Monday, August 7, 2017

Just About Perfect - Cool Bias Next 10 Days

80 F. high in St. Cloud Monday.
81 F. average high on August 7.
82 F. maximum temperature at KSTC on August 7, 2016.

August 8, 1930: A record high of 102 is set at Redwood Falls.

Look Up: Some of the Best Weather in the USA

We've always had floods, heat waves and droughts, but a warmer (wetter) climate is turning up the volume, making the extremes more extreme, worldwide.

Oh, to have the Dairy Queen concession in Death Valley, California. July brought an average temperature of 107.4F, making it the hottest month ever recorded in the United States. Details here.
A heat wave in southern Europe, nicknamed "Lucifer", is igniting wildfires, sparking water rationing and devastating crops. Sardinia, Italy recorded a heat index of 122F last week.

New Orleans just saw massive flooding from 10 inch rains (200-year flood) while Tropical Storm Franklin tracks south of Cancun, promising severe flooding for parts of Mexico.

We are counting our atmospheric blessings with free Canadian A/C, highs in the 70s; little risk of severe weather anytime soon. Showers and T-storms arrive late Wednesday and Thursday; maybe a few more puddles on Saturday, but this is a pretty nice pattern overall.

The summer stickies may return later in August. I'd bet a pickle-on-a-stick we'll see sticky 80s & 90s in time for the fair.

* Photo credit from Lake Ossy: Pete Schenck.

Above Average Hurricane Season On Track. Here's an excerpt from NOAA NHC (National Hurricane Center) which will have an update on their prediction for the core of hurricane season on Wednesday: "In just the first nine weeks of this season, there already have been six named storms – that’s nearly half the number of storms during an average six-month season and is double the number of storms that would typically form by early August. NOAA’s initial outlook in May predicted an above-normal season with 11 to 17 named storms, of which five to nine could become hurricanes – including two to four major hurricanes..."

* Tropical Storm Franklin is expected to take a southerly track, impacting Mexico with tropical storm-force winds and flooding rains. The latest from NOAA NHC is here.

Tropical Storm Franklin Could Reach Hurricane Strength Before Hitting Near Cancun. USA Today has more details on storm potential: "Tropical Storm Franklin could reach hurricane strength before it slams into Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula late Monday or early Tuesday, dumping a massive amount of rain and pushing a dangerous storm surge into the coast. Up to a foot of drenching rainfall is possible, with the potential for life-threatening flash floods, the National Hurricane Center warned. A storm surge of up to four feet — accompanied by large, destructive waves — is also possible as the storm slams into the shoreline. Damaging wind gusts of 40-60 mph are also possible. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles from the storm's center..."

Excessive Rainfall Potential. 10-15" rains are likely along and near the track of Franklin in the coming days, with a potential for serious flash flooding and mudslides across Mexico. Map: Aeris AMP.

Just Sitting Here on my Porch, Watching the Trash Float By. Up to 10" of rain swamped New Orleans on Saturday,  resulting in very serious flash flooding. Here's an excerpt of a eye-witness account at "We knew without looking that a car was traveling too fast through our flooded Mid-City neighborhood. It wasn't the whooshing sound of the wake forced ahead of the car, or the slap back of the water behind it. It was the angry screams of neighbors, rising like a chorus as the car neared. For God's sake, would you slow down so the water STAYS OUT OF MY HOUSE? The whole thing Saturday felt crazy. Up to nine inches of rainfall in three hours over parts of New Orleans. Flash flooding that stranded and soaked thousands across the metro area. The immediate impact in my neighborhood, near Jesuit High School: Popeye's cups, trash cans and miscellaneous floating garbage hitting me in the hips as I waded toward Carrollton Avenue..."

A "Mini-Katrina" for New Orleans. Here is Grist's take on the extreme (freakish) flooding in New Orleans over the weekend. It vaguely reminds me of the epic flooding last year near Baton Rouge, where 20-30" of rain fell over a few days from a slow-moving cluster of thunderstorms: "Nearly 10 inches of rain fell in one neighborhood on Saturday during a rainstorm so severe that it would occur less than once in 100 years, assuming a stable climate. The city’s extensive network of canals and pumps operated as designed throughout the event, but officials said the system was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the deluge which fell at a rate five times faster than the pumps could handle. Since much of New Orleans is below sea level, every inch of rainwater that falls has to be pumped to higher ground. A warming atmosphere can hold more water vapor, making deluges like this more common. Throughout the city came stories of impromptu water rescues, traveling by canoe, and millions of dollars worth of damage..."

10 Hospitalized After American Airlines Flight Jolted Midair. This is why you ALWAYS want to have your seatbelt fastened when you're sitting in a chair in the sky (with all thanks to Louis C.K.). Here's a clip from The Washington Post: "...But the shaking got worse. Ehmke saw drinks spilling and sensed a faint panic in the aisles. Still, he wasn’t worried. Then, suddenly, what he calls “the lurch.” He would later tell NBC News that everything in his field of vision shot up four feet in the air, and he would tell WPVI that “it felt like the whole plane was in free fall.” Other passengers would later report screaming and babies crying. Ehmke didn’t recall that but can relive the surreal experience of beverages suddenly being severed from gravity. “The liquid catches your eye,” he told The Post. “I saw all the drinks fly up at once.” This seemed amusing at first, when the plane settled down and Ehmke and his family had a chance to collect their thoughts. “I was wearing half of my coffee; my brother was wearing the other half,” he said. “My wife ended up with a pastry in her cup that was not hers...”

Image credit: "An American Airlines flight bound for Philadelphia experienced severe turbulence on July 5. Upon landing, three passengers and seven crew members were hospitalized." (Reuters).

Downright Agreeable. No sweaty fronts anytime soon, although I still believe it's going to warm into the 80s the last third of August, give or take. More 90s? Count on it - but no time soon. ECMWF guidance for the Twin Cities shows highs mostly in the 70s to  near 80F looking out the next 10 days. Graphic: WeatherBell.

Tracking Franklin. Welcome to the Dog Days of Summer, when steering winds aloft are as light as they ever get, meaning storms can stall for extended periods of time, squeezing out excessive rainfall amounts. Tell that to residents of San Antonio, or New Orleans, or Miami for that matter. All 3 metro areas have experienced serious flash flooding in recent days. The leading edge of slightly cooler air sparks showers and T-storms across the Deep South, while Tropical Storm Franklin pushes across the Bay of Campeche, pouring out some 10-15" rains. 84-hour Future Radar: NOAA and

7-Day Rainfall. Check out some of these predicted amounts, as much as 4-7" from near Tulsa and Little Rock to Jackson, Atlanta, the Carolinas and Virginia Tidewater. The risk of flash flooding will linger for much of the USA.

Warming Trend by Late August. With the possible exception of New England and the Pacific Northwest much of the nation will warm up again within 2 weeks as the main belt of prevailing winds aloft lifts north, meaning another run of 80s and 90s for much of the USA.

Around the Mediterranean, the Fire This Time. The New York Times reports on the epic heat wave and drought gripping southern Europe and the Balkans: "...While forest fires are a normal feature of summer in Mediterranean Europe, the frequency and intensity of the blazes this summer are exceptional. The unprecedented heat that has stoked them, and caused droughts like the one that led to water rationing in Rome, is a harbinger of what climate change will bring, scientists say. In the past week winds from North Africa - which the Italians aptly call Lucifero - have caused hellish temperatures across Italy. The heat index (what the temperature feels like) reached a record 50 degrees celsius,  or 122 degrees Fahrenheit, in Sardinia last Tuesday..."

Italy: Widespread State of Emergency Imminent as Drought Continues. The heat wave nicknamed "Lucifer" continues to drag on. AccuWeather has more details: "Following months of below-average rainfall—or in some locations no rainfall at all—across Italy, many towns are considering extreme measures to aid water conservation efforts. Rome received only 9 percent of its normal precipitation during the month of June and has received no rainfall since Jun. 30. This has resulted in a devastating drought overtaking most of the peninsula. Across the country, drought has resulted in agricultural losses exceeding 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion). Since July 26, there have been over 1,800 fire alerts, according to the Global Forest Watch. While they are mainly concentrated in the south, dozens have also been reported outside Rome, in central Italy, and Verona in the north..."

Europe Swelters Under a Heat Wave Called "Lucifer" The New York Times has more perspective on the relentless heat: "...Sun-kissed Italy has become sun-cursed. With temperatures in recent days regularly rising north of 100 degrees, a nationwide drought leaving rivers and mouths dry and countryside kindling and arsonists combining to ignite the landscape, Italians are, well, boiling. Farmers are lamenting more than $1 billion in revenue lost to drought and singed fields. Firefighters are busy. Packs of gum are melting in their wrappers. In Rome, the heat wave has coincided with a meltdown of public services, including public transport..."

Can Congress Bring the National Flood Insurance Program Above Water? As long as people are incentivized to keep rebuilding in increasingly flood-prone regions the program is destined to fail. Here's an excerpt at The Atlantic: "...As problematic government programs go, the NFIP is a doozy. Established in 1968, it handles some 5 million policies nationwide. Unfortunately, these days it collects less in premiums and surcharges than it shells out in claims and other expenses, leaving the Treasury Department—read: taxpayers—to plug the holes. Which means every time some neighborhood in Galveston or Daytona winds up underwater (Texas, Florida, and Louisiana account for more than half of all policies), the rest of the nation effectively bails them out. Not that coastal areas bear all the blame—rivers have a nasty habit of overflowing as well. Last August, an ugly storm parked itself over Baton Rouge for several days, dropping upwards of 20 inches of rain that caused $10 billion in damages. All told, the FEMA-managed NFIP is neck-deep in debt to the tune of $24.6 billion..."
Photo credit: "Tropical Storm Cindy caused flooding in Big Lake, Louisiana, in June." Gerald Herbert, AP.

Dirty Energy's Quiet War on Solar Panels. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at TheHill: "...In statehouses all over the country, there's a growing movement by industry front groups to undermine net metering and other renewable energy incentives. These front groups include the Edison Electric Institute, the utility industry’s trade association, and outfits such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Americans for Prosperity, both of which are funded by the Koch brothers. These groups scored recent victories against net metering in Indiana and Maine, and have turned the renewable energy mandate for utilities in wind-rich Kansas — known in the industry as a Renewable Portfolio Standard — into a toothless voluntary goal.
Industry groups and the politicians they effectively buy claim that distributed solar energy imposes costs on customers who don’t install solar panels, because solar users don't pay their fair share of the costs of maintaining the grid..." (File photo: Walmart).

Why Tesla is Worth More Than GM. Ask Apple; it's all about the ecosystem, not selling a specific product, but a platform. Here's an excerpt from MIT Technology Review: "...The ability to gather enormous amounts of data and analyze it efficiently is also at least part of the reason investors think Tesla is more valuable than General Motors. After a traditional car company sells a car to a customer, its relationship with that customer typically is limited (except for maintenance and servicing). Tesla, by contrast, collects terabytes of driving data—including, in some cases, video data—from its customers. That data is then put to use in improving the self-driving features of its cars. According to Adam Jonas, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, Tesla cars are now logging five million miles a day. Since making self-driving cars work depends on machine learning, which in turn requires reams of the data that AI learns from, Tesla’s advantage in data is likely to translate into a huge advantage in making safe and effective self-driving cars. Indeed, Jonas has argued that Tesla’s new mass-market Model 3 sedan could be up to 10 times safer than the average car..."

Tesla's Asymmetric War Against the Auto Industry. If you want to have a better understanding of Elon Musk's overarching strategy check out this story at The Drive: "...Musk published Part Deux of his “plan” almost exactly one year ago. It says:
  1. Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
  2. Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
  3. Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning
  4. Enable your car to make money for you when you aren't using it
Now that the sector has woken up to Musk, they are attempting to attack elements of Part Deux before catching up with the tactics behind Part One..."

Toyota and Mazda Join Forces on Electric Vehicles. Is This the End of the Road for Gas Cars? Not so fast.  As excited as I am about saving money and cleaning up the air with electric vehicles I suspect a slow fade of gasoline-powered vehicles in the years and decades to come; it won't happen overnight. But the trends are unmistakable, according to The Washington Post: "...Dudenhöffer said Tesla, the largest American manufacturer of electric vehicles, poses a formidable challenge. “To have invented the technology means you’re Apple. Everyone else catching up is Samsung,” he said. Germany’s response cannot be to “clean up a 20th-century technology,” said Greg Archer, director of clean vehicles at the Brussels-based advocacy organization, Transport & Environment. The aim instead, he said, should be to shift to “zero-emission vehicles.” “France and the U.K. are paving the way on that, and Germany along with its carmakers seem to be lagging behind,” Archer said. “The danger for Germany is that it continues producing cars that the rest of the world no longer wants. Just 5 percent of the new cars sold outside Europe are diesels...”

Photo credit: "An electric car recharges at the University of Maryland at College Park." (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Our Minds Have Been Hijacked by our Phones. Tristan Harris Wants to Rescue Them. I didn't realize my brain was bing hijacked, but I suspect Mr. Harris is onto something. Here's an excerpt from WIRED: "...Yeah. And I don’t mean to be so obtuse about it. YouTube has a hundred engineers who are trying to get the perfect next video to play automatically. And their techniques are only going to get more and more perfect over time, and we will have to resist the perfect. There’s a whole system that’s much more powerful than us, and it’s only going to get stronger. The first step is just understanding that you don’t really get to choose how you react to things..."

Money Won't Make You Happy. Here's What Will, According to Science. A story at Inc. was an eye-opener: "...If you want to increase your happiness levels, then be altruistic. Help other people. This is one of the interesting findings of research in positive psychology. Most people actually think of pleasure, not happiness. They think of the pleasure of eating an ice cream or of going to the movies. But your happiness from these activities looks very much like a square wave. You are happy during the event, but half an hour later it has very little effect on your current state of happiness. However, humans are wired for helping others. We get a nice long tail of happiness: Days later, you can close your eyes and get a warm, happy feeling as you remember helping your friend with something that mattered to him or her. Either that or you've just peed yourself..." (File photo:

TUESDAY: Sunny, spectacular. Winds: SW 5-10. High: 81

TUESDAY NIGHT: Clear and mild. Low: 62

WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, few T-storms by afternoon. Winds: SW 7-12. High: 79

THURSDAY: Wettest day: more showers and storms. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 63. High: 75

FRIDAY: Sun returns, potentially pleasant. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 59. High: 77

SATURDAY: Mild sun, stray late PM T-storm. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 60. High: 77

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, still comfortable. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 61. High: 79

MONDAY: Sunny. Too nice to work. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 60. High: 80

* Photo credit above: Steve "Lars" Larson from Apple Valley, who writes: "Paul, this is a picture I took of the “Dense Fog” on a metro lake I was fishing at 6:30AM Monday Morning. Probably should not have been fishing in those conditions, but it was a “Kodak Moment”, and the fish were in a feeding frenzy!"

Climate Stories...
Flooding in Miami is No Longer News, But It's Certainly Newsworthy. The Washington Post explains the factors that resulted in widespread flooding in the Miami area last week: "...The problem was twofold: A heavy downpour, thanks to a dissipating tropical storm, combined with the onset of high tide just after 4 p.m. But, really, the problem was threefold. Those high tides are higher than they used to be because the ocean itself is higher than it used to be. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gauge at Virginia Key, just off the Miami shoreline, had an average sea-level height from 2012 to 2016 that was about 4 inches higher than the average from two decades earlier. At Lake Worth, a bit further north on the coast, there has been a similar increase since the mid-1980s. A gauge near Naples, Fla., saw a jump of about six inches from the early 1980s to the most recent five-year period..."

Extreme Weather "Could Kill Up To 152,000 a Year" in Europe by 2100. BBC News has a summary of new research and prediction as the hot gets hotter: "Extreme weather could kill up to 152,000 people yearly in Europe by 2100 if nothing is done to curb the effects of climate change, scientists say. The number is 50 times more deaths than reported now, the study in The Lancet Planetary Health journal said. Heat waves would cause 99% of all weather-related deaths, it added, with southern Europe being worst affected. Experts said the findings were worrying but some warned the projections could be overestimated. If nothing is done to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to improve policies to reduce the impact against extreme weather events, the study by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre says:
  • Deaths caused by extreme weather could rise from 3,000 a year between 1981 and 2010 to 152,000 between 2071 and 2100..."
Photo credit: "Low levels of the Po River near Pavia in northern Italy." AFP.

We Know Vikings as Infamous Raiders - Was That Merely a Response to Climate Change? Yes, the climate has always been changing. Here's a clip from an interesting story at Ars Technica: "Beneath their still surfaces, the lakes of some Arctic islands may hide the story of the rise and fall of Viking chiefdom. Historians still aren’t sure exactly what led to the centuries of Viking raiding and expansion, a period politely known as the Scandinavian Diaspora that ran from the late eighth century to the mid-11th. Population pressures and political rivalries probably played a role, but changing climate around the North Atlantic may also have given the Scandinavians a push. So far, paleoclimate researchers have mostly focused on warmer climates in the Vikings’ destinations, like Iceland, which might have drawn people to settle there. But those who set sail may have been facing trouble with the crops back home thanks to changing temperatures. A team of researchers hope to find some answers in a new series of sediment cores from ancient lakebeds in a remote Norwegian island chain..."

Attribution. According to climate scientists the link between a warming climate and weather is strongest when it comes to temperature extremes, followed by drought intensity and rainfall rates/amounts. There is less confidence connecting the dots with severe local storms, hurricanes and wildfires. Graphic: National Academy of Sciences.

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