Nagging Flash Flood Risk This Morning

Welcome to an unfortunate shotgun marriage of Arizona heat and Florida humidity. Yes, it’s Florida-sweaty out there; a free sauna, minus the towels.

When there’s this much water in the air (a dew point in the mid-70s) rain can fall with breathtaking intensity. Tell that to residents of Mora, Minnesota, where 7 inches of rain fell in a few hours Thursday morning. “Monsoon rains” would not be an exaggeration.

Over half of all flash flood deaths occur while driving at night – it’s impossible to estimate the water depth. NOAA reminds all of us that only a foot of rapidly moving water can sweep away a car; 18-24 inches of water can carry away large SUVs and trucks. The old adage, “Turn around, don’t drown” rings true.

Storms firing up along a slow-moving frontal zone may complicate your morning commute. Models print out 1-2 inches of rain for some communities before we dry out later today. A few spotty T-showers may bubble up over the weekend, but a Canadian front should drop humidity levels early next week.

The heat wave shifts west, with a relatively cool finish to July.

July Soaker. The eastern suburbs of the Twin Cities picked up the heaviest rainfall amounts as of 10 pm (1-2″+), based on rainfall estimates from National Weather Service Doppler. As much as 7″ was reported in the Mora area; nearly 2 months worth of rain falling in a few hours.



Thursday Morning Rainfall Amounts. Just over 7″ of rain fell in about 3-4 hours 1 mile east northeast of Mora yesterday morning – the very definition of a downpour.



18-24″ of Rapidly Moving Water Can Move an SUV or Truck. Driving through water, especially at night, can have tragic consequences. Graphic above: NOAA.


Additional Rainfall by Monday Morning. Last night’s 00z run of the 12 KM NAM prints out some .5 to 1″ rainfall amounts (most of that coming during the morning and midday hours today). The farther north you go, the lower the risk of weekend showers and T-storms. Map: pivotalweather.com.



Taking the Edge Off the Heat. It still looks like a more comfortable finish to July as the core of the heat shifts to the southwestern USA, a series of weak Canadian cool frontal passages keeping Minnesota temperatures closer to average. Yes, low to mid 80s sounds like a bargain right about now.


Tornado Caught on Camera in Northern Minnesota. Bring Me The News has the link and video: “Multiple tornado warnings were issued in northern Minnesota on Wednesday night as powerful storms exploded around 9 p.m. and made their way across the state. Spotters reported seeing a funnel cloud and later a tornado on the ground near Ponemah, a small town tucked between Upper Red Lake and Lower Red Lake – about 45 miles north of Bemidji. Michele French caught the tornado on video and gave BMTN permission to share it...”

Image credit: Michele French, Facebook.


Officials: Sirens Sounded Near Ravaged RV Park. This tragedy is another reminder that you don’t want to be totally dependent on outdoor warning sirens (that were never designed to be heard indoors). The Washington Post has an update: “Authorities say all eight outdoor warning sirens in a North Dakota oil patch city were sounded before a deadly tornado ravaged an RV park, but park residents and others say they didn’t hear them. A newborn baby was killed and dozens were injured when the storm moved through Watford City shortly after midnight Tuesday. More than 120 structures were destroyed. McKenzie County emergency manager Karolin Jappe says all of the sirens functioned properly, including one within blocks of the RV park. She says the storm was so loud that someone in the path of it would have had to be outside to hear the warnings. Prairie View RV park resident Clifford Bowden said he and his neighbors didn’t hear sirens but someone he knows who lives across town heard them...”

Photo credit: “In this Tuesday, July 10, 2018 photo, Louis Vallieres searches for clothes and valuables through the wreckage of his mobile home in the Prairie View RV Park in Watford City, N.D., after a tornado whipped through the North Dakota oil patch city overnight, overturning recreational vehicles and demolishing more than 100 structures, officials said Tuesday. A newborn baby was killed and more than two dozen people were injured.” (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP) (Associated Press).


El Nino Watch. According to NOAA CPC the odds of an El Nino have risen to a 65% probability this fall; 70% during the winter months.


Update on Post-Tropical Storm Chris and Excessive Heat. Check out the latest video briefing from Praedictix meteorologist Todd Nelson.


Harvard Study Finds That During Heat Waves, People Can’t Think Straight. No kidding. The Boston Globe reports on new research: “…The test results showed that during the heat wave students without air conditioning experienced decreases across five measures of cognitive function. The students, for example, experienced 13.4 percent longer reaction times on a test where they were asked to correctly identify the color of displayed words. They also had a 13.3 percent lower scores on basic arithmetic questions. The study has “implications for basically millions of people that could be suffering this detriment to cognitive function,” Cedeño-Laurent said in a telephone interview. He said he hoped the study results could “drive a change in the way we approach climate change by making it personal…”

Photo credit: Kai Foersterling/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock. “Going to Malvarrosa beach, Valencia, in eastern Spain, is one way to beat the heat. Unfortunately, many people are stuck in hot buildings, and that’s having an effect on their cognitive function, according to a new study from Harvard.”


Photos: Death Toll Reaches 200 in Devastating Japan Floods. The Atlantic has a photo essay that captures the magnitude of recent flooding in Japan: “Over the weekend, sustained heavy rainfall hit parts of western and central Japan, causing flash flooding, setting off landslides, submerging floodplains, and forcing more than 2 million residents to evacuate. Today, Japan’s National Police Agency announced at least 200 people had died, and dozens were still missing, in the worst weather-related disaster to hit Japan in more than 30 years. More than 70,000 rescue workers are at work in hard-hit areas searching for survivors as the damage to villages, roads, and infrastructure is being assessed. Hundreds of thousands of homes remain without power or clean water.”

Photo credit: “Submerged and destroyed houses remain in a flooded area in Mabi Town on July 10, 2018.” Issei Kato / Reuters.


Arctic Heat Wave: Parts of Siberia 40F Warrmer Than Average. A story at Quartz caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…The extreme weather in the US, however, pales in comparison to the abnormalities along the Arctic coast. Last week, Nick Humphrey, a meteorologist living in Nebraska, wrote on his blog that temperatures rose to 90°F (32°C) in northern Siberia—some 40°F warmer than average for this time of year. Other parts of the extreme north are hot, too—cities in Scotland and Northern Ireland are also hitting records of almost 90°F, the Washington Post reports. In Quebec, Canada, excessive heat reaching similar temperatures killed 70 people last week, and thousands were left without electricity due to overheating power wires...”

Map credit: ClimateReanalyzer.org.


Cool Phase July 19-25. The map above shows the latest NOAA CPC temperature anomaly, with a cool bulls-eye over the Upper Midwest; scorching heat continuing out west.

Good News for Waterlogged Farmers? Southern Minnesota has taken a beating with excessive rains in recent weeks. Hopefully the Climate Prediction Center’s forecast of a dry bias for July 19-25 pans out.

Tornado Frequency During ENSO Events. It turns out tornado frequencyin Minnesota increases during moderate El Nino warming phases – but for much of the Midwest and Southeast La Nina cooling events are more likely to spark tornado swarms. Map: NOAA SPC and WLFI.com.


California Will Face a Terrible Choice: Save Cliff-side Homes or Public Beaches from Rising Seas. The Washington Post explains the dilemma: “Like an ax slowly chopping at the trunk of a massive tree, waves driven by sea-level rise will hack away the base of cliffs on the Southern California coast at an accelerated pace, a recent study says, increasing land erosion that could topple some bluffs and thousands of homes sitting atop them. California officials from Santa Barbara to San Diego will face an awful choice as the sea rises, the U.S. Geological Survey study says: save public beaches enjoyed by millions, or close them off with boulders and concrete walls to armor the shore and stop the waves in a bid to save homes. The study predicts coastal land loss on an unimaginable scale over the remaining century, up to 135 feet beyond the existing shoreline...”
Photo credit: “Homes along the edge of the coast in Santa Barbara County, Calif., in 2005.” (Patrick Barnard/Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center/U.S. Geological Survey).

Climate Pollutants Fall Below 1990 Levels For First Time. A press release from the California Air Resources Board caught my eye: “The California Air Resources Board today announced that greenhouse gas pollution in California fell below 1990 levels for the first time since emissions peaked in 2004—an achievement roughly equal to taking 12 million cars off the road or saving 6 billion gallons of gasoline a year.  “California set the toughest emissions targets in the nation, tracked progress and delivered results,” said Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. “The next step is for California to cut emissions below 1990 levels by 2030 – a heroic and very ambitious goal.”  Under Assembly Bill 32 passed in 2006, California must reduce its emissions to 1990 levels (431 million metric tons) by 2020. The 2016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory published today shows that California emitted 429 million metric tons of climate pollutants in 2016–a drop of 12 million metric tons, or three percent, from 2015…”


U.S. Energy Agency: Sorry Coal, Natural Gas is Having Another Record Summer. Natural gas emits roughly half as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere than coal. Here’s an excerpt from Ars Technica: “Between 2018 and 2020, natural gas is expected to continue to eat away steadily at coal’s share of the US energy mix, barring any regulatory intervention from the federal government. The competition between natural gas and coal is especially fierce this summer: the former could set a record in terms of its contribution to overall US energy generation. Another interesting prediction about fossil fuels: in 2018, the average price of a gallon of gasoline has been significantly higher than the year before, but that may not be great news for the oil industry, because drivers are already responding to higher prices. The amount of gas drivers will purchase in 2018 is expected to fall year over year for the first time since 2012. The contraction amounts to 10,000 barrels of oil per day not sold—a small change for the US economy but potentially a harbinger of things to come...”

File photo: Jim Wilson, New York Times.


Oil and Gas Companies Will Lead the Energy Revolution. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from the former CEO of BP at Bloomberg: “When it comes to climate change, I have always been a believer: not in hand-wringing debate, not in unrealistic solutions like the elimination of hydrocarbons, but in the power of action. In 1997, as chief executive of BP, I was the first leader of a major oil company to acknowledge that climate change was a problem, and that the industry had a responsibility to acknowledge and address it. The head of the American Petroleum Institute claimed that I had “left the church.” Twenty-one years later, I returned to the church in a different way, along with a group of distinguished business leaders. Last month, Pope Francis hosted the chief executives of many of the biggest oil and gas companies, investors overseeing nearly $10 trillion of capital and many of the energy sector’s leading thinkers and policy makers. We convened to discuss ways of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and methane...”

Photo credit: “Solar and wind are part of the mix.” Source: VCG/Visual China Group.


What Explains a Drop in Attendance at Pro Sporting Events? Check out a few possible explanations at New York Magazine: “...Last year was the sixth consecutive season that fewer people had attended MLB games than they had before, but the first two months were a steep drop even from the 2017 nadir: A whopping 10 percent drop from the same time period last year. Manfred, at June’s MLB Owners Meetings, noted that his initial suspect for the drop — the miserable weather across the country in April and May — might not have been the only culprit, and that he might consider some schedule tweaks or other remedies down the line. Others have floated several other possibilities, from high ticket prices...”

File photo: Pixabay.


Canada’s Secret to Escaping the “Liberal Doom Loop”? How a country can welcome immigrants without triggering a massive populist backlash? The Atlantic explains: “…For decades, Canada has sustained exceptionally high levels of immigration without facing an illiberal populist groundswell. It is the most inclusive country in the world in its attitudes toward immigrants, religion, and sexuality, according to a 2018 survey by the polling company Ipsos. In a ranking of the most important Canadian symbols and values, its citizens put “multiculturalism” right next to the national anthem—and just behind their flag. In the U.S., those supportive of multiculturalism say they’re the least patriotic; in Canada, patriotism and multiculturalism go together like fries and cheese curds. To be clear, Canada has not discovered some magical elixir to eradicate intolerance, racism, or inequality, all of which are present in the nation of 36 million…”

Photo credit: “New Canadian citizens react as maple taffy is prepared following a citizenship ceremony in 2018.” Chris Wattie / Reuters.


Quantum Computing Could Put a Stop to Traffic Jams. Something to shoot for. Quartz explains how this could happen: “…Consider Los Angeles’ traffic nightmare again. Since 2013, the city has boasted one of the world’s most sophisticated traffic systems, with 20,000 sensors over 469 square miles feeding data into a centralized supercomputer that adjusts the timing of 4,000-plus traffic lights in real time to maximize traffic flow. This system has reduced a five mile LA commute from 20 minutes to 17.5 minutes—saving a mere 180 seconds. The premise and promise of a quantum computer managing traffic flow is that, with the right algorithms, it could approximate the most-efficient futures of an LA rush hour and orchestrate routes that not just redirect cars and buses around a traffic jam, but steer them home on routes that prevent the traffic jam from happening in the first place…”

Photo credit: “You are now on the fastest route through space-time.” (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)


Sex, Beer and Coding: Inside Facebook’s Wild Early Days in Palo Alto. WIRED.com provides some interesting perspective: “Everyone who has seen The Social Network knows the story of Facebook’s founding. It was at Harvard in the spring semester of 2004. What people tend to forget, however, is that Facebook was only based in Cambridge for a few short months. Back then it was called TheFacebook.com, and it was a college-specific carbon copy of Friendster, a pioneering social network based in Silicon Valley. Mark Zuckerberg’s knockoff site was a hit on campus, and so he and a few school chums decided to move to Silicon Valley after finals and spend the summer there rolling Facebook out to other colleges, nationwide. The Valley was where the internet action was. Or so they thought…”

Photo credit: “Zuckerberg, photographed in March 2006 at the headquarters of Facebook in Palo Alto. His first business card read “I’m CEO … bitch.” Elena Dorfman/Redux.


Man Mowing Lawns in Every State Reaches Minnesota. KARE11.com has the story: “A man with a mission of mowing lawns for those in need in every state in America is nearing his goal — and he’s hoping to check Minnesota off the list Thursday. Rodney Smith Jr. of Huntsville, Alabama, is providing free lawn care to senior citizens, veterans, single mothers and the disabled. On his website, 50states50lawns.com, Smith states the idea started in 2017, two years after he found a calling to help those who need it take care of their lawn, free of charge…”


109 F. peak heat index in the Twin Cities Thursday.

1.99″ rain fell yesterday at MSP.

13 days above 90F so far in 2018. That’s the average number of 90-degree days for an entire year.

95 F. peak air temperature yesterday.

84 F. average high on July 12.

88 F. high on July 12, 2017.

July 13, 1933: An intense heat wave affects Grand Marais with a high of 90, extremely rare for that location. Most of Minnesota would exceed 100 degrees on this date.

July 13, 1890: A tornado hits Lake Gervais north of St. Paul. People rush from St. Paul to help victims and look for souvenirs. One reporter notes that ‘nearly everyone who returned from the disaster last evening came laden with momentoes (sic) denoting the cyclone’s fury.’




FRIDAY: T-storms with locally heavy rain. Winds: NW 3-8. High: 83

FRIDAY NIGHT: Drying out, patchy clouds. Low: 70

SATURDAY: A bit drier. Stray showers south/east. Winds: E 5-10. High: 87

SUNDAY: Still unsettled, a passing T-shower. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 73. High: 89

MONDAY: Plenty of sun, less humid. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 66. High: 85

TUESDAY: Sunny and relatively comfortable. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 62. High: 83

WEDNESDAY: More showers and T-storms. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 63. High: 81

THURSDAY: Fresh air. Sunny and pleasant. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 62. High: 82


Climate Stories….

Brett Kavanaugh: “The Earth is Warming”. It’s rather refreshing to see that the latest Supreme Court nominee acknowledges science, data and facts when it comes to a warming climate. Here’s an excerpt from The Atlantic: “It probably isn’t surprising that Judge Brett Kavanaugh—a longtime member of the conservative movement whom President Trump nominated to the Supreme Court on Monday—has written about climate change. What might be surprising is that he says it’s real. “The earth is warming. Humans are contributing,” he told a federal courtroom two years ago, during a hearing about a major Barack Obama climate policy. “There is a moral imperative. There is a huge policy imperative. The pope’s involved.” He’s even inscribed this view in his judicial opinions. “The task of dealing with global warming is urgent and important at the national and international level,” he wrote in 2013…”


In Farm Country, Grappling with the Taboo of Talking About Climate Change. It isn’t about “believing in climate change”, but more an acknowledgement of the facts and trends, according to a story at Civil Eats: “According to a new study, around half of rural residents say they “Believe global warming/climate change has affected their community.” But many farmers seem to see it as something that is merely happening, unrelated to the causes most scientists seem to agree on. According to one 2014 study by Purdue and Iowa State universities, only 8 percent of farmers said they believed it was associated with human activities. And 2015 research from Iowa State University found that these opinions are often tied to where farmers received their information. “Farmers who said they trusted environmental groups for information about climate change were more likely to believe [it] was occurring and that it was due to human activity. However, farmers who said they trusted farm groups, agribusiness, and the farm press were less likely to believe climate change was happening and due to human action,” according to Scientific American…”

Image credit: “The key to Rural Climate Dialogues’ success, says Anna Claussen, is meeting people where they’re at. “It’s not about ‘bringing people along,’” she says.” Photo: Center for Rural Strategies.


Cities Will Bear the Brunt of Climate Disruption. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at TheHill: “Cities will bear the brunt of climate change. That’s the not-so-surprising but still deeply disturbing news last month from two reputable research institutes. They report that the climate-related risks posed to urban dwellers are mounting. This is a serious problem in the United States since the majority of the population lives in metropolitan areas. One report, released by the Union of Concerned Scientists, shows that coastal cities in the United States face persistent flooding due to higher and higher tides stemming from sea level rise. The second study, conducted by the Urban Climate Change Research Network at Columbia University, suggests that no city is immune and that all cities will see a dramatic rise in flood risk, heat waves, blackouts, and food and water shortages over the coming decades…”


From Stinky Seaweed to Sick Fish, World’s Warming Oceans Threaten Livelihoods. Reuters has the story: “From a rise in aquatic diseases to a “massive” invasion of stinking seaweed that stops fishing boats going out to sea, the warming of the world’s oceans is affecting the livelihoods of millions – and experts say it is going to get worse. Changes in water temperature, acidity and circulation patterns combined with rising sea levels will increasingly impact communities that live off the ocean, according to new analysis from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In Zanzibar, plant diseases are already destroying seaweed, a key export and a crucial source of income for women in the Indian Ocean archipelago. Meanwhile fishermen in the Caribbean have seen their catch plummet and costs rise due to a record invasion of sargassum, a brown, stinking seaweed, linked to ocean warming…”


How Do Americans Feel About Climate Change? Headlines and links courtesy of Climate Nexus: “More Americans than ever think that there is evidence that the planet is warming, and a record high also believe human activity is at least partially responsible, according to a new survey. The University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College’s annual survey, released Wednesday finds that 73 percent of Americans think there is “solid evidence” of climate change, while 60 percent of the population now think that human beings have an influence on how the climate is changing. The survey was conducted during the record hot May of this year, when temperatures spiked across the country, and researchers say that the warm weather may have partially influenced responses. The survey also shows that the partisan split on climate remains strong: while 90 percent of Democrats say climate change is occurring, only 50 percent of Republicans say the same, as high a divide since the survey’s start in 2008.” (The Guardian, UPI, The Hill, Axios).


Nighttime Temperatures Rising Faster Than Daytime Readings. InsideClimate News has the story; here are a few clips from their story: “…In 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted that, “As the world warms, nighttime temperatures are slightly outpacing daytime temperatures in the rate of warming.” When the cooler part of the day tends to warm up more than the warmer part of the day, the result is a smaller daily temperature range—a noticeable change in one of the basic patterns of life. When temperatures fail to drop at night—when the overnight lows are too high—the heat can become deadly, especially for the elderly and children…Cooler nighttime temperatures allow bodies to “reset” and recover from scorching daytime highs as buildings and houses cool. But when external temperatures stay above 80 degrees, internal body temperatures don’t have a chance to cool…”


How Cycling Fans Helped Uncover Climate Change. National Geographic has a fascinating story; here’s a clip: “…But she parked herself in a small, dark room for five weeks and started scrolling through years of footage. She picked out a few dozen trees to follow from year to year. And for each spring from 1980 to now, she looked to see whether those trees were bare when the cyclists rode past, or whether they’d sprouted leaves. They found that back in the 1980’s, branches were almost always bare on the race date—but now, the same trees almost always had leaves. In fact, over the ~40 year period, leaf emergence jumped up almost two weeks…”



How Will Climate Change Affect Bird Migration? Our Scientists Explain. BirdLife has an interesting post; here’s a clip: “…For over 80% of European long-distance migrants, there will be significant increases in both the distance and time taken to travel between their breeding and non-breeding ranges. For example, we estimate that Thrush Nightingales Luscinia luscinia will have to travel nearly 800 km further on average by 2070, adding at least five days to the duration of their journey. European Bee-eater Merops apiaster migrations are projected to increase by over 1,000 km and at least 4.5 days by 2070. Birds suffer higher mortality on migration, because of increased risk of predation and starvation resulting from higher energetic requirements and unpredictable food supplies...”