All Weather News

Holding Pattern (hints of September next 2 weeks northern USA; more downpours Plains to East Coast)

Summer Roller Coaster
If you have one foot in ice-water, the other in boiling water, do you feel “average”? Since June 1 both heating and cooling degree days, a measure of how far we are from 65F, are running above average in the Twin Cities.
How can it be warmer AND cooler? Evidence of more extremes? A few extra-hot weeks earlier in July coupled with chilly surges in early June & late July? Yes, this summer has been a meteorological roller coaster.
“I don’t find this apparent paradox unusual. It’s a mathematical quirk stemming from the way heating and cooling degree days are calculated” Minnesota state climatologist Greg Spoden said yesterday.
The National Weather Service says last Saturday brought the coolest July temperature (36F) ever observed in southern Minnesota at 850 millibars (4,100 feet).
It may be an omen of freakish August cool fronts to come. ECMWF (European) guidance shows another jab of chilly air pouring south the second week of August.
The jet stream is still misbehaving – something significant has changed.

“…The existence of extreme weather is obvious to Minnesotans. That’s because, according to FEMA data, nearly 100 percent of us live in counties that have been affected by at least one federally declared weather-related disaster since 2007…” – from a Minnpost Op-Ed below.

“…Strauss says tragedy can be avoided or mitigated with deep global pollution cuts followed by technology that sucks CO2 from the atmosphere. Such bold steps, he says, could help preserve hundreds of coastal communities. If current emissions continue, his analysis projects the year when global carbon emissions will lock hundreds of U.S. cities into the eventual sinking — below the high-tide line — of the land that now houses half their residents: Galveston, Texas (2030); Miami (2040); Norfolk, Va., (2044); Coral Gables, Fla. (2044); and Virginia Beach (2054).” – from a USA Today story, details below.Photo credit: Marvin Nauman, FEMA.

Record Cold 850 mb Temperature. As referenced above, here are more details on last Saturday’s historically chilly sounding report from KMPX, courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service: “The 12Z MPX sounding launched on the morning of Saturday, July 27th revealed the coldest temperature ever measured in southern Minnesota at 850 mb (or about 4,100 feet AGL) for the month of July. At only 2.2 C (36F), it was about 13C cooler than the usual values seen at that level for this time of year. Believe it or not, it is not unusual to get these temperatures at 850 mb periodically during the winter. Heat waves typically consist of 850 mb temperatures in excess of 20 C. Saturday was a far cry from those values. The 850 mb level is meteorologically significant for a number of reasons, hence the record keeping…”

A Persistent Atmospheric Tug Of War. A scuffle between two airmasses, one overheated and stuffy, the other comfortably Canadian in origin, will set the stage for heavy showers and T-storms with some 1-3″ rainfall amounts from the Central Plains into the Ohio Valley and Mid Atlantic region. 5-day rainfall accumulated rainfall prediction courtesy of NOAA.

Relatively Quiet. The weather usually slows down in August, and the first week of August, 2013, will be no exception. A series of weak cool fronts spark showers and T-storms from the Great Lakes to the East Coast, while the soggy remains of “Dorian” soak the Bahamas. Monsoon T-storms sprout over the Rockies and Southwest, while the West Coast remains tinder-dry. 84 hour NAM model loop: NOAA.

August Sweatshirts? It’s too early to say with a high confidence level, but long-range ECMWF (European) guidance shows another healthy dose of chilled air pushing south of the border next Thursday, August 8. If this verifies high temperatures may hold in the 50s up north Thursday, with some gradual moderation in temperature by the following weekend. Map courtesy of ECMWF.

Tornadoes Strike Italy Near Milan – Incredible Video. Here’s an amazing clip fromThe Washington Post: “Check out this *insane* video from inside a tornado near Milan, taken from an office building. Watch as a huge mass of debris – some of the fragments very large – swirls and then rages through the air (the action picks up in a big way after about 40 seconds).

Long-Range Tornado Prediction: Is It Feasible? The short answer appears to be yes, at least in terms of broad trends. Here’s an excerpt from a story from UCAR: “…The push to explore extended (two-to-six-week) and seasonal (three-month) tornado prediction has gained momentum due to several factors.

  • Researchers are understanding more clearly how multiyear cycles such as El Niño and La Niña and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation influence tornado frequency. For example, when La Niña is transitioning to El Niño during springtime, the odds of a major tornado outbreak—especially in the Midwest and South—appear to be almost twice as large as in neutral springs, according to a recent Journal of Climate paper led by Sang-Ki Lee (University of Miami/NOAA).

  • The NOAA Climate Forecast System (CFS) now issues nine-month forecasts of U.S. circulation anomalies four times each day. This makes it a potential foundation for building weekly to seasonal tornado outlooks.

  • High-resolution regional models that simulate thunderstorms directly—such asARW, the NCAR-based Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting Model—can now be linked to larger-scale climate models…”

Photo credit above: “More than 1,000 tornadoes strike the United States in a typical year—sometimes in clusters of more than 50 in a single day.” (©UCAR. Photo by Greg Thompson).

NOAA’s National Weather Service More Than Doubles Computing Capacity. Some of this is in response to the European ECMWF model, and how it out-performed the GFS and other U.S. models, especially during “Sandy” last year. Encouraging news for those of us who want the USA to have the fastest (most accurate) computer models on a consistent basis. Details from NOAA: “Whizzing through 213 trillion calculations per second, newly upgraded supercomputers of NOAA’s National Weather Service are now more than twice as fast in processing sophisticated computer models to provide more accurate forecasts further out in time. And as the hurricane season ramps up, forecasters will be armed with an enhanced hurricane model that will improve track and intensity forecasts. The scientific data and insights that these newly upgraded supercomputers will provide are essential to help government officials, communities, and businesses better understand and manage the risks associated with extreme weather and water events. In support of the president’s Climate Action Plan, the administration will continue to take steps like this to analyze and predict climate variability amid an increasing number of extreme natural events affecting the nation…”

Graphic credit above: “This is the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model showing the Tropical Storm Flossie precipitation forecast for the Hawaiian Islands on July 29, 2013. HWRF is one of the sophisticated numerical computer models now being run on NOAA’s new supercomputers.”

Climate Matters: Warming Air, Rising Seas. For every 1 F. of global temperature increase the world’s oceans are forecast to rise by a little more than 4 feet. Buying beachfront property will involve even more faith, a strong stomach, and almost limitless wallet in the years and decades to come. In today’s edition of Climate Matters: “WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas looks at how climate change leads to rising sea levels and what coastal cities can expect to see by 2040. Also, more on torrential downpours and record setting rainfalls.”

Possible Tornado Struck Washington D.C. And The White House 100 Years Ago. Here’s a clip from a fascinating read at The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang: “A hot and humid airmass set the stage for a destructive thunderstorm and possible tornado that tore through the District 100 years ago today (July 30, 1913). On the afternoon of July 30, 1913, the temperature in Washington had surged to 97 degrees for the second straight day.  It was the fourth consecutive day the temperature had exceeded 90. Late that afternoon, a severe thunderstorm erupted near Washington, D.C. and it raked the city with violent wind gusts. Its torrential rains exceeded two inches.  The storm resulted in considerable building and tree damage, particularly in northwest D.C…”
Photo credit above: “On the White House grounds, there were 16 trees uprooted and 25 that were damaged during the severe thunderstorm of July 30, 1913.” (Library of Congress).

Life And Death In Assisted Living. If you have a loved one in assisted living, or about to go into assisted living, watch this 53 minute documentary from PBS Frontline and ProPublica – an impressive, and sobering bit of journalism. Many assisted living facilities don’t have the staff necessary to deal with Alzheimers, dementia and serious ailments, and yet the promise of a fat bottom line is prompting many facilities to fill up as many beds as possible, even if trained staff is inadequate to handle all those residents. My mother, who passed away late last year, was in a particularly good assisted living facility, but I worry about the patients and families of those who aren’t getting the care they need, deserve, and paid for. 

Climate Stories…

How To Prove To A Global Warming Denier That Climate Change Is Real, In 14 Seconds. This short video clip, courtesy of The Washington Post, is from NASA.

Study: Sea Level Rise Threatens 1,400 U.S. Cities. Here’s a clip from a story at USA Today: “A rise in sea levels threatens the viability of more than 1,400 cities and towns, including Miami, Virginia Beach and Jacksonville, unless there are deep cuts in heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions, says an analysis out Monday. Prior emissions have already locked in 4 feet of future sea-level rise that will submerge parts of 316 municipalities, but the timing is unclear and could take hundreds of years, according to the paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If global warming continues at its current rate through the year 2100, at least an additional 1,100 cities and towns will be mostly under water at high tide in the distant future...”

Photo credit above: “A bicyclist makes his way past a stranded taxi on a flooded New York City street Aug. 28, 2011, as Tropical Storm Irene passes through the city.” (Photo: Peter Morgan, AP).

Climate Study Predicts A Watery Future For New York, Boston And Miami. Following up on the story above, here’s a different perspective from The Guardian“…Even if we could just stop global emissions tomorrow on a dime, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Gardens, Hoboken, New Jersey will be under sea level,” said Benjamin Strauss, a researcher at Climate Central, and author of the paper. Dramatic cuts in emissions – much greater than Barack Obama and other world leaders have so far agreed – could save nearly 1,000 of those towns, by averting the sea-level rise, the study found. “Hundreds of American cities are already locked into watery futures and we are growing that group very rapidly,” Strauss said. “We are locking in hundreds more as we continue to emit carbon into the atmosphere.” A recent study, also published in PNAS by the climate scientist Anders Levermann found each 1C rise in atmospheric warming would lead eventually to 2.3m of sea-level rise. The latest study takes those figures, and factors in the current rate of carbon emissions, as well as the best estimate of global temperature sensitivity to pollution…”

Photo credit: Brett Brownell, Mother Jones.

The High Cost Of Climate Inaction. Here’s an excerpt from and Mother Jones that caught my eye: “Climate change is already creating major economic problems for businesses. But Kate Sheppard has a must-read in the latest Mother Jones on the immense costs to the federal government due to the shortsightedness of paying huge sums in annual disaster relief, while doing almost nothing to prepare for the inevitable next storm. Sheppard writes: Roughly 123 million of us—39 percent of the US population—dwell in coastal counties. And that spells trouble: 50 percent of the nation’s shorelines, 11,200 miles in all, are highly vulnerable to sea level rise, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And the problem isn’t so much that the surf laps a few inches higher: It’s what happens to all that extra water during a storm. We’re already getting a taste of what this will mean. Hurricane Sandy is expected to cost the federal government $60 billion. Over the past three years, 10 other storms have each caused more than $1 billion in damage. In 2011, the federal government declared a record 99 weather-related major disasters, from hurricanes to wildfires. The United States averaged 56 such disasters per year from 2000 to 2010, and a mere 18 a year in the 1960s..”

Global Warming: Urgent With A Chance Of Optimism. Here’s a snippet of an Op-Ed from Environment America’s Madeline Page, at “In terms of weather, this summer — even in all of its storm-induced power outage glory — has not been particularly noteworthy; that’s probably because it pales in comparison to the weather antics of 2012. However, as a heat wave scorched a huge swath of the country in mid-July, especially in the Midwest, I was reminded of what’s in store if we continue to act sluggishly in solving our current climate-change trajectory. The existence of extreme weather is obvious to Minnesotans. That’s because, according to FEMA data, nearly 100 percent of us live in counties that have been affected by at least one federally declared weather-related disaster since 2007. Last year alone, we witnessed the devastating consequences of unchecked carbon pollution through climate-associated weather events like Hurricane Sandy and devastating droughts here in the Midwest…”

Photo credit above: REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol. “The bottom line is that global warming is fueling the extreme weather that we’ve witnessed, and it will only become more frequent and severe unless we act.”



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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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