Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bear-nado!

Here's some of the stuff that caught my eye in the last 24 hours...


Bear-nado!

So it's come to this: a significant percentage of Americans are skeptical of climate change, in spite of compelling evidence to the contrary. Yet many of those same skeptics are probably open to the idea of carnivorous sharks getting caught up in tornadoes and threatening our largest cities.

Yes, I watched Sharknado 2 and it's all great fun. "Um, I think think we're going to need a bigger Doppler." I'm more concerned about a tornado hitting the local sewage treatment plant, but not even Hollywood would touch that one.

I see a welcome absence of tornadoes (and sharks) into the weekend as the heat slowly builds; mid-80s Saturday and Sunday, a few degrees above average. Get the sweating and swimming out of your system because a spell of cooler, wetter weather is shaping up next week as a very slow moving storm pushes across the Upper Midwest.

Weather patterns always slow down in the summer as jet stream winds lift north, but next week's storm may stall by midweek, dropping heavy rain Monday into Wednesday with highs cooling into the 70s.

Our tentative summer continues to raise a few eyebrows, but my theory: it can always be worse.
Excuse me while I check the Doppler for Grizzly Bears.

* Photo credit above: Stay At Home Brad. Thanks Brad, you brightened an otherwise blah day.

Outlook: Canadian Smoke. The late afternoon visible image, courtesy of NOAA and HAMweather, shows the smoke plume from fires raging in Canada's Northwest Territories sweeping southeastward, effectively tracing out the trajectory of jet stream steering winds aloft. You won't actually smell smoke (the plume is too high overhead) but you may notice a milky film dulling an otherwise blue sky, and extra-red sunrises and sunsets in the coming days, especially Upper Midwest and Great Lakes to New England.

Summer The Way It Was Probably Meant To Be. Long-range guidance shows a slight temperature correction by the middle of next week - not quite as extreme or chilly as previous runs (low to mid 70s for highs by next Wednesday?) But first comes a spell of 80s; mid-80s likely over the weekend. An isolated T-shower may flare up Friday, especially around the dinner hour, with a better chance of a few hours of rain and lightning Sunday night as slightly cooler air approaches. ECMWF guidance shows 80s returning by the end of next week. Source: Weatherspark.

Runny Racing Stripes of Heavy Rain. NOAA's 4 KM WRF model shows more instability T-storms firing up from Wisconsin into New England along the leading edge of cooler air; the heaviest rains soaking Oklahoma, Arkansa and northeastern Texas where some 2-5" amounts may spark more flash flooding. The tropics remain quiet for now. Source: HAMweather.

Expert. July Storms Can Indicate Strong Hurricane Season. A high amplitude pattern over North America (hot, dry ridge in the west - unusually chilly/stormy trough in the east) may provide a more favorable runway for any tropical systems to push up the East Coast later this summer and autumn, according to this story at WPRI-TV in Providence; here's an excerpt: "...Dave Vallee of the National Weather Service in Taunton said storms in July can often be an indicator of what’s to come. “I think Arthur was a calling card,” he said. “It’s a little more common to see that as we go into an El Niño event.” El Niño is a warming of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, off the coast of South America. The phenomenon can occur every few years. “What it does is change the behavior of the jet stream high in the atmosphere, over the deep tropics of the Atlantic,” Vallee explained..."

Continental Bank Shares 9 Tips for Hurricane Preparedness. Here's an excerpt of a good hurricane punch list available at InsuranceNewsNet.com

    •  Protect financial documents - In the event of a disaster, you will need identification insurance, and financial documents to begin the recovery process. Safeguard important documents in one of Continental National Bank's safety deposit boxes, computer storage devices, and/or water and fire proof storage containers. You should save: forms of personal identification; financial account information; insurance policies on all personal property, including appraisals and lists and photos of valuable items; ownership or leasing documentation for homes and vehicles; and all health and medical insurance documentation.

   •  Develop a family communications plan - Know how you will contact one another and where you will meet should you happen to get separated..."

New Wildfire Science Shows That Small Steps Can Save Homes, Communities. I thought this story at National Geographic Daily News was interesting - here's an excerpt: "...As the summer wildfire season enters full swing in the United States, with more than 700,000 acres now burning in the Pacific Northwest and California, the difference between a surviving house and a charred husk could come down to details as small as screens over attic vents, trimmed trees, or pine needles in the gutters. In fact, in the past ten years scientists have gained a whole new understanding of factors that can help a home survive a wildfire. And it turns out that saving a house has less to do with stopping a forest fire cold or creating a nonflammable moonscape for a hundred feet in every direction. It's more about lots of minor modifications and regular maintenance..." (File photo: USDA).

Wildfire Risk Across the Southern USA. Here is a powerful interactive tool, The Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal, showing risk levels from Texas into the Carolinas and Virginias, courtesy of The Southern Group of State Foresters.

NOAAView Data Exploration Tool. NOAA has a powerful visualization tool with multiple layers - an effective way to keep a global perspective on weather.

2014 Lightning Fatalities. The Miami office of The National Weather Service reports 15 lightning-related deaths so far this year, 6 in Florida, 1 in Wisconsin and 1 in Michigan.

Elliot Founder Reveals His Dread of Electromagnetic Pulse. Hedge Fund manager Paul Singer puts the risk of long-term power grid failures from an X-Class solar flare above nuclear conflict and pandemic, and I suspect his paranoia is well-placed. It's the things you usually don't fret about that come back to bite you when you least expect it. The Financial Times (paywall) has the story. (Image credit: NASA).

Probability of a Massive Solar Storm in the Next Decade? About 12% Mysterious Universe has more on the near-miss in 2012; had the X-class solar flare occurred about 1 week earlier, scoring a direct strike on Earth, there's a statistically significant chance you wouldn't be reading this right now. Here's a clip: "...Unfortunately, the Sun spews out massive coronal mass ejections all the time; scientists estimate our odds of being clobbered with one are about 12% over the next ten years. So what happens when it does hit? Maybe nothing; maybe the nightmarish scenario described above; maybe anything in between. It all depends on the strength of the CME, the strength of the resulting geomagnetic storm, and a variety of factors we can’t quite assess yet. But if the data from the 2012 CME is any indication, Earth’s power grid isn’t ready for the consequences..."

What Would Happen If Ebola Came To The United States? Yes, here's another happy thought. Vox takes a look at why we are better prepared than many nations, but the resulting panic might make the bird flu look tame, by comparison. Here's an excerpt: "...With air travel as common as it is, borders don't mean all that much when it comes to disease. It's entirely possible — though by no means certain — that at some point, someone infected with Ebola could get on a plane and land in the United States. And then what? As it turns out, experts say, we'd probably be able to contain an Ebola outbreak here pretty quickly. But it's worth exploring why that is. The outbreak in West Africa is so severe for a number of key reasons, including a lack of resources, inadequate infection control measures, and mistrust of health workers. The United States, by contrast, has far better public-health infrastructure. And that makes all the difference..."

Photo credit: AP Photo/ Youssouf Bah.

The Doc About "Bomb Trains" Filled With Crude Oil Will Make Your Head Explode. If you've been paying attention (and I trust you have) you just can't miss the parade of black train cars filled with North Dakota crude chugging across Minnesota, passing right thru the Twin Cities metro area. What can possibly go wrong? Here's an excerpt from Grist: "VICE News just released Bomb Trains: The Crude Gamble of Oil by Rail, a 23-minute-long documentary investigating the explosive oil trains that regularly run from the Bakken shale to the Pacific Northwest. That might seem a bit long for web video, but you should watch it anyway — mostly because Thomas the Terror Engine is headed to your town, but also because Jerry Bruckheimer has nothing on the terrifying explosions at the 5:09 and 6:00 marks..."

Do You Live In a "Bomb Train" Blast Zone? Yes, I live near one too, and just the thought of this makes me sleep better at night. Here's an excerpt from VICE News: "The map (above) provides a striking visualization of where crude oil is traveling by rail throughout the United States and Canada. ForestEthics, the environmental group that created it, used industry data and reports from citizens who live near oil train routes to provide one of the first comprehensive visualizations of how many people are at risk from oil trains, and where. The group estimates that some 25 million Americans live within the one-mile evacuation zone that the US Department of Transportation recommends in the event of an oil fire. Do you live in the blast zone of a bomb train?..."

Warding Off Lions With Mobiles Shows African Technology Boom. There's an app for...that? Bloomberg has the fascinating story of how affordable smartphones coupled with phone-controlled lighting apps are reducing the risk of lion attacks in Africa - here's a clip: "...Mobile technology is revolutionizing life for many of the more than 1 billion people in Africa for whom services like banking, the Internet and affordable energy were previously considered luxuries, rather than everyday staples. And with wireless operators pioneering their own inexpensive smartphones, the continent with the world’s youngest population will soon have access to 4G networks and apps that will feed a consumer boom that’s driving African economic growth...

Photo credit above: M-Kopa Sola. "An M-Kopa Solar information center."

"Fitle" Gives Users a 3-D Avatar of Themselves For Virtually Trying On Clothes. I do hope my 3-D avatar is better looking (thinner with more hair, please). Shopping for clothing from your favorite couch may be about to get easier - and more accurate. Here's an excerpt from gizmag.com: "...While these tools can be useful, Fitle says that it can create a 3D avatar of an individual that not only looks like them, but that is morphologically exact. Indeed, it claims to provide a 99 percent accurate representation of the user. Fitle avatars are created using the height measurement of a user and four photos of them. An algorithm is used to extract more than 50 parameters based on how a user looks, while another is used to create a 3D reconstruction of the user. Fitle says the end results are photo-realistic..."

Driven Crazy: One Journalist's Quest To Get a License in Japan. Yes, it makes our DMV look like a piece of cake, by comparison. Here's an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal: "...The process itself seems to have a purpose: socializing the candidates so they’ll behave properly once they accomplish their goal. Anybody merely casual about the matter gets weeded out. And, as hard as it is to get the license, keeping it isn’t easy either. Best to keep bending over backwards to follow every last rule. Overall, I had to make seven trips to locations around the city over two months, spending about $600. (Canadians and Europeans have it easier, with more streamlined reciprocity driving agreements with Japan)..."

Photo credit above: "Winning the right to join these drivers on Japanese roads is no smooth ride." Bloomberg News.

It Has Happened. Tofu McNuggets Exist. Now you know what's in those nuggets, at least in Japan. Huffington Post has the story - here's an excerpt: "McDonald's just might have become a tofu lover's fast food delight. Attributed to the fallout from a Chinese food supplier (though some are claiming the move was planned well in advance) sending rotten meat to restaurant chains, McDonald's in Japan decided to play it safe and chicken-free by turning to tofu..." (Image: McDonald's).

84 F. high in St. Cloud Wednesday.
82 F. average high on July 30.
71 F. high on July 30, 2013.

July 30, 1961: Downpour in Albert Lea with 6.7 inches in 24 hours.


TODAY: Warm sun, still pleasant. Dew point: 57. Winds: NW 8. High: 83
THURSDAY NIGHT: Isolated evening T-shower southern MN, otherwise partly cloudy. Low: 63
FRIDAY: Sticky sun, stray late-day T-shower possible. High: 82
SATURDAY: An SPF 50 day. Warm sun. Dew point: 61. Winds: SW 5. Wake-up: 64. High: 84
SUNDAY: Less sun, few PM T-storms. Wake-up: 66. High: 85
MONDAY: Lingering showers and T-storms. Wake-up: 65. High: 77
TUESDAY: Unsettled. Nagging thunder risk. Wake-up: 63. High: 76
WEDNESDAY: Heavy rain, storms southern MN? Wake-up: 61. High: 72


Climate Stories....

White House: $150 Billion a Year Will Be Cost of Climate Inaction. From flooding in the east to non-stop wildfires in the west, the federal government is already picking up much of the tab for weather-on-steroids. Here's an excerpt from Inside Climate News: "...Allowing warming to pass safe levels and reach 3 degrees Celsius could cause damage amounting to 0.9 percent of global economic output each year, according to the new report from the White House's Council of Economic Advisers, a three-member group that counsels the president on economic policy. That level of warming would cost the United States about $150 billion a year in today's dollars. It will come in the form of damage to public health and biodiversity, as well as physical impacts from rising seas and more severe storms, droughts and wildfires..."

White House Climate Change Report: Act Now or Pay Later. The Christian Science Monitor has the story here.

Huge Waves Measured For First Time In Arctic Ocean. Here's an excerpt from a press release at The University of Washington: "As the climate warms and sea ice retreats, the North is changing. An ice-covered expanse now has a season of increasingly open water that is predicted to extend across the whole Arctic Ocean before the middle of this century. Storms thus have the potential to create Arctic swell – huge waves that could add a new and unpredictable element to the region. A University of Washington researcher made the first study of waves in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, and detected house-sized waves during a September 2012 storm. The results were recently published in Geophysical Research Letters..."

Thinning Arctic Ice. The Navy has a web site that allows you to track the thickness of ice (in meters), in this case since July 10. As you can see much of the ice is gone between Alaska and Siberia, thicker ice being pushed by prevailing arctic winds toward Baffin Island and Greenland. Less ice = larger waves.

Climate Change Research Goes To The Extremes. Here's an excerpt of a story from Northeastern University that caught my eye: "...What they found may surprise some: While global temperature is indeed increasing, so too is the variability in temperature extremes. For instance, while each year's average hottest and coldest temperature will likely rise, those averages will also tend to fall within a wider range of potential high and low temperature extremes than are currently being observed. This means that even as overall temperatures rise, we may still continue to experience extreme cold snaps..."

Is This How To Sell Americans on Fighting Global Warming? Put dollars back into the pockets of anyone with a social security number? Sounds like a good start. Here's an excerpt of an ambitious proposal highlighted at Bloomberg Businessweek: "...The bill would require companies to have permits to produce or import carbon-containing fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas. The permits, instead of being allocated politically, would be auctioned off by the government, so they would get into the hands of the emitters who need them the most. A similar auction system drastically reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide—which causes acid rain—quicker and cheaper than experts expected. Here’s Van Hollen’s political twist: The money raised by the permits would make a U-turn and go straight back to the American people—specifically, every person with a Social Security number. The same amount of money to every person, even those who don’t earn enough to pay income taxes..."
What they found may sur­prise some: While global tem­per­a­ture is indeed increasing, so too is the vari­ability in tem­per­a­ture extremes. For instance, while each year’s average hottest and coldest tem­per­a­tures will likely rise, those aver­ages will also tend to fall within a wider range of poten­tial high and low tem­perate extremes than are cur­rently being observed.
This means that even as overall tem­per­a­tures rise, we may still con­tinue to expe­ri­ence extreme cold snaps, said Kodra, who earned the Col­lege of Engineering’s out­standing grad­uate research award in 2014 and is now leading data ana­lytics efforts at Energy Points, an inno­v­a­tive Boston area startup.
- See more at: http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2014/07/climate-change-research-goes-to-the-extremes/#sthash.AyPcOnF2.dpuf

Personal Stories about Global Warming Change Minds. Climate Central's Chief Scientist Heidi Cullen has an important Op-Ed at The New York Times; here's an excerpt that resonated with me: "...The best films and novels have always tackled the most compelling issues of the time. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “The Jungle” moved people to demand action because of their unique ability to weave together the emotional, rational and moral threads around fraught topics like slavery, poverty and dangerous working conditions. When done right, true stories are explosive. They provide us with new ways of seeing the world and our place in it. The facts themselves may be unable to make global warming feel psychologically proximate, but we still need them to make informed decisions..." (File image: Water Missions International).

Mayor of London Unveils Plan For UK's First Floating Village. Why do I think we'll be seeing more floating communities in the years to come? Adaptation and resilience - if water levels rise so does the entire community. Here's a clip from Gizmag: "Another day, another ambitious architecture project championed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson. The mayor's office recently revealed that consortium Carillion Igloo Genesis has won a competition to design and build the UK's first floating village at the Royal Victoria Dock, East London..."


Opinion: Why Are Conservatives Afraid of Neil deGrasse Tyson? Good question, maybe because the truth about scientific objectivity and the reality of a more volatile climate will start to resonate, especially with younger voters? Yes, by all means let's be conservative about everything (except the environment that sustains us - there we can afford to take chances). Let's just roll the dice. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Los Angeles Times: "...No, the danger Tyson brings to the political structure, as he gains an increasingly large foothold in the popular culture, is the threat of an informed populace. “When you’re scientifically literate, the world looks different to you,” Tyson wrote in 2011. “It’s a particular way of questioning what you see and hear. When empowered by this state of mind, objective realities matter. These are the truths of the world that exist outside of whatever your belief system tells you...”

File photo: AP, Frank Micelotta.

Florida Official Describes Efforts, Challenges in Combating Climate Change. Here's a clip from a story at The Miami Herald: "...Inaction on climate change is not an option for Florida,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island and the subcommittee’s chairman. “The longer the wait for action, the higher the cost. Climate change is stacking the deck against our oceans, our fisheries and our coastal economies,” he said. Jacobs detailed the impact of rising temperatures and seas on South Florida and talked about steps governments in the area have taken to combat it. “Florida, especially South Florida, is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” she said. “Our extensive coastline, low land elevations, flat topography and unique geology combine to put South Florida communities on the front line for combating climate impacts...”

Heating Up Into Sunday - Risk of Urban "Tornado Amnesia"


Tornado Amnesia

Many residents of Revere, Massachusetts, about 5 miles northeast of Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston, were shocked that an EF-2 tornado could strike at 9:30 AM on a Monday morning. It was on the ground for 2 miles, ripping up 100 homes and businesses - a blunt reminder that tornadoes can hit cities and close-in suburbs.

A little concrete & asphalt doesn't protect you from nature's most fickle wind. The urban heat island and drier air over metropolitan areas may inhibit small tornadoes, but large twisters pull in moisture & energy from a 5-10 mile radius. A few high-rise buildings won't stop them from forming. A tornado is more of a process than an object. If you see large hail or rotation, even in the morning in a major city, start looking for an underground shelter.

July has been the deadliest month for U.S. tornadoes since 1978.

The next unusually strong southward bulge in the jet stream may treat us to 60s and 70s by the end of next week. Another premature puff of autumn.

Enjoy 80s into Sunday; the best chance of T-storms late Friday, again Monday. No sizzling heat or controversial dew points.

It's been an amazing week. And no, I take nothing for granted these days.

Photo credit above: "Master Auto manager Marie Annaloro, left, and Victoria Ohlson,right, sweep glass and debris in the service garage where the roof blew off in Revere, Mass. Monday, July 28, 2014, after a tornado touched down. Revere Deputy Fire Chief Mike Viviano says the fire department in that coastal city has received dozens of calls reporting partial building and roof collapses, and downed trees and power lines. Viviano says there are no immediate reports of deaths or serious injuries." (AP Photo/Elise Amendola).

100 Homes Damaged As Tornado Jolts Revere. The photo above looks like something you might see in Kansas or Oklahoma. But it was from Revere, a close-in suburb of Boston, within 5-6 miles of Fanuil Hall, hit by an EF-2 tornado Monday morning. The Boston Globe has a remarkable look at the damage, including photos and videos; here's a link: "A tornado carrying winds as high as 120 miles per hour roared through Revere Monday, uprooting hundreds of trees, ripping roofs off houses, and spurring an intensive recovery effort that could last weeks..."

Photo credit above: Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff. "A look inside N.C.'s Auto Service in Revere after the storm on Monday."

EF-2 Tornado In Revere, Massachusetts: Damage & Debris But No Serious Injuries. Which is miraculous, considering the population density of the suburb impacted by Monday's tornado. Here's an excerpt from Public Safety Reporter: "The National Weather Service in Taunton, MA has confirmed that an EF-2 tornado touched down on the morning of July 28, 2014 in Chelsea and Revere in Suffolk County, MA. The tornado is unusual because of the geographic location that was hit, and the morning time frame that the tornado struck - about 9:32 AM to 9:36 AM EDT. The tornado had a path length of 2 miles and a path width of 3/8 of a mile. Maximum wind gusts were estimated at a range of 100 MPH to 120 MPH..."

Image credit: Courtesy of WCVB-TV in Boston. "Security cameras at a Revere school captured the moment a tornado hit the city Monday morning when trees were knocked down by winds from an EF-2 tornado."

* More details on the Revere EF-2 tornado from The Boston Herald.

USA Having Deadliest July For Tornadoes Since 70s. USA TODAY has some perspective on the sudden rash of tornadic storms in recent weeks; here's an excerpt: "...The ferocious tornado that roared through a campground in Virginia on Thursday morning, killing two people, raised the national death toll for July tornadoes up to six. That's the most tornado deaths in July since 1978, when tornadoes killed 11 people that month, according to meteorologist Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla. The worst July for tornadoes was 1893, Brooks said, when 73 people were killed..."

Photo credit above: "Michelle Ellison, left, is among those looking through debris from her home Monday, July 28, 2014, near LaFollette, Tenn. The National Weather Service confirmed a F-3 tornado packing winds of 140 mph slammed into the community Sunday night, leveling 10 homes and and a business." (AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, J. Miles Cary).

Tracking Tornadoes For Your County Since 1950. The Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC) has an impressive online tool that allows you to zoom into your county, or any county in the Midwest, to see all the tornadoes from 1950-2013, filtered by strength (EF-0 to EF-5).

Better Than A Siren: How New Technology Is Keeping People Safe From Tornadoes. Research suggests that if multiple media sources are (simultaneously) sending you the same tornado warning you may be more likely to act on that information - if not only TV and radio is displaying the warning, but you're getting texts, e-mails and alerts. Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "...Capabilities exist today so that when a tornado is coming, people can simultaneously receive phone calls at home and work; texts and push notifications from their mobile phones/tablets; pop-up alerts on their laptops/desktops; messages via LED billboards and signs alongside roads and highways; and automated announcements via loudspeaker and intercoms at schools, athletic events, and malls.  Everything, all at the exact same time..."

Image credit: Aeris/HAMweather.
The National Weather Weather Service in Tuanton, Massachusetts has confirmed that an EF-2 tornado touched on the morning of July 28, 2014 in Chelsea and Revere in Suffolk County Massachusetts. The tornado is unusual because of the geographic location that was hit, and the morning time frame that the tornado struck — about 9:32 a.m. to 9:36 a.m. EDT.
The tornado had a path length of two miles and a path width of 3/8 of a mile. Maximum wind gusts were estimated at a range of 100 MPH to 120 MPH.
- See more at: http://www.publicsafetyreporter.com/2014/07/29/ef-2-tornado-in-revere-massachusetts-damage-and-debris-but-no-serious-injuries/#sthash.gIcdGYFC.dpuf

Annoying Minor Floods Are Increasing on U.S. Coasts. AP reports on the implication of astronomical forcing (tides) and storm surges from Nor'easters and tropical systems - coupled with slowly rising sea levels. Here's an excerpt of an AP story: "Along much of America's coasts, the type of flooding that is more annoying than dangerous has jumped more than fivefold in the last 50 years, the federal government reported Monday. Scientists blame rising seas, saying this is one of the ways global warming is changing everyday lives. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration studied coastal trends in what it calls nuisance flooding, where no one is hurt but people have to deal with flooded roads and buildings..."

File photo above: "This Oct. 30, 2012 file photo shows Sveinn Storm, owner of Storm Bros. Ice Cream Factory measuring flood waters outside his store in Annapolis, Md. in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy that passed through the East Coast. A new federal report says that along much of America’s coasts, the type of flooding that is more annoying than dangerous has jumped more than fivefold in the last 50 years. And scientists blame rising seas, saying this is one of the ways global warming is changing everyday lives. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration studied nuisance flooding, where no one is hurt but people have to deal with flooded roads and buildings." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File).

* NOAA has more information on the increase in nuisance flooding along the coast here.

All Wet: USA's Top 10 Cities for "Nuisance" Flooding. USA TODAY has more details on the recent report; here's a clip: "...Sea level has risen nearly 8 inches worldwide since 1880, but it doesn't rise evenly. In the past 100 years, it has climbed about a foot or more in some U.S. cities. Depending on fossil-fuel emissions, scientists project global sea level will rise about one foot to slightly more than 3 feet (or 39 inches) by 2100, according to last year's Fifth Assessment Report by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Here are the 10 U.S. cities with the greatest percentage increases in "nuisance" flooding since the 1960s.

City / Percentage increase
Annapolis, Md. 925%
Baltimore 922%
Atlantic City, 682%
.
.."

Sea Level Rise And Nuisance Flood Frequency Changes Around The United States. The 66 page NOAA Technical Report (PDF) is here. (City Dock in Annapolis, MD courtesy of Amy McGovern).

Looking Back at Hurricane Andrew, Over 20 Years Later. KBTX.com takes a look back at a small but fierce Category 5 storm that struck just south of Miami in August, 1992; here's a clip: "Hurricane Andrew made landfall in South Florida in August of 1992. The community of Homestead, south of Miami, was one of the locations hardest hit by the Category 5 storm. According to the Miami - South Florida National Weather Service office, Hurricane Andrew caused an estimated $26 billion in damages -- making it the most expensive natural disaster in United States history, at that time. Andrew came on land on August 24th, with a sustained wind of 175mph. The storm caused 65 deaths, destroyed over 23,000 homes, and is estimated to have damaged an additional 108,000 more between South Florida and South Central Louisiana, where it made a second landfall after moving back into the Gulf of Mexico..."

El Nino Indicators Ease. Here's an excerpt of an update from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology: "Despite the tropical Pacific Ocean being primed for an El Niño during much of the first half of 2014, the atmosphere above has largely failed to respond, and hence the ocean and atmosphere have not reinforced each other. As a result, some cooling has now taken place in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, with most of the key NINO regions returning to neutral values. While the chance of an El Niño in 2014 has clearly eased, warmer-than-average waters persist in parts of the tropical Pacific, and the (slight) majority of climate models suggest El Niño remains likely for spring. Hence the establishment of El Niño before year's end cannot be ruled out. If an El Niño were to occur, it is increasingly unlikely to be a strong event..."

Weather Satellites Criticized Again, This Time For Security Risks. Could our weather satellites be hacked? The idea may not be as far-fetched as it sounds. Here's an excerpt from eenews.net: "...The data from weather satellites could be hacked because of "significant security deficiencies" in the information systems at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to a new internal report. The inspector general of the Commerce Department -- which houses NOAA -- released the report after Greenwire requested it through the Freedom of Information Act. It raises multiple concerns about the security of the systems that collect and disseminate weather data, raising the risk of cyberattacks..." (Image: NASA).

What Makes A Major Disaster? TheHill has an interesting Op-Ed; here's a clip: "What constitutes a major disaster?  The Senate Subcommittee on Emergency Management, Intergovernmental Affairs, and the District of Columbia takes up this question this week, and the answer significantly affects our nation’s response to disasters.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) currently responds to too many disasters, contributing to rising disaster loses.  Congress should significantly raise the threshold for federal disaster declarations to ensure the sufficiency of federal assistance when truly needed..."

Fukushima Study: Think About Unthinkable Disasters. From TMI to Fukushima to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 it's usually a cascade of unintented consequences, a domino effect of events that nobody could anticipate or model in advance, that magnify the impacts of a disaster in unimaginable and unpredictable ways. Here's an excerpt of a story from AP and NBC40.net in South Jersey: " A U.S. science advisory report says Japan's Fukushima nuclear accident offers a key lesson to the nation's nuclear industry: Focus more on the highly unlikely but worst case scenarios. That means thinking about earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, solar storms, multiple failures and situations that seem freakishly unusual, according to Thursday's National Academy of Sciences report. Those kinds of things triggered the world's three major nuclear accidents. "We need to do a soul searching when it comes to the assumptions" of how to deal with worst case events, said University of Southern California engineering professor Najmedin Meshkati, the panel's technical adviser. Engineers should "think about something that could happen once every, perhaps 1,000 years" but that's not really part of their training or nature, he said..."

File photo above: "In this March 12, 2011 photo provided by GeoEye, Fukushima, Japan is shown. Japan's nuclear crisis intensified Sunday as authorities raced to combat the threat of multiple reactor meltdowns and more than 180,000 people evacuated the quake- and tsunami-savaged northeastern coast where fears spread over possible radioactive contamination."

Ebola's Spread. It's a wonder any of us want to check news headlines after hearing about this one; The Economist has more on the disease and it's rapid spread, already the worst on record. Here's a clip: "..Ebola has no vaccine or cure, and kills up to 90% of those infected. It is transmitted to people by wild animals or by other infected patients. Fruit bats, often eaten by people living in West Africa, are thought to be a host for the virus, which starts with flu-like symptoms but can impair kidney and liver function, and in severe cases damages blood cells, leading to external and internal bleeding..."

Get Ready for Generation Z. Younger Americans tend to be more optimistic, altruistic and entreprenurial; here's an excerpt from Maclean's: "...The influential author and consultant Don Tapscott is a Gen Z optimist. His 2008 book, Grown Up Digital, features a study of 11,000 kids who were asked whether they’d rather be smarter or better looking: 69 per cent chose “smarter.” So is social researcher Mark McCrindle, of Sydney-based McCrindle Research, who has been looking at Gen Z for seven years. “They are the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation in history,” he says. “They don’t just represent the future, they are creating it...”

Girl's Galaxy S4 Smartphone Burns Under Her Pillow As She Sleeps. But was there a fire extinguisher app installed? Good grief. Yahoo Tech has the story; here's a clip: "...Last week, a 13-year-old North Texas girl plugged her Samsung Galaxy S4 in for its nightly juice-up before hitting the sack, only to be awoken by the smell of something burning hours later. When she got up and searched around for the source of the stench, she realized that she had wedged her charging phone under her pillow. And not only was the backside of the pillow scorched, but the phone was fried into an unrecognizable slab of plastic and melted components..." (Image above courtesy of Fox 4 in Tampa).

Part Car, Part Motorcycle, Polaris Slingshot Is The Inverted Trike Every Kid Dreams Of. I couldn't agree more. Here's an excerpt of a story at Gizmag: "...The noted Minnesota-based maker of all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles officially unveiled the new three-wheeled roadster this week in the United States and Canada. Because of its open cockpit, this two-seater reversed trike is officially classified as a motorcycle rather than a car, meaning you'll need a helmet and a motorcycle endorsement on your license to drive one. The unique combination of car and motorbike offers a driving experience that's also different from both, thanks to its broad stance, sport-tuned suspension and a chassis that rides just five inches above the road..."

82 F. high in St. Cloud Tuesday.
82 F. average high on July 29.
76 F. high on July 29, 2013.

July 29, 1971: Cool spell across Minnesota with frost in north and freezing temperatures reported as far south as Pipestone.


TODAY: Lukewarm sun, pleasant. Dew point: 55. Winds: NW 10. High: 82
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy skies. Low: 59
THURSDAY: Plenty of sun. Hard to concentrate. High: 83
FRIDAY: AM sun, late PM T-storm? Dew point: 60. Wake-up: 61. High: 82
SATURDAY: Warm sun, very nice. Dew point: 58. Wake-up: 62. High: 85
SUNDAY: Sun fades, late-day T-storm risk. Wake-up: 64. High: 83
MONDAY: Front stalls, T-storms linger. Wake-up: 62. High: 77
TUESDAY: Still unsettled, scattered T-storms. Wake-up: 60. High: 75


Climate Stories...

General Mills Takes New Steps To Combat Climate Change. Here's a clip from a story at The Los Angeles Times: "General Mills said Monday it would take new steps to combat climate change, including expanding its emission reduction targets to include its vast network of suppliers and contractors. About two-thirds of General Mills’ greenhouse gas emissions and 99% of its water use comes from its indirect operations such as the farms it purchases raw materials from. The Minneapolis-based company known for brands such as Cheerios, Pillsbury and Haagen-Dazs pledged to include their supply chain in its emission reporting and greenhouse gas reduction targets..."

Photo credit above: "General Mills, one of the world's largest cereal brands, also promised not to contribute to deforestation in supply chains such as beef, soy and sugarcane where deforestation has been rampant. That expands on the company's existing pledge not to purchase palm oil from deforested land." (Rick Bowmer / Associated Press).

Global Warming May Increase With Rising Water Vapor In The Atmosphere. Scientists are observing an increase in water vapor 3-7 miles above the ground, but what's triggering this moistening trend aloft? Here's an excerpt from a story at Science World Report: "...The researchers measured water vapor in the upper troposphere collected by NOAA satellites. Then, they compared this data to climate model predictions of water circulation between the ocean and the troposphere in order to see whether the changes in water vapor could be explained by natural or human-induced causes. So what did they find? It turns out that the rising water vapor can't be explained by natural forces. Instead, it's probably due to increased greenhouse gases..."

Image credit above: "What might cause global warming to increase in the next few decades? It could be water vapor. Color enhanced satellite image of upper tropospheric water vapor." (Photo : NASA)

The Centerpiece of Obama's Energy Policy Will Actually Make Climate Change Worse. Will natural gas, which has roughly half the greenhouse emissions as coal, save us from ourselves? Naomi Oreskes has the Op-Ed at The Nation; here's the introduction: "Albert Einstein is rumored to have said that one cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that led to it. Yet this is precisely what we are now trying to do with climate change policy. The Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, many environmental groups and the oil and gas industry all tell us that the way to solve the problem created by fossil fuels is with more fossils fuels. We can do this, they claim, by using more natural gas, which is touted as a “clean” fuel—even a “greenfuel...."

Photo credit above: "A fracking operation in Mead, Colorado." (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley).

NBC Shows How To Report on the Economic Costs of Climate Change. Media Matters has the recap; here's an excerpt: "...The July 29 edition of NBC's The Today Show reported on the extreme costs of fighting the dozens of wildfires currently burning in Yosemite National Park and across California, and how they are connected to climate change. The fires, taking place during Yosemite's driest year on record, have destroyed 20 homes and forced over 1,200 people to be evacuated. NBC correspondent Miguel Almaguer stated that the dozens of California wildfires are "costing big money," expanding that the state of California will spend $1 billion to fight wildfires this year. Almaguer also highlighted how global warming has had a direct impact on the fire, citing firefighters who are working on "the front lines of climate change"...

World's Religions United For New York Climate Summit. The climate summit will be hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on September 21. Here's an excerpt from RTCC: "...Faith leaders of all religion are important voices for people all around the world. No matter what faith, whether Muslims, Christians, Hindus, they have a care for the creation. Gathering such leaders is an important space for creating a voice for this faith movement," said Mattias Soderberg from ACT Alliance, one of the groups sponsoring the event..."