Smoking Hot Fourth of July Weekend

“Oh it’s too hot (too hot)..too hot, lady…gotta run for shelter, gotta run for shade” sang Kool and the Gang, an earworm I’m humming to myself after gazing at the weather  models.

The World Meteorological Organization defines a heat wave as 5 or more consecutive days of temperatures at least 9F warmer than average. By that definition early July will bring a memorable heat wave for Minnesota and the nation.

Sunday night’s monsoon rains (1-2 month’s worth of rain in some areas) may be the exception, not the rule, as we slide into a hotter, somewhat drier pattern. Probably no record heat, but Minnesota temperatures should run at least 10 degrees above average from Thursday into much of next week.

Predicting daytime highs depends on how long the sun will be out each day – any storms or stubborn clouds will keep us 10-15F cooler than we would be otherwise.

You wanted a real summer? It’s coming. NOAA’s GFS model predicts 13 of the next 16 days will be above 90F. We spend half the year shivering. Bring it.

Friday evening ECMWF temperature forecast courtesy of WeatherBell.

Intense Rains: June 28-29. The Minnesota DNR has a good recap of Sunday night’s monsoon rain event: “Over 18 hours of thunderstorm activity led to widespread heavy rains and scattered flash-flooding across southern Minnesota. A muggy, summer-like air mass surged northward into the region behind a warm front on Sunday June 28th. The leading edge of this warm air had kicked off thunderstorms in Nebraska and Iowa the night before, and the remnants of that activity formed into an miniature low-pressure system that moved into southern Minnesota on Sunday afternoon. Thunderstorms began developing around 3 PM, with the activity slowly expanding and increasing in intensity through the remainder of the afternoon. As the storm complex grew, it took on a distinct “cyclonic circulation” pattern, with rain and thunderstorms wrapping counter-clockwise around a central core that remained largely free of precipitation...”

Crazy Rainfall Amounts. Heaviest rains tracked from near Olivia and Mankato into the southern/eastern suburbs of the Twin Cities, and then east into Wisconsin. Many spots picked up a month’s worth of rain (and maybe a year’s worth of lightning!) Sunday night. Map credit: NOAA.

A Little Sizzle. Models suggest daytime highs in the low 90s from Thursday through Sunday; a good 10F warmer than average for the 4th of July weekend. Although a stray T-shower is possible Sunday PM, right now the holiday weekend looks (miraculously) dry. Map sequence above: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Back to the 90s. Both ECMWF (top) and GFS (bottom) are sufficiently hot, but GFS is a bit more aggressive, suggesting 13 of the next 16 days will bring 90-degree heat. I’m skeptical, but at this point nothing would surprise me. Meteograms: WeatherBell.

Mid-July: Still Toasty. Although the core of the heat remains just south/west of Minnesota there’s little doubt that a hot bias will linger into mid-July, with more 90s than normal and fairly spotty/rare T-storms as slightly cooler air dribbles into the northern tier states from time to time. But this looks plenty hot.

Understanding Lightning Science. This is National Lightning Safety Awareness Week. NOAA has some good factoids and reminders here: “...Lightning is fascinating to watch but also extremely dangerous. In the United States, there are about 25 million lightning flashes every year. Each of those 25 million flashes is a potential killer. While lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top weather killers in the United States. In addition, lightning injures many more people than it kills and leaves some victims with life-long health problems. Understanding the dangers of lightning is important so that you can get to a safe place when thunderstorms threaten. If you hear thunder—even a distant rumble—you are already in danger of becoming a lightning victim…”
Lightning photo credit: NOAA.

Pandemic May Lead to Longer Power Outages After Hurricanes. covers an angle of this story I hadn’t considered before: “Power companies across hurricane-prone states are forced to face a prospect they’ve never dealt with before: restoring power after a major storm amid a global pandemic.

Long restoration times are likely depending on how the coronavirus plays out during the six-month Atlantic hurricane season, which started June 1 and is predicted to be extremely active. “While we are committed to restoring power to customers as quickly as possible following a hurricane, I am not willing to sacrifice safety for speed,” Florida Power & Light Company President and CEO Eric Silagy noted Friday after the company concluded its two-week storm preparedness drill…”

New Free App Highlights Flood Risk Properties Around the USA. Miami Herald has details: “A new app designed to rank the flood risk for every property in the U.S. has some distressing findings for Florida. The cities with the most properties at risk are all over the state — from Tampa, the city most at risk to storm surge, to Cape Coral, which Politico memorably dubbed “the boomtown that shouldn’t exist,” to sunny-day flooded Miami and Fort Lauderdale. But the data reveals rarely mentioned cities where virtually every home is at risk of flooding today...”

Read more here:

Time to Rethink How Hurricane Strength is Calculated? A post at News4Jax in Jacksonville caught my eye; here’s a clip: “…Most who live in the hurricane belt know the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale well. It is the current 1 to 5 rating system based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed. The scale’s utility as a single number simplifies messaging but has some pitfalls in that it fails to include all threats completely. Much is missing from the formula, including winds surge, rain, and size, all of which can make a weaker storm much more dangerous. Hurricanes are complex and not all storms are the same, which is why Klotzbach proposes using minimum sea level pressure as a better predictor for hurricane damage. Take Hurricane Katrina in 2005…”

File image: NOAA.

Airbnb CEO: Travel May Never Be the Same. Axios has a series of eye-opening predictions: “…Airbnb says business within countries has recovered to previous levels. But international travel remains off in a way that’s devastating to the platform. ‘People will, one day, get back on planes,” Chesky said. “But one of the things that I do think is a fairly permanent shift is … a redistribution of where travelers go.” In the past, with what he called “mass tourism,” travelers limited themselves “to like 50 or 100 cities. You know, everyone goes to Rome, Paris, London, they stay in the hotel district, they get on the double-decker bus. They wait in line to get a selfie in front of a landmark.” “I think that’s going to get smaller as a percentage of travel in the future, and I think it’s going to get somewhat displaced, or at least balanced, by people visiting smaller communities.” Chesky said he sees a potential boom for National Parks...”

How the Virus Won. Amazing visuals – but depressing facts as the chronology of Covid-19 is traced across the U.S. Could-have, should-have, would-have. The New York Times (paywall) reports.

Does Air Conditioning Relief for Summer Heat Make Coronavirus Worse? Dr. Marshall Shepherd shares some new research at Forbes: “…The CDC website actually pointed me to a new study just published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases (July 2020). The study documents a COVID-19 Outbreak that occurred in restaurant in Guangzhou, China. Scientists concluded in the study that the outbreak, which affected ten people from three families, was likely related to droplet transmission associated with air-conditioning within the space, particularly the airflow. The scholars recommended greater spacing between tables and better ventilation. Before I continue, my usual “soap box reminder” to be cautious of “1-study mania” in science. We see media and policymakers latch on to the results of a single study far too often...”

Photo credit: Pete Schenck.

The New Weapon in the Covid-19 War. Bloomberg Opinion has a very interesting post; here’s an excerpt: “…In the end, roughly 3,000 people showed up to be tested over four days in late April, and the Biohub processed their tests. A bit more than 6% of the Latinos were infected by Covid-19, most with high loads of the virus, though many had no symptoms. There were patterns in the test results — for example, the wealthier the person, the less likely he was to be infected. And of the 981 white people tested, zero were positive. And so the big takeaway seemed to be what everyone in the past few weeks has figured out: The virus is now disproportionately attacking poor people of color, and lots of infectious people are walking around without a clue about their condition. But neither of those, it turns out, is the biggest takeaway. The biggest takeaway is this chart…”

Graphic credit above: Source: Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. “Note: People not connected with a line to a specific strain have a version of the virus with an undetermined genome and are placed according to best-guess assessments. An older infection is indicated by a positive antibody test result. Three workers who tested positive for Covid-19, but didn’t receive an antibody test to determine whether their infection was older or recent, are shown in the graphic as recent infections.”

Is Twister a True Story? How Accurate Is The Movie to Real Storm Chasing? Was the movie embellished? Absolutely. Was it based on sound science, expert advice and previous storm chases? Absolutely. By the way, during filming of “Twister” outside Ames, Iowa the closest I got to Helen Hunt was chatting with her body-double. Oh well. Screenrant has an interesting post; here’s an excerpt: “…One of the biggest aspects of real storm chasing that made the leap from fact to fiction was Twister’s research device, Dorothy.  The instrument used by Jo, Bill, and the team was directly based on the TOtable Tornado Observatory (TOTO) used by the NOAA and NSSL researchers decades prior. The name, of course, was derived from Dorothy’s small dog from The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy was a similarly structured barrel that had the same goal of holding hundreds of sensors that would release inside a tornado, sending data back to the scientists. Unlike TOTO which was never successful, Jo and Bill managed to get deploy Dorothy IV. TOTO was officially retired in 1987 but the device, as well as Dorothy and the rival team’s ripoff, D.O.T. 3, are all on display at the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma...”

TUESDAY: Sticky sun, few T-storms. Winds: SE 10-20. High: near 90

WEDNESDAY: Still unsettled, more numerous T-storms nearby. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 73. High: 86

THURSDAY: Evacuate to lake. Sunnier, hotter. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 72. High: 91

FRIDAY: Partly sunny and sticky. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 73. High: 92

4TH OF JULY: Sunny. Probably “hot enough”. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 74. High: 93

SUNDAY: Steamy sunshine, stray T-storm. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 75. High: 90

MONDAY: Heat wave continues. Hazy sunshine. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 74. High: 92

Climate Stories…

New Data Reveals Hidden Flood Risk Across America. Some harrowing news from new research highlighted at The New York Times (paywall): “Nearly twice as many properties may be susceptible to flood damage than previously thought, according to a new effort to map the danger. Across much of the United States, the flood risk is far greater than government estimates show, new calculations suggest, exposing millions of people to a hidden threat — and one that will only grow as climate change worsens. That new calculation, which takes into account sea-level rise, rainfall and flooding along smaller creeks not mapped federally, estimates that 14.6 million properties are at risk from what experts call a 100-year flood, far more than the 8.7 million properties shown on federal government flood maps. A 100-year flood is one with a 1 percent chance of striking in any given year…”

What Can a Pandemic Teach Us About Climate Change. A post at Resilience caught my eye; here’s a clip: “...Both, the pandemic, and climate change represent shocks that have obvious physical effects which translate into a variety of socioeconomic impacts. Both have the potential to shock global supply & demand, disrupt supply chains and livelihoods. These physical shocks can be remedied by understanding and addressing the underlying causes and their relationships with each other. The effects are systemic and can be felt throughout the complex, varied systems in an interconnected world. In both cases, public health, energy, and transportation systems among others could be severely affected. The socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic and climate change can grow severely once certain thresholds are breached. We can already see that with COVID-19; where death tolls rose exponentially once hospital capacities were reached, and there was a lack of available ventilators. This non-linearity makes both these phenomena extremely disruptive…”

A Disastrous Summer in the Arctic. All those things climate scientists were predicting 30 years ago are coming true. Amazing. Here’s a clip from a story at The New Yorker: “…Anthropogenic climate change is causing the Arctic to heat up twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Climate models had predicted this phenomenon, known as Arctic amplification, but they did not predict how fast the warming would occur. Although Verkhoyansk has seen hot temperatures in the past, Saturday’s 100.4-degree record follows a wildly warm year across the region. Since December, temperatures in western Siberia have been eighteen degrees above normal. Since January, the mean temperature across Siberia has been at least 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term average. As the meteorologist Jeff Berardelli reported for CBS, the heat that has fallen on Russia in 2020 “is so remarkable that it matches what’s projected to be normal by the year 2100, if current trends in heat-trapping carbon emissions continue…”

Why the Arctic is Warming so Fast, and Why That’s So Alarming. connects the dots with some of the jaw-dropping events gripping Siberia: “On Saturday, the residents of Verkhoyansk, Russia, marked the first day of summer with 100 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. Not that they could enjoy it, really, as Verkhoyansk is in Siberia, hundreds of miles from the nearest beach. That’s much, much hotter than towns inside the Arctic Circle usually get. That 100 degrees appears to be a record, well above the average June high temperature of 68 degrees. Yet it’s likely the people of Verkhoyansk will see that record broken again in their lifetimes: The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet—if not faster—creating ecological chaos for the plants and animals that populate the north. “The events over the weekend—in the last few weeks, really—with the heatwave in Siberia, all are unprecedented in terms of the magnitude of the extremes in temperature,” says Sophie Wilkinson, a wildfire scientist at McMaster University who studies northern peat fires, which themselves have grown unusually frequent in recent years as temperatures climb…”

Photo credit: “Rapidly thawing permafrost is opening up massive divots in the northern landscape.” David Olefeldt, University of Alberta.

The Arctic is On Fire: Siberian Heat Wave Alarms Scientists. AP News has more perspective: “…The record warming in Siberia is a warning sign of major proportions,” Overpeck wrote. Much of Siberia had high temperatures this year that were beyond unseasonably warm. From January through May, the average temperature in north-central Siberia has been about 8 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) above average, according to the climate science non-profit Berkeley Earth. “That’s much, much warmer than it’s ever been over that region in that period of time,” Berkeley Earth climate scientist Zeke Hausfather said...”

“Carbon Farming” Could Make US Agriculture Truly Green. Here’s the intro to a post at (paywall): “On a farm in north-central Indiana, Brent Bible raises 5,000 acres of corn and soybeans that go into producing ethanol fuel, food additives, and seeds. In Napa Valley, California, Kristin Belair picks the best grapes from 50 acres of vineyards to create high-end cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc wines. Both are part of a growing number of “carbon farmers” who are reducing planet-warming greenhouse gases by taking better care of the soil that sustains their farms. That means making changes like plowing fields less often, covering soil with composted mulch and year-round cover crops, and turning drainage ditches into rows of trees. Now Congress is considering legislation that would make these green practices eligible for a growing international carbon-trading marketplace that would also reward farmers with cash…”