April 20, 1970: Snow falls across much of Minnesota.
Expect 2 tests of the emergency outdoor sirens today, at 1:45 pm and 6:45 pm. Remember, the sirens were designed for outdoor use (only). They were never meant to be heard indoors.
In a House With a Basement
Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.
In a House With No Basement
Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.
In an Apartment, Dorm or Condo
Winter’s Last Snarl? I probably said something similarly stupid a month or two ago, but this time I really mean it! A few inches of slush may pile up from the Arrowhead and North Shore into the U.P. of Michigan. Whatever falls should be gone fairly quickly. Map credit: AerisWeather AMP.
No Rest For The Weather-Weary. A line of strong to severe T-storms rumbles across the Ohio Valley today; farther north, deeper into colder air, a shield of rain changes to snow over far northern Michigan. A ridge o f high pressure dries out the west coast for a few days; more mountain snow piles up across the Rockies. 84-Hour 12 KM NAM: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.
* Straight-line thunderstorm winds can exceed 120 mph, which is stronger and more destructive than most tornadoes.
* On average, nearly 50 people die per year in the United States due to lightning (down from an average of nearly 330 people per year in the 1940’s), and nearly four times as many men are killed as women.
* Lightning causes $1 billion in damage each year.
* Lightning is hotter than the surface of the sun, and can reach temperatures around 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit!
* Hail can exceed softball size (5” diameter) and does even more damage when driven by the wind.
Budget Cuts to Weather and Satellite Programs Are Likely to Cost Us a Lot More Than They Save. Here’s an excerpt from Pacific Standard: “…Organizations from airlines to the military to your local television station use data from these satellites to make operational decisions, issue forecasts, and warn people about tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. Scientists also use the data to understand how our local weather patterns are affected by long-term changes in climate. There are several different types of weather satellites operated by the federal government, among which is a set that orbits the Earth’s poles. Polar-orbiting satellites help forecasters see global trends driving the weather in the United States, and the data they produce is critical for making forecasts days in advance.Our weather satellites are the responsibility of two federal agencies, the Department of Defense and the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, both of which are behind in their efforts to launch the next generation of polar orbiters. If the existing satellites fail before the new ones are in place, we will have a gap in our weather data, which, the GAO warns, “would endanger lives, property, and our nation’s critical infrastructures...”
File image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
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 more information from Homeland Security and Emergency Management: “…According to the National Weather Service, Minnesota experiences an average of 40 tornadoes per year. In 2012, 37 twisters touched down. A record was set in 2010 with 104 tornadoes across the state. Understanding this threat and knowing what to do when a tornado is approaching can save lives. Take advantage of Severe Weather Awareness Week to review your own and your family’s emergency procedures and prepare for weather-related hazards...”
File photo: Randy Widmayer.
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.
File photo: NOAA.
Greensburg To Remember Tornado. The tornado that hit Greensburg, Kansas was a monster, a huge, violent wedge torando. Dodge City Daily Globe has a story on efforts to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of that horrible day: “Greensburg was destroyed almost 10 years ago by a deadly tornado. Since then the community has embraced the green in Greensburg. The community will hold several 10th anniversary events beginning May 4 and concluding May 7. City officials are currently trying to finish a sidewalk as part of Starlight Public Art Park, located kitty-corner from city hall...”
Photo credit: “The center of Greensburg is shown on May 17, 2007, in this FEMA photo. the town resembles a bomb site 12 days after it was hit by an EF-5 torando. The community will hold a 10th anniversary event which remembers the night of the tornando, but also the spirit of the community.” Photo by Greg Marshall/FEMA.
Climate and the Weather-Sensitive U.S. Economy. Buffalo meteorologist Don Paul has an informative post at The Buffalo News: “…Most people are unaware of just how weather-sensitive our economy is. The insurance industry has some of the numbers. According to the Reinsurance Association of America, an insurance trade association, extreme weather-related losses have gone up 350 percent since 1980. That’s $1.1 trillion in losses. In a study published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, data shows U.S. businesses sustaining about $500 billion in weather-related losses annually, as of 2011. In just one example, NASA’s Langley Research Center reports the airline industry loses at least $100 million annually due to turbulence, which causes flight delays and injuries. Weather is the root cause tied to more than half of all insurance claims, according to the industry. Those costs will inevitably continue to climb because so many are choosing to live in areas prone to more frequent extreme weather...”
Take That Europe. Computer Modelers Aims to Give U.S. Lead in Weather Predictions. Science AAAS has a fascinating story: “…Recently, NWS has suffered some prominent embarrassments, such as in 2012, when it predicted Hurricane Sandy would sputter out over the ocean while a leading European center accurately forecast the direct hit on New York City. Fed up with the country’s second-place status, Congress in 2013 poured $48 million into NWS weather modeling. The message for NOAA was clear: Get America on top. This drive has opened up an opportunity. For a long time, meteorologists and climate scientists operated in separate domains. Meteorologists focused on speed: ingesting as many data as possible from satellites, balloons, and buoys and quickly spinning it into a forecast. Climate scientists focused on the fussy physics of their models to produce plausible simulations over decades. But now, the two groups are discovering common ground, in “subseasonal to seasonal” predictions—from a month to 2 years out. In order to push forecasts beyond 10 days or so, meteorologists need the superior physics of the climate models…”
Image credit: “Shian-Jiann “S. J.” Lin’s program will power short-term weather forecasts and long-term climate simulations.” JEFF FUSCO
The State of the Air, 2017. Here’s an update that caught my eye from The American Lung Association: “…Overall, the best progress came in the continued reduction of ozone and year-round particle pollution, thanks to cleaner power plants and increased use of cleaner vehicles and engines. Continued progress to cleaner air remains crucial to reduce the risk of premature death, asthma attacks and lung cancer. However, a changing climate is making it harder to protect human health. Nearly 4 in 10 people (38.9 percent) in the United States live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution. More than 125 million Americans live in 204 counties where they are exposed to unhealthful levels of air pollution in the form of either ozone or short-term or year-round levels of particles…”
EPA Seeks Delay Over Rule Curbing Coal Plants’ Toxic Pollution. The Washington Post has an update: “The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday asked a federal court to delay an oral argument in a challenge involving a 2012 regulation limiting the amount of mercury, lead and other airborne toxins emitted from power plants. While the power sector has largely already complied with the rule, several companies and 15 states — including Oklahoma, which was represented by current EPA head Scott Pruitt when he was the state’s attorney general — are seeking to overturn it. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was set to hear the case on May 18...”
Photo credit: “
See The Best and Worst Places for Breathable Air in the U.S. It turns out the cleanest air isn’t always in rural areas, according to new research highlighted at National Geographic: “The air Americans breathe is cleaner than ever, thanks to cleaner power plants and cleaner vehicles. That milestone is all the more impressive when considering progress has been achieved in spite of increases in population, energy use, and miles driven. Yet nearly 40 percent of Americans—125 million people—still live where the air is unhealthy to breathe. Those findings are contained in the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report, released Wednesday…Six cities ranked on all three pollutant lists for cleanest cities. They had no high ozone or high particle pollution days, and were among the 25 cities with the lowest year-round particle levels. Five cities are repeaters: Burlington, Vermont, Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida, Elmira-Corning, New York, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Melbourne-Titusville-Palm Bay on Florida’s Space Coast…”
Photo credit: Fidel L Soto.
Once a Strip Mine, This Land Could Become a “History-Making” Solar Energy Farm. Now here’s a novel idea, highlighted at Lexington Herald Leader: “Developers are studying the potential to install tens of thousands of solar panels on a reclaimed surface mine in Pike County. If the project becomes reality, it would bolster the economy in a place desperate for jobs and make the county — which long topped the state in mining coal — a key producer of renewable energy. “This is really a history-making project for the region,” said Ryan Johns, an executive with Berkeley Energy Group, a Pike County company involved in the idea…”
Photo credit: “ Berkeley Energy Group
What Sets Successful CEOs Apart. Here’s an excerpt from The Harvard Business Review: “…The behaviors we’re about to describe sound deceptively simple. But the key is to practice them with maniacal consistency, which our work reveals is a great challenge for many leaders. Deciding with speed and conviction: Legends about CEOs who always seem to know exactly how to steer their companies to wild success seem to abound in business. But we discovered that high-performing CEOs do not necessarily stand out for making great decisions all the time; rather, they stand out for being more decisive. They make decisions earlier, faster, and with greater conviction. They do so consistently—even amid ambiguity, with incomplete information, and in unfamiliar domains. In our data, people who were described as “decisive” were 12 times more likely to be high-performing CEOs…”
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: Showers taper, drying out by afternoon, but nasty. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 49
THURSDAY NIGHT: Partial clearing. Low: 38
FRIDAY: Blue sky, spring stages a comeback. Winds: NE 5-10. High: 61
SATURDAY: Partly sunny, probably nicer day of weekend. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 40. High: 64
SUNDAY: Clouds increase, probably dry. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 47. High: 62
MONDAY: Heavy showers and T-storms likely. Winds: S 15-25. Wake-up: 50. High: 61
TUESDAY: Partial clear, breezy and cooler. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 45. High: 56
WEDNESDAY: Showery rains south, sun north. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 42. High: 57
Minnesota March for Science. Here are details on Saturday’s march and rally at the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul: “The Start Point of the March for Science Minnesota will be Cathedral Hill Park in St. Paul. The march will begin at 11:00 AM on Earth Day, April 22. Participants will march from the Start Point to the Minnesota State Capitol, where the Rally will start at 12 PM. Please plan to arrive at the Start Point 30 to 45 minutes in advance to account for the increased traffic and public transportation congestion which may be caused by this event…”
Minnesota Eco Events has a detailed list of events related to Earth Day here.
Earth Day and the March for Science. More perspective at NPR: “…Well, let’s face it. There is no Earth Day without science. But we should really go back to before 1970 and that first Earth Day. If it weren’t for the deep science that was giving us the warnings about our air and our water back then, there wouldn’t have been an Earth Day. I’m a student of the Industrial Revolution. By 1970, 100-plus years of industrial society had left a long trail. It was in the decade or so before 1970 that people recognized the links between asthma and air pollution and water quality and disease. So the science started piling on until people couldn’t ignore it. I don’t mean people like you, or me, but the people in Congress. The people in charge of making laws There wasn’t a big environmental community back then. Before Earth Day there were basically just movements for conservation, which was about preserving species either for hunting or for using as some kind of natural resource…” (Image credit: NOAA).
Weather Disasters from Climate Change Are Pushing Some Companies to Amazon’s Cloud, Says CTO. Here’s an excerpt of a story at CNBC: “Amazon Web Services has been winning business worldwide from companies that are stripping down their data centers and taking advantage of emerging cloud technologies. Some clients are signing on for a different reason: climate change. From New Jersey to Japan, massive storms and earthquakes in recent years have instantly wiped out technical infrastructures, leaving businesses unable to retrieve critical data. Amazon Chief Technology Officer Werner Vogels told CNBC on Tuesday that companies are turning to the cloud to make sure their data is backed up and always accessible...”
When Rising Seas Transform Risk Into Uncertainty. We’ve gone from theory to reality. The water is rising (at the same time land is subsiding in many areas) and the result is a greater frequency of coastal flooding, even when no storms are present. Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “…Insurance serves as a bulwark, both financial and mental, against the fact that we live in a fundamentally uncertain and dangerous world. “The revolutionary idea that defines the boundary between modern times and the past,” the financial historian Peter L. Bernstein wrote in his 1996 book, “Against the Gods,” “is the mastery of risk: the notion that the future is more than a whim of the gods and that men and women are not passive before nature.” Calamity can come for us all, but by bundling enough separate peril together we manage to form a general stability, a collective hedge against helplessness. As climate insecurity mounts, though, that math will get harder...”
Photo credit: “Larchmont-Edgewater, a Norfolk, Va. neighborhood frequently plagued by floods. The house in the center has been raised above flood levels, the one at left has not.” Benjamin Lowy for The New York Times.
For the First Time on Record, Human-Caused Climate Change Has Rerouted an Entire River. Chris Mooney explains at The Washington Post: “A team of scientists on Monday documented what they’re describing as the first case of large-scale river reorganization as a result of human-caused climate change. They found that in mid-2016, the retreat of a very large glacier in Canada’s Yukon territory led to the rerouting of its vast stream of meltwater from one river system to another — cutting down flow to the Yukon’s largest lake, and channeling freshwater to the Pacific Ocean south of Alaska, rather than to the Bering Sea. The researchers dubbed the reorganization an act of “rapid river piracy,” saying that such events had often occurred in the Earth’s geologic past, but never before, to their knowledge, as a sudden present-day event. They also called it “geologically instantaneous…”
Photo credit: “
climate change is stoking bigger fires and development is placing more people in fire-prone areas, that approach has become inadequate. “We’re entering a new era of wildfires and our old tools are not going to carry us through,” said Tania Schoennagel, a research scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, who co-authored the report...”As wildfires in the American West grow larger and more frequent, strategies to manage them will have to shift radically, according to a new study. Among the researchers’ recommendations are allowing natural wildfires to burn and staging more controlled burns away from population centers. For decades, the U.S. Forest Service has battled fires by extinguishing them or by reducing dry wood that acts as fuel. But the report published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that because
File photo: National Park Service.
Effects of Sea Level Rise May Extend Well Inland. A migration away from the coasts here in the USA? It’s already happening in Louisiana and Alaska. Cities well inland may be impacted as coastal-dwellers throw in the towel and move, according to a new study highlighted by Andrew Freedman at Mashable: “…However, by making large swaths of the U.S. shoreline uninhabitable by the end of this century, sea level rise could reverberate far inland, too. In fact every since U.S. state will be affected by climate change-induced sea level rise, a new study found. If the global average sea level rises by 1.8 meters, or nearly 6 feet, byh 2100 – which is well within the mainstream projections from recent studies – 13.1 million Americans could migrate away from coastal areas during this time period, according to research published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change…”
Image credit: “Miami under a 6-foot sea level rise scenario.” Climate Central.