All Weather News

Happy Father’s Day! Doppler In Your Pocket (maps still look more like mid-May than mid-June)

16 Jun 2013, 6:39 am
Check your Doppler!



Outdoor grilling on a Saturday? Good luck. Here’s how my Saturday went. “What TIME is it going to rain!” my wife barked. 2:47 PM I replied. “How LONG will it rain?” 2 hours 13 minutes I speculated.



“Try harder!”



Hey, I check the weather like everyone else, but I have zero pull with Mother Nature.



No, I didn’t invent Doppler, but a previous company was the first to put radar on cell phones (2001). It’s nice to see how Doppler in your pocket has caught on; people getting little bursts of weather info throughout the day. Smartphone apps are a great way to personalize weather & get warnings for your current GPS location.



The more sources of weather info – the better. Multiple safety nets.





Were in a frustrating pattern for corn, bean and alfalfa farmers, delayed by a soggy spring.



Drought or flood? It’s hard keeping everyone happy.



Especially my wife.




More May Than June. The core of the jet, the prevailing winds aloft, are still hundreds of miles farther south than 2012, and considerably more south than average less than 1 week from the Summer Solstice. As slightly cooler air sags southward out of Canada a few scattered showers and T-storms are likely from Minnesota, spreading east as the week goes on. Monsoon-moisture may spread into Colorado Springs by Monday, with more numerous showers allowing firefighters to finally get the upper hand in the Black Forest blaze. 84 hour NAM loop: NOAA.



From Too Dry To Too Wet – Some Farmers Are Not Happy. Here’s an excerpt from this week’s edition of Mark Seeley’s WeatherTalk Newsletter: “…The rainfall and wet soils have resulted in prevented planting for some corn fields, where producers will be able to collect crop insurance payments if they don’t plant corn. Others may opt to plant corn, but not for grain, just for silage to feed livestock. Some soybeans are still being planted late, along with some late planting of alfalfa fields which were so adversely affected by winter stress. Alfalfa hay cutting has progressed very slowly with little of the hay harvest completed…”

30 Day Rainfall Percent of Normal. Much of central Minnesota and the immediate Twin Cities has picked up twice as much rain as normal in the last 30 days, according to NOAA. Farms over southeastern Minnesota have seen 2 to 3 times more rain than average since May 15.


Colorado’s Most Destructive Wildfire. The Black Forest fire is now 55% contained, at last report, but at least 483 homes have been destroyed by this, Colorado’s most destructive blaze on record. Over 1,000 firefighters are still on the scene and they’re making significant progress. Here’s the latest from

Interactive Wildfires Map Tracks The Blaze In Colorado. Here’s another good resource from Climate Central: “Aided by strong winds, the wildfire south of Denver has now become the most destructive fire in Colorado’s history, surpassing 2012’s Waldo Canyon fire. It’s burning through thousands of acres of land, and firefighters are struggling to contain the blaze. The 15,000 acre Black Forest fire has destroyed at least 360 homes and forced the evacuation of nearly 40,000 people from areas in and near Colorado Springs, the state’s second-largest city. The Black Forest fire is one of three wildfires currently burning across Colorado.You can monitor the wildfires with Climate Central’s interactive wildfires map. The flame icons represent wildfires currently active in the lower 48 states and Alaska, including the Black Forest fire in Colorado. Hover over a given fire to see its name, and if you zoom in you’ll be able to see the outline of the area that’s burning — the so-called fire perimeter. If you click within the perimeter, a window pops up showing the fire’s size in acres, the amount by which the perimeter has grown or shrunk over the past 24 hours, the fraction of the fire that has been contained and other data. There’s also a link to an even more detailed report…”


* The PBS NewsHour has more on Colorado’s most destructive wildfire in it’s history here.



An Early Start To Wildfire Season. In today’s edition of “Climate Matters” we examine wildfire trends over the western USA. Wildfire season is now an average of 78 days longer than it was in 1970. Dry areas are becoming even drier, and when winter snows are lighter than average it can set the stage for a long, hot, fiery season. Such will be the case in 2013.

You’re Going To Get Wet. The Economist reports that Americans are building beachfront homes, even as ocean levels continue to rise. What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results? Better to buy a home 5 blocks inland…and be patient. Here’s an excerpt: “Before Hurricane Sandy tore through New York and New Jersey, it stopped in Florida. Huge waves covered beaches, swept over Fort Lauderdale’s concrete sea wall and spilled onto A1A, Florida’s coastal highway. A month later another series of violent storms hit south Florida, severely eroding Fort Lauderdale’s beaches and a chunk of A1A. Workers are building a new sea wall, mending the highway and adding a couple of pedestrian bridges. Beach erosion forced Fort Lauderdale to buy sand from an inland mine in central Florida; the mine’s soft, white sand stands out against the darker, grittier native variety. Hurricanes and storms are nothing new for Florida. But as the oceans warm, hurricanes are growing more intense. To make matters worse, this is happening against a backdrop of sharply rising sea levels, turning what has been a seasonal annoyance into an existential threat…”

Photo credit: Eyevine.



Survivors Blame KFOR Meteorologist For Tornado Deaths. I know Mike Morgan down in Oklahoma City; he’s a friend and a gifted meteorologist. I’m sorry he’s at the center of controversy over comments he made before the El Reno EF5 tornado spun up, recommending that people without basements, in the direct path of the tornado, consider getting into their vehicles. The result was gridlock, massive traffic jams, and many people think it was the wrong message to send to the public. It’s a really tough call when you have an extreme tornado moving in, and less than 1 in 10 viewers have basements. Statistically your odds are still better staying home, riding out the tornado in a closet or bathtub, than getting into your vehicle (or a nearby drainage ditch or storm sewer, which may quickly overflow as a tornadic storm passes overhead). That’s apparently what happened on May 31 in El Reno. Here’s an excerpt from TVSpy: “The Oklahoman has published a story that suggests KFOR meteorologist Mike Morgan was to blame for the deaths of five Oklahoma City family members after they followed his advice about escaping an oncoming tornado. Virginia Shrum said her brother talked about how he had hidden down in the tunnel from a tornado three years before. The survivors said they were swayed to flee the apartment by warnings from Mike Morgan, KFOR-TV chief meteorologist. The article said 11 people hid in a long drainage tunnel behind the family’s apartment to escape the oncoming twister. They were swept from the tunnel by a flash flood...”

* the story at The Oklahoman is here.


Nicaragua Still Thinks It Can Build A Better Canal Than Panama After 200 Years of Trying. Having just been thru the Panama Canal last winter, I found this article at Quartz fascinating – is there really room for two transoceanic canals? Here’s a clip: “Today, Nicaragua’s parliament is expected to approve proposals by a Chinese consortium to build a canal across the country to rival that of Panama. (Update: The plan has been approved.) The $40 billion project could double Nicaragua’s GDP and create 40,000 construction jobs over an 11-year construction period. The idea of building a canal in Nicaragua is nothing new. For most of the 19th century, experts considered a Nicaraguan canal more feasible than one through Panama or another proposed route through Mexico. US tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt led a project to carry goods across Nicaragua by stagecoach and steamship as a prelude to building a canal, for which he even won a concession. Thirty years later, US president Ulysses S. Grant endorsed the Nicaraguan route as the cheapest and easiest, pegging the cost (p.110-111) at $52,577,718.00—though he admitted that, with probable delays, it could stretch to $100 million. A Nicaraguan canal would be more cost-effective than a Panama one, he argued, where builders would encounter tougher terrain…”

Photo credit above: “Even after Panama’s canal expansion is complete, Nicaragua’s would be bigger.” AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco.

The Worst Charities: Get Information Before You Make Donation. Here’s an excerpt of an eye-opening report from (which puts on a fine radio show on Public Radio, btw): …”The top of our list is an organization called Kid’s Wish Network. They operate out of a metal warehouse in Holiday, Fla. Over the past decade they’ve raised millions of dollars. Of that, about 80 percent — $110 million — has gone to professional solicitors, $4.8 million has gone to the charity’s founder and his consulting firm, and only $0.03 of every $1 that they’ve raised has actually spent directly on helping kids,” says Taggart. “Most of the causes are popular causes that appeal to donors and may sound like a more well-known group.” To make sure that you’re sending your money to good places, Taggart says there are many resources to research charities online.”

The top 10 worst U.S. charities:

See the full list

Climate Stories….

Global Warming Conversation Changes. We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a planetary scale, but that won’t reduce the need to adapt to this new world. Adaptation is a fact of life, as discussed in this article at NBC Philadelphia; here’s an excerpt: “…University of Michigan professor Rosina Bierbaum is a presidential science adviser who headed the adaptation section of the administration’s new National Climate Assessment. “It’s quite striking how much is going on at the municipal level,” Bierbaum said. “Communities have to operate in real time. Everybody is struggling with a climate that is no longer the climate of the past.” Still, Bierbaum said, “Many of the other developed countries have gone way ahead of us in preparing for climate change. In many ways, the U.S. may be playing catch-up.” Hurricanes, smaller storms and floods have been a harsh teacher for South Florida, said Jacobs. “Each time you get walloped, you stop and scratch your head … and learn from it and make change,” she said. “It helps if you’ve been walloped once or twice. I think it’s easier to take action when everybody sees” the effect of climate change and are willing to talk about being prepared…” (photo credit: Marco Beltrametti).

How Climate Change Makes Wildfires Worse. Mother Jones has the story – here’s an excerpt: “…Big wildfires like Colorado’s thrive in dry air, low humidity, and high winds; climate change is going to make those conditions more frequent over the next century. We know because it’s already happening: A University of Arizona report from 2006 found that large forest fires have occurred more often in the western United States since the mid-1980s as spring temperatures increased, snow melted earlier, and summers got hotter, leaving more and drier fuels for fires to devour. Thomas Tidwell, the head of the United States Forest Service, told a Senate committee on energy and natural resources recently that the fire season now lasts two months longer and destroys twice as much land as it did four decades ago. Fires now, he said, burn the same amount of land faster. We can expect “as much as a fourfold increase in parts of the Sierra Nevada and California” in fire activity across the rest of this century, says Matthew Hurteau, assistant professor of ecosystem science and management at Pennsylvania State University…”

Photo credit above: “El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Cukowski helps evacuate Linda Davies and her horses during the Black Forest Fire on June 11.”

Climate Change Could Increase Areas At Risk Of Flooding By 45 Percent. Here’s the intro to a story at The Atlantic Cities: “Rising seas and increasingly severe weather are expected to increase the areas of the U.S. at risk of floods by up to 45 percent by 2100, according to a first-of-its-kind report released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday. These changes could double the number of flood-prone properties covered by the National Flood Insurance Program and drastically increase the costs of floods, the report finds. The report concludes that climate change is likely to expand vastly the size and costs of the 45-year-old government flood insurance program. Like previous government reports, it anticipates that sea levels will rise an average of four feet by the end of the century. But this is what’s new: The portion of the US at risk for flooding, including coastal regions and areas along rivers, will grow between 40 and 45 percent by the end of the century. That shift will hammer the flood insurance program. Premiums paid into the program totaled $3.2 billion in 2009, but that figure could grow to $5.4 billion by 2040 and up to $11.2 billion by the year 2100, the report found. The 257-page study has been in the works for nearly five years and was finally released by FEMA after multiple inquiries from Climate Desk and Mother Jones…” (photo credit: Reuters).

Map: Places That Will Flood More Often Due To Global Warming. Slate has the story – here’s an excerpt: “…The FEMA study is based on the assumption that sea levels will go up by 4 feet in the next 86 years. But a report released last year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted that sea level rise could be more than 6 feet. Whether it’s 4 feet or 6 feet, rising seas cause shoreline erosion and recession, and create greater surge risk in the event of major storms. The FEMA report also notes that flooding around rivers will likely become worse in a warming world, due to changes in precipitation frequency and intensity. Population growth, which causes increases in paved areas and changes in runoff patterns and drainage systems, will affect the amount of flooding from rivers…”

* the PDF report referenced above is here.

Many conservative politicians have been among deniers, but ignoring the science will led to something the GOP dreads even more — big government. So argued Jim Hansen, who since 1988 has been in the forefront of the issue, first as a NASA scientist and more recently as a free-agent activist, in an interview Thursday…”

How EPA Fights Climate Change Even When Congress Doesn’t Want It To. Yahoo! News has the story; here’s a clip: “Environmental groups have a tough time getting Congress to do what they want. Case in point: In the early months of 2010, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund waged an all-out campaign urging the Senate to pass a sweeping climate-change bill backed by President Obama and leaders in the Democratic-controlled Senate. The measure crashed and burned that summer. But the green groups—and Obama’s top environmental officials—knew they could resort to a different tactic: lawsuits to compel executive action…”



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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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