Friday, June 1, 2012

June 2: Warmer, Drier (Nicer) For Much of America

Beach-Worthy, Pool-Compatible. I'm liking what I see from CPC, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center - forecasting a warm bulls eye right over Minnesota and the Upper Midwest for not only the next 6-10 days, but looking out 2 weeks. Map courtesy of Ham Weather.

Second Wettest May On Record For The Twin Cities. 9.34" of rain fell last month, the second wettest since 1877, and the wettest May since 1906, when over 10" of rain soaked the cities. Source: Minnesota Climatology Working Group and Pete Boulay. Thanks Pete!

May Climate Summary. Here are some very impressive stats from the Twin Cities office of The National Weather Service: "After months of persistent drought conditions across much of the area, the dry trend was completely reversed in May. While May was warmer than normal, it will be remembered for the high precipitation amounts, and ending the drought for most of the area. In fact, the month began with drought and abnormally dry conditions, and ended with multiple river flood warnings in effect. Some of the heaviest rain was observed across central and eastern Minnesota.

  • Minneapolis recorded its second wettest May on record with 9.34" of rainfall.  The record is 10.33" set in 1906.
  • St. Cloud recorded its second wettest May on record with 8.76" of rainfall.  The May record is 9.68" set in 1912.
  • The NWS Forecast office in Chanhassen recorded an impressive 11.23" of rainfall in May."

4th warmest May on record for Des Moines (average temperature of 68.5 F).

  “It’s highly likely that these fires are going to get so big that states are going to need outside resources to fight them,” said Jeremy Sullens, a wildland fire analyst at the National Interagency Fire Center." - from a Washington Post article below focused on New Mexico's largest wildfire, and the specter of more major fires to come later this summer.
How To Kill Your Career In One Easy (Miami Beach) Evening. ABC News 20/20 has the tale of John Bolaris, a great meteorologist who got in over his head in a scam, and is still living with the consequences. Details below.

Warmest May Temperatures On Record. Every one of the cities marked with a red dot experienced the warmest May temperatures ever recorded. Here's a list of the cities from NOAA's NCDC.

Saturday Severe Risk. According to SPC, the Storm Prediction Center, parts of the southern Plains will experience a few storms with hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes later today. The cool front that sparked a few tornadoes from Pennsylvania into Maryland Friday is now sweeping all that rough weather out to sea.

Looks Like Summer. No more frost up north - temperatures reach the mid 70s today, but top 80 Sunday and Monday; mid 80s not out of the question early next week before temperatures cool slightly. No scorching heat, but a spell of lake-worthy weather is shaping up. Graph above: Iowa State Meteorology Department.

84-Hour Rainfall Outlook. A few showers and T-storms are possible Sunday night, but the atmosphere will be too dry for any heavy rain or severe storms. The best chance of a quarter inch of rain tomorrow night: the Mankato area. NAM model data courtesy of NOAA and Weathercaster.

The Drought Is Over (For Much Of Minnesota). Here's the latest summary from the Minnesota Climatology Working Group: "As of May 29, the U.S. Drought Monitor places some northwest Minnesota counties in the Moderate Drought category. Stream flow measurements at many locations in this part of the state rank below the 25th percentile when compared with historical data for the date. Topsoil moisture in portions of the Red River Valley is said to be Short. Roughly one-third of the state is rated in the Abnormally Dry category. The Abnormally Dry designation is often used by the U.S. Drought Monitoring authors to indicate that the landscape is "coming out of drought", with perhaps some minor lingering drought impacts. Over one-half of Minnesota is free of drought designation. This week's map shows substantial improvement in the drought situation when compared with early May when 60 percent of Minnesota was said to be in the Moderate Drought or Severe Drought categories. The notable improvement in drought conditions in the southeastern two-thirds of Minnesota is attributable to an extraordinarily wet spring, including very heavy May rainfall totals."

La Nina? La Schmeena... In spite of a La Nina cooling phase through April, which correlates with colder, snowier winters in Minnesota and northern tier states, temperatures have been trending consistently above average since January 1. The 2012 graph of temperatures and precipitation above is courtesy of the local NWS.

May Recap. Here's a good summary of what turned out to be a warm and very wet May, from Mark Seeley and his weekly WeatherTalk blog: "In the simplest of terms May was warm and wet. Mean temperatures for the month were 2 to 5 degrees warmer than normal, with several days in the 90s F. The extremes for the month were 97 degrees F at Madison on the 18th, and just 24 degrees F at Brimson and Embarrass on the 16th. Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the nation just twice during the month. Rainfall during May was abundant and above normal in all areas of the state except the northwest. Many individual climate observers saw their wettest ever May. Some of these included:

Pipestone with 11.06 inches
Windom with 10.83 inches
Lamberton with 9.87 inches
Hawley 6.72 inches
Floodwood 9.14 inches
* Photo above courtesy of Yahoo.

High Plains Farmers Depleting Groundwater, Study Says. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman from Climate Central has the story; here's an excerpt: "Irrigated agriculture is rapidly depleting groundwater resources in parts of the High Plains and the Central Valley region of California, which are both critical regions for food production, according to a new study.  According to the study, if groundwater depletion were to continue at current rates, 35 percent of the southern High Plains will no longer be able to support irrigation within the next 30 years. With climate change projections showing that more severe droughts in both the Southwest and High Plains are likely as the climate continues to warm, groundwater resources are going to be even more highly stressed in the coming decades, the study says."

Photo credit above: "Satellite image of fields that have been irrigated by central pivot systems, which use less water than many other irrigation methods. Credit: Wikipedia Commons."

Massive New Mexico Blazes Marches Through Wilderness As Fears Grow Of More Western Wildfires To Come. Here's an excerpt from an update at The Washington Post: "RESERVE, N.M. — A smoky haze hangs over the rugged canyons and tree-covered expanses of southwestern New Mexico as the largest wildfire in the state’s recorded history marches across more of the Gila Wilderness. The virtually unchecked wildfire is fueling experts’ predictions that this is a preview of things to come as states across the West contend with a dangerous recipe of wind, low humidity and tinder-dry fuels. The Whitewater-Baldy blaze has charred more than 190,000 acres, or nearly 300 square miles, in Gila National Forest and has become the largest wildfire burning in the country."

A Week's Worth of Temperature Records. Record 24 hour snowfall amounts for parts of Montana, while much of America east of the Rockies continues to simmer - record rainfall reports from the Midwest to the east coast. Truly something for everyone. Click here for an interactive map from Ham Weather.

Total Records: 3179
Rainfall: 465
Snowfall: 42
High Temp: 1158
Low Temp: 154
Low Max Temp: 328
High Min Temp: 1032

A Wild And Stormy Week. NOAA reports over 3,000 individual severe storm reports in the last week (not counting Friday). We're heading into a quieter, drier pattern - I suspect next week won't be nearly as severe from coast to coast. For an interactive map from Ham Weather (one of my companies) click here.

 Atlantic Storm Forecast Raised By University Team. and Reuters has more details: "Colorado State University researchers on Friday raised their forecast for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season to 13 tropical storms, with five hurricanes and two major hurricanes. In April they forecast 10 tropical storms, with four strengthening into hurricanes and two becoming major hurricanes with winds of at least 111 miles per hour during the six-month season that began on Friday. The revised numbers would still be slightly below average for hurricanes in the region that includes the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, the pioneering forecast team said."

How Jacksonville TV Handles Hurricanes. Here's an excerpt of an illuminating, informative article about TV hurricane preparation from "They offer First Alert Doppler HD and the 2-Minute Advantage to track hurricanes, smartphone apps to alert us to bad weather and animation software to dissect a storm's guts. But when Tropical Storm Beryl churned through a week before today's official start of the hurricane season, that tech was augmented by all meteorologists on deck at Action News, First Coast News and News4Jax. Using desks full of computers and their accumulated knowledge, each station's weather experts gave viewers the windy news in every way possible, starting with Beryl's approach to its soaking departure through the rest of the week."

Photo credit above: WOODY HUBAND/ "John Gaughan, senior meteorologist at WJXT TV-4, says people shouldn't think that meteorologists are "crying wolf" just becaues a hurricane hasn't hit Northeast Florida in 48 years."

Hurricane Reporter (Fails). Don't you love it when the meteorologists tell you to evacuate inland, while they're frolicking on the beach, hanging onto poles, trying to keep from becoming airborne? Here's a lovely tribute to everything stupid about hurricane reporting from Huffington Post: "We love weather reporters. They warn us about dangerous hurricanes and tornadoes, giving us enough time to duck and take cover. That said, we're also highly entertained that at the very same time that we're taking cover, they're marching right into the eye of the storm with a camera and microphone. And while their reports protect many of us from getting injured, their (debatably excessive) bravery results in some pretty entertaining footage."
Drugged, Scammed By Beautiful Women: Weatherman Tells His Story. Wow, if this isn't a cautionary tale, I'm not sure what is. Note to self: if it looks and sounds too good to be true, it probably is. ABC News 20/20 has the story (and video) of John Bolaris, and how a weekend getaway in Miami went very, very bad: "John Bolaris was a TV weather forecaster in Philadelphia, but even he could not predict the intentions of two comely women that approached him at a luxury hotel bar in Miami. He woke up two days after the encounter with little memory and even less money -- allegedly drugged twice on consecutive nights and charged more than $43,000 on his credit card. Bolaris had become another mark in a scheme run by an alleged Eastern European crime ring. Hours of FBI surveillance videos and photos obtained by ABC News show how the group of so-called bar girls, known as "b-girls," lived and operated in South Beach -- targeting wealthy male tourists and bilking them of thousands of dollars."
Photo credit above:
All-Electric Aircraft To Emulate Lindbergh's Historic Transatlantic Flight. Details from; here's an excerpt: "Eighty five years ago, Charles Lindbergh became the first pilot to successfully fly from New York to Paris non-stop, claiming a substantial cash prize and securing a place in history in the process. Now another world record holder, Chip Yates, has announced plans to take on the same aviation challenge ... but this time the aircraft making the 3,600 mile non-stop flight will be all-electric. The ambitious project is still in its early stages but the Flight of the Century team has already developed a patent-pending battery deployment solution to replenish depleted batteries while the aircraft is in flight."

Social Media Policies At GM, Target, Dish Network Deemed Unlawful By Labor Official. Details from Huffington Post: "WASHINGTON -- In an effort to control employees' activities on Facebook and Twitter, some U.S. companies have instituted social media policies that run afoul of labor law and infringe on workers' rights, according to a memo issued Wednesday by the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. General Motors, one of the largest automakers in the world, has gone so far as to forbid employees from posting anything potentially "misleading" about the company online and even told employees to be careful about "friending" their co-workers on Facebook, the memo indicates."

How To Make Money On Mobile, In Three Easy Steps. Here's an interesting story from "...First, the only apps and companies making significant money on mobile right now are making most of that money off in-app purchases. The apps are free, and if you want upgrades like extra jewels, more levels, additional features and so on, you pay small amounts of money over time. Research house IHS speculates that in-app purchasing would generate $5.6 billion in revenue in 2012, up from $970 million in 2011. That number would equal fully 64 percent of app revenue. And in-app purchases can take all kinds of forms: it doesn't just have to be buying extra jewels in Bejeweled 2 or the Mighty Eagle to get you out of your Angry Birds jam. It's a popular option in photo filter apps, fitness apps like Skimble are trying it for additional workouts, and the model works fine for subscriptions, as well."
Google To One-Up Apple, Announce 3-D Maps A Week Earlier (Video). Navigating not only 2-D, but 3-D spaces? Sounds pretty cool, and potentially powerful. Here's an excerpt from "At an event entitled “The Next Dimension of Google Maps” next Wednesday, Brian McClendon, vice president of Google Maps and Google Earth is slated to give event goers an inside look at what’s in the works for Google’s mapping service and “provide a sneak peek at upcoming features that will help people get where they want to go – both physically and virtually.
Solar Geoengineering Could Lead To Whiter, Brighter Skies. And who wouldn't want whiter, brighter skies? takes a look: "We’ve already heard reports that placing small, reflective particles into the upper atmosphere could actually improve crop yields, but would also significantly reduce the amount of electricity generated by solar power plants and do little to arrest the acidification of the world’s oceans. Now another potential side effect has been theorized by Californian researchers, who say that solar geoengineering could lead to whiter skies."
Photo credit above: "Solar geoengineering could lead to whiter skies, similar to the hazy and white effect often seen in urban areas (Photo: Shutterstock)."

Weather Psychosis 

Mother Nature needs medication. Lately our weather has zigged and zagged between some pretty crazy extremes. Winter snowfall in the Twin Cities goes from 86" one winter to 22" the next. Over 60% of Minnesota was in a moderate or severe drought a month ago. Now some rivers are overflowing their banks; a summer's worth of rain soaked many Minnesota towns in May.
A moderate drought lingers up in he Red River Valley - and it may expand in the coming weeks. I don't see any significant rain (or severe weather episodes) through the second weekend of June. I know, a meteorological miracle.

Good news for grad parties, June brides and anyone hoping to fish, canoe, or loiter by the pool. A siren-free spell of weather? Sounds good.

Patchy clouds arrive today but it should stay dry. A T-shower is possible Sunday, but major storms and sloppy fronts will detour south and west of Minnesota into next week.

No scorching heat in sight; comfortable 70s today, highs hitting 80 Sunday - probably the better day at the lake.

A quiet June? Makes sense. We had May in March. June is the wettest, most severe month of the year. Kind of sounds like last month. Confused? Join the club.

Have fun!

Climate Stories...

Hurricanes And Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an interesting story from "This blog is the first of a four-part series by Simon Mahan, Chris Carnevale and Jennifer Rennicks on hurricanes and energy. Future blogs will focus on Hurricanes and Wind Farms, Hurricanes and Coastal Adaptation, and Hurricanes and Oil Rigs. Today officially marks the start of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season — the six months each year when hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions form in the Atlantic Ocean. While there’s nothing particularly magical about the time between June 1 and November 30 that precludes storms from brewing outside of this range, it is worth noting that neither Tropical Storm Alberto nor Tropical Storm Beryl waited for the official starting gun.  Thus, for the first time in more than 100 years, two tropical storms with high enough wind intensities to earn names have formed before the season officially began."

North Carolina Wishes Away Climate Change. Here's a clip from a fascinating story at Mother Jones: "Some lawmakers will go to great lengths to deny the reality of climate change. But this week, North Carolina lawmakers reached new heights of denial, proposing a new law that would require estimates of sea level rise to be based only on historical data—not on all the evidence that demonstrates that the seas are rising much faster now thanks to global warming. The sea level along the coast of North Carolina is expected to rise about a meter by the end of the century. But business interests in the state are worried that grim projections that account for climate-induced sea level rise will make it harder for them to develop along the coast line."

Photo credit above: "Shad fishing on the NC coast, circa 1935 to 1940."  .

Climate Science: The X's And O's Of CO2. How sound is the science? Here's a good overview from Huffington Post: "...climate "science" is a joke, not a scientific field." -- Tom Blumer, NewsBusters Says you, Tom!... and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce... and the American Reform Party...But just how legit are the scientific assessments of these unscientific bodies? Let's apply a simple layman's litmus test and see if their claims merit deeper analysis.

Is the basic premise of global warming even logical?
What on Earth has previously addressed the soundness of global warming's underlying formula. Greenhouse gases and the greenhouse effect occur naturally in our environment. Earth would be too cold for our survival without them, and their existence has been proven by "centuries of science, laws of physics and direct observation." A simple experiment can demonstrate CO2's heat-trapping properties, as you'll see at the 48-second mark of this Bill Nye video. Or you can see the principle proven in Mythbusters' "Young Scientists Special."

More Corporate Contradictions On Climate. Huffington Post has the story; here's a snippet: "A few weeks ago I wrote a piece revealing that a number of major U.S. corporations that publicly acknowledge the threat of global warming are members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a stealthy lobby group that ghostwrites legislation to scuttle climate change initiatives. This corporate disconnect on climate goes way beyond ALEC. A new report analyzing more than two dozen Standard & Poor 500 companies found that despite their public pronouncements about the reality of global warming, three-quarters of them at least indirectly hindered climate change mitigation efforts through lobbying, campaign contributions, agency comments, or their affiliations with trade associations and advocacy groups."

Photo credit above: "ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva has testified on Capitol Hill about the "potential long-term risks associated with climate change," but his company has flip-flopped on the issue for years." (AP)

Conservatives Attack Scientific Findings About Why They Hate Science (Helping To Confirm The Science). Here's an interesting post from Chris Mooney at "Two months have passed since my new book, The Republican Brain, was published, and so far it has gotten a lot ofmediaattention. However, the coverage has followed a noteworthy pattern: while progressives and liberals seem intrigued about what I’m saying, the so-called “mainstream” media—the CNNs of the world—have shied away from the subject. What’s up with this? Well, a book with conclusions closely related to mine—Norman Ornstein’s and Thomas Mann’s It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism—seems as though it is being handledsimilarly by some in the press. And perhaps there’s a reason: Centrist (aka “mainstream”) journalists might well prefer that the findings of these books not be true."

Photo credit above:

Companies Need To Disclose Climate Risk: Investors. Reuters has the story; here's an excerpt: "Institutional investors and environmental advocates on Thursday urged companies to disclose their risks from the impact of climate change, two years after the Securities and Exchange Commission issued guidelines for firms to do just that. While the SEC guidelines do not force publicly traded corporations to assess such climate-related events as severe storms, droughts, floods and heat waves, some companies have done so anyway. But those disclosures have not been particularly useful, according to Maryland State Treasurer Nancy Kopp."

The People-Power-Inflicted Downfall Of Heartland. Details from The Huffington Post: "It has been a rough few weeks for the Heartland Institute, the "intellectual" nexus of the fossil fuel-powered machine to disparage climate science in the United States. Nineteen corporations have pulled more than $1 million in expected funding, leading President Joe Bast to ask attendees at the recent Heartland climate denial conference whether they had a "rich uncle" who could help out. Seriously. In a time when most news about climate change is bad, Heartland's decline has been a rare bright spot. Which has caused many observers to tackle the obvious question: how did this happen? In the reductive rendering of the mainstream media, the narrative has become that Heartland simply overplayed its hand by launching a billboard campaign comparing people who believe in global warming to the Unabomber and Osama Bin Laden, one of the single dumbest PR moves in recent history."