It Gets Hot Here. Just Not Venus-Hot

This might be a good time to call friends in the southern USA. You know, the ones who text you in January with the current temperature in Scottsdale and Naples? Exhibit A: the heat index in Mississippi and Alabama spiked as high as 117F this week. Jacksonville, Florida just enjoyed its 6th day in a row with a heat index above 110F.

Which wouldn’t be so bad, if you could live in your swimming pool.

Palm Springs hit 114F (air temperature) yesterday. Locals there only go outside early morning and evening. It’s so hot you can’t open the car door with your fingers. There, I’m feeling a little better about our cold fronts.

You may find this hard to believe but more T-storms arrive tonight into Friday morning; another round Saturday night. That said, much of the weekend looks dry and fairly lake-worthy, with highs in the low 80s.

A hot start early next week gives way to Thursday T-storms, then a flush of cooler, less humid air for the first few days of the fair. Fear not. Odds favor a few days of 90F-on-a-stick.

Future Radar for Thursday. Showers and T-storms push across the Dakotas into Minnesota during the day tomorrow; they may not reach the Twin Cities metro until Thursday night, and then linger into a portion of Friday. Map credit: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Late August: Fashionably Warm. No intense heat brewing for Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, thanks to a series of glancing blows of slightly cooler air. Expect mostly 80s for highs during the Minnesota State Fair, although, if history is a guide, a few days above 90F are almost guaranteed.

How to Lower Your Risk During a Hurricane. Here’s the intro to a story I just posted on “True story. One of my previous weather-tech companies, EarthWatch Communications, created 3-D weather graphics for the 1993 movie blockbuster “Jurassic Park”. While filming special effects at Universal Studios, I had a chance to chat with Steven Spielberg. My brush with fame. What did we talk about? The weather, of all things. Spielberg described filming conditions on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai as Category 4 Hurricane Iniki approached during September of 1992. “Hotel staff led us down into the basement to ride out the storm” Spielberg explained. I remember being shocked by this. “The basement? In a tornado you want to be in the basement but during a hurricane you want to be on a higher floor to escape the storm surge” I said. The legendary film director’s eyes got big as we shook hands to say goodbye, but I remember being a little shaken by the encounter. How could hotel officials living and working within yards of the Pacific Ocean have done something so dangerously stupid?…”

Hurricane Forecasts May Be Running Headlong Into the Butterfly Effect. Have we reached a theoretical limit? A story at Ars Technica is worth a read; here are 2 excerpts: “…From the period of 1990 through 2016, the three-day track error for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico declined from 555km to 185km, dramatically reducing the size of hurricane warning and evacuation zone areas. Similarly, the three-day track error in the eastern North Pacific hurricane region fell from 415km to 135km over the same period…However, a new study suggests that this winning combination of computers and humans may be reaching its limits. “When you look at the improvements in hurricane track forecasting, they’re astounding,” said study co-author Chris Landsea, who is a scientist at the National Hurricane Center. “They’ve dropped two-thirds in a generation. But we know we’re not going to get to zero errors...”

Image credit: “Hurricane Florence on NOAA’s GOES satellite in 2018.” NOAA.

How the Jet Stream is Changing Your Weather. Here’s an excerpt from “…The changes in the jet stream are something researchers call “nonlinear” phenomenon: shifts that can take place suddenly or not at all, that do not proceed in a straight line. Stendel, from the Danish Meteorological Institute, says this can exacerbate the effects of climate change. That has major implications for the melting ice sheet and means that sea levels could rise faster than expected. The most recent report from the U.N.  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecast between 17 inches and 32 inches of sea-level rise by the end of this century if emissions keep increasing. A growing number of scientists think that may be too low...”

Image credit: NASA.

States Brace for Long-Term Flood Fight as Damage Costs Soar. Here’s an excerpt from The Denver Post: “...The movement is motivated not just by this year’s major floods in the Midwest, but by more than a decade of repeated flooding from intense storms such as Hurricane Harvey, which dumped 60 inches of rain on southeastern Texas in 2017. In November, Texas voters will decide whether to create a constitutionally dedicated fund for flood-control projects, jump-started with $793 million from state savings. For years, states have relied heavily on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay the bulk of recovery efforts for damaged public infrastructure. While that remains the case, more states have been debating ways to supplement federal dollars with their own money dedicated not just to rebuilding but also to avoiding future flood damage. Those efforts may include relocating homes , elevating roads and bridges, strengthening levees and creating natural wetlands that could divert floodwaters from the places where people live and work…”

File image: Eric Risberg, AP.

AccuWeather Misleads on Global Warming and Extreme Heat – A Throwback to Past Climate Denial. The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang had the post; here’s the intro: “A week after a punishing heat wave torched the eastern two-thirds of the country, setting numerous records, AccuWeather chief executive Joel Myers cast doubt on the scientific finding that heat waves in the United States and elsewhere are worsening because of climate change. This point of view, at odds with peer-reviewed research, is reminiscent of the contrarian position AccuWeather took on the climate change issue in the 1990s, which historical documents recently obtained by The Washington Post shine light on. Both then and now, AccuWeather has landed on the wrong side of the science. Myers’s essay “Throwing cold water on extreme heat hype,” published online Wednesday, attempts to debunk the scientific finding that heat waves in the United States are becoming more severe, but he cherry-picks data and shows an incomplete understanding of the drivers of temperature change…”

It’s Raining Plastic: Microscopic Fibers Fall From the Sky in Rocky Mountains. Plastic truly is everywhere, according to a story at The Guardian: “Plastic was the furthest thing from Gregory Wetherbee’s mind when he began analyzing rainwater samples collected from the Rocky Mountains. “I guess I expected to see mostly soil and mineral particles,” said the US Geological Survey researcher. Instead, he found multicolored microscopic plastic fibers. The discovery, published in a recent study (pdf) titled “It is raining plastic”, raises new questions about the amount of plastic waste permeating the air, water, and soil virtually everywhere on Earth. “I think the most important result that we can share with the American public is that there’s more plastic out there than meets the eye,” said Wetherbee. “It’s in the rain, it’s in the snow. It’s a part of our environment now…”

Image credit: “Rainwater samples collected across Colorado and analyzed under a microscope contained a rainbow of plastic fibers.” Photograph: USGS

Great Lakes’ Latest Pollution Threat is “Microplastics”. Here’s an excerpt from Star Tribune: “A new contaminant has turned up in western Lake Superior — tiny snarls, tangles and shreds of plastic that are appearing by the hundreds of thousands, mystifying scientists and Minnesota pollution regulators. While the level of debris doesn’t approach the microplastic soup found near Hawaii, a gyre known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it does exceed what’s been found in the north Atlantic Ocean. The discovery has prompted researchers at the University of Minnesota, Duluth to expand testing to other Minnesota lakes and the fish that inhabit them…”

File photo credit: Brendan Bannon – New York Times. “Tiny plastic beads can slip past water treatment plants and into the Great Lakes.”

Tree-Damaging Pests Pose “Devastating” Threat to 40% of U.S. Forests. The Guardian summarizes new research: “About 40% of all forests across the US are at risk of being ravaged by an army of harmful pests, undermining a crucial resource in addressing the climate crisis, new research has found. Tree-damaging pests have already destroyed swathes of US woodland, with the American chestnut virtually wiped out by a fungal disease and elms blighted by Dutch elm disease. About 450 overseas pests that damage or feed on trees have been introduced to US forests due to the growth in international trade and travel. A PNAS-published study of the 15 most damaging non-native forest pests has found that they destroy so many trees that about 6m tons of carbon are expelled each year from the dying plants. This is the equivalent, researchers say, of adding an extra 4.6m cars to the roads every year in terms of the release of planet-warming gases…”

File photo credit: “These trees show the effects of western spruce budworm on subalpine firs along Going-to-the-Sun Road. The picture was taken from the road near Wild Goose Island Overlook in 2012.”Chris Peterson, National Park Service.

Epstein Suicide Conspiracies Show How Our Information System is Poisoned. You got that right. Here are 2 clips from a The New York Times Op-Ed: “…The dueling hashtags and their attendant toxicity are a grim testament to our deeply poisoned information ecosystem — one that’s built for speed and designed to reward the most incendiary impulses of its worst actors. It has ushered in a parallel reality unrooted in fact and helped to push conspiratorial thinking into the cultural mainstream. And with each news cycle, the system grows more efficient, entrenching its opposing camps. The poison spreads…Saturday’s online toxicity may have felt novel, but it’s part of a familiar cycle: What cannot be easily explained is answered by convenient untruths. The worst voices are rewarded for growing louder and gain outsize influence directing narratives. With each cycle, the outrage and contempt for the other builds…”

No, Lyme Disease Is Not an Escaped Military Bioweapon, Despite What Conspiracy Theorists Say. The Washington Post has the story; here’s a clip: “…I started working on Lyme disease in 1985. As part of my doctoral thesis, I investigated whether museum specimens of ticks and mice contained evidence of infection with the bacterial agent of Lyme disease before the first known American human cases in the mid-1970s. Working with microbiologist David Persing, we found that ticks from the South Fork of Long Island collected in 1945 were infected. Subsequent studies found that mice from Cape Cod, collected in 1896, were infected. So decades before Lyme was identified — and before military scientists could have altered or weaponized it — the bacterium that causes it was living in the wild. That alone is proof that the conspiracy theory is wrong. But there are plenty of other lines of evidence that show why Lyme disease did not require the human hand changing something Mother Nature had nurtured...”

Did We Evolve to See Reality As It Exists? According to one researcher the answer is no. Here’s a clip from a post at Big Think: “…But Hoffman’s hypothesis, which he wrote about in a recent issue of New Scientist, takes it a step further. He argues our perceptions don’t contain the slightest approximation of reality; rather, they evolved to feed us a collective delusion to improve our fitness. Using evolutionary game theory, Hoffman and his collaborators created computer simulations to observe how “truth strategies” (which see objective reality as is) compared with “pay-off strategies” (which focus on survival value). The simulations put organisms in an environment with a resource necessary to survival but only in Goldilocks proportions...”

File image: NASA.

Definition of a Good Tip. Fox News reports: “A waitress at a Mexican restaurant in Arkansas was left stunned when two regulars gifted her a 2019 Buick as a tip. Maria Elena Barragan had just finished serving David Harrison and Shelia Harrison during her double shift at Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant in Rogers. The couple, who are regulars at the restaurant, asked to talk to Barragan after the meal, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported. “I got scared at first because I thought I was in trouble,” she told the news outlet. “They pulled up some seats at the table and told me how much they appreciated and loved me and then they presented me with a gift bag.” Inside the bag were papers and keys to a 2019 Buick Encore in her name, the outlet reported…”

78 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

81 F. average high on August 14.

91 F. high on August 14, 2018.

August 15, 1936: St. Paul swelters with a high of 108.

THURSDAY: Hazy sun. T-storms tonight. Winds: SW 5-10. High: 80

FRIDAY: AM showers, T-storms. Slow PM drying. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 62. High: 77

SATURDAY: Warm sun, T-storms at night. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 61. High: 82

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and murky sun. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 64. High: 81

MONDAY: Hot sunshine, late T-storm possible. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 65. High: near 90

TUESDAY: Some sticky sun, stray T-storms. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 67. High: 86

WEDNESDAY: Intervals of sun, warmer than average. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 65. High: 83

Climate Stories….

Greenhouse Gases Reach Record Levels, Report Finds. has details; here’s an excerpt: “The dominant greenhouse gases released into the Earth’s atmosphere reached record levels in 2018, and their global warming power is now 43% stronger than in 1990, according to a new report by the American Meteorological Society released Monday. The State of the Climate in 2018 study also reported other key findings:

  • 2018 was the fourth-warmest year on record. The three other warmest years were 2015, 2016 and 2017, with 2016 as the warmest year since records first began being kept in the mid-1800s.
  • Sea levels rose to record levels for a seventh consecutive year.
  • Glaciers continue to melt at a concerning rate for the 30th straight year...”

2018: CO2 Reaches Levels Not Seen in 800,000 Years. ABC News has details: “Carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere rose to levels the planet hasn’t seen in 800,000 years in 2018, underscoring the impact of irreversible — and increasing — environmental damage due to human activity, according to a new federal report. Carbon dioxide and other major greenhouse gases, including methane, and nitrous oxide, continued their rapid increase last year, while global sea level rose to its highest on record, according to the American Meteorological Society’s State of the Climate in 2018 report, released on Monday. Global average sea level rose to a new record high in 2018, rising for the seventh consecutive year, according to the report, which was compiled by 470 scientists in 60 countries…”

Graphic above:

As Lakes Grow Warmer, the Race is On to Save Minnesota’s Cold-Water Fish. Here’s an excerpt from a Star Tribune analysis: “...The collapse of the Midwest’s cisco population is one of the many invisible but consequential ways that a warming climate is changing Minnesota. From songbirds along the Mississippi River to the green canopy of the northern forest, a landscape that Minnesotans have long taken for granted is increasingly under threat from rising temperatures and extreme weather events. Across the Upper Midwest, cisco have been decimated by rising water temperatures. They’ve disappeared from more than a dozen Minnesota lakes and have lost more than half their total population over the last 30 years. They’ve nearly vanished from Indiana, historically the southern edge of their natural range, and have disappeared from nearly a third of their native lakes in Wisconsin. While cisco were once found in about 650 Minnesota lakes, the DNR and University of Minnesota scientists believe that just 176 of those are deep enough and clear enough for cisco to survive as temperatures continue to rise...”

Increasing Humidity, Driven In Part by Climate Change, is Making Even Modest Heat Waves Unbearable. Here’s a clip from a post at Capital Weather Gang: “…At night, there’s no respite. That’s what makes these conditions downright dangerous, since the human body needs some relief to be able to stave off heat-related illnesses. The hot and humid conditions occurring now in parts of the United States place more strain on the human body than the heat wave in Paris did. That’s because Paris had a dew point of 51.8 degrees (giving a relative humidity of 16 percent) when they hit the 109.2-degree air temperature, an all-time record for the city. So, despite much lower temperatures here in the States, the heat indexes are markedly higher because of the humidity. (It’s important to remember that few, if any, residences in Paris have air conditioning, while it’s ubiquitous in the U.S. Deep South.) With the current heat wave here, we have between 2.3 and 2.8 times more water in the air, compared with Paris’s peak heat day...”

Republicans Are Finally Offering Up Ideas to Combat Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from Bloomberg Opinion and Star Tribune: “...But with a few laudable exceptions, Republicans are ignoring the best approach of all — one that would accord with the party’s views on market economics and do more to encourage innovation than anything else. They should get behind a carbon tax. By raising costs on companies that emit carbon dioxide, such a tax would encourage them to find inventive ways to cut down on fossil fuels while allowing green technologies to compete on a fair footing. A tax set to rise gradually over time would spur long-term investment in clean-energy infrastructure and the development of cleaner products and businesses. If made revenue-neutral, moreover, such a plan wouldn’t amount to a tax increase and wouldn’t enlarge the state: It could be paired with equally large cuts in other taxes, which could be designed to more than offset increased energy costs for ordinary taxpayers...”

The Glaciers of Iceland Seemed Eternal. Now a Country Mourns Their Loss. The Guardian reports: “…The name of our dead glacier has multiple layers. Ok in Icelandic is the equivalent of “yoke” in English, the pole traditionally used to carry buckets of water. Yoke can also mean burden, something that weighs you down. Ok carried water in the form of ice. And now that water has become ocean, the slowly rising burden of future generations. According to current trends, all glaciers in Iceland will disappear in the next 200 years. So the plaque for Ok could be the first of 400 in Iceland alone. The glacier Snæfellsjökull, where Jules Verne began his Journey to the Centre of the Earth, is likely to be gone in the next 30 years and that will be a significant loss. This glacier is for Iceland what Fuji is for Japan…”

Image credit: “Aerial photographs show the melting of the Ok glacier in Iceland, from September 1986 to the beginning of August this year.” Photograph: Nasa Earth Observatory/EPA.

Extreme Climate Change has Arrived in America. Dear WaPo: what we are witnessing is just the tip of the (rapidly melting) iceberg. You haven’t seen anything yet. Here’s an excerpt from a Washington Post analysis: “…A Washington Post analysis of more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties has found that major areas are nearing or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius mark.

— Today, more than 1 in 10 Americans — 34 million people — are living in rapidly heating regions, including New York City and Los Angeles. Seventy-one counties have already hit the 2-degree Celsius mark.

— Alaska is the fastest-warming state in the country, but Rhode Island is the first state in the Lower 48 whose average temperature rise has eclipsed 2 degrees Celsius. Other parts of the Northeast — New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts — trail close behind…”

West Antarctica is Melting, and It’s Our Fault. National Geographic explains; here’s an excerpt: “...But while the science was clear that human influences on climate would affect the ice down the line, it has been hard to tell whether human-driven global warming has affected the melting already underway. Now, a team has unraveled evidence of that human influence. In a study published Monday in Nature Geoscience, a team of scientists showed that over the past century, human-driven global warming has changed the character of the winds that blow over the ocean near some of the most fragile glaciers in West Antarctica. Sometimes, those winds have weakened or reversed, which in turn causes changes in the ocean water that laps up against the ice in a way that caused the glaciers to melt. “We now have evidence to support that human activities have influenced the sea level rise we’ve seen from West Antarctica,” says lead author Paul Holland, a polar scientist at the British Antarctic Survey…”

Photo credit: “Pine Island Glacier, in West Antarctica, is retreating quickly. In 2014, this iceberg, 20 miles wide, broke off the tongue of the glacier and floated away. Other chunks of ice continue to shear off the glacier.” Photograph by Jeff Schmaltz, NASA/GSFC/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team.

The Bizarre Weather Science Behind Greenland’s Record Melting. A warming climate is only part of the problem, according to a story at “…In general, it’s very clear the NAO is important in controlling the amount of melting we’re getting,” glaciologist Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute told Motherboard. “The question of whether we’re getting more extremes is more contentious.” Weather aside, the long-term trend is clear: Greenland is losing its ice. The rate of loss has increased sixfold since the 1980s, per a paper published earlier this year. And recent summertime thaws have a big role to play. Sarah Das, a glaciologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who’s used ice core records to reconstruct Greenland’s recent melt history, described the 2012 melt event that enveloped nearly the entire ice sheet’s surface as “unprecedented” in the last few centuries, perhaps within the last several thousand years…”

Graphic credit: “Average NAO index for May—July from 1950 to present. Bottom: Average NAO index for May—July from 2002-present. Recent negative NAO summers frequently coincide with large surface melting.” Image: Mike Bevis.

Will Climate Change Close the Matterhorn? Having climbed the Matterhorn when I was in my mid-20s, a story at Outside Online caught my eye: “...A total of six people have died on the Matterhorn so far this year, and 11 died attempting to reach its summit last season. The 14,642-foot peak has always been one of the world’s most dangerous; it’s estimated that more than 500 people have died since it was first summited in 1865.  “The Matterhorn is not a piece of solid granite. It’s a piece of shales [soft, stratified sedimentary rock]. It’s not very stable,” says Raphael Mayoraz, a geologist, mountain guide, and head of the natural-hazards department of the Swiss canton of Valais, where the mountain is located. A study by the PermaSense project released in 2019 found that melting permafrost and receding glaciers have made rockfalls an even greater danger on hot summer days…”

Image credit:

Once-Unpopular Carbon Credits Emerge as One of the World’s Best Investments. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Carbon-emission credits, long shunned by traders, are now one of the world’s best-performing investments. The price of the credits, doled out by governments in Europe to polluting power plants and steel mills to curtail the production of greenhouse gases, has soared more than fivefold over the past two years. Prices are up strongly again this year and near a record of about €30 ($33.60) a ton of carbon dioxide emitted. Driving prices higher is a combination of a shrinking supply of credits and a hot summer in Europe, which has put big demands on power plants that are legally required to hold the credits to operate. The recovery has drawn back investors who largely abandoned the market when prices collapsed last decade…”