In Praise Of Our Favorite Teachers

We are the sum of the people we’ve met and the experiences we have had. I owe my meteorology career to weather merit badge in the Boy Scouts, a tropical storm that flooded the home I grew up in, and a series of remarkable teachers.

I remember their names, faces and continuous encouragement. Mr. Batzer and Mr. Danner were science teachers who turned the weather unit into an event. Mrs. Eisenhart was an advanced placement English teacher who admonished me to use “action words”. As we start the new school year a special salute to the people who helped to mold us into who we were meant to become.

Note to self: you can’t learn how to predict weather out of a textbook. You make mistakes (in public) and learn from your errors. It’s a painful learning curve.

An irritable sky sparks showers from the Arrowhead into western Wisconsin this afternoon, but a dry, lukewarm sky prevails Thursday into Saturday temperatures mellow.

Storms may bubble up early next week but no widespread soakers are brewing.

We need rain.

Wednesday Future Radar

A Few Pop-Up Instability Showers. The best chance of a shower or T-shower comes later today from the Minnesota Arrowhead into Wisconsin, but a little rain may clip the metro area after 2 pm or so.

Cooling Off Today But Warmer Days Ahead. Today and tomorrow morning will feel like autumn, but there’s a good chance the mercury will hit or top 80F Friday and Saturday before another inevitable cool-down next week. No cold blasts looming just yet.

NOAA NDFD Temperatures for MSP
ECMWF Temperatures for MSP

A Jolt of Chilly Air Last Week of September? By then we will be due for a more sustained outbreak of sweatshirts – GFS guidance hints at a stronger push of cool air roughly 2 weeks out.

Flooding in New York Left Weather Experts with a dreadful Feeling in the Pit of their Stomachs. CNN meteorologists weigh in on the challenges involved in communicating both predicted rainfall amounts and rainfall rates: “...While the rainfalls totals were staggering, what was even more stunning was how fast the rain came down. “The fact you had those extreme rain rates that aligned over that densely populated area is why it unfolded the way it did,” said Lamers. So much rain in such a short amount of time is what ultimately led to the catastrophe. It’s one thing to have an inch of rain fall over the course of the day; it’s another to have that inch fall in 10 minutes. Forecasting exactly where the heaviest bands of rain will occur is impossible until a few hours before, and to see them set up over such a populated city as New York City was shocking...”

Hurricane Ida off the Louisiana coast as a Category 4 hurricane on the morning of Sunday, August 29th at 10:13am (CDT) right before making landfall.
NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio.

Dramatic NASA Satellite Video Examines Hurricane Ida’s Eye in 3D. SciTechDaily has the post; here’s a clip: “The 3D Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) data collected by the GPM Core satellite shows a healthy hurricane inner core in Ida. The small 17-mile-diameter eyewall is surrounded by a nearly complete outer ring of precipitation approximately 85 miles in diameter. Beyond this central structure, an arc of precipitation exists another 40 miles further from the eye to the southeast. The eye hosts many clouds extending well above 6 miles (10 km), which indicates that Ida was still actively growing at the time of this overpass...”

Note: Facilities include those which self-reported to the EPA on-site releases of at least 1,000 pounds of monitored carcinogens into the air, water and land in 2019. Map also includes facilities that reported releases of 10 or more grams of dioxin or dioxin-like substances.
Source: US EPA Toxic Release Inventory, National Weather Service Graphic: John Keefe, CNN

What a Hurricane Means When You Live in Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley”. has the post; here’s a clip: “…In the early months of the pandemic, Harvard’s school of public health released a preliminary study showing a link between fine particulate matter, also known as PM 2.5 pollution, and increased mortality rates from Covid-19. Terrell wanted to know what that meant for Louisiana, particularly in Cancer Alley. After scraping the raw data from the Harvard study and performing her own analysis, she found that the highest death rates from Covid-19 and a majority of PM 2.5 concentrations were in Cancer Alley. Ida added another layer of affliction by destroying houses and forcing residents to emergency shelters or relatives’ homes, where they may be clustered together with potential for increased Covid-19 transmission. “It seems like these communities are just continually burdened with risks that they didn’t ask for, and don’t deserve to be burdened with,” Terrell said...”

A black and white satellite image shows an oil slick following Hurricane Ida, south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana, U.S., September 2, 2021.
Satellite image 2021 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

U.S. Probing Nearly 350 Reports of Oil Spills in Wake of Hurricane Ida. Reuters reports: “The U.S. Coast Guard said on Monday it was investigating nearly 350 reports of oil spills in and along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in the wake of Hurricane Ida. Ida’s 150 mile-per-hour (240 kph) winds wreaked havoc on offshore oil production platforms and onshore oil and gas processing plants. About 88% of the region’s offshore oil production remains shut and more than 100 platforms unoccupied after the storm made landfall on Aug. 29...”

Water Stress Increases Need for Reliable Weather Data to Power US Agriculture. Here’s an excerpt of a post I wrote for AerisWeather focused on climate volatility and ag: “…Farmers are witnessing water extremes in their fields – growing the crops the world needs to thrive and survive has never been more challenging. New times require new tools, powered by an army of sensors, next-generation irrigation techniques, and new software solutions better able to manage the weather factors that impact daily operations. It is becoming clear that what worked in the 1980s probably won’t work in the 2020s and beyond. “Farmers have historically relied on a stable climate to align their crop growth cycles and management activities, but with the changing climate growers will increasingly need to rely on data to drive these management decisions”, said Mason Lanphear, Founder of Vital Agronomics LLC, which uses weather data and proprietary software to help farmers manage water risk and maximize yields. “By combining weather forecasts from the AerisWeather platform with granular data from IoT sensors, we can help farmers mitigate these risks and better manage their crops no matter the weather...”

File image
Minnesota Power

In the US, Wind Power is Getting Bigger and Better. Ars Technica breaks down the numbers: “Wind power doesn’t make up the largest part of the United States’ energy mix, but it grew over the last year, according to the Wind Technologies Market Report. The renewable energy source increased to more than 8 percent of the country’s electricity supply—reaching 10 percent in a growing number of states—and saw a whopping $25 billion in investments in what will translate to 16.8 gigawatts of capacity, according to the report. Released by the US Department of Energy, the sizeable report draws on a variety of data sources, including government data from the Energy Information Administration, trade data from the US International Trade Commission, and hourly pricing data from the various system operators...”

“Long-Haulers” are Fighting for Their Future. Ed Yong reports for The Atlantic; here’s an excerpt: “…After a year and a half, the risk of long COVID, for both unvaccinated and vaccinated people, is one of the pandemic’s biggest and least-addressed unknowns. The condition affects many young, healthy, and athletic people, and even now “none of us can predict who’s going to have persistent symptoms,” Lekshmi Santhosh, the medical director of a long-COVID clinic at UC San Francisco, told me. A small number of fully vaccinated people have become long-haulers after breakthrough infections, although no one knows how common such cases are, because they aren’t being tracked. Mysteries abound; meanwhile, millions of long-haulers are sick…”

Illustrations by Alexei Vella. Produced by Aliza Aufrichtig.

How Eating Out Has Changed, From the Menu to the Tip. The New York Times (paywall) examines Covid-related trends: “For a year and a half now, restaurant and bar customers have swerved and stretched to meet the shifting realities of going out in a pandemic. Masks on, masks off. Shutdowns, curfews, social distancing, staff shortages — all may keep coming or going in sync with coronavirus caseloads and the health of the economy. But these strange times have also spawned a number of smaller, less heralded developments — innovations, tweaks and quirks — that have the potential to stick around. Together, they amount to a transformation in American hospitality, whether at fast-food counters, neighborhood bars or formal dining rooms. Here are some of the ways in which eating out has changed...”

79 F. Twin Cities high temperature on Tuesday.

76 F. average high on September 7.

64 F. MSP high on September 7, 2020.

September 8, 1985: An F1 tornado touches down in Faribault County causing $25,000 worth of damage, and hail up to 1 3/4 inches falls in Freeborn and Waseca Counties.

September 8, 1968: 1 3/4 inch hail falls in Goodhue County.

September 8, 1931: A record high is set in St. Cloud with a temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, a few PM showers Wisconsin. Winds: NW 15-25. High: 72

THURSDAY: Bright sunshine, less wind. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 53. High: 74

FRIDAY: Sunny and warmer. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 54. High: near 80

SATURDAY: Warm sunshine, pleasant. Winds: NW 8-13 Wake-up: 63. High: 82

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, cooler. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 59. High: 75

MONDAY: Lukewarm with a stray T-shower. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 60. High: 76

TUESDAY: Early thunder, then clearing. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 59. High: 78

Climate Stories…

FEMA, Census, The Washington Post

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans Experienced a Climate Disaster This Summer. The Washington Post (paywall) explains: “Nearly 1 in 3 Americans live in a county hit by a weather disaster in the past three months, according to a new Washington Post analysis of federal disaster declarations. On top of that, 64 percent live in places that experienced a multiday heat wave — phenomena that are not officially deemed disasters but are considered the most dangerous form of extreme weather. The expanding reach of climate-fueled disasters, a trend that has been increasing at least since 2018, shows the extent to which a warming planet has already transformed Americans’ lives. At least 388 people in the United States have died due to hurricanes, floods, heat waves and wildfires since June, according to media reports and government records…”

Symbols represent the 99.9th percentile of observed daily maximum wet-bulb temperature for 1979–2017 for HadISD stations with at least 50% data availability over this period.
Source: “The emergence of heat and humidity too severe for human tolerance” by Colin Raymond, Tom Matthews and Radley M. Horton, published by Science Advances by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Beyond Human Endurance. The Washington Post (paywall) examines how some parts of the planet may become to hot and humid for humans to survive during the summer season; here’s an excerpt: “…The wet-bulb temperature that marks the upper limit of what the human body can handle is 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 Celsius). But any temperatures above 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 Celsius) can be dangerous and deadly. Horton and other scientists noted in a 2020 paper that these temperatures are occurring with increasing frequency in parts of the world. To put things in perspective, the highest wet-bulb temperature ever recorded in the Washington region, known for its muggy, unbearable summers, was 87.2 degrees (30.7 Celsius). “Extreme humid heat overall has more than doubled in frequency since 1979,” the study’s authors wrote. These conditions are reaching that deadly threshold in places like South Asia and the Middle East and could regularly cross it by 2075, scientists say…”


Overlapping Disasters Expose Harsh Climate Reality: The U.S. Is Not Ready. The New York Times (paywall) reports: “In Louisiana and Mississippi, nearly one million people lack electricity and drinking water after a hurricane obliterated power lines. In California, wildfire menaces Lake Tahoe, forcing tens of thousands to flee. In Tennessee, flash floods killed at least 20; hundreds more perished in a heat wave in the Northwest. And in New York City, 7 inches of rain fell in just hours Wednesday, drowning people in their basements. Disasters cascading across the country this summer have exposed a harsh reality: The United States is not ready for the extreme weather that is now becoming frequent as a result of a warming planet. “These events tell us we’re not prepared,” said Alice Hill, who oversaw planning for climate risks on the National Security Council during the Obama administration. “We have built our cities, our communities, to a climate that no longer exists…”

Ed Hawkins

More than 230 Journals Warn 1.5C of Global Warming Could Be “Catastrophic” for Health. Here’s an excerpt of a summary at “…Human health is already being harmed by the climate crisis, and the impacts could become catastrophic and irreversible unless governments do much more to address global warming, the editors of more than 230 medical journals said in a joint editorial Monday. The editorial points to established links between the climate crisis and a slew of adverse health impacts over the past 20 years: Among them are an increase in heat deaths, dehydration and kidney function loss, skin cancer, tropical infections, mental health issues, pregnancy complications, allergies, and heart and lung disease, and deaths associated with them...”

21st Century Storms are Overwhelming 20th-Century Cities. makes the case for resilient infrastructure: “…The city’s infrastructure, you see, was built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to withstand the sort of storm that comes every five to 10 years. Now brutal, record-breaking storms are an annual occurrence. What was left of Ida transformed the scene of everyday commutes into a disturbing reminder that climate change comes for us all. Wildfire thunderclouds in the West, blackouts in Texas, hurricanes in the South, torrential downpours in the East: “It’s all the stuff we said would happen 20 years ago,” says Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist and the director of climate and energy at the Breakthrough Institute. “It’s just a little crazy to see it all happening at once...”


Economic Cost of Climate Change Could Be Six Times Higher Than Previously Thought. has the story: “Economic models of climate change may have substantially underestimated the costs of continued warming, according to a new study involving UCL researchers. Published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the work by an international team of scientists found that the economic damage could be six times higher by the end of this century than previously estimated.Projections like this help governments around the world calculate the relative costs and benefits of cutting greenhouse gas emissions...”


Arctic Warming Led to Colder Winters, Texas Freeze: Study. TheHill has details of new research: “A new study published on Thursday showed warming from climate change in the Arctic led to colder winters in the U.S. and contributed to the deadly freeze that occurred in Texas in February. The study published in the journal Science concluded that a polar vortex has been stretched by warmer weather, causing the cold air normally trapped in the Arctic to move towards other parts of the world. “We use observational analysis to show that a lesser-known stratospheric polar vortex (SPV) disruption that involves wave reflection and stretching of the SPV is linked with extreme cold across parts of Asia and North America, including the recent February 2021 Texas cold wave, and has been increasing over the satellite era,” the study says...”

A depiction of the chain of events hypothesized by Judah Cohen and colleagues in which climate change in the Arctic leads to extreme winter weather in mid-latitudes.
Judah Cohen

Climate Change May Have Worsened Deadly Texas Cold Wave. The Capital Weather Gang has more perspective on how what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic; here’s a clip: “In a study released Thursday in the journal Science, the devastating Texas cold wave in February is linked to a stretching of the polar vortex in the stratosphere miles above ground level. This stretching mode, only recently categorized, has become more common over the last 40 years, the paper finds, and the increase may be related to human-caused climate change. Led by Judah Cohen, a climate scientist at Atmospheric and Environment Research, the new study is the latest salvo in a decade-long debate over how Arctic warming may be driving some winter extremes in the mid-latitudes, paradoxically leading to intense cold spells in a warming climate. The stratospheric polar vortex is a semi-permanent pool of cold air over the poles about 10 to 30 miles high, encircled by strong winds. When the vortex is split in two, or stretched out, associated shifts in the jet stream at lower altitudes can push frigid surface air into the mid-latitudes, including the United States…”

Rolling Stone

What Part of the US is Safest from Climate Change? A post at Quartz caught my eye. Good news for Vermont and New England, and in general northern tier states, should – in theory – have fewer disruptions than southern and western states. Here’s an excerpt: “…Researchers looked at multiple factors from sea level rise to heat to assess the least risky place to live in the US as the climate warms. Nowhere will escape climate change unscathed. Yet one region emerged well ahead of the rest: the northeastern US. Of the 10 lowest risk counties, seven were located in Vermont, and most of the remaining were in northeastern states like Maine and New York, according to a study by ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine. Data on relative risk for US counties threatened by climate change was compiled from data collected by the Rhodium Group, an independent data-analytics firm, as well as several academic studies…”