Please Don’t Write Summer Off Just Yet

My wife had an out-of-body experience this weekend, driving home in 50s and mist. “The Summer Solstice is Friday. Then the days start getting shorter. It’s not fair and it’s your fault!”

It’s not fair and I’m just the messenger, but remember this: historically, Minnesota heat doesn’t peak until mid-July. We suffer for our summers and this year is Exhibit A. But do not write off sizzling heat just yet.

After a run of 70s this week, models show 80s next week, and what may be the first extended stretch of (stinking) hot weather as we sail into early July. Weather models build a hot ridge of high pressure over the central USA with the jet stream (finally) lifting into Canada, allowing 90-degree air to spurt north.

The sky overhead stabilizes today and Wednesday, meaning a dry, lukewarm sky for most of Minnesota & Wisconsin. A surge of sticky air brushes us with T-storms Thursday & Friday, but latest models suggest a surge of drier, sunnier air by Saturday.

90 degrees in time for the 4th of July? I think yes.





Looking Hotter. No promises (there never are) but the 2-week outlook for 500mb (18,000 foot) winds courtesy of NOAA’s GFS moel shows a nearly stationary bubble of hot air over the central and southeastern USA, with a few surges of 90-degree heat pushing into the Upper Midwest. Finally, the jet stream shows some signs of lifting north, pulling real heat with it.


An Uptick in Natural Disasters. Some of this is obviously demographic trends (people – increasingly – living in high risk areas, near the coast, along rivers, etc) but there seems to be something else in play. Here’s an excerpt from USA Facts: “We are declaring more natural disasters due to extreme weather, with 137 incidents declared in 2017 and 124 in 2018. Since 1999, there were 1,052 more fire declarations and 529 more severe storm declarations than in the same 20-year prior period. In the same time period, flood declarations fell by 129. Five of the most expensive disaster declarations since 1980— Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, Sandy, and Irma and the 2012 drought/heat wave—happened within the last ten years…”

Disaster Declarations by Type. Data from FEMA and NOAA, graphic courtesy of USA Facts.


Natural Disasters Are Becoming More Expensive. Hurricanes (Katrina, Harvey, Maria, Sandy and Irma) top the list of expensive natural disasters since 2006, according to NOAA. Graphic: USA Facts.


Two June Frosts Up North. Details from Dr. Mark Seeley at Minnesota WeatherTalk: “After seeing widespread frosts across northern Minnesota on the second of June (many morning low temperatures in the 20s F), June 13th brought widespread temperature readings in the 30s F around the state, and delivered a second round of frosts to northern counties this week. Cotton, Celina, Crane Lake, Cook, Embarrass, Eveleth, Bigfork, Floodwood, Wright, Hibbing, Aitkin, and Cloquet climate stations all reported frost on Thursday morning. This is a bit unusual in that places like Hibbing, Cotton, and Bigfork usually see one frost in the month of June, but not very often two or more frosts. Back in 1964 some northern climate stations reported 4 frosts during the month of June, while in June of 2004 Embarrass reported 11 frosts, probably a statewide record number…”


“It’s Getting Wetter Out There” Is Not a Controversial Statement. The map above (thanks to Brian Brettschneider) has nothing to do with climate models and everything to do with actual, observed precipitation since 1919. Nearly the entire country, with the exception of Arizona, is trending wetter over time.

How UM’s Hurricane Simulator is Helping Forecasters with Storm Predictions. Here’s a link to an interesting story and video from NBC6 in South Florida: “...It’s a unique research tool for understanding what happens in the ocean environment in really intense hurricane force wind conditions,” said Dr. Haus. Located at the University of Miami’s Marine Science campus on Key Biscayne, Dr. Haus and his team are using the simulator for a dozen experiments a year. It’s fueled by monstrous generators for the wind and mechanical paddles to create the waves. “We’re particularly interested in the intensification process,” said Dr. Haus when asked what kind of research they’re looking for. “How hurricanes can rapidly go from say a category 2 to a category 5 in less than 24 hours...”


Best Degrees For People With an Interest in Meteorology. Here’s an excerpt from Techaeris: “…Atmospheric researchers collaborate with scientists of many stripes including physicists, environmental specialists, hydrologists and oceanographers. They work in conjunction to better understand the atmosphere and how it affects weather patterns, causes extreme weather, changing temperatures, ocean movements, and more. Forensic meteorologists are part weather expert and part historian. They look at past weather to gain insights into how they may have contributed to unexplained events, wildfires, or even an accident on the road. If you have an active interest in weather patterns, you might want to consider learning to code. This way you can create mobile apps that incorporate the best weather API from Aeris Weather to pull the latest weather data and satellite maps directly into your apps...”


America is Stuck with a $400 Billion Fighter That Can’t Fight. Say what? Check out this post at Daily Beast: “…Here’s something the public didn’t know until today: If one of the U.S. military’s new F-35 stealth fighters has to climb at a steep angle in order to dodge an enemy attack, design flaws mean the plane might suddenly tumble out of control and crash. Also, some versions of the F-35 can’t accelerate to supersonic speed without melting their own tails or shedding the expensive coating that helps to give the planes their radar-evading qualities...”

Illustration credit above: Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast/Alamy.


75 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.

80 F. average high on June 17.

91 F. high on June 17, 2018.

June 18, 1939: A deadly tornado hits Anoka. 9 fatalities and over 200 injuries are reported.

June 18, 1850: Territorial Governor Ramsey reports that about halfway between Ft. Ripley and Ft. Snelling on the Mississippi a severe hail storm occurred in the evening. One or two hailstones picked up were as large as hen’s eggs and he thought he saw one about the size of a ‘musket ball.’



TUESDAY: Partly sunny, dry. Winds: NW 3-8. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Plenty of sun, quite pleasant. Winds: NE 3-8. Wake-up: 57. High: 75

THURSDAY: Few showers and T-storms likely. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 59. High: 77

FRIDAY: Sticky, strong T-storms in the area. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 60. High: 76

SATURDAY: Becoming partly sunny, drying out. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 63. High: 82

SUNDAY: Sunny start, late PM thunder? Winds: W 15-25. Wake-up: 65. High: 81

MONDAY: Murky sunshine, few PM storms. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 62. High: 82


Climate Stories…

Invasive Grasses Choke Birds’ Habitat as Climate Changes. Check out a story at Star Tribune; here’s an excerpt: “…Instead of a rich, diverse flood plain forest, what’s emerging is a super-tough grassland, a monoculture that does not support much wildlife. The conversion is long and complex. But Beebe, a 31-year-old forest ecologist with Audubon Minnesota, says he thinks it’s aggravated by the more severe rainstorms Minnesota is receiving earlier and later in the year as its climate shifts. The Mississippi’s shrinking flood plain forests are one window into the complex ways that Minnesota’s familiar landscapes are changing with the arrival of a warmer, wetter future that climate change ushers in. Oak forests are moving north, lakes are thawing sooner and a monoculture like reed canary grass is finding even more hospitable places to flourish. “It’s more or less a desert,” Beebe said of new grasslands. “A green desert...”

Photo credit: “Conservation Corps volunteer Sarah Curran planted and marked trees in southeast Minnesota.” Photo by Anthony Soufflé, Star Tribune.


“Farm-ageddon”. Climate-spiked Floods Add to Low Costs, Tarrif Woes for Farmers. Huffington Post has details: “…It’s been the wettest 12 months ever in the U.S., and scientists link it to the effects of climate change. “The frequency of these disasters, I can’t say we’ve experienced anything like this since I’ve been working in agriculture,” John Newton, chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, told The Washington Post.  It’s the slowest planting time in 39 years. Sodden fields lie fallow, and corn and soy crops that have been planted are stunted in the mud. Hard-hit states include Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Michigan. Waters began to recede in some areas in recent days but there’s more rain in the forecast…”


Greenland Lost 2 Billion Tons of Ice This Week, Which is Very Unusual. CNN reports: “Over 40% of Greenland experienced melting Thursday, with total ice loss estimated to be more than 2 gigatons (equal to 2 billion tons) on just that day alone. While Greenland is a big island filled with lots of ice, it is highly unusual for that much ice to be lost in the middle of June. The average “melt season” for Greenland runs from June to August, with the bulk of the melting occurring in July. To visualize how much ice that is, imagine filling the National Mall in Washington with enough ice to reach a point in the sky eight times higher than the Washington Monument…”


Demand for Presidential Climate Debate Escalates After DNC Says No. InsideClimate News reports: “…Fifteen of its presidential candidates, more than 50 of its member organizations in the states, and a slew of progressive organizations that make up its voting base, some armed with petitions bearing over 200,000 signatures, all are now calling for the DNC to hold a separate climate-focused debate. The executive committee of the Democratic party in Miami-Dade County—the U.S. metropolitan area considered most vulnerable to sea level rise and where the first debates will be held June 26 and 27—voted unanimously Monday to urge Democrats to devote one of the 12 Democratic presidential debates to the climate crisis. DNC Chairman Tom Perez, who rejected a climate-focused debate last week, tried to explain the party’s opposition in a post on Medium on Tuesday, saying it would be impractical to hold a single issue forum “at the request of one candidate...”


Putting The Fear of God Into Big Oil: Headlines and links from Climate Nexus: “Pope Francis warned oil and gas executives gathered at the Vatican for a climate summit Friday that “time is running out” on climate change, and called carbon pricing “essential” for avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. Representatives from oil giants including ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Chevron and Eni, as well as asset managers like Black Rock and BNP Paribas, issued a statement at the end of the closed-door summit affirming their support for carbon pricing and disclosure in investments. “Faced with a climate emergency, we must take action accordingly, in order to avoid perpetrating a brutal act of injustice towards the poor and future generations,” Francis said in a statement to the executives. “We do not have the luxury of waiting for others to step forward, or of prioritising short-term economic benefits.” (Reuters, AP, Axios, The Guardian)


Are We Seeing More Hail in a Warmer, Wetter World? Experts Say Not Yet. I wrote an article for the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang, trying to answer the question of whether there is a high confidence in attributing more hail reports to a warming atmosphere. The answer appears to be no, at least not yet. Here’s a clip: “…Hail records are a hodgepodge. In the 1990s, cable TV and the movie “Twister,” among other factors, encouraged storm chasers to converge on severe supercell thunderstorms, and they tended to field far more hail reports than tornado videos. Now, social media is an even stronger influence. “What you might call the sampling effort isn’t a constant” said Diffenbaugh. “There are different incentives to find severe events and chase them in some cases.” Moreover, when hail does fall, there are more people observing it. What was farmland in the 1970s is now subdivisions and strip malls. Complicating matters, NOAA’s definition of “severe hail” went from 0.75 inches in diameter to one-inch in 2009, and hail often melts before it can be measured properly, so there are reporting inconsistencies…”

File photo credit: NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory.


Summers Trending Hotter. Details via Climate Central: “…Almost 92% of the cities analyzed have experienced an increase in the number of above-normal summer days since 1970, with an average increase of 15 days. That’s more than two additional weeks with hotter-than-normal temperatures. 35 cities have recorded a rise of at least 30 hot days, or an additional month. McAllen, Texas leads the list with a remarkable increase of 64 hot days, followed by Houston (49 days), Laredo (47 days), and Sarasota, Florida (44 days). The largest changes are dominated by southern areas — of the top 20 cities, Las Vegas and Raleigh are the furthest north. Summer heat in the South is shifting from uncomfortable to downright unbearable. In addition to last week’s featured impacts on agriculture, athletes, and air conditioning costs, hot summers can spur more disease-carrying insects and hurricane strength…”


IMPACTS: Links and headlines courtesy of Climate Nexus. “India heat wave, soaring up to 123 degrees, has killed at least 36 (New York Times $), climate change has already displaced hundreds in Senegalese city of Saint-Louis (NPR), will climate change kill everyone — or just lots and lots of people? (Vox), Alaska is melting and it’s likely to accelerate global heating (The Guardian), wildfires are ‘burning longer’ and ‘harder to control,’ officials warn (CNN), are we seeing more hail in a warmer, wetter world? Experts say not yet.” (Washington Post $)


Some Republican Lawmakers Break with Party on Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal: “…In a memo circulated Wednesday to Republican congressional offices, the polling firm of longtime GOP strategist Frank Luntz warned that climate change was “a GOP vulnerability and a GOP opportunity.” The firm conducted a survey for the Climate Leadership Council, a policy group promoting its variation of a carbon tax, and said in the memo that 69% of Republican voters are concerned their party was “hurting itself with younger voters” because of its climate stance. Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida says the GOP needs to advance sound conservative proposals to combat climate change and embrace science, or risk long-term political damage. “How can we as a party stand up to the generational challenges we face with globalization and automation and climate change if we don’t look credible to the body politic?” Mr. Gaetz said in an interview…”