All Weather News

Heat/Drought Facts (“Ernesto” fizzles; will probably track well south of USA by late week)

The odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small. To count on those odds would be like quitting your job and playing the lottery every morning to pay the bills,” wrote (NASA’s James) Hansen.” – from a CNN story below.


Recap Of Friday Night’s Severe Wind Event. Here’s a very good overview of the bow echo/severe wind storm event from Friday night (pdf), courtesy of the local Twin Cities NWS office: “Multiple severe thunderstorm warnings were issued as the line of thunderstorms moved east into south central Minnesota. Many automated weather observation sites recorded wind gusts from 45 to 55 mph, but severe criteria winds (58mph or greater, or damage to structures or trees) were only observed in isolated areas. As the storms moved further east, warning forecasters debated whether or not to continue issuing warnings on the storms as very few reports of severe strength winds or wind damage were received. However, storms began strengthening as they approached the western edge of the Twin Cities metro area.

* as I referenced below, the high winds knocked our dining room windows out – that’s never happened before. A little too much excitement…

Ernesto Fizzles Tropical Storm Ernesto is not looking terribly impressive right now – wind shear aloft shredding the storm’s circulation, preventing rapid intensification. NHC models suggest Ernesto may become a weak, Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore over Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsular (probably passing well south of Cancun and Cozumel), only a moderate tropical storm after reemerging into the Bay of Campeche, probably passing south of Texas late in the week.

Monday PM Weather Map. the sprawling high pressure bubble responsible for a spectacular Sunday shifts south and east of Minnesota today, putting us into a warmer, southwest wind flow at the surface. On the boundary of cooler, Canadian air and tropical moisture: heavy showers and T-storms from Louisiana into the Carolinas. WRF model valid at 4 pm above courtesy of NOAA.

NOAA Drought Outlook. This isn’t the weekly Drought Monitor, but rather a prediction of where drought is expected to expand or contract. The worst drought since 1956 is forecast to push into North Dakota and eastern Montana (as well as much of Texas), but some improvement is likely over the southeast and Arizona, courtesy of a persistent “monsoon” flow of moisture. NOAA’s latest Drought Outlook is here.

Hot Weather Factoids:

110+ F. weather for three straight days at Oklahoma City? This is only the second time in recorded history this has happened – the last year: 1936. Stat: #OKwx.

Saturday was the 4th straight day above 110 F. at OKC – most ever. #OKwx.

24 days at or above 95 F. in Washington D.C. Most to date on record.

Saturday: 39th straight day of 80+ highs in the Twin Cities, second longest 80+ stretch on record.

24 days of 90+ at Denver as of Saturday, tying the longest streak on record.

32 days so far in 2012 with 90+ highs at Cincinnati. 30-year average is 21 days/year.


* thanks to WeatherNation meteorologist D.J. Kayser for tracking down these (remarkable) numbers.



Southeastern Soaking. NOAA HPC’s 5-day rainfall prediction prints out impressive (3-5″) amounts from near Pensacola to Raleigh, North Carolina, generous rains for New England, but little rain west of the Rockies.



Dozens Of Homes Destroyed In Oklahoma Wildfires. A withering drought is producing ripe conditions for major fires – NBC News has the story (and video): “At least 121 structures, many of them homes, have been destroyed by wildfires in Oklahoma, officials said Saturday as temperatures topped 100 degrees for a 19th straight day. New evacuations were under way Saturday as well: Included were the entire towns of Glencoe, population of around 600, and Mannford, population about 3,000, and surrounding areas. Thousands were on the move as a fire spread quickly in Creek County, 20 miles west of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported. Gusty winds were expected in the area on Saturday evening.”

Red Cross Assists Oklahoma Fire Victims. From The Red Cross of central and western Oklahoma FB site: “Red Cross CEO Janienne Bella and Governor Mary Fallin touring fire damage in Oklahoma County.”

Pyrocumulus. Here’s a spectacular example of “pyrocumulus”, updrafts from wildfires providing enough lift for cumulus formation over Slagherville, Oklahoma. Pic courtesy of @southshorechick.

Don’t Write Summer Off Just Yet. You may need a light jacket or sweatshirt this morning, and there’s little doubt our weather is transitioning into more of a “progressive” pattern, meaning more frequent changes, with intrusions of cooler Canadian air coming with slightly greater frequency and intensity. The heat-pump high pressure bubble that has been nearly stationary over the Central Plains and Ohio Valley since late June is weakening, and migrating westward, allowing the flood gates to open up, pushing cooler fronts farther south, from the Upper Midwest into New England. That could also mean more frequent rains for the Corn Belt, but over the Plains the damage has already been done; wilted crops are past the point of no return, many farmers plowing under their (stunted) crops. The map above shows NOAA’s “NAEFS” long-range model for August 12-18.

Latest On Ernesto. Packing 50 mph. sustained winds, Ernesto is a moderate tropical storm, but latest model guidance keeps the track of Tropical Storm Ernesto south of the United States, a potential prolific rain-maker for Mexico, but right now the odds of impact in South Texas are less than 1 in 5. Maps above courtesy of NHC and Ham Weather.

Threat Of Hurricanes Looms Over RNC Convention. No, it couldn’t possibly happen, right? The odds are small, but not zero, as reported by Fox News Latino; here’s an excerpt: “The Republican National Convention is scheduled for late August, prime time in the Atlantic’s dicey hurricane season. Though planners are banking on years of data that a major storm won’t hit, they also have laid out worse-case scenarios that include canceling if it’s clear the 70,000 expected delegates, officials, journalists and protesters would be in harm’s way. Tampa is one of the places in the region most vulnerable to storm surge. In a major hurricane, floodwaters could reach some 3 miles inland — Tampa is on a bay, not directly on the Gulf of Mexico — and storm surge could reach as much as 17 feet. The Tampa Bay Times Forum, the convention’s home, is in an area that would be required to evacuate if winds exceeded 96 mph.”


Super-Sized Lightning

Heat has obviously been the big weather story this summer, interrupted by noisy tantrums of atmospheric madness. I returned from our cabin only to find our dining room windows blown in by Friday night’s wild straight-line winds.

That’s a first.

Severe storm alerting services, resilient storm-proof materials for homes & vehicles, and new, more drought/heat resistant strains of wheat, corn & beans will open up new doors for innovation.

The hotter and wetter the atmosphere – the greater the potential for crazy lightning displays. More than 25 strikes/minute? The oncoming storm is, in all probability, severe.

A Maryland company called Earth Networks has deployed a national lightning sensor network, with 1 minute updates (compared to 4-6 minutes for NOAA Doppler). A sharp, 100-300 percent uptick in lightning can tip us off to a particularly severe cell, often preceding a storm warning by 10-15 minutes.

No more free A/C; highs approach 90 F. today. Wednesday thunder announces the arrival of a reinforcing jab of Canadian air by Thursday.

It’s wrong to be day-dreaming about next weekend, but I can’t help myself: Saturday T-storms; highs near 80.

Call me crazy but I see a few more 90s next week. Big surprise!


Climate Stories…

Is It Hot Enough For ‘Ya? Here’s an excerpt of a timely Op-Ed at The New York Times: “…For now, though, Americans, long cynical about global warming, are confronting the facts. According to a survey conducted in July by the University of Texas, 70 percent of Americans believe the climate is changing, compared to 65 percent in March, and only 15 percent say it isn’t. Party affiliation continues to divide public opinion, but today most Republicans, 53 percent, believe in climate change, as do 72 percent of independents and 87 percent of Democrats. Perhaps that’s because this year’s extreme weather has afflicted residents of red and blue states equally. The United States Drought Monitor, based at the University of Nebraska, reports that moderate to severe drought conditions this summer are affecting 64 percent of the lower 48 states, leading to domestic food inflation and record high prices for grain. The Midwest is becoming a Dust Bowl, the Southwest and Rocky Mountains a tinder box. Lakes and rivers across the South are drying up. And a series of brutal heat waves, severe storms and prolonged power failures has punished residents of the Northeast, generating widespread concern that the region’s infrastructure is woefully unprepared for the strange weather that’s become our new norm.”

NASA Scientist Links Climate Change, Extreme Weather. CNN has the story; here’s an excerpt: “What do the 2010 heat wave in Russia, last year’s Texas drought, and the 2003 heat wave in Europe have in common? All are examples of extreme weather caused by climate change, according to a new study from NASA scientist James Hansen. “This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened,” he wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece meant to accompany the study. “Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.” The study, which was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looks at the past six decades of global temperatures and finds what Hansen described as a “stunning” rise in the frequency of extremely hot summers.”

Hansen On The New Math Of Climate Extremes. (PBS video) from Climate Denial Crock Of The Week: “PBS Newshour interviews James Hansen on the increasing likelihood of extreme events under climate change.”

Study By “Global Warming Godfather”: Texas Drought, Europe Heatwaves Are Climate Change. Some breaking news from NASA’s James Hansen, one of the first scientists to raise awareness of global temperature trends in the mid-80s, courtesy of The Washington Post: “The relentless, weather-gone-crazy type of heat that has blistered the United States and other parts of the world in recent years is so rare that it can’t be anything but man-made global warming, says a new statistical analysis from a top government scientist. The research by a man often called the “godfather of global warming” says that the likelihood of such temperatures occurring from the 1950s through the 1980s was rarer than 1 in 300. Now, the odds are closer to 1 in 10, according to the study by NASA scientist James Hansen. He says that statistically what’s happening is not random or normal, but pure and simple climate change.”

Photo credit: AP

* “Public Perception of Climate Change and the New Climate Dice” paper (pdf) is here, courtesy of Cornell University Library.


Climate Change Is Here – And Worse Than We Thought. James Hansen attempts to connect the climate and (extreme) weather dots in this excerpt of a Washington Post Op-Ed: “…To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change. The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change. And once the data are gathered in a few weeks’ time, it’s likely that the same will be true for the extremely hot summer the United States is suffering through right now. These weather events are not simply an example of what climate change could bring. They are caused by climate change. The odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small. To count on those odds would be like quitting your job and playing the lottery every morning to pay the bills.” (Image above: NASA).

Presidential Contenders Can’t Duck Climate Change – But They Are. An excerpt from “How much more proof do we need? Few scientists doubt that Earth’s climate is changing and growing warmer. Only a small number of skeptics dispute that humans are a prime cause of the problem. But still, as a nation, we dither. The United States is among the world’s top three emitters of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, along with China and India.
And yet our so-called leaders continue to tiptoe around the issue as if they might wake a sleeping baby. At least some people are awakening. They’ve slept late, but they’re awakening nonetheless

Study Shows Planet Keeping Pace With CO2 Emissions. The big question: when will the oceans be unable to soak up some of the excess CO2 floating overhead? Great question. Here’s a snippet from Climate Central: “Climate change is a serious enough problem, but it could be a lot worse. About half of the carbon dioxide we’ve pumped into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels has been absorbed by plants and oceans, rather than staying in circulation to drive up temperatures. Scientists are convinced this can’t go on forever — but a new study in Nature shows that we haven’t come to the danger point yet. Over the past 50 years, says the report, humans have quadrupled our emissions, but the planet has kept up by doubling the amount of CO2 it absorbed. That comes as something as a surprise: several earlier, small-scale studies have suggested we might be on the verge of a tipping point where the planet can’t absorb any more carbon dioxide. “So we decided to take a step back and ask, ‘do we see this at a global scale?’” said Ashley Ballantyne of the University of Colorado and lead author of the new report, in an interview, “and the answer is no.”

Climate Science Still Trumps Skeptics. Good for Climate Central’s Michael Lemonick for debunking many of the regurgitated claims of skeptics in this L.A. Times article; here’s an excerpt: “…Also quite predictably, several of the comments repeated critiques of mainstream climate science that have been raised and thoroughly debunked literally hundreds of times. Here’s a sampling, along with my responses:

“theblooms” writes:  “Anthropogenic Global Warming is FAR FROM PROVEN.  If the evidence is so damn clear-cut, then why did the East Anglia University Climate Research Unit cook the books and falsify the data?”

Response: The East Anglia researchers didn’t cook the books. Any suggestions otherwise are based on taking fragments of emails completely out of context. Several investigations have cleared these researchers of any scientific misconduct whatsoever. The were reprimanded only for failing to respond with enough thoroughness to a barrage of freedom-of-information requests from climate skeptics.”

The Great Ice Meltdown And Rising Seas – Lessons For Tomorrow. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting paper from NASA: “As accumulating atmospheric greenhouse gases lead to further climate warming, sea level rise will accelerate, endangering coastal communities by more frequent flooding, exacerbated beach erosion, and saltwater penetration into streams and aquifers. Twentieth century global sea level rise has averaged 1.7 mm/yr, increasing to around 3 mm/yr since 1993, as measured by TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason satellite altimetry. Current trends exceed those of the last few millennia by 1 to 2 mm/yr, based on saltmarsh data from many localities.”

Graphic credit above: “Generalized sea level rise since the last ice age showing several meltwater pulses (MWP). MWP-1A0, c. 19,600-18,800 years ago; MWP-1A, 14,600 to 13,800 years ago; MWP-1B, 11,000-8,800 years ago; and MWP-1C, ~8,200-7,600 years ago.”

Climate Change Is Real – Just Ask My Cows. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from “…In our part of the country, rain has tended in recent years to come in great spring and fall floods — six-to 12-inch deluges bookending hotter, drier summers. Pretty much nobody whose livelihood depends upon the weather denies it: The climate hereabouts is changing, mostly for the worse. The underlying fear, of course, is that the scientists are right: that what we’re experiencing is the knife-edge of worldwide global warming. People don’t much talk about that aspect of it, because the whole thing’s gotten bound up with politics, and rural people tend to avoid issues with ideological and theological overtones. Farm Bureau and Cattleman’s Association publications tend to be filled with strident climate change denial, and regional newspapers with predictable right-wing boilerplate.”





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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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