72 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.
70 F. average high on May 17.
65 F. high on May 17, 2016.
May 18, 1980: Mt. St. Helens erupts. The smoke plume eventually rises to 80,000 feet, circling the earth in 19 days. Brilliant sunsets due to the smoke are seen over Minnesota for days afterward.
May 18, 1933: Tornadoes hit McLeod and Mower counties.
Tornado Shelters, Heat Bursts and Muddy Showers
In light of the deadly Chetek, Wisconsin tornado I reviewed Minnesota’s regulations. Manufactured home parks with 10 or more homes, licensed after March 1, 1988, must provide a storm shelter within the park. But parks licensed prior to March 1, 1988, must provide either a shelter on the premises -or- evacuation plans to a storm shelter close to the park.
“Storm shelters are expensive!” So are brakes, but car manufacturers still include them with every purchase.
When tornadoes hit these manufactured home parks damage is extensive. 44 percent of the 1,091 Americans killed by tornadoes from 1985 to 2005 died in mobile homes. Details here.
Tuesday’s rain was muddy, possibly the result of a “heat burst” in southwestern Minnesota lofting freshly-tilled topsoil into the air, then coming down during heavy showers. Bizarre.
We dry out later today, but more showers arrive Friday; heavier rain Saturday. Another 1-2 inches of rain may fall before skies try to brighten up on Sunday.
Refreshing (?) 50s give way to 60s and 70s next week. Keep an eye out for muddy showers. Never a dull moment, huh?
Drone Footage of Barron County Tornado. This is pretty amazing, courtesy of YouTube and Branden Bodendorfer. “On May 16th, 2017, a tornado ripped through Barron County. Among it’s path was a trailer park, a turkey farm and many residential homes along the lake.”
Despite Tornado Threat, Shelters Rare for Mobile Home Parks. Here’s an excerpt of a story at News OK published back in January which seems even more timely today: “…According to the National Weather Service, 44 percent of the 1,091 Americans killed by tornadoes from 1985 to 2005 died in mobile homes, compared to 25 percent in stick-built homes. That’s especially significant considering how few Americans — 8 percent or fewer — lived in mobile homes during that period. Over the weekend, an unusual midwinter outbreak of dozens of tornadoes shredded two mobile home parks that didn’t have shelters in southwest Georgia. Three people were killed at Big Pine Estates in Albany and seven died at Sunrise Acres in rural Cook County. For most of the U.S., installing storm shelters remains a voluntary decision whether they’re for a private home, a mobile home park or a community center. Alabama and Illinois have laws mandating that new public schools are built with storm shelters, and Minnesota requires shelters at mobile home parks with spaces for 10 or more homes built since 1988…”
Tornado Shelters and Minnesota Manufactured Home Parks. I had some questions in light of the Chetek, Wisconsin tornado. What is required in Minnesota? Here’s an excerpt from Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson’s office: “…Storm shelters or evacuation plans provide residents with access to safe shelter in cases of bad weather. Storm shelter plans vary depending on the size of a park and when the park was originally licensed. Parks with fewer than ten homes must provide either a shelter on the premises or a plan for evacuation to a nearby shelter. The plan or shelter should be developed with the assistance and approval of the park’s local municipality. Parks with ten or more homes, licensed prior to March 1, 1988, must provide either a shelter on the premises, or evacuation plans to a storm shelter close to the park. The shelter or evacuation plan must have been approved by the park’s local municipality by March 1, 1989, and a copy submitted to the Department of Health. The park owner must give all residents a copy of the evacuation or shelter plan. Parks with ten or more homes, licensed after March 1, 1988, must provide a storm shelter within the park. Shelters constructed after March 1, 1988, must comply with the state building code. The Department of Labor and Industry enforces the state’s building code and has jurisdiction over the proper construction of storm shelters. The Department of Health has jurisdiction over whether the shelter or shelter plan is adequate to meet the needs of park residents...”
More Details on Elk City, Wisconsin Tornado. Here’s a clip from a US News update: “…The Red Cross says dozens of people who lost their homes when a tornado leveled a trailer park in northwestern Wisconsin are staying with relatives or friends while others are using donated hotel rooms and a temporary shelter. Red Cross spokesman Luong Huynh (loon ha-when) says 30 to 50 people came through a reception center at Mosaic Telecom in Cameron after the destructive tornado hit nearby Tuesday. Authorities say a 46-year-old man was killed and a couple of dozen people were injured. The severe weather also caused extensive damage to several turkey barns across from the mobile home park. Mayor Jeff Martin in nearby Chetek (sheh-TEK’) says turkeys can be seen wandering in the damage…”
Photo credit: “Part of a building sits on a vehicle after a tornado ripped through Prairie Lake Estates trailer home park, just north of Chetek, Wis., Tuesday, May 16, 2017. The tornado swept into the mobile home park in western Wisconsin on Tuesday, as a storm system also pounded parts of at least seven states from Texas to near the Canadian border with heavy rain, high winds and hail.” (Dan Reiland/The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram via AP) The Associated Press.
What Causes a Heat Burst? The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls explains the meteorology behind Tuesday morning’s storm-driven surge of heat, wind (and dirt): “When a thunderstorm is mature, warm and moist air rises into the storm. As the air rises, water drops (and ice crystals) form within the clouds which then fall out as heavy rain. With heavy rain falling, the air beneath the cloud is cooled due to evaporation. As a result, the air at the surface is typically cooler than the warm and moist air ahead of the thunderstorm. As the thunderstorm weakens, rainfall decreases. In most cases, when there is warm and moist air in the lowest 5000 feet of the atmosphere, the wind will decrease as the storm weakens and rain no longer reaches the surface. However, when there is very dry air below the cloud base, as occurred last night (see below), then evaporation continues below the cloud base. Where rain is evaporating, the colder air, which is denser than the air around it, will continue to accelerate toward the surface. Once the rain completely evaporates, the air will begin to warm more quickly as it approaches the surface. As it reaches the surface, the air is actually warmer and drier than the air ahead the storm.”
Praedictix Briefing: Issued Wednesday, May 17th, 2017
- The Storm Prediction Center has issued a Moderate Risk of severe weather for tomorrow (Thursday) across parts of the Southern Plains, including Kansas and Oklahoma. This threat includes the cities of Dodge City and Great Bend (KS) as well as Woodward and Clinton (OK).
- As a system pushes into the Plains, we will be watching the threat of tornadoes (some of which could be strong), very large hail and damaging winds tomorrow afternoon and evening across the region.
Moderate Risk Thursday. A Moderate Risk of severe weather has been put in place by the Storm Prediction Center for Thursday across parts of northwest Oklahoma and southwest Kansas. This Moderate Risk area includes the cities of Dodge City and Great Bend (KS) as well as Woodward and Clinton (OK). This is due to a system that will be pushing into the central U.S. during the day, which will help spark off strong to severe storms capable of tornadoes (some of which could be strong), very large hail and damaging winds tomorrow afternoon and evening across the region. The surrounding Enhanced Risk area includes the cities of Oklahoma City (OK), Wichita (KS), and Wichita Falls (TX).
Storm Timing. Storms will quickly develop across the region during the mid/late afternoon hours Thursday, with the potential of very large hail and tornadoes (some potentially strong). As we go through the evening, storms will merge into more linear lines as they race eastward, increasing the threat for damaging winds across Kansas and Oklahoma into the overnight hours.
Summary. A Moderate Risk of severe weather has been put in place across parts of Oklahoma and Kansas for Thursday, including Dodge City (KS) and Woodward (OK). We will be watching the threat of severe weather during the afternoon and evening hours tomorrow across this area, possibly containing tornadoes (some strong), very large hail and damaging winds.
D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix
Beware of Electrical “Bolts From The Blue” In my quest to know any (future) grandkids I have a healthy respect for lightning. The first growl of thunder I duck into a building or vehicle. 38 Americans were killed by lightning in 2016, almost all these deaths ultimately preventable. I’ve run into coaches who don’t move kids to safety until they can “see the lightning”. Which is just asking for trouble. Because lightning can travel up to 10 miles, horizontally. People have been struck and killed with blue sky directly overhead, a distant thunderhead on the horizon. There’s a reason why the expression “bolt from the blue” exists.
Jackets Return into Sunday – Then Warming Up. ECMWF guidance keeps us 10-15F cooler than average into the weekend, before temperatures mellow a bit next week. Source: WeatherBell.
Just Imagine: 1.5 Million in Evacuation Gridlock as a Hurricane Aims at Tampa Bay. The west coast of Florida has been (supernaturally) lucky in recent decades. Pondering a worst-case scenario for the Tampa area gives emergency planners the chills, explains TBO.com: “…Nearly every scenario seems nightmarish: In Pinellas County, a Level D evacuation gives 585,000 people — half the county’s population — 36 hours to crawl across the Courtney Campbell Causeway, Howard Frankland and Gandy bridges. In Pasco County, a Level B evacuation means nearly 175,000 people would have 24 hours to flee east along just two roads, State Roads 52 and 54. And if a monster hurricane takes aim at the bay area, the highest evacuation level in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Manatee counties would result in a total of 1.5 million — half the region — ordered to leave their homes over two full days. The Tampa Bay area has a booming population but a busted road network. Emergency management officials wonder how a region that can’t handle rush-hour traffic will deal with the realities of a major hurricane evacuation. The bay area hasn’t had a direct hurricane strike in nearly a century and hasn’t had a major evacuation in more than a decade...”
Photo credit: “Vehicles pack the northbound lanes of the Howard Frankland Bridge heading toward Tampa during the evacuation for powerful Hurricane Charley on Aug. 12, 2004.” Times (2004)
Kentucky Town Turning Devastation into Innovation. Some tornadoes have silver linings. Here’s an excerpt from Proud Green Building: “...Clark has been a part of the post-disaster recovery in West Liberty that was modeled after Greensburg. “Destroyed by an EF-5 tornado, only three buildings remained after this tornado and the community decided to build back a green sustainable community. They got a wind farm, they had to build everything from schools to government and homes in the community,” Clark said. Greensburg rebuilt its community with green building construction, using 100 percent renewable energy and using wind farms to keep the lights on. In West Liberty, that same goal was made part of its master plan to a degree…”
Photo credit: WKYT-TV.
Insurance Know-How Can Help Cities Cut Disaster Risk: U.N. Expert. A few statistics in a Reuters story made me do a double-take: “…The number of disasters affecting cities is expected to rise amid climate change and rapid urbanization, particularly in Africa and Asia, which will see the share of the global population living in urban areas rise to two-thirds from just over half at present. Globally, 80 percent of the largest cities are vulnerable to severe earthquakes, and 60 percent are at risk from tsunamis and storm surges, according to U.N. data. Bacani said insurers can help cities cut their risk, for example, by improving land-use planning and building codes, and by rewarding disaster preparedness through their premiums. “Linking risk reduction efforts to premiums and insurance coverage is critical to changing behavior and promoting good risk management in urban areas,” he said…”
Estimating Wildfire Fire Risk With a New Tool. NOAA NCEI explains how the new system works: “…So, NCEI and the NASA DEVELOP National Program collaborated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (link is external), the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the South Dakota State Fire Meteorologist (link is external) to create a Fire Risk Estimation or FIRE tool that automatically processes satellite and weather station data—including temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, and wind observations—into a single measurement of fire potential. To create the FIRE tool, the team began with a list of indicators used to assess wildfire risk and the thresholds for each that would indicate higher risk. Provided by fire managers in South Dakota, these initial indicators and thresholds were based on meteorological conditions that accompanied several large, complex wildfires in the past decade…”
U.S. Billion Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters 1980-2017. Over a trillion dollars in weather and climate-related disasters since 1980. So far we’ve seen 5 confirmed billion dollar events, but I suspect Missouri/Arkansas flooding and the recent Denver hailstorm will also qualify as billion dollar disasters, bringing the subtotal up to 7 so far this year. All of 2016 brought 15 separate billion dollar weather and climate disasters to the United States. Details from NOAA NCEI: “The U.S. has sustained 2018 weather and climate disasters since 1980 in which overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. Values in parentheses represent the 2017 Consumer Price Index (CPI cost adjusted value (if different than original value). The total cost of these 208 events exceed $1.1 trillion.”
The Great American Eclipse is 100 Days Away, and Scientists are Ready. The Hartford Courant has a good overview: “This summer, darkness will fall across the face of America. Birds will stop singing. Temperatures will drop. Stars will become visible in the daytime sky. In about 100 days, a total solar eclipse will sweep across the continental United States for the first time since 1918. Astronomers are calling it the Great American Eclipse. For the amateur sky-watcher, a total eclipse presents a rare opportunity to witness a cosmic hiccup in our day-night cycle. For solar astronomers, however, the eclipse offers something else: three minutes (give or take) to collect as much data as possible about the sun’s usually hidden outer atmosphere. Researchers have been anticipating the event for years…”
Photo credit: “Williams College astronomer Jay Pasachoff prepares for a solar eclipse in Argentine Patagonia in February. He plans to observe this summer’s total eclipse from western Oregon.” (Photo courtesy of Jay Pasachoff).
Germany Just Broke a Renewable Energy Record. Here’s an excerpt from indy100: “The future came early on Easter Day in Germany, as green energy ran almost the entire country. On April 30, 64 per cent of electricity consumed in Germany came from renewable sources, such as wind power and solar. At 2pm, the share of renewables was 85 per cent and between 10am and 6pm over three quarters of demand was covered by clean energy – an impressive feat in a world still dominated by coal and oil. German think-tank Agora Energiewende shared the data of this momentous achievement, remarking that this sort of situation will be “completely normal” by 2030. Easter weekend in Germany also saw the the least amount of coal the country has used “in recent history” and nuclear power plants reduce their output by up to 40 per cent...”
Photo credit: Inhabitat.com.
They describe the level of attention devoted to every detail, the willingness to search the earth for the right materials, and the obstacles overcome to achieve perfection, all of which would make sense for an actual Apple consumer product, where production expenses could be amortized over millions of units. But the Ring is a 2.8-million-square-foot one-off, eight years in the making and with a customer base of 12,000. How can anyone justify this spectacular effort? “It’s frustrating to talk about this building in terms of absurd, large numbers,” Ive says. “It makes for an impressive statistic, but you don’t live in an impressive statistic. While it is a technical marvel to make glass at this scale, that’s not the achievement. The achievement is to make a building where so many people can connect and collaborate and walk and talk.” The value, he argues, is not what went into the building. It’s what will come out...”
Photo credit: Dan Winters.
LAX Opened a Private Terminal for the Rich and Famous. Here’s What It Looks Like. Wow, this sure sounds like my typical airport experience, as reported at Fortune: “Celebrities traveling in and out of Hollywood now have a little respite from the paparazzi and crowded security lines — a private airport terminal.The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Monday opened its “Private Suite” with a gate entrance away from traffic surrounding the airport. Members of the facility, which is the first of its kind in the country, get exclusive accommodations with a two-person daybed, a serviced food pantry, and their very own bathroom, before a BMW sedan drives them “Head-of-State style” across the tarmac to the aircraft, according to the Suite’s website...”
attending a performance by Austin psych-rock titans The Black Angels, presented by LiveNation and NextVR, at First Avenue in Minneapolis this weekend made it easy to see why industry execs are racing to develop VR concerts. But the technology isn’t quite there yet. NextVR, a company whose stated goal is to “get 7 billion people closer to the events they love,” is developing content for the Google Daydream View and the Samsung GearVR headsets…”It’s likely that five years from now, attending concerts via virtual reality will be a thing. It’s plausible that superstar artists booking one-off live performances, and big ticket festivals — the Coachellas and the Lollapaloozas of the world — will actually be able to convince web users to pony up cash to take in the experience online. Virtually
Your Art Degree Might Save You From Automation, an AI Expert Says. One word: creativity. It will take computers longer to develop the kind of unique creativity, the capacity to connect the dots differently, that humans are capable of. Here’s a clip from Quartz: “…Students now deciding whether to pursue arts or sciences face an uncertain future: While automation is just starting to impact the workforce, Lee believes that 50% of jobs held by humans today will be automated in 10 years, extrapolating from an often-cited 2013 Oxford study. Jobs that require “less than five seconds of thinking” will be among the first to disappear, Lee says. He offers receptionists and factory workers as examples, which have already faced some level of automation. Next will be jobs that rely on crunching numbers, where data is available to make decisions, like bankers, traders, and insurance adjusters...”
Austin Man Sues Date for Texting During Movie. The Statesman has the intriguing details: “…Vezmar, who has his own communications consulting company, said he met the woman online and went with her on their first date May 6 to the movie. “It was kind of a first date from hell,” he said. About 15 minutes after the movie began, Vezmar said, his date started texting on her phone. “This is like one of my biggest pet peeves.” In the petition, Vezmar said the woman “activated her phone at least 10-20 times in 15 minutes to read and send text messages.” Vezmar said he asked her to stop but she refused. He said he told her that maybe she could go outside to text. She left the theater and never came back, Vezmar said…”
TODAY: Damp start, skies brighten with a cool wind. Winds: N 10-15. High: 55
THURSDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, cool and dry. Low: 41
FRIDAY: More showers arrive from the south. Winds: E 10-15. High: 54
SATURDAY: Windswept rain, heavy at times. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 43. High: 52
SUNDAY: Soggy start, PM peeks of sun? Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 42. High: 58
MONDAY: Sunny start, pop-up PM shower. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 44. High: 68
TUESDAY: Partly sunny, a drier breeze. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 43. High: 62
WEDNESDAY: Bright sunshine, milder. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 42. High: 68
Cicadas Emergy 4 Years Early and Scientists Wonder if Climate Change is Providing a Nudge. Here’s an excerpt from The Baltimore Sun: “Cicadas overwhelm tree branches across Maryland once every 17 years, like clockwork. But something — some suspect climate change — could be sounding their alarm clocks four years early. In recent days, the red-eyed, nugget-shaped insects have been spotted crawling out from beneath trees from Northern Virginia to Bel Air in large — though not overwhelming — numbers. The phenomenon is confusing entomologists who weren’t expecting to see many of the screeching insects in the region until 2021. Small numbers of cicadas can sometimes grow fast enough to emerge four years early. But there have been a thousand reports of cicadas up and down the Interstate 95 corridor in just the past two days, more than scientists expected…”
Image credit: “A periodical cicada dries out after emerging from its nymph skin in a backyard in Towson this week.” (Karen Jackson/Baltimore Sun).
Experts Fear “Quiet Springs” as Songbirds Can’t Keep Up with Climate Change. Birders are passionate about their hobby, and many are noticing the changes, as reported at The Washington Post: “…But the danger of a silent spring, according to ecologists who study birds, did not evaporate with DDT. The looming threat is not chemical but a changing climate, in which spring begins increasingly earlier — or in rare cases, later — each year. “The rate at which birds are falling out of sync with their environment is almost certainly unsustainable,” ecologist Stephen J. Mayor told The Washington Post. Mayor, a postdoctoral researcher at University of Florida’s Florida Museum of Natural History, echoed Carson: “We can end up with these increasingly quiet springs.” Certain migratory songbirds can’t keep pace with the shifting start of spring, Mayor and his colleagues wrote in a Scientific Reports study published Monday…” (File images: Pinterest).
“Hands From the Sea”. Will our grand kids be able to explore Venice? Here’s an excerpt of a poignant post at getenergysmartnow.com: “…According to Halcyon Gallery, “The hands symbolise tools that can both destroy the world, but also have the capacity to save it. At once, the sculpture has both a noble air as well as an alarming one – the gesture being both gallant in appearing to hold up the building whilst also creating a sense of fear in highlighting the fragility of the building surrounded by water and the ebbing tide.”
Venice is a floating art city that has inspired cultures for centuries, but to continue to do so it needs the support of our generation and future ones, because it is threatened by climate change and time decay,’Lorenzo Quinn, sculpter
Centimeter by centimeter, inexorably, sea-level rise is moving shorelines, devastating habitats, laying waste to existing infrastructure and wreaking havoc on property values. These consequence command special attention for obvious reasons…”
New York Times’ Stephens Can’t See the Elephant in the Room on Climate Change. Cherry-pick enough data and you can prove anything to anyone, as Stephens has proven on the subject of climate change. Here’s an excerpt from The Guardian: “…Fortunately, some prominent Republicans have stepped up to engage in the climate policy debate. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham authored past climate legislation. 19 House Republicans have joined the Climate Solutions Caucus, 12 of whom just introduced The Climate Solutions Commission Act that would establish a commission to recommend economically viable climate policies. And a group of Republican elder statesmen on the Climate Leadership Council met with the White House to recommend support for a revenue-neutral carbon tax. However, while deserving of great praise and encouragement for their efforts, these climate realist Republican Party leaders are in the minority. The question is whether they can wrest control of the party away from the climate deniers and policy obstructionists before too much damage is done to the Earth’s climate and the future prospects of the GOP…”
Trump Country is Flooding, and Climate Ideas Are Shifting. E&ENews has an eye-opening article focused on changes being witnessed in the Mississippi River Valley: “…The politics of climate change make it challenging for mayors south of St. Louis to discuss it openly, said Colin Wellenkamp, executive director of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative. They talk about disaster mitigation or disaster resilience — often code words for how they’re responding to climate change without saying the words. Counts and other mayors understand that disasters are on the rise, though. Counts laughs when Wellenkamp is asked whether there’s such a thing as a 100-year flood anymore. Wellenkamp trots out familiar statistics: Since 2011, the 10-state Mississippi River corridor has seen $50 billion in natural disaster impacts, including a 100-year flood, a 200-year flood, a 500-year flood, a 50-year drought and two hurricanes. The 75 cities in his network are learning how to live with the river, Wellenkamp said, “not make the river live with us.” “Our focus has been: How do we really increase the number of solutions that are on the table?” he said. “And how many of those solutions can work in the long term?…”
Image credit: “A flooded home on stilts near Thebes, Ill.” Photo by Erika Bolstad.
Data Drive to Help Farmers Cope With Climate Change Via Their Smartphones. Reuters explains: “As smartphones spread to rural areas, an initiative backed by tech giants aims to help small farmers in poor countries access data on crops, weather and soil, helping them boost production in the face of climate change, a farming group said on Monday. Global agricultural research organization CGIAR said it joined forces with tech firms including IBM and Amazon to analyze vast amounts of agricultural data and advise farmers on the best production methods for them. “It’s time for smallholder farmers to stop looking at the sky and praying for rain,” said Andy Jarvis, a research director at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), which is part of CGIAR. “With enough data and enough analysts we’ll be able to say if the rains will be late or on-time,” he said in a statement…”
Climate Change: Extreme Rainfall Will Vary Between Regions. Here’s an excerpt of a story summarizing new research at ScienceDaily: “A new study by researchers from MIT and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich shows that the most extreme rain events in most regions of the world will increase in intensity by 3 to 15 percent, depending on region, for every degree Celsius that the planet warms. If global average temperatures rise by 4 degrees Celsius over the next hundred years, as many climate models predict given relatively high CO2 emissions, much of North America and Europe would experience increases in the intensity of extreme rainfall of roughly 25 percent. Some places such as parts of the Asian monsoon region would experience greater increases, while there will be smaller increases in the Mediterranean, South Africa and Australia…”
Managing Risk in a Changing Climate. WPSU-TV at Penn State has a description and link to the documentary: “Climate change poses real threats that call for tough choices under deep uncertainty. Louisiana has been called “the canary in the coal mine” for climate impacts as it reports rates of relative sea level rise among the highest in the world as more and more land disappears into the Gulf of Mexico. The public television documentary Managing Risk in a Changing Climate examines how Louisiana decision makers engage with researchers and stakeholders to inform choices about how to manage risks driven by changing sea levels and storms. Featuring some of the nation’s leading climate experts and narrated by Peter Coyote, Managing Risk in a Changing Climate examines one of humanity’s most pressing challenges through the lens of the many academic disciplines needed to address the impacts and surrounding economic, social, and environmental issues that come with managing risk in a changing climate…”