Friday, May 25, 2012

May 26: Midwest Severe Threat. Maps look like mid-June

                         Saturday Severe Risk                                                        Sunday Severe Risk
Weekend Severe Threat. A strong surge of hot, steamy air will spark waves of strong to severe thunderstorms today; an eastbound cool front may spark a few severe storms late Sunday into Sunday night across the Plains and Upper Midwest. Maps courtesy of SPC.

"For decades, solar activity has been trending downwards, even as temperatures have continued to rise. It's not that the researchers are being induced or compelled to some sort of biased interpretation of the data. Reality just happens to have a bias." - from an article about money and climate science at Ars Technica below.

Pond-Size Puddles. WeatherNation TV meteorologist Bryan Karrick reported nearly 4" in his rain gauge in Cologne. Mace Michaels snapped the photo in the upper right as storm clouds blew into Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Over A Month's Worth Of Rain In 36 Hours. Here are some NWS Doppler rainfall estimates from Thursday's deluge, a wide swath of 3-5" rains, with a few unofficial 6" amounts in Wright county. Amazing. What happened? A "train-echo effect" set up, much like the cars in a train pass over the same section of track, showers and T-storms kept redeveloping along a stalled frontal boundary, juicy air from the Gulf of Mexico being forced to rise up and over a wedge of cooler air pushing in from the Dakotas. To put this into perspective June, the wettest month of the year, sees just over 4" of rain in the Twin Cities. We went from drought to flood in less than a month.

Record Rains. Dozens of 24 hour rainfall records were set Thursday from Duluth to Mankato, many locations picking up 2-5" of rain. The cooperative weather observer in Buffalo saw 5" of rain in his rain gauge. Map courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

Additional Weekend Rainfall. The heaviest rains are forecast to fall just west of MSP over the next 84 hours - the latest NAM model printing out some 1.5 to 2" amounts near Marshall, over 1" from Brainerd and Alexandria into the far western suburbs of the Twin Cities, considerably less east of St. Paul.

Sand Storm! Thanks to Wayne Angelo and Instagram, for capturing a massive sandstorm heading for the Phoenix area Friday.

El Nino May Lessen Hurricane Risk. Right now we're in an ENSO-neutral situation (no El Nino or La Nina); ocean water temperatures in the Pacific pretty close to normal for late May. Some oceanographers are predicting a mild El Nino warming by the end of 2012, which correlates with stronger winds over the tropics, winds that can shred tropical depressions and prevent them from maturing into hurricanes. But El Nino may come too late for the 2012 hurricane season. Here's an excerpt from an story: "To say our weather in many parts of the country has not been normal of late. In fact, far from it when you consider the historic and severe hurricanes and tornadoes we have witnessed to the freak events like the Halloween blizzard in the east to a lack of winter for millions of Americans this past season. It's against that backdrop that today's official government hurricane forecast comes out just as America geared up for the traditional start of the summer kickoff weekend, and it's where we begin our reporting tonight with NBC's Tom Costello. Get ready for the ferocious power of mother nature . The official start of hurricane season is still a week away, but it's already been an active two weeks. tropical storm Alberto has come and gone as hurricane Bud churned off New Mexico. now a category two storm. Today from NOAA, a prediction for a near normal hurricane season between June 1st and November 30th . That means 9 to 15 tropical storms with 4 to 8 strengthens into hurricanes. and one to three of those becoming major hurricanes , category 3 or greater. the big wild card , the warmer effect from EL Nino in the Pacific."

10 Steps To Take Before Storm Season. has some good advice for every family - this is geared more to residents of Hurricane Alley, but there are some good take-aways for the rest of us impacted by flooding and tornadoes. Here's an excerpt:
  1. "Locate and agree on a safe room.  Plan to find the lowest place in the house, without windows.  Usually this is the basement or an interior closet or storeroom.  Meet as a family and agree to the plan to meet there in case of emergency.  Be sure that each family member has a plan for shelter away from home in case of a storm that doesn’t allow everyone to get home.
  2. Supplies.  Be sure to keep supplies on hand in or near the safe room.  These should include:  water, a water purification kit, non-perishable snacks/food, blankets and pillows, clothing, first aid, medical equipment for special-needs family members, pre-moistened towelettes, hand sanitizer, zip-lock plastic bags, disposable eating ware, duct tape, necessary toiletries, flashlights with fresh batteries, radio, cell phone with charged batteries, entertainment items such as books, or games, pet care items.  If you have a baby or toddler you will need appropriate supplies:  diapers, baby food, formula, toys, etc.  You may want a battery-operated laptop with a cellular modem to be able to connect with email and Internet.
  3. Evacuation plan.  Have a plan if you will be required to evacuate due to incoming weather.  Hurricanes and floods approach more slowly giving people time to escape."

Not Forgetting Why We Celebrate Memorial Day. Thanks to WeatherNation TV meteorologist Aaron Shaffer for snapping this photo in Boston, showing thousands of American flags on Bunker Hill.

Record Heat For The Indy 500? The ECMWF model is predicting 34 C, which works out to 93.2 F. On the track temperatures may reach 115 F. Ouch. Here's an excerpt of a paper from Climate Nexus: "....a high-pressure system approaching the Ohio Valley could push temperatures for the 96th annual Indianapolis 500 into record-breaking territory. According to the National Weather Service office in Indianapolis, temperatures have reached 90 degrees only five times in race history, with 92 degrees in 1937 as the all-time high. If predicted temperatures are accurate, race weather may be the hottest on record and could create difficulties for both drivers and fans alike....Recording-breaking temperatures earlier in the year are consistent with the larger pattern of climate change, which makes heatwaves and other types of extreme weather both more frequent and more intense. For more information about how climate change is changing long-term weather trends, check out Climate Signals, a summary of the latest science around the connections between extreme weather and climate change."

* more race information for the Indianapolis 500, which kicks off noon on Sunday, here.

TV Weather Reporter Caught Faking Storm During Live Broadcast (Video). Oops! I've been trying to do this with a tornado for years now, but no luck. Hey, it's all about the ratings, right? Think we can fake a stunningly beautiful Memorial Day Weekend? Check out the fake sandstorm video from Yahoo News; here's an excerpt: "A Romanian TV weatherman has put a new spin on the phrase "having sand kicked in your face," after he was caught faking a storm during a live news report. The Metro reports that the reporter was filing a story about heavy winds along the Black Sea coast, which were gusting at more than 60 mph. At least, the winds were blowing that hard before the weatherman began filing his report. But by the time he went live, the winds had apparently died down. So in an attempt to recreate the stormy conditions, the reporter had a production assistant begin kicking sand in his direction. The reporter then told viewers, "The wind blows with incredible power; there are moments when it is impossible to stand up here. The wind blows the sand at over 60 km per hour. It blew away the beach umbrellas and the tourists had to leave in a hurry."

How To Destroy The Internet. No, don't do this - not even sure should be doing a story on this (or I should be republishing it) - but I came away from this article believing that it's probably impossible to bring down the entire net. It would take a massive coordinated effort on nearly every continent, at least doing it the conventional way. What I worry about (a little) is someone finding an unconventional way to wreak havoc. Here's an excerpt: "Remember when Anonymous threatened to destroy the entire internet? We laughed, and ultimately their words were just hacker hubris. But it got us thinking—could someone actually destroy the Internet? We did some digging, and guess what: With enough effort, the entire thing can be shattered. Physically. Completely. Here's how to kill the net. Before we destroy mankind's greatest, vastest machine, let's get something polite out of the way: don't. Destroying the Internet's core infrastructure would constitute the greatest act of global terrorism in history and/or a declaration of war against every sovereign nation in existence—to say nothing of the danger it would put both you and others in. This is a thought exercise.

Holiday Weather Angst

My wife is driving me nuts. That hardly qualifies as breaking news, but let me explain. We are hosting a graduation party Tuesday, so every hour, on the hour, I get a call, text, e-mail (or earful) - demanding an update on the weather. "If it rains on our son's big day I'm going to flatten you with a Doppler!" she threatened. "Honey, I'm the messenger, I have NOTHING to do with the weather" I said, but to no avail.

I get pleading notes from brides: "Hi Paul, I'm having an outdoor wedding, in June, the wettest, most severe month of the year!" Hooray. Rent the tent. Otherwise you're a big target for Mother Nature, who has a demented sense of humor.

The holiday weekend won't be a total bust. Hot, tropical air surging northward sparks severe T-storms today. By tonight it will be steamy, with dew points above 70. We break out into the "warm sector" of the storm tomorrow, highs may reach the sweaty mid-90s. Sunday should be the best day to loiter at the lake, beach or pool. A cooler, drier front arrives Memorial Day. A wet start Monday should give way to PM sun, highs in the low 80s, with a welcome dip in humidity.

Something for everyone: thunder, hot sun, sauna-like humidity. Have fun!

* photo above courtesy of Yahoo.

Climate Stories...

Climate Armageddon: How The World's Weather Could Quickly Run Amok (Excerpt). Here's a troubling excerpt of a story at Scientific American: "The eminent British scientist James Lovelock, back in the 1970s, formulated his theory of Gaia, which held that the Earth was a kind of super organism. It had a self-regulating quality that would keep everything within that narrow band that made life possible. If things got too warm or too cold—if sunlight varied, or volcanoes caused a fall in temperatures, and so forth—Gaia would eventually compensate. This was a comforting notion. It was also wrong, as Lovelock himself later concluded. "I have to tell you, as members of the Earth's family and an intimate part of it, that you and especially civilization are in grave danger," he wrote in the Independent in 2006. The world has warmed since those heady days of Gaia, and scientists have grown gloomier in their assessment of the state of the world's climate. NASA climate scientist James Hanson has warned of a "Venus effect," in which runaway warming turns Earth into an uninhabitable desert, with a surface temperature high enough to melt lead, sometime in the next few centuries."

Timescale Matters: 800,000 Years Of CO2 (NOAA). I was floored when I saw this YouTube clip from NOAA, tracking CO2 levels going back 800,000 years (tracking carbon is Antarctic ice core samples). The data set shows a spike between 20 and 70 North Latitude, and it's the rate of CO2 increase that is alarming. We've had increases in the past (related to changes in the Earth's orbit around the sun), but the atmosphere has never seen a CO2 spike like the one we've experienced in the last 50 years. More from NOAA: "Time history of atmospheric carbon dioxide from 800,000 years before present until January, 2009. Recommend full screen/HD to read titles. See for more information on the global carbon cycle."

The Big Picture. Data going back 800,000 years before Christ show fluctuations in CO2 levels, but during the warm (astronomical) cycles CO2 levels stayed within at 225-300 ppm range. We're now over 392 ppm, and unless we begin reducing greenhouse gas levels (soon) those levels may double by the end of the century, resulting in a 3-8 F. temperature rise worldwide. I'm sure how much clearer the trends need to be before reasonable, logical people realize that we have a bit of a problem here. YouTube animation courtesy of NOAA.

Killer Heat Waves: Heat-Related U.S. Deaths Could Increase By 150,000 By Century's End Due To Climate Change. Here's a clip from an NRDC article: "NRDC released a report today projecting that more than 150,000 additional Americans could die by the end of this century due to excessive heat caused by climate change. This startling conclusion is based on peer-reviewed scientific papers published recently by Dr. Larry Kalkstein and colleagues. This is the kind of study that should make headlines around the country but is generally ignored when published only in scholarly journals. So NRDC is presenting the information in a more accessible manner, adding calculations of the cumulative additional death toll attributable to projected global warming by mid-century and century’s end (the report, including these additional calculations, was reviewed by Dr. Kalkstein to ensure that we have presented the information accurately)."

Climate Change Allows Once-Rare British Butterfly To Thrive. The story from The Christian Science Monitor: "Warming in Great Britain appears to have given a little brown and orange butterfly an edge. The brown argus butterfly has spread about 49 miles (79 kilometers) northward on the island over 20 years, observations indicate. Although it's well known that climate change can prompt plants and animals to shift the ranges in which they live, the brown argus (Aricia agestis) has widened its living quarters with unusual speed, according to an analysis of decades of data collected by British volunteers. The butterfly's secret? A new host plant to feed its larvae."

Photo credit above: "Warming has allowed the brown argus butterfly to rapidly expand its range in England and Wales." Louise Mair.

Climate Change And The Media. Here's a post from "According to Yahoo News, the Casey Anthony trial was the number one issue in 2011. Global climate change did not make the top ten, although, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. experienced "14 weather and climate disasters in 2011, each (of which) caused $1 billion or more in damages -- and most regrettably, loss of human lives and property." When Rasmussen recently conducted a national telephone survey of what Americans considered the most important issues, global climate change was not mentioned. Number one on the list was the economy with 82 percent of Americans reporting this as being very important. Their tenth concern was Afghanistan with 27 percent of Americans citing the war as very important."

Countries Doing Too Little On Warming: Research. Reuters has the details: "Greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 could rise to nine billion metric tons (9.92 billion tons) above what is needed to limit global warming as some countries look set to miss their emissions cut targets, a report by three climate research groups said on Wednesday. Countries have agreed that deep emissions cuts are needed to limit an increase in global average temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius this century above pre-industrial levels, a threshold that scientists say is the minimum required to limit devastating effects like crop failure and melting glaciers. They believe the 2 degree limit is only possible if emissions levels are kept to around 44 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020."

Accusations That Climate Science Is Money-Driven Reveal Ignorance Of How Science Is Done. Here's an excerpt of an eye-opening article from Ars Technica: "One of the unfortunate memes that has made repeated appearances in the climate debate is that money isn't just influencing the public debate about science, but it's also influencing the science itself. The government, the argument goes, is paying scientists specifically to demonstrate that carbon dioxide is the major culprit in recent climate change, and the money available to do so is exploding. Although the argument displays a profound misunderstanding of how science and science funding work, it's just not going away. Just this week, one of the sites where people congregate to criticize mainstream climate science once again repeated it, replete with the graph below. That graph originated in a 2009 report from a think tank called the Science & Public Policy Institute (notable for using the serially confused Christopher Monckton as a policy advisor). The report, called "Climate Money: The climate industry: $79 billion so far—trillions to come" (PDF) and prepared by Australian journalist Joanne Nova for the Science & Public Policy Institute, claims to show how money has distorted climate science."