Counting Up Our Atmospheric Blessings

I think we all just won the Weather Lotto. A tropical disturbance off Florida may flood the Carolinas. Much of America is battling deodorant-challenging heat waves and Europe is bracing for the third major spell of heat this summer.

Meanwhile we’ve (temporarily) unplugged the Doppler radar as Minnesota enjoys a fabulous stretch of dry, comfortable weather that should linger into Labor Day. A dry, lukewarmweekend gives way to showers and T-storms Monday. A timid slap of Canadian air follows on gusty winds Tuesday, keeping temperatures a few degrees below average next week. A second, reinforcing cool front sparks a fleeting shower Thursday night, followed by more cool, clean air in time for Labor Day weekend.

Think bell bottom jeans and 8-track tapes, because it’s back to the 70s for daytime highs the next 2 weeks.

Considering we could be dodging hailstones and griping about the heat, I’m relieved Mother Nature is in a contemplative mood. More 80s are likely in September. Summer is far from over!

Another Crazy Year of Weather. Here’s an excerpt of an excellent summary of 2019’s meteorological craziness, courtesy of Dr. Mark Seeley at Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…Southern Minnesota counties are reporting one of their wettest years of record with total precipitation so far that exceeds normal by 8 to 10 inches. The 2019 agricultural planting season was the latest since 1979, but crops have been slowly catching up, though still lagging behind in development. This has brought some concern for early frost and/or high moisture content at harvest time. The coldest Wind Chill value this year was -65°F at Hibbing on January 30th, while the highest Heat Index Value was 116°F at Winthrop (Sibley County) on July 19th, for a range 181°F across the state so far this year...”

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Friday, August 23rd, 2019:

  • We are tracking a system currently off the southeast Florida coast that could become a tropical system as we head through the weekend into early next week.
  • While there is a low chance this system forms into something tropical today or tonight as it passes near, if not over, the Florida Peninsula, it is expected to move back into the Atlantic this weekend. At that time, it could take advantage of favorable conditions and become a tropical system.
  • The good news is that system would continue to move off into the Atlantic into next week, with no additional threat of landfall along the Eastern United States.
  • However, with the system close to the United States over the next few days, along with a frontal system over the Mid-Atlantic, there will be the potential of heavy rain and flooding through early next week along and near the Southeast Coast.

Potential Tropical Troubles Near Florida. We’re tracking a weak area of low pressure this morning off the southeastern coast of Florida that is producing disorganized clouds and showers. This area off of the Southeastern United States coast has the potential to become a tropical system as we go through the next few days.

High Chance Of Formation Over The Next Five Days. As we go through today and tonight, the odds are low that something tropical forms out of this area of low pressure as the system passes near, if not over, the Florida Peninsula. Those odds of formation will increase, however, as the system moves back over the Atlantic waters on Saturday and through the rest of the weekend. The National Hurricane Center has the odds at 40% over the next two days and 70% over the next five days.

Potential Track. While the system moves near or over Florida over the next day or so, little to no tropical formation is expected with mainly periods of heavy rain across central and southern Florida. It is once it moves back out into the Atlantic, and the system takes advantage of favorable conditions, that this area of low pressure could form into a tropical system either this weekend or early next week. The good news is that it will quickly move out into the Atlantic away from the Southeast Coast next week, passing between the East Coast and Bermuda.

Main Threat: Heavy Rain. The main threat that this system will bring the Southeast will be heavy rain as we go through the next few days. Areas like Miami could see at least an inch of rain through the weekend. Meanwhile, areas like Wilmington and Hatteras will also see the same through Sunday evening, but some of that rain will be due to tropical moisture streaming northward along a slow-moving frontal system as this center of low pressure moves further away from land.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix.

In Alaska, a Summer of Extreme Weather Continues. The Washington Post has a detailed post; here’s an excerpt: “…Anomalous warmth in the past year, as well as warmer-than-usual waters in the surrounding Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas and the North Pacific Ocean fueled the warm and humid conditions experienced by Alaskans. This “bathtub” of warm water surrounding Alaska helped contribute to higher-than-normal temperatures, especially overnight lows that trended higher than normal. In Anchorage, June and July were the warmest months ever recorded, with nighttime lows that rarely dropped below 50 degrees for most of the summer. In a city with buildings designed to keep warmth in, this has been problematic for residents…”

Record-Breaking “Spider” Lightning as Long as Kansas Spotted. National Geographic has a fascinating post; here’s the intro: “One evening while working, Michael Peterson found himself staring at an enormous spider. But Peterson, a remote sensing scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, wasn’t looking at a critter of the eight-legged variety. Instead the form crawling across his screen was a monstrous flash of so-called spider lightning—a twisting network of light stretching hundreds of miles across stormy skies. “I was just blown away,” he says. His analysis revealed two record-breaking lightning flashes, the longest by length and by duration. One stretched over Brazil some 418 miles from tip to tail—slightly longer than Kansas is across…”

Image credit: “A thunderstorm looms over southern Brazil and Uruguay in this computer-rendered view. The lightning in this image is around 160 miles long, roughly a third the size of the newly reported record-breaking flash.” Image by Michael Peterson, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Behind the Forecast: Can Schools be Tornado-Proofed? Tornado-resilient, yes, but truly tornado-proof? A story at caught my eye: “…To be “tornado-proof,” according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a structure should be able to withstand 250 mph winds. Also, the walls should be able to resist a 15-pound 2-inch × 4-inch board traveling horizontally at 100 mph; this is basically a missile. For this to happen a room must be reinforced with concrete and sometimes steel. One school that’s taking extra precautions to keep their students safe is Bradie Shrum Elementary School in Salem, Indiana. Officials worked with Larry Timperman of Kovert Hawkins Architects and FEMA on a grant program to build Indiana’s first school safe room. The room is coded to handle 250 mph winds, an EF-5 tornado, and is built with hurricane-proof windows and thick walls can hold up to 1200 people…”

Feeling Lucky? Gauging the Risk of a Hurricane Impacting Your Vacation. Some good advice in a post at Forbes: “…Of course, there is no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to weather. But if you were playing the odds, you would not plan a beachy East Coast or Caribbean getaway that spanned September 10. When you look at more than half a century of data, September 10 is the most common date to have a hurricane occurring somewhere in the Atlantic basin. That’s a Tuesday this year, so it might be just as easy to plan your getaway for another time. The “September 10 rule” has held up in recent years. Last year’s storm season is remembered for hurricanes Florence (Sept. 5-14, 2018) and Michael (Oct. 7-16, 2018), which caused significant damage in the southeastern U.S. And the previous year brought a trio of costly hurricanes — Harvey (Aug. 17-Sept. 2, 2017), Irma (Aug. 30-Sept. 13, 2017) and Maria (Sept. 16-Oct. 2, 2017) — that ravaged destinations from Houston to Puerto Rico…”

Hurricane Patricia file image courtesy of Scott Kelly and NASA’s ISS.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Friday, August 23rd, 2019:

  • Tropical Storm Bailu continues to move to the northwest across the Philippine Sea with little very little change in strength since yesterday.
  • As of Friday morning, U.S. time, Bailu had sustained winds of 50 mph and was moving to the northwest at 12 mph. This system will strengthen some as it moves to the northwest but now is expected to remain a tropical storm over the next few days. On the current track of this system, the center of Bailu will either make landfall or pass just south of Taiwan Saturday afternoon, then move into eastern China Sunday.
  • This system will bring the potential of strong winds and flooding rains to Taiwan and eastern China.

Bailu On Satellite. Bailu continues to move toward the northwest across the Philippine Sea with very little change in strength since yesterday. As of 6 PM local time, Bailu had sustained winds of 50 mph and was moving to the northwest at 12 mph. The center of the storm was located about 480 miles south-southeast of Taipai. Land warnings have been issued ahead of Bailu for the following locations in Taiwan according to the Central Weather Bureau: NANTOU COUNTY, CHIAYI COUNTY, CHIAYI CITY, PINGTUNG COUNTY, CHANGHUA COUNTY, PINGTUNG COUNTY, PENGHU COUNTY, TAINAN CITY, TAITUNG COUNTY, HUALIEN COUNTY, YUNLIN COUNTY, KAOHSIUNG CITY.

Bailu Track. Bailu will continue to move to the northwest over the next few days, with the center of the system passing over (if not just south of) far southern Taiwan Saturday afternoon before moving into eastern China Sunday. While some strengthening is expected, it will likely remain a tropical storm through landfall in China, quickly weakening into early next week.

Strong Winds And Heavy Rain. The main threats Bailu will bring to Taiwan is the potential of stronger winds, especially on Saturday, as well as heavy rain through the weekend. Some areas of eastern Taiwan could see upwards of a foot of rain, which could lead to flooding and mudslides.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

A Trailblazing Plan to Fight California Wildfires. Food for thought from The New Yorker: “… Throughout the twentieth century, federal policy focussed on putting out fires as quickly as possible. An unintended consequence of this strategy has been a disastrous buildup in forest density, which has provided the fuel for so-called “megafires.” The term was coined by the Forest Service in 2011, following a series of conflagrations that each consumed more than a hundred thousand acres of woodland.Megafires are huge, hot, and fast—they can engulf an entire town within minutes. These fires are almost unstoppable and behave in ways that shock fire scientists—hurling firebrands up to fifteen miles away, forming vortices of superheated air that melt cars into puddles within seconds, and generating smoke plumes that shroud distant cities in apocalyptic haze. Centuries-old trees, whose thick bark can withstand lesser blazes, are incinerated and seed banks beneath the forest floor are destroyed…”

Photo credit: “As megafires become the new normal, prescribed burns give trees breathing room and prevent the worst damage.” Photo by Kevin Cooler for The New Yorker.

A Live Reality Cop Show is Cable TV’s Best Bet to Compete with Streaming. It’s pretty addictive, I have to admit. Here’s a snippet from Bloomberg Businessweek: “…The show, now in its third season, is often the No. 1 program on American cable TV on Friday and Saturday nights. A&E is one of only two cable channels to show growth in 18-to-49-year-old viewers since September 2018, along with TLC. A&E, jointly owned by Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp., runs six hours of new Live PD episodes a week. There are hours more of reruns and seven spinoffs, including Live PD Presents: Women on Patrol and Live Rescue, which focuses on firefighters and other first responders. Top Dog, which features police dogs competing on an obstacle course, is set to make its debut in the fall. In a way Live PD is a return to the network’s heyday six years ago when it thrived on red-state reality shows such as Duck Dynasty and Dog the Bounty Hunter...”
Photo credit: “Dan Abrams, host of A&E’s Live PD, and Paul Buccieri, president of A&E Networks Group, at the network’s New York studios.” Photographer: Dolly Faibyshev for Bloomberg Businessweek

Dancing with the Former Press Secretary. CNN has the joyous details: “Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer is hitting the dance floor and joining the cast of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” Spicer was announced Wednesday alongside the rest of the cast on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “The nice thing is Sean will be in charge of assessing audience size,” “Dancing with the Stars” host Tom Bergeron joked on “Good Morning America.” Bergeron later tweeted that he had hoped the show “would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY party affiliations” but that the producers decided to “‘go in a different direction....”

How Long Are You Willing to be Cooped Up in an Airplane? The Verge has a truly horrifying story: “Australian airline Qantas Airways has announced plans to start testing 20-hour direct flights from New York and London to Sydney as early as this October, starting with mostly empty planes of employees. The flights — if they’re enacted on a commercial level, not just as tests — would be the longest direct flight offered by any airline. To start, Qantas will fly roughly 40 passengers and crew. The test flight crews will be medically examined, presumably make sure that they’re not going to try to eat people after being cooped up in a small metal can for 20 hours straight…”

77 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

80 F. average high on August 23.

81 F. high on August 23, 2018.

August 24, 2006: Tornadoes and large hail strike southern Minnesota. One person died and 37 were injured when a strong tornado began 4 miles west-southwest of Nicollet in Nicollet County, and moved almost due east for 33 miles to near Waterville in Le Sueur County. Many storm chasers captured the tornado on video. The largest hail reported was grapefruit-sized at New Prague in Scott County.

August 24, 1934: Early cool air invades southern Minnesota. Rochester and Fairmont have lows of 34 degrees.

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, pleasant. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 77

SUNDAY: Lukewarm sunshine, still nice. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 60. High: 78

SUNDAY NIGHT: Slight risk of a shower or T-storm, especially northern/western MN. Low: 63

MONDAY: Showers and T-storms likely. Winds: SW 8-13. High: 73

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, windy and cool. Winds: W 15-25. Wake-up: 59. High: 73

WEDNESDAY: Plenty of sun, winds ease a bit. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 57. High: 75

THURSDAY: Partly sunny and milder. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 56. High: near 80

FRIDAY: Wet start, then clearing skies. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 60. High: 76

Climate Stories….

Caring About Tomorrow. The author of a Washington Post Op-Ed says that we are hard-wired not to feel empathy for those who come next. Here’s a clip: “…One answer lies in the nature of empathy: our ability to share, understand and care about others’ experiences. Deeply empathic people tend to be environmentally responsible, but our caring instincts are shortsighted and dissolve across space and time, making it harder for us to deal with things that haven’t happened yet. Human activity is now a dominant force in shaping the Earth’s environment, but humanity’s moral senses have not kept pace with this power. Our actions reverberate across the world and across time, but not enough of us feel the weight of their consequences. Empathy could be an emotional bulwark against a warming world, if our collective care produced collective action. But it evolved to respond to suffering right here, right now. Our empathic imagination is not naturally configured to stretch around the planet or toward future generations. That puts their very existence at risk. Ironically, our better angels — and the way they operate — might be hampering our ability to do what’s best for the world…”

Image credit: Jackson Joyce for The Washington Post.

The Way We’re Talking About Climate Change Is All Wrong. Newsweek has an Op-Ed that resonated; here’s an excerpt: “…First, climate communication must reach our neighbors where they are, versus where experts think they should be. Climate messages should be relevant to and helpful with basic needs: financial stability, health and security. We need environmentalists to make space for more diverse environmental messengers. People need to see themselves and their community’s priorities represented on the climate stage. Climate change will impact all of us—and have a disproportionate impact on our most vulnerable communities first. Second, we must use language that most people use. Instead of talking about carbon neutrality, net zero, retrofit accelerators or deep decarbonization, let’s use clear concepts like 100 percent renewable energy and zero waste and discuss the need to electrify and plug in our cars and buildings so they can be powered and heated by wind power and solar power…”

File image: Scott Kelly and NASA ISS.

A New Tone From Some Republicans on Climate Change – Mostly Behind Closed Doors. Here’s an excerpt from POLITICO: “…I don’t understand what it is about people in politics that they seem to be immune from some of these large shifts in opinion out there in the real world. I mean almost all the large-company CEOs are for taking reasonable steps to deal with climate change and sea level rise,” said Rooney, who represents a coastal Florida district and served as an ambassador in the George W. Bush administration. He credited pressure from corporate leaders as helpful for ultimately setting a price on carbon despite ongoing resistance from many in his party. And behind closed doors, Republicans are even more candid in acknowledging that action is needed, according to their Democratic colleagues…”

Climate Change to Slow Global Economic Growth, New Study Finds. has details: “Climate change will exact a toll on global economic output as higher temperatures hamstring industries from farming to manufacturing, according to a new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Record-breaking heat across the globe made headlines throughout July, and now researchers say a persistent increase in average global temperature by 0.04 degrees Celsius per year, barring major policy breakthroughs, is set to reduce world real GDP per capita by 7.22% by 2100. The researchers — hailing from the International Monetary Fund, the University of Cambridge and the University of Southern California — found little evidence that precipitation had an impact on GDP, but instead observed a large temperature-related effect...”

Luntz: “I Was Wrong” on Climate Change. POLITICO has another interesting read; here’s a clip: “…Luntz, who said he’s doing work for both Democrats and Republicans, urged Democrats to “personalize, individualize and humanize” the impacts of climate change to make it more relatable to the average person. He advised them to “jettison” language like describing the problem as a crisis in favor of phrases that motivate people to action. “Focus on the consequences of inaction,” he said. “The American people want to know the positive of this, not just the negative. Not just the fear, they want to know the benefit of focusing on it...”

Photo credit: “Republican pollster Frank Luntz entertains a Mississippi crowd in 2008. Luntz urged Democrats to “personalize, individualize and humanize” the impacts of climate change.” | Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo.