All Weather News

Flooding Rains Gulf Coast & Pacific Northwest (longer allergy season, especially northern USA – Typhoon Usagi heading for Hong Kong)

The 10 Worst U.S. Cities For For Fall Allergies. Frosts are coming later in the fall, which is good news for many, but not for allergy sufferers. Here’s a clip from a story at Live Science: “…”The frosts are coming later, so the ragweed pollen season is later, and is lasting longer, because it is not killed off by frost,” said Dr. Richard Weber, a professor of medicine at the National Jewish Health Medical Center in Denver, Colo. and the University of Colorado, Denver, who was not involved in producing the report. “And while this does not apply to everything, we are seeing probably longer seasons across the country, and are seeing higher peaks of pollen.” ….Here are the top 10 worst cities for this year, as ranked in the report:”

1. Wichita, Kan.
2. Jackson, Miss.
3. Knoxville, Tenn.
4. Louisville, Ky.


Gulf Coast Soaking. The same slow-moving frontal boundary that sparked extensive flash flooding across Texas on Friday will stall over the Gulf Coast, spiked by the soggy, tropical remains of “Invest 95”, the disturbance that once threatened to grow into “Jerry”. The result may be some 4-7″ rains from near Houston to New Orleans to Mobile, Pensacola and Jacksonville. In addition, soaking rains are predicted for the Pacific Northwest, as much as 3-5″ of rain near Seattle. Map: NOAA.


October Outlook. Roll the dice, choose your favorite dart and give it a shot. Since we had a cool, tortured spring, maybe it makes sense (weather justice?) that autumn is extra-long and extra-warm. That’s what NOAA CPC is predicting, a warm bias for most of the USA in October. We’ll see.

Typhoon Usagi. On Friday Usagi was a Category 4 storm, with 130-160 mph winds, carving out 48 foot seas in the Luzon Straight. Usagi should weaken into a Category 2 typhoon (same thing as a hurricane) before coming ashore near Hong Kong late Sunday, Hong Kong time – still capable of extensive damage and storm surge flooding.


Underwater “Glider” Robots Aid Quest For Better Hurricane Predictions. I had no idea NOAA was doing this – using underwater drones to collect real-time ocean information to input more accurate, timely data into the models. Pretty amazing. Here’s a clip from International Business Times: “Not all storm chasers are men in large vehicles careening down tornado-filled highways. Some, in fact, are underwater robots that gulp down water and spew it out again to fuel their path through the ocean.  Such “gliders” are key to compiling better hurricane forecasts, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On Thursday, NOAA announced it is putting 15 gliders out to sea off coasts from Georgia to Nova Scotia. The gliders can operate autonomously for up to eight weeks during the Atlantic storm season in the fall. On their voyages, the gliders will make observations on ocean temperature, salinity, ocean currents and the sounds of fish and sea mammal migrations. Rutgers University researchers are managing the gliders themselves, but the data will be shared with NOAA, the U.S. Navy and others…”

* more details on this “gliders” from Rutgers. I need one of these for Pelican Lake.


From Boulder, Colorado: Notes On A Thousand-Year Flood. Here’s a snippet of a harrowing first-person experience with last week’s historic floods along Colorado’s Front Range, reported at The Atlantic: “…The damage to our neighborhood is stark. Driveway-sized dumpsters sit everywhere. One has labeled a pile “CONTAMINATED,” to discourage dumpster diving in belongings covered with fecal matter, I suppose. Generators power pumps shooting sewer water out of people’s basements through fire hoses. Down the street, a neighbor’s sewer line collapsed. The street is filled with cleanup crew trucks and porta-potties. All the family’s belongings are strewn over the yard, like a sodden eviction. Tomatoes have ripened and rolled away. The woman who owns the home sits outside, sorting through wet pictures, flicking them severely onto the ground, her expression the most extreme frown I’ve ever seen. There is no emoticon for her emotion—a mixture of anger, sadness, and disgust. I want to tell her I’m sorry, but she doesn’t look up, so I leave her alone…”

Photo credit above: “A stranded home near Golden, CO on September 12” (Rick Wilking/Reuters).


Why We Don’t Design Our Cities To Withstand 1 in 1,000 Year Floods. Here’s an excerpt of a very interesting article from Gizmodo: …”Nothing that you can build is ever going to prevent all flooding,” says Dr. Josephine Axt, the chief of planning for the Los Angeles District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages levees, dams and other urban river projects across the country. “If you get a big enough storm it doesn’t matter what dam or channel you have, it can be overcome.” The Corps of Engineers works is doing so by evaluating its projects on a cost-risk basis, says Kerry Casey, a senior hydraulic engineer. “We’re trying to find the best project we can build that absorbs the risk requirement at the best cost…”


Image credit above: Gizmodo. “Satellite imagery by NASA shows Colorado’s Front Range before and after the floods. Dark blue and black are floodwaters. (The images have ben artificially colored).”


Colorado Flooding: After The Deluge. The Atlantic has a remarkable series of photos that really bring home the magnitude of the flooding disaster; here’s an excerpt: “Following days of record-setting rainfall and historic flooding across Colorado’s Front Range, skies have cleared, and the recovery has begun. The number of people still unaccounted for has dropped to about 200, as helicopter teams are fanning out across the foothills in the largest aerial rescue operation since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Colorado authorities coping with the aftermath are now preparing possible evacuations of prairie towns in danger of being swamped as the flood crest moves downstream. Tens of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed, a problem exacerbated by the fact that only about 1 percent of Colorado homeowners have flood insurance…”

Photo credit above: “A view of a residential area destroyed by heavy rains, with some areas receiving as much as 18 inches in a 24-hour period in Boulder, Colorado, on September 14, 2013.” (U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Wallace Bonner)



Fire And Rain, Colorado Edition. The combination of a 14 year drought and recent wildfires may have made a bad situation much worse. Here’s a clip from a story at Mother Jones: “…Still, the compounded damages from the cycle of wildfire and flooding could very well be amplified on the Front Range in coming years. Climate models foretell larger regional storms, and scientists have also predicted bigger, more intense wildfires in Colorado’s future. “What is that going to mean for the people living in the mouth of these areas?” wonders Hyde. If the 100-year flood that turned Boulder inside out last week is any indication, living at the base of the Rockies—while arguably worth it—isn’t getting any less complicated.”



Photo credit above: “Flames from the High Park Fire west of Ft. Collins in June 2012.”  .




Into The Wildfire. Here’s a clip from an article examining how residents of the west are coping with increasingly large and devastating fires, and what new tools and technologies may help in the years ahead, from the New York Times Magazine: “Lassen Volcanic National Park, in Northern California, consists of more than 100,000 acres of wilderness and woodlands surrounding Lassen Peak, a volcano named for a pioneer and huckster who guided migrants through the area, that last blew its top in 1915, before anybody knew it was an active volcano. Last summer the park, like much of the West, was in the midst of a yearlong drought — which could be more accurately described as the continuation of a decade-long drought that had merely been less severe for a couple of years. A forecast of thunderstorms might seem like welcome news for a firefighter in charge of so many acres of dry forest — parts of the park can get so hot and dry during the summer that rain evaporates before it reaches the trees — but Mike Klimek, the firefighter in charge of the park on July 23, 2012, knew better…”



Atlantic Hurricane Numbers “Linked To Industrial Pollution”. Is aerosol pollution making clouds brighter, dampening hurricane formation over the Atlantic in the process? Here’s a clip from a recent press release from the UK Met Office: “The paper,  published in Nature Geoscience, suggests aerosols may have suppressed the number of Atlantic hurricanes over the 20th Century and even controlled the decade-to-decade changes in the number of hurricanes. Researchers found that aerosols make clouds brighter, causing them to reflect more energy from the sun back into space. This has an impact on ocean temperatures and tropical circulation patterns, effectively making conditions less favourable for hurricanes. This interaction between aerosols and clouds is a process that is now being included in some of the latest generation climate models…”



11 Most Annoying Things About Local TV News. Hey, it’s not My list – I LOVE local TV news! This is from a Milwaukee TV reporter, quoted at TVSpy. How many of these do you agree with? “…So grab a coffee, take a deep breath and see if you’re guilty of any of these. For the record, this TVSpy writer admits to overusing number nine.


 Here’s the list. Now get off my lawn!

Pump Patrol: Let me see if I understand this correctly — I should waste gas driving across town to save a few pennies when I buy more gas?
Traffic reports: Thanks, but if I’m watching, I’m already home.
Handoffs: Scripted back-and-forth transitions in which one studio anchor reads one sentence and another studio anchor reads the next sentence, and so on. This dramatic device gives the impression of a performance being given.
Using a newscast I’m watching to tease a story in an upcoming newscast I won’t be watching. If there’s time to promote it, there’s time to report it...”


4:44 PM. Fall officially arrives at 4:44 PM EDT Sunday as the sun’s direct rays fall on the equator.



“You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That’s what the phones are taking away. The ability to just sit there … that’s being a person.” – Louis CK (on Conan Thursday night)







Climate Stories….




After The Storms, A Different Opinion On Climate Change. When it hits close to home, or impacts your home, family and friends, people may have a slightly different perspective (and willingness to dive into the science). Here’s a clip from Live Science: “Extreme weather may lead people to think more seriously about climate change, according to new research. In the wake of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, New Jersey residents were more likely to show support for a politician running on a “green” platform, and expressed a greater belief that climate change is caused by human activity. This research, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests that traumatic weather events may have the power to shift people’s automatic attitudes — their first instincts — in favor of environmentally sustainable policies…”




Climate Skeptic Groups Launch Global Anti-Science Campaign. Details from Bloomberg: “Conservative groups at the forefront of global warming skepticism are doubling down on trying to discredit the next big report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In recent weeks, they’ve been cranking out a stream of op-eds, blogs and reports to sow doubt in the public’s mind before the report is published, with no end in sight. “The goal is to inform the public, scientific community and media that the upcoming IPCC report doesn’t have all the science to make informed judgments,” said Jim Lakely, a spokesman for the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Chicago that has been spearheading the efforts…”



Photo credit above: “Indian Nobel Peace Price laureate and Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, speaks during a press briefing about the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on June 7, 2012.” Photographer: Martial Trezzini/EPA.




Obama’s Coming Climate Crackdown. Politico has the story – here’s a clip: “…That’s if everything goes right for the administration: If the EPA rules aren’t weakened or killed in court. If Congress or a future Republican president doesn’t roll them back. And if it’s not too late to head off the worst effects of the rising seas and worsening droughts that climate scientists warn are already starting to ravage large swaths of the planet. It’s a long game that is likely to bridge multiple presidencies. Experts have said the rules may not start reducing power plants’ emissions until 2018. “We’re not going to solve this problem in three years,” said Elliot Diringer, a former environmental aide in the Clinton White House who’s now executive vice president at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. “This is a problem that is decades in the making and will continue for years to come…”



The Real Global Warming Signal. Here’s a clip from an interesting post at Tamino’s Open Mind blog: “Many different factors affect Global temperature. Fake “skeptics” like to claim that mainstream climate scientists ignore everything but greenhouse gases like CO2, when in fact it’s mainstream climate scientists who identified those other influences. Natural factors cause temperature fluctuations which make the man-made global warming signal less clear, fluctuations which are often exploited by fake skeptics to suggest that global warming has paused, or slowed down, or isn’t happening at all. A new paper by Foster & Rahmstorf accounts for some of those other factors, and by removing their influence from the temperature record makes the progress of global warming much more clear…”




America’s Dirtiest Power Plants: Their Oversize Contribution To Global Warming And What We Can Do About It. Environment Minnesota has the story – here’s the introduction: “Global warming is one of the most profound threats of our time, and we’re already starting to feel the impacts – especially when it comes to extreme weather. From Hurricane Sandy to devastating droughts and deadly heat waves, extreme weather events threaten our safety, our health and our environment, and scientists predict things will only get worse for future generations unless we cut the dangerous global warming pollution that is fueling the problem. Power plants are the largest source of global warming pollution in the United States, responsible for 41 percent of the nation’s production of carbon dioxide pollution, the leading greenhouse gas driving global warming. America’s power plants are among the most significant sources of carbon dioxide pollution in the world. The 50 most-polluting U.S. power plants emit more than 2 percent of the world’s energy – related carbon dioxide pollution – or more pollution than every nation except six worldwide…”




Fed Up With Climate Change Apathy. U.S. News has the story – here’s a clip: “…While members of Congress understandably advocated in the hearing for the energy and job welfare of their districts, what was missing was the constituent voice. It turns out that their constituents are raring to do something on global warming.  A report released last month on how the American public is thinking and talking about climate change – based on polling done earlier in 2013 by the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication and the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication – may startle some members. The most telling trend: there’s a growing segment of the American public who is ready and willing to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against the entities – private or public – that are making global warming worse. But in more general terms, regarding what’s influencing American minds and how they’re being influenced, here are some new and interesting findings…”




Could Fracking Technology Eventually Pump Greenhouse Gases Deep Underground? The idea may not be as crazy as it sounds. The arc of technology moves quickly – who would have thought just 15 years ago that people could drill for shale oil horizontally miles underground? Here’s an excerpt of an abstract from Environmental Science and Technology: “Hydraulically fractured shale formations are being developed widely for oil and gas production. They could also represent an attractive repository for permanent geologic carbon sequestration. Shales have a low permeability but they can adsorb an appreciable amount of CO2 on fracture surfaces. Here, a computational method is proposed for estimating the CO2 sequestration capacity of a fractured shale formation and it is applied to the Marcellus shale in the Eastern United States…”




Flooding And Fracking In Colorado: Double Disaster. Historic flooding + fracking is a potentially bad combination, as many residents of Colorado discovered last week. Here’s a clip from a story at Rolling Stone: “…Thanks to a recent boom in natural gas production atop the Wattenberg Field, Colorado is home to some 50,000 oil and gas wells. It’s not yet known just how many were impacted by the flooding, but early reports suggest a significant number. “We have thousands of wells impacted with anything from standing water to flowing water,” a spokeswoman for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association told CBS News. Industry spokespeople and state regulators say it’s too soon to know the impact, including whether or how much the flooding introduced hydrocarbons and chemicals into surface water. Some have said that many wells were safely closed before the flooding and that activists are overstating the danger of contamination…”

Photo credit above: “In this Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013 photo, flood waters recede from an oil and gas well pump site near Greeley, Colo. Colorado’s floods shut down hundreds of natural gas and oil wells, spilled oil from one tank and sent inspectors into the field looking for more pollution. Besides the environmental impact, flood damage to roads, railroads and other infrastructure will affect the region’s energy production for months to come.  Analysts warn that images of flooded wellheads will increase public pressure to impose restrictions on drilling techniques such as fracking.” (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)


* “These 5 Things Need To Happen Before Electric Cars Really Go Mainstream“. The Washington Post has the story.




The Many Small Ways Americans Are Adapting To Climate Change. This will be a growing theme in the years to come, not only trying to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but adapting to changes already in the pipeline. Details on how some communities are already adapting in this excerpt from The Atlantic: “…In March of this year, a Gallup poll highlighted an interesting tension in American thinking on global warming: While a majority of respondents said they believe global warming has already begun, a majority also said they don’t expect to suffer any hardships from global warming within their lifetimes. What the survey didn’t ask was how many people across the country are already reacting to rising temperatures—and preparing for those ahead. This past summer, twenty-somethings Allie Goldstein and Kirsten Howard took a road trip to document stories of what they call “climate resilience” – examples of individuals and communities finding creative ways to adapt to hotter summers, stronger storms, bigger wildfires, rising sea levels, and more. They visited 31 states and offset their minivan’s carbon emissions by purchasing carbon credits from Terrapass….”

Photo credit courtesy of Allie Goldstein and Kirsten Howard.


You Genuinely Have To Be An Idiot To Think That Arctic Sea Ice Is Recovering. Subtle as a brick. And talk of a “recovery” of Arctic sea ice is a bit premature, it seems. Here’s a clip from a story at The Telegraph: “There are serious debates to be had about climate change, and what we should do about it. Whether or not the Arctic ice is retreating is not one of them. This is going to be a brief post, because other people – notably Phil Plait, the “Bad Astronomy” science blogger, and Martin Robbins, at Vice – have written about it at length, pointing out the fundamental nonsense of the “sea ice is recovering” brigade, and doing it better than I can. I just thought it was worth making it clear here, as well….The bit in red is the “recovery” of this year. If you think that means that things are getting better, you genuinely must be an idiot. It’s not. The overwhelming long-term trend is still towards much less ice…”



Four Facts: Arctic Sea Ice Extent In 2013. Matt Daniel has some good information in this post at; here’s the introduction: “Arctic sea ice tends to reach a minimum in mid-September each year, and, over the past several weeks, there have been a few articles circulating via social media about the extent of Arctic sea ice in 2013. These articles note something that is true: there is substantially more ice in the Arctic this year than observed at sea ice minimum last year. The articles, however, draw a mistaken conclusion that 2013′s greater sea ice extent (in contrast to 2012) means our climate is warming no more. In this post, I’ll analyze the melting that is occurring in the Arctic in 2013. As you probably know, when it comes to analyzing climate features, you have to look over a series of decades instead of one year to understand out the true state of Arctic sea ice extent in 2013. Click the links below to learn more about Arctic sea ice in the summer, and about 2013′s ice extent.”



Graphic credit: Climate Central.




No, Arctic Sea Ice Has Not Recovered, Scientists Say. Aerial coverage of ice has “recovered” from last September’s record low, but the volume and thickness continues to be in decline. Here’s a clip from an article at Climate Central that puts things into stark perspective: “…According to data from September 18, Arctic sea ice extent was about 1.97 million square miles, which is well above the level observed on the same date last year, yet still well below the 1981-2010 average, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colo. An official announcement of the sea ice minimum is expected to come from the NSIDC within the next few days. The long-term decline in sea ice, both in terms of the extent of sea ice cover as well as its thickness, is largely due to warming caused by human activities and natural variability, as the Arctic is warming at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the globe. As has been the case in recent years, the sea ice at the end of the 2013 melt season is unusually thin, which makes it more susceptible to the influence of weather systems…”



Image credit above: Climate Central. “Arctic sea ice loss during the 2013 melt season was equivalent to losing the entire area of states from Tennessee to Maine.”




Colorado Floods And Climate Change: The Elephant In The Room. Here’s an excerpt from a story at Huffington Post: “There have been many words to describe the flooding in Colorado over the past week: horrific, catastrophic, unprecedented and biblical are some. To illustrate the scale of the disaster, some numbers:


 Over 18″ of rain have fallen in the Boulder area since last Wednesday.
7-11″ of rain fell during a single 24-hour period.
• From north to south, 200 miles of Colorado were hit.
17 counties were affected.
30 bridges were destroyed.
Over 1500 homes were destroyed and 18,000 damaged.
Over 11,000 people were evacuated.
Over 600 people still missing and
• 8 people confirmed dead.

The flooding has been classified as a 1000-year event, meaning there was only a tenth of 1 percent probability (0.1 percent) that it would happen in a given year. When an event this unusual and extreme happens these days, one of the first questions people ask is: “Was it because of climate change?

Photo credit above: “This photo shows flood-damage at the River Bend Mobile Home Park in Lyons, Colo., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. The recovery process has begun along the front range as people clean out flooded homes and businesses. Local governments are starting to clear debris and repair infrastructure.” (AP Photo/Chris Schneider).

Administration Presses Ahead With Limits On Emissions From Power Plants. Here’s a clip from a story at The New York Times: “A year after a plan by President Obama to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants set off angry opposition, the administration will announce on Friday that it is not backing down from a confrontation with the coal industry and will press ahead with enacting the first federal carbon limits on the nation’s power companies. The proposed regulations, to be announced at the National Press Club by Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, are an aggressive move by Mr. Obama to bypass Congress on climate change with executive actions he promised in his inaugural address this year…”
Photo credit above: Matt Brown/Associated Press. “President Obama has told officials that he wants limits on all plants, like one in Colstrip, Mont., by the time he leaves office.”

What’s The Climate Change Context Behind The Colorado Floods? Here’s an excerpt of a good explainer from E&E Publishing: “…According to both Hoerling and meteorologists with the National Weather Service, the conditions that led to this widespread, long-lasting rainfall stemmed from a moist tropical air mass from the Gulf of Mexico that was displaced into the region by air coming from the south. When the air hits the mountains, it is moved upward rapidly and cools, causing precipitation. An upper-level high-pressure system in the area to the west pinned this weather in for about a week, so the rain kept falling. What role does climate change play in any of this? Hoerling said in this storm, the amount of precipitable water measured in the atmosphere was record-high. Global warming is known to increase the amount of moisture in the atmosphere, although the effect is not large — perhaps a 3 to 5 percent increase in the precipitable water would be a “reasonable estimate,” he said. But what really caused the rain to fall the way it did, for the amount of time it did, was the unusual atmospheric circulation…”

Photo credit above: “This Sept. 17, 2013 photo provided by Ecoflight shows the result of flash floods that inundated parts of the booming oil and natural gas patch in northern Colorado’s Weld County. Hundreds of natural gas and oil wells along with pipelines are shut down by flooding in this key energy region in Colorado, as state and federal inspectors are just beginning to gauge the damage and looking for contamination from inundated oil fields.” (AP Photo/Ecoflight, Jane Pargiter)




Climate Change Spells Trouble For Anglers. Here’s a clip from an article at National Geographic: “…A new report, published September 4 by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF)—one of the country’s largest environmental groups—backs up the anecdotal evidence and explains the variety of threats that climate change poses. Besides the closures themselves—which are typically the result of droughts and earlier than normal melt of alpine snowpack—many rivers are simply getting warmer. According to the NWF report, half of the major American rivers surveyed in a 2010 study experienced “significant warming trends over the past 50 to 100 years.” Fish are sensitive to temperature, explained Jack Williams, a senior scientist with the conservation group Trout Unlimited and a co-author of the NWF report, who describes a massive geographical shift in fish species already underway. “Already, native trout have been pushed around,” Williams wrote in an email…”



Photo credit above: “An fisherman in Montana enjoying the river.” Photograph by Jeff Hornbaker, Corbis.




Is Global Warming In A Hiatus? Here’s a snippet from a long but interesting article from The Conversation: “On September 27 2013 the 5th Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be released. One part of this report will address the so-called “warming hiatus”. This is the argument that warming has stopped, with the further assertion in some quarters that we therefore have nothing to worry about in the future. It is a fact, based on observations of air temperature, that the rate of global warming measured as surface air temperature has slowed over the past 15 years. The last decade is still the warmest in the past 150 years….”



Photo credit above: “With low solar activity, a double-dip La Nina and more particles in the air, it should be much colder than it is.” Les Chatfield/Flickr.



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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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