Perfect Fair Weather – Chilly Labor Day?

OK class, let’s review. Minnesota doesn’t experience hurricanes, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. No raging sandstorms or 4-month saunas (I’m looking at you, Florida).

Our winters are hearty, keeping us all well-preserved in the process. We do get our fair share of floods and tornadoes, but overall risk of natural disasters isn’t nearly as high as it is across the southern USA.

Tuesday’s swarm of wild thunderstorms is long gone. A northwest breeze drops humidity levels today under a blue sky with highs in the 70s. Postcard-perfect weather lingers for the start of the Minnesota State Fair later this week. If you’re out early in the morning you may need a sweatshirt Thursday and Friday, but afternoon temperatures mellow into the low and mid 70s. Factor in dew points near 50 and you have a wondrous early taste of September.

It’s early – the extended holiday outlook WILL change – but an unusually cool Labor Day weekend is brewing, with highs in the 50s and 60s, maybe a light frost up in the Arrowhead?


Still Second Wettest Year To Date. The .70″ rain that fell at MSP International Airport Tuesday brings the total up to 30.35″ as of August 20, second only to 1892. The all-time Twin Cities precipitation record (a whisker over 40″ for the entire year) was set in 2016, and at the rate we’re going, I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if we break it.

A Fine Wednesday. A trickle of Canadian air lowers dew points and humidity levels today under a sun-scrubbed sky. Just a hint of September in the air again. Map credit: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Cool Bias Lingers Early September. Call me crazy but we’ll see more 80s, and probably at least a couple more 90s before the end of September, but models are consistent in bringing a series of fairly strong cold frontal intrusions (polite word) into Minnesota the last few days of August and first few days of September.

How the Jet Stream is Changing Your Weather. Here’s an excerpt from “…The changes in the jet stream are something researchers call “nonlinear” phenomenon: shifts that can take place suddenly or not at all, that do not proceed in a straight line. Stendel, from the Danish Meteorological Institute, says this can exacerbate the effects of climate change. That has major implications for the melting ice sheet and means that sea levels could rise faster than expected. The most recent report from the U.N.  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecast between 17 inches and 32 inches of sea-level rise by the end of this century if emissions keep increasing. A growing number of scientists think that may be too low...”

Image credit: NASA.

States Brace for Long-Term Flood Fight as Damage Costs Soar. Here’s an excerpt from The Denver Post: “...The movement is motivated not just by this year’s major floods in the Midwest, but by more than a decade of repeated flooding from intense storms such as Hurricane Harvey, which dumped 60 inches of rain on southeastern Texas in 2017. In November, Texas voters will decide whether to create a constitutionally dedicated fund for flood-control projects, jump-started with $793 million from state savings. For years, states have relied heavily on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay the bulk of recovery efforts for damaged public infrastructure. While that remains the case, more states have been debating ways to supplement federal dollars with their own money dedicated not just to rebuilding but also to avoiding future flood damage. Those efforts may include relocating homes , elevating roads and bridges, strengthening levees and creating natural wetlands that could divert floodwaters from the places where people live and work…”

File image: Eric Risberg, AP.

Tree-Damaging Pests Pose “Devastating” Threat to 40% of U.S. Forests. The Guardian summarizes new research: “About 40% of all forests across the US are at risk of being ravaged by an army of harmful pests, undermining a crucial resource in addressing the climate crisis, new research has found. Tree-damaging pests have already destroyed swathes of US woodland, with the American chestnut virtually wiped out by a fungal disease and elms blighted by Dutch elm disease. About 450 overseas pests that damage or feed on trees have been introduced to US forests due to the growth in international trade and travel. A PNAS-published study of the 15 most damaging non-native forest pests has found that they destroy so many trees that about 6m tons of carbon are expelled each year from the dying plants. This is the equivalent, researchers say, of adding an extra 4.6m cars to the roads every year in terms of the release of planet-warming gases…”

File photo credit: “These trees show the effects of western spruce budworm on subalpine firs along Going-to-the-Sun Road. The picture was taken from the road near Wild Goose Island Overlook in 2012.”Chris Peterson, National Park Service.

The Robots are Coming – But Take a Breath. Many jobs will be lost, but many (more) will be created. Are we ready for what comes next? Good advice at Big Think:

  • While automation and robots will displace millions of jobs, they’re poised to create millions more.
  • Our current round of technological unemployment might just be a transitionary phase.
  • The fear of automation has been around for decades.

Automation, and the rise of robots with superior A.I. promises to bring about a new era of industry and civilization. Our wildest sci-fi dreams could be realized within the century. Yet, the clamor and hoopla surrounding the topic has been overwhelmingly pessimistic — bordering on neo-Luddism at times. That is, the fear is that advancements in automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics will destroy millions — if not hundreds of millions — of livelihoods...”

Did We Evolve to See Reality As It Exists? According to one researcher the answer is no. Here’s a clip from a post at Big Think: “…But Hoffman’s hypothesis, which he wrote about in a recent issue of New Scientist, takes it a step further. He argues our perceptions don’t contain the slightest approximation of reality; rather, they evolved to feed us a collective delusion to improve our fitness. Using evolutionary game theory, Hoffman and his collaborators created computer simulations to observe how “truth strategies” (which see objective reality as is) compared with “pay-off strategies” (which focus on survival value). The simulations put organisms in an environment with a resource necessary to survival but only in Goldilocks proportions...”

File image: NASA.

.63″ rain fell at MSP International Airport yesterday.

83 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

80 F. average high on August 20.

79 F. high on August 20, 2018.

WEDNESDAY: Sunny and gorgeous. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 78

THURSDAY: Sunny. Postcard perfect for State Fair. Winds: NE 3-8. Wake-up: 55. High: 74

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, pleasantly mild. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 55. High: 76

SATURDAY: Metro sunshine, T-storms up north. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 59. High: 79

SUNDAY: Scattered showers and T-storms. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 63. High: 78

MONDAY: Wet start, then clearing out. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 64. High: near 80

TUESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, turning cooler. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 60. High: 74

Climate Stories….

Some Retirees Fleeing Florida as Due to Fears of Climate Change. Here’s the intro to a story at CNN Money: “Florida, with its plentiful beaches, warm weather, and lack of a state-income tax, is the most popular destination for older adults in the U.S. But some who have lived in the Sunshine State for years are moving in the opposite direction. As damaging storms and other effects of climate change have hit Florida particularly hard in the past few years, some older adults living there have become concerned about their safety and their ability to enjoy retirement. So they’re fleeing this otherwise balmy state...”

File image: NASA.

Climate Deniers Get More Airtime Than Experts. A post at Big Think got me…thinking; here’s an excerpt: “Climate change — and humankind’s role in it — is settled science. Some 97% of climate scientists have reached the conclusion that the Earth is warming and that our activities are the cause. This is a remarkable level of consensus. That anyone still harbors doubts makes little sense. Denial is one explanation. Another one is revealed in a new study led by University of California’s Alexander Petersen and published in Nature Communications: Climate contrarians – climate deniers — actually enjoy 49% more English-language media coverage than climate scientists. Maybe print and electronic news editors are predisposed toward conflict as being more exciting; maybe it’s just an ill-considered attempt at balanced reporting. Whatever the reason, such outlets are doing a shocking, reprehensible disservice to their audience at a critical time when there’s not a minute to be wasted…”

Perspective on Minnesota’s Warming. Here’s an excerpt from last week’s edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk, where Mark Seeley described longterm changes in temperature across the state: “…I wanted to point out however that there is some disparity in the net change of temperature across the state that has occurred over the past 100 years or so. Listed below (from NOAA-climate data) is the net change in mean annual temperature and mean winter temperature (Dec-Feb) over the past 100 years in Minnesota’s northern most counties compared to one of the southernmost counties (Fillmore). Numbers are rounded to nearest whole digit:

County                         Net Change in Mean Annual Temp         Net Change in Winter Temp
Cook                                        +3.0F                                                              +5.0F
Lake                                         +4.0F                                                              +6.0F
St  Louis                                  +5.0F                                                               +7.0F
Koochiching                            +5.0F                                                               +8.0F
Lake of the Woods                   +5.0F                                                              +9.0F
Roseau                                     +6.0F                                                             +10.0F
Kittson                                     +6.0F                                                             +10.0F
Fillmore                                   +3.0F                                                               +5.0F

The winter season has obviously warmed much more than the annual temperature, and certainly the northern counties have warmed more dramatically than the southern counties…”

Climate Change Could Cost the U.S. 10.5% of GDP by 2100. The Washington Post reports: “…At a time when there’s concern about a global economic downturn, the new study, circulated as a working paper in the National Bureau of Economic Research, warns of a far bigger cut to economic growth if global warming goes unchecked. The study is unique in that it finds higher potential costs from climate change, particularly in the industrial world, compared with past research. For example, the study found that continued temperature increases of about 0.072 degrees per year (0.04 Celsius) under a roughly “business as usual,” or high-emissions, scenario would yield a 7.2 percent cut to GDP per capita worldwide by 2100. (This is relative to a world in which countries see temperature increases equal to their 1960 to 2014 rate of change…)

Climate Change Bad News For Economy: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Climate change could drag the United States’s GDP down by more than 10 percent by the end of the century, a new working paper posits. The study, published in the National Bureau of Economic Research this week, finds that no action on climate change would lead to a 7.7 percent reduction in global GDP per capita by 2100–but that sticking with the goals of the Paris Agreement would keep losses down to 1.1 percent. “What our study suggests is that climate change is costly for all countries under the business as usual scenario (no matter whether they are hot or cold, rich or poor), and the United States will be one of the countries that will suffer the most (reflecting sharp increases in U.S. average temperatures by 2100),” study co-author Kamiar Mohaddes told the Washington Post.” (Washington Post $, Fox News)

Life in Miami on the Knife’s Edge of Climate Change. The New Yorker has a photo essay; here’s an excerpt: “…Miami is raising some of its roads and sidewalks, hoping a few feet will be enough, but enough for what? Enough to keep next season’s tourists from going elsewhere? Enough to assure citizens that matters are under control? There are serious concerns that the limited fresh water is turning salty. Mostly the place carries on, as do most of America’s coastal states, knowing what is coming yet unable, or unwilling, to change. Is disaster more easily imaginable than the painful steps that might avert it? Yes, is the horrifying answer. Disaster will come of us doing nothing, while the painful steps would—will—have to be taken actively, and by us all. A poverty of imagination may be our biggest challenge…”

Image credit: “Road,” 2018.

Robots Help Humans Save Water as Climate Change Makes Every Drop Count. Marketplace showcases new technology focused on water conservation: “…Pipes that carry drinking water in the U.S. are not doing so great. Many are over a century old, and on average, 1 in every 6 gallons of drinking water trickles out of leaky pipes before it reaches anyone’s tap. And leaky pipes leave arid regions more vulnerable during drought, when it’s more important that every drop of water gets where it’s intended to go. A big part of the problem is that it’s hard to pinpoint where underground pipes are leaking. But a Boston-based tech startup thinks it can help solve the problem with a leak-seeking robot named Scout...”

Photo credit: “Mark Gallagher, director of engineering and distribution at the Cambridge Water Department in Massachusetts, prepares to drop Scout, the leak-seeking robot, into the city’s water pipes.”

Greenhouse Gases Reach Record Levels, Report Finds. has details; here’s an excerpt: “The dominant greenhouse gases released into the Earth’s atmosphere reached record levels in 2018, and their global warming power is now 43% stronger than in 1990, according to a new report by the American Meteorological Society released Monday. The State of the Climate in 2018 study also reported other key findings:

  • 2018 was the fourth-warmest year on record. The three other warmest years were 2015, 2016 and 2017, with 2016 as the warmest year since records first began being kept in the mid-1800s.
  • Sea levels rose to record levels for a seventh consecutive year.
  • Glaciers continue to melt at a concerning rate for the 30th straight year...”

2018: CO2 Reaches Levels Not Seen in 800,000 Years. ABC News has details: “Carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere rose to levels the planet hasn’t seen in 800,000 years in 2018, underscoring the impact of irreversible — and increasing — environmental damage due to human activity, according to a new federal report. Carbon dioxide and other major greenhouse gases, including methane, and nitrous oxide, continued their rapid increase last year, while global sea level rose to its highest on record, according to the American Meteorological Society’s State of the Climate in 2018 report, released on Monday. Global average sea level rose to a new record high in 2018, rising for the seventh consecutive year, according to the report, which was compiled by 470 scientists in 60 countries…”

Graphic above:

As Lakes Grow Warmer, the Race is On to Save Minnesota’s Cold-Water Fish. Here’s an excerpt from a Star Tribune analysis: “...The collapse of the Midwest’s cisco population is one of the many invisible but consequential ways that a warming climate is changing Minnesota. From songbirds along the Mississippi River to the green canopy of the northern forest, a landscape that Minnesotans have long taken for granted is increasingly under threat from rising temperatures and extreme weather events. Across the Upper Midwest, cisco have been decimated by rising water temperatures. They’ve disappeared from more than a dozen Minnesota lakes and have lost more than half their total population over the last 30 years. They’ve nearly vanished from Indiana, historically the southern edge of their natural range, and have disappeared from nearly a third of their native lakes in Wisconsin. While cisco were once found in about 650 Minnesota lakes, the DNR and University of Minnesota scientists believe that just 176 of those are deep enough and clear enough for cisco to survive as temperatures continue to rise...”

Increasing Humidity, Driven In Part by Climate Change, is Making Even Modest Heat Waves Unbearable. Here’s a clip from a post at Capital Weather Gang: “…At night, there’s no respite. That’s what makes these conditions downright dangerous, since the human body needs some relief to be able to stave off heat-related illnesses. The hot and humid conditions occurring now in parts of the United States place more strain on the human body than the heat wave in Paris did. That’s because Paris had a dew point of 51.8 degrees (giving a relative humidity of 16 percent) when they hit the 109.2-degree air temperature, an all-time record for the city. So, despite much lower temperatures here in the States, the heat indexes are markedly higher because of the humidity. (It’s important to remember that few, if any, residences in Paris have air conditioning, while it’s ubiquitous in the U.S. Deep South.) With the current heat wave here, we have between 2.3 and 2.8 times more water in the air, compared with Paris’s peak heat day...”

Republicans Are Finally Offering Up Ideas to Combat Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from Bloomberg Opinion and Star Tribune: “...But with a few laudable exceptions, Republicans are ignoring the best approach of all — one that would accord with the party’s views on market economics and do more to encourage innovation than anything else. They should get behind a carbon tax. By raising costs on companies that emit carbon dioxide, such a tax would encourage them to find inventive ways to cut down on fossil fuels while allowing green technologies to compete on a fair footing. A tax set to rise gradually over time would spur long-term investment in clean-energy infrastructure and the development of cleaner products and businesses. If made revenue-neutral, moreover, such a plan wouldn’t amount to a tax increase and wouldn’t enlarge the state: It could be paired with equally large cuts in other taxes, which could be designed to more than offset increased energy costs for ordinary taxpayers...”