Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tropical Storm Andrea Pushes Toward Florida (east coast soaking next 48 hours)

What Is Going On?

"Waiting for summer? I'm still waiting for spring!" my wife mumbled. A lot of mumbling & grumbling lately. In fact I can't hear you right now because I've gotten a non-stop earful.

I honestly can't remember a faux-spring so depressing.

It's green, the drought is history, there's water in the lakes!

"Shut it Paul".

Why? Proving cause and effect is tricky, but I still think this tortured weather pattern may be linked to record melting in the Arctic last fall - which seems to have thrown the jet stream out of alignment. A 2012 research paper by Francis & Vavrus shows a 14 percent drop in the speed of upper level winds since 1979 as far northern latitudes warm up the fastest. is this sparking "amplification", big north/south swings, with weather systems moving much slower, magnifying the potential for flood drought? It's a theory, but it underscores my sense that we're in uncharted waters.

Climate change is flavoring all weather now.

Clouds and sprinkles linger today, lukewarm sun Friday and the first half of Saturday. Showers and T-storms arrive late Saturday and spill over into Sunday. I find that shocking.

Long-range models still hint at a real warm front (90+ F hot front?) in about 7-9 days.

* image above: Brad Birkholz.

The First Tropical Storm Of The Season, And "Hurricane Apathy". The last major hurricane to strike the USA? Wilma, back in 2005. We are long overdue for a major strike, and I have a hunch this is going to be a very busy year for hurricanes in the Atlantic basin. Details in Climate Matters"WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist looks at Andrea the first storm of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season. More details on hurricane apathy and the storm that got him interested in meteorology."

* First Tropical Storm of the 2013 season (Andrea). 40 mph sustained winds may strengthen to 50-55 mph before landfall over Florida's Big Bend Thursday afternoon.
* Tropical Storm Warning Gulf Coast of Florida, Tropical Storm Watch coastal Georgia and Carolinas.
* Greatest risk from Andrea is inland flooding; greatest potential for urban/river flooding Tampa to Panama City and Destin, then inland over Georgia and Appalachian communities from Chattanooga to Asheville, Roanoke, Hagerstown, Altoona and State College, where some 4-6" rainfall amounts are possible by Friday night.
* 3-4 foot storm surge predicted for Clearwater Beach by late morning Thursday, capable of minor to moderate coastal flooding and beach erosion.
* 3 foot storm surge in Lower Manhattan (Battery) by Friday evening as a weakened Andrea accelerates right up the coast.

Landfall. Andrea may strengthen further before reaching the lightly populated Big Bend coast of Florida, well north of Tampa. Tropical storm force (40-50 mph) winds will extend inland to Ocala, Gainesville and Tallahassee tomorrow, capable of minor damage. Map above: Ham Weather.

Model Agreement. All the models we examine at Alerts Broadcaster show strong continuity, with landfall near Crystal River or Cedar Key. Andrea is meandering along at 3-5 mph, but prevailing steering winds will pick up the storm and accelerate it up the East Coast, which will help to avoid a worst-case rainfall scenario for the Mid Atlantic Region and New England. Model guidance: NHC and Ham Weather.

Current Watches/Warnings. NOAA has issued Flash Flood Watches for central and northern Florida, as well as southern/eastern Georgia and coastal South Carolina. I expect Flash Flood Watches and Flood Warnings to be issued farther inland, across much of the Southeast, tomorrow. Map: Alerts Broadcaster.

Storm Surge Outlook At Clearwater Beach, Florida. A peak surge of 3.5 to 4 feet at Clearwater Beach late morning Thursday, coinciding with high tide, will create minor to moderate coastal flooding and some lowland inundation.

Latest Rainfall Predictions. It appears the greatest potential for inland flooding (urban and river) is from Florida's Panhandle into much of western and northern Georgia (including metro Atlanta) to Chattanooga, Asheville and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia (including Roanoke and Lynchburg). Some 5" rainfall amounts falling in less than 24-30 hours will lead to flooding of poor drainage areas, and some smaller rivers will spill out of their banks. Tropical moisture interacting with the Appalachians will create locally heavier amounts, and I can't rule out mudslides and power outages at the height of the storm Thursday night and Friday. Map above: Weather Bell.

Northeast: Biggest Soakings Inland. Models show continuity keeping the plume of heaviest rain inland, with lesser amounts near the heavily populated urban core from D.C. to Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Some 4-5"+ amounts from Hagerstown and Altoona to State College and Wilkes-Barre will result in flash flooding. Facilities that often experience flood-related problems should be on high alert; heaviest rains coming Friday midday into early Saturday. This will be a short-duration "burst" of very heavy rain as Andrea accelerates northeastward. Map: Weather Bell.

Timing Andrea. The ECMWF solution above shows landfall by Thursday evening over Florida's Big Bend, the center of a weakening tropical storm near Wilmington, North Carolina by midday Friday. The center of the storm passes closer to New York City by Friday evening (heaviest rains late afternoon into the overnight hours Friday), and then the remains of Andrea push rapidly northeast, already off the coast of Portland, Maine by midday Saturday. Maps above: WSI.

Minor Flooding For Metro New York. SLOSH models show a 3 to 3.5 foot surge at Manhattan's Battery Friday evening, at the height of the storm. Winds in New York City may reach 30-35 mph with very heavy rain falling over a 6-12 hour period late Friday and Friday night.

Let me say this again: warm sea surface temperatures, a lack of El Nino shearing winds over the tropics, and a persistently negative NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) all point to a much busier than average hurricane season. With a negative NAO the Bermuda High tends to set up much closer to Florida, nudging Atlantic storms closer to the USA. The fact that we're seeing a tropical storm in early June may be a strong signal of an active 2013 hurricane season to come. The last major hurricane to strike the USA was Wilma in 2005. We are long overdue for a Category 3+ landfall. The Boy Scouts have it right: "be prepared".

Summary: Andrea continues to strengthen (slowly) and reaches Florida's Gulf Coast as a moderate tropical storm Thursday afternoon or evening. As we've been saying for a week now inland flooding poses the greatest risk from this storm, especially over the hilly terrain of the southeast from northern Georgia to Asheville. Minor to moderate coastal flooding is expected in the Tampa/Clearwater/St. Petersburg market Thursday, a minor storm surge from Savannah and Hilton Head to Charleston and the Outer Banks. New York Harbor and Long Island Sound will experience minor flooding with a 3 foot storm surge by Friday evening.

Some people minimize tropical depressions and tropical storms, but this can be a dangerous oversight. Some of our worst inland floods have been sparked by dying, slow-moving tropical storms interacting with mountainous terrain, which accelerates rainfall amounts and the potential for serious flooding. Andrea should move quickly enough to avoid severe or historic flooding, but I anticipate widespread flash flooding from the Panhandle of Florida across Georgia and the western Carolinas, with swollen rivers and urban flooding possible into Maryland and interior Pennsylvania by Friday afternoon. Minor flooding from 1"+ rains may slow traffic (land and air) from D.C. to New York and Boston Friday PM into Saturday, with conditions rapidly improving along the eastern seaboard by Sunday.

A Warm Light At The End Of Our (crummy) Tunnel? I sure hope so. I know we keep pushing back the warm air; Mother Nature teases us with a possible warm front, only to have the warmth evaporate and pass well south of Minnesota. Is next week's ECMWF prediction of 70s and 80s real? I suspect so - but I'm not holding my breath just yet. I also wanted to highlight Sunday as the wetter day of the weekend, the best chance of rain morning hours.

A Hot Front Next Weekend? We're due, and the ECMWF (European) model shows a prod of hot air surging across the Rockies and Plains 8 days from now, possible setting the stage for shorts and sunglasses the weekend of June 15-16. Wouldn't that be nice.

Serious Weather Whiplash. Oh to be a barge operator on the Mississippi. As recently as February barge traffic was slowed and re-routed, due to record low water levels on the Mississippi River. Now we've swung 180 degrees to severe flooding, most recently shutting down barge traffic around St. Louis. Details from Climate Central:
·         In less than one year, there has been a dramatic shift from severe drought to flooding across many areas in the Midwest.
·         Here is a look at four different locations, showing their extreme swing in streamflow from near record low levels last August to above flood levels this May.
·         The combination of a very wet spring (one of the wettest on record in some locations) and multiple rounds of recent heavy rain from severe storms has pushed rivers to flood levels.
·         Heavy precipitation events, like those seen a few times over the last two weeks, are on the rise across the country.

Tracking Andrea. The NAM model shows landfall over the Florida Panhandle later today, the storm accelerating northeastward, soaking a wide swath of the East Coast from tonight into Saturday night. Loop: NOAA.

A 'Tornado Sense' Could Save Your Life
By Eric Waage, Hennepin County Emergency Management Director

Guest Post. From time to time I include longer-form narratives from people I know (and trust). I still worry about tornado-apathy and warning-fatigue in the Twin Cities metro area, a sense "it can't happen here" is still pretty prevalent. The last EF-4 tornadoes were 1965 in the immediate metro; since then the population has nearly tripled, so has the size of the metro. What was farmland 10-20 years ago is now subdivisions; when the next big tornado does touch down the damage will be extensive. Here's a guest post from Eric Waage, Hennepin County Emergency Management Director.
"The deadly start to the 2013 tornado season is a wake-up to all of us who live in tornado prone states. It also is a call to develop a strong tornado sense. Weather awareness and preparation for the worst doesn’t cost money or take much time.  But tornado sense can increase your odds of survival. Tornado sense can save your life and the lives of loved ones, friends, workmates and employees.
Dedicate 10 minutes each spring to prepare your mind for another tornado season.  Then, take one minute each month to mentally practice the actions you would take, at home, at work or at school, if a tornado hit. Finally, take a few seconds each day to be aware of the weather conditions and your surroundings. If you read this entire article, you are well on your way to becoming someone who will make the best decisions possible under a tornado threat.

Tornado sense has five parts:
* Be aware of weather conditions.
* The best survival stories are the ones you’ll never see in the paper, such as: “Family saved by deferring boat trip due to severe weather forecast.”
* Check forecasts daily during tornado season (May-August), and be prepared to adjust your plans. If even a small chance of thunderstorms is forecast for your area, check updated weather forecasts several more times during the day. Free resources for weather information include the Twin Cities National Weather Service at, the continuous weather stream on TPT WX television (KTCA Digital 2.4 and via select cable providers) and some radio and TV stations.
* When thunderstorms start to pop up, check their movement on radar frequently.  See if the storm is becoming violent on its way to your location by checking nearby counties for severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings. Staying connected with the weather situation will prevent dangerous surprises.
* Know your location. As you listen to reports of tornado movement, knowing your location can save your life.

Understanding forecasts and reading radar requires knowledge of basic geography. Cities are generally the smallest areas used for severe weather warnings. More commonly, forecasters will narrow warnings only to the county level. It is simply not possible to name individual neighborhoods, schools, stores and golf courses that are at risk.
As you travel your region for work, shopping or recreation, read the signs along the road so you know when you have passed into another city or county.  Do this often enough and you will develop a sense about where you are at all times.
It is also important to be able to identify where you are on a map.  Use a highway map to locate the places where you and your loved ones live, work and frequent.  You should become able to identify your location on a radar map just by seeing your county’s shape. Radar maps often only show county boundaries, large cities and sometimes major highways. Learn city and county names, and learn how to place locations within county boundaries.

Understand warnings.
A tornado warning is actually the last stretch of a long trail of clues that should prepare you for action. A tornado sense mindset means that you are forewarned and ready to act. Most killer tornado conditions are forecast days in advance and should come as no surprise. A few days in advance of when severe weather is expected, the National Weather Service issues a large-scale and very general Hazardous Weather Outlook. Several hours in advance of the expected violent weather they will issue a watch, narrowed down to county level. A watch means that weather conditions seem right for the development of tornadoes. This is your last notification to be ready to act if you hear a warning.
When tornadoes are seen by trained spotters or by radar, then a tornado Warning is issued for specific areas. A warning usually offers about 10 minutes’ notice before a tornado, but it can be much less time. When a warning is sounded for your area, you must take immediate action.

If you are outside you may hear sirens, if they are installed in your area. Outdoor warning sirens sound for three minutes in a steady tone during a warning. All metro area counties sound sirens for tornado warnings.  Most also sound their sirens when straight line winds approach hurricane force at 70 mph or more. Know your county’s siren policy, as well as those of the counties you frequent.
There are many other warning methods.  Among the very best warning tools is a NOAA Weather Radio that constantly monitors for broadcast warnings.
Local television stations will usually provide weather captions on their screens.  Only a few radio stations provide weather warning services; many broadcast automated programming and are managed elsewhere. WCCO AM (830) and Minnesota Public
Radio network (FM 91.1 and many others) are among those who reliably broadcast weather warnings. Several, free or low cost smart phone apps will alert you to severe weather. Learn more at People with qualifying mobile phones can get automatic calls from the National Weather Service when a tornado warning is issued.
Many digital commercial billboards also will provide tornado warnings in the Twin Cities area.

Choose good shelter. Despite our technological advances, it is your shelter choice that most determines your survival. Experience tells us that you should be in a small, windowless interior room on the lowest level of a structure for the best shot at survival. Know where these spots are located in your home, workplace, school and other places. If you are in unfamiliar surroundings during a tornado risk day, look around for places that might offer good shelter.  Cars, boats and mobile homes are not good shelter. Sometimes, there will be no good alternative for shelter, and that’s where tornado sense could have kept you out of a dangerous situation.

Accept the facts. To develop a tornado sense mindset also requires a reality check. Know this:
* Adequate warning is there for those who listen.  In almost every case of a killer tornado, there were days of indications, hours of alert time, and many minutes of warning.
* Outdoor warning sirens are not ‘always going off.’ Monthly tests plus the annual average of just over one siren activation for storms in Hennepin County, adds up only 27 minutes a year.
* Finally, there is not a single spot in Minnesota where a tornado cannot hit. Weather that spawns tornadoes rises miles into the sky and releases huge amounts of energy. These forces are far too big to be directed by a river valley, hilly terrain, hot pavement or tall skyscrapers. Thunderstorms produce many deadly hazards in addition to tornadoes (lightning, hail, extreme winds, flooding).

If you have a healthy tornado sense mindset, you and your loved ones will be well-prepared to weather any storm."
Infrared Light Reveals Tornado's Path. Here's a fascinating post about the May 20, 2013 Moore EF-5 from NASA: "On May 20, 2013, central Oklahoma was devastated by a EF-5 tornado, the most severe on the enhanced Fujita scale. The Newcastle-Moore tornado killed at least 24 people, injured 377, and affected nearly 33,000 in some way. Early estimates suggest that more then $2 billion in damage was done to public and private property; at least 13,000 structures were destroyed or damaged. It was the deadliest tornado in the United States since an EF-5 event killed 158 people in Joplin, Missouri, in 2011. On June 2, 2013, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite observed the scar of that tornado on the Oklahoma landscape. In this false-color image, infrared, red, and green wavelengths of light have been combined to better distinguish between water, vegetation, bare ground, and human developments. Water is blue. Buildings and paved surfaces are blue-gray. Vegetation is red. The tornado track appears as a beige stripe running west to east across this image; the color reveals the lack of vegetation in the wake of the storm..."

Second Deadly Tornado That Hit Oklahoma Upgraded To Rare EF5; 2.6 Mile Width Widest Ever Recorded. Here's a clip from a Star Tribune summary: "...The update means the Oklahoma City area has seen two of the extremely rare EF5 tornadoes in only 11 days. The other hit Moore, a city about 25 miles away from El Reno, on May 20, killing 24 people and causing widespread damage. But Friday's massive tornado avoided the highly populated areas near and around Oklahoma City, and forecasters said that likely saved lives. When the winds were at their most powerful, no structures were nearby, said Rick Smith, chief warning coordination meteorologist for the weather service's office in Norman. "Any house would have been completely swept clean on the foundation. That's just my speculation," Smith said. "We're looking at extremes ... in the rare EF5 category. This in the super rare category because we don't deal with things like this often..."

Photo credit above: "A storm develops just before it produced a tornado near El Reno Okla. just south of Interstate 40 on Friday May 31, 2013. Several tornadoes in the area caused damage and injuries." Photo: Chris Machian, ASSOCIATED PRESS.

El Reno EF-5: A Game-Changing Tornado? I can't remember a tornado that had the entire nation talking, arguing and debating. Friday night's monster multi-vortex tornado threw a spotlight on local TV meteorologists, and the words they choose to communicate risk. Is there ever a good time to encourage viewers to leave their homes and hit the streets? Probably not. And the 296 mph estimated wind speed came not from tracking damage and debris, but from a local Doppler radar on the scene. I've never heard of an EF-estimate based on Doppler vs. damage. Today's edition of Climate Matters focuses on the El Reno tornado, and the mechanics and physics behind tornadogenesis.

El Reno - Union City Tornado Widest On Record. More remarkable details, maps and videos focused on Friday evening's monster from; here's an excerpt: "The National Weather Service has just upgraded the May 31 El Reno, Union City tornado to an EF-5 with a width of 2.6 miles wide, making it the widest tornado ever documented. EF-5 is the highest possible rating for tornadoes on the Enhanced Fujita scale. The upgrade was based on information from OU RaxPol Doppler data or mobile radar data, that measured low level winds of 296 miles per hour. The National Weather Service said some of the subvortices had a forward movement of up to 180 miles per hour. This tornado is double the width of the May 20 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. The F-4 Wilber-Hallam, Nebraska, tornado May 22, 2004 was the previous record holder for the widest tornado on record at 2.5 miles wide..."

Oklahoma Storms: Amateur Storm Chaser Took Photo Of Tornado That Killed Him. Morbid? Yes, but everyone needs to grasp the inherent dangers of chasing tornadoes. Here's an excerpt from "From his pickup, amateur storm chaser Richard Charles Henderson took a cellphone photo of the first tornado Friday and excitedly sent it to a friend. Minutes later, that tornado would kill him. “That was the end of his life right there,” said the friend, George “Sonny” Slay. “He said, ‘I'm having fun,'” Slay recalled Monday. “He told me he was riding around … chasing the storms …. I said, ‘You better quit that!' “And, then, I guess he was en route to the position that he got in because he said, ‘There goes Channel 9!' He said, ‘You might even see me on TV.' And, then a few seconds later, he said, ‘Oop, there's Channel 5!'”

Photo credit above: "Amateur tornado chaser Richard Charles Henderson sent this cellphone photo of a tornado to a friend minutes before the tornado killed him. The friend, George "Sonny" Slay, provided the photo to The Oklahoman."

"Get As Low As You Can And Put As Many Walls As You Can Between You And The Tornado." Possibly the best advice anyone can give in the wake of two EF-5 tornadoes in 11 days in Oklahoma. Here's an excerpt from a great Harold Brooks NSSL guest post at Living In The Real World: "...Occasionally, someone strays from this basic messaging, potentially causing problems. Many in the tornado safety community are concerned about an inappropriate message that seems to have become very popular recently, but that differs significantly from the basic safety idea. Some broadcast meteorologists have offered the advice that “if you don’t get underground, you won’t survive.” Sometimes, it’s couched in terms of “this tornado is so severe, the usual advice doesn’t work” or “you can’t survive an EF5 above ground.” The message suggests that even in-residence shelters built to the design specifications of the Texas Tech wind engineering groups and the FEMA standards won’t survive. This advice is wrong and providing it is irresponsible at best, and dangerous at worst. As a factual statement, claiming that EF5 tornadoes can’t be survived above ground is wrong. After the 3 May 1999 tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, survey work indicated that 1% of people who were in houses that were rated F4 or F5 were killed, as reported by Hammer and Schmidlin..."

Photo credit above: "People arrived at Fred and JoAnn Horn's home to help in their salvage efforts, Saturday, June 1, 2013 in El Reno, Okla. . He is a retired state trooper and now serves as a deputy for the Canadian County Sheriff's Department. Their home was heavily damaged in Friday night's tornado. More than two dozen family members, church friends and neighbors came to the Horn's home to help recover items that can be saved." (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel)

RaXPol: Doppler Envy. I'd love to mount one of these on the top of my truck - not sure my wife would approve. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating post (and video) from Robin Tanamachi at "...One might expect the entire truck to wobble with a giant antenna swinging around on its bed. The engineers addressed that issue from the design stages. As can be seen in the video clip, the entire truck remains surprisingly static, even without the hydraulic levelers deployed. Seasick crew members will not be an issue. And as for the problem of “beam-smearing” (insufficient dwell time) that might result from such a rapidly rotating antenna, the engineers implemented a multi-frequency Tx/Rx system. Conventional Doppler radar transmits pulses a single frequency, then “listens” for the echo of the transmitted signal. Imagine someone striking a single piano key, then listening for the echo of that note. In contrast, RaXPol transmits consecutive pulses at slightly different frequencies, then listens for the returned signal from all of them simultaneously. In the piano analogy, instead of striking only one key, you would sweep your fingers over several keys, then listen for the combined echoes of all the different notes. Dr. Andy Pazmany explains in this presentation how this “frequency hopping” technique works..."

How Storm Chasers Have Made Tornado Alley Safer. I have no beef with storm chasers - they provide the "ground truth" that Doppler radar doesn't. They've saved countless lives in recent decades and contributed to a large and growing body of science. It's just gotten a little out of control, to the point where there are SO MANY chasers that it makes it safe for everyone, with traffic snarls that can make it dangerous, even deadly for everyone else. There's no easy answer here, but at least people are talking about this. In the end I hope cooler heads and reason will prevail. Here's an excerpt of a post from Andrew Revkin at The New York Times: "Here’s a “Your Dot” contribution exploring the surprising mix of factors — including data gathered by storm-chasing scientists — that have steadily made America’s tornado hot zone a safer place, despite the meteorological hazards that are a fact of life there. The piece, building on the discussion that has followed the deaths of three storm chasers in a powerful Oklahoma tornado last Friday, is written by Mike Smith, an entrepreneurial (and blogging) meteorologist focused on extreme weather. Smith is also the author of “Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather,” an engaging history of how individuals fought institutional inertia to improve severe-weather warnings..."

Image credit above: "This May 21, 2013 file aerial photo shows the remains of houses in Moore, Okla., following a tornado the May 20, 2013 tornado. The Oklahoma City area has seen two of the extremely rare EF5 tornadoes in only 11 days. The tornado that hit El Reno had a record-breaking width of 2.6 miles. The one in Moore, a city about 25 miles away from El Reno, killed 24 people and caused widespread damage." (AP Photo/Kim Johnson Flodin, File)

Storm Chasers: Rapidly Moving Targets. Here's a remarkable YouTube clip showing the relative motion of the El Reno EF-5 with storm chasers nearby - trying to stay out of the direct path. As the tornado occluded and weakened it veered to the left (northeast), catching some offguard with tragic consequences. When you watch the animation it looks like a potentially deadly game of Frogger. Here's an explanation: An animation showing the approximate location of the El Reno tornado, with chaser positions overlayed. Tornado path and size based on radar and path compiled by NWS. Chaser positions from Spotter Network."

Perspective. A 2+ mile wide tornado is unimaginable, but has a tool that lets one superimpose a tornado track on any metro area. Sometimes people don't get the message until/unless they see it in the perspective of their hometown. The El Reno EF-5 would have touched down near Wayzata, destroying major portions of Minnetonka, Hopkins, the Inner Lakes and South Minneapolis before occluding and dying out over downtown Minneapolis.

Tornado Spike. After a very slow start to the 2013 tornado season a persistent southward dip to the jet stream has created a sudden flurry of tornadoes, with a disproportionate number of violent, EF-3+ tornadoes in the last 2 weeks. Graph: NOAA SPC.

Severe Storms Bring More "Weather Whiplash" to U.S. From flood to drought, back to flood, with a few EF-5 tornadoes thrown in for good measure. Residents of Oklahoma must be both traumatized and confused. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman has the story at Climate Central; here's a clip: "...The extreme swings in precipitation may be connected, in part, to climate change, since the atmosphere is now carrying more moisture than it used to due to warming air and ocean temperatures. Climate studies have projected that precipitation extremes will become more frequent and severe, and some studies have already found an increase in heavy precipitation events across the Northern Hemisphere and in North America, including in the Midwest. Other studies have found that climate change is increasing the odds for certain extreme rainfall and flooding events..."

Top 10 Cities At Risk From Hurricane Damage. Number one on the list: Miami. Here's an excerpt from CBS News: (MoneyWatch) "Storm surge damage from a hurricane or tropical storm can devastate a city, leaving destroyed homes, standing water and debris in its wake, miles away from any coastline. This year, more than 4.2 million homes are at risk from storm surge, which could cause more than $1 trillion in damage, according to a recently released storm surge report by CoreLogic, a property analysis and data firm. Vulnerability is so widespread that more than 75 percent of major cities could be underwater after a major storm..."

Photo credit above: Shutterstock. "The gem of Florida's long eastern coast faces -- not surprisingly -- the greatest risk of damage, with 615,756 homes susceptible to flooding caused by hurricanes. About 25 such storms have struck the city in the past century. The city's location near the tip of Florida makes it highly vulnerable."

Worrying "Hole" In The Sun Is The Biggest Spotted By NASA In Over A Year. We are rapidly approaching a peak in the sunspot cycle, and the potential for large, potentially damaging solar flares. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post UK: "A giant hole has been discovered in the Sun - and it's heading our way. The giant gaping coronal gap has been described by Nasa as "extensive", "rotating our way" and bigger than anything they have seen in over a year. Not to worry though, the only effect it will have on Earth is an increased chance of observing aurora, which is nice. As NASA explains: Coronal holes are the source of strong solar wind gusts that carry solar particles out to our magnetosphere and beyond. They appear darker in extreme ultraviolet light images (here, a combination of three wavelengths of UV light) because there is just less matter at the temperatures we are observing in..."

Negative NAO: Amazingly Persistent Pattern. A strongly negative North Atlantic Oscillation correlates with big north/south swings in the jet stream, frequent intrusions of Canadian air capable of spinning up flooding rains and tornadoes. Last year at this time the NAO was strongly positive, meaning powerful west to east winds, keeping cold air bottled up over Canada, resulting in record warmth. A strongly negative NAO also increases the potential for Atlantic hurricanes hitting the USA (with a Bermuda high closer to Florida - steering storms toward the Caribbean and Gulf).

What Is That Mystery Blob On Doppler? Skies were clear - this was not rain (or AP). But what else could it be? Cue the conspiracy theories - probably military-related "chaff". Here's a clip of a post at WAAY-TV 31's Tennessee Weather Blog: "...But I have a best guess… I think it’s some new kind of yet-to-be unclassified military chaff.  Chaff is basically consists of tiny, highly reflective particles (often aluminum) which are sprayed from aircraft or naval ships to defer missiles from their target by creating false returns on radar.  The product you’re looking at above is “reflectivity,” and it has high values (highly reflective to radar beam).. too high to be smoke, but about right for chaff..."

What Happened To Tank Man, China's Most Famous Tiananmen Square Protestor? Here's an excerpt of an interesting follow-up story at Quartz: "A day after Chinese military killed at least hundreds, if not thousands of demonstrators in Beijing in 1989, a wiry man in a white shirt stepped in front of a line of moving tanks near Tiananmen Square and become one of the most famous protesters of the 20th century. Twenty-four years later, his identity is still a mystery. He is called simply Tank Man. Today, on the anniversary of the crackdown, Chinese bloggers paid homage to him with imitations of the face-off. The man blocked the path of the tanks, even as they gunned their engines. He climbed onto the first tank, pounded on the hatchet, and appeared to speak to the soldiers inside. When he stepped back down in front of the tank, two men ran into the street and pulled him away. The confrontation became one of the most enduring images of the pro-democracy, anti-corruption protests that swept China that spring and summer..."

Photo credit above: "A Chinese man blocks military tanks on Changan Avenue, near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, June 5 1989." AP Photo / Jeff Widener
WeatherNation TV Launches in Denver. KUSA-TV is one of the premiere local TV news operations in the nation with a stellar reputation for journalism and quality reporting. They also happen to have an amazing team of meteorologists, with Kathy Sabine leading the charge. Speaking on behalf of the entire team - we're very proud to be working with the Channel 9 weather team to bring the most comprehensive meteorological coverage to Denver and all of Colorado. Details from the Denver Post.

Climate Stories...

Intense T-Storms More Likely To Batter A Warming World. Although a tornado link is still tentative (and weak), there's little doubt that a warming atmosphere, with increasing water vapor, will provide more fuel to power severe local storms. Here's a clip from a story at The Daily Climate: "LONDON – More intense thunderstorms combined with damaging winds are expected to occur because of climate change, according to speakers at the seventh European Conference on Severe Storms being held in Helsinki, Finland. But because thunderstorms are small in size on the scale of existing climate models it is not possible to tell whether they will also lead to more tornadoes and larger size hail – two of the most damaging problems associated with severe storms. In a warmer world, increases in surface temperature and moisture create conditions for more frequent – and intense – thunderstorms, researchers say..."

Photo credit above: "Storm clouds gather over New Mexico in 2012. Increases in surface temperature and moisture will likely increase the intensity of thunderstorms." Photo by Nicoló Ubalducci/flickr.

Failing Infrastructure Could Cost U.S. Businesses $1.2 Trillion By 2020. Some harrowing statistics from this article at Triple Pundit; here's an excerpt: ".....If Thomas Edison were to come back today, he’d feel right at home with America’s electrical system because not much has changed in the past century…” Langford lamented, “…on the East Coast where the electrical infrastructure was torn apart by Hurricane Sandy, they’re replacing the old system with exactly the same thing…meanwhile China is putting up power lines with only a 7 percent loss over 1200 miles. Anybody know what our system’s loss is over 1200 miles? Eighty percent.” As utilities prepare to build new power plants, how much money could consumers save in the long run if greater efficiency in our infrastructure reduced the number of power plants we use to merely make up for transmission loss? Brian Pallasch, managing director of the American Society of Civil Engineers also talked directly about expenses associated with our aging infrastructure, warning that if we neglect it as we have, the costs will fall on families to the tune of $3,000 per year in lost time, lost service, more repairs on cars that travel on pot-holed roads, “Americans use two billion gallons of gasoline just sitting in traffic...”

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Climate Change Causing U.S. Wildfire Season To Last Longer, Congress Told. Congress yawns. But the data is the data; here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "America's wildfire season lasts two months longer than it did 40 years ago and burns up twice as much land as it did in those earlier days because of the hotter, drier conditions produced by climate change, the country's forest service chief told Congress on Tuesday. But the forest service was forced to make sharp cuts to fire prevention programmes, and reduce the numbers of fire-fighters and engines because of budget pressures, Thomas Tidwell, the chief of the United States Forest Service, told the Senate committee on energy and natural resources. "Hotter, drier, a longer fire season, and lot more homes that we have to deal with," Tidwell told the Guardian following his appearance. "We are going to continue to have large wildfires..."

Photo credit above: "Americans have increasingly been building homes in the wilderness, often in areas where fire had been part of the natural landscape." Photograph: Reed Saxon/AP

"There Have Been Just As Many Scientific Papers Predicting Cooling As Warming!" Wrong. Here's an excerpt from Skeptical Science: "It is a recurring myth that global warming has stopped and the Earth has begun to cool.  This graphic summarizes data that refutes a related myth that publications now supporting the scientific consensus that the world is warming due to increased carbon dioxide were predicting in the 1970s that the world would cool.  A survey of peer-reviewed scientific papers from 1965 to 1979 by Peterson et al. (2008) shows that few papers predicted global cooling (7 in total), while significantly more papers (42 in total) predicted global warming.  (Also see the original figure from the paper)..."

Climate Change Keeping Early Birds From Getting Worms: Study. CTV News in Canada has the story; here's an excerpt: "New research suggests that climate change is starting to keep early birds from getting the worms. In a groundbreaking study that wouldn't have been possible even a few years ago, scientist Kevin Fraser from York University in Toronto says that shifting seasons due to global warming have thrown the delicate timing of bird nesting and food availability out of whack. "Selection has favoured birds arriving at the perfect time, so they get there right at the peak of insect food, the big flush of all different kinds of insects we get in spring," said Fraser, whose paper is published in the online journal PLOS One..."

Photo credit above: "A magnolia warbler, one of the most-sought birds on the shores of Lake Ontario this month. One of dozens of types of warblers to make appearances in trees and bushes from Oshawa to Hamilton in May."