per year from exposure to extreme heat (most of any weather threat). These deaths are preventable. Heat is considered a silent killer. It doesn’t come in toppling down trees or damaging homes, and often people don’t even know that they are suffering from heat illness.
Dr. Hawkins is spot on. I cringe when I hear a death from heat and football called an “accident...”
Earth’s Fifth Costliest Non-U.S. Weather Disaster on Record: China’s $22 Billion Flood. Dr. Jeff Masters reports at WunderBlog; here’s the intro: “A historic flood event continues in China, where torrential monsoon rains along the Yangtze River Valley in central and eastern China since early summer have killed 237 people, left 93 people missing, and caused at least $22 billion in damage, the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said on Thursday. According to the International Disaster database, EM-DAT, this would make the 2016 floods China’s second most expensive weather-related natural disaster in history, and Earth’s fifth most expensive non-U.S. weather-related disaster ever recorded…”
Image credit: “This summer’s floods in China are the fifth most expensive weather-related natural disaster outside of the U.S. in recorded history, according to the International Disaster database, EM-DAT.”
This Week’s Northland Flood Biggest Since 2012. So says the Minnesota DNR and State Climatology Office; here’s an excerpt: “The largest flash flood since the June 19-20, 2012 event in northeast Minnesota struck some of the same areas on July 11-12, 2016. This time Pine County was hit especially hard. The highest two-day total found so far with this event was 9.34 inches at a DNR rain gauge volunteer site near Cloverton in eastern Pine County, near the Wisconsin border. The event was approximately 24 hours in duration, but spanned over the observer’s observation time. Flooding rains also affected parts of Morrison, Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Benton, Mille Lacs, Kanabec and Carlton Counties. Numerous roads were affected by water in the hardest hit counties. Southbound I-35 was closed for a time and Highway 61 was closed during the afternoon hours of the 12th. The area covered by six inches or more of rainfall exceeded 2,000 square miles, with at least 1,000 square miles in Pine County alone….”
Animation credit: “6 hour Radar loop ending at 11:13 PM CDT on July 11, 2016. Note that sequence begins after heavy event was well underway, but does capture the tornadoes.” Source: College of DuPage.
An Accumulation of (Soggy) Coincidences. With more perspective on the training storms and record floods for many communities earlier this week here’s an excerpt of Dr. Mark Seeley’s latest post at Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…According to the Minnesota State Climatology Office the storm on July 11-12 was the largest mega-rain event since the Duluth flood of June 19-20, 2012. A mega-rain event is classified as a six-inch rainfall that covers at least a 1000 square miles, with a central core value of at least 8 inches. There have been only 13 such storms documented in Minnesota history, but 6 of these have occurred since 2002. You can read more about this weeks storms at the MN State Climatology Office….”
5th 1-in-1,000-Year Flood Event in Minnesota Since 2004? There have already been 4 such major flood events since 2004, according to the Minnesota DNR and State Climatology Office (3 in southern Minnesota, the 4th was the Duluth Deluge of 2012). According to consulting meteorologist and in-house Aeris statistician D.J. Kayser Monday’s flood may also fit the definition: “Using the 9.00″ rain total from the Hinckley area (http://www.weather.gov/dlh/flash-flooding-2016-07-11) and comparing it to the Precipitation Frequency Estimates (http://hdsc.nws.noaa.gov/hdsc/pfds/pfds_map_cont.html?bkmrk=mn) it would appear this was easily a 500-1,000 year rain event.”
Iowa Is Losing Millions of Trees – And It’s Hurting Water Quality, Experts Say. The Des Moines Register has the story – here’s a link and excerpt: “Iowa’s thirst for new farmland helped drive the loss of 97,000 acres of woodlands in just five years, a new federal report shows. It’s the first time in nearly 40 years that the state has seen a net loss of forested land, a disturbing development that experts fear is contributing to Iowa’s problems with farm runoff and poor water quality. Record-high prices for corn and soybeans in 2012 fueled much of Iowa’s woodland losses, as farmers put more land into production to reap bigger profits, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service report...” (photo: IA DNR).
Here’s How The World Could End – And What We Can Do About It. Science has a quick read that will make it a bit harder to fall asleep; here’s an excerpt: “...Some researchers fear that another Carrington-like event could destroy tens to hundreds of transformers, plunging vast portions of entire continents into the dark for weeks or months—perhaps even years, Murtagh says. That’s because the custom-built, house-sized replacement transformers can’t be bought off the shelf. Transformer manufacturers maintain that such fears are overblown and that most equipment would survive. But Thomas Overbye, an electrical engineer at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, says nobody knows for sure. “We don’t have a lot of data associated with large storms because they are very rare,” he says. What’s clear is that widespread blackouts could be catastrophic, especially in countries that depend on highly developed electrical grids. “We’ve done a marvelous job creating a great vulnerability to this threat,” Murtagh says. Information technologies, fuel pipelines, water pumps, ATMs, everything with a plug would be rendered useless. “That’s going to affect our ability to govern the country,” Murtagh says…”
Photo credit: “Electrical surges due to a solar storm shocked telegraph operators in 1859; today, they could wreak havoc on power grids and electronics.” NASA/Martin Stojanovski.
How America Could Go Dark. Sabotage from the sun, or from terrorists attacking the grid, considerable risk remains. Here’s a clip from a story at The Wall Street Journal: “…The Bakersfield attacks last year were among dozens of break-ins examined by The Wall Street Journal that show how, despite federal orders to secure the power grid, tens of thousands of substations are still vulnerable to saboteurs. The U.S. electric system is in danger of widespread blackouts lasting days, weeks or longer through the destruction of sensitive, hard-to-replace equipment. Yet records are so spotty that no government agency can offer an accurate tally of substation attacks, whether for vandalism, theft or more nefarious purposes...”
MONDAY: Partly cloudy, fairly comfortable. Winds: NW 5-10. High: 82
TUESDAY: Intervals of sun, heating up. Winds: S 10-15. Heat Index: 95F. Wake-up: 65. High: 88
WEDNESDAY: Early thunder, then steamy sun. Winds: S 10-20. Heat Index: 95-100. Wake-up: 75. High: 91.
THURSDAY: Sunny and dangerously hot. Heat Index: 100-110F. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 77. High: 97
FRIDAY: Sunny, breezy, slight relief. Winds: NW 10-15. Heat Index: 95-100F. Wake-up: 78. High: 90
SATURDAY: Still sticky, risk of a T-storm. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 69. High: 90
The World’s Climate Pledges Are Not Even Close to Good Enough. Here’s the intro to a story at Co.Exist: “In a little over a decade, if every country around the world keeps every current promise to cut carbon emissions, it’s likely the planet will warm up 1.5 degrees Celsius. By 2100, the world’s average temperature may have gone up as much as 3.1 degrees—with a risk of hitting 4 degrees, well into the range for global catastrophe. A recent study looked at the pledges made at the Paris climate talks in 2015, where countries agreed to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius—and ideally below 1.5 degrees. The goal is what most scientists think is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The problem is that the pledges each country has made so far will completely miss the target…”
Video: Las Vegas office of The National Weather Service.
The tax code is riddled with provisions that promote inefficiency and favor politically connected industries. Leading Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan and every presidential candidate in the last few cycles have argued for cleaning up and simplifying the tax code. One great way to do so would be to eliminate the various tax breaks for fossil fuel producers, particularly for oil and gas, which currently cost taxpayers several billion dollars per year. Republican politicians, of course, often favor these gifts because fossil fuels are popular among their base and are dominant in the economies of many red states. But principled conservatives should favor getting rid of them. (And if they want to make sure the government isn’t left favoring wind and solar, they could schedule fossil-fuel and clean-energy tax credits to phase out simultaneously.)…”
“The Most Singular of All The Things That We Have Found”: Cloud Study Alarms Scientists. Here’s an excerpt from The Washington Post: “…The study was led by Ramanathan’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography colleague Joel Norris, though Ramanathan said he was not involved in the work and didn’t know about it until shortly before publication. But Ramanathan said that the study basically confirms that there’s nothing to prevent the world from reaching the high levels of warming that have long been feared — except for our own swift policy actions, that is. “My reaction was, my goodness,” Ramanathan said. “Maybe the 4 to 5 degree warming, certainly we were all wishing there was some certainty that would make it go away. So I consider the findings of this paper, the data shows major reorganization of the cloud system...”
At Ground Zero for Rising Seas, TV Meteorologist Talks Climate. I have a lot of respect for John Morales in Miami, talking on the air about the ways a warming climate is already flavoring weather across south Florida. Here’s an excerpt of an interview at Yale Environment 360: “…Ten years ago we had a big problem among broadcast meteorologists, who by greater than 50 percent seemed to be in the skeptic camp of anthropogenic global warming, according to some surveys. They either weren’t communicating it, or they were finding ways to disparage the state of the science. Recognizing this, Bob Ryan, a former president of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), and myself, we co-authored an article in 2007 in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society saying that our profession is the face of science for the general public, that it is our responsibility to communicate the state of the science of climate change, that, in doing so, we need to divorce ourselves from political, religious, personal, and other views and just simply communicate the state of the science at the time...” (File image of Miami Beach: Trip Advisor).
Climate Change Exposes U.S. Infrastructure to Natural Hazards, Rand Corp. Says. A summary at Insurance Journal made me do a double-take; here’s an excerpt: “…Oftentimes people think of disasters as largely a coastal phenomenon,” however the authors found potential impacts from riverine flooding, and wind and ice storms, among other perils, faced by people living far from the coast, he said. Some areas are more exposed than others, facing the risk of two, three or four major disasters, he added. These areas include California, the Pacific Northwest, the upper Mississippi River, the New Madrid fault zone, regions in Oklahoma and the mid-Atlantic coast. The report lists several perils that may be exacerbated by climate change, including tornadoes, hurricanes and storm surge. But the one with possibly the biggest potential impact is drought, Willis said…” (File image: AP)
Scientists Think They’ve Just Pinpointed the Key Driver of Ice Loss in Antarctica. Chelsea Harvey reports at The Washington Post: “The Antarctic Peninsula is headed for trouble — that much scientists know. Glaciers on the peninsula, which extends from the increasingly unstable West Antarctic region, have been retreating for decades, and some in the region have undergone particularly accelerated melting since the 1990s. Until recently, many scientists assumed that a steady increase in air temperature around the peninsula, the product of global warming, was the primary cause behind most of the ice loss. But new research looking at the western side of the peninsula suggests that this may not be the case after all. A study published Thursday in the journal Science suggests that warm ocean water may be the biggest driver of glacial retreat in that region — and it’s a problem that may not be getting enough attention…”
Photo credit: “