Billion Dollar Weather Disasters Increasing

According to NOAA, America has already experienced 10 billion dollar weather disasters. 2020 is the 6th consecutive year America has experienced 10 or more weather and climate disasters. Since 1980, the years with 10 more more separate billion dollar disasters include 1998, 2008, 2011-12, and 2015-2020.

Call me crazy, but I detect a trend.

The Kansas-size tornadoes that hit Ottertail and Grant counties were extraordinary, a reminder that twisters
can spin up during a Severe Storm Watch. Preliminary data show a 1-minute lead time for the biggest EF-3+ tornado that hit near Dalton. The average national lead-time is closer to 13 minutes.

Cue sunshine and a drop in humidity today. A puddle of cold air aloft ignites a few thundershowers Saturday – right now Sunday looks like the drier day of the weekend.

Much of America will be treated to a blastfurnace in coming weeks, but the epicenter of heat stays just south of Minnesota. “Cool 80s” much of next week give way to another run of 90s later in July.

Map above courtesy of NOAA NCEI: “2019 is the sixth consecutive year (2015-2020) in which 10 or more billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events have impacted the United States. Over the last 41 years (1980-2020), the years with 10 or more separate billion-dollar disaster events include 1998, 2008, 2011-2012, and 2015-2020.”

Survivors of Deadly Tornado Describe Power of Twister. INFORUM has a harrowing story – and that sure looks like EF-4 damage to me: “…The twister obliterated the shop and left large trucks and tractors strewn about like broken toys. Erickson doesn’t remember consciously diving for the undercarriage of the tractor, but he figured afterward that he must have reacted instinctively, as the tractor was a type he worked on during his training to become a mechanic. After blasting through the Hansen property, the tornado went on to punish nearby homesteads, including one owned by Gareth and Linda Klimek. Aware of tornado warnings, the couple took shelter in their basement shortly before the twister hit, according to their son, Loren, who on Thursday morning was looking over wreckage left behind by the tornado…”

Photo credit: “Loren Klimek points out were his parents, Gareth and Linda, took shelter as the tornado destroyed the family home near Dalton, Minn.”  David Samson / The Forum

At Least One Dead After Ottertail County Tornado. Here’s an excerpt from Grand Forks Herald: “…Roads were closed to the public throughout the area as homes and buildings were destroyed and trees were down, Schmidt said. “There’s insulation and tin all over the place,” he added. Nick Carletta, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, said the tornado that was possibly as wide as 500 yards at some points was one of the worst in the area in several years. He said it could be on top of the scale for tornadoes, which would be an EF5. “From preliminary evidence, it could be from an EF3 to an EF5,” Carletta said. A NWS meteorologist was on the scene examining the damage...”

“I Literally Thought I Was Going to Die”. Man Recalls Terrifying Moment Tornado Hit Repair Shop, Killing Friend. WCCO-TV has the story.

Review of Damaging Tornado of July 8, 2020. Southern Ottertail County was hit very hard. Here’s an excerpt from the Grand Forks office of the National Weather Service: “A destructive tornado, resulting in one fatality and two injuries, occurred Wednesday evening over southern Otter Tail County, Minnesota. The NWS extends our condolences for this loss of life, and our hearts go out to the victim’s families and friends during this difficult time. A formal NWS survey team continues to assess the damage and ground truth information regarding tracks and strength of multiple possible tornadoes from Wednesday evening across far northern Grant County into south central Otter Tail County, southeast of Dalton, Minnesota. Initial assessments indicate that the strongest tornado was potentially greater than EF-3. A final rating, track, and additional information regarding other possible tornadoes is pending…”

Photo credit: National Weather Service.

He Was My Best Friend: Workshop Employee Killed in Tornado Near Dalton, Building Destroyed. FOX9 has more details and perspective on a tragic story.

Quiet Friday – Thunderstorm Risk Returns Saturday. Of course it does! At least we salvage a perfect Friday, and a pretty nice Sunday too. Future Radar (NOAA’s NAM model) courtesy of Praedictix and AerisWeather.

More Comfortable. I never thought 80s would qualify as “comfortable”, but compared to some of the recent hot days (9 days at or above 90F at MSP so far this summer season) temperatures into next week look almost reasonable.

Growing Risk of 90s Returning Late July. ECMWF (top) and GFS (bottom) show pleasant 80s into most of next week, but flashes of the heat wave baking much of the USA will surge northward again the last 10 days of July. MSP Meteograms: WeatherBell.

Hot, But Not Debilitating. GFS long-range guidance continues to show the hottest air just south of Minnesota roughly 2 weeks out, but we may still see our fair share of 90s the last week of July.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Thursday, July 9th, 2020:

  • An area of low pressure off the North Carolina coast could form into a tropical system as it continues to move northeast to north-northeast over the next 48 hours.
  • This system could become a low-end tropical storm as it impacts portions of the Northeast as we head toward the weekend.
  • While gusty winds will be possible, heavy rain of 2-4” will impact portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast through Sunday which could lead to flash flooding.

Possible Tropical Formation Near The East Coast. We continue to track an area of low pressure situated about 60 miles east of Wilmington, NC, this morning. Shower and thunderstorm activity have increased with this system, but they are located away from the low-pressure center. According to the National Hurricane Center, only a slight increase in organization would allow them to classify this system as a tropical or subtropical system later today or tonight. Due to this, there is an 80% chance that we could see a named tropical system off the Mid-Atlantic coast in the next 48 hours.

Potential Track and Intensity. This area of low pressure will continue to move northeast or north-northeast over the next couple of days, which could keep this system along or just off the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coast. If the system does stay along or off the coast, that could be enough for this system to form into a named entity with some models showing the winds reaching low-end tropical storm strength.

Heavy Rain Expected. Whether or not this system forms into a named tropical system, heavy rain is expected to fall across areas from the Mid-Atlantic to New England through the end of the week into the weekend. Some areas could see over 2” of rain, which could lead to flash flooding. The heaviest rain is expected for New York City Friday and Friday Night, and for Boston Friday Night into Saturday.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

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...”

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...”

Winds of Change? Company Looks at Weather’s Effect on Ball. This goes way beyond spin rates. Star Tribune reports: “…One of the biggest keys to Weather Applied Metrics’ modeling is computational fluid dynamics, which uses software to help analyze the flow of gas or liquids, or how flowing gas or liquids affects objects. Think of computational fluid dynamics as “having a wind tunnel on a computer,” said Jani Macari Pallis, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. Wind tunnels are “somewhat time consuming and you have to build lots of models,” Pallis said. “So now what we can do with computational fluids is we can make these models on a computer...”
Photo credit: Paul Douglas.

.33″ rain fell at MSP International Airport yesterday.

82 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

84 F. average high on July 9.

80 F. high on July 9, 2019.

July 10, 2002: Intense rainfall causes extensive street flooding in St. Cloud. 2.70 inches of rain falls in 1 hour and 45 minutes at St. Cloud State University. People were stranded in their cars and had to be rescued by the fire department.

FRIDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 86

SATURDAY: Patchy clouds, few T-showers. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 70. High: 82

SUNDAY: Sunny start, clouds build PM hours. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 64. High: 85

MONDAY: Plenty of sun, late T-storms. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 66. High: 86

TUESDAY: Early storms, then partial clearing. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 68. High: 84

WEDNESDAY: Unsettled, few T-showers. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 64. High: 81

THURSDAY: Plenty of lukewarm sunshine. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 63. High: 84

Climate Stories…

How America’s Hottest City Will Survive Climate Change. Here’s the intro to a Washington Post story: “Phoenix’s fight against heat is a war with many fronts, said David Hondula, a sustainability scientist at Arizona State University and a leading researcher studying the intersection of heat and health. One is high up in the atmosphere, where accumulating greenhouse gases from human activities are causing global average temperatures to steadily rise. The average annual temperature in Maricopa County is 3.4 degrees higher than it was in 1895, according to a Washington Post analysis of records going back more than 100 years. That translates into summers that are hotter, longer and drier. Drastically reducing heat-trapping emissions on a planet-wide scale is essential to averting catastrophic heat waves and other dangers from global warming, scientists say...”

Renewable Natural Gas Isn’t a Green Climate Change Solution. EcoWatch explains why; here’s an excerpt: “…If RNG could be a renewable replacement for fossil natural gas, why not move ahead? Consumers have shown that they are willing to buy renewable electricity, so we might expect similar enthusiasm for RNG. The key issue is that methane isn’t just a fuel – it’s also a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Any methane that is manufactured intentionally, whether from biogenic or other sources, will contribute to climate change if it enters the atmosphere. And releases will happen, from newly built production systems and existing, leaky transportation and user infrastructure. For example, the moment you smell gas before the pilot light on a stove lights the ring? That’s methane leakage, and it contributes to climate change…”

Global Warming. Inequality. Covid-19. And Al Gore Is…Optimistic? (paywall) explains: “…It turns out that the trend lines Gore has spent a lifetime either warning people about (carbon!) or trying to goose upward (green energy! Access to health care!) are finally headed in the directions he was hoping for. The Covid-19 pandemic, he says, has accelerated the kinds of systemic changes he pushed for, first with legislation and then with investments. And while Gore declined to offer specific advice for how leaders in the public sector should be handling the pandemic, he seems supremely confident that pressure from the private sector will steer governments in the right direction. He also believes the world will be “pleasantly surprised” by sooner-than-expected, safe vaccines, and that the public will somehow overcome the misinformation atrocities on that thing called the internet...”

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...”