Over 1″ of Additional Rain by Thursday – Many Trailer Parks Don’t Have Tornado-Proof Shelters

59 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday.
59 F. average high on April 17.
79 F. high on April 17, 2016.

April 18, 2004: A strong cold front whips up winds of up to 55 miles an hour over southern Minnesota. The wind causes black clouds of soil to lift into the air, creating soil erosion and reduced visibility. Some old-timers remarked that it reminded them of the dust storms from the 1930’s Dust Bowl era.
April 18, 2002: Baseball-sized hail falls in Eagan, creating small craters in the soft ground and broken windows in apartments.
April 18, 1977: A tornado touches down at the mouth of the Minnesota River.

Severe Weather Myths, Misses and Misconceptions

Every spring I hear the same stuff from bright, high-functioning adults. “Tornadoes can’t hit cities or cross lakes & rivers!” Wrong. “If it’s not raining I can’t be hit by lightning.” Wrong. “It’s just “heat lightning” Paul, not a threat!” No such thing as heat lightning; it’s just lightning from a distant T-storm, too far away to hear the thunder.

554 tornadoes have already touched down in 2017 (preliminary count), on track to rival record seasons in 2011 and 2008. Fact: 44 percent of Americans killed by tornadoes since 1985 were in mobile homes. Make sure there’s a shelter nearby – consider moving to a safer location (office building or a store) when a “watch” is issued. It pays to be perpetually paranoid; you may live long enough to enjoy great grandchildren.

Over an inch of additional rain may fall this week; the best chance of showers today and Wednesday. Any severe storms should track well south of Minnesota, in the sticky “warm sector”. Expect sunshine next weekend with highs close to 60F.

Minnesota has been trending wetter for 30 years. My gut (nausea?) is no drought this summer.


File photo: NOAA.


Despite Tornado Threat, Shelters Rare for Mobile Home Parks. If you live in a mobile home park built before 1988 there is no (legal) requirement for an underground shelter. Here are a couple of excerpts from Star Tribune: ” …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…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. The city of Wichita, Kansas, has a similar ordinance for parks built since 1994. “There have been other efforts to attempt that, but the mobile home industry and mobile home park owners have put up a lot of resistance to it,” namely citing high costs, said Laura Myers, who studies tornado disasters and responses as executive director of the Center for Advanced Public Safety at the University of Alabama...”


When a Tornado Looms, Many Residents of Trailer Parks Are On Their Own. I still can’t quite fathom how it isn’t a state law that every mobile home park should have an underground shelter available. I know it costs money, but it’s a little like selling a car without brakes. Which is great, until you need to apply the brakes. Here’s an excerpt of a story at Illinois’s Daily Herald: “…Patti Thompson, a spokeswoman for Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said people living in trailer parks should leave their homes as soon as severe storm or tornado watches are issued and head to a safe place, such as a friend’s house with a basement or another sturdy building. It’s especially important to use weather radios to be aware of the conditions. “Weather radios make a really loud sound when a warning’s been issued in the area,” she said. “But that’s almost too late for people in mobile homes. They really need to be looking for a safer place even when there’s just a watch out.” Thompson said their recommendations are based on the consensus from the weather science community including the National Weather Service…”

Learn More About Mobile Home Safety. KWWL.com in Waterloo, Iowa has good advice about precautions you should take if you live in manufactured housing: “A mobile home is one of the worst places to be during a tornado. Since 1991, nearly 40 percent of tornado-related deaths occurred when shelter was taken in a mobile home. With correct anchoring, federal laws require mobile homes in Iowa to withstand winds around 75 mph. But an EF-0 tornado (the lowest rating for a tornado) can create wind speeds to 85 mph. So what can you do to protect yourself if you live in a mobile home?  Plan. Most severe weather days come with warning. If severe weather is anticipated, know how to get severe weather alerts and make plans if you need to evacuate. If your mobile home community offers a storm shelter, know exactly where it is located and how long it will take to get there...”



Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The more sources of warning information, the better. But I continue to believe that a NOAA Weather Radio should be mandatory for every home, apartment, office, hospital and nursing home. Nothing else will wake you up at 3 am if a tornado is approaching. Here’s an excerpt from Homeland Security and Emergency Management: “…A weather radio is one of the best ways to stay tuned-in to dangerous weather. These radios receive broadcasts from the National Weather Service. The broadcasts are from local weather service offices. Broadcasts include ordinary forecasts of several kinds, including for boating, farming, traveling and outdoor recreation as well as general forecasts for the area. The stations also broadcast all watches and warnings. Some weather radios have a feature that turn on the radio automatically when a watch or warning is broadcast. Such “tone alert” weather radios are highly recommended for places where large numbers of people could be endangered by tornadoes or flash floods. These include schools, nursing homes, shopping center security offices, hospitals, and recreation areas such as swimming pools.  

This National Weather Service page has information on weather radios, including a list of weather radio stations in each state…”

Why 2017’s Tornado Season Is Off To Such an Active Start. A story at AccuWeather.com has some good context: “With hundreds of tornado reports only four months in, 2017 could rival both 2008 and 2011 as one of the most active tornado seasons in recent history. However, as the United States’ severe weather season shifts into its climatological peak, experts agree that it might be too early to determine. “Certainly, we’re off to a really fast start, but we haven’t gotten to the big part of the season yet,” said Harold Brooks, senior research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Severe Storms Laboratory. “Half of tornadoes typically happen in May and June, so if those months end up being below normal, the year won’t be much above normal at all,” he said. Since January, the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Storm Prediction Center data shows more than 500 possible reports of tornadoes in the U.S...”

Graphic credit: NOAA SPC.



Wednesday Severe Storm Risk. NOAA SPC has outlined an area from Rockford and Des Moines to Kansas City and Wichita for large hail and a few isolated tornadoes Wednesday.



More Green (rain) – Less Blue (snow). Warm air can’t just push cold air out of the way. Wintry air has to retreat on its own, and that’s happening, although probably not fast enough for residents of the northern USA. More showers and T-storms push across the Upper Midwest today; garden-variety thundershowers sprouting from Houston to Nashville with more rain for the western USA, where the sun is now on the endangered species list. 84-hour NAM Future Radar: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.


Cooler, But No Mega-Relapses. ECMWF guidance hints at 70F today (which may happen if skies brighten and showers hold off a bit), but then we cool off by midweek before temperatures rebound to near 60F by the end of the week. Pretty typical fare for April. MSP numbers: WeatherBell.


Blocking Pattern Emerging? I want to see a few more runs of the GFS to see if this is real, but looking out 2 weeks the 500 mb pattern is forecast to lapse into an Omega Block, temporarily stalled areas of rainy low pressure over the eastern USA and the western USA, with a warm ridge of high pressure straddling the central USA.



Lightning Factoids. Every thunderstorm, by definition, is potentially deadly, with cloud to ground lightning, striking the U.S. roughly 25 million times a year. An average of 75 to 100 Americans are killed by lightning every year; hundreds injured; many with lifelong disabilities. Most of these injuries are ultimately avoidable. The first growl of thunder signals it’s time to move inside: a home or vehicle offers the best protection. Avoid fields, golf courses and lakes. Remember the “30-30 Rule”; if you count 30 seconds between the flash and the bang, it’s time to race indoors. Wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder to resume outdoor plans. Don’t push your luck.


Kentucky Coal Mining Museum Converts to Solar Power. You can’t make this stuff up. WYMT in eastern Kentucky reports: “The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham is owned by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. Communications Director Brandon Robinson told WYMT, they’re hoping to save money by the switch. “We believe that this project will help save at least eight to ten thousand dollars, off the energy costs on this building alone, so it’s a very worthy effort and it’s going to save the college money in the long run,” said Robinson. The work began Tuesday to power the energy, not by coal, but by the sun. “It is a little ironic,” said Robinson, “But you know, coal and solar and all the different energy sources work hand-in-hand. And, of course, coal is still king around here…”


Going Solar in West Virginia. American Prospect Longform has an interesting story: “…If you’d told me I’d be working in solar, I would’ve never believed you,” Atkins says. “I always thought I’d bounce from coal job to coal job until all the mines closed and I had to leave.” Atkins is one of a small but growing number of West Virginians who’ve said goodbye to coal mining and who’ve staked their future on an industry still distinctly out of place in the state: solar power. West Virginia’s government makes no major investments in commercial solar companies, and offers no tax credits or rebates to residents who install solar panels on their homes. Indeed, state legislators have actively blocked efforts to expand the renewable energy industry. In West Virginia, where Donald Trump, promising to revive mining by slashing regulations, beat Hillary Clinton by more than 40 percentage points, coal remains king…”



Going Green Will Leave More Green In Your Wallet I drive a Tesla, which I charge at home. Our electric rates have not gone up. Thank you Xcel Energy. My insurance premium fell, and there’s little maintenance. “Bring it in once a year and we’ll check the tires” their service guy told me. “But you don’t have to.” There’s a real ROI, a return on investment. New Tesla Model 3’s and Chevy Bolts are priced in the mid- 30s and prices will continue to plummet. My electric car has 150 moving parts; a typical gas-powered vehicle: 10,000 moving parts. There is simply less that can go wrong. They are cheaper to maintain and cheaper to manufacture. Installing solar shingles and energy storage (a big battery) will allow me to drive for free, and even power my home for extended periods of time – for free. Free has a nice ring.


The Market Has Spoken, and It Says Electric Cars Are The Future. Yeah, I’m biased. Then again I owned 34 gasoline-powered vehicles before I traded in 2 cars on a gently used Tesla Model S nearly 4 years ago. Best thing I ever did. Driving it every day I feel like I’m getting a glimpse of the future. The navigation is amazing, the entertainment options pretty much infinite. The car can even drive itself if you have a newer model (mine is a 2013 edition, so it doesn’t have the sensor hardware to be able to drive without human intervention. Here’s an excerpt from Grist: “…Investors believe that electric cars with self-driving capabilities are going to become the norm — especially as Tesla is preparing to roll out its first mass-market car. It also doesn’t hurt that Tesla’s cars look cool, and that stock traders grow wistful and dewy-eyed when they see Musk’s face. If the Wall Street crowd is correct, it would be good for everybody. A wholesale shift to electric cars would vaporize one of the most formidable barriers in the fight against climate change: getting cars to stop pumping greenhouse gas into the air. This feels weird, but here’s one instance that it’s in the public interest to root for Wall Street.”


Geronimo Energy Buys 40 Acres in Rosemount for Solar Garden Project. Here’s an excerpt from Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal: “Geronimo Energy, a renewable energy developer, has closed on a $703,000 cash deal for 40 acres in Rosemount, the future site of a community solar garden. Equuleus Community Solar Gardens, the name of the project, will involve five individual, one-megawatt solar gardens that are part of Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards Community Program. One average, 164 homes can be powered by a single megawatt of solar power, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association…”

The Despair of Learning That Experience No Longer Matters. As you get older you perfect your craft and your income rises. That may have been true in the 1950s and 1960s but today, with globalization, automation, robotics and artificial intelligence all bets are off. Here’s a clip from a New Yorker article: “…Our data are consistent with a model in which the decline in real wages led to a reduction in labor force participation, with cascading effects on marriage, health, and mortality from deaths of despair.” The return to experience is not the best-known economic concept, but it is alive in most of our contemporary economic spook stories, in which the callow private-equity analyst has the final power over an industry in which people have long labored, in which the mechanical robot replaces the assembly-line worker, in which the doctor finds his diagnosis corrected by artificial intelligence. It seemed to match at least one emotional vein that ran through the Trump phenomenon, and the more general alienation of the heartland: people are aging, and they are not getting what they think they have earned…”

Sleep Is The New Status Symbol. In case you missed the story in The New York Times, here’s a link and excerpt: “…For years, studies upon studies have shown how bad sleep weakens the immune system, impairs learning and memory, contributes to depression and other mood and mental disorders, as well as obesity, diabetes, cancer and an early death. (Sedated sleep – hello Ambien – has been shown to be as deleterious as poor sleep.) The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls sleeplessness a public health concern. Good sleep helps brain plasticity, studies in mix have snow; poor sleep will make you fat and sad, and then will kill you...”

Image credit: “Sleep today is a measure of success, a skill to be cultivated and nourished.” Tim Robinson.



Spring Comes Reluctantly To The North Shore. Praedictix meteorologist D.J. Kayser sent this photo from Gooseberry Falls, where a dusting of snow was observed early Monday. What spring?


Saturday Book Signing. I’m looking forward to my vist at the Ridgehaven Barnes and Noble in Minnetonka this upcoming Saturday, April 22, from 1-3 pm. Stop by and say hi, even if you have zero interest in my latest book, “Caring for Creation: The Evangelical’s Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment.” Details here.



TODAY: Mild and windy with showers, possible T-storm. Winds: SW 15-30. High: 68

TUESDAY NIGHT: Showers taper off. Low: 43

WEDNESDAY: Dry start, then more rain arrives. Winds: NE 8-13. High: 54

THURSDAY: Showers taper to sprinkles. Raw breeze. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 40. High: 49

FRIDAY: Sunshine returns, feels like spring by afternoon. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 37. High: 60

SATURDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, nicer day of the weekend. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 41. High: 61

SUNDAY: More clouds than sun, no drama. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 43. High: 59

MONDAY: More clouds, passing shower. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 45. High: 57


Climate Stories….

March Was Second Hottest on Record Globally. Here’s a link and story excerpt at Climate Central: “The exceptional global heat of the past few years continued last month, with March ranking as the second hottest on record for the planet. It followed the second hottest February and third hottest January, showing just how much Earth has warmed from the continued buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. March was 2.02°F (1.12°C) warmer than the 1951-1980 average, according to NASA data released Friday. It ranks behind only March 2016, which was 2.29°F (1.27°C) above that same average. NASA’s global temperature records extend back 137 years…”

Graphic credit: “Global temperature anomalies for each month since 1880. March 2017 was the second warmest March, behind only 2016.” Credit: NASA


Arctic Meltdown: Sea and Land Ice Are Cracking Up at a Record Rate. ThinkProgress has details: “Driven by warming air and water temperatures, Arctic sea ice continues its death spiral. A big new crack has been found in a major outlet glacier of the Greenland ice sheet, whose disintegration is speeding up. Last month set records for the lowest Arctic sea ice extent ever in March, as well as the lowest sea ice volume and lowest sea ice thickness. Here is a chart of the volume of Arctic sea ice found at the end of every March since 1979. Not a pretty picture…”
Graph credit: “The volume of sea ice at the end of March has dropped sharply since 1979.” CREDIT: PIOMAS data plotted by Oren at the Arctic Sea Ice Forum.

Quora Question: “How Valid is the Assertion by NOAA That There Has Been No Hiatus in Global Warming? Here’s an excerpt of an answer at Quora from Dr. Richard Muller, CoFounder, Berkeley Earth, Prof Physics UCBerkeley, Energy for Future Presidents: “Look at it yourself and see what you think. Does the last 15 years look like a pause to you? Some people mistakenly argue that these results are inconsistent with those taken from satellite measurements. That conclusion is true only if you ignore the systematic uncertainties in the satellite results.  Include those in, and you’ll see that they do not disagree with these more precise surface measurements. Please note that we pay a great deal of attention to skeptics. We use only the raw unprocessed data.  We use all of it, thus avoiding the potential for data selection bias. All our adjustments are automated and published. All the data are made publicly available, in a convenient format. We did careful studies of station quality bias and urban heat islands. We make no use whatsoever of global climate models.”
All this is available at our website: BerkeleyEarth.org

Humans on the Verge of Causing Earth’s Fastest Climate Change in 50 Million Years. Here’s an excerpt at The Guardian: “A new study published in Nature Communications looks at changes in solar activity and carbon dioxide levels over the past 420 million years. The authors found that on our current path, by mid-century humans will be causing the fastest climate change in approximately 50 million years, and if we burn all available fossil fuels, we’ll cause the fastest change in the entire 420 million year record.…”
Image credit: “Changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and in the combined solar and carbon dioxide forcing over the past 420 million years.” Illustration: Foster et al. (2017); Nature Communications.

7 Reasons Conservatives Should Support Climate Change Solutions. My hunch is this story was not written on a typewriter. Huffington Post has the story: “…There was a time when typewriters were the tools used to communicate in the written form, but then along came the computer. Initially computers were very expensive and not very useful. The typewriter was a much better tool. Fast forward to today and clearly that is not the case. But that is the way technology works – technology gets better and cheaper. Renewable energy technologies have already improved and lowered in costs and will only continue to do so. In fact, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s chief editor, Angus McCrone, “wind and solar could become the cheapest available option by the 2020s in some countries.” Fossil fuels will not follow this trend, and their cost to our environment and our health just keeps going up...”

Marchers Around the World Tell Us Why They’re Taking to the Streets for Science. The March for Science is this upcoming Saturday in Washington D.C. Details via Science Magazine: “What started out as a march on Washington, D.C., has grown into well over 400 marches in more than 35 countries on 22 April. Some international participants are worried about science under the Trump administration; others have local concerns; many feel that science and reason are under threat. Science’s correspondents talked to marchers from 17 countries; click on the flags to jump straight to their stories…”
More details on the March for Science here.

Climate Change Reroutes a Yukon River in a Geological Instant. The New York Times reports.

Extreme Weather Won’t Change Attitudes About Climate Change. Liberals and conservatives see extreme weather very differently, according to new research highlighted at ClimateNexus: “… A 2015 meta-analysis of dozens of studies found that political ideology is the best predictor of one’s view of climate change — far better than gender, level of education or experience with extreme weather. Recent surveys of people living in New Hampshire and along the Gulf Coast found the same. Rampant floods, supercharged storms and scorching-hot summers did little to change conservatives’ view of climate change. If that sounds bad, don’t worry. It gets worse. A new study from the University of Wisconsin found that unusually hot or cold weather made Democrats more convinced that humans are causing climate change, but it had the opposite effect on Republicans. Republicans were less likely to believe that humans were causing climate change as temperatures grew warmer...”
Graphic credit: Gallup

Sea-Level Rise in California Could Be Catastrophic, Study Says. Here’s a clip from SFgate.com: “A state-commissioned report on climate change released Wednesday raises the stakes for fighting global warming, offering a clearer and, in some cases, more catastrophic picture of how much sea levels will rise in California. The Bay Area will see the ocean swell as much as 3.4 feet by 2100 if significant action isn’t taken, the report says. The scientists who produced the study pegged the prospect of that outcome at 67 percent. Tougher action on greenhouse gases would mean a lesser rise of up to 2.4 feet, the study says. The scope of the likely rise is largely in line with earlier estimates, but not completely. One worst-case scenario says ocean levels could rise 10 feet by century’s end, which would swamp countless homes, roads, harbors and even airports along the coast…” (File image: NASA).



Quora Question: How is Climate Change Affecting Us Now? Here’s an excerpt from Newsweek: “…Climate change is already being felt in innumerable ways today. Climate change is one of the underlying contributors to some of the most major stories of the past decade and is being felt broadly and mostly negatively….

  • Regional conflicts: Climate change has increased drought in the middle east, and has contributed to the rise of ISIS and the destabilization of the middle east playing out now. This in turn has led to the millions of Syrian and other refugees in temporary refugee camps in countries outside of the worst impacted areas and the hundreds of thousands of refugees attempting to get to Europe and often drowning. Researchers Link Syrian Conflict to a Drought Made Worse by Climate Change.
  • Miami is sinking: Many parts of Miami are already experiencing sea water welling up from under foot at king tides and some are experiencing regular flooding at merely high tides. This is with the relatively small amount of sea level rise already experienced. This is an indicator of what is to come. Miami Is Sinking Into the Sea—But Not Without a Fight.…”

Image credit: Jeff Williams, NASA.


To These Pastors, Saving the Colorado River is a Divine Command. The New York Times reports.


Educators Decry Conservative Group’s Climate “Propaganda” Sent to Schoolteachers. Then again, consider the source, The Heartland Institute, the same group that equated people concerned about climate change with the Unabomber, and assured us that smoking was safe. The very definition of fake news. Here’s an excerpt from InsideClimate News: “Science teachers and legislators are fighting back after a conservative advocacy organization mailed false information on climate science to thousands of school science teachers nationwide. After the Heartland Institute began a mass mailing of teaching materials denying the scientific consensus on climate change, lawmakers and teachers’ organizations have raised the alarm over what they characterize as propaganda disguised as information. “I am writing to ask you to consider the possibility that the science in fact is not ‘settled,'” Heartland Institute’s Lennie Jarratt, manager for the institute’s Center for Transforming Education, wrote in a cover letter sent to the teachers accompanying the book, Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming. “If that’s the case, then students would be better served by letting them know a vibrant debate is taking place among scientists on how big the human impact on climate is, and whether or not we should be worried about it.” These statements are false, as is the book’s contention that the overwhelming majority of scientists do not agree on the manmade cause of global warming…”
Image credit: “The Heartland Institute, a libertarian nonprofit organization, has sent mailings discrediting the scientific consensus on climate change to thousands of teachers nationwide.” Credit: Rhett Allain via Twitter.

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