Weekend Weather? Hot and Bothered

Our hottest weather routinely comes a few weeks after the Summer Solstice. That won’t be terribly hard to believe today, as the combination of heat and humidity makes it feel like 100F in the shade by the dinner hour. I suspect today will be the sunnier, drier, more lake-worthy day of the weekend. Unless you’re reading this from northern Minnesota, where strong to severe T-storms may fire up today.

Sunday looks even more uncomfortable, with an elevated storm risk, statewide. ECMWF shows a heat index close to 105F before strong T-storms cool us off by Sunday evening. If you’re on the lake, trail or golf course Sunday, keep an eye on the sky. Things may go south in a hurry by afternoon.

A sloppy frontal boundary stalled nearby keeps spotty showers and storms in the forecast much of next week. If it’s any consolation, temperatures cool off into the 80s, but I can’t rule out a few atmospheric
firecrackers for the 4th of July.

Model guidance hints at a stronger push of dry, Canadian air next weekend, with a better chance of warm sunshine next Saturday and Sunday. Please allow me to be (naively) optimistic, OK?

Map credit above: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Slight Severe Risk for Northern Minnesota Today. If you’re up north you’ll want to stay up on the latest watches and warnings, as this tropical surge of heat leaves the atmosphere unstable and capable of a few severe storms. Map credit: Storm Prediction Center.

Today: Heat Index 95-100F. Relatively comfortable weather lingers for northern Minnesota and the Duluth area, but heat indices reach the 90s across much of central and southern Minnesota by afternoon.

Sunday: Metro Heat Index Above 100F? ECMWF shows a heat index in the 101-104F range by mid afternoon Sunday before strong thunderstorms knock the mercury down later in the day. Map: WeatherBell.

Another Southern Minnesota Soaking. Dr. Mark Seeley has more perspective on the torrential storms that set up over Rochester, Minnesota Thursday night in Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…Early morning hours of Friday, June 28th brought more heavy thunderstorms to southeastern Minnesota. Portions of Dodge, Goodhue, Steele, Olmsted, Fillmore and Wabasha Counties reported 3-6 inches of rain and flooded fields and roads, some of which were closed. These rains pushed the June monthly total at Rochester Airport to 9.35 inches, their 3rd wettest June in history (behind the Junes of 1914 and 2000). By the end of June, crop conditions had improved around the state, and major garden crops like lettuce, onions, strawberries, and rhubarb were coming along well. In southwestern Minnesota corn and soybean farmers in Brown, Redwood, Watonwan, and Martin Counties were assessing the hail damage from last week’s storms…”

Taking the Edge Off the Heat. GFS is consistent, pulling cooler, Canadian air into the Upper Mississippi Valley, Great Lakes and New England during the second week of July, while the rest of the USA broils.

Record Heat Scorches Europe. USA TODAY has details: “Record-shattering temperatures are scorching much of Europe this week as searing heat from North Africa overspreads the normally mild continent. Germany broke its all-time heat record for June on Wednesday when the temperature soared to 101.5 degrees in Coschen, which is about 65 miles southeast of Berlin, according to the German meteorological service. Authorities in Germany also imposed speed limits on some autobahns amid fears of buckling road surfaces, and some French schools stayed closed as a precaution. Both Poland (100.8 degrees) and the Czech Republic (102) also set June high temperatures on Wednesday. Red and orange alerts have been issued in several European countries, including in parts of France, Austria, Switzerland, Spain and Belgium, to warn about the dangerously high temperatures, according to MeteoAlarm.eu...”

Europe Has Had Five 500-Year Summers in 15 Years – And Now This. National Geographic reports.

Europe Heat Wave: Why Are Temperatures Soaring? BBC has an explainer: “…Heatwaves occur across northern Europe when high atmospheric pressure draws up hot air from northern Africa, Portugal and Spain, raising temperatures and increasing humidity. In this instance, the exceptionally hot air has come from the Sahara. Timothy Hewson, who leads a forecasting team at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), said clear skies meant the strong June sunshine was further increasing temperatures. He said dry soil conditions meant there was less evaporation, which ordinarily cools the ground…”

Europe: So Hot Manure is Catching on Fire. CNN explains: “Firefighters in Spain are battling a major wildfire that probably started after a heap of manure self-ignited amid the intense European heat wave. Around 10,000 acres of forest and other vegetation were affected by the blaze near Tarragona in the country’s north-east, according to the Catalan regional government. Authorities said the fire likely began when an “improperly managed” pile of manure self-combusted in the heat, causing sparks. Spontaneous ignitions can occur when flammable materials, such as piles of hay, compost or manure heat up to a temperature high enough to cause combustion, according to the US National Park Service...”

Hailstorm Damaged Thousands of Acres of Minnesota Crops. This happened last week, according to Adam Belz at Star Tribune: “A hailstorm that ripped through southwest Minnesota last week left thousands of acres of corn and soybeans damaged or destroyed — in many cases too late in the season for farmers to replant their crops. “We had a corn and bean field down to dirt again,” said George Sill, a farmer southwest of Madelia. “You couldn’t hardly tell it had been planted there.” Sill said 150 acres of soybeans and 90 acres of corn were leveled by the storm, and another 200 acres of crops damaged to varying degrees. When he drove out to his fields after the storm, hailstones were drifted up by the road and fog was rolling in off the fields because so much ice was melting all at once...”

Photo credit: “A corn field farmed by George Sill near Madelia, Minn., was leveled by a hailstorm on June 20, 2019.

Top 15 Metro Areas At Risk This Hurricane Season. Insurance Journal has an interesting post; here’s a clip: “…Though wind is generally thought of as the primary contributor of hurricane losses, this is not always the case. Throughout history, damage from storm surge and inland flooding has shown it can far exceed damage from wind. Superstorm Sandy, for instance, caused unprecedented levels of storm surge in New Jersey and New York. Storm surge occurs when a combination of factors related to water, atmospheric pressure, wind and bathymetry collide. Under certain conditions, the winds associated with a hurricane can push a large volume of seawater onto shore. High winds and low pressure created by a storm cause water to accumulate ahead of the hurricane. As it moves across the ocean, the strong winds inside the hurricane act like a plow, causing water to pile up along the front of the storm…”

How to Prep Your Home for a Hurricane. MoneyWise has a good, timely post – here’s an excerpt: “...It’s amazing how many procrastinators stampede grocery and hardware stores at the last minute. You can put together the basics of an emergency kit years in advance. Here’s what you might need:

  • One gallon of water per person for three days.
  • Three-day supply of nonperishable food.
  • Manual can opener.
  • First-aid kit.
  • Flashlights, candles, matches.
  • Battery-operated radio.
  • Extra batteries.
  • Plywood, hammer, nails, basic tools, plastic sheeting and other materials for quick home repairs.
  • Whistles.
  • Phone chargers.
  • Pet food and supplies.

Check the kit a couple of times a year for expiration dates, and replace food or batteries as needed. You may want to make a small withdrawal from your emergency fund, and keep some cash stored away with your kit. This is also a good time to create password-protected digital copies of important documents. Examples include IDs, birth certificates, passports, health insurance cards and Social Security cards…”

West Nile Virus Activity by State. Here’s an update from CDC: “WNV infections in mosquitoes, birds, sentinel animals, or veterinary animals have been reported to CDC ArboNET from the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming. West Nile virus infections in humans have been reported to CDC ArboNET from the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Wyoming.”

Lyme Disease Cases are Exploding, and It’s Only Going to Get Worse. Well lovely, thanks for the uplifting headline. But the trends are, in fact, alarming. Here’s an excerpt from a long, but excellent post at Elemental that will tell you more than you’ve ever wanted to know about ticks: “…According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. has more than doubled in the two decades leading up to 2017 (the most recent year for which final figures are available) and increased 17% from 2016 to 2017 alone.More than half the counties in the U.S. are considered high-risk areas for Lyme, according to the CDC, and in some areas, as many as six out of 10 ticks carry the infection. “It’s been a relentless expansion since the 1980s,” says John Aucott, director of the Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “There may be down years and up years, but the trends are in place, and there’s no indication that they’re going to reverse…”
Photo credit: “Researchers at the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies, in upstate New York, comb the woods in search of ticks.” Photography by Kirsten Luce

Soon Satellites Will Be Able to Watch You Everywhere All the Time. Well that may cut down on my nude sunbathing routine. Here’s an excerpt from MIT Technology Review: “...Every year, commercially available satellite images are becoming sharper and taken more frequently. In 2008, there were 150 Earth observation satellites in orbit; by now there are 768. Satellite companies don’t offer 24-hour real-time surveillance, but if the hype is to be believed, they’re getting close. Privacy advocates warn that innovation in satellite imagery is outpacing the US government’s (to say nothing of the rest of the world’s) ability to regulate the technology. Unless we impose stricter limits now, they say, one day everyone from ad companies to suspicious spouses to terrorist organizations will have access to tools previously reserved for government spy agencies. Which would mean that at any given moment, anyone could be watching anyone else…”

Here’s Why Automakers Are So Eager to Extend Electric Car Tax Breaks. The Washington Post reports: “General Motors, Tesla and a fleet of other car manufacturers are going into overdrive to extend a tax break that has for a decade helped sustain the sale of cars that need little to no gasoline to run. But in that effort, there is a roadblock: Oil and natural gas companies, which supply the gas fueling the internal-combustion engines dominating American roadways and which oppose extending tax breaks for vehicles that don’t use their fuel. This has triggered an intense lobbying battle on Capitol Hill between two powerful and traditionally closely linked industries, Steven Mufson and I report. Oil and gas companies, said electric car proponent Rep. Daniel Kildee (D-Mich.), “prefer a world where every vehicle spews greenhouse gases, and this is not the world that I’m trying to encourage…”

File image credit: “Tesla electric automobiles sit charging.” (Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg)

Lightyear One Debuts As The First Long-Range, Solar-Powered Electric Car. A story at TechCrunch caught my eye: “Electric cars are better for the environment than fossil fuel-burning vehicles, but they still rely on the grid, which can be variously dirty or clean depending on what sources it uses for its energy. The new Lightyear One is a prototype vehicle that would improve that by collecting the power it needs to run from the sun. Lightyear, a startup from the Netherlands born as Stella, has come a long way since it won a Crunchie award in 2015, with a vehicle that now looks ready for the road. The Lightyear One prototype vehicle unveiled today has a sleek, driver-friendly design and also boasts a range of 450 miles on a single charge – definitely a first for a car powered by solar and intended for the actual consumer market…”

Robots Could Take 20 Million Manufacturing Jobs by 2030. New jobs (we can’t even imagine) will emerge, but will the workforce that’s disrupted by robotics have the skills necessary to thrive and transition to new opportunities. CNN reports: “Robots are getting better at doing human jobs. That’s probably good for the economy — but there are some serious downsides, too. Machines are expected to displace about 20 million manufacturing jobs across the world over the next decade, according to a report released Wednesday by Oxford Economics, a global forecasting and quantitative analysis firm. That means about 8.5% of the global manufacturing workforce could be displaced by robots. The report also notes that the move to robots tends to generate new jobs as fast as it automates them, however it could contribute to income inequality…”

The Power of One Push Up. How many push ups can you do? Don’t laugh – it may be a pretty good predictor of your life expectancy. A story at The Atlantic explains why; here’s an excerpt: “…The push-up study could reasonably extend beyond firefighters. “Push-ups are another marker in a consistent story about whole-body exercise capacity and mortality,” says Michael Joyner, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic whose work focuses on the limits of human performance. “Any form of whole-body engagement becomes predictive of mortality if the population is large enough.” That is to say: Health is not simply about push-ups. There’s also nothing magic about grip strength or walking speed. But these abilities tend to tell us a lot. Firefighters with higher push-up capacity were more likely to have low blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar, and not to smoke. People with the lowest grip strengths were more likely to smoke and have higher waist circumference and body-fat percentage, watch more TV, and eat fewer fruits and vegetables…”

File animation: Wikipedia.

Fast Walkers Live an Average of 20 Years Longer Than Slow Walkers, Research Finds. CBS Philadelphia has the story: “It can be relaxing to take a leisurely stroll, but the next time you go for a walk, you might want to pick up the pace. Everyone marches to the beat of their own drum but that tempo seems to be divided in two…Well, according to a new study out of the University of Leicester in England, brisk walkers have a long road ahead. After researching a pool of almost 500,000 people, the study found that fast walkers lived an average of 20 years longer than their slow-paced counterparts…”

Google Maps Detour Takes Nearly 100 Colorado Drivers into a Field. CNN explains the snaful: “Technology isn’t always foolproof, as about 100 Colorado drivers learned when Google Maps offered them a supposedly quick way out of a traffic jam. A crash on Peña Boulevard, a road leading to Denver International Airport, prompted the app to take drivers on a detour on Sunday. But it was too good to be true. The alternate route took drivers down a dirt road that rain had turned into a muddy mess, and cars started sliding around.  Some vehicles couldn’t make it through the mud, and about 100 others became trapped behind them…”

Photo credit: Connie Monsees.

More Young People Are Getting Botox for That Perfect Selfie. The Daily Mail reports: “Young people who use Tinder and Snapchat – particularly with Snapchat filters – are more open to facial cosmetic surgery, according to a new study. There has been a sharp uptick in Americans undergoing nips and tucks on their faces in the last few years. Last year, Americans spent an eye-watering $2.95 billion on Botox, up from just over $1 billion in 2012.  Much of that drive comes from young people, according to a recent report, which found a 28-percent increase in 20-somethings getting Botox between 2010 and 2017, and a 32-percent increase in the same group getting fillers…”

No, This is Not a Tornado. I snapped this photo from our weather offices in Eden Prairie as Thursday’s shelf cloud rolled overhead. From this perspective it gives the illusion of a swirling tornado on the ground. This is why we still need (trained, professiona) Skywarn weather observers to be able to tell what is an optical illusion vs. what is real.

86 F. high on Friday in the Twin Cities.

82 F. average high on June 28.

86 F. high on June 28, 2018.

June 29, 1969: Worthington picks up over 6 inches of rain in 24 hours.

June 29, 1930: Extreme heat develops in Minnesota. Canby got up to a sizzling 110 degrees.

SATURDAY: Excessive Heat Watch. Sunny and hot. Better day for the lake. Winds: SE 7-12. High: 92

SUNDAY: Steamy. Feels like 100+. Strong PM T-storms. Wake-up: 76. High: 94

MONDAY: Cooler with a small thunder risk. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 67. High: 82

TUESDAY: More numerous T-storms, some heavy. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 65. High: near 80

WEDNESDAY: Warm and sticky, instability T-storm. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 67. High: 85

4TH OF JULY: Some hazy sun, few T-storms around. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 68. High: 83

FRIDAY: Still tropical, nagging thunder threat. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 69. High: 86

Climate Stories…

Blink & You Miss Climate During (Second) Debates: Headlines and links from Climate Nexus: “The 20 Democratic presidential hopefuls spent just fifteen minutes discussing climate change over a combined four hours of debate this week, drawing criticism despite far surpassing the amount of time spent on the issue in all of the 2016 debates. Moderators at Thursday night’s second debate once again introduced climate-related topics late into the evening, spending just eight minutes on the issue and directing questions that climate journalists called “simplistic,” “muddled,” “shallow” and “poorly-worded.” Washington governor Jay Inslee shared a letter with HuffPost urging his fellow candidates to echo his calls for a special debate, while protesters in Miami Thursday advocated for the Green New Deal and a climate debate. “I don’t think that we are discussing climate change the way we need to be discussing climate change,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told Stephen Colbert Wednesday. “It is such a huge broad systemic issue and you can’t just say, ‘Is Miami gonna exist in 50 years?’ We need to say what are you going to do about this.” (Debates: The AtlanticVox, The Guardian, TimeThe Hill, Pacific Standard. Criticism: The Hill. AOC: The Hill. Protests: Mother Jones, Miami Herald, Buzzfeed. Letter: HuffPost. Commentary: Washington Post, Q&A with various experts $, Newsweek, Lindsey Allen op-ed).

Climate-Change Anxiety is a Real Thing. The Washington Post explains: “…Adults, at least, have the ability to vote, to write their representatives, to control their household habits — but many of them still feel helpless. Imagine how children must feel. “Younger children, in particular, that’s going to be very hard for them,” Bufka said. “I think another piece about climate change is that it feels much bigger than an individual. I take public transit, but I’m not getting rid of all those cars on the road that I can see outside my window. If I stop using straws, is that really going to make a difference? The kinds of actions one might take have to scale up to a larger level. That can feel overwhelming to an individual...”

Image credit: “Ivy George, left, as Amabella and Laura Dern as Renata Klein in “Big Little Lies.” (Jennifer Clasen/HBO)

At Least They Talked About It? Climate Nexus has summaries and links for the first debate: “Democratic candidates spent more time discussing climate change at the first 2020 debate on Wednesday than in all the 2016 debates combined–and still clocked in at less than 10 minutes spent on the issue. When asked what the greatest geopolitical threat to the United States is at the debate in Miami, four of the 10 candidates mentioned climate change, while a New York Times graph of time spent on each topic shows only half the debaters touched on climate at length during their time after being asked a climate question. Questions from moderators, which began an hour and a half into the debate, included whether or not climate plans will “save Miami” and how carbon pricing would play politically. “Spending only seven minutes on climate questions was absurd,” Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund’s Cassie Siegel said in a statement.” (Vox, HuffPost, NPR, The GuardianNew York Times $, E&E. Fact Check: AP)

In Greenland’s Melting Ice, a Warning on Hard Climate Choices. Yale E360 has the post; here’s a snippet: “…Yet we now know that the Greenland of today is different from the Greenland that Rink experienced. The ice sheet is melting more, and melting earlier in summer, and melting in ways that computer models suggest will ultimately threaten its long-term existence. A recent paper in Nature presented compelling evidence, gathered from cores extracted from the ice sheet, that demonstrated Greenland’s recent melt is “exceptional” over the past 350 years and that the ice sheet’s response to higher temperatures is now “nonlinear.” In the last two decades, melting rates of the ice are 33 percent higher than 20th century averages; the melting, moreover, is not only increasing but accelerating…”

U.N. Expert: Millions Face Dire Poverty from Climate Change. You think the refugee problem is bad now? Wait until millions can’t grow crops or have access to reliable water supplies. Here’s an excerpt from AP: “A United Nations expert on poverty says hundreds of millions of people around the world face hunger, displacement, disease and death because of climate change. In a report released Tuesday, the U.N.’s independent expert on extreme poverty and human rights said current measures to cope with global warming fall far short of what’s necessary. Philip Alston, an Australian jurist, predicted dire consequences even in a best-case scenario. Alston told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva that the world economy needs a “fundamental shift” away from fossil fuels, which are blamed for much of the man-made greenhouse effect...”

Adrift in Ice. The Washington Post highlights a new scientific methadology for studying arctic ice: “…But even their machines seem disoriented by the whiteout conditions: The lasers bounce off whirling snowflakes before striking their targets. It’s yet another problem they must solve before the fall, when these scientists and several hundred others will launch the largest Arctic research expedition in history: a 12-month, $134 million, 17-nation effort to document climate change in the fastest-warming part of the globe. Home base will be a massive German icebreaker, though the ship will spend only a few weeks under its own power. After reaching a remote part of the Siberian Arctic, the crew will cut the engine and wait for water to freeze around the vessel, entrapping it. Then the ship — and everyone on it — will be adrift, at the mercy of the ice…”

Photo credit: Bonnie Jo Mount

4 Reasons Why Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture Matter to You. Dr. Marshall Shepherd explains at Forbes; here’s an excerpt: “…Rural communities are particularly vulnerable. According to the National Climate Assessment report,  444 counties in the U.S. were identified as farming dependent during the period of 2010 to 2012. Not surprisingly, 391 of them were rural counties. I want to offer some personal perspective here. Though parts of it resemble typical suburbia now, I grew up in Cherokee County, Georgia. As a child, I recall vast tracks of farms and pastures as you drove away from the county seat of Canton. One of reason I am so passionate about conveying threats associated with climate change is that I know vulnerable populations and rural communities will be disproportionately affected. I suspect such people do not think about trend lines, probability density functions, or climate models as I do. However, they are on the front lines of the “so what does climate change mean for me?” question…”

File photo credit: “Agriculture is vital to our lives.” Colorado Department of Agriculture website.

Weaning U.S. Power Sector Off Fossil Fuels Would Cost $4.7 Trillion: Study. Reuters has specifics: “Eliminating fossil fuels from the U.S. power sector, a key goal of the “Green New Deal” backed by many Democratic presidential candidates, would cost $4.7 trillion and pose massive economic and social challenges, according to a report released on Thursday by energy research firm Wood Mackenzie. That would amount to $35,000 per household, or nearly $2,000 a year for a 20-year plan, according to the study, which called the price tag for such a project “staggering.” The report is one of the first independent cost estimates for what has become a key issue in the 2020 presidential election, with most Democrats proposing multi-trillion-dollar plans to eliminate U.S. carbon emissions economy-wide...”

File photo: “A flare burns off excess gas from a gas plant in the Permian Basin oil production area near Wink, Texas U.S. August 22, 2018. Picture taken August 22, 2018.” REUTERS/Nick Oxford.