It’s Not Your Imagination: Flooding Is On The Rise

The rain on the Plains falls mainly on Minnesota.

When does perception become reality? Readers often comment on how flooding appears to be on the rise. Data confirms this. The Minnesota DNR reports 11 “mega-floods” since 1973; eight of them occurred since 2000.

Two factors seem to be in play: warm weather weather systems may be more prone to “cutting off” and stalling, prolonging deluges. And every 1F increase in air temperature means 4 percent more water vapor floating overhead; jet fuel for thunderstorms.

Today Highway 41 closes south of Chaska, and flooding woes and standing water plagues much of southern Minnesota, which has been hammered by a treadmill of sloppy storms in recent weeks.

Showers and T-storms today give way to a drier, sunnier sky Wednesday. We heat up as the week goes on, with Friday highs in the mid-90s; a heat index from 100-105F.

T-storms may provide slight relief Saturday; drier and somewhat cooler air arrives Sunday, but we slowly heat up again next week.

Highs should flirt with 90F on the 4th of July. A real summer this year? You betcha!

Saturated. The ground over most of southcentral and southwestern Minnesota is waterlogged; any additional rain almost immediately running off into streams and rivers. There is standing water on many fields over southern Minnesota, and no wonder: NOAA data shows 3-4 times the normal amount of rain last week south of a line from Redwood  Falls to Mankato. The full NWS SitRep is here.

The Midwest Is Getting Drenched, and It’s Causing Big Problems. A story at FiveThirtyEight does a good job highlighting the steady increase in extreme flash flood events across Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Here’s an excerpt: “…Minnesota is getting wetter. Over the last 100 years, the state has seen more storms that produce heavy rainfall, and its strongest storms have grown more intense. One of the more dramatic changes is the increasing number of “mega-rain” events — rainstorms during which at least 6 inches of rain falls over at least 1,000 square miles and the center of the storm drops more than 8 inches of rain. Minnesota has had 11 mega-rains since 1973, and eight of them have come since 2000. Two mega-rains swept through in 2016, which is only the third time the state experienced more than one mega-rain in a year. (It also happened in 1975 and 2002.)...”

Immense Rains Are Causing More Flash Flooding, and Experts Say It’s Getting Worse. Here’s an excerpt of a post at Capital Weather Gang that caught my eye: “…Such rains in recent weeks have deluged the Great Lakes region, the Deep South and the suburbs of major cities along the Atlantic coast. Philadelphia, Charlottesville, and Ocean City, Ellicott City and Frederick in Maryland all have experienced major flooding since mid-May. Several locations in Maryland had their wettest May on record, including Baltimore, which tallied more than eight inches, most of which fell in the second half of the month. “Things are definitely getting more extreme,” said Andreas ­Prein, an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. “You just have to look at the records. All areas of the continental U.S. have seen increases in peak rainfall rates in the past 50 years. . . . And there is a chance that we are underestimating the risk, actually…”

Map source: NOAA and Washington Post WonkBlog.

Warmer North – (Much) Wetter Southern Minnesota Last Week. The Midwest Regional Climate Center has a recap of the period f rom June 18 to June 24, with some 2-5″ amounts – a month’s worth of rain in many communities falling in less than a week.

Heaviest Rains Track South of Minnesota. Iowa will bear the brunt of this storm, a few tornadoes yesterday – today 1-3″ rains likely. A few heavier bands will reach into southern and central Minnesota with rainfall amounts generally under .2 to .3″. NAM guidance: NOAA and

Fried-Day. The state will sizzle on Friday, which may wind up being the hottest day of the week with highs in the mid-90s and a heat index over 100F in the Twin Cities. Map credit: AerisWeather and Praedictix.

Peak Heat? Much of the USA tends to experience the hottest weather of the year during the second or third week of July, and gazing at the GFS outlook for 500mb winds roughly 2 weeks out that scenario may unfold. The only exception: cooler weather for the Pacific  Northwest

June 2018 Trending Hotter and Wetter Than Average. Dr. Mark Seeley provides context at Minnesota WeatherTalk: “Despite the recent moderation, temperatures are continuing to average above normal this month. So far this June ranks among the 20 warmest historically on a statewide basis. Last week over Father’s Day weekend many Minnesota climate stations reported record high temperatures. Among those seeing record highs on June 15th were: MSP with 95°F, Amboy with 95°F, Granite Falls with 96°F, and Minnesota City with 91°F…”

Unprecedented Change From Cold April to Hot May. Brian Brettschneider has the details at Forbes: “...If the whiplash from cold to hot seemed unusual, it was. In fact, it was unprecedented for any time of year. Using the NASA GISS temperature gridded data set, approximately 130,000 square miles went from record cool to record warm from April to May in 2018. The next largest “event” was the transition from record cold to record warm from December 1946 to January 1947, in the tropical Pacific Ocean southeast of Hawai’i (107,000 square miles). Given that it occurred over the ocean, I find this a little dubious...”

Map credit: “Global occurrences of a climate station recording the coldest April on record followed by the warmest May on record.”

NOAA Won’t Drop Climate and Conservation From Its Mission, Agency Says. USA TODAY has the latest: “The United States’ top weather, climate and ocean science agency – NOAA – will not drop “climate” from its mission statement nor will it de-emphasize research into climate change and resource conservation, the agency said Monday. This follows a report Sunday from a science advocacy group, the Union of Concerned Scientists, that said the acting head of NOAA, Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet, proposed a new mission statement for the agency — one the Union said would “undermine the agency’s vital work on behalf of the American people.” The first line of NOAA’s mission statement is “to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts.” According to the Union, Gallaudet proposed last week that it be changed to “observe, understand and predict atmospheric and ocean conditions…”

More Cities Across Minnesota Are Turning to Renewable Sources of Energy. Star Tribune has the story; here’s a clip: “…Solar has grown so quickly in Minnesota, in fact, that between 2016 and 2017 the amount of solar power produced didn’t just double or triple, but grew by a factor of 72, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce. That was enough to raise solar power from .03 percent of all electricity generated in the state in 2016 to 1.2 percent a year later. The surge has prompted several Minnesota city governments, including Minneapolis, to set bold goals to go 100 percent renewable by a set date. Of the municipalities racing to get there, St. Cloud may be the leader. Its subscriptions to solar gardens and use of geothermal and conservation measures have it claiming an 83 percent renewable rate for the city government…”

Photo credit: Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune. “A 220-kilowatt solar array powers the St. Cloud Wastewater Treatment Plant, along with a biodigester that turns sewage into energy.”

Oil Cleanup Underway in Iowa: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “Crews are working to contain crude oil spilled into floodwaters surrounding the swollen Little Rock River after a freight train derailed in northwest Iowa on Friday. Authorities say that 230,000 gallons of crude was spilled from 14 of 31 derailed tanker cars carrying tar sands oil from Canada to Oklahoma. The spill prompted the nearby town of Rock Valley to shut off all drinking wells and switch to a rural drinking system, and has prompted concerns about the drinking supply of Omaha, Nebraska, 150 miles downstream from the spill site. “Never thought I’d have to worry about an oil spill,” resident Diane Vande Berg, whose farm sits near the spill site, told the Des Moines Register. “Tornadoes, yes. Oil spill, no.” (AP, Reuters, Des Moines Register, Sioux City Journal)

Photo credit: Associated Press. “In this aerial drone image taken from video and provided by the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office, tanker cars carrying crude oil are shown derailed about a mile south of Doon, Iowa, Friday, June 22, 2018. About 31 cars derailed after the tracks reportedly collapsed due to saturation from flood waters from adjacent Little Rock River.” (Sioux County Sheriff’s Office via AP).

A Red State Goes Green: How Texas Became a Pioneer in Wind Energy. CBS News reports: “…People there say coal plants kept the lights on for generations. Then, Republican Mayor Dale Ross concluded the market was changing. Unlike many Republicans, Ross accepts climate science. He supports clean power so much he bought an electric motorcycle. But Ross said he approved wind and solar because it’s affordable. “This was first and foremost a business decision and if you win the business argument, then you’re gonna win the environmental argument,” Ross said. “It’s a totally different landscape out there,” he said. “And let me tell you, in the state of Texas, since January 1, four coal plants have closed. This is the economics of the matter. You buy wind and solar for, say, $18 a megawatt. You buy coal for $25. You have that choice. Which one are you gonna buy?…”

Photo credit: “Wind turbine farm in Texas.” CBS News.

The Future of Television? Is this a fad, like 3-D was, or a trend? More perspective on immersive television from Capital Weather Gang: “…The Weather Channel announced its partnership with the Future Group, an augmented-reality technology company, in April. The products these companies are building together allow two worlds to merge into one broadcast. The new technology allows people to interact with digital objects that become a part of the studio environment. Mike Chesterfield, director of weather presentation at the Weather Channel, spearheaded this months-long effort that culminated in what viewers saw Wednesday. He plans to implement the technology in 80 percent of the Weather Channel’s live programming by 2020. “We want to transport our audience into the heart of the weather,” said Michael Potts, vice president of design for the Weather Group…”

The Most Important Skill Nobody Taught You. Are we distracting ourselves to death? Here’s an excerpt of a thoughtful post at Quartz: “…Fortunately, there is a solution. The only way to avoid being ruined by this fear—like any fear—is to face it. It’s to let the boredom take you where it wants so you can deal with whatever it is that is really going on with your sense of self. That’s when you’ll hear yourself think, and that’s when you’ll learn to engage the parts of you that are masked by distraction. The beauty of this is that, once you cross that initial barrier, you realize that being alone isn’t so bad. Boredom can provide its own stimulation. When you surround yourself with moments of solitude and stillness, you become intimately familiar with your environment in a way that forced stimulation doesn’t allow. The world becomes richer, the layers start to peel back, and you see things for what they really are, in all their wholeness, in all their contradictions, and in all their unfamiliarity…”

Is “Gaming Disorder” an Illness? Some Experts Say Not So Fast. A story at caught my eye: “…And at least right now, critics contend, that evidence doesn’t exist for gaming disorders. Many existing studies on the subject are of surprisingly low quality. A large number of them are statistically underpowered, relying on small sample sizes, and do little do clarify whether videogames cause psychological problems or are merely associated with them. “Some of these gaming habits are likely coping strategies to deal with other underlying psychological challenges,” says Lennart Nacke, director of the Human-Computer Interaction Games Group at the University of Waterloo’s Games Institute. These shortcomings are compounded by a lack of consistency across studies, not only in what they’re measuring but how they measure it...”

The 25 Highest-Paying Jobs You Can Get Without a Bachelor’s Degree. Here’s the intro of an eye-opening post at Money: “Don’t have the time or money to get a bachelor’s degree? Don’t fret. There are plenty of high-paying jobs that require only a two-year associate degree, postsecondary non-degree certificate, or even just a high-school diploma. According to the latest data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the 25 highest-paying jobs that you don’t need a four-year degree to pursue. Each has a median annual salary of at least $68,000...”

Photo credit:

In The Era of A.I. and Automation, What Job Skills Do You Need Most? Big Think has a worthy read; here’s a clip: “…The job to avoid in the future, however, are the middleman jobs, for example, brokers and low-level tellers and accountants. For example, today when you go to a stockbroker you no longer buy stock. Now you may say to yourself, “That’s stupid, everybody knows when you go to a stockbroker you buy stock, I mean what else are you going to buy?” Well, no. You don’t buy stock when you go to a stockbroker. You can buy stock on your wristwatch so why bother to go to a stockbroker? Because you want something that stockbrokers provide that robots cannot. And that is intellectual capital. That means experience, know how, savvy, innovation, talent, leadership—none of which computers and robots can provide. So the large explosion of jobs in the future will be jobs that robots cannot do, i.e. Jobs involving pattern recognition and jobs involving common sense, as well as middlemen jobs that involve intellectual capital, creativity—products of the mind. Those are the jobs which are still going to flourish in the future...”

Car Kareoke With Paul McCartney. Maybe I’m getting cynical and jaded (the current news cycle will do that to you) but this made me smile, in fact if it doesn’t bring tears to your eyes check for a pulse. We all need more joy in our lives, and I thought this was very well done. Even if you’re not a Beatles fan, or a James Corden fan, you need to see this clip on YouTube: “James Corden heads to Liverpool for a special day with Paul McCartney spent exploring the city of Paul’s youth, visiting his childhood home where he wrote music with John Lennon, performing songs in a local pub and of course driving around singing a few of Paul’s biggest hits...” (can you tell I’m a Beatles fan?)

83 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

82 F. average high on June 25.

69 F. high on June 25, 2017.

June 26, 1982: Cold air moves into northern Minnesota. Kulger Township dips to 31 degrees. Duluth registers 36.

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.” – Dale Carnegie

TUESDAY: Showers and T-storms likely. Winds: E 7-12. High: 74

TUESDAY NIGHT: Showers slowly taper. Low: 63

WEDNESDAY: Warm sunshine returns. Winds: NW 5-10. High: 82

THURSDAY: Sticky sun, few storms up north. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 68. High: 87

FRIDAY: Steamy sunshine, feels like 100-105F. Winds: S 10-20+ Wake-up: 73. High: 94

SATURDAY: Still muggy, few showers and T-storms. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 74. High: 88

SUNDAY: More sun, a bit more comfortable. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 69. High: 83

MONDAY: Warm sunshine, take the day off. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 64. High: 85

Climate Stories….

Antarctic Ice is Melting Faster. Coastal Cities Need to Prepare Now. An Op-Ed from the Editorial Board at The Washington Post had a post that caught my eye; here’s a snippet: “…The paper took data from researchers who estimated Antarctic ice loss in 24 studies using three methods. These three methods resulted in parallel, wholly independent readings that largely matched up. Their combination produced findings that even the most circumspect critics of climate science should not be able to ignore. As Antarctica melts, North America will take a particularly hard wallop. Melting ice shrinks Antarctica and, therefore, its gravitational field. Without as much mass pulling ocean water south, sea levels will rise farther north as the oceans redistribute. For every centimeter the seas rise, major East Coast cities will see a roughly 1.25-centimeter increase. Coastal cities need to start preparing, now...”

Photo credit: “A glacier in Half Moon Bay, Antarctica, on Feb. 18“. (Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters).

Special Report: 30 Year Alarm on the Reality of Climate Change. Axios takes a look at Dr. James Hansen’s prediction vs. reality and includes an interactive graphic of the observed warming in the subsequent 3 decades.

Tracking the Trends. For details on how the graph above was created click here, courtesy of Columbia University and NASA.

Area Lake Flooding a Signal of Climate Change? The rain is coming down harder, yes. A story at caught my eye: “…Climate change experts are predicting that heavy rains that create flooding lakes are going to be the norm so preparations must begin immediately to deal with the next emergency at the lake. It’s an expensive proposition and the potential of moving or building up homes in the flood plain and improving roads will require help from the state and national levels, Parisi says.…”

Photo credit: “Dann Barber, who has been removing and installing piers for residents who live on Lake Kegonsa for 30 years, says he has never seen the water as high as it was Tuesday when it reached near record levels. Barber says he has removed 15 piers since Friday.

Major Methane Study Complicates Plans of Oil and Gas Industry. Details via The Houston Chronicle: “U.S. oil and gas operations are releasing far more methane into the atmosphere than the federal government estimates, causing much more harm to the environment and undermining the case for cleaner-burning natural gas as bridge fuel to a carbon-free future, according to a comprehensive study published Thursday in the prestigious journal Science. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas that traps considerably more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, helping to accelerate climate change. The six-year study on methane found that annual emission rates from energy companies are about 60 percent more than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports...”

Photo credit: “A gas flare is seen at a natural gas processing facility near Williston, N.D.” Matthew Brown, STF.

Your Morning Cup of Coffee Is In Danger. Can the Industry Adapt in Time? Please God, not the coffee. Here’s an excerpt from “…After nearly four decades at Starbucks, he is leaving at the end of June, and in the role of executive chairman for almost 15 months, he has been looking past Starbucks’ day-to-day operations to its long-term challenges and opportunities. Climate change ranks high among them. As temperatures rise and droughts intensify, good coffee will become increasingly difficult to grow and expensive to buy. Since governments are reacting slowly to the problem, companies like Starbucks have stepped in to save themselves, reaching to the bottom of their supply chains to ensure reliable access to their product. “Make no mistake,” Schultz tells me, “climate change is going to play a bigger role in affecting the quality and integrity of coffee…”

Summer Days Are Getting Hotter. The warming signal in Minnesota is most pronounced in late winter and early spring (especially nighttime lows) but even MSP is warming over time. Here’s an excerpt from Climate Central: “…Hot summer temperatures are getting more and more of a boost, as the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases is adding more heat to the atmosphere. In a stable climate, the number of days above and below normal should balance out during the 92 days of meteorological summer, at about 46 each. But the number of summer days above normal has been trending upward in most of the country, with 92 percent of the 244 cities in our analysis seeing more summer days above normal than a half-century ago. Some of the largest increases are in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas…”