Conservation Minnesota

Warm Winds – Touch of Autumn by Thursday – Symptoms of Climate Change Getting Harder To Miss


83 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
80 F. average high on August 22 (drop of 4 degrees since mid-July).
82 F. high on August 22, 2015.

August 23, 1955: Hail in Houston County results in drifts up to a foot deep at Rushmore.

A Fire-hose of Data – But So Little Weather Wisdom

“Life is very complicated, so don’t try to find out answers. Because when you find answers life changes the questions” wrote Tina Dima.

So many choices – no wonder we’re all neurotic. Life seemed simpler back in the 60s and 70s: a handful of TV stations and the local newspaper. One weather model. Today? A blizzard of facts, factoids and digital garbage – endless sources of “information”, much of it dubious, and now hundreds of weather models. I remind my two boys to focus on “trusted sources”, because the Internet is one rough neighborhood.

When the public gets conflicting severe storm warning information they are more likely sit on their hands and do nothing. Not good. A few models bring a tropical storm or hurricane into Florida & the eastern Gulf of Mexico late next week. I’m still skeptical, but stay tuned and let’s see if there’s model continuity in the coming days.

A couple T-storms flare up tonight and early Wednesday ahead of the next cool front. The approach of warmer, juicier air sets off more T-storms next weekend. Not a steady downpour but have a Plan B.

I have shocking news: I don’t see any 90s, no hot fronts, at this year’s Minnesota State Fair. How is that even possible?



Heating Up in the Tropics. We’re tracking at least 3 tropical systems in the Atlantic (Fiona and Gaston); Invest-99 has the greatest potential to impact the Bahamas and possibly the southeastern USA sometime next week.  Graphic: NOAA.

Projected Track. Models are in fairly good agreement that Invest-99 will track toward the west northwest, strengthening over time. Confidence levels are still quite low.

Hermine? It’s still very (very) early to be launching into hurricane-speak and analyzing tracks, but the fact that the ECMWF (Euro) picked up on tropical development during Monday’s 12z run was a big data point for me. NOAA’s GFS model has been trying to spin something up in recent days; now the European model, which often does a somewhat better job tracking tropical systems, is looking interesting for next week. Forecast map valid next Thursday morning, September 1, courtesy of WSI. Remember, it’s a forecast, not reality. Not yet. In the event sustained winds top 39 mph we’ll have Tropical Storm Hermine.

Feels Like Summer. Models show mid to upper 80s today; a 90-degree high temperature not out of the question close to home by late afternoon as south wind gust to 25 mph. Source: Aeris Enterprise.

A Few Hours of Showers. NOAA’s 4km NAM brings a line of T-storms across the state later tonight, a squall line forming along the leading edge of cooler, drier air. By Thursday you’ll notice another touch of autumn in the air. 60-hour Future Radar: NOAA and AerisWeather.

ECMWF Temperature Guidance. The European may be running a few degrees too cool, but it probably has the right idea: Thursday is the coolest day – temperatures Friday morning will start out in the 40s to low 50s before recovering again next week. NOAA models are warmer for the weekend, hinting at low 80s by Sunday. Graphic: WeatherBell.


When In Doubt Predict Rain. Rainfall amounts with tonight’s cool frontal passage should be light, under .10 or .20″, but the approach of warmer air coupled with a storm aloft may squeeze out significant rains Saturday night into Sunday, based on NOAA guidance. Good grief.

Wimmers and Velden launched the first MIMIC-TPW algorithm in 2007 and it has been an integral tool for tropical weather analysis ever since. Still, there was room for improvement, particularly to better serve coastal forecasters.
Some polar-orbiting satellites scan the Earth and collect data in a conical pattern, so while they are constantly changing position all over the globe, their retrievals are generated from the same scan angle. This allows them to take very precise measurements and stay well calibrated with other conical scanners, Wimmers explains, but it constrains TPW data collection to uniform surfaces like oceans. Land was simply too uneven, especially in locations with varied topography.
– See more at: http://news.wisc.edu/a-better-way-to-predict-the-weather-on-sea-and-over-land/#sthash.eKs54QpM.dpuf


Why Obama Must Pay Attention to the Louisiana Floods. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from Eric Holthaus at Newsweek: “…Words matter. And since Obama has staked a big part of his legacy on climate change, he owes it to the victims of the flooding in Louisiana, and the potential victims of future climate-related disasters, to address the clear and present threat of climate change directly in Louisiana. The President not only has the ability to improve the lives of the victims of this tragedy, by motivating attention and donations to help their plight, but to save countless future lives as well. To intentionally avoid this responsibility is unforgivable. To be a true leader, you have to change the status quo; when you’re trying to lead on climate you have to change the status quo much faster than “normal” politics might say is possible…” (Photo: American Red Cross).

Governor of Louisiana: “We Really Need Help”. The Guardian reports: “Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards pleaded for aid for his state on Sunday, saying that after a week of devastating flooding, “we really need help.” Unlike a hurricane, Edwards told CNN on Sunday, “this rain event didn’t have a name, so we have folks around the country who I think are just now realizing how significant it was.” Days of extraordinary rainfall caused severe flooding around southern Louisiana this week, killing at least 13 people, damaging an estimated 60,000 homes and forcing thousands to the shelter of evacuation centers…”

Photo credit: “Daniel Stover, 17, wipes his head as he helps rescue people’s belongings in Sorrento, Louisiana, on Saturday.” Photograph: Max Becherer/AP.



Louisiana Ignored Dire Forecasts and Flash Flood Warnings. The fact that this epic storm didn’t have a name, it wasn’t a tropical storm or hurricane,  helped  to downplay overall consumer awareness of what was coming. Here’s an excerpt of an interview at NPR:

SHEPHERD: People have a hard time grasping things that they haven’t experienced.
KAILATH: According to the research Shepherd cites, people around the world are going to see more and more weather for which they have no reference point.
SHEPHERD: People just assume a heavy rainstorm is a heavy rainstorm, just like the storms they experienced growing up as a child or perhaps 10 years ago.
KAILATH: But in fact, Shepherd says, today’s storms are different – more destructive and only getting stronger. Inland communities like Baton Rouge haven’t experienced floods like this before, but increasingly, they’ll have to learn to prepare for them anyway. Ultimately, Shepherd says, the responsibility for getting ahead of a disaster is personal...”  (File photo: NOAA).


Louisiana Residents Without Flood Insurance Face Uncertainty. Reuters reports: “…As efforts in Louisiana turn from rescue to recovery, renters and homeowners who do not have flood insurance are facing an uncertain financial future. Private insurers do not cover flood damage and flood insurance in the United States is underwritten by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Homeowners who live in designated high-risk flood zones are required to carry flood insurance if they have a federally backed mortgage. In Louisiana, an estimated 42 percent of homes in high-risk areas have flood insurance, according to FEMA. Only 12.5 percent of homeowners in low and moderate-risk zones do…”

Photo credit: “Debris is seen floating in flood water in front of a damaged home in St. Amant, Louisiana, U.S., August 21, 2016.” REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman.


These Louisiana Politicians Are Demanding Flood Aid, But Voted Against Sandy Relief. Here’s an excerpt of a column at The Los Angeles Times: “Call it logrolling or one hand washing the other, a generally recognized fact in Washington is that if you want something for your district, it pays to agree to the same thing for another guy’s district. That point may have been lost on three Louisiana Congressmen when they voted against a $50.5-billion relief package for the victims of Superstorm Sandy. The 2012 storm ravaged coastal communities in New Jersey and New York. Now they’re in the position of needing the same sort of aid for their own state. How will that play out?…”

Photo credit: “Voted against Sandy aid, wants Louisiana aid: Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La. (center)”  AP


Parachuting into Forest Fires for $15 an Hour. Good grief, talk about underpaid. Here’s an excerpt from CNN: “Smokejumpers are elite firefighters who parachute out of airplanes and into fiery forests — extremely dangerous work that pays just $15 an hour. That’s what the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management pay them to drop into the smoke-choked Western mountains and wild lands. Smokejumpers haul 100-pound packs of equipment and dig trenches, or fire lines, using a pick-axe called the Pulaski, which looks like a Medieval weapon. The fire lines are basically trenches cleared of any flammable vegetation used to stop the blaze from spreading…” (File photo: NOAA).


A Better Way to Predict the Weather On Sea and Over Land. Here’s a summary of some promising new tools for severe weather prediction, courtesy of the University of Wisconsin News: “…Wimmers and Velden launched the first MIMIC-TPW algorithm in 2007 and it has been an integral tool for tropical weather analysis every since. Still, there was room for improvement, particularly to better serve coastal forecasters. Somme polar-orbiting satellies scan the Earth and collect data in a conical pattern, so while they are constantly changing position all over the globe, their retrievals are generated from the same scan angle. This allows them to take very precise measurements and stay well calibrated with other conical scanners, Wimmers explains, but it constrains TPW data collection to uniform surfaces like oceans...”


Tracking Changes in Great Lakes Temperature and Ice: New Approaches. Here’s an excerpt from NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory: “In a new study, scientists from GLERL, the University of Michigan, and other institutions take a new look at changing ice cover and surface water temperature in the Great Lakes. The paper, set to be published in Climatic Change, is novel in two ways. While previous research focused on changes in ice cover and temperature for each lake as a whole, this study reveals how different regions of the lakes are changing at different rates. While many scientists agree that, over the long term, climate change will reduce ice cover in the Great Lakes, this paper shows that changes in ice cover since the 1970s may have been dominated by an abrupt decline in the late 1990s (coinciding with the strong 1997-1998 winter El Niño), rather than gradually declining over the whole period…”

Map credit: “The panel on the left shows the change in seasonal ice cover duration (d/yr) from 1973 to 2013, and the panel on the right shows the change in summer surface water temperature (°C/yr) from 1994 to 2013.” Maps created by Kaye LaFond for NOAA GLERL.


Ocean Slime Spreading Quickly Across the Earth. Other than that things are going quite well. Here’s an excerpt from National Geographic: “…The algae bloom that blanketed the West Coast in 2015 was the most toxic one ever recorded in that region. But from the fjords of South America to the waters of the Arabian Sea, harmful blooms, perhaps accelerated by ocean warming and other shifts linked to climate change, are wreaking more havoc on ocean life and people. And many scientists project they will get worse. “What emerged from last year’s event is just how little we really know about what these things can do,” says Raphael Kudela, a toxic algae expert at the University of California, Santa Cruz…”

Image credit: “Some scientists suspect melting Himalayan ice from climate change is changing rain pattterns enough to help reduce oxygen in the Arabian Sea, leading to massive green blooms of Notiluca scintillans, a harmful algae that  is threatening to transform the region’s marine food web.” Image: NASA Earth Observatory.


This Land Is My Land (And Yours Too!) Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times waxes eloquent about our National Parks, which turn 100 years old this week (and are showing their age just a bit). Here’s an excerpt: “…But the biggest threat to our long-term wilderness enjoyment isn’t mosquitoes or ticks, bears or wolves. It’s Congress. Congress deprives government agencies of money needed to maintain our public lands. The National Park Service says that it has 6,700 miles of trails that are in poor condition because it can’t afford to keep them up. Even on the John Muir Trail, large stretches are in disrepair and had turned into creeks of snowmelt when my daughter and I hiked them. This quickly erodes the trails so much that new ones have to be built nearby. This reluctance to pay for maintenance isn’t even fiscally prudent, for it’s far more expensive to build new trails than to maintain old ones…”

Photo credit: “Nicholas Kristof enjoying part of his inheritance (as an American citizen), a lake on the John Muir Trail in California.” Credit Caroline Kristof.


Obama Calls for Action on Climate Change to Protect National Parks. Here’s a video link and story excerpt at TheHill: “…As we look ahead, the threat of climate change means that protecting our public lands and waters is more important than ever,” Obama said in his weekly address. “Rising temperatures could mean no more glaciers in Glacier National Park. No more Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree National Park. Rising seas could destroy vital ecosystems in the Everglades, even threaten Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.” Obama said American’s should have “foresight and faith in our future” to do what it takes to protect national parks and the planet “for generations to come...”


I Don’t Need Air Conditioning and Neither Do You. We tried going without A/C one summer and it was not a pretty sight. It’s an effective way to stop friends and neighbors from just dropping in, though. Here’s the intro to a Washington Post story: “It’s time to come out of the closet. Or, more precisely, the sweat lodge. My family lives without air con­ditioning, except for one antique, ­semi-comatose window unit that “cools” the bedroom to approximately the same temperature as Dallas at dusk. Our house in Philadelphia was built in the 1920s, when people were tough and resourceful. For most of the year, the house is cool and pleasant, as long as there isn’t a mash-up of continuously scorching days and epic humidity, when the air is putrid, stagnant and, if it were a color, would definitely be mustard. Which would be this summer…”

Image credit: iStock, Washington Post.


Elon Musk Leads Tesla Effort to House Roofs Entirely Out of Solar Panels. “Solar shingles” is the operative phrase here, according to a story at The Guardian: “A new venture spearheaded by Elon Musk will create house roofs made entirely of solar panels, in a sweeping expansion of Tesla’s clean energy ambitions. Tesla has finalized a $2.6bn deal to buy solar power company SolarCity to produce solar “shingles” – photovoltaic material that would be fashioned into the shape of a house roof. “I think this is really a fundamental part of achieving differentiated product strategy, where you have a beautiful roof,” Musk said. “It’s not a thing on the roof. It is the roof...” (Photo credit here).


Exxon Touts Clean Tech in Olympic Ads as Climate Pressure Grows. Reuters reports: “…Though oil companies typically advertise at big sporting events, the ads are being run as Exxon faces growing pressure on multiple fronts – from shareholders, green groups and state attorney generals – to respond to global warming. Many other fossil fuel companies also face pressure from shareholders, specifically over whether the value of their oil and gas assets would be slashed as governments clamp down on carbon emissions. From the opening ceremony of the Games on Aug. 5 to Aug. 17, Exxon spent $19.3 million to air ads 233 times in the U.S. market, reaching about 335 million TV screens, according to iSpot.tv, which tracks ad viewership in real time using advanced analytics…”


America’s First Offshore Wind Farm May Power Up a New Industry. Justin Gillis reports at The New York Times: “…By global standards, the Block Island Wind Farm is a tiny project, just five turbines capable of powering about 17,000 homes. Yet many people are hoping its completion, with the final blade bolted into place at the end of last week, will mark the start of a new American industry, one that could eventually make a huge contribution to reducing the nation’s climate-changing pollution. The idea of building turbines offshore, where strong, steady wind could, in theory, generate large amounts of power, has long been seen as a vital step toward a future based on renewable energy. Yet even as European nations installed thousands of the machines, American proposals ran into roadblocks, including high costs, murky rules about the use of the seafloor, and stiff opposition from people who did not want their ocean views marred by machinery...”
Photo credit: “One of five turbines that make up the Block Island Wind Farm, the first offshore wind farm in the United States, off the Rhode Island coast.” Credit Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times.

11 Reasons To Be Excited About The Future of Technology. Medium has an uplifting, optimistic preview of what’s to come: “In the year 1820, a person could expect to live less than 35 years, 94% of the global population lived in extreme poverty, and less that 20% of the population was literate. Today, human life expectancy is over 70 years, less that 10% of the global population lives in extreme poverty, and over 80% of people are literate. These improvements are due mainly to advances in technology, beginning in the industrial age and continuing today in the information age. There are many exciting new technologies that will continue to transform the world and improve human welfare. Here are eleven of them...”

Are Aging and the Economic Slowdown Linked? The Washington Post reports: “An aging United States reduces the economy’s growth — big time. That’s the startling conclusion of a new academic study, and if it withstands scholarly scrutiny, it could transform our national political and economic debate. We’ve known for decades, of course, that the retirement of the huge baby-boom generation — coupled with low birthrates — would make the United States an older society. Similarly, we’ve known that this would squeeze the federal budget. Social Security and Medicare spending would grow rapidly, intensifying pressures to cut other programs, raise taxes or accept large budget deficits. All this has come to pass…”


MSP: 3rd Best (Large) Airport in the USA. So says Trip Advisor and after spending time at airports around the world I agree that it’s always good coming home to MSP: “…Presented for the first time this year, the awards highlight the most popular domestic airports in four categories: shopping, dining, large airports and medium airports (based on their size classification by the FAA). Award winners were determined based on findings from a survey of more than 114,000 TripAdvisor travelers from the U.S…”



What Does a Dog Want More – “Good Boy” or Treats? My dog wants both. Here’s a clip from The Washington Post: “…New research shows that my effort may be overkill. According to the study, published online in the journal Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, more dogs prefer praise over food. The finding by Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns followed a novel method of investigation: He used an MRI to scan a dog’s brain while the dog was awake and unrestrained...”



TODAY: Windy and warm – feels like July. Winds: S 15-25. High: 87

TUESDAY NIGHT: Sticky with a few T-storms around. Low: 67

WEDNESDAY: Early puddles, then clearing. Winds: W 10-15. High: 83

THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, comfortable. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 60. High: 74

FRIDAY: Lukewarm sun, late thunder up north? Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 56. High: 76

SATURDAY: Patchy clouds, few T-storms. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 60. High: 78

SUNDAY: Unsettled, nagging thunder risk. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 65. High: 82

MONDAY: More numerous T-storms, some heavy? Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 68. High: 81


Climate Stories…

Flooding, Extreme Weather and Record Temperatures: How Global Warming Puts It All Together. Here are 2 excepts from the blog of the Union of Concerned Scientists:

Louisiana, August 2016: “I’m going home to see if I have a home”.
Ellicot City, Maryland, July 2016: “Oh my god. There’s people in the water”.
West Virginia, June 2016: “23 dead, thousands homeless after devastating flood”.
What do these events (and 5 more since April 2015) have in common? They were all considered very low probability, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hydrometeorological Design Studies Center created maps of annual exceedance probabilities (AEPs) for all of them…One can’t help but notice that over these 15 months, 8 rain events were off the probability charts, so to speak. Yes, climate change fingerprint is on these events, including the Louisiana flood, considered the worst natural disaster in the US since hurricane Sandy. Special conditions mainly fueled by climate change were behind this record event...”

Photo credit: “Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake.”


Historical Documents Reveal Arctic Sea Ice is Disappearing at Record Speed. Dana Nuccitelli reports at The Guardian: “Scientists have pieced together historical records to reconstruct Arctic sea ice extent over the past 125 years. The results are shown in the figure (above). The red line, showing the extent at the end of the summer melt season, is the most critical. Arctic sea ice extent in recent years is by far the lowest it’s been, with about half of the historical coverage gone, and the decline the fastest it’s been in recorded history…”

Graph credit: “Time series of Arctic sea ice extent, 1850-2013, for March (blue line) and September (red line).” Illustration: Walsh et al. (2016)


Think It’s Hot Now? Just Wait. Climate scientist Heidi Cullen connects the dots at The New York Times: “July wasn’t just hot — it was the hottest month ever recorded, according to NASA. And this year is likely to be the hottest year on record. Fourteen of the 15 hottest years have occurred since 2000, as heat waves have become more frequent, more intense and longer lasting. A study in the journal Nature Climate Change last year found that three of every four daily heat extremes can be tied to global warming. This map provides a glimpse of our future if nothing is done to slow climate change. By the end of the century, the number of 100-degree days will skyrocket, making working or playing outdoors unbearable, and sometimes deadly...”


Young Conservatives to GOP on Climate: Hello? Are You Listening? Here’s an excerpt from MTV: “…A Monmouth poll from December found that 75 percent of Americans aged 18 to 34 think the government should be doing more to prevent climate change. On top of that, groups that cater to conservative climate-caring types have been proliferating as Earth keeps breaking temperature records. There is Meyaard-Schaap’s aforementioned Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, which tries to get politicians and faith leaders to think about climate change as a moral issue. There are Young Conservatives for Energy Reform and republicEN, which advocate that being conscious of the environment is just economically smart. They definitely aren’t in total agreement with the more progressive and familiar environmental groups out there when it comes to how to solve, or at least mitigate, climate change, favoring free markets and local solutions with no regulations, but they are in firm agreement on the science and the fact that they want their party to acknowledge that this problem exists in the first place…”


“Next Year or the Year After, The Arctic Will Be Free of Ice”. So says scientist and Arctic researcher Peter Wadhams at The Guardian; here’s an excerpt: “…The overall trend is a very strong downward one, however. Most people expect this year will see a record low in the Arctic’s summer sea-ice cover. Next year or the year after that, I think it will be free of ice in summer and by that I mean the central Arctic will be ice-free. You will be able to cross over the north pole by ship. There will still be about a million square kilometres of ice in the Arctic in summer but it will be packed into various nooks and crannies along the Northwest Passage and along bits of the Canadian coastline. Ice-free means the central basin of the Arctic will be ice-free and I think that that is going to happen in summer 2017 or 2018…”

Photo credit: “Peter Wadhams in the Arctic in 2007: ‘We may able to raise the Thames barrier in Britain but in Bangladesh, people will be drowned.”

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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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