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Happy 4th of July! More 100s as heat wave spreads north and east

4 Jul 2012, 9:27 am

4th of July Record Highs:

100 F. Minneapolis (1949)

102 F. Chicago (1911)

103 F. Indianapolis (1911)

98 F. Madison, WI (1955)

102 F. New York City (1949)

102 F. St. Louis (1990)

102 F. Louisville (1911)

109 F. Des Moines (1936)

Excessive Heat Warning in effect for most of central and southern Minnesota. More from the Star Tribune.  For the latest watches and warnings you can visit the WeatherNation Website Severe Page. 

15 Biggest Fireworks Displays in the USA here, courtesy of AOL (Macy’s New York is #1, Washington D.C. is #2).

Heat Safety Tips. Please take the heat seriously – there will be problems with heat exhaustion and heat stroke later today. Here’s some timely advice from NOAA:

Child Safety Tips:

  • Make sure your child’s safety seat and safety belt buckles aren’t too hot before securing your child in a safety restraint system, especially when your car has been parked in the heat.
  • Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down.
  • Teach children not to play in, on, or around cars.
  • Always lock car doors and trunks–even at home–and keep keys out of children’s reach.
  • Always make sure all children have left the car when you reach your destination. Don’t leave sleeping infants in the car ever!

Adult Heat Wave Safety Tips:

  • Slow down. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. Children, seniors and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
  • Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
  • Put less fuel on your inner fires. Foods, like meat and other proteins that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
  • Drink plenty of water, non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney or liver disease, are on fluid restrictive diets or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids. Do not drink alcoholic beverages and limit caffeinated beverages.
  • During excessive heat periods, spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, go to a library, store or other location with air conditioning for part of the day.
  • Don’t get too much sun. Sunburn reduces your body’s ability to dissipate heat.
  • Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.



Potential For More Heat-Related Power Outages? The combination of extreme heat (and humidity) and the specter of more strong/severe T-storms into the weekend means a higher than usual potential for power outages. Here’s an excerpt from an article at The Star Tribune: “Xcel spokeswoman Mary Sandok said the high temperatures can also cause outages. High energy use and heat can add stress to the system, so there might be more outages as the hot weather continues this week. Sandok said crews are working on outages around the clock and encouraged people to reduce usage, particularly at peak  hours between the afternoon and early evening. She recommended users try to run large appliances after 10 p.m. and to keep drapes and doors closed to keep cool air in. Several thousand customers were without power yesterday because of the heat, but their power was restored before the storms.” (image:


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the period of January to May was the warmest on record for Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Nebraska. Minnesota and Pennsylvania ranked “much above normal.” – from The Des Moines Register; details below.

According to federal climate data, dozens of heat records have fallen or been tied in the past week, and even more in the past month. In the past 30 days, the number of broken daily records climbed beyond 2,360, hitting nearly 35,000 over the past year.” – from an L.A. Times story; details below.

As A Heat Wave Rolls Across U.S. – Scientists Predict More To Come. Here’s an excerpt from a recent article at The Los Angeles Times: “Climate scientists have this to say about the record-breaking heat wave rippling across the country: Get used to it. This week’s spike toward triple-digit temperatures is unusual, they say. But as Earth gets warmer and greenhouse gases build, highs will keep getting higher. “There have always been heat spells,” said Glen MacDonald, the director of the UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “That’s just the climate system. But … if you’re generally warming things, you have a greater chance to reach new highs. Your hot spells become even hotter than they had in the past.”


“The problem for those who dismiss climate change as a figment of scientists’ imagination, or even as a crypto-socialist one-worldish plot to take away our God-given SUVs, is that the data are beginning to add up.” – from an Op-Ed at below.

18% of Americans questioned in a recent Washington Post – Stanford poll said climate change was their #1 environmental concern, down from 33% in 2007. Details from The Washington Post below.

10:1. Since January 1 the USA has experienced roughly 10 times more record highs than record lows, nationwide. Source: NOAA NCDC.

Severe Weather Visualization. The folks at ESRI have done a very good job with this interactive map, showing real-time severe storm reports: “View continuously updated US tornado reports, wind storm reports, weather warnings, and precipitation. See the real-time effects of the storm via social media posts. To change the search terms, go to the Social menu, click the settings icon, and update the keyword. For media inquiries, contact us at”


Heat Wave of 2012. Of the 3,051 records set in the last week, 1,860 were high temperature records; from the Rockies to the East Coast, records are falling left and right. Here’s a breakout of the records, courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather:


Total Records: 3196
Rainfall: 213
High Temp: 1962
Low Temp: 251
Low Max Temp: 117
High Min Temp: 653

In One Kansas Town, Even Hotter Than Usual. 115 F. air temperature at Hill City, Kansas last week? Hotter than Death Valley, California? The New York Times has more details; here’s an excerpt: “For five days last week, a brutal heat wave here crested at 115 degrees. Crops wilted. Streets emptied. Farmers fainted in the fields. Air-conditioners gave up. Children even temporarily abandoned the municipal swimming pool. Hill City was, for a spell, in the ranks of the hottest spots in the country. “Hell, it’s the hottest place on earth,” Allen Trexler, an 81-year-old farmer who introduced himself as Old Man Trexler. He spoke while standing in the shade of a tree on Saturday morning, the temperature  already sneaking toward 100.”

A Week’s Worth Of Storm Reports. NOAA reports 3,666 storm and excessive heat reports in just the last 7 days. There were 2,374 severe (straight-line) wind reports in one week – I’ve never seen anything like this, certainly not in mid-summer. For an interactive map from Ham Weather click here. Here’s a breakout:


Total Storm Reports: 3666
0: 1
Wind: 2374
Rain: 174
Snow/Blizzard: 1
Tornado: 15
Hail: 1003
Fire: 3
Avalanche: 1
Lightning: 21
Dust: 7
14: 5
16: 1
Excessive Heat: 60

Severe Storms + Social Media. One more look at the new online tool from ESRI, focusing on Minnesota’s storms (and extreme heat). It’s a mash-up of NOAA storm reports, and weather-related tweets, photos and YouTube clips. Pretty powerful.


D.C. Derecho: Storm That Hit Capital Was Fast, Destructive – And Rare. Here’s an excerpt of an article reprinted by The Washington Post at The Seattle Times – from meteorologist Jason Samenow: “It’s a hurricane. It’s a tornado. No, it’s a derecho. Only a meteorologist was likely to have made the right guess about the violent storm system that hit the Washington, D.C., area Friday night. Derechos occur only about once every four years in the District of Columbia area, according to the National Weather Service. They are more likely in the Midwest and Great Lakes, between May and July. A derecho is a fast-moving, long-lived, large, violent thunderstorm complex. By definition, it creates wind damage along a swath of more than 240 miles and produces wind gusts of at least 58 mph.” (Image above: SPC).

* Friday’s super-Derecho tracked nearly 700 miles, from Illinois to coastal Delaware, moving at speeds as high as 60-70 mph, producing straight-line winds over 90 mph. at times; roughly equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane lasting less than 30 minutes.

Photo Of The Day. The very definition of a summer thunderstorm and rain/hail shaft. Thanks to Mike Hall in Lewisport, Kentucky for sending this in.

Oops. My bad. Thanks to for sending this along.


What’s Causing Unusually Hot Temperatures U.S.? Can we pin some of these extremes on a warmer atmosphere, or is all this (atmospheric insanity) just normal, random weather. Most climate scientists believe we passed normal a long time ago. Here’s an excerpt of an interview on Monday’s PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff:

JUDY WOODRUFF: “And when you say — you used the term no parallel. You literally meant that?

KEVIN TRENBERTH: “I don’t think there has been anything quite like this before. Back in the 1930s, the Dust Bowl era was very hot and dry. But, you know, I mean, every year is somewhat exceptional. Last year, of course, there was heat waves and all kinds of wildfires in — centered in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico. And it was extraordinarily hot in Oklahoma. The previous year, it was in Russia. In 2009, there were exceptional conditions in Southern Australia, in the Melbourne area. And so these areas where the really hot and dry conditions leading to wildfires has — is moving around. We certainly don’t expect them to occur every year, but we do expect more of them. The odds are changing for these to occur with climate change, with the global warming from the human influences on climate.”

Summer Heat Wave An Early Indication Of Global Warming. Here’s a video clip from “Climate change is driving temperatures up around the country, but are conservatives ignoring all the talk of global warming? MSNBC’s Alex Wagner talks to author and environmentalist David De Rothschild about what the heat means for the Earth, and what we should be doing to prepare for future erratic weather.”


This Summer “Is What Global Warming Looks Like.” The story from AP and – here’s an excerpt: “Is it just freakish weather or something more? Climate scientists suggest that if you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, take a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks. Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho. These are the kinds of extremes experts have predicted will come with climate change, although it’s far too early to say that is the cause. Nor will they say global warming is the reason 3,215 daily high temperature records were set in the month of June. Scientifically linking individual weather events to climate change takes intensive study, complicated mathematics, computer models and lots of time. Sometimes it isn’t caused by global warming. Weather is always variable; freak things happen.”

Photo credit above: “A tree sitting atop a vehicle offers free firewood in Falls Church, Va., Monday, July, 2, 2012, as cleanup continued after Friday’s storm, Around 2 million utility customers are without electricity across a swath of states along the East Coast and as far west as Illinois as the area recovers from a round of summer storms that has also caused at least 17 deaths.” Photo: Matthew Barakat / AP


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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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