Reports of Grapefruit Size Hail Monday

Weather is random. In spite of sophisticated weather simulations running on some of the most powerful supercomputers on the planet – a constellation of weather satellites updating every 5 minutes with 1 km resolution – and Doppler radar so sensitive it can track dust and insects, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint
where severe storms will bubble up more than a few hours in advance.

A Severe Storm Watch was issued Monday before severe storms pushed across the metro with tennis-ball size hail. I saw a credible report of 4-inch diameter hail in Delano, out in Wright County. That’s grapefruit size.

3M, hurry up and invent hail-resistant film so my vehicle’s finish doesn’t resemble tapioca pudding!

I expect less running and screaming today as drier air chases towering thunderheads to our south. An isolated storm may flare up Wednesday; the next surge of sticky, tropical air sparking numerous T-storms Saturday.

Yes Minnesota’s weather historically dries out in August as the atmosphere mellows a bit. Just not yet.

Quiet Tuesday. Temperatures run a couple degrees above average – no red pulsating blobs on Doppler expected. Map credit: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

More Free A/C. Much of the south and west will continue to sizzle looking out 2 weeks, but GFS guidance (consistently) brings a series of weak cool fronts out of Canada, taking the edge off the worst of the heat for the Upper Midwest.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Monday, August 5th, 2019:

  • Tropical Depression Flossie is weakening as it edges closer to the Hawaiian Islands. As of 11 AM HST, the system had sustained winds of 35 mph. It will move close to the Hawaiian Islands over the next day before dissipating Tuesday.
  • The main impact on Hawaii from Flossie will be heavy rain with 1-4” possible, especially across the Big Island and Maui. This could lead to flash flooding.

Flossie Update. Flossie has been downgraded to a tropical depression as the system continues to edge closer to Hawaii. As of 11 PM HST, Flossie has sustained winds of 35 mph and was moving to the west-northwest at 15 mph. The center was located about 250 miles east of Hilo, HI. Flossie will continue to move west-northwest with a gradual turn to the northwest over the next couple days, which will bring the system near the main Hawaiian Islands through Tuesday. The system will continue to weaken, and it is expected to become a post-tropical low later today before dissipating Tuesday.

Greatest Threat: Heavy Rain. As we saw with Erick last week, the greatest impact Flossie will have on Hawaii is heavy rain. Rain amounts of 1-4” will be possible across portions of the Islands. Due to this round of heavy rain, Flash Flood Watches have been issued for the Big Island and Maui from this morning through late tonight and could be expanded westward if needed.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

New York, Miami, New Orleans: 15 Cities Where Hurricanes Would Cause the Most Damage. 24/7 Wall Street and USA TODAY runs down the most vulnerable U.S. cities; here’s an excerpt: “…Of all U.S. metropolitan areas, Miami has the most homes at risk of flooding from a hurricane, with more than 791,000 vulnerable properties. The area’s risk will continue to increase as its population grows and developers continue to build along its 20 miles of coastline. Despite its coastal location in Southeast Florida, Miami has avoided a serious encounter with a hurricane for many years. Historically, it has not been so lucky. In August 1992, Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida as a Category 5 storm with wind speeds of 165 miles per hour. There 26 people killed, more than 25,500 homes were destroyed, and over 100,000 additional homes were damaged, while 250,000 people were displaced. The results could be much worse were a similar storm hit the area today...”

1992 file image of Hurricane Andrew: NASA.

How Better Weather Forecasts Are Changing The Way Cities Are Run. A story at caught my eye; here’s a snippet: “…The increase in lead time before potentially dangerous events has given weather agencies much more time to communicate risks to residents. Hurricane Harvey, which hit Houston in 2017, ended up dropping a record-breaking 51.88 inches of rain on parts of the city. A dire warning issued by the National Weather Service that conveyed the severity of the predicted rainfall long after the hurricane made landfall was credited with saving lives. But more time is only part of the equation, as illustrated by Hurricane Katrina striking the Gulf Coast in 2005. “We had a pretty good two, or two-and-a-half, day forecast,” says Blum about Katrina. “Technically speaking, that was excellent for the time: It was better than average for the previous decade of hurricane forecasts...”

New Bill Aims to Break Cycle of Repeated Flooding and Rebuilding. Definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. That old proverb came to mind reading a post at “…This is a chance for us to tell local communities that when you have property that has had several losses, there’s a chance for you to take a second look and figure out whether that’s a place where you need to build something in the future,” Scott said. Scott says 1% of properties that have flooded repeatedly have received 33% of the payout from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). He says that may not sound like a lot– but it is. From October 2015 to September 2016, the NFIP paid out about $140 million in total claims in South Carolina. Scott says the large portion of that insurance payout that goes to properties that rebuild repeatedly have placed an enormous financial burden on the program, which many flood victims rely on...”

Graphic source: Fourth National Climate Assessment, 2018 and NOAA.

Parents Are Giving Up Custody of Their Kids to Get Need-Based College Financial Aid. Working the loopholes, or outright fraud. A story from ProPublica may leave you steamed; here’s the intro: “Dozens of suburban Chicago families, perhaps many more, have been exploiting a legal loophole to win their children need-based college financial aid and scholarships they would not otherwise receive, court records and interviews show. Coming months after the national “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal, this tactic also appears to involve families attempting to gain an advantage in an increasingly competitive and expensive college admissions system. Parents are giving up legal guardianship of their children during their junior or senior year in high school to someone else — a friend, aunt, cousin or grandparent. The guardianship status then allows the students to declare themselves financially independent of their families so they can qualify for federal, state and university aid, a ProPublica Illinois investigation found…”

Photo credit: “The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus pictured on Monday.” (Kristen Norman for ProPublica Illinois).

Pentagon Testing Mass Surveillance Balloons Across the U.S. Be sure to wave when you go out to get the mail? The Guardian has details: “The US military is conducting wide-area surveillance tests across six midwest states using experimental high-altitude balloons, documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reveal. Up to 25 unmanned solar-powered balloons are being launched from rural South Dakota and drifting 250 miles through an area spanning portions of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri, before concluding in central Illinois. Travelling in the stratosphere at altitudes of up to 65,000ft, the balloons are intended to “provide a persistent surveillance system to locate and deter narcotic trafficking and homeland security threats..”

Canadian Woman Scares of Cougar by Blasting Metallica. Newsweek has the story: “When she realized the animal was approaching her, she yelled, and the cougar stopped moving, but it did not back away. Gallant tried waving her arms and yelling at the animal, saying things like “bad kitty!” and “get out of here!” but the cougar stayed. According to Gallant, the animal “froze like a statue” keeping its eyes fixated on her and Murphy. Gallant opened her phone and chose the loudest band she could think of: Metallica. She played the heavy metal band’s 1991 hit, “Don’t Tread On Me” as both a warning and a plea. “I thought it was the noisiest thing on my phone that would probably scare it, that was also the message I wanted to convey to the cougar...”

TUESDAY: Sunny, pleasantly warm. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 85

WEDNESDAY: More clouds, stray T-storm. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 66. High: near 80

THURSDAY: Sunny and less humid. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 60. High: 77

FRIDAY: Blue sky, few complaints. Wake-up: 60. High: 80

SATURDAY: Right on schedule: few T-storms likely. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 61. High: 78

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, better day? Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 63. High: 80

MONDAY: Sunny intervals, fairly comfortable. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 62. High: 79

Climate Stories….

Climate Could Be Electoral Time Bomb, Republican Strategists Fear. Here’s a snippet from a New York Times analysis: “…In conversations with 10 G.O.P. analysts, consultants and activists, all said they were acutely aware of the rising influence of young voters like Mr. Galloway, who in their lifetimes haven’t seen a single month of colder-than-average temperatures globally, and who call climate change a top priority. Those strategists said lawmakers were aware, too, but few were taking action. “We’re definitely sending a message to younger voters that we don’t care about things that are very important to them,” said Douglas Heye, a former communications director at the Republican National Committee. “This spells certain doom in the long term if there isn’t a plan to admit reality and have legislative prescriptions for it...”

Climate Change, Extreme Disasters Taking Unexpected Health Toll. An angle many of us probably hadn’t considered – details via Star Tribune: “New research shows that the extreme weather and fires of recent years, similar to the flooding that has struck Louisiana and the Midwest, may be making Americans sick in ways researchers are only beginning to understand. By knocking chemicals loose from soil, homes, industrial-waste sites or other sources, and spreading them into the air, water and ground, disasters like these — often intensified by climate change — appear to be exposing people to an array of physical ailments including respiratory disease and cancer. “We are sitting on a pile of toxic poison,” said Naresh Kumar, a professor of environmental health at the University of Miami, referring to the decades’ worth of chemicals present in the environment. “Whenever we have these natural disasters, they are stirred. And through this stirring process, we get more exposure to these chemicals…”

File photo credit: Noah Berger. “Researchers are discovering that health issues from natural disasters linger longer than thought. Months after wildfires in California, people reported asthmalike symptoms.”

Climate Change Has Made Our Stormwater Infrastructure Obsolete. Gizmodo has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…The take-home message is that infrastructure in most parts of the country is no longer performing at the level that it’s supposed to because of the big changes that we’ve seen in extreme rainfall,” lead author Daniel Wright, a hydrologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in a statement. The team of researchers looked at the data from more than 900 weather stations for the years 1950 to 2017 to find out how often extreme storms shot past the standards city infrastructure can handle. The scientists found that extreme weather events are happening 85 percent more often in the eastern U.S. in 2017 compared to 1950. In the West, overwhelming storms are happening 51 percent more often…”

File image: AP.

Another Climate Change Fueled Heatwave: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Without climate change, the heatwave that hit Europe last week would have been up to five degrees fahrenheit cooler, according to a new analysis by World Weather Attribution group. Multiple countries, including the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, suffered through record high temperatures during what is likely to have been the hottest July ever recorded in human history. And while climate change has been found to have made every European heat wave since 2003 worse, in this case it also made it ten to a hundred times more likely. “This July 2019 heatwave was so extreme over continental Western Europe that the observed magnitudes would have been extremely unlikely without climate change,” said Dr Friederike Otto, one of the study’s authors.”(Heatwave: NYT $, BBC, AP, CNN, USA Today, InsideClimate News, Quartz, Ars Technica, Carbon Brief, Hottest Month: Washington Post $, The Independent, Gizmodo, Quartz, Common Dream)

The American Alpine Club Gets Personal and Practical on Climate Change. ROCK, The Climbers Magazine reports: “According to a survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, 91% of AAC members are worried about climate change, and with good reason. Phil Powers, CEO of the AAC, writes, “Whether you boulder, sport climb or spend your time in the high alpine, climate change is one of the greatest threats to our sport, our lives, and our planet.” That’s why the AAC is taking steps to address climate change, both internally and externally, and calling on climbers to join them in the fight. It shouldn’t be news that globally warming temperatures, sea level rise, and increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events like hurricanes, wildfires, droughts and flooding pose an existential threat to the world population and global biodiversity…”

“It’s Going to Be Worse”: Event Aims to Prepare Local Officials for Floods, Extreme Weather. Wisconsin is experiencing more frequent/extreme floods as well; here’s a clip from a post at Wisconsin Public Radio: “…Jeff Last, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service of Green Bay, said Wisconsin communities across the state already feel the effects of climate change. “What we’ve seen with the warmer climates are more extremes,” Last told the group. “There are more heavy precipitation events. More April snowstorms. … There’s no one particular event that we can say is the result of a warming climate, but in sum, there is evidence that it is part of that.” Green Bay was struck by flooding in March as a result of rainfall and melting snow across the region. And 2019 has been an extraordinarily wet year, Last said. But rainfall isn’t the only thing that can cause flooding. Just this month, heavy winds from the northeast swept over the bay, causing flooding in the area even though there was no heavy rain nearby…”

Photo credit: Wisconsin Emergency Management

Is There a Windfall in Climate Change for Private Equity? The short answer appears to be yes. Here’s an excerpt of a post at Forbes: “According to CDP, an international nonprofit, approximately 200 of the world’s largest companies collectively peg their climate change exposure at nearly $1 trillion. Manufacturers around the globe cite changing weather patterns and rising seas and rivers as increasingly disruptive to their supply chain. Within the U.S. utility industry, executives name climate change as one reason behind increasingly fierce wildfires, which have destroyed transmission and distribution infrastructure. While all of this may portend darkening financial skies, some see a different forecast developing. One where there are not only ideas but also action and financial opportunities. Some experts even see tailwinds for investors...”

Brain-Eating Amoeba, Flesh-Eating Bacteria. Climate Change Will Raise Florida’s Risks. The pool is suddenly looking like a (slightly) better option, after reading a story at The Miami Herald: “…But as global temperatures rise, scientists say, so do your chances of catching a nasty — or even deadly — bug. The scary one making headlines this summer is Vibrio vulnificus, also dubbed in media reports as “flesh-eating bacteria.” Historically, it has been found in warm salt and brackish water, like the Gulf of Mexico. So far this summer, one death has been linked to the disease and another man spent nearly two weeks in the hospital — both in Gulf coast locations. But Vibrio isn’t the only danger found in warming waters. Freshwater lakes and canals can have Naegleria fowleri, also known as the “brain eating amoeba.” And pools, particularly public ones, may contain the gut-upsetting parasite called Cryptosporidium...”

Serious Melt in Greenland: Climate Nexus reports: “Greenland is suffering through a massive heat wave that could have devastating impacts on the region’s crucial ice sheet. The heat wave that blanketed Europe last week has moved up to Greenland, causing what scientists say is one of the most severe melting events ever observed. This summer could see potentially greater impacts on the ice sheet than 2012, when the ice sheet lost 450 million metric tons–more than 14,000 tons per second. Surface melting and low snow levels on the ice sheet may combine to ensure “this is the year Greenland is contributing most to sea level rise,” Columbia University’s Marco Tedesco told the Washington Post.” (Washington Post $, Rolling Stone, Gizmodo, CNN, Vice, Grist)