June 9: Heat Wave Builds in Coming Days – Tidal Flooding Increasing – British Meteorologist Saved D-Day for Allies – Mapping Fracking-Related Quakes – Military Preparing for Climate Change

Jungle-Like Heat and Humidity On The Way for Much of USA

A few weeks ago I went out on a (precarious) limb and predicted a slight cool and wet bias for the summer season. Which reminds me of my favorite proverb: Man plans – God laughs.

Models suggest frequent blips of slightly cooler, Canadian air for the northern tier states of the USA into mid-July, but a memorable heat spike is shaping up this weekend into much of next week from the Midwest to the Mid Atlantic. The combination of heat + high dew points will make it feel as hot as 105F, even 110F from Des Moines and Sioux Falls to El Paso, Texas. Torrid.

Keep in mind your vehicle quickly becomes an oven, a hyper-local greenhouse effect. An outside temperature of only 80F can translate into 99F after only 10 minutes; 109F within 20 minutes.

A coastal storm roughs of Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard with high winds and strong surf today

Get ready for a hot flash but I’m not yet convinced this is an omen of a searing summer to come, at least over the northern USA,  where models suggest a little free air conditioning within a week or two. The rest of the nation? It does look like a long and (very) hot summer.

Monday Heat Index. Heat is forecast to build across the Midwest and Ohio Valley into the Mid Atlantic and Carolinas by early next week; the combination of heat + high dew points capable of 100-105F heat indices from Texas to Sioux Falls and Des Moines, according to NOAA HPC.

Powerful Storm Brushes Cape Cod. An unusually intense storm for June will whip up strong winds and high surf capable of beach erosion for Cape Cod today; more showery rains for rain-soaked Florida. Meanwhile a heat spike takes aim at the Upper Midwest by Saturday – a significant warming trend for the eastern USA in the coming days. 84-hour NAM guidance: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.

Slight Relief Northern USA in 2 Weeks? At least that’s what the GFS model is hinting at, a series of weak cool fronts taking the edge off the heat from the Twin Cities and Chicago to Detroit and New England by late June. While the rest of America fries.

Spring Was 8th Warmest, 11th Wettest. NOAA NCEI has details on spring weather across the USA in relation to a 123 year weather record: “The spring (March–May) average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 53.5°F, 2.6°F above the 20th century average, driven in large part by warmth during the early and middle part of the season. Much-above-average spring temperatures were observed in the Rockies, Southern Plains, Midwest, and Southeast. The May average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 60.6°F, 0.4°F above average, and ranked near the middle of the 123-year period of record. Parts of the West and Southeast were warmer than average with near- to below-average temperatures in parts of the central and eastern U.S...”

Starting Hurricane Season Without Leaders of NOAA and FEMA Should “Scare the Hell Out of Everbody”. CNN.com has details: “…The two agencies that protect the country’s coast lines and its residents, NOAA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are still without leaders — positions that must be appointed by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate. “That should scare the hell out of everybody,” retired US Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré told CNN. “These positions help save lives.” Honoré knows all too well the value that leadership plays during a crisis, as he commanded Joint Task Force Katrina. He coordinated military relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré talks to his soldiers at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, on September 8, 2005. Despite concerns, FEMA and NOAA say they are prepared for the hurricane season and the aftermath of any storms that make landfall and cause damage…” (File image of Hurricane Dennis: NASA).

2016 State of U.S. High Tide Flooding. With slowly rising seas many cities no longer require a major storm for storm surge flooding as reported by NOAA NCDC: “…This month’s State of the Climate report includes an annual update of the state of coastal high tide flooding. Sometimes called nuisance or sunny day flooding, this type of flooding occurs when water levels measured at a NOAA tide gauges exceed locally established heights associated with minor impacts, such as water on low-lying streets or infiltration into storm-water systems. Such coastal flooding is increasing in frequency, depth and extent in many areas of the U.S. due to on-going increases in local relative sea level. Decades ago, coastal flooding mostly occurred during strong storms. Today, it occurs more frequently during high-tide cycles and calmer weather. Though high tide flooding today is rarely life threatening, it is a serious concern in several communities, such as Norfolk, Virginia, Charleston, South Carolina and Miami, that are not protected by flood control structures that cities like New Orleans have in place.

  1. Several cities experienced more than a month (30 days) of daily flooding in 2016: Wilmington, NC (84 days); Charleston, SC (50 days); Honolulu, HI (45 days); Annapolis, MD (42 days); Savannah, GA (38 days); Washington D.C. (33 days); and Port Isabel, TX (31 days) due to a combination of low-lying coastal topography and high sea levels during 2016…”

Rare U.S. Floods To Become the Norm If Emissions Aren’t Cut, Study Warns. Following up on the NOAA report above, here’s a clip from The Guardian: “US coastal areas are set to be deluged by far more frequent and severe flooding events if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t slashed, with rare floods becoming the norm for places such as New York City, Seattle and San Diego, new research has found. The study, undertaken by researchers from Princeton and Rutgers universities, found that along all of the US coastline, the average risk of a 100-year flood will increase 40-fold by 2050. Such floods are statistically expected to occur only once every 100 years because of their severity, although this doesn’t mean these sort of floods never happen in consecutive years. The annual chance of such a flood is around 1%…”

U.S. Coastal Cities Will Flood More Often and More Severely, Study Warns. More perspective at InsideClimate News: “…Oppenheimer says he’s most concerned about chronic, but less-extreme flooding along the East Coast, including the south shore of New York’s Long Island, the low country around Charleston, S.C., and south Florida, where tidal flooding already has become an everyday occurrence. “These areas have terrain that’s gently sloped,” Oppenheimer said. “South Florida is really in trouble. Not only are they having a lot of nuisance flooding, but they sit on limestone, which makes it extremely difficult to build coastal defenses. These places really have to get on the ball and decide what they have to protect.” But adapting for the risk takes time, political will and money...”

Map credit: Nature Climate Change.

Science Says: Weather Forecasts Improve, Under the Radar. It’s far from perfect, but the weather forecast continues to improve over time, according to new data highlighted in an Associated Press story: “Make fun of the weatherman if you want but modern forecasts have quietly, by degrees, become much better. Meteorologists are now as good with their five-day forecasts as they were with their three-day forecasts in 2005. Both government and private weather forecasting companies are approaching the point where they get tomorrow’s high temperature right nearly 80 percent of the time. It was 66 percent 11 years ago, according to ForecastWatch , a private firm that rates accuracy of weather forecasts...”

Report: National Weather Service Meteorologists “Fatigued” and “Demoralized” by Understaffing. Just in case you missed this from Angela Fritz at Capital Weather Gang: “The employees of the National Weather Service are demoralized, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office. They are understaffed and spread thin, covering shifts and positions beyond what they were hired to fill. The weather never sleeps, and apparently neither does the Weather Service. Between 2014 and 2016, the number of vacant staff meteorologist positions increased 57 percent. In the same time, management vacancies decreased by 29 percent. The mission of the Weather Service — to protect lives and property — is critical, so the employees are completing the tasks. But it comes at a cost. The GAO used some pretty gloomy language to describe the employees’ current state of mind…”

D-Day Anniversary: How the Weather Forecast Changed the Tide of War. A brief (slight) break in a raging storm was correctly predicted by the Allies, ultimately giving the D-Day invasion the green light. Hitler’s meteorologists didn’t see any break in the weather, which added to the element of surprise. AccuWeather has a good recap; here’s an excerpt: “…At the last minute, following Stagg’s advice and the other British forecasters’, Eisenhower postponed the invasion. “June 5 becomes quickly off the table because of a terrible storm that is coming in and it’s going to make any invasion basically impossible,” McManus said. “So, Ike has to postpone it a day and then he has to sift through dozens of weather reports to ultimately decide on June 6 as a kind of an opening in the system that allows weather that’s at least good enough, while nowhere near ideal.” German forecasters also predicted the hostile weather conditions; however, they did not expect the high winds or rough seas to weaken until mid-June. The German forecasters did not have the same amount of forecast information as the Allied forces. The German Navy had few remaining vessels in the Atlantic and their weather stations in Greenland had been closed down, according to MET. This would prove folly, as many Nazi commanders left their defenses…”

Photo credit: “Army troops wade ashore on “Omaha” Beach during the “D-Day” landings, June 6, 1944. They were brought to the beach by a Coast Guard manned LCVP.” (Photo/U.S. National Archives).

The Forecast for D-Day and the Weatherman Behind Ike’s Greatest Gamble. James Martin Stagg. Not exactly a household name in the USA. But he should be. A fascinating article at HuffPost explains what may be the most consequential weather forecast in history: “…When Royal Navy and Met Office forecasters predicted stormy weather for the date originally set for D-day, USSTAF meteorologists adamantly disagreed. Circumventing Stagg, they pressed their case with General Carl Spaatz, U.S. Army Air Force commander in England, who attempted to bring their views to Ike’s attention. Had Ike listened to his countrymen’s predictions and launched D-day on June 5, it would have failed with catastrophic consequences for the Western Allies and world history. Instead, he held the invasion in abeyance for 24 hours, and as rain and high wind pounded his advanced headquarters on the night of June 4, just as Stagg had predicted, he listened to his chief meteorologist report that the weather would clear, and gave the word to “go” for June 6, 1944.” (File image: army.mil).

Mapping Man-Made Fracking-Related Quake Risk Across the USA. Here’s an excerpt of a press release from Risk Management Solutions: “…A key insight of the updated RMS model is that it captures what is now understood to be the potential for larger and more correlated seismic events in California, as well as new views of risk across all the regions of the U.S. The model now includes induced seismicity, making it the first available tool on the market for analyzing property risks from man-made earthquakes across Oklahoma, Kansas, Ohio, Arkansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Alabama. This functionality will allow clients of RMS to consider risks from earthquakes linked to oil and gas extraction…”

How to Fall To Your Death and Live to Tell the Tale. It’s not the snow and ice – it’s the slipping, sliding and falling that strikes fear into people, especially older Americans. Here’s an excerpt of an eye-opening story at Mosaic: “…Falls are one of life’s great overlooked perils. We fear terror attacks, shark bites, Ebola outbreaks and other minutely remote dangers, yet over 420,000 people die worldwide each year after falling. Falls are the second leading cause of death by injury, after car accidents. In the United States, falls cause 32,000 fatalities a year (more than four times the number caused by drowning or fires combined). Nearly three times as many people die in the US after falling as are murdered by firearms. Falls are even more significant as a cause of injury. More patients go to emergency rooms in the US after falling than from any other form of mishap, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly triple the number injured by car accidents. The cost is enormous…”

Climate Stories…

Extreme Warmth Has Dominated U.S. Weather Records Since 2010. This Is Climate Change. Jason Samenow reports at Capital Weather Gang: “If it seems as if America’s record heat is in the news much more so than record cold in recent years, it is not a media conspiracy to ignore extremely cold weather. There is a simple and scientifically sound reason for it: Record warmth is happening much more often. Record-warm weather has occurred five times as frequently as record cold in U.S. cities since 2010, according to a new analysis. The imbalance represents a striking example of climate change affecting the nation’s extreme weather in a clear and tangible way…”

Map credit: “Temperature difference from normal over Lower 48, January to April 2017.” (NOAA).

A Farm Journalist Tells Farmers What They’d Rather Not Hear About Climate Change. The farmers I’ve talked to may not want to mention “climate change”, but almost to a person they describe big changes in their fields over the last generation. Here’s a clip from NPR: “…Clayton is a Midwesterner and agricultural policy editor at DTN/The Progressive Farmer. He’s also the author of The Elephant in the Cornfield: The Politics of Agriculture and Climate Change, which describes in detail how farmers and farm lobbyists have dealt — or, more often, refused to deal — with a changing climate. It has sometimes put Clayton in an awkward spot, as he acknowledged when I reached him this week in his office in Omaha, Neb. Does it make you nervous, as a reporter at a farm publication, talking about climate change? All the time. I feel like the guy who has to tell people things they don’t want to hear. But if I simply ignore the topic or ignore the issues, am I doing anybody any favors?…”

Photo credit: “Journalist Chris Clayton writes for an audience filled with climate skeptics: farmers and leaders of agricultural businesses. He’s telling them that a changing climate will disrupt their lives.” Courtesy of Chris Clayton.

Military Still Fretting Climate Change Despite Trump’s Global Actions. Federal News Radio has details: “…The Defense Department is revising its unified facilities code to adjust to climate change issues. In addition, the Navy is writing into its policies and construction code that all new buildings take into account the possibility of sea level rise, said Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics Vice. Adm. Dixon Smith during the June 6 hearing. “We are taking sea level rise into consideration in our projects. We started this a few years ago as we realized it is changing. So now whenever we design any project that’s within the 100 year flood plain we look at it and analyze ‘Do we need to make adjustments to a standard project to accommodate for [sea level rise],’ said Smith said. Dixon said the Navy’s fueling depot on Craney Island in Norfolk, Virginia was built 10 feet higher to account for climate change effects...” (File image: AP).

Climate Change is Here to Stay – So Deal With It. We’re already dealing with it – and there’s no question that adaptation has to be part of the equation. Here’s an excerpt from Axios: “Everyone who wants to keep pushing climate policies in the vacuum of Washington leadership should start thinking more about how to adapt to a warmer world instead of focusing most political will on ways to stop it. Why it matters: The chances of reversing climate change are slim regardless of U.S. involvement in the Paris agreement. Countries, companies, U.S. states and cities and non-governmental organizations pursuing policies to address climate change should refocus their high-level political efforts on ways to prepare for the impacts that are already here and those still to come…”

Graphic credit: Lazaro Gamio / Axios.

Unfriendly Climate. Kudos to climate scientists (and evangelical Christian) Katharine Hayhoe for swimming upstream and trying to frame climate volatility in a way that resonates with a more conservative audience. Here’s a clip from Texas Monthly: “…But the most revealing part of her talk centered on why Christians should care about climate change. To lead into this subject, Hayhoe flipped to a slide with a quote from John Holdren, President Obama’s science adviser: “We basically have three choices: mitigation, adaptation, or suffering. We’re going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be. The more mitigation we do, the less adaptation will be required and the less suffering there will be.” Suffering, Hayhoe said, is not a word often deployed by scientists. “As scientists we don’t know a lot about suffering, but as Christians we do. And we know that part of the reason we’re here in this world is to help people who are suffering.” And that suffering will not be meted out proportionally: if global warming continues unchecked, the poor—whether they’re in Houston’s Fifth Ward or in low-lying areas of Bangladesh—who have contributed least to carbon emissions will feel the most pain, from enduring more-intense heat waves to paying the higher food prices that will accompany failed crops…”

Photo credit: Randal Ford.