Saturday, July 2, 2016

Atmospheric Blessings: Much Better Than Average for Summer's Biggest Holiday

73 F. high in St. Cloud Friday.
81 F. average high on July 1.
74 F. high on July 1, 2015.

July 2, 1989: Softball sized hail falls near Dorset, and baseball sized hail is reported at Nevis in Hubbard County.
July 2, 1972: A low of 32 is recorded at Big Falls in Koochiching County.

Divine Intervention? Spectacular Holiday Weather

NOAA's climate models are predicting a warmer than average July for Minnesota. That makes sense, considering May was the 13th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record was broken; the longest such streak since global temperatures began in 1880.

Research at the University of Minnesota suggests we're going longer between storms and frontal passages during the summer, but when it does rain in comes down in a tropical torrent, with a greater potential for record rainfall amounts.

This sluggish, slower-moving pattern works to our advantage this holiday weekend. A fresh shot of low-humidity Canadian air lingers into Sunday with light southeast winds, dew points in the 50s and generous sunshine. We should nudge 80F today, low 80s Sunday, mid-80s on the 4th of July as humidity levels rise.

Most towns and lakes stay dry into Monday; just a few random T-storms over the Red River Valley. Most of us won't be chased indoors by grumbling storms until Tuesday night. We may hit 90F by midweek but no extended heatwave is in sight.

I'm feeling lucky/relieved/blessed. Have fun out there!

Heaviest Rains Pass South of Minnesota. Here's a local WRF model showing predicted accumulated rainfall as of 1 pm today; over 3-4" for parts of eastern Kansas and western Missouri in the span of 18 hours. Graphic: HopWRF.

Heating Up Next Week. Soak up comfortable temperatures and humidity levels over the weekend because NOAA and ECMWF models show things warming up close to 90F by the middle of the week. NOAA guidance keeps 90s into Friday. We'll see. ECMWF guidance above: WeatherBell.

What Are The Statistical Probabilities of Rain on the 4th of July? Across much of Minnesota it's 22-25% or roughly 1 in 4 are wet. Here's an explainer from NOAA: "NOAA’s National Weather Service is already issuing real forecasts for Independence Day (find your local forecast), but here’s a historical look at the probability that your Fourth of July picnic will be rained on, based on observations from 1981-2010. Double click on the map (or use controls at upper left) to zoom in. SIngle click on a dot to see the chances for rain based on a location's climate history. More explanation and static maps for download are available in this week's Beyond the Data blog post. Interactive by NOAA, based on U.S. Climate Normals data from Deke Arndt, National Centers for Environmental Informaiton."

Glory Index: Nice June, But Not as Remarkable as June 2015. Thanks to Kenny Blumenfeld at the Minnesota DNR for passing this nugget along: "The results are in, and June 2016, though occasionally quite lovely, was no June 2015. The month ended with 665.7 points on the Summer Glory Index (SGI), making it the 24th nicest June out of 114 on record. This otherwise respectable score is of course nowhere near the record-topping 905.5 points earned by June 2015. So, what was the difference between June 2015 and June 2016? Basically, it all comes down to a handful of less-than-ideal days that last June avoided but that this June fully embraced..."

Graphic credit: MNDNR, State Climatology Office.

Another Warmer Than Average Month in June. So reports Mark Seeley, in this week's installment of Minnesota WeatherTalk: "For most of Minnesota June was warm, with an average monthly temperature that ranged from 1 to 3°F greater than normal. A few areas of northern Minnesota reported slightly cooler than normal mean June temperature values. Extreme temperatures ranged from 100 degrees F at Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) on the 12th to just 28 degrees F at Embarrass (St Louis County) on the 8th. A few days with dew points in the 70s F pushed the Heat Index above 100 degrees F at several locations and caused the National Weather Service to issue several Heat Advisories..."

2016 Will Be a Record-Breaker, And Not In a Cool Way. Here's an excerpt of a summary at GOOD: "...This May was the hottest on record since recordkeeping began 137 years ago, according to a newly released report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). But that’s not all. The report also notes, “May 2016 marks the 13th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken—the longest such streak since global temperature records began in 1880.” Overall, this puts 2016 on pace to be the hottest year ever..."

Claim That Jet Stream Crossing Equator is "Climate Emergency" is Utter Nonsense. Jason Samenow has the scientific take-down at Capital Weather Gang: "Two bloggers have made a stunning claim that has spread like wildfire on the Internet: They say the Northern Hemisphere jet stream, the high-altitude river of winds that separates cold air from warm air, has done something new and outrageous. They say it has crossed the equator, joining the jet stream in the Southern Hemisphere. One said this signifies that the jet stream is ‘wrecked‘, the other said it means we have a “global climate emergency.” But these shrill claims have no validity — air flow between the hemispheres occurs routinely. The claims are unsupported and unscientific, and they demonstrate the danger of wild assertions made by non-experts reaching and misleading the masses..."

Image credit: "High-altitude winds as analyzed by GFS model on June 30." (, adapted by CWG)

Greenbrier Resort Opens Doors to West Virginia Flood Victims. Here's an excerpt of a story at Golf Digest: "The Greenbrier Resort was suppose to host the world's best golfers next week. Instead, the White Sulphur Springs estate is serving as home to victims of the deadly West Virginia floods. Though the resort is officially closed, the hotel has opened a limited number of rooms to those who have lost their homes. "Due to all of the damage we received from the storm, we aren't able to provide The Greenbrier experience that our guests expect," said Jim Justice, owner of the resort. "But we can certainly provide a comfortable room for those who are hurting and need a place to go..."

The Antarctic Ozone Hole Has Finally Started to "Heal", Scientists Report. Chris Mooney has details at The Washington Post; here's the intro: "In a major new paper in the influential journal Science, a team of researchers report strikingly good news about a thirty year old environmental problem. The Antarctic ozone “hole” — which, when it was first identified in the mid-1980s, focused public attention like few other pieces of environmental news — has begun, in their words, to finally “heal.” “If you use the medical analogy, first the patient was getting worse and worse, and then the patient is stabilized, and now, the really encouraging thing, is that the patient is really starting to get better,” said MIT atmospheric scientist Susan Solomon, lead author of the study, and former co-chair of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change..."

Image credit: "This false-color image shows ozone concentrations above Antarctica on Oct. 2, 2015." (Credits: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

Hubble Captures Vivid Auroras in Jupiter's Atmosphere. NASA has the amazing details: "Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, is best known for its colorful storms, the most famous being the Great Red Spot. Now astronomers have focused on another beautiful feature of the planet, using Hubble's ultraviolet capabilities. The extraordinary vivid glows shown in the new observations are known as auroras. They are created when high-energy particles enter a planet’s atmosphere near its magnetic poles and collide with atoms of gas. As well as producing beautiful images, this program aims to determine how various components of Jupiter’s auroras respond to different conditions in the solar wind, a stream of charged particles ejected from the sun..."

Image credit: "Astronomers are using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to study auroras — stunning light shows in a planet's atmosphere — on the poles of the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter." Credits: NASA, ESA, and J. Nichols (University of Leicester).

Clean Energy Driving Economic Growth in States. Which confirms my theory: people will ultimately go green because it leaves more green in their wallets. Forbes reports: "Declining electricity rates. Magnet for economic development. From east to west, a growing number of states are embracing the promise of a low-carbon economy, both by setting ambitious renewable energy goals and expanding programs that encourage energy efficiency. In the states of California, Colorado, Hawaii and Minnesota, the largest utilities are sourcing 20 to 35 percent of their electricity from carbon-free wind, solar and other renewable sources. Consumers are also saving billions of dollars on their energy bills because these programs are helping to trim electricity demand by as much as 1.5 percent every year..."

"Tesla Solar" Wants To Be The Apple Store for Electricity. The Chicago Tribune reports: "...Musk, who turned 45 on Tuesday, wants to change this daunting transaction in the same way the Apple Store changed the way we buy consumer electronics. Fifteen years ago, Apple Computer Inc. (as it was known then) faced problems similar to those hobbling solar today. Buying a computer was a big investment: They were complicated, the benefits uncertain, and the choices undifferentiated. Sound familiar?.."

Photo credit: "Pedestrians walk past the Tesla Motors store in Santa Monica, California in March 2016. CEO Elon Musk came out last week with a $2.86 billion plan to acquire SolarCity, and a Tesla showroom could help customers wondering where to start with using solar in their homes." CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Patrick T. Fallon.

9 Destinations Where Garbage is the Attraction. Habitual polluters are demanding equal time. Here's an excerpt from Atlas Obscura: "There are plenty of perfectly groomed beaches with golden sands for vacationers to dip their feet in. But why not aim for something different and visit a giant heaping trash pile? Whether they are the product of irresponsible dumping as with California's Glass Beach, or they are have deliberately turned a trash heap into an attraction, as is the case with Virginia's Mount Trashmore, there are spots all across the globe that have turned detritus into a destination. Check out nine of the greatest places on the planet to visit when you're looking to be a garbage person..."

Trashy photo credit: Edward Blake/CC BY 2.0

Americans Are Watching More TV and Working Less, New Federal Data Shows. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "...The typical American spends nearly as much time watching TV (2 hours 46 minutes) as working (3 hours 31 minutes) on any given day. Americans spend nearly twice as much time buying stuff (45 minutes) as on child care (24 minutes). I can't stress enough that these numbers are statistical averages. There are very few, if any, actual people whose day looks like the one above. But, if you took literally every single person in America age 15 or older, including students and retirees and workers and the like, asked them how they spent their time in a typical day, and averaged all of those numbers together, that's what that mythical "average day" would look like..."

Where We Live and How We Die. Not something I really want to ponder on a Saturday morning. Or any morning. But How We Get To Next makes it so interesting and visual I couldn't resist. Here's an excerpt: "...The Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD), the world’s largest and most comprehensive description of global mortality patterns, confirms the link between death and geography through empirical comparisons of mortality data for each country in the world. Distributed by the World Health Organization and involving over 1,600 collaborators worldwide, it explains what is responsible for all of the deaths that happen globally. The most recent report from 2013 gives a succinct list of the top 10 causes of years of life lost around the world. They are, in order: ischemic heart diseases (when the heart is unable to get blood, which typically leads to heart attacks), lower respiratory infections (such as pneumonia and bronchitis), stroke, diarrhea, road injuries, HIV/AIDS, preterm birth complications, malaria, neonatal encephalopathy (severe brain injuries occurring within the first month of life), and congenital causes (conditions present from birth)..."
Image credit: Darren Garrett

Facebook, a News Giant That Would Rather Show Us Baby Pictures. Ironic - FB has morphed into the largest news site on the planet, but it appears news isn't much of a priority, according to a New York Times story: "...Though it is couched in the anodyne language of a corporate news release, the document’s message should come as a shock to everyone in the media business. According to these values, Facebook has a single overriding purpose, and it isn’t news. Facebook is mainly for telling you what’s up with your friends and family. Adam Mosseri, the Facebook manager in charge of the news feed, said in a recent interview that informing and entertaining users was also part of the company’s mission. But he made clear that news and entertainment were secondary pursuits..."

Apps To Make Your 4th of July Travel a Breeze. A post at The New York Times had some helpful app-advice; here's an excerpt: "...Gas Buddy is a staple on best travel app lists, and that's because it works really well. As you can probably guess from the name, this app acts as your guide to finding gas stations near you and at a price you're willing to pay. Prices are user-submitted, which means you can submit them, too, and tend to be fairly reliable. It's certainly worth a download if you're the kind of driver who likes to go until you're running on fumes, or just like to grab the best deal. Free, for iOS and Android. iExit is designed to prevent some of the most infuriating road trip moments — "Which exit!?" "Uh, the one we just passed." — by letting you know what's coming up just off the highway ahead of you..."

Who Needs a Weather App When You Can Get This Weather Stick? Sticks don't take vacations or demand pay increases. Uh oh. Atlas Obscura has details: "A thin twig that can predict the weather. Seems unlikely. But that’s exactly the shtick behind the weather stick, a natural barometer of sorts that you can nail to the side of your house, garage, or teepee. Around 16 inches long, the spindly stick will smile upwards in anticipation of good weather (clear skies and sun), and deflect downwards before rain or snow. No batteries required—and yes! “They Really Work”. But how, exactly? Not just any stick, it turns out, can serve as a weather stick..."

Image credit: "If the stick is deflecting upwards, the weather ought to be good." (Photo: Courtesy of Davis Hill).

Father Recreates His Kids' Selfies In The Most Ridiculous Dad Way. I don't know why but this made me laugh. I thought this was a creative form of fatherly intervention. Here's an explanation at Boing Boing: "So my daughter has been posting sexy selfies of herself and instead of telling her to stop, well, I thought of something better,” a dad from Washington state wrote on Instagram. Cassie Martin’s dad Burr re-created one of Cassie's photos, presented the images side by side, and posted the double image on Instagram. A meme was born..."

TODAY: Morning sunshine, clouds increase this afternoon with an isolated shower. Winds: S 5-10. High: near 80

SATURDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and comfortable. Low: 60

SUNDAY: Mostly sunny, low humidity lingers. Winds: SE 5-10. High: 82

4TH OF JULY: Warm sunshine, a bit stickier. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 63. High: 84

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, T-storms at night. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 67. High: 86

WEDNESDAY: Steamy sun, a few T-storms around. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 72. High: near 90

THURSDAY: Some sun, nagging thunder risk. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 71. High: 88

FRIDAY: More sun, slight drop in humidity. Winds: NE 5-10.  Wake-up: 68. High: 82

Climate Stories...
Did Exxon Lie About Global Warming? Here's a clip from a Rolling Stone article: "..."Just saying 'turn the taps off' is not acceptable to humanity." In other words, the world will not actually meet the Paris goals. So Exxon will be fine. The auditorium, packed mostly with corporate die-hards, erupts in applause, but the case against Exxon may turn on moments like this. Schneiderman does not have to show that the company injured a specific victim or conspired to hide what it knew about climate science from the public – just that it did not tell its own investors the truth about the risks climate change poses to its bottom line..."

Exxon Is Fighting for It's Right to Deny Climage Change. You can deny whatever you want - believe whatever you want, but when if you (knowingly) defraud investors your First Ammendment rights won't protect you. Here's an excerpt at WIRED: "...Robert Post, the dean of Yale Law School, argues that it is “irresponsible to invoke the First Amendment” to defend Exxon. “There are circumstances when scientific theories must remain open and subject to challenge, and there are circumstances when the government must act to protect the integrity of the market, even if it requires determining the truth or falsity of those theories,” wrote Post in a Washington Post op-ed last week. “Public debate must be protected, but fraud must also be suppressed...” (Photo credit: Mike Blake/Reuters).

Sea Level Rise Could Wash Away Our Natural and Cultural History. Climate Central takes a look at what's at stake over the long haul; here's an excerpt: "...Viewed separately, the Statue of Liberty and Gateway parks have little in common aside from a shared city. But they’re inextricably linked, being forced to deal with the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. Together, they’re growing threats that endanger the culture and history these parks were created to protect, not to mention billions of dollars in assets and the quality of life for millions. How the National Park Service prepares for and deals with those threats is a step into an uncertain future, one that could reshape the landscape for parks and communities along the coast and across the country..."

Wildfires Engulfing the West Coast are Fueled by Climate Change, Experts Warn. Here's a clip from a story at The Guardian: "...Wildfire experts said there are numerous indicators that warming temperatures have contributed to the fires by drying out vegetation and soils and causing an earlier spring melt of snow. Trees are also less resilient to fire due to infestations of beetles, which thrive in warmer weather. Over the past 30 years there has been a fourfold increase in the number of large forest fires in the American west, while the fire season has grown by 84 days to 220 days in this time. The amount of area burned has ballooned by 1,200%, with areas such as the northern Rockies and the north-west particularly badly hit..."

Image credit: "The amount of area burned has ballooned by 1,200%, with areas such as the northern Rockies and the north-west particularly badly hit." Photograph: Ryan Babroff/AP.

Here's The Next Big Story on Climate Change. Mother Jones takes a look at the risk to agriculture; here's a snippet: "...At that intersection, the scale of the challenge posed by global warming is matched only by the scale of opportunity to innovate and adapt. There are countless stories waiting to be told, featuring a brilliant and diverse cast of scientists, entrepreneurs, politicians, farmers, families, and more. East Africa is already the hungriest place on Earth: One in every three people live without sufficient access to nutritious food, according to the United Nations. Crop yields in the region are the lowest on the planet. African farms have one-tenth the productivity of Western farms on average, and sub-Saharan Africa is the only place on the planet where per capita food production is actually falling..."

Photo credit: "A man carries animal feed in the Sitti Zone of Ethiopia on April 8, 2016, near the border with Somalia. The region is afflicted by a severe drought."

Are West Virginia's Floods The Result of Climate Change? Did an increase in water vapor increase the odds of another 1-in-1,000-year flood? Here's an excerpt from Forbes: "For a state that has been racked with recession and unemployment, the flash floods that have ravaged West Virginia don’t help much. But the key question to ask — no matter how unpleasant — is whether the coal sector there shares some of the blame. At issue is the concept of climate change and whether the warmer atmosphere is holding more water and therefore intensifying the storms. To that end, West Virginia’s prime industry has been coal, a fuel that when burned is responsible for a third of all human-induced carbon emissions.  Even more, the surface mining that has occurred is lopping off whole mountaintops and removing the vegetation, leaving the landscape vulnerable to erosion..."
File photo credit: "In this June 25, 2016, file photo, West Virginia State Trooper C.S. Hartman, left, and Bridgeport W. Va., fireman, Ryan Moran, wade through flooded streets as they search homes in Rainelle. A rainstorm that seemed no big deal at first turned into a catastrophe for the small town in West Virginia, trapping dozens of people whose screams would echo all night." (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File).

The Paradox of American Farmers and Climate Change. Many farmers I've talked to acknowledge the changes taking place in their fields; some are hesitant to call it climate change - but I've run into few farmers who deny that something is going on. Here's an excerpt from Fortune: "There’s a strange paradox in the world of agriculture: farmers are perhaps the segment of the population most affected by climate change, and yet a significant number of them don’t believe in it—especially the notion that it’s man-made. I encountered this phenomenon as I reported a feature for Fortune on how agricultural giant Monsanto is attempting to help farmers both mitigate their impact on the environment and adapt to climate change. All the farmers I talked to readily acknowledged that the weather patterns governing growing seasons had been turned upside down in recent years, but I was on the receiving end of a lot of eye rolls whenever I brought up climate change..."

Photo credit: Ryan Donnell for Fortune Magazine.

Combating Climate Change Crucial to Global Security. This Op-Ed at the San Diego Union-Tribune resonated; here's an excerpt: "...Even more, let's honor their mission by preventing the very conflicts that they could be called upon to fight. To do so, we must combat climate change. It’s not just an environmental issue; it’s a global security crisis. The Department of Defense, in its long-term planning documents, has identified climate change as an “urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources.” As a “threat multiplier,” climate change increases the likelihood of conflict while also hindering military readiness. Like gas on a fire, it inflames smoldering conflicts in regions least able to extinguish them. That often means putting American service members in harm’s way...."

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