An Early July
A reluctant spring? Just north of Brainerd this weekend one couldn't help but notice a lime-green blizzard of buds just filling in the trees - coming about 2-3 weeks later than usual.
Minnesota has endured 6 months in a row of colder than average temperatures. We were long overdue for a real warm front and it finally arrived, and on a major holiday at that! Good timing, for once.
Under the heading "Be Careful What You Wish For" this week will look like something out late July with a streak of 80s, as an overheated ridge of high pressure expands northward. 100-degree heat is possible in the Dakotas by Thursday, and a few 90s may edge into western Minnesota by late week.
Expect a dry sky today into Saturday morning. An approaching cool front sparks numerous T-storms late Saturday and Sunday. There are some signs the front may temporarily stall; I could see flooding rains/T-storms next Tuesday.
What a difference a year makes. Last year we experienced a rapidly spreading drought.
This year lake water is higher than I've seen it in a long time. Some docks are underwater; many farmers can't get out into their soggy fields.
A drought or flood summer? Something in-between, please.
Storm Chaser Tim Samaras: One Year After His Death, His Gift is Unmatched. Here's an excerpt of a terrific story (and video) on Tim's remarkable tornado research legacy, one year after his tragic death outside Oklahoma City, courtesy of National Geographic: "...Honoring the legendary Tim Samaras and his partners by continuing the chase has been the easy part. Filling his shoes is another matter. The TWISTEX research has "ground to a halt," says cofounder Bruce Lee. "Tim held the project together, and he was the one who interacted with the nonacademic money folks." Though the Texas Tech "Stick-Net" field researchers and the team headed by Joshua Wurman at the Colorado-based Center for Severe Weather Research continue to deploy devices intended to gather supercell measurements, no one has come close to matching the comprehensive data Samaras was able to get from inside the tornadoes themselves. Nor has an inventor of his stature emerged..."
Alaska Wildfire Keeps Growing After Evacuations. 248 square miles? This is one big fire, coming unusually early in the season, coming on the heels of an unusually warm and dry winter and spring across Alaska. Here's an excerpt from AP and ABC News: "Officials said that possible rain forecast this week in Alaska could help crews gain control over a massive wind-whipped wildfire that forced dozens of people to flee to shelters and move some of their animals to safety at rodeo grounds. The Funny River Fire in the state's Kenai Peninsula covered nearly 248 square miles as of Monday morning and was 30 percent contained, according to the Alaska Interagency Interagency Management Team. No injuries or structure damage has been reported, officials said..."
Watch As The Smoke Plume From Alaska's Raging Funny River Fire Is Pulled Into an Atmospheric Cyclone. Discover Magazine has the story, imagery and video loop; here's an excerpt: "...Here’s a great explanation from the “Weather Guys” at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies:
A big fire produces strong upward moving air currents that carry water vapor and ash upward. The water vapor can condense on the ash forming cloud drops. The vigorous upward motions produce these pyrocumulus clouds that look similar to thunderstorm clouds, which also form due to strong upward moving air.
Imagery credit above: "NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this view of the smoke plume from the Funny River Fire as it was pulled into a cyclonic pattern of atmospheric circulation in the Gulf of Alaska on May 20, 2014." (Source: NASA).
Massive, 2-Week China Floods Sends Half A Million Fleeing. Here are more details on an ongoing and serious flood situation gripping China, courtesy of robertscribbler: "...Each new dawn brings with it fresh losses with numerous major roads closed, bridges washed out, and adding to what is now an almost endless tally of evacuation orders. Daily rainfall totals in the range of 2-6 inches or more have saturated grounds, burst riverbanks, and turned streets into torrents. By today, more than 1 million people had been impacted with nearly a half million evacuated or rescued from flooded buildings. Since the, still ongoing, floods began in mid-May, more than 25,000 homes and 40 souls have been lost to the epic storms..."
Image credit above: "Relentless heavy rainfall over Southeast China visible in the above four satellite images on [left to right, top to bottom] May 12, May 18, May 23rd and May 27th." Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)
Solving The Vicious Cycle of Air Conditioning. All that waste heat from air conditioning on a massive, metro-level scale can add a couple degrees to the urban heat island. Details from Yahoo News; here's a clip: "In hot, dry Phoenix, air conditioning is for much of the year a necessity for public health. But with all those machines spewing hot air outside to provide cool air inside, what happens to the outdoor temperature? That’s the question researchers set out to answer in a recent study, and what they found was pretty surprising. Over 10 days, excess heat from air conditioners running during the night resulted in temps two degrees higher than they would have been, worsening the urban heat island effect and adding to cooling demands..." (Image: College Humor).
Solar Roadways. Solar panels that you can drive, park and walk on. They melt snow and...cut greenhouse gases by 75 percent? The goal was $1 million in crowd-sourced funding - the inventors are closing in on $1.5 million. Details at indiegog.com.
This Is The Best Smackdown of Pat Sajak You'll Read. Ever. No, I get most of my science from TV game show hosts. Nothing wrong with that. Here's an excerpt of a quote from Marshall Shepherd, past president of the AMS, the American Meteorological Society, as relayed to io9.com: "...The lesson here is that you must consume information from credible or expert sources. Ask yourself if the author of that blog or Op-Ed has a background in the science, has published in peer-reviewed journals, or at least put forth their position in a forum that can evaluated, tested, or scrutinized. Second, the public must understand that just because you know a TV personality, it doesn't signify that they are an expert on climate or vaccines. While this may sound trivial, many celebrities reach millions of people, and I am convinced that some fall lock step with their viewpoint just because they like them or their show..."
Photo credit above: "Examples of railroad track buckling from a report on the issue from the National Transportation Library." Credit: U.S. DOT
"A Climate Crisis Is Also A Health Crisis". Here's a snippet of an Op-Ed that caught my eye in The New York Times: "...Millions of Californians now rely on groundwater contaminated by agricultural runoff and industrial chemicals. Drought-related dust and wildfires intensify asthma, respiratory diseases and Valley Fever. Less agricultural production means poorer nutrition, fewer jobs and higher food prices for the entire country. A climate crisis is also a health crisis, and we must first direct solutions and resources to our most vulnerable and already affected communities..."
* graphic above: Florida Center for Environmental Studies. Featured in an article at WLRN, "Why Handwringing about Sea Level Rise Won't Save Miami."
Photo credit above: "Melting away: an aerial view of the margin of Greenland’s threatened ice sheet." Photo by Hannes Grobe/Alfred Wegener Institute via Wikimedia Commons.