On The Northern Edge of Discomfort

There is too much news, much of it lousy. Most days I’m relieved to talk about the weather. Last summer we tried to avoid drowning (it wouldn’t stop raining). This summer is being served medium rare. We may wind up with 20-30 days of 90s. Average is 13 days of 90-plus at MSP.

Minnesota will be on the northern periphery of a sprawling heat dome much of July. We will see more flashes/waves of heat, but nothing like Texas, where air temperatures may reach 115F.

Yesterday was a 2-shower, dip-me- in-deoderant, evacuate-to-the-lake kind of day, but slight relief is imminent. A few storms today give way to a welcome dip in humidity Friday into the weekend. A weak disturbance may kick up a few T-showers late Saturday. Right now Sunday appears to be the nicer day of the weekend.

Meanwhile there’s a 70 percent chance of Tropical Storm Fay forming off the Carolina coast. ECMWF hooks the storm toward Washington D.C. Colorado State predicts 20 named storms in 2020; most since 2005.

What can possibly go wrong?

Tornadoes Kill One – Leave Wide Path of Damage in West-Central Minnesota. Star Tribune reports. With extreme heat and high dew points (a tremendous amount of water in the air) and extreme instability, conditions were ripe for extreme thunderstorms yesterday. A Severe Storm Watch was issued for much of Minnesota shortly before 5 PM. By 5:45 there were Tornado Warnings posted for Ottertail County with numerous reports of tornadoes on the ground. The storms just erupted in a short period of time – intense upward motion resulting in tornadoes near Dalton and Ashby.

Tornado Touchdowns and Funnel Clouds. As of late Wednesday here are the location of spotter reports of tornadoes and funnel clouds, clustered around Elbow Lake and Ashby, Minnesota.

The Great Heat Wave of July, 1936. Not even close, but the 1930s didn’t have the exceptionally high humidity levels we have now. It was blazing hot in the 30s, but the heat was regional (focused on the Great Plains) and not global in nature. Here’s an excerpt from a great post at The Minnesota DNR: “...In the Twin Cities, the high temperature was 90 degrees F or higher for 14 straight days, including 8 days with high temperatures at or above 100 degrees F. That’s more 100-degree days than the Twin Cities recorded for all of the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s combined! The heat wave included five straight days with high temperatures at or above 105 in the Twin Cities, with an all-time record high of 108 F on the 14th, and seven straight days with low temperatures failing to fall below 80 degrees, with a low of just 86 F on July 13th. These measures of excessive heat are unmatched in records going back to late 1872...”

Some Weekend Relief. Today will be humid with a lingering risk of a shower or T-storm, but we should dry out statewide Friday with a noticeable drop in humidity as we push into the weekend. Mid-80s will feel pretty good. Map sequence above: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Temperature Correction. After a run of hot days a series of (slightly) cooler fronts will push out of Canada over the next 7-10 days, taking the edge off the heat. Temperatures will still run above average through the period, but the odds of (intense) heat are fairly small until the last week of July. Credit: WeatherBell.

Heating Up Again Late July? Confidence levels are low, but there are early signs the ridge of high pressure sparking oppressive heat for much of the USA will nudge northward within 10-14 days, allowing more 90s to push into Minnesota. We’ll see – but there’s little chance we’ve seen the last of the beastly-heat.

Pockets of Moderate Drought. You may have seen downpours in recent days, but much of Minnesota is considerably drier than average, an omen of what may be to come in August if this pattern continues. Map: U.S. Drought Monitor.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Wednesday, July 8th, 2020:

Possible Tropical Formation Near The East Coast. Over the past few days, a system has been moving across the Southeast and is now located along the northeastern South Carolina coast. As this system moves along or just offshore the Mid-Atlantic coast the next couple of days we could see a tropical or subtropical system form. The National Hurricane Center gives the system a 60% chance of formation in the next 48 days and a 70% chance in the next five days.

Potential Track and Intensity. As we look over the next few days, the low is expected to move off to the north-northeast, moving along the Mid-Atlantic Coast. It would be expected to be along/near the Outer Banks Thursday and approaching Long Island into the first half of the weekend. Models do keep wind strength limited, either at Tropical Depression or lower-end Tropical Storm strength.

Heavy Rain Expected. What is just about guaranteed is that this system will produce heavy rain in portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast through the end of the week. There will be the potential of 2-4”+ within heavier rain bands in some areas, especially east of the track of the low. This could lead to flash flooding in some locations. We will continue to track this system over the next few days and provide updates.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

20 Named Storms Predicted for Hurricane Season – Most Since 2005. CNN.com has details: “The research team at Colorado State University is now forecasting 20 named storms for this hurricane season. This is the earliest in a season that the group has made a prediction this high. The only other time CSU researchers predicted 20 or more storms was in their August update of the record-breaking 2005 season. Nearly all seasonal forecasts for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season have been well above normal. Current and long-term conditions across the Atlantic continue to favor a 2020 season that is well above average. When combined with the new record set for the earliest fifth named storm, the high prediction doesn’t seem so bold…”

More details from Colorado State University here. (Graphic credit above: NOAA).

“Tornado Drought” in June – Fewest U.S. Tornadoes In Nearly 70 Years. Details via Fox News: “After a destructive spring that made 2020 the deadliest year for tornadoes in nine years, an unusually quiet May continued into June, with some record low activity recorded. The National Weather Service’s (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC) said June 2020 had the fewest number of tornado watches in recorded history with only six recorded for the entire month. The previous record was eight in 2019. “While severe weather reports were closer to normal in June, the tornado drought continued for another record breaking month,” the SPC said on Twitter…”

New Analysis: Carbon Capture and Storage Infrastructure for Midcentury Decarbonization. A post at Great Plains Institute caught my eye: “…Analysis by the International Energy Agency has determined that deployment of carbon capture technology is critical to achieve midcentury US and global carbon reduction goals and temperature targets. Nearly every global temperature scenario put forth by international organizations and agreements requires dramatically accelerated use of carbon capture to meet its goals. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that carbon mitigation under the 2 degree C scenario would cost 138 percent more if carbon capture was not included as an emissions reduction strategy...”

“Million-Mile Batteries” Are Coming. Are They a Revolution? Grist poses the question: “Electric vehicles (EVs) have a clear environmental advantage over their gas-guzzling counterparts, but when it comes to longevity, the two are in a dead heat. Two hundred thousand miles is considered a good, long run for a car built today, regardless of whether it’s powered by a lithium battery or an internal combustion engine. But if a flurry of recent reports are to be believed, EVs may soon surge ahead in this long-distance competition — not by mere thousands of miles, but by 800,000. Recently, multiple EV battery makers have announced the imminent arrival of “million-mile” batteries, power packs that supposedly have enough juice to be driven to the moon and back twice...”

61,000+ Clean Energy Jobs. Here’s an excerpt of a post at Clean Energy Economy Minnesota: “In 2019, clean energy employed 61,800 Minnesotans. COVID-19 has dramatically shifted this number, with the latest numbers showing over 11,000 jobs lost in the clean energy sector. Unfortunately, these job losses have erased several years of industry gains. Despite this, the clean energy industry continues to serve our communities, care for employees, and innovate new solutions to address the crisis. Minnesota’s clean energy industry will play a vital role in our state’s economic recovery because of its size, reach and potential for growth. Restoring and increasing jobs in this industry is a proven way to boost the economy and will be critical as policymakers work to get Minnesotans on their feet again...”

Graphic credit: U.S. Department of Energy.

The Pandemic Experts Are Not Okay. A story at The Atlantic reminded me of the fatigue front-line health workers are experiencing right now: “…By now they are used to sharing their knowledge with journalists, but they’re less accustomed to talking about themselves. Many of them told me that they feel duty-bound and grateful to be helping their country at a time when so many others are ill or unemployed. But they’re also very tired, and dispirited by America’s continued inability to control a virus that many other nations have brought to heel. As the pandemic once again intensifies, so too does their frustration and fatigue. America isn’t just facing a shortfall of testing kits, masks, or health-care workers. It is also looking at a drought of expertise, as the very people whose skills are sorely needed to handle the pandemic are on the verge of burning out...”

How Scientists Know Covid-19 is Way Deadlier Than the Flu. A story at National Geographic got my attention: “…Using the handful of studies that have calculated infection-fatality rates for seasonal flu, Meyerowitz-Katz determined that somewhere between 1 and 10 people die for every 100,000 that are infected. For COVID-19, that number ranges between 500 and 1,000 deaths per 100,000 infections. By his calculations, the coronavirus is likely to be 50 to 100 times more deadly than the seasonal flu, which supports the Columbia University findings…”

93 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday. Peak heat index on the hour was 100F.

84 F. average high on July 8.

85 F. high on July 8, 2019.

July 9, 1932: A tornado touches down near Springfield and moves into St. James, causing 500 thousand dollars in damage.

THURSDAY: Humid but slightly cooler, few T-storms in the area. Winds: SW 8-13. High: 87

FRIDAY: Sunny and less humid. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 69. High: 86

SATURDAY: Fading sun, late PM T-storm risk. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 66. High: 84

SUNDAY: Sunny spells, probably dry. Winds: SE 3-8. Wake-up: 65. High: 82

MONDAY: Warm sunshine, few storms at night. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 66. High: 87

TUESDAY: Showers and T-storms in the area. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 69. High: 86

WEDNESDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 67. High: 85

Photo credit above: Paul Douglas.

Climate Stories…

Heat and Humidity Trends. A post at Climate Central caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “...In most states and regions, these humid heat extremes have already doubled in frequency—when comparing 2000-2019 to the previous two decades. In other words, conditions on the muggiest 18 days of the year (on average in 1980-99) may now occur on 36 days or more. All but one region has seen these frequencies double, and all but one state has risen by 50%. Parts of New England and the inland West have increased by 2.5 times. Why such a big jump? Consider the bell curve below; even small shifts in averages lead to large changes in extremes. As temperatures rise in a warming climate, humid heat extremes are persisting—a trend that will worsen unless we reduce greenhouse gas emissions…”

More U.S. Homes Are at Risk of Repeat Flooding. Scientific American reports: “The number of U.S. homes that face repeated flooding has grown significantly in the past decade despite federal and state agencies spending billions of dollars to protect at-risk properties, a new government report shows. The U.S. Government Accountability Office found that government programs that move homes out of floodplains or fortify them through elevation or flood-proofing are not keeping up with the growing number of properties that are flooded multiple times. The number of repeatedly flooded properties rose from 150,000 in 2009 to 214,000 in 2018—a 43% increase, GAO found. The growth is expected to continue as climate change makes major storms more frequent and more intense...”

NOAA’s Climate Program Office Launches Climate Risk Areas Initiative. Here’s an update from NOAA CPO: “Increased flooding, warming ocean temperatures, fluctuating lake levels, and more frequent heat waves—these are just some of the impacts communities across the country are facing as people from every U.S. region and economic sector turn to NOAA for actionable climate information. Addressing Americans’ most pressing climate challenges requires collaborative approaches involving subject matter experts from different professional domains. That’s why NOAA’s Climate Program Office (CPO) is piloting a strategic effort to enhance its investments and improve our nation’s resilience with user-driven solutions.    Today, CPO publicly announced a new integrative and interdisciplinary initiative that will apply its core capabilities and align investments with partners in a set of four climate-related risk areas that are societally important…”

Graphic credit: “Graphic illustrating the average cost of damages per decade. Average annual damages have more than quadrupled since the 1980s, from about $18 billion per year in the 1980s to about $82 billion per year in the 2010s“.

An Italian Glacier is Turning Pink. Probably not good news; CNN Travel reports: “A glacier in Italy is turning pink because of algae — a development that will make the ice melt faster, a scientist studying the phenomenon says. Pink snow has appeared at the Presena glacier in northern Italy, researcher Biagio Di Mauro, of the Institute of Polar Sciences at Italy’s National Research Council, told CNN Monday. While “watermelon snow,” as it is sometimes known, is fairly common in the Alps in spring and summer, it has been more marked this year. When Di Mauro went to the glacier on Saturday to investigate, “there was quite an impressive bloom of snow algae,” he said. He told CNN he believes an alga named Chlamydomonas nivalis is responsible for the change in color…”

Image credit: CNN.

Heat Waves and Climate Change. SciLine (AAAS) has details and some fairly amazing statistics about the prevalence of heat: “Extreme heat is the deadliest form of extreme weather in the United States, causing more deaths than hurricanes and floods combined; more than twice as many deaths as tornadoes; and more than four times as many as from extreme cold. 1 Heat waves i are occurring three times more often than they did in the 1960s—about six per year compared to two per year. 2 Some recent evidence suggests the increase has been even greater. 3 Record-breaking hot months are occurring five times more often than would be expected without global warming, suggesting that 80 percent of such monthly heat records are due to human-caused climate change...”

“What Choice Do We Have?” Residents of the Arctic are facing unprecedented changes to their way of life as their environment warms faster than any place on Earth. High Country News has an eye-opening report: “…In the last two centuries the climate has been severely altered by human forces. But it has always been changing in some form here, according to the Inupiat. Evidence of past ecosystem shifts is preserved in the great tusks of a mammoth found in the perennially frozen earth and in the oral histories repeated like mantras. The term “climate change” strikes a different tone up here. Life below 0 degrees Fahrenheit has always been challenging, so the Inupiat story is defined by adaptation. When the mammoth became extinct, the Inupiat adapted. When Western influences crept north, the Inupiat replaced their dogsleds with snow machines, their seal oil lamps with electricity...”

Hot June Highlights a Hot 2020. The Copernicus Project has an update for Europe and the rest of the planet; here’s an excerpt: “…Temperatures over Europe deviated quite substantially from the 1981-2010 average in June 2020, with a pattern largely opposite to that in May, associated with a change in the prevailing atmospheric circulation. Temperatures were well above average over Scandinavia and much of eastern Europe, under the influence of anticyclonic conditions. Norway had its second warmest June in records dating back to 1900. Sweden recorded one of its highest June temperatures since records began in 1889s, while Helsinki and other locations in Finland recorded their warmest June in records starting in 1961…”

Map credit: “Surface air temperature anomaly for June 2020 relative to the June average for the period 1981-2010. Data source: ERA5.” Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF.