Warm, Sticky & Thundery for the 4th of July

An old TV colleague once pulled me aside after an especially contentious meeting with an alleged consultant. “Keep your expectations low. Every now and then you may be pleasantly surprised.” That has stuck with me over the years.

It’s a tough way to go through life, but that ethos certainly applies to holiday weekends in Minnesota. Enraged thunderstorms, voracious bugs, swamp-like humidity? What can go wrong?

Try not to stare at the sun today. Under amostly-blue sky the mercury reaches mid-80s with a dash of dew point. The pattern appears ripe for more T-storms late Wednesday into Saturday, although the majority of time should be dry. No promises for the 4th of July, although some models hint at a slightly drier northwest wind, which could mean fewer showers by evening.

It’s early, but showers and T-storms linger Saturday and right now Sunday looks like the brighter, drier day of the weekend.
Today’s weather blog includes details on 6 FEET of hail in Guadalajara, Mexico. I’ve witnessed a lot of head-scratching weather. But this is a first.

Photo credit: the one that didn’t get away. That’s a 44″ northern pike, caught on Scott Lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories by my Aeris/Praedictix colleague and friend, Craig Mataczynski.

Classic Summer Weather. Today looks dry – soak it up, because scattered showers and T-storms return late Wednesday into Saturday with a slight cooling trend as we push into the holiday weekend. Maps above: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Close to Average for Early July. No more intense heat in sight looking out 10 days; temperatures run within a few degrees of average into next week. ECMWF for MSP: WeatherBell.

Toasty. Not exactly debilitating heat, but Minnesota will be on the northern edge of a sprawling, heat-pump high pressure bubble with 90s and 100s over the central and southern Great Plans and Southwest. We’ll see spurts of 90s, but probably no prolonged discomfort looking out 2 weeks.

Freak Hailstorm Dumps Up to 6 Feet of Ice on Guadalajara, Mexico. CBS News has the head-scratching details: “A bizarre hailstorm left a Mexican city buried in up to six feet of ice Sunday – in the middle of summer. The unusual weather event in Guadalajara damaged homes and cars, but there were no reports of injuries. Enrique Alfaro, the governor of Jalisco, tweeted about the government’s response to the freakish hailstorm, along with photos of ice tall enough to cover vehicles’ wheels. He was stunned by what he saw in Guadalajara, Jalisco’s capital, and suggested climate change may be the cause of the ice storm. “I was in the place to assess the situation and witnessed scenes I had never seen: hail more than a meter high, and then we wonder if climate change exists,” he wrote in Spanish…”

Deadliest and Costliest Hurricanes to Hit the U.S. Mainland. Fox News has a good overview; here’s an excerpt: “…The all-time costliest hurricane to strike the United States took place in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina targeted Florida as a Category 1 storm before strengthening into a monster Category 5 in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm weakened down to a Category 3 as it made landfall along the northern Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005. “Even so, the damage and loss of life inflicted by this massive hurricane in Louisiana and Mississippi were staggering, with significant effects extending into the Florida panhandle, Georgia, and Alabama,” the NHC said in its report. “Considering the scope of its impacts, Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters in United States history…”
File Katrina satellite image: NOAA.

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 the Advance Weather Forecast Got Good. NPR has highlights of a new book focused on meteorology: “…Meteorology was a way that governments could collaborate. But more recently, the stakes have gotten higher financially. Climate change has created an opportunity with more extreme events — better technology has sort of made it possible for companies to … sell better forecasts in a way that we potentially have a kind of bifurcation. We potentially have forecasts for the haves, and forecasts for the have-nots. It hasn’t come yet, but you can sort of see everybody gathering around, recognizing that while before this was too expensive for anyone but governments to do — no private company was going to spend, you know, $20, $30 million dollars on a supercomputer — when you look at the amount of money at stake with different weather extremes, now that equation has changed. And there is the potential for profit, and companies are working hard to capture it...”

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.

Apollo 11: Mission Out of Control. Apollo 11 buffs should read this harrowing account of the landing on the lunar surface, courtesy of WIRED.com: “…With the void outside his window, Aldrin punched in a request to compare the lander’s calculated position with the reading from the radar. He was answered by a klaxon ringing in his earpiece. Aldrin hurriedly keyed in the two-digit code 5-9-Enter, which translated, roughly, as “display alarm.” The console responded with error code “1202.” Despite his months of simulations, Aldrin didn’t know what this one meant; Armstrong, equally baffled, radioed Mission Control for clarification. The stress in his voice was audible, but only later would the two men learn how bad things really were. In that critical moment, hurtling like a lawn dart toward the surface of the moon, the Apollo guidance computer had crashed...”
File image: NASA.

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…”

The Rise of Robots-As-A-Service. As if I wasn’t already paranoid enough, here’s a clip from a story at VentureBeat: “Robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) is about to eat the world of work. While much of the attention in the world of automation technology has been focused on self-driving cars, many other markets traditionally dominated by human-in-the-loop solutions are reaching a point of inflection, enabling RaaS solutions to take over. Robotics companies historically have sold their customers — you guessed it — robots. In the enterprise, robots have often been leveraged to streamline manufacturing. Giant companies with ominous, global, megacorp-sounding names like FANUC and ABB provide solutions that require hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of investment dollars just to get started…”

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…”

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…”

.43″ rain fell at Twin Cities International Airport on Monday.

78 F. maximum temperature at MSP yesterday.

83 F. average high on July 1.

75 F. high on July 1, 2018.

July 2, 1989: Softball sized hail falls near Dorset, and baseball sized hail is reported at Nevis in Hubbard County.

July 2, 1972: A low of 32 is recorded at Big Falls in Koochiching County.

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, pleasant. Winds: N 5-10. High: 86

WEDNESDAY: Sticky sunshine, late T-storm. Winds: SE 3-8. Wake-up: 69. High: 87

4TH OF JULY: Humid, few showers & T-storms. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 72. High: 84

FRIDAY: Ditto. Scattered T-storms likely. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 68. High: 84

SATURDAY: Have a Plan B. Few showers, storms. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 67. High: 79

SUNDAY: Some sun, may be nicer/drier day. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 64. High: 81

MONDAY: Warm sunshine, pleasant. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 63. High: 83

Climate Stories…

Europe Has Had Five 500-Year Summers in the 15 Years. And Now This. Here’s an excerpt of an explainer at National Geographic: “…Europe’s five hottest summers in the past 500 years have all occurred in the last 15 years, not including this summer. All have been deadly. The 2003 heat wave was the worst, having led to the deaths of over 70,000 people; in 2010, 56,000 died in Russia alone. These extreme heat events are all connected to a slower jet stream that locks weather systems into place, says Michael Mann of Penn State University. Mann co-authored a study last year that linked the slowdown in the jet stream—the band of high-altitude winds that sweep around the globe from west to east—to last summer’s unprecedented droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and flooding events across the entire Northern Hemisphere…”

Image credit: NASA.

Meet the Man Bringing Together Farmers in Iowa to Talk About Climate Change. Here’s the intro to a story at Grist: “In early March, just a week before the Midwest was inundated by catastrophic flooding, a dozen farmers gathered at the First Presbyterian Church in Grinnell, Iowa, for an event billed as a conversation about “Faith, Farmers, and Climate Action.” “How is God calling you to use your farm to improve the world?” asked the evening’s facilitator, Matt Russell. “We’ve got this narrowing window of time in which we can act,” he said. “When we think about climate action—are you feeling any call to that?” Russell directs the Iowa branch of Interfaith Power and Light, a nonprofit that promotes a religious response to global warming. A fifth-generation farmer who runs a livestock operation with his husband in nearby Lacona, Iowa, the 48-year-old nearly became a Catholic priest in his 20s but then got a degree in rural sociology. Now he preaches that America’s farmers—a demographic seen as religious and conservative—are a secret weapon in the climate fight…”

How the Climate Crisis Will Change Your Plate in 2050. The Guardian has an interview; here’s an excerpt: “…I was really struggling with that question – how are we going to fix a failing food system if we can’t necessarily rely on a critical mass of backyard-farming vegetarians to do it from the ground up? I began to feel confused about what the realistic solutions really were and that some of the sustainable food movement and its rejection of large-scale food production and affordable food was unrealistic. People would like to hear that there’s one solution, but unfortunately it’s going to take many, many different approaches and require lots of technology, a shift in consciousness, self-control, respect for tradition, a deep understanding of how we’ve misapplied technology – it’s going to require a lot of different facets to this solution. It’s not a silver bullet, it’s a silver buckshot…”

Illustration credit: “Climate countdown on food.” Illustration: Sonny Ross

No More Denying: Climate Change is a Growing Economic Crisis. Here’s an excerpt of a post at Medium: “…Any elected official or lawmaker who isn’t pushing for immediate action on climate change also isn’t doing their job to protecting our economy, our workers and our businesses. If our lawmakers and policymakers don’t take action now, “the potential for losses in some sectors could reach hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of this century,” climate assessment authors wrote. These aren’t some politically motivated pundits peddling scare tactics. Report contributors include more than 300 scientists and 13 federal agencies — including the departments of the Interior, Energy, Commerce, Transportation and Agriculture, which all report to President Trump...”

File photo credit: “Harvey and other hurricanes in 2017 caused $250 billion in damage. More than $1 trillion worth of coastal real estate is now in jeopardy.” CREDIT: Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Martinez, US Air National Guard; Fourth National Climate Assessment.

Climate Change Could Put These Colleges Underwater. Why They’re Staying Put. USA TODAY has an interesting article; here’s a snippet: “…But in colleges located in these threatened seaside regions, from Texas to Florida to New Jersey, administrators and scientists say they have no plans to move. Instead, they are raising buildings and constructing protective barriers in hopes of making their campuses safe for the foreseeable future. But in colleges located in these threatened seaside regions, from Texas to Florida to New Jersey, administrators and scientists say they have no plans to move. Instead, they are raising buildings and constructing protective barriers in hopes of making their campuses safe for the foreseeable future…”

File photo credit: “Fire destroys homes along the beach on Galveston Island, Texas as Hurricane Ike approaches on Sept. 12, 2008.” (Photo: David J. Phillip, AP).

Is the Climate Change Debate a Replay of the Reformation? Food for thought in an Op-Ed at Forbes; here is a clip: “…Mandating vehicle efficiency is rather like demanding that a portion of butchers’ sales be veggie burgers; Beyond Meat has shown that success for veggie burgers comes from satisfying consumers, not lecturing them on environmental ethics. This is where a carbon tax comes in:  it is designed to change consumer preferences, reducing carbon emissions in favor of other consumables. It would also motivate producers to meet the demand for products that require less carbon emissions, either in their production or operation. Although the impact would grow over time, it would begin immediately upon implementation, and while it could theoretically be reversed, taxes on consumption tend to be extremely persistent.”

Photo credit: “Protestors march to raise awareness of climate change and ecological issues on the second day of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Somerset, England, Thursday, June 27, 2019.” (Photo by Grant Pollard/Invision/AP).

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).