66 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities yesterday.
57 F. average high on April 14.
76 F. high on April 14, 2016.
.05″ rain fell at Twin Cities International Airport as of 7 pm yesterday.
April 15, 2002: An early heat wave overtakes Minnesota. Faribault hits 93 degrees, and the Twin Cities would experience their earliest recorded 90 degree temperature with a high of 91.
Few Storms Today – A Fine Easter Sunday – Remembering Our Deadliest Tornado
We don’t live in the heart of Tornado Alley but Minnesota is situated along Tornado Cul-de-sac. 2010 brought 113 tornadoes in the Gopher State, most in the USA. F4 tornadoes tracked from Chanhassen to Fridley in 1965.
On this date in 1886 residents of St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids woke up to unimaginable damage and carnage with 72 lives lost. 80 percent of homes in Sauk Rapids were leveled by a wedge tornado the size of 8 football fields. The Mississippi River was temporarily “sucked dry” by the massive funnel. In the words of the Minneapolis Tribune: “This place was today the scene of the most terrible calamity that has ever visited the Northwest.”
There’s a perception that tornadoes only hit farms, and cities are somehow immune – or that they can’t cross rivers. Avoid fake tornado news, rumors and gossip.
With dew points pushing 60F and marginal instability a few strong T-storms may bubble up today. Sunday looks drier and sunnier with mid-60s. Not bad at all for a big holiday
Models hint at a rainy soaking next Tuesday and Thursday, as green-up accelerates. Happy Easter!
April 15, 1886: St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids in Ruins. Here’s an excerpt of a good explainer of the massive tornado that destroyed much of central Minnesota on that fateful day 131 years ago, courtesy of Star Tribune: “Minneapolis Tribune copy editors of 1886 faced a challenge beyond anything we encounter in today’s newsrooms. Day in, day out, the big story on page one required a half-dozen or more subheadlines. Let’s give it up for the anonymous craftsman who managed to write 13 dramatic and informative subheds for the story below. At the same time, he could have done a better job editing the story, which is filled with overwrought prose, tangled syntax and contradictory assertions. My favorite is the writer’s habit of saying a scene is impossible or “too piteous” to describe — and then describing it in great detail. Must be an 1880s thing. Which is not to say that the tornado that hit St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids on April 14, 1886, was anything but a disaster of historic proportions. It is the deadliest tornado in Minnesota history. More than 70 people were killed, and Sauk Rapids was all but blown off the map…”
Photo credit: “The tornado flattened much of Sauk Rapids.” (Photo courtesy mnhs.org).
To Save Lives, Supercomputer Dive Into the Hearts of Nature’s Worst Tornadoes. Here’s a link to a fascinating story (and video) at PBS NewsHour: “…He and his team use Blue Waters — one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world — to run many of their models. This spring, the group released the most detailed simulations ever of an EF-5 tornado, the same brand of high-powered storm that struck El Reno, Oklahoma, with deadly force in 2011. Together, their simulations reveal two tornado development features: a horizontal tube of air known as a “streamwise vorticity current” that helps initiate and maintain twisters and a parade of vortexes — called “misocyclones”– that both anchor and spin a tornado after it forms…”
Image credit: “The streamwise vorticity current, depicted in yellow in this supercomputer simulation, seems to be important to maintaining the strength of a tornado.” Photo courtesy of David Bock/NCSA.
Situational Awareness: “Doppler In Your Pocket” We still can’t DO anything about the weather but at least we can see those red blobs coming, like never before. Weather information, even Doppler radar, has been democratized – now you can track storms on your TV, your PC, your gaming device and hundreds of weather apps for smartphones, many of them free. Unless you’re wandering the Boundary Waters Canoe Area there is NO reason why you should be surprised by bad weather. Traditional media (TV, radio and print) can give you context, perspective and analysis no app will ever provide. But when you’re on the golf course or sitting at Target Field and you need a nugget of information NOW, there’s no substitute to checking Doppler on your phone. Over time you’ll save time, money and aggravation – staying safer in the process.
Fairly Quiet for a Holiday Weekend. Showers and T-storms rumble across the Upper Midwest into Great Lakes and northern New England, but most of the east, south and western USA will experience a quiet weekend; the next wave of showers coming in off the Pacific by Tuesday of next week. 84-hour NAM guidance: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.
Spring Fever Builds. Today should be the mildest day of the next 2 weeks, according to ECMWF guidance. We cool off later next week, but you probably won’t be needing a heavy jacket anytime soon. Famous last words. MSP numbers: WeatherBell.
Drought Outlook. Dry conditions are forecast to improve in the coming weeks from the east coast into the Mid South, but drought is forecast to persist from near Oklahoma City to Denver into the Texas Panhandle. No drought for the west coast. No kidding. Drought forecast into late June: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.
River Flooding Update. NOAA has great online tools to keep tabs on nearby rivers that may be about to flood. As of Friday minor flooding was reported in upstate New York, moderate to major flooding from Lower Michigan into central Illinois. Source: NWS North Central River Forecast Center.
Worst Wildfire Season in Years Prompts a State of Emergency in Florida. PBS NewsHour has details: “Florida has entered a state of emergency as firefighters battle more than 100 wildfires that are raging throughout more than 20,000 acres in the state — from the northern border, to the Panhandle, to the southern tip. Gov. Rick Scott issued the state of emergency order Tuesday, allowing regional and local agencies to redirect their personnel to fight the wildfires and enlisting the help of the Florida National Guard. The order also puts Florida in a position to receive assistance from the federal government. State officials say less than a month into the spring season, large swaths of South and Central Florida are approaching drought-like conditions…”
It’s Like It Never Left: Another El Nino May Be On The Way. Here’s a clip from a New York Times summary: “…Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Md., said that since climate scientists have been studying the phenomenon, a swing from El Nino to La Nina and back to El Nino in such a short time – about three years – has happened only once, in the 1960s. El Nino forecasts are based on computer models of the global climate. Mr. Halpert said those models were somewhat at odds with the conditions forecasters were observing…”
Photo credit: “Flooding in Asuncion, Paraguay, brought on by the strong El Nino in 2016.” Andres Cristaldo/European Pressphoto Agency.
March: 4th Warmest Temperature Anomaly on Record. The coincidences continue to pile up. Here’s an excerpt of an e-mail from Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground: “The NASA/GISS data for March 2017 is showing a 1.12 degree C anomaly, making March replace February as the 4th warmest anomaly of any month in recorded history:
Pretty impressive warmth, considering it comes just two months after a cooling La Niña event that ended in January 2017. Warmest months on record since 1880 (expressed as departure from the 1951 – 1980 average):
February 2016, 1.32°C
March 2016, 1.28°C
January 2016, 1.13°C
March 2017, 1.12°C
February 2017, 1.10°C
December 2015, 1.10°C
Map credit: Copernicus. “Surface air temperature anomaly for March 2017 relative to the March average for the period 1981-2010. Source: ERA-Interim. (Credit: ECMWF, Copernicus Climate Change Service)”
After 63 Feet of Snow, Northern California Mountains Break Record for Wettest Water Year. A number so staggeringly-big it doesn’t even compute. Jason Samenow reports at Capital Weather Gang: “A mind-boggling 751 inches of snow have pummeled the Sugar Bowl ski area near Lake Tahoe this winter. It’s emblematic of a record season for precipitation in California’s northern Sierra Nevada mountain range, and the abrupt end to a historic drought. As of Thursday morning, the northern Sierra had achieved its wettest water year in recorded history, the National Weather Service office in Sacramento announced...”
Photo credit: “
Big Sur, California Still Cut Off From Rest of the World. The Washington Post reports on the aftermath of a series of punishing storms that has effectively isolated this coastal community: “…The “island” of Big Sur — for that’s what this iconic stretch of coastline has become — is entering its ninth week of nearly total isolation, thanks to punishing winter storms, landslides and a failed bridge. The rain ended California’s five-year drought, but it left 45 miles of Highway 1 cut off from the rest of California, with few services for the 450 men, women and children who live here. That means no mail delivery, a limited supply of gasoline, and a single deli where you can buy eggs. Even the resident monks have been forced to pass around the modern-day collection plate known as GoFundMe to help repair the road leading to their monastery...”
Photo credit: “
Early Heat Wave Bakes India, Sign of What’s to Come. Climate Central reports: “Temperatures across northern India, including the capital New Delhi, are set to soar well above 100°F (37.8°C) through the weekend and into next week thanks to a pre-monsoon heat wave that has set in somewhat earlier than normal. Such heat waves are expected to become both more common and more intense as the world warms from the continued buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, in India and elsewhere, posing a threat to public health. Studies have suggested that India will be a particular hotspot for populations stressed by the combination of extreme heat and humidity...”
Photo credit: “A worker takes a bath from the water of a bore pump on a hot summer day during a heat wave in Gurgao, India, on May 29, 2015.” Credit: REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee
The 50th Anniversary of Chicago’s Worst Tornadoes. 10 tornadoes, 3 of them half-mile-wide F4 tornadoes steamrolling across the Chicago metro, leaving 58 people dead and over 1,000 injured? Yes, it can happen. It has happened. Here’s an excerpt of a story at Chicago Now: “…The first tornado, better known as the Belvidere tornado, struck approximately at a little before 4 pm where the Chrysler plant near 1-90 witnessed the destruction of over 400 cars. Then, the destruction continued to the town of Belvidere where hundreds of homes were damaged but it was just at the time that school was getting out and buses were being loaded at the high school. Elementary students were already on the buses but over 1,200 high students were dismissed and tried to get back into the building. According to Jim Allsopp, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, twelve buses were rolled over and students were flung like leaves into the field. Thirteen of the 24 fatalities and 300 of the 500 injuries in this tornado occurred at the high school...”
More details on the April 21, 1967 tornado outbreak from the Chicago office of the National Weather Service.
Smoke-nado? Check out the footage of a smoke-whirlwind, triggered by intense updrafts sparked by wildfires in Nebraska. Video courtesy of Twitter and WeatherNation.
Great Lakes Water Piped to Southwest “Our Future” Says NASA Scientist. I hope I’m not around for this (inevitable) scuffle over water. Here’s an excerpt from Detroit Free Press: “The idea is as old and dusty as the desert Southwest: Pipe abundant Great Lakes water to parched cities out West, such as Phoenix and Las Vegas. The idea’s been dismissed for as long as it’s been pitched, with adamant opposition from Great Lakes states, whose representatives crafted a pact with Canada just to stop such a thing. But the latest person to see large-scale Great Lakes water diversions as a future likelihood might make some in the Midwest do a double take — the chief water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Jay Famiglietti, a hydrologist and senior water scientist at JPL, raised the possibility in an April 4 interview with ideastream.org, a nonprofit owner and operator of Cleveland public broadcasting stations. Famiglietti was in Ohio to speak as part of a lecture series at Case Western Reserve University…”
Great Lakes file image: NASA.
Americans Used a Lot Less Coal in 2016. Details from Climate Central and Scientific American: “Coal in the U.S. is like landline telephones and fax machines — it was everywhere decades ago, but tastes, technology and the market have moved on. So it was little surprise when the federal government reported this week that U.S. coal use fell 9 percent in 2016, even as Americans consumed more energy overall. The U.S. used more natural gas and renewables last year than ever before, while oil use and even nuclear power were on the rise, too. But coal? Not so much. Coal use fell last year for the third year in a row — after slight increases in 2012 and 2013 — and has been steadily declining in the U.S. since it peaked a decade ago, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data…”
Kentucky Miners Paying With Their Lungs. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed focused on black lung disease at Lexington Herald Leader: “…At a time when the coal industry is being promised less regulation, the resurgence of black lung among Kentucky coal miners is even worse than previously thought. A federal epidemiologist recently said that Pike County is “the epicenter of one of the largest industrial medicine disasters that the United States has ever seen.” Dr. Scott Laney, who spoke recently to medical students at Pikeville University, co-authored a study published last December that identified a large cluster of the most severe form of black lung, known as progressive massive fibrosis, in Southeastern Kentucky...”
Photo credit: “ Chandler Markie WYMT, Mountain News.
Cybersecurity Attacks Could Sink a Largely Unprepared Energy Industry. The Advocate explains some of the vulnerabilities in current fossil fuel energy systems: “...Houmb noted that about 75 percent of all breaches are caused by “insiders.” The source can be an engineer doing some maintenance work who unknowingly opens a company’s network via a virus-compromised computer. A lot of Houmb’s work involves training employees on risks, she said. She recommends that oil and gas companies streamline the amount of data an employee needs to do his job. Ideally, if the system is not performing normally, it should help the worker determine whether there’s a software problem, a hardware problem or an attack, Houmb said. Gonzalez said there’s so much information in an oil and gas operations that it can be overwhelming — for example, sensors at every level of the process can capture data…”
File image: George Widman, Associated Press.
American Energy Use, In One Diagram. Dave Roberts takes on the (growing) waste in America’s energy sector at Vox: “Spring brings new growth, new possibilities, and, best of all, a new spaghetti diagram from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) at the Department of Energy. Every year, LLNL produces a new energy flow chart showing the sources of US energy, what it’s used for, and how much of it is wasted. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s a bit of a mind-blower…Perhaps the most striking feature of the spaghetti diagram — what everyone notices the first time they see it — is the enormous amount of “rejected” energy. Not just some, but almost two-thirds of the potential energy embedded in our energy sources ended up wasted in 2016. (And note that some scholars think LLNL is being too optimistic, and that the US is not even 31 percent efficient but more like 13 percent.) What’s more, the US economy is trending less and less efficient over time...”
Tech World Ignores DC and Doubles-Down on Renewables. Climate Nexus has the overview and links: “As Trump doubles down on coal, some of the country’s largest tech companies are forging ahead with their own plans to reduce emissions and use renewable energy. Cloud computing company Salesforce said Thursday it has achieved net zero carbon emissions in its direct operations and will provide a “carbon neutral cloud” for its customers by offsetting indirect emissions along its supply chain. Apple announced Thursday that seven of its suppliers have now pledged to use 100 percent renewable energy. And Microsoft made an agreement this week to bypass Washington’s largest private utility to buy clean power. The tentative arrangement with Puget Sound Energy, which sources 60 percent of its energy from fossil fuels, will allow Microsoft to purchase wind, solar and hydroelectric power from other electricity suppliers.” Salesforce: Mashable, SF Gate. Apple: Bloomberg.
Microsoft: Seattle Times
Solar Installers Struggle as Panels Become Cheap Enough to Own. Falling prices are good for consumers (and companies) but not so good for professional installers, according to The Wall Street Journal: “Solar panels are more affordable than ever for U.S. homeowners, and that is bad news for the biggest players in the industry. The price of solar panels dropped by 20% in the past year thanks in part to a global glut of panels and better technology, according to GTM Research, accelerating a shift among homeowners to buy panels rather than lease them. For a six-kilowatt residential array, the average price fell 17% to $17,340, according to GTM. More than half of U.S. homeowners now buy their panels with cash or a loan, rather than sign a lease or power purchase agreement, up from 38% of home installations in 2015…” (File image: Greentech Media).
“Cool Roofs”: Beating the Midday Sun With a Slap of White Paint. Guardian Sustainable Business has more details: “…But a building’s rooftop can be used for more than just harvesting the sun’s rays. Indeed, cool roofs aim to do exactly the opposite, reflecting as much of the sun’s energy as possible. A flat roof in the midday sun receives about 1,000 watts of sunlight per square metre. A dark roof will absorb most of this energy, heating the roof and underlying building, as well as the surrounding air. Air conditioners that suck in this hot air can further exacerbate a building’s cooling requirements. “If you have a cool roof, that problem can be eliminated,” says Geoff Smith from the University of Technology Sydney, a specialist in green roofing technologies. The easiest way to reflect the sun’s rays is to paint a roof white – something the Greeks have been doing for centuries. A white roof reflects around 85% of the sunlight that hits it – at least when it’s clean – and heats to just a few degrees warmer than the outside air temperature. A black roof, by contrast, can heat to more than 80C, according to sustainable construction expert Chris Jensen from the University of Melbourne...”
Image credit: Santorini, Greece, has been taking advantage of white paint and cool roofs for thousands of years.
Boy (8) Drives Sister (4) to McDonald’s For a Cheeseburger, Doesn’t Hit Anything On The Way. Will this go on his permanent record? Cut him a break, at least he wasn’t texting, according to a recap at SFGate: “…The boy seated his sister in the back of the father’s work van before he got behind the wheel. He drove about a mile from his house, through four intersections and over railroad tracks. The trip required several right-hand turns and one left-hand turn. Witnesses in other vehicles spotted the underage driver and called police. They reported he obeyed traffic rules, stopped at red lights, adhered to the speed limit and didn’t sideswipe a single garbage can…”
A “Sidewalk Harp” in Minneapolis? Who knew? Atlas Obscura has details: “…When pedestrians wave their hands beneath the sculpture’s glowing LED lights, each one produces a distinct musical tone. The “strings” can be “plucked” individually, or “strummed” so they resonate together. The light sensors pulse purple, blue, red, green, and white, producing a unique sound with each different color. This is the work of artist Jen Lewin, who is known for her interactive installations…”
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Book Signing Next Saturday. I’m looking forward to spending time at the Ridgehaven Barnes and Noble in Minnetonka next Saturday, April 22, to sign a few books, talk about the weather (and the climate) and anything else that comes up in casual conversation. More details here.
An Unearthly Sight. Check out a lunar eclipse and the Milky Way, courtesy of NASA and the International Space Station. Awe-inspiring.
TODAY: Peeks of sun, mild and humid. Few strong T-storms. Winds: SW 5-10. High: 71
SATURDAY NIGHT: Lingering showers and T-storms, especially southern MN. Low: 46
EASTER SUNDAY: Partly sunny, much nicer with a drop in humidity. Winds: W 10-20. High: 66
MONDAY: Lingering sunshine, still pleasant. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 42. High: 62
TUESDAY: Heavy showers and T-storms. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 48. High: 59
WEDNESDAY: Sunny start, rain arrives late. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: 43. High: 57
THURSDAY: Rain tapers to showers, chilly. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 41. High: 49
FRIDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, better. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 40. High: 59
Four Seasons of Warming. During meteorological winter Minnesota is the fastest warming state in the USA, according to data compiled by Climate Central: “Climate change is driving up the temperature around the year and around the globe, but topography, weather patterns and snow cover — among other factors — yield regional differences for warming. In the U.S., that means winters are warming fastest from Montana to Florida, springs are cranking up the quickest in the Southwest, and falls are feeling the heat in the Northwest. Then there’s the Lone Star State as the lone place where summer is warming the fastest. If you look at all four seasons across all of the Lower 48 states — for a grand total of 192 state-season combinations — there are only three instances of cooling. The Dakotas and Iowa are cooling ever so slightly in summer. Otherwise, there’s only one direction temperatures have gone: up. Snow cover in particular plays a role in why winters are heating up so fast from Montana to North Carolina. Or more specifically, it’s a lack thereof...”
Where Climate Change is Threatening the Health of Americans. CNN.com has the story: “…Sarfaty helped prepare a report, released last month by the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, that mapped how climate change threatens the health of people across the United States and how those threats vary by region. Extreme temperatures and weather events, poor outdoor air quality, contaminated food and water, mosquito- and tick-borne infections, wildfires and stresses on mental health are the climate-related health risks identified in the report by practicing physicians. “There’s a gap between the public’s understanding of the health implications of climate change and physicians’ understanding of the health implications of climate change,” Sarfaty said. “Most people are not aware that climate change is a danger to their health, and physicians see that risk...”
In Generational Shift, College Republicans Poised to Reform Party on Climate Change. There will be a reboot of the GOP – mark my words. Here’s an excerpt from Reuters: “…In the U.S. Congress and in U.S. party politics, beliefs about climate change often match party membership: Democrats believe it is a largely man-made problem and something that needs urgent action, while a share of Republicans – including President Donald Trump – have dismissed it as anything from a natural phenomenon to a hoax. But a younger generation of Republicans – those on college campuses today – increasingly say they believe climate change is a human-caused problem, and that Americans have a responsibility to act on it and protect the environment, according to a Thomson Reuters Foundation review of college Republican clubs across the United States. That shift appears to be the result of a range of differences, not least that most of the university students will be alive for many decades after current Republican leaders are gone. That period is expected to be a time of worsening climate change impacts, from stronger droughts to sea level rise, unless there is urgent action to address the problem…”
Photo credit: “Harvard University Republican Club members listen to a speaker at a meeting in Harvard Hall, September 6, 2016.” Declan Garvey/Harvard Republican Club/Handout via Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Climate Change Upsets Lives Guided by Nature, Native Americans Say. Here’s an excerpt from a story at Reuters: “The impacts of climate change stretch from the loss of polar bear habitat to African crop failures to threatening a seasonal festival among Native Americans that they believe is critical to keep the world in balance. The traditional calendar of the Tohono O’odham nation, whose reservation straddles the U.S.-Mexican border, starts with the summer solstice. The ensuing months follow the pace of nature. “Right now, the seasons are offset because of global warming,” Verlon Jose, vice chairman of the nation of 34,000 people, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation during a recent visit to the reservation. “The weather is crazy. So is the calendar,” he said...”
Haboob file image: Arizona Department of Public Safety.
How Can Cities Double Down on Fighting Climate Change? The Architects Newspaper has details: “It’s widely accepted that climate change affects us all, and cities in particular. So what are some of the most vulnerable cities doing to adapt to rising seas and extreme weather events? Three experts from three cities—all of whom are current or former government officials—zeroed in on cities’ responses to climate change in their respective regions at a mini Columbia GSAPP conference titled Cities and Climate Action. They were: Jeffrey Hebert, from New Orleans; Adam Freed, from New York; and Rodrigo Rosa of Rio de Janeiro, a visiting scholar at Columbia University and a legislative consultant in the Brazil Federal Senate. Climate change, the experts agreed, is addressed not just through the environment—destructive hurricanes or deadly heat waves—but through a city’s culture, economy, and landscape…”
Photo credit: “How can cities double down on the climate change fight? Three experts share ideas. Pictured here: Even inland cities are vulnerable to the effects of climate change—downtown Nashville is shown here after record flooding in 2010.” (Courtesy Kaldari / Wikimedia Commons).
A Trip to the Zoo Can Get People Talking About Climate Change. Framing this in a way that localizes – and empowers people to find solutions for their communities, may be a viable way forward, according to Pacific Standard: “…For example, when creating exhibits or presentations — or simply talking informally with visitors — staff members are encouraged to avoid the term “greenhouse effect” in favor “heat-trapping blanket.” That easy-to-grasp metaphor “is more effective at conveying the effects of heat-trapping gas on the earth’s temperature,” the researchers write. They are also urged to describe the ocean as the heart of the planet’s “circulatory system” — a vivid, body-based way to convey the vital role oceans play in regulating weather patterns. Finally, they are encouraged to emphasize the importance of “community action and cooperation” to solve this global problem. The study featured 1,066 American adults who had visited a zoo, aquarium, or national park in the previous year...”
Photo credit: Jeffery Wright/Flickr.