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Scorching Heat Central USA, Lessons from 1900 Galveston Hurricane & New England Frost By Sunday?

Exhibit A
A long range weather forecast is more of a horoscope than a credible prediction to be taken seriously. The skill just isn’t there yet.

Case in point: in the spring I predicted summer would be a bit cooler & stormier than average. Hit the buzzer Paul – you don’t even get the parting gifts. I thought the cool, wet bias obvious in April might linger into much of summer, but Mother Nature had other plans.

National Weather Service cooling degree data shows we’ve spent 28 percent more than average cooling our homes since June 1. And severe storms? SPC data shows only 9 tornadoes this year in Minnesota, well below average.

Remind me to stick to the 7-Day, which is challenging enough. Moral of the story: take any winter outlooks with a boulder-size grain of salt. Weather is chaos, and a 6-month prediction is a joke.

We cool off into the 80s today, but by the end of the week there will be no doubt in your mind that it’s September: dew points in the 40s, a risk of a light jacket at the bus stop by Friday morning? The best chance of rain? Next Sunday. But we may have to wait until October to get the moisture we need to replenish dusty topsoil.

Minnesota’s drought will probably get worse before it gets better.

Hope I’m wrong about that one too.

Monday Highs. Yesterday looked and felt more like July 10 than September 10, with temperatures 20F warmer than average over much of the southern half of Minnesota. Fairmont and Albert Lea registered 97F, with mid 90s reported over much of the MSP metro area, 88 at St. Cloud. Map: MesoWest.

An Early Autumn For New England. Here is the GFS forecast for early morning temperatures on Sunday morning, hinting at a frost from near Williamsport, PA to Elmira and Burlington, Vermont. Time to dig out the heavy jackets in the Northeast. Map above: Ham Weather.

Latest 100 Degree High In the Twin Cities? Septemember
National Moisture Needs. Widening out for a USA (conus) view you can see that the drought over the Upper Midwest is relatively mild, compared to a growing moisture deficit over the western Hiigh Plains, Rocky Mountains and much of the western USA. The greatest rainfall deficit: Texas into western Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.

August 2013 Drought And Impact Summary. Here’s an excerpt from the latest update from the National Drought Mitigation Center: “The portion of the country in moderate drought or worse expanded rapidly in late August due to heat. “Flash drought” in the Upper Midwest increased the total area of the contiguous United States in moderate to exceptional drought (D1-D4) on the U.S. Drought Monitor to 50.34 percent, which is the greatest area since April 9, when it was slightly higher, at 50.82 percent….”

Lessons From The Deadly 1900 Galveston Hurricane – Opal In 1995 Was Another Close Call. Unless Humberto becomes a hurricane by Wednesday we’ll set a record for the latest (first) hurricane on record in the Atlantic – but that doesn’t mean the rest of the season will necessarily be a dud. Today’s Climate Matters includes the lessons of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, and the difficulty of evacuating coastal areas quickly in a worst-case scenario, like Opal in 1995: “WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over some of the monster hurricanes that formed in the later half of the hurricane season. Could we see another devastating storm like Galveston in 1900?

“Fire Vortex”. Matt Granz snapped this remarkable photo of the “Morgan Fire”, northeast of San Francisco – a rapidly rising vortex of fire and ash with a structure similar to a tornado (without the parent mesocyclone, of course). Image courtesy of Twitter and theSacramento National Weather Service.

* more details on the 800-acre Morgan Fire from NBC News.

Trees Write Air Pollution Record In Wood. Here’s a clip from an interesting story atScientific American: “The red cedar trees of Grant County, West Virginia can tell afascinating tale. Because locked inside them is the history of U.S. air pollution in the 20th century. Researchers began pulling cores from five randomly selected red cedar trees in 2008. The ratio of heavy and light isotopes of carbon found in the tree rings told them many secrets about the trees and their environment. From the 1940s through the 1970s, the trees closed the tiny holes in their leaves known as stomata to protect themselves from acid rain….”

South Beach Sunrise. Thanks to the Miami office of the National Weather Service for posting this one. Very nice.

Bermuda Triangle Earthquake Triggered 1817 Tsunami. A 7.4 magnitude earthquake in the Bermuda Triangle capable of generating a huge tidal wave all up and down the East Coast? Here’s a clip from an interesting story at LiveScience: “A “tidal wave” violently tossed ships docked along the Delaware River south of Philadelphia at about 11 a.m. ET on Jan. 8, 1817, according to newspapers of the time. Turns out, that tidal wave was actually a tsunami, launched by a powerful magnitude-7.4 earthquake that struck at approximately 4:30 a.m. ET near the northern tip of the Bermuda Triangle, a new study finds. The study links the tsunami to a known Jan. 8, 1817, earthquake. The temblor shook the East Coast from Virginia south to Georgia, where the seismic waves made the State House bell ring several times...”

Map credit above: “A model predicted the tsunami wave height from a Jan. 8, 1817, earthquake offshore South Carolina. The earthquake’s magnitude was estimated at 7.4 from newspaper accounts. Credit: USGS.

How Green Is A Tesla, Really? Here’s a clip from an interesting story at Slate: “…A Model S can travel upwards of 265 miles on a single charge of its 85 kilowatt-hour battery, which equates to less than 3 gallons of gas. Its official EPA miles-per-gallon equivalent is 89, far greater than a standard Toyota Prius. For any given Model S, though, the emissions-per-mile depend heavily on the mix of energy sources that go into your local grid. According to Tesla’s own emissions calculator, if you’re driving your Model S in West Virginia—where the power mix is 96 percent coal—you’re spewing some 27 pounds of CO2 in a typical 40-mile day, which is comparable to the amount you’d emit in a conventional Honda Accord. Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio aren’t much better. On the other hand, if you’re charging your Tesla in California, where natural gas supplies more than half the electricity—or, better yet, Idaho or Washington, where hydroelectricity reigns—your per-mile emissions are a fraction of that amount. Congratulations: Your Model S is a clean machine after all…”

They’re Taking Over! This is why I have an even greater appreciation for Minnesota’s lakes – clean water, and jellyfish-free. Here’s a clip from a story at The New York Review of Books: “…Then the Gulf experienced Hurricane Katrina and the oil spill of 2010. Fish and prawn numbers plummeted, but the Australian spotted jellyfish kept going from strength to strength. By 2011 it had shown up in the western Mediterranean, and more than ten people a day were being stung, forcing the closure of tourist beaches at the height of the season. It’s recently been spotted off Israel and Brazil. From the Arctic to the equator and on to the Antarctic, jellyfish plagues (or blooms, as they’re technically known) are on the increase. Even sober scientists are now talking of the jellification of the oceans. And the term is more than a mere turn of phrase. Off southern Africa, jellyfish have become so abundant that they have formed a sort of curtain of death, “a stingy-slimy killing field,” as Gershwin puts it, that covers over 30,000 square miles…”

Image credit above: David Hall. “A moon jellyfish and cross jellyfish floating in a remote channel near Victoria Island, British Columbia; photograph by David Hall from Beneath Cold Seas: The Underwater Wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, which collects his images of marine life in that region. It is published by University of Washington Press.”

The 10 Greatest Films Of All Time, According To 846 Film Critics. Where is “The Lone Ranger” on this list? Great question. Here’s a video and article excerpt from Open Culture: “We’ve recently featured the all-time-greatest-film-selections from such celebrated directors as Stanley KubrickMartin ScorseseWoody Allen, and Quentin Tarantino. Some of these lists came from the grand poll put on last year by Sight & Sound, the British Film Institute’s well-respected cinema journal. While scrutinizing the voting records in the directors’ division yields no small pleasure for the cinephile, to focus too closely on that would ignore the big picture. By that, I mean the overall standings in this most painstaking critical effort to determine “the Greatest Films of All Time”:

  1. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
  2. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
  3. Tokyo Story (Yasujirô Ozu, 1953)…….
Climate Stories…

A Silent Hurricane Season Adds Fuel To A Debate Over Global Warming? If water temperatures are, in fact, warming, why haven’t we seen more hurricane activity in 2013, and why haven’t hasn’t the USA been hit by a Category 3+ hurricane in 8 years? Here’s an excerpt of an explanation from Time Magazine: “…Still, the lack of activity in the first half of the storm season demands explanation. The abundance of warmer, drier air across the Atlantic this summer has made the atmosphere more stable, discouraging the development of strong storms. There’s also a lot of wind shear, when wind at different altitudes occur in different speeds and directions, which tends to snuff out new tropical storms. It’s also possible that dust from North Africa, which can reduce the temperature of the sea surface, may be stalling storms. (Hurricanes are fed by warm ocean waters, which is why they form in the tropics.) The truth is that scientists aren’t really sure why there hasn’t been a hurricane yet this season, nor do they know why an intense hurricane — Category 3, 4, 5 — hasn’t made landfall in the U.S. since Wilma all the way back in 2005…”

A Climate Alarm, Too Muted For Some. Will the next IPCC Climate Update err on the side of ultra-conservative projections of temperature and sea level rise? The New York Time’s Justin Gillis has a video clip and article; here’s an excerpt: “This month, the world will get a new report from a United Nations panel about the science of climate change. Scientists will soon meet in Stockholm to put the finishing touches on the document, and behind the scenes, two big fights are brewing. In one case, we have a lot of mainstream science that says if human society keeps burning fossil fuels with abandon, considerable land ice could melt and the ocean could rise as much as three feet by the year 2100. We have some outlier science that says the problem could be quite a bit worse than that, with a maximum rise exceeding five feet. The drafters of the report went with the lower numbers, choosing to treat the outlier science as not very credible…”
Video clip credit above: “Human Hands in a Changing Climate: The Times’s Justin Gillis talks about what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release in their report later this month.”

Arctic Sea Ice Delusions Strike The Mail On Sunday And Telegraph. Here’s an excerpt of a story at The Guardian: “…The amount of Arctic sea ice left at the end of the annual melt season is mainly determined by two factors – natural variability (weather patterns and ocean cycles), and human-caused global warming. The Arctic has lost 75 percent of its summer sea ice volume over the past three decades primarily due to human-caused global warming, but in any given year the weather can act to either preserve more or melt more sea ice. Last year the weather helped melt more ice, while this year the weather helped preserve more ice. Last year I created an animated graphiccalled the ‘Arctic Escalator’ that predicted the behavior we’re now seeing from the Mail on Sunday and Telegraph. Every year when the weather acts to preserve more ice than the previous year, we can rely on climate contrarians to claim that Arctic sea ice is “rebounding” or “recovering” and there’s nothing to worry about. Given the likelihood that 2013 would not break the 2012 record, I anticipated that climate contrarians would claim this year as yet another “recovery” year, exactly as the Mail on Sunday and Telegraph have done….”

Science Showing Climate Change Is Man-Made. How much of the warming is natural vs. man made? Scientists can track specific isotopes of CO2, separating out natural from man-made (pollution) sources that arise from the burning of fossil fuels. More details in this excerpt from a story at the Appleton Post-Crescent: “…From studying air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice, scientists know that going back 800,000 years, the carbon dioxide level oscillated in a tight band, from about 180 parts per million in the depths of ice ages to about 280 during the warm periods between. A process called isotopic analysis allows the reconstruction of local temperature records and the history of atmospheric composition.This history shows that global temperatures and CO2 levels are tightly linked. Significantly, isotopic analysis can distinguish between isotopic variants of the carbon atom that are, in effect, the fingerprint of the source of the carbon (and hence CO2). These isotopic variants can distinguish between carbon that is the product of the burning of fossil fuels and carbon from other natural sources. It’s no accident that the beginning of the industrial revolution can be noted in the analysis of carbon isotopes in ice cores…”

Teaching Climate Change To Skeptics. I tell audiences the truth: you SHOULD be skeptical, about everything. Scientists are skeptical. But skepticism is different than perpetual cynicism, in the face of overwhelming evidence. Here’s an excerpt from a story at Forbes: “…“The issue has become totally intertwined with political ideology,” saysRichard H.K. Vietor, the Paul Whiton Chertington Professor of Business Administration at HBS, who has been studying government and energy for more than four decades. “There are many people who believe the government is doing too much, and that the government interferes with economic growth if it enacts and implements policies around climate change; therefore, they choose not to believe in climate change….It’s striking that anyone frames this question in terms of ‘belief,’ saying things like, ‘I don’t believe in climate change,’ ” says John D. Black Professor and BEI faculty cochair Forest L. Reinhardt. “I don’t think this ought to be treated as a religious question. I think it’s better seen as a classic managerial question about decision-making under uncertainty…”

Coping With Climate Change. The number of climate denialists are dwindling in South Florida, where sea level has risen 9″ since the 1920s. In Miami it’s not a theory, but a reality you can see outside your floor to ceiling condo window. What’s happening in Greenland may provide more clues about the rate of sea level rise and implications for much of Florida, as described in this excerpt at The Miami Herald: “….This is a snapshot of climate change. The melting is taking place thousands of miles away, but its effects can be felt in South Florida in the form of rising sea levels. According to recent studies, the sea level has risen nine inches since the 1920s and if the sea-rise trend continues to accelerate — as some predict — parts of the state could eventually be submerged under water. As cities like Miami, New York and other vulnerable spots strategize about how to respond to climate change, researchers from the National Science Foundation, universities and global organizations flock to Greenland in search of answers. “There isn’t really a debate as to whether or not global climate change is a thing. What the issue is, is what is causing it?,” said Carli Arendt, a Phd student at the University of Michigan’s Glario Chemistry and Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory (GIGL), who was in Greenland earlier this summer to collect water samples. “We’re just trying to, strictly for the science, figure out how things are melting and at the rate that they’re melting at…” (Image above: NASA).

America’s Solar Revolution Is Twisting The Utility Industry Into Knots. Do you have solar panels on your roof yet? Chances are you will at some point in the next 5-10 years. Here’s a snippet of a story from Business Insider: “…At the same time, utilities are also recognizing that any kind of curb in renewable use is just a stopgap.
Long term, they’re probably in trouble.
Here’s the New York Times’ Diane Cardwell quoting Clark Gellings of the Electric Power Research Institute, a utility industry association: “We did not get in front of this disruption…It may be too late.”And earlier this year, Bloomberg’s Chris Martin and Noreen S. Malik quoted the CEO of Duke Energy, the largest utility owner in the country, that solar was truly disruptive. “It is obviously a potential threat to us over the long term,” said Jim Rogers, chairman and chief executive officer of Duke Energy Corp. (DUK), the largest U.S. utility owner…”



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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

One response to “Scorching Heat Central USA, Lessons from 1900 Galveston Hurricane & New England Frost By Sunday?

  1. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied
    on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking
    about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos
    to your site when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

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