Paul Douglas

Smoke Diminishes As Shower Chance Increases

I’ve been blasting Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” on my Kenwood KR-9050 stereo receiver, and my neighbors are not amused. Then again, I have the freedom to make poor decisions.

What a strange and wondrous summer, tracking smoke plumes, not severe thunderstorms. More beach, less water in my favorite lakes. Chatting up the drought at the local hardware store.

June and July were the second warmest on record in the Twin Cities, the 6th driest such period, and there will be no overnight recovery. Making up a 5-8 inch rainfall deficit will take many months. In fact, we may head into the 2022 growing season with lower water levels and less soil moisture.

A sunny, smoke-infused Wednesday gives way to a few swarms of storms Thursday into the weekend with enough rain to settle the dust. 90s early next week will be followed by another Canadian cool front, complete with a smoky aftertaste.

Weird news: Death Valley, California saw nearly twice as much rain as MSP did in July.

Mother Nature needs a time out.

Wednesday Future Radar

Thundery Possibilities on Thursday. A dry Wednesday gives way to a growing chance of scattered showers and T-storms on Thursday, in fact an unsettled, thundery pattern may linger into Sunday.

File: July 15, 2021
NASA Earth Observatory

A Summer of Fire-Breathing Smoke Storms. NASA’s Earth Observatory explains the difference between cumulonimbus and pyrocumulonimbus: “In 2000, atmospheric scientists from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) first reported that smoke plumes from intense wildfires could spawn towering thunderstorms that channeled smoke as high or higher than the cruising altitude of jets. These pyrocumulonimbus, or pyroCb, events wowed scientists at the time. Prior to that discovery, only explosive volcanic eruptions and extreme thunderstorms were thought to be capable of lofting material so high. Though the workings of these smoke-infused storm clouds have come into clearer focus, their increasingly extreme behavior in recent years has surprised and worried some scientists who track them. The latest encounters with these fire-breathing smoke clouds came in North America in June and July 2021 during an unusually warm fire season that arrived early in Canadian and U.S. forests...”

Showery Pattern Ahead of Next Hot Front. Expect highs in the 80s into Sunday as a series of showers and T-storms push across the Upper Midwest. Rainfall amounts will be extremely variable, but a few .50 to 1” amounts are possible between Thursday and Sunday. By early next week low 90s return – the Dog Days of August arrive by mid-month.

NOAA NDFD Numbers for MSP
ECMWF Temperatures for MSP

Toasty, Not Torrid. I see no large-scale break in our hotter/drier pattern through the month of August. Relentless heat grips most of the USA into the third week of the month with temperatures trending well above average.

Flickr Creative Commons

Sunny Day Flooding is About to Become More Than a Nuisance. Here’s an excerpt of an explainer at (paywall): “… The study, published this June in Nature Climate Change, found that higher and more frequent tides will reach an inflection point in the 2030s, particularly along the West Coast and at islands like those in Hawaii, making what’s been labeled as “nuisance flooding” common. “Many areas along the East Coast are already experiencing recurrent impacts,” Thompson says. “In the mid-2030s, these other areas are going to catch up rapidly. So then it’s a transition from being a regional East Coast issue to a national issue, where a majority of the nation’s coastlines are being affected by high-tide flooding on a regular basis.” How regular? The study, which included researchers from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows that sunny-day floods will cluster in the fall, creating a nightmare for cities and businesses...”

The six CubeSat nanosatellites – each the size of a shoebox – will be launched in early 2022.
Picture courtesy of Blue Canyon Technologies.

How Tiny Satellites Could Help Warn the Next Big Hurricane. in Austin, Texas has more information on a new generation of smaller, cheaper, polar orbiting satellites that may provide critical data and improve hurricane track and intensity forecasts: “…While geostationary satellites are, well, stationary, polar orbiting satellites circle the Earth, taking measurements from all longitudes as the planet rotates. The problem with polar orbiters is that it takes them 12 hours to complete a full trip around the globe. In that time, an area of interest could become an organized system or storm. The TROPICS satellite constellation would reduce the lag, offering a detailed look and and giving forecasters new information every 30 to 40 minutes. For this to work, the six CubeSats must be launched in a very specific orbital configuration. In early 2022, the nanosatellites will be sent up two at a time on three separate trips. Each pair will share an orbit at a 30-degree angle to the Equator...”

Researchers Hope Drone Boats Will Help Make Hurricane Forecasts Clearer and More Accurate. I had no idea but a story at CBS Miami set me straight: “…Saildrone launched two 23-foot Explorer drones that will travel corridors of the Atlantic Ocean through October. Their paths are meant to complement the routes of three other Explorers released this month in the U.S. Virgin Islands, creating a web of coverage in heart of hurricane territory. Explorers are slow, moving no more than a few miles per hour on their wind-powered propulsion systems. But the idea is for the drones to work continuously, collecting data about normal ocean conditions in categories ranging from currents, temperatures, wind speeds and barometric pressure to dissolved oxygen, carbon levels and wave heights. When a hurricane develops, the drones are designed to be able to steer straight into it, recording the storm with high-resolution cameras mounted on wings built to withstand punishing winds and waves that can weigh hundreds of tons...”

Rich Pedroncelli

New Technology Propels Efforts to Fight Western Wildfires. A story at caught my eye: “…Catching fires more quickly gives firefighters a better chance of keeping them small. That includes using new fire behavior computer modeling that can help assess risks before fires start, then project their path and growth. When “critical weather” is predicted — hot, dry winds or lightning storms — the technology, on top of hard-earned experience, allows California planners to pre-position fire engines, bulldozers, aircraft and hand crews armed with shovels and chain saws in areas where they can respond more quickly. With the computer modeling, “they can do a daily risk forecast across the state, so they use that for planning,” said Lynne Tolmachoff, spokeswoman for Cal Fire, California’s firefighting agency. That’s helped Cal Fire hold an average 95% of blazes to 10 acres (4 hectares) or less even in poor conditions driven by drought or climate change, she said...”


Dubai is Using Laser-Beam-Shooting Drones to Shock Rainwater Out of Clouds. Which got me looking at my drone wondering if I too can make it rain? Here’s an excerpt of a baffling post at “The National Center of Meteorology in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has found a new way to make it rain. It’s using laser-beam-shooting drones to generate rainfall artificially. Last week the country’s weather service posted two videos offering proof of the heavy downpours in Dubai’s streets. Here’s how it works: The drones shoot laser beams into the clouds, charging them with electricity. The charge prompts precipitation by forcing water droplets together to create bigger raindrops, essentially electrifying the air to create rain…”

Ford Slated to Spend More on EVs Than Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles in 2023. The Detroit News reports: “For the first time in its 118-year history, Ford Motor Co. plans to spend more on electrified vehicles than it does on internal combustion engine vehicles starting in 2023, an executive said Monday. Speaking at an event hosted by the bank Barclays, the Blue Oval’s chief operating officer for North America, Lisa Drake, mentioned the 2023 timeline while discussing the automaker’s investments in electric vehicles. Earlier this year, Ford said it was increasing its investments in electrification to $30 billion through 2025…”

86 F. Twin Cities high on Tuesday.

83 F. average high on August 3.

74 F. MSP high on August 3, 2020.

August 4, 1898: Storms dump 4 and a half inches of rain on Montevideo.

WEDNESDAY: Warm, hazy sunshine. Winds: SW 10-15. High: 87

THURSDAY: Some sun, chance of a T-storm. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 67. High: 81

FRIDAY: More sunshine, isolated shower. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 68. High: 86

SATURDAY: Sticky with T-storms likely. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 71. High: 85

SUNDAY: Lingering showers, T-showers. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 70. High: 83

MONDAY: Sunny and hot. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 71. High: near 90

TUESDAY: Stinking hot, T-storms arrive late. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 72. High: 93

Climate Stories…

Permafrost, seen at the top of the cliff, melts into the Kolyma River outside of Zyryanka, Russia, in July 2019. A new study has found that methane is being released not only from thawing wetlands but also from thawing limestone.
Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post

Scientists Expected Thawing Wetlands in Siberia’s Permafrost. What They Found is “Much More Dangerous”. The Washington Post (paywall) reports: “Scientists have long been worried about what many call “the methane bomb” — the potentially catastrophic release of methane from thawing wetlands in Siberia’s permafrost. But now a study by three geologists says that a heat wave in 2020 has revealed a surge in methane emissions “potentially in much higher amounts” from a different source: thawing rock formations in the Arctic permafrost. The difference is that thawing wetlands releases “microbial” methane from the decay of soil and organic matter, while thawing limestone — or carbonate rock — releases hydrocarbons and gas hydrates from reservoirs both below and within the permafrost, making it “much more dangerous” than past studies have suggested…”

The bipartisan group of Senate negotiators speak to reporters just after a vote to start work on a nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, July 28, 2021. From left are Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Bipartisan Bill Leaves Out Key Climate, Clean Energy Steps. Associated Press has the story: “The $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package unveiled by the Senate includes more than $150 billion to boost clean energy and promote “climate resilience” by making schools, ports and other structures better able to withstand extreme weather events such as storms and wildfires. But the bill, headed for a Senate vote this week, falls far short of President Joe Biden’s pledge to transform the nation’s heavily fossil-fuel powered economy into a clean-burning one and stop climate-damaging emissions from U.S. power plants by 2035. Notably, the deal omits mention of a Clean Electricity Standard, a key element of Biden’s climate plan that would require the electric grid to replace fossil fuels with renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydropower…”

A Brain Drain Among Government Scientists Bogs Down Biden’s Climate Ambitions. The New York Times and Yahoo News reports: “…President Donald Trump’s battle against climate science — his appointees undermined federal studies, fired scientists and drove many experts to quit or retire — continues to reverberate six months into the Biden administration. From the Agriculture Department to the Pentagon to the National Park Service, hundreds of jobs in climate and environmental science across the federal government remain vacant. Scientists and climate policy experts who quit have not returned. Recruitment is suffering, according to federal employees, as government science jobs are no longer viewed as insulated from politics. And money from Congress to replenish the ranks could be years away…”

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Case for Climate Realism. Somewhere between paralyzing gloom and doom and sheer apathy lies the appropriate course for climate action. Andrew Freedman reports for Axios: “…Climate change is not an existential cliff that we’ll suddenly fall off of, with no turning back. It’s more like a hill we’re sliding down at ever-increasing speed. We can choose to alter course at any time by hitting the brakes and slashing emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, emanating from the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.But the longer we wait, the faster we’ll be traveling, and the more effort it will take to slow down and achieve the cuts that are needed. And we’ve already waited a long time to start pumping the brakes. Optimism has its place in climate change discourse…”


How Journalists Should Report the Weather. Because climate change is flavoring all weather now. A story at in Ireland caught my eye; here’s a clip: “…There are several ways that journalists can report weather events in the context of climate change. Climatologist Michael Mann said that he believes part of the problem is that there are too few environmental and science journalists on staff. “This often forces other reporters to cover climate-related topics and they’re less well equipped to sort out legitimate science from agenda driven anti-science. But even the best-trained journalists can fall victim to this framing, owing to the fractious and confusing nature of the public discourse on climate change. “Often the issues are more on the editorial side than the journalistic side. One solution is to schedule regular round table discussions where leading scientists and science communicators conduct background discussions with editorial boards, complementing the one-on-ones between scientists and journalists...”

EU countries in EFFIS. The burnt areas mapped in EFFIS represent, on average, about 80% of the total area burned by wildfires, since only fires larger than 30 ha are mapped.

Europe Fries in a Heat Wave Made More Intense by Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt from a post at POLITICO: “…On Friday, the panel signed off on a section that draws on the emerging field of attribution science, which allows scientists to identify the human fingerprint in heat waves, floods and other extreme events. It represents a profound shift in the level of certainty and detail for single destructive events. “Every heat wave that is happening today is made more likely and more intense by climate change,” said Friederike Otto, associate director of the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, and the lead author on the IPCC report who has pioneered research in the attribution field. The soaring temperatures are being felt across Southern Europe. Turkey has been hit by both fires and floods. Last month, it set a new temperature record of 49.1 degrees…”

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Tennis – Women’s Singles – Round 1 – Ariake Tennis Park – Tokyo, Japan – July 24, 2021. Players cool down in the hot weather at Ariake Tennis Park.

In Fast-Warming World, Tokyo is Barometer for Future Olympics. Thomson Reuters Foundation has a timely post; here’s an excerpt: “The muggy heat swaddling Tokyo may be a forerunner of Olympic life to come, experts say, urging a rethink to make the world’s oldest sporting spectacular fit for a fast-warming planet. The Olympics kicked off in the Japanese capital last week after a year-long delay due to the pandemic, with organisers banning spectators from venues and enforcing a slew of measures to keep the coronavirus at bay. While worries over COVID-19 have overshadowed other concerns, Japan’s heat and humidity – where temperatures can exceed 35 degrees Celsius (95°F) – also show how future Games will need to grapple with extremes as climate change bites. “Tokyo 2020 will serve as a model for future hotter Olympics and other summer sporting competitions,” said Yuri Hosokawa, an expert on sport and heat risks at Japan’s Waseda University...”

A Heat Wave Has Triggered a “Massive Melting Event” in Greenland. Details via “Greenland is sweltering under a recent heat wave that has caused a “massive melting event” in its ice sheet, according to a consortium of Danish Arctic research institutions called Polar Portal. The territory’s ice sheet has shed about eight billion tons of meltwater a day since last Wednesday, twice as much as its normal seasonal melt rate, due to temperatures that are averaging 10°C higher than past summers at this time. These single-day deluges of water are equivalent in volume to a two-inch-deep flood across the entire state of Florida, Polar Portal reported…”

We’re Studying Everything But Human Behavior to Combat Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at TheHill: “…The first great mobilization of the nation’s science community came at the outset of World War II. President Roosevelt created the Office of Scientific Research and Development because he realized that science was essential to winning the war. That effort included a sizable component of social scientists. Once again, nothing less than a national mobilization is needed. We are facing a slower moving, but ultimately, greater threat than WWII. Roosevelt had trouble mobilizing the nation to prepare for war until Pearl Harbor changed that. And now, with thousand year floods and fires occurring annually, we have our Climate Pearl Harbor...”


‘It’s Biblical’ — Climate Fueled Destruction Circles The Globe: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “In recent days, now-houseless survivors of Oregon’s Bootleg Fire surveyed their incinerated communities, dozens huddled in a Colorado tunnel seeking shelter from a mudslide, and across the Eastern Hemisphere fires and landslides forced evacuations and took lives. These, and other, impacts of human-caused climate change come as the U.S. Senate considers an infrastructure package largely stripped of its initial ambitions to combat climate change. “West of the Mississippi we have droughts, fires and smoke, and east of the Mississippi there’s flooding,” Anne Golden, whose home was destroyed by the Bootleg Fire, told the New York Times. “It’s biblical. It just feels like the plague and everything else.” In Colorado, mudslides set off by three days of heavy rainfall cascaded down a mountainside burned by the Grizzly Creek wildfire last year. The compound disaster blocked portions of I-70 with boulders and stranded motorists, including more than 100 forced to remain in their cars overnight. Wildfires, fueled by dry heat linked to climate change, are also raging around the Mediteranian including on the Italian peninsula and in Sicily. In Turkey, “The animals are on fire,” Kacarlar resident Muzeyyan Kacar told CNN; at least eight people have died in the more than 100 fires across the country. Wildfires and extreme heat also prompted closures and evacuations across Greece. “Welcome to global warming!” George Papabeis, a Greek-American tourist in Athens told Reuters. Farther East, at least seven people were killed in a landslide in northern India set off by heavy monsoon rains. “I am 58-years-old and I have never seen such a severe flood in my life,” Ved Prakash, a resident of Rajouri, told Reuters. (Global climate devastation: NPR; Infrastructure legislation: see coverage below; Bootleg Fire”: New York Times $; Colorado: Colorado Public Radio, AP; Mediteranian region: New York Times $; Italy: The Guardian, AP; Turkey: CNN, Axios, AP, The Guardian, AP; Greece: Reuters; India: Reuters; Climate Signals background: Wildfires, 2021 Western wildfire season; Extreme heat and heatwaves; Extreme precipitation increase)


Climate Change and COVID: Time to Face Realities. My thanks to Jim Muchlinski at The Marshall Independent newspaper for writing an Op-Ed that resonated; here’s an excerpt: “...To a large extent it’s a defiance of authority. Who is anyone to tell them that they should consider an electric car? Who is anyone to pressure them to get the vaccine? In my lifetime I’ve seen a trend toward that kind of mentality. I’ll go so far as to say that a generation ago in the 1990s the skepticism we have today probably would never have happened. People didn’t question the energy crisis or the pollution issues of the 1970s. The twentieth century public never doubted the dangers of polio, tuberculosis or measles. There were always a small handful of people with hoax claims and conspiracy theories. They were oddballs. It never caused anything like this summer’s plateau in the vaccination process…”