Simple Ways To Lower Weather Risk
Somewhere between the “Nanny State” and “Every Man For Himself” is personal responsibility. When it comes to weather threats don’t count on the government or the media to save you. A healthy respect for weather goes a long way.
Like going to the basement during a tornado warning. Investing in a $25 NOAA Weather Radio, the only thing that may wake you up at 3am if a tornado is approaching your house. Avoiding lakes, pools and beaches when thunder is audible. Staying hydrated during summer heat. Sunscreen to avoid skin cancer (not to mention wrinkles). Never driving across a flooded road. Weather apps help – but are no substitute for common sense.
Tornado Couplet. Here is evidence of strong rotation, a spinning “supercell” thunderstorm near Faribault, the same parent thunderhead that sparked a series of touchdowns from Owatonna to Lakeville, going right up I-35, rain-wrapped and very hard to spot most of the time.
Looking Hotter. Let’s see what the trends are over time, but today’s 2-week GFS forecast looks considerably hotter than yesterday’s run, with the core of the jet stream steering winds lifting farther north, allowing hotter air to advance across much of the USA during the first week of June.
Praedictix Briefing: Wednesday, May 19th, 2021
Past 24 Hour Heavy Rain. We continued to see heavy rain across portions of the Southern Plains Tuesday and Tuesday Night, with the heaviest rainfall totals over the past 24 hours from the Victoria (TX) area to southwestern Louisiana. In some of these areas, rainfall tallies topped a half a foot, leading to flooding reports. We saw record rain amounts in Victoria (TX) (5.30”) and Tyler (TX) (3.48”) yesterday.
Heavy Rain Risk Continues. The heavy rain threat will continue over the next few days across the southern Plains and the lower Mississippi Valley, with Flood/Flash Flood Watches in place including Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, Little Rock, Shreveport, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. Through Friday evening, at least an additional 2-6” could fall from southern Texas toward southern Louisiana, with some of the highest amounts closer to the coast. Rainfall rate of 2-4” per hour will be possible in the more intense storms, which could lead to flash flooding.
Excessive Rain Outlook Today. Due to expected heavy rain from southern Texas to southern Louisiana today into tonight, a Moderate Risk of excessive rain leading to flash flooding is in place. With ongoing and additional storms expected across the region, additional amounts of 3”+ will be possible, with heavier amounts possible especially in coastal areas.
Excessive Rain Outlook Thursday. Heavy rain continues Thursday across portions of the Southern Plains, especially in southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana where another Moderate Risk of excessive rain leading to flash flooding is in place. While it looks like the heaviest rain could fall offshore, areas across the Moderate Risk area could see an additional 1-3” of rain with 48 hour totals reaching 4-6”+.
Rising Rivers. Numerous rivers are in flood stage across the region due to the recent heavy rainfall, with only one river at major flood stage (the Calcasieu River at White Oak Park).
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...”
Climate Change’s Impact on Hurricane Sandy Has a Price: $8 Billion. Here’s an excerpt from an explainer at Public Radio Tulsa: “…The hurricane — also known as Superstorm Sandy — caused an estimated $70 billion in damages in the U.S., mostly from flooding. And while scientists have long believed that some of the carnage was attributable to a warming climate, it has been unclear just how much of a role human-caused warming played in the storm’s impacts. New research, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, puts a dollar amount on some of those damages, and it’s a startling figure. Using flood maps and sea-level rise measurements, researchers found that human-induced sea-level rise caused an estimated $8 billion in excess flooding damage during Hurricane Sandy and affected an additional 70,000 people…”
Climate Change Flooded 36,000 Homes, 71,000 people In Superstorm Sandy: Climate Nexus has more perspective with headlines and links: “Human-caused climate change was responsible for $8 billion of the damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, new research published Tuesday in Nature found. The additional flooding attributed to melting glaciers and ice sheets affected an additional 71,000 people, and just the climate-caused damage on its own would have been the fourth-most expensive weather-related disaster of last year’s record-shattering 22 billion-dollar disasters. Researchers calculated sea levels around New York City were almost 4 inches higher, and that the storm surge flooding caused by those extra four inches accounted for a full 13% of the storm’s overall monetary damage with dramatically higher damage caused by every additional inch. In some places the additional flooding caused massive damage that would have otherwise been completely avoided, like basement apartments at the outer edge of where it flooded. Elsewhere, just a few inches made a big difference, like where flood waters rose just above a home’s lowest electrical outlet, requiring extensive repairs. Overall, the study found an additional 36,000 homes were flooded because of climate change. “I often hear people say when we’re trying to help them adapt to increasing coastal flooding, ‘Well, it’s not going to happen in my lifetime. The sea-level rise won’t happen in my lifetime,’ “ Philip Orton, a co-author of the study, told NPR. “But it’s already happening to people. It’s already here.” (AP, NPR, Reuters, Bloomberg $, Grist, AFP, The Verge, Scientific American, CBS, Reuters, The Guardian, AccuWeather, The Hill; Climate Signals background: Hurricane Sandy, Storm surge increase, Sea level rise)
The International Energy Agency Issues a Landmark Statement About Fossil Fuels. Bill McKibbon Reports for The New Yorker; here’s an excerpt: “…The statement on Tuesday from the I.E.A. is a recommendation. It reads, “There is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply in our net zero pathway. Beyond projects already committed as of 2021, there are no new oil and gas fields approved for development in our pathway, and no new coal mines or mine extensions are required.” That emphasis is in the original—in fact, in the new report that sentence is in headline-size type, as well it should be. It says that, after two hundred and fifty years, in the view of the I.E.A., the time has come to stop exploring for oil, gas, and coal. No rational plan for getting to 1.5 degrees (or anywhere near it) can deal with any new supply…”
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…”