Impossible to Eliminate Disaster Risk

“The challenge of creation reduces us to the inevitable. Our lives are full of tiny disasters” wrote Floriano Martins. Minnesota is encrusted in ice half the year. 20,000 years ago, at the height of the last Ice Age, this area was covered by a 1-2 mile thick slab ofice.

But at least we don’t get hurricanes. Or big earthquakes, similar to the one that hit California yesterday. There is no place on the planet (that I could find) totally devoid of risk. But
some areas are riskier than others.

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center shows a preliminary total of 13 tornadoes touching down on Minnesota so
far this year. The last few years have been relatively quiet, from a severe weather standpoint. Let’s hope that trend continues.

There is a slight risk of severe storms over far western Minnesota by tonight, but most of us salvage warm sunshine today. A showery Friday gives way to warm sunshine this weekend – little risk of blobs showing up on Doppler radar. NOAA’s GFS model shows a streak of 90s the second week of July.

Billion Dollar Disasters Since 1980. Notice any trends? Here’s an excerpt from NOAA NCDC: “…The highest frequency of inland flood (i.e., non-tropical) events often occur in states adjacent to large rivers or the Gulf of Mexico, which is a warm source of moisture to fuel rainstorms. Drought impacts are most focused in the Southern and Plains states where crop and livestock assets are densely populated. Severe local storm events are common across the Plains, the Southeast and the Ohio River Valley states. Winter storm impacts are concentrated in the Northeastern states while tropical cyclone impacts range from Texas to New England but also impact many inland states. In total, the U.S. South, Central and Southeast regions experience a higher frequency of billion-dollar disaster events than any other region. It is clear that extreme weather and climate events affect all regions of the United States...”

Growing Thunder Threat Late Thursday. Some of the storms over far western Minnesota may be severe later today, with large hail, damaging winds, even an isolated tornado. Strong storms rumble into the metro later Thursday night. NAM future radar guidance: NOAA, Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Sum-Sum-Summertime. Our comfortable days are behind us for the time being – temperatures into next week run 5-10F above average, statewide, with a shot at 90F a few days next week over southern Minnesota.

Yes, It’s Hot Enough. GFS (bottom) is a bit more aggressive with warming in the coming days and weeks with a run of 90s after the 4th of July. MSP Meteograms: WeatherBell.

July Set To Simmer. We shouldn’t be too shocked. After all, July is – historically – the warmest month of the year. Last summer was a dud due to an exceptionally wet pattern, which kept Minnesota temperatures cooler. This summer: less rain, more 90s.

Record Plume of Sahara Dust to Affect U.S. Mainland in Coming Days. Capital Weather Gang tracks this vast, dirty column of air: “A nearly 4,000-mile-long plume of thick dust from the Sahara Desert that arrived in Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba is forecast to move into the Gulf of Mexico, inland from Texas to the lower Mississippi River Valley Thursday and Friday, before reaching Washington this weekend. The plume is part of a phenomena that develops every year off the coast of Africa, known as the Saharan Air Layer (SAL), but the current one is unusually intense and is setting records, scientists say. The SAL typically forms over the Sahara Desert from the late spring into the early fall, and it moves in pulses out into the tropical North Atlantic every few days…”
Image credit: “Close-up view of dust plume over Caribbean Tuesday morning.” (NOAA)

Heat and Fire Scorches Siberia. Probably not a good signal. NASA’s Earth Observatory has details: “Eastern Siberia is famous for some of the coldest wintertime temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere. But in 2020, it has been the region’s wildly high temperatures and wildfires that have wowed meteorologists. After several months of warm weather, the Russian town of Verkhoyansk reported a daytime temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) on June 20—likely a record high for the town. (The previous high was 37.3°C, recorded on July 25, 1988.) “This event seems very anomalous in the last hundred years or so,” said NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies Director Gavin Schmidt. “The background trends in temperature in this region are about 3 degrees Celsius since the 19th century, so the probabilities of breaking records there are increasing fast...”

Satellites Have Drastically Changed How We Forecast Hurricanes. NASA has details and a terrific video: “The powerful hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas on September 8, 1900, killing an estimated 8,000 people and destroying more than 3,600 buildings, took the coastal city by surprise. This video looks at advances in hurricane forecasting in the 120 years since, with a focus on the contributions from weather satellites. This satellite technology has allowed us to track hurricanes – their location, movement and intensity. “One of the dramatic impacts is that satellite data keeps an eye on the target,” especially over unpopulated areas such as oceans, said JPSS Director Greg Mandt. “We’re sort of like your eyes in the sky to make sure that Mother Nature can never surprise you.” A fleet of Earth-observing satellites, including those from the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite series (GOES-R), provides remarkable advances in hurricane forecasting…”

Image credit: “This video looks at advances in hurricane forecasting, with a focus on the contributions from weather satellites.” Credits: NASA/ Jefferson Beck.

Get a Comfortable Chair: Permanent Work from Home is Coming. Here’s a clip from a story at NPR: “…Saving money is always an attractive proposition for businesses, especially these days. And that’s likely to drive the shift to remote work, according to Kate Lister, who consults with companies on the future of work as president of Global Workplace Analytics. “Going into a recession, an economic downturn, those CEOs are laying awake at night thinking of all those buildings that they’re heating … productivity is continuing without being at the office. And saying, ‘Wow, I think we could use for a change here.’ ” One potential change: Demand for commercial real estate falls due to the growth of remote work and the realities of a painful economic downturn...”

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.

80 F. high in the Twin Cities on Wednesday.

82 F. average high on June 24.

73 F. high on June 24, 2019.

June 25, 2003: Heavy rain falls across central Minnesota. Elk River picks up 8.19 inches. 4.36 inches fall in 4 hours in Maplewood, and there are reports of street flooding in St. Paul. Strong winds topple trees in Richfield.

June 25, 1950: Flooding hits Warroad. Strong winds accompany waters that rose 4 feet in 10 minutes.

THURSDAY: Warm sunshine. Storms at night. Winds: SW 5-10. High: 87

FRIDAY: Showers and storms slowly taper. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 69. High: 81

SATURDAY: Warm sunshine, few complaints. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 64. High: 86

SUNDAY: Blue sky, please evacuate outdoors. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 68. High: 87

MONDAY: Some sticky sun, stray T-shower. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 71. High: 89

TUESDAY: Humid, scattered T-storms. Wake-up: 70. High: 89

WEDNESDAY: Ditto. Muggy with a few storms nearby. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 70. High: 88

Climate Stories…

Minnesota AG Keith Ellison to Sue Oil Giants Over Cliate Change. Bring Me The News has the story: “Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has announced his office will be suing two oil giants and the oil trade body for “deceiving and defrauding” Minnesotans about climate change. The AG announced Wednesday that his office has filed a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil, three Koch Industries entities, and the American Petroleum Institute “for perpetuating fraud against Minnesotans.” The suit includes claims for fraud, failure to warn, false statements in advertising, deceptive trade practices, and consumer fraud. His office is seeking an injunction to prevent these practices in Minnesota, as well as financial restitution and the funding of a public education campaign relating to climate change…”

Image credit: Clean Technica.

4 Lessons from Covid-19 to Help Fight Climate Change. A post at MIT’s Sloan School of Management: “…Just as we need a vaccine for COVID-19,  climate change requires urgent solutions that can’t wait a generation. But people are moved to modify behavior based on emotion, not on research. “What the research shows is that just telling people [about] the science doesn’t work. And this has been a problem in the pandemic. You hear scientists telling you what you ought to do, [but] it doesn’t stop people from gathering without masks in close quarters because they don’t get the immediate consequences of that action,” Sterman said. There is similar amnesia regarding climate change. “The presumption . . .  is that the harms from burning carbon today will only show up and hurt our children and our grandchildren. That’s just no longer true,” Sterman said. “Today, we’ve already warmed our climate two degrees Fahrenheit approximately above preindustrial levels,” leading to extreme weather events such as droughts and flooding…”

Image credit: Laura Wentzel.

Seniors at Risk: Heat and Climate Change. Climate Central shared some data I was unaware of: “Heat is the top killer among all types of weather hazards, including hurricanes and tornadoes. But hospitals and health care providers do not always report heat-related illnesses or heat as an underlying cause of a death, making it hard to measure the actual impact of extreme heat on health. An estimated 12,000 Americans die of heat-related causes annually, according to research by scientists at Duke University, a number roughly comparable to annual deaths from gun homicides. The April 2020 study dramatically increased the estimates of current deaths and future deaths, surpassing the 2018 National Climate Assesment’s 2100 projection by a factor of 10. More than 80 percent of those dying from heat-related illnesses are over 60, researchers have found. The baby boomer generation (born between 1946-1964) will be among those immediately hardest hit by climate change, as their vulnerability to extreme heat coincides with rising temperatures...”

What a 100-Degree Day in Siberia Really Means. National Geographic reports: “…But climate change is “loading the dice” toward extreme temperatures like the one recorded this week, he says. The Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet: Baseline warmth in the high Arctic has increased by between 3.6 to 5.4°F(2 to 3°C) over the past hundred or so years. About 0.75°C of that has occurred in the last decade alone. (Find out more about climate change and how humans are causing it.) That means any heat waves that hit the region are strengthened by the extra warming. So the average warmness of a summer increases, and the extremes do too. This month’s super-hot day emerged from a potent mix of factors. First, climate change nudged base temperatures up…”

Pew Research Poll Finds Most Americans Want Government to Do More to Fight Climate Change. Here’s the intro to a Washington Post (paywall) story: “Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government should act more aggressively to combat climate change, and almost as many say the problem is already affecting their community in some way, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center. In addition, the nationwide survey of 10,957 adults conducted this spring finds that Americans overwhelmingly want the government to do more to reduce the greenhouse gases linked to a warming climate, with significant majorities backing policies that would plant huge numbers of trees, greater restrict power plant emissions, require more fuel-efficient cars and tax corporations based on their emissions...”

Amazon to Launch $2 Billion Venture Capital Fund to Invest in Clean Energy. The Wall Street Journal (paywall) has details: “Amazon. com Inc. is launching a $2 billion internal venture-capital fund focused on technology investments to reduce the impact of climate change, the latest sustainability initiative from the technology giant after criticism of its environmental record. The new fund, which will be called The Climate Pledge Fund, will invest in companies across a number of industries, including transportation, energy generation, battery storage, manufacturing and food and agriculture, according to the company. The aim is to help Amazon and other companies reach a goal of “net zero” carbon emissions by 2040. Amazon and a number of other companies are seeking to reduce the climate impact of their operations, both through reduced use of fossil fuels and investments in projects such as reforestation…”

Wisconsin Governor Asking Public for Policy Suggestions on Climate Change. has the story; here’s a clip: “…Barnes is encouraging all Wisconsin residents to participate, but especially those from low income and predominantly minority communities. “In Wisconsin and across the globe, communities of color and low-income communities often experience the worst consequences of climate change, and for far too long, they have been excluded from the policy-making process,” Barnes said in a statement provided to the State Journal. “These communities know best which policies will work for them, and that’s why we are centering their knowledge and experience as we craft our recommendations...”

File image: NASA Earth Observatory.