Flash Flood Potential Shifts South/East (Perseid Meteor Shower peaks tonight – heat shifts east next week)
“…Since 2011, the United States has experienced 25 extreme weather events that each caused more than $1 billion in damages. These events contributed to the loss of more than 1,000 lives and each American family paying $400 more per year…” – from a Huffington Post Op-Ed from former governor, ambassador and U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson; details below.
Perseid Meteor Shower Promises To Be A Dandy. You’ll want to check out this free show tonight, and again Tuesday night. Skies will be clear with low humidity and excellent visibility, a sky more like late September, increasing the odds of seeing the Perseids. Here’s an excerpt of a very timely post at gizmag.com: “…A meteor shower occurs when the Earth passes through a stream of debris, usually, but not always, resulting from the passage of a periodic comet. The Perseid meteors are associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, which has an orbital period of 133 years, and which made its last passage through the inner Solar System in 1992.The rate at which bright Perseids are seen is larger when the Earth passes through this new filament of debris, leading to a double peak in the Perseid rate. This year, the first peak is expected at 1:00 p.m. UTC on August 12, and the second peak at 2:00 a.m. UTC on August 13. The first peak is well placed for western North America and the Eastern Pacific, while the second favors Europe and Africa…”
Urban Heat Island. Last night, trolling the WeatherSpark web site (which is very good with useful information and great visualizations) I plotted current temperatures (10 pm Sunday evening) and noticed a 10 F spread between suburban temperatures and the downtown core, where asphalt and concrete retains and reradiates the daytime heat of the sun. 75 at MSP International, at the same time it was 62 in New Richmond and 64 at Hutchinson.
One Persistent Front. On Sunday I wrote about the atmospheric holding pattern we’re in, how (once again) the jet stream has been locked in a pattern that favors cool weather over the northern tier of the USA (east of the Rockies). The weather has been “stuck” for nearly 3 weeks, and the boundary separating the parade of Canadian cool fronts from hot, sweaty (seasonable) air over the Deep South has sparked historic flooding from Colorado to Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee. That front gets a slight southward nudge this week, the heaviest rains forecast from Little Rock to Huntsville, Atlanta and the Carolinas, where some 5-7″ rains may fall. Map: NOAA HPC.
Hot Enough. No, we’re not talking “2012 Hot”, but next week may get your attention as a massive, overheated bubble of hot high pressure expands east across the Plains into the Midwest and Mississippi Valley. All that 90-degree-plus heat that’s been baking the Southwest will turn up the temperatures from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City, a pattern which will probably linger into early September. ECMWF forecast map above valid midday next Tuesday, August 20, courtesy of WSI.
10 Myths About Summer. Here’s an excerpt of a very interesting article at The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang: “
#10: “Soda quenches your thirst”
“After a hot day in the sun, you may feel as though nothing would refresh you more than a glass of Coke. And perhaps you would feel as though you were sufficiently rehydrated. But that sugary drink might actually cost your body more fluids. Unlike the folklore, which states that caffeine is the reason that soda is dehydrating, the refined sugars in artificially sweetened drinks actually cause your body to pull more fluid and work extraordinarily hard to metabolize them. Although this has been a controversial topic of study over the years, water is always the healthiest way to rehydrate after a long day in the sun. Some sports drinks are too high in sugar to end up being rehydrating, although isotonic (containing similar concentrations of salt and sugar as the human body) sports drinks may reduce exhaustion during an intense workout...”
To Save Water, Parched Southwest Cities Ask Homeowners To Lose Their Lawns.Better than asking, they’re PAYING them to dig up their lawns and plant things that require less water. The New York Times has more – here’s an excerpt: “…Grass front yards are banned at new developments in Las Vegas, where even the grass medians on the Strip have been replaced with synthetic turf. In Austin, Tex., lawns are allowed; watering them, however, is not — at least not before sunset. Police units cruise through middle-class neighborhoods hunting for sprinklers running in daylight and issuing $475 fines to their owners. Worried about dwindling water supplies, communities across the drought-stricken Southwest have begun waging war on a symbol of suburban living: the lush, green grass of front lawns. In hopes of enticing, or forcing, residents to abandon the scent of freshly cut grass, cities in this parched region have offered homeowners ever-increasing amounts to replace their lawns with drought-resistant plants; those who keep their grass face tough watering restrictions and fines for leaky sprinklers…”
Photo credit above: Monica Almeida/The New York Times. “Jessica Seglar and her fiancé, Dominic Nguyen, of Long Beach, Calif., decided to replace their lawn with Ceanothus, a lilac native to California, and other drought-tolerant plants. “
10 Years After Record Black-Out, U.S. Electrical Grid Faces New And Emerging Threats. All I want for Christmas is a back-up emergency generator. Here’s an excerpt from the AP and The Star Tribune: “…At the same time, aging coal and nuclear plants are shutting down in the face of higher maintenance costs, pollution restrictions and competition from cheap natural gas. Renewable generation such as wind turbines and solar panels is being installed, adding power that’s difficult to plan for and manage. Temperatures and storms are getting more extreme, according to federal data, and that increases stress on the grid by creating spikes in demand or knocking out lines or power plants. Some regulators and policymakers are increasingly worried about cyberattacks that could target systems that manage power plants or grids. “The grid that exists today wasn’t designed for what everybody wants to do with it,” says Joe Welch, CEO of ITC Holdings Corp., the largest independent transmission company in the U.S…”
Photo credit above: “In a Friday, Aug. 15, 2003 file photo, the Empire State Building towers over the skyline of a blackout-darkened New York City just before dawn. Power lines from Jersey City, N.J., are in foreground. Ten years after a blackout cascading from Ohio affected 50 million people, utilities and analysts say changes made in the aftermath make a similar outage unlikely today, though shifts in where and how power is generated raise new reliability concerns for the U.S. electric grid system.” Photo: George Widman, Associated Press.
Edward Snowden Predicts Catastrophic And “Inevitable Solar Tsunami”. During the course of the day I collect, curate and aggregate stories that I find interesting, curious or funny. I initially hesitated including this one (considering the sources, Snowden and Voice of Russia). But that little (borderline insane) voice in the back of my muddled mind won out, and here is a curious story, one I hope and pray is “alarmist hype”. To the best of my understanding the state of science doesn’t support a predict of WHEN an X-class solar flare will erupt on the sun, and whether Earth will be in the direct path of a subsequent CME, or coronal mass ejection, one capable of bringing down the grid. I don’t think this is actionable intelligence, but under the heading of full disclosure, here is an excerpt from The Voice of Russia. What, you don’t troll this site? “The documents collected by Snowden offer proof that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) learned about the existing threat 14 years ago. Ever since the world’s governments have been working secretly since, to be well prepared for what could be termed as “Solar Apocalypse”. Speaking from his room at the Sheremetyevo Airport’s hotel, Snowden said that the government has been working hard to be well prepared for September’s catastrophic solar flares, which can be fraught with fatal consequences, as scientists said – they can lead to the death of mankind. The Central Intelligence Agency learned about the existing threat as long ago as 1999, but according to the government’s decision, this information was immediately made secret...” (File image above: NASA).
A Breathing Earth. Look at this image long enough and you’ll begin to hallucinate. I found this post from UX Blog to be particularly visual, and interesting. Here’s a clip: “…Of course there are the global characteristics of climate and the nature of land to heat and cool more rapidly than water. The effects of warm currents feeding a surprisingly mild climate in the British Isles. The snowy head start of winter in high elevations like the Himalayas, Rockies, and Caucuses, that spread downward to join the later snowiness of lower elevations. The continental wave of growing grasses in African plains. But, overall, to me it looks like breathing. And my pixel is right at an interesting intersection of life and ice, where the longest night of the year feels like forever, and the longest day of the year is a like a battery strapped to my back. My winter was especially dark. And my summer has been full of blessings -but I don’t think either extreme would have been as memorable without the helpful (or painful) contrast of its opposite -all made possible by a 23.5° tilt.”
What Happens When Four Guys Try To Cross The Atlantic…In A Rowboat. Please don’t try this at home. If you’re going to do it use a canoe, better yet a kayak. Here’s a clip from an amazing story at SportsNet: “Adam Kreek has just finished a four-hour overnight shift rowing through thrashing wind and waves. The two-hour nap he’s owed is even more welcome than usual as darkness fades into morning. Kreek, 32, and three crewmates had set off Jan. 23 from Senegal on a cramped nine-metre boat that resembles a wingless, waterproof space shuttle. They’re bound for Miami, 6,770 km across the Atlantic Ocean, and a world record—it would be the first successful row from mainland Africa to the mainland U.S. It’s now April 6. They could have been home by now, but harsh weather has slowed them down. Miami is still 1,500 km away. During the shift change, Kreek and his crewmates discuss the conditions. The two-metre-high waves are rough, but not even close to the most intimidating stuff they’ve faced out here so far. And their sleek little boat loves to surf the swells—it’s basically impossible to flip when the cabin doors are sealed. If things get too violent, they’ll just put out the sea anchor, an underwater parachute that slows the boat’s descent down the face of the waves…”
Smoky Skies. Sunday’s sunset was hazy, evidence of more (Canadian) smoke drifting south of the border into Minnesota, making for Technicolor Sunsets and a milky, hazy cast to the sky.
New Study Finds High Levels Of Arsenic Near Fracking Sites. I’m not advocating not taking advantage of our plentiful shale gas supplies via fracking – but I agree with a majority of concerned citizens who believe companies have an obligation to spend the additional money to do it safely, with no adverse impacts on the environment. The jury is still out on whether hydraulic fracture poses a risk to groundwater supplies. That, and methane releases from wells that aren’t capped properly is a growing issue, nationwide. Here’s an excerpt of a post from ProPublica: “A recently published study by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington found elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in groundwater near natural gas fracking sites in Texas’ Barnett Shale. While the findings are far from conclusive, the study provides further evidence tying fracking to arsenic contamination. An internal Environmental Protection Agency PowerPoint presentation recently obtained by the Los Angeles Times warned that wells near Dimock, Pa., showed elevated levels of arsenic in the groundwater. The EPA also found arsenic in groundwater near fracking sites in Pavillion, Wyo., in 2009 — a study the agency later abandoned...”
Photo credit above: “Brian Fontenot and Kevin Schug, two of the authors of a new study that ties fracking to arsenic contamination.” (University of Texas Arlington).
Wacky Weather Changing Iowans’ Climate Change Perceptions. The Gazette has the story – here’s a clip: …”Yes, I do believe recent extreme weather, with the whiplash effect from drought to floods, has gotten people’s attention,” said Arbuckle, who bases his assessment largely on the results of the 2011 and 2013 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Polls, in which researcers questions Iowa farmers about their climate change beliefs. The annual poll conducted by Iowa State University shows that thhe percentage of farmers who believe that climate change is occurring increased from 67.7 percent in 2011 to 74.3 percent in 2013, while the percentage who believe it is not dropped from 4.5 percent in 2011 to 2.5 percent this year…” (Photo image: Environment America).
State Asks Insurers: Are You Ready For Climate Change? Here’s a clip from a story at The Star Tribune: “Minnesota has joined four other states in requiring its insurance companies to discuss how extensively they’ve prepared for climate change. About 70 companies have until Aug. 31 to respond to an eight-question survey. The questionnaire, developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), focuses on the assessment of risk associated with climate change. However, it also seeks information on whether insurance companies are working to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions, have altered their investment strategies in response to climate change, or have encouraged policyholders to reduce losses caused by “climate change-influenced events…”
Photo credit: David Fine, FEMA.
The annual poll conducted by Iowa State University, shows that the percentage of farmers who believe that climate change is occurring increased from 67.7 percent in 2011 to 74.3 percent in 2013, while the percentage who believe it is not dropped from 4.5 percent in 2011 to 2.5 percent this year.
The questionnaire, which is sent to about 2,000 Iowa farms with half of them responding, also found that the percentage of farmers who think climate change is caused by human activity increased from 10 percent in 2011 to 17.3 percent this year.
– See more at: http://thegazette.com/2013/08/10/wacky-weather-changing-iowans-climate-change-perceptions/#sthash.saS9MUva.dpuf
Hybrids Better For Climate Than Leaf, Tesla In Most States. I was surprised to see these results, courtesy of Climate Central – here’s the introduction: “An electric car is only as good for the climate as the electricity used to power it. And in states that rely heavily on fossil fuels like coal and natural gas for their electricity there are many conventional and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that are better for the climate than all-electric cars. But that is just part of the story. Another critical factor is the carbon emissions generated when a car is manufactured. Emissions from producing the battery and other electrical components create a 10,000 to 40,000-pound carbon debt for electric cars that can only be overcome after tens, or even hundreds of thousands of miles of driving and recharging from clean energy sources…”
Graphic credit above: “Electric cars are not always the best cars for the climate. In most states, the emissions from charging electric car batteries and the emissions generated while manufacturing those batteries are large enough that some high-mileage, gasoline-powered hybrid cars are more climate-friendly options thhan the most efficient electric car.”
A Growing Sense Of Urgency. Here’s a clip of a Huffington Post Op-Ed from Bill Richardson, former U.S. Energy Secretary, Governor of New Mexico and UN Ambassador: “As I prepare to take part in an event on hurricanes and extreme weather in Miami, Florida later today, it’s clear just how much climate change threatens the state’s local communities. Florida is the most vulnerable U.S. state to sea-level rise, with seasprojected to rise along the state’s coast by as much as 2 feet by 2060 — threatening valuable infrastructure, homes, and communities. Even Superstorm Sandy – which had the greatest impacts in New York and New Jersey — caused significant damages along Florida’s east coast while centered miles offshore. Rising seas contributed to Sandy’s storm surge and tidal surges, causing flooding throughout Miami-Dade County and sweeping away portions of State Road A1A in Fort Lauderdale. But as overly concerned as I am of the climate change impacts Florida faces, I’m also encouraged. Florida has something that few other states have: A bipartisan collaboration to address global warming’s disastrous impacts…”
Rebranding Climate Change As A Public Health Issue. I think there is some obvious logic to this approach. Nobody wants consistent bad news (without solutions to rectify the situation). And I’ve noticed that my audiences tend to sit up a little straighter when I pivot from statistics and science to health/safety/security impacts on their kids and future grandkids. Here’s a clip from Time Magazine: “…The politicization of climate change — the never-ending debate over whether it exists, for example, and the ensuing back-and-forth over its causes, its implications and potential solutions — further discourages the public from action. But what if climate change were instead about an increase in childhood asthma, or a surge in infectious diseases, or even an influx of heat-induced heart attacks? Would that hold more resonance for the average citizen of the world? That’s what some climate change experts are hoping, as they steer the conversation about global warming toward the public health issues it raises. Last week, the journal Science featured a special issue on climate change and included a study on the complex yet growing connection between global warming and infectious diseases…”
When Global Warming Finally Gets Going It Could Last For 200,000 Years. Not sure I accept the premise on this headline; the planet has been warming for at least 30-40 years, probably longer, but the rate of warming has increased since 2000, in spite of what you may be hearing from publications and web sites talking about a “pause” in warming. 90% or more of all warming is going into the world’s oceans, and there has been no pause in warming, especially of the deep seas, worldwide. Here’s a clip of an uplifting story at Quartz: “New evidence shows that, while we may not see severe climate change in our lifetimes, global warming could snowball into catastrophe in the distant future—and once the climate has shifted, it might not go back to normal for a very, very long time. This is from two new studies on climate change this week. The first, published by researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, paints a disturbing picture of what our oceans will look like if we don’t ease up on the emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2). Scientists looked at fossils from the so-called “greenhouse world” that existed about 50 million years ago (where the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere was more than double what it is now) and found that the conditions essentially killed ocean reefs It’s not hard to see why. At those levels of CO2, the new study shows, ocean temperatures in the tropics reached 95 °F (35 °C), with polar oceans hitting 50 °F, about the temperature of the waters around San Francisco today.…”