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Moderate Severe Risk – Heat wave to shift slowly southward next week

Moderate Severe Threat. SPC upgrades a severe threat to “moderate” maybe 10-15 times/year. This is one of those days when T-storms may be especially severe. The greatest risk of tornadoes, straight-line winds, even a derecho, comes from Cincinnati and Columbus to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, State Collegge, New York City and Albany. Stay alert for severe weather later today as violent storms form along the leading edge of Canadian relief.

Predicted Heat Index Next Monday. The worst of the heat and humidity is forecast to shift into the southern Plains and Mid South by early next week – heat indices near 110 from Oklahoma City to Little Rock and Montgomery, Alabama. Source: NOAA.


Ed Hopkins, assistant state climatologist in Madison, said the drought could be the worst “going back to the 1930s.” As of Monday, more than half the state remained “abnormally dry” or worse. Three-fourths of the state’s farmland was “short” or “very short” of moisture, according to the state’s weekly crop report.” – excerpt of a Star Tribune story on the extreme drought gripping much of central and southern Wisconsin – details below. Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune.


Over the past 20 years, the intensity forecasts have shown essentially no improvement,” Knabb said. “We’re routinely off by a category on the intensity forecasts on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.” – from a story at the Sun Sentinel; details below. Photo:



150 gigatons of ice loss observed every year in Greenland in recent decades. NASA, via PBS Newshour.


It’s pretty safe to say that what we’re seeing here is the warmest that we’ve seen in Lake Superior in a century,” said Jay Austin, a professor at the University of Minnesota at Duluth, who has researched the lake’s water temperatures back to the beginning of the 20th century.” – excerpt of a story from Climate Central; details below. Image above: NASA.


Gardiner tells us that Robert Gifford, a psychologist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia thinks we have difficulty “imagining a future drastically different from the present. We block out complex problems that lack simple solutions. We dislike delayed benefits and so are reluctant to sacrifice today for future gains. And we find it harder to confront problems that creep up on us than emergencies that hit quickly.” – from a Doug Craig post at; details below.



Scientists estimate that if all of Greenland’s ice sheet were to melt, the global sea level would rise by 23 feet (7 meters). “To be perfectly clear, that is not what we’re seeing,” Mote said. “Greenland is losing mass, but it would take a very long time to lose all of that mass.” – excerpt from a National Geographic article below.


study published in 2009 found that rather than a 1-to-1 ratio, as would be expected if the climate were not warming, the ratio has been closer to 2-to-1 in favor of warm temperature records during the past decade (2000-2009). This finding cannot be explained by natural climate variability alone, the study found, and is instead consistent with global warming.” – details from Climate Central below.

U.S. Drought Monitor. Here’s an interactive map, courtesy of The Star Tribune and NOAA’s Drought Monitor: “The map (above) is based on data released each Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The drought monitor combines numeric measures of drought and experts’ best judgment into a weekly map. It is produced by the NDMC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and incorporates review from 300 climatologists, extension agents and others across the nation. Each week the previous map is revised based on rain, snow and other events, observers’ reports of how drought is affecting crops, wildlife and other indicators.”


Extreme Heat Proves Relentless In Central States. A few jaw-dropping details fromClimate Central: “…During the July 17-to-23 period, 866 daily high temperature records were set or tied across the country, along with 716 warm overnight low temperature records. Of these, 14 of the high temperature records were monthly records, and eight were all-time high temperature records. So far this year, warm temperature records have been outpacing cold records by a ratio of about 7-to-1. The ratio is even more lopsided, at closer to 9-to-1, when looking only at record daily highs compared to record daily lows. (Track record-breaking temperatures using Climate Central’s Record Tracker.)

Map credit above: “High temperature forecast for Tuesday, July 24, showing the area of extreme heat in the central states. Click on the image for a larger version.” Credit: NOAA.


Withering Drought Choking Wisconsin. Details from The Star Tribune; here’s an excerpt: “COCHRANE, WIS. — Rain finally fell on Wisconsin’s bluff country this week, but for much of the corn on Keith Greshik’s 900-acre farm, it was too little too late. Stalks that should be lush, green and 10 feet tall are brown and crisp and barely as high as the bill on Greshik’s cap. Fields that only a month ago held potential for substantial yields are now nearly a total loss, withered by five weeks of stifling heat and dry weather the likes of which southwestern Wisconsin hasn’t seen in decades. “This stuff isn’t going to amount to anything,” a discouraged Greshik, 43, said the other day as he inspected his battered corn. “It’s done.”

Photo credit above: “It’s kind of a crap shoot, and it’s part of farming,” said Keith Greshik, a grain farmer near Cochrane, Wis. “You don’t get to do well every year.”


Rainfall Since April 1. Talk about some wild variations: 24″ from near Duluth to Crosslake and Brainerd, closer to 18″ in the Twin Cities metro, but 8″ over far southeastern Minnesota – closer to 5″ for portions of the Red River Valley. Map courtesy of the Minnesota DNR and the Minnesota Climatology Working Group.


Rainfall Departure From Normal Since April 1. Much of eastern Minnesota is running a rainfall surplus during the growing season, as much as 12″ wetter than average from near Crosby and Aitkin to Duluth – while portions of southeastern Minnesota are 4″ drier than average, to date – as much as 6″ drier over northwestern Minnesota.


Drought-Denting Rains? The 5-Day NOAA HPC rainfall prediction prints out some 3″ amounts over Iowa, providing some potential (minor) relief for portions of the Corn Belt. But little rain is predicted for the Great Plains. Some 2-4″ amounts are expected over New England by next Tuesday.


Great Lakes Water Temperatures At Record Levels. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting story at Climate Central: “Looking to escape to the beach this summer? Well, before you book that trip to Cape Cod or the Outer Banks of North Carolina, you might want to consider an unorthodox option — the shores of Lake Superior. The lake, which is the northernmost, coldest, and deepest of the five Great Lakes, is the warmest it has been at this time of year in at least a century, thanks to the mild winter, warm spring, and hot, dry summer.”

Graphic credit above: “A comparison between Lake Superior’s average water temperature this year so far and the longer-term average. Click on the image for a larger version.” Credit: GLERL.


Suddenly Baking Britain Weathers More Pre-Olympic Woes. From rain, wind and chill to frying heat – London has seen it all in recent weeks; here’s an excerpt from the L.A. Times: “For weeks, forecasters warned that the upcoming Olympics could be beset by rain, and organizers worried that some events at the Summer Games could be washed out after London had its wettest April and June on record. On Tuesday, railway officials warned that some trains would not stop at the Olympic Park in East London because of extreme weather, causing travel headaches. But this time there was another reason: It’s too hot. The gloomy aspect of the last few months suddenly gave way this week to glorious blue skies and temperatures in the 80s, a level many Londoners had forgotten was possible.”

Photo credit above: The Los Angeles Times.


European Weather. For a quick look at weather for the Olympic Games, including day-by-day rainfall predictions and forecast highs looking out 7 days (and a detailed 15 day extended outlook for London) click here – data and maps courtesy of Ham Weather.


Olympic-Size Cooing Trend. After peaking in the low 90s yesterday, temperatures are forecast to fall into the mid to upper 70s by Friday, low 70s over the weekend – much better for athletes (and fans). More details from the U.K. Met Office here.


London Outlook. Here’s one more prediction: raw ECMWF model data for London through the end of next week, showing highs in the mid 60s to low 70s, a few weekend showers, maybe some heavier rain by the end of next week.


UK Weather. Here is the best high-resolution satellite imagery I’ve found (for free) online – courtesy of

20 Years After Hurricane Andrew Hit Miami-Dade, Track Forecasting Has Made Giant StridesThe Orlando Sun Sentinel has a story focused on big improvements in hurricane prediction, especially future track. Predicting future hurricane intensity is still problematic (the models don’t handle this nearly as well). Here’s an excerpt: “Since Andrew there has been a dramatic improvement in the accuracy of the track forecast,” said Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center. “That’s a testament to the improvement in the models, the increase in satellite data that gives us a better handle on the forecast of steering currents.” Forecasters have also improved their predictions of storm surge, the violent, wind-driven increase in local sea level that’s considered one of the most deadly elements of a hurricane. But they agree they need to do a better job of getting word out. “We are in desperate need of a storm surge warning,” Knabb said. “Storm surge is the one weather-related hazard that has the potential of taking more lives in a single day than any other.”


Hurricane Forecasters: Despite Advances, Florida Still Vulnerable To Next Big One. Here’s another information-rich article, focused on new technology implemented since Hurricane Andrew devastated the Miami suburbs. Here’s an excerpt from The Miami Herald: “….Though they had done a good job of predicting Andrew’s path, the hurricane’s rapid intensification as it crossed the Bahamas caught scientists, and the public, by surprise. The shock of the storm sparked a surge in hurricane research that has reduced track errors by more than half since Andrew — to less than 100 miles, 48 hours out. “What has happened since Andrew is stunning,” said Frank Marks, director of NOAA’s hurricane research division on Virginia Key. Far more satellite images and data are available — though some of the aging space gear is in need of replacement. Aboard Hurricane Hunter planes, innovations like Doppler radar and a device called a stepped frequency microwave radiometer that estimates wind speed based on readings of whipped-up sea foam have given researchers better data and understanding of a storm’s inner structure.”


Read more here:

“Ask Paul”. Weather-related Q&A:

The Strib shows that precipitation is 6.86″ above average for the year and 1.29″ above average for the month in the Twin Cities (airport?). How do you define a drought? Thanks.”

Ed Morsman


Ed – fair question. The immediate metro is not in a drought, at least not technically. Far western suburbs are drying out, and much of southern and western Minnesota, including the Red River Valley, is in a moderate drought. As of late last week nearly 34% of Minnesota was in a moderate drought, up from 24% the week before.

All weather, like politics, is local, right? “Paul said there was a drought, but we’ve seen plenty of rain at my house.” The metro has seen considerably more rain than far southern and western counties, the corn and bean belt, where farmers are very worried about drought conditions. Even though most of our readers live in or near the Twin Cities, I try very hard to keep a Minnesota-centric view in the blog, and that means including information that’s relevant to people from Rochester and Mankato to Brainerd, Duluth and Moorhead. No small task.

* Drought Monitor map above can be viewed here. The latest Drought Monitor is due by Friday – based on recent rains I expect some improvement in the drought, especially over southern Minnesota.

Hi Paul,

Why do you and 75% of the population in the Midwest complain so much about the heat, and “look for the light at the end of the tunnel” for this heat to end? We will have a lot of months where it will simply be cold with no chance of it being even lukewarm. It seems most people here in Minnesota aren’t happy when it’s cold or hot, so those people are happy about 4 days out of the 365 day year. Living here my entire life I have learned to embrace both extremes My favorite weather is 90 and humid, and my second favorite is 25 with snow falling from the sky.

Embrace the heat! It loosens up all those tight muscles.”

Corey Olderness

Corey – mea culpa. Maybe I do whine too much (see the main column below). I love warm weather, have no problem with 80s, even low 90s. I also love snow (have 2 Polaris snowmobiles). Like you, I’m happiest when it’s 25 and snowing. I think I’m sensitive to the needs of older Minnesotans, who can’t (physically) take extreme heat, the way younger people can. Their bodies are simply not as resilient. When the dew point tops 70 and the heat index is in the upper 90s or higher, the risk of heat-related ailments is off-the-scale. I was working in Chicago in 1995, when a “heat storm” killed 750 people, most of them elderly. I’m still haunted by that 36 hour period. So I probably overcompensate a bit, so older readers will take the heat seriously, slow down, stay hydrated, and take other preventive measures. I’ll try to cut down on my hot-weather-whining, but when the heat index tops 100 all bets are off.


True Secret To Success (It’s Not What You Think). Here’s an interesting angle (and not at all what I was expecting); a story celebrating the virtues of gratitude – an excerpt from a good article at “I’m utterly convinced that the key to lifelong success is the regular exercise of a single emotional muscle: gratitude. People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what’s wonderful in their life. Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don’t go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective. By contrast, people who lack gratitude are never truly happy. If they succeed at a task, they don’t enjoy it. For them, a string of successes is like trying to fill a bucket with a huge leak in the bottom. And failure invariably makes them bitter, angry, and discouraged.”


Silicon Valley Says Step Away From The Device. Are we addicted to our technology (and a fast WIFI connection?) No, I insist, clutching my iPhone tighter. Not me – I can break free at any time. Here’s an excerpt from a New York Times article: “….The actual science of whether such games and apps are addictive is embryonic. But the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, widely viewed as the authority on mental illnesses, plans next year to include “Internet use disorder” in its appendix, an indication researchers believe something is going on but that requires further study to be deemed an official condition….Along those lines, Scott Kriens, chairman of Juniper Networks, one of the biggest Internet infrastructure companies, said the powerful lure of devices mostly reflected primitive human longings to connect and interact, but that those desires needed to be managed so they did not overwhelm people’s lives.”


Soybean Oil Could Make For Longer-Lasting, Greener Tires. The story; here’s a snippet: “It’s good for the environment when manufacturers can find ways of using less fossil fuels, while consumers – along with the environment – benefit when products last longer. Now, thanks to the humble soybean, both parties may be able to get what they need. Researchers from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company have discovered that soybean oil can help reduce the amount of petroleum used in tires, while also extending those tires’ tread life.”

A Fine Weather-Whine

Corey Olderness asks “Why do you and 75 percent of the population in the Midwest complain so much about the heat? It seems most people here in Minnesota aren’t happy when it’s cold or hot, so those people are happy about 4 days out of the 365 day year….Embrace the heat! It loosens up all those tight muscles” he wrote in an e-mail.

Guilty as charged. I have no idea how old you are Corey; 20 and 30-somethings seem to be much more resilient to weather extremes. But extreme cold (and heat) poses a significant risk to infants, the elderly and people with chronic illness – everyone wants to err on the side of safety and caution.

But is there too much weather-whining in general?


If you want a moderate, lukewarm climate, with no extremes, move to San Diego.

Some good weather-news: a fresh northwest breeze is about to drop the drippy dew point into the 50s; the best chance of a late-day instability shower today up north.

High pressure promises comfortable sunshine Friday and much of Saturday, but we heat back up into the mid-90s by the middle of next week.

A REAL cool front is shaping up late next week. 60s & 70s the first weekend of August? Looks like the first hint of autumn!


Climate Stories…


“Shocking” Greenland Ice Melt: Global Warming Or Just Heat Wave? More on the troubling news coming out of Greenland from National Geographic – here’s an excerpt: “After just a few days of intense melting this month, nearly the entire of the surface of Greenland’s massive ice sheet had turned to slush, NASA images show—the fastest thaw rate since satellites began keeping score 30 years ago. It may be tempting to link the event to global warming, but scientists say such melts might occur every 150 years. If such rapid thaws become common, though, they could add to already rising seas, experts say (Greenland satellite picture). Most of the thawing occurred in a span of four days. Melt maps from satellites show that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet’s surface had melted. By July 12 that figure had jumped to 97 percent. (Best Satellite Pictures: Winning “Earth as Art” Shots From NASA.)

What We Know About Climate Change And Drought. More on the complex question to “how much of this drought is natural vs. influenced by man-made greenhouse gas emissions” – from The Washington Post: “And the short version is this: Droughts have multiple causes. The United States has suffered worse droughts in the past. It’s not yet clear whether we’ve reached the point where global warming is making droughts worse again, at least in North America. But most evidence suggests that droughts will become more intense in many parts of the world if the planet keeps heating up, which could disrupt the world’s food supply.

1) Droughts can be complex, with many different causes. A drought occurs when a region stays abnormally dry for a long enough period to cause an imbalance in the water cycle. There are three ways this can happen. Less rain could fall on the region. The evaporation of moisture from soil could speed up, either because of hotter temperatures or wind shifts. Or there could be less water to begin with — say, because there was less snowfall the previous winter. Or a combination of these three things. That makes drought tougher to model than, say, heat waves.”


Who Is Full Of Hot Air On Climate Change? Here’s an excerpt of a cogent article summarizing the challenge (in short, the fossil fuel industry can only burn about 1/5th of the coal, gas and oil still left in the ground or the atmosphere will warm far more than 2 C, thought to be a tipping point) from Foreign Policy: “…As is so often the case, the issue boils down to politics. And that’s why I’m pessimistic, because I can’t think of any issue where the barriers to effective political action are so great. First of all, you have an array of special interests with little or no interest in allowing the government to interfere with their ability to make money in the short-term (see under: Koch Brothers). Second, you have a political system in the United States (the world’s second largest greenhouse gas producer) that is unusually open to lobbying and other forms of political interference. Third, climate change is a classic example of an intergenerational equity problem: it’s hard to get people to make sacrifices today (i.e., in the form of higher energy prices, less comfortable houses and offices, more expensive travel, etc.) for the sake of people who haven’t even been conceived yet. That same principle applies to politicians too: Why should they jeopardize their re-election prospects for the sake of voters who won’t be around until they are long gone?

Local Weather Patterns Affect Beliefs About Global Warming, Research Finds. Maybe it’s human nature to react to the weather outside our window – much harder to keep tabs on global trends. That means digging into peer-reviewed science and listening to climate scientists, not radio talk show hosts or (mostly) clueless politicians. The story from


Without Carbon Controls, We Face A Dust Bowl. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from Joe Romm at The New York Times: “…Now, studies project “extreme drought” conditions by midcentury over much of the most productive and densely populated areas on Earth — including southern Europe, Southeast Asia, Brazil, the southwest United States and large parts of Australia and Africa. One study found that those areas would see drought indices far worse than those of our Dust Bowl. And, by century’s end, would be 10 degrees or more warmer than the 1930s if we fail to act soon. A 2009 study found that carbon pollution levels projected after midcentury would lead to “dry-season rainfall reductions in several regions comparable to those of the ‘dust bowl’ era” that are “largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop.”


Climate Change Idiots (1). Here is a fascinating post from Doug Craig’s Climate of Change blog at It’s worth a read – here’s an excerpt: “Kahan “found that people with more hierarchical, individualistic worldviews (generally conservatives) sense that accepting climate science would lead to restraints on commerce, something they highly value, so they often dismiss evidence of the risk. Those with a more egalitarian, community-oriented mind-set (generally liberals) are likely to be suspicious of industry and very ready to credit the idea that it is harming the environment.” More recent research has found that conservatives are more receptive to the idea that humans are transforming the climate if it leads to technological, not regulatory solutions. In other words, if a conservative reads about “tighter carbon caps” and climate change, they are more likely to deny that climate change is real. However, if the article is about geoengineering and climate change, they are “more ready to credit the scientific claim about the climate.”

Forest “Disruption” Greater Threat Than Climate Change. Details from Bloomberg – here’s an excerpt: “Deforestation of protected areas and illegal hunting of endangered species that live there has a greater impact on biodiversity than climate change, overfishing and the degradation of coral reefs, according to a researcher. The “rapid disruption” of protected tropical forests is the greatest threat to wildlife, Bill Laurance, a professor at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, said in an e-mail. He studied 60 protected areas in tropical regions around the world and is the lead author of an article that will be published in tomorrow’s issue of Nature.” Photo above: USDA.



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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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