Conservation Minnesota

Severe Saturday – Global Record Hot Streak Continues

77 F. high temperature at KMSP yesterday.
81 F. average high on June 23.
79 F. high on June 23, 2015.

June 24, 2002: Heavy rains fall on already saturated ground, leading to flooding. 5.50 inches fall at Delano, and half of a mobile home park at Howard Lake is evacuated due to rising water.
June 24, 1972: Frost develops across northeast Minnesota. Duluth has a low of 35 and Tower bottoms out at 32.

Severe Saturday? 4th of July Weather Preview

“There is little chance that meteorologists can solve the mysteries of weather until they gain an understanding of the mutual attraction of rain and weekends” wrote Arnot Sheppard.

There is no scientific reason why Saturdays should attract bulging thunderheads and expansive puddles any more than a Wednesday. On weekends more of us are outside, at the mercy of the elements; far more “weather sensitive” than during the week. We make a mental note when it rains on our parade.

Predicting whether it will rain at 2 pm on Monday, the 4th of July, is like trying to forecast where the NASDAQ will be one week from today. Billions of variables in play – computer models only go so far.

Caveats aside, right now long-range models hint at low 80s and scattered T-storms on the 4th of July. Par for the course. A suffocating heat wave remains centered over California into mid-July with occasional waves of heat expanding into Minnesota, but no sustained bouts of 90s in sight.

Saturday storms may turn severe by afternoon. Sunday still looks like the sunnier, drier, kinder day of the weekend.


Dry Friday – Severe Storm Risk Saturday Greatest Eastern Minnesota & Wisconsin. Here’s the 60-hour Future Radar from NOAA’s 4 KM NAM model, showing a growing risk of showers and T-storms by Saturday; a few may be strong to severe. Source: AerisWeather.


Saturday Severe Potential. NOAA SPC has the eastern half of Minnesota and western half of Wisconsin in a slight risk – not a major outbreak, but straight-line wind and hail damage is quite possible, even a couple of isolated tornadoes.


April and May 2016 Continue Record-Setting Heat. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has an update; here’s the intro: “April and May 2016 set new global temperature records for those two months, continuing a trend of the previous six months, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). The global temperature for April was 1.96 °F (1.09 °C) warmer than the average for April from 1951 to 1980, which is used as a base period. The global temperature for May was 1.67 °F (0.93 °C) warmer than the May base period. Every month since October 2015 has broken the record for that month. GISS director Gavin Schmidt estimated a greater than 99 percent probability that 2016 as a whole will set a new heat record…”

Image credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center.


4th of July Outlook. Here’s an excerpt of a good overview from Planalytics: “Much of the U.S. will celebrate with seasonal to warmer than normal temperatures over the holiday weekend, lifting demand for hot weather consumables and summer apparel. Strong heat will persist in the Southwest, expanding into the Plains. The Pacific Northwest is expected to trend cooler compared to the extreme warmth of last year, although temperatures will be above normal. The Northeast and Midwest can anticipate slightly warmer than normal and last year temperatures, continuing to warm throughout the weekend. An active pattern across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast will result in slightly cooler than normal and last year conditions for these regions. The greatest chance for precipitation is focused along the East and Gulf Coasts, as well as the Four Corners region during the holiday weekend, threatening barbecues and other outdoor activities.”



Hottest Days Come in Mid-July. It may seem counterintuitive, but the hottest weather doesn’t come on the Summer Solstice, when the sun angle is highest in the sky. There is a built-in “lag” in the atmosphere, as water takes longer than land to heat up, and historically the hottest days of summer come 2-3 weeks after the solstice, in mid-July. Graphic credit: Climate Central.


Shopping for Dry Clothes. Check out the flash flooding in an underground shopping mall in Jinan, China. The shoppers look fairly calm – I’d be screaming like a schoolgirl. Details and video via YouTube: “Back on a milestone for customers Ginza shopping center in Jinan in China, who have been trapped by a terrible flood caused by floods. It is a true torrent that has formed in the galleries and shop shelves, causing damage and significant losses for sellers. The “Ginza Shopping Mall” is a large underground shopping center, with an area of over 40,000 square meters and is located in the heart of Jinan Springs Plaza.”

Portable Severe Storm Awareness. A new generation of smartphone apps can deliver GPS-specific warnings, but cell phone coverage in the BWCA is spotty. Your best bet? Take along a portable NOAA Weather Radio, which should work almost everywhere. It may be impossible to avoid falling trees, but finding a cave, a clearing or even an outcropping of rocks provides some (slight) protectionif a building or vehicle isn’t available nearby.


NOAA Weather Radio Coverage in Minnesota. Coverage is good, statewide, with the exception of a gap north of Bemidji. It’s not perfect, but if you’re camping in northern Minnesota, especially the Arrowhead or BWCA you stand a better chance of getting that severe storm warning via NOAA Weather Radio then relying on a cell signal. For more details from NOAA click here.


It Will Take Years of Wet Weather for California to Recover From Drought, Study Finds. Here’s an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: “…But a study published Tuesday in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, offered support for the argument that state hydrologists have been making for months: It will take several years to recover from the four-year water shortage. Specifically, researchers studied the Sierra Nevada and found that the lackluster snowpack there, year after year, created a sizable water deficit that the state may not recoup until 2019…”

Photo credit above: “An aerial view of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite National Park in January.” (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times).


A Record 66 Million Trees Have Died in California, Increasing Fire Risk. Four years of severe drought have taken a toll, as reported at USA TODAY: “California is a tinderbox of dead trees, which is fueling the fire risk in the state. According to a report released Wednesday, 26 million trees have died in the southern Sierra Nevada since October 2015. The deaths are in addition to the 40 million trees that died across the state from 2010 to October 2015, bringing the total to at least 66 million dead trees. The report, which was prepared by the U.S. Forest Service, was released as several wildfires continue to char thousands of acres across the state, with thousands of Californians ordered to flee their homes...”

Photo credit: “Dead trees are seen near Bass Lake in the Sierra National Forest.” (Photo: U.S. Forest Service).


The Southwest Burns as Record Heat Sparks Volatile Wildfires. Here’s an except of a good summary at Mashable: “…A heat dome comprised of an intense, sprawling area of high pressure sat on top of the Southwest for a third straight day. Although it shows some signs of weakening, the heat dome may intensify again by early next week, raising the possibility of a prolonged hot and dry weather pattern in an already parched region. Firefighters are making some headway in containing fires across the Southwest, though exceedingly hot temperatures in the region aren’t helping…”

Photo credit: “Smoke from wildfires burning in Angeles National Forest fills the sky behind the Los Angeles skyline on Monday, June 20, 2016.” Image: Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP.



72% of Corporations Are Actively Procuring Clean Energy. Here’s the intro to a piece at Greentech Media: “Cheaper renewable energy is allowing more corporations to look at options for generating their own power. But corporate sustainability mandates, rather than price alone, remain the primary driver of those purchasing decisions, according to a new survey from PwC. Seventy-two percent of companies surveyed said they are actively procuring renewable energy, mainly wind and solar. For those that are buying renewables, nearly half have specific renewable energy goals, although the attractive payback was the second-biggest driver for seeking out clean energy...”

This Is What Electric Cars Will Do to the U.S. Gas Demand. Here’s a link and story excerpt at Fortune: “Demand for U.S. gasoline is expected to fall by 5%—and could be cut by as much as 20%—over the next two decades, according to a new report released Monday by energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. The culprit? Electric cars. The U.S. currently uses more than nine million barrels of gasoline a day. According to the report, if electric cars gain more than 35% market shares by 2035, the U.S. could see a cut from nine million to two million barrels used a day…”


Who Will Build The Next Great (Driverless) Car Company? Will car ownership truly be optional within 5-10 years as a majority of people simply hail the nearest (autonomous, driverless) vehicle in their zip code? Here’s an excerpt of a story at Fortune: “…Back then the idea of self-driving cars looked, to Ford’s leadership, like a frivolous Silicon Valley moonshot. Four years later things have dramatically changed. Today Ford’s vehicle lineup features more than 30 options for semiautonomous features, including the automatic brakes I tested, and the company is aggressively working on cars that fully drive themselves. By year-end the company expects to have the largest fleet of autonomous test vehicles of any automaker. Ford is not alone. The entire automotive industry is in the midst of a radical transformation that is reshaping the very definition of what it means to be a car company. There is hype, hope, fear, and insecurity—and at the center of it all is the self-driving car…”

Photo credit: “A Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle.” Photo: Courtesy of Ford Motors.


Energy-Efficient Homes: Yes, We Want Them. But We Haven’t Done The Work. Dave Roberts reports at Vox; here’s a clip: “…Concern over climate change and resource depletion has risen steadily, as has concern over personal carbon footprint. While affordable energy is still residential customers’ top concern, at 59 percent, “utilizing clean energy sources” comes in a close second, at 56 percent. And that interest is led by millennials, who, relative to older demographics, “are more concerned about shifting to cleaner sources of energy, more willing to pay for this shift through a surcharge in their electricity bills, and more interested in incentives for saving electricity and purchasing related technologies.” They are also more likely to believe that government and utilities should take an active role in encouraging energy-saving behaviors and technology…” (Image credit: Shutterstock).

Fracking, Earthquakes and Visual Storytelling. I found an article at Scientific American interestinig and timely; here’s an excerpt: “The idea that human activities can cause earthquakes, or so-called induced seismicity, has been around for some time, but demonstrating its role and pinpointing exactly how it happens can be difficult. The July issue of Scientific American features a story by Anna Kuchment on how wastewater injection from oil and gas operations has been triggering earthquakes in the central United States over the past several years. Kuchment tells the stories of people affected by this phenomenon and argues for regulation to combat the issue. However, when the narrative becomes more technical—as in, how does this geological phenomenon work?—an information graphic does much of the heavy lifting…”

Image credit: “Class II Saltwater Disposal for 2009–2014 at the Annual-, State-, and County- Scales by Geologic Zones of Completion, Oklahoma, by Kyle e. Murray. Oklahoma Geological Survey, December 31, 2015 (wastewater injection data); USGS Earthquake Maps (earthquake data)
Maps by Amanda Montañez.


The Return of the Machinery Question. Is AI (artificial intelligence) the dawn of a new age of computer-amplifed productivity and growth, or the start of a new wave of job disruption? The Economist has an interesting article; here’s an excerpt: “…Today the machinery question is back with a vengeance, in a new guise. Technologists, economists and philosophers are now debating the implications of artificial intelligence (AI), a fast-moving technology that enables machines to perform tasks that could previously be done only by humans. Its impact could be profound. It threatens workers whose jobs had seemed impossible to automate, from radiologists to legal clerks. A widely cited study by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne of Oxford University, published in 2013, found that 47% of jobs in America were at high risk of being “substituted by computer capital” soon…” (Image: Michael Morgenstern).


Another Age of Discovery. Thomas Friedman at The New York Times makes the case that radical shifts in technology and innovation, disruption on a massive scale, can leave many people unsettled, their skills no longer in demand – which has political implications; here’s an excerpt: “…Because, as in the Renaissance, key anchors in people’s lives — like the workplace and community — are being fundamentally dislocated. The pace of technological change is outstripping the average person’s ability to adapt. Now, like then, said Goldin, “sizable parts of the population found their skills were no longer needed, or they lived in places left behind, so inequality grew.” At the same time, “new planetary scale systems of commerce and information exchange led to immense improvements in choices and accelerating innovations which made some people fabulously rich…”


I Have Found a New Way to Watch TV, And It Changes Everything. TV on fast-forward? Jeff Guo explains at The Washington Post: “I have a habit that horrifies most people. I watch television and films in fast forward. This has become increasingly easy to do with computers (I’ll show you how) and the time savings are enormous. Four episodes of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” fit into an hour. An entire season of “Game of Thrones” goes down on the bus ride from D.C. to New York. I started doing this years ago to make my life more efficient. Between trendy Web shows, auteur cable series, and BBC imports, there’s more to watch ever before. Some TV execs worry that the industry is outpacing its audience. A record-setting 412 scripted series ran in 2015, nearly double the number in 2009...”


TODAY: Warm sunshine. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 84

FRIDAY NIGHT: Dry evening, T-shower possible late. Low: 71

SATURDAY: Sticky with T-storms, some severe. Dew point: 72. Winds: S 10-20. High: near 90

SUNDAY: Sunnier, drier and less humid. Winds: W 10-20. Wake-up: 68. High: 86

MONDAY: Partly sunny, cooler and comfortable. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 62. High: 77

TUESDAY: Bright sun, lighter winds. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 58. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, still quiet. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 57. High: near 80

THURSDAY: Warm sun, few T-storms far northern MN. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 62. High: 82


Climate Stories…

Everything Is Bigger in Texas, Including the Floods. Check out the video and story excerpt from Nexus Media and Popular Science: “…America’s fourth-largest city suffered through a downpour of biblical proportions—storms delivered more rain in a single day than any hurricane in the history of the city. Floods stole dozens of lives and incurred billions in damages. Scientists have drawn a link between rising temperatures and increased precipitation. A warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor and deliver heavier downpours. As the planet heats up, Houston can expect more severe rainfall…”




A Peek Into the Relatively Sane Climate Debates Outside the United States. Grist takes a look at how conservative parties in just about every other country on Earth have accepted the science and are now focusing on solutions: “…Norwegian researcher Sondre Båtstrand last year compared conservative parties  in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, and Australia, finding that the U.S. Republican Party alone was “an anomaly in denying anthropogenic climate change.” Even when conservative candidates argue against climate-change action in their home countries, scientific denial is rarely part of the conversation. Here’s a whirlwind tour of the climate and energy debate around the world (which is thoroughly blissful compared to U.S. politics)..” (Image credit: NASA).


Nuclear New-Build Not Fast Enough to Curb Global Warming: Report. Reuters has the story; here’s the intro: “Nuclear reactors are not being built rapidly enough around the world to meet targets on curbing global warming, a report by the World Nuclear Association, an industry body, said on Tuesday. The association, which represents the global nuclear industry, says 1,000 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity needs to be added by 2050 so nuclear can supply around 25 percent of global electricity. Last year, more nuclear reactors were under construction and came online than at any other time in the past 25 years and building times have improved...”

Photo credit above: “Two cooling towers and pressurized water reactors of the nuclear power plant of French supplier Electricite de France (EDF) are pictured in Cattenom, eastern France, January 27, 2016.” Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay.


People Don’t Trust Hypocritical Climate Scientists, Study Finds. Here’s an excerpt of a story at Grist: “…According to the research, people are more forgiving of a climate scientist who flies often than one who lives in an enormous mansion. “If I live in a huge, gargantuan house … my credibility completely plummets,” Attari says. She suspects this is because people are more likely to understand that climate researchers are required to fly for work, while they have more choice over what they do at home. Some climate researchers have started to limit their flights, but it’s really hard, Attari says…”

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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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