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An Extreme Start to July: Record Heat West, Flash Flood Risk East Coast


Good Timing
One of the nicest weeks of summer is shaping up for Minnesota, including the 4th of July. Quick, run out and buy a Lotto ticket.
After early May snows and June downpours I guess we were due for a break, statistically. Glad it’s coming this week.
The jet stream is still “stuck”, locked in a pattern that favors thunderstorms capable of localized flooding from Florida to New England through the end of the week, while the west fries through historic heat. Already: 122F. Palm Springs, 119F in Phoenix – the other night Las Vegas had a LOW of 89F.
In a deadly 1995 Chicago heat wave researchers discovered it wasn’t an afternoon heat index of 125F that caused the most problems, but nighttime lows holding in the 80s that caused most of the problems. People simply couldn’t find any relief at night; their hearts couldn’t take the prolonged stress.
A stalled upper level low out east may squirt a stray pop-up instability shower into southern Minnesota Wednesday & Thursday, but I suspect most of us won’t see any rain until Sunday, when an advancing cool front sparks a few T-storms.
4th of July: intervals of sun, 80-85F, dew point near 60. Some of the best weather in the USA?
Rainfall Thru Thursday Morning. The solution above shows the 12km NAM model accumulated rainfall between Sunday evening and Thursday mroning at 12z, some impressive 2-5″ amounts pushing onto the Florida Panhandle, over 2″ rain possible from near Atlanta and Charlotte into interior New England. Meanwhile dry weather should be the rule over the Upper Midwest and west coast of the USA. Graphic: Weather Bell.
4th of July. The ECMWF map above (WSI Corp.) is valid midday Thursday, showing numerous showers and heavy T-storms east of the Appalachians, a few spotty instability T-storms popping up from near Rochester to Des Moines and the Quad Cities, but fairly nice, sunny, seasonably warm weather is likely west of the Mississippi for this year’s 4th of July festivities, a little monsoon cloud cover and rain taking the edge off the worst heat across New Mexico and Arizona.
Record-Tying 117F at Las Vegas Sunday. There hasn’t been a hotter day since official records in Sin City were started back in 1937. More details from the Las Vegas National Weather Service.
Record Heat West – Flooding Rains East. The moisture contrasts across the USA are pretty formidable, record heat in the west making a bad wildfire risk even worse – Excessive Heat Warnings remain in effect from San Francisco and much of California and Nevada to the Phoenix area. Out east a stalled frontal system has lead to the issuance of a Flash Flood Watch from Hilton Head northward to Albany. The latest watches and warnings from NOAA are here.

Lowland Flooding. Thanks to WeatherNation TV meteorologist Todd Nelson for snapping this photo of the Crow River near Rogers, experiencing significant flooding over the weekend.

A Very Soggy June. There’s a good reason the drought is history across most of Minnesota. June rainfall was more than twice the normal amount for many towns. Here’s an excerpt from Mark Seeley at Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…Like previous months this year, June turned out to be wetter than normal for most Minnesota observers. Exceptions were some areas of northern Minnesota which received less than normal rainfall for June. For some Minnesota communities it was a very wet month indeed. Among those reporting over 9 inches for the month were Morris, Albert Lea, Wells, Caledonia, Preston, and Spring Grove. The June rainfall of 12.13 inches at Spring Grove is a new record total for the month surpassing 11.70 inches in 2000, while the 12.58 inches reported from Wells, MN is also a new June record for them…” (photo: Marlo Lundy).

Hurricane Guide: Predicting Storm Intensity Remains At Elusive Challenge For Meteorologists. Here’s an excerpt from an excellent article at “…Yet, forecasting storm intensity remains a more elusive challenge. That’s why you see so much leeway in the number of major storms predicted, Williams said. “It’s a real problem.” The factors that determine how strong a storm will be and where it will make landfall rests on shaky science. And the years between major storms offers a premature glimpse into storm outlook for the season. “Historically, every 10 years or so we’ve had a major storm,” said Jeff Garmon, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile. “Unfortunately, nature is not as predictable as that.” Weather experts look to a number of ingredients that combine to make an intense tropical storm…”

Image credit above: “Hurricane Ivan makes land fall on the Gulf Coast in 2004.” (Photo Courtesy of NASA Scientific Visualization Studio)

University of Florida Devices May Change How Storms Are Tracked. Remotely controlled weather drones to (more safely) monitor and track tornadoes and hurricanes? Seems like a logical evolutionary step to me. Here’s a clip from a very interesting article “…Kamran Mohseni, a UF engineering professor, and his team are developing miniature airplanes and small submarines with sensors that track pressure, temperature, humidity and other measurements. Sent by the dozens into the storm, Mohseni said the many small vehicles working together can obtain accurate information from many different environmental situations. Now others, including many in the military, favor large do-it-all devices that gather information from inside the storm, Mohseni said. While the idea sounds reminiscent of the 1996 movie “Twister,” it’s more complex…”

Image credit above: “The Cephelobot, a autonomous underwater vehicle, floats in a large tank while undergoing tests at the University of Florida on Tuesday June 25, 2013 in Gainesville. The submarine is a prototype that will be launched into the ocean under hurricanes and send back weather data.” Matt Stamey/ Staff photographer.

Has TV Weather Coverage Become Too Dangerous? Short answer. Yes. Here’s an excerpt from “The newest extreme sport: covering the weather for TV. In an effort to satisfy the public’s appetite for footage of blizzards, hurricanes and, most recently, the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma, reporters as well as professional and amateur chasers are heading straight into the eyes of the storms. After Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras and Carl Young, the stars of Discovery’s Storm Chasers series, died while filming the El Reno, Oklahoma, tornado on May 31, some in the industry are wondering if the competition to get the scariest shot has gone too far. Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Bettes thinks so. While following the same twister, his car was lifted off the ground and dumped 325 feet away. “This is a wake-up call about the safety of people chasing weather,” says Bettes, who suffered cuts from broken glass (his cameraman cracked a vertebrae in his neck)…”

After Storm Deaths, Search On For Perfect Warning. Can too much lead time for a tornado warning be just as dangerous as not enough? It may sound counter-intuitive, but if there’s more than 20-30 minutes warning lead time it may tempt (some) people to try to outrun a tornado, or take video of the approaching storm. Details in this clip from AP and “…Some experts, though, acknowledge there is debate about whether there can be too much advance warning of tornado strike, and if this could lead people to take foolish risks such as trying to dart across town to pick up a loved one or taking to the open road to try to outrun a violent storm.”There’s a great philosophical discussion about what constitutes the ideal lead time,” said Greg Carbin, a warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. “The more lead time the better, but the flip side of that is that accuracy and certainty in our predictions usually decrease with lead time.” Over the last five years, residents in the U.S. have been given an average lead time of 13 minutes between the issuance of a tornado warning and a confirmed tornado on the ground. That’s a 17-minute increase from the 1980s, when tornado warnings were typically issued four minutes after a funnel had been spotted, said Lans Rothfus, who is deputy chief of the warning research and development division at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman…”

Tips For Surviving A Mega-Disaster. Not something any of us want to consider – at least we don’t have to worry about tsunamis in Minnesota; one of the few natural disasters we don’t have to lose sleep over. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting article at Northeast Indiana Public Radio: “…The nation has done a good job preparing for natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, which occur frequently but usually produce limited damage and relatively few casualties, the panelists said. But government officials are just beginning to develop plans for events like a major tsunami or a large asteroid hurtling toward a populated area. The difference between a disaster and a mega-disaster is scope, the scientists say. For example, Hurricane Sandy was defined as a disaster because it caused significant flooding in New York and New Jersey last year, says Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey. But the flooding was nothing like what happened to California in the winter of 1861 and 1862, she says…” (Image: Oregon State).

Climate Stories…

Climate Change Blamed For Increasing Allergy Problems. Here’s a snippet of a story from The Courier Journal: “…A federal plant physiologist says tree pollen is emerging roughly two weeks sooner in the spring, and ragweed pollen is lingering two to four weeks longer in the fall. In fact, pollen counts are expected to more than double by 2040, according to a study presented at a meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology last fall. “The more pollution, the more global warming, we’re definitely seeing higher pollen counts,” said Dr. David Pallares of Louisville Allergy and Asthma. “Over the last decade, there has been a progressive increase in pollen counts compared with in the past….”

Scientists Predicted A Decade Ago Arctic Ice Loss Would Worsen Western Droughts. Is That Happening Already? Here’s a Joe Romm post at Think Progress: “Scientists predicted a decade ago that Arctic ice loss would bring on worse western droughts. Arctic ice loss has been much faster than the researchers — and indeed all climate modelers — expected (see “CryoSat-2 Confirms Sea Ice Volume Has Collapsed“). It just so happens that the western U.S. is in the grip of a brutal, record-breaking drought. Is this just an amazing coincidence — or were the scientists right and what would that mean for the future? I ask the authors. Here is the latest drought monitor (above right)...”

Humans: The Real Threat To Life on Earth. There’s a headline that’s bound to get attention (and not all positive). But it’s a compelling argument – one I hope the author ultimately gets wrong, Population growth is a very real concern, one that has a domino effect on all other problems. Some of the statistics in the Huffington Post article are worth the read (how much water it takes to ultimately make a burger, or a lousy cup of coffee, how much water is required to make a plastic bottle that holds…water, to name just a couple. Some of the energy statistics are even more eye-opening. Here’s an excerpt: “…We hear the term “climate” every day, so it is worth thinking about what we actually mean by it. Obviously, “climate” is not the same as weather. The climate is one of the Earth’s fundamental life support systems, one that determines whether or not we humans are able to live on this planet. It is generated by four components: the atmosphere (the air we breathe); the hydrosphere (the planet’s water); the cryosphere (the ice sheets and glaciers); the biosphere (the planet’s plants and animals). By now, our activities had started to modify every one of these components. Our emissions of CO2 modify our atmosphere. Our increasing water use had started to modify our hydrosphere. Rising atmospheric and sea-surface temperature had started to modify the cryosphere, most notably in the unexpected shrinking of the Arctic and Greenland ice sheets. Our increasing use of land, for agriculture, cities, roads, mining – as well as all the pollution we were creating – had started to modify our biosphere. Or, to put it another way: we had started to change our climate…”

Obama Asks Americans To Declare They Won’t Vote For Those Who Don’t Act On Climate Change. Here’s a clip from The Washington Post: “…If you agree with me, I’ll need you to act,” Obama says, appealing to Americans to spread the word to their family, friends and classmates. “Remind everyone who represents you, at every level of government, that there is no contradiction between a sound environment and a strong economy — and that sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote.” Obama’s remarks in his weekly radio and Internet address, released Saturday but recorded at the White House prior to the start of Obama’s weeklong trip to Africa, marks the start of a new phase for Obama’s efforts on climate change: convincing the public to sell it for him…” (Photo: AP).



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Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather

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