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Warmer & Drier Than Average Nationwide


How Hot Was It? This collage of photos pretty much sums up the historic heat of 2012, a REAL summer for most of the USA. Thanks to Gary Botzek at for sharing these.

Deepening Drought. Details: “Dry boat ramps and docks are pictured at Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. The U.S. Drought Monitor report, released Thursday, shows 42 percent of Oklahoma in exceptional drought, the worst rating, and 53 percent in extreme drought, the second worst. Associate state Climatologist Gary McManus said the lack of rainfall has also left lakes statewide at 20 to 30 percent below normal levels.” (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook. NOAA is predicting the drought to “persist or intensify” across much of the USA in the weeks ahead, “drought development likely” over the immediate Twin Cities metro. Some improvement is forecast for the Mississippi River Valley and Ohio Valley.

I would almost argue that we might be entering a new climate state,” says Stroeve.” – from a Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media post below.

Photo credit above: “A mountainous area near Nuuk, Greenland, July 18, 2012. As a result of China having no Arctic territory, the country has been deploying its wealth and diplomatic clout to secure toeholds in the region.” (Andrew Testa/The New York Times)

“A new national survey finds that 7% of likely voters remain undecided about whom they will vote for President. The majority of these undecided voters say the Presidential candidates’ positions on global warming will be one of several important factors determining how they cast their vote.” – Yale Project on Climate Change Communication; details below.

The U.S. [in 2011] experienced a record fourteen weather-related disasters each in excess of a billion dollars—and many more disasters of lesser magnitudes,” reports the non-profit Climate Science Watch (CSW). “Yet the U.S. has no national climate change preparedness strategy; and Federal efforts to address the rising risks have been undermined through budget cuts and other means.” – from a story at Kansas City infoZine below.

About As Quiet As It Gets. The 84-hour NAM model from NOAA shows scattered showers and T-storms from the Central Plains into the Ohio Valley into Thursday – otherwise most of the USA will be sunny and warmer than average for late September.

Still Prime Time For Hurricanes. No tropical systems threatening the USA or Caribbean looking out 7-10 days. Category 2 Hurricane Miriam is forecast to weaken to tropical storm status before coming ashore over Baja Mexico by Thursday.

A Blaze of Color. Thanks to Bill Stein who snapped these photos along the banks of the Mississippi River Monday morning near St. Paul. Good work!

Sunset Cliffs. Jim Grant snapped this superb photo outside San Diego: “A nice day in San Diego , especially along the coast. This was taken at Sunset Cliffs …..which is very close to Ocean Beach ….”

Stacked Lenticularis. Often mistaken for UFO’s, “lenticularis” are wave clouds that are nearly stationary. The form as air rises up and over mountain ranges, invisible water vapor condensing out into visible cloud droplets and ice crystals. More details and a spectacular YouTube video clip from Lake Tahoe Weather: “A stacked Lenticular Cloud over the South Shore of Lake Tahoe. As the Sun was setting this cloud threw off a bright orange then pink Alpen glow. The Sunset is at 6:52

A Rare Silver Lining To The Heat wave/Drought of 2012. Check out these numbers from NOAA SPC, showing only 757 confirmed tornadoes as of September 21. That compares to an annual average of 1,300 tornadoes, and 1,692 that touched down last year as of late September. Details: “After a busy start, tornado events in the U.S. in 2012 have dropped well below the expected normal. The preliminary total of 757 tornadoes is about 400 tornadoes below what might be expected in a typical year. This chart shows that in late 2011, the annual running total was over 400 tornadoes above normal. This depicts the dramatic variability that can occur in tornado numbers from one year to the next.”

A Little Close For Comfort. No details, but I’d say that cloud to ground strike was about a quarter mile away. The guy (?) shooting video could probably feel the heat from that C to G zap! Source:

Speaking Of Close For Comfort. Courtesy of Twitter and @AsteroidMisses. Personally – not sure I want to know if there’s a big chunk of rock hurtling toward Earth.

Review: iPhone 5. Did you hear – Apple released a new smart phone? I was shocked to hear the news. Here’s an excerpt of a review from “…The iPhone 5 is a terrific phone. If you’re looking for the best smartphone on the market, you’d have to at least start here. On paper, it doesn’t bring much that hasn’t been done before, but it integrates those elements (performance, larger screen, LTE) into a seamless package. Above all, it’s a pleasure to use. Combine that with iOS’s balance of power, simplicity, and elegance (see our in-depth look at iOS 6), and the iPhone 5 is like a remastered version of a classic movie. It’s a familiar experience, but its refinements are in all the right places.”

America In Denial? Here’s a clip from a post by Tavis Smiley at Huffington Post that caught my eye. Are we (in denial?) “I’m proud to be an American, I just want Americans to have more to be proud of — a high quality education, a good-paying job, a place to call home, some savings on which to retire. Most Americans aren’t asking for much, and they realize there’s no victory in victimization. They just want a chance to get in the game, play by one set of rules and have a shot at winning. The recent jobs report underscores that many Americans have gotten tired of standing on the sidelines waiting for their number to be called. So the August unemployment rate falls (slightly) because hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens have given up even looking for jobs. How does America win again if we can’t even field a team?” Photo credit:

The Best Of The European Beard And Mustache Championships. Who says Europe is in decline? This blurb from Time Magazine caught my eye. Photo: Vincent Kessler, Reuters.

U.S. Explodes Atomic Bombs Near Beers To See If They’re Safe To Drink. No, you can’t make this stuff up. Robert Krulwich from NPR has the eye-popping details. Nice to know they have their priorities: “…Thanks to my friend, science historian Alex Wellerstein, we are now in possession of a 1957 U.S. government study called “The Effect of Nuclear Explosions on Commercially Packaged Beverages,” which addresses this very question: After the bomb, can I drink the beer? Written by three executives from Can Manufacturers Institute and the Glass Container Manufacturers Institute for the Federal Civil Defense Administration, the study says that after placing cans and bottles of soda and beer next to an actual atomic explosion, after measuring subsequent radioactivity and after actual taste tests, go ahead: Grab that can, pop it open and drink away.”



Perpetual Drought?

First, a caveat: weather is never “normal” or “average”. Throughout the arc of history we’ve always seen peaks and valleys of temperature and moisture. Drought and flood has been with us since the dawn of time.

A mild winter sounds good (to many of us), but if you warm up the atmosphere you increase evaporation; heat waves become hotter, droughts more extreme and long-lasting.

“It seems to me that this is our new reality” my friend and business partner, Todd Frostad, said yesterday. I agree.

Minnesota started the year in drought – and we’ll end 2012 in a deepening drought. My extended outlook calls for “perpetually dry, with a few spikes of extreme rainfall for good measure.”

Lake water levels are down 2-4 feet, there’s high fire danger. We need rain to replenish soil moisture for 2013’s growing season. Sorry for the burst of paranoia, but I’m concerned about a dry bias showing up on the maps.

Storms detour well south of Minnesota into mid-October. Not a drop of rain in sight.

Expect pleasant 60s into Thursday, 70s Friday thru much of next week. Blue sky. Low humidity. Less pollen (thanks to Sunday’s freeze).

If it wasn’t so brown I’d call it Just About Perfect.


Photo credit above: “In this Sept. 19, 2012, photo corn plants weakened by the drought lie on the ground after being knocked over by rain in Bennington, Neb. The U.S. Drought Monitor update released Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, says recent rainfall came too late to help already damaged corn crops but may help still-maturing soybeans. The report says dry conditions continue to ease in key Midwest states as farmers pick up their corn harvests.” (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)


Climate Stories…

Rapidly Shrinking Lakes. As bad as the drought is becoming across Minnesota, conditions are much worse over the central and southern Plains. Details: “Water lines on the rocks surrounding a harbor at Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, Friday, Sept. 21, 2012, show the extent the lake levels have fallen due to drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor report, released Thursday, shows 42 percent of Oklahoma in exceptional drought, the worst rating, and 53 percent in extreme drought, the second worst. Associate state Climatologist Gary McManus said the lack of rainfall has also left lakes statewide at 20 to 30 percent below normal levels.” (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Potential Impact Of Global Warming On The 2012 Presidential Election. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting poll from The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication: “A new national survey finds that 7% of likely voters remain undecided about whom they will vote for President. The majority of these undecided voters say the Presidential candidates’ positions on global warming will be one of several important factors determining how they cast their vote. The survey found that Undecideds are much more similar to likely Obama voters than likely Romney voters across a range of climate change and energy-related beliefs, attitudes, and policy preferences.”

* the study is here (pdf file).

Earthtalk: Climate Change And Extreme Weather. Here’s a snippet from a story at Kansas City infoZine: “…While most scientists don’t dispute the link between global warming and extreme weather, the once skeptical public is now starting to come around—especially following 2011, when floods, droughts, heat waves and tornadoes took a heavy toll on the U.S. According to a poll conducted by researchers at Yale University’s Project on Climate Change Communication, four out of five Americans reported personally experiencing one or more types of extreme weather or a natural disaster in 2011, while more than a third were personally harmed either a great deal or a moderate amount by one or more of these events. And a large majority of Americans believe that global warming made several high profile extreme weather events worse, including record high summer temperatures nationwide, droughts in Texas and Oklahoma, catastrophic Mississippi River flooding, Hurricane Irene and an unusually warm winter.”

Image credit above: iStockPhoto/Thinkstock

Changes In Stratosphere Can Alter Ocean Circulation And Affect Global Climate. The Times of India has a good overview of another story that caught my eye yesterday; here’s an excerpt: “WASHINGTON: Periodic changes in winds 15 to 30 miles high in the stratosphere influence the seas by striking a vulnerable “Achilles heel” in the North Atlantic and changing mile-deep ocean circulation patterns, which in turn affect Earth’s climate. This is the finding of a University of Utah study.  “We found evidence that what happens in the stratosphere matters for the ocean circulation and therefore for climate,” said Thomas Reichler, senior author of the study….Reichler and colleagues used weather observations and 4,000 years worth of supercomputer simulations of weather to show a surprising association between decade-scale, periodic changes in stratospheric wind patterns known as the polar vortex, and similar rhythmic changes in deep-sea circulation patterns.”

Photo credit above: “Periodic changes in winds 15 to 30 miles high in the stratosphere influence the seas by striking a vulnerable “Achilles heel” in the North Atlantic and changing mile-deep ocean circulation patterns, which in turn affect Earth’s climate.”

Loss Of Arctic Sea Ice…And A “Giant Parasol” Are we entering a “new climate state”? Here’s an excerpt of a post (and video) from climate scientist Peter Sinclair at the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media: “A new video produced by independent videographer Peter Sinclair for The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media explains what expert scientists now find to be the lowest extent of Arctic sea ice in recorded history. The shrinking of the Polar ice cap — providing protection much like a “giant parasol” — presents us “a big problem, a real problem, and it’s happening now, it’s not happening generations from now,” Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis cautions. “There’s really nothing like what we’ve seen happen this year,” according to Francis. She calls the loss of sea ice in 2012 “just such a stunning example of how the climate system is changing right before our very eyes … something anybody can see, you don’t have to be a scientist.”

Was This Summer A Climate Change Event? Here’s an excerpt from an article (and podcast) at Scientific American: “We have been locked in a two year now strong La Nina cycle. The La Nina cycle brings more aridity to the center of continents. Would it have been, from previous La Ninas, likely to be as dry as it is now, setting record after record of number of days over 100 degrees, number of days without rain? “This year we actually hit a point where there were 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. If it was more like 350 or maybe 280, which is what it was in the middle of the 19th century, would this have been as likely? And we’d say no, the odds of this would have been far less likely. It could have still occurred, but it would have been an extremely rare event. And as we look forward, this is going to be more common.”

Is News Corp Failing Science? Here’s an excerpt from a recent press release (pdf) from the Union of Concerned Scientists: “Despite News Corp.’s public commitment to environmental sustainability, a snapshot analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) finds that recent portrayals of climate science on Fox News Channel and in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion section are overwhelmingly misleading.

UCS’s analysis finds that:
• Over a recent six-month period, 93 percent of Fox News Channel’s representations of climate science were misleading (37 out of 40 instances).
• Similarly, over the past year, 81 percent of the representations of climate science in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion section were misleading (39 out of 48 instances).

* The Washington Post has more on the UCS report here.

Climate Change Creates A Storm. Here is official reaction from PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler, focused on a PBS NewsHour segment that raised eyebrows last week: “It was not the PBS NewsHour’s finest 10 minutes. In my view, and that of hundreds, even thousands of others, the program stumbled badly. On the other hand, it was not the end of the world, so to speak. A segment on climate change last Monday evening produced a storm of protest from critics who felt the program mislead viewers — by a faulty application of journalistic balance — about the very real threat of global warming and man’s contribution to it, as well as a sprinkling of support from those who think that threat is overstated and that balance was just the right touch for the NewsHour….What was stunning to me as I watched this program is that the NewsHour and Michels had picked Watts — who is a meteorologist and commentator — rather than a university-accredited scientist to provide “balance.” I had never heard of Watts before this program and I’m sure most viewers don’t, as part of their routines, read global warming blogs on either side of the issue.”

Viewer reaction to the PBS NewsHour segment from Getler’s PBS post:

I am incredibly disappointed with the amount of air time that was provided to Anthony Watts on the PBS News Hour. His arguments have been clearly debunked. It’s fine to provide a “balanced view” for things that are political or opinion. But climate change science has been fairly clear for 20 years, and indisputably clear recently. What’s next, are you going to start interviewing right wing evangelists about questioning the theory of evolution as science? Maybe we should start arguing about whether the earth rotates around the sun or not. Without exaggeration, this is really the level of stooping low in this interview. The debate on climate change is over. We are so far beyond this debate, and actually starting to face the severe consequences already. PBS should be reporting about what is already happening as a result of climate change and the very challenging things that are likely to happen in our lifetimes that few people are aware of. Wake up!!!!

Michael Courtney, Saugerties, NY



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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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