Heavy rain & thunder: Greenland ice & climate change

How do you spell relief?


That's our best hope today for temporarily breaking the back of our August heat wave.

A warm front gurgling north out of Iowa today is pushing scattered rain into southern Minnesota. The morning showers and embedded thunder are mostly garden variety summer showers with locally heavy downpours.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

Update 10:15pm:

The Huttner Weather Lab in Deephaven reports 1.25" of rain in the past hour. Rain was torrential, and came with wind gusts to at least 45mph.

An urban flood advisory has been issued for the Twin Cities metro for a quick shot of 1" to 2" of rain. Expect localized street flooding with torrential downpours as storms pass through late morning into midday. Gusty winds to 45 mph will also accompany storms.

Severe weather may increase later this afternoon and tonight.

The threat for severe storms will increase by late afternoon and evening. The Storm Prediction Center highlights some uncertainty in the forecast, but hints at the potential for a few storms to reach severe criteria later today. Keep in mind the threshold for a severe thunderstorms is winds of at least 58mph and or 1" diameter hail.

The highest threat for sever weather appears to be in southwest and south central Minnesota today.

Heavy rain possible:

The main feature of tonight's weather system may be heavy rain. The forecast models ar cranking out anywhere from .50" to well over an inch of rain through Wednesday morning. Another timely free watering is on the way for gardens, lawns and farm fields in Minnesota which are set to deliver record crop numbers this year.

August heat wave:

One step outside and you know it's been stiflingly hot this month. You can barely catch a breath with Amazon Jungle heat and humidity levels.

After enduring our hottest day so far this year on Sunday with a blazing 96 degrees in the metro, Monday threw a 95 up on the board Monday. The numbers tell the story this month.

August temps so far: +7.4 degrees

4 days at or above 90 (out of 9 so far in August)

12 days at or above 90 this year (annual average is 13, and we will likely exceed that number this week)

Look for at least 2 more 90 degree days this week before a cold front sweeps away the heat and humidity by Saturday bringing welcome relief.

2010: Year of the tornado:

By my count and Pete Boulay at the Minnesota State Climatology office, we've seen about 47 tornadoes skip across Minnesota this year. That's nearly twice the long term annual average of about 25, and even higher than the more recent decadal average of around 40. It appears the trend is for tornado alley to be shifting north, and Minnesota has been ground zero for twisters this year.

Massive Greenland ice chunk breaks off:

No doubt you've heard about the massive chunk of glacial ice that broke off of Greenland's Petermann Glacier this past week. Check out these amazing numbers.

-The ice chunk is 4 times the size of Manhattan Island

-The calved glacier is 600 feet thick (now that's an ice cube)

-This is the largest Arctic iceberg to break off in 48 years, since 1962

So is it climate change?

According to Dr. Jay Zwally of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center...yes. Dr. Zwally has spent a career studying glaciers and climate, and says this is "100%" attributable to climate change. The Arctic is warming at a rate 3 to 4 times faster than the lower altitudes, and this is contributing to massive loss of glacial and sea ice in the Arctic regions.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Other scientists are divided on the issue.

I've always said you can't use one year or one event as evidence of global climate change. But consider the evidence for 2010, which continues the long term trend of an overheated planet.

-2010 is the hottest year on record so far

-At least 7 countries have set new all time record highs this year

-Record heat, record fires and thick smoke choking Moscow and Russia

-Largest iceberg in 48 years breaks off from Greenland

-The past decade is the hottest on record

-The 2000s were hotter that the 1990s, which were hotter than the 1980s, which were hotter than the 1970s.

This is either the mother of all coincidences, or this planet is on course for even more heat and rapid earth changes over the next 10 years.