Conservation Minnesota

Warming Up Into Midweek – Greenland: 1 Trillion Tons of Ice Loss in 4 Years

81 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.
83 F. average high on July 30.
85 F. high on July 30, 2015.

Trace of rain fell at KMSP yesterday.

July 31, 1961: Very heavy rain falls at Albert Lea, where 6.7 inches is recorded in 24 hours.

Minnesota Coping Skill? A Raging Case of Weather Amnesia

Are you really going to sit there and whine about a little humidity? Really? “I’ve just now thawed out from winter” a colleague at TPT’s “Almanac” sighed. “I’m saving every bead of sweat in a jar.” OK. That may be a little extreme, but under the heading of BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR consider this: 4 months ago today I was predicting a dusting of snow. 5 months ago the forecast low was 17F. 6 months ago today I was babbling about clippers and plowable snowfalls.

So no, I just can’t get too indignant about 90 degrees.

A few generic instability thundershowers may sprout over far western Minnesota today; most of us escape with pudgy cumulus and low 80s. T-storms become more widespread Monday; by midweek another swipe of 90-95F air may have us wiping our collective brow. ECMWF guidance hints at fine weather next Saturday, but more strong T-storms Sunday as another spasm of 90-degree heat approaches.

La Nina often brings drought, and the Dakotas are drying out rapidly. But this pattern favors abundant rains for Minnesota in the foreseeable future. Which is about 3 hours or so.


Pop-Up Showers on Saturday. There was just enough low-level moisture and instability for few instability showers and T-showers late afternoon and evening Saturday, mainly over far eastern Minnesota, with spotty showers bubbling up in the Twin Cities metro. Loop: WeatherTap.


More Instability T-showers Today. The best chance of an hour or two of rain may come over far western Minnesota today as dew points continue to rise; the best chance mid and late afternoon, when the atmosphere is most unstable. T-storms become more widespread during the day Monday. 4km NAM Future Radar: NOAA and AerisWeather.


Partly Sweaty. Although not as steamy as 10-12 days ago the first few days of August will feel like typical weather in mid-July with a couple of days near 90F. Factor in a dew point near 70F and it may feel like upper 90s by Tuesday and Wednesday. Source: Aeris Enterprise.


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.



The Big Thompson Disaster: Reverberations of a Flash Flood, 40 Years Later. Dr. Jeff Masters has the post at WunderBlog: “What began as a celebratory Saturday in the mountains ended in tragedy 40 years ago this weekend, when a catastrophic flash flood ripped through the narrow Big Thompson Canyon of Colorado’s Front Range. A total of 144 people were killed on that Saturday evening, July 31, 1976–the eve of the 100th anniversary of Colorado’s statehood. On just about any summer weekend, the canyons northwest of Denver are packed with vacationers and day-trippers. With the state’s centennial falling on this particular weekend, the mood was especially festive, and the weather seemed no more threatening than on many other summer days. Forecasts through the day called for a 40% to 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms, but there was no particular concern about flood risk. Only a few hours later, critical gaps in weather data, communication, and public awareness had teamed up with a slow-moving deluge to create a true disaster–one that’s had a noteworthy influence on how we deal with flash floods today….”

Image credit: NOAA.


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…” (File photo: Mike Hall).


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).


You Have to Close Your Eyes To See the Military’s Powerful New Weapon. It’s all about getting a good night sleep, no matter what your mission is. Here’s a snippet from Huffington Post: “…Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army’s surgeon general, said sleep patterns may be the most challenging behavior to change, but she’s committed to it. “This is a culture change that we need to make,” she told Federal News Radio. “It’s going to take a while to get away from the idea that sleep is something we can give up, and start critically asking ourselves whether it’s worth the health consequences.” “We would never allow an intoxicated soldier in our formations,” she added. “Why would we let a soldier in our formations with sleep deprivation?


Harnessing the Immune System to Fight Cancer. The news has never been more promising – here’s a clip from The New York Times: “…Harnessing the immune system to fight cancer, long a medical dream, is becoming a reality. Remarkable stories of tumors melting away and terminal illnesses going into remissions that last years — backed by solid data — have led to an explosion of interest and billions of dollars of investments in the rapidly growing field of immunotherapy. Pharmaceutical companies, philanthropists and the federal government’s “cancer moonshot” program are pouring money into developing treatments. Medical conferences on the topic are packed.…” (Image: Columbia University Medical Center).


Is Mark Dayton The Most Succcessful Governor in the Country? Mother Jones seems to think so; and I found some of the statistics cited interesting and eye-opening; here’s a clip: “…(Minnesota’s) 3.6 percent unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country (Wisconsin’s is 5.2 percent), and the Twin Cities have the lowest unemployment rate of any major metropolitan area. Under Dayton, Minnesota has consistently been in the top tier of states for GDP growth. Median incomes are $8,000 higher than the national average. In 2014, Minnesota led the nation in economic confidence, according to Gallup. Minnesota has even pulled ahead of Walker’s Wisconsin, leapfrogging its neighbor to the east on measure after measure. “In a whole number of ways, we’re very, very similar,” Bakk, the DFL Senate leader, says of the two states. “But politically, we have taken just totally different paths in the road...”


Confessor. Feminist. Adult. What The Hell Happened to Howard Stern? I give Howard credit for reinventing himself, for adapting, iterating, tinkering and maturing. Because what worked in the 1980s isn’t working in the 2010s. Here’s an excerpt from New York Times Magazine: “…By all accounts, the metamorphosis has been slow — the result of a combination of therapy, his second marriage, mainstream acceptance and a sixth sense Mr. Stern has about how to evolve with the times. “I couldn’t have done the show I’m doing now 20 years ago,” Mr. Stern said over the phone. “I’ve changed a lot. I’d be sort of pathetic if I’d reached this point in my life and I hadn’t. How else do you have longevity? There are so many guys who started out with me in radio, who have disappeared, because they can’t broaden their view of what entertainment should be, or get in touch with what they find to be exciting and fun and funny…”
Photo credit: Chad Batka for The New York Times.


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, more humid. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 83

SUNDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 67

MONDAY: More clouds, scattered T-storms in the area. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 82

TUESDAY: Still muggy, few stray T-storms. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 70. High: 89

WEDNESDAY: More sticky sun, feels like 96-100F. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 74. High: 91

THURSDAY: Few T-storms, then turning cooler. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 75. High: 86

FRIDAY: Sunny & warm, a bit less humid. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 66. High: 84

SATURDAY: Sunnier, drier day of the weekend? Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 65. High: 85


Climate Stories…

Greenland Lost a Staggering 1 Trillion Tons of Ice In Just Four Years. The Washington Post has details: “It’s no news that Greenland is in serious trouble — but now, new research has helped quantify just how bad its problems are. A satellite study, published last week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, suggests that the Greenland ice sheet lost a whopping 1 trillion tons of ice between the years 2011 and 2014 alone. And a big portion of it came from just five glaciers, about which scientists now have more cause to worry than ever. It’s the latest story in a long series of increasingly worrisome studies on ice loss in Greenland. Research already suggests that the ice sheet has lost at least 9 trillion tons of ice in the past century and that the rate of loss has increased over time...”

Image credit: “Greenland ice loss has recently contributed to twice as much sea-level rise than in the preceding two decades.” (Reuters).


Native Community in Louisiana Relocates As Land Washes Away. Here’s an excerpt of a story and interview at PBS NewsHour: “Isle de Jean Charles is disappearing into the Gulf of Mexico. The island has been on the front lines of coastal erosion for decades. The reasons are numerous: sinking land sped up by years of oil and gas exploration, and exacerbated by rising seas and increased storm surges. In just the last 100 years, Louisiana has lost 1,900 square miles of land, including valuable wetland ecosystems. The land loss has gotten so bad that the entire Native American tribe that calls the island home is now moving to a parcel of higher land further north…”



Global Warming, God and the “End Times”. I’m familiar with the Rapture and the Tribulation and what the book of Revelation predicts for the future. Every generation since the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ thought that THEY were the chosen ones living through the End Times. Every one. It’s how we’re wired, apparently, at least some of us. But using this as an excuse to treat God’s Divine Creation like a dirty ATM card doesn’t cut it. That’s the sin of indifference, gluttony and greed. Nobody gets a free pass to trash Eden – we are called to be stewards. Here’s an excerpt from a study at The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication: “For a significant number of Americans, the reality, causes and meaning of global warming are seen through the lens of their religious beliefs. Some reject the evidence that humans are causing global warming because they believe God controls the climate. Others believe that global warming is evidence that the world will be ending soon, and that we don’t need to worry about global warming in light of the approaching apocalypse. To assess the level of acceptance of these beliefs among Americans, we surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,204 American adults in March, 2016...”

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.


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.

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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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