Sunday, July 31, 2016

Severe Storm Risk Later - No Sign of Minnesota Drought Yet

84 F. high on Sunday in St. Cloud.
82 F. average high on July 31.
82 F. high on July 31, 2015.
August 1, 1955: A thunderstorm in Becker County dumps a foot of rain at Callaway.

Summer Rains Are Falling Harder - And More Often

I cringed when I read a recent article extolling the risk of "rain bombs" and "weaponizing the atmosphere". It's the Internet; catchy headlines result in more clicks. But there's truth lurking amidst the hyperbole.

Ask residents of historic Ellicott City, just outside Baltimore, Maryland. Thunderstorms Saturday night dropped 8-9 inches of rain in 3 hours, resulting in massive flash flooding; another thousand-year flood. Residents from South Carolina to Texas to Brainerd have experienced similar floods recently.

A 1.5F warmer atmosphere may not sound like much, but it means there's 6 percent more water floating overhead, more fuel for extreme summer rains.

With Minnesota teeter-tottering on the northern edge of a sprawling heat wave conditions will be ripe for more waves of intense T-storms, a few capable of torrential rains, into much of August. I don't see a big break in the pattern.

Storms are likely tonight, again Thursday. Dew points poke into the muggy 70s much of this week; highs near 90F by midweek.

Conditions may be ripe for a future Tropical Storm Earl, currently aimed at Mexico's Yucatan. Details below.

Incredible Footage. I can't think of a better cautionary tale about driving through a flooded road, especially at night when it's impossible to estimate the depth of rapidly-flowing water. Brave bystanders made a human chain to rescue the woman stranded in the VW bug; here's an excerpt from Sara Arditti's Facebook post: "Unbelievable video shot by my husband Dave during the flood as he and several other men rescue a woman from her car floating down Main St right in front of our business, Still Life Gallery at about 8:30pm July 30th. Dave was at the top of the human chain holding the next man's hand and filming with the other. The man who got washed away was incredibly lucky..."

1 in 1,000 Year Rainfall Event. So says NOAA;  with nearly 6" of rain falling in 90 minutes, rainfall totals approaching 10" north and west of Baltimore Saturday night.

More Photos and Videos From a "Ruined" Ellicott City. Capital Weather Gang has more details on another jaw-dropping rain event.

* At least 2 people died during severe flash flooding, according to the Baltimore Sun. More details and perspective from WJLA-TV in Washington D.C. - the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

Please Don't Let a Tornado Interrupt Your Drinking. Check out the tornado spinning high above a village pub in Suffolk (UK). No running or screaming - impressive! Credit: "Geoff Robinsonn Photography". These pics were caught by pub chef Phil Hannam. Photo and story credit: The Sun.

Tornado Flattens Northern Vietnamese Province. Speaking of tornadoes in unusual places 9News in Australia has more information and video.

Potential for Tropical Storm Earl. NHC predicts a 50% risk of tropical storm formation within 48 hours, but 70% over the next 5 days. Right now most tropical models take "Earl" south of the Gulf of Mexico, more of a risk to Cancun and the rest of Mexico. Forecast model track: Tropical Tidbits.

Minnesota: Drought-Free, For Now. National Drought Monitor data shows South Dakota drying out rapidly, pockets of drought across Lower Michigan. But soil moisture across most of Minnesota and Wisconsin is in good shape, in spite of the transition from El Nino to La Nina, which is often accompanied by drought. Not yet. Map: Aeris Maps Platform.

Thunder Risk Peaks Tonight. A stray shower or T-shower may arrive by afternoon, but 4km NAM model guidance shows the best chance of more widespread showers and T-storms coming tonight into early Tuesday. NOAA SPC is predicting a few severe T-storms later, especially west of MSP.

A Few Memorable T-storms. NOAA SPC has a slight risk of severe storms for the eastern Dakotas and much of western and central Minnesota. The Twin Cities metro is on the edge of slight risk. Keep an eye on the sky later today.

Heat Peaks Midweek. Factoring in dew points in the low and mid 70s Wednesday may actually be the hottest day, with air temperatures in the low 90s and a heat index near 100F. A weak cool front sparks showers and T-storms Thursday, with another welcome dip in temperature and humidity by the end of the week. Model data: Aeris Enterprise.

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.

How We Use The Sun To Reduce Climate Change and Make Fuel and Other Stuff At The Same Time. A tortured headline, but I thought it was worth sharing - more innovation to help us power the economy and even reverse the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Details via Forbes: "...The new breakthrough from the University of Illinois at Chicago is more like an artificial leaf, mimicking he process of photosynthesis in which plants use sunlight and carbon dioxide to create fuel in the form of sugars. “The new solar cell is not photovoltaic — it’s photosynthetic,” says Amin Salehi-Khojin, assistant professor at UIC and senior author on a paper describing the technology in the journal Science. “Instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from fossil fuels to greenhouse gas, we can now reverse the process and recycle atmospheric carbon into fuel using sunlight...”

Photo credit: University of Illinois-Chicago.

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).

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.

TODAY: Sticky with some murky sun, late T-storms possible - slight severe risk. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 85
MONDAY NIGHT: Few T-storms likely, locally heavy rain. Low: 70

TUESDAY: Wet start, then clearing skies. Winds: NW 5-10. High: 87

WEDNESDAY: Sunny, muggy and hot (enough). Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 71. High: near 90

THURSDAY: More showers and T-storms. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 73. High: 86

FRIDAY: Plenty of sun, less humid. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 67. High: 82

SATURDAY: Sunny, potentially spectacular. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 64. High: 83

SUNDAY: Potentially heavy T-storms arrive. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 65. High: 79

Climate Stories...

My Turn: Climate Change is a Moral Issue. An Op-Ed at Juneau Empire in Alaska resonated; here's an excerpt: "...Make no mistake: global warming is a religious issue. Climate change is a moral evil on many levels. It stems from overconsumption and is perpetuated by a heedless desire to continue a status quo we know is destructive. It’s a profound injustice, since its initial effects are falling hardest on the poorer members of human society who have done the least to cause it. It is also an injustice to generations newly arrived or yet-to-be born, as there is little harm greater than leaving our descendants a ravaged and exhausted environment. Finally, global warming’s ability to cause mass extinctions of the millions of creatures that share the earth with us reveals a sacrilegious contempt for the creation we were entrusted with. Some may say that this is simply God’s will. We profoundly disagree..."

Warming Waters. So far we haven't seen a significant uptick in hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, but the Pacific  (bigger and even warmer) has seen record numbers of extreme category 5 hurricanes and typhoons in recent years. Graphics above: Climate Central.

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..."

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