Turning Up The Volume On The Heat

Denial of facts. Ignoring experts. Cherry-picking data to fit an agenda. Covid-19 or climate change? Yes.

According to NOAA, average annual weather/climate damage in the U.S. has quadrupled since the 1980s. A new paper at AAAS, The American Association for the Advancement of Science, says heat waves are occurring 3 times more often than they did in the 1960s. Summer nights have warmed at nearly twice the rate as summer days, and an estimated 80 percent of monthly heat records are due to human-caused climate change.

July is the hottest month of the year – and we are turbocharging the heat.

Expect an afternoon heat index close to 100F in the metro later today; temperatures peaking in the mid-90s with severe storms later.

While much of the south and west broils, a series of weak cool fronts will provide some relief for Minnesota. Expect mid-80s and a welcome dip in humidity this weekend. Thank you Canada.

Rainfall has been fickle: floods for some, but pockets of moderate drought up north. Let it rain.

Image credit above: NOAA CPO.

Steamy Wednesday, Then Slight Relief. Today will take your breath away. Literally. Afternoon heat indices may approach 100F in the MSP metro, where the urban heat island will add a few degrees to the discomfort. Take it easy out there. A weak cool front and northwest winds will drop humidity levels to more tolerable levels Friday into Sunday with highs in the 80s; still very lake-worthy out there. Map sequence: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Breathing Easier – But Heat May Return by Late July. GFS (bottom graphic) is once again more aggressive with the heat, but both models show the heat easing up this weekend as a well-timed puff of Canadian air sneaks south of the border. MSP Meteograms: WeatherBell.

Weak Troughing = Less Sizzling. The epicenter of extreme heat 2 weeks out is forecast to be over the western USA and much of the south, with a weak northwest flow aloft filtering more tolerable air into Minnesota and the Great Lakes.

10 Essential Facts About Heat and Your Health. A post at Everyday Health has some useful information on who is most at risk of heat-related ailments: “…Others at higher risk for heat-related illness include those who are morbidly obese, the elderly, and people who are immobile, Buete says. People with diabetes can be heat sensitive, too, says Matthew Corcoran, MD, of APG Endocrinology in Egg Harbor, New Jersey. “If you have diabetes and you become dehydrated from the heat, it can affect your blood-sugar levels,” says Dr. Corcoran. Be sure to keep insulin and other diabetes medications out of the heat, as hot temperatures can ruin them, he adds. People with multiple sclerosis may also find that their symptoms worsen when they’re hot. When heat raises a person’s body temperature, it becomes harder for the central nervous system to work properly...”

Image credit: Paul Douglas.

Pockets of Moderate Drought. You may have seen downpours in recent days, but much of Minnesota is considerably drier than average, an omen of what may be to come in August if this pattern continues. Map: U.S. Drought Monitor.

20 Named Storms Predicted for Hurricane Season – Most Since 2005. CNN.com has details: “The research team at Colorado State University is now forecasting 20 named storms for this hurricane season. This is the earliest in a season that the group has made a prediction this high. The only other time CSU researchers predicted 20 or more storms was in their August update of the record-breaking 2005 season. Nearly all seasonal forecasts for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season have been well above normal. Current and long-term conditions across the Atlantic continue to favor a 2020 season that is well above average. When combined with the new record set for the earliest fifth named storm, the high prediction doesn’t seem so bold…”

More details from Colorado State University here. (Graphic credit above: NOAA).

“Tornado Drought” in June – Fewest U.S. Tornadoes In Nearly 70 Years. Details via Fox News: “After a destructive spring that made 2020 the deadliest year for tornadoes in nine years, an unusually quiet May continued into June, with some record low activity recorded. The National Weather Service’s (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC) said June 2020 had the fewest number of tornado watches in recorded history with only six recorded for the entire month. The previous record was eight in 2019. “While severe weather reports were closer to normal in June, the tornado drought continued for another record breaking month,” the SPC said on Twitter…”

“Million-Mile Batteries” Are Coming. Are They a Revolution? Grist poses the question: “Electric vehicles (EVs) have a clear environmental advantage over their gas-guzzling counterparts, but when it comes to longevity, the two are in a dead heat. Two hundred thousand miles is considered a good, long run for a car built today, regardless of whether it’s powered by a lithium battery or an internal combustion engine. But if a flurry of recent reports are to be believed, EVs may soon surge ahead in this long-distance competition — not by mere thousands of miles, but by 800,000. Recently, multiple EV battery makers have announced the imminent arrival of “million-mile” batteries, power packs that supposedly have enough juice to be driven to the moon and back twice...”

61,000+ Clean Energy Jobs. Here’s an excerpt of a post at Clean Energy Economy Minnesota: “In 2019, clean energy employed 61,800 Minnesotans. COVID-19 has dramatically shifted this number, with the latest numbers showing over 11,000 jobs lost in the clean energy sector. Unfortunately, these job losses have erased several years of industry gains. Despite this, the clean energy industry continues to serve our communities, care for employees, and innovate new solutions to address the crisis. Minnesota’s clean energy industry will play a vital role in our state’s economic recovery because of its size, reach and potential for growth. Restoring and increasing jobs in this industry is a proven way to boost the economy and will be critical as policymakers work to get Minnesotans on their feet again...”

Graphic credit: U.S. Department of Energy.

The Pandemic Experts Are Not Okay. A story at The Atlantic reminded me of the fatigue front-line health workers are experiencing right now: “…By now they are used to sharing their knowledge with journalists, but they’re less accustomed to talking about themselves. Many of them told me that they feel duty-bound and grateful to be helping their country at a time when so many others are ill or unemployed. But they’re also very tired, and dispirited by America’s continued inability to control a virus that many other nations have brought to heel. As the pandemic once again intensifies, so too does their frustration and fatigue. America isn’t just facing a shortfall of testing kits, masks, or health-care workers. It is also looking at a drought of expertise, as the very people whose skills are sorely needed to handle the pandemic are on the verge of burning out...”

How Scientists Know Covid-19 is Way Deadlier Than the Flu. A story at National Geographic got my attention: “…Using the handful of studies that have calculated infection-fatality rates for seasonal flu, Meyerowitz-Katz determined that somewhere between 1 and 10 people die for every 100,000 that are infected. For COVID-19, that number ranges between 500 and 1,000 deaths per 100,000 infections. By his calculations, the coronavirus is likely to be 50 to 100 times more deadly than the seasonal flu, which supports the Columbia University findings…”

No, Your Coronavirus Face Mask Does Not Limit Oxygen Intake. Mental Floss dispels some of the myths floating around out there: “…While some CO2 can be inhaled, it’s not in quantities that could pose a threat to healthy mask users. The amount is easily eliminated by a person’s respiratory and metabolic systems. If a mask is worn for a prolonged period, it might be possible to develop a headache, but nothing more. “There is no risk of hypercapnia in healthy adults who use face coverings, including medical and cloth face masks, as well as N95s,” Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told Healthline. “Carbon dioxide molecules freely diffuse through the masks, allowing normal gas exchange while breathing...”

Image credit: The Today Show.

Dr. Elon and Mr. Musk: Inside Tesla’s Production Hell. WIRED.com (paywall) has a fascinating and vaguely horrifying tale: “…If it has been strange to watch Musk’s wild ride via news reports and social media, it’s been even weirder inside the company. Over the past six months I’ve communicated with dozens of current and former Tesla employees, from nearly every division. They describe a thrilling and tumultuous workplace, where talented engineers and designers have done some of their proudest work but where, as one former executive put it, “everyone in Tesla is in an abusive relationship with Elon.” Almost all these employees spoke on the condition of anonymity because of nondisclosure agreements or fears of being sued or fired by Musk. (Even those with positive things to say asked for anonymity…)”

88 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday.

84 F. average high on July 7.

85 F. high on July 7, 2019.

July 8, 2002: A three-day deluge ends in central Minnesota with 10 inches in northern Kanabec county and 9.5 inches in southwest Aitkin County.

July 8, 1974: Minnesota experiences an intense heat wave, with the Twin Cities reaching 101, the warmest temperature in 26 years.

WEDNESDAY: Heat Advisory. Hot sun. Feels like 100-103. PM storms, some severe. Winds: S 10-20. High: 95

THURSDAY: Some sun. Thunder far southern Minnesota. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 74. High: near 90

FRIDAY: Sunny, a little less humid. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 67. High: 87

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, thunder far west? Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 66. High: 86

SUNDAY: Sunny intervals, late shower up north. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 65. High: 85

MONDAY: Heating up again, late T-storms. Winds: S 15-30. Wake-up: 68. High: 91

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, isolated T-shower. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 71. High: 88

Climate Stories…

NOAA’s Climate Program Office Launches Climate Risk Areas Initiative. Here’s an update from NOAA CPO: “Increased flooding, warming ocean temperatures, fluctuating lake levels, and more frequent heat waves—these are just some of the impacts communities across the country are facing as people from every U.S. region and economic sector turn to NOAA for actionable climate information. Addressing Americans’ most pressing climate challenges requires collaborative approaches involving subject matter experts from different professional domains. That’s why NOAA’s Climate Program Office (CPO) is piloting a strategic effort to enhance its investments and improve our nation’s resilience with user-driven solutions.    Today, CPO publicly announced a new integrative and interdisciplinary initiative that will apply its core capabilities and align investments with partners in a set of four climate-related risk areas that are societally important…”

Graphic credit: “Graphic illustrating the average cost of damages per decade. Average annual damages have more than quadrupled since the 1980s, from about $18 billion per year in the 1980s to about $82 billion per year in the 2010s“.

An Italian Glacier is Turning Pink. Probably not good news; CNN Travel reports: “A glacier in Italy is turning pink because of algae — a development that will make the ice melt faster, a scientist studying the phenomenon says. Pink snow has appeared at the Presena glacier in northern Italy, researcher Biagio Di Mauro, of the Institute of Polar Sciences at Italy’s National Research Council, told CNN Monday. While “watermelon snow,” as it is sometimes known, is fairly common in the Alps in spring and summer, it has been more marked this year. When Di Mauro went to the glacier on Saturday to investigate, “there was quite an impressive bloom of snow algae,” he said. He told CNN he believes an alga named Chlamydomonas nivalis is responsible for the change in color…”

Image credit: CNN.

Heat Waves and Climate Change. SciLine (AAAS) has details and some fairly amazing statistics about the prevalence of heat: “Extreme heat is the deadliest form of extreme weather in the United States, causing more deaths than hurricanes and floods combined; more than twice as many deaths as tornadoes; and more than four times as many as from extreme cold. 1 Heat waves i are occurring three times more often than they did in the 1960s—about six per year compared to two per year. 2 Some recent evidence suggests the increase has been even greater. 3 Record-breaking hot months are occurring five times more often than would be expected without global warming, suggesting that 80 percent of such monthly heat records are due to human-caused climate change...”

“What Choice Do We Have?” Residents of the Arctic are facing unprecedented changes to their way of life as their environment warms faster than any place on Earth. High Country News has an eye-opening report: “…In the last two centuries the climate has been severely altered by human forces. But it has always been changing in some form here, according to the Inupiat. Evidence of past ecosystem shifts is preserved in the great tusks of a mammoth found in the perennially frozen earth and in the oral histories repeated like mantras. The term “climate change” strikes a different tone up here. Life below 0 degrees Fahrenheit has always been challenging, so the Inupiat story is defined by adaptation. When the mammoth became extinct, the Inupiat adapted. When Western influences crept north, the Inupiat replaced their dogsleds with snow machines, their seal oil lamps with electricity...”

Hot June Highlights a Hot 2020. The Copernicus Project has an update for Europe and the rest of the planet; here’s an excerpt: “…Temperatures over Europe deviated quite substantially from the 1981-2010 average in June 2020, with a pattern largely opposite to that in May, associated with a change in the prevailing atmospheric circulation. Temperatures were well above average over Scandinavia and much of eastern Europe, under the influence of anticyclonic conditions. Norway had its second warmest June in records dating back to 1900. Sweden recorded one of its highest June temperatures since records began in 1889s, while Helsinki and other locations in Finland recorded their warmest June in records starting in 1961…”

Map credit: “Surface air temperature anomaly for June 2020 relative to the June average for the period 1981-2010. Data source: ERA5.” Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF.

Why It’s So Damn Hot in the Arctic Right Now. Check out a post at Vox.com: “The Arctic is continuing to swelter in a heat wave, as temperatures around the Arctic Ocean this week top 93 degrees Fahrenheit. The recent heat follows an even more stunning data point: Last month, Verkhoyansk, Russia, hit a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers are still working to confirm the result, which may be recognized as a record high for the Arctic Circle. This is a town that holds the record for the coldest temperature above the Arctic Circle, -90 degrees Fahrenheit in 1892. “That is a fantastical degree,” said Roman Vilfand, head of Russia’s weather service, during a press conference this week…”

Biden’s Big Climate Decision: Will He Embrace His Task Force’s Goals? The New York Times reports; here’s a clip: “…Still, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who has previously clashed with Mr. Biden over his approach to combating climate change, struck a note of caution. “Now, what he does with those recommendations, ultimately, is up to him,” she said. “And we will see what that commitment looks like.” Those goals, according to three people familiar with the task force’s decisions, include committing to seeing the United States’ electricity sector powered fully by renewable energy by 2035 and a rapid transition to energy-efficient buildings. They also seek a Day 1 promise to begin developing new vehicle efficiency standards — and to include labor unions in the discussions — to replace and improve upon the Obama administration measures that President Trump has weakened...”

Image credit: Scott Kelly, NASA ISS.

As Sea Levels Rise, Will Drinking Water Supplies Be at Risk? Yale E360 has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…Concern about the Delaware River’s salt front is mirrored in other coastal areas, such as the Savannah River between Georgia and South Carolina, where an advancing salt front is threatening drinking water intakes as well as freshwater wetlands. Researchers from the University of South Carolina modeled the effects of 1 foot and 2 feet of sea level rise on salt concentrations over about 40 miles of the river’s estuary, starting at the city of Savannah, and found that those sea level increases would threaten drinking water intakes as well as natural systems…”