WeatherNation Blog

More Than 50% of America’s Counties In a Drought Emergency

Ernesto? NHC is tracking “Tropical Depression 5″, forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane in the Caribbean by next Monday. Initial models seem to steer the storm on a southerly track, but there’s still a 1 in 3 chance “Ernesto” may enter the Gulf of Mexico. The storm is packing 35 mph winds – it’ll become a tropical storm once sustained winds reach 39 mph. Map courtesy of Ham Weather and Alerts Broadcaster.

24 tornadoes, nationwide, in July,a new record low – the result of persistent heat and drought. Canada saw more tornadoes than the USA last month, which is highly unusual. Details from Climate Central below.

 

Friday Tornado Potential? This may be premature, but some of the model (analogs) are hinting at many of the dynamics coming together for possible tornadoes Friday. The approach of (much) cooler air will whip up strong wind shear, with enough instability in front of the advancing cool front for a few potentially tornadic supercell thunderstorms. Click on the raw analog guidance from CIPS here. Thanks to Randy Petersen for passing this link along.

Friday Severe Threat. SPC has the eastern Dakotas and much of Minnesota in a slight severe risk Friday. My hunch, based on preliminary data: it may have to be upgraded to a moderate risk by Friday morning – meaning a much higher risk of large hail, damaging winds, even a few tornadoes.

 

What Would Produce An Effect Like This? A terrific example of “iridescent clouds” below.

 

At this point, temperature readings alone aren’t necessary to validate climate change, since seasonal events like flower blooms and bird migrations are shifting, Peterson said. If we did not have any thermometers here on the planet, we would know darn well that it is warming because of all these other indicators.” – from an article at LiveScience.

(Climate) Crimes Against Humanity?In the not-too-distant future will politicians who intentionally ignore global climate change, or who obstruct action to implement conscientious policies to prevent deterioration of climate conditions, be deemed criminally negligent? The scale of death and destruction resulting from global warming may potentially exceed losses due to genocides and world wars. We need discussion of legal and moral accountability for gross negligence when it comes to destruction at this level.” - from a Huffington Post Op-Ed below.

 

84 F. average July temperature at Indianapolis, making it the hottest July on record for Indy.

Last Week’s Worth Of Warm Weather Records. According to NOAA, 1337 warm weather records (maxes and mins) were set, nationwide, since July 25. For an interactive map from Ham Weather click here.

Smart Money? Warmer Than Average. We’ll see a break from the heat and humidity over the weekend, but the 6-10 and 8-14 Day Outlook is still trending warmer than average for the Upper Midwest, the worst of the heat shifting into the Intermountain West. Click here to see full-screen NOAA CPC predictions, courtesy of Ham Weather.

Official Drought Designation Counties From USDA. Over 50% of U.S. counties are now in a major drought. The USDA has more information on drought assistance here.

Deepening Drought. This photo (from the USGS) sums it up. That’s what’s left of the Platte River at North Bend, Nebraska. Not good.

 

A Look At How Rising Corn Prices Will Impact Prices At The Supermarket. The Star Tribune has the story; here’s an excerpt: “Cornflakes won’t necessarily be more expensive as a result of rising corn prices, but the milk you pour over them might be. A drought covering two-thirds of the country has damaged much of the country’s corn crops and pushed grain prices to record levels, triggering fears that a spike in food prices will soon follow. But there are many factors that determine the price of goods on supermarket shelves. A diminished corn supply doesn’t mean that all food prices will be affected the same way. In fact, you’re more likely to see higher prices for milk and meat than corn on the cob. That’s because the sweet corn that shoppers buy at a grocery store is grown differently and not as vulnerable to drought conditions. As for the corn that’s used as grain feed for cows, however, farmers are paying more as the drought persists.”

Photo credit above: “A field of soy beans, left, meets drought-damaged corn in Mead, Neb., Tuesday, July 31, 2012. Soy beans, while distressed, are less sensitive than corn to the drought. The drought covering two-thirds of the continental U.S. had been considered relatively shallow, the product of months without rain, rather than years. But a report last Thursday showed its intensity is rapidly increasing, with 20 percent of the nation now in the two worst stages of drought up 7 percent from the week before.” Photo: Nati Harnik, Associated Press.

 

Driest 4-Month Period On Record For Kansas City. Here are a few remarkable details, courtesy of NOAA and Facebook:

  • For the month of July, Kansas City received only 0.49″ of rain, which is 3.96″ below normal.
  • For the 4 month period of April 1st through July 31st, Kansas City has received just 5.88″, which is 12.60″ below normal.
  • This makes this period of time the driest on record for Kansas City beating 1911 by by 0.02″. In that year only 5.90″ fell.
  • To put this into a little more perspective the 5.88″ this year is drier than 1936 by 1.04″, 1988 by 1.42″, 1980 by 2.71″, 1953 by 2.83″, and 1934 by 3.63″. Those years represent the 3rd – 7th driest April 1st – July 31st periods of time on record at Kansas City. (photo above: Wikipedia).

Driest July On Record For Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A few details from NOAA:

  • July 2012 will go down in the record books as the driest July on record in Sioux Falls.
  • Rainfall for the month totaled only 0.24″ at the airport in Sioux Falls, breaking the previous record of 0.25″ which fell back in July 1947.
  • Normal rainfall for the month of July is 3.09″.

July Weather Summary. Here’s a good overview of a very warm month, from the local Twin Cities National Weather Service: “July of 2012 will likely be remembered for near record warmth. July continued a long standing trend of seeing above normal temperatures across the area, with most locations seeing temperatures 5 to 7 degrees above normal.  In fact, this marks the 15th consecutive month that all three climate locations have seen above normal temperatures.  One has to go way back to May of 2011 to find a month where the average temperature for the month was below normal at all three locations. It was the 2nd warmest July on record for the Twin Cities (since 1873), the 5th warmest for St. Cloud (since 1893), and the 2nd warmest in Eau Claire (since 1950).  In fact, the lowest temperature recorded at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport during the month of July was 64 degrees.”

 

Warm Bias To Continue…? Place your bets. The map above (from NOAA CPC) shows the (very) extended temperature outlook from October thru December. Based on a developing El Nino warming phase in the Pacific, and the mild trends we’ve seen for the last 12-15 months, I suspect going warmer than average probably isn’t going out too far on a limb.

A Silver (Tornadic) Lining. Climate Central’s Andrew Freedman explains why we had a record (low) number of tornadoes, nationwide, during July – here’s an excerpt of a recent article: “Thanks, in part, to the record-setting drought that is gripping much of the U.S., the country had a record low number of tornadoes for the month of July, and the lowest number of tornadoes for any May-through-July period since high quality recordkeeping began in 1954, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. With just 24 tornado reports in July, the U.S. saw fewer tornadoes this month than Canada did, which is unusual…The majority of the lower 48 states are currently in the grips of one of the most widespread and intense droughts in U.S. history, and the drought itself is inhibiting storm formation by keeping the air drier than it otherwise would be. The sinking motion caused by a stubborn “Heat Dome” of High Pressure has also acted as a limiting factor for storm formation.”

Photo credit above: “A tornado captured near MooseJaw, Saskatchewan on June 26, 2012.” Credit: Twitpic/@JeffAdams.

Serious Hail. Check out the view outside Patricia Christmas’s home late Tuesday, taken in Chandler, Indiana after a severe hailstorm – enough hail to cover the ground.

Iridescent Clouds. Thanks to meteorologist Bay Scroggins in Miami for sharing these very unusual and spectacular cloud formations over south Florida. What is an iridescent cloud? Here’s a good explanation from NASA: “Why would a cloud appear to be different colors? A relatively rare phenomenon known as iridescent clouds can show unusual colors vividly or a whole spectrum of colors simultaneously. These clouds are formed of small water droplets of nearly uniform size. When the Sun is in the right position and mostly hidden by thick clouds, these thinner clouds significantly diffract sunlight in a nearly coherent manner, with different colors being deflected by different amounts. Therefore, different colors will come to the observer from slightly different directions. Many clouds start with uniform regions that could show iridescence but quickly become too thick, too mixed, or too far from the Sun to exhibit striking colors.”

Photo Of The Day: CG Lightning. Thanks to Mike Hall, at Mike Hall Photography, for passing this one along. The warmer the air (and higher the dew point) the more amazing the lightning displays can be – I’ve seen a few storms this summer with nearly continuous lightning. According to Bob Marshall, CEO at Earth Networks, if you see more than 25 strikes/minute it’s a pretty good tip-off that you’re dealing with a severe storm, one that can generate damaging winds and large (1″+) hail.

“Looks Like Rain”. Thanks to Jillian Danielson, who snapped this pic at Lake Havasu City,  Arizona on Wednesday. I agree with your forecast, by the way.

Hurricane App Debuts For Free From American Red Cross. If you have a collection of weather apps on your smart phone you may want to consider adding one more – details from computerworld.com: ” A new, free hurricane app from the American Red Cross offers location-based NOAA weather alerts and a one-touch “I’m safe” message that users can broadcast via social networks to family and friends in an emergency. The app became available today, the start of the third month in the Atlantic Ocean hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The season starts in mid-May for the eastern Pacific Ocean. The app, dubbed simply “Hurricane,” can be found in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.”

 

Watch Live TV On Your Phone (or Tablet)! No, Really. Do you want to watch live TV on your phone or tablet? That’s a bigger question – I can definitely see the appeal, especially on tablets, especially if you can have a DVR capability built in. Here’s a snippet of an intriguing article from cnet.com: “But more than two years later and at a cost of around $10 million, the broadcasters, operating under an alliance called Mobile Content Venture, are on the verge of making good on their crazy, ambitious plan. Along the way, big-name players such as NBC and Fox have picked up a cadre of allies, including handset manufacturers Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, and regional prepaid carrier MetroPCS. Dyle will officially launch in many major markets when MetroPCS sells the first Dyle-compatible Samsung smartphone, which is expected shortly, CNET has learned. Dyle declined to comment on the specific timing of the launch. “The big thing is, this is real,” Salil Dalvi, who in addition to running Mobile Content Venture as co-general manager also serves as senior vice president of digital distribution at NBC Universal, told CNET. “There is a real product out there.”

 

Apple’s Next iPhone: The Complete Rumor Roundup. Gizmodo has the latest: “There’s been so much rumor-hawking and speculation the past few weeks that whether you’re ready or not, we’re squarely in the middle of iPhone season. So here’s a quick rundown of everything we think we know about Apple’s next iPhone.

Appearance

We think we have a pretty good idea of what the new iPhone will look like; we’ve been seeing leaked parts for months now, and recently that has moved up to fully assembled phones, and possibly a whole phone smuggled out of a plant.”

 

 

Incessantly Sunny

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture more than half of America is in a drought emergency. Soil moisture in the metro is in good shape, but it’s still too dry over far southern counties.

I can’t recall the last time we had an all-day rain; a cool, soggy, mall or movie-worthy day. The pattern has been persistently sunny. Palm Springs…with lakes.

We’ve been stuck in a remarkable holding pattern much of the summer, with a bloated heat-pump high anchored over the Plains; waves of heat radiating out from the core. Occasional puffs of cooler, Canadian air have lapped south of the border, but it’s amazing (at least to me) how resilient and persistent the pattern has been.

The weather is “stuck” – the main storm track detouring well north over Canada – leaving much of the USA parched.

A little relief arrives today on a northerly breeze; morning showers, then PM clearing. Low 90s Friday give way to a welcome weekend cool front. Weekend highs may hold in the 70s, for the first time since June 25!

Hideous heat stays just south of Minnesota next week; a frontal boundary sparks significant rain by midweek.

The worst of the heatwave is winding down. Cooler days ahead!

Climate Stories…

 

Climate Change On Back Burner. The forecast calls for severe apathy from bickering politicians in Washington D.C. Keep your expectations low and you’ll never be disappointed, right? Here’s an excerpt from a story at politico.com: “The planet may be getting hotter, but Washington’s debate on climate change isn’t heating up. Amid a summer marked by droughts, wildfires, record temperatures and freak storms, Congress is squeezing in just one hearing on the changing climate before it dashes out for a hot August recess. And that hearing, set for Wednesday, is unlikely to be a show-stopper: No federal officials will testify, and no big-name witnesses will appear — none of the elements that could help this gathering compete for an Olympics-mad public’s attention. It’s a reminder of how much things have changed for Democrats in Congress since their hopes for passing a major cap-and-trade bill died in 2010, reducing the entire climate issue to second-tier status. Now, Republicans are eager to argue, Democrats are reluctant to even talk about the issue in an election year.”

Photo credit above: ”This summer’s record-high temperatures could help bring attention to the issue“. | AP Photo

Skeptics, Contrarians And Deniers Of Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of a Doug Craig post at redding.com: “Bob Baker reads Juan Cole and from the looks of it I should too. Like a lot of us, Mr. Cole was impressed with Dr. Richard Muller’s public conversion from skeptic to alarmist. And wrote a nice, long piece worth taking the time to read. First, some definitions. A global warming or climate change alarmist, from my perspective, is someone who is alarmed at the idea that we are systematically destroying the crucial ecosystems that birthed Earth’s various life forms including Homo sapiens.  I am an alarmist. I am alarmed. If your house is on fire, you would want me to be alarmed and to sound the alarm. To be an alarmist is to be alert, aware, and awake and willing to alert others when a viable threat is present. I am also a skeptic which means I am not alarmed by matters that cannot be proven scientifically. Human-caused climate change is supported by science, as Muller states.

Should Accountability For Global Warming Be Linked To Crimes Against Humanity? Huffington Post has the Op-Ed; here’s an excerpt: “We define as having criminal intent any person who calculates that there is a definite possibility their actions will result in harm to others. Equally, we define as criminally negligent anyone who is aware that an individual is likely to harm others but who ignores the situation. In the not-too-distant future will politicians who intentionally ignore global climate change, or who obstruct action to implement conscientious policies to prevent deterioration of climate conditions, be deemed criminally negligent? The scale of death and destruction resulting from global warming may potentially exceed losses due to genocides and world wars. We need discussion of legal and moral accountability for gross negligence when it comes to destruction at this level.”

 

California Prepares For Harsh Realities Of Changing Climate. Here’s an excerpt of a recent story at mercurynews.com: “Climate change is real and unfolding, and the outlook for California is bleak, according to new state-sponsored studies. Released Tuesday, the studies warn that California can expect more scorching heat waves, severe wildfires and strain on the electric grid as the Earth warms and sea levels rise along the state’s 1,100-mile long coast. Higher temperatures in the coming decade mean that many more of the state’s 37 million people will depend on air conditioning — increasing demand for electricity by up to 1 gigawatt during hot summer months. One gigawatt is roughly the size of two coal-fired power plants and is enough energy to power 750,000 homes.” (Image: NASA).

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ABOUT ME

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Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune startribune.com/weather And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather

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