Hurricane Evacuations During a Pandemic?

How on Earth do you safely evacuate tens or even hundreds of thousands of people inland, during the Age of Covid-19? Great question. We may soon find out.

“Hanna” was a dry run in south Texas and “Douglas” narrowly missed Hawaii. Now there’s a new tropical system which may, in theory, impact Florida this weekend.

Giving people more time to prepare, opening up hotels, in addition to schools, to evacuees, and encouraging people who’s homes are up to code to stay put may help, but during a chaotic rush inland, social distancing and mask hygiene may be tough to pull off. Hope for the best.

All quiet on the western front, in fact there will be no fronts until a blip of cooler, Canadian air sparks a few showers this weekend.

Pockets of moderate drought linger over west central Minnesota and the Arrowhead, but I don’t see significant rain anytime soon. Storms tend to become sparse and spotty in August, so conditions may get drier before more widespread rains arrive from fall storms.

There, I said it out loud. Fall.


Late afternoon Tuesday visible image: NOAA and AerisWeather.


Searching for Best Practices: Hurricane Evacuations During a Pandemic. I wrote a post on the challenges involved for Medium; here’s an excerpt: “…Flynn is focused not only on fine-tuning evacuation orders, but rethinking sheltering options. Besides the use of facemasks and other protective measures, the actual spacing and capacity inside shelters will have to be recalculated with virus in mind, he explained. “I have heard of creative sheltering spaces besides the usual schools,” he said. “One example could be the use of approved and willing hotels, and perhaps other community buildings out of harm’s way.” Thinking outside the box, school or auditorium this hurricane season may be key to lowering risk from an inevitable parade of tropical systems, set against an anxious backdrop of virus concerns. Accurate hurricane predictions from NHC will be more mission-critical than ever...”

Hurricane Florence file image: NASA.







Nice To Be Average. Temperatures run close to average for late July through the weekend with daytime highs within a degree or two of 80F. Dry weather prevails until the weekend, when a weak frontal zone may spark a few random showers and T-storms. Map sequence above: Praedictix and AerisWeather.


Is GFS Overdoing the 90s? Probably, but both ECMWF (top) and GFS (bottom) keep daytime highs in the 80s into Saturday, with temperatures dipping into the 70s next week. MSP Meteogram: WeatherBell.

Seasonably Warm Mid-August. While most of America bakes, Minnesota and northern tier states will benefit from slightly emboldened puffs of cooler, drier Canadian air. The latest guidance doesn’t look as hot as it did for August just a few days ago.


Praedictix Briefing: Issued Tuesday midday, July 28th, 2020:

  • Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine was declared at 11 AM AST by the National Hurricane Center, allowing tropical storm watches and warnings to be issued ahead of the track of the system. As of that time, the storm had winds of 40 mph. It is expected this will become Tropical Storm Isaias tonight or Wednesday.
  • The system will continue west to west-northwest over the next few days, with some strengthening expected through Thursday. After this time, land interactions and winds aloft will likely put a stall to additional strengthening.
  • Right now, the track has this system passing over or near portions of the Leeward Islands, Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, and Florida through the weekend. While there is still a lot of uncertainty with path and strength, facilities along the path of this storm should be prepared for this system.
  • Tropical Storm Warnings are in place for Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts, and Nevis, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Martin, Saba and St. Eustatius, and St. Maartin. Tropical Storm Watches are in place for the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine. As of 11 AM AST, the wave that we have been tracking across the Atlantic the past few days was declared Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine by the National Hurricane Center. What this means is this system is likely to form into a tropical storm over the next day or so but has not done so just yet. However, it does allow for tropical storm alerts to be issued. As of this update, Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine had sustained winds of 40 mph and was moving west at 23 mph. The broad center of low pressure was located about 585 miles east-southeast of the Leeward Islands.


Expected Track. Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine is expected to become Tropical Storm Isaias either tonight or Wednesday as the system continues to move toward the west/west-northwest. This system will continue to move to the west to west-northwest over the next few days. On this track, this system will be near the Leeward Islands Wednesday, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Wednesday Night, and Hispaniola Thursday. The current forecast has the system strengthening to a 60 mph tropical storm in about 48 hours, with little change in strength after that point due to land interactions and more hostile winds aloft. This system could then approach Florida heading into the weekend. It must be noted, however, that there are a lot of question marks as to the track and strength of this storm. First, a defined center of circulation must form vs. the broad area of low pressure that this system currently has. Where that defined center forms will help determine the track. Also, if this storm strengthens faster, a more northern track could be favored, with a weaker system tracking farther south. Either way, facilities from the Leeward Islands to the Southeast should have an eye on this system over the next several days.


Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings. Ahead of this system, several government authorities have issued Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings. The following alerts are in place:

Tropical Storm Warning
* Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra
* U.S. Virgin Islands
* British Virgin Islands
* Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts, and Nevis
* Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Martin
* Saba and St. Eustatius
* St. Maartin

Tropical Storm Watch

* The Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti


Earliest Arrival Of Tropical Storm Winds. As this system continues west to west-northwest, the earliest tropical storm winds could arrive in the Leeward Island is by early Wednesday morning, across the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Wednesday, across the Dominican Republic Wednesday Night into early Thursday, the Bahamas through Thursday Night and Friday, and portions of Florida into Friday Night. The arrival of tropical storm force winds could make any preparations ahead of the storm difficult to complete once they do arrive. Again, there is uncertainty in the forecast, but facilities should monitor this storm over the next few days.


Heavy Rain Potential. What is certain is that this system will bring a heavy rain threat along with it. There is the potential that 3-6”, with isolated 10” amounts, could fall across portions of the Leeward Islands, British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, with 2-4” for portions of the Windward Islands. This heavy rain could lead to life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix




Hurricane Douglas Moved Over Territory Where No Hurricane Has Been Observed in Decades of Satellite Monitoring. Bob Henson provides perspective at Yale Climate Connections: “...Already, Douglas is traveling over oceanic territory just north of the Big Island and east of Maui where no hurricane has been observed in decades of satellite monitoring. The closest analog for strength among west-northwest tracking hurricanes, Lester (2016), passed about 130 miles northeast of Hawaii as a Category 1 storm. Douglas’s forecast track is most similar to that of Flossie (2013), which weakened to tropical depression status before passing just north of Kauai and Oahu. A number of other systems have passed north of Hawaii as tropical storms or tropical depressions, as shown above. By far the strongest hurricanes to affect Hawaii are those approaching from warmer waters to the south. Category 5 Lane (2018) passed within about 150 miles of the Big Island while still a Category 3...”
Monday evening visible image: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Mega-Rain Details. The Minnesota DNR has more perspective on Saturday night’s monsoon just south of MSP: “…This storm produced six inches of rain or more over an area of roughly 1000 square miles, making this event the first “mega-rain” since 2016. Apart from water covering roads and filling many ditches, however, this event produced little in the way of major damages. Most rains of this magnitude produce landslides, wash out roads, and damage public and private property, but fortunately, this one came when river levels had been relatively low, and when area soils had been in good condition after a mostly “normal” summer...”


Learning from Nature: A New Flapping Drone Can Take Off, Hover and Swoop Like a Bird. A story at The Conversation explains: “…An ornithopter is a highly complex system. Until now, flapping wing drones have been slow flying and not capable of achieving the speed and power required for vertical aerobatics or sustained hovering. The few commercially available ornithopters are designed for forward flight. They climb slowly like an underpowered aeroplane, and can’t hover or climb vertically. Our design is different in several ways. One difference is that our ornithopters make use of the “clap and fling” effect. The two pairs of wings flap such that they meet, like hands clapping. This makes enough extra thrust to lift their body weight when hovering…”

Image credit: “The two pairs of wings meet each time they flap.”


How to Stay Productive When the World Is on Fire. A story at WIRED.com perked me right up; here’s a clip: “…It may sound counterintuitive, but taking breaks is actually key to better productivity. After all, the law of diminishing returns applies to us while we’re working too. The harder and longer you press yourself to be productive, the less productive overall you’ll be. There’s plenty of data to back this up. Back in 2011, researchers from the University of Illinois pointed out that brief diversions vastly improve focus. The findings have been duplicated several times, to the point where remembering to take breaks is staple productivity advice. Researchers at the University of Melbourne even suggested that when you do take a break, getting outside into some nature is your best bet…”


A Tesla Designer Redesigns the Chocolate Chip. Because someone has to. Damn, I love engineers. Bloomberg has the mouthwatering details: “…At Dandelion, the design brief was to make “the best chip for the experience of tasting chocolate,” says chef Vega. Experts claim the way to do that is to let it melt on your tongue. Each time a prototype came off the line, Vega would start baking. “They stay whole, but once they’re baked, the center of the chip gets soft,” she observes, a benefit for experiencing the chocolate’s texture. Labesque designed the thin, melt-in-your-mouth edges to be sturdy enough to hold their shape in baking and not to break when the chip is unmolded…”

Image source: Dandelion Chocolate.


Favorite Junk Food of Every State, Mapped. I prefer to think of it as “comfort food” and I’m oddly OK with Snickers, thank you very much. Mental Floss has the post: “…As you can see, Oreo cookies cross state lines. Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia prefer the cream-filled cookie sandwich. A few states (Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin) reach for candy bars over bagged snacks. Alaska opts for the slightly more health-conscious granola bars, while Mississippi prefers Twinkies. Sweet snacks beat salty snacks overall, with 29 states looking for a sugar rush…”


85 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

83 F. average high on July 28.

77 F. high on July 28, 2019.

July 29, 1917: The hottest temperature ever recorded in Minnesota, 114.5 degrees, occurs at Beardsley.

July 29, 1849: Severe storms hit the newly constructed post of Ft. Ripley between 3 and 5 AM. W.J. Frazier, Head Surgeon notes: ‘Rain and hail with much thunder and lightning and very high winds breaking many trees.’




WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, very nice. Winds: N 7-12. High: 82

THURSDAY: Plenty of sunshine, pretty fantastic. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 61. High: near 80

FRIDAY: Sunshine, a few popcorn cumulus. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 62. High: 83

SATURDAY: Unsettled, few PM thundershowers. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 65. High: 81

SUNDAY: Still unstable, mainly PM showers. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 63. High: 78

MONDAY: Patchy clouds, late-day shower risk. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 59. High: 76

TUESDAY: More sunshine, comfortable. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 60. High: near 80


Climate Stories…

Assessing the New Biden Climate Plan. Third Way has an overview; here’s an excerpt: “Vice President Biden’s new climate plan, released the week of July 13, has garnered a lot of attention. That makes sense. It proposes significant new investments in clean energy and climate infrastructure and clean energy innovation to drive our nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic-induced recession and to shock-proof our country from the worst impacts of climate change. Rather than a move to the left, as some have described it, the Biden plan is the appropriate response to a country with a $2 trillion shortfall in infrastructure investment. It would help revitalize a private sector that has shed 15 million jobs since February 2020, while the unemployment rate stands at 11% and 7 million more Americans have had their wages cut…”


A Totally Green Electric Grid Will Dramatically Speed up Climate Action. Here’s an excerpt from Bloomberg Green: “The perfectly green electricity grid sought by Joe Biden isn’t the end of the fight against global warming. It’s the beginning. Today, 40% of America’s electricity comes from carbon-free sources. The Democratic presidential candidate has made getting that to 100% by 2035 a centerpiece of his $2 trillion plan to address climate change and create jobs. Getting there would take an enormous expansion of solar and wind capacity in the U.S., backed by mass adoption of energy-storage technologies and hanging onto existing hydroelectric and nuclear plants. Policy experts question the 15-year timetable for eliminating emissions from the electrical system, which would indeed be an immense challenge. About a quarter of all U.S. emissions today come from electricity production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration...”

Image credit: TechCrunch.


“A World With No Ice”. Why Inaction Must Be Confronted. Oh there will still be ice, just less of it. Check out the video at Big Think: “Climate change is often framed as a debate that has split society down the middle and that requires more evidence before we can act. In reality, 97 percent of scientists agree that it is real and only 3 percent are skeptical. A sticking point for some is the estimated timeline, but as Columbia University professor Philip Kitcher points out, a 4-5 Celsius temperature increase that makes the planet uninhabitable is a disaster no matter when it happens. In this video, 9 experts (including professors, astronomers, authors, and historians) explain what climate change looks like, how humans have already and are continuing to contribute to it, how and why it has become politicized, and what needs to happen moving forward for real progress to be made…”


New Soil Models May Ease Atmospheric CO2, Climate Change. Here’s the intro to a story at Cornell Chronicle: “To remove carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere in an effort to slow climate change, scientists must get their hands dirty and peek underground. In an article published July 27 in Nature Geoscience, Cornell’s Johannes Lehmann and others wrote that scientists should develop new models that more accurately reflect the carbon-storage processes beneath our feet, in order to effectively draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide. Carbon’s journey into the soil is akin to a busy New York City rush hour. “Everything in the soil is bustling and changing all the time on a daily or hourly basis,” said Lehmann, professor of soil biogeochemistry and the lead author on the piece…”


It’s Not Just Siberia as Record Heat Spreads Across the Arctic. If only we had been warned, huh? Oh yeah, this was predicted 30-40 years ago. Gizmodo has the details: “Siberia has been hot and on fire. Perhaps you’ve heard? The relentless heat that’s buffeted the region has decided to expand to other parts of the Arctic, from Norway to Canada, with high-temperature records breaking over the weekend. A nearly all-encompassing heat wave has spread across the highest reaches of the globe. Weekend temperatures reached 71.4 degrees Fahrenheit (21.9 degrees Celsius) in Eureka, Canada, one of the northernmost settlements on Earth located on Ellesmere Island. Meanwhile, in Longyearbyen, a small town on the northern Norwegian island of Svalbard, it hit 71.1 degrees Fahrenheit (21.7 degrees Celsius) on Saturday. Both are all-time records for the two locations…”


Sultry Nights and Magnolia Trees: New York City is now Subtropical. In case you missed this at The New York Times (paywall): “…New species are thriving in the Metropolitan area, while those more associated with New England are slowly vanishing. This is because of rising temperatures, which are largely the result of human activity, including emissions from fossil fuels, according to the National Climate Assessment. New York City, after years of being considered a humid continental climate, now sits within the humid subtropical climate zone. The classification requires that summers average above 72 degrees Fahrenheit — which New York’s have had since 1927 — and for winter months to stay above 27 degrees Fahrenheit, on average. The city has met that requirement for the last five years, despite the occasional cold snap. And the winters are only getting warmer…”


It’s Been a Landmark Year for Investor Action on Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt from an explainer at The Los Angeles Times: “...Instead, in spite of the pandemic, 2020 has proved to be a landmark year for investor action on climate change, with significant resolutions being passed and investment pouring into sustainable funds. With regulators and clients increasingly calling for change, asset managers are broadening their remit beyond energy-intensive industries such as oil. Rather than drive investor attention away from climate change, the pandemic has cemented interest, with many investors fearing the economic fallout seen during the pandemic could be replicated if the world fails to halt global warming, said Mirza Baig, global head of governance at Aviva Investors…”

Photo credit: “A resolution calling on Chevron to disclose its lobbying on global warming passed this year.”(Chevron)


Inside Venice’s 50-Year Fight Against Deadly Floods. Here’s an excerpt from a harrowing (and apparently true) story explained by CNET: “…On July 10, all 78 gates were raised for the first time during a public demonstration, but the government is still anxious to reassure Venice’s citizens that the plan, which won’t be fully functional until the close of 2021, will work. Beset by corruption and delays, MOSE itself has become a problem. Critics say that the gates won’t be as effective as the government envisions and that they’ll have to be raised so frequently that Venice’s sewage will be trapped in the Lagoon, killing off its ecosystem.  “This is the death of Venice,” said Fabrizio Antonioli, a geologist at ENEA, a public sustainable development firm…”