Saturday, July 28, 2012

July 29: Withering Heat/Drought Shifts To Plains/Rockies This Week

Hot, But Not Ridiculously Hot. All the models keep us in the 80s today, but we should reach low 90s Monday (mid-90s not out of the question). A wind shift cools us down (slightly) Tuesday before heating into the low and mid 90s again Wednesday.

Hints Of Relief. No promises (there never are), but the ECMWF is suggesting 70s by next weekend - a real cool front which may provide 48-72 hours of relief. A fairly dry week is on tap, the best chance of showers and T-storms Friday, as Canadian air approaches.

Nagging Warm Bias. Although NOAA CPC's 6-10 Day temperature outlook shows the worst of the heat shifting across the Plains into the Rockies, the extended outlook for August (upper right) shows a warm bias for much of the USA, the center of the heat forecast over the Middle Mississippi Valley and the Ohio Valley, complicating any recovery from the drought for much of the Corn Belt.

Converted Skeptic. "Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified scientific issues that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Now, after organizing an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I’ve concluded that global warming is real, that the prior estimates of the rate were correct, and that cause is human....Our results show that the average temperature of the Earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, and one and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase is due to the human emission of greenhouse gases."
- excerpt of a forthcoming New York Times Op-Ed from former climate skeptic, Richard Muller, lead author of the "BEST" (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature) project. Details at The New York Times below.

Withering Drought. Here's a post from the Hastings, Nebraska office of the National Weather Service: "Where's the water for swimming in the Platte?"

Expanding Drought. Here's an entry from the Pleasant Hills, Missouri office of the NWS, via Facebook: "Curious how the drought has progressed since early June? We've constructed a "drought progress map" focused on changes to the drought status from June 5th through the latest drought monitor update on July 24."

5-Day Rainfall Outlook. The best chance of some .5 to 1" rainfall amounts: northern Minnesota and the U.P. of Michigan. New England looks showery, monsoon rains spreading across Arizona - the heaviest rains over the Carolinas, where up to 4" of rain is predicted. No rain is expected for the Southern Plains and the far western USA. Map: NOAA HPC.

UK Ensemble Olympic Showcase. The U.K. Met Office has created some special high-res models and graphics showing hour-by-hour rain chances for the Olympic Games in London. More details: "An animated probabilistic rainfall forecast. The forecast spans a 30 hour period and is divided into hourly steps. Each frame shows the chance that rain (greater than 0.2 mm/h) will fall sometime within a 1 hour time window displayed on the image. No information is provided on the duration of rainfall — it could last for the full hour or just a few minutes. The product giving the chance of more than 30 minutes of rain in an hour should be used to find out if it is likely to be mostly wet or not."

"Ask Paul". Weather-related questions, rants and assorted threats:


"A couple of days ago, you mentioned that you expected highs in the low 70s by the end of next week. Now you're predicting 90s! What's responsible for the huge swing in the forecast? Is it beyond reason to hope for an early end to this summer from hell? Those of use without air conditioning are really suffering."

Jack Delehanty

Jack - I tried to answer your question below, in the main weather column for Sunday. It won't come as much of a shock when I tell you that long-range forecasting is more art than science. I based my cooler forecast (for next weekend) on the ECMWF (European) model, which has been doing a pretty good job in recent months, better than most of the U.S. models - but still not perfect. This just in: there will never be a "perfect" long range forecast. As new data comes in the forecast changes, new data initiatlizing the weather models 4 times/day. Maddening? Yes, but look for trends over time - are the models getting wetter, drier, warmer or cooler over time? Is there general agreement among (all) models are is the meteorologist going out on a limb with one specific model? 

I believe the worst of the heat is behind us now. We will see more 90-degree days, probably another 8-12 by late September, but the odds of 100-degree heat are dropping now with each passing day. The heat wave anchored over Kansas City has been remarkably persistent for 6 weeks now, but it's showing signs of shrinking and shifting south in early August. The boundary separating blast-furnace heat from cool, Canadian air is slowly migrating south over time, and I stand by the forecast - I still think we'll see some temporary relief from the 90s by next weekend; maybe a couple days in the 70s to near 80.
Fiery Dusk. Thanks to Gregory Scott Potter for sending this photo along.
Olympics Weather: Cool & Soggy. Click here to see the latest extended forecast for London from Ham Weather. Highs will be in the 60s through Friday with frequent showers, possible thunder. Typical weather for Great Britain.

 * photo above courtesy of Steve Burns.


That's how many 90-degree days I'm predicting for the Endless Summer of '12. Average is 13. The natives are restless. 

Jack Delehanty from Minneapolis writes "A couple of days ago you mentioned that you expected highs in the low 70s by the end of next week. Now you're predicting 90s! What's responsible for the huge swing in the forecast? Is it beyond reason to hope for an early end to this summer from hell? Those of us without air conditioning are really suffering."

I feel your pain. I too am without A/C. 

I get it.

The 7-day Outlook always gyrates as new model data arrives. That's not an excuse, just meteorological reality.

Another hot week is on tap, but it won't be nearly as torrid as a few weeks ago.

I'm seeing the boundary between cool 70s and sizzling 100s shifting south over time. That should mean a welcome cool front next weekend.

The trend: more frequent breaks from the (insane) heat & humidity.

Morning showers may give way to 90 today: I expect 2-3 more days above 90 by Friday.

At least we're seeing SOME rain. Drought-plagued Indianapolis residents have given up; many are spray-painting their lawns green. 

Yes Jack; it could be a lot worse.

Climate Stories...

New Global Temperature Reanalysis Confirms Warming; Blames CO2. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from a (former) climate skeptic, Richard Muller at The New York Times "Richard Muller, the head of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, will publish an op/ed next week in the New York Times summarizing his group's findings with regard to global temperature trends. From a copy of the op/ed, Converted Skeptic, circulating on the web: CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified scientific issues that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Now, after organizing an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I’ve concluded that global warming is real, that the prior estimates of the rate were correct, and that cause is human."
Bombshell: Koch-Funded Study Finds "Global Warming Is Real", "On The High End" And "Essentially All" Due To Carbon Pollution. An excerpt from Joe Romm at Think Progress: "...Yes, yes, I know, the finding itself is “dog bites man.” What makes this “man bites dog” is that Muller has been a skeptic of climate science, and the single biggest funder of this study is the “Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation ($150,000).” The Kochs are the leading funder of climate disinformation in the world!
It gets better:
Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.
These findings are stronger than those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group that defines the scientific and diplomatic consensus on global warming."

Graphic credit above: "The decadal land-surface average temperature using a 10-year moving average of surface temperatures over land. Anomalies are relative to the Jan 1950 – December 1979 mean. The grey band indicates 95% statistical and spatial uncertainty interval.” A Koch-funded reanalysis of 1.6 billion temperature reports finds that “essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.”

Climate Change Could Erode Ozone Layer Over U.S. Here's an excerpt from a blog at "For the past 25 years, it seemed that we’d pretty much solved the ozone problem. In the 1970s and 80s, people around the world grew increasingly alarmed as research revealed that chemicals we were producing—such as CFCs, used in refrigeration— had started destroying the crucial ozone layer, high up in the atmopshere, that protects us from the sun’s harmful UV radiation. In response, world governments came together to sign the Montreal Protocol in 1987, which phased out the production of ozone-depleting chemicals. The concentration of these chemicals in the atmosphere leveled off within a decade. Yesterday, though, Harvard scientists hit us with some bad news: It looks as if climate change could actually cause the depletion of the ozone layer to resume on a wide scale, with grim implications for the United States."

Image credit above: "Climate change could produce an ozone hole over the U.S. similar to the one observed over Antarctica, above, in 2006." Image via NASA.

Following The Isotopes Leads Scientists To Useful Climate Change Data. Here's a snippet of an article at The Prairie Star: "Rebecca Phillips is working this summer in the blooming alfalfa fields at the ARS-Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory south of Mandan, N.D., measuring trace gases that have been associated with climate change. The ARS plant physiologist has been conducting this work for the past few years and has collected useful data for producers. Phillips said her goal in studying these gases is to give producers information on how they can be productive and profitable using the best conservation management practices that reduce gas emissions."

Photo credit above: "Rebecca Phillips, plant pathologist at ARS-Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory, works out in the fields in Australia studying carbon fluxes with other scientists."

  Readers Jump Into The Climate Fray. Here's an excerpt from an interesting article at The New York Times (focused on reader response to a series of recent NYT article on climate change posing new risks to aging infrastructure and how extreme storms and higher water vapor levels may be impacting Earth's ozone layer): "...Other readers e-mailed directly with their thoughts. Rick Eisenstat, a former Navy officer, weighed in on the question of whether climate change presents a real and present danger to the United States and the world. “In fact,” Mr. Eisenstat wrote, “the military has already answered that it is. This determination is often absent from the national debate but the impact it can have on it — and the country at large — is significant.” He said the American military was leading the way in energy conservation efforts to save money and reduce threats to supply lines. These efforts are having a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions, said Mr. Eisenstat, now a law student at Tulane University."

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 28: Nagging Drought Central USA (45,000+ warm weather records since January 1)

47,577 warm weather records across the USA since January 1. Details from NOAA NCDC below.

Turf Painting Spreads As Drought Ravages Lawns. Some residents of Indiana have just given up (on their lawns). It's easier to spray-paint it green than worry about rain (and mowing). The story from AP and Fox 35 Orlando; here's an excerpt: "INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - When this summer's drought turned her prized lawn brown, Terri LoPrimo fought back, but not with sprinklers: She had it painted green, making her suddenly lush-appearing yard the envy of her neighborhood. The Staten Island, N.Y., resident and her husband, Ronnie, hired a local entrepreneur to spruce up their yard by spraying it with a deep-green organic dye. By Monday, the couple's property was aglow with newly green blades of grass and no watering needed to sustain it. "It looks just like a spring lawn, the way it looks after a rain. It's really gorgeous," said LoPrimo, a 62-year-old retiree. With two-thirds of the nation covered by a drought that stretches from coast to coast, residents and businesses in normally well-watered areas are catching on to the lawn-painting practice employed for years in the West and Southwest to give luster to faded turf."

Photo credit above: "Ronnie Sharp, left, and Brandy Birdwell of Imperial Painting, spray turf paint on a drought ravished lawn outside a auto repair shop in Indianapolis, Friday, July 20, 2012. Without cutting the color will last four to six months." (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

A Record Number Of Records? NOAA NCDC shows over 26,000 record highs, more than 21,000 record warm nighttime lows since January 1. That compares with just under 7,000 cold weather records since the beginning of the year. Good grief.

Watch The Olympics Live On Your Computer. Now prime-time is 24/7; NBC boldly experimenting with technology that allows consumers to watch specific Olympic events as they unfold. With "authentication" (basically proving you have a cable or satellite subscription) you can watch all events from the London Olympics live. Click here to get started.

* I have DirecTV, entered my e-mail and password and it worked like a charm. Kudos to NBC for taking a calculated risk and making events live to subscribers on their terms

"The Twin Cities went from having an average of 13 cool summer days to 9, from 7 dangerously hot days to more than 11, and from 2 heat waves to 3 each summer." - excerpt of a new, UCS (Union of Concerned Scientists) paper focused on the frequency and intensity of heat waves across the Midwest. Details below.

37.37% of Minnesota is in a moderate drought, up from 33.96% of the state on July 17. Soil moisture is in good shape in and near the Twin Cities metro north to Duluth. Details below.

13.05% of the state is in a severe drought, up from 7.32% of Minnesota a week ago.

Dual Polarization. The local Twin Cities NWS is upgrading to "dual pol" on August 20; the radar may be down for as long as 2 weeks during the upgrade. Details below.

13 feet. The Mississippi River at Memphis is 13 feet below normal, expected to drop another 2 1/2 feet by late August. Water levels are down 55 feet from last spring's high water mark during the spring floods of 2011. Details from below. (AP Photo/Nikki Boertman)

"The price of corn has risen by 50 percent, to $8 a bushel, from where it was last month. And a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released today suggests that consumers can expect to see the price of meat and dairy products rise as feed for livestock becomes more expensive." - from a Live Science report below. Photo:

We’ve got the ‘storm of the century’ every year now,” said Bill Gausman, a senior vice president and a 38-year veteran at the Potomac Electric Power Company, which took eight days to recover from the June 29 “derecho” storm that raced from the Midwest to the Eastern Seaboard and knocked out power for 4.3 million people in 10 states and the District of Columbia." - from a New York Times story on the impact of extreme weather on America's energy & transportation grid; details below. Photo: NASA.

 "So far, extreme heat is the easiest to link to global warming after a research initiative led by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the British Meteorological Office. "Heatwaves are easier to attribute than heavy rainfall, and drought is very difficult given evidence for large droughts in the past," said Gabriele Hegerl of the University of Edinburgh." - from a Reuters story below.

"We could only attribute as much as 30% [of the Arctic ice loss] to the AMO," he said. "Which implies that the rest is due to something else, and this is most likely going to be man-made global change." - from a story at The Guardian below.

"Our atmosphere has a natural cooling capacity that keeps our planet temperate and habitable. We are gumming it up with our pollution. It's as if we had an expensive car, and we were dumping wastewater into the radiator, and then ignoring the warning light that was telling us our engine is overheating." - excerpt of a story from climate scientist Mark Boslough at Huffington Post; details below.
Photos Of Thursday's Severe Storms In The Northeast. has 10 photos from people in the path of Thursday's violent straight-line winds (no evidence that it was, in fact, a "derecho). There were over 300 separate reports of damaging straight-line winds. Details: "When thunder and lightning strike, is your first thought to find shelter — or take out your camera phone? If you answered the latter, you’re not alone. As the East Coast was hit by an expectedly severe storm on Thursday — an unusual straight-line windstorm known as a Derecho — people took to Twitter and Instagram to document the ominous skies. Some images showed the threatening side of the storm, which has already cut power to 300,000 residents in the north-east."

Anatomy Of A Heatwave. 1,513 hot weather records (daytime highs and warm nighttime lows) in just the last week. Interactive map courtesy of Ham Weather.

Temperature Anomalies: August 4-10. Long-range guidance is hinting that the worst of the heat may break over the Plains and Upper Midwest within 1-2 weeks, the core of the heat wave shifting into the Mid South and Southeast. Map: NOAA CPC.

A Warm, Murky Crystal Ball. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) shows a warm bias lingering for much of the USA east of the Rockies from August into October, drier than normal conditions predicted for much of the Midwest.

Drought Worsens Over Minnesota. The rough rule of thumb during the summer months is 1" of water every week - anything less and topsoil begins to dry out rapidly, especially when the pattern is sunny and hot. Although the immediate Twin Cities metro area (and much of central and northeastern Minnesota) is in pretty good shape from a soil moisture standpoint, drought conditions are worsening over far southern and northwestern counties. Last week 33.96% of Minnesota was in a moderate drought - that has risen to 37.37%. 13% of the state is in a severe drought, up from 7% last week. Details from the Drought Monitor here.

Drought Map Shows Widespread Intensification Over Central United States. Here's an update on the the growing drought from the U.S. Drought Monitor: "The July 24 U.S. Drought Monitor showed widespread intensification of drought through the middle of the country, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The map also set a record for the fourth straight week for the area in moderate drought or worse in the 12-year history of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The July 24 map put 53.44 percent of the United States and Puerto Rico in moderate drought or worse, up from 53.17 percent the week before; 38.11 percent in severe drought or worse, compared with 35.32 a week earlier; 17.2 percent in extreme drought or worse, compared with 11.32 percent the week before; and 1.99 percent in exceptional drought, up from .83 percent the preceding week. “We’ve seen tremendous intensification of drought through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Arkansas, Kansa and Nebraska, and into part of Wyoming and South Dakota in the last week,” said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist and U.S. Drought Monitor author. “The amount of D3 developing  in the country has increased  quite a bit for each of the last several weeks.” Fuchs also noted that as of the July 24 U.S. Drought Monitor, every state in the country had at least a small area shown as abnormally dry or worse. “It’s such a broad footprint,” he said."

Food Prices Could Rise 5 Percent In Next 5 Months. Details from ABC News; here's an excerpt: "The cost of filling grocery carts in America is going up. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that it is projecting as much as a 5  percent price hike for some food items over the next nine months. “Of course I’m concerned,” said shopper Barbara Webb. “I’m concerned for the people who can’t afford it.” Behind the expensive jump is the drought, now covering 60 percent of the United States, pushing up prices for feed that translate into higher prices for beef, pork and chicken products."

Ongoing Drought Hits Crops Hard. Live Science has the story - here's the introduction: "The drought affecting much of the continental United States — not to mention the heat and dryness around the globe — has sent corn and wheat prices skyrocketing, scientists said today (July 25). And the current weather could be a taste of what to expect in future decades. "Global warming helps make droughts hotter and drier than they would be without human influence," said Heidi Cullen, the chief climatologist for Climate Central, a non-profit organization dedicated to communicating the science of climate change."

Photo credit above: "Grain bins are silhouetted against approaching storm clouds that unfortunately contain very little water Thursday, July 26, 2012 in Pleasant Plains, Ill. The widest drought to grip the United States in decades is getting worse with no signs of abating. This week's U.S. Drought Monitor report highlights that the drought's severity is rapidly expanding across the nation." (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Mississippi River Level Dropping. What a difference a year makes, a 55 FOOT drop on the Mississippi River at Memphis from the high-water marks of last spring's flood? Unbelievable. Details from; here's an excerpt: "The Mississippi River’s water level keeps dropping, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Memphis said Wednesday it is using survey boats and dredges to maintain safe navigation. Meanwhile, river barge and tow boat operators are continuing to lose money as they reduce the amount of material they can safely carry on the river.The National Weather Service said Wednesday that drought has dropped the river’s summer level in Memphis to about 13 feet below normal, and it is forecast to fall about 2 1/2 feet more by Aug. 22. That would be more than 55 feet lower than the highest reading taken during last year's near-historic flood."

Photo credit above: "In this July 13, 2012 photo, the Memphis Queen riverboat moves down the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tenn. A year after nearly record floods, the Mississippi River level has dropped so low that it's beginning to affect commercial operations. Port managers worry that their passages to the river could fill up with silt, and barge operators may have to lighten their loads." AP Photo: Nikki Boertman.

Shelf Cloud. Evidence of potentially violent straight-line winds near Marion, Illinois, courtesy of Mike Leuchtenberg.

Threatening Sky. Michelle White-Eyman snapped this photo near Mechanicsburg, Ohio. Yep, I'd be heading for the nearest basement right about now.

Thursday Funnel - In New York State? Details via The Albany Examiner and Facebook: "Photo of a wall cloud/possible funnel cloud in Saratoga county, just northwest of Saratoga Springs around 7 PM this evening…confirmed by NWS Albany with some weak rotation noted on radar at the time…(Photo by Sean Organ)"

Significant July Tornadoes In The United States. Here are some interesting statistics from "July continues the trend in recent months of a smaller ratio of significant tornadoes, or those F2/EF-2 and stronger, to overall tornadoes. Only 13 percent of the months tornadoes from 1950-2011 reached this strength. But, as throughout the year, these tornadoes make up in death and destruction what they lack in numbers."

Farming Changes Can Limit Risk. Here's an timely excerpt of a New York Times Op-Ed from Jon Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of the Minnesota, where he holds a McKnight Presidential Chair in global environmental sustainability: "Droughts happen. They have happened in the past, and they will happen in the future. Whether the odds of extreme droughts are changing is still an open question, but signs point to shifting patterns of climate. No matter the cause, droughts have a heavy impact on agriculture. This year, American corn and soybean crops are being crippled by high temperatures and low rainfall. Only a lucky few farmers will have a decent harvest. Sadly, much of America’s commodity agriculture is especially vulnerable to climatic extremes – whether droughts, floods, heat waves or cold snaps. In particular, it is hard to imagine a system more susceptible to bad weather than the American corn and soybean belt."

Weather Extremes Leave Parts Of U.S. Grid Buckling. Here's a snippet of a New York Times article: "From highways in Texas to nuclear power plants in Illinois, the concrete, steel and sophisticated engineering that undergird the nation’s infrastructure are being taxed to worrisome degrees by heat, drought and vicious storms....The frequency of extreme weather is up over the past few years, and people who deal with infrastructure expect that to continue. Leading climate models suggest that weather-sensitive parts of the infrastructure will be seeing many more extreme episodes, along with shifts in weather patterns and rising maximum (and minimum) temperatures."

Photo credit above: Travis Long/The News & Observer, via Associated Press. "Emergency repairs on a highway that buckled in triple-digit temperatures last month near Cary, N.C."

Heat In The Heartland: 60 Years Of Warming In The Midwest. Here's a new study released by UCS, the Union of Concerned Scientists, focused on temperature trends in recent decades. A few highlights of the report: "Deadly heat waves have become more common in the Twin Cities because the city's weather has changed; more hot, dry air masses from the American Southwest and hot, humid air masses from the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea are intruding and settling over the city," said Dr. Larry Kalkstein, lead report author and University of Miami professor. "During the past 60 years, these oppressive hot air masses have not only become more frequent, they have warmed significantly, which can threaten human health."

"The Twin Cities went from having an average of 13 cool summer days to 9, from 7 dangerously hot days to more than 11, and from 2 heat waves to 3 each summer."

  • Heat waves lasting three days or more have become more common over the last six decades. St. Louis has approximately four more three-day heat waves each year than it did in the 1940s.
  • On average, hot humid days have increased more rapidly in frequency, while hot dry days have increased in temperature more rapidly across the Midwest since the 1940s and 1950s.
  • The meteorological characteristics of these weather types are also changing. In general, hot air masses have become hotter and more humid during nighttime hours.
  • In some cities, average nighttime temperatures within some air mass types have increased as much as 4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit (˚F) over the six decades.
  • Relief from heat is harder to find—all of the cities studied now have fewer cool, dry days in the summer.
  • The results aren’t due solely to an urban heat island effect on major cities. Less urban neighboring locations showed similar increases in hot summer air masses.
* an Executive Summary of the UCS report (pdf) is here.

KMPX Upgrading To "Dual Polarization". As of August 20 the Twin Cities Doppler radar (based in Chanhassen) will be out of commission for 2 weeks while the NWS upgrades to the latest generation of Doppler: "dual pol". Details: "Beginning August 20, 2012, the Doppler radar at your National Weather Service Forecast Office will undergo an upgrade to incorporate new technology. While the work is being done, radar data will be unavailable from NWS Minneapolis! The radar is scheduled to be unavailable for two weeks during this upgrade. Recently, though, technicians have been completing the upgrade in 5 to 6 days, and radar data will become available as soon as the upgrade is complete.

The advantages of "dual pol"?

* Better estimation of total precipitation amounts.
* Better estimation of the size distribution of hydrometeors (raindrops, snowflakes, hailstones, drizzle).
* Much improved ability to identify areas of extremely heavy rainfall that are closely linked with flash floods.
* Improved detection and mitigation of non-weather related radar echoes (chaff, smoke plumes, ground clutter).
* Easier identification of the melting layer (helpful for identifying snow levels in higher terrain).
* Improved ability to classify precipitation type.

Photo above courtesy of Reid Wolcott.

Olympic Weather Update. I love the British accent. Then again, we Yanks may be the ones with accents, come to think of it. Here's a great YouTube update on expected weather in London, courtesy of the UK Met Office: "Chief Forecaster Nick Grahame explains the forecast for the London Olympic opening ceremony. Keep up to date with the forecast during the Olympics on our event pages"

2012 Hurricane Predictions: Tranquil Or Tumultuous? Here's a clip from a story at "The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season is now in full swing. However, it has been fairly light after a vigorous start in May and then a very tranquil time since then. The biggest reason for the quiet period we are seeing now has to do with both the placement of the Bermuda High and also the upper level winds across the Atlantic, which are still a tad unfavorable for development in the region. The best and most favorable spots right now are portions of the Gulf of Mexico. When it comes to making forecasts for hurricanes it can be a very hard task at hand. Here are a few things that make it hard to forecast for the hurricane season."

China Government Criticized For Downplaying Floods. Here's an update from Voice of America: "Online, where news of last week’s floods trended high on microblog searches since Saturday and witnesses posted pictures and videos to detail the damages, the government’s management of the rains was the subject of much criticism. “The death toll should have been zero,” one user says noting that though the government cannot control nature, it is still possible to warn people in advance, use some precautions, provide emergency relief and deal with the aftermath properly. “We must not again use people’s blood to mend the system,” he added. The biggest rainstorm in 61 years hit China’s capital last Saturday, overwhelming the city’s drainage system, flooding highways and, in rural areas around the capital, triggering mudslides and river overflows. Beijing authorities quickly categorized the flooding as a “natural disaster,” a definition that is challenged by many users of China’s twitter-like service Weibo."

Photo credit above: Reuters.

An Epic Downpour Wipes Away A Capital's Sheen. The New York Times has more on China's flooding (debacle) here.

Photo credit above: "Drivers and their vehicles are stranded on a flood road following a heavy rain, in Tianjin, China Thursday, July 26, 2012. Residents impatient for official updates compiled their own death tolls Thursday for last weekend's massive flooding in Beijing and snapped up survival gear following new forecasts of rain, reflecting deep mistrust of the government's handling of the disaster." (AP Photo)

An Ominous Sky. Thanks to Brad Birkholz, who snapped this eerie-looking photo near Neenah, Wisconsin late Wednesday.

I Want My Mamma. Who writes this crap? Oh, I do. Sorry. I've run out of photo headline ideas, but thanks go out to Mike Lachendro, who took this photo of cumulonimbus mammatus on the underside of a towering thunderhead anvil near Omaha, Nebraska.

"Isolated Showers". Here's another terrific photo, taken in the Boulder, Colorado area by Jonathan Fields. Very nice.

"Ask Paul". Weather-related Q&A

"Hello Paul and everyone - attached should be a photo from (Thursday night), looking north from Isle Bay on Mille Lacs Lake. I was watching a Tyler Perry movie (his latest, really good), glanced over and wow, ran out to the neighbor's deck for the best shot. Being Up North, of course, had to make sure the dog didn't get her clock cleaned by a tomcat that had killed a careless teenage robin in the bushes, and a half hour later, watching the fading scene again from the house, a stinky skunk walked under the window, fortunately Herself the Princess dog was inside. Smelled a bear at the beach this morning too.

Just wanted to pass on some beauty and enjoyment of nature. It's so easy to get down with the climate changing before our eyes. Keep up the great work you guys."
Ruthann Nelson
Isle, MN

Ruthann - thanks for a spectacular photo (and I'm glad your dog is OK). One of the things I love about Minnesota (one of many) is that we get a free show in the sky every day. I see more (wild) cloud formations here than any other spot in the USA. I'm amazed how every sky, every sunset and sunrise, can look so different. "Sky Therapy" can drop your blood pressure and help you get through a rough week. Appreciate the note.

Wired For Wall To Wall Coverage. For the first time ever cable and satellite TV subscribers are able to watch events (live) online. NBC officials are holding their breath, hoping the real-time availability of events/outcomes won't spoit the ratings for evening viewership - it's a grand experiment in this new media world of instant gratification. More details from The New York Times (subscription may be required): "LONDON — “What we place on the shoulders of Dave each Olympics is enormous growth,” said Gary Zenkel, the president of NBC Olympics. One year, he said, there was the transition to high-definition; another year, the addition of selected online streams. This year, for the first time, every single event will be live-streamed on, and a handful will be shown in 3D on a special cable channel. The volume of video — roughly 325 hours’ worth a day — must be carried to the United States on a complex series of circuits that are diagramed on a wall in NBC’s work space. “We call this the subway map,” Mazza said proudly."

London: Cool And Partly-Soggy. After a spell of 80s earlier this week more typical U.K. weather returns, just in time for the Summer Olympics. Significant rain is expected Sunday (highs from 68-70 F). The sun makes a cameo appearance Monday and Tuesday before more showers the latter half of the week. Excessive heat will not be an issue for athletes or fans the next 7-10 days.

Has The iPhone 5 Been Smuggled Out Of The Factory Already? Pure rumor and conjecture - but Apple fanboys are hanging on every juicy nugget. Details from Gizmodo: "A Chinese case manufacturer is showing what looks to be an iPhone 5 in their product shots. It looks like the white 3D prototype we published a while back—complete with its new 19-pin dock port. But could this really be a unit smuggled out of Foxconn's factory?"

Maybe it is

"The possibility is certainly there. After all, it wouldn't be the first time that someone got their hands on an unreleased iPhone model smuggled out of a factory."

"Twapple?" Apple Officials Said To Consider Stake In Twitter. No, they're not really thinking of changing the name to Twapple. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. Apple taking a major stake in Twitter? Very possibly, according to a story at The New York Times (subscription may be required): "Apple, which has stumbled in its efforts to get into social media, has talked with Twitter in recent months about making a strategic investment in it, according to people briefed on the matter. While Apple has been hugely successful in selling phones and tablets, it has little traction in social networking, which has become a major engine of activity on the Web and on mobile devices. Social media are increasingly influencing how people spend their time and money — an important consideration for Apple, which also sells applications, games, music and movies."

TV Weather: Stormed By Multimedia. Many consumers, especially younger people, are getting the bulk of their information (including weather) on smart phones. Here's an excerpt of an interesting article from Jim Willi at AR&D, Audience Research and Development: "For years, AR&D has been advising client TV stations to be multiple platform news and information providers.   Now, a recent online survey shows that what is thought to be the last big driver of local TV newscast viewing – the weather – is also being stormed by a multitude of media. In fact, this survey in an East Coast market shows that the number one source on normal weather days – is no choice.  Fully one quarter of all respondents answered “None/Don”t Know” when asked the source they turn to during calm weather days.  But perhaps more surprising was the #2 source – 22% said it was their smartphone or mobile device.  The favorite TV newscast in the market limped in 3rd receiving 14% of the votes.  This is a TV station with a 40-plus preference.  The fourth choice on normal weather days was at 13%.  The second favorite TV station received only 6% of the votes for normal weather days."

6 Tips To Sell Your Car. I know this is random (but what isn't these days?) I have an old 1985 convertible I'm thinking of selling, and I stumbled on a timely article from with some pretty good advice. Here's an excerpt:
"You decided to sell your car? Here are 6 simple tips that will help you turn your used car into cash.
  • Know the market. Price your car competitively. Use Edmunds Appraisal tool or Kelley Blue Book to determine the fair value of your car.  Ask for slightly more money than you are actually willing to accept.
  • Evaluate your car. Take it to a mechanic for a thorough inspection. If you choose to get the car inspected first and disclose the findings, you’re being honest and upfront.
  • Give your car “curb appeal” by cleaning and detailing it."

Danish MECc EV Project Promises 500 Mile Range And "Refuel" Time Of Less Than Three Minutes. Breakthroughs with electrical vehicles (EV's) are coming fast and furious, as reported by "A collaborative project involving ECOmove, Insero E-Mobility and Serenergy is aiming to produce a fuel cell range extender for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) that should boost the distance between charges to at least 497 miles (800 km). The first vehicle to receive the new bio-methanol-based Modular Energy Carrier concept (MECc) cells will be the QBEAK car we featured yesterday."

 * photo above courtesy of the Key West, Florida office of the National Weather Service.

Summer to Remember

This is the summer where 80 F. became a "cool front". It's felt like a Washington D.C. summer. D.C. was built on swampland neither Virginia or Maryland wanted - some things never change.

"This is just like an Atlanta summer" said Ham Weather developer Lee Huffman, shaking his head in wonder.

1602 warm weather records in the last week, nationwide. 2012: 26,150 high temperature records, 21,427 records for warmest nights; many of these records going back well over a century.

New research suggests that droughts may increase the chance of record warmth; the two obviously go hand in hand.

Minnesota's Red River Valley is running an 8 inch rainfall deficit, closer to 4-6" near the Iowa border. That's a bit misleading, because during a drought soil becomes hard - almost impenetrable. Most rain from T-storms runs off into streets and streams; it doesn't sink into topsoil where it's needed.

Shocking news: another hot front is approaching, capable of a few T-storms tonight. We top 90 F. Sunday; mid-90s possible next midweek. Deja vu, all over again.

So, one more steamy, 90-degree week is shaping up - but long range guidance shows a REAL cool front after August 5.

We can only hope.

* photo above courtesy of Danny Kurily.

Climate Stories...

U.S. Drought Linked To Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an article (and video) at VOA, the Voice of America: " ...James Bradbury, a climate scientist with the World Resources Institute, a global environmental think tank, explains that La Nina, a natural weather pattern that periodically cools the Pacific Ocean, helped trigger the drought by bringing warmer, dryer weather to the American South, which has been hardest hit by the drought. “Time will tell the extent to which rising temperatures and global climate change contributed to this specific event and the severity of it," Bradbury says. "I think there is a good likelihood that the temperatures that we’re seeing and the heat wave that we’re seeing is all consistent with a warmer world, that that's exacerbating these drought conditions."

Deny This: Contested Himalayan Glaciers Really Are Melting, And Doing So At A Rapid Pace - Kind Of Like Climate Change. Here's an excerpt from a blog post at Scientific American: "Remember when climate change contrarians professed outrage over a few errors in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s last report? One of their favorite such mistakes involved an overestimation of the pace at which glaciers would melt at the “Third Pole,” where the Indian subcontinent crashes into Asia. Some contrarians back in 2010 proceeded to deny that the glaciers of the Himalayas and associated mountain ranges were melting at all. But now, using satellites and on-the-ground surveys, scientists note that 82 glaciers in the Tibetan Plateau are retreating, 15 glaciers have dwindled in mass, and 7,090 glaciers have shrunk in size."

Image above: NASA Earth Observatory.

Climate Change And Capitalism. Here's a snippet of an insightful story from climate scientist Lou Grinzo at the web site: "....As I’ve pointed out many times here, this notion that near zero government intervention in markets is some sort of capitalist nirvana is laughable; it’s nothing of the sort, as it would lead not to an economy that hums along efficiently, delivering the needed and desired goods and services, but one in which increasing concentrations of power — far worse than what today’s already excessive situation — would lead to monopolistic pricing (that’s higher) and all manner of abusive market practices that further enrich large corporations at the expense of small companies and individual consumers. It would not be nirvana, but dog-eat-dog anarchy, with some of the biggest and hungriest dogs in the fray being the fossil fuel companies. The only way we avoid that nightmarish scenario and have the kind of economy consumers want is via effective government intervention, in the form of laws and regulations that prevent practices that are not in the best interest of the public at large."

Analysis: Evidence For Climate Extremes, Costs, Gets More Local. Reuters has the story - here's a clip: "Scientists are finding evidence that man-made climate change has raised the risks of individual weather events, such as floods or heatwaves, marking a big step towards pinpointing local costs and ways to adapt to freak conditions. "We're seeing a great deal of progress in attributing a human fingerprint to the probability of particular events or series of events," said Christopher Field, co-chairman of a U.N. report due in 2014 about the impacts of climate change. Experts have long blamed a build-up of greenhouse gas emissions for raising worldwide temperatures and causing desertification, floods, droughts, heatwaves, more powerful storms and rising sea levels."

Photo credit above: "A pedestrian walks across a bridge above a main road on a day with high air pollution in Beijing June 6, 2012." Credit: Reuters/David Gray.

Hope On Climate Change: Young Evangelicals For Climate Action. Here's a snippet of an Op-Ed from Rev. Jim Ball at Huffington Post: "Extreme drought. Extreme heat. Freakish storms with names I've never heard of -- a "derecho" -- that knock out power for millions, leaving us sweltering. If you want to know what living with climate change looks like, look outside or keep abreast of current events. And as temperatures continue to rise, things will get worse. Global emissions need to peak during the next presidential term, yet neither candidate is talking about what they will do to address the greatest moral challenge of our time. Into this leadership vacuum steps a group of young people -- young evangelicals to be more precise: Young Evangelicals for Climate Action or Y.E.C.A."

The Right To Radiate. Here's an excerpt of a Huffington Post piece from climate scientist Mark Boslough: "One of the barriers to finding solutions to global warming is the insistence of political conservatives and libertarians that their right to burn as much fossil fuel as they want cannot be regulated. Since nobody "owns" the atmosphere, we have always treated it as an open sewer for our tailpipe and smokestack emissions. The sky seems infinite. Carbon dioxide is odorless and colorless. Who is it hurting, and what can they do about it? Would conservatives and libertarians have a different opinion if they understood physics and realized that their property rights were being taken without due process or just compensation? There is a strong conservative/liberal split in acceptance of the reality of human-caused global warming among the general population with limited levels of scientific literacy. But within the serious scientific community this political divide doesn't exist. There is overwhelming agreement among scientists of all ideological stripes that most, if not all, of the rapid heating is attributable to greenhouse gas pollution."

Loss Of Arctic Sea Ice "70% Man-Made". The Guardian has more details: "The radical decline in sea ice around the Arctic is at least 70% due to human-induced climate change, according to a new study, and may even be up to 95% down to humans – rather higher than scientists had previously thought. The loss of ice around the Arctic has adverse effects on wildlife and also opens up new northern sea routes and opportunities to drill for oil and gas under the newly accessible sea bed. The reduction has been accelerating since the 1990s and many scientists believe the Arctic may become ice-free in the summers later this century, possibly as early as the late 2020s." (photo: Jefferson Beck, NASA).

Summer Storms To Create New Ozone Holes As Earth Warms? This was a bit of a head-scratcher, but check out the National Geographic article and try to connect the dots; here's an excerpt: "Summer storms may create new holes in our protective ozone layer as Earth heats up—bringing increased solar ultraviolet radiation to densely populated areas, a new study says. What's more, if more sunlight reaches Earth, skin cancer could become the new marquee risk of global warming. As the planet warms, some studies have suggested summer storms may become more frequent and intense. This would send more water vapor—a potent greenhouse gas—into the stratosphere, the middle layer of Earth's atmosphere, which sits between 9 and 22 miles (14 and 35 kilometers) above Earth's surface."

Photo credit above: "A thunderstorm rumbles through Kansas (file picture)." Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic
The Story Behind Record Ice Loss In Greenland. Here's a snippet of a Climate Central story from meteorologist Andrew Freedman: "...William Colgan, a research associate at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado, said the July melt event is extremely rare, but not completely unheard of. He said an analysis of ice core records from Greenland Summit station, which at 2 miles above sea level is near the highest point on the ice sheet, shows that the high elevation areas of Greenland have experienced melt about once every 150 years during the past 10,000 years. However, such a widespread melt event is unprecedented in the observational record, which dates back to about 1930."

Map credit above: "In this chart you can see that a very strong area of high pressure (in red shading surrounding Greenland) set up shop over Greenland during July, providing warmer than average air temperatures and clear skies to enhance surface melting." Credit: NOAA via Joe Witte.

A Carbon Tax Is More Viable Than Cap And Trade. Here's an excerpt from "Pricing carbon is the cornerstone of a blueprint to contain climate change as it would provide both incentives and disincentives to reduce emissions. It would also drive investment and research dollars into renewable energy and efficiency. The best thing that governments can do to reduce emissions is to implement a cap and trade scheme or failing that, a carbon tax. Creating carbon markets is among the most expedient ways to address climate change. Cap and trade rewards efficiency and punishes polluters. It would also increase green jobs, lower electricity bills, enhance competitiveness, and forestall a climate catastrophe."