Conservation Minnesota

Slight Cooling Trend Into The Weekend – Historic Floods Grip Texas and Much of Europe

72 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.
74 F. average high on May 31.
63 F. high temperature on May 31, 2015.
June 1, 1993: St. Cloud records its latest ever freezing temperature, with a record low of 32.

Canada Takes The Edge Off Our Heat and Humidity

You know that annoyingly-persistent friend or family member who gives you updates from Phoenix during January, gloating about blue sky and “perfect golf weather”? Now might be a good time to touch base.

An Excessive Heat Watch is in effect for Phoenix, for highs from 110-115F with a heat index topping 120F. “But it’s a dry heat Paul!” Uh, my oven is a dry heat – I still wouldn’t stick my head inside.
Send a note to your Florida friends, too. It’s been 11 years since a major (category 3 or stronger) hurricane has struck the Sunshine State. La Nina cool phases tend to favor more hurricanes in the Atlantic. Remind them Minnesotans don’t track “storms with names”.

The inevitable cold fronts are looking better. Canada leaks cooler, fresher air south of the border, meaning highs in the 70s into the weekend, with a welcome dip in dew point. A lonely instability T-shower may sprout later this afternoon, but Thursday looks stunning. More widespread T-storms arrive Friday with a cool wind and nagging shower risk on Saturday.

No sizzling heat until mid-June at the earliest. Whew.


Floods Hit Historic Levels in Texas, And More Rain Is On The Way. Here’s a video link at story excerpt from PBS NewsHour: “…We have had a history of rivering flooding in our area, and so we are, as always, continuing to monitor that. Unfortunately, it’s just the way that Houston was built. This was a small town that was eclipsed by the town of Galveston when it was built. And so, since then, we have just had a lot of development, we have had a lot of building, but, unfortunately, the way that the Southeast Texas area drains is through a system of bayous. So if we do receive heavy amounts of rain in concentrated areas, that can put a lot of strain on the bayous towards the Gulf of Mexico, which then results in flooding…”


Adding Insult to Injury. NOAA’s GFS model predicts another  4-8″ for much of Texas this week, compounding the historic flooding already underway in the Houston area. Maybe it’s always been like this, but (anecdotally) it sure seems like weather – increasingly – is getting stuck in extended ruts. Loop: AerisWeather.


Friday Storms May Be Severe. Instability will be sufficient, low-level shear and dew points marginal, but I could see a few reports of 1″+ hail with T-storms Friday afternoon and evening across the state of Minnesota. The 00z NAM model prints out .78″ of rain for the metro area. Source: Aeris Enterprise.


From Upper 60s Saturday to Upper 80s Next Week? The graph above shows ECMWF (European) guidance looking out 10 days; hinting at full-frontal summer returning next week. Source: WeatherBell.


Heating Up By Mid-June. NOAA’s GFS model has been fairly consistent, pulling the main belt of westerlies farther north by mid-June, hinting at 80s, maybe 90s just south of Minnesota as we sail into the third week of June.



If You Build It They Will Come – Hurricanes, That Is. Meteorologist John Morales from Miami has a timely post at WXshift; here’s the intro: “In the classic baseball movie “Field of Dreams,” a baseball diamond was built in a cornfield. In what could be a disaster movie-in-production, Florida has built enough housing and infrastructure in the past decade to accommodate 2.5 million new residents. It’s clear that a lot of building has been going on in the Sunshine State lately. But not one has come! Not a single hurricane has reached Florida since major Hurricane Wilma in October 2005. When this year’s Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1, it’ll mark a record 10 years, seven months and eight days since the last landfall…”

Image credit: “Satellite image of Hurricane Wilma over Florida.” Credit:



Column: A Big Hurricane Will Hit Us Sometime. You could make a (statistical) argument that Floridians are living on borrowed time. Is this the year the hurricane-drought ends? Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Tampa Bay Times: “A storm is coming. We just don’t know when. After an unprecedented streak of 10 years without a hurricane, maybe you’re comfortable with Florida’s preparation for the next big hurricane, the flooding and powerful winds. But it’s not wise to become complacent about storms; Florida remains the most hurricane-prone state in the nation, and a big one is coming — sometime...”

Meet TWIRL, The Storm Chasers Who Planted Sensors In The Heart of a Twister. Yes, but can they purchase life insurance at reasonable rates. Don’t try this at home. Here’s an excerpt from Yahoo Finance: “May 9 started out just like any other day for scientists and students participating in the Center for Severe Weather Research’s TWIRL project. The group’s fleet of mobile Doppler on Wheels (DOWs) and observation vehicles had already made their way some 800 miles from their Colorado home base to south central Oklahoma, looking to intentionally place themselves in harm’s way. And on this day, boy did they ever. Why would somebody do such a thing? Science, of course. TWIRL stands for “Tornadic Winds: In-situ and Radar observations at Low levels.” In plain English, these researchers want to understand better how tornadoes form, their strength, and how their winds do damage. The hope is by getting data at the surface often missed by stationary radars dozens if not hundreds of miles away, a better understanding of this killer weather phenomena will save lives later through improved forecasts…”
Photo credit: “Left to right, Molyneaux, Marshall, and DeFlitch with the damaged Pod O.” CSWR.

Tornado Town USA. What is it about large, violent tornadoes and the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore? FiveThirtyEight takes a hard look – here’s a snippet: “…Nobody knows how likely it is that a given town would be hit by four violent tornadoes in 16 years; if we knew that, then we’d also know whether Moore really is especially tornado prone, or just suffering a streak of bad luck. But we do know big tornadoes, themselves, are rare. Devastating EF4s made up 1.37 percent of all the tornadoes that hit the U.S. from 1994 to 2012.2 Just 0.14 percent were incredible EF5s. And that’s enough to make Moore’s recent history turn heads...”



Tornado Sirens, An Old Technology, Still Playing a Vital Role. Remember that sirens were created for outdoor alerting – just don’t rely on them when you’re in the house, office or shop. Here’s a clip from a New York Times article: “…For out-of-the-way places, such as golf courses, lakes and hiking trails, where cellphone service might be spotty or nonexistent, sirens are an “important redundancy” to alert the public, said Bill Bunting, the chief of forecast operations at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. Mr. Shelts said social media can be ineffective in delivering warnings because there is no true management or vetting of what gets posted. Incomplete, inaccurate or outdated information could be shared...”

Photo credit: “Most sirens emit sounds between 400 and 600 hertz, which researchers have found is the best range to get people’s attention.” Credit Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press.



Republicans and Democrats Agree On At Least One Thing: Wildfires Are a Major Threat. Here’s the intro to a story at Grist: “A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is teaming up to do away with preordained spending caps on emergency fire recovery efforts as the American West braces for another wildfire season. Drier conditions, likely driven by climate change, have turned vast swaths of the continent into veritable tinderboxes; last summer, for example, five million acres of Alaska and 1.7 million acres across Washington, Oregon, and Idaho burned. “We need to call mega-fires what they are — disasters,” said Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), in a press release…” (Image credit: REUTERS/Noah Berger).

Can FEMA’s Flood Insurace Program Afford Another Disaster? Blame Sandy and Katrina, and a litany of other flood-related disasters in recent years. 90% of all disasters in this country involve flooding. The hourlong documentary was extraordinary on PBS; here’s an excerpt of a companion article from Fvrontline: “Floods cause more damage each year in the United States than any other kind of natural disaster — so much more, in fact, that most private insurance companies stopped offering flood insurance decades ago. In 1968, the federal government stepped in, creating the National Flood Insurance Program. The program is run today by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Over the last 11 years, the program has fallen billions in debt; a 2015 report from the Government Accountability Office said it was unlikely to be able to repay the money it has borrowed from taxpayers. Worse yet, the program has been accused of waste, poor oversight and fraud…”


Extreme Weather Increasing Level of Toxins in Food, Scientists Warn. Reuters has the story and perspective; here’s the intro: “As they struggle to deal with more extreme weather, a range of food crops are generating more of chemical compounds that can cause health problems for people and livestock who eat them, scientists have warned. A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says that crops such as wheat and maize are generating more potential toxins as a reaction to protect themselves from extreme weather. But these chemical compounds are harmful to people and animals if consumed for a prolonged period of time, according to a report released during a United Nations Environment Assembly meeting in Nairobi…”

Image credit: “Slices of cucumber and a tomato slice are pictured in this illustration photo taken in Berlin May 30, 2011.” Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski.



Weather and Mood: Rainy With a Chance of Depression. Are you “weather-sensitive”? It would appear that there’s considerable data to suggest that some of us are more prone to ups and downs triggered by changes in the weather. Here’s an excerpt from Everyday Health: “…Weather is going to affect you more if you are a highly-sensitive person, as defined by Elaine Aron, PhD, in her best-seller, The Highly Sensitive Person. If you answer yes to these and most of the questions on Aron’s website, you’re probably in the club, which holds 15 to 20 percent of human beings. Are you easily overwhelmed by bright lights and noise? Do you startle easily? Do other people’s moods influence you? Does caffeine have a great effect on you? Research has indicated that hypersensitive people are genetically different from folks who have a normal degree of sensitivity. This might explain why the rain or cold or heat affects some of us much more than others, and why some people would thrive in a humid, hot climate, while others would wilt. Your response to weather would depend on your sensitivity type…”

Why a Power Grid Attack is a Nightmare Scenario. Alarmist hype? I sure hope so. Here’s an excerpt from TheHill: “…While cybersecurity experts and industry executives describe such warnings as alarmist, intelligence officials say people underestimate how destructive a power outage can be. The most damaging kind of attack, specialists say, would be carefully coordinated to strike multiple power stations. If hackers were to knock out 100 strategically chosen generators in the Northeast, for example, the damaged power grid would quickly overload, causing a cascade of secondary outages across multiple states. While some areas could recover quickly, others might be without power for weeks. The scenario isn’t completely hypothetical. Lawmakers and government officials got a preview in 2003, when a blackout spread from the coastal Northeast into the Midwest and Canada...” (File photo: AP).


Emotions Seem To Be Detectable in Air. The Atlantic recently ran a fascinating story; here’s an excerpt: “…In Hunger Games: Catching Fire, for example, during the “suspense” scenes—when Jennifer Lawrence was in particular danger—the carbon dioxide, acetone, and isoprene levels in the theater air predictably increased. The researchers speculate that this may have something to do with breath-holding, or stress hormone production—but it is all speculation. The important point was that the signals occurred at exactly the same time in all four screenings of the film. They also found the reproducible changes in the air chemistry during “humor” scenes in other films...”



Arabic Weather Term “Haboob” is Apparently Troubling for Some Texans. You can’t make this stuff up; here’s an excerpt from Capital Weather Gang: “A wall of dust raced toward Lubbock, Texas, on Sunday, and the National Weather Service threw out a word of caution on its Facebook page. “A haboob is rapidly approaching the Lubbock airport and may affect the city as well,” the meteorologists wrote. The use of  the meteorological term “haboob,” a word with Arabic roots, didn’t sit well with some residents...”
Photo credit above: “On Sunday evening, a haboob — like the one showed here — rolled through Lubbock, Tex., but some Texans were more upset by the terminology than the storm itself.” (Daniel Bryant).

Much-Needed Laughs. The news is more depressing than ever, so I welcomed a chance to be a guest judget at the House of Comedy last night at Mall of America. All 8 finalists were amazing – my congrats to all of them for having the courage to stand up there and take risks. I laughed so hard I had to change my man-diaper.

 
TODAY: Partly sunny, breezy. Slight risk of a late-day shower. Winds: W 10-20. High: near 70
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Gradual clearing, cooling breeze. Low: 51

THURSDAY: Sunny and spectacular. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 74

FRIDAY: Warmer with strong PM T-storms. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 59. High: near 80

SATURDAY: Cool wind, lingering showers. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 58. High: 68

SUNDAY: Slightly better. Sunny AM, late PM shower? Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 53. High: 73

MONDAY: More sun, less wind. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 52. High: 74

TUESDAY: Sunny, turning warmer. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 56. High: near 80

 

Climate Stories…

15 Photos of Devastating Floods Show What The Future of Europe Could Look Like. Here’s a story excerpt from Huffington Post: “…The devastation caused by the flooding shows the vulnerabilities that even wealthy countries face as global warming causes the climate to change and weather to become more extreme. “We cannot predict climate on a local scale 10 years ahead or even further, but we can put a lot more effort on extracting the information on what could be happening in that far-away abstract future by looking at the extremes that happen today,” Bart van den Hurk, a doctor at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, said in a report published last week by the European Commission.  A study released in March 2014 found that the frequency of severe flooding across Europe is expected to double by 2050. The annual economic costs from that flood will go up nearly fivefold, the study found…”

Photo credit: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters. “A damaged car is pictured Monday after floods in the town of Braunsbach, Germany.”



If Climate Scientists Are In It For The Money, They’re Doing It Wrong. Here’s an excerpt from Ars Technica: “…It’s also worth pointing out what they get that money for, as exemplified by a fairly typical program announcement for NSF grants. It calls for studies of past climate change and its impact on the weather—pretty typical stuff. This sort of research could support the current consensus view. But it just as easily might not. It’s impossible to tell before the work’s done. And that’s true for pretty much every scientific funding opportunity—you can’t dictate the results in advance. So, even if the granting process were biased (and there’s been no indication that it is), there is no way for it to prevent people from obtaining data that poses problems for the current consensus…”


Record-Breaking Heavy Rainfall Events Increased Under Global Warming. Professional climate deniers will tell you otherwise, but the data suggests an increase in extreme rainfall  events, worldwide. Here’s an excerpt from PIK Research Portal: “Heavy rainfall events setting ever new records have been increasing strikingly in the past thirty years. While before 1980, multi-decadal fluctuations in extreme rainfall events are explained by natural variability, a team of scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research detected a clear upward trend in the past few decades towards more unprecedented daily rainfall events. They find the worldwide increase to be consistent with rising global temperatures which are caused by greenhouse-gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. Short-term torrential rains can lead to high-impact floodings…”

Graphic credit: Lehmann et all, 2015. Climate Crocks has more on global rainfall trends here.


Meteorologists Are Seeing Global Warming’s Effect on the Weather. Here’s an excerpt of a recent story I wrote for The Guardian: “…A warmer atmosphere is increasing water vapor levels overhead, juicing storms, fueling an increase in flash floods in the summer, and heavier winter snows along the East Coast of the USA. “All storms are 5 to 10 percent stronger in terms of heavy rainfall” explained Dr. Kevin Trenberth, at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. “It means what was a very rare event is now not quite so rare.” In recent decades, weather patterns have appeared to become more sluggish and erratic, worldwide. Rapid warming of the Arctic may be impacting the jet stream, the high-speed river of air that whisks weather systems around the planet. These high-altitude winds are powered by north-south temperature gradients, which are being altered by rapid warming of northern latitudes...”


This Week’s Wild Weather, Brought To You By The Letter Omega. Following up on the preceeding story here’s further explanation of how a variation in north-south temperature gradients may be impacting jet stream winds, worldwide, causing weather to become “stuck” with greater frequency – courtesy of WXshift: “…While blocks are a normal part of weather, there is some tentative evidence that blocking may become more common with climate change. The warming Arctic may be the key driver and is a reminder that what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. Fundamentally, the speed of the jet stream depends on the contrast between the temperature in the tropics and the Arctic. A larger temperature difference yields a faster jet stream. If the Arctic warms more quickly than the tropics, which has been observed, that temperature difference decreases and the jet stream slows. And as it does during its annual summer retreat, the slower jet stream tends to meander, leaving behind these large swirls responsible for atmospheric blocking. At the forefront of this research is Jennifer Francis at Rutgers University. And while the strength of this relationship that she has highlighted is still the cause of much discussion in scientific circles, a new study in the Journal of Climate lends support to the idea…”

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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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