86 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the MSP metro.
83 F. Twin Cities average high on July 4.
80 F. high on July 4, 2016.
July 5, 1999: Flooding occurs over the Arrowhead. The largest 24-hour rainfall total is 8.84 inches in central St. Louis County.

July Warmth, But Minnesota Avoids the Worst Heat

“If you count all your assets, you always show a profit” wrote Robert Quillen. Yep. Some days I feel frustration and exhaustion, but most days the prevailing sentiment is gratitude. I feel very lucky to have been born in this country, by parents who instilled a sense of curiosity and purpose.
Whatever challenges you’re facing I hope you find time to give thanks for the many blessings in your life.

Add weather to a long list of things to be grateful for. It was a minor meteorological miracle: 4 pretty nice days in a row! Whew.. Considering we could have been blasted by incandescent heat or hail the size of hens eggs, we dodged a bullet.

The next couple of days will be sticky, with highs near 90F and scattered T-storms. A cooler front arrives Friday – pop-up T-showers can’t be ruled out for Saturday PM. It’s early, but Sunday looks like the sunnier, drier day right now.

We may approach 90F a few days next week, but a series of Canadian “fresh-front” invasions take the edge off the heat looking out 2 weeks.

Most of America will bake, but not Minnesota. Grateful for that too.

Late-Day Instability Storms. The visible satellite loop from Tuesday evening shows the storms that dropped large hail on parts of central Minnesota; a few T-storms pushed into the far western and northwestern suburbs by late evening, but metro fireworks displays weren’t impacted. Loop: WeatherTap.

Warm, But Not Obnoxiously So. We’ll be sweating it out over the next few weeks, little doubt about that – but not the record, debilitating heat much of the USA will be enduring. The ECMWF (“Euro”) still brings a puff of cooler air into town by late week, then back well into the 80s next week. If the sun stays out I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few 90-degree highs close to home the middle of next week. WeatherBell.

Wednesday Flash Flood Potential. The best chance of 2-4″+ rain falling in a short timespan today stretches from Dallas to Nashville, St. Louis and portions of the Mid Atlantic, according to NOAA guidance.

Thursday: Enhanced Severe Risk Upper Midwest. NOAA SPC is only predicting a “marginal risk” of severe storms today, but things heat up from near the Twin Cities, Duluth and Des Moines to Chicago and Marquette on Thursday. An enhanced risk over much of Wisconsin implies the best chance of large hail and a few tornadoes.

Same Old Song and Dance. NOAA NAM guidance (12km) shows the strongest storms erupting from the southern Plains into the Mid South, Ohio Valley and Mid Atlantic today, capable of flash flooding and small hail. Storms are also forecast to bubble up again from Minnesota into the Great Lakes, while the west basks under a sunny (hot) ridge of high pressure with few green blobs in sight on Doppler.  Loop: Tropicaltidbits.com.

Potential Weather Hazards: July 7-18. Here’s an update from NOAA CPC: “A strong area of upper-level high pressure is forecast to persist over the western U.S. and northern Great Plains through at least the early part of Week-2, while monsoonal flow becomes enhanced across the southwestern U.S. A cold front is expected to push into the southeastern U.S. this weekend before dissipating. An area of upper-level low pressure is expected to shift north from the Gulf of Alaska into southern mainland Alaska during the next week.


  • Much above-normal temperatures for parts of the western U.S. along with the northern and central Great Plains, Fri-Tue, Jul 7-11.
  • Heavy rain for parts of the Northeast and central Appalachians, Fri, Jul 7.
  • Heavy rain for parts of the Carolinas, Sat-Sun, Jul 8-9.
  • Much above-normal temperatures for the upper Yukon Valley of Alaska, Fri-Sun, Jul 7-9.
  • Flooding occurring or imminent across parts of Oklahoma and Missouri.
  • High risk of much above-normal temperatures for portions of the northern Great Plains, Wed, Jul 12.
  • Moderate risk of much above-normal temperatures for portions of the northern Rockies and northern to central Great Plains, Wed-Fri, Jul 12-Jul 14.
  • Slight risk of much above-normal temperatures for portions of the western U.S., northern and central Great Plains, and upper Mississippi Valley, Wed-Tue, Jul 12-18.
  • Severe Drought across the Southern Plains, California, Hawaii, the Northern Plains, and the Southwest…”

Persistent Heat. Although the northern tier of the USA enjoys a few cleansing puffs of cooler, Canadian air in the coming days the 500mb predicted map for mid-July still looks very hot for much of the nation, especially the Plains and Midwest. Which is very believable, considering the hottest weather of the year historically arrives about 3-4 weeks after the Summer Solstice.

Implications of Dakota Drought – Wheat Crop Rated Worst in 29 Years. Grist has more details: “Farmers in the Upper Midwest got a big dose of bad news Thursday: The extent of the region’s ongoing “extreme” drought has more than tripled in the past week. Temperatures are expected to reach as high as 107 degrees next week in parts of the Dakotas, more than 20 degrees above normal. In large swaths of the Dakotas and eastern Montana, spring rains have been less than half of normal. On Monday, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum declared a statewide fire and drought emergency. In the longer term, the region’s wheat harvest is in serious jeopardy — and that may have global implications. This year’s American wheat crop is currently rated the worst in 29 years….”

Photo credit: United Nations Photo

Worst Drought: Montana and Dakotas. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows the drought has been erased across Florida, but problems related to persistent weather are increasing over the High Plains.

How Rising Seas and Coastal Storms Drowned the U.S. Flood Insurance Program. At some point the (insurance) bubble will burst, and people living on or near the coast won’t be able to purchase homeowners insurance. When that day arrives property values will plummet. In the meantime federal tax dollars are subsidizing the rebuilding of homes in risky, coastal areas according to a story at Yale E360: “…But it is only a matter of time until the next big storm drains the coffers again. Even relatively weak hurricanes cause hundreds of millions in damage, while monster storms like Katrina and Sandy cause billions. Complicating matters, the NFIP has improbably subsidized thousands of risky properties along the coast – low-lying houses that flood over and over – by charging them below-market premiums to entice them to join the program.    Now the federal flood program faces no less than an existential threat. As seas rise, coastal floodplains are expected to expand, exposing more property to routine flooding, surge, and waves. By some estimates, hundreds of thousands of U.S. houses could be underwater by century’s end and a trillion dollars worth of property at risk. Much of Long Beach Island’s heavily insured housing could be covered by several feet of water twice a day at high tide, rendering it inaccessible except by boat…”

Photo credit: “The National Flood Insurance Program paid out $8 billion in damages from Hurricane Sandy.” NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR’S OFFICE/TIM LARSEN.

How Joplin, Missouri Used Nature to Recover from a Devastating Tornado. Turns out there really is something thereaputic about working the dirt. Here’s an excerpt from THE DIRT: “…Just after the tornado hit, The New York Times ran a series of haunting images, including ones of Cunningham Park, showing a devastated landscape; mangled trees that had been stripped of their canopies and bark. These caught the eye of Cornell University’s Keith Tidball, who dropped everything to go to Joplin and, in his words, begin planting. A researcher and author, Keith has done some amazing work and spent years studying how nature can be a source of resilience for communities in crisis. He had been working in post-Katrina New Orleans just prior to the tornado. Keith connected with Chris, and the idea for a healing garden was born. They worked quickly, with the support of the TKF Foundation to assemble a diverse team that included city officials, architects, psychologists, musical therapists and urban planners–and most importantly, the community...”

Deadly Flood Hits South, Central China; Heat Wave Grips North. Extreme examples of weather-whiplash reported in China by Hindustan Times: “…Xiangjiang, a major tributary of the Yangtze river, has exceeded its record flood level in the Hunan capital of Changsha. Floods in the city have swamped houses, uprooted trees, damaged cars and submerged roads. Across Hunan, the flooding has forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate, damaged crops and destroyed houses, causing a total direct economic loss of 8.26 billion yuan ($1.22 billion), the provincial civil affairs office said. In Guangxi, 16 people have been confirmed dead and 10 are missing after a flood hit the southwestern region after a storm, the official Xinhua news agency cited authorities as saying. Southern provinces produce some of China’s major crops…”

Photo credit: “Rescuers row as they transfer residents with a boat at a flooded area in Guilin, Guangxi province, China on July 2.” (Reuters).

Four-Fold Increase in Tropical Flooding Since 2000s. Here’s an excerpt of paper abstract at Earth System Dynamics: “…The results show that long duration flood frequency has increased across most spatial scales with significant change-point observed in the 2000s. In the tropics, floods have increased four-fold since the 2000s. This increase is 2.5 fold in the north mid-latitudes. There is no monotonic trend in the frequency of short duration floods across all global and latitudinal scales. There is also a significant increasing trend in the annual median and tails of flood durations globally and in each latitudinal belt. The possible causes of these trends are analyzed using a Generalized Linear Model framework and also discussed qualitatively. This analysis provides the framework for understanding simultaneously changing climate and socioeconomic conditions and how they relate to the frequency and persistence in the organization of global and local dynamical systems that cause hydrologic extremes.”

Storm Drones Could Improve Tornado Early Warning. Reuters has a video explainer: “For those living in America’s infamous “tornado alley”, minutes count. Currently, there’s an average of just 14 minutes warning time before a twister hits. But drones, packed with meteorological equipment, are helping scientists better predict when and where tornadoes and storms will strike. Speaking at the Paris Air Show, Oklahoma’s secretary of science and technology said it could be a game-changer for forecasting...”

Historical Odds of Actually Seeing the August 21 Eclipse? Here’s an interesting explainer, focusing on cloud climatology and where you stand the best chance of good (clear) weather for the total solar eclipse, courtesy of NOAA: “…Historically speaking, cloudiness may factor into each location’s chance for a good viewing. NOAA’s NCEI and the Cooperative Institutes for Climate and Satellites–North Carolina (CICS-NC) reviewed past cloud conditions for August 21. We found that the coasts could be susceptible to cloudier conditions and that increased cloud cover may be possible as the eclipse travels across the country east of the Mississippi River. Although the picture doesn’t particularly bode well at the coasts of Oregon and South Carolina, the chance for clearer skies appears greatest across the Intermountain West. If historical conditions hold true, Rexburg, Idaho, a two-hour drive west of Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, has a good chance for clearer skies. Casper, Wyoming, also holds promise. Other historically clear locations include Lincoln, Nebraska, and Carbondale, Illinois…”

Map credit: “The darker the dot, the greater the chance for cloudiness at the hour of peak viewing during the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Dots represent automated weather stations that reported the cloudiness data and show the 10-year cloudiness average for August 21, 2001–2010.” Map developed by CICS-NC in cooperation with NOAA NCEI, Deborah Riddle.

Think You Know Lightning? Think Again. New varieties of lightning are still being discovered and researched, as described in an informative NOAA post: “…Large thunderstorms are capable of producing other kinds of electrical phenomena called transient luminous events (TLEs) that occur high in the atmosphere. They are rarely observed visually and not well understood. The most common TLEs include red sprites, blue jets, and elves.

Red Sprites can appear directly above an active thunderstorm as a large but weak flash. They usually happen at the same time as powerful positive CG lightning strokes. They can extend up to 60 miles from the cloud top. Sprites are mostly red and usually last no more than a few seconds, and their shapes are described as resembling jellyfish, carrots, or columns. Because sprites are not very bright, they can only be seen at night. They are rarely seen with the human eye, so they are most often imaged with highly sensitive cameras.

Blue jets emerge from the top of the thundercloud, but are not directly associated with cloud-to-ground lightning. They extend up in narrow cones fanning out and disappearing at heights of 25-35 miles. Blue jets last a fraction of a second and have been witnessed by pilots…”
Illustration credit: “An illustration of different kinds of transient luminous events (TLEs).”

The Science Behind the Colors. The image above lists the elements that go into various fireworks to get the desired color. I didn’t know that…

Federal Court Blocks EPA on Air Pollution. The Washington Post explains: “An appeals court Monday struck down the Environmental Protection Agency’s 90-day suspension of new emission standards on oil and gas wells, a decision that could set back the Trump administration’s broad legal strategy for rolling back Obama-era rules. In a 2-to-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit concluded that the EPA had the right to reconsider a 2016 rule limiting methane and smog-forming pollutants emitted by oil and gas wells but could not delay the effective date while it sought to rewrite the regulation. The agency has proposed extending the initial delay to two years; the court will hold a hearing on that suspension separately...”

File photo: Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times.

Texas Is Too Windy and Sunny For Old Energy Companies To Make Money. A nice problem to have – for consumers. Here’s a clip from Bloomberg: “...In the cut-throat Texas energy market, the construction of these coastal wind turbines—some 900 in all—has had a profound impact. It’s been terrific for consumers, helping further drive down electricity bills, but horrible for natural gas-fired generators. They had ramped up capacity in recent years anticipating that midday price surge would mostly be theirs, not something to share with renewable energy companies. Without that steady cash influx, the business model doesn’t really work, the profits aren’t there and companies including Calpine Corp., NRG Energy Inc. and Exelon Corp. are now either postponing new gas-fired plants or ditching them all together. Wind power “is a disruptive technology and it’s increasing,” said Paul Patterson, a utility analyst at Glenrock Associates LLC in New York. “That’s a problem for other resources that are competing in that market…”

Photo credit: “Wind turbines at Avangrid Renewables’ Baffin Wind Power Project.” Photographer: Eddie Seal/Bloomberg.

Mower County Ranks First in Wind Tax Revenue. All that wind power is helping to balance budgets, according to Post Bulletin: “Mower County continues to outpace state competitors in wind energy generation. Mower County ranked first in state wind energy production tax revenue in 2016. During a press conference Friday, wind industry representatives presented a $2,373,932 check to county officials for the generated tax revenue. The money will go toward funding local roads and bridges and keeping taxes down for residents. Energy representatives and state officials attended the conference, touting the benefits wind energy brings to the state’s economy. The payment to Mower County was the largest to any county in Minnesota, and was a 26.5 percent increase from last year’s payment…”

Photo credit: “Mower County ranked first in state wind energy production tax revenue in 2016. Wind industry representatives on Friday presented a $2,373,932 check to county officials.” Ken Klotzbach, Post Bulletin.

Consumers Union Study: Almost 90% of Americans Want Better Fuel Economy. Here’s a post from hybridcars.com: “…Nearly 3 out of 4 Americans (73%) agree that the U.S. government should continue to increase fuel efficiency standards and enforce them, with nearly 80% of Americans agreeing that increasing the real-world average economy from 25 miles per gallon today to 40 miles per gallon is a worthwhile goal,” said Consumers Union in a statement...”

Ancient Romans Made World’s “Most Durable” Concrete. We Might Use It To Stop Rising Seas. The Washington Post has an interesting story: “...Where modern concrete is designed to ignore the environment, Roman concrete embraces it. As the scientists report in a study published Monday in the journal American Mineralogist, Roman concrete is filled with tiny growing crystals. The crystals, like tiny armor plates, may keep the concrete from fracturing. The scientists subjected the concrete samples to a battery of advanced imaging techniques and spectroscopic tests. The tests revealed a rare chemical reaction, with aluminous tobermorite crystals growing out of another mineral called phillipsite. Brune, who was not involved with the study, called the work a “significant accomplishment.” He likened it to the scientists biting into a cake of mysterious flavor and determining that the baker used organically sourced dark chocolate...”

Photo credit: “Drilling at a marine structure in Portus Cosanus, Tuscany, in 2003.” (J.P. Oleson)

We’ve Been Worrying About the End of Work for 500 Years. Quartz provides some much-needed perspective: “…Now it’s become more and more of a mainstream topic of discussion. A lot of it I think is that the evidence has been piling up more and more. And so you can’t deny it.” “There’s the obvious evidence,” says Mcafee, “and then the serious rigorous research about the hollowing out of the middle class, the polarization of the economy, the declines in entrepreneurship and mobility. We weren’t as aware of those things three and a half years ago as we are today.” Many of the fears and reassurances prevalent in years long past remain today. “There will always be limits to how creative a computer can be,” read one HBR headline in 2017, much as the Metropolitan Record assured young women their jobs would not be replaced by the washing machine…”

Photo credit: “Will machines take over jobs? We’ve been wondering for hundreds of years.”(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir).

Beer Marinade Cuts Grilling Carcinogens. Here’s a happy coincidence, courtesy of Scientific American: “…The study started out like any barbecue—with pork chops, charcoal, and beer. Researchers marinated the chops for four hours in either regular or nonalcoholic pilsner, or a dark ale. Then they fired up the grill. After cooking, they analyzed the chops for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which are found in smoked and grilled meats, and may up your risk of cancer. Turns out dark ale cut PAH levels in half, compared to unmarinated meat. The extra antioxidants in dark beer may be the trick, researchers say. Because PAHs form with the help of free radicals, and antioxidants could slow down that process. So if you’re health-conscious, but love to grill? A simple beer marinade might let you have your steak…and eat it, too...”

How Competitive Walking Captivated Georgian Britain. Many days I feel like I’m walking in circles, but not quite 751 miles-worth. Here’s a strange tale from Atlas Obscura: “…Wilson was famous the country over for his endurance, but exactly why watching a man walk around in circles for weeks on end was so exciting is down to three peculiarities of late Georgian culture: the growing love of sporting spectacle and sport as entertainment, the deep and abiding affection for gambling, and the prominence of pubs. Pedestrian matches, along with boxing and horse racing, emerged at the very beginning of leisure culture, when the Industrial Revolution had begun to mean that more people had more free time and more free money. These matches prefigured the later sport-as-entertainment model: They were among the first organized sporting events for the masses, relying on both the athleticism of the participants and the pageantry of the event itself, offering a respite from the grim realities of working down a mine, in service, in trade, or on a farm…”

Illustration credit: “George Wilson, shown walking on a road lined with people, 1815.” Wellcome Images, London/CC BY 4.0

The Forecast Calls for Monkey Attacks. Where else? Of course it’s Florida! To be fair it looks like they were provoked. Here’s an excerpt from Time.com: “Wild monkeys in Florida can be seen on video chasing away and hissing at a group of people, including a young boy who gleefully captured the encounter as he fled. The animals were spotted at Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, Fla., according to the footage, which was posted on YouTube on Sunday. Rhesus macaques have lived in the state park for more than 75 years, the Orlando Sentinel has previously reported. The young boy screams and laughs as he sees the monkeys growling, hissing and jumping back and forth on wooden perches. “The monkeys are attacking!” he says. “Run! Run!…”

TODAY: Sticky sun, stray T-storm possible. Winds: SW 7-12. High: 88

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, mild and muggy. Low: 70

THURSDAY: Hot and steamy. Strong PM T-storms. Winds: SW 8-13. High: near 90

FRIDAY: Fresh air! Sunny and much more comfortable. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 64. High: near 80

SATURDAY: Sun much of the day. Late shower? Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 59. High: 81

SUNDAY: Sunny and drier. Low humidity. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 61. High: 82

MONDAY: Warm sunshine, quite pleasant. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 63. High: 84

TUESDAY: Sticky sun, few T-storms in the area. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 65. High: 85

Climate Stories…

Catholic Church is Going Green,  But Not Fast Enough for Some. The Boston Globe reports: “…The inspiration is as much spiritual as financial: The project is the most ambitious example of the archdiocese’s response to Pope Francis’ call to action on climate change two years ago in his letter to the worldwide church, “Laudato Si” (Praise Be). Other efforts are bubbling up as well: In Boston, some parishes have set up “Creation Care” teams that are focused on recycling, making churches more fuel-efficient, and educating parishioners on reducing fossil fuel consumption. The archdiocese is helping parishes install LED lights and energy-efficient appliances, and it has mostly divested from the fossil fuel industry. Catholic schools in Boston have woven environmentalism into their curriculum...”

Photo credit: Max Rossi/Reuters/File. “A nun read Pope Francis’ encyclical titled “Laudato Si” at the Vatican in 2015.”

Southern States, Like Florida, Expected to Take the Brunt of (Economic) Heat from Climate Change. The Real Deal has the story: “A new study shows the chilling economic impact of climate change in the years to come, with southern states like Florida and Texas feeling the most intense burn. A map published in the New York Times shows the potential losses from 20180 to 2099, which would range between 10 to 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, to South Florida. For every 1 degree Fahrenheit rise in global temperature, researchers predict the U.S. will lose 0.7 percent of GDP – with global warming hitting southeastern and midwestern states harder than northeastern and western states...”

Most Mass Extinctions Have Been Due to Global Warming. In the past the warming was triggered by orbital wobbles, variations in sunlight or widespread volcanic eruptions. None of those factors can be linked to the warming of the atmosphere, oceans and cryosphere (poles) today. Here’s an excerpt from Air & Space Magazine: “Nearly 20 extinction events in Earth’s natural history have been analyzed in a new study by David Bond from the University of Hull in the U.K. and Stephen Grasby from the University of Calgary in Canada. They found that most of the events seen in the geologic record, starting about 500 million years ago and extending until today, can be linked to periods of massive volcanic activity, which caused global warming of the atmosphere together with acidification and oxygen depletion in Earth’s oceans. Other associated kill mechanisms were acid rain, damage to the ozone layer, enhanced ultraviolet radiation, and toxic metal poisoning. Sound familiar? All these kill mechanisms are also side effects of the human-induced climate change we’re seeing today…”

Image credit: “The largest mass extinction, about 250 million years ago, was likely caused by massive outpouring of magma in Siberia for about 60,000 years.” (José-Luis Olivares/MIT)
A new study shows the chilling economic impact of climate change in the years to come, with southern states like Florida and Texas feeling the most intense burn.
A map published in the New York Times shows the potential losses from 2080 to 2099, which would range between 10 to 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, to South Florida.
For every 1 degree Fahrenheit rise in global temperature, researchers predict the U.S. will lose 0.7 percent of GDP – with global warming hitting southeastern and midwestern states harder than northeastern and western states.

Climate Change Legacy: What Will Future Generations Think of Our Culture. Not sure, but I suspect they’re going to be pretty pissed. “What did you know, when, and what did you do? Did you sit on your hands and chalk it all up to some far-fetched conspiracy theory, or were you part of the solution?” Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at CT Viewpoints: “…Looking back from the 22nd Century, what will you think of us? What will you make of the fact that in our preoccupation with comfort we were willing to make so many people’s lives so desperate?  That in our refusal to discipline ourselves we were willing to force so many into famine, privation, and disease?  That in our obsession with the good life we were willing to relegate so many people to death?  That in our stupor we were willing to condemn so many species — and jeopardize the survival of our own? Will you believe our failure to question the inevitability of carbon culture made us no better than the Nazis who claimed at Nuremberg they were merely following orders?  Will you inevitably see our crimes as grander and more ghastly? I fear I already know the answers to these questions.  I am not expecting your forgiveness…”