Meteorologists Are Drowning in Weather Models

Weather forecasting is an odd mix of peer-reviewed science, gut feel and fervent prayer. Our forecasts rely on a bedrock, a foundation, of fluid dynamics captured by weather models. The challenge: what model to believe and when?

As I started my meteorological career in the 70s we relied on just one NOAA model, the LFM. Today there are hundreds of models, some of them very specialized (severe storms, hurricanes, etc).

Blood is trickling out of my ears this morning because models aren’t agreeing. ECMWF predicts 1-2 inches of rain today at MSP; NOAA’s 12KM NAM model predicts a third of an inch. I’m inclined to put more weight on the European solution; heaviest rains this morning and midday. I think it may dry out for the Twins game vs. Cleveland this evening. Sunday lives up to its name, the better day to wander outside.

All models pull hot air into town with a shot at 90F one week from today. I’m predicting 80s for the first few days of the Minnesota State Fair. Plenty of hot and sweaty days ahead of us!


ECMWF (European) model guidance above shows total rainfall by Sunday evening, courtesy of WeatherBell.


3KM NOAA NAM Guidance. Although not as wet as ECMWF, the high-resolution WRF model prints out some 1-2″ amounts, with the heaviest rainfall predicted just west of the Twin Cities metro.


Shot at 90F Next Weekend? Remind yourself of that this morning, when you’re tempted to dig around and find a sweatshirt. Summer isn’t nearly done with us yet.


Lukewarm. We may still experience a couple of 90-degree days during the Minnesota State Fair, but the latest 2-week outlook for winds aloft hints at warm, not hot as Canadian air sags south of the border with some frequency, keeping the worst of the blowtorch heat well south of Minnesota.


Praedictix Briefing: Issued Friday, August 9th, 2019:

  • Typhoon Lekima has winds of 110 mph Friday evening local time and was moving to the northwest at 7 mph. Lekima is expected to make landfall early Saturday morning local time in the Zhejiang province of China and move northward across eastern China into next week. Typhoon Warnings are in place across some of the eastern provinces of China, including in Shanghai, where strong winds and heavy rain will be possible
  • We are also watching Typhoon Krosa which could pose a threat to mainland Japan late next week.

Typhoon Lekima On Satellite. In the Western Pacific, Lekima has weakened some over the past 24 hours, now sitting at typhoon status with sustained winds of 110 mph. Rainfall totals of over 12” have been reported in portions of Taiwan due to Lekima since Thursday morning. Typhoon Warnings have been put in place across some of the eastern provinces of China, including in Shanghai, from the China Meteorological Administration.


Lekima Landfall Expected Early Saturday Local Time. Lekima will make landfall early Saturday morning in the Zhejiang province (in coastal regions from Xiangshan to Cangnan according to the China Meteorological Administration) with forecast sustained winds around 90 mph. It will continue to weaken as it moves to the north this weekend and into next week, moving past Shanghai late Saturday into Sunday. This system will continue to contain the potential of heavy rain and strong winds as it makes landfall and moves northward across eastern China.


Heavy Rain Threat. Rainfall amounts of up to 12” will be possible across portions of eastern China through the weekend, which will bring the potential of flooding across the region. Additional heavy rain may also fall across portions of central Taiwan.


Strong Wind Potential. The strongest winds with Lekima will be along and near the point of landfall, where wind gusts up to 100 mph will be possible in eastern China. Stronger wind gusts will also be possible in Shanghai, especially Saturday and Saturday night.


Tracking Krosa. We’re also tracking Typhoon Krosa, which as of Friday evening local time had winds of approximately 100 mph (the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane) and was still barely moving east at 1 mph. This storm will continue to inch north and northwest through the weekend, before finally gaining some forward speed next week. This could have the potential to approach mainland Japan by the end of next week as a weaker system.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix


Above Average Number of Hurricanes Expected in Atlantic. Here’s an update from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center: “Seasonal forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center have increased the likelihood of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season to 45% (up from 30% from the outlook issued in May). The likelihood of near-normal activity is now at 35%, and the chance of below-normal activity has dropped to 20%. The number of predicted storms is also greater with NOAA now expecting 10-17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), of which 5-9 will become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater), including 2-4 major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). This updated outlook is for the entire six-month hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30. NOAA is also announcing today that the current El Nino in the Pacific Ocean has ended and neutral conditions have returned. “El Nino typically suppresses Atlantic hurricane activity but now that it’s gone, we could see a busier season ahead,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center...”


Parts of Alaska Have No Sea Ice For the First Time Ever As Temperatures in Region Hit Record Highs. A story at TIME.com caught my eye; here’s the intro: “Alaska has seen the lowest levels of sea ice ever this summer as record temperatures and wildfires hit the region with some areas completely ice free — an event which has never occurred so early in the year and has ramifications for the arctic climate and the Earth as a whole. Compared to all other recorded years of research, this August has the lowest levels of arctic sea ice ever, according to Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). “Basically, if you look at Point Barrow — the northernmost point of Alaska — there’s probably no sea ice within 300 to 350 miles right now,” says Serreze. Historically, he says, at this time of year there should still be some ice close to or along the coast of Alaska, not hundreds of miles away...”


Red-Colored “Watermelon Snow” Found at Yosemite National Park. The Today Show explains: “Watermelon is synonymous with summer. Watermelon snow? Well, that’s something else entirely. Red-tinted snow, referred to as watermelon snow, has appeared at California’s Yosemite National Park. “It may be August, but there is still plenty of snow and ice above 9,500 feet! This reddish colored snow is often called watermelon snow. The red or pink color is the usually green algae’s natural sunscreen, protecting itself from too much heat and damaging UV radiation,” the park tweeted. Watermelon snow, which can also be referred to as blood snow or red snow, according to Smithsonian.com, is the result of heat...”


The First 100% Solar-Powered Airport in the USA. Big Think has details: “Tennessee’s Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport recently became the first U.S. airport powered by 100 percent solar energy. Started in 2010, the $10 million microgrid project includes a 2.74-megawatt solar farm that’s the size of about 16 football fields, as well as battery storage technology that allows the system to run off the grid. “This is a momentous day for the Chattanooga Airport as we complete our solar farm and achieve a major sustainability milestone,” said Terry Hart, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Airport in a press release. “This project has immediate benefits to our airport and community, and we’re proud to set an example in renewable energy for other airports, businesses and our region. While generating a local renewable resource, we are also increasing the economic efficiency of the airport...”


Who’s Afraid of Hurricane Dolly? More than a morsel of truth to an opinion piece at The Wall Street Journal: “…Sure enough, a 2014 National Academy of Sciences study found the death tolls from hurricanes with feminine names tend to be higher than from those with masculine names. The scientists hypothesized that male names are scarier than female ones and tested it by asking subjects to estimate the intensity of hypothetical storms. Sure enough, they expected Dolly to be weaker than Omar…It’s high time the WMO updated its names. One solution would be to name storms after predators—say, Tiger or Shark. If Omar is scarier then Dolly, Shark is surely scarier than Omar. Or maybe the WMO can take inspiration from horror films. Tropical storm Poltergeist. Hurricane Slasher. Or Demon, Devil, Jaws, Chucky...”


It’s Good To Be Green. CNN Travel reports: “Frontier Airlines is offering free flights for people with the last name “Green” or “Greene.”  The Colorado airline says it operates “America’s greenest flight” and is giving away flights — up to $400 in value — for the promotion of Green Week, the company’s ecofriendly initiative.  “Our fleet’s fuel efficiency is unmatched by other U.S. airlines and allows Frontier to deliver not only the lowest fares but the most sustainable approach to flying,” President and CEO Barry Biffle said in a statement. The airline says customer response has been positive… Passengers must book a flight on FlyFrontier.com, must depart on Tuesday and return by August 20, and must legally have the last name Green or Greene…”


81 F. high in the Twin Cities on Friday.

82 F. average high on August 9.

90 F. high on August 9, 2018.

August 10, 2004: Cool Canadian air is ushered in on strong northwest winds. International Falls has its record coldest high temperature for this date with 49 degrees. The Twin Cities only saw a high of 59.

August 10, 1939: Very heavy rain falls at Two Harbors, accumulating to 5.2 inches of rain.



SATURDAY: Heavy showers and T-storms AM/midday hours. Winds: SE 7-12. High: 72

SUNDAY: Hazy sun, a drier, nicer day. Winds: N 3-8. Wake-up: 63. High: 81

MONDAY: More showers & T-storms likely. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: 65. High: 76

TUESDAY: Unsettled, another shower. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 62. High: 77

WEDNESDAY: Sunny and comfortable. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 59. High: 76

THURSDAY: Sticky with T-storms up north. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 64. High: 81

FRIDAY: Hot sunshine, evacuate to the lake. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 66. High: near 90


Climate Stories….

Sea Level Rise is Combining With Other Factors to Regularly Flood Miami. A preview of coming attractions, it would seem. Here’s an excerpt from a Capital Weather Gang article: “It doesn’t take a hurricane to cause flooding in Miami anymore. In fact, it doesn’t even take a gust of wind. “King tides” have been taking a toll on Miami for a number of years, and the phenomenon is only getting worse because of sea-level rise from human-induced climate change. A king tide is a higher -than-normal tide caused by specific alignments of the sun and moon. Miami set daily high tide records for more than a week straight for the period bridging late July and early August, despite a total lack of storminess in the region. Sunny day coastal flooding is now routine, submerging some areas on a monthly basis when the sun and moon line up just right. There’s even a “king tide season” in the late fall and early winter, when the flooding is particularly severe…”


Climate Changes is Making Us Sicker. Here’s a clip from a post at The Roanoke Times: “…Longer and hotter summers are causing more heat-related illnesses, more allergies, and more exacerbations of lung and heart diseases. Extreme heat like we are experiencing can even be deadly. The human body has a few tricks up its sleeve to regulate high temperature, such as sweating. But prolonged exposure to extreme heat can overwhelm the body’s ability to cope and result in dehydration and markedly elevated body temperature called hyperthermia…”


The Class of 0000. I interviewed Lia Harel on WCCO Radio Friday afternoon. Politicans who ignore the next generation of (voters) are playing with fire. Here’s a link from WBUR.org: “Graduation speakers all around the country are sending a warning to 2020 presidential hopefuls: have a plan to get to zero emissions in 11 years, or lose our votes. Here & Now’s Lisa Mullins talks with youth climate activist and organizer of the Class of 0000 movement, Lia Harel.”


The Future of Farming: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Changing the way the world manages its lands will be crucial to limiting warming, according to the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land released yesterday. The agriculture sector in particular needs to adapt, as reliable food production is threatened by the changing climate, and many farming practices are actually accelerating warming. The report also lays out some sustainable farming options, like soil management techniques that will increase how much carbon soil can absorb, showing that the agriculture sector can also be a part of the solution. Limiting food waste and making dietary changes, such as eating more plant-based and sustainable animal-sourced food, are also presented as ways to reduce emissions. “Some dietary choices require more land and water, and cause more emissions of heat-trapping gases than others,” explained Debra Roberts, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II.” (TIME, USA Today, NPR, PBS NewsHour, Atlantic, Mic, The New Yorker, Salon, Rolling Stone, Popular Science, Carbon Brief, E&E $, Ars Technica, Colorado Public Radio, WBUR, WVTF, WKYC, Cheddar, Geek, VOA. Commentary: New York Times, Alan Sano op-ed $, The Hill, Seth Watkins op-ed).


Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns. The New York Times reports: “The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself. The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report. Climate change will make those threats even worse, as floods, drought, storms and other types of extreme weather threaten to disrupt, and over time shrink, the global food supply…”

File image: Tim McCabe, USDA.


2020 Democrats Step Up Pressure on Fossil Fuel Industry in Climate Fight. Here’s an update from Bloomberg: “Bernie Sanders says the industry is a criminal enterprise. Joe Biden is vowing to take action against it. Other candidates are competing to say who will wean America from its products the soonest. The fossil fuel industry is squarely in the cross hairs of Democrats running for the White House as they move sharply to the left on climate change, evoking growing alarm from a sector that’s found a cheerleader in the Trump administration. It has moved to rescind regulations on oil drilling and proposed extraordinary measures to aid coal mining...”

Photo credit: “Jay Inslee, governor of Washington and 2020 presidential candidate, speaks during the National Education Association (NEA) #StrongPublicSchools Presidential Forum in Houston on July 5, 2019.” Photographer: Sergio Flores/Bloomberg.



Buckle Up. Climate Change is Already Contributing to Bumpier Trans-Atlantic Flights, Study Shows. Capital Weather Gang has details; here’s an excerpt: “…The new study, published in the journal Nature, is the first to detect a statistically significant increase in vertical wind shear at jet-stream altitudes across the North Atlantic. Changes here can have a significant influence on aviation, since nearly 3,000 flights cross the pond on an average day. The study focuses on the North Atlantic for two main reasons: It’s the world’s busiest overseas flight corridor, and flights crossing the ocean in this region are typically exposed to the polar jet stream for the duration of their flight, particularly during the winter. The turbulence research focuses on the main driver of mid-latitude jet streams: The temperature difference between the equator and the North Pole, which powers what is known as the thermal wind…”

Graphic credit: “The jet stream pattern on July 24, 2019.” (Image: Earth.nullschool.net) (Earth Simulator)


The Increasing Irrelevance of Climate Change Denial. Here’s a clip from an Op-Ed at Scientific American: “…Surprisingly, despite all the empirical evidence, a contingent of people continue to believe that observed temperature increases are the result not of anthropogenic industrialization but of naturally occurring cycles. However, whether you believe the causes of climate change are anthropogenic or natural matters less each year. For Californians, the effects of increasingly destructive wildfires and the inconvenient strategies for preventing them are the same irrespective of belief. Over time, the relevance of climate change denial will diminish while the need for mitigation and adaptation intensifies.”


How Climate Change is Becoming a Deadly Part of White Nationalism. Here’s an excerpt of an interview at Gizmodo’s Earther: “…But we can’t ignore how Malthusian ideas about overpopulation and the environment are taught in high schools all over the United States. They are an important part of many environmental studies curricula. There’s a deep racial undercurrent with poor people of color are presented as having too many children and destroying the environment. Unfortunately, Malthusianism has achieved the status of conventional wisdom in the U.S. It’s not surprising that white nationalists are influenced by it and deploy it for their own hateful aims. Now, there’s also a powerful apocalyptic discourse that links climate change, environmental degradation, overpopulation, and scarcity. White nationalism is already steeped in violent apocalypticism—fears about the white race coming to an end feed the impetus to mount an Armageddon-style bloody-but-cleansing race war…”