Why Does The Weekend Forecast Keep Changing?

On Tuesday the weekend forecast looks so promising: chirping birds, blue sky, an inviting breeze. But by Friday the outlook has deteriorated into something out of the Book of Revelations. Biblical floods, beachball size hail, asteroid strikes, uncontrollable weeping, etc.

How can the forecast change so much in just a few days? Our weather models are computer simulations, fueled with data from global surface reports, satellites and weather balloons. As newer, fresher data arrives weather can shift, storms mutate, fronts become wetter. It’s maddening for us too. That’s why we err on the side of professional pessimism. If weekend weather is better than expected, no problem. Worse than predicted? Woe is me.

A fine Friday gives way to showers and T-storms on Saturday. Have a Plan B, indoors, for part of the day. Sunday looks sunnier and drier with low 80s. Models now show a surge of heat returning late next week with 80s to near 90F the weekend of August 17-18. The State Fair, back to school? Do NOT write summer off just yet.

Fabulous Friday. No complaints expected again today with blue sky and a very light breeze; dew points still extremely comfortable for early August as afternoon highs top 80F in the MSP metro area. Map: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Saturday Rainfall Potential. ECMWF (European) guidance above predicts some 1″+ rainfall amounts just west of the Twin Cities, with a sharp cut-off in rainfall north of St. Cloud and Alexandria. It looks like the Brainerd Lakes area will see a much nicer Saturday than the MSP metro. Map: WeatherBell.

Above Average Number of Hurricanes Expected in Atlantic. Here’s an update from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center: “Seasonal forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center have increased the likelihood of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season to 45% (up from 30% from the outlook issued in May). The likelihood of near-normal activity is now at 35%, and the chance of below-normal activity has dropped to 20%. The number of predicted storms is also greater with NOAA now expecting 10-17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), of which 5-9 will become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater), including 2-4 major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). This updated outlook is for the entire six-month hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30. NOAA is also announcing today that the current El Nino in the Pacific Ocean has ended and neutral conditions have returned. “El Nino typically suppresses Atlantic hurricane activity but now that it’s gone, we could see a busier season ahead,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center...”

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Thursday, August 8th, 2019:

  • Super Typhoon Lekima has winds of 150 mph this morning U.S. time (evening local time) and is moving to the north-northwest at 12 mph. The center of the storm was located about 270 miles east-southeast of Taipei, Taiwan. The system will continue to move north-northwest over the next couple days. While that will bring the center of Lekima north of Taiwan, impacts including heavy rain and strong winds are still expected on the island, including across northern portions and in the mountains. This system will then move into China late Saturday (local time) and move north past Shanghai as a weaker system.
  • We are also watching Typhoon Krosa which will pose a threat to Iwo Jima and the Ogasawara Islands this weekend before potentially making landfall as a weaker system next week in mainland Japan.

Super Typhoon Lekima On Satellite. In the Western Pacific, Lekima has quickly strengthened over the past couple of days, becoming a Super Typhoon with winds of 150 mph as of 6 PM local time (5 AM EDT). That is the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane. It is currently impacting the Ryukyu Islands (where storm warnings are in effect) with reported wind gusts so far of 76 mph at the Shimoji-Shima airport and 72 mph at the Miyakojima airport. Typhoon Warnings have been issued for the following portions of Taiwan according to the Central Weather Bureau: KEELUNG, YILAN COUNTY, NEW TAIPEI CITY, HSINCHU COUNTY, HSINCHU CITY, TAOYUAN CITY, TAICHUNG CITY, TAIPEI CITY, HUALIEN COUNTY, MIAOLI COUNTY.

Lekima Heading Toward China. Lekima will continue to move to the north-northwest into Saturday, passing just north of Taiwan on Friday (local time). As it moves north of Taiwan, it will bring the potential of heavy rain and strong winds to the island. It will also be slowly weakening, with winds around 105 mph expected by the time it reaches the China coast Saturday. It will then move northward from there, with the center passing Shanghai Sunday (local time).

Heavy Rain Threat. Already through the evening hours, some parts of southern Taiwan have picked up over 6” of rain today. Heavy rain will continue to be possible with Lekima along the path of the system. Some of the heaviest rain will fall in the higher elevations of Taiwan and in eastern China, where totals of over a foot are possible. This could trigger flash flooding as well as landslides.

Strong Wind Potential. The strongest winds in Taiwan are expected in far northern areas and in mountainous areas, where wind gusts up to 80 mph will be possible. However, the strongest winds associated with Lekima will occur offshore. Strong wind gusts up to 100 mph will also be possible in and around the area that this system makes landfall in China.

Tracking Krosa. We’re also tracking Typhoon Krosa, which as of Thursday evening local time had winds of 115 mph (the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane) and was barely moving northeast at 1 mph. This storm will be near Iwo Jima and the Ogasawara Islands this weekend and could have the potential to approach mainland Japan next week. However, it is expected to weaken over the next several days.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix.

Parts of Alaska Have No Sea Ice For the First Time Ever As Temperatures in Region Hit Record Highs. A story at TIME.com caught my eye; here’s the intro: “Alaska has seen the lowest levels of sea ice ever this summer as record temperatures and wildfires hit the region with some areas completely ice free — an event which has never occurred so early in the year and has ramifications for the arctic climate and the Earth as a whole. Compared to all other recorded years of research, this August has the lowest levels of arctic sea ice ever, according to Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). “Basically, if you look at Point Barrow — the northernmost point of Alaska — there’s probably no sea ice within 300 to 350 miles right now,” says Serreze. Historically, he says, at this time of year there should still be some ice close to or along the coast of Alaska, not hundreds of miles away...”

Red-Colored “Watermelon Snow” Found at Yosemite National Park. The Today Show explains: “Watermelon is synonymous with summer. Watermelon snow? Well, that’s something else entirely. Red-tinted snow, referred to as watermelon snow, has appeared at California’s Yosemite National Park. “It may be August, but there is still plenty of snow and ice above 9,500 feet! This reddish colored snow is often called watermelon snow. The red or pink color is the usually green algae’s natural sunscreen, protecting itself from too much heat and damaging UV radiation,” the park tweeted. Watermelon snow, which can also be referred to as blood snow or red snow, according to Smithsonian.com, is the result of heat...”

The Mississippi Is Under Control – For Now. A post at TIME.com provides perspective: “…The Missouri, the Ohio; the Red, the Illinois, the Arkansas; the Pecatonica, the Poteau, the Big Sioux—across the U.S., rivers have swollen this year, swamping homes and cropland, costing farmers billions of dollars. Running through more than a million square miles of the heart of the United States—40% of its land area—100,000 waterways eventually drain into the Mississippi. Over 30 million people live near the Mississippi or one of its tributaries. There, on the big river, the Army Corps spent the last nine months trying to contain its longest recorded flood, the latest in an increasingly devastating series. Scientists blame much of the epidemic of flooding on the Corps’ own engineering. In order to protect farms and cities, they built humps of earth along the Mississippi’s banks—levees, which narrowed the river, forcing it to rise…”
Photo credit: “Workers open bays of the Bonnet Carre Spillway, to divert rising water from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain, upriver from New Orleans, in Norco, La., on May 10, 2019.” Gerald Herbert, AP.

Mapping the Strain On Our Water. Water stress close to home, in the Land of 10,000 Lakes? Here’s the intro to an analysis at The Washington Post: “The United States has enough water to satisfy the demand, but newly released data from the World Resources Institute shows some areas are out of balance. The WRI’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas researchers used hydrological models and more than 50 years of data to estimate the typical water supply of 189 countries compared to their demand. The result was a scale of “water stress” — how close a country comes to draining its annual water stores in a typical year. Of course, many years are not typical, and unpredictable weather patterns of a changing climate can have drastic consequences. In areas of high or extremely high water stress, said Betsy Otto, director of WRI’s Global Water Program, “if you then hit a drought … you’re really in trouble, because you’re already using most of what you have...”

17 Countries (And One U.S. State) Extremely Water-Stressed: Headlines and links courtesy of Climate Nexus: “Data from the World Resources Institute shows that 17 countries around the world are already dealing with “extremely high” water stress. The 17 countries, from India to Botswana, are home to a quarter of the world’s population. Factors contributing to their water stress levels include using up groundwater supplies instead of conserving for times of drought; growing crops that need high volumes of water like cotton and rice; and of course, climate change, which increases risk because it makes deluges and droughts increasingly unpredictable. Domestically, Southwestern states are most at risk, with New Mexico ranking in the “extremely high” water stress category. However, states outside that region still experience their share of troubles, including Florida, where the central part of the state is straining its aquifer.” (New York Times $, The Guardian, Washington Post $, Bloomberg)

Image credit: NOAA.

The First 100% Solar-Powered Airport in the USA. Big Think has details: “Tennessee’s Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport recently became the first U.S. airport powered by 100 percent solar energy. Started in 2010, the $10 million microgrid project includes a 2.74-megawatt solar farm that’s the size of about 16 football fields, as well as battery storage technology that allows the system to run off the grid. “This is a momentous day for the Chattanooga Airport as we complete our solar farm and achieve a major sustainability milestone,” said Terry Hart, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Airport in a press release. “This project has immediate benefits to our airport and community, and we’re proud to set an example in renewable energy for other airports, businesses and our region. While generating a local renewable resource, we are also increasing the economic efficiency of the airport...”

Best Sandwich in Every State? Do you agree? Business Insider has a first guestimate on a state by state basis: “There’s nothing more satisfying than a delicious sandwich. In honor of National Sandwich Day on November 3, we decided to round up the best sammie from every state, be it a beloved local delicacy or part of the state’s history. From a classic grilled cheese to something called a “horseshoe,” these are the 50 most famous sandwiches across America…”

Who’s Afraid of Hurricane Dolly? More than a morsel of truth to an opinion piece at The Wall Street Journal: “…Sure enough, a 2014 National Academy of Sciences study found the death tolls from hurricanes with feminine names tend to be higher than from those with masculine names. The scientists hypothesized that male names are scarier than female ones and tested it by asking subjects to estimate the intensity of hypothetical storms. Sure enough, they expected Dolly to be weaker than Omar…It’s high time the WMO updated its names. One solution would be to name storms after predators—say, Tiger or Shark. If Omar is scarier then Dolly, Shark is surely scarier than Omar. Or maybe the WMO can take inspiration from horror films. Tropical storm Poltergeist. Hurricane Slasher. Or Demon, Devil, Jaws, Chucky...”

79 F. high in the Twin Cities.

82 F. average high on August 9.

90 F. high on August 9, 2018.

August 9, 1948: 7.72 inches of rain falls at Mankato.

FRIDAY: Warm sun, light winds. Winds: W 3-8. High: 81

SATURDAY: Showers and a few T-storms. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 63. High: 75

SUNDAY: Sunnier, drier and warmer. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 63. High: 82

MONDAY: Another round of showers, T-storms. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 65. High: 78

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, drying out. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 64. High: 77

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny and pleasant. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 60. High: 76

THURSDAY: Unsettled, few T-storms up north. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 61. High: 81

Climate Stories….

Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns. The New York Times reports: “The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself. The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report. Climate change will make those threats even worse, as floods, drought, storms and other types of extreme weather threaten to disrupt, and over time shrink, the global food supply…”

File image: Tim McCabe, USDA.

2020 Democrats Step Up Pressure on Fossil Fuel Industry in Climate Fight. Here’s an update from Bloomberg: “Bernie Sanders says the industry is a criminal enterprise. Joe Biden is vowing to take action against it. Other candidates are competing to say who will wean America from its products the soonest. The fossil fuel industry is squarely in the cross hairs of Democrats running for the White House as they move sharply to the left on climate change, evoking growing alarm from a sector that’s found a cheerleader in the Trump administration. It has moved to rescind regulations on oil drilling and proposed extraordinary measures to aid coal mining...”

Photo credit: “Jay Inslee, governor of Washington and 2020 presidential candidate, speaks during the National Education Association (NEA) #StrongPublicSchools Presidential Forum in Houston on July 5, 2019.” Photographer: Sergio Flores/Bloomberg.

Buckle Up. Climate Change is Already Contributing to Bumpier Trans-Atlantic Flights, Study Shows. Capital Weather Gang has details; here’s an excerpt: “…The new study, published in the journal Nature, is the first to detect a statistically significant increase in vertical wind shear at jet-stream altitudes across the North Atlantic. Changes here can have a significant influence on aviation, since nearly 3,000 flights cross the pond on an average day. The study focuses on the North Atlantic for two main reasons: It’s the world’s busiest overseas flight corridor, and flights crossing the ocean in this region are typically exposed to the polar jet stream for the duration of their flight, particularly during the winter. The turbulence research focuses on the main driver of mid-latitude jet streams: The temperature difference between the equator and the North Pole, which powers what is known as the thermal wind…”

Graphic credit: “The jet stream pattern on July 24, 2019.” (Image: Earth.nullschool.net) (Earth Simulator)

The Increasing Irrelevance of Climate Change Denial. Here’s a clip from an Op-Ed at Scientific American: “…Surprisingly, despite all the empirical evidence, a contingent of people continue to believe that observed temperature increases are the result not of anthropogenic industrialization but of naturally occurring cycles. However, whether you believe the causes of climate change are anthropogenic or natural matters less each year. For Californians, the effects of increasingly destructive wildfires and the inconvenient strategies for preventing them are the same irrespective of belief. Over time, the relevance of climate change denial will diminish while the need for mitigation and adaptation intensifies.”

How Climate Change is Becoming a Deadly Part of White Nationalism. Here’s an excerpt of an interview at Gizmodo’s Earther: “…But we can’t ignore how Malthusian ideas about overpopulation and the environment are taught in high schools all over the United States. They are an important part of many environmental studies curricula. There’s a deep racial undercurrent with poor people of color are presented as having too many children and destroying the environment. Unfortunately, Malthusianism has achieved the status of conventional wisdom in the U.S. It’s not surprising that white nationalists are influenced by it and deploy it for their own hateful aims. Now, there’s also a powerful apocalyptic discourse that links climate change, environmental degradation, overpopulation, and scarcity. White nationalism is already steeped in violent apocalypticism—fears about the white race coming to an end feed the impetus to mount an Armageddon-style bloody-but-cleansing race war…”

Warming Summer Nights. Another indicator that, no, it’s not the sun – nights are warming even faster than daytime highs, according to analysis at Climate Central: “…However, overnight low temperatures have been rising even faster than daytime highs. Since 2010, there have been 34% more record high minimums than record high maximums (according to NOAA data compiled by meteorologist Guy Walton). And of all the summers on record, 2018 had the warmest low temperature in the contiguous U.S. This week, Climate Central examined changes in average summer low temperatures around the country. Since 1970, 93% of the cities analyzed have experienced an increase. Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada, topped the list with temperature increases of 16.9°F and 9.1°F respectively, followed by El Paso, Texas at 7.7°F and Salt Lake City, Utah at 6.6°F. Eight of the ten fastest warming cities were west of the Mississippi. Nationally, the increase was 1.8°F since 1895, dating back to when records began...”

Climate Change is Finally on the Agenda for 2020. But is it Too Late for Debating? Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from climate scientist Michael Mann at Newsweek: “…Those of us who actively work both on the science of climate change and the communication thereof, however, know that it isn’t hyperbole to point out that we have barely more than a decade to pull off a major overhaul in our energy economy if we are to avert dangerous (more than 1.5C) planetary warming. That having been said, we don’t go off a “climate cliff” at 1.5C warming. It’s more like an ever-more dangerous highway that we’re going down. We might miss the 1.5C exit despite concerted action. We would still be far better off getting off at the next (say, 2.0C) exit, than continuing headlong down the dangerous carbon highway. In fact, we’re already getting a real taste of this dangerous potential future…”

What Does Climate Change Have To Do With Socialism? The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting post; here’s a snippet: “…To such ideologues the Green New Deal proposed by Democrats in Congress is proof of their long-standing fear that a climate crisis is an excuse to re-engineer the U.S. economy as a top-down system.  Jay Lehr, a groundwater hydrologist, assured the Heartland conference that carbon emissions had “zero effect” on planetary temperatures and oceanic levels. Accepting the 2019 Dauntless Purveyor of Climate Truth Award, he said capitalism was under assault. “What they’re trying to do is to destroy our way of life and they’re succeeding. We’ve got to stop them,” he said.   Critics say this blending of fringe science and free-market fundamentalism is the handmaiden of fossil fuel producers seeking to protect their economic interests…”

File image: Jeff Williams, NASA.