The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Floods in Northwest Europe

Hundreds of people are missing and dozens confirmed dead in some of the worst flooding in European history:

Following a day of frantic rescue efforts and orders to evacuate towns rapidly filling with water unloosed by violent storms, the German authorities said late Thursday that after confirming scores of deaths, they were unable to account for at least 1,300 people.

That staggering figure was announced after swift-moving water from swollen rivers surged through cities and villages in two western German states, where the death toll passed 90 on Friday in the hardest-hit regions and other fatalities were expected.

The devastation caused by the severe weather came just days after the European Union announced an ambitious blueprint to pivot away from fossil fuels over the next nine years, as part of plans to make the 27-country bloc carbon-neutral by 2050. Environmental activists and politicians were quick to draw parallels between the flooding and the effects of climate change.

“The water is still flowing knee-high through the streets, parked cars are thrown sideways, and trash and debris are piling up on the sides,” Alexander Bange, the district spokesman in the Märkische region of North Rhine-Westphalia, told the German news agency D.P.A.

I hope the rains abate long enough, and the rivers empty quickly enough, to limit the damage and deaths that continue today.

More heat records out west

On Friday, Death Valley National Park hit 55°C—130°F—on Friday and 54°C yesterday. Friday's temperature tied the record for the highest-known temperature on the planet:

As the third massive heat wave in three weeks kicked off in the West on Friday, Death Valley, Calif., soared to a searing 130 degrees. If confirmed, it would match the highest known temperature on the planet since at least 1931, which occurred less than a year ago.

Death Valley also hit 130 degrees last August, which at the time preliminarily ranked among the top three highest temperatures ever measured on the planet. It is still being reviewed by the World Meteorological Organization, which is the arbiter of international weather records.

The 130-degree reading observed Friday and last August only trail two other high temperatures ever measured on the planet: 1) The high of 134 set in Death Valley on July 10, 1913, and 2) a 131-degree reading from Kebili, Tunisia, set July 7, 1931.

But Christopher Burt, an expert on world weather extremes, questions the legitimacy of both of those measurements. He called the 1913 Death Valley reading “essentially not possible from a meteorological perspective” and wrote that the 1931 Tunisia reading has “serious credibility issues.”

In other words, the 130-degree readings from Death Valley on Friday and last year, if validated, may be the highest pair of reliably measured temperatures ever observed on Earth.

The National Weather Service forecasts today's high will hit 54°C again. By the time the heat wave finally breaks (sort of) on Tuesday, the weather station will have tied the record for the most consecutive days above 52°C (125°F):

The record for the number of consecutive days at 125 degrees or higher is 10, set in 1913 (June 28-July 5). This year, Death Valley hit 126 on July 7 and will likely continue that stretch of days with 125-plus temperatures through Tuesday. This would be eight straight days, which would be the second-longest streak in recorded history (tying eight days in 2013).

"An anomalously strong high pressure system overhead will remain overhead for multiple days," said Chelsea Peters, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Las Vegas. "When the overnight low is warmer than the previous day's and similar temperature trends are expected, the daytime high would likely end up being just as hot, or hotter than the previous day."

Here in Chicago, we've got an England-like 20°C with very English rain, which could continue through Tuesday.

The forecast didn't lie

At the moment, the 10 hottest places in the world are all in the Pacific Coast states and British Columbia. The Dalles, Ore., hit 48°C at 4pm Pacific; Portland hit 46°C, the same as Palm Springs, Calif.; and even Lytton, B.C., reports 46°C right now—the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada. All of those figures exceed yesterday's forecast and broke all-time records set just yesterday.

It's bonkers. And it won't be the last time this happens.

Here in Chicago we have a perfectly reasonable 26°C. I'll keep it.

Strong storms last night

I had some difficulty falling asleep before midnight last night because a major thunderstorm hit around 11. We had heavy rain, which we needed, and heavy winds, which we didn't. In the western suburbs, they had a lot of wind:

[A] tornado first hit Naperville around 11:10 p.m., in the area just south of 75th Street and Ranchview Drive, and at least five people were injured, one of them critically, and they were being treated at Edward-Elmhurst Hospital, according to Kate Schultz, a spokeswoman for the Naperville city manager’s office. Sixteen homes have been deemed uninhabitable by city engineers and at least 10 people have been displaced as a result, she said.

About 11:30 p.m., a tornado touched down east of Route 53 between 83rd Street and 75th Street in the southwest suburban Village of Woodridge, causing a tornadic debris signature so significant on radar screens at the National Weather Service office in Romeoville that there was virtually no mistaking the event, said meteorologist Matt Friedlein.

Although it was too early to say for certain, Friedlein estimated the tornado may have been an EF-2, a ranking on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which goes from zero to five. An EF-2, should it be confirmed later Monday, would mean the tornado had wind speeds of [176 to 216 km/h].

No one died but the tornados injured 5 people. Here in the city, we got localized flooding, including at Cassie's day care facility, so I get to go back to bed for half an hour.

I enjoy productive days

Yesterday I squashed six bugs (one of them incidentally to another) and today I've had a couple of good strategy meetings. But things seem to have picked up a bit, now that our customers and potential customers have returned to their offices as well.

So I haven't had time to read all of these (a consistent theme on this blog):

And finally, providing some almost-pure Daily Parker bait, the Post has a helpful breakdown of 8 common styles of hot sauce.

So, nu, how's by you?

After taking Cassie on a 45-minute walk before the heat hits us, I've spent the morning debugging, watching these news stories pile up for lunchtime reading:

Finally, Chicago architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill has revealed conceptual drawings for a moon base.

Lazy afternoon

So far today, Cassie and I have taken 2½ hours of walks, and she's taken about twice that in naps while I read in the sunroom with a nice breeze blowing over me. In other words, nothing to blog about today.