Cool and Quiet
Considering Colorado's Front Range is digging out from a 1 in 1,000 year flood and a Super Typhoon is steamrolling toward Hong Kong, we don't have much to whine about.
Drought is hanging on like a low-grade fever. I'm hoping we get a few good soakings to replenish topsoil before winter frost freezes the ground in less than 2 months. Gulp.
51 percent of Minnesota is in a moderate drought, down from 55 percent a week ago. But a stain of severe drought stretches from central Minnesota to the northern/eastern suburbs of the Twin Cities. Remind me not to complain about showers anytime soon.
Today will be a subtle yet blunt reminder that the sun is as high in the sky as it was in late March. Canada is catching a cold, sneezing cool reminders south of the border. Although no hard frosts or f-f-f-flurries are in sight looking out two weeks today will feel like October: a smear of lumpy stratocumulus clouds, a nagging northwest wind whipping up a little early-season wind chill at evening football games.
Blue sky returns this weekend. Your furnace may kick on Saturday, but highs rebound to 70F Sunday; ECMWF model guidance hinting at a few 80s late next week.
At least one more summer relapse.
Flood Maps, Models Inherently Flawed. One of the many lessons of last week's 1 in 1,000 year flood: every storm scenario is different, making it difficult ot use past storms to predict future worst-case scenarios. Here's an excerpt of an interesting angle on historic Colorado flooding from Boulder Weekly: "Flood experts agree it’s impossible to be 100 percent prepared for natural disasters, but last week’s flooding in Boulder County held some valuable lessons for how to be more ready the next time the waters start rising. They also say that flood modeling and floodplain mapping can only go so far in predicting the paths that the water will take. Each disaster, whether flood or fire, is unique, and when it happens, the silver lining is that it adds to the body of knowledge and historical experience that we rely on for making plans and predictions for future natural hazards. Dave Gochis, a hydrometeorologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, says local leaders are vigilant about updating floodplain maps, but those are based on “static depictions” of storms, and “that is very reliant on what happened in the past...”
Fire And Rain, Colorado Edition. The combination of a 14 year drought and recent wildfires may have made a bad situation much worse. Here's a clip from a story at Mother Jones: "...Still, the compounded damages from the cycle of wildfire and flooding could very well be amplified on the Front Range in coming years. Climate models foretell larger regional storms, and scientists have also predicted bigger, more intense wildfires in Colorado's future. "What is that going to mean for the people living in the mouth of these areas?" wonders Hyde. If the 100-year flood that turned Boulder inside out last week is any indication, living at the base of the Rockies—while arguably worth it—isn't getting any less complicated."
Photo credit above: ".
Graphic credit above: Flood Safety. "Boulder's 500-year floodplain. River and flood water eventually discharges northeastward toward Nebraska along the South Platte River."
Into The Wildfire. Here's a clip from an article examining how residents of the west are coping with increasingly large and devastating fires, and what new tools and technologies may help in the years ahead, from the New York Times Magazine: "Lassen Volcanic National Park, in Northern California, consists of more than 100,000 acres of wilderness and woodlands surrounding Lassen Peak, a volcano named for a pioneer and huckster who guided migrants through the area, that last blew its top in 1915, before anybody knew it was an active volcano. Last summer the park, like much of the West, was in the midst of a yearlong drought — which could be more accurately described as the continuation of a decade-long drought that had merely been less severe for a couple of years. A forecast of thunderstorms might seem like welcome news for a firefighter in charge of so many acres of dry forest — parts of the park can get so hot and dry during the summer that rain evaporates before it reaches the trees — but Mike Klimek, the firefighter in charge of the park on July 23, 2012, knew better..."
Photo credit above: "People wade through waist-high water in a store's parking, looking for valuables, south of Acapulco, in Punta Diamante, Mexico, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. Mexico was hit by the one-two punch of twin storms over the weekend, and the storm that soaked Acapulco on Sunday - Manuel -re-formed into a tropical storm Wednesday, threatening to bring more flooding to the country's northern coast. With roads blocked by landslides, rockslides, floods and collapsed bridges, Acapulco was cut off from road transport." (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
* more information on Google's new "Calico" life extension initiative from Gizmag.
My Daughter's Homework Is Killing Me. If you think your kid is getting too much homework on a consistent basis check out this article at The Atlantic.
Climate Change Is Not All Disaster And Uncertainty. How do you quantify uncertainty and attribution when it comes to climate change's impact on extreme weather events? How do you accurately communicate what may be the most complex environmental risk we've ever seen to the media, and ultimately the public? A few interesting ideas in this post from Australia's The Conversation: "How does newspaper coverage affect how we view climate change? A new report has estimated that 82% of articles about climate change are framed in the context of “disaster” and “uncertainty”. The report’s lead author, James Painter, notes that those dominant media frames may be doing us a disservice because the public “finds uncertainty difficult to understand and confuses it with ignorance.” Likewise, “disaster messages can be a turnoff,” and the report therefore suggests that a better framing might involve the language of risk. This, they suggest, would encourage focus on the trade-off between the risk – and cost – of inaction, and of climate mitigation..." (Image: NASA).