Hurricane Factoids – Fine Labor Day Weekend

Minnesota sees it’s fair share of jaw-dropping weather, but at least we don’t get hurricanes. According to a post at USA FACTS, hurricanes are America’s deadliest natural disasters.

In 2017 Hurricane Maria claimed nearly 3,000 lives. Hurricane Katrina killed 1,833 people in the New Orleans area in 2005. So often people survive the initial storm, only to succumb to disease or medical maladies days or weeks after impact. 7 of the USA’s 10 most expensive natural disasters were hurricanes. Of those, 6 have taken place since 2000.

If you’re hoping for fewer crowds at the Minnesota State Fair today is a good option. Winds will gust over 30
mph with instability showers by afternoon. Wednesday looks sunnier and drier, with a shot at 80F Thursday before we cool off again late week.

A protective bubble of high pressure steers showers south of Minnesota over the holiday weekend with enough sunshine for 70s. Mornings will be cool, in fact lake water may be warmer than air temperatures. A better than average holiday?

Blustery Tuesday. A tight pressure gradient puts the squeeze on the atmosphere later today, whipping up 30-40 mph wind gusts at times. Map credit: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Another Crazy Year of Weather. Here’s an excerpt of an excellent summary of 2019’s meteorological craziness, courtesy of Dr. Mark Seeley at Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…Southern Minnesota counties are reporting one of their wettest years of record with total precipitation so far that exceeds normal by 8 to 10 inches. The 2019 agricultural planting season was the latest since 1979, but crops have been slowly catching up, though still lagging behind in development. This has brought some concern for early frost and/or high moisture content at harvest time. The coldest Wind Chill value this year was -65°F at Hibbing on January 30th, while the highest Heat Index Value was 116°F at Winthrop (Sibley County) on July 19th, for a range 181°F across the state so far this year...”

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Monday, August 26th, 2019:

  • Tropical Storm Dorian continues to slowly strengthen and organize this morning. As of 8 AM AST, Dorian had winds of 60 mph and was moving west at 14 mph.
  • On the current track of Dorian, the system will pass over the Lesser Antilles Tuesday, where Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings are in place, into the Caribbean Sea. Dorian will continue to strengthen and is expected to become a hurricane during the middle of the week.
  • While this system looks to impact Hispaniola next Thursday, there are questions as to what the strength of the storm will be at that time. The National Hurricane Center currently has it forecasted as a hurricane, but some models show the system fizzling out before that point. Facilities located in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, or Hispaniola should keep an eye on this system over the next couple days and be prepared to take action.

Dorian On Satellite. Dorian has been slowly organizing over the past 24 hours, but the system is still fighting against dry air intruding the system. As of 8 AM AST, the center of Dorian was sitting about 205 miles east-southeast of Barbados, or 315 miles east-southeast of St. Lucia. Dorian has winds of 60 mph and was moving to the west at 14 mph.

Dorian Track. Dorian will continue to slowly strengthen over the next couple days and could become a hurricane either Tuesday or Wednesday while the system tracks over the Caribbean Sea. The system will move to the west-northwest through Tuesday, turning more toward the northwest Wednesday. This track will bring Dorian close to Hispaniola by Thursday potentially at Category 1 hurricane strength. There is some question as to what strength the system will be at as it does approach portions of the Greater Antilles, as upper-level winds will be on the increase that could disrupt and weaken the system. Dorian is also a small, compact system, and these types of storms can be more difficult to predict future strength. In fact, some models are forecasting this storm will fizzle out over the Caribbean, while others show rapid intensification. This means while forecast confidence is currently low, facilities located in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, or Hispaniola should keep an eye on this system over the next couple days and be prepared to take action. Either way, interaction with the higher terrain of Hispaniola will interfere with the system, and weakening should occur toward the end of the week.

Tropical Storm Watches/Warnings. Ahead of Dorian impacting the Lesser Antilles, Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings have been issued for the following areas:

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Barbados
* St. Lucia
* St. Vincent and the Grenadines

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* Dominica
* Martinique
* Grenada and its dependencies
* Saba and St. Eustatius

Rain Forecast. Through Tuesday, Dorian could bring 2-4″ of rain (with isolated 6″ amounts) to portions of Barbados, the Windward Islands, and Dominica.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

Hurricanes Are the Deadliest Natural Disasters. Here’s an excerpt from USA FACTS: “…The deadliest disasters in recent history have been Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Maria. Aside from these two events, the yearly number of deaths due to natural disasters has remained steady at less than 1,000 deaths per year. As noted above, hurricanes are the deadliest natural disasters. The most dangerous in recent history were Hurricane Maria in 2017, with 2,981 reported deaths, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, with 1,833 reported deaths. Hurricanes are also costly. Adjusting for inflation, 7 of the 10 most expensive natural disasters have been hurricanes. Of those 7, 6 have happened since 2000…”

Scoop: Trump Suggested Nuking Hurricanes to Stop Them From Hitting U.S. Axios reports: “President Trump has suggested multiple times to senior Homeland Security and national security officials that they explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the United States, according to sources who have heard the president’s private remarks and been briefed on a National Security Council memorandum that recorded those comments. Behind the scenes: During one hurricane briefing at the White House, Trump said, “I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?” according to one source who was there. “They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they’re moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can’t we do that?” the source added, paraphrasing the president’s remarks. Asked how the briefer reacted, the source recalled he said something to the effect of, “Sir, we’ll look into that…”

Illustration credit: Lazaro Gamio/Axios.

Why Don’t We Try to Destroy Tropical Cyclones by Nuking Them? Here’s an excerpt of a response from Chris Landsea at NHC: “…During each hurricane season, there always appear suggestions that one should simply use nuclear weapons to try and destroy the storms. Apart from the fact that this might not even alter the storm, this approach neglects the problem that the released radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas and cause devastating environmental problems. Needless to say, this is not a good idea. Now for a more rigorous scientific explanation of why this would not be an effective hurricane modification technique. The main difficulty with using explosives to modify hurricanes is the amount of energy required. A fully developed hurricane can release heat energy at a rate of 5 to 20×1013 watts and converts less than 10% of the heat into the mechanical energy of the wind. The heat release is equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes…”

In Alaska, a Summer of Extreme Weather Continues. The Washington Post has a detailed post; here’s an excerpt: “…Anomalous warmth in the past year, as well as warmer-than-usual waters in the surrounding Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas and the North Pacific Ocean fueled the warm and humid conditions experienced by Alaskans. This “bathtub” of warm water surrounding Alaska helped contribute to higher-than-normal temperatures, especially overnight lows that trended higher than normal. In Anchorage, June and July were the warmest months ever recorded, with nighttime lows that rarely dropped below 50 degrees for most of the summer. In a city with buildings designed to keep warmth in, this has been problematic for residents…”

Record-Breaking “Spider” Lightning as Long as Kansas Spotted. National Geographic has a fascinating post; here’s the intro: “One evening while working, Michael Peterson found himself staring at an enormous spider. But Peterson, a remote sensing scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, wasn’t looking at a critter of the eight-legged variety. Instead the form crawling across his screen was a monstrous flash of so-called spider lightning—a twisting network of light stretching hundreds of miles across stormy skies. “I was just blown away,” he says. His analysis revealed two record-breaking lightning flashes, the longest by length and by duration. One stretched over Brazil some 418 miles from tip to tail—slightly longer than Kansas is across…”

Image credit: “A thunderstorm looms over southern Brazil and Uruguay in this computer-rendered view. The lightning in this image is around 160 miles long, roughly a third the size of the newly reported record-breaking flash.” Image by Michael Peterson, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Behind the Forecast: Can Schools be Tornado-Proofed? Tornado-resilient, yes, but truly tornado-proof? A story at caught my eye: “…To be “tornado-proof,” according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a structure should be able to withstand 250 mph winds. Also, the walls should be able to resist a 15-pound 2-inch × 4-inch board traveling horizontally at 100 mph; this is basically a missile. For this to happen a room must be reinforced with concrete and sometimes steel. One school that’s taking extra precautions to keep their students safe is Bradie Shrum Elementary School in Salem, Indiana. Officials worked with Larry Timperman of Kovert Hawkins Architects and FEMA on a grant program to build Indiana’s first school safe room. The room is coded to handle 250 mph winds, an EF-5 tornado, and is built with hurricane-proof windows and thick walls can hold up to 1200 people…”

File image: NOAA.

A Trailblazing Plan to Fight California Wildfires. Food for thought from The New Yorker: “… Throughout the twentieth century, federal policy focussed on putting out fires as quickly as possible. An unintended consequence of this strategy has been a disastrous buildup in forest density, which has provided the fuel for so-called “megafires.” The term was coined by the Forest Service in 2011, following a series of conflagrations that each consumed more than a hundred thousand acres of woodland.Megafires are huge, hot, and fast—they can engulf an entire town within minutes. These fires are almost unstoppable and behave in ways that shock fire scientists—hurling firebrands up to fifteen miles away, forming vortices of superheated air that melt cars into puddles within seconds, and generating smoke plumes that shroud distant cities in apocalyptic haze. Centuries-old trees, whose thick bark can withstand lesser blazes, are incinerated and seed banks beneath the forest floor are destroyed…”

Photo credit: “As megafires become the new normal, prescribed burns give trees breathing room and prevent the worst damage.” Photo by Kevin Cooler for The New Yorker.

The Robot Ship Set to Cross the Atlantic and Change the World. Daily Beast reports: “The blocky, 36-foot-long, yellow- and white-striped vessel bobbing off the coast of the United Kingdom sure doesn’t look like much. But Maxlimer just might be the most important ship in the world right now. Maxlimer is totally robotic. And it’s poised to be the first unmanned surface vessel, or USV, to cross the Atlantic. The journey could prove the case for a host of new oceangoing drones: crewless cargo ships; unmanned oil tankers; robotic work boats...”

Photo credit: SEA-KIT.

How Long Are You Willing to be Cooped Up in an Airplane? The Verge has a truly horrifying story: “Australian airline Qantas Airways has announced plans to start testing 20-hour direct flights from New York and London to Sydney as early as this October, starting with mostly empty planes of employees. The flights — if they’re enacted on a commercial level, not just as tests — would be the longest direct flight offered by any airline. To start, Qantas will fly roughly 40 passengers and crew. The test flight crews will be medically examined, presumably make sure that they’re not going to try to eat people after being cooped up in a small metal can for 20 hours straight…”

Here’s a First: Hacking from Space. The first space crime? NBC News reports: “A NASA astronaut is accused of hacking her estranged spouse’s bank account from space. Anne McClain, whom the space agency says is “one of NASA’s top astronauts,” allegedly accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse, Summer Worden, while aboard the International Space Station earlier this year, according to NBC affiliate KPRC in Houston. The two women are in the process of a divorce and battling over custody of a 6-year-old son, Worden told KPRC. She said she conceived the boy through in vitro fertilization and carried by a surrogate…”

Photo credit: “NASA astronaut Anne McClain on the International Space Station on April 16, 2019.” NASA.

.80″ rain fell at MSP International Airport yesterday.

71 F. high on Monday in the Twin Cities.

79 F. average high on August 26.

85 F. high on August 26, 2018.

August 27, 1992: A chilly night in Embarrass, where the temperature dips to 28 degrees.

TUESDAY: Gusty winds, PM showers and T-showers. Winds: W 15-35. High: near 70

WEDNESDAY: Still windy but dry, with more sun. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 55. High: 71

THURSDAY: Partly sunny and milder. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 56. High: 78

FRIDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 56. High: 73

SATURDAY: Blue sky with light winds. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 53. High: 75

SUNDAY: Sunny and warmer. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 57. High: 78

LABOR DAY: Mix of clouds and sun, not bad. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 60. High: 79

Climate Stories….

There are Many Cases of Climate Hypocrisy.” So says journalist David Wallace-Wells, interviewed at The Guardian. Here’s an excerpt: “…My intuition is that we don’t need to abandon the prospect of economic growth to get a handle on climate change. I look at the case of the US and I see that if the average American had the carbon emissions of the average EU citizen, the country’s emissions would fall by 60%. And I think most Americans would be happy with those lifestyles. The American electricity grid loses two-thirds of all energy produced as waste heat. We discard something like 50% or 60% of all of our food. So we could achieve some quite significant emissions gains…”

AMAZON: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “The Amazon cannot be recovered once it’s gone (The Atlantic), ‘the lungs of the Earth are in flames’: Brazil faces global backlash over Amazon fires (CNBC), G7 nations close to agreement on tackling Amazon fires: Macron (Reuters), Macron: ‘All G7 powers must help Brazil fight raging Amazon fires’ (The Guardian), why are the Amazon fires sparking a crisis for Brazil – and the world? (Reuters), Pope calls for global commitment to put out Amazon fires (Reuters), warplanes dump water on Amazon as Brazil military begins fighting fires (Reuters), climate activists demonstrate outside Brazil embassies in Paris and London (Reuters), Brazil’s Bolsonaro causes global outrage over Amazon fires (AP), Brazil’s Bolsonaro reverses on Amazon, announces plans to send armed forces to fight wildfires (The Hill), DiCaprio-backed foundation spending $5M to help Brazil’s Amazon (The Hill), Brazil’s former environment head calls raging wildfires ‘crime against humanity.” (Thomson Reuters Foundation).

Why Climate Change is So Hard to Tackle: Our Stubborn Energy System. Here’s a clip from an Axios post: “…In the world of energy and climate change, people talk about the “energy transition,” the concept that we are moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy. But for now and the next few decades, it’s more of an energy addition.

  • Renewable electricity (which is the primary use for wind and solar) is often being added on top of instead of in lieu of fossil fuels, particularly in Asia’s rapidly growing economies.
  • Our energy system, particularly electricity, is built on multi-billion dollar infrastructure investments designed to last decades. Replacing them is like changing direction on a jetliner, not a jet ski.
  • Because of this dynamic and because our global energy demand keeps rising, our emissions keep growing despite the skyrocketing use of wind and solar energy…”

Image credit: Sarah Grillo/Axios.

Caring About Tomorrow. The author of a Washington Post Op-Ed says that we are hard-wired not to feel empathy for those who come next. Here’s a clip: “…One answer lies in the nature of empathy: our ability to share, understand and care about others’ experiences. Deeply empathic people tend to be environmentally responsible, but our caring instincts are shortsighted and dissolve across space and time, making it harder for us to deal with things that haven’t happened yet. Human activity is now a dominant force in shaping the Earth’s environment, but humanity’s moral senses have not kept pace with this power. Our actions reverberate across the world and across time, but not enough of us feel the weight of their consequences. Empathy could be an emotional bulwark against a warming world, if our collective care produced collective action. But it evolved to respond to suffering right here, right now. Our empathic imagination is not naturally configured to stretch around the planet or toward future generations. That puts their very existence at risk. Ironically, our better angels — and the way they operate — might be hampering our ability to do what’s best for the world…”

Image credit: Jackson Joyce for The Washington Post.

The Way We’re Talking About Climate Change Is All Wrong. Newsweek has an Op-Ed that resonated; here’s an excerpt: “…First, climate communication must reach our neighbors where they are, versus where experts think they should be. Climate messages should be relevant to and helpful with basic needs: financial stability, health and security. We need environmentalists to make space for more diverse environmental messengers. People need to see themselves and their community’s priorities represented on the climate stage. Climate change will impact all of us—and have a disproportionate impact on our most vulnerable communities first. Second, we must use language that most people use. Instead of talking about carbon neutrality, net zero, retrofit accelerators or deep decarbonization, let’s use clear concepts like 100 percent renewable energy and zero waste and discuss the need to electrify and plug in our cars and buildings so they can be powered and heated by wind power and solar power…”

File image: Scott Kelly and NASA ISS.

A New Tone From Some Republicans on Climate Change – Mostly Behind Closed Doors. Here’s an excerpt from POLITICO: “…I don’t understand what it is about people in politics that they seem to be immune from some of these large shifts in opinion out there in the real world. I mean almost all the large-company CEOs are for taking reasonable steps to deal with climate change and sea level rise,” said Rooney, who represents a coastal Florida district and served as an ambassador in the George W. Bush administration. He credited pressure from corporate leaders as helpful for ultimately setting a price on carbon despite ongoing resistance from many in his party. And behind closed doors, Republicans are even more candid in acknowledging that action is needed, according to their Democratic colleagues…”