All Weather News

Drought Forecast To Intensify (graphic evidence of Arctic ice melt since 1984)


724 tornadoes reported, nationwide, as of September 25.

1,692 tornadoes in 2011 across the USA. Source: NOAA SPC.


This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level,” said University of Arizona scientist Jonathan Overpeck, speaking to the Associated Press recently. “The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about.” – from a post at Think Progress; details below.


“…How did denial of science become a partisan issue? One possible explanation comes from a field of psychology known as cultural cognition. The basic idea is that our personal values color our perception of everything, even science. If a scientific finding contradicts deeply held values, we tend to discount it...” – from a WGBH News report, full details and links below.


4th Warmest August, Worldwide, Since 1880. Global temperatures were 1.12 F. warmer than the 20th centery August average temperature of 60.1 F. Source: NOAA. A larger version of the map highlights above is here.

How Hot Was It? (part 3). This is the last batch of sizzling summer photos, courtesy of Gary Botzek at Yep, that pretty much sums it up. I’ve discovered that cats love A/C as much as we do, and on a blazing day a koala will accept a cool drink from a complete stranger. That had to be in Australia, right?


5-Day Rainfall. NOAA HPC is predicting 1-3″ rains from Texas into the Ohio River Valley along a stalled frontal boundary – no rain of significance from the Upper Midwest into most of the western USA.


85% of America’s Corn-Growing Regions Experiencing Drought. Here’s an excerpt of a drought summary from USDA and NOAA: “USDA’s World Agriculture Outlook Board, as of September 18, estimates that 85% of the corn grown in the U.S. is experiencing drought. Similarly, 82% of soybeans, 67% of hay, and 75% of cattle are experiencing drought. This has resulted in a reduction in corn and soybean production since July. The U.S. Drought Impact Reporter also keeps track of U.S. drought impacts.”

Texas Drought Killed 300 Million Trees Last Year. USA Today has the details here. Photo credit: “A dead tree rises out of a dried-up lake bed in San Angelo, Texas, in August 2011.” Tony Gutierrez, AP.

Scientists Seek Insights Into Drought Outlier Projects. Will we ever get better at predicting drought and major heat waves, months in advance? Here’s another very timely article from Climate Central, focused on drought. The more I look at the maps (over the span of decades) the more I see a trend toward more drought, covering more of the USA. It almost seems like we’re in a perpetual drought, punctuated by a few wet periods during the late spring and early summer months. But so much of 2012, like many recent years, has brought a dry bias. Here’s an excerpt: “Although official drought outlooks failed to provide Americans with advanced notice of one of the worst droughts to strike the U.S. since the Dust Bowl-era — a drought that is still ongoing — there were some computer models that got the forecast right. Viewed as outliers at the time by climate forecasters tasked with making seasonal forecasts, such models look downright prescient with hindsight. In the wake of the flawed forecasts, climate researchers are seeking to understand what enabled certain computer models to anticipate the drought and intense heat that affected much of the U.S. beginning in March, in order to recognize the early warning signs the next time around. Their task is a complex one, since models show varying levels of skill depending on the initial climate conditions and time of year when a forecast is made.”

Graphic credit above: “The GFDL’s experimental climate forecast for temperatures during June that was initialized on March 1. Actual June temperature anomalies are shown in the bottom left of the image.” Credit: Gabe Vecchi/GFDL.

Gravity Probe Shows Groundwater Reserves Slipping Away. has an interesting article about the new generation of NASA’s “Grace” satellites that can detect ground water supplies, worldwide. Here’s an excerpt: “Recently, drought seems to be a fact of life. As the lead photograph poignantly illustrates, most of the U.S. has been struggling with serious levels of drought for the past several years. Worldwide, drought affected areas include Europe, India and Pakistan, Russia, much of Africa, South America – the list goes on. But when the rains start again, everyone expresses great relief, not realizing that long-term depletion of groundwater reserves is part of the price for surviving drought. It was with this in mind that GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), a joint U.S. and German space project, was designed a decade ago.”


Storm Caused By Most Intense Low To Cross U.K. In 30 Years. The U.K. Met Office has details on an unusually intense storm to strike the British Isles; here’s an excerpt: “The low pressure system that has brought heavy rain, strong winds and flooding to the UK is the most intense to cross the UK for more than 30 years, with the lowest air pressure of 973mb being recorded on Tuesday morning. To find a similarly intense low pressure system that affected a wide part of the UK in September you need to go back to 1981, when pressures below 970mb were reported across central parts of the UK.” IR satellite image above:


Heavy Rain Causes Flooding Across The U.K. The BBC has more details (and video): “Homes have been evacuated and train services disrupted, as heavy downpours continue across parts of the UK. In England, the Environment Agency has issued 78 flood warnings – indicating flooding is expected – for the Midlands, the North East and North West. There is one in place for Wales. In Scotland, there are eight flood warnings, mostly for the Borders, while in Northern Ireland there is no flood warning system but the Met Office has warned of persistent rain and gales.”

Photo credit above: “Worker’s are surrounded by debris washed from a block of apartments which have had there foundations washed away by the heavy flood waters in Newburn, near Newcastle, England, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012 as communities work to rescue stranded residents from their homes, after heavy rain caused flash floods across parts of Britain. People have been evacuated from their homes and flooding has caused major disruption to transport after parts of the United Kingdom were battered with more heavy rain.” (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)


Poll: Hunter, Angler Concerns Include Global Warming. Dennis Anderson has an interesting story in The Star Tribune; here’s an excerpt: “Forty-two percent of hunters and anglers who consider themselves Republicans, and an even greater percentage who say they are ideologically conservative, agree with hunters and anglers of more independent and liberal persuasions that global warming is occurring and that the nation’s natural resources should be protected for future generations. These and other findings of a nationwide poll conducted for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) were released Tuesday in an effort to inject conservation into discussions leading up to November’s local, state and national elections. “Hunters and anglers have a strong desire to pass on this incredible (outdoor) legacy,’’ NWF supporter Theodore Roosevelt IV said in a conference call with reporters. “We want to encourage sportsmen to raise their hands and ask questions (of candidates) this fall.’’ A high percentage of hunters and anglers vote, the poll found, and while gun rights are important to them, natural resource conservation is also important…”


Super Typhoon Jelewat Headed Towards Okinawa. Dr. Jeff Masters has the latest in his Wunderblog; here’s an excerpt: “Super Typhoon Jelawat completed an eyewall replacement cycle over the past 24 hours, resulting in a slight weakening of the storm below Category 5 strength. Jelawat is now a Category 4 super typhoon with 155 mph winds. Fortunately, Jelawat is located well east of the Philippine Islands, and the storm is not expected to hit land while it is at major typhoon strength. Wind shear remains a light 5 – 10 knots over Jelawat, and the typhoon is over very warm ocean waters of 29°C that extend to great depth, so it is possible that Jelawat could regain Category 5 status later today. Satellite loops show an impressive, well-organized typhoon with a 25 mile-wide eye, and a large, symmetric area of heavy thunderstorms with cold cloud tops.”

* image above courtesy of Digital Typhoon.


Typhoon Track. Typhoon Jelawat is forecast to score a direct strike on the island of Okinawa, probably weakening to tropical storm force before brushing Japan in the days ahead. Track map above courtesy of the U.S. Navy.


Hurricane History: Fewer Storms In October. We’re past the historic peak of the hurricane cycle (September 10) but we’re not quite out of the woods just yet. Here’s a clip of a story from WDSU-TV and The Sun Herald: “We’ve passed the peak of hurricane season with 14 storms, eight hurricanes and one intense hurricane. October is fast upon us, a time we may actually see a secondary spike in tropical activity in the middle of the month. Even though cold fronts are beginning to move into the Gulf, water temperatures are still in the upper 80s in the south central Gulf, and low to mid-80s just offshore. Water temperatures just need to be 80 degrees for tropical development. Thunderstorms along those early-season cold fronts that stall in the Gulf of Mexico can linger and develop into depressions, storms or hurricanes. We also still watch waves moving off the coast of Africa, though most development this time of the year is closer to the southeastern United States, the Caribbean or in the Gulf.” Hurricane Ivan file photo courtesy of NASA.

Nearly 2 Million Displace After India Floods. Details from The Voice of America; here’s a clip: “Flooding has killed at least 18 people and displaced nearly two million others in India’s northeastern Assam state. Military and disaster relief teams have launched rescue and relief operations delivering food and medicine and moving others to higher ground. The state’s disaster management officials say hundreds of relief camps have been set up across the to assist flood victims. Sixteen of the Assam’s 27 districts have been affected by the floods, but rising levels in the Brahmaputra River threaten some of the state’s lower-lying areas.”

Photo credit above: “A flood affected woman with her child wades through a flooded road in Chandrapur village, outskirts of Gauhati, Assam state, India, Sept. 25, 2012.”

Read more here:

BMW Crowdsourcing The Future Of Urban Driving Technology. This makes sense, pulling on social media and crowdsourcing to come up with the most viable, popular solutions. explains: “One of the most established luxury auto marques is teaming up with one of the market’s latest, buzziest firms to visualize the future of design and technology. BMW is working with crowd-source guru Local Motors in a new contest designed to gain a broader perspective on the future of sustainable urban mobility.”

A Dry-Silver Lining

Were you paying attention? Fewer favorite TV shows interrupted by breathless meteorologists tracking wobbly red blobs on Doppler this summer? No tornadoes in the metro; most of the 35 twisters over western and southwestern Minnesota were small. Yes, it’s hard getting tornadoes when it’s sunny and 97.

Rabid heat pushed the main storm track into Canada; Saskatchewan saw more touchdowns than the USA during July.

So lake water levels are down, the fire risk is high, and my lawn looks like something out of the bottom of an Easter Egg basket, but at least I didn’t have to flee to my basement.

Nationwide: 724 tornadoes so far in 2012. That compares to 1,692 last year. Weather-whiplash.

I honestly can’t remember the last time we enjoyed a soaking, all-day rain – and the maps aren’t very encouraging. Northern Minnesota will see some rain next week, but the metro and surrounding ‘burbs may not see a drop of rain thru next Friday.

Remember Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate”? Well forget plastics. Two words: “irrigation equipment”.

The weather? The same. Blue sky; 70F today – 80 not out of the question Saturday, again next Tuesday.

I told you not to pack away the shorts just yet.


Climate Stories…


The Big Melt. NASA’s Earth Observatory has a comparison of Arctic ice levels from September 1984 to September 2012. This made me stop in my tracks. Arctic ice is the Northern Hemisphere’s air conditioning system – the proverbial canary in the coalmine.

Markey/Waxman Report: Carbon Pollution Creating “Cocktail of Heat and Extreme Weather”. Think Progress has the details; here’s an excerpt: “Two House Democrats have released a report that aims to connect the dots on climate change and extreme weather events. The staff report, issued by Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), outlines the past year’s record-setting temperatures, storms, droughts, water levels and wildfires, and is being circulated in an attempt to rebuild congressional momentum to address climate change. “The evidence is overwhelming — climate change is occurring and it is occurring now,” said Rep. Waxman, a Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement.”

30 Issues: Behind The Partisan Divide On Climate Change. Using established science as a litmus test for how conservative you are? Climate science as a political football? It’s all a bit surreal, as WGBH News in Boston reports; here’s an excerpt: “It’s been said so many times, it’s hard to even find an original source. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but not her own facts. When it comes to climate change, though, there seem to be two versions of the facts – the Democratic and the Republican. Democrats largely align themselves with the scientific consensus (and it is a remarkably strong consensus; at least 97% of climate scientists are in agreement) that climate change is happening and largely human-caused. In contrast, climate change denial has become a litmus test for Republican political candidates.”

As The U.S. Warms, Power Plants Face New Water Limits. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman has the story at Climate Central; here’s an excerpt: “The study, conducted by a team of U.S. and European researchers and published in Nature Climate Change in June, found that increasing water temperatures and reduced river flows during the summer months constitute the achilles heal of the power sector, making power plants vulnerable to significant disruptions in service at the very times when they are needed most. The study’s findings were based on computer modeling of how climate change will affect summer river flows and water temperatures at 61 U.S. power plants and 35 plants in Europe. Previous studies had only examined changes in river flows, overlooking the cooling water issue.” Photo: EPA.

Next Global Warming Worry: Thawing Tundra. Here’s a snippet of a story at “…And in case you thought that what happens on the tundra stays on the tundra, consider that many of the sparrows, robins and warblers that visit our backyards in winter, or pass through come fall and spring, spend their summers breeding on the tundra; so, whatever happens to them there will affect which ones and how many of them show up at your bird feeder in the future, potentially setting off a local domino effect. Since the Arctic as a whole is responding to climate change earlier and more acutely than the rest of the planet, we should think of it as an early warning system — a proverbial canary in a coalmine. Perhaps if we pay closer attention to how the tundra is changing, we can learn some practical lessons on what types of changes to expect here at lower latitudes, which would enable us to mitigate the consequences, or at least plan for how to cope with them.”

Photo credit above: Ashley Asmus. “Researcher Shannan Sweet working in the Alaskan tundra in summer. Natalie Boelman says thawing of the tundra could release vast amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.”



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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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