Conservation Minnesota

On Track for Wettest Year on Record – Evidence That Weather Is Trending More Extreme

81 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.
76 F. average high on September 6.
83 F. high temperature at KMSP on September 6, 2105.
.86″ rain fell yesterday as of 8pm.

September 7, 1990: Strong winds and hail up to 2 inches was reported in Swift, Douglas, Stevens, Kandiyohi, Meeker, Stearns, and Waseca Counties.
September 7, 1986: A touch of winter is felt in northern MN, with lows of 20 degrees at Embarrass and 30 at Duluth.
September 7, 1922: The fifth consecutive day of 90 degrees or above occurs in the Minneapolis area.

By My Rough Calculations Today is June 99th

Why Minnesota? I can think of 11,842 good reasons. Our amazing roster of lakes has 44,926 miles of shoreline – more coastline than California’s lakes and Pacific coast. We are blessed with an abundant supply of fresh water. Something Americans west of the Rockies don’t take for granted.

Lately there’s been far too much water. Peering out my rain-splattered window at a neon-green lawn I’m sure it’s June the 99th. From a climatological perspective we’re on our fourth June in a row. This year June “monsoon season” never ended.
30 years ago scientists predicted that wet a
reas would get wetter; dry areas would trend even drier. That’s what we’re seeing on the weather maps.

A Flash Flood Watch lingers today; a few more waves of heavy showers and T-storms, with another 1-2 inches of rain. A west wind dries us out Thursday with a ration of lukewarm sunshine. Showers flare up Friday before Canadian air has us reaching for sweatshirts Saturday.

Sunday looks warmer – a better day for the lake – a reminder that, at least on paper, September is one of the driest, most pleasant months of the year. Prove it, please!


Precipitation anomalies since June 1 courtesy of NOAA.

Scattered T-storms Today – Sunshine Sighting Thursday. NOAA’s 4km NAM keeps much of the heavy shower and storm activity south of MSP until later today and tonight; when a line of strong storms may sweep across the state along the leading edge of slightly cooler, drier air which arrives in blue-sky glory on Thursday. Future Radar product: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Sunday: Warmer Day of the Weekend. Model guidance is in good agreement; temperatures hold in the 60s Saturday before recovering into the mid and upper 70s on Sunday as a stiff south wind returns. A more formidable swipe of cool air arrives next week. Source: Aeris Enterprise.


Typical for September: Bigger Temperature Swings. ECMWF guidance shows temperatures within a few degrees of average until the middle of next week, when jackets become more prevalent. Source: WeatherBell.


Looking 2 Weeks Out: Zonal Flow. It’s a prediction, and predictions are prone to error, so I wouldn’t exactly take this as gospel. Puffs of cooler air flow out of Canada in the coming weeks, but no extended blasts of unseasonably cold air are showing up yet.



Hottest Summer? Snowiest Winter? Yes, Data Show Weather Is Getting More Extreme. Where have you heard that before. Here’s an excerpt from The Boston Globe: “…According to the U.S. Climate Extremes Index, which considers both the frequency of extreme weather and how much land area is affected by such conditions nationwide, 2015 ranked as the second-most extreme year on record, trailing only 2012. Records date to 1910. The first half of 2016 ranked as the seventh most-extreme when compared with the same period in other years. The index is based on data on several key indicators: maximum and minimum temperatures that are much above or much below normal; how much of the country has either a severe drought or moisture surplus; single-day events with unusually high precipitation; and abnormalities in the number of days with, and without, precipitation…”

Graphic: NOAA NCDC.


What Is The “Cone of Uncertainty”? Here’s an excerpt of a timely story at Mental Floss: “…The cone of uncertainty does not show you the confidence that forecasters have in that particular forecast. It shows you neither the size nor the total extent of the impacts a tropical cyclone will have. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 500-mile-wide hurricane or a 20-mile-wide tropical depression; the cone only applies to the very center of a hurricane, and it only tells you how far off forecasters were when they predicted the track of previous cyclones. You aren’t necessarily safe if your location falls outside of the cone of uncertainty, nor does it mean that areas inside the cone are definitely going to get blasted. Understanding the size and impacts of a tropical cyclone requires more context than one simple map can provide you…”

Map credit: “Forecast track and actual track of Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015.” Map: Dennis Mersereau.


Climate Change Spells Worse Typhoons for China, Japan: Study. Here’s an excerpt at Yahoo News: “…Over the past 37 years, typhoons that strike east and southeast Asia have intensified by 12-15 percent,” they wrote in the journal Nature Geoscience. And the data showed this intensification, in turn, was linked to ocean surface warming — possibly caused by climate change, though this is yet to be proven. Projections for ocean warming if humans continue to emit planet-harming greenhouse gases, said the team, “suggest that typhoons striking eastern mainland China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan will intensify further...”
Photo credit: “The world’s nations concluded a pact in Paris to halt the march of climate change, which threatens stronger storms, longer droughts and land-gobbling sea-level rise.” (AFP Photo/Tokachi Mainichi)

Intensification of Landfalling Typhoons Over the Northwest Pacific Since the Late 1970s. Why? Warming oceans, according to a new paper at Nature Geoscience; here’s an excerpt of the abstract: “…We find that the increased intensity of landfalling typhoons is due to strengthened intensification rates, which in turn are tied to locally enhanced ocean surface warming on the rim of East and Southeast Asia. The projected ocean surface warming pattern under increasing greenhouse gas forcing suggests that typhoons striking eastern mainland China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan will intensify further. Given disproportionate damages by intense typhoons, this represents a heightened threat to people and properties in the region.”

File image: Super Typhoon Haiyan, shortly before devastating the Philippines on November 8, 2013.


Thunderstorms, Hail and Flooding Drive Weather Losses for First Half of 2016. Here’s a clip from Yahoo Finance that got my attention: “…Texas absolutely drove the catastrophe losses in the United States during the first six months of 2016,” said Bove. “Of the $17 billion in economic losses and $11 billion in insured losses, approximately 80% of both the over and insured losses occurred within Texas, of which roughly $7 billion of the insured losses were due to severe thunderstorm events.” Bove also highlighted the floods in West Virginia, which he said the National Weather Service and NOAH consider to be a 1-in-1,000-year event. However, Bove said he believes that the one catastrophe that is increasing losses is hail…”

Extreme Temperatures Could Increase Preterm Birth Risk. Here’s an excerpt from Curated Health, Medical and Science Updates: “Extreme hot or cold temperatures during pregnancy may increase the risk of preterm birth, according to study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The study authors found that extremes of hot and cold during the first seven weeks of pregnancy were associated with early delivery. Women exposed to extreme heat for the majority of their pregnancies also were more likely to deliver early. The researchers found more consistent associations with early delivery after exposure to extreme heat than to extreme cold weather…”

France Farmers on Suicide Watch as Wheat Crop Fails. Politico reports: “Desperate French farmers are increasingly turning to newly created suicide hotlines as the worst wheat harvest in a generation devastates their livelihoods. Heavy spring rains have crippled the EU’s top wheat exporter just as Russia and Ukraine piled on the pressure, depressing prices with a bumper crop. While France’s harvest is not complete, the agriculture ministry predicts the worst in 30 years, with yields down as much as 40 percent from the 2011-2015 average…”


Disposal Wells’ Link to Oklahoma Earthquake Scrutinized. Is fracking in the state just an unfortunate coincidence, or is there a link? Here’s an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal: “…Oklahoma has a history of seismic activity—it experienced a 5.5-magnitude temblor in 1952, for example. But the state has stepped up regulation of injection wells after seeing a dramatic increase in quakes over the past decade that experts at the USGS and in academia have tied to the practice of burying wastewater near faults underground. In 2015, the USGS recorded 2,500 quakes with a magnitude of 2.5 or higher in the state, up from just three in 2005...” (Map credit: AerisWeather Interactive).


In Puzzle of Oklahoma’s Earthquakes, New Data May Provide Cues. Here’s more perspective from The New York Times: “…We had started ratcheting down waste disposal in some places. But the scientific literature says you can actually have larger events as you go downward — and some of the literature actually says that might be causing larger ones. So we’ve been nervous about it. Over all, things are going in the right direction; we’re not increasing total earthquake activity any more. But we’re still high on the curve relative to what the base level was. Oklahoma is supposed to have about two earthquakes a year above magnitude 2.5, and in the last few years we’ve had thousands. I tell people we’ve had thousands of years of earthquake activity in a short period of time...”

Photo credit: “Grocery store employee Talia Pershall placed bottles of syrup back on a shelf on Saturday at White’s Foodliner in Pawnee, Okla., after an earthquake. Credit David Bitton/The News Press, via Associated Press.


This Is What The First Shopping Mall in the United States Looked Like. Of course every Minnesotan knows that honor belongs to Southdale in Edina. I do miss Dayton’s, come to think of it. Recently new video footage emerged which is worth a look, courtesy of MeTV: “Alas, the glory days of the American shopping mall are long gone. But we can now relive the experiences we had as children, if only for 11 minutes. Recently, footage surfaced of the Southdale Center outside Minneapolis during the 1950s, and it’s a dead ringer for every mall across the country. Southdale Center was the country’s first indoor shopping mall when it opened in 1956. It was developed by the department store Dayton’s, which also served as one of its main anchor stores along with Donaldson’s, Walgreens and Woolworth…”


The Curse of a Phoenix Weatherman: Finding New Ways to Say “It’s Hot”. Matt, I feel your pain. Here’s a clip from a tragically funny story at The New York Times: “There are certain unspoken talents required of television meteorologists in Phoenix, where the sun shines 296 days of the year and temperatures exceeding 100 degrees faze no one. One such skill is the ability to make the weather sound new each day. As a meteorologist for 12 News, Phoenix’s NBC affiliate, Matt Pace aims to make the recurring sunshine interesting, which is no easy task. I’ve watched Mr. Pace on the air as he searches for just the right words, from a limited list of options, to convey the very straightforward fact that it is so darn hot outside…”

TODAY: Flash Flood Watch south/east of MSP. Heavy showers, T-storms. Winds: E 5-10. High: 75
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Showers begin to finally taper. Low: 61

THURSDAY: Rare sunshine sighting expected. Winds: W 10-15. High: 76

FRIDAY: Some sun, risk of a few showers. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 60. High: 75

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, a fresh breeze. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 57. High: 71 (60s for most of MN)

SUNDAY: Sunny, breezy and warmer. Winds S 10-20. Wake-up: 56. High: 79

MONDAY: Mild start, then cooling off as clouds increase. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 63. High: 76

TUESDAY: Few showers, feels like fall! Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 56. High: 62


Climate Stories….

Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun. The New York Times had a long and excellent summary of (sunny day) flooding due to higher sea level and land subsidence – here’s an excerpt of Justin Gillis’s story: “…For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline. Now, those warnings are no longer theoretical: The inundation of the coast has begun. The sea has crept up to the point that a high tide and a brisk wind are all it takes to send water pouring into streets and homes. Federal scientists have documented a sharp jump in this nuisance flooding — often called “sunny-day flooding” — along both the East Coast and the Gulf Coast in recent years. The sea is now so near the brim in many places that they believe the problem is likely to worsen quickly...”

Photo credit: “At the City Market in Charleston, S.C., one of the most popular spots in town, shoppers dodged seawater that bubbled up from storm drains during high tide in June. Credit Hunter McRae for The New York Times.



Sea Level Rise Puts Mid-Atlantic in Greater Damage When Storms Like Hermine Strike. Andrew Freedman provides more perspective at Mashable.

Photo credit: “Water from Roanoke Sound pounds the Virginia Dare Trail in Manteo, N.C., Saturday, September 3, 2016 as Tropical Storm Hermine passes the Outer Banks.” Image: Tom Copeland/AP.


Camp Century – Project Iceworm. A cold war atomic camp buried deep into Greenland’s ice is now emerging due to rapid warming. Here’s an excerpt at Atlas Obscura: “…When Camp Century was deserted, it was left almost entirely intact. The U.S. military assumed consistent snowfall and crushing glaciers would encase the research facility for all time. However, in 2016, an investigation revealed that because global warming has caused the ice sheet covering Camp Century to melt, the facility may be unearthed by the end of the century, maybe sooner. If and when that happens, any waste—radioactive or otherwise—that’s uncovered along with the base could wind up disrupting the surrounding ecosystems—a wholly unintended consequence of a top-secret Cold War plot.”

Image credit: U.S. Army/Public Domain.


Funds Leader BlackRock Calls on Investors to Assess Climate Change Impacts. Reuters has the story: “BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest asset manager, said all investors should factor climate change into their decision-making and doing so would not mean having to accept lower returns. Global moves to coordinate a response to climate change took a big step forward on Saturday when both China and the United States ratified a 2015 plan to curb climate-warming emissions, raising chances it will enter into law this year. BlackRock said it is strengthening its data and analytical processes to reflect changes to the environment – and political responses to them…”


Conservative Media Bias is Inflating American Climate Denial and Polarization. When in doubt follow the money. Here’s an excerpt at The Guardian: “A new study by a team of sociologists at Oklahoma State University has found political polarization on climate change is growing in the United States. Today’s Republicans are less likely than they were a decade ago to accept that the effects of global warming have begun, that humans are responsible, and that there is a scientific consensus on these questions. Democrats and independents are slightly more likely to answer these questions correctly today than a decade ago...”


Where Will The Animals Go as Climate Change. Northward and uphill, according to research highlighted at Scientific American: “The natural world is under siege by climate change. Rising temperatures are pushing plants and animals outside their current range. To keep pace with climate change, species will need a path to follow northward or up in elevation, minimally interrupted by human development. This map shows that path (well, paths actually) in the most beautiful way possible. It uses the dreamy Earth wind map for inspiration. But rather than using temperature, wind and sea level pressure data, Dan Majka, a web developer at The Nature Conservancy, used data from two studies to show all the feasible paths that mammals, birds and amphibians can use to find their way to a more suitable climate as their habitat becomes too hot…”
Animation credit: “A map showing the different pathways wildlife could use to migrate northward or higher in elevation as the climate warms (red=mammals, blue=birds, yellow=amphibians)“. Credit: The Nature Conservancy

Climate Change Cynics: How to Effectively Communicate With A Denier. Here’s an excerpt of a post at desmogblog.com: “…One of largest barriers to convincing deniers and the apathetic alike is the belief that climate change just isn’t something they will have to deal with. In fall 2015, the Yale Climate Change Communication project found that just 42 percent of people believe that climate change will harm them personally. Even sadder, that’s 6 percentage points higher than during the spring—a promising trend but disappointing total reach. The more you can make climate change an urgent, personal issue and show examples of how it’s already harming health, wealth and communities, the better. You may notice that when you receive emails from your favorite nonprofits, they’re full of deadlines and short-lived opportunities. That’s not an accident: creating a sense of urgency is an effective way to get people to take action. The same applies when talking to doubters about climate change. If you’re talking about health impacts, point to a child you know who suffers from respiratory illness. If you’re using extreme weather events to make your point, highlight the coming fire or hurricane season...”

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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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