Have a Plan B (Indoors) for Saturday

“Paul, my son is having a graduation party on Saturday. Will we catch a break?” Excuse me while I check the models and Amish Doppler (window). “Is your son a strong swimmer?”

June is a rough month, with more weather-frustrations per capita than usual. We’ve been cooped up half
the year, we want to get outside, but relentless warm fronts make this the wettest, most severe month of the year, on average. Cue the theme from “Mission Impossible”.

A drying north breeze clears us out today with temperatures almost 10F cooler than average. A few chilly spots near Duluth may wake up to frost Thursday morning. Share that nugget with a friend on either coast.

Thursday looks stunning with blue sky and low 70s, but have a Plan B (indoors) for part of Friday and Saturday. Models look wetter for Saturday, when a moist, unstable airmass may spark a few swarms of strong to severe storms. Sunday still looks like the sunnier, drier day of the weekend.

You’ll be shocked to hear showers and storms loiter much of next week.

Predicted Rainfall by Sunday Morning. The guidance above is ECMWF, forecasting roughly an inch of additional rain by 12z Sunday, even more for parts of central and northern Minnesota and much of Wisconsin. We just can’t seem to shake this perpetually-soggy pattern. Map: WeatherBell.

Later Than Almost Ever, Minnesota Farmers Hustle to Get Crops Into Soggy Fields. Here’s an excerpt from Star Tribune: “…Farmers in other parts of the Midwest are even further behind. The corn crop in Illinois was only 73% planted on Sunday. Indiana was 67% planted and Ohio was 50% planted, according to the USDA. This year will go down as one of the latest plantings in memory. Just over half of the corn acreage in the 18 major corn-producing states was planted after May 25, the USDA says. In a typical year, less than one-fifth is planted that late. When planting reaches mid-May, corn and soybean yields drop a little at fall harvest time. But when planting happens after that, yields drop dramatically in the fall since plants have fewer hours to soak up the sun’s energy. Past studies show farmers can lose up to 24% of their harvest if they don’t plant corn until June 4, and up to 31% if they wait five days longer, according to the University of Minnesota Extension...”
Photo credit: “Brent Fuchs dug in the dirt to see the soybeans in a freshly planted field around his farm in Faribault, Minn., on Monday, June 10, 2019. He thought the field was still chunkier than he wanted to plan but this is the latest he has ever waited to plant.” RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER.

Heating Up Again by Late June. 2-week GFS model guidance for 500mb winds suggests a strengthening ridge of hot high pressure expanding across the Plains into the Upper Midwest and Ohio Valley with a possible run of 80s, even 90F as far north as Minnesota.

Paralysis on America’s Rivers: There’s Too Much Water. The duration of flooding on the Mississippi River and other tributaries is approaching record/historic territory in the coming weeks. Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “…The Arkansas River has been closed to commercial traffic. So has the Illinois River, a key connection to Chicago and the Great Lakes. And so has part of the Mississippi River near St. Louis, where it crested on Sunday at its second-highest point on record, cutting off the river’s northern section from shippers to the south. As a result, farmers already grappling with flooded fields and worries about the trade war with China have struggled to obtain fertilizer for their crops. Customers have seen their deliveries of construction materials and road salt get stuck midway to their destinations. And shippers have made drastic cuts to their operations with work at a standstill…”

Photo credit: “Chris Schaefers, left, and his neighbor and fellow farmer, Jill Edwards, passed an irrigation system nearly covered by flood water in a swamped Arkansas crop field.Joseph Rushmore for The New York Times.

U.S. Hurricane Season is Unnecessarily Dangerous. Eric Roston reports for Bloomberg: “…Since 1980, more than 241 billion-dollar disasters have cost the U.S. $1.6 trillion 1  and almost half of those losses came during the four most expensive years: 2017, 2005, 2012 and 2018. While emergency relief bills deliver necessary aid, Congress’s reliance on them has become an obstacle to more lasting, structural preparedness, particularly in the last few years, said Josh Sawislak, a strategic advisor to Four Twenty Seven, a consultancy focused on climate economics.  Emergency allocations don’t follow normal budget rules, which demand that spending increases be offset by decreases elsewhere. That makes relief spending relatively easy for legislators, Sawislak said, compared with preventative investment in infrastructure and services, which would have to be budgeted through normal rules. “We have a fundamental problem, which is you’re trying to come in after and clean up instead of preparing for the thing to happen,” he said...”

Image credit above: Congressional Research Service.

Mississippi Hits Dangerous Flood Levels, Stalls Barges and Roadways While Affecting Farmers. It’s the duration of the flood event that is both impressive and heart-breaking for so many. Here’s a clip from Newsweek: “…The recent level by the Mississippi isn’t expected to reach the levels of 1993, when 17 million acres across nine states were flooded, but the recent flood levels could have a greater reach than just beyond the Midwest. “In ’93, the flood was really kind of concentrated in Iowa and the Upper Midwest,” Boerm said in Bloomberg. “This has been much more expansive, getting all the inland rivers.” Inland rivers affected include the Ohio, Illinois and Arkansas rivers, as well as the entire Mississippi moving south toward the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. Department of Agriculture stated that grain shipments of corn and soybean along the Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri rivers are below both the five-year and three-year averages...”

“Absolutely Crazy Experience”. Pilot Shoots Video of Ottawa Tornado From Above. GlobalNews in Canada has the story and video link – pretty cool: “While airborne over Ottawa, a pilot captured video of a large funnel cloud that ripped through the city’s east end on Sunday evening. Jonathan Hilaire was aboard an Aero L-29 Delfin, a plane used by the Russians during the Cold War, and en route from an air show in Montreal when the funnel cloud formed. “It was an absolutely crazy experience, one I felt humbled to see,” said Hilaire…”

India Heat Wave Triggers Clashes Over Water. Deutsche Welle has details of a blistering heat wave: “Police were tasked with guarding water tankers and water sources in Madhya Pradesh state in central India, the Times of India reported on Saturday, following clashes over water in the state and other parts of the country. Temperatures in India reached 50.3 degrees Celsius (122.54 Fahrenheit) last week, nearing the record high of 51 degrees Celsius set in 2016. Authorities have been distributing water to areas most affected by the heat wave, but the scarcity of water has prompted fights and stabbings at relief points. At least six people were stabbed by a man near Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state, on Friday. There was a fight with a man from a neighboring village who was filling barrels of water from a tanker, according to a report on NDTV...”

Towing an Iceberg. One Captain’s Plan to Bring Drinking Water to 4 Million People. New times require new solutions; Bloomberg Businessweek has a fascinating story – here’s a clip: “…That’s why Sloane is working on a solution that might sound absurd. Making use of his unusual skill set, he plans to harness and tow an enormous Antarctic iceberg to South Africa and convert it into municipal water. “To make it economically feasible, the iceberg will have to be big,” Sloane says. Ideally, it would measure about 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) long, 500 meters wide, and 250 meters deep, and weigh 125 million tons. “That would supply about 20% of Cape Town’s water needs for a year.” Sloane has already assembled a team of glaciologists, oceanographers, and engineers. He’s also secured a group of financiers to fund the pioneer tow, which he calls the Southern Ice Project. The expected cost is more than $200 million, much of it to be put up by two South African banks and Water Vision AG, a Swiss water technology and infrastructure company...”

Photo credit: “Stranded iceberg, Cape Bird, Antarctica.” Photographer: Camille Seaman.

Plastic Ban. CNN reports: “Add Canada to the growing number of countries that are banning plastic. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country will ban single-use plastic items by 2021. So, that means no more plastic bags, straws, cutlery or stirring sticks. The United Kingdom plans to ban such plastics next year, and the European Parliament has passed its own single-use plastics ban. There is growing concern about the amount of plastic that’s ending up in the world’s oceans, with an estimated 1 million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals worldwide injured or killed when they mistake plastic for food...”

File image: Carlos Jasso, Reuters.

What Divides America? Job Skills, Says IBM CEO. Fortune has the post; here are a couple of excerpts: “…These are times of great division, as the political climate in the U.S. and abroad makes clear. Not coincidentally, these are also times of great economic and technological disruption. Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, chief executive of IBM, sees these trends as fundamentally linked, stemming from an underlying cause. “I believe so much of the division in our country and other countries roots down to this skills issue,” she said Monday evening at Fortune’s CEO Initiative…The wedge separating layers of the social strata? Jobs. The challenge, as Rometty described it, is to make the transformations of the digital era inclusive, “so people can participate in it and not feel threatened by it,” she said. “We want society to feel there’s a good way forward on this…”

The New American Religion of UFOs. A story at Vox piqued my interest; here’s a clip: “…According to Diana Pasulka, a professor at the University of North Carolina and author of the new book American Cosmic, belief in UFOs and extraterrestrials is becoming a kind of religion — and it isn’t nearly as fringe as you might think. More than half of American adults and over 60 percent of young Americans believe in intelligent extraterrestrial life. This tracks pretty closely with belief in God, and if Pasulka is right, that’s not an accident. Her book isn’t so much about the truth of UFOs or aliens as it is about what the appeal of belief in those things says about our culture and the shifting roles of religion and technology in it. On the surface, it’s a book about the popularity of belief in aliens, but it’s really a deep look at how myths and religions are created in the first place and how human beings deal with unexplainable experiences…”

Image credit: Live Science and Shutterstock.

Israeli Company Unveils Plans for Electric Flying Car. Calcalistech has details: “Called Asaka, Japanese for flying bird, NFT’s vehicle will be equipped with 14 propellers and collapsable wings extracted before take off. The car will be two-meters wide and 12-meters wide with its wings fully extracted. NFT’s first vehicle will require a takeoff lane of just 20-30 meters and will be able to carry three people for a distance of 550 kilometers at a speed of between 160 km-per-hour and 240 km-per-hour. The vehicle will be electric but require a petrol engine to charge its batteries. The car’s initial price tag will be between $200,000 and $300,000, but the company expects it to go down as commercial production commences. “Our main emphasis, alongside safety, is reducing costs by using off-the-shelf components,” Kaplinsky said...”

You Can’t Drink Too Much Coffee. Color me relieved. CNN reports: “Coffee lovers might be able to breathe a sigh of relief — a new study found that drinking even large amounts of the caffeinated beverage won’t stiffen arteries and harm your heart. Previous studies suggested that coffee can cause a stiffening of the arteries, putting pressure on the heart and increasing the likelihood of stroke or heart attack.  But a new study, funded in part by the British Heart Foundation, found that drinking five cups of coffee a day was no worse for the arteries than drinking less than one cup. The study of more than 8,000 people across the United Kingdom also found that even those who drank up to 25 cups a day were no more likely to experience stiffening of the arteries than someone drinking less than a cup a day…”

Drinking Guinness Prevents Hearing Loss. How I love science, especially when it encourages me to seek out smooth-tasting beer milkshakes. The Irish Post has the story: “So, the old adage is true then; ‘Guinness is good for you.’ Guinness has long since been thought to contain medicinal properties, and a recent study at Pennsylvania State University has discovered that it may be able to help those who are hard of hearing. Drinking Guinness replaces lost iron in the human body. For this reason, Guinness is commonly given to patients in recovery in an attempt to build up their strength. The research at Penn State found a direct causal link between a lack of iron – otherwise known as iron deficiency anemia (IDA) – and hearing loss. Studies showed that sensorineural hearing loss – damage to the cochlea or nerve pathways, as well as conductive hearing loss – problems with the bones in the centre of the ear, were caused by a lack of the mineral. They noticed that a high level of iron in the body could also stop hearing difficulties from worsening, after studying over 300,000 people...”

69 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities on Tuesday.

78 F. average high on June 11.

74 F. maximum Twin Cities temperature on June 11, 2018.

June 12, 1917: The ice pack finally breaks up on Lake Superior near Duluth, one of the latest ever ‘ice out’ dates on record.

WEDNESDAY: Showers taper, PM clearing. Winds: N 10-20. High: 68

THURSDAY: Blue sky, close to perfect. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 48. High: 72

FRIDAY: Sticky with scattered T-storms. Winds: SW 10-20. Wake-up: 58. High: 78

SATURDAY: A few waves of showers, T-storms. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 62. High: near 80

SUNDAY: Lukewarm sun, the nicer day of the weekend. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 60. High: 81

MONDAY: Humid with more clouds than sun. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 59. High: near 80

TUESDAY: Muggy, showers & T-storms. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 64. High: 79

Climate Stories….

“Change is Coming”. Al Gore Says Economics Will Break Fossil Fuel Dinosaurs. I may not agree with Al Gore’s politics, but on this issue I predict he will be proven correct. The Guardian has an interview: “…The United States and Australia have some things in common,” he told Guardian Australia in Brisbane. “Both have national governments that are in thrall to the dirty fossil industries of the past. “Both have dynamic business communities which are impatient with the obsolete ideas of governments that are dominated by special interests in one sector of the economy and both are experiencing the benefits of the sustainability revolution. “Electricity from solar and wind continues to drop rapidly [in price] and no lobbyist is going to be able to change that. They can’t make coal clean and they can’t make renewables go away. “So, they are kind of in the position of Wily E Coyote whose legs are moving furiously, even as he goes off the cliff, waiting for the pull of gravity to pull him down into the canyon below. That is an oft-used visual metaphor but it is appropriate here…”

Role of Humans in Past Hurricane Potential Intensity is Unclear. Eos.org has an interesting post: “…The team first found that greenhouse gas warming and aerosol cooling produced changes in potential intensity that had very similar spatial patterns, making them difficult to separate in observations. They then evaluated the impacts of the combined responses and could not find a coherent response across the models—some models simulated an increase in potential intensity while others simulated a decrease. This discrepancy reveals that potential intensity is sensitive to how an individual model responds to human-caused factors. Given this sensitivity and the large natural swings in potential intensity in the Atlantic, it is not surprising that a human influence on potential intensity has not been detected yet. This result is consistent with mainstream science: Although models disagree about past changes in hurricane potential intensity, they all agree that Earth is warming because of human activities. Moreover, although human impacts on potential intensity are not currently detectable, observations could potentially reveal detectable changes in other hurricane-related characteristics...”

Image credit: “A NASA model of Hurricane Sandy. A recent study examines climate models to determine whether human factors have had an impact on hurricane potential intensity.” Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, CC BY 2.0

Tornadoes and Climage Change: What Does the Science Say? Zeke Hausfather at Carbon Brief has a good overview of what we know and what we don’t know at EcoWatch: “…Scientists have relatively low confidence in detecting a link between tornado activity and climate change. They cannot exclude the possibility of a link; rather, the science is so uncertain that they simply do not know at this point. What is clear is that there is no observable increase in the number of strong tornadoes in the U.S. over the past few decades. At the same time, tornadoes have become more clustered, with outbreaks of multiple tornadoes becoming more common even as the overall number has remained unchanged. There is also evidence that tornado “power” has been increasing in recent years. Some research has suggested that climate change will create conditions more favorable to the formation of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, but such effects are not detectable in observations today...”

Graphic credit: “Figure from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences report on the Attribution of Extreme Weather Events, published in 2016.”

Oil and Gas Giants Spend Millions to Block Climate Change Policies. A post at Forbes caught my eye recently: “Every year, the world’s five largest publicly owned oil and gas companies spend approximately $200 million on lobbying designed to control, delay or block binding climate-motivated policy. This has caused problems for governments seeking to implement policies in the wake of the Paris Agreement which are vital in meeting climate change targets. Companies are generally reluctant to disclose such lobbying expenditure and late last week, a report from InfluenceMap used a methadology focusing on the best available records along with intensive research of corporate messaging to gauge their level of influence on initiatives to halt climate change. BP has the highest annual expenditure on climate lobbying at $53 million, followed by Shell with $49 million and ExxonMobile with $41 million…”

“We All Owe Al Gore an Apology”. More People See Climate Change in Record Flooding. Communities along the Arkansas River that have not flooded in recorded history are now flooding, and increasingly, people are connecting the dots, according to a story at NPR: “…“I think climate change is affecting the world right now and we should probably start doing something,” says Lucero Silva, watching the cresting river in Russellville, Ark. “Somebody at my office told me, ‘We all owe Al Gore an apology,’ ” says Breigh Hardman, standing on a bridge over the Arkansas River in nearby Fort Smith. The former vice president’s 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, spurred both activism around global warming and criticism of it. “It just tells us we got to come to a conclusion — not to get crazy — about global warming,” says Matt Breiner, watching the river farther upstream near downtown Tulsa, Okla...”

Photo credit: “Floodwaters from the Arkansas River line either side of a road in Russellville, Ark., in late May, engulfing businesses and vehicles.” Nathan Rott/NPR.

The End of the Arctic as We Know It. Here’s the intro to a post at The Guardian: “The demise of an entire ocean is almost too enormous to grasp, but as the expedition sails deeper into the Arctic, the colossal processes of breakdown are increasingly evident. The first fragment of ice appears off the starboard bow a few miles before the 79th parallel in the Fram strait, which lies between Greenland and the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. The solitary floe is soon followed by another, then another, then clusters, then swarms, then entire fields of white crazy paving that stretch to the horizon. From deck level it is a stunning sight. But from high above, drones and helicopters capture the bigger, more alarming picture: a slow-motion blast pattern of frozen shrapnel radiating from the high Arctic southwards through this strait...”

Companies Expect Climate Change to Cost Them $1 Trillion in 5 Years. WIRED.com has details; here’s an excerpt: “….“Climate change is no longer a distant threat but something that is impacting economies now,” says Bruno Sarda, president of CDP North America, a nonprofit that encourages companies to report how climate change might affect them. A growing number of companies are recognizing that fact and are now publicly reporting the effects of climate change on their businesses. A new report published Tuesday by CDP shows that 215 of the world’s biggest companies, including giants like Apple, JPMorgan Chase, Nestlé, and 3M, see climate change as a threat likely to affect their business within the next five years, with a cumulative cost of a trillion dollars…”

Reverend Mitch Hescox Encourages Christians to Advocate for Renewable Energy. Here’s a clip from Yale Climate Connections: “Reverend Mitchell Hescox encourages Christians to advocate for clean energy … a surprising cause for a man who grew up in coal country. Hescox: “My grandfathers were both coal miners. My dad was a coal miner for the first part of his life.” For fourteen years, Hescox worked in the industry, too, designing equipment. But he slowly began learning about what he calls the true costs of coal: acid rain, air pollution, water pollution, and climate change. Hescox: “And I think that’s what really started to drive me to really care about clean energy was the fact that, you know, we’re destroying God’s creation...”