Conservation Minnesota

Trending Ever Warmer: More Good News Than Bad for Minnesota?

79 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.
83 F. average high on July 29.
82 F. high on July 29, 2015.

July 30, 1971: A cool spell across Minnesota brings frost to northern Minnesota. Freezing temperatures are reported as far south as Pipestone

Trending Warmer – More Good News Than Bad?

Unlike much of the planet Minnesota may actually benefit from a steady warming trend in the 21st century.

We’re already tracking a consistently longer growing season. Many farmers acknowledge rain is falling harder, washing away rich topsoil and nutrients. But Minnesota is water-rich, and this may be one of our biggest assets in the years to come.

Much like 2012 Minnesota will enjoy a 7-month boating season this year. But a longer warm season means more allergens, ragweed and pests. Climate Central just crunched the numbers, showing a 34 day increase in Minnesota’s mosquito season since the 1980s. Lovely!

A mixed blessing.

Cooling degree data shows we’ve spent 23 percent more than average cooling our homes so far this summer; 11 days at or above 90F in the Twin Cities. We’ll add a couple more days above 90F next week, but this weekend looks remarkably nice, with blue sky, a light southeast breeze and highs within a couple clicks of 80F.

The more I stare at long-range models the greater my confidence that August will be stinking-hot too. When in doubt don’t buck the trends.


Old Fashioned Summer Heat. 11 days at or above 90F so far this summer season; ahead of schedule for late July, according to running 30-year averages for KMSP from NOAA.


Cooling Degree Days. Average the high and low for any given day – how many degrees above 65F? That’s the number of cooling degree days, as tracked by NOAA. Based on actual observations in the metro we’ve all spent about 23% more than average cooling our homes and businesses so far this year. Graphic: AerisWeather.


Isolated Instability Shower? 4km NAM guidance shows a few pop-up showers by late afternoon and evening. Most of us probably won’t get wet, but there is a small probability of a 30 minute shower later today. Source: NOAA and AerisWeather.


Warming Trend. Soak up one last comfortable day today because another wave of heat and humidity sweeps north next week. It won’t be as hot as late last week, but I could see 1 or 2 days above 90F by the middle of next week with dew point pushing into the low 70s. ECMWF data: WeatherBell.


Heat Peaks Next Wednesday. NOAA model ensembles suggest low to mid 90s next Wednesday before cooling down a bit by the end of next week. Not as hot, for not as long, as it was a week and a half ago. Source: Aeris Enterprise.


Extended: Toasty, Not Broiling. Long range GFS guidance shows a few meager cool fronts scraping the northern USA 1-2 weeks out, each one bringing minor relief from the worst of the heat wave, which is forecast to remain anchored just to our south. That said, I will be surprised if August doesn’t wind up warmer than average – again.


Heat Wave Sparks Anthrax Outbreak In Siberia. NBC News has the jaw-dropping details (which sound like the prequel to a bad horror flick): “…A state of emergency has been imposed throughout the region in western Siberia due to the incident — the first of its kind since 1941. The carcass of a reindeer thought to have died from anthrax decades ago thawed and released the bacteria, sending the disease rippling through a population of animals already weakened by unusually high temperatures, according to local officials. Temperatures in the Yamal tundra above the Arctic Circle have hit highs of 95 degrees this summer, compared to an average of 77 degrees...”

Photo credit: “Reindeer gather in Russia’s Yamalo-Nenets autonomous district on August 2, 2015.” Sergei Karpukhin / REUTERS FILE.


Is a Category 6 Hurricane Possible? As oceans continue to warm the concept isn’t as far-fetched as it might sound. We may need a bigger scale down the road. Here’s an excerpt from The Weather Channel: “A recent blog post by Dr. Jeff Masters got the entire weather community thinking: Could there be a Category 6 hurricane? The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale currently runs from Category 1 through Category 5, and Category 5 is classified as 157-plus mph. But how far above 157 mph could the winds go while still being considered Category 5 wind speeds? Last year, Hurricane Patricia reached maximum sustained winds of 215 mph in the eastern Pacific Ocean. It was the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, based on those 1-minute maximum sustained surface winds on Oct. 23, 2015…”


Forget Tornadoes: “Rain Bombs” Are Coming For Your Town. Yes, the rain is falling harder. Ask residents of the Brainerd Lakes, or West Virginia, South Carolina or Texas. Eric Roston explains at Bloomberg: “…Scientists understand the mechanics of small-scale weather events such as rain bombs, tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms. The past few years have seen modest improvements in projections of how these storms might behave in a changing atmosphere, region-by-region. “The research showing rain events for us being less frequent but more intense, due to climate change, seems to be our new reality,” Sullins said. What’s known with much greater confidence by climatologists is that storms should continue to intensify. There’s little question that by stockpiling water vapor, the atmosphere is building a worldwide arsenal of “rain bombs”—or, if you like, wet microbursts, macrobursts, or just your typical, Noah-scale deluges…”


Mosquito Season Growing Longer. Longer growing season – longer boating season – more time for mosquitoes to breed. 34 days longer since the 1980s? Good grief. Here’s an excerpt from Climate Central: “…Climate Central analyzed how the number of days each year with ideal conditions for mosquitoes has been changing since 1980. We found that most major cities in the country (76 percent) have seen an overall increase in days conducive for mosquitoes in the past 36 years, and many regions have seen the mosquito season increase by half a month or more. Among the 200 largest metro areas in the U.S., 10 cities have seen their seasons grow by a month or more over this relatively short period of time. Overall, 125 cities are now seeing their average annual mosquito seasons at least five days longer than they were in the 1980s…”


Sweating Under The Heat Dome. It could be worse – you could be living in Houston. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The New York Times: “…First, most conventional wisdom is useless. Yes, you might feel a little cooler if you wear linen and cotton instead of polyester, along with a ridiculous “S.P.F.” sun hat. (Really, is there any other kind?) As for those sunscreens that promise to keep you cool, they do so for the five seconds you’re spraying them on. When it comes to bugs, torches dipped in citronella fuel might keep your patio marginally pest free, but at the expense of warming yourself near, well, a fire. So often, self-protection in summer comes down to a choice of which feels less nasty on the skin: sunscreen or bug repellent...”


The World’s Biggest, Fastest Firefighting Jet Is About to Take Off. We’re going to need a bigger plane. Here’s a clip from eenews.net: “On May 5, a big, red-and-white Boeing 747 made a low pass over the airport here and then dropped about 10,000 gallons of water, shrouding a nearby field in mist as a crowd including the state’s governor, a phalanx of local politicians and Forest Service representatives looked on. The plane, a converted former passenger jet, is about to enter service here as the biggest and fastest airborne firefighting jet in the world. It is capable of reaching almost any wildfire in the West in about three hours. Onlookers were excited about the plane’s 19,200-gallon capacity for carrying fire retardant, but less interested in its national reach. Many of them were more focused on the ugly experiences they’ve had right here with fast-spreading wildfires…”

Photo credit: “The Waldo Canyon Fire northwest of Colorado Springs, Colo., in June 2012 caused nearly $454 million in damage and was the state’s most destructive fire — until the Black Forest Fire surpassed it a year later. Scientists say climate change is helping to fuel forest fires.” Photo by the Department of Agriculture, courtesy of Wikipedia.


Slimy Green Beaches May Be Florida’s New Normal. National Geographic reports; here’s a snippet: “…This is absolutely the worst,” says Evan Miller, an environmental activist and founder of Citizens for Clean Water. Miller lives in the tourist town of Stuart, 110 miles (177 kilometers) north of Miami. “We’ve never seen algae so thick. You can see it from space. There are places in Stuart that are on their third and fourth cycle of blooms now.” As the latest outbreak continues to play out with sporadic bursts of new algae blooms, dismayed Floridians are wondering if the recurring appearance of this tourist-repelling, fish-killing scum is their new normal. It may be...”

Image credit: Popular Science and NASA Landsat 8 Satellite / OLI


Does The Disappearance of Sea Ice Matter? Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times Magazine: “…In the vast and chaotic climate systems that govern our atmosphere and oceans, making sense of how one change — diminished sea ice — affects places or people thousands of miles away is a task of such extraordinary complexity that it strains even the most sophisticated supercomputers. Nevertheless, what it means to be entering an era of new sea-ice minimums is one of the big scientific questions of the moment. Unlike the ice on land, sea ice, which derives from the ocean itself, has no direct impact on sea levels, so its melting poses no threat of coastal flooding. On the other hand, a recent group of scientific papers suggests that the steady retreat of sea ice may have a residual effect on all sorts of other things, like the ice covering Greenland or storms in New England…”

Photo credit: “A NASA Operation IceBridge image released in July 2016 that shows melting Arctic sea ice.” Credit Dennis Gearhart/NASA.


Weather Service Conducts “Illegal Surveillance” on Staff, Union Says. Details via The Washington Post: “If it’s on Facebook, can it be secret? Members of the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO) thought they had a secret Facebook page that was available only to them. But not only did National Weather Service (NWS) management officials know about the page, they accessed it and made scornful comments about the postings, according to the union. That amounts to “illegal surveillance” of union activities, according to the labor organization’s complaint filed Wednesday with the Federal Labor Relations Authority...” (Image credit: Dado Ruvic/Reuters).


Our View: Conservatives’ Involvement Will Boost Energy Efforts. What can we all agree on, where is the common ground? Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from The Mankato Press: “…The Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum was formed to give conservatives a voice on energy policy, according to Minnesota Public Radio News. And the most promising part of its agenda is that the forum doesn’t just tout traditional dependence on fossil fuels. The group is well-grounded in the reality that cleaner energy pays off in the long run. Members of the group say they want to stay away from the tired arguments over global warming. That’s a strategy that looks more promising for moving the state forward in its goals to give consumers cheaper, cleaner choices of energy…”

Click here to see Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum on Facebook; their main web site is here.


Shared Vehicles Could Make Our Cities Dramatically More Livable. Dave Roberts has the story at Vox; here’s an excerpt: “…Our transportation system has not changed much, except to become bigger and more sprawling, in over 60 years. There are so many moving pieces today, so many new technologies and possibilities, that it seems impossible to wrap your head around what may be coming. One way to think about it is this: Technology is enabling a shift to self-driving vehicles, a shift to electric vehicles, and a shift to shared vehicles. Each of those shifts will have its own effects. It can be helpful to try to disaggregate those effects. That’s what a recent study from the International Transport Forum (an OECD think tank) attempts to accomplish. In particular, it tries to focus in on the sharing part…”

Image credit: “Believe it or not, this was the least bad car-sharing stock art.(Shutterstock)


Elon Musk Makes a Libertarian Argument for Carbon Tax. Here’s an excerpt of an interview at Reno Gazette-Journal: “…With respect to some of the other elements for solar panels and EVs, the big issue we have is that in reality if you accept the scientific consensus every oil burning activity is subsidized, dramatically. If you believe there is a value to the CO2 capacity of the atmosphere and oceans and that CO2 capacity is not being paid for by the price at the gas pump or the coal that is being burned for electricity generation or whatever its use may be then every single fossil fuel burning activity is massively subsidized. This has become sort of an ideological issue because there are people who think that global warming is not true...”

Photo credit: “Elon Musk of Tesla with a new Model S car outside the Tesla customer deliver area.” (Photo: Jessica Brandi Lifland/USA Today).


America’s Heat Wave No Sweat for Nuclear Power. What (low or no-carbon) energy alternatives can provide the baseline power we need, nationwide, until cleaner choices scale up? I’m not thrilled with nuclear as it exists today, but if you’re serious about decarbonizing the energy grid it may be short-sighted to shut down all existing nuclear plants in the near term. Here’s an excerpt from Forbes: “…Just like during the polar vortex, when nuclear stepped up to relieve natural gas and coal when they failed to deliver on the demand, nuclear also performs wonderfully during extreme weather at the other end of the thermometer. This kind of constant baseload power during the hottest part of the day is essential to keep our air conditioning going and for stabilizing the grid against blackouts. Nuclear plants are the backbone of the electricity grid, operating all the time even under the most extreme weather conditions…”

File photo: Joel Boh, Reuters.



Why Rich Neighbors Are Bad For You. Here’s a clip from The Washington Post: “The concept of “keeping up with the Joneses” has been around for more than a century. But in an era of high inequality, the pressure to match the lavish lifestyles of one’s neighbors has become all the more salient. A new paper from a Federal Reserve economist explores a potentially alarming way these pressures affects people’s financial lives. The paper from Fed economist Jeffrey Thompson suggests that Americans are borrowing more to keep up with wealthier members of society — particularly when it comes to buying and financing homes...” (Image credit: someecards).


The Public Shaming of England’s First Umbrella User. Using an umbrella shows “weakness of character?” Who knew. Atlas Obscura has the details: “…In the early 1750s, an Englishman by the name of Jonas Hanway, lately returned from a trip to France, began carrying an umbrella around the rainy streets of London. People were outraged. Some bystanders hooted and jeered at Hanway as he passed; others simply stared in shock. Who was this strange man who seemed not to care that he was committing a social sin? Hanway was the first man to parade an umbrella unashamed in 18th-century England, a time and place in which umbrellas were strictly taboo. In the minds of many Brits, umbrella usage was symptomatic of a weakness of character, particularly among men…”


TODAY: Partly sunny. Very few complaints about the weather. Winds: SE 3-8. High: near 80

SATURDAY NIGHT: Clear and pleasant. Low: 64

SUNDAY: Plenty of sunshine. Lakes beckon. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 82

MONDAY: Sticky sun, stray T-storm possible. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 69. High: 88

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, dew point above 70F. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 72. High: 89

WEDNESDAY: Hot sun, feels like upper 90s to near 100F. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 74. High: 92

THURSDAY: Heavy T-storms, then cooling off a bit. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 73. High: 88

FRIDAY: Blue sky, welcome drop in humidity. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 67. High: 86


Climate Stories…

Climate Change’s Fingerprints All Over California Wildfires. Perspective from Climate Central: “…None of the fires have been among the worst or largest wildfires the state has seen in recent years, but they’re part of a dire global warming-fueled trend toward larger, more frequent and intense wildfires. The number of blazes on public lands across the West has increased 500 percent since the late 1970s, said LeRoy Westerling, a professor studying climate and wildfire at the University of California-Merced. The outlook this summer is sobering: Wildland fire potential for most of coastal California and the Sierra Nevada Mountains is above normal and is expected to remain that way through October, according to the National Interagency Fire Center...”

Photo credit: “The Sand Fire burning in California’s Santa Clarita Valley in July.” Credit: Kevin Gill/flickr.


Cooler La Nina Temperatures Will Not Impact Climate Change. ENSO (El Nino and La Nina) temporarily magnify or mask the full effects of the warming underway, but don’t look for the upcoming La Nina to make much of a dent, according to Voice of America: “The World Meteorological Organization says a La Nina event may develop later this year, but this weather phenomenon, which ushers in cooler temperatures will have no long-lasting impact on climate change. The El Nino/La Nina weather phenomenon has worldwide regional impacts on rainfall and temperature on a seasonal scale.  El Nino causes a warming of the tropical eastern and central sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean and is characterized by warmer temperatures…”

Graphic credit: “Oceanographic satellite released by NASA April 21, 2008, depicts a La Nina blanketing the Pacific Ocean near the equator.” Reuters.


James Cameron Wants To Make Climate Change an Election Year Issue. Here’s a clip from TIME: “…Cameron’s short documentary—entitled Not Reality TV—aimed to do just that. The five-and-a-half minute film presents visuals of climate-related devastation along with voices calling attention to the issue from the likes of Pope Francis, George H.W. Bush and scientists. And, like much of the DNC, the video is filled with celebrities—from narration by Sigourney Weaver to an appearance by Jack Black…”

Cameron’s video is here.


What The U.S. Will Look Like When Your Kids Get Old. Gizmodo explains: “When climate change is in the news, it’s usually because of a scary new temperature record or a mass coral die-off, or because an enormous chunk of Greenland disappeared and nobody noticed. But at the end of the day, the thing that most of us really care about is how we’ll be affected. Now, NOAA is making it easier than ever to find out, with a new Climate Explorer app that shows just how screwed (or spared) your little sliver of the country will be. The first version of Climate Explorer launched in 2014, as part of a package of climate tools for planners interested in identifying vulnerable coastlines and flooding risks…”


Visitors to a Shrinking Alaskan Glacier Get a Lesson on Climate Change. A natural cycle? The photo above shows is a before/after photo from 1884 and 2004 at the Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska. Here’s a clip from NPR: “The Mendenhall Glacier is visible from the visitor center parking lot. But it’s still pretty far and if you traveled all the way to Juneau, Alaska, you probably want to get up close to the blue tinted ice. Touching the face of the glacier can be tricky. You’re separated by cold, silty water, and a hike over the ridge could take hours. Visitor center staff know that. And inside, they use it to prove a point. John Neary, director of the glacier’s visitor center, wants the more than 500,000 people who visit the Mendenhall Glacier each year to know that it’s rapidly retreating due to climate change...”


People Who Predict Floods Can’t Assume the Climate Isn’t Changing Anymore. Here’s an excerpt from ThinkProgress: “…Climate change has forced scientists, policymakers, flood control managers, urban planners, and especially anyone living in flood-prone areas to rethink how they assess the coming hazards of floods. In recent weeks, a series of terrible flood events in the United States has added a new sense of urgency to their discussions. Even abroad — recently in China, as well as in France, Germany, Nepal, South Africa and India, for example — floods have taken a significant toll on human life and property, exacerbating global concerns. Increasingly, experts in flood management and climate scientists have come to recognize that global warming — along with geography; topography; land use and development; infrastructure; and cultural beliefs — significantly contributes to the severity and frequency of floods...”

File photo: USGS.

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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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