Tracking a Few Atmospheric Firecrackers

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature” Abraham Lincoln said during his first inaugural address on March 4, 1861.

Abe was right, and I have to believe there is far more that unites us than divides us. Let’s celebrate that.

A few generalities about the holiday forecast: expect a slight cooling trend into the weekend. And in general, the weather will be sunnier and drier the farther north you travel across Minnesota.

A weak frontal boundary ignites a few scattered showers and T-storms into Sunday. Most of the time will be dry, but when it does rain it may come down in buckets. The best chance of heavy T-storms comes today
and Friday. The atmosphere cools and stabilizes a bit over the weekend, meaning fewer and lighter showers.

Not exactly picture-postcard-perfect, but good enough for a big holiday!

No Extended Heat Waves Brewing. The next 2 weeks are, historically, the hottest of the entire year. Sizzling heat grips much of the USA into mid-July, but Canadian air leaks southward, providing some (marginal) relief for the northern tier of the USA.

Wettest Weather in 124 Years Has Farmers Speeding Crops. Bloomberg has the story: “…After suffering through the wettest 12 months since at least 1895, U.S. farmers have plans to adapt next year to what some forecasters say may be an increasingly soggy new normal for the nation’s midsection. The plans include bigger and faster tractors to speed up planting, quick-growing seeds and more extensive use of cover crops and drainage tiles to keep flooding fields intact. But there’s problems here too, growers say: The tractors are costly, the short-season seeds have lower yields and cover crops and tiling take time and effort. While farmers have long been locked in a give-and-take tussle with Mother Nature, trends tracked by scientists and forecasters over decades suggest the merciless rains and wild storms that drastically delayed planting times this year could be a weather standard moving forward…”

Photo credit: “Flooding in Kingfisher, Oklahoma on May 21.” Bloomberg.

Extreme Flooding Hits Japan. Details from The Japan Times: “More than 1.09 million residents across two prefectures in Kyushu, including the entire populations of three cities in Kagoshima Prefecture, were ordered to evacuate as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, as continuing torrential rain raised the risk of floods and mudslides. The amount of rainfall Friday totaled 1,010.5 millimeters in Ebino, Miyazaki Prefecture, and 755.5 mm in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, on Wednesday. In Kanoya, in Kagoshima Prefecture, heavy rain of 81 mm per hour was recorded Wednesday afternoon...”

RealImpact Hurricane Scale a Safety Concern. Meteorologist Will Farr at Western Weather Group weighs in on competing hurricane scales at “…While competition in most markets is beneficial, this is one of the rare instances in which it could actually be extremely threatening to public safety. To classify a hurricane, the RealImpact Scale considers criteria other than wind, meaning its classification level could be considerably different than the Saffir-Simpson Scale’s. One apparent parameter of the RealImpact Score is “total damage and economic impact.” This means that a hurricane making a direct landfall over a major urban area, such as Houston, could have a higher rating than if the same hurricane were to make landfall over a less populated area, such as South Padre Island, Texas.  This could create a more dangerous situation for rural communities along U.S. coastlines if a storm’s overall economic impact is perceived to be less than if the same storm hit a major city. Thus, the RealImpact score may favor certain populations more, rather than valuing public safety and loss of infrastructure equally among all areas. As a result, opposing hurricane scales will undoubtedly spur confusion and panic in an already tense situation…”
Hurricane Lane file image: NASA ISS.

When Will the Next Hurricane Strike California? Don’t laugh – it’s statistically inevitable. Here’s an excerpt from a story at OneZero, courtesy of Medium: “…Linda, in September 1997, was the strongest eastern Pacific hurricane on record at the time, with Category 5 winds of 185 mph at one point. For a time, the National Hurricane Center actually warned Southern California residents they might be a target. The storm veered out to sea, but still brought rain and 18-foot waves that caused millions of dollars in damage to the state. “Every year we plan for the possibility that a hurricane could strike San Diego or Los Angeles,” Landsea says. “On the preparedness side, we’re ready for a hurricane to hit there. Whether or not the population is ready or not is another thing...”
Image credit: “Hurricane Linda, a Category 5 monster in the Pacific Ocean in 1997, briefly looked like it might head toward Southern California.” Image: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio.

Scientists are Probing Tornadoes with Drones to Save Lives. Gizmodo has a fascinating story; here’s an excerpt: “…That’s why Houston helped put together Project TORUS, basically a roving pack of weather monitors strapped to trucks and SUVs that allowed researchers to get up close and personal with nature’s most violent weather. But of course if you really want to understand what’s going on in the atmosphere, it helps to sample it directly. So Project TORUS’ panoply of high tech weather monitors also includes fix-wing autonomous drones that can be sent into the storm while driving using a pneumatic launcher. This merry band of weather monitoring equipment spent five weeks this spring prowling Tornado Alley in search of storms. Each day, the group of 60 researchers, students, and assistants would wake up (usually at an interstate hotel) and begin poring over weather data. The meteorologists would create a forecast, identify an area where severe weather was likely to pop up that day as well as the next, and brief the team before decamping to said location, sometimes driving hundreds of miles to get there…”
Photo credit: “The drone named TTwistor3 approaching a supercell thunderstorm in southern South Dakota.”

Photo: Integrated Remote and In-Situ Sensing (IRISS), University of Colorado Boulder.

No More Weather Advisories? Here’s an excerpt of a message I received from NOAA yesterday: “The National Weather Service (NWS) Hazard Simplification (Haz Simp) team is excited to share an important project update! NWS is examining the technical and policy requirements to confirm feasibility of removing the term “Advisory” from the NWS Watch, Warning and Advisory System. This decision comes after years of social science research with our forecasters, public, and partners. One of the most important findings during this process has been the high level of misunderstanding around the “Advisory” headline. Our public and even some partners frequently confuse “Watch” and “Advisory,” considering them almost as synonyms. In line with these results, this change would retain our current “Watch” and “Warning” terms, but remove “Advisory” as a headline term. This change to the WWA system supports IDSS (Impact-based Decision Support Services) for our core partners by aligning with the Prepare (Watch) and Act (Warning) paradigm used by emergency managers. To clarify, this would not result in elimination of Advisory-level information; rather, it’s an opportunity to explore how we could communicate this information in a different, more intuitive way. As a part of this change, we will expand the use of the headline “Emergency” beyond Tornado and Flash Flood for selected hazards. We understand this would be a major change and, as we all know, the devil is in the details! Because of this, a formal implementation decision has not yet been made. This proposal is a major project milestone, but it would be several years before NWS official products are changed permanently. We will continue engaging with our partners as we explore the policy and technical needs of this major change...”

Background: More on NOAA’s ongoing process of Hazard Simplification here.

How Moving to the Right Place Can Prolong Your Life. The Washington Post has an interesting read; here’s a clip: “…What’s surprising is that the relationship between place and longevity is causal: A person of average health who moves to one of the red zones can expect to die earlier as a direct result. If that same person moves to a blue area, it will prolong their life. “Where you live when you are elderly (over age 65) affects your longevity,” Heidi Williams, an associate economics professor at MIT and one of the study’s authors, said in an email to The Washington Post. All told, moving from a place in the bottom 10 percent to one in the top 10 percent would extend the average person’s life by a little more than a year, researchers found. The five places with the most positive effects on life expectancy were all in New York (Yonkers, New York City and Syracuse) or Florida (Port St. Lucie and Naples). Any would add at least a year to the average senior’s life…”

Jony Ive is Leaving Apple, But His Departure Started Long Ago. The Wall Street Journal (paywall) explains; here’s an excerpt: “…Apple announced Thursday that Mr. Ive will leave later this year to form his own design firm, LoveFrom, after 23 years running what was arguably the most successful design operation in business history. Few on the outside knew that for years, Mr. Ive had been growing more distant from Apple’s leadership, say people close to the company. Mr. Jobs’s protégé—and Apple’s closest thing to a living embodiment of his spirit—grew frustrated inside a more operations-focused company led by Chief Executive Tim Cook. Mr. Ive, 52, withdrew from routine management of Apple’s elite design team, leaving it rudderless, increasingly inefficient, and ultimately weakened by a string of departures, people close to the company say...”
Photo credit: “Apple CEO Tim Cook, left, and chief design officer Jony Ive at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in June.Jeff Chiu/Associated Press.

Your Professional Decline is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think. Not exactly an uplifting thought, but all of us have to be prepared to get out of our comfort zones and pivot to new opportunities. Here’s a clip from The Atlantic: “...A potential answer lies in the work of the British psychologist Raymond Cattell, who in the early 1940s introduced the concepts of fluid and crystallized intelligence. Cattell defined fluid intelligence as the ability to reason, analyze, and solve novel problems—what we commonly think of as raw intellectual horsepower. Innovators typically have an abundance of fluid intelligence. It is highest relatively early in adulthood and diminishes starting in one’s 30s and 40s. This is why tech entrepreneurs, for instance, do so well so early, and why older people have a much harder time innovating. Crystallized intelligence, in contrast, is the ability to use knowledge gained in the past. Think of it as possessing a vast library and understanding how to use it. It is the essence of wisdom. Because crystallized intelligence relies on an accumulating stock of knowledge, it tends to increase through one’s 40s, and does not diminish until very late in life…”
Illustration credit: Luci Gutiérrez.

Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine. The Washington Post confirms something we’ve always known: “That old cliche about laughter being the best medicine, as with many cliches, is probably grounded in truth. The psychological effects of laughter are obvious, but it may bring physiological benefits as well. Moreover, it’s free and has no bad side effects. Laughter stimulates the body’s organs by increasing oxygen intake to the heart, lungs and muscles, and stimulates the brain to release more endorphins, according to the Mayo Clinic. It also helps people handle stress by easing tension, relaxing the muscles and lowering blood pressure. It relieves pain, and improves mood. Laughter also strengthens the immune system...”

The Perils of Empire. Check out a timely essay at The Washington Post: “…Comparisons of the British and American empires are easily overdrawn, particularly when assessing an 18th-century imperium with one that flourished in the 20th century. But echoes can be heard. Both were built and sustained with a large, permanent military force, including navies without peer in their respective epochs. Both reflected a devotion to market capitalism that relentlessly sought foreign markets and resources. Both derived from reasonably robust democracies, committed to political liberalism and personal freedoms within cultures that often bent toward conservatism. Both also displayed a penchant for foreign adventures, including expansionist and punitive expeditions sometimes infused with evangelical zeal that could be taken for arrogance. Both could be bullies, demonstrating a knack for alternately alienating and wooing allies. Diplomacy as practiced by America in 2019, which often consists of giving a thumb in the eye to our closest partners, threatens to leave us as friendless as Britain was 243 years ago…”

Map credit: “A map of the British Empire in North America in 1762, by John Gibson. The shaded areas are territories formerly claimed by France or Spain.” (Library of Congress)

87 F. maximum Twin Cities temperature yesterday.

83 F. average high on July 3.

87 F. high on July 3, 2018.

July 4, 1999: Severe winds knock down millions of trees in the BWCA, injuring 19 people. Details here.

July 4, 1962: An extremely heavy downpour falls at Jackson, dumping 7.5 inches of rain in two hours.

4TH OF JULY: Few showers and T-storms likely. Winds: S 3-8. High: 86

FRIDAY: Nagging shower and T-storm risk. Winds: NE 3-8. Wake-up: 70. High: 83

SATURDAY: Mild sun north, few showers south. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 66. High: near 80

SUNDAY: Still unsettled, few T-showers nearby. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 63. High: 78

MONDAY: More showers and heavy T-storms. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 65. High: 84

TUESDAY: Muggy, nagging thunderstorm risk. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 70. High: 85

WEDNESDAY: Periods of hazy sunshine. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 68. High: 84

Climate Stories…

U.S. Mayors Pressure Congress on Carbon Pricing, Climate Lawsuits and a Green New Deal. Here’s the intro to a post at InsideClimate News: “The mayors of hundreds of U.S. cities called on Congress this week to pass legislation to put a price on carbon emissions, citing the financial and social strains their communities are already experiencing because of climate change. After some contention, they also voiced opposition to any congressional action that would limit cities’ ability to sue fossil fuel companies for damage linked to climate change. That vote marked a stand by the mayors against one of the key policy trade-offs sought by big oil companies that have backed the idea of carbon pricing. The carbon pricing resolution, introduced by Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, calls for a price “sufficient enough to reduce carbon emissions in line with ambitions detailed in the Paris Agreement on climate change…”

Photo credit: “Mayors LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans and Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles were among the leaders attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The group, representing hundreds of U.S. cities, voiced support for several climate change-related resolutions.” Credit: U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Hot & Sweaty in Europe: Last week’s scorching heatwave in Europe was made at least five times more likely due to climate change, a new report finds. A rapid analysis released yesterday from World Weather Attribution estimates that heatwaves returning with this frequency would have been 4 degrees C cooler a century ago, and specifically estimates that the scorching conditions in southern France at the end of June, which smashed temperature records, were 100 times more likely than they were in 1900. Data also released this week collected from EU satellites show that June was Europe’s hottest month on record. (AP, Reuters, Nature, Ars Technica, USA Today, Gizmodo, Grist, CNN)

Climate Change Made European Heat Wave At Least Five Times Likelier. The Guardian has details: “The record-breaking heatwave that struck France and other European nations in June was made at least five – and possibly 100 – times more likely by the climate crisis, scientists have calculated. Such heatwaves are also about 4C hotter than a century ago, the researchers say. Furthermore, the heatwaves hitting Europe are more frequent and more severe than climate models have predicted. Last month was the hottest June since 1880, both in Europe and around the world, according to separate data released on Tuesday by the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. In Europe the temperature was 3C above the June average a century ago, and globally it was more than 1C higher…”

Antarctic Sea Ice is Declining Dramatically And We Don’t Know Why. New Scientist explains: “Decades of expanding sea ice in Antarctica have been wiped out by three years of sudden and dramatic declines, leaving scientist puzzled as to why the region has flipped so abruptly. A new satellite analysis reveals that between 2014 and 2017 sea ice extent in the southern hemisphere suffered unprecedented annual decreases, leaving the area covered by sea ice at its lowest point in 40 years. The declines were so big that they outstripped the losses in the fast-melting Arctic over the same period. “It’s very surprising. We just haven’t seen decreases like that in either hemisphere,” says Claire Parkinson at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who undertook the analysis. However, researchers cautioned against pinning the changes on climate change and said it was too early to say if the shrinking is the start of a long-term trend or a blip…”

File image: NASA.

Antarctic Ice Takes a Nosedive: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: “Sea ice in Antarctica is experiencing a rapid and puzzling decline after years of gradual growth, scientists say. A NASA study of satellite data shows that ice levels hit a record low just three years after hitting a record high in 2014, bringing the amount of ice lost in Antarctica in this period equivalent to the amount of ice the Arctic has lost over 34 years. Global weather patterns have formerly encouraged gradual sea ice growth on the continent, and some researchers worry that the mysterious ice decrease could mean overall warming has caught up with the South Pole. “The rapid decline has caught us by surprise and changes the picture completely,” scientist Andrew Shepherd told the Guardian. “Now sea ice is retreating in both hemispheres and that presents a challenge because it could mean further warming.” (AP, CNN, NBCThe Guardian).

File image: Pauline Askin, Reuters.

Support for Lawsuits Against Fossil Fuel Companies. Here’s an interesting nugget from The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication: “…A majority of Americans (57%) also think fossil fuel companies have either “a great deal” or “a moderate amount” of responsibility for the damages caused by global warming. In addition, 57% of the public supports making fossil fuel companies pay for a portion of the damages to local communities caused by carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels. When asked more specifically about whether fossil fuel companies or taxpayers should pay for the costs of the damages caused by global warming, a majority of Americans (53%) think fossil fuel companies rather than taxpayers should pay for most or all of the costs. Only 12% of Americans think taxpayers and fossil fuel companies should pay an equal share, and just 6% think taxpayers should pay for most or all of the costs…”

Why Company Lawyers Fear Climate Change Litigation. has the story: “A couple of months ago, nearly 3,500 European in-house lawyers were sent a survey asking a simple question: Do you expect your organization to face legal risks because of climate change? Almost 50 percent of those who answered said they did, which was unfortunate, considering only about 15 percent said their legal departments were well prepared to deal with such threats. Those numbers are instructive because the survey was carried out by the Dutch Association of In-House Counsel and the Dutch law firm Houthoff, and most of those questioned were Dutch. The Netherlands has become a central battleground in a new class of lawsuits spreading around the world amid a rising sense of urgency about the need to tackle climate change...”