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Back to the 90s (first half of 2013: wettest ever for WI, IA, IL)

16 Jul 2013, 5:46 am

July Sizzle

I have a hunch Minnesota’s amazing constellation of lakes will look even better in the years ahead. You may laugh – but as temperatures warm and winters mellow (a bit) more Americans may consider a move to The Gopher State.

I often get asked what I would and would not do, with climate change in mind. Investing in desalination and battery storage technology is a no-brainer. And snowbirds might want to reconsider buying that retirement home on the ocean. Buy something 5 blocks inland… and be patient.

In today’s weather blog (below) I include a story about NASA’s Grace climate satellite. Data shows that Greenland & Antarctica are losing 300 billion tons of ice every year; water pouring into the world’s oceans. Sea level rise may accelerate beyond what models are predicting. Pardon the bad pun, but we really are in uncharted waters. 

Welcome to one of the hotter weeks of summer.

Think cool thoughts.


Even Hotter Next Week? For anyone who doubted we would have a “real summer” I present Exhibit A. Granted, it’s a forecast, not reality. And yesterday the very same model (ECMWF) was suggesting a significant cool frontal passage for next week over the Upper Midwest. The latest model run shows blast-furnace hat pushing across the Plains, possible 100+ F heat from Denver to Kansas City, Des Moines and Sioux Falls. If (and it’s a big if) this forecast verifies 100F is not out of the question by the middle of next week as far north as the Twin Cities and Madison. Forecast map above is valid next Wednesday evening,July 24, courtesy of WSI.

3rd Wettest January – June Period On Record. I was a little surprised to see the reality of the first half of 2013: the third wettest (first 6 months of a year) going back 119 years, according to NOAA NCDC. It was the wettest January thru June period on record for Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, while California saw the driest first half of the year ever recorded. All or nothing.

2013 State Of The Climate: A Tale of Meteorological Haves and Have-Nots. The term “average” gets tossed around a lot in WeatherLand. Which is a statistical term with limited utility. For example: if you have one foot in ice water, the other foot in boiling water, do you feel “average”? Probably not. Such is the tale of America’s weather during the first half of 2013, some big extremes and disparities in moisture and temperature from coast to coast. Here’s more on yesterday’s edition of Climate Matters: “While some experienced their driest January to June on record, others experienced their wettest. WeatherNation Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas looks at the extreme differences across the country so far this year. As a side note, did you know the phrase “Dog Days of Summer” has nothing to do with your pooch?

QPF. We’re in a very strange “retrograde” pattern where weather systems over much of America are drifting from east to west. One scientists I respected calculated the odds of this happening at a .3% probability event. Unusual for mid-July. Soaking rains will help to ease the fire risk over west Texas and New Mexico, an eastbound cool front over the northern tier states sparking some .5 to 1.5″ rainfall amounts from the Minnesota Arrowhead into northern Wisconsin and Michigan by Thursday and Friday. Map: NOAA HPC.

Climate Highlights: June. Here’s a summary of a NOAA State of the Climate report for June: “

  • The June average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 70.4°F, 2.0°F above the 20th century average, and ranked as the 15th warmest such month on record.

From an Alerts Broadcaster update Monday:


Here’s what we are monitoring:

* Potential for significant flash flooding into Tuesday across central Texas, including Dallas, San Angelo, Austin and San Antonio. Some 5″+ rainfall amounts are likely.

* Excessive heat blankets major Northeastern cities from Philadelphia to Boston, where the Heat Index will surge past 100F thru midweek.

* Tropics are quiet.

Flash Flood Potential. Our in-house models are printing out some excessive, 5″+ rainfall amounts for central Texas. That means a high likelihood of flash flooding, which may impact major urban areas from Dallas to San Antonio and Austin over the next 48 hours.

Flash Flood Watches Issued. NOAA has issued Flash Flood Watches for much of Texas. The Dallas – Ft. Worth metroplex is on the edge of the watch, but the flood risk for DFW is real, an even greater risk farther southwest, toward San Angelo and San Antonio.

Dog Days of July. Heat will build in the coming days over the Northeast. With highs reaching mid-90s and a dew point in the mid to upper 60s, late afternoon heat indices will range from 100F in Boston, Hartford, Providence and New York City to as high as 103F or 104F in the Philadelphia area.

Summary: We’re monitoring flood potential over Texas into midweek, and this will be one of the hotter weeks of summer for 40 million residents of the Northeast, capable of putting a minor strain on the power grid, but right now I don’t expect prolonged, excessive heat capable of threatening widespread power outages. The tropics are quiet – for now.

Most Men Stop “Leaning In” To Their Careers By Their Mid Thirties. I found this nugget surprising; here’s an excerpt from Quartz: “One big reason more moms (and dads) don’t “lean in” at the office is that they just don’t want more work. As Catherine Rampell at the New York Times has been reminding us for the past week, that’s true for the majority of workers. According to the Families and Work Institute, just 37% of working women and 44% of working men said they wanted more responsibility at the office in 2008, the last year of data (see above). Those figures got me wondering, though: When, exactly, do women and men stop trying to climb the corporate ladder? And why? Is it just about having children or is it something else?…”

Climate Stories…

The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks.”  – Wally Broecker

“…But to state the obvious, we cannot solve a problem we will not face. Gregory Bateson said, “The unit of survival is the organism and its environment.” Our survival depends on our ability to acknowledge, discuss and deal with reality. Once we face our situation, we can progress through a healing cycle that moves from awareness to action. And action, especially in collaboration with others, can be an antidote to despair…” – from an Op-Ed at Time Magazine below.

Massive Ice Sheets Melting At A Rate Of 300 Billion Tons A Year”, Climate Satellite Shows.The Independent has the story – here’s the introduction: “A satellite that measures gravity fluctuations on Earth due to changes in the massive ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica has detected a rapid acceleration in the melting of glacier ice over the past decade, which could have a dramatic impact on sea levels around the world. The sheets are losing around 300 billion tonnes of ice a year, the research indicates. However, scientists have warned that the measurements gathered since 2002 by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) flying in space are still too short-term for accurate predictions of how much ice will be lost in the coming decades, and therefore how rapidly sea levels will rise...”

We Are All Climate Change Deniers. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Time Magazine: “…Our denial is understandable. Our species is not equipped to respond to the threats posed by global warming. Humans are built to find food and shelter, reproduce, and enjoy each other. We are genetically programmed to react to threats by fleeing or fighting, and at first, our environmental crisis does not seem to allow us to do either. We’re better at dealing with problems that are concrete, close-at-hand, familiar and require skills and tools that we already possess. Our global storm is invisible, unprecedented, drawn out, and caused by all of us. We have Paleolithic arousal systems, Neolithic brains, medieval institutions and 21st century technology—not a good mix for solving our climate problems. And so we feel paralyzed and our belief that we are powerless can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a crisis that seems impossible to confront and but too scary to ignore, many people live in a state that psychologist Stanley Cohen calls “willful ignorance.” We both know and don’t know what is going on...”

4 Hiroshima Bombs Worth Of Heat Every Second. Much of that heat is going into Earth’s oceans, only 2-3% warming up the atmosphere. That “pause” in warming you hear about from various skeptics and climate-deniers? Not so much. Here’s the intro to a post at Skeptical Science: “Last weekend, I gave a talk at the Climate Action Summit on the latest climate science. During the talk, I showed the following graph of the Earth’s total heat content, demonstrating that even over the last decade when surface temperature warming has slowed somewhat, the planet continues to build up heat at a rate of 4 Hiroshima bomb detonations worth of heat every second. This data comes from a paper lead authored by Australian climate scientist John Church that tallies up the heataccumulating in the oceans, warming the land and atmosphere and melting the ice…”

Climate Change: It’s Time To Pay Attention. Here’s an excerpt of another article that caught my eye, an excerpt from Ebony: “Last year was the hottest year on record in the United States. Approximately one-third of the U.S. population experienced 100-degree temperatures for 10 or more days.  Wildfires across the country burned a record 9.3 million acres of land. In Chicago, April’s heavy flooding caused the city’s aged and overwhelmed infrastructure to back up, dumping 11 billion gallons of wastewater back into Lake Michigan, the city’s drinking water source. Between 2007 and 2011, the federal government and private insurers paid some $660 million in residential flooding and sewage back-up claims in Chicago’s Cook County, alone. Texas experienced record-setting drought between 2010 and 2011 — the driest in state history – causing a $5 billion agricultural loss, including 500 million trees. And in 2012, Superstorm Sandy turned inland, causing devastating loss of life and billions of dollars in land and property damage in New York and New Jersey. Last year alone, damage from extreme weather conditions cost Americans more than $100 billion...” (Image above: NASA).

“If These Are The Early Stages…” Here’s an excerpt of a guest post at Climate Science Watch:“…This, climate scientists warn, is just the beginning. The momentum of these changes is gathering, some vicious cycles have been triggered, and the ultimate effect of our generations-long spewing of greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere will be far greater than anything we’ve yet seen. It’s scary. What powers of this planet are we unleashing? What will life be like for our children and grandchildren? How well will living systems around us survive? Apparently not so well. For a couple of years, I’ve been worrying about all the dead wood in the forest surrounding our house. A few weeks ago I read in USA Today:

”Years of drought and high temperatures are thinning forests in the upper Great Lakes and the eastern United States, NASA satellites show. Nearly 40% of the Mid-Atlantic’s forests lost tree canopy cover, ranging from 10% to 15% between 2000 and 2010, according to a NASA study released this week.”

Climate change has stopped being hypothetical. It’s already part of our lived experience. It’s visible. It’s palpable. These early stages are rough enough. But if the climate scientists are right, we ain’t seen nothing yet. We and our kind are in for a bumpy ride…”

Global Warming In Alaska Reveals Remains Of 1952 Air Force has the story; here’s an excerpt: “A melting glacier in Alaska has exposed remains of a U.S. Air Force plane that crashed more than 60 years ago, killing 52 servicemen. The C-124 Globemaster II cargo aircraft slammed into Mount Gannett on November 22, 1952, during wintery conditions. Between bad weather and the remote location, the Air Force was unable to reach the site at the time of the accident. The wreckage was eventually buried under snow and disappeared from sight. That is until June 10, 2012, when an Alaska National Guard crew flying a training mission with a Black Hawk helicopter out of Anchorage spotted the wreckage in a receding glacier known as Colony Glacier. Officials then notified the Hawaii-based Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), which collected some of the remains…”

New Climate Web SiteClimatica is a UK site with some great information, graphics and links to climate-related stories around the world.

Global Warming Games – Playing The Man, Not The Ball. Here is a post from my friend and colleague, Dr. John Abraham at The University of St. Thomas, explaining The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, how climate scientists are banding together to fight off attacks from climate deniers with deep pockets (and rabid lawyers). The Guardian has the story; here’s an excerpt: …”Will the hostility that this environment presents dissuade our best and brightest from even entering science? I hope not, for their sake and the sake of all of us. Another concern is the cost (financial and time) that defending against the attacks requires. To this end, my friend and colleague, Professor Scott Mandia, along with Joshua Wolfe, have founded the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF). CSLDF was established to let scientists conduct research without the threat of politically motivated attacks. Not only does this group raise money to help cover legal fees, they provide training materials to both young and seasoned scientists. CSLDF is a project of the non-profit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) so donations are tax-deductible. Perhaps the best description is from Professor Mandia himself, “The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund was established to make sure that legal actions are not viewed as an attack against one scientist or institution but as attacks against the scientific endeavor as a whole. Our goal is simple: let scientists conduct research without the threat of politically motivated attacks…”

Climate Change Is Happening Too Quickly For Species To adapt. The Guardian has the story; here’s a clip: “Among the many strange mantras repeated by climate change deniers is the claim that even in an overheated, climate-altered planet, animals and plants will still survive by adapting to global warming. Corals, trees, birds, mammals and butterflies are already changing to the routine reality of global warming, it is argued. Certainly, countless species have adapted to past climate fluctuations. However, their rate of change turns out to be painfully slow, according to a study by Professor John Wiens of the University of Arizona. Using data from 540 living species, including amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, Wiens and colleagues compared their rates of evolutionwith the rates of climate change projected for the end of this century. The results, published online in the journal Ecology Letters, show that most land animals will not be able to evolve quickly enough to adapt to the dramatically warmer climate expected by 2100. Many species face extinction, as a result...”



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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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