A Nagging Shower Risk For The Weekend

At the rate we’re going I seriously doubt drought will be an issue later in the summer. Never say never, but I’m equal parts impressed and perplexed by the persistence of this cool, wet pattern.

According to NOAA, May was the second wettest month ever observed, nationwide. Historic rains have created a muddy mess for farmers across the Midwest, stalled barges on the Mississippi River and pushed historic floods into communities along the Arkansas River that have never flooded before. Weather usually goes on a tantrum for a few weeks, then moves in the opposite direction.

Not this year – not yet.

After a perfect day today scattered showers and T-storms return from Friday into Sunday. No all-day rains, but the pattern is ripe for a few hours of rain each day. Timing the rain? Good luck. All we can do is determine when conditions are ripe for puddes.

Nothing even remotely resembling a hot, steamy front is shaping up the next 10 days, with highs mostly in the 60s and 70s.

Feel a little cheated? You’re not alone.

Summer Pulls Its Punch. Looking out into late June I still don’t see any raging hot fronts pushing into Minnesota. Maybe 80s, but probably not in 90-degree territory. Heat builds across the southwest and east coast, but we’ll have to wait a few more weeks to really sweat it out.

May Was USA’s Second Wettest Month on Record. Details via MSN.com: “May was the second wettest month on record in the contiguous United States, and it sealed the last 12 months as the country’s wettest yearlong period, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationannounced Thursday. With a total of 4.41 inches of precipitation ― 1.5 inches above the average downfall for May ― last month nearly broke the record of 4.44 inches set in May 2015. NOAA’s record-keeping goes back 125 years. “Contributing to the record wet May: near-record to record precipitation from the West Coast through the central Plains, into the Great Lakes and over parts of the Northeast,” NOAA said in its announcement…”

Map credit: NOAA.

Later Than Almost Ever, Minnesota Farmers Hustle to Get Crops Into Soggy Fields. Here’s an excerpt from Star Tribune: “…Farmers in other parts of the Midwest are even further behind. The corn crop in Illinois was only 73% planted on Sunday. Indiana was 67% planted and Ohio was 50% planted, according to the USDA. This year will go down as one of the latest plantings in memory. Just over half of the corn acreage in the 18 major corn-producing states was planted after May 25, the USDA says. In a typical year, less than one-fifth is planted that late. When planting reaches mid-May, corn and soybean yields drop a little at fall harvest time. But when planting happens after that, yields drop dramatically in the fall since plants have fewer hours to soak up the sun’s energy. Past studies show farmers can lose up to 24% of their harvest if they don’t plant corn until June 4, and up to 31% if they wait five days longer, according to the University of Minnesota Extension...”
Photo credit: “Brent Fuchs dug in the dirt to see the soybeans in a freshly planted field around his farm in Faribault, Minn., on Monday, June 10, 2019. He thought the field was still chunkier than he wanted to plan but this is the latest he has ever waited to plant.” RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER.

Paralysis on America’s Rivers: There’s Too Much Water. The duration of flooding on the Mississippi River and other tributaries is approaching record/historic territory in the coming weeks. Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “…The Arkansas River has been closed to commercial traffic. So has the Illinois River, a key connection to Chicago and the Great Lakes. And so has part of the Mississippi River near St. Louis, where it crested on Sunday at its second-highest point on record, cutting off the river’s northern section from shippers to the south. As a result, farmers already grappling with flooded fields and worries about the trade war with China have struggled to obtain fertilizer for their crops. Customers have seen their deliveries of construction materials and road salt get stuck midway to their destinations. And shippers have made drastic cuts to their operations with work at a standstill…”

Photo credit: “Chris Schaefers, left, and his neighbor and fellow farmer, Jill Edwards, passed an irrigation system nearly covered by flood water in a swamped Arkansas crop field.Joseph Rushmore for The New York Times.

NOAA Upgrades the U.S. Global Weather Forecast Model. The old GFS is getting a makeover; details via NOAA: “NOAA’s flagship weather model — the Global Forecast System (GFS) — is undergoing a significant upgrade today to include a new dynamical core called the Finite-Volume Cubed-Sphere (FV3). This upgrade will drive global numerical weather prediction into the future with improved forecasts of severe weather, winter storms, and tropical cyclone intensity and track. NOAA research scientists originally developed the FV3 as a tool to predict long-range weather patterns at time frames ranging from multiple decades to interannual, seasonal and subseasonal. In recent years, creators of the FV3 at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory expanded it to also become the engine for NOAA’s next-generation operational GFS…”

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...”

U.S. Hurricane Season is Unnecessarily Dangerous. Eric Roston reports for Bloomberg: “…Since 1980, more than 241 billion-dollar disasters have cost the U.S. $1.6 trillion 1  and almost half of those losses came during the four most expensive years: 2017, 2005, 2012 and 2018. While emergency relief bills deliver necessary aid, Congress’s reliance on them has become an obstacle to more lasting, structural preparedness, particularly in the last few years, said Josh Sawislak, a strategic advisor to Four Twenty Seven, a consultancy focused on climate economics.  Emergency allocations don’t follow normal budget rules, which demand that spending increases be offset by decreases elsewhere. That makes relief spending relatively easy for legislators, Sawislak said, compared with preventative investment in infrastructure and services, which would have to be budgeted through normal rules. “We have a fundamental problem, which is you’re trying to come in after and clean up instead of preparing for the thing to happen,” he said...”

Image credit above: Congressional Research Service.

Researchers Developing Weather Drones. Doppler radar only goes so far, probing the lower atmosphere presents an opportunity for data collected by drones, according to a post at arkansasonline.com: “…A “long-recognized lack of observation” in the bottom 2 miles of the atmosphere hinders storm forecasting, Chilson said. While existing radar can correctly show what is happening inside storm cells, such as the height and position of a hail core, it struggles with external factors such as a possible influx of cold or warm, moist air that can fortify a storm. Also, data collection via radar can be expensive, Chilson said. That is where drones can make an impact. “The surge of [unmanned aircraft systems] has really opened up a lot of doors for us,” Chilson said. “This really is a revolutionary period in meteorology...”

Photo credit: “In this July 2018 photo provided by Tyler Bell of the University of Oklahoma Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling, Bill Doyle, Tony Segales and Gus Azevedo launch a drone in Moffat, Colo. Researchers at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University are jointly developing drone technology to more accurately forecast the weather.” (Tyler Bell via AP).

The Weather Forecast That Saved D-Day. HISTORY.com has terrific perspective on what may have been the most consequential weather forecast (ever). Here’s an excerpt: “…Allies had a much more robust network of weather stations in Canada, Greenland and Iceland; of weather ships and weather flights over the North Atlantic and observations by secret agreement from weather stations in the neutral Republic of Ireland,” he says.  Those weather stations, in particular one at a post office at Blacksod Point in the far west of Ireland, proved crucial in detecting the arrival of a lull in the storms that Stagg and his colleagues believed would allow for an invasion on June 6. As rain and high winds lashed Portsmouth on the night of June 4, Stagg informed Eisenhower of the forecast for a temporary break. With the next available date for an invasion nearly two weeks away, the Allies risked losing the element of surprise if they waited. In spite of the pelting rain and howling winds outside, Eisenhower placed his faith in his forecasters and gave the go-ahead for D-Day…”

File image: NOAA.

Towing an Iceberg. One Captain’s Plan to Bring Drinking Water to 4 Million People. New times require new solutions; Bloomberg Businessweek has a fascinating story – here’s a clip: “…That’s why Sloane is working on a solution that might sound absurd. Making use of his unusual skill set, he plans to harness and tow an enormous Antarctic iceberg to South Africa and convert it into municipal water. “To make it economically feasible, the iceberg will have to be big,” Sloane says. Ideally, it would measure about 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) long, 500 meters wide, and 250 meters deep, and weigh 125 million tons. “That would supply about 20% of Cape Town’s water needs for a year.” Sloane has already assembled a team of glaciologists, oceanographers, and engineers. He’s also secured a group of financiers to fund the pioneer tow, which he calls the Southern Ice Project. The expected cost is more than $200 million, much of it to be put up by two South African banks and Water Vision AG, a Swiss water technology and infrastructure company...”

Photo credit: “Stranded iceberg, Cape Bird, Antarctica.” Photographer: Camille Seaman.

Tesla CEO: “It Won’t Be Long Before We See 400-Mile Range”. CNBC.com has details: “Tesla CEO Elon Musk spoke at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Mountain View, California on Tuesday, telling investors, “It won’t be long before we have a 400-mile range car.He also said that sometime next year, Tesla drivers will be able to use self-driving features in their vehicles without intervention. Musk said, “Every car made since October 2016 is capable for full autonomy with replacement of the computer alone.” He also added, “We’ll still need regulatory approval but the capability will be there. This massively increases the value of the car...”

What Divides America? Job Skills, Says IBM CEO. Fortune has the post; here are a couple of excerpts: “…These are times of great division, as the political climate in the U.S. and abroad makes clear. Not coincidentally, these are also times of great economic and technological disruption. Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, chief executive of IBM, sees these trends as fundamentally linked, stemming from an underlying cause. “I believe so much of the division in our country and other countries roots down to this skills issue,” she said Monday evening at Fortune’s CEO Initiative…The wedge separating layers of the social strata? Jobs. The challenge, as Rometty described it, is to make the transformations of the digital era inclusive, “so people can participate in it and not feel threatened by it,” she said. “We want society to feel there’s a good way forward on this…”

Israeli Company Unveils Plans for Electric Flying Car. Calcalistech has details: “Called Asaka, Japanese for flying bird, NFT’s vehicle will be equipped with 14 propellers and collapsable wings extracted before take off. The car will be two-meters wide and 12-meters wide with its wings fully extracted. NFT’s first vehicle will require a takeoff lane of just 20-30 meters and will be able to carry three people for a distance of 550 kilometers at a speed of between 160 km-per-hour and 240 km-per-hour. The vehicle will be electric but require a petrol engine to charge its batteries. The car’s initial price tag will be between $200,000 and $300,000, but the company expects it to go down as commercial production commences. “Our main emphasis, alongside safety, is reducing costs by using off-the-shelf components,” Kaplinsky said...”

Drinking Guinness Prevents Hearing Loss. How I love science, especially when it encourages me to seek out smooth-tasting beer milkshakes. The Irish Post has the story: “So, the old adage is true then; ‘Guinness is good for you.’ Guinness has long since been thought to contain medicinal properties, and a recent study at Pennsylvania State University has discovered that it may be able to help those who are hard of hearing. Drinking Guinness replaces lost iron in the human body. For this reason, Guinness is commonly given to patients in recovery in an attempt to build up their strength. The research at Penn State found a direct causal link between a lack of iron – otherwise known as iron deficiency anemia (IDA) – and hearing loss. Studies showed that sensorineural hearing loss – damage to the cochlea or nerve pathways, as well as conductive hearing loss – problems with the bones in the centre of the ear, were caused by a lack of the mineral. They noticed that a high level of iron in the body could also stop hearing difficulties from worsening, after studying over 300,000 people...”

What I Learned About Life at My 30th College Reunion. Pocket, at The Atlantic,has a post that resonated: “…At a certain point midway on the timeline of one’s finite existence, the differences between people that stood out in youth take a backseat to similarities, with that mother of all universal themes—a sudden coming to grips with mortality—being the most salient. Not that this is an exhaustive list, but here are 30 simple shared truths I discovered at my 30th reunion of Harvard’s class of 1988.

  1. No one’s life turned out exactly as anticipated, not even for the most ardent planner.
  2. Every classmate who became a teacher or doctor seemed happy with the choice of career.
  3. Many lawyers seemed either unhappy or itching for a change, with the exception of those who became law professors. (See No. 2 above.)
  4. Nearly every single banker or fund manager wanted to find a way to use accrued wealth to give back (some had concrete plans, some didn’t), and many, at this point, seemed to want to leave Wall Street as soon as possible to take up some sort of art...”

71 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

78 F. average high on June 12.

81 F. high on June 12, 2018.

June 13, 1991: One fatality and 5 injuries occur when lightning strikes a tree at Hazeltine Golf Course during the US Open.

June 13, 1930: A tornado hits the Northfield area, and causes heavy damage at Randolph.

THURSDAY: Sunny and perfect. Winds: W 5-10. High: 73

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, sticky. Few T-storms. Winds: SW 10-20. Wake-up: 58. High: near 80

SATURDAY: Unsettled, few showers & T-storms. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 63. High: 77

SUNDAY: Lingering showers, then slow clearing. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 58. High: 75

MONDAY: Partly sunny and comfortable. N 8-13. Wake-up: 52. High: 72

TUESDAY: Dry start, showers & storms late. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 56. High: 77

WEDNESDAY: Stormy, showers and T-storms. Winds: SW 10-20. Wake-up: 59. High: 76

Climate Stories…

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…”

Planet Entering New Climate Regime with Extraordinary Heat Waves Intensifed by Global Warming. Jason Samenow reports at Capital Weather Gang: “…While some scientists hesitate to attribute individual heat spells to climate change, Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles, tweeted that his research suggests that we’ve “reached the point where a majority (perhaps a vast majority) of unprecedented extreme heat events globally have a detectable human influence.” Last summer, exceptional heat affected 22 percent of the populated and agricultural areas of the Northern Hemisphere between the months of May and July, the Earth’s Future study said. The contiguous United States witnessed its hottest May on record, California endured its hottest July and numerous European cities notched their highest temperatures ever recorded, while cities in Asia, the Middle East and Africa also established new heat milestones…”

Pollen Increase is Real, and Linked to Climate Change. The Boston Globe explains why: “…If you remember your basic biology from elementary school you’ll recall that carbon dioxide is what plants take in, while they give off oxygen. If you increase the carbon dioxide, you essentially give plants more food and many of these are responding in kind. A recent article in The Lancet Planetary Health journal looked at how the increase in CO2 is leading to more pollen. This study looked at data over several different continents and found around 70 percent of the areas evaluated had significant increase in their pollen season. We can hone in here on several different US cities and notice that the pollen season is rapidly expanding. In the spring the trees are leafing out earlier and in the fall the ragweed is lasting longer…”

These Predictions Aren’t Fishy: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Warming in the world’s oceans could kill up to 17 percent of all marine animal life by 2100, according to new research. A new study published in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that oceans could lose five percent of all animal life with each degree C the oceans warm, leading to an overall loss of nearly one-sixth of fish and other animals by the end of the century under the current warming trajectory. The figures do not take into account the impacts of fishing. The authors estimate that if the goals of the Paris Agreement are met, the world could limit marine life loss to around 5 percent by 2100.” (AP, The Hill)

“Change is Coming”. Al Gore Says Economics Will Break Fossil Fuel Dinosaurs. I may not agree with Al Gore’s politics, but on this issue I predict he will be proven correct. The Guardian has an interview: “…The United States and Australia have some things in common,” he told Guardian Australia in Brisbane. “Both have national governments that are in thrall to the dirty fossil industries of the past. “Both have dynamic business communities which are impatient with the obsolete ideas of governments that are dominated by special interests in one sector of the economy and both are experiencing the benefits of the sustainability revolution. “Electricity from solar and wind continues to drop rapidly [in price] and no lobbyist is going to be able to change that. They can’t make coal clean and they can’t make renewables go away. “So, they are kind of in the position of Wily E Coyote whose legs are moving furiously, even as he goes off the cliff, waiting for the pull of gravity to pull him down into the canyon below. That is an oft-used visual metaphor but it is appropriate here…”

Role of Humans in Past Hurricane Potential Intensity is Unclear. Eos.org has an interesting post: “…The team first found that greenhouse gas warming and aerosol cooling produced changes in potential intensity that had very similar spatial patterns, making them difficult to separate in observations. They then evaluated the impacts of the combined responses and could not find a coherent response across the models—some models simulated an increase in potential intensity while others simulated a decrease. This discrepancy reveals that potential intensity is sensitive to how an individual model responds to human-caused factors. Given this sensitivity and the large natural swings in potential intensity in the Atlantic, it is not surprising that a human influence on potential intensity has not been detected yet. This result is consistent with mainstream science: Although models disagree about past changes in hurricane potential intensity, they all agree that Earth is warming because of human activities. Moreover, although human impacts on potential intensity are not currently detectable, observations could potentially reveal detectable changes in other hurricane-related characteristics...”

Image credit: “A NASA model of Hurricane Sandy. A recent study examines climate models to determine whether human factors have had an impact on hurricane potential intensity.” Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, CC BY 2.0

Tornadoes and Climage Change: What Does the Science Say? Zeke Hausfather at Carbon Brief has a good overview of what we know and what we don’t know at EcoWatch: “…Scientists have relatively low confidence in detecting a link between tornado activity and climate change. They cannot exclude the possibility of a link; rather, the science is so uncertain that they simply do not know at this point. What is clear is that there is no observable increase in the number of strong tornadoes in the U.S. over the past few decades. At the same time, tornadoes have become more clustered, with outbreaks of multiple tornadoes becoming more common even as the overall number has remained unchanged. There is also evidence that tornado “power” has been increasing in recent years. Some research has suggested that climate change will create conditions more favorable to the formation of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, but such effects are not detectable in observations today...”

Graphic credit: “Figure from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences report on the Attribution of Extreme Weather Events, published in 2016.”