Conservation Minnesota

Spotty T-showers (90s, heat index, and extreme weather is our new reality)

82 F. high yesterday in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

76 F. average high for June 6.

97 F. high temperature a year ago, June 6, 2011.

5:27 am sunrise today.

8:57 pm sunset this evening.

Mid-90s expected Saturday and Sunday, winds from the south at 15-30 mph.

Heat Spike. I’m feeling better about going out on a limb 3 days ago and predicting 90s for the weekend, basically hanging my hat on the ECMWF (European) model. The atmosphere will probably be “capped” Friday (too hot, dry and stable aloft for any strong storms nearby) – meaning highs near 90. Mid-90s are likely on Saturday, but I suspect the models above don’t have a good handle on Sunday, when high temperatures may be just as hot.


Hot Enough. The ECMWF solution (above) has been remarkably consistent for the past 3-4 days – still hinting at mid 90s both Saturday and Sunday, with no rain either day. A few showers/T-storms may arrive late Sunday night into Monday morning, marking the return to a more comfortable airmass next week. It’s early, but the same model is predicting near 2″ of rain next Friday. We’ll see, but the more I look at the maps the more convinced I am that this weekend may be the best cabin/pool/lake weekend for some time to come.

America’s Most Vulnerable Hurricane Cities? Not surprisingly, two of the top 5 are in Florida. Tampa/St. Pete has the dubious distinction of being #1. Details from Climate Central below.

Weather Nugget: “The last drop of rain in Flagstaff was on April 26th, a dry spell of 40 days so far. With the driest time of year upon us, this could go on for quite a while!”

For the insurance industry it means massive exposure to property damage and business losses from storms, wildfires, floods and droughts. For the electric power and oil and gas sectors it means supply disruptions and disabled infrastructure. The new report also details comparable risks in the apparel, mining and tourism sectors. In short, climate change is bringing with it a whole new world of risk for businesses, investors and the economy — risks that many companies are under obligation to disclose.” – from a Huffington Post article below.


NexSat. I’m a fan of the Naval Research Lab site, which has created some new and novel ways to display visible and infrared (temperature derived) satellite imagery from NOAA. The image above was taken at 9:30 pm yesterday, showing strong/severe (tornado-producing) storms from the Denver area into the central Plains.


Close Call. Late Wednesday came reports of a weak tornado near DIA, Denver International Airport. As many as 4-5 separate tornadoes were spotted over the far southeastern suburbs of Denver Wednesday evening, in Arapahoe County. Click here to see the latest list of NOAA storm reports.

Photo Of The Day: “Montana Supercell”. My thanks to Roger Hill for sharing this remarkable photo of a tornado near Stanford, Montana – one of the most amazing pics I’ve seen in a long time. Details via Facebook: “Ok, this is getting crazy! So many fantastic structured supercells, and today (June 5th) was no exception! We intercepted an HPish storm southeast of Stanford, MT and moved northward as it approached Denton. Off to the south, the structure came into view and low and behold, somewhere between Moccasin and Denton this tornado touched down. Partially rain wrapped at times, we were fortunate enough to look down the notch from the northwest and see this insane sight! I have better structure shots I will put up in another day or so. Structure was slightly enhanced to bring out the tornado.”


An Awesome Sight. Professional photographer Sean R. Heavey captured this awe-inspiring shot near Big Sandy, Montana Tuesday, complete with wall cloud below and lumpy, cumulonimbus mammatus clouds dangling from the thunderhead anvil above. Check out his photos here.


“Waterspout!” The Key West, Florida office of The National Weather Service has the details, via Facebook: “Here is the first of two waterspout photos taken by official storm spotter Joe Sheriff. This waterspout developed at around 935 am this morning about 1 mile east-southeast of Ocean Reef. Waterspout duration was approximately 7 minutes.


May Weather Recap. Greg Spoden has an update on the second wettest May in recorded history for Minnesota, and a few other weather nuggets of interest; courtesy of the Minnesota Climatology Working Group:

- May 2012 precipitation totals were extraordinarily high along a broad arc that extended from southwest Minnesota into Minnesota’s Arrowhead region. Along this swath, monthly precipitation totals in excess of eight inches were common.

- While much of the southeastern two-thirds of Minnesota received abundant rainfall, the northwest corner of the state was missed by most of May’s heavy rainfall events. The U. S. Drought Monitor places some northwest Minnesota counties in the “Moderate” drought category.

- Overall, Minnesota’s drought situation has improved significantly when compared with early May when 60 percent of the state was said to be in “Moderate” or “Severe” drought.

- Stream flows are very high in southwest, central, east central, and northeast Minnesota. Stream discharge values in these watersheds rank above the 90th percentile when compared with historical data for the season.

Top 5 Most Vulnerable U.S. Cities To Hurricanes. Climate Central meteorologist Andrew Freedman has a terrific article that summarizes the threat to America’s most vulnerable metro areas; here’s an excerpt: “The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season is officially underway, and while Hurricane Katrina has tended to fade from memory, New Orleans isn’t the only major U.S. city at risk, although it remains extremely vulnerable. As Hurricane Irene demonstrated in 2011, weaker hurricanes can also do significant damage in places that are not used to experiencing such storms. Many American coastal cities are essentially sitting ducks to hurricanes, with millions of Americans living at water’s edge, exposed to high winds and flooding. Some of these communities, like New Orleans and Houston, have experienced powerful storms during the past decade. Others, like Miami and Tampa, have been spared the brunt of landfalling storms during recent hurricane seasons.”

New Mexico Smoke Plume From Space. NASA’s Earth Observatory captured this photo of the southwestern USA Tuesday, showing the pall of smoke from the (record) New Mexico Whitewater-Baldy blaze being swept south and west, toward Phoenix and Baja Mexico.

Transit Of Venus. In case you missed it – here’s an amateur video of Venus passing in front of the sun Tuesday evening, captured by Josh Dowell, via YouTube: “Here is an amateur video shot of the Venus Transit. Shot on June 5th, 2012 with a Sony AVCHD Handycam. The camcorder itself could not view the sun like this I had to break some nice sunglasses to use the lens to block out the sunlight.”


“Ask Paul”. Weather-related Q&A.

We have this ongoing discussion at our house regarding whether it’s too humid to open up the windows at night – any asuggested parameters? We have a weather station that gives us both inside and outside temperature and humidity.”

Thanks,
Kim Kvam, Granite Falls, MN

Kim – I would suggest looking at dew point, instead of relative humidity (you can see the latest Twin Cities dew point here, courtesy of NOAA). Relative humidity fluctuates, sometimes wildly during the day, based on the temperature, whereas dew point is more constant, an (absolute) measure of how much water is in the air. As a rough rule of thumb when dew points are in the 50s – most people would find that comfortable. When the dew point rises above 65 I might consider shutting the windows. A dew point over 70? Tropical air – even air conditioning may not be able to keep up.
________________________________________________________________________________
Hello – what is called when the clouds move away from the lake? And why does in happen?
I was watching the Midwest (Great Lakes) satellite for the Minnesota weather (thunderstorm), yet I noticed the cloud cover pulling back from Lake Michigan. Is that due to winds coming from the north/northeast, and/or also the water on Lake Michigan is cooler (and drier) than the air on land?

Thank you,

(Another) Paul in Minneapolis


Paul (may I call you Paul?) – you sent along a great example of lake effect clouds, a sort of “reverse-lake-effect” during the summer months. You have the right idea: water takes much longer to heat up than land. Great Lakes water temperatures are routinely 20 degrees cooler than surrounding land temperatures, which heat up rapidly with the sun so high in the sky in June. As air heats up it rises, allowing stable, lake-cooled air to push 5-50 miles inland. These miniature cool fronts pushing away from cooler lakes can set up boundaries capable of firing off showers and T-showers. This “sea-breeze” effect triggers late-day T-showers like clockwork many summer days across Florida. It all ties back to differential heating of land and water. In November the process reverses – lake water is warmer than chilly Canadian, heating the air from below, sparking lake-effect clouds and (snow) showers downwind of the Great Lakes. Great question!


Time For Your Close-Up. Here is Wednesday’s NASA MODIS 250 meter close-up of the southern tip of Lake Michigan. Air temperatures shot up into the low to mid 70s, heating the air above the land, causing fair weather cumulus to sprout 20 miles inland. But lake water temperatures off Navy Pier are still in the mid to upper 50s, and by mid afternoon that lake-cooled air had been pulled inland – resulting in a cloud-free zone near the lake.

7 Ways To Disrupt Your Industry. If you’re not paranoid, you’re not paying attention, right? Here’s an excerpt of an excellent article from Fast Company on steps you can take to to prepare yourself, and your company, for inevitable change: “Massive disruption is coming, and the only question is whether your firm is going to cause it or fall victim to it. Disruption is not easy–either to create or to confront. We have no illusions about that. But in the spirit of helping established firms best serve their customers, we offer seven ways your firm could disrupt its own industry, raising the standards of customer experience and creating new opportunities for growth:

1) Totally eliminate your industry’s persistent customer pain points.

Each industry has practices that drive customers crazy.
Technology providers drive customers crazy with technical support that often requires long waits on hold and hopelessly complex interactions (“Just find the serial number on the back of your device and type that into the space provided along with your IP address and the exact wording of the error message you encountered”).”



“Orsos Island” – The Smallest Floating Island Yet In A Fast Growing Market. Who are these people, and why can’t I be related to one of them? Good grief. For a new level of wretched excess, check out this story from gizmag.com: “The Wally Island was a 99 meter (325 feet) “gigayacht” design that dwarfed the vast majority of luxury megayachts and reconceived the yacht as a floating personal island, a mobile address that can be used as a home, an entertaining space or even a moving exhibition or show space. At an estimated US$200 million, the Wally Island was not for the common man, but the concept appears to have ignited a flurry of activity in the marine industry, with these new designs all more focused on a comfortable movable living space framed as a floating island more than a boat.”



Another (Mostly) Fine June Day. The sun was out most of the day Wednesday, a few late-day instability showers drifted down I-35 into the northern suburbs of St. Paul by evening, but there were few complaints – dew points still reasonable, in the 50s. Highs ranged from 59 at Grand Marais (where spring comes only reluctantly) to 82 Twin Cities, 83  at St. Cloud, Alexandria and Redwood Falls.

In every triumph there’s a lot of try. Frank Tyger

Paul’s Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:


TODAY: Some sun, stray T-shower. Winds: S 10-15. High: 84
THURSDAY NIGHT: More humid with another shower or T-shower possible. Low: 67
FRIDAY: Hot sun, storms up north. Winds: SW 15-20. High: 90
FRIDAY NIGHT: Storms over northern MN. Warm and muggy central and southern MN. Low: 68
SATURDAY: Stinking hot. Dew point: 69. Feels like 97-98. High: 94
SUNDAY: Sizzling sunshine. Dew point: 72. Feels like 100. Winds: S/SW 10-20+. Low: 71. High: 96
MONDAY: Early showers, slow PM clearing – cooling off. Low: 66. High: 79
TUESDAY: Comfortable sun, less humid. Low: 59. High: 75
WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, PM shower. Low: 56. High: 74

What is Heat Index?
“If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?” asked humorist Steven Wright.
Let me ponder that one.
Leave it to a meteorologist to leave you feeling worse than you thought possible. In winter it’s a steady drumbeat of windchill-babble. Summer brings the ubiquitous “heat index”, which is a measure of heat and humidity. Bottom line: when there’s a lot of water in the air, as there will be this weekend, your body can’t cool itself effectively via evaporation. Sweat evaporating off your skin has a cooling effect. That’s why you feel chilled stepping out of the shower. But when dew points surge above 70 you can easily overheat; the risk of heat exhaustion (clammy skin) and heat stroke (dry skin, heart palpitations) increases exponentially.
Mid-90s are possible over the weekend; a few thermometers may brush 100. The heat index may top 100 under a blazing sun. I suspect this will be the hottest temperature spike of 2012 so far. Evacuate to the lake.
A stray T-shower may chase you you indoors today; most storms push across far northern Minnesota.
After a dry, sauna-like weekend, Sunday night storms herald the arrival of cooler, Canadian air – a comfortable front next week.

* Heat Index Calculator courtesy of the Green Bay office of The National Weather Service.

Climate Stories….


U.N. Report Warns Environment Is At Tipping Point. Here’s an excerpt from a story from seattlepi.com: “RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The earth’s environmental systems “are being pushed towards their biophysical limits,” beyond which loom sudden, irreversible and potentially catastrophic changes, the United Nations Environment Program warned Wednesday. In a 525-page report on the health of the planet, the agency paints a grim picture: The melting of the polar ice caps, desertification in Africa, deforestation of tropical jungles, spiraling use of chemicals and the emptying out of the world’s seas are just some of myriad environmental catastrophes posing a threat to life as we know it.”

Photo credit above: “Brazil’s Secretary for Climate Change in the Ministry of the Environment Carlos Klink holds up a copy of UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook 5 (GEO-5), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, June 6, 2012.” Photo: Felipe Dana / AP

Extreme Weather Is The New Reality. Here’s a snippet of a Huffington Post article from the President of Ceres: “There’s been a nasty change in the weather of late, and for businesses the forecast is simple: be prepared. In 2011, extreme weather caused more than $148 billion in economic losses, and $55 billion in insured losses globally. A major chunk of those insured losses — more than $30 billion — were in the U.S. where 14 severe weather events caused losses of more than $1 billion each, far more than in any previous year. We’ve just lived through the warmest decade on record, seen unprecedented flash storms and flooding and watched as Texas suffered through the worst drought in its history. Just a normal variation in the weather? “No,” is the overwhelming scientific consensus. Human activity is changing the climate, and the climate is changing the weather. Buckle up. It’s going to be a wild ride. And virtually every business in every sector of the economy is vulnerable.”

Virginia’s Dying Marshes And Climate Change Denial. Details from The BBC: “Dying wetland trees along Virginia’s coastline are evidence that rising sea levels threaten nature and humans, scientists say – and show the limits of political action amid climate change scepticism. Dead trees loom over the marsh like the bones of a whale beached long ago. In the salt marshes along the banks of the York River in the US state of Virginia, pine and cedar trees and bushes of holly and wax myrtle occupy small islands, known as hummocks.”

Image credit above: ‘Ghost trees’ are victims of rising sea levels.

Divided Public: Climate Survey Shows Skepticism And Alarm Rising Over The Past Decade. PR Newswire and marketwatch.com have collaborated on an interesting story; here’s an excerpt: “Researchers have found that between 2002 and 2010 the images and emotions that the American public associates with global warming shifted significantly. Four consecutive nationwide surveys found both increasing skepticism and growing alarm among respondents. The researchers assessed Americans’ “cognitive risk representations” including the words, thoughts, and images, and the positive or negative feelings the public associates with global warming. The study also measured the underlying values of egalitarianism and individualism, as well as a variety of political, social and demographic characteristics.”

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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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