Doggy Days of Summer

We are finishing up the month of June with temperatures about 2 to 5 degrees above average.  In fact, the monthly temperatures have been above average every single month since September 2011.  Nationally, it has been the warmest start to the year since record began.
From January 1-June 28, a total of 21,083 record high temperatures have been broken nationwide.  Last year through June 28th, just 13,189 high temperature records were broken.

Feeling like this lately? Photo: Heacock Classic http://heacockclassic.com/

This summer heat is here to stay through the 4th.  The humidity levels will slowly increase as the dewpoints start to climb into the low 70s.  Generally, a dewpoint above 70° makes it feel sticky and uncomfortable outside.  Afternoon high should be in the low to mid 90s Tuesday, Wednesday (the 4th) and Thursday.    In Minnesota, temperatures above 95° are hard to get when the dewpoint is above 70°.  The last time the mercury in the thermometer hit 100° (June 7, 2011 103°) the dewpoint dropped into the 50s.  So with the dewpoints expected to stay elevated I think mid 90s are a safe bet through the holiday.  Still, it might feel like 105° with the added effect of the humidity.  Lake Superior’s chilly water temp of 63.9° sounds super inviting right about now.

Western Lake Superior water temperature

CycleCast

Monday: Thunderstorm threat especially overnight. H: low 90s

Tuesday: Mostly sunny afternoon and hot. H: mid 90s

4th o’ July: Mostly sunny, hot and humid.  Just like the 4th should be, right? H: mid 90s

Thursday: Showers and thunderstorms. H: mid 90s

Friday: Isolated storm. Slightly cooler.  H: upper 80s

Saturday: Isolated storm.  Cooler overnights.  Better for sleeping. H: upper 80s L: upper 60s

Sunday: Isolated storm….such is summer.  H: upper 80s

A barely visible smokey, haze might still linger in our sky each day.  Numerous wildfires out west continue to burn even though the destructive Waldo Canyon Fire outside of Colorado Springs, CO has been slowly getting contained.

Things getting back to normal around Colo, Springs, CO. Photo: JohnWark.com

Deadly Derecho

Long-lived clusters of thunderstorms are common over the Midwestern states this time of the year.  When these thunderstorm create widespread damaging winds over a 240 miles path they are called “derechos”.  One such damaging wind storm raced from the Midwest to the East Coast on Friday.  This derecho covered 800 miles, produced hurricane force winds (75mph), 500 wind damage reports, power outages and, unfortunately, 11 faytalities in 5 states.   The governor of Virginia stated that this has been the largest non-hurricane power outage in Virgina history.

The bow-shape to the radar echo is a clear sign of damaging winds.

Heat Here to Stay, MN sees CO Smoke

The official high Wednesday was 93° but it felt like 97° with the hint of humidity.  93° is, so far, the highest temperature reading in 2012 with the Twin Cities already reaching 93° three other time this year: June 10,19 & May 18.

High Temps Wednesday

Check out how hot it got in Kansas.  For a time on Wednesday, Hill City, KS was the hottest spot in the WORLD at 115°!  Many record highs have fallen across the country this week with a lot of the records being the hottest of all time.  While the humidity levels may have decreased temporarily in Minnesota, our heat is expected to continue with a slow increase in humidity again through the 4th of July.

The percentage of probability of the heat index exceeding 90° goes up through the 4th.

The 8-14 Day Temperature Outlook shows Minnesota with a good probability of receiving above normal temperatures through the middle of July.

Southern MN had a few isolated showers today.  There were even reports of mammatus clouds over the metro Thursday morning.  These clouds are typically associated with great instability aloft with severe thunderstorms.  Our next chance of rain looks to be Saturday.

Mammatus over North St. Paul Thursday. Photo: Laurel Callaway

CycleCast

Friday: Partly cloudy. Nice day for riding (humidity levels will be in check) H: upper 80s

Saturday: A few thunderstorms in the afternoon.  Slightly humid. H: near 90°

Sunday: Sunny and hot.  H: lower 90s

Monday: Hot & humid.  Dewpoints creeping near 70°.  Chance of storms overnight.  H: lower 90s

Tuesday: Showers & thunderstorms. H: lower 90s

4th o’ July: Lookin’ good so far.  Partly sunny, hot & humid.  Just like it should be, right? H: lower 90s

Notice a smokey, hazy look to the sky?  What you are seeing is smoke from over 60+ wildfires burning out west…especially in Colorado.  This smoke has traveled on southwesterly winds aloft to make it into the Midwest.

The Colorado Springs, CO wildfire has been the most devastating.  I use to live in Colorado Springs and my heart goes out to those who have lost everything…literally.  There are homes that have been completely burnt to the ground…the foundations are unrecognizable which is why it’s difficult to get an estimate on exactly how many homes have been lost.  This Waldo Canyon Fire as of this morning has burned 18,500 acres + with a 5% containment and thousands evacuated.  The Denver branch of the FBI has been called to investigate the cause of the wildfire.  This is probably the worst wildfire season in Colorado history.

This is the view of the Waldo Canyon Fire from the top of Pikes Peak looking down on Colorado Springs.  Erratic winds from thunderstorms on Tuesday pushed this fire rapidly towards the city.  The concern is for more thunderstorms later today which could produce gusty winds and also cloud-to-ground lightning that could induce more wildfires.

32,000 people (and animals) evacuate areas threatened by the Waldo Canyon Fire burning on the northwestern side of Colorado Springs, CO. Photo: AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Christian Murdock.

If only the flooding rains in Florida could be sent up to Colorado.  Florida just got done with Tropical Storm Debby.  This storm is well out to sea by now and is now longer a tropical storm but the effects of Debby were very real as the cyclone moved over northern Florida producing 25″ of rain in spots earlier this week.  Slow-moving tropical cyclones like Debby can produce hellish amounts of rain.  The record for the most rain in Florida from a tropical cyclone is 45.2″.  Even Minnesota can see tropical cyclone rain leftovers like what Ester produced in 1992 with 3.83″.

Noctilucent Clouds

Often during the late spring or early summer, “night-shining” clouds can often be seen at high altitudes.  These clouds are mostly seen right at dusk and are believed to form from water vapor freezing in the upper atmosphere.  The picture above was taken by the ISS as it traveled over the Tibetan Plateau but pilots also reported seeing the ‘polar mesospheric clouds’ over Canada.  Read more about these clouds here.

Ridin’ the Glaciers….No Big Deal.

Nothing like riding at full speed…with no brakes..on a sheet of ice.  Now THIS is a mountain bike race.

Earth’s Next Ice Age

June of 2012 will be known for its record setting rain.  From the devastating floods in Duluth to the inundating rains in Cannon Falls, most reporting sites statewide reported record rainfall.  A National Weather Service employee measured 10.10″ of rain in the northeastern part of Duluth during the 3-day heavy rain event of June 19-21.  Duluth’s past climate records indicate that a rain like this is extremely rare.  Recovery costs are estimated to be around $100 million.

Flooding in Scanlon near Cloquet, west of Duluth. Photo: Boyd Huppert

Those that have been studying Minnesota’s climate say that our weather is definitely changing.  Big weather events, when they happen, are more intense.  According to University of Minnesota meteorologist and climatology, Mark Seeley, ” In recent decades a larger fraction of our annual total precipitation is coming in the form of intense thunderstorms.”

When thinking about our change in climate I can’t help but wonder what role our earth’s orbit plays in global warming or cooling.  When talking about the summer solstice that just occurred on June 20, my father passed along an article he recently read on the subject.  There is a theory that three types of astronomical cycles bring about periods of extremely warm (global warming) and extremely cold (ice age) conditions.  The closeness of the earth to the sun might be a given when talking about global warming or cooling but what is more important is the closeness of the earth to the sun at a solstice.  As you may know, the earth’s orbit isn’t a perfect circle but more like a oblong ellipse.  Basically, the earth is closest to the sun at perihelion and farthest from the sun at aphelion.  At present time, aphelion will occur in early July which is two weeks past the June 20 summer solstice.  In this situation, the earth is farthest from the sun in summer.  Conversely, in January, the earth is closest to the sun in winter.  This current cycle makes the winters and summers fairly mild.  The perihelion and aphelion dates do change one calendar date in about 21,000 years.  The earth’s tilt and eccentricity cycle are the other two astronomical cycles that can bring about climate change.

Climatologists say that cooler summers in the Northern Hemisphere will eventually lead to global cooling but since the astronomical cycles and climate systems are slow to change, global warming/cooling could take thousands of years.  Just to give you an idea, recent calculations show that ice age conditions should increase in the next 25,000 years.  Therefore, we probably won’t be seeing any glaciers and woolly mammoths in our lifetime.

CycleCast

Keep thinking cool thoughts.  Summer heat is back late this week with little chance of rain the next few days.

Tuesday: Partly sunny. H: low 80s

Wednesday: Humidity increases slightly. H: mid 80s

Thursday: Summer heat returns. H: near 90°

Friday: Breezy and hot. H: near 90°

Saturday: Partly sunny. H: upper 80s

Sunday: Our next chance of rain.  Showers & thunderstorms. H: low 90s