A Very Healthy Respect For Lightning
”Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does all the work” wrote Mark Twain. Earth is giant battery, lightning strikes the ground 44 times per second. That equates to 3 million flashes every day. Sometimes people get in the way. Only 10 percent of lightning victims perish – the rest suffer from lifelong neurological problems.
There are steps you can take to lower your risk. The “30-30 Rule” comes to mind. If you can count less than 30 seconds between a flash of lightning and bang of thunder, head inside. And wait at least 30 minutes after the last thunderclap before heading back outside. Nobody wants to experience a “bolt from the blue”.
Summer Pulling Its Punch Northern Tier. The beginning of June may bring temperatures closer to average over the northern tier of the USA, but summer heat will be in full swing from California to the East Coast.
Praedictix Briefing: Issued Tuesday, May 18th, 2021:
Heavy Rain So Far. Very heavy rain has fallen over the past day to day and a half across portions of the Southern United States – particularly yesterday in southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana – leading to many reports of flooding and water rescues. A personal weather station five miles south-southwest of Lake Charles (LA) reported 17.69” of rain on Monday, and through 2 PM yesterday Fannett (TX) had received 16” of rain. A station four miles northwest of Sabine Pass (TX) also reported 12.64” of rain Monday. Over the past 24 hours, three separate Flash Flood Emergencies have been issued – around Fannett (TX) yesterday, around Lake Charles (LA) yesterday, and around Baton Rouge (LA) overnight and this morning.
Baton Rouge, LA, Flash Flood Emergency. This morning a Flash Flood Emergency remains in place for southeastern Baton Rouge until 10 AM with 5-10” of rain so far and thunderstorms in the area continuing to produce heavy rain. Flash flooding is ongoing. Roads are also being impacted by the flooding, as shown below by the Louisiana State Police, in the Baton Rouge area – you can view current Louisiana road conditions at https://511la.org/.
Lake Charles Record Rain Monday. As mentioned above, the Lake Charles area did end up under a Flash Flood Emergency yesterday. On Monday they picked up almost twelve and a half inches of rain, making yesterday the third wettest day on record for Lake Charles. This is more rain than fell during the three days they saw rain last year in association with Laura, and more rain than fell with Delta back in early October.
Beaumont And Lafayette Record Rain Monday. Both Beaumont (TX) and Lafayette (LA) saw record rain yesterday as well with over a half a foot of rain in both locations. For Beaumont, Monday goes down as the eighth wettest day on record. Lafayette saw their 16th wettest day on record.
Heavy Rain Risk Continues. The heavy rain threat will continue through the middle of the week across the Southern Plains and the Central Gulf Coast, with Flood/Flash Flood Watches in place including Oklahoma City, Dallas, Abilene, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, Little Rock, Shreveport, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. Through Thursday evening, an additional 2-6”, with isolated higher amounts, is expected across this region, leading to that flood threat.
Excessive Rain Outlook Today. Due to expected heavy rain across portions of the Southern Plains and Central Gulf Coast today into tonight, a Moderate Risk of excessive rain leading to flash flooding is in place. Across the Gulf Coast, guidance is showing the heaviest amounts across southeastern Louisiana, where 5” amounts are possible. In the Southern Plains, heavy rain is expected due to deep atmospheric moisture in place and back-building storms that will continue to bring heavy rain over the same area over an extended period of time.
Excessive Rain Outlook Wednesday. Heavy rain will continue Wednesday across portions of southern and eastern Texas into southwestern Louisiana where another Moderate Risk of excessive rain leading to flash flooding is in place. Guidance shows a widespread 2-6” of rain with isolated amounts up to 11” falling across this region Wednesday. That additional rain, on top of already saturated grounds due to rain earlier in the week, will likely lead to more flash flooding. NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center, which issues these excessive rain outlooks, says that the potential exists for a High Risk of excessive rain exists across portions of the region depending on how things evolve in the models over the next day.
D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix
Tuesday Marks 68 Years Since the Deadliest Texas Tornado. Spectrum News 1 has details; here’s an excerpt: “…Around 4:10 p.m., a tornado touched down southwest of Waco, near the town of Lorena. A home was destroyed there, and then the tornado moved north-northeast toward Waco. Striking downtown Waco at the end of a workday, many were caught unaware. In addition to the 114 people killed, 597 were injured. Thirty people were killed when a six-story furniture store collapsed. Five people were killed in their cars. The destruction was so great that some victims waited up to 14 hours to be rescued...”
Who Was the Legendary “Mr. Tornado”? The EF0-5 rating scale is named after veteran tornado researcher Ted Fujita, as reported by Yahoo News: “…2021 marks 50 years since the initial rating system, the internationally recognized Fujita Scale, was introduced to the field of meteorology. But how did the scale come to be and who was Fujita, the man who conceptualized it? The origins can be traced back to the Second World War, a mountaintop in Japan and the open plains of the Midwestern United States. A man who was incredibly driven, and would one day become known as “Mr. Tornado,” had a unique way of perceiving the weather around us and through nonstandard practices produced groundbreaking research that helped transform severe weather forecasting forever…”
EF-5 Tornado Drought? I didn’t realize the last EF-5 to hit the US was back in 2013. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting post from Andrew Siffert at BMS Group: “...With that being said the U.S. is quietly in a remarkable EF5 tornado drought. The last EF5 tornado to be observed in the U.S. was a devastating violent tornado that impacted the towns of Newcastle and Moore, Oklahoma at just after 2 pm on May 20th, 2013. The tornado claimed 24 lives, had inflation insurance adjusted loss of at least $1.3B, and much higher economic losses. This catastrophic event was 2,920 days ago and this is significant because in just 2 days if an EF5 tornado does not occur it will break the record for the longest period between major EF5 tornado occurrences in the current observational record dating back to 1950. The longest stretch currently stands between May 3rd, 1999, and May 4th, 2017 at 2,922 days...”
A Home Able to Withstand a Category 5 Hurricane? A post at Capital Weather Gang caught my eye – here’s an excerpt: …“Obviously, the shape matters,” Linton said. “It’s a round home. It’s aerodynamic to the point you get about 30 percent less pressure that builds up against a Deltec home versus a conventional home.” In other words, the shape of the house helps deflect air flow around the structure rather than absorb that force, no matter which way the wind is coming from. “The second piece is the materials that go into the home,” Linton said. “We look at optimizing the materials … to all be about twice as strong as in a typical home. Every board is tested for strength. The plywood is twice as strong, and the metal connections we use are made in a completely different fashion…”
Why “Twister” is a Horror Movie For Me. Tornado PTSD is real. Adam Chitwood explains at Collider.com: “…I’ve lived through a couple of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in Oklahoma history, and while myself and my family were lucky enough not to be harmed, many have lost their lives to these weather events, and the economic impacts can be devastating. On May 3, 1999, dozens of tornadoes hit Oklahoma in a 21-hour period, killing 44, leveling homes and businesses, and completely destroying an entire outlet mall that left its town strapped for years to come. That storm spawned an F-5 tornado that was tracked for nearly 90 minutes, with winds gusting more than 300 mph and a diameter that was an entire mile wide at times. To this day, Oklahomans mark May 3rd as a day of remembrance. So yeah, watching Twister and seeing those familiar strange clouds, hearing those tornado sirens, or even just seeing a local weatherman who I grew up watching on the TV is a somewhat triggering experience...”
Greenland Ice Sheet on Brink of Major Tipping Point, Says Study. The Guardian has a summary of new research; here’s the intro: “A significant part of the Greenland ice sheet is on the brink of a tipping point, after which accelerated melting would become inevitable even if global heating was halted, according to new research. Rising temperatures caused by the climate crisis have already seen trillions of tonnes of Greenland’s ice pour into the ocean. Melting its ice sheet completely would eventually raise global sea level by 7 metres. The new analysis detected the warning signals of a tipping point in a 140-year record of ice-sheet height and melting rates in the Jakobshavn basin, one of the five biggest basins in Greenland and the fastest-melting. The prime suspect for a surge in melting is a vicious circle in which melting reduces the height of the ice sheet, exposing it to the warmer air found at lower altitudes, which causes further melting...”
How Climate Change is Making Allergy Season Even Worse. No kidding. ABC News has details: “…Researchers recently found that pollen seasons are starting about 20 days earlier than they used to, William Anderegg, assistant professor of ecology at the University of Utah’s School of Biological Science, told ABC News. In addition, there is 20% more pollen in the air right now than there was in the 1990s, Anderegg said. By 2040, pollen counts are expected to double from what they were in 2000, Fatteh added. There is also evidence to suggest that the pollen itself is more allergenic, said Amir Sapkota, a professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health who specializes in how climate change affects human health.....”
New Report Ranks Most Environmentally At-Risk Cities. Here’s a list you don’t want to be on. The Weather Channel reports; here’s a clip: “…Jakarta, singled out for a triple whammy of flooding, air pollution and earthquakes, ranked No. 1 overall. The Indonesian capital has plenty of company from its neighbors – 99 of the 100 most at-risk cities are in Asia, which has some of the highest density populations in the world. India ranked as the most at-risk country, with 43 of the top 100 cities on the list. China had 37. Los Angeles was the highest-ranking U.S. city on the list at 257th for overall environmental risk. Glasgow, Scotland, was ranked least vulnerable to climate change...”
Nations Must Drop Fossil Fuels, Fast, World Energy Body Warns. The window is rapidly closing to avoid 2C or more warming, worldwide, and The International Energy Agency (IEA) is weighing in. The New York Times (paywall) reports: “Nations around the world would need to immediately stop approving new coal-fired power plants and new oil and gas fields and quickly phase out gasoline-powered vehicles if they want to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change, the world’s leading energy agency said Tuesday. In a sweeping new report, the International Energy Agency issued a detailed road map of what it would take for the world’s nations to slash carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050. That would very likely keep the average global temperature from increasing 1.5 Celsius above preindustrial levels — the threshold beyond which scientists say the Earth faces irreversible damage…”
IEA: No New Fossil Fuel Projects for Next-Zero. France 24 has more perspective: “All future fossil fuel projects must be scrapped if the world is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and to stand any chance of limiting warming to 1.5C, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday. In a special report designed to inform negotiators at the crucial COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November, the IEA predicted a “sharp decline in fossil fuel demand” in the next three decades as well as a 2040 deadline for the global energy sector to achieve carbon neutrality. It called for a rapid and vast ramping up of renewable energy investment and capacity, which bring gains in development, wealth and human health…”
IEA Says Oil & Gas Exploration, Coal Plant Construction Must Stop. Now: Climate Nexus has more details, headlines and links: “The International Energy Agency said the world’s countries must immediately stop exploiting new oil and gas fields and building new coal-fired power plants, if global temperatures are to be kept within safe limits and 2050 net-zero targets are to be met, in a wide-ranging report issued today. This is the first time the leading energy agency, which laid out a roadmap for how to accomplish the dramatic cuts, has called for such dramatic action. “It’s a huge shift in messaging if they’re saying there’s no need to invest in new fossil fuel supply,” Kelly Trout, senior research analyst at Oil Change International, told the New York Times. IEA executive director Fatih Birol emphasized the urgent need for aggressive action to slash emissions. “If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year,” he told the Guardian. “If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year.” (New York Times $, The Guardian, Washington Post $, Energy Monitor, AP, Reuters, FT $, BBC, Wall Street Journal $, Business Green, New York Times $, E&E $)
One Map Reveals a Warning for the Climate. CBS News explains: “…It’s clear from Hawkins’ map that the greatest warming on Earth is happening in the Arctic Circle area, where temperatures are rising at about 3 times the pace of the global average. Due to rapid warming, Arctic sea ice extent during its yearly minimum has been sliced in half. That floating sea ice does not contribute to sea level rise, but less ice means amplified warming — a warming feedback loop which quickens the pace of global warming. It’s this amplified warming of the Arctic that’s causing Greenland’s ice to melt 6 times faster than it did in the 1990s. This rapid ice melt from Greenland, scientists say, is what’s responsible for that big blue bullseye of regional cooling in Hawkins’ image. Here’s how it happens…”
Los Angeles Fire Season is Beginning Again. And It Will Never End. Fires are burning longer, larger and hotter and the extended outlook is troubling, reports New York Intelligencer: “…It is expected that by 2050, the area burned each year by forest fires across the western United States will at least double, and perhaps quadruple, what it is today as a result of warming. That is just three decades from now — the length of the mortgages that banks have extended to the homes on those fire-prone lands. After that, the picture becomes murkier — projections diverge, mid-century, in part because different scientists take different approaches to estimating just what the fire environment will look like in a particular ecosystem once all its land has burned. In greater Los Angeles, that could happen as soon as 2050, when past experience, harrowing and biblical as it may seem, could cease to be any kind of guide for what’s ahead…”
Pathways and Pitfalls in Extreme Event Attribution. How much is “natural” vs. flavored by a warmer, wetter, more volatile climate system? SpringLink has the paper here: “…Nowadays, whenever an extreme weather or climate event occurs, the question inevitably arises whether it was caused by climate change or, more precisely, by the influence of human activities on climate. The interpretation of this question hinges on the meaning of the word ‘caused’: just as in the connection between smoking and lung cancer, the influence of anthropogenic climate change on extreme events is inherently probabilistic. Allen (2003) proposed that a related question could be answered: how has climate change affected the probability of this extreme event occurring? The process to answer these questions is referred to as ‘extreme event attribution’ and also includes attributing the change due to anthropogenic climate change in other characteristics, such as the intensity of the event. Since its initiation in 2015, the World Weather Attribution (WWA), an international collaboration of climate scientists, has sought to provide a rapid response to this question in a scientifically rigorous way for many extreme events with large impacts around the world...”
A Third of Global Food Production At Risk From Climate Crisis. The Guardian reports: “A third of global food production will be at risk by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at their current rate, new research suggests. Many of the world’s most important food-growing areas will see temperatures increase and rainfall patterns alter drastically if temperatures rise by about 3.7C, the forecast increase if emissions stay high. Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have calculated that about 95% of current crop production takes place in areas they define as “safe climatic space”, or conditions where temperature, rainfall and aridity fall within certain bounds...”
Crying About Hamburgers is Dead End on Climate Crisis, Republicans Warned. Here’s an excerpt of another post at The Guardian: “…Amid Biden’s attempts to cut planet-heating emissions, Republicans remain mired in the protection of fossil fuel interests, using aggressive, and sometimes invented, claims in the process. But the continued embrace of Trumpian rhetoric has concerned some younger Republican lawmakers aware of the increasingly dire warnings from climate scientists and growing voter alarm over global heating. “Plenty of members of the [Republican] conference are still in perpetual skeptic mode,” Peter Meijer, a 33-year-old Republican House representative, told the Guardian. “When you talk to younger conservatives, the issue of climate is No 1 or 2, but for older generations that’s not the case. It’s important for the future of our country and the party we stop viewing it as a partisan issue...”