In Praise Of Our Favorite Teachers
We are the sum of the people we’ve met and the experiences we have had. I owe my meteorology career to weather merit badge in the Boy Scouts, a tropical storm that flooded the home I grew up in, and a series of remarkable teachers.
I remember their names, faces and continuous encouragement. Mr. Batzer and Mr. Danner were science teachers who turned the weather unit into an event. Mrs. Eisenhart was an advanced placement English teacher who admonished me to use “action words”. As we start the new school year a special salute to the people who helped to mold us into who we were meant to become.
Note to self: you can’t learn how to predict weather out of a textbook. You make mistakes (in public) and learn from your errors. It’s a painful learning curve.
A Jolt of Chilly Air Last Week of September? By then we will be due for a more sustained outbreak of sweatshirts – GFS guidance hints at a stronger push of cool air roughly 2 weeks out.
Flooding in New York Left Weather Experts with a dreadful Feeling in the Pit of their Stomachs. CNN meteorologists weigh in on the challenges involved in communicating both predicted rainfall amounts and rainfall rates: “...While the rainfalls totals were staggering, what was even more stunning was how fast the rain came down. “The fact you had those extreme rain rates that aligned over that densely populated area is why it unfolded the way it did,” said Lamers. So much rain in such a short amount of time is what ultimately led to the catastrophe. It’s one thing to have an inch of rain fall over the course of the day; it’s another to have that inch fall in 10 minutes. Forecasting exactly where the heaviest bands of rain will occur is impossible until a few hours before, and to see them set up over such a populated city as New York City was shocking...”
Dramatic NASA Satellite Video Examines Hurricane Ida’s Eye in 3D. SciTechDaily has the post; here’s a clip: “The 3D Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) data collected by the GPM Core satellite shows a healthy hurricane inner core in Ida. The small 17-mile-diameter eyewall is surrounded by a nearly complete outer ring of precipitation approximately 85 miles in diameter. Beyond this central structure, an arc of precipitation exists another 40 miles further from the eye to the southeast. The eye hosts many clouds extending well above 6 miles (10 km), which indicates that Ida was still actively growing at the time of this overpass...”
What a Hurricane Means When You Live in Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley”. CNN.com has the post; here’s a clip: “…In the early months of the pandemic, Harvard’s school of public health released a preliminary study showing a link between fine particulate matter, also known as PM 2.5 pollution, and increased mortality rates from Covid-19. Terrell wanted to know what that meant for Louisiana, particularly in Cancer Alley. After scraping the raw data from the Harvard study and performing her own analysis, she found that the highest death rates from Covid-19 and a majority of PM 2.5 concentrations were in Cancer Alley. Ida added another layer of affliction by destroying houses and forcing residents to emergency shelters or relatives’ homes, where they may be clustered together with potential for increased Covid-19 transmission. “It seems like these communities are just continually burdened with risks that they didn’t ask for, and don’t deserve to be burdened with,” Terrell said...”
U.S. Probing Nearly 350 Reports of Oil Spills in Wake of Hurricane Ida. Reuters reports: “The U.S. Coast Guard said on Monday it was investigating nearly 350 reports of oil spills in and along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in the wake of Hurricane Ida. Ida’s 150 mile-per-hour (240 kph) winds wreaked havoc on offshore oil production platforms and onshore oil and gas processing plants. About 88% of the region’s offshore oil production remains shut and more than 100 platforms unoccupied after the storm made landfall on Aug. 29...”
Water Stress Increases Need for Reliable Weather Data to Power US Agriculture. Here’s an excerpt of a post I wrote for AerisWeather focused on climate volatility and ag: “…Farmers are witnessing water extremes in their fields – growing the crops the world needs to thrive and survive has never been more challenging. New times require new tools, powered by an army of sensors, next-generation irrigation techniques, and new software solutions better able to manage the weather factors that impact daily operations. It is becoming clear that what worked in the 1980s probably won’t work in the 2020s and beyond. “Farmers have historically relied on a stable climate to align their crop growth cycles and management activities, but with the changing climate growers will increasingly need to rely on data to drive these management decisions”, said Mason Lanphear, Founder of Vital Agronomics LLC, which uses weather data and proprietary software to help farmers manage water risk and maximize yields. “By combining weather forecasts from the AerisWeather platform with granular data from IoT sensors, we can help farmers mitigate these risks and better manage their crops no matter the weather...”
Nearly 1 in 3 Americans Experienced a Climate Disaster This Summer. The Washington Post (paywall) explains: “Nearly 1 in 3 Americans live in a county hit by a weather disaster in the past three months, according to a new Washington Post analysis of federal disaster declarations. On top of that, 64 percent live in places that experienced a multiday heat wave — phenomena that are not officially deemed disasters but are considered the most dangerous form of extreme weather. The expanding reach of climate-fueled disasters, a trend that has been increasing at least since 2018, shows the extent to which a warming planet has already transformed Americans’ lives. At least 388 people in the United States have died due to hurricanes, floods, heat waves and wildfires since June, according to media reports and government records…”
Beyond Human Endurance. The Washington Post (paywall) examines how some parts of the planet may become to hot and humid for humans to survive during the summer season; here’s an excerpt: “…The wet-bulb temperature that marks the upper limit of what the human body can handle is 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 Celsius). But any temperatures above 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 Celsius) can be dangerous and deadly. Horton and other scientists noted in a 2020 paper that these temperatures are occurring with increasing frequency in parts of the world. To put things in perspective, the highest wet-bulb temperature ever recorded in the Washington region, known for its muggy, unbearable summers, was 87.2 degrees (30.7 Celsius). “Extreme humid heat overall has more than doubled in frequency since 1979,” the study’s authors wrote. These conditions are reaching that deadly threshold in places like South Asia and the Middle East and could regularly cross it by 2075, scientists say…”
Overlapping Disasters Expose Harsh Climate Reality: The U.S. Is Not Ready. The New York Times (paywall) reports: “In Louisiana and Mississippi, nearly one million people lack electricity and drinking water after a hurricane obliterated power lines. In California, wildfire menaces Lake Tahoe, forcing tens of thousands to flee. In Tennessee, flash floods killed at least 20; hundreds more perished in a heat wave in the Northwest. And in New York City, 7 inches of rain fell in just hours Wednesday, drowning people in their basements. Disasters cascading across the country this summer have exposed a harsh reality: The United States is not ready for the extreme weather that is now becoming frequent as a result of a warming planet. “These events tell us we’re not prepared,” said Alice Hill, who oversaw planning for climate risks on the National Security Council during the Obama administration. “We have built our cities, our communities, to a climate that no longer exists…”
More than 230 Journals Warn 1.5C of Global Warming Could Be “Catastrophic” for Health. Here’s an excerpt of a summary at CNN.com: “…Human health is already being harmed by the climate crisis, and the impacts could become catastrophic and irreversible unless governments do much more to address global warming, the editors of more than 230 medical journals said in a joint editorial Monday. The editorial points to established links between the climate crisis and a slew of adverse health impacts over the past 20 years: Among them are an increase in heat deaths, dehydration and kidney function loss, skin cancer, tropical infections, mental health issues, pregnancy complications, allergies, and heart and lung disease, and deaths associated with them...”
21st Century Storms are Overwhelming 20th-Century Cities. WIRED.com makes the case for resilient infrastructure: “…The city’s infrastructure, you see, was built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to withstand the sort of storm that comes every five to 10 years. Now brutal, record-breaking storms are an annual occurrence. What was left of Ida transformed the scene of everyday commutes into a disturbing reminder that climate change comes for us all. Wildfire thunderclouds in the West, blackouts in Texas, hurricanes in the South, torrential downpours in the East: “It’s all the stuff we said would happen 20 years ago,” says Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist and the director of climate and energy at the Breakthrough Institute. “It’s just a little crazy to see it all happening at once...”
Economic Cost of Climate Change Could Be Six Times Higher Than Previously Thought. Phys.org has the story: “Economic models of climate change may have substantially underestimated the costs of continued warming, according to a new study involving UCL researchers. Published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the work by an international team of scientists found that the economic damage could be six times higher by the end of this century than previously estimated.Projections like this help governments around the world calculate the relative costs and benefits of cutting greenhouse gas emissions...”
Arctic Warming Led to Colder Winters, Texas Freeze: Study. TheHill has details of new research: “A new study published on Thursday showed warming from climate change in the Arctic led to colder winters in the U.S. and contributed to the deadly freeze that occurred in Texas in February. The study published in the journal Science concluded that a polar vortex has been stretched by warmer weather, causing the cold air normally trapped in the Arctic to move towards other parts of the world. “We use observational analysis to show that a lesser-known stratospheric polar vortex (SPV) disruption that involves wave reflection and stretching of the SPV is linked with extreme cold across parts of Asia and North America, including the recent February 2021 Texas cold wave, and has been increasing over the satellite era,” the study says...”
Climate Change May Have Worsened Deadly Texas Cold Wave. The Capital Weather Gang has more perspective on how what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic; here’s a clip: “In a study released Thursday in the journal Science, the devastating Texas cold wave in February is linked to a stretching of the polar vortex in the stratosphere miles above ground level. This stretching mode, only recently categorized, has become more common over the last 40 years, the paper finds, and the increase may be related to human-caused climate change. Led by Judah Cohen, a climate scientist at Atmospheric and Environment Research, the new study is the latest salvo in a decade-long debate over how Arctic warming may be driving some winter extremes in the mid-latitudes, paradoxically leading to intense cold spells in a warming climate. The stratospheric polar vortex is a semi-permanent pool of cold air over the poles about 10 to 30 miles high, encircled by strong winds. When the vortex is split in two, or stretched out, associated shifts in the jet stream at lower altitudes can push frigid surface air into the mid-latitudes, including the United States…”
What Part of the US is Safest from Climate Change? A post at Quartz caught my eye. Good news for Vermont and New England, and in general northern tier states, should – in theory – have fewer disruptions than southern and western states. Here’s an excerpt: “…Researchers looked at multiple factors from sea level rise to heat to assess the least risky place to live in the US as the climate warms. Nowhere will escape climate change unscathed. Yet one region emerged well ahead of the rest: the northeastern US. Of the 10 lowest risk counties, seven were located in Vermont, and most of the remaining were in northeastern states like Maine and New York, according to a study by ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine. Data on relative risk for US counties threatened by climate change was compiled from data collected by the Rhodium Group, an independent data-analytics firm, as well as several academic studies…”