One Reason Why Property Insurance Is Getting More Expensive

Is it bad luck, demographics: more people living in (dangerous) spots – or is a warmer climate sparking more extremes? A paragraph in a recent New York Times article made me do a double- take. “Since 1980, a period that includes all 20 of the warmest years in recorded history and 18 of the 20 most intense hurricane seasons in the satellite era, losses in the USA from storms, wildfires and droughts topped $1.6 trillion – nearly a third of which occurred in just the last five years.”

No wonder my property insurance rates keep going up.
Today feels more like mid-September than mid-June, with low humidity and 70s. Soak it up, because another swarm of storms arrive late Thursday and linger into Saturday, as humidity levels rise. If there’s any sun over the weekend we should see low 80s. Right now Sunday appears to be the drier day, but that outlook may change as new data fuels new weather model runs.
A cool start to next week gives way to 80s by late week. I still see a good shot at 90F in time for the 4th of July.

Predicted Rainfall by Sunday Evening. ECMWF prints out as much as an inch of rain for parts of central Minnesota and the Twin Cities over the next few days; much of that falling late Thursday into Friday as a warmer, stickier front approaches. Map credit: WeatherBell.

Hot Front Lurking Nearby For the 4th? We’re due for an extended period of heat, and I still see signs of a few hot consecutive days falling into place right around the 4th of July. Keep in mind that our hottest weather comes, on average, in mid-July.

Corn and Soybean Planting Wrapping up in Minnesota, USDA Says. Star Tribune has an update: “…Farmers in Minnesota are finally wrapping up their planting, and turning to spraying and fertilizing after a cool, wet spring kept them out of their fields far later than usual. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 99% of the corn crop and 94% of the soybean crop in the state were planted as of Sunday. Farmers raced to make up ground last week and got an assist from the weather, with five days suitable for planting. The delayed planting forced farmers to switch out their seed for seed that matures earlier, and to quickly calculate whether it makes sense to plant their fields at all, given the insurance penalties for planting corn after June 1 and the rapid drop in yields for corn planted after mid-May…”

This Beastly Tornado Left Behind Captivating Images, and an Incredible Set of Data. Capital Weather Gang has details: “…Meet Anton Seimon. His work covers an array of topics, from long-term climate-change effects in the Andes Mountains to the dynamics of tornadoes on quick time scales. On May 28, his team captured jaw-dropping video of a beastly tornado tearing along near Tipton, Kan. The twister was flanked by storm chasers Skip Talbot, Jennifer Brindley Ubl and Hank Schyma. Each had a camera trained on the funnel as its multiple vortices dangled over open fields. Before long, the menacing tornado clipped several structures — tossing debris hundreds of feet into the air. Their images are beautiful, captivating and terrifying. But more than anything, they’re scientific. That’s where Seimon’s project comes in…”

WMO Verifies 3rd and 4th Hottest Temperature Recorded on Earth. Here’s an excerpt from The World Meteorological Organization: “The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has officially evaluated temperature record extremes of 54.0 °C at two locations, one in Mitribah, Kuwait, on 21 July 2016 and a second in Turbat, Pakistan, on 28 May 2017.  In its most intensive evaluation ever undertaken, the WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes, has verified the Mitribah observation as 53.9 °C (± 0.1 °C margin of uncertainty) and the Turbat one as 53.7 °C (± 0.4 °C).  The Mitribah, Kuwait temperature is now accepted by the WMO as the highest temperature ever recorded for the continental region of Asia and the two observations are the third (tied within uncertainty limits) and fourth highest WMO-recognized temperature extremes. Significantly, they are the highest, officially-recognized temperatures to have been recorded in the last 76 years...”

An Uptick in Natural Disasters. Some of this is obviously demographic trends (people – increasingly – living in high risk areas, near the coast, along rivers, etc) but there seems to be something else in play. Here’s an excerpt from USA Facts: “We are declaring more natural disasters due to extreme weather, with 137 incidents declared in 2017 and 124 in 2018. Since 1999, there were 1,052 more fire declarations and 529 more severe storm declarations than in the same 20-year prior period. In the same time period, flood declarations fell by 129. Five of the most expensive disaster declarations since 1980— Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, Sandy, and Irma and the 2012 drought/heat wave—happened within the last ten years…”

Disaster Declarations by Type. Data from FEMA and NOAA, graphic courtesy of USA Facts.

Natural Disasters Are Becoming More Expensive. Hurricanes (Katrina, Harvey, Maria, Sandy and Irma) top the list of expensive natural disasters since 2006, according to NOAA. Graphic: USA Facts.

Wet California Winter is a Boon to Skiers and Water Supply. But It Brings a Threat: Wildfires. It’s counterintuitive, but a wet winter translated into a lush spring with more potential fuel for inevitable fires. Washington Post explains: “…Awash in precious snow and water that will help meet the demands of the state’s 40 million residents, the wetness also is forcing California to confront an even greater threat of wildfire. The soaking spring nourishing the Jeffrey pines and sagebrush is giving way to a desert dry as soaring heat scorches the new growth into blankets of kindling. At least eight wildfires already have flared during the past week to the north and west of here, and the Bay Area is hitting record-high temperatures for early June. The utility company responsible for the state’s deadliest fire, which reduced the town of Paradise to ash last year, has begun pre-emptively shutting down power to tens of thousands of customers in fire-prone areas...”

How Driverless Cars Could Kill the Airline Industry. Not sure I agree with the premise, but every industry is being disrupted. Fast Company has food for thought: “As driverless cars become more capable and more common, they will change people’s travel habits not only around their own communities but across much larger distances. Our research has revealed just how much people’s travel preferences could shift, and found a new potential challenge to the airline industry. Imagine someone who lives in Atlanta and needs to travel to Washington, D.C., for business. This is about a 10-hour drive. A flight takes about two hours, assuming no delays. Add to that the drive to the airport, checking in, the security line, and waiting at the gate. Upon arrival in D.C., it may take another 30 minutes to pick up any checked bags and find a rental car—and even more time to drive to the specific destination…”

Image credit: Ostapenko Olena.

What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane. The Atlantic does some remarkable reporting in this long, but excellent post; here’s an excerpt: “…The mystery surrounding MH370 has been a focus of continued investigation and a source of sometimes feverish public speculation. The loss devastated families on four continents. The idea that a sophisticated machine, with its modern instruments and redundant communications, could simply vanish seems beyond the realm of possibility. It is hard to permanently delete an email, and living off the grid is nearly unachievable even when the attempt is deliberate. A Boeing 777 is meant to be electronically accessible at all times. The disappearance of the airplane has provoked a host of theories. Many are preposterous. All are given life by the fact that, in this age, commercial airplanes don’t just vanish. This one did, and more than five years later its precise whereabouts remain unknown. Even so, a great deal about the disappearance of MH370 has come into clearer view, and reconstructing much of what happened that night is possible...”

Image credit: Mendelsund & Munday.

Dominos Will Use Self-Driving Vehicles to Deliver Pizzas in Houston. Are pizza delivery people an endangered species? Engadget reports: “Domino’s is determined to make autonomous pizza delivery a practical reality. The chain has unveiled plans to deliver pies to “select” Houston customers later in 2019 using Nuro’s self-driving R2 vehicle. If you order online from a participating store and have a little bit of luck, you’ll get the choice of a robotic courier — pick that and you’ll get a PIN code to unlock a compartment on the R2 and grab your meal. While this doesn’t bode well for human delivery drivers, Domino’s is betting that this could help stores deal with the crush of orders and bring your pizza on time...”

Want to Get Healthier? Spend More Time in the Woods or Up at the Lake. Here are a few clips from Big Think: “…Spending at least two hours a week in nature will do wonders for your health, according to a new study, published in Scientific Reports… Researchers, based at the U.K.’s Exeter Medical School, scoured previous studies to better understand how simply being outside benefits us. What did they find? They discovered being immersed in nature lower probabilities of asthma hospitalization, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental distress, obesity, and mortality in adults; it has also been shown to reduce obesity and myopia in children. Two hours weekly appears to be the sweet spot, with peak positive associations capping between 200–300 minutes...”

75 F. maximum Twin Cities temperature on Tuesday.

80 F. average high on June 18.

78 F. high temperature on June 18, 2018.

June 19, 2014: Heavy rain leads to widespread flooding in the Twin Cities metro area. Minnehaha Creek has its record crest of 17.64 feet on this date. Eden Prairie records 5.47 inches of rain, while MSP airport receives 4.13 inches, the highest daily total in 5 years.

June 19, 1955: Hailstones the size of hen’s eggs fall in Roseau County.

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, comfortable. Winds: NE 3-8. High: 76

THURSDAY: Showers arrive, possible thunder. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 60. High: 75

FRIDAY: Unsettled, few T-storms in the area. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 62. High: 79

SATURDAY: More sun, nagging thunder risk. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 65. High: 81

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, could be lake-worthy. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 64. High: 83

MONDAY: Windy & cooler, a few showers. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 61. High: 77

TUESDAY: Sunny, breezy and warm. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 59. High: 80

Climate Stories…

Farming in Minnesota. Climate Will Change What We Grow and How We Grow It. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Star Tribune that caught my eye: “…A recent Michigan State University study of 70 million acres in 10 Midwestern states, including Minnesota, found that around a quarter of our cornfields are consistently “unstable yielders” as a result of being too wet, too dry or otherwise unsuitable for cropping. Because these low-yielders waste nutrients, they account for more than 40% of the nitrogen fertilizer escaping into our water as a pollutant and atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. Wasted fertilizer is wasted money. Michigan State estimates farmers lose $1 billion in fertilizer annually as a result of unstable yielders. As climate change accelerates, the costs of unstable acres, both economically and environmentally, will only go up. What do we do? We need to stop being fixated on equating the worth of farmland with its ability to raise two crops: corn and soybeans…”

Photo credit: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune.University of Minnesota Prof. Jacob Jungers checks the growth of Kernza grass with Bianka Fvzaro and Student Dayana Carvalho at a field at the U’s St. Paul campus.”

Want to Make Your Life More Environmentally Friendly? Here’s 30 Ways. USA TODAY has a good list; I would add that voting for candidates at a local, state and national level who have a respect for peer-reviewed science should be at the top of any list. Here’s an excerpt: “…It is not possible to offer an exhaustive list of things you can do to help protect the environment or rank them based on impact, but here is a short list of relatively easy things you can do to shrink your carbon footprint, lead to more green actions, and initiate change on a larger scale, so there are no more climate change effects that can’t be stopped. To compile a list of ways people can reduce their environmental impact, 24/7 Tempo reviewed numerous scientific studies on sources of greenhouse gases and consulted dozens of non-profit organizations working to raise awareness about ethical consumerism such as Green America and government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)...”

Dogs in Slush Water Raising Alarm: Details via Climate Nexus: “A photograph of dogs pulling a sled through ankle-deep melting water over sea ice in Greenland captured worldwide attention on social media this weekend, drawing attention to the extreme ice loss occurring on the ice sheet. Scientists said last week that Greenland lost 2 billion tons of ice on Thursday alone after temperatures spiked over 40 degrees above normal, with around 45 percent of the ice sheet experiencing a thaw. The extensive melt so early in the summer season “is setting the island up for more melting as we go on into the summer,” researcher Ted Scambos told the New York Times. The photo and news of the melting ice sheet are providing an alarming backdrop for climate negotiations happening this week in Bonn, Germany, the AP reports, where the UN is hosting talks resolving outstanding issues from last December’s COP in Poland.” (Dog photo: CNN, The Guardian. Climate talks: AP. Ice melt: New York Times $, Washington Post $, CNN).

“Chernobyl” Provided the Climate Change Metaphor That “Game of Thones” Failed to Deliver. Forbes explains: “…Much like the climate crisis we face today, Chernobyl’s conflict wasn’t really about facts; the terrible nuclear accident was right there for the world to see. But the scale of the problem was deliberately concealed, the wellbeing of not only the citizens of the Soviet Union, but of Europe and beyond, completely disregarded in favor of maintaining the illusion of control. To quote a prominent climate change-denier, “facts don’t care about your feelings.” Truly, they don’t. Erratic weather patterns and waves of radiation will wreak havoc, regardless of how many people choose to believe they exist. Like shifting climate and collapsing ecosystems, radiation is invisible to the human eye, its insidious effects difficult to understand…”

File image: HBO.

Going “Zero Carbon” Is All the Rage. But Will It Slow Climate Change? Here’s an excerpt of a post at NPR: “…It feels to me like we’re headed toward a decarbonized energy system,” says Rolf Nordstrom, president of the Great Plains Institute, a nonprofit energy research group. “Now it’s just down to how fast and what that energy mix looks like.” Despite the growing push to reach “zero carbon,” there are big questions around whether these goals are possible and how much they would actually slow climate change. Here’s an attempt to answer some of them. Four states — Hawaii, New Mexico, California and Washington — as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., are leading the decarbonization charge. All of those places have enacted legislation requiring that they get all of their electricity from renewable or clean sources by 2050 at the latest…”

Image credit: “The northern Antelope Valley in California is home to a number of large-scale solar panel installations.” Google Earth.

The U.S. Military Emits More Greenhouse Gases Than Sweden and Denmark. Big Think has an interesting angle: “…This means that the United States military is using more oil than anybody else, in part to make sure that the supply of oil remains secure. The irony of this isn’t lost on the study author, Professor Crawford, who frames the problem as such:

“The U.S. has an important public policy decision to make. Do we continue to orient our foreign policy and military force posture toward ensuring access to fossil fuels? Or do we dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuels, including the military’s own dependency, and thus reduce the perceived need to preserve access to oil resources?”

Crawford suggests that a reduction of fossil fuel use by the military would have “enormous positive implications for the climate,” save a fortune, help prevent climate change-related threats, and reduce the need for American soldiers to be in the Middle East at all...”

Climate Change Deniers Aren’t Getting Very Far With America’s Judges. Mother Jones explains why not – here’s a clip: “…I think the real reason you don’t see the basic science challenged much in these cases is that courts are places of inquiry where the standards of reliability are reason and evidence rather than tweets, falsehoods, and the kind of manipulative discourse that you hear in the political sphere,” said Douglas Kysar, the deputy dean of Yale Law School. “In the US, I don’t even imagine a case where there is a jury hearing a liability issue that you’d see a vigorous attack on the underlying science…”

Invasive Grasses Choke Birds’ Habitat as Climate Changes. Check out a story at Star Tribune; here’s an excerpt: “…Instead of a rich, diverse flood plain forest, what’s emerging is a super-tough grassland, a monoculture that does not support much wildlife. The conversion is long and complex. But Beebe, a 31-year-old forest ecologist with Audubon Minnesota, says he thinks it’s aggravated by the more severe rainstorms Minnesota is receiving earlier and later in the year as its climate shifts. The Mississippi’s shrinking flood plain forests are one window into the complex ways that Minnesota’s familiar landscapes are changing with the arrival of a warmer, wetter future that climate change ushers in. Oak forests are moving north, lakes are thawing sooner and a monoculture like reed canary grass is finding even more hospitable places to flourish. “It’s more or less a desert,” Beebe said of new grasslands. “A green desert...”

Photo credit: “Conservation Corps volunteer Sarah Curran planted and marked trees in southeast Minnesota.” Photo by Anthony Soufflé, Star Tribune.

“Farm-ageddon”. Climate-spiked Floods Add to Low Costs, Tarrif Woes for Farmers. Huffington Post has details: “…It’s been the wettest 12 months ever in the U.S., and scientists link it to the effects of climate change. “The frequency of these disasters, I can’t say we’ve experienced anything like this since I’ve been working in agriculture,” John Newton, chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, told The Washington Post.  It’s the slowest planting time in 39 years. Sodden fields lie fallow, and corn and soy crops that have been planted are stunted in the mud. Hard-hit states include Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Michigan. Waters began to recede in some areas in recent days but there’s more rain in the forecast…”

Greenland Lost 2 Billion Tons of Ice This Week, Which is Very Unusual. CNN reports: “Over 40% of Greenland experienced melting Thursday, with total ice loss estimated to be more than 2 gigatons (equal to 2 billion tons) on just that day alone. While Greenland is a big island filled with lots of ice, it is highly unusual for that much ice to be lost in the middle of June. The average “melt season” for Greenland runs from June to August, with the bulk of the melting occurring in July. To visualize how much ice that is, imagine filling the National Mall in Washington with enough ice to reach a point in the sky eight times higher than the Washington Monument…”

Demand for Presidential Climate Debate Escalates After DNC Says No. InsideClimate News reports: “…Fifteen of its presidential candidates, more than 50 of its member organizations in the states, and a slew of progressive organizations that make up its voting base, some armed with petitions bearing over 200,000 signatures, all are now calling for the DNC to hold a separate climate-focused debate. The executive committee of the Democratic party in Miami-Dade County—the U.S. metropolitan area considered most vulnerable to sea level rise and where the first debates will be held June 26 and 27—voted unanimously Monday to urge Democrats to devote one of the 12 Democratic presidential debates to the climate crisis. DNC Chairman Tom Perez, who rejected a climate-focused debate last week, tried to explain the party’s opposition in a post on Medium on Tuesday, saying it would be impractical to hold a single issue forum “at the request of one candidate...”