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“Flash Drought” Intensifies Over Midwest (no Atlantic hurricane by August for first time in 11 years – will it stay quiet?)

“Flash Drought”
New phrases are popping up in our weather lexicon to describe weather-on-steroids: polar amplification, a “lazy jet”, heat spikes, 3-sigma flash floods, and now, “flash droughts”.
That’s how the sudden onset of drought is being described from Minnesota to Missouri.
We went from a late planting season to heavy June rains (crops put down shallow roots) to unusual chill mid-summer, to precious little rain in August. Instant drought.
In one week Minnesota went from 10 percent to 55 percent drought. I’ve never seen that before.
Why? Great question. Data is still inconclusive, but I suspect it has something to do with rapid warming at high latitudes and record melting of Arctic ice in 2012.
Enjoy the free A/C because models are still hinting at low 90s by the end of the week; showers and T-storms helping to settle the dust late Sunday into Monday night.
August rain came in one 2 inch, two-day deluge on the 5th & 6th. Since then we’ve seen nearly a month of little or no rain, with soaking storms tracking over northern Minnesota.
Which makes one wonder: is our pattern of extra-wet late springs & extra-dry late summers a fluke – or a trend? I guess we’ll find out. Stay tuned.


Rerun Of Summer By Wednesday. 4 km. NAM data suggests a high in the mid-80s Wednesday, maybe upper 80s to near 90 from Mankato to Windom. Hotter air surges north by Friday and Saturday with a shot at 90 F. both days. Map above: Ham Weather.


60-Hour Future Radar. Here are predicted rainfall patterns looking out into Wednesday night, more instability showers and T-storms for New England, a surge of rain pushing northward up the Sierra Nevada, helping firefighters battling the Rim Fire at Yosemite. 4 km. NAM Forecast Radar courtesy of Ham Weather.
Spotty 5-Day Rainfall Amounts. NOAA HPC is predicting some 1-2″ rainfall amounts along the Gulf Coast, and from Boise to Seattle (where nearly 3″ of rain may fall). The nation’s midsection remains dry, New England drying out by midweek.


Much Of Northern Missouri Experiencing Flash Drought. The phrase is popping up more and more in recent days; here’s a clip from in Springfield, MO: “Parts of southern Missouri experienced flash flooding this past month. Now parts of northern Missouri are in a flash drought. That’s the phrase being used to describe the sudden onset of drought conditions due to a spike in hot, dry, sunny days with low humidity…”

Yosemite Fire. What Are California’s Largest Fires? The Los Angeles Times has a run-down on the biggest blazes. The Rim/Yosemite Fire is the fourth largest on record for California: “The Rim fire has burned its way into the history books, becoming the fourth-largest wildfire in California history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Crews are continuing to make progress on the two-week-old wildfire that has scorched 222,777 acres in and around Yosemite National Park. More than 5,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, which has so far cost $60 million in state and federal funds, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Trevor Augustino…”

Map credit above: “This map is based on official fire mapping sources that show rough footprints of actively burning wildfires. Perimeter updates take at least several hours to produce and may be based on satellite heat detection, which is approximate. Zooming into specific locations may produce misleading information. The Times map requires manual updates, which may be intermittent, so people in need of urgent information about road closures and evacuations are advised to keep abreast of communications from fire officials.” Sources: U.S. Forest Service, Inciweb, Geomac, Yosemite National Park. Raoul Ranoa/Los Angeles Times.

Will Quiet Hurricane Season Stay That Way? I’d be surprised, but then again I’m continually surprised, pleasantly and otherwise. Here’s some speculation and some good information from in New Orleans: “…So far this year we have had six tropical storms, but no hurricanes. Keim warns, however, that a prevailing weather system that’s been deterring formation over the central Atlantic Ocean may not stick around much longer.  He notes we’ve seen slow starts and then a barrage of activity before. “A couple of years ago at this point in the season we had six named storms and ended up with 19,” according to Keim. He says we are just now entering the “teeth” of the season…”

Spray-On Solar Cells: New, Inexpensive Nanoparticles Lower Solar Cell Manufacturing Costs. This is the kind of innovation that catches my eye – at some point many of us will consider supplementing our electricity (from the grid) with home and business-based solar panels. Costs have dropped nearly 80% since 2006. Here’s an excerpt from CleanTechnica: “Relatively inexpensive, easy-to-manufacture, nanoparticle-based solar cells can be created with materials that are abundantly common throughout the Earth’s crust, according to new work from researchers at the University of Alberta. The new nanoparticle-based solar cells — which could be mass-manufactured using simple methods, such as roll-to-roll printing or spray-coating — are possible thanks to a new type of nanoparticle designed by the researchers. The researchers think that the new design/discovery — which according to them has been several years in the making — “is an important step forward in making solar power more accessible to parts of the world that are off the traditional electricity grid or face high power costs, such as the Canadian North…”

Photo credit above: “UAlberta researcher Jillian Buriak (center) worked with post-doctoral fellows Erik Luber (right) and Hosnay Mobarok to create nanoparticles that could lead to printable or spray-on solar cells.” Image Credit: University of Alberta

Climate Stories…

Kerry Says Climate Change “Irrefutable”, “Alarming”Business Standard has the story – here’s the introduction: “US Secretary of State  said on Monday the evidence for  was beyond dispute but it was not too late for international action to prevent its worst impacts. “The science is clear. It is irrefutable and it is alarming,” Kerry told a climate conference in Majuro in the Marshall Islands in a video address from Washington. “If we continue down our current path, the impacts of climate change will only get worse.” Kerry said without strong, immediate action, the world would experience threats to critical infrastructure, regional stability, public health, economic vitality, and the long-term viability of some states…”

A Warmer World Will Mean More Pests And Pathogens For Crops. At first blush a warmer world may have a nice ring, especially in Minnesota in January, but farmers may not be so pleased over the long haul. Here’s a clip from a story at Time Science: “…Pests and pathogens are weather-dependent, and many thrive in hotter, wetter climates — which is exactly the sort of change that global warming is predicted to create over the coming decades. In a new meta-analysis published in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers from the University of Exeter and the University of Oxford looked at how plant pests and diseases will respond to a warming world, and found that their range has been steadily shifting toward both poles, as climate change warms higher latitudes. They found that crop pests have been spreading north and south a little less than 2 miles (3.2 km) a year since 1960, though there’s a lot of variety within individual species…”

Photo credit above: AydAn Mutlu.

Winding Up The Global Spring Of Planetary Catastrophe. In a nutshell, we don’t know what we don’t know. And nature rarely moves in a perfectly straight line. Tipping points? Unintended consequences that climate models can’t possibly see in advance? We’re in uncharted waters with Earth’s climate system, odds are pretty good things will pop up that we hadn’t expected. Here’s a clip from Huffington Post: “I was always taught that if you don’t know how something works, you shouldn’t mess with it. The Earth’s climate represents a wonderfully complex dynamical system that we do not fully understand. Some components are in a delicate balance. As we continue to shift that balance by disrupting our atmosphere’s cooling capacity, there is no telling what will happen…One of the most ominous aspects of global warming is the apparent “plateau” in global mean surface temperature. We know from basic physics and from observations that more energy is entering the earth’s atmosphere than is escaping to space. All that heat is being stored. We don’t know exactly where, or what effects it will have. It’s as if we are winding up a giant spring that us pushing back and giving the appearance of stability that cannot be real. There is some evidence that the gigantic spring is the Pacific Ocean. Eventually, something is going to give…”



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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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