Thursday, July 14, 2016

Comfortable Friday - Brewing Heat Wave Next Week Evokes Comparisons with July, 1936

67 F. high temperature on Thursday in St. Cloud.
83 F. average high on July 14.
84 F. high on July 14, 2015.

.20" rain fell at St. Cloud as of 8 pm yesterday.

July 15, 1980: Straight-line winds of nearly 100 mph cause enormous damage, mainly in Dakota County. 43 million dollars in damage is reported and 100 thousand people lose power.

A Dangerous Heat Wave Is Brewing For Next Week

I take my job seriously - I try not to take myself too seriously. In this space I often lead with a favorite quote, an anecdote or quip. Humor is attempted, because more than ever we need to laugh.
But I don't want to bury the lead or make light of what may evolve into a serious weather situation from the middle of next week into early August.

Meteorological ingredients are converging for a prolonged and extreme period of heat and humidity. By the latter half of next week afternoon temperatures may range from 95-100F, with dew points near 75F. Heat indices could be 105-110F, with lows not dipping below 80F in the downtowns.

In spite of sporadic A/C and beckoning lakes, relief from pervasive, sauna-like heat will be elusive. It's still early but I'm predicting significant risk for the elderly, the sick and people with little or no access to air conditioning.

I hope I'm wrong about this forecast.

In the meantime cool sunshine today gives way to a few T-storms this weekend. After a pleasant start next week will increasingly feel like a really bad mash-up of Arizona and Florida.

100-degree F. Surface Temperatures Possible by Thursday. Hard to imagine out there now, with a cool breeze and a September sky, but less than a week from now temperatures may surge into the upper 90s, even some lower 100s (most likely over central and western central Minnesota. Map: WeatherBell.

Peak Heat May Come Thursday. Check out the predicted (GFS) heat index next Thursday evening at 7 pm; as high as 110F in the Twin Cities metro and the southern half of Minnesota. Even people in good shape,  well hydrated, can get into trouble with a heat index that high.

Heat Dome Builds Rapidly Next Week. Check out the various GFS model runs in this ensemble animation of 500 mb (18,000 foot) winds into the end of next week; a massive ridge of high pressure marking the center of sinking, warming air. Here's an excerpt of a forecast discussion from the Twin Cities National Weather Service, which brings up an analog of July 1936 as a possible comparison

Serious Heat Next Week. Hard to believe out there today with cool temperatures and little water in the air, but it may FEEL 40-50F warmer by Thursday of next week, factoring dew points in the 70s  and a surface temperature approaching 100F. ECMWF numbers: WeatherBell.

2-Week Heat Wave? The details are still sketchy, but if the latest 2-week GFS 500 mb forecast verifies much of America will be sweating it out through the end of July, probably the first week of August. All the heat of Arizona, coupled with all the moisture of Florida  and the Gulf Coast. Only the Pacific Northwest and New England will escape the worst of the heat.

Twin Cities Heat Index and Dew Point History. It is quite possible that heat late next week will rival the heat observed in 1936, so this post is highly relevant. The Minnesota DNR takes a look at 100-degree heat and the history of dew point and heat index observations; here's the intro: "...Hitting 100 degrees is not a common occurrence for the Twin Cities metro area and happens in about one in five years. The most recent 100 degree reading occurred on July 4th and 6th of 2012. The hottest temperatures in the Twin Cities occurred in July 1936, during the Dust Bowl era. An all-time record of 108 degrees was observed on July 14, 1936. A high of 106 was recorded for each day from July 10th through the 12th in July 1936. In total an impressive 8 days in July 1936 were above 100 degrees, with another day in August also above 100. This put the summer of 1936 at 9 days with temperatures at or above the century mark. This is a record amount for the Twin Cities..."
Photo credit: "Cooling a Car in the 1930's." Courtesy: Minnesota Historical Society.

Massive Heat Dome Forecast to Bake Much of U.S. By Late Next Week. Jason Samenow has more details at Capital Weather Gang: "A huge, hot area of high pressure is forecast to develop over the central United States next week, which may result in the nation’s most significant heat wave of the summer. Forecast models, across the board, suggest this dome of hot air will be massive, affecting most of the country, except the Pacific Northwest. It is too soon to say exactly how hot temperatures will be, but initial indications are that the central United States may face some of the country’s hottest weather with respect to normal. Record heat is certainly a possibility, although exactly how many records fall and where won’t come into focus for several more days..."

Map credit: "GFS model forecast massive heat dome centered over the central U.S. late next week." (

Few In U.S. Will Escape Stifling Heat By The End of Next Week. Andrew Freedman has more perspective at Mashable: "...Both the European and GFS models, among others, are depicting the height of the 500 millibar pressure surface, which is normally located around 5,000 meters, or 18,000 feet, to be at or above 6,000 meters, or 19,685 feet. This is a rare event that is an indication that this event may be unusually severe. Heat waves such as this one, which will also involve high humidity, due to a flow of air that will pump Gulf of Mexico moisture northward into the Plains, have the potential to cause heat-related injuries and fatalities..." (Map credit: WSI).

U.S. Faces Dramatic Rise in Extreme Heat, Humidity. Climate Central has some timely perspective: "...Heat is the No.1 weather related killer, and as carbon pollution continues, global temperatures will keep climbing, bringing hotter summers and more extreme and dangerous heat. Climate Central's States at Risk project analyzed historic trends in summer temperatures since 1970 as well as projections for future extreme heat for hundreds of metro areas across the lower 48 states. Using several measures, our findings show that most U.S. cities have already experienced large increases in extreme summer heat and absolute humidity, which together can cause serious heat-related health problems..."

Flood Fight Continues In Parts of the Northland. Here's the latest from Duluth News Tribune: "Volunteers filled and placed sandbags to protect buildings and infrastructure in Moose Lake and Hayward on Wednesday as some Northland rivers continued to rise after torrential rainfall earlier in the week. It was a day of damage assessment and the start of cleanup in parts of the region where the 8- to 10-plus inches of rain that fell late Monday and early Tuesday caused flash flooding that receded quickly. Elsewhere, the level of rivers and lakes crept slowly upward as the day wore on..."

In Warming Oceans, Stronger Currents Releasing Heat in Bigger Storms, Study Says. InsideClimate News has a summary of recent research; here's an excerpt: "Global warming is intensifying some of the world's most important ocean currents, new research shows, raising the risk of damaging storms along heavily populated coastlines of China and Japan. The findings are sobering as China and Taiwan rebound from the devastating effects of super typhoon Nepartak last week. The western boundary currents, which run along the eastern coasts of South Africa, Asia, Australasia, and South America, carry massive amounts of heat from the tropics northward. The recent research by a group of scientists with the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany found they are strengthening, warming and moving poleward..."

What's Behind Florida's Algae Bloom? Satellite Photos Reveal Clues. Here's a clip from Christian Science Monitor: "...Pollution, warmer lake water caused by global warming, and changes in agricultural practices, including increased use of nitrogen-fertilizer, have all been found to contribute to blooms such as this one. But a new debate has arisen over whether this bloom was caused by sewage, as well. Organizations such as the The South Florida Water Management District are saying sewage, not runoff from the lake, may be causing the problem..." (Image: NASA Earth Observatory and TIME).

Where Machines Could Replace Humans - And Where They Can't (Yet). McKinnsey & Company has a detailed report on which industries are most prone to automation and computerization. If you're not just a little paranoid you're probably not paying attention. Here's a clip: "...Technical feasibility is a necessary precondition for automation, but not a complete predictor that an activity will be automated. A second factor to consider is the cost of developing and deploying both the hardware and the software for automation. The cost of labor and related supply-and-demand dynamics represent a third factor: if workers are in abundant supply and significantly less expensive than automation, this could be a decisive argument against it. A fourth factor to consider is the benefits beyond labor substitution, including higher levels of output, better quality, and fewer errors. These are often larger than those of reducing labor costs..."

Live Streaming Breaks Through, and Cable News Has Much To Fear. A reminder that every industry is being disrupted. If you can go right to the raw feed of breaking news, without an intermediary, why not? Think Spotify, for news. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...Historians of television news often cite the 1991 Gulf War as the breakthrough moment for cable — a conflict that proved there was a market for round-the-clock coverage of the sort that CNN was offering. For most humans, last week’s police shootings, the subsequent protests and the mass assassination of police officers in Dallas were a tragic commentary on modern American race relations. But for that subspecies of humans known as television executives, the events might also have functioned as an alarming peek at a radically altered future. What we saw last week was live streaming’s Gulf War, a moment that will catapult the technology into the center of the news — and will begin to inexorably alter much of television news as we know it. And that’s not a bad thing. Though it will shake up the economics of TV, live streaming is opening up a much more compelling way to watch the news..."

3 Basic Mistakes People Make at Casinos, According to a Math Expert. I found a story at The Washington Post to be extra-interesting - here's a clip: "...It’s incredibly difficult to get rich quick. Even these very successful strategies require a lot of hard work and focus as well as really innovative ideas. But one of the things that came out of these stories for me is the benefit that you can get from thinking about the world in this way. Even if you’re not a gambler, even if you don’t go to casinos, you’re going to have to face risk and uncertain situations and make decisions when you don’t have the full information available. Gambling is almost a summary of those problems as they’ve been faced by scientists in the past. By looking at these stories, we can learn a lot about how to make decisions and how to distinguish between luck and skill, which in many cases we don’t always get right..." (Image credit: iStock).

Why NASA's New Photos of the Moon Look Super Fake (Even Though They're Not). Here's an excerpt of an explainer at The Washington Post: "...That video at the top of this post looks totally fake. Like, viral video of a guy running into a tornado to take a selfie fake. But sometimes the truth looks more Photoshopped than fiction (Case in point: This flower looks like a literal demon and it just grows that way). The recently released images — from the second time NASA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite has watched the moon pass in front of the sunlit face of the Earth in a year — look fishy, and NASA scientists realize that..."

Up Close and Personal Look At The World's Largest Model Railroad. How did he get this past his wife? That's the real story. Details via Atlas Obscura: "...He’s the mastermind behind Northlandz, the self-proclaimed largest model railroad in the world. And according to filmmaker Andrew Wilcox, it’s one of the most under-appreciated attractions he’s ever seen. So he decided to capture it on camera to share it with the world. It’s situated in a 16-acre property in Flemington, New Jersey, and boasts a whopping 100 trains on more than eight miles of track, longer than anywhere else in the world. With a 30-foot mountain, 400 bridges and tressels, some of which span 40 feet, and roughly 500,000 miniaturized lichen trees, Northlandz is more than just the object of a child’s bewilderment in a storefront window..."

TODAY: Partly sunny, very nice. Winds: NW 5-10. High: 76

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, fairly comfortable. Low: 60

SATURDAY: Clouds increase, T-storms late. Winds: S 8-13. High: 82

SUNDAY: Sticky, few T-storms likely. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 65. High: 85

MONDAY: Blue sky, last comfortable day in sight. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 63. High: 82

TUESDAY: Intervals of sun, feels stickier.  Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 68. High: 87

WEDNESDAY: Steamy sun, feels like upper 90s to 100F. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 69. High: 91

THURSDAY: Blazing sun, dangerously hot - feels like 105F. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 75. High: 96

Climate Stories...

"The Extraordinary Years Have Become the Normal Years": Scientists Survey Radical Arctic Melt. Chris Mooney explains at The Washington Post: "A group of scientists studying a broad range of Arctic systems — from sea ice to permafrost to the Greenland ice sheet — gathered in D.C. Wednesday to lay out just how extreme a year 2016 has been so far for the northern cap of the planet. “I see the situation as a train going downhill,” said Marco Tedesco, who studies Greenland at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. “And the feedback mechanisms in the Arctic [are] the slope of your hill. And it gets harder and harder to stop it...”

Image credit: "This July 13 image captured by a device on NASA’s Aqua satellite shows Franz Josef Land in the Arctic Ocean." (AFP/NASA)

State Attorneys General Subpoenaed by Rep. Lamar Smith for Exxon Fraud Probe. Here's the latest from InsideClimate News: "Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science Committee, escalated his confrontation over the climate probes of ExxonMobil by issuing subpoenas to two state attorneys general and several nongovernmental advocacy groups on Wednesday. Smith (R-Tex.) announced the action in a news conference on Capitol Hill, saying the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts were trying to criminalize the opinions of people and companies who hold alternative views on climate science..."

What Type of Climate Voter Are You? Here's a clip from Fusion: "A new analysis has found that 10% of the population of voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes action on global warming. Conducted by Yale University and George Mason University, the survey found that Americans can be divided into six distinct groups when it comes to climate and environmental voting preferences. Only members of the most anti-climate action group, the Dismissive (10% of the population; 10% of registered voters), are likely to vote for a presidential candidate who actually prioritizes their opposition to taking action to curtail human-caused climate change..." (Graphic: Yale University and George Mason University).

The Climate Anxiety Doctor is "In". Here's a clip from an article at Hakai Magazine: "...In the psychological literature, there is an increasing body of research demonstrating the toll that climate change can take. Climate change can affect mental health both as a result of individual significant weather events, and as a result of more gradual changes in climate. Psychologists have found that catastrophic events induce different mental health issues than gradual changes: catastrophic events are more likely to induce trauma responses, major depression, and complicated grief, while gradual changes can cause anxiety, fatalism, and chronic depression. A common thread running through all these effects is fear of an increasingly uncertain future, and the anxiety that fear generates is often not constructively addressed..."

How Climate Change Could Threaten Wall Street? Think your portfolio is immune? Think again, according to a story at Christian Science Monitor: "Is climate change bad for business? According to the Global Risk Institute (GRI), a nonprofit based in Toronto, it may be. In a new report, GRI warned that global warming could present significant risks for financial institutions. “Given the financial service industry's heavily integrated role in society, it is particularly susceptible to the risks associated with climate change,” GRI wrote in its report. “It must therefore ensure that proper climate change strategies and risk management procedures are in place in order to remain viable...”

Photo credit: "A view of an oil refinery off the coast of Singapore, seen March 14, 2008. The Global Risk Institute is asking banks, insurers, and investors to shift their practices in light of climate change." Vivek Prakash/Reuters/File.

What Phony Op-Eds About Climate Change Have In Common. Here's an excerpt of commentary from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island at Columbia Journalism Review: "...The pieces contain a shared logical fallacy: presuming the propriety of the fossil fuel industry’s climate denial operation, when that would be the very question at issue. Was there fraud, or wasn’t there? If there were actual fraud at the core of the fossil fuel industry’s climate denial operation, the free speech argument would evaporate, since fraud is not protected speech..."

Meteorologist Need to Start Talking About Climate Change. No kidding. Here's a clip from Gizmodo: "...The role of the meteorologist in contemporary society is important but often invisible. They’re the people who remind us to grab a sweater or take an umbrella—sometimes on TV or the radio, more likely through a weather app on our phones. But they are also the only individuals that Americans receive advice from during potentially life-threatening weather. If a meteorologist is warning about an impending storm surge, wouldn’t it be helpful to know that those surges are likely to be worse due to rising sea levels—particularly if you live near the coast? “As a weather junkie as well as a climate scientist, I see it as our responsibility to include context,” Jason Samenow of the Capital Weather Gang told Gizmodo..."

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