Kevin  Trenberth has a new paper, measuring the change in ocean heat content in the Gulf of Mexico as Hurricane Harvey passed over.  Turns out the heat-loss just matches the energy of precipitation that made Harvey an unprecedented catastrophe.

Dr. Trenberth’s co-authors Lijing Cheng of China’s Institute of Atmospheric Physics, and Peter Jacobs of George Mason University round out this explainer. Short and powerful demonstration of how scientists more and more understand the link between a warming planet and specific extreme events.


I hope to post more soon from the brilliant interviews I captured for this piece – Lijing Cheng and Peter Jacobs are climate comms stars.

Hurricane season starts tomorrow.

National Center for Atmospheric Research:

BOULDER, Colo. — In the weeks before Hurricane Harvey tore across the Gulf of Mexico and plowed into the Texas coast in August 2017, the Gulf’s waters were warmer than any time on record, according to a new analysis led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

These hotter-than-normal conditions supercharged the storm, fueling it with vast stores of moisture, the authors found. When it stalled near the Houston area, the resulting rains broke precipitation records and caused devastating flooding.

“We show, for the first time, that the volume of rain over land corresponds to the amount of water evaporated from the unusually warm ocean,” said lead author Kevin Trenberth, an NCAR senior scientist. “As climate change continues to heat the oceans, we can expect more supercharged storms like Harvey.”

Despite a busy 2017 hurricane season, Hurricane Harvey was more or less isolated in location and time, traveling solo over relatively undisturbed waters in the Gulf of Mexico. This gave Trenberth and his colleagues an opportunity to study in detail how the storm fed off the heat stored in that 930-mile wide ocean basin.

The team compared temperatures in the upper 160 meters (525 feet) of the Gulf before and after the storm using data collected by Argo, a network of autonomous floats that measure temperature as they move up and down in the water. To measure rainfall over land, the scientists took advantage of a new NASA-based international satellite mission, dubbed Global Precipitation Measurement.

Read the rest of this entry »


Not saying mainstream media is racist.
But how would it be different if they were?

Lazy reporting focused on clickbait and celebrity trash news is not just making us stupider, it’s killing us.

Media Matters:

On Tuesday, Harvard researchers published a study estimating that approximately 5,000 deaths can be linked to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The same day, ABC canceled Roseanne Barr’s eponymous show Roseanne after Barr sent a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, an adviser to former President Barack Obama. Cable news covered Barr’s tweet and her show’s cancellation 16 times as much as the deaths of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico.

While the official death toll remains at just 64, the Harvard study, written up in The Washington Post, “indicated that the mortality rate was 14.3 deaths per 1,000 residents from Sept. 20 through Dec. 31, 2017, a 62 percent increase in the mortality rate compared with 2016, or 4,645 ‘excess deaths.’” BuzzFeed News, which also reported on the study, further explained that the researchers adjusted their estimate up to 5,740 hurricane-related deaths to account for “people who lived alone and died as a result of the storm” and were thus not reported in the study’s survey.

Cable news barely covered the report. The May 29 broadcasts of MSNBC combined with the network’s flagship morning show the next day spent 21 minutes discussing the findings. CNN followed with just under 10 minutes of coverage, and Fox covered the report for just 48 seconds.

By contrast, cable news spent over 8 and a half hours discussing a tweet from Barr describing Jarrett, a Black woman, as the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes and the subsequent cancellation of her show.

Washington Post:

Miliana Montanez cradled her mother’s head as she lay dying on the floor of her bedroom here, gasping for air and pleading for help.

There was nothing her family could do. It took 20 minutes to find cellular reception to make a 911 call. Inoperative traffic signals slowed down the ambulance struggling to reach their neighborhood through crippling congestion.

Ivette Leon’s eyes bulged in terror as she described to her daughter the tiny points of light that appeared before her. She took one last desperate gulp of air just as paramedics arrived. Far too late.

More than eight months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island’s slow recovery has been marked by a persistent lack of water, a faltering power grid and a lack of essential services — all imperiling the lives of many residents, especially the infirm and those in remote areas hardest hit in September.

A new Harvard study published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that at least 4,645 deaths can be linked to the hurricane and its immediate aftermath, making the storm far deadlier than previously thought. Official estimates have placed the number of dead at 64, a count that has drawn sharp criticism from experts and local residents and spurred the government to order an independent review that has yet to be completed.

Read the rest of this entry »


“A cold spring is kindly, and fills the barn finely” – weather proverb

My new video will be posted in hours – it’s about climate impacts on ocean heat and hurricanes like Harvey.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the outer bands of a tropical cyclone to hit us in the upper Midwest…
fortunately have my garden in.

Capital Weather Gang:

The upper Midwest and Great Lakes have essentially skipped spring this year, leaping from winter to summer.

Only a few weeks ago, ice finally finished melting on Minnesota’s lakes. Now the state is witnessing 100-degree heat. Minneapolis surged to the century mark on Memorial Day, the earliest instance in recorded history. It hit at least 90 degrees on six straight days, a May record.

The experience in Twin Cities, which had its fourth coldest April on record, has been repeated all over the upper Midwest and Great Lakes. Historic heat has followed historic cold.

Read the rest of this entry »

First the teapot brouhaha of Musk brushing off journalists.

Bottom: GM’s Mary Barra bullish on EVs.


Talking to Elon Musk on the phone does not seem like a pleasant experience. The billionaire reportedly hung up on the head of the National Transportation Safety Board during a tense conversation regarding an investigation into a fatal crash involving a Tesla earlier this year, marking Musk’s second major blow up during a phone call this year.

According to Bloomberg, NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt spoke on his interactions with Musk during a Thursday dinner with members of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators’ Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter. “Best I remember, he hung up on us,” Sumwalt said of the exchange.

Below, pop Stock analyst Jim Cramer defends the call.

Read the rest of this entry »

Meanwhile, in Oman

May 28, 2018

Most powerful cyclone to strike the area in recorded history.

Here in mid-Michigan we spent yesterday without power following unusually violent, (for this area) thunderstorms on Saturday night.  Other parts of the Eastern US got pounded as well. More on the way.

As soon as I saw the images coming out of Ellicott City, Maryland last night, I flashed on the opening to this two year old video, above, which is footage from that city’s last “1000 Year Flood”.


In the first 30 seconds, you’ll hear horrified customers in an upper floor eatery gasping at the unfolding disaster in the street, and a blood curdling emergency buzzer going off.

In the tweeted vids below from yesterday, you hear the same alarm going off in the background.
Pretty good metaphor, as the planet’s warning bell continues to sound, unheeded.

Important subtext.
This kind of flooding is not just about climate change, although clearly the record breaking rains were what set the disaster off.
Importantly, arrogance and ignorance in land management upstream was an amplifier, and will continue to be, until local officials and developers recognize that water has no political agenda, it just flows down hill – and wetlands are not just nice things for flora and fauna – they are critical natural buffers against just this kind of event.
More below: Read the rest of this entry »

Washington Post:

A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.

The Hill:

Former “Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander is teaming up with Democratic congressional hopeful Harley Rouda in a new video depicting a mock debate between Rouda and his Republican opponent, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.).

Alexander plays the moderator in the mock face-off, introducing himself as a “star of stage, screen and a McDonald’s commercial from 1986.”

On the debate stage is Rouda and a screen displaying Rohrabacher, whom Alexander describes as “joining us via a secure server from Moscow” — a jab at the GOP congressman’s often friendly posture toward Russia.

Alexander then proceeds to pose a series of questions to the two men, with Rohrabacher’s answers coming from past news clips. Read the rest of this entry »