.38″ rain fell yesterday at KMSP.
47 F. high temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.
63 F. average high on April 26.
49 F. high on April 26, 2016.
April 27, 2002: Heavy snow falls over the Twin Cities and central Minnesota. Chanhassen receives 6 inches, and vivid lightning is seen with the snow during the evening.
April 27, 1996: Embarrass records a low of 9 degrees. Some central, and most northern, Minnesota lakes are still ice-covered.
April 27, 1921: A late season blizzard hits Hibbing. The temperature was 75 degrees three days earlier.
It’s Chilly, But At Least It’s a “Dry Chilly”
The coldest I’ve felt was not in Minnesota. Not even close. Manhattan, surrounded by water, can be bone-chilling. But the most painful walk was on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, pushed along by 40 mph winds, high humidity allowing the cold to slice right through my coat.
We all get grief for putting up with Minnesota’s manic weather, but at least the sun is out and humidity levels are low. That is not the case in Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit & Cleveland, where lake effect means more cloudiness and higher humidity, which conducts the cold much faster. 32F in Chicago FEELS colder than 32F in St. Paul.
We’re paying a steep price for last weekend’s warmth; I was hoping not to say the s-word again. Keep in mind July is the only month where snow hasn’t been observed somewhere in the great state of Minnesota. Insert sinister laugh track here.
Lumpy stratus clouds linger today, but cool sunshine returns Friday and Saturday, the nicer day of the weekend. Models hint at a slow-moving southern storm pushing heavy rain into town Sunday, maybe ending as slushy snow Monday.
60s return the following weekend – this too shall pass!
Photos taken in the Duluth area on Wednesday courtesy of Donna Maxie.
Flood Potential for Nation’s Midsection. NOAA models print out as much as 7-8″ of rain over the next week over the Middle Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley as a series of storms pull Gulf moisture northward. Expect more flood watches and warnings in the coming days.
More March Than April. The stroll into spring is more of a drunken stagger; always two steps forward – one step back. Today a storm over the Midwest brushes Wisconsin with a mix of rain, ice and snow, while a band of heavy T-showers pushes into the eastern U.S. Showery rains linger across the Pacific Northwest with more snow for the high terrain of the intermountain west. The next storm spins up over the southern Plains Friday, pushing north over the weekend with a broad shield of rain, ice and snow. 84-hour NAM guidance: NOAA and tropicaltidbits.com.
Winter Relapse. Models hint at a plowable snowfall across parts of Wisconsin and the U.P. of Michigan today; skiers still deliriously happy in the Rockies as the snow machine just doesn’t want to let up. It would be premature to pack up the heavy jackets over the northern third of the USA anytime soon.
Wintry Cheap-Shot, Then Springy Late Next Week. The next week or so won’t be terribly pleasant, but the beauty of snow in late April? It can’t stick around – not for long. A high sun angle prevents that, even on a cloudy day enough infrared radiation will penetrate a cloud deck to melt snow. A slushy coating is possible this morning, again Monday before temperatures move in the right direction. ECMWF data: WeatherBell.
Warming Trend Second Week of May. On-again, off-again spring looks on-again for most of the USA within 2 weeks as a weak zonal flow returns with warmer temperatures for most of the USA, with the possible exception of New England.
What’s the Arctic Doing to Midlatitude Weather, and Vice Versa? What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. Rapid melting and historic warming may already be impacting jet stream wind speeds and amplitude over the Northern Hemisphere. Here’s an excerpt of a post from Bob Henson at Category 6, courtesy of Weather Underground: “...One thing that’s clear from the meeting is that Arctic-midlatitude linkage is no longer a topic easily dismissed, if indeed it ever was. As human-produced greenhouse gases heat up the planet, high latitudes have been warming more than twice as quickly than midlatitudes and the tropics. This phenomenon, known as Arctic amplification (AA), has been well predicted by models. There’s also been a dramatic decrease in sea ice extent across the Arctic, with the peak loss areas shifting in location from winter to winter but often showing up in the seas north of Eurasia, including the Barents and Kara. These trends were more obvious than ever this past winter, as Arctic surface temperatures smashed records and sea ice extent hit its lowest yearly maximum on record. But do scientists have a solid handle on how AA itself operates? That’s one of several basic questions that made their way into the workshop discussion. After all, heat can get into the Arctic atmosphere in a variety of ways...”
Map credit: “Surface temperatures during winter (Dec – Feb) showed an increasing trend across the Arctic Ocean and most of Canada from 1989 to 2016, but they dropped markedly across most of northern Asia, with minor decreases over the southeast U.S. and northern Europe.” Image credit: Courtesy James Screen, adapted from “Far-flung effects of Arctic warming,” Nature Geoscience, published online March 20, 2017.
Remembering the “Super-Outbreak” of April, 2011. U.S. Tornadoes recaps those fateful, deadly days in late April, 6 years ago: “Some 350 or so tornadoes — roughly 25 percent of which were strong/violent — scarred the landscape from April 25-28, 2011, in what has been dubbed the Super Outbreak of 2011. There were 321 people killed during this period, with 316 of those deaths coming on April 27 alone. On April 27, 15 violent tornadoes rated EF-4 or higher (including four EF-5s) struck the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. Alabama was the hardest hit, with 9 violent tornadoes touching down there, and 11 total crossing within its boundaries. The top two deadliest tornadoes in April since modern records began hit that day. It was well advertised that an event of an unusual magnitude was on its way, with forecasters and hobbyists taking notice about a week out, and the alarm growing stronger by the day...”
Map credit: “Tornado touchdowns in the U.S. from April 25-28, 2011.” Map by Katie Wheatley.
Why 1-Hour Lead Time May Be “Too Much” for a Tornado Warning. Because the warning may lack the same sense of urgency, because people may be tempted to drive to a ‘safer’ part of the county, with resulting traffic jams. Dr. Marshall Shepherd takes a closer look at Forbes: “…The survey revealed that the average preferred lead time was about 34.3 minutes. This is interesting because it means that we do have some work to do in order to get to the “sweet spot” the public wants. It is also interesting because respondents indicate that lead times in the 1 hour range may make them less likely to respond with the same sense of urgency. Dr. Gina Eosco, a Risk Communication Expert at Eastern Research Group, told me by direct message
The utility of it depends on the context. Hospitals will use it. Forecasters will use it. But the average person? My fear is they will find something else to do. I don’t see anyone sitting in a shelter for an hour. Perhaps we’re thinking about the purpose all wrong though. A one hour heads up may spark awareness and more attention to the 10 minute warning….”
Worst Flooding Since Hurricane Matthew Swamps North Carolina. USA TODAY has a good summary of the weather headaches in the Raleigh/Durham area: “People in North Carolina are paying attention to rising rivers after storms dumped several inches of rain across much of the state. Gov. Roy Cooper warned residents on Tuesday to stay wary after the state’s heaviest rainfall since last year’s Hurricane Matthew. State emergency management officials are warning of possible flooding along the Neuse River near Clayton and Smithfield, and the Tar River in Tarboro and Greenville. The rain caused disruptions to the morning rush hour, and several motorists also had to be rescued from their cars, according to ABC 11. Flood warnings were posted for rivers in 33 eastern counties...”
The Climate Context for Raleigh’s Rains and Florida’s Fires. Here’s perspective from Andrea Thompson at WXshift: “…The number of heavy events has continued to be well above average over the last couple of years, maintaining the upward trend,” Ken Kunkel, a climate scientist with the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies and N.C. State University, said in an email. A Climate Central analysis shows that by mid-century, heavy runoff from rain-driven inland flooding will increase between 20 and 40 percent. Of course, climate change isn’t the only thing that impacts flooding, as the built environment, such as impermeable pavement, exacerbates flooding in urban areas like Raleigh. While this area of North Carolina has seen about 400 percent of what would normally fall over the past two weeks, mostly from this storm, much of Florida has been left thirsting for storms to quench the dry conditions that are helping to fuel wildfires. The blazes have burned the largest area of the state since 2011, some 115,000 acres, and will likely cost millions of dollars in damage and fire fighting costs…”
Scientists Have Discovered a Worm That Eats Plastic Bags and Leaves Behind Antifreeze. Quartz has the story: “The wax worm, a caterpillar typically used for fishing bait and known for damaging beehives by eating their wax comb, has now been observed munching on a different material: plastic bags. Scientist Federica Bertocchini of the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain first noticed the wax worms’ plastic-eating skills when she was cleaning up a wax worm infestation in one of the beehives she keeps at home. She put the worms in a plastic bag, tied it closed, and put the bag in a room of her house while she finished cleaning the hive. When she returned to the room, “they were everywhere,” Bertocchini said in a statement. They’d escaped by chewing their way out of the bag, and fast…”
Photo credit: “A wax worm, aka a plastic bag destroyer.” (skeeze/Pixabay).
The Electric-Car Boom is So Real Even Oil Companies Say It’s Coming. Here’s a clip from Bloomberg: “Electric cars are coming fast — and that’s not just the opinion of carmakers anymore. Total SA, one of the world’s biggest oil producers, is now saying EVs may constitute almost a third of new-car sales by the end of the next decade. The surge in battery powered vehicles will cause demand for oil-based fuels to peak in the 2030s, Total Chief Energy Economist Joel Couse said at Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s conference in New York on Tuesday. EVs will make up 15 percent to 30 percent of new vehicles by 2030, after which fuel “demand will flatten out,” Couse said. “Maybe even decline…”
Graphic credit: Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Charge Me Up: Rural Electric Car Drivers Face “Range Anxiety”. Driving an older (2013) Tesla Model S with a range of 200 miles, I understand the concerns pointed out in a story at Telegraph Herald: “…There are more than 18,000 electric car charging stations in the United States, and the number of outlets at those stations has more than tripled over five years to about 48,000, according to federal data. But they often are few and far between in rural areas. That can leave electric vehicle pioneers in the backcountry with chronic “range anxiety,” the fear that their batteries will run out and leave them stranded.
Science Under the Populist Gun. The author of the story at Scientific American warns that people who have trouble putting food on their table may not see the value of research and science: “…The president promised his populist adherents he would bring jobs back by restructuring trade deals, deporting undocumented workers and eliminating federal regulations. But he’s almost certain to fail across the board because technology is the real source of the job losses. And it’s simply not possible for the president to decree a return to the halcyon days of Middle Americana. The permanently displaced workers and those that are on the cusp of dislocation might not blame President Trump for failing to deliver on his promises, but they could direct their populist, anti-elitist anger toward the architects of the technological advances that have diminished their lives. As they see it, the devils are big business that does not have their interests at heart, big government that is too remote and dysfunctional, Wall Street that hums tirelessly to further enrich the already wealthy and, finally, the ivory towers of academia, which house the archetypal elites…”
The World May Begin to Do More But Consume Less. Here’s an excerpt of a story at The Los Angeles Times that resonated: “…Sonenshein’s basic argument is that our tendency to think of “more” as the key to success –– as in more money and more stuff –– is all wrong. By always seeking more, we tend to overlook the possibilities that already exist, he says. When we focus instead on using the resources we have, we stretch ourselves, thereby unlocking creativity and problem-solving skills. It makes a lot of sense. And the more I’ve thought about this idea, the more I have noticed variations of the doing-more-with-less theme popping up all over...”
Watch It While It Lasts: Our Golden Age of Television. Financial Times takes a look at why there’s so much (amazingly good) television out there right now: “...We used to complain that there was never anything good on TV. Now we complain about the opposite. Spoilt for choice as we may be, we should not forget to be astonished that an industry once regarded as an artistic wasteland has turned itself into the world’s most prolific source of new stories. Whether we are in the middle or nearing the end of television’s golden age is hard to tell. Our sense of being overwhelmed by new shows is not illusory. According to FX Networks research, in 2016 there were 455 original series in TV, up from 182 in 2002. Yet we haven’t necessarily reached what John Landgraf has called “peak TV”. “We’re not seeing any slowdown in the appetite for new content, from all kinds of buyers,” says Laura Kennedy…”
Now THAT Was Music. Why does new music (sometimes) get on our nerves? Hey, I’m a classic rock guy, but I just discovered a new band I really like (The 1975), but I have to agree with the premise of an article at Aeon: “…For one thing, it doesn’t happen to everyone. Musicians seem particularly immune, for obvious reasons, and so do certain types of journalists, for reasons touched on in the paragraph above. Still, it’s a very real phenomenon, as real as anything that transpires in the mind. Famously, something similar happens to us with sports, particularly spectator sports, and at a much younger age. But no one really feels too badly about that, because of the inherent meaninglessness of watching other humans engage in physical activity. It’s like ruing the day you ever stopped liking porn. But music is different. Denounce the music of the present day, and you’ve instantly become a walking, talking, (barely) breathing cliché, ripe for ridicule, a classic figure of parody and invective. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it could certainly happen to you…”
This Milky Way “Flightlapse” Was Shot by an Airline Pilot. Here’s an excerpt from a video link and story at PetaPixel: “Here’s a gorgeous nighttime timelapse shot from a different perspective: this “FlightLapse” was captured from the cockpit of a Swiss airliner during a flight from Zurich, Switzerland, to Sao Paulo, Brazil. It shows the world, glowing cities, and other airplanes passing below the Milky Way above. The timelapse was created by 30-year-old Sales Wick, a photographer, film producer, and airline pilot based in Switzerland who’s also the founder of the film agency SkyProduction…”
Meet “Steve”, a Mysterious Type of Aurora Spied Over Canada. The Weather Network has the curious details: “The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, is known for putting on a different light show pretty much every time it shows up in the night sky. It’s one of the amazing features of this spectacular phenomenon. Sometimes, though, something really different shows up, and it takes the combined efforts of citizen scientists over social media, and scientists with access to specialized satellites in orbit, to figure it out. This is what happened with a special kind of aurora feature, which some have been calling ‘Steve’. Here is ‘Steve’, shown in the image below, as the purple stream stretching across the sky, captured by photographer Dave Markel in 2016...”
TODAY: Mostly cloudy, chilly – few flurries and sprinkles. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 43
THURSDAY NIGHT: Partial clearing, risk of frost. Low: 32
FRIDAY: Early frost, especially outlying suburbs. Partly sunny. Better. Winds: N 7-12. High: 52
SATURDAY: Cool sun, nicer day of weekend. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 34. High: 56
SUNDAY: A cold rain, miserably wet. Winds: NE 15-25. Wake-up: 40. High: 47
MONDAY: Rain/snow mix. Slushy lawns? Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 37. High: 41
TUESDAY: Any slush melts. Spring returns! Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 33. High: 56
WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, risk of a shower. Winds: E 7-12. Wake-up: 38. High: 57
How Climate Evangelists Are Taking Over Your Local Weather Forecast. Eric Roston at Bloomberg reports: “…This American reluctance to embrace scientific evidence hasn’t often been counteracted by broadcast meteorologists—who are, in fact, no more likely than the average citizen to agree that climate change is caused by humans. There are plenty of possible explanations for this outcome, including a shortage of climatology education within meteorological training programs. Part of meteorologists’ reluctance to talk about the climate stems from the treacherous tools of their trade. Meteorologists learn very quickly that weather models are messy. Some no doubt sour on finicky climate models because of this experience. If short-term weather models make mistakes, it may seem reasonable to assume that a model projecting into the next century is ridiculous. “Meteorologists are used to looking at models and being burned,” says Paul Douglas, a former TV weatherman-turned-serial entrepreneur, who recently published a book on climate change and faith...”
Image credit: Amber Sullins. Photographer: Ali Withers/Bloomberg.
U.S. Vulnerable to Worst of Extreme Sea Rise. Keep in mind that the much-maligned climate models have done a fairly good job predicting the warming that has already taken place, but if anything these models have underestimated the rate of ice melt and sea level rise. Here’s an excerpt from Climate Central: “The beginning of a collapse this century of sections of the Antarctic ice sheet would disproportionately inundate coasts circling the U.S. — the country that has done more than any other to pollute the climate. While such a cataclysmic outcome of warming temperatures from greenhouse gas pollution is considered unlikely, recent studies have shown it’s more plausible than previously thought. Based on that research, the federal government increased its worst-case scenario for the rise of the seas worldwide by a quarter in January compared with 2014 findings, up to an average of more than 8 feet by 2100. The impact would be even worse around the U.S. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report warned that regional effects of gravity and ocean current changes triggered by the start of the ice sheet’s collapse could lead to more than 12 feet of sea level rise engulfing some coastlines in the Lower 48. That’s about the height of a one-story house…”
Graphic credit: “Projections for an extreme sea level scenario for New York City under NOAA’s new guidelines.”
Extreme Sea Level Rise and the Stakes for America. With more perspective here’s an excerpt from Climate Central: “Should a newly published sea level rise scenario come to pass, hundreds of American landmarks, neighborhoods, towns and cities would be submerged this century, at least in the absence of engineering massive, costly and unprecedented defenses and relocating major infrastructure. Ocean waters would cover land currently home to more than 12 million Americans and $2 trillion in property. This extreme rise scenario, considered unlikely but increasingly plausible, was published together with other projections in a technical report by the National and Oceanic Atmospheric Administration in January. NOAA added “extreme” as a new sea level category in the publication, supplementing high, intermediate and low categories that have also been used in past reports. The new term reflects recent research suggesting that some parts of the Antarctic ice sheet may begin to collapse much sooner than scientists had previously anticipated, particularly if ongoing emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide and methane remain high...”
80% of Heat Records Worldwide Linked to Climate Change. Increase the baseline temperature and extreme events become more common. Here’s a clip at EcoWatch: “…Most scientific research examines the links between climate change and specific weather events, but a first-of-its-kind study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences used a new framework to take a comprehensive look at climate measurements worldwide. The study found that over 80 percent of heat records worldwide were linked to climate change, while climate change influenced 57 percent of driest-year records and 41 percent of five-day precipitation records...”
Most of the World’s Largest Investors Taking Climate Risk Action. Bloomberg reports: “Most of the world’s largest asset owners have gotten the message that climate change poses a risk to their portfolios and are pivoting toward greener investments. Funds worth $27 trillion that comprise 60 percent of the world’s biggest investors are considering climate change when making investment decisions, according to the Asset Owners Disclosure Project. Funds listing climate as an investment criteria rose 18 percent from last year. “The Paris Agreement sent a clear message of global commitment to tackle climate change,” said Julian Poulter, chief executive officer at AOPD...”
Climate Denial in Schools. Keep an eye on attempts to question climate science in America’s schools, according to a summary at VICE News: “…Currently, six states have legislative measures pending or already on the books that would allow anti-science rhetoric, including the rejection of global warming, to seep its way into schools’ curricula. While these types of proposals have become fairly routine in certain states, some of the most recent crop have advanced farther than in the past. Senate Bill 393 in Oklahoma, for example, would permit teachers to paint established science on both evolution and climate change as “controversial.” The “controversy,” however, doesn’t really exist — more than 97 percent of actively publishing, accredited climate scientists agree that global warming trends over the past century are directly attributable to human activity. And some teachers might already be misleading students…”
El Nino and the End of the Global Warming Hiatus. Here’s an excerpt from Yale News: “…A new climate model developed by Yale scientists puts the “global warming hiatus” into a broader historical context and offers a new method for predicting global mean temperature. Research by professor Alexey Fedorov and graduate student Shineng Hu indicates that weak El Niño activity from 1998 until 2013, rather than a pause in long-term global warming, was the root cause for slower rates of increased surface temperature. The research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, also finds that volcanic activity played only a minor role. “Our main conclusion is that global warming never went away, as one might imply from the term ‘global warming hiatus,’” said Fedorov, who has conducted extensive research on the oceans’ role in climate. “The warming can be masked by inter-annual and decadal natural climate variability, but then it comes back with a vengeance...”
Graphic credit: “Pacific Ocean sea surface height anomalies during the 1997-98 El Nino (left) are compared with 2015 Pacific conditions (right). The 1997 data are from the NASA/CNES Topex/Poseidon mission; the 2015 data are from the NASA/CNES/NOAA/EUMETSAT Jason-2 mission. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech).”
What a Year With a Single Tree Reveals About Climate Change. Here’s a clip from The Boston Globe: “…Extremes are the new normal as the changing climate works its way on the landscape with varied effects. How trees are faring in the face of it is not one story, even in one forest. At the Harvard Forest, red oak, the dominant tree in these woods, is surging, at least for now, but warmer winters also have set invasive woolly adelgids on the march, expanding their range in a rampage expected to take out most of the eastern hemlock at the Harvard Forest and beyond, as the bugs literally suck the life out of them. The future, climate scientists warn, may bring storms, droughts, fires, pest outbreaks, floods, and species extinctions, scaling ever upward in severity according to our failure to reduce carbon emissions and stop making our problem worse. Perhaps there will be a technological fix. Perhaps we will figure out how to break the connection among prosperity, comfort, and carbon. But this much is for sure: In an uncertain world, forests can help…”
Photo credit: “Lynda V. Mapes (far left) spent a year in the Harvard Forest studying one red oak and kept meticulous notes. In the oak, climbing instructor Melissa LeVangie (left) shows novice Mapes the ropes. Two webcams keep an eye on seasonal changes in the witness tree canopy.”
Climate Change Offers Huge Investment Opportunity: Experts. What will get business on-board, focused on solutions? The profit motive – every threat is a (financial) opportunity, as described by Reuters: “Climate change should be grasped as an opportunity to attract vast capital flows into low-carbon investments, create jobs and spur economic growth, rather than viewed as a money-absorbing burden, top officials and experts said. Yet while trillions of dollars are potentially available for climate investments and countries like India are blazing a trail in bringing cheap solar power to millions, making sure the world’s poorest benefit will prove a major challenge, a World Bank meeting heard late last week. “It’s the biggest opportunity in the history of the world – it’s the biggest investment opportunity, but we have to have a clear vision, we have to have policy leadership… to bring the world community together to get the financing that is needed to move the momentum more quickly,” former U.S. Vice President Al Gore told the discussion…”
Can We Fight Climate Change With Trees and Grass? Here’s an excerpt from MIT Technology Review: “Can we use trees and other plants as a weapon in the fight against climate change? Earth’s greenery comes with natural carbon-capturing abilities, but now several studies are investigating how to tweak those tendencies to have a maximum impact on carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. In 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced that plants would have to be a major part of the world’s efforts to capture CO2. The idea would be to have trees and grasses suck up CO2 as they grow, then burn or process them into fuels to generate power while capturing any CO2 produced along the way. This process is known as “bioenergy plus carbon capture and storage,” or BECCS. We’re starting to see increasingly large tests of the technology roll out...”
Early Warmth, Late Frost Wreaks Havoc on Wine-Growing Regions of France, Italy. Here’s an excerpt from Wine Spectator: “…This year the plants were 15 days in advance,” said Blot. “It’s impossible to protect the entire vineyard. This year, as of today, I lost maybe 10 percent of the crop.” Better than last year, but still a critical loss. To the east and north, Burgundy and Champagne also reported heavy damage, but growers were focusing on trying to combat the incoming cold front before they sent detailed damage reports. To the southwest, the Gironde Chamber of Agriculture reported frost damage in the greater Bordeaux region, including the southern Médoc, sections of St.-Emilion and Lalande de Pomerol, Bergerac, and the area around Blaye. Of course, climate change means different things to different wine regions. And far south in the Languedoc, frosts are so rare that this past week’s episode is the first major frost since 1998. “Climate change has brought us warmer springs and fewer cold episodes,” said Jerome Villaret, director of the Languedoc wine council…”