Once Again, Weather is Locked in a Wet Rut

The weather is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. Every day is different; every pattern unique. The weather may rhyme, but it never repeats.

Gazing at the maps I’d swear it’s mid-June. The persistence of 2019’s wet bias is annoyingly impressive. Without a major El Nino warming of the Pacific to hijack jet stream steering winds, the weather tends to even things out. A couple weeks of wet weather are usually followed by a few weeks of dry weather. Not this year. At the rate we’re going I’d bet the Sweet Martha’s chocolate chip cookie I just found in my sofa cushions that MSP set an all-time precipitation record this year.

Swarms of storms arrive later today; again Friday and Saturday. Many towns and farms will pick up
another inch or two of rainfall in the next 7 days. Amazing.

With minimal squirts of sunshine, daytime highs reach the 80s much of this week, cooling into the 70s next week.

Sioux Falls is still mopping up from tornadoes and record September flooding. Probably nothing severe here. Just soggy.

Photo credit: meteorologist Rob Koch.

Shocker: More T-storms. Heat, humidity and a dash of instability will set the stage for a few scattered showers and T-storms today and tonight. NOAA models print out close to half an inch of rain for the Twin Cities and St. Cloud by Wednesday evening. Map credit: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

ECMWF 7-Day Rainfall Prediction. The 12z Monday European guidance suggests as much as 2-3″ rain for parts of far southern and southwestern Minnesota between now and next Tuesday morning. The maps look more like early June than mid-September. Map: WeatherBell.

First Shot Across the Bow. By the very end of September – first few days of October upper level steering winds are forecast to buckle, plunging much cooler air into the Great Lakes and New England. Minnesota may see a glancing blow of sweatshirt weather by then.

Fall Color Update. Will unusually wet weather take the edge off the color in a few weeks? Possibly. There are pockets of color out there now, mainly sugar maples. Click here for the latest update from the Minnesota DNR.

Extreme Weather Events (and the Costs) Are Piling Up. Here’s a clip from a summary at NBC News: “…But the growth of extreme weather extends beyond hurricanes. An analysis of weather disasters that did more than $1 billion in damage from the National Centers for Environmental Information finds that such high-cost events are up markedly since the 1980s. (The dollar figures for the events were adjusted for inflation.) There have been 250 such events since 1980 and almost half them, 111, have occurred in the current decade. And the 2019 figure does not include any events after May, so Dorian is not on the list yet. There were only 28 billion-dollar weather events in the 1980s…”

Extreme Weather Displaced a Record 7 Million in First Half of 2019. The New York Times reports: “Extreme weather events displaced a record seven million people from their homes during the first six months of this year, a figure that put 2019 on pace to be one of the most disastrous years in almost two decades even before Hurricane Dorian battered the Bahamas. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, which compiles data from governments, United Nations humanitarian agencies and media reports, concluded in a report published Thursday that floods, landslides, cyclones and other extreme weather events temporarily displaced more people in the first half of this year than during the same period in any other year…”

Photo credit: “Credit: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters.

More States Hitting Electric Vehicle Owners with Higher Fees. A 112% increase in Minnesota. Really? A story at Consumer Reports had me seeing red: “…A new Consumer Reports analysis shows that of the 26 states that currently impose EV fees, 11 charge more than the amount owners of similar gas-powered cars pay in gas taxes, and three charge more than twice the amount. And the trend is potentially for more EV fees: Among the 12 states considering proposals, 10 would have fees greater than what a driver on average would pay in gas taxes. Seven of those states would ratchet up the fees over time to twice the amount.  “People should be allowed to choose a vehicle that’s safe, reliable, and better for the environment without being punished,” says Shannon Baker-Branstetter, manager of cars and energy policy at Consumer Reports...”

On 9/11, Luck Meant Everything. The Atlantic has a powerful reminder of that dark day; here’s a clip: “…Over millennia, we’ve called “luck” and “fate” by many names, often intertwining the concepts with the unseen hand of Providence. In mythology, the three Fates were goddesses who handed out destiny at birth, weaving a future that each mortal would be forced to live out inexorably—the concept of fate serving for many as a necessary explanation for the random cruelties, vicissitudes, and lucky breaks that determine so much of how life plays out. That individuals might just blunder into these events for no reason at all was, for the ancient Greeks, just too bleak a thought. Yet it’s hard to come away from the stories of 9/11 with a sense of anything other than an appreciation for the role randomness plays in our daily existence—There but for the grace of God go I, as the 16th-century clergyman John Bradford is said to have phrased it—and how it can change the course of history...”

Using a Hair Dryer to Slow Down Speeding Cars. KPAX.com explains: “Mother and Grandmother Patti Baumgartner was tired of cars zipping down South Finely Point in Polson, Montana. She tells MTN she was worried about her grand kid’s safety when they went for walks down the road.  So, she took matters into her own hands. Baumgartner sat on the side of South Finely Point holding a white hair dryer, pointed at cars. The hope was that the hair dryer would look like a speed gun and slow people down.  “We were talking about maybe something would slow the cars down. So, we decided to put me in a chair and I guess use the hair dryer as a speed thing,” explained Baumgartner…”

Photo credit courtesy of Tim Baumgartner.

87 F. maximum temperature on Monday in the Twin Cities.

72 F. average high on September 16.

90 F. high on September 16, 2018.

September 17, 1955: A late-season tornado hits Koochiching County. Most damage is confined to trees.

September 17, 1911: Pipestone is hit with baseball-sized hail that smashes numerous windows at the Calumet Hotel and high school. The local observer measures hail three inches deep. People get their photos taken in automobiles surrounded by the icy white ground.

TUESDAY: Some sun, stray T-storm. Winds: SE 15-25. High: 84

WEDNESDAY: Early storm risk, then warm sunshine. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 71. High: 83

THURSDAY: Intervals of sun, still lukewarm. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 62. High: 81

FRIDAY: Muggy with T-storms, some heavy. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 67. High: 83

SATURDAY: Showers taper, slow clearing. Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: 68. High: 78

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sunshine. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 56. High: 73

MONDAY: Partly sunny and milder. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 57. High: 78

Climate Stories….

Hello from 2050. We Avoided the Worst of Climate Change – But Everything is Different. Bill McKibbon looks ahead for a special edition of TIME.com: “…By 2020, renewable energy was the cheapest way to generate electricity around the planet—in fact, the cheapest way there ever had been. The engineers had done their job, taking sun and wind from quirky backyard DIY projects to cutting-edge technology. Batteries had plummeted down the same cost curve as renewable energy, so the fact that the sun went down at night no longer mattered quite so much—you could store its rays to use later. And the third realization? People began to understand that the biggest reason we weren’t making full, fast use of these new technologies was the political power of the fossil-fuel industry. Investigative journalists had exposed its three-decade campaign of denial and disinformation, and attorneys general and plaintiffs’ lawyers were beginning to pick them apart. And just in time…”

Greta Thunberg is the Climate Heroine We Need. Greta Thunberg was dying from depression and starvation when she had a nightmare about climate change that saved her life. It might just save all of us. The Daily Beast reports: “When Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg was 11 years old, her body had started to shut down due to severe self-starvation tied to debilitating depression. She spoke to almost no one but her immediate family. She was afraid of crowds. She was lost in her own world, and the world very nearly lost her. But thanks to the formal diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome coupled with high-functioning autism and obsessive compulsive disorder, the now-16-year-old Swede has become quite literally the poster child for the generation that will have to deal with the destruction of our planet. Once she started receiving multifaceted treatment, Thunberg was able to channel her anxiety into something we should all be concerned about: the health of the planet and the science behind apocalyptic warnings of its demise...”

The Kids Are Rising: Climate Nexus has headlines and URL’s: “Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg led around 1,500 youth climate protesters in a demonstration outside the White House Friday, the latest Fridays for Future climate strike that began more than a year ago with Thunberg protesting alone outside the Swedish Parliament. Last week’s protest comes as a preview of the country- and worldwide planned walkout on September 20, three days before the UN Climate Summit begins in New York City. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week that the Department of Education will excuse children who decide to skip school next Friday for the climate strike. Since arriving in New York last month following a two-week transatlantic boat journey, Thunberg has appeared on multiple news outlets, including an interview with The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah. “It feels like many people are debating about the climate crisis, which they are doing everywhere,” Thunberg told the Washington Post in an interview ahead of Friday’s protest. “But here, it’s like they even doubt facts.” (DC strike: Washington Post $, Time, ReutersAPThe Hill, USA Today, NPR. NYC: New York Daily News, New York Post).

Climate Change May Be Affecting Tornadoes. The Oklahoman connects the dots: “…Studies show twisters are spawning less often in western Texas and Oklahoma, part of the historically tornado-prone area known as Tornado Alley. That could indicate a shift of average tornado genesis to the east, affecting more populous regions near the Mississippi River. What scientists aren’t sure about, but have a hypothesis, is that climate change is causing drier conditions to push eastward across the central United States; convective storms that spawn tornadoes need warm, moist air for energy. In many cases, researchers see effects long before they find a cause. Such is the case with evidence that shows hurricanes are intensifying more rapidly, another outcome linked to climate change…”

Photo credit: “Debris left behind at the American Budget Value Inn in the aftermath of a tornado in El Reno on May 26. Studies show twisters are spawning less often in western Texas and Oklahoma, part of the historically tornado-prone area known as Tornado Alley.” [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]

The World Needs Carbon-Neutral Flying. Here’s How to Bring It One Step Closer. The World Economic Forum has an interesting post; here’s an excerpt: “…Hybrid propulsion, whereby electric motors would provide initial thrust on take-off and landing for example, could on the other hand reduce emissions in medium- and long-haul flying, but this also will take years to make a substantial impact. This leaves sustainable aviation fuels, or SAF, as the most realistic option today for greener flying. SAF could come in various types of sustainable bio-fuels (derived from waste and not in competition with any food crops) that are in use already today. Synthetic fuels are another potential source, capturing CO2 during their production phase. SAF – which can reduce the carbon footprint of aviation fuel by up to 80% over their full life cycle – started testing on commercial-sized aircraft systems in 2008…”

Photo credit: REUTERS/David Gray.

Is Climate Change “Evil”? A post at The Guardian caught my eye; here’s a clip: “…Robinson is chair of the Elders, an independent group of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela that works for human rights. She will say in her speech: “I believe that climate change denial is not just ignorant, it is malign, it is evil, and it amounts to an attempt to deny human rights to some of the most vulnerable people on the planet.” “The evidence about the effects of climate change is incontrovertible, and the moral case for urgent action indisputable,” she will say. “Climate change undermines the enjoyment of the full range of human rights – from the right to life, to food, to shelter and to health. It is an injustice that the people who have contributed least to the causes of the problem suffer the worst impacts of climate change…”

Photo credit: “Mary Robinson: ‘I believe that climate change denial is not just ignorant, it is malign, it is evil.” Photograph: Johnny Savage/The Guardian.

Polls Show Americans Are Thinking About Climate–But We’re Still Lagging Behind: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Climate change is increasingly becoming an urgent issue for a majority of Americans, two new polls show, but a separate poll shows that the US still leads the world in denial. A CBS News poll, conducted as part of the network’s Covering Climate Now coverage, shows that more than half of Americans think action needs to be taken “right now” to address climate change, while more than 25 percent think climate change is a “crisis,” and 36 percent consider it a “serious problem.” A separate poll conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that 4 in 10 Americans consider climate change a crisis, while 8 in 10 respondents say human activity is making the planet warmer. But it’s not all good news: a survey conducted by YouGov shows that 15 percent of Americans have some sort of skepticism about climate change–the highest percentage of deniers in the population of any country in the world.” (CBS: CBS, The Guardian, The Hill. Post: Washington Post $. YouGov: FT $)

File image: Leslie Berg.

Meet 15 Women Leading the Fight Against Climate Change. Here’s a snippet from TIME.com: “…From sinking islands to drought-ridden savannas, women bear an outsize burden of the global—warming crisis, largely because of gender inequalities. In many parts of the world, women hold traditional roles as the primary caregivers in families and communities, and, as the main providers of food and fuel, are more vulnerable when flooding and drought occur; the U.N. estimates 80% of those who have been displaced by climate change are women. Given their position on the front line of the climate-change battle, women are uniquely situated to be agents of change—to help find ways to mitigate the causes of global warming and to adapt to its impacts on the ground. This reality was recognized by the Paris Agreement, which specifically included the global need to further empower women in climate decision-making…”

Climate Change is Now a Bedtime Story. A post at theoutline.com caught my eye: “…Children’s literature is trying to pick up some of the slack. There’s proof that engaging in conversations across generations can be an effective first step into the movement against the climate crisis. One 2019 study found that young people can increase their parents’ level of worry about climate change, and teaching 10-to-14 year olds about the crisis oftentimes led to a direct change in the parents’ views on the subject. What better way to start that conversation than a bed-time story? Modern authors have a challenge on their hands: find new ways to teach young children about a multifaceted, often depressing environmental issue while remaining realistic and optimistic, and attempting to offer feasible solutions suitable for children...”

Hurricane Dorian Was a Climate Injustice. Did warmer oceans increase the probability of Dorian strengthening into a Category 5 monster? Probably, yes. Here’s an excerpt from The New Yorker: “…These storms are, for sure, different. And deadly. Dorian became its terrible self after it climbed to Category 5 status on September 1st, the very same day that it made landfall in the Abacos. By the time it was clear that Dorian, with sustained winds of a hundred and eighty-five miles per hour, would be the strongest hurricane ever to hit the Bahamas, it was too late for most people in Grand Bahama and the Abacos to react or flee. Climate scientists have warned us of such disasters. As carbon emissions continue to enter the atmosphere and the greenhouse effect persists, global temperatures will continue to rise. The air and water around the tropical Atlantic will get warmer and warmer, and, likely, as a result, hurricanes will develop and grow stronger more quickly and carry more rain as they move...”

Hurricane Dorian image: NASA’s International Space Station.

Amazon Employees Walk Out Over Climate Change. A story at CNBC.com caught my eye: “…Last year, I was feeling hopeless, unmotivated and frankly ashamed of the role I was playing at Amazon Air enabling carbon emissions,” Sheppard said. “I have a beautiful three-year-old nephew, and I was afraid of what his world was going to look like in 50 years, given how much worse it had gotten in my 28 years.” So Sheppard joined a group of Amazon workers internally lobbying for their employer to take action to reduce its negative impact on the environment and climate change. The group became known as the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) and is participating in the Global Climate Strike — a series of walkouts to bring attention to climate change organized by and for young people — on Sept. 20…”

“I’m a Conservative Republican. Climate Change is Real.” POLITICO.com has a post from a GOP Congressman in Florida; here’s an excerpt: “…I’m from a coastal district that is directly affected by these issues every day. In fact, my home state of Florida is ground zero for the adverse effects of climate change. As these extreme weather events increase in frequency and intensity, Congress — especially my Republican colleagues — needs to recognize the costs, disruptions and global security risks that climate change will bring to both our domestic and foreign policy, and the federal budget. Americans are experiencing these disasters firsthand, and these personal experiences are informing their views on climate change regardless of their age or party affiliation. According to a poll conducted by Monmouth University in 2018, 78 percent of Americans believe the world’s climate is undergoing a change that is causing more extreme weather patterns and sea level rise. That same poll showed that 64 percent of Republicans surveyed believe in climate change, a 15-point increase from poll results just three years earlier…”

File image: NASA.