June 30

Once In A Millennium Heat Wave Pacific Northwest and British Columbia – Spiked by a Warming Climate

Heating Up For 4th of July Festivities

I’m seeing things on my weather maps I’ve never witnessed before and I’m fairly sure that’s not a good thing. Like an extraordinary “4-Sigma” heat wave for the Pacific Northwest, 4 standard deviations from the mean, or an event you might see once every 1,000 to 10,000 years.

117F in British Columbia, where satellites measured surface temperatures as high as 145F, hot enough to melt and buckle pavement. A few degrees of background warming increases the probability of historic extremes. Welcome to a new world of super-sized heat waves.


Twin Cities National Weather Service

Wednesday Highs

Canada Takes The Edge Off the Heat Mid-July? The next 3 weeks are, historically, the hottest of the entire year, but GFS guidance suggests any blast-furnace heat may stay just south of Minnesota through the second week of July.


July – September Temperature Anomaly Outlook
NOAA NMME
July – August Precipitation Anomaly Outlook
NOAA NMME

Warm Bias Continues – Dry Signal Weakens for Minnesota. NOAA NMME guidance from the Climate Prediction Center continues to show a strong and persistent warm signal into September, but it doesn’t look quite as dry for the Upper Midwest as it did a few weeks ago.



This is called a temperature distribution, similar to a bell curve. It illustrates the normal distribution of temperatures we should expect given the historical record. However, as the animation shows, as the globe warms and the average shifts towards the right – the warmer side. As a result, the extremes shift even more resulting in more intense and more frequent heat waves.
Climate Central

Pacific Northwest Bakes Under Once-In-A-Millennium Heat Dome. CBS News explores the probability of such an extreme heat event, with temperatures 40-50F above normal: “…In other words, statistically speaking, there is a 1 in 10,000 chance of experiencing this value. So, if you could possibly live in that spot for 10,000 years, you’d likely only experience that kind of heat dome once, if ever. It is worth noting that our historical record is limited and statistics like this are very sensitive to small changes. But if it seems like an overstatement to say there is a 1 in 10,000 chance of having a heat dome like this, it is certainly not an overstatement to say this is the kind of event you would expect to experience once in 1000 years…”


It’s 118F in the Arctic, Which Sure Seems Bad. No, I doubt this is a positive development. Here’s an excerpt from a post at mic.com: “A heat wave is sweeping across the southwestern United States at the moment, but it’s not the only place on the planet feeling some extremely hot temperatures. According to satellite images taken by the European Union, it appears that surface temperatures have reached 118 degrees in Siberia. Yes, that Siberia. The blistering 118-degree temperature occurred on the ground in Verkhojansk, a small town in Eastern Siberia. It wasn’t alone in experiencing astonishingly hot weather. According to the satellite data recorded by the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel satellites, Govorovo experienced ground temperatures of 109 degrees, while Saskylah reached 98.6 degrees during the heat wave. According to Earther, it’s the hottest the region has been since 1936...”


Paul Douglas

Estimating the Number of Excess Heat Deaths Attributable to Heat. Environmental Epidemiology has some jaw-dropping results from a 2020 study: “…We replicated the approach from a large, international study to estimate temperature-mortality associations in 297 United States counties and additionally calculated the number of deaths attributable to heat, a quantity of likely interest to policymakers and the public…Across 297 counties representing 61.9% of the United States population in 2000, we estimate that an average of 5,608 (95% empirical confidence interval = 4,748, 6,291) deaths were attributable to heat annually, 1997–2006…”


Conditions during the first week of June.
Source: U.S. Drought Monitor

How Severe is the Western Drought? See For Yourself. The New York Times (paywall) has perspective on an unusually severe drought over the western third of the USA in 2021; here’s an excerpt: “An intense drought is gripping the American West. Extreme conditions are more widespread than at any point in at least 20 years, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the government’s official drought-tracking service. And the hottest months of summer are still to come. “It’s an alarming picture,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies how global warming affects extreme weather events…”


The West is the Driest It’s Been in 1,200 Years – Raising Questions About a Livable Future. Yahoo News has the post; here’s a clip: “…Insufficient monsoon rains last summer and low snowpacks over the winter left states like Arizona, Utah and Nevada without the typical amount of water they need, and forecasts for the rainy summer season don’t show promise. This year’s aridity is happening against the backdrop of a 20-year-long drought. The past two decades have been the driest or the second driest in the last 1,200 years in the West, posing existential questions about how to secure a livable future in the region. It’s time to ask, “Is this a drought, or is it just the way the hydrology of the Colorado River is going to be?” said John Entsminger, the general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority...”


What’s New in Hurricane Forecasting? A story at Keys Weekly caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…As for storm modeling, Rizzo said there’s been some improvements this year between upgrades to the global forecasting system and more layers of improved physics for data collection. “This allows for improved hurricane formation forecasting with longer lead times to see systems further in advance,” he said. “We also have faster computers that can run more complex forecast models, which would lead to improved forecasts of developing hurricanes.” Residents are often frustrated by the overwhelming differences among the so-called “spaghetti plots” that show colorful, wavy lines of various storm track predictions. Forecast models include the American, European and Canadian models, among others. Rizzo emphasizes that the National Weather Service takes all models into account when making predictions — unlike many locals who fiercely pin their hopes on whichever line is farthest from their home...”


File image: Hurricane Laura
NOAA

Scientists Expose the Cold Heart of Land-falling Hurricanes. Why do some ex-hurricanes magically intensify once inland? Here’s an excerpt of a good explainer at ScienceDaily: “…Now, a recent study in Physical Review Fluids has used simulations to explore the fate of land-falling hurricanes. The scientists found that after landfall, the warm, dynamic heart of a hurricane is replaced by a growing cold core — an unexpected finding that could help forecasters predict the level of extreme weather that communities farther inland may face. “Generally, if a hurricane hits land, it weakens and dies,” said Professor Pinaki Chakraborty, senior author and head of the Fluid Mechanics Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST). “But sometimes, a hurricane can intensify again deep inland, creating a lot of destruction, like flooding, in communities far away from the coast. So, predicting the course that a hurricane will take is crucial…”


This single satellite is the Pathfinder satellite (their engineering qualification/test unit) that will launch on June 25.
Blue Canyon Technologies

Tiny Satellites Could Help Warn of the Next Big Hurricane. Timing is everything. WIRED.com explains: “…Polar orbiters circle Earth from north to south, taking imagery from all longitudes as the planet rotates. They orbit much lower than their geostationary counterparts, at about 512 miles (2.7 million feet) above the surface. This allows them to gather data in the microwave range, providing a picture of what’s going on within a storm. But it takes them 12 hours to complete a full trip around the globe, so by the time forecasters get a second look at a particular storm, what started as a tropical depression over the mid-Atlantic may have progressed to a tropical storm as it nears the Caribbean. That creates a slowdown at a crucial time, because every data point a forecaster has could be a critical piece of the puzzle, allowing them to put together a more accurate picture of the approaching storm…”


CODY CASSIDY AND KEVIN PLOTTNER

How to Survive the Worst Tornado in US History. The author of a story at WIRED.com tees up situational awareness and the best course of action among a variety of bad options in the deadly 1925 Tri-State Tornado. Here’s an excerpt: “…Humans are almost uniquely ill-suited to move into the wind. Evolution has finely tuned the human body into a near-perfect pendulum. Our weight is aligned over our hips, so that we can gently tip over, catch our fall, and repeat the process–aka walk–in a remarkably efficient way. Headwinds ruin all of that. Our broad, flat, rectangular chests turn into sails. In 70 mph winds, you’ll need to lean forward 15 degrees just to stand upright. Running into them will be like sprinting up a 25-degree slope. You’ll watch as dogs, deer, and most of the ambulatory animal kingdom use their sleek, aerodynamic bodies to cut through the wind, while you’ll likely end up hanging onto a lamppost and cursing your sail of a chest…”


Nobody Knows Exactly How Tornadoes Form – And the Mystery Can be Deadly. Are warnings getting better over time? An analysis at Vox has some interesting data: “…This is one of the most frustrating, stagnant problems in meteorology. As of 2011, the average lead time for tornado warnings was just around 13 minutes. But as the Washington Post has reported, lead times have been getting worse in recent years, dropping to 8.4 minutes between 2012 and 2020. Some people have even less warning. (Odhwani says he didn’t hear the city’s warning sirens, and might have kept sleeping if his phone wasn’t nearby.) Think about it: If you had less than a quarter of an hour to prepare for devastation, what could you accomplish? The truth is that those minutes of warning actually represent an improvement…”



Climate Stories…

Miami Condo Collapse Prompts Questions Over Role of Climate Change. Salt water and concrete don’t mix well, and rising seas may be one (of many) reasons that combined to create a tragedy in Surfside. Details via The Guardian: “The disaster has highlighted the precarious situation of building and maintaining high-rise apartments in an area under increasing pressure from sea-level rise. Experts say that while the role of the rising seas in this collapse is still unclear, the integrity of buildings will be threatened by the advance of salty water that pushes up from below to weaken foundations. “When this building was designed 40 years ago the materials used would not have been as strong against salt water intrusion, which has the potential to corrode the concrete and steel of the foundations,” said Zhong-Ren Peng, professor and director of the University of Florida’s International Center for Adaptation Planning and Design. “Cracks in the concrete allows more sea water to get in, which causes further reactions and the spreading of cracks. If you don’t take care of it, that can cause a structure failure...”


Unprecedented Heat Wave in Pacific Northwest Driven by Climate Change. And there’s an apparent link between extreme heat and tropical cyclones in the western Pacific. Here’s a clip from an explainer at Scientific American: “…The roasting of the Pacific Northwest follows other June heat waves in the West. Between June 10 and June 15, high temperatures set records in parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, Tom Di Liberto, in NOAA’s Climate Program Office, wrote in a post on NOAA’s website. “It’s always difficult to immediately quantify how much impact climate change has had on a climate extreme, but there is plenty of evidence to show that high temperatures and heat waves have become worse due to climate change,” he wrote. “Heatwaves across the contiguous United States have occurred more often and lasted longer since the 1960s, which is consistent with a warming climate due to climate change...”


Northwest “Heat Dome” Shows How Climate Change is Causing Unprecedented Events. Axios explains the implications of what we’re seeing with greater frequency: “The dangerous heat wave enveloping the Pacific Northwest is shattering weather records by such large margins that it is making even climate scientists uneasy.

Why it matters: Infrastructure, including heating and cooling, is built according to expectations of a “normal” climate. Human-caused climate change is quickly redefining that normal, while dramatically raising the likelihood of events that simply have no precedent.

  • These risks include extreme heat events that can have unusually high impacts.
  • That is exactly what is playing out now, with a region of the country largely devoid of air conditioning suffering through unheard-of temperatures over a prolonged stretch of time.
  • In the past, such events have proven to be especially deadly, killing more than 70,000 in Europe in 2003, for example...”

Earth is Trapping “Unprecedented” Amount of Heat, NASA Says. Details via The Guardian: “The Earth is trapping nearly twice as much heat as it did in 2005, according to new research, described as an “unprecedented” increase amid the climate crisis. Scientists from NASA, the US space agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), reported in a new study that Earth’s “energy imbalance approximately doubled” from 2005 to 2019. The increase was described as “alarming”. “Energy imbalance” refers to the difference between how much of the Sun’s “radiative energy” is absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere and surface, compared to how much “thermal infrared radiation” bounces back into space…”


Should Solar Engineering Be Considered in the Fight Against Climate Change? The National Academies weighs in – here’s an excerpt: “…Field and McNutt cited concerns about the possibility of detrimental physical and social consequences from solar geoengineering, including intensification of drought, threats to national security, and challenges related to issues of environmental justice and equity. “Solar geoengineering is not a comprehensive solution,” said Field. He stressed that there are many aspects of climate change that the approach does not address, including ocean acidification. The effects of solar geoengineering on weather patterns and stratospheric ozone have not been adequately explored, he said. “Those are important enough that we wouldn’t even be close to arguing for deployment until we learn a lot more.” “Once you already get to the point where it’s too difficult to adapt, and you haven’t mitigated, and the situation is so bad, what can you do to try to lessen how bad it is, by some sort of band aid?” One possible band aid is solar geoengineering, McNutt said…”


NASA

Climate Change is Impacting Retirement Plans. How Retirees are Adapting. CNBC.com has the post; here’s the intro: “The threat of climate change is shifting some older Americans’ retirement plans. Extreme weather such as hurricanes, flooding, freezing temperatures and wildfires has prompted some to rethink where they will spend their golden years. “Clients are seeing it for themselves and starting to adjust plans as a result,” said John McGlothlin III, a certified financial planner with Southwest Retirement Consultants in Austin, Texas. One client, planning to retire in Galveston, Texas, wasn’t prepared for the rising expense of flood insurance, he said. While the average cost for Texas flood coverage is $700 per year, premiums may be higher in some areas…”


Hurricane Ike, viewed 220 miles above Earth from the International Space Station, on Sept. 10, 2008.
NASA

A $26 Billion Plan to Save the Houston Area from Rising Seas. WIRED.com (paywall) has the post; here’s an excerpt: “…In 2014, the US Army Corps of Engineers partnered with the state to study Ike Dike-like alternatives for Galveston Bay. After many iterations, bills to establish a governing structure for the $26.2 billion barrier proposal, which the Corps developed alongside the Texas General Land Office, recently passed both the Texas House and Senate. In September, the Corps will deliver their recommendations to the US Congress, which will need to approve funding for the project. No one can guess the barrier proposal’s exact fate, given its enormous price tag. And as sea levels rise and storms intensify with global climate change, Houston is far from the only US coastal metropolitan region at serious risk. Multibillion-dollar coastal megaprojects already are underway or under consideration from San Francisco to Miami to New York City...”


Videographer: Marco Bello/Bloomberg

Palm Beach Billionaire’s Build Bigger Beach Homes to Prevent Sinking. Rising seas? That’s for the next sucker to worry about! Bloomberg has the story: “…The town of Palm Beach is busy adapting to the risks of a warming planet, even if there appear to be fewer worriers among the buyers and speculative builders on the island. Some of the lowest-lying properties in the U.S. are seeing the highest-flying prices. The real estate website Zillow estimates the value of Peterffy’s home at $52 million. This year a new nine-bedroom mansion with toes-in-the-sand views sold to financier Scott Shleifer for a record-breaking price in excess of $122 million. Waterfront real estate prices are rising across the U.S. in a frenzied pandemic-tinged market. During the first quarter of this year homes at high risk of flooding sold for a record 13.6% premium over less risky homes, according to brokerage Redfin...”

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