Tracking “Isaias” – And Weekend Showers

“Nature has a myriad of weapons to combat human arrogance” wrote film director Wayne Gerard Trotman. Tell me about it. From Texas-size hurricanes to invisible, microscopic viruses. We delude ourselves into thinking we’re in charge – but nature always bats last.

“Isaias” is forecast to remain a tropical storm as it churns up the east coast of Florida; hurricane-force gusts are possible Saturday, with moderate coastal erosion and inland flooding from Florida to the Carolinas. Isaias is the earliest 9th storm on record. This may be an intense hurricane season, made much worse by the pandemic.

Which puts our partly-puddly weekend outlook into perspective. A postcard-perfect Friday gives way to a few PM showers and storms Saturday afternoon. Your favorite lake may be warmer than air temperature Sunday, in fact I see 70-degree highs from Sunday into next Thursday.

Don’t even think of stashing away the shorts just yet. Odds favor a few more 90s between by Labor Day. Keep your shorts on stand-by alert.

Tropical Storm Isaias visible image courtesy of NOAA and AerisWeather.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Thursday, July 30th, 2020:

  • Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine became Tropical Storm Isaias last night and is expected to cross Hispaniola today into tonight. As of 11 AM AST, this system had winds of 60 mph and was moving to the northwest at 20 mph.
  • Once Isaias crosses Hispaniola, strengthening is expected into the first half of the weekend as the system continues to the northwest. This system will approach the Florida east coast as we head late Saturday into Sunday potentially nearing hurricane strength.
  • The system will then turn north and northeast into next week, riding the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic coast through Tuesday.

Tropical Storm Isaias. Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine was upgraded to Tropical Storm Isaias in the Caribbean Sea last night and continues to move off to the northwest this morning. As of the 11 AM AST update from the National Hurricane Center, Isaias had winds of 60 mph and was moving to the northwest at 20 mph. The center of the storm was located 50 miles southwest of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, or 165 miles southeast of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. Already heavy rain has occurred across Puerto Rico over the past 24 hours with some rain gauges reporting 4-8″+ across the island. This has led to the potential of flash flooding, with several Flash Flood Warnings in place.

Large Wind Field. The current tropical storm wind field (39+ mph) associated with Isaias is quite large and mainly to the north side of the system. Tropical storm winds extend out 310 miles from the center. Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic had a wind gust of 60 mph around 9 AM.

Expected Track. Isaias is not expected to strengthen much today as the system approaches and crosses over the higher terrain of Hispaniola. We will have to see what that does to the system, as there are some indications that the center of low pressure could (or currently is trying to) reform near the northern side of the Dominican Republic. After that center reforms, strengthening is expected as the system moves off to the northwest into the weekend before a turn to the north and northeast by early next week. On this track, Isaias would pass near the Florida and Southeastern U.S. coast through the weekend into early next week. There are still questions to the potential intensity of this storm, as some model guidance do have this strengthening to a Category 1 hurricane as it nears the United States. We will know more after it passes over Hispaniola.

Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings. Ahead of this system, several government authorities have issued numerous Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings. While there are currently no watches in place across the Southeastern United States, I would expect some to be issued later today or tonight if the current forecast path holds. The following alerts are in place:

Tropical Storm Warning
* Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra
* U.S. Virgin Islands
* Dominican Republic entire southern and northern coastlines
* North coast of Haiti from Le Mole St Nicholas eastward to thenorthern border with the Dominican Republic
* Turks and Caicos Islands
* Southeastern Bahamas including the Acklins, Crooked Island, LongCay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands
* Central Bahamas, including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island,Rum Cay, and San Salvador

Tropical Storm Watch
* Northwestern Bahamas including Andros Island, New Providence, Eleuthera, Abacos Islands, Berry Islands, Grand Bahamas Island, and Bimini.

Earliest Arrival Of Tropical Storm Winds. As this system continues west to west-northwest the next couple of days, the earliest tropical storm winds could arrive across the Turks and Caicos, Bahamas and Cuba is later today into Friday and across portions of Florida Friday Night into Saturday. As the system turns north/northeast, tropical-storm-force winds will be possible across the eastern Carolinas Sunday into Sunday Night. The arrival of tropical storm force winds could make any preparations ahead of the storm difficult to complete once they do arrive.

Melbourne, FL, Wind Gusts. Wind gusts will pick up Saturday Night in Melbourne, FL, as Isaias passes near the Florida coast. The current forecast does show the potential of tropical storm and hurricane-force winds Saturday Night into Sunday, peaking shortly after sunrise Sunday. As the system moves northward, winds would be on the decrease Sunday. Of course, the strength of this system still depends on several factors, including the passage over Hispaniola today.

Heavy Rain Potential. Heavy rain is expected with this storm over the next several days that could lead to life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides across along the track of Isaias. Here are expected rainfall amounts according to the National Hurricane Center:

  • Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and northern Haiti: 4 to 8 inches,with isolated maximum totals of 10 inches.
  • Bahamas, Turks and Caicos: 4 to 8 inches.
  • Cuba: 1 to 2 inches, with isolated maximum totals of 4 inches.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

What Happens When a Hurricane Hits a Coronavirus Hot Spot? South Texas Cities Found Out the Hard Way. in San Antonio has the story.

9 Hurricanes are Forecast As Part of a Worse Than Normal 2020 Hurricane Season. Here’s an excerpt from a timely post at Forbes: “…The figure above shows the historical average number of named tropical cyclones by day of the year. You can see this year we are tracking at the top edge of the highest count by day. For the past 5 decades of satellite data, this is the highest number of named storms at this point in the season. Abnormally warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and optimal atmospheric conditions lead to an optimal environment for hurricane formation. Sea surface temperatures in the ocean above 80°F / 27°C is optimal for storm development as the warm water evaporates and provides moisture and energy in the atmosphere, promoting storm growth…”

Image credit: “2020 Hurricane Season named storms compared to historical.” NASA.

Baghdad Soars to 125F, Shattering All-Time Record. Capital Weather Gang has the story: “Record high temperatures have been plaguing the Middle East, the mercury soaring to extreme levels during a blistering and unforgiving heat wave. Baghdad surged to its highest temperature ever recorded Tuesday. Tuesday’s preliminary high of 125.2 degrees (51.8 Celsius) in Iraq’s capital city shatters its previous record of 123.8 degrees set on July 30, 2015, for any day of the year. On Wednesday, Baghdad followed up with a temperature of 124 degrees, its second-highest temperature on record. On Monday, it had reached 123 degrees…”

Image credit: “High pressure brought extreme temperatures to Iraq on Tuesday. This map shows where the core of high pressure was located.” (WeatherBell)

Better Information, and More Of It, Can Improve Driver Safety on Flooded Roads. Here’s the intro to an interesting post from NOAA’s “Driving a car in the rain is challenging and dangerous enough. But what if flash floods disrupt traffic and damage roadways? The decision to drive through floodwaters or pursue a safer path is complex. New NOAA-funded research finds that a multitude of cultural and situational factors, including official warning messages, influence motorist decisions in these situations. This cartoon illustrates some of the information and influences, cultural and official, that drivers say influences them as they decide how to handle flooded roads, according to the results of the study. Official signs with messages like “Road May Flood” are influential, as are cultural cues like belief in trucks and SUVs’ ability to safely pass floodwaters. Drivers also seek more information about their environment, such as possible detours...”

More Mosquito Days. A warming climate has some interesting (and itchy) consequences. Climate Central explains: “It’s the curse of summer weather: just as you start to relax outside, you feel a telltale tickle on your ankle. You swat the air but it’s already too late—another mosquito bite. While most are just an itchy nuisance, mosquito-borne diseases are an increasing risk in the United States. And as the climate warms, mosquito seasons are getting longer in much of the country. According to studies from the National Institutes of Health, mosquitoes survive best at temperatures between 50-95°F and a relative humidity of 42% or more. Climate Central counted these “mosquito days” each year for 239 locations in the contiguous U.S., updating our 2016 analysis with a newer dataset. We found that 64% of sites recorded an increase from the 1980s to the 2010s—outnumbering those with a decrease by about 2 to 1…”

Efforts to Contain Plastic Pollution Falling Short. Fortune has the harrowing statistics: “…The researchers found that at current “business as usual” rates, the scale of plastic entering the world’s oceans will triple by 2040, to an average of 29 million metric tons of waste, per year—equivalent to 50 kilograms, or 110 pounds, of waste per meter of coastline, globally. If all measures promised by governments are implemented, plastic waste will be reduced by only 7% compared with levels of waste if no efforts had been taken at all, the report said. As a result, current efforts to reduce plastic waste are wildly insufficient, the researchers concluded. Truly reducing waste will require using every available solution, from recycling to designing replacement products, including—perhaps most important—a focus on new plastic not being produced at all...”

Image credit: World Resources Institute.

Breaking the Plastic Wave. The report referenced in the Fortune article (above) is here. It’s a daunting challenge, but there is some hope: “…Yet we also show that if the world were to apply and robustly invest in all the technologies, management practices, and policy approaches currently available—including reduction, recycling, and plastic substitution—in 20 years there would be about an 80 per cent reduction from the current trajectory in the flow of plastic into the ocean. And the new solutions recommended in this report would provide consumers with the same services that plastic delivers today—at a lower cost to society...”

Follow the Money: How Digital Ads Subsidize the Worst of the Web. Turns out the free Internet comes with a huge toll: digital disinformation served up in bite-size chunks. (paywall) explains: “...A lot of those debates, when you track them down to their technical causes, it inevitably boils down to advertising technology,” said Aram Zucker-Scharff, the ad engineering director for The Washington Post’s research, experimentation, and development team. “So many of the problems that people are talking about on the web right now, these are problems that arise out of detailed and persistent third-party, cross-site user behavior tracking.” There’s a lot to unpack there. Over the next few weeks, WIRED is going to be taking a look at the various ways in which the modern digital advertising market underwrites the proliferation of harmful, divisive, and misleading online content, while at the same time undermining real journalism...”

9 Expert Tips for Safe Road Trips This Summer. Mental Floss has timely advice; here’s a sample: “...It’s also a good idea to verify beforehand that places are taking certain precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Knowing that a state requires mandatory mask-wearing in public and prohibits large gatherings and indoor dining can help you decide if it’s safe enough for a visit. The same goes for hotels, restaurants, and other individual businesses. “I think that if you can call ahead and ask hotels and other facilities what their safety protocols are, you should,” Ricotta says. “If there isn’t a protocol in place, or no one is able to provide you with details, you might be better off finding an alternative place to stay...”

Waving to the Great Mapmaker in the Sky. I had no idea someone went to the effort to do this. Here’s an explainer at Big Think: “In Minnesota, there’s a forest shaped like Minnesota. You wouldn’t know it when you’re near it, or even in it; you can only see it when you’re flying above it. Across the world, people have altered the land to write messages that are invisible on the ground and can only be seen by – well, by whom, exactly? Airplane pilots and their passengers, hot-air balloonists, satellites, and the Great Mapmaker in the Sky. But why? When is easier to answer, for this kind of message to the heavens above is a relatively modern phenomenon¹, which can be traced back to a map produced by Leonardo da Vinci…”

Image credit: “A Minnesota-shaped forest, in Minnesota. One of several examples of land art that are only visible from the sky.” Image: Bing Maps.

Bugatti is Selling a $35,000 Electric Car for Kids. The definition of wretched excess. has the details: “Bugatti and the London-based Little Car Company have teamed up to make 500 miniature electric Bugattis for kids — and now a few of them have just become available to buy. Originally, all 500 of the mini electric cars that the companies planned to make were sold after the car was unveiled at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, some customers changed their minds, making a few available for new customers, Bugatti announced Friday. This new all-electric miniature car is called the Bugatti Baby II and starts at about $35,000. It’s a modern interpretation of the original Bugatti Baby from nearly a century ago...”

Image credit here.

82 F. high in the Twin Cities on Thursday.

83 F. average high on July 30.

77 F. MSP high on July 30, 2019.

July 31, 1961: Very heavy rain falls at Albert Lea, where 6.7 inches is recorded in 24 hours.

FRIDAY: Plenty of warm sunshine. Winds: light. High: 83

SATURDAY: Sunny start, few PM T-storms. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 65. High: 84

SUNDAY: Cooler with clouds, few showers. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 63. High: 74

MONDAY: Some sun with a cool breeze. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 58. High: near 70

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, feels like September. Winds: E 7-12. Wake-up: 55. High: 69

WEDNESDAY: Trending milder with more sunshine. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 53. High: 74

THURSDAY: More humid, growing thunder risk. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 58. High: 78

Climate Stories…

Rising Seas Could Menace Million Beyond Shorelines, Study Finds. The New York Times (paywall) summarizes some troubling new predictions: “But a new study published Thursday finds that much of the economic harm from sea-level rise this century is likely to come from an additional threat that will arrive even faster: As oceans rise, powerful coastal storms, crashing waves and extreme high tides will be able to reach farther inland, putting tens of millions more people and trillions of dollars in assets worldwide at risk of periodic flooding. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, calculated that up to 171 million people living today face at least some risk of coastal flooding from extreme high tides or storm surges, created when strong winds from hurricanes or other storms pile up ocean water and push it onshore. While many people are currently protected by sea walls or other defenses, such as those in the Netherlands, not everyone is…”

Coastal Flooding Set to Get More Frequent, Threatening Coastal Life and Global GDP. More perspective on the new study from “…This would mean about 77 million more people will be at risk of experiencing flooding, a rise of 52 percent to 225 million. The economic risk in terms of the infrastructure exposed will rise by up to $US14.2 trillion, which represents 20 percent of global GDP. The analysis, published today in Springer Nature’s Scientific Reports, is based on a where carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise rapidly. “A warming is driving sea level rise because water expands as it warms, and glaciers are melting. Climate change is also increasing the frequency of extreme seas which will further increase the risk of flooding,” lead author and University of Melbourne Ph.D. candidate Ebru Kirezci said…”

Photo credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain.

Flooding from Sea Level Could Cost Our Planet $14.2 Trillion, Study Says. weighs in with additional analysis and details: “…Sea levels are rising because greenhouse gas emissions are warming the oceans and planet, melting polar ice caps and glaciers. If nothing is done to reduce carbon emissions, by 2100, vulnerable areas that are at risk from a “one in 100-year” flooding event, will experience them once every decade, the authors found. “We are already seeing increased frequency of storm surges and extreme sea levels,” said Kirezci. “The risks are increasing and climate change exacerbates these impacts.” To reach the economic cost of more major floods, the researchers combined their model with topographic data to identify areas at risk of coastal flooding, as well as mapping that onto population data and the GDP in those affected areas...”

Map source: Ebru Kirezci et al.

Microsoft’s Astonishing Climate Change Goals, Explained. Say what you will about Bill Gates (I happen to have a lot of respect for what he’s built – and how his foundation is giving back) but MSFT is serious about mitigating climate change. Here’s an excerpt from Vox: “…With 160 data centers worldwide and multiple generators per data center, that adds up to a lot of diesel generators. The company has pledged to phase them all out by 2030. That’s why it is testing fuel cells as backup power. It is the latest in a string of climate initiatives that go back almost a decade. The company has been 100 percent carbon neutral, through the purchase of carbon offsets, since 2012. In 2013, it implemented an internal carbon tax on the scope 1 and 2 emissions of all divisions, with the revenue going toward sustainability improvements. It created a business unit focused on climate solutions, which produces things like AI for Earth. It recently succeeded in buying enough renewable energy to account for all US domestic operations...”

Image credit: “Microsoft president Brad Smith, CFO Amy Hood, and CEO Satya Nadella preparing to announce Microsoft’s plan to be carbon negative by 2030. Brian Smale/MSFT

New Study: Polar Bears Could Be Extinct by 2100. Big Think has a summary of new research: “A new report on climate change by the University of Toronto is projecting that most of the polar bear population could reach extinction in under 100 years due to starvation. Polar bears are dependent on sea ice for hunting seals, a primary component of their diet. As temperatures rise and sea ice continues to shrink it has become increasingly challenging for the carnivores to hunt for food. The Arctic is likely to have warmed more than double the amount of the global average this year compared to pre-industrial temperatures...”

Photo credit: USGS.

The Four Types of Climate Denier, and Why You Should Ignore Them All. Here’s an excerpt of a post at The Guardian: “…However infuriating they are, arguing with them or debunking their theories is likely only to generate publicity or money for them. It also helps to generate a fake air of controversy over climate action that provides cover for the vested interests seeking to delay the end of the fossil fuel age. But the deniers are not all the same. They tend to fit into one of four different categories: the shill, the grifter, the egomaniac and the ideological fool. The shill is the easiest to understand. He, and it almost always is he, is paid by vested interests to emit clouds of confusion about the science or economics of climate action…”

Fewer Good Ice Skating Days. The data is the data, and across much of North America a trend toward shorter, milder winters is taking a toll on ice skating and hockey. According to David Waldstein at The New York Times: “Toronto saw the greatest reduction in ice time. In the winter of 1942-43, the first year of the Original Six era, there were close to 60 days when Torontonians could expect high-quality skating conditions in backyard rinks. Last year, there were about 20.” Here’s an excerpt of a recent paper highlighting the trends: “…In all cities, coefficient estimates suggest the number of high‐probability skating days per winter is declining, with easternmost cities displaying notable declines and growing inter‐annual variability in skating days in recent decades. Linear analysis shows a statistically significant decline in Toronto, with a step‐change emerging in 1980, after which there is on average one‐third fewer skating days compared with preceding decades. The outdoor skating season trends towards later start dates in Boston, Montreal, New York, and Toronto. Future monitoring of outdoor rinks provides an opportunity for engaging the public in identification of winter warming trends that might otherwise be imperceptible, and for raising awareness of the impacts of climate change...”

“Idiot’s Guide to Climate Change”. I’m trying not to take that personally, but yes, in spite of the pandemic, the climate is still warming. If Rainn Wilson is involved I’m in. Here’s an explainer at Deadline: “Climate change has been shoved out of the news spotlight by a few other ongoing crises in recent months, but it remains a key issue. Now a new digital series is set to use humor to help speed the topic’s spread. The Office alum Rainn Wilson is set to host An Idiot’s Guide to Climate Change, which premieres today online. The six-part docuseries hails from Wilson’s Participant-backed content studio SoulPancake and will run on the company’s YouTube channel. Watch the trailer above. Teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg will be among Wilson’s guests as he embarks on a life-changing journey from an everyday, well-intentioned but uninformed liberal to strident climate activist…”

IMPACTS: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “New York swelters with heat challenging 19th century records (Bloomberg $), Washington [DC] breaks record for most 90-degree days in a month (Washington Post $), believe it or not, forests migrate — but not fast enough for climate change (NPR), holy water: hundreds of U.S. churches face climate risk (E&E $), Texas ranchers, activists and local officials are bracing for megadroughts brought by climate change (Texas Tribune), torrential rains wreak destruction in Yemen, killing dozens.” (AP)

Image credit: NOAA.