70% of Nebraska now in exceptional drought, the most extreme designation. Source: NOAA.
109 F. heat index yesterday at Searcy, Arkansas.
“Isaac’s rains were like Chapter 1 in the drought relief book,” said David Miskus, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s climate prediction center. “We still need a lot more rain to go here to really eliminate this drought.” - excerpt from a New York Times article on the drought below.
Today's Weather Map. The WRF model, valid 4 pm, shows badly-needed rain over the Midwest and Great Lakes, out ahead of the latest surge of cooler, Canadian air. T-storms bubble up along the Carolina coast, while a tropical depression sputters over the Gulf of Mexico. Dry weather persists for much of the western half of the USA.
PM Instability Sprinkles. The high-res, 12 km RPM model (courtesy of WSI) shows a few sprinkles and very light showers over eastern Minnesota this afternoon; heavier showers and T-storms pushing into Chicago, capable of sparking delays at O'Hare and Midway.
Photo credit above: "A portion of a 440-foot transmitter tower lies draped over a small building near the Riverland Community College west building Wednesday morning. The tower came down during the severe storms that swept through Wednesday between midnight and 1 a.m." Eric Johnsonfirstname.lastname@example.org
* more great aurora links here.
Not Quite As Ominous. The soggy remains of Isaac, which struck Louisiana (twice) as a hurricane early last week is still festering over the Gulf of Mexico. NHC has lowered the odds of reintensification back to tropical storm status to 30%, down from 50% on Wednesday. Forecasters will watch this disturbance carefully - it may still drift east over Florida by the weekend, increasing the odds of heavy rain. Image above courtesy of NASA MODIS.
Projected Track of "Leslie". Models sweep a strengthening Hurricane Leslie 150 miles east of Bermuda this weekend, brushing the island nation with a 4-8 foot storm surge. The storm is forecast to strengthen to a Category 2 hurricane, with sustained winds exceeding 100 mph by the weekend. Map: NHC and Ham Weather.
A Canadian Hurricane? Water temperatures over the North Atlantic are unusually warm, some 5-10 F. warmer than average for early September. That may sustain Leslie as a Category 1 storm unusually far north, with landfall projected next Tuesday near St. John's, Newfoundland - possibly as a Category 1 hurricane. Map: Alerts Broadcaster.
Bermuda Weather Trivia. more details on Bermuda weather and climatology (and hurricane history) here.
Will Winter Return With A Vengeance? I doubt it (based on recent trends) but I reserve the right to be pleasantly surprised. Here's an excerpt from my (bootleg) copy of the 2012 Farmer's Almanac. Why not. "After a year of unprecedented warmth – both during the winter and summer months – the great debate over whether or not Old Man Winter will return with a vengeance is on. Last winter was the fourth warmest for the contiguous 48 since record keeping began in 1895, with 24 states experiencing below-normal precipitation. In fact, California experienced its second driest winter ever. In only 10 states—chiefly across the nation’s midsection— was winter precipitation above normal. The situation became critical this past spring and summer with broiling hot temperatures across much of the country and the most severe drought conditions the nation has seen in more than 50 years."
- The U.S. Drought Monitor, released on September 6, places portions of southwestern and south central Minnesota in the Extreme Drought category. Many northwestern Minnesota counties, and many of Minnesota's southernmost counties, are said to be in Severe Drought. In total, approximately 63% of Minnesota is considered to be in the Abnormally Dry category or worse.
- The drought situation in northwest Minnesota and in far southeast Minnesota is the result of an historically dry autumn in 2011, a snow-sparse winter, and a dry 2012 growing season. The moisture deficits in southern Minnesota developed rapidly due to very hot and very dry conditions that begain in late June and continue as of this writing. Over the past 11 weeks rainfall totals in many Minnesota counties fell short of average by four or more inches. This is the climatological equivalent of missing an entire summer's month worth of precipitation. In some south central Minnesota communities, late-summer rainfall deficits are in excess of 6 inches.
- The U.S. Geological Survey and Minnesota DNR report that stream discharge values are very low at numerous Minnesota reporting locations. Stream flow values rank below the 10th percentile for this time of year in some of these watersheds.
- In a September 4 summary, the Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service reported that topsoil moisture was 22% Very Short and 41% Short across Minnesota. The report also indicates that roughly 85% of Minnesota's corn and soybean crop is in fair, good, or excellent condition. This is a significantly higher percentage of favorable conditions than those found in other Corn Belt states.
- Ample autumn rains are critically needed to replenish soil moisture reserves. Water levels on other hydrological systems (lakes, rivers, wetlands) will rebound only after the soil profile is recharged.
* latest Minnesota Drought Monitor is here.
Wide Area Of Nation Still Parched After Storm. The New York Times has more on (slight) relief from Isaac, and how much of the USA is still suffering through the worst drought since the mid-50s. Here's an excerpt: "The remnants of Hurricane Isaac that blew through the middle of the country over the weekend softened the worst drought in decades in some areas, but a large portion of the nation remains desiccated with ponds still too shallow to water cattle, fields too dusty for feeding and crops beyond the point of salvage, meteorologists and agriculture experts said Wednesday. Conditions have, in fact, worsened in some rain-starved regions untouched by the hurricane’s gray clouds, meteorologists said."
Graphic above: Drought's Footprint. "More than half of the country was under moderate to extreme drought in June, the largest area of the contiguous United States affected by such dryness in nearly 60 years. Nearly 1,300 counties across 29 states have been declared federal disaster areas. Areas under moderate to extreme drought in June of each year are shown in orange (above)" Source: New York Times.
Flash Flood. Jennifer Shutte snapped this photo of street flooding in Salisbury, Maryland Thursday afternoon, the result of slow-moving T-storms dumping out some 1-2" rains in a short period of time. Details from WBOC-TV.
Haboob! Another massive dust storm swept across Phoenix Thursday, the result of T-storm downdrafts whipping up sand and dust and suspending 1 mile overhead. Thanks to Dr. Matthew Pace for shooting some compelling footage, available on YouTube.
Image credit above: "A lidar scan, taken from the ground, of New Orleans' I-510 bridge taken on Aug. 31, 2012." USGS.
Iowa's Wine Lovers Rejoice Over Crop. I've never tried a fine Iowa wine. Most of my wine comes out of a box, but I'll give a try - if you say so. Details from The Des Moines Register: "The drought may give wine aficionados a rare gift this holiday season. Iowa grape growers and wine experts say hot, dry weather has concentrated the grapes’ flavors, which will lead to unusually tasty reds and whites. “The quality of the crop is fantastic,” said Mike White, a viticulture field specialist at Iowa State University. “It’s some of best that I’ve seen.” But some shadows have fallen on the vines. A frost in April killed much of the grapes. The drought also produced smaller fruit. White predicts the volume of the grape harvest will fall by 30 percent."
One of the (many) things I love about living in Minnesota: a front row seat to the Northern Lights. Seeing ripples of red and green race across the northern sky conjurs up a rare, almost childlike sense of wonder. It's a mind-blowing experience.
There is still no way to predict the Aurora Borealis in advance, but with recent solar flares the probability of taking in a dazzling free show just went up.
I've had more luck in autumn than any other season, but you'll need to get away from metro light pollution, and give your eyes at least 15 minutes to adjust. Good luck.
A cooler front of Canadian heritage will be whistling thru the trees today, daytime temperatures stuck in the 60s, with a few lumpy stratocumulus clouds to convince you that it really is September. The sun comes out on Saturday; a clipper sparks a few PM showers east of the St. Croix. Sunday looks sunnier and nicer.
What a shock: no significant rain is in sight. 63 percent of Minnesota is "abnormally dry"; extreme drought pushing into southern counties.
According to State Climatologist Greg Spoden "some counties have missed an entire summer month's worth of rain since late June". No end to warm/dry in sight.
Photo credit above: "In spite of overwhelming scientific evidence for climate change, people find ways to reject that evidence if it does not fit with their world view. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center."