Suddenly Summer

Minnesota’s temperature thermostat isn’t on a dimmer switch – the heat is either ON or OFF. Like flipping on a switch – this week’s weather map looks like early July with 80s, increasingly stick dew points in the 60s, and a few random, pop-up thunderstorms to break up the monotony of purple haze & humidity.

No complaints here, not after what we’ve just been through. I feel like a drowning victim who’s just been thrown a lifeline, in the nick of time.

The dreaded probability of precipitation ranges between 20 percent today to 50 percent tonight, backing off to 40 percent Memorial Day. What’s important with POP is the trend, not so much the number. It gives you a rough guideline, but still doesn’t answer the question: what time will it rain at my house or cabin, and how hard?

Warm frontal thunderstorms tend to flare up at night, then diminish morning hours. Highs are determined by how long the sun stays out, but 80s are likely today and Monday, after a thundery start.
Storms capable of downpours linger into Tuesday, and then a sprawling heat-pump high expands into Minnesota. I could see upper 80s, even the first 90 by late week.

From wind chill to heat index in less than 2 weeks. Here in Minnesota we call that “spring”.

Fast-Forward June. If the sun is out for at least a few hours temperatures should top 80F from today into Saturday, possibly Sunday of next week before cooling off. A few T-storms are likely by tonight, a better chance of thunder late Monday into Tuesday as a sticky warm front stalls nearby. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Volatile Warm Front. Although the risk of severe weather is fairly low, light winds aloft may cause T-storms to redevelop over the same boundaries, with a heighted threat of downpours capable of local flooding, especially Monday and Tuesday over the Upper Midwest. Soaking rains may fall on drought-plagued states from Texas and Oklahoma into the Lower Mississippi Valley. NAM Future Radar: NOAA and HAMweather.

Are Seasonal Forecasts of Value? Great question. Is there any (real/definable) skill in long-range hurricane outlooks, whether it’s from NOAA NHC or CSU or a private weather service? Because in the end it’s not about numbers but the track these storms take – no computer model can predict that in advance. Former Hurricane Director Max Mayfield has an Op-Ed at; here’s an excerpt: “…While there is some skill in forecasting the number of storms on a seasonal basis for the entire Atlantic Basin, these numbers along don’t say anything about where or when or even if the tropical cyclones will strike land. What most people really want to know is if there will be a hurricane over their community and no one can tell you that with any certainty. Perhaps when forecasts call for an exceptionally active year, people are a little more motivated to prepare. But with a forecast like this year indicating the number of storms is most likely to be below normal, I fear that many people will let their guard down…”

* more details on NOAA’s 2014 hurricane prediction from The New York Times.

Slightly More Than 100 Fantastic Pieces of Journalism. Conor Friedersdorf has a worthy list of terrific articles at The Atlantic; here’s an excerpt: “Each year, I keep a running list of exceptional nonfiction for The Best of Journalism, a weekly email newsletter I publish. The result is my annual Best Of Journalism Awards. I couldn’t read every worthy piece published last year and haven’t included any paywalled articles or many of the numerous pieces from The Atlantic that I enjoyed*. But everything that follows is worthy of wider attention…”

9 Quotes That Capture the Meaning of Memorial Day. Here’s an excerpt from Next Avenue: “Memorial Day has come to represent the kick-off of summer, a season of barbecue, beaches and vacations. But the original intent behind the holiday, officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, was to set aside time to pause and remember the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our nation. To honor their legacy, we’ve chosen nine quotes that capture the ideals of patriotism and valor…”

Image credit above: Wiertz Sebastien/Flickr.

Climate Stories…

House Bans Pentagon From Preparing for Climate Change. Because Congressmen know far more about what’s happening with Earth’s climate system than the scientists who study this for a living, right? This takes denial to a whole new level. Details from UPI: “The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted mostly along party lines Thursday to approve an amendment to the $600 billion National Defense Authorization Act which prohibits the Pentagon from using any of its budget to address climate change and specifically instructs the Department of Defense to ignore the latest scientific reports on the threats posed by global warming…”

Photo: Wiki/CC.

How (Not) To Talk about Climate Change. The Washington Post reports; here’s an excerpt: “Last week, John Oliver’s skit on climate change went viral. In it he proclaimed:

“That [people’s beliefs about climate change] doesn’t matter. You don’t need people’s opinion on a fact. You might as well have a poll asking which number is bigger, 15 or 5. … The debate on climate change should not be whether or it exists, it’s what we should do about it. There is a mountain of research on this topic.”

John Oliver is right: Facts don’t depend on public opinion. However, the nature of democratic politics is such that public opinion is far from irrelevant for climate policy. Public opinion, in turn, depends on knowledge and awareness of climate science…”

Image credit above: “Evolution of IPCC’s assessment of the human role in climate change, including actual percentages.” (IPCC via Weather Underground).

Severe Weather in United States Under a Changing Climate. Here’s the abstract of a new research paper, courtesy of AGU and Wiley Online Library: “The science has become clear and convincing that the Earth’s climate is rapidly changing [e.g., Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2014]. Along with the overall changes in climate, there is strong evidence of an increasing trend over recent decades in the frequency, intensity, and duration of some types of extreme weather events, with resulting effects on U.S. society.”

* the paper from Wuebbles, et all is available online, courtesy of EOS and AGU.

Resistance to Climate Change is Killing the Government’s Ability to Use Science. Pacific Standard Magazine has the story – here’s a clip: “…We now know more than ever about the causes and consequences of climate change, and the possible ways to avoid or adapt to it. But the work of our science agencies has provoked a furious backlash, one that goes beyond mere debate over the risks we face and the solutions we should pursue. This backlash of climate change denial is killing our ability to act, by attacking the very research institutions that we established to help us solve our problems…”

How Climate Change Harms National Security. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Detroit News: “…In the U.S., sea level rise threatens military and civilian infrastructure and, already, the National Guard, the reserve, and the Army Corps of Engineers respond more frequently to wildfires, floods, snow events, and droughts both at home and abroad, restricting their availability to serve on other missions. It is the military’s fundamental purpose, as our report states, to “protect the homeland; build security globally; project power; and win our nation’s wars.” But anticipated changes in our environment will stress many components that contribute to the military’s readiness to perform those missions…”

Climate Change To Result In Less Nutritional Food, Report Says. Here’s a clip from The Los Angeles Times: “…Crops grown by many of the nation’s farmers have a lower nutritional content than they once did, according to the report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Research indicates that higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have reduced the protein content in wheat, for example. And the International Rice Research Institute has warned that the quality of rice available to consumers will decrease as temperatures rise, the report noted…”

Evangelical Group: Climate Change is a “Pro-Life” Issue. Full disclosure: I’m on the board of EEN, the Evangelical Environmental Network. Here’s a clip from a story focused on Creation Care, stewardship and the growing threats to the state of Florida at ThinkProgress: “A group of Evangelical Christians are calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to create a plan to mitigate and adapt to climate change, hoping that their message will resonate with Scott’s staunch Christian values. Rev. Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), is leading the group’s campaign for Scott to recognize climate change as a major threat in Florida. EEN is collecting signatures for a petition asking Gov. Scott to create a plan for climate change, one which so far has garnered about 12,000 signatures. Hescox told ThinkProgress that EEN chose to focus on Florida because of its vulnerability to climate change — Floridians, especially in the Southeast region of the state, are already struggling to adapt to rising seas that lead to sunny-day flooding and stronger storm surges…”
Photo credit above: AP Photo/Steve Cannon.

Good News: Warming Waters Extend Swim Season. Bad News: They’re Full of Monster Jellyfish. Minnesota’s lakes are looking better with each passing day. Here’s a clip from a story at Grist: “…The Mirror reports that divers off the coast of Cornwall, U.K., have been inundated with enormous, Mediterranean barrel jellyfish. The beasties are not an uncommon visitor to the waters off of England’s southern coasts, and they are harmless to humans. Nonetheless, the numbers and the sheer size of these jellies is an eye opener. And now, according to the Western Morning News, the cthuloid creatures are no longer content to simply migrate north and menace the coasts…”
Photo credit above: Mark J P

Pope Francis Makes Biblical Case for Addressing Climate Change: “If We Destroy Creation, Creation Will Destroy Us”. Here’s a clip from a story at ThinkProgress that made me do a double-take: “…Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude,” Francis said. Francis also said that humanity’s destruction of the planet is a sinful act, likening it to self-idolatry. “But when we exploit Creation we destroy the sign of God’s love for us, in destroying Creation we are saying to God: ‘I don’t like it! This is not good!’ ‘So what do you like?’ ‘I like myself!’ – Here, this is sin! Do you see?”…  (Photo credit: AP).