Why Do We Talk About the “Dog Days”?

Welcome to the proverbial Dog Days of Summer. The origin of the expression has very little to do with your favorite, furry, four-legged friend. Ancient Greeks noticed the hottest weather of the year often coincided with the sighting of Sirius, the Dog Star Alpha Canis Majoris; the brightest star in the nighttime sky. They speculated that light from this heavenly body added to the heat of our sun, making it feel even hotter. Interesting theory, but…no. The name has stuck.

I still see a wet bias into next week with flashes of warmth, but no sustained heat for Minnesota or Wisconsin. A stray T- storm is possible today, but dry weather prevails Thursday and Friday with blue sky, 70s and a welcome dip in humidity.

The approach of a sloppy warm front ignites more thunderstorms this weekend with sticky dew points and highs near 80.

Delano’s 4 inch diameter hail Monday was only the 37th day since 1950 with softball-size hailstones in Minnesota, according to NOAA data.

Yep, that’ll put a few dimples in your Prius.

File image credit: my bootleg, online copy of The Farmer’s Almanac. There, the secret is out.

“We Got Pounded”: Huge Hail Strikes Minneapolis Suburb ‘Out of the Blue’. In fairness, a Severe Storm Watch was in effect at the time, but I don’t think (anyone) predicted softball to grapefruit size hail. Capital Weather Gang has a good overview of the dynamics that resulted in 4″ diameter hail: “The workweek started off relatively calmly in the western Minneapolis suburbs. It was partly cloudy and 80 degrees. By lunchtime, softball-size chunks of ice were dropping from the clouds. “We got pounded” by the enormous hail, said Joe Checkal, owner of J.C.’s Auto Body and Paint in Franklin Township. “I’ve been in business 46 years and have never seen that before. They were as big as tennis balls.” Despite the wallop, Checkal is relieved to have somehow escaped significant damage. “Even with all the cars outside, I didn’t lose any glass.” At the Pioneer Creek Golf Course in Maple Plain, the hail wasn’t quite as hefty — but there was plenty of it. “We had them bigger than our golf balls,” said Lisa Koenecke, who works in the Pro Shop. “It came out of the blue. We heard the storm would have hail, but this was a lot...”

Image credit: “Hail approaching four inches in diameter falls near Delano, Minn., on Monday.”

What August? In theory, our weather should be trending drier this month as the atmosphere stabilizes (cooling at ground level while temperatures aloft remain fairly warm). But not yet, not in 2019. Already it’s the 5th wettest start to any year since 1871 in the Twin Cities, and ECMWF guidance prints out another 1-2″ for the metro by next Friday, with some 2-3″ amounts for central Minnesota. Map: WeatherBell.

Taking the Edge Off the Heat. GFS model guidance peering over the horizon roughly 2 weeks out shows a west-northwest wind flow aloft as we kick off the 3rd week of August, hinting at temperatures at or slighly below average. Will we see more 90s? Probably, yes. And the State Fair is imminent, so all bets are off.

Here’s How the Hottest Month in Recorded History Unfolded Around the World. The Washington Post has the story; here’s the intro: “During the hottest month that humans have recorded, a local television station in the Netherlands aired nonstop images of wintry landscapes to help viewers momentarily forget the heat wave outside. Officials in Switzerland and elsewhere painted stretches of rail tracks white, hoping to keep them from buckling in the extreme heat. At the port of Antwerp, Belgium, two alleged drug dealers called police for help after they got stuck inside a sweltering shipping container filled with cocaine. On Monday, scientists officially pronounced July 2019 the warmest month the world has experienced since record-keeping began more than a century ago…”

Image credit: “Surface air temperature anomalies during July relative to the average from 1981 through 2010.” (Copernicus Climate Change Service).

Hot World Summer: Links and headlines via Climate Nexus: “July was the hottest month on record, at least per the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. The head of the service, Jean-Noël Thépaut, said it was “the warmest month recorded globally,” narrowly beating out the previous record set in July 2016 by 0.07 degree Fahrenheit. As temperatures climbed, heat records were broken across Western Europe, parts of India suffered from droughts, wildfires raged in Alaska and an ice sheet in Greenland melted enough to raise sea levels by two-tenths of an inch. Official monthly temperature rankings from NOAA and NASA may differ slightly, and will be released in the coming weeks.” (New York Times $, Washington Post $, CNN, Axios, New York Post, HuffPost)

Graphics source: AFP, Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Tuesday Marked 50th Anniversary of Northern Minnesota’s Deadliest Tornado Outbreak. KBJR6 in Duluth has details: “While the frequency of tornadoes and tornado deaths in northern Minnesota is relatively lower compared to other parts of the state, or the upper Midwest, one August day in 1969 made the history books. An area of low pressure approaching from the southwest, bringing in warm and humid air. The heat and humidity, combined with strong winds in the upper levels, provided the conditions favorable for not only severe thunderstorms, but tornadoes as well. According to the Duluth NWS, a total of 12 tornadoes touched down over a three-hour span across Aitkin, Itasca, Crow Wing, Cass, St. Louis and Lake Counties. Six of the tornadoes were rated at least F-3 on the Fujita Scale, with one rated F-4. Shown below are some of the more noteable tornadoes of the outbreak…”

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.

U.S. Ties Record for Number of High Tide Flooding Days in 2018. Here’s an excerpt from a post at WeatherNation: “Coastal communities across the U.S. continued to see increased high tide flooding last year, forcing their residents and visitors to deal with flooded shorelines, streets and basements — a trend that is expected to continue this year. The elevated water levels affected coastal economies, tourism and crucial infrastructure like septic systems and stormwater systems, according to a new NOAA report. The report, 2018 State of High Tide Flooding and 2019 Outlook,documents changes in high tide flooding patterns at 98 NOAA tidal gauges along the U.S. coast that are likely to continue in the coming years. High tide flooding, often referred to as “nuisance” or “sunny day” flooding, is increasingly common due to years of relative sea level increases. It no longer takes a strong storm or a hurricane to cause flooding in many coastal areas…”

File image credit: “High tide flooding in Port Orchard, Washington, on Jan. 6, 2010.” (Ray Garrido, courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology)

A Quarter of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crisis. A feature at The New York Times caught my eye; here’s a clip: “Countries that are home to one-fourth of Earth’s population face an increasingly urgent risk: The prospect of running out of water. From India to Iran to Botswana, 17 countries around the world are currently under extremely high water stress, meaning they are using almost all the water they have, according to new World Resources Institute data published Tuesday. Many are arid countries to begin with; some are squandering what water they have. Several are relying too heavily on groundwater, which instead they should be replenishing and saving for times of drought...”

Out Ahead on Solar Energy: Minnesota Engineer is Still Pushing to Speed Up Change. The Star Tribune reports: “…The cost of solar energy has dropped by 80% over the last decade and wind by about 65% since 2009, according to Dunlop and Gregg Mast, executive director of business-led Clean Energy Economy Minnesota. The state’s utilities, led by Xcel and Great River, are exceeding their goals for renewable-energy use and for cutting carbon emissions. The emissions are the No. 1 contributor to global warming and the resultant weather extremes that already are extracting a disastrous price. Renewable-energy advocates expect the state’s burgeoning solar industry to increase its share of electrical output from 2% to 10% over the next decade…”

Photo credit: Neal St. Anthony – Star Tribune. “Gregg Mast, left, and John Dunlop will have key roles in the American Solar Energy Society’s conference in the Twin Cities.”

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...”

86 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

82 F. average high on August 6.

84 F. maximum temperature on August 6, 2018.

August 7, 1968: 7.09 inches of rain falls at Mankato. 1,200 homes are damaged. Highways 169 and 22 are blocked by mudslides.

August 7, 1955: The climate record of George W. Richards of Maple Plain ends. He recorded weather data with lively notations on phenology and weather events. He began taking observations when he was eleven in 1883. He continued to take observations for 72 years, with 66 years as a National Weather Service Cooperator.

August 7, 1896: The final day of a massive heat wave brings highs of 104 to Le Sueur and Mazeppa.

August 7, 1863: A Forest City observer sees what he calls a ‘perfect tornado.’ He noted that it ‘drove principally from west to east and lasted about one half hour.’

WEDNESDAY: Some sun, few T-storms nearby. Winds: W 5-10. High: 82

THURSDAY: Sunny and less humid. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 59. High: 77

FRIDAY: Warm sunshine, just about perfect. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 58. High: 80

SATURDAY: Few showers and T-storms. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 62. High: 77

SUNDAY: More sun, stray thunder risk. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 63. High: 80

MONDAY: Dry start, PM showers and T-storms. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 64. High: 79

TUESDAY: Peeks of sun, windy and less humid. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 62. High: 77

Climate Stories….

Models Point to More Global Warming Than We Expected. Bob Henson reports at Category 6 for Weather Underground: “Our planet’s climate may be more sensitive to increases in greenhouse gas than we realized, according to a new generation of global climate models being used for the next major assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The findings—which run counter to a 40-year consensus—are a troubling sign that future warming and related impacts could be even worse than expected. One of the new models, the second version of the Community Earth System Model (CESM2) from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), saw a 35% increase in its equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), the rise in global temperature one might expect as the atmosphere adjusts to an instantaneous doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Instead of the model’s previous ECS of 4°C (7.2°F), the CESM2 now shows an ECS of 5.3°C (9.5°F)...”

Photo credit: “Marine stratocumulus clouds from the Pacific Ocean stream atop Chile’s Atacama Desert.  Marine stratocumulus cover vast swaths of the tropical and subtropical oceans, where they reflect large amounts of sunlight and provide an overall cooling effect on climate. New global climate models are showing the potential for more global warming than long thought, perhaps due to a reduction in low-level clouds such as marine stratocumulus.” Image credit: NCAR/UCAR Image and Multimedia Gallery.

A Submarine Goes Under a Failing Glacier to Gauge Rising Seas. WIRED.com has a must-read story; here’s an excerpt: “…The two-month cruise aboard the Palmer was the beginning of a five-year, $50 million international collaboration to better understand the plight of Thwaites. Scientists believe the massive glacier is teetering on the brink of collapse, though just how fast that could happen remains an open question. Florida-sized Thwaites Glacier holds enough ice to raise global sea levels by two feet. If the glacier collapses, it could destabilize a portion of West Antarctica that would, in turn, raise sea levels by about 11 feet. That would spell disaster for coastal cities from Miami to Mumbai, which would be inundated by floods. Ground zero for this slow-moving catastrophe is the glacier’s edge, where land-based ice juts out into the Amundsen Sea...”

Photo credit: “Ran on its first test mission of the expedition in the Strait of Magellan on Feb. 1, 2019.” Linda Welzenbach/Rice University.

20 Places Where Weather is Getting Worse Because of Climate Change. USA TODAY has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…Areas with already extreme climates tend to be more susceptible to climate change, and even more extreme weather events. The Southwestern United States, for example – the driest and hottest part of the country – is getting hotter and drier, leading to increased drought and wildfire. In other parts of the country, global warming has led to rising sea levels and increased evaporation, ultimately leading to increased precipitation. Earlier this year, heavy rainfalls along the Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and Mississippi River corridors have led to substantial flooding throughout the Midwest, leading to substantial property damage and dozens of deaths. Many of the places are also home to these popular summer getaways we’re losing to climate change...”

File image: NOAA.

Capitalism’s Change of Climate. Here’s the intro to a story at Greenbiz.com: “For decades, the main argument against climate action has been economic: Even if the climate is changing, the argument went, addressing it at the scale needed would force companies, cities and institutions into bankruptcy. In short, it would tank the economy. And for decades, that argument (combined with scientific denial and skepticism) has dominated the case for moving slowly and incrementally — or for doing nothing at all. That argument is being turned on its head. Today, the fear is that corporate and institutional inaction on climate could lead to a global recession, or worse.  Over the past few months, we’ve been hearing growing voices warn that climate change poses an existential threat to companies and economies, and that those not ready to address that threat in a serious way are flirting with financial disaster...”

Image credit: GreenBiz photocollage, via Shutterstock.

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.

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…”