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Florida Flood Potential (remembering Hurricane Andrew, nearly 20 years ago)

Today’s Weather Map. The WRF model, valid 4 pm today, shows very heavy showers and T-storms capable of flash flooding along the Gulf Coast, the best chance of pond-size puddles over the Florida panhandle. Spotty showers and T-showers are possible from the Midwest into the Mid Atlantic states, more (monsoon) T-storms over the four-corners region of the southwest.

5-Day Rainfall. NOAA HPC models predict some 3-5″ rainfall amounts over the Florida panhandle, some 3″+ rains over the Oklahoma panhandle. The far west remains (very) hot and dry.

“Helene”? The GFS forecast for Sunday night (midnight) shows a possible tropical disturbance (storm?) hugging the northern coastline of Cuba. This far out this is more of a guess than a forecast, but residents of Florida and the Caribbean need to keep an eye on this.

Tropics Heating Up. NHC in Miami says there’s an 80% probability that an area of disturbed weather in the mid-Atlantic will strengthen to tropical storm status – possibly “Helene”.

The late-day pasting-on of revenue programs to pretty products makes monster hybrids, and that just makes a lot of Dr. Frankensteins sad. It’s a little galling after they’ve all made it clear just how revolting they find advertising to find them circling back around later.” – from a article below focused on the challenge of successful advertising business models in a world increasingly composed of social media streams of data.



Drought Exposes Sandbars Along Rivers, But Experts Warn Of Quicksand-Like Problems. Quicksand, along the banks of the Mississippi River? Good grief. Here’s an excerpt from The Washington Post: “A lack of rain in the United States’ midsection in recent months has reduced water levels in some of the nation’s biggest rivers, exposing sandbars that experts warn could be deadly quicksand. Rivers such as the Mississippi and Missouri are typically low in August, but this year’s drought has them at their lowest point in decades. The sandbars that are revealed look like beaches, inviting boaters, fishermen and hikers to venture out. Experts agree that can be a very bad idea.”

Photo credit above: “A plume of water at the end of the discharge pipe aboard the Dredge Potter on the Mississippi River near St. Louis, Aug. 17, 2012. The river is affected by the ruinous drought across much of the Midwest, with some stretches nearing the record low-water levels experienced in 1988.” (John Schwartz/The New York Times).


The Cost Of Cool. I’m feeling better about my busted A/C unit. It’s a fact of life: human productivity seems to suffer when air temperatures exceed 78-80 F. People tend to become easily distracted. As the planet warms more people (worldwide) are turning on air conditioners, which requires more electricitiy, more burning of fossil fuels to keep people comfortable, which releases more emissions which warm up the atmosphere even more. Another unpleasant “feedback effect” which has scientists concerned. Here’s an excerpt of an article at The New York Times (subscription may be required): “Fact 3: Scientific studies increasingly show that health and productivity rise significantly if indoor temperature is cooled in hot weather. So cooling is not just about comfort. Sum up these facts and it’s hard to escape: Today’s humans probably need air-conditioning if they want to thrive and prosper. Yet if all those new city dwellers use air-conditioning the way Americans do, life could be one stuttering series of massive blackouts, accompanied by disastrous planet-warming emissions. We can’t live with air-conditioning, but we can’t live without it.”


Threatening Sky. Here’s a photo of the strong thunderstorm that swept across Lake Superior into Ashland Wisconsin. Details from photographer and weather enthusiast Migizi Gichigumi from WeatherNation TV’s FB page: “Thunderstorm over Ashland,Wisconsin. 8/18/12. the same storm that lightning struck a sailboat on lake superior.”


A Little Close For Comfort. Details from the New Orleans office of the National Weather Service: “A fire started by a lightning strike broke out at a chemical facility in Belle Chase yesterday was caught on camera. This picture shows the importance of seeking shelter indoors when lightning is striking around you!!


Monsoon Sunset. Here’s a wild shot, caused by nearby thunderstorms whipping up dust and sand, all set against a setting sun. Details from Lisa Liu and WeatherNationMonsoon skies at sunset in Glendale, Arizona tonight. I stood a few feet behind my daughter when I was taking this picture – she was getting her own shot of the sunset. Another photographer in the making.”


“The Wedge”. No, not for the faint of heart, but it made for a spectacular photo. Thanks to Jim Grant and WeatherNation TV for sharing this one: “Nice Surf at The wedge in Newport Beach …The Wedge is a very dangerous shorebreak beach….This surfer was in no more then 2-3 feet of water…..”


The Majesty of Denali. From Denali National Park and Preserve, via Facebook: “Something about the clouds and the low-angle August light this morning brought out the rugged character of North America’s highest mountain. ~SW.

Remembering The Flood Of 2007: Repairs To City Cost $40 Million; $1.4 Million In FEMA Money Undelivered. 5 years ago Rushford, Minnesota was inundated by an historic flash flood. The Winona Daily News has a follow-up on the flood, aftermath and recovery – here’s an excerpt: “RUSHFORD, Minn. —The city aged about 50 years in a few days in August 2007. The flash flood left parts of Rushford underwater for days and damaged much of its public infrastructure. The city has spent nearly $40 million since on recovery projects. The result: Most things in Rushford are new. “They say sometimes it takes a flood to clean up a town,” said Jeff Copley, the city’s public works director.

Long road to recovery

The city has slowly made its way through a long list of repair and rehabilitation projects. Many costs were covered by FEMA or state grants or donations, but the city paid its share, too. The city spent $4.2 million, split between a loan and bonds, on a 2009 street, water, sanitary and sewer repair project.


Hurricane Andrew: Had Enough Tropical Terrors’ For A Lifetime. Here’s a flashback and follow-up to a small but devastating hurricane that hit south of Miami 20 years ago; an excerpt of a story at Cat. 5 horror named Andrew that devastated South Dade, 20 years ago Aug. 24 changed many lives. Mine was one of them. At the time we were privileged to live in the City Beautiful — Coral Gables, where I was executive director of communications for a multinational — Junior Chamber International. Coral Gables was very lucky, because it only received glancing blows from Andrew. However, South Dade was far less fortunate. While we still had power, all night we heard about the destruction and devastation everywhere along Andrew’s terrible path. No reports or even media coverage once we regained power many stifling days later could prepare anyone for the unbelievable catastrophic power of the storm to pulverize all in its way.” Image above: NASA.

Subject: Weather tip from the bear center in Ely


The bear researchers in Ely told us last week that the bears were scouting their dens for winter earlier than usual. Thought this might make an interesting feature.”

Richard Ridgeway

Thanks Richard. I stand by my winter outlook: “colder with some snow.” Beyond that it’s anyone’s guess. And I do mean guess. Scientists believe we’re heading into a mild to moderate El Nino warming of Pacific Ocean water, which correlates with milder winters for Minnesota and northern tier states. Then again, winters have been trending milder in recent years, especially since 1998. I like snow. I hope we see a lot of snow. I can live without the -20 F. readings, but 20s and heavy snow? Bring it on.

What Happens To Advertising In A World Of Streams? It’s amazing to me how many new and “revolutionary” services depend on advertising to survive. Can they all make it over the finish line? Doubtful. Here’s an excerpt of a thought-provoking article at focused on advertising in a world of (social media) streams: “It’s no secret that more and more of the content we consume is coming in the form of constantly updated real-time streams, never-ending rivers that pour through Twitter and Facebook and aggregation apps like Flipboard. It’s not a new phenomenon, but there’s no question it has been accelerating, and new offerings like Medium — the publishing platform from Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone — as well as others like Pinterest and BuzzFeed and Tumblr have helped ramp up the rate of adoption, as has the increasing shift to consuming content on mobile devices. As appealing as these kinds of services are for users, however, they still have to be paid for somehow, which raises the question: What happens to advertising in a world made of streams?


“Winterover”: A Novel. “What would you become with no sun at the coldest place on Earth”. That’s the question posed by Ashley Shelby, journalist and author of “Winterover”. She’s soliciting funds via Kickstarter for her latest project, which is very ambitious, and as a meteorologist, I am definitely curious to see what Ashley will come up with. Full disclosure: Ashley is Don Shelby’s daughter, in fact both daughters are working on this project. What will she do with the funds? “Pretty simple. I will get the work edited. I’m an editor myself, by trade, so I know that you cannot–or should not–impose your work on anyone without first putting it in front of a brilliant and, frankly, ruthless editor. And yes, this is how much it costs to hire a good editor for a book of about 400 pages (I bask in the irony of being an editor unable to afford the prices of her own services!) With any money left over, I will also build a website for the book. And then I will lean heavily on my contacts in the New York publishing world, including a handful of agents who have already expressed interest in the book, to get this thing into the hands of people who like funny novels with serious undertones set in weird locations and populated by nailheads, beakers, artists, cooks, tech geeks, power plant managers, sociologists, and other denizens of the edge of the world. Can’t guarantee a book deal, but publishing this myself will always be an option on the table.”

Sunday Highs. If you’re looking for a good source of current conditions, or statewide highs/lows/precip, check out the latest from MesoWest. The map above shows Sunday highs.



2017 A Weather Odyssey

Five years from now: your smart phone wakes you up with a weather forecast for your commute. “Leave 5 minutes early; wet roads causing slow-downs on 494”. Imagine Apple’s Siri, but this voice takes all the weather mysteries out of your day. “Rain ends by 10 am. Dry and 73 for outdoor lunch in Bloomington…80 percent chance of strong storms after 6:30 pm. Mow the lawn tomorrow. Sorry.” It’s your own personal weather assistant, and it will follow you everywhere, anticipating your needs, warning you and family members when severe weather swirls down your street.

Today meteorologists provide the big picture; a statewide overview. But the forecast often changes from town to town. My outlook: hyper-local, personalized weather in your car, boat and TV; all driven by sophisticated apps.

Stay tuned. It’s coming.

Have we had a lousy Monday this summer? I can’t remember one. Bright sun today gives way to a warmer front this week. 80F is possible by Wednesday, mid 80s by late week. A storm is possible by Friday; a chance of steadier, more widepread rain by Sunday. Cooler air returns next week – another premature puff of September.

Hey Siri, will we have a rough winter?

“No comment.”


Climate Stories:

New Arctic Sea Ice Minimum? We’re getting very, very close. Data courtesy of Cryosphere.


Troubling Trends. Here’s another perspective on the loss of arctic sea ice; data courtesy of NSIDC: NASA SMMR and SSMI.


FutureDude And Climatologist John Abraham, Part 2. Here’s an excerpt of the second part of an interview between futurist Jeff Morris and St. Thomas climate scientist John Abraham at ”

Tell me about four and five degree changes. What would we see?

Before climate change, the drought we had this year would have been a one in 300-year occurrence. And it’s now a one in 10 to 20-year occurrence. So, it’s making these things much more common. And as we go further, this drought will become the standard.

How will society react to that? It will be tough.

There are two studies that just came out in the last month that have shown very conclusively that the number of extreme weather events has increased and gotten more severe. One came out of NASA and the other came out of NCAR — the National Center for Atmospheric Research. They didn’t even include this year’s data. It’s not just that this is what climate change is like. This will be a good year in the future.”

So, if the climate changes slowly, we could be lucky and still fix things. What if it shifts rapidly?

If we pass a ‘tipping point’ — like the full release of methane in Siberia — we may not be able to regain control. We can still do something about it right now.”

Climate Change: How Toronto Is Adapting To Our Scary New Reality. The farther north you go, the more dramatic the warming has been over the last 30-40 years. Here’s an excerpt of a story from Toronto’s “…We wanted to get a better understanding of the weather patterns, in particular the extreme weather events that we are likely going to be experiencing as a result of climate change for the Toronto area through the period 2050,” says TEO director Lawson Oates. “If we generally look at, you know, there’ll be an average one degree increase Celsius, people have the sense well, that’s manageable. But if you look at an extreme event, that’s where the real concern is, both the infrastructure side and also the impacts on vulnerable populations.” When Robert Sandford considers a one degree temperature increase, he ponders the Clausius-Clapeyron relation — formulated in the mid-19th century by a German physicist and a French railway engineer. “What they calculated was that the amount of water the atmosphere can hold increases by about seven per cent per degree Celsius,” he says. “You can see what that means. You could actually model how much atmospheric moisture there will be in a warmer atmosphere.”

Photo credit above: “A washed out section Finch Ave. W., west of Keele St., is seen from a helicopter in August, 2005.” Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star.

Global Warming May Affect Existing Nuclear Power Plants. Here’s an excerpt from “At a twin-unit nuclear power plant in northeastern Illinois, the weather recently became so hot that the temperature of the cooling pond of the plant exceeded the level permitted, at 102 degrees. The permitted level was originally 98 degrees, and has been increased to 100 degrees.”

Climate Sanity And The Necessity Of Fully-Burdened Cost And Benefit Analysis. This is a bit technical, but it’s a worthy read, especially the next time you hear a skeptic, cynic (or full-blown climate denier) talk about “it’s too expensive for us to do anything about”. Here’s an excerpt from a recent post at “…To date, those industries profiting from fossil fuel dependency have been effective articulating and reinforcing the message that addressing climate change will create widespread economic costs. Study-after-study appears ‘proving’ that climate policy will result in massive unemployment and damage the economy for decades to come. Coupled with a message of uncertainty over the soundness of the science of climate change, this strategy has effectively undermined attempts to pass federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, advocates for climate policy have unwittingly reinforced this message that climate policy must be costly. In the most recent campaign to pass climate legislation in Congress, following a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the Waxman-Markey “American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act,” climate advocates gleefully announced that contended that ACES would achieve its objects ‘for the cost of a postage stamp a day’ per family. While clearly aimed at diffusing the notion that climate policy would be prohibitively costly, the message explicitly yielded the argument: climate action will “cost” Americans and the only argument is over how much.”



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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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