$265 billion: estimated insured losses from weather-related disasters so far in 2011, the most expensive year on record, according to Munich Re. The previous record: $220 billion in 2005.
"...Most U.S. tropical cyclone deaths occur from drowning," says hurricane center deputy director Ed Rappaport. "Storm surge accounted for about half of the losses since 1970." - USA Today article below on the danger posed by hurricane storm surges.
"...The global warming debate has devolved into an emotional argument, not a logical one. Emotions are incredibly difficult to change because they don’t respond to facts or logic. Once an argument becomes emotional, a person will defend his or her position to the bitter end, no matter what the evidence may be." - from an article below on science vs. emotion & ideology at American Leader.
"...scientists have made a frightening forecast: one in 10 species will be extinct by 2100 if climate change continues affecting the world the way it is now. “Our study is a wake-up call for action,” lead author Ilya Maclean said in a statement. “The many species that are already declining could become extinct if things continue as they are. It is time to stop using the uncertainties as an excuse for not acting.” - Time Magazine article below on climate change and species extinction.
Record Highs On Tuesday:
- Fort Smith, AR: 108 Old record: 107 in 1954
- Raleigh-Durham Airport, NC: 100 Old record: 98 in 1986
- Vicksburg Tallulah Airport, LA: 99 Old record: 98 in 1960, 1966, 1980, 1998
- JFK Airport on Long Island, NY: 98 Old record: 94 in 1993
- Bridgeport, CT:: 95 Old record: 94 in 1966
- Islip, NY: 93 Old record: 91 in 1993
Good Weekend For The Lake in Minnesota. Dew points are forecast to surge well into the 70s to near 80 (!) That will translate into a heat index as high as 110-115 by Sunday and Monday. I fully expect the NWS to issue Excessive Heat Watches and even Excessive Heat Warnings for much of central and southern Minnesota. It may be a few degrees cooler up north. Your best bet to escape the extreme heat: the North Shore of Lake Superior, where a cooling breeze off the lake may keep highs in the 80s to low 90s. Some cool front.
Potential For Urban/Stream Flooding Thursday In Minneapolis/St. Paul. The arrival of super-heated air will leave the atmosphere extra-irritable late Wednesday night into Thursday, a potential for an MCS system, a meso-convective system capable of torrential rain, frequent lightning and strong/gusty winds sweeping out of Omaha into southern/central Minnesota late tonight into Thursday. Some minor flooding is possible - if you live in a flood-prone area you'll want to stay alert & stay tuned for more information. From the Twin Cities local NWS office:
...FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FOR PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MINNESOTA WEDNESDAY NIGHT INTO THURSDAY... .A FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR LATE WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH THURSDAY AFTERNOON. THE WATCH IS ALONG A LINE FROM THE TWIN CITIES ON WEST TO WILLMAR AND THEN SOUTH TO A LINE FROM ST. JAMES TO MANKATO. A WIDESPREAD AREA OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS IS EXPECTED TO MOVE INTO THE WATCH AREA WEDNESDAY NIGHT...AHEAD OF AN APPROACHING WARM FRONT. AN UNSEASONABLY MOIST AIRMASS WILL BE FEEDING INTO THESE SHOWERS...WHICH WILL HELP ENHANCE RAINFALL AMOUNTS. FOR THE WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH THURSDAY AFTERNOON PERIOD...ONE AND ONE HALF TO TWO AND ONE HALF INCHES OF RAIN IS EXPECTED ACROSS THE WATCH AREA...WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS POSSIBLE. RECENT HEAVY RAINFALL ACROSS THE WATCH AREA WILL MAKE MANY LOCAL STREAMS AND LOW LYING AREAS SUSCEPTIBLE TO FLOODING IF RAINFALL AMOUNTS THIS HIGH CAN BE REALIZED.
Wednesday Severe Threat. SPC shows the greatest risk of hail and damaging winds from Montana southward through the Front Range of Colorado, eastward across Nebraska. I have a hunch T-storms pushing across the Dakotas into Iowa and southern Minnesota may approach severe limits late tonight into Thursday along the leading edge of intense heat.
Thunder-Potential The WRF/NAM model (valid 7pm Wednesday evening) shows numerous showers and T-storms from Colorado's Front Range to the Dakotas, southward to Kansas City, New Orleans and Huntsville. More storms will sprout over Florida, a few instability PM showers/sprinkles for New England as a northwesterly flow cools off Boston and Portland. Meanwhile the west stays dry, more wind-whipped showers and unusually cool weather for Seattle.
Expanding Heatwave. It's deja vu all over again: more 100s over the southern half of the nation, while comfortable 70s settle in over the northern USA, cool 50s and 60s over the western USA. Map courtesy of Ham Weather and NOAA.
Photo of the Day: Fireworks: Natural & Man-Made. Thanks to Paul Hadfield for posting some amazing photos taken (obviously) on the 4th of July. A few details (for the photography geeks reading this post): "Right at 9:30 as the fireworks started, a cell went up to the SW and began spitting out intense cloud to ground lightning. It skirted the site to the immediate S thus we were treated to an unbelievable show. I was set up to shoot continuous and was able to capture many of the discharges. Besides what is here, I also managed a few shots with lightning out of frame but still illuminating the scene. The purpose was to assemble stills as a DSLR time lapse which can be seen HERE. The first image has gone somewhat viral for I passed it along to ILX who showcased it on their site and from there, found it's way on to a few television networks around the state. For as popular as the Arthur festival is, I am grateful to have been able to document and share this remarkable experience. I am sure others caught better images, these days there is almost always someone who does."
Hot Enough For 'Ya? The short, polite answer is...."yes". A few hot weather factoids:
- Blistering mid-summer heat seared much of the southern, central and eastern USA on Tuesday, as temperatures soared above 100 degrees in cities from Kansas to South Carolina.
- Nearly half of the USA's population — 150 million people — were affected by the heat Tuesday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as the National Weather Service posted heat advisories or heat warnings in parts of 23 states from Oklahoma to Connecticut.
- Oklahoma City suffered through 13 straight days of 100-degree or above heat before ending the streak on Tuesday. (Tuesday's high was "only" 97.) Dallas has had 100-degree temperatures for 11 days in a row, including Tuesday.
- Although a brief break in the heat is forecast for parts of the Great Lakes, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic over the next few days, there will be no relief across the scorched Plains or Deep South.
- Almost the entire country east of the Rockies is forecast to see above-average temperatures throughout next week.
- The heat and drought have led to record wildfire activity. The year-to-date acreage burned nationally so far is at 5.8 million acres — the most on record for the period — and almost twice the decadal average, says the National Interagency Fire Center.
- 67-year-old Ed Green of Philadelphia, PA died after being rushed to the hospital on Tuesday afternoon and medics believe he was a victim of the extreme heat.
- Officials are still trying to piece together what happened to a 4-year-old girl who was found dead in her family’s SUV Monday night in Cleburne, Texas.
- Lilly Parson’s parents said she had been playing outside and then disappeared. After a brief search, they called 911 for help.
- Deputies who responded to the call found the girl’s body lying on the back seat of her family’s vehicle, which was parked in the driveway.
- Investigators suspect the triple-digit heat played a role and they are treating the case as an accident.
- Officials are still questioning the girl’s parents. They reportedly have been cooperative but there inconsistencies in the accounts of how long she had been missing, the sheriff’s department said.
- A heat wave that has pushed temperatures well over 100 degrees has killed tens of thousands of turkeys.
- In North Carolina, about 50,000 chickens died at a farm after the power went off for 45 minutes. In Kansas, one couple lost 4,300 turkeys that took 26 hours to bury.
Dew Point Alert. NOAA's prediction for Sunday evening shows dew points in the 75-83 range from the Lower Mississippi Valley northward to Iowa and Minnesota. This may be overdone a bit, but there's little doubt that the Heat Index will surge into the danger zone, as high as 105-115, from Kansas City, Chicago and Des Moines into the Twin Cities by Sunday and Monday.
Sirens Failed To Go Off In Sauk Centre. Keep in mind that (in just about every county except Dakota) sirens are ONLY sounded for tornado warnings and VERY severe thunderstorm warnings, with observed winds over 75 mph. Sunday evening's squall line fit that definition though. KSAX-TV has more details: "SAUK CENTRE, Minn. (KSAX) - Severe storms ripped through parts of Greater Minnesota Sunday night. Sauk Centre experienced significant damage as a result. Trees were uprooted, power lines knocked down and cars damaged, leaving behind wide spread damage to the town. Joe Klappa rushed him and his family to the basement of their Sauk Centre home Sunday night shortly after 8 p.m. "Get to the basement. Get everyone to the basement, get away from the windows,” Klappa said, “It was scary, it was really scary". 84 mile per hour straight line winds blew through Sauk Centre and Klappa feared for the worse. "It was started blowing really badly. And raining really hard,” Klappa said, "About that time I was starting to think tornado. And with all the storms we've been having this year, it's been real scary". The mayor of Sauk Centre, Brad Kirckof said the whole city lost power around 8:15 p.m. Sunday night, just before the storm hit, leaving many without any warning. "The sirens did not go off,” Kirckof said, “Due to the fact that the power was out prior to the storm actually hitting the community, we believe that will have some impact on why those sirens did not sound".
Iowa Derecho. The wind storm that swept across Iowa (into Chicago Monday morning) was Iowa's worst wind event since 1998, according to the Des Moines office of the National Weather Service. Here are the details:
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DES MOINES IA
458 PM CDT MON JUL 11 2011
...PRELIMINARY DAMAGE SURVEY RESULTS FOR STORY...MARSHALL AND TAMA
THIS STORM SURVEY INVESTIGATION IS STILL ONGOING AND SUBJECT TO
FURTHER COORDINATION WITH LOCAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCIES.
...WIDESPREAD AND EXTREME STRAIGHT LINE WIND EVENT...
THE FOLLOWING IS A PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT FOR THE DAMAGE THAT
OCCURRED OVER STORY...MARSHALL AND TAMA COUNTIES...OR FROM CENTRAL
INTO EAST CENTRAL IOWA...EARLY IN THE MORNING ON MONDAY...JULY
* EVENT DATE: 07/11/2011.
* ESTIMATED START TIME: APPROXIMATELY 320 AM CDT.
* EVENT TYPE: DERECHO. NO TORNADOES WERE INDICATED DURING THIS
EVENT. THIS PARTICULAR DERECHO BEGAN IN CENTRAL IOWA AND
TRAVELED ACROSS CENTRAL AND EASTERN IOWA...AS WELL AS ACROSS
ILLINOIS...LAKE MICHIGAN...MICHIGAN...AND ENDED IN ONTARIO
CANADA. THIS DERECHO TRAVELED FROM CENTRAL IOWA TO DETROIT
MICHIGAN...OR A DISTANCE OF APPROXIMATELY 550 MILES...OVER THE
TIME SPAN OF NINE HOURS. A DERECHO IS A LONG LIVED...
WIDESPREAD...DAMAGING WIND STORM WHICH IS ASSOCIATED WITH
RAPIDLY MOVING SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS. DERECHOES ARE OFTEN
CURVED OR BOWED IN THEIR SHAPE. WINDS IN DERECHOES CAN EXCEED
100 MPH. THE WINDS ASSOCIATED WITH DERECHOES ARE NOT CONSTANT
AND MAY VARY CONSIDERABLY ALONG THEIR PATHS.
* EVENT LOCATION: BEGAN JUST WEST OF INTERSTATE 35 IN SOUTHERN
STORY AND NORTHERN POLK COUNTIES. CONTINUED EASTWARD INTO
MARSHALL AND TAMA COUNTIES.
* PEAK WIND: THE HIGHEST WINDS WERE AT LEAST 80 TO 105 MPH.
* PATH WIDTH: THE PATH WIDTH OF THE STRONGEST...HIGH-END WINDS
WAS IN TAMA COUNTY AND WAS 5 MILES WIDE. IN ADDITION...THERE WAS
A 10 MILE WIDE PATH OF WIND SPEEDS OF 70 TO 80 MPH. THERE WAS
ALSO A 15 TO 20 MILE WIDE PATH OF WIND SPEEDS OF 60 MPH OR
GREATER. IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE DAMAGE SWATHS FROM THESE
WINDS WERE NEARLY CONTINUOUS...AND EXTENDED FROM SOUTHERN STORY
AND NORTHERN POLK COUNTIES...ACROSS MARSHALL AND TAMA COUNTIES.
* PATH LENGTH: THE DAMAGE SWATHS FROM THESE WINDS WERE NEARLY
CONTINUOUS...AND EXTENDED FROM SOUTHERN STORY AND NORTHERN POLK
COUNTIES...ACROSS MARSHALL AND TAMA COUNTIES.
* INJURIES: NONE HAVE BEEN REPORTED TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER
SERVICE IN DES MOINES THUS FAR.
* FATALITIES: NONE HAVE BEEN REPORTED TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER
SERVICE IN DES MOINES THUS FAR.
* DISCUSSION/DAMAGE: THIS WIND EVENT HAS BEEN THE MOST WIDESPREAD
AND DAMAGING ONE TO AFFECT CENTRAL AND EAST CENTRAL IOWA SINCE
1998. AGAIN...NO TORNADOES WERE INDICATED. THE DAMAGE WAS DUE TO
STRAIGHT LINE WINDS FROM A DERECHO. HAVING SAID THAT...THE
STRONGEST WINDS DURING THIS EVENT WERE SIMILAR TO THOSE FOUND IN
AN EF1 TORNADO. THE WIND DAMAGE FROM THIS EVENT WAS MORE
WIDESPREAD THAN THE DAMAGE A TORNADO HOWEVER. EXAMPLES OF THE
NOTABLE WIND SPEEDS FOLLOW AND HAVE BEEN ESTIMATED FROM OBSERVED
DAMAGE. NEAR HUXLEY...96 MPH. MAXWELL...94 MPH. NEAR
MARSHALLTOWN...70 TO 90 MPH. JUST EAST OF GARWIN...105 MPH.
BETWEEN GARWIN AND UNION GROVE STATE PARK...85 TO 97 MPH. JUST
SOUTH OF TRAER...100 MPH. JUST SOUTH AND SOUTHWEST OF
DYSART...105 TO 110 MPH. SOUTH OF DYSART...80 TO 100 MPH.
Iowa Damage. The Quad Cities area was hit especially hard by severe straight-line winds on Sunday, possibly reaching 130 mph. The photo above is from the public library in Garrison, Iowa. More details from the local NWS: "A strong thunderstorm complex moved through East Central Iowa and Northern Illinois early Monday morning, July 11th. Damaging winds in excess of 70 mph uprooted large trees, downed power lines, and ripped roofs off of buildings. Areas heavily impacted by storms were in Northeastern Benton County, Northern Linn County, and Southern Delaware County. ....At Garrison Iowa: straight line wind of 110 to 130 mph produced widespread damage to structures. Many roofs were partially or fully removed and the walls of some buildings collapsed. Nearly every tree was significantly damaged or snapped off . Power outages were widespread."
Chicago Derecho. The Chicago office of the NWS has more details on the massive wind storm that knocked out power to an estimated half million residents: "During the morning hours of July 11, 2011, a line of severe thunderstorms moved very quickly across northern Illinois and southern Lake Michigan, producing widespread wind damage. In addition, the strong thunderstorm winds with this system generated a classic seiche event on the lake. A seiche is a situation where lake water ahead of the storms is piled up along the downstream shore (in this case Indiana and Michigan) and then sloshes back and forth across the lake for several hours. The danger from a seiche comes from rapidly rising and falling lake levels, which can damage watercraft along the shoreline, sweep people off piers and breakwaters, and pull swimmers far away from shore."
Com Edison: Record 868,000 Were Without Power In Chicago. Here's an update from the Chicago Tribune - power has been restored to over half a million of the affected residents of greater Chicago after Monday morning's wild derecho: "Commonwealth Edison Co. reported substantial progress in restoring power lost in Monday's storms but that still left hundreds of thousands without electricity in sweltering heat. The utility warned it could take days to get everyone back on line. A record 868,000 homes and businesses were left without power by the storms that ripped through the area at 75 mph--the highest number of outages in 13 years. But by 11 a.m. that had been reduced to about 350,000.
The Latest On Flooding: July 12. Omaha.com has an update on the historic flooding underway in the Missouri River watershed: "Hamburg levee: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has handed control of a Hamburg levee over to local officials in the southwest Iowa town. Robert Michaels, the Omaha district chief of construction, said Tuesday that the corps will still offer help if the hastily built levee shows any trouble signs. But Michaels said he was confident the 9,000-foot-long earthen flood barrier will hold until the Missouri River flood subsides. Southern Hamburg had faced a significant flood threat when a levee along the Missouri River ruptured in June. Federal and local officials scrambled to build a new levee along the town’s western edge. Water is still pressing against the 18-foot-tall levee, but has caused only minor seepage problems so far. Hotline reductions: The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency will reduce the hours and number of lines for its flood hotline Saturday. Officials said the number of calls to the hotline has declined. As a result, it will no longer operate on weekends. Beginning Monday, weekday hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with one phone line, at 855-211-2453. Niobrara OK: Businesses in the Nebraska Sandhills that rely on tourists who float down the scenic Niobrara River say they're losing business because of confusion over flooding. Unlike the swollen Missouri and Platte Rivers, the Niobrara River isn't flooding. The Valentine Chamber of Commerce says conditions along the Niobrara are perfect for canoeing, kayaking and tubing. The Niobrara flows out of the Sandhills region in an area of prairie, cliffs and pine-covered hills, with a wide range of birds and other wildlife. The chamber says motels and outfitters in the Valentine area have received numerous calls from people concerned about flooding. Some have even canceled trips. The chamber wants people to know conditions are fine along the Niobrara River. Lots of sandbags: Council Bluffs officials said 211 volunteers and city staffers filled 21,600 sandbags Saturday. Thirty Marine Corps recruits took part. The city has an inventory of 128,880 sandbags and established an objective to supply 20,000 sandbags a week. Council Bluffs will continue sandbagging operations during the week. Volunteers are needed Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Mid-America Center."
2011: Already A Record Year For Insured Losses In The USA:
- Halfway through, this year is already the costliest on record for natural catastrophes, insurer Munich Re said Tuesday in its first-half review. Losses hit $265 billion in the first six months of 2011 – which exceeds the $220 billion in losses in the biggest previous year for natural disasters, 2005.
- Most of the losses this year stem from the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which caused more than 15,000 deaths and accounted for $210 billion in economic losses. That is another record, beating out the $125 billion in losses caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
- Losses tied to the quake have already taken a toll on insurance industry profits. First-half insured losses hit $60 billion, Munich Re said – five times the annual average over the past decade.
- The question now is how high this year's record toll might rise. Munich said first-half losses "are generally lower than second-half losses, which are often affected by hurricanes in the North Atlantic and typhoons in the Northwest Pacific."
Drought Spreads Pain From Florida To Arizona. The New York Times has more details on the growing drought impacting the southern USA: "COLQUITT, Ga. — The heat and the drought are so bad in this southwest corner of Georgia that hogs can barely eat. Corn, a lucrative crop with a notorious thirst, is burning up in fields. Cotton plants are too weak to punch through soil so dry it might as well be pavement. Farmers with the money and equipment to irrigate are running wells dry in the unseasonably early and particularly brutal national drought that some say could rival the Dust Bowl days. “It’s horrible so far,” said Mike Newberry, a Georgia farmer who is trying grow cotton, corn and peanuts on a thousand acres. “There is no description for what we’ve been through since we started planting corn in March.” The pain has spread across 14 states, from Florida, where severe water restrictions are in place, to Arizona, where ranchers could be forced to sell off entire herds of cattle because they simply cannot feed them. In Texas, where the drought is the worst, virtually no part of the state has been untouched. City dwellers and ranchers have been tormented by excessive heat and high winds. In the Southwest, wildfires are chewing through millions of acres. Last month, the United States Department of Agriculture designated all 254 counties in Texas natural disaster areas, qualifying them for varying levels of federal relief. More than 30 percent of the state’s wheat fields might be lost, adding pressure to a crop in short supply globally."
Comparisons To The Dust Bowl Years. According to the New York Times nearly a fifth of the Lower 48 States is faced with the worst drought in recent years.
Deadliest Hurricane Risk Is Not Wind, But Water. USA Today has an excellent article focusing on the source of most hurricane-related damage (and deaths), the storm surge: "Storm surge — the massive mound of water that builds up and comes ashore as a hurricane moves over the ocean or Gulf of Mexico— is the most dangerous aspect of hurricanes, but many public misconceptions persist about it, according to a recent survey of U.S. coastal residents. "The biggest single killer in hurricanes is storm surge," says Jamie Rhome, storm surge specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. He adds that every coastal city along the Gulf or East Coast of the USA is at risk of storm surge. "Most U.S. tropical cyclone deaths occur from drowning," says hurricane center deputy director Ed Rappaport. "Storm surge accounted for about half of the losses since 1970. Nearly all of those occurred in Katrina (2005), which was the latest example of an infrequent but catastrophic hurricane storm surge event that kills hundreds or even thousands of people." Floods from excessive rainfall rank second in causing loss of life in hurricanes. "These floods occur much more often than the storm-surge events, but in general take fewer lives per event," Rappaport says."
Scale Model Of The Mississippi River Basin. Neatorama.com has an intriguing (and slightly bizarre) story: "What do you do when you are the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and you want to learn how to control flooding? You recreate the Mississippi River to simulate floods. See the gallery of photos at the link of this amazing project constructed in the 1930’s. "In 1936, after nearly two decades of devastating floods in the Mississippi River Basin, Congress passed the Flood Control Act, which funneled over $300 million into dams and other projects that engineers hoped would prevent millions from losing their homes in the next flood. But even this dramatic injection of cash left people vulnerable to floods in Ohio. That’s when a visionary with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pitched a crazy idea: Why not create a vast, scale model of the Mississippi River, as an entire river system, and use a huge system of hydraulic pumps to simulate floods and flood prevention techniques? The result, in the mid-1940s, was one of the most incredible — and most successful — experiments in hydraulic engineering ever constructed. It was called the Mississippi River Basin Model, and you can still see its remains in Vicksburg, Mississippi."
With Love From Greenland: A New "Ice Island". NASA's Earth Observatory has the details of a massive iceberg, more of an ice-island, that broke off of Greenland (nearly a year ago!) and is now passing the coastline of Labrador: "Nearly 11 months after calving off of the northwestern coast of Greenland, a massive ice island is now caught up in ocean currents off the coast of Labrador, Canada. The ice island was formed when a 251-square-kilometer (97-square-mile) chunk of ice broke off the Petermann Glacier on August 5, 2010. The Canadian Ice Service has since been tracking the ice island, dubbed PII-A, via satellite and radio beacon. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image of the ice island on June 25, 2011. The northeast-facing coast of Labrador is mostly obscured by thin, wispy clouds, as it has been for much of the past week. News agencies reported that the ice island stretched roughly 62 square kilometers in area and weighed between 3.5 and 4 billion tons. The island has been slowly breaking up and melting on its journey—nearly 30 degrees of latitude, or more than 3,000 kilometers—but it could eventually pose a hazard to offshore oil platforms and shipping lanes off Newfoundland. Canadian fishermen captured this close-up video of the ice island."
Icy Video: Check out video of the "Petermann Ice Island" here - roughly 3 miles long by 2.8 miles wide. Courtesy of NLStuff.com.
SPC: Static Prediction Center? Next we'll be predicting bad hair days, on a scale from H-0 to H-5. Thanks to MadWeather for passing this along...
After the Winter-That-Would-Not-End and a fickle, soggy & cool spring for much of the USA, I'm not about to complain about the heat. At least not yet. Weekend highs will reach the mid 90s to low 100s from southern Minnesota southward to Dallas and Memphis. Factor in a dew point close to 80 and Sunday's heat index may top 110 across much of the central part of the nation. I expect heat watches & warnings to be issued for the central third of America. Des Moines, Chicago and the Twin Cities will get a taste of the heatwave gripping much of the USA, maybe 5-6 days/row above 90.
Every year an average of 38 children perish in hot vehicles. Their parents are running errands - leave their kids in the car, and are shocked to discover that in the span of 10 minutes the temperature inside their vehicle has soared to 120-140 F. That's one (needless) tragedy every 10 days, somewhere in the USA. Cracking a window won't help, either. Take the heat seriously, and remember that PETS feel the heat just as much as we do.
Be glad you didn't buy that little getaway down in Wichita Falls, Texas. 45 days above 100 this summer. Ouch!
Can We Blame The Drought On Global Warming? For 30 years climate models have shown a distinct trend toward hotter, drier summers, especially west of the Mississippi. What we're witnessing now is consistent with anthropogenic climate change: more extreme storms, heavier rainfall amounts, especially over the northern and eastern USA, but a tendency for more prolonged (and severe) heat and drought over the southern and western USA. Salon.com has the story: "Fourteen states in the southern U.S. are suffering through the nation's worst drought in 60 years: a dry spell that, when all is said and done, might measure against the most severe in the country's history. The New York Times made that news one of its top stories in Tuesday morning's print edition, painting a vivid picture of parched and fallow farmlands from Florida to Arizona, and an agricultural industry buckling against drastically reduced output and a stagnant economy. But one element of the story notably absent from the Gray Lady's analysis is the specter of man-made climate change. The Times story warns that the current drought could rival those seen during the Dust Bowl days. It also mentions that the dry spell is the result of a familiar meteorological phenomenon called La Niña -- which, it notes, "is an abnormal cooling of Pacific waters [that] usually follows El Niño, which is an abnormal warming of those same waters." But to what extent are these multiplying abnormalities attributable to anthropogenic climate change? We don't know, because the Times skirts the issue. The Washington Post's weather blog notes that "La Niña wasn't the only force behind the drought," but cautions that "the co-conspirators remain unknown." That article then goes on to quote NOAA climate scientist Marty Hoerling, who said that the current dry spell does not appear to be a "climate change drought" (though he also warned that warming global temperatures have already exacerbated, and would continue to exacerbate, extreme weather in the future). "
Will Global Warming Make The Planet More Humid Too? The story from slate.com: "Hot, muggy weather created dangerous conditions for residents of the South and Midwest on Tuesday, and there were reports of heat-related deaths. We all know that it's impossible to link any particular heat wave to the phenomenon of global warming, but those of us suffering in humid areas have to be wondering—is the Earth getting wetter, too? Most climatologists think so. The planet's total humidity seems likely to rise in the coming years. But there's a difference between that figure—which represents the mass of all the water vapor in the air—and the planet's relative humidity, which describes how close the air is, on average, to its saturation point at a given temperature. Total humidity is the more important metric for the planet, because water vapor is itself a greenhouse gas. Relative humidity, on the other hand, is more closely associated with human comfort, because it affects your ability to cool off by sweating. Few scientists profess to know with certainty what's going to happen to either measure over the next few decades or centuries. There's very little global data (PDF) on the issue, and those that do exist are in dispute. The majority view appears to be that relative humidity will remain more or less stable,and most climate change models are based on this assumption. If relative humidity holds constant while the temperature rises, there will be an increase in absolute humidity."
On Experts And Global Warming. The New York Times reports (subscription may be required): "I am not arguing the absolute authority of scientific conclusions in democratic debates. It is not a matter of replacing Plato’s philosopher-kings with scientist-kings in our polis. We the people still need to decide (perhaps through our elected representatives) which groups we accept as having cognitive authority in our policy deliberations. Nor am I denying that there may be a logical gap between established scientific results and specific policy decisions. The fact that there is significant global warming due to human activity does not of itself imply any particular response to this fact. There remain pressing questions, for example, about the likely long-term effects of various plans for limiting CO2 emissions, the more immediate economic effects of such plans, and, especially, the proper balance between actual present sacrifices and probable long-term gains. Here we still require the input of experts, but we must also make fundamental value judgments, a task that, pace Plato, we cannot turn over to experts. The essential point, however, is that once we have accepted the authority of a particular scientific discipline, we cannot consistently reject its conclusions. To adapt Schopenhauer’s famous remark about causality, science is not a taxi-cab that we can get in and out of whenever we like. Once we board the train of climate science, there is no alternative to taking it wherever it may go."
How Climate Change Is Whittling Down The World's Species. Time magazine has the report: "With all the climate conversation currently littering the Internet, and the myriad ways that extreme weather is linked to global warming, it's hard not to get confused about climate change sometimes – and given the sheer volume of muddled information out there, you might even be forgiven for being unconvinced by the arguments thus far. But University of Exeter scientists have brought us some simple proof that climate change seems to be as bad for our planet as we've been led to believe. Their study shows that the loss of animal and plant species that have already happened match previous predictions in terms of the relative risk to different species around the world. And based on that information, the scientists have made a frightening forecast: one in 10 species will be extinct by 2100 if climate change continues affecting the world the way it is now. “Our study is a wake-up call for action,” lead author Ilya Maclean said in a statement. “The many species that are already declining could become extinct if things continue as they are. It is time to stop using the uncertainties as an excuse for not acting.”
"Global Warming Disease". An especially point-on Op-Ed in the Salt Lake Tribune: "If your granddaughter has a fever of 105, is comatose, and has symptoms of meningococcal meningitis, do you wait for still more proof of the disease, or do you start treatment immediately? If you wait one day, the child may be dead. You want treatment now! How about a planet undergoing scientifically diagnosed global warming, with the predicted violent weather event symptoms: tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, forest fires, reduced agricultural productivity, with rising food prices and tropical diseases in previously temperate climates? Do you wait for more proof of global warming disease, or do you start treatment immediately? As a medical scientist, my diagnosis is: serious disease, start treatment now. The worldwide scientist community has concluded that we are suffering from a planetary disease called global warming. How many people have to die before we disregard business interests that make false claims that deny that we have this treatable disease? We deprive ourselves of life-saving treatment because some of us, including misguided politicians, say that maybe we don’t have global warming. Shall our planet die while we argue whether or not to start treatment?"
Salt Lake City
Getting Americans To Buy Into Global Warming. Environmental Leader has the story: "According to Gallup, more than 45% of Americans think the threat of global warming has been seriously overblown. In a previous article, I explored three reasons why so many of our fellow citizens continue to deny climate change and why this should concern the business community. To recap, they were: 1) as a nation, we’re not adept at examining scientific research, so it’s difficult to prove the point with hard evidence; 2) our day-to-day experience makes it hard to comprehend the global scope of the problem; and 3) environmental messages often sound authoritarian, which doesn’t work in the U.S. because we don’t like being bossed around. Being that I’m in the business of energy management and sustainability, I’m often asked if any of this worries me. People want to know if I’m concerned our national character will stand in the way of saving the environment. In a word, No. I’m not the least bit worried. The global warming debate has devolved into an emotional argument, not a logical one. Emotions are incredibly difficult to change because they don’t respond to facts or logic. Once an argument becomes emotional, a person will defend his or her position to the bitter end, no matter what the evidence may be. Perhaps it’s just part of our culture; we absolutely must prove we’re right and we won’t back down. So instead of explaining the threat of global warming for the umpteenth time, I’ve stopped discussing it all together. Now I just change the subject."
Great Deniers In History. Check out this video at Peter Sinclair's Climate Denial Crock of the Week post.
Global Warming - Just A Canary In The Atmosphere. Here's a post at seattlepi.com: "So far, the science observations suggest that there’s a change (usually a deterioration, but some temporary improvements like the increase in some wine qualities!) in the environment that can be explained by a warmer climate. We’ve discussed a lot of them, but here’s a few more just arrived:
• There is a growing conviction that life on Earth has already entered mass-extinction six. (An expert panel of scientists, convened by the International Program on the State of the Ocean (IPSO). Increased CO2 causing acidification is a large cause.)
• The Arctic stratosphere suffered severe ozone depletion during the spring of 2011. Early results suggest that this may be the most severe Arctic ozone depletion seen in the record. (Subject of an American Geophysical Union session in SF this Dec.)
• About one-third of the warming predicted over the next century comes from direct warming by greenhouse gases, with the rest being due to amplifying feedbacks. This means that the largest expected warming mechanism and the largest sources of uncertainty are coupled through moist processes in the atmosphere. (Subject of an AGU session in SF this Dec.)"