A Slightly Above-Average 4th of July?

“Paul, what about the 4th of July?” Well, this year it’ll fall on a Thursday. Next question. Remember Murphy’s Third Law: storms, given a choice, prefer to come on major holidays. It’s true.

The next 5 days won’t win any awards for beauty and splendor, but with good timing and a little luck you’ll be able to schedule most outdoor plans without too much anguish, running and screaming. The pattern is ripe for scattered, hit-or-miss showers and T-storms from tonight into Thursday, but no stalled fronts or all-day rains are brewing.

Latest models bring a drier northerly breeze into Minnesota Friday and Saturday with spurts of sun, lower humidity and highs in the upper 70s (north) to low 80s (metro). A few pop-up showers may return by Sunday, but the majority of the next 5 days should be lukewarm and dry.

No epic severe weather outbreaks, it’s too wet for wildfires and no sauna-like heat warnings. No locust showing up on Doppler either.

Then again, it’s the biggest holiday of summer. What can possibly go wrong?

Slight Cooling Trend. From mid-80s to upper-70s? My kind of cool front. A few showers and T-storms will accompany this subtle wind shift to the north, and I can’t rule out a storm in the area for Thursday evening fireworks. Graphics above: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

ECMWF Numbers. Twin Cities data: WeatherBell.

The Edge of Discomfort. The 2-week outlook from NOAA’s GFS model keeps the epicenter of the heat over the southern USA with (slight) relief for the northern USA.

No More Weather Advisories? Here’s an excerpt of a message I received from NOAA yesterday: “The National Weather Service (NWS) Hazard Simplification (Haz Simp) team is excited to share an important project update! NWS is examining the technical and policy requirements to confirm feasibility of removing the term “Advisory” from the NWS Watch, Warning and Advisory System. This decision comes after years of social science research with our forecasters, public, and partners. One of the most important findings during this process has been the high level of misunderstanding around the “Advisory” headline. Our public and even some partners frequently confuse “Watch” and “Advisory,” considering them almost as synonyms. In line with these results, this change would retain our current “Watch” and “Warning” terms, but remove “Advisory” as a headline term. This change to the WWA system supports IDSS (Impact-based Decision Support Services) for our core partners by aligning with the Prepare (Watch) and Act (Warning) paradigm used by emergency managers. To clarify, this would not result in elimination of Advisory-level information; rather, it’s an opportunity to explore how we could communicate this information in a different, more intuitive way. As a part of this change, we will expand the use of the headline “Emergency” beyond Tornado and Flash Flood for selected hazards. We understand this would be a major change and, as we all know, the devil is in the details! Because of this, a formal implementation decision has not yet been made. This proposal is a major project milestone, but it would be several years before NWS official products are changed permanently. We will continue engaging with our partners as we explore the policy and technical needs of this major change...”

Background: More on NOAA’s ongoing process of Hazard Simplification here.

Freak Hailstorm Dumps Up to 6 Feet of Ice on Guadalajara, Mexico. CBS News has the head-scratching details: “A bizarre hailstorm left a Mexican city buried in up to six feet of ice Sunday – in the middle of summer. The unusual weather event in Guadalajara damaged homes and cars, but there were no reports of injuries. Enrique Alfaro, the governor of Jalisco, tweeted about the government’s response to the freakish hailstorm, along with photos of ice tall enough to cover vehicles’ wheels. He was stunned by what he saw in Guadalajara, Jalisco’s capital, and suggested climate change may be the cause of the ice storm. “I was in the place to assess the situation and witnessed scenes I had never seen: hail more than a meter high, and then we wonder if climate change exists,” he wrote in Spanish…”

Deadliest and Costliest Hurricanes to Hit the U.S. Mainland. Fox News has a good overview; here’s an excerpt: “…The all-time costliest hurricane to strike the United States took place in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina targeted Florida as a Category 1 storm before strengthening into a monster Category 5 in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm weakened down to a Category 3 as it made landfall along the northern Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005. “Even so, the damage and loss of life inflicted by this massive hurricane in Louisiana and Mississippi were staggering, with significant effects extending into the Florida panhandle, Georgia, and Alabama,” the NHC said in its report. “Considering the scope of its impacts, Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters in United States history…”
File Katrina satellite image: NOAA.

RealImpact Hurricane Scale a Safety Concern. Meteorologist Will Farr at Western Weather Group weighs in on competing hurricane scales at insidesources.com: “…While competition in most markets is beneficial, this is one of the rare instances in which it could actually be extremely threatening to public safety. To classify a hurricane, the RealImpact Scale considers criteria other than wind, meaning its classification level could be considerably different than the Saffir-Simpson Scale’s. One apparent parameter of the RealImpact Score is “total damage and economic impact.” This means that a hurricane making a direct landfall over a major urban area, such as Houston, could have a higher rating than if the same hurricane were to make landfall over a less populated area, such as South Padre Island, Texas.  This could create a more dangerous situation for rural communities along U.S. coastlines if a storm’s overall economic impact is perceived to be less than if the same storm hit a major city. Thus, the RealImpact score may favor certain populations more, rather than valuing public safety and loss of infrastructure equally among all areas. As a result, opposing hurricane scales will undoubtedly spur confusion and panic in an already tense situation…”
Hurricane Lane file image: NASA ISS.

When Will the Next Hurricane Strike California? Don’t laugh – it’s statistically inevitable. Here’s an excerpt from a story at OneZero, courtesy of Medium: “…Linda, in September 1997, was the strongest eastern Pacific hurricane on record at the time, with Category 5 winds of 185 mph at one point. For a time, the National Hurricane Center actually warned Southern California residents they might be a target. The storm veered out to sea, but still brought rain and 18-foot waves that caused millions of dollars in damage to the state. “Every year we plan for the possibility that a hurricane could strike San Diego or Los Angeles,” Landsea says. “On the preparedness side, we’re ready for a hurricane to hit there. Whether or not the population is ready or not is another thing...”
Image credit: “Hurricane Linda, a Category 5 monster in the Pacific Ocean in 1997, briefly looked like it might head toward Southern California.” Image: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio.

How the Advance Weather Forecast Got Good. NPR has highlights of a new book focused on meteorology: “…Meteorology was a way that governments could collaborate. But more recently, the stakes have gotten higher financially. Climate change has created an opportunity with more extreme events — better technology has sort of made it possible for companies to … sell better forecasts in a way that we potentially have a kind of bifurcation. We potentially have forecasts for the haves, and forecasts for the have-nots. It hasn’t come yet, but you can sort of see everybody gathering around, recognizing that while before this was too expensive for anyone but governments to do — no private company was going to spend, you know, $20, $30 million dollars on a supercomputer — when you look at the amount of money at stake with different weather extremes, now that equation has changed. And there is the potential for profit, and companies are working hard to capture it...”

Scientists are Probing Tornadoes with Drones to Save Lives. Gizmodo has a fascinating story; here’s an excerpt: “…That’s why Houston helped put together Project TORUS, basically a roving pack of weather monitors strapped to trucks and SUVs that allowed researchers to get up close and personal with nature’s most violent weather. But of course if you really want to understand what’s going on in the atmosphere, it helps to sample it directly. So Project TORUS’ panoply of high tech weather monitors also includes fix-wing autonomous drones that can be sent into the storm while driving using a pneumatic launcher. This merry band of weather monitoring equipment spent five weeks this spring prowling Tornado Alley in search of storms. Each day, the group of 60 researchers, students, and assistants would wake up (usually at an interstate hotel) and begin poring over weather data. The meteorologists would create a forecast, identify an area where severe weather was likely to pop up that day as well as the next, and brief the team before decamping to said location, sometimes driving hundreds of miles to get there…”
Photo credit: “The drone named TTwistor3 approaching a supercell thunderstorm in southern South Dakota.”Photo: Integrated Remote and In-Situ Sensing (IRISS), University of Colorado Boulder.

Apollo 11: Mission Out of Control. Apollo 11 buffs should read this harrowing account of the landing on the lunar surface, courtesy of WIRED.com: “…With the void outside his window, Aldrin punched in a request to compare the lander’s calculated position with the reading from the radar. He was answered by a klaxon ringing in his earpiece. Aldrin hurriedly keyed in the two-digit code 5-9-Enter, which translated, roughly, as “display alarm.” The console responded with error code “1202.” Despite his months of simulations, Aldrin didn’t know what this one meant; Armstrong, equally baffled, radioed Mission Control for clarification. The stress in his voice was audible, but only later would the two men learn how bad things really were. In that critical moment, hurtling like a lawn dart toward the surface of the moon, the Apollo guidance computer had crashed...”
File image: NASA.

How Moving to the Right Place Can Prolong Your Life. The Washington Post has an interesting read; here’s a clip: “…What’s surprising is that the relationship between place and longevity is causal: A person of average health who moves to one of the red zones can expect to die earlier as a direct result. If that same person moves to a blue area, it will prolong their life. “Where you live when you are elderly (over age 65) affects your longevity,” Heidi Williams, an associate economics professor at MIT and one of the study’s authors, said in an email to The Washington Post. All told, moving from a place in the bottom 10 percent to one in the top 10 percent would extend the average person’s life by a little more than a year, researchers found. The five places with the most positive effects on life expectancy were all in New York (Yonkers, New York City and Syracuse) or Florida (Port St. Lucie and Naples). Any would add at least a year to the average senior’s life…”

Jony Ive is Leaving Apple, But His Departure Started Long Ago. The Wall Street Journal (paywall) explains; here’s an excerpt: “…Apple announced Thursday that Mr. Ive will leave later this year to form his own design firm, LoveFrom, after 23 years running what was arguably the most successful design operation in business history. Few on the outside knew that for years, Mr. Ive had been growing more distant from Apple’s leadership, say people close to the company. Mr. Jobs’s protégé—and Apple’s closest thing to a living embodiment of his spirit—grew frustrated inside a more operations-focused company led by Chief Executive Tim Cook. Mr. Ive, 52, withdrew from routine management of Apple’s elite design team, leaving it rudderless, increasingly inefficient, and ultimately weakened by a string of departures, people close to the company say...”
Photo credit: “Apple CEO Tim Cook, left, and chief design officer Jony Ive at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in June.” Jeff Chiu/Associated Press.

The Rise of Robots-As-A-Service. As if I wasn’t already paranoid enough, here’s a clip from a story at VentureBeat: “Robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) is about to eat the world of work. While much of the attention in the world of automation technology has been focused on self-driving cars, many other markets traditionally dominated by human-in-the-loop solutions are reaching a point of inflection, enabling RaaS solutions to take over. Robotics companies historically have sold their customers — you guessed it — robots. In the enterprise, robots have often been leveraged to streamline manufacturing. Giant companies with ominous, global, megacorp-sounding names like FANUC and ABB provide solutions that require hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of investment dollars just to get started

Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine. The Washington Post confirms something we’ve always known: “That old cliche about laughter being the best medicine, as with many cliches, is probably grounded in truth. The psychological effects of laughter are obvious, but it may bring physiological benefits as well. Moreover, it’s free and has no bad side effects. Laughter stimulates the body’s organs by increasing oxygen intake to the heart, lungs and muscles, and stimulates the brain to release more endorphins, according to the Mayo Clinic. It also helps people handle stress by easing tension, relaxing the muscles and lowering blood pressure. It relieves pain, and improves mood. Laughter also strengthens the immune system...”

87 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

83 F. average high on July 2.

88 F. maximum temperature on July 2, 2018.

July 3, 1947: Tornadoes hit Marshall and Polk Counties.

WEDNESDAY: Warm sun, stray T-storm late. Winds: SE 5-10. High: 86

4TH OF JULY: Humid, scattered showers, T-storms. Winds: S 3-8. Wake-up: 71. High: 85

FRIDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, drier breeze. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 70. High: 83

SATURDAY: More clouds than sun, showers south. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 65. High: near 80

SUNDAY: Cool breeze, spotty showers around. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 65. High: 78

MONDAY: More showers and T-storms. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 67. High: 82

TUESDAY: Steamy with a few strong T-storms. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 70. High: 86

Climate Stories…

Climate Change Made European Heat Wave At Least Five Times Likelier. The Guardian has details: “The record-breaking heatwave that struck France and other European nations in June was made at least five – and possibly 100 – times more likely by the climate crisis, scientists have calculated. Such heatwaves are also about 4C hotter than a century ago, the researchers say. Furthermore, the heatwaves hitting Europe are more frequent and more severe than climate models have predicted. Last month was the hottest June since 1880, both in Europe and around the world, according to separate data released on Tuesday by the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. In Europe the temperature was 3C above the June average a century ago, and globally it was more than 1C higher…”

Antarctic Sea Ice is Declining Dramatically And We Don’t Know Why. New Scientist explains: “Decades of expanding sea ice in Antarctica have been wiped out by three years of sudden and dramatic declines, leaving scientist puzzled as to why the region has flipped so abruptly. A new satellite analysis reveals that between 2014 and 2017 sea ice extent in the southern hemisphere suffered unprecedented annual decreases, leaving the area covered by sea ice at its lowest point in 40 years. The declines were so big that they outstripped the losses in the fast-melting Arctic over the same period. “It’s very surprising. We just haven’t seen decreases like that in either hemisphere,” says Claire Parkinson at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who undertook the analysis. However, researchers cautioned against pinning the changes on climate change and said it was too early to say if the shrinking is the start of a long-term trend or a blip…”

File image: NASA.

Antarctic Ice Takes a Nosedive: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: “Sea ice in Antarctica is experiencing a rapid and puzzling decline after years of gradual growth, scientists say. A NASA study of satellite data shows that ice levels hit a record low just three years after hitting a record high in 2014, bringing the amount of ice lost in Antarctica in this period equivalent to the amount of ice the Arctic has lost over 34 years. Global weather patterns have formerly encouraged gradual sea ice growth on the continent, and some researchers worry that the mysterious ice decrease could mean overall warming has caught up with the South Pole. “The rapid decline has caught us by surprise and changes the picture completely,” scientist Andrew Shepherd told the Guardian. “Now sea ice is retreating in both hemispheres and that presents a challenge because it could mean further warming.” (AP, CNN, NBCThe Guardian).

File image: Pauline Askin, Reuters.

Support for Lawsuits Against Fossil Fuel Companies. Here’s an interesting nugget from The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication: “…A majority of Americans (57%) also think fossil fuel companies have either “a great deal” or “a moderate amount” of responsibility for the damages caused by global warming. In addition, 57% of the public supports making fossil fuel companies pay for a portion of the damages to local communities caused by carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels. When asked more specifically about whether fossil fuel companies or taxpayers should pay for the costs of the damages caused by global warming, a majority of Americans (53%) think fossil fuel companies rather than taxpayers should pay for most or all of the costs. Only 12% of Americans think taxpayers and fossil fuel companies should pay an equal share, and just 6% think taxpayers should pay for most or all of the costs…”

Why Company Lawyers Fear Climate Change Litigation. OZY.com has the story: “A couple of months ago, nearly 3,500 European in-house lawyers were sent a survey asking a simple question: Do you expect your organization to face legal risks because of climate change? Almost 50 percent of those who answered said they did, which was unfortunate, considering only about 15 percent said their legal departments were well prepared to deal with such threats. Those numbers are instructive because the survey was carried out by the Dutch Association of In-House Counsel and the Dutch law firm Houthoff, and most of those questioned were Dutch. The Netherlands has become a central battleground in a new class of lawsuits spreading around the world amid a rising sense of urgency about the need to tackle climate change...”

We’ve Built Too Much Dirty Stuff: More perspective from Climate Nexus: “Existing fossil fuel infrastructure already locks the world into levels of warming that would exceed the goals of the Paris agreement–and planned projects would add billions of additional emissions, new research shows. A study published Monday in the journal Nature finds that simply allowing all the existing power and industrial plants, cars, buildings and other infrastructure to complete their current life cycles would emit more than 650 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, enough to push warming past the Paris agreement’s 1.5 degrees C goal. Planned projects, meanwhile, would add an additional 200 billion tons of CO2 and would put the higher 2 degrees C target at risk. “Our estimates suggest that little or no additional CO2-emitting infrastructure can be commissioned and that infrastructure retirements that are earlier than historical ones (or retrofits with carbon capture and storage technology) may be necessary, in order to meet the Paris Agreement climate goals,” the paper reads.” (Washington Post $, Reuters, LA Times $, National Geographic, InsideClimate News)

Image credit: History.com.

Europe Has Had Five 500-Year Summers in the 15 Years. And Now This. Here’s an excerpt of an explainer at National Geographic: “…Europe’s five hottest summers in the past 500 years have all occurred in the last 15 years, not including this summer. All have been deadly. The 2003 heat wave was the worst, having led to the deaths of over 70,000 people; in 2010, 56,000 died in Russia alone. These extreme heat events are all connected to a slower jet stream that locks weather systems into place, says Michael Mann of Penn State University. Mann co-authored a study last year that linked the slowdown in the jet stream—the band of high-altitude winds that sweep around the globe from west to east—to last summer’s unprecedented droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and flooding events across the entire Northern Hemisphere…”

Image credit: NASA.

Meet the Man Bringing Together Farmers in Iowa to Talk About Climate Change. Here’s the intro to a story at Grist: “In early March, just a week before the Midwest was inundated by catastrophic flooding, a dozen farmers gathered at the First Presbyterian Church in Grinnell, Iowa, for an event billed as a conversation about “Faith, Farmers, and Climate Action.” “How is God calling you to use your farm to improve the world?” asked the evening’s facilitator, Matt Russell. “We’ve got this narrowing window of time in which we can act,” he said. “When we think about climate action—are you feeling any call to that?” Russell directs the Iowa branch of Interfaith Power and Light, a nonprofit that promotes a religious response to global warming. A fifth-generation farmer who runs a livestock operation with his husband in nearby Lacona, Iowa, the 48-year-old nearly became a Catholic priest in his 20s but then got a degree in rural sociology. Now he preaches that America’s farmers—a demographic seen as religious and conservative—are a secret weapon in the climate fight…”

How the Climate Crisis Will Change Your Plate in 2050. The Guardian has an interview; here’s an excerpt: “…I was really struggling with that question – how are we going to fix a failing food system if we can’t necessarily rely on a critical mass of backyard-farming vegetarians to do it from the ground up? I began to feel confused about what the realistic solutions really were and that some of the sustainable food movement and its rejection of large-scale food production and affordable food was unrealistic. People would like to hear that there’s one solution, but unfortunately it’s going to take many, many different approaches and require lots of technology, a shift in consciousness, self-control, respect for tradition, a deep understanding of how we’ve misapplied technology – it’s going to require a lot of different facets to this solution. It’s not a silver bullet, it’s a silver buckshot…”

Illustration credit: “Climate countdown on food.” Illustration: Sonny Ross

No More Denying: Climate Change is a Growing Economic Crisis. Here’s an excerpt of a post at Medium: “…Any elected official or lawmaker who isn’t pushing for immediate action on climate change also isn’t doing their job to protecting our economy, our workers and our businesses. If our lawmakers and policymakers don’t take action now, “the potential for losses in some sectors could reach hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of this century,” climate assessment authors wrote. These aren’t some politically motivated pundits peddling scare tactics. Report contributors include more than 300 scientists and 13 federal agencies — including the departments of the Interior, Energy, Commerce, Transportation and Agriculture, which all report to President Trump...”

File photo credit: “Harvey and other hurricanes in 2017 caused $250 billion in damage. More than $1 trillion worth of coastal real estate is now in jeopardy.” CREDIT: Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Martinez, US Air National Guard; Fourth National Climate Assessment.

Climate Change Could Put These Colleges Underwater. Why They’re Staying Put. USA TODAY has an interesting article; here’s a snippet: “…But in colleges located in these threatened seaside regions, from Texas to Florida to New Jersey, administrators and scientists say they have no plans to move. Instead, they are raising buildings and constructing protective barriers in hopes of making their campuses safe for the foreseeable future. But in colleges located in these threatened seaside regions, from Texas to Florida to New Jersey, administrators and scientists say they have no plans to move. Instead, they are raising buildings and constructing protective barriers in hopes of making their campuses safe for the foreseeable future…”

File photo credit: “Fire destroys homes along the beach on Galveston Island, Texas as Hurricane Ike approaches on Sept. 12, 2008.” (Photo: David J. Phillip, AP).

Is the Climate Change Debate a Replay of the Reformation? Food for thought in an Op-Ed at Forbes; here is a clip: “…Mandating vehicle efficiency is rather like demanding that a portion of butchers’ sales be veggie burgers; Beyond Meat has shown that success for veggie burgers comes from satisfying consumers, not lecturing them on environmental ethics. This is where a carbon tax comes in:  it is designed to change consumer preferences, reducing carbon emissions in favor of other consumables. It would also motivate producers to meet the demand for products that require less carbon emissions, either in their production or operation. Although the impact would grow over time, it would begin immediately upon implementation, and while it could theoretically be reversed, taxes on consumption tend to be extremely persistent.”

Photo credit: “Protestors march to raise awareness of climate change and ecological issues on the second day of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Somerset, England, Thursday, June 27, 2019.” (Photo by Grant Pollard/Invision/AP).