Minnesota’s Incredible, Super-Sized Summers

The earliest snowfall on record for Minnesota took place on August 31, 1949. A trace of snow was recorded at the new Duluth airport. It was just “flurries”, but on the last day of August?

No hearty smacks of autumnal air are brewing, in fact a warm bias is expected into much of September. I see a run of 80s next week with episodes of thunder and lightning to break the sticky monotony. Out east a full-blown heat wave is brewing, with a streak of 90s; heat indices well above 100F.

While T-storms tracking over the same waterlogged counties spark more flooding from Des Moines to Madison and Chicago.

Minnesota’s growing season is…growing; summer warmth spilling into September most years. 3 months of summer? More like 4. More time for golf, boating and fun with mosquitoes.

A few severe T-storms may bubble up today; stay alert for watches and warnings. Saturday looks like the sunnier, drier day of the holiday weekend with a spotty storm Sunday; more numerous T-storms on Labor Day.

Football – kids back in school – more 80swith thunder? Summer isn’t nearly done with us yet.

Friday Severe Risk. Roughly the southern half of Minnesota and most of Iowa is under a slight risk today. The atmosphere will be sufficiently unstable (and sheered) for a few strong to severe T-storms. Stay alert for possible watches and warnings later today. Map: NOAA SPC.

More Flooding Possible Across Wisconsin. NOAA’s 00z 12KM NAM guidance continues to predict some 3-5″ rainfall amounts for central and southern Wisconsin, which may spark new flooding concerns into Saturday. Heaviest rain bands should set up south and east of Minnesota, but some 1-3″ amounts are possible for Rochester, Winona and Harmony. Map: pivotalweather.com.

An Extra Few Weeks of Summer. GFS guidance continues to keep cold air well north of the USA with a lingering ridge ofhigh pressure creating temperatures well above average into at least mid-September.

Tropical Potential. ECMWF keeps trying to spin up a tropical wave or disturbance from Florida into the northern Gulf Coast. The probability of a named tropical storm is low, but the very slow movement of these stormy bands may prolong heavy rainfall and an ongoing flash flood risk. Visibile image: AerisWeather.

A 2018 Summer of Extremes. Climate Central has a good overview of a summer of intense heat and flash flooding: “…Many locations in the Middle Atlantic, Ohio Valley, and Upper Midwest had one of their 10 wettest summers on record, with Maryland and Pennsylvania at the heart of the summer deluge. Baltimore was among the cities in their top 10, getting more than 24 inches of rain. Massive flooding hit central and eastern Pennsylvania in July. More than 15 inches of rain fell in the town of Lebanon in July, and 12-15 inches were common monthly totals around the state capital of Harrisburg. The supercharged water cycle that comes with a warming climate is reflected in the increase in heavy precipitation. The heaviest rainfall events are getting heavier, with a 55 percent increase in the amount of precipitation falling in the heaviest events in the Northeast...”

What a Strange Summer It’s Been in Minnesota. It’s been an oddly disconcerting summer across the great state of Minnesota. Mercifully few violent tornadoes to report on. Instead, meteorologists have been tracking smoke plumes and air pollution, with potentially toxic algae showing up from western Minnesota to Lake Superior and yet another rash of extreme rainfall events. Monday night as much as 10 inches of rain soaked Vestby, in Vernon County, Wisconsin. Summer floods struck the Mora area, and some farms in southwest Minnesota were underwater for days on end. Dr. Mark Seeley reports the growing season in 2018 is the second warmest on record, trailing only 1988. The new normal? I hope not.

Minimizing Tropical Storm Risk With Real-Time Weather Data. Here’s an excerpt of a post I wrote for AerisWeather.com: “...Category 5 storms (called “Super Typhoons” in the western Pacific basin) can scour well-constructed buildings off their foundations – from a “storm surge” of water 20 feet above normal high tide. Unlike tornadoes, hurricanes seem to serve a purpose in nature, transporting excess heat away from the equator and toward the poles. They are, in effect, nature’s automatic “pressure relief valves”. Which might be easier to rationalize if people didn’t build live and work near the ocean. Coastal development continues to accelerate, putting more people and businesses at risk. The National Ocean Service estimates that more than 1,540 American single-family housing units are permitted for construction every day in coastal counties. According to the 2010 census, 39 percent of the U.S. population is concentrated in counties and parishes with direct coastline access. That’s over 120 million Americans living within Hurricane Alley...”

Map credit: Aeris Mapping Platform – AMP – August 30, 2018

How a Battle to Build the Best Weather Model Impacts Everyone on Earth. Yes, when it comes to medium-range forecasts, it’s hard to beat ECMWF. A story at Earther has good perspective: “…All that power allows each group to run its model fast enough to spit out results for the entire planet a few times a day at fairly high resolution. The Euro recreates conditions up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) into the atmosphere and has a resolution on the ground of roughly 5.6 miles (9 kilometers). The GFS runs simulates the atmosphere up to 33 miles (53 kilometers) above the surface with a resolution of eight miles (13 kilometers). That resolution difference is partly why the GFS isn’t as strong as its European counterpart when it comes to forecasting specific weather events. It’s essentially looking at the atmosphere with slightly blurry vision, while the Euro’s view is closer to 20/20 vision. But there’s another key difference, which is how the two groups use data to start their models running...”

ECMWF output: WSI.

Florida’s Unusually Long Red Tide is Killing Wildlife, Tourism and Business. The Washington Post has an update: “…As the outbreak nears the year mark, with no sign of easing, it’s no longer a threat to just marine life. Business owners in the hardest-hit counties report they have lost nearly $90 million and have laid off about 300 workers because of the red tide and a separate freshwater algal bloom in the state’s largest lake. Together, the two blooms have caused a sharp drop in tourism. A pair of toxic algal blooms striking the state at the same time is rare and, in this case, especially lethal. A red tide is a natural phenomenon that develops miles offshore before making its way to the coast, where it feeds on a variety of pollutants, including phosphorus and nitrogen from fertilizer, along with other runoff and wastewater…”

Photo credit: “Lifeguard Mariano Martinez wears a mask Sunday because of the red tide at Lido Beach in Sarasota, Fla.” (Eve Edelheit for The Washington Post).

Solar on Water, Robots, Floating Power Plants and 2-Sided Panels Are Coming. Dave Roberts reports for Vox: “...I expected to hear about fancy new solar cells — nano-this, quantum-that. But that’s not what the solar market it is right now. Rather than silicon alternatives, the new technologies nudging their way into commercialization complement silicon PV, enabling panels to deploy in new places (on lakes and reservoirs!) or reducing the cost of maintenance (panel-cleaning robots!). At least for now, silicon PV has won the market race. The promising solar markets are for technologies that help it go farther. There is some controversy over whether silicon PV can ever go far enough — whether it will be sufficient for the ambitious long-term decarbonization goals the US has set for itself. Some researchers worry it could plateau early and fall short…”

Data Reveals When Cops Give Out the Most Speeding Tickets. Here are a couple of interesting clips from a story at Big Think: “…Basically, every year you have a 16% chance of getting a ticket if you’re an average driver. Obviously, road maniacs—most commonly younger drivers and men—and anyone under the influence have a higher chance of being popped…Tickets are more often issued for speeding than anything else, but not by as much as you’d think: just 24.6%. Coming in a close second at 20.7% is documentation issues—lack of a license and registration papers, or other paperwork, presumably including insurance cards…However, a study of 224,915 tickets issued over three years in St. Paul, Minnesota found that only 3% went to people driving less than 10 mph over the limit, and most tickets went to drivers only slightly exceeding that: 12 mph…The end of the month as the most tickety time is supported by the statistics. Is it about meeting quotas? Maybe: the last four days of the month are among the top five days with the most tickets…”

You’re Not Getting Bigger, the Airplane Bathroom is Getting Smaller. No kidding. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Here are the No. 1 and No. 2 problems for many on airlines these days: shrunken bathrooms—especially in coach. As more planes get fitted with slim lavatories, more passengers are complaining they don’t fit. Twisting and turning is difficult for some. Washing up in a minuscule sink occasionally ends in splashed clothes. “Airplane bathrooms are a horror show,” says frequent traveler Tad DeOrio. If a flight is under two hours, he now stops drinking fluids an hour before so he can avoid a trip to a washroom…”

Photo credit: “A lavatory on an Airbus A220 demonstrator aircraft.” Photo: Scott McCartney/The Wall Street Journal.

A Newbie at the Minnesota State Fair. A fairly glowing review from The New York Times this time around; heres an excerpt: “…One of the best tips I received before going to the fair was to save Sweet Martha’s for last. The bucket holds nearly four dozen cookies and isn’t exactly convenient to carry throughout the day. So, with a too-full stomach and sore feet, I joined a 45-minute line for baked goods. At one point, I heard a young boy scream exactly what all of us were feeling: “I just want to get cookies and go home!” The day had been long for everyone: the ride engineers, the butter models, the sow, the corn dog fryers and the cookie bakers. So, after I’d collected my bucket from Sweet Martha’s, I went home to rest — and digest.”

Photo credit: Matthew Hintz for The New York Times.

1 in 50 Odds of Finding Love on an Airline Flight? I’m just happy if I can find a little bag of peanuts and a 10 minute nap. Here are a couple of excerpts from CNN.com: “…A new study from British bank HSBC suggests that 1 in 50 airplane passengers meet the love of their life on board an aircraft. The other 49, presumably, just annoy the heck out of each other as they travel….However HSBC’s study reveals that over half of airplane passengers have struck up a conversation with a stranger on a plane. It’s not just romantic relationships that are born in the skies. The findings suggest that one in seven fliers makes a lasting friendship while flying while 16% add a new business connection to their network…Some 37% of people hate it when passengers take up too much space in the overhead locker, 32% get mad if someone uses the arm rest. Falling asleep on someone’s shoulder (30%) and snoring (26%) are also buzz kills…”

77 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

78 F. average high on August 30.

83 F. high on August 30, 2017.

August 31, 1949: The earliest snowfall on record for Minnesota occurs on this date. A trace of snow is recorded at the new Duluth airport.

August 31, 1947: A tornado hits Le Center, killing one person.

It is the history of our kindnesses that alone make the world tolerable. If it were not for that—for the effect of kind words, kind looks, kind letters, multiplying, spreading, making one happy through another, and bringing forth benefits, some thirty, some fifty, some a thousandfold—I should be tempted to think our life a practical jest in the worst possible spirit.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

FRIDAY: T-storms, some severe. Winds: S 10-20. High: near 80

FRIDAY NIGHT: More storms, locally heavy rain. Low: 66

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, best day of the holiday? Winds: NW 7-12. High: 80

SUNDAY: Some sun, isolated T-shower possible. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 65. High: 79

LABOR DAY: More clouds, more numerous T-storms. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 64. High: 78

TUESDAY: Sticky and warmer with T-storms. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 66. High: 83

WEDNESDAY: Feels like July. Humid with storms. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 67. High: 84

THURSDAY: Ditto. Muggy with stray T-storms. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 68. High: 82

Climate Stories…

Algae Bloom in Lake Superior Raises Worries on Climate Change and Tourism. The New York Times has more details: “In 19 years of piloting his boat around Lake Superior, Jody Estain had never observed the water change as it has this summer. The lake has been unusually balmy and cloudy, with thick mats of algae blanketing the shoreline. “I have never seen it that warm,” said Mr. Estain, a former Coast Guard member who guides fishing, cave and kayak tours year-round. “Everybody was talking about it.” But it was not just recreational observers along the shores of the lake who noticed the changes with concern. Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes with more than 2,700 miles of shoreline, is the latest body of water to come under increased scrutiny by scientists after the appearance this summer of the largest mass of green, oozing algae ever detected on the lake…”

Photo credit: “Scientists collecting samples of the algae. Lake Superior is one of several major bodies of water where algae blooms have drawn scientific scrutiny.” Credit: Brenda Moraska Lafrancois.

Climate Change Topic Taboo for Many Farmers, But Not Weather Patterns. I encounter this when I talk with Minnesota farmers – many of them realize that weather patterns are changing, but some are reluctant to attribute this to a rapidly changing climate. Columbus Dispatch has the story: “…So when the weather changes from how it’s always been, farmers like Yoder take notice. “What’s changing?” Yoder asked. “Something’s changing.” With greenhouse gases forming from carbon emissions, the temperatures will continue to increase. As temperatures go up, the water vapor increases. That leads to more rainfall. “It explains the situation we see at home,” Wilson said. “This is why we’re concerned about fossil fuels.” People think of the effects of climate change and sometimes picture a polar bear on a shrinking ice cap, but images of change can be found throughout Ohio. “I think people do understand that weather is changing,” Wilson said. “Climate is weather patterns. It’s what we expect to happen over a long period of time...”

NASA Administrator Says He Always Thought Humans Caused Climate Change. Here’s the intro to a story at TheHill: “NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said Wednesday that he always believed humans caused climate change and that his remarks in a 2013 speech implying otherwise were misconstrued. “I know that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that we’ve put more in the atmosphere than at any other point in human history and because of that, the temperatures are warmer today than they would be otherwise and we are responsible for [that],” Bridenstine told The Weather Channel’s “Weather Geeks” podcast in an episode that aired Wednesday. “I understood it then, as a matter of fact, and I understand it now,” he said, referring to his 2013 speech arguing against federally funded climate change research...”

New York AG: Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation Nearing End. Here’s an excerpt from an update at InsideClimate News: “…At the heart of the dispute are business records that the attorney general’s office said would show how Exxon calculated the financial impact of future climate regulations on its business. Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s office wants Exxon to turn over cash flow spreadsheets that would reflect how the company incorporates proxy costs—a way of projecting the expected future costs of greenhouse gas emissions from regulations or carbon taxes—into its business planning. Last year, the attorney general’s office filed documents accusing Exxon of using two sets of numbers for those proxy costs. The result, it said, was that Exxon misstated the risks and potential rewards of its energy projects. “Exxon has repeatedly assured investors that it is taking active steps to protect the company’s value from the risk that climate change regulation poses to its business,” Underwood’s office wrote in a 30-page motion filed with the court in June…”

How Climate Gentrification is Changing Coastal Real Estate. CNBC and MSN.com take a look at how rising sea levels and more “nuisance floods” are already impacting South Florida real estate: “…The study tracked the values of more than 100,000 single-family homes across Miami going back 45 years. “What we found is that the higher elevation properties are essentially worth more now, and increasingly will be worth more in the future,” Keenan said. “Populations, including speculative real estate investment will densify in these high elevation areas.” Keenan claims home values on Miami’s coast are already worth 10 percent less now than they would be if climate change didn’t exist. Universities, climate research groups, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have made dire predictions about sea-level rise in Miami — the ocean overtaking vast swaths of real estate over the coming decades. So-called “nuisance” flooding, when king tides come in on sunny days, is already common in some neighborhoods…”

It Is Time for Iowans to Implement Faith-Based Solutions to Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Des Moines Register: “…The increasing strength and frequency of storms, rising sea levels, melting arctic ice, flaring conflict zones, mass migrations and the beginning of the sixth great period of mass extinction are all consequences of changes to our climate caused by human action. As people of faith, we have diverse traditions but common values about how to live in community. The consequences of being out of relationship are well known: environmental destruction, war, hunger, dislocation, inequality, sickness. Climate change magnifies this suffering in horrifying ways. Fixing climate change requires we heal relationships to reduce human suffering. Climate solutions represent a call to live more fully our faith in changing exploitive relationships into kinships of mutual care...”

As Temperatures Keep Trending Up, “Heat Belt” Cities Maneuver to Stay Livable. The Washington Post reports; here’s a clip: “…While few people fear communities across the region to become unlivable by 2100, as various projections suggest for parts of the Middle East and Africa, researchers and urban planners say local governments can’t ignore the threat. The challenge is what to do. According to David Hondula, senior sustainability scientist at Arizona State University and one of the nation’s leading experts on how to adapt to or mitigate extreme urban heating, many efforts to date “have been disconnected from one another or operated in an ad hoc manner, [so] that it’s really hard to get a sense of the big picture and really hard to understand which are most helpful and which are at least helpful or redundant or maybe even have undesirable trade-offs…”

Photo credit: “Preseason drills start before sunrise for El Paso’s Chapin High School football team, a schedule that aims to avoid the worst of the August heat.” (Ivan Pierre Aguirre/for The Washington Post)

Climate Change “Switchboard” Visualization Show Every Country on the Planet Turning Red-Hot. Jason Samenow explains at Capital Weather Gang: “In presentations of global warming, sometimes watching maps morph from blue (cold) to red (hot) grows tiresome. Talented data visualizers are finding new and creative ways to illustrate the warming of the planet.The latest visualization of the Earth heating up was built by Antti Lipponen, a research scientist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, and it has caught fire. Just since Saturday, it has been shared 16,000 times on Twitter.  It reveals the majority of countries have warmed by at least one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), and all but one (Kiribati) have warmed by at least 0.5 degrees (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 1800s…”

Image credit: “This climate visualization shows the temperature anomalies by country from 1880 through 2017, based on data from NASA.” (Antti Lipponen)

Climate Change is Creating an Affordable Housing Crisis in Miami. Climate Nexus has the article; here’s an excerpt: “…Rising seas are depressing the value of waterfront property while inflating the cost of living further inland, in working-class communities of color like Little Haiti and Liberty City. Residents say that developers are targeting homeowners who are struggling financially, offering them buyouts or help relocating. Those are the lucky ones. Renters are more vulnerable to the whims of the market, and many are struggling as landlords ratchet up the cost of housing. “We’re experiencing an affordable housing crisis,” Arias said. “People are being displaced from neighborhoods where they settled years or decades ago — where they go to school, where they go to work, where they have neighbors and family members nearby...”

Can We Turn Carbon Dioxide to Stone to Fight Climate Change? Another potential solution highlighted at NBC News: “…One group of researchers in Canada, taking the latter approach, may have hit upon a novel yet ancient idea: harness and accelerate the carbon-absorbing power of rocks. The oceans, soils and trees aren’t the only tools nature employs to capture and store away carbon dioxide. Minerals soak up the gas, too. They just tend to do it over extremely long time frames — far too slow to keep up with the rate at which the world emits carbon dioxide, which is estimated to be about 40 billion tons a year. “We have to learn how to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, because we’ve already put too much into it,” said Roger Aines, a senior scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s energy program, who was not involved in the research…”

Photo credit: “It’s estimated that human activities are responsible for emitting about 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year.” Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters file.