Half A Summer (east of the Mississippi – potential for “Fernand” impacting Texas early next week)
Gulf Coast Soakers. A stalled front may squeeze out some 3-5″ rains from near New Orleans and Mobile to Tallahasee, Florida over the next 5 days. Much of America stays dry, a few spotty instability T-storms over the Southwest, a cool rain and drizzle pushing into the Mid Atlantic region by Sunday.
Cooler Than Normal Temperature Pattern Continues. Wave goodbye to the cool & comfortable weather we’ve been enjoying for nearly 4 weeks – a significant shift in the pattern is coming. Here’s a good recap of the “brisk” conditions from Mark Seeley in this week’s edition of WeatherTalk: “Over the past three weeks cooler than normal temperatures have dominated our region quite consistently. In fact International Falls, MN has reported 28 consecutive days with cooler than normal temperature readings. Some overnight lows have dipped to record setting values. On August 10th International Falls tied their record low of 38 degrees F. Then on Wednesday, August 14th several northern Minnesota communities reported record low values, including Ely (36 F), Orr (35 F), Crane Lake (34 F) Kabetogama (37 F), Grand Marais (32 F), Silver Bay (32 F) Brimson (30 F tied 2004), and International Falls again (35 F tied 1997). On Thursday (August 15) some additional low temperature records were set at Embarrass (32 F), Kabetogama (38 F), and Orr (35 F). Further, on Friday morning there were a few more reports of lows in the 30s F including Crane Lake and Orr (39 F) and Embarrass (36 F)…”
Weather Vs. Climate: Keeping The Big (Global) Picture. With cooler than average temperatures the last 3-4 weeks over the northern tier of the USA it’s tempting to dismiss climate change and global warming, but this misses the distinction between weather and climate. A Canadian breeze has been blowing from Minneapolis to Chicago, D.C. and Boston since late July, but stepping back and looking at the larger picture the trends are undeniable. Here is today’s edition of Climate Matters: “Last summer, much of the U.S. was baking in sweltering heat. This year, a different story for the Eastern Half of the U.S. The dog days of summer are missing in action. Wait until you see the comparison of 90 degree days this year compared to last year and compared to average. What kind of summer weather do you prefer? Do you like it hot, or are you happy when it’s cooler than average?”
Fall Outlook: Slightly Warmer – Slightly Wetter. Here is NOAA CPC’s extended outlook (guess-cast!) for the period September into November, showing a slight bias toward milder and wetter for portions of Minnesota; a better chance of a wet autumn from the Plains into the Great Lakes. Place your bets.
U.S. Drought Monitor. There are pockets of abnormally dry soil in Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin, even moderate drought creeping back into Iowa and Nebraska – the worst drought conditions over the western Plains into New Mexico and Nevada.
Percentage Of Corn Belt Experiencing Drought. At least report the USDA reported 24% of the corn-growing region of the USA experiencing drought conditions as of August 13.
Why U.S. Power Companies Don’t Want You Putting A Solar Panel On Your Roof. Quartz.com (great site) has the story; here’s the intro: “The short answer: It will destroy their business model forever. In the US, electrical utilities are in a charged battle—complete with negative political ads—against solar panel distributors over rules that both sides say could put them out of business. Consumers are caught in the middle. A relatively new swathe of companies like Verengo, Sunrun, Sungevity and SolarCity have spent millions leasing solar equipment to homeowners and businesses. The cost of the lease is offset by savings on their electrical bill. Those savings come not just because of free power from the sun, but also through tax credits—and, most importantly today, because states allow those who have solar panels to sell any excess power back to the grid. The more than 200,000 “distributed solar generators” in the US produce less than 1% of the country’s electricity. But that’s growing thanks to the falling cost of photovoltaics and financing from investors like Google. And this worries the big power companies, particularly country’s two largest, Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison…”
Is The National Weather Service Issuing Too Many Thunderstorm Warnings? In fairness, I think this problem, or perceived problem, varies wildly from one NWS office to the next. I haven’t heard this complaint (much) here in Minnesota, but in other parts of the USA the perception is different, from local media and consumers. Here’s a clip from a post by meteorologist Jason Samenow at The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang: “…A concern is that the NWS may be lulling the public towards warning fatigue by issuing warnings for these kinds of storms – which are common in the area during summer. If warnings are issued repeatedly for storms that are merely heavy, but not severe, it’s reasonable to worry the public may start ignoring these warnings. Then, they may not appreciate the relatively rare circumstance when storms are actually producing widespread hazardous conditions and take the needed action…”
Proposed Change To Winter Storm Warnings And Advisories. Everyone (including me) fixates on “how many inches”, when snowfall rates and time of day can be huge factors in determining how bad travel conditions will be. Some changes and modifications are coming. Here’s a YouTube clip from the Central Office of the National Weather Service in Chicago: “Here is a short description of the proposed changes the NWS Chicago is considering making to winter storm warning and winter weather advisory criteria this winter.”
The Hybrid Future Of Journalism. Here’s a clip from an interesting Op-Ed by Arianna Huffington at The Huffington Post: “…This combining of the best of traditional media with the boundless potential of digital media represents an amazing opportunity. First, it’s an opportunity to further move the conversation away from the future of newspapers to the future of journalism — in whatever form it’s delivered. After all, despite all the dire news about the state of the newspaper industry, we are in something of a golden age of journalism for news consumers. There’s no shortage of great journalism being done, and there’s no shortage of people hungering for it. And there are many different business models being tried to connect the former with the latter — and Jeff Bezos will no doubt come up with another. The future will definitely be a hybrid one, combining the best practices of traditional journalism — fairness, accuracy, storytelling, deep investigations — with the best tools available to the digital world — speed, transparency, and, above all, engagement...” (Photo: University of Windsor).
How To Choose Your Best Place To Retire. I thought this article from PBS’s Next Avenue brought up some good points, things I hadn’t considered. Yes, retirement almost rolls off the tongue these days. Here’s a clip: “…The problem with these lists is that they’re typically based on broad geographic statistics, such as home prices, cost of living, state and local taxes, the availability of medical care, public transportation, and weather and crime rates. While the data might measure factors that are important to consider when choosing a place to retire, other criteria that can’t be quantified may well be more important to you. The best way to decide where you should retire is to find the place that best meets your needs and circumstances, however you define them. To do that, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want to be near friends and family?
- Will you be taking care of aging parents? If yes, will you need to be close by?
- Do you have hobbies or interests that play into where you’d want to live?
Photo credit: Thinkstock.
10 Places You’re Not Allowed To See On Google Maps. I found this vaguely interesting, courtesy of mashable.com: “Want an up close view of the Eiffel Tower but can’t make it to Paris anytime soon? Google Maps is optimal for virtual sightseeing. But not every landmark is visible on the site — some images are blurred and distorted by countries for security reasons. This means that if you want to see towns or streets in North Korea, you can’t. Also blurred is the Royal Palace in the Netherlands and even a power plant on Cornell University’s campus in Ithaca, New York. “The satellite and aerial imagery in Google Earth and Google Maps is sourced from a wide range of both commercial and public sources,” Google spokesperson Deanna Yick tells Mashable. “These third-party providers are required to follow the law of the countries in which they operate, so some of them may blur images and then supply us with those images…”
Image credit above: “The Royal Palace of Amsterdam in the Netherlands — called Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam — joins a long list of places blurred on Google Maps related to the Dutch royal family, including the Royal Stables and another residence called Huis ten Bosch.”
How Your Birth Order Can Influence Who You Are. Here’s an excerpt of a fascinating story at io9.com: “As many parents can attest, siblings tend to be more different than alike. Some of this may be the result of our birth order, and how we’re subsequently raised. What’s more, birth order may influence our health and sexuality too. Here’s what you need to know about how your birth rank affects your life. Birth order is an incredibly difficult area to study, and as such, is considered highly controversial. There are so many factors to consider outside of a person’s familial rank by age, including the spacing in years between children, the total number of children in a family, socioeconomic status, the sex of siblings, and environmental circumstances during upbringing. It’s not easy to isolate traits that are dependent on birth order…”
Where To Find Free Wi-Fi At U.S. And International Airports. Here’s some useful information for business and leisure travelers courtesy of Mashable: “For frequent fliers, nothing is more blissful than an airport with free Wi-Fi. But not every stopover location is so generous. Airfarewatchdog assembled two handy charts that detail everything you need to know about wireless connections at major airports in the United States and worldwide, from airports with free Wi-Fi to those with the most expensive Wi-Fi and usage limitations…”
As Northeast Asia Bakes, Climate Scientists Predict More Extreme Heat Waves On The Horizon. We’re seeing more of these sudden (and prolonged) heat spikes, 2 to 4 standard deviation extremes, as explained by Time Magazine; here’s a clip: “Northeast Asia is on fire. Yesterday temperatures in Shanghai hit an all-time high of 105.4ºF (40.8ºC), the hottest day in the coastal megacity since Chinese officials began keeping records some 140 years ago — during the Qing dynasty. On Aug. 12 the heat reached 105.8ºF (41ºC) in the southern Japanese city of Shimanto, the hottest temperature ever recorded in the country. Hundreds of people throughout South Korea have been hospitalized because of heatstroke, even as the government was forced to cut off air-conditioning in public buildings because of fears of a power shortage. As heat waves go, it’s a tsunami, similar to the brutally hot weather that singed Europe 10 years ago, which contributed to the deaths of over 30,000 people. It’s also a glimpse of a blazingly hot future…”
Photo credit above: “Men take a rest by an exhaust outlet of a building during a hot summer day in Beijing, China Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Heat wave hit several cities, mostly in the south and east of China as temperature went up above 40 degrees C (104 F) in some parts.” (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Climate Change Is Scary, But I’m Not Scared. No, the situation is far from hopeless, as the author of this Op-Ed at Living Green Magazine points out – here’s an excerpt: “…So, why am I not scared? Why did I decide to have a baby in the face of this knowledge? Because there are hopeful trends. Technology can be implemented very quickly, and views can change equally quickly. The impossible can quickly become inevitable. A recent poll showed that young people think that climate change deniers are “ignorant” “out of touch” and “crazy”. They also don’t care much for cars, and prefer modes of transportation that allow them to text at the same time. They think electric cars and solar panels are cool. And it’s not just our kids’ attitudes that give me hope. The technological solutions are here. The price of solar panels has come down 80% since 2008. Imagine if a shirt at the Gap was marked as 75% off—a few more shirts would sell, and indeed, as you’d expect, solar panels are flying off the racks…”
Climate Policy’s Twin Challenges. Here’s a portion of a story posted at The Los Angeles Times: “Climate change presents two distinct problems. The first is linear: A little more warming causes a little more damage. The second is nonlinear: A little more warming pushes some part of the climate system past a tipping point and the damage becomes catastrophic. We need smart climate policies that address both problems, so we can slow incremental damage while also taking out an insurance policy against the growing risk of catastrophic damage. The Arctic is a prime example of a potential tipping point. It is already warming at twice the global rate, with Arctic sea ice disappearing faster than previously predicted. Some scientists calculate that it could disappear for all practical purposes later this decade…”
Solar Panels Return To White House. The Hill has an update; here’s the introduction: “The White House is making good on a late 2010 pledge to put up solar panels. “The White House has begun installing American-made solar panels on the first family’s residence as a part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building,” a White House official said. The installation drew cheers from an environmental group that in 2010 called for panels to return to the White House after the Reagan administration removed a Carter-era solar panel installation…”
File photo above: “Pres. Jimmy Carter speaks against a backdrop of solar panels at the White House, Wednesday, June 21, 1979, Washington, D.C. The panels catch the suns rays and warm water used in parts of the Executive mansion.” (AP Photo/Harvey Georges)
Would Things Be Different If The Public Had Perfect Information On Climate Science And Solutions? Here’s a portion of a Joe Romm post at Think Progress: “Last week, I wrote about the important Dunlap-McRight paper that found organized climate change denial “Played a Crucial Role in Blocking Domestic Legislation.” Although this is a pretty obvious conclusion to objective observers, the false-equivalence bunch, led by blogger Andy Revkin, couldn’t bring themselves to report on it without giving the professional disinformers equal time. John Rennie, the former editor in chief of Scientific American, slammed Revkin’s piece in a must-read post, “Revkin’s False Equivalence on Climate Message Machines.” Rennie was particularly critical of Revkin’s equating the climate denial machine with a laughable “climate alarmism machine” (whipped up by an Australian disinformer), which equates those who spread outright anti-scientific disinformation (often funded by fossil-fuel interests) with the serious work of climate scientists and governments (and others) who make use of that genuine, scientific work…”
Brave New World: Americans Are Learning To Live With Climate Change. Because when you get right down to it – we won’t have much choice. The forecast calls for adaptation. Here’s an excerpt from Grist: “The Great American Road Trip — it’s a rite of passage, a national pastime, and increasingly, a tool for spreading the word about looming climate catastrophe. Each summer, a motley parade of veggie buses, vintage motorcycles, and bicycles circulates around the country, its participants out to preach the gospel of green living, and perhaps learn a thing or two in the process. Two of these eco-minded road trippers, Kirsten Howard and Allie Goldstein, recently dropped by the Grist offices in Seattle to tell us about their adventures aboard a 2000 Toyota Sienna minivan. The duo, who recently graduated from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, called their adventure the Great American Adaptation Road Trip…”
How “Skeptics” View Arctic Sea Ice Decline. Here’s an excerpt from Skeptical Science: “September Arctic sea ice extent data since 1980 from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (blue diamonds). “Recovery” years, meaning years when the sea ice extent is greater than the previous year, are highlighted in red to mock the repeated cynical claims of climate change “skeptics” that global warming has somehow stopped. Many factors affect the annual summer decrease in Arctic sea ice extent, and it is illogical at best to claim any “trend” by cherry-picking only brief periods of data. The obvious true long-term trend in Arctic sea ice extent (red second-order polynomial curve fit) is that it is declining at an accelerating rate…”
2012 State Of The Climate: Glaciers. Here’s the introduction to a story at NOAA’s Climate.gov focused on glacier retreat around the world: “Around the globe, some 370 million people live in basins where rivers derive at least 10 percent of their seasonal discharge from glacier melt. Glacier melt provides drinking water for human populations, and irrigation water for crops. The damming of glacial melt water even generates hydroelectric power. The retreat of the majority of mountain glaciers worldwide is one of the clearest signs of long-term climate change….Between 1980 and 2011, glaciers around the world lost the water equivalent of 15.7 meters. That would be like slicing a roughly 17-meter-thick slab off the top of the average glacier and repeating that exercise worldwide.”
Photo credit above: “.
Extreme Heatwaves To Quadruple By 2040, Study Says. Here’s more from NBC News: “The type of heat waves that wilt crops, torch forests — and kill people — are expected to become more frequent and severe over the next 30 years regardless of whether humans curb emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, according to a new study. These are heat waves akin to those that baked many regions of the U.S. in 2012 and devastated crops in Russia in 2010. Such bouts of extreme heat are so-called “three-sigma events,” meaning they are three times warmer than the normal climate of a specific region for weeks in a row. Since the 1950s, the frequency of these events has “strongly increased and right now they cover about 5 percent of the global land area,” Dim Coumou, a climate scientist with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, told NBC News…” (Photo: Reuters).
Can Extreme Weather Make Climate Change Worse? Normally the argument is the other way around – a warmer atmosphere creates conditions more favorable for extreme weather events, but what if the opposite is true as well? Here’s a portion of a story at Climate Central: “Devastating drought in the Southwest, unprecedented wildfire activity, scorching heat waves and other extreme weather are often cited as signs of a changing climate. But what if those extreme weather events themselves cause more extreme weather events, fueling climate change? That’s one of the possibilities raised by a study released Wednesday that was conducted by a team of scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany. The researchers have shown that extreme weather events may reduce an ecosystem’s capability to absorb carbon and create a damaging cycle in which extreme weather fuels climate change by preventing forests from absorbing carbon, allowing more of it to remain in the atmosphere…”
Photo credit above: “Low water levels in Lake Medina northwest of San Antonio, Texas.” Credit: Mike Fisher/flickr
Insight: California Aims To “Bottle Sunlight” In Energy Storage Push. This is one of the big, remaining missing links – storing electricity generated by renewables (or any other source) until its needed. Reuters reports; here’s a clip: “California, whose green ambitions helped the solar and wind industries take root, is taking an essential next step by proposing a sharp rise in energy storage to better integrate renewable power with the rest of the grid. Power from sun and wind fluctuates dramatically, so capturing it for later use makes the supply more predictable. “We can’t just rely on sunlight,” Governor Jerry Brown told the Intersolar conference in San Francisco last month. “We’ve got to bottle the sunlight…”
Scientists Have A Moral Obligation To Take Action On Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt from a story at The Guardian: “…As Bill Maher put it with comic exaggeration, “On this side of the debate: every scientist in the world. On the other: Mr Potato-Head”. There is no debate here; it’s just scientists and non-scientists, and since the topic is science, the non-scientists don’t get a vote. The majority of climate scientists are probably right to follow their current strategy, which is keep calm and carry on. They are expanding our knowledge about the climate, doing what they are best at and which the rest of us are unable to do. However we are in a global crisis, and I believe that the scientific fraternity has an ethical obligation to take action. We need some scientists to show social leadership, not just scientific leadership. Edwards is being too strident, calling on all scientists to refrain from public advocacy and leadership. I think that is unreasonable to expect and never likely to happen...”
Exposing The (Climate) Disinformation Playbook. Here’s a slideshow and explanation from the Union of Concerned Scientists: “Powerful coal, oil, and gas interests are trying to confuse us all about global warming and renewable energy. Not with facts or reasoned argument — but with disinformation. In this interactive slideshow, UCS reveals the tactics used by the fossil fuel industry to spread disinformation and delay action on climate change — the very same tactics used by Big Tobacco for years to mislead the public about the dangers of smoking. Don’t stand for it. Join our fight against disinformation today!”
George Shultz: A Republican Who Accepts The Reality Of Global Warming. No, you don’t have to be a liberal or progressive to look at the data, the trends and the science and reach an informed decision. Here’s a portion of a post at Slate: “…Which brings me to George Shultz. Among other political appointments, he was Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state. While I might disagree—vehemently—with much of Reagan’s policies, there are plenty of places I imagine Shultz and I would agree. Of late I might disagree with him strongly on many things as well—he is, after all, a Republican strategist, as well as being an adviser to the George W. Bush campaign in 2000.But he sat down with Scientific American magazine and gave a thoughtful and excellent interview about global warming. The takeaway: He accepts the reality of warming and says in no uncertain terms we need to be doing something about it. One of the more clear statements he makes, among many, is this simple pronouncement: “You know, a new ocean is being created for the first time since the Ice Age [in the Arctic with the meltdown of sea ice]. How could that happen? It’s getting warmer…”
Photo credit above: “George Shultz and President Reagan in 1986.” Photo by White House staff, from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, National Archives and Records Administration/wikimedia.
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 startribune.