"There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing choices" goes the old Scandinavian proverb. I think we can all agree that a sun-soaked vacation or lukewarm, blue-sky Saturday qualifies as "good weather", but not always. Not when 92 percent of the state is in moderate drought. Not when we're tracking blowing dirt, low lake water levels and extreme fire danger.
"Paul, no editorials please. We don't want an opinion, just the facts please" critics charge. And everyone's a critic. But with concern growing about the impact of drought on Minnesota'a farming community the forecast models are overflowing with good news.
A mega-million dollar rain event is shaping up over the next week. ECMWF (European) model guidance prints out over 3 inches of rain by next Tuesday. Most farms, lawns & gardens should pick up at least 1-2 inches of rain over the next 7-8 days; the best chance of a soaking rain Friday, again Sunday. Waves of moisture ripple across Minnesota as a slow-moving storm tracks from Tulsa to Chicago. Finally.
An inch or two of slush may coat lawns from Nisswa to Sandstone tonight, but most of us enjoy a cold rain and 40s this week. Minnesota is about to turn neon-green.
Good weather indeed!
Trending Wetter. Much of Minnesota needs 2-5" of rain or more to pull out from moderate drought conditions. I can't promise that, but an inch of water over the next 7-8 days seems realistic for much of central and southern Minnesota. 7-Day rainfall guidance: NOAA.
Winter Weather Advisory. Far northern suburbs of the Twin Cities may be waking up to a couple inches of slush on lawns, fields and slow-moving robins. A Winter Weather Advisory is posted from Brainerd and Little Falls to Princeton, Hinckley and Rice Lake. Details from the local NWS office in Chanhassen:
...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT FROM 1 AM TO 10 AM CDT MONDAY... * TIMING...EXPECT A WINTRY MIX TO DEVELOP TONIGHT AND CONTINUE THROUGH EARLY MONDAY MORNING. * SNOW ACCUMULATION...UP TO 3 INCHES. * ICE ACCUMULATION...LITTLE TO NONE. * MAIN IMPACT...ROADS COULD BECOME SLIPPERY DURING THE OVERNIGHT HOURS.
Slushy Lawns Up North. A few days ago we mentioned the possibility of snow (quite prematurely, I'm sorry to admit) and it still appears that some lawns and fields from Brainerd, Little Falls and Crosby eastward to Sandstone, Hinkley and Rhinelander may get slushed up with an inch or two. 12 KM NAM guidance courtesy of NOAA and HAMweather.
Memories of Early March. So much for 70s and 80s. Temperatures this week run a good 10F colder than average, but the chilly air sets the stage for an extended tug-of-warm overhead, with persistent overruning precipitation lingering into Saturday. Highs hold in the 40s (some 30s up north) with some slight recover by Sunday, when another round of heavier showers and T-storms may arrive later in the day. No complaints about the rain - we really need it. Graphic: Weatherspark.
Warming Up Mid-April. This week looks chilly, no question about that, but looking out 2 weeks GFS forecasts for 500 mb winds show a long-wave ridge of high pressure treating much of the central USA to warmer than average temperatures - unusually chilly weather hanging on for the Great Lakes, New England and much of the eastern seaboard. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.
New Tornado Terminology. The additional descriptive information regarding tornado severity was pioneered in the Midwest (including the Twin Cities) last year. Here's a snippet from a story at Daily Journal: "...The new warning information includes two levels: hazard possibilities and enhanced damage possibilities. A meteorologist can state the hazard options of hail, damaging winds, tornado, damaging tornado and deadly tornado. It also shows if the radar and/or storm spotters are seeing a tornado while describing the level of damage. Latimer said the addition doesn't change the weather service's use of the watch or warning, which used to be the only information given..."
Hurricane Rain Slows Storms Up To 30% Friction from falling raindrops may weaken, not intensify tropical systems. Here's some breaking news and new research courtesy of Science/AAAS News: "...A hurricane can dump nearly 2 trillion liters of water a day. But this massive rainfall has an upside, according to a new study. Researchers have discovered that the deluge can weaken the tempest by up to 30%—a finding that may improve future storm predictions..." (Image: NOAA).
Beneath California Crops, Groundwater Crisis Grows. At some point underground aquifers become depleted (or contaminated) and you can't drill any deeper to find fresh water. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "... Farmers are drilling wells at a feverish pace and pumping billions of gallons of water from the ground, depleting a resource that was critically endangered even before the drought, now in its fourth year, began. California has pushed harder than any other state to adapt to a changing climate, but scientists warn that improving its management of precious groundwater supplies will shape whether it can continue to supply more than half the nation’s fruits and vegetables on a hotter planet..."
File photo credit above: "This Jan. 16, 2015 file photo shows pumpjacks operating at the Kern River Oil Field, in Bakersfield, Calif. California’s top regulators on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 acknowledged lax oversight by the state had allowed oil-and-gas industry contamination of protected water aquifers and other threats to public safety, and pledged to intensify protection of water sources and public health." (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
The Thirsty West: 10 Percent of California's Water Goes To Almond Farming. Meteorologist Eric Holthaus has the story at Slate; here's an eye-opening excerpt: "...California almonds use a stunning 1.1 trillion gallons of water each year, or enough for you to take a 10-minute shower each day for 86 million years (using a low-flow showerhead, of course). Here’s the calculation: California as a whole diverts or pumps 43 million acre-feet of water each year to supplement its meager rainfall. In total, agriculture consumes 34 million acre-feet of that..." (Photo: Eric Holthaus).
Californians Who Conserved Fear State Can't Overcome Those Who Did Not. Get ready for Water Wars. Here's a clip from a New York Times article: "...In a state accustomed to cycles of drought and perennial water fights, the need for such drastic cuts has highlighted discord between cities and agricultural water users (who use about 80 percent of the developed water supply), between California’s wetter north that pumps water to its drier south, and between water’s frugal and spendthrift users..."
* At least 37% of the USA is in moderate drought or worse as of March 31. Click here for an animated time line showing the intensification of drought since December.
California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth. Here's an excerpt from a story at The New York Times: "...But even California’s biggest advocates are wondering if the severity of this drought, now in its fourth year, is going to force a change in the way the state does business. Can Los Angeles continue to dominate as the country’s capital of entertainment and glamour, and Silicon Valley as the center of high tech, if people are forbidden to take a shower for more than five minutes and water bills become prohibitively expensive? Will tourists worry about coming? Will businesses continue their expansion in places like San Francisco and Venice?..."
Image credit above: " Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times"
As Quakes Rattle Oklahoma, Fingers Point To Oil and Gas Industry. Is high-speed injection of waste-water from fracking sparking a swarm of tremors in Oklahoma? Scientists increasingly see a connection, as reported at The New York Times: "...From 2010 to 2013, Oklahoma oil production jumped by two-thirds and gas production rose by more than one-sixth, federal figures show. The amount of wastewater buried annually rose one-fifth, to nearly 1.1 billion barrels. And Oklahoma went from three earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater to 109 — and to 585 in 2014, and to 750-plus this year, should the current pace continue. In the United States, only Alaska is shaken more..."
53 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Sunday.
52 F. average high on April 5.
50 F. high on April 5, 2014.
April 5, 1999: Snow over the arrowhead. 11 inches falls at Two Harbors.
April 5, 1929: Tornado cuts a path from Lake Minnetonka through North Minneapolis and leaves six dead.
TODAY: Cold rain. Slushy mix up north. Winds: NE 10-20. High: 42
MONDAY NIGHT: Rain and drizzle. Wet snow possible north of MSP. Low: 36
TUESDAY: Good and soggy. More rain likely. High: 42
WEDNESDAY: Still gray, but a drier day. Wake-up: 35. High: 47
THURSDAY: More rain, best chance southern MN. Wake-up: 38. High: 46
FRIDAY: Heavier, steadier rain expected. Wake-up: 37. High: 49
SATURDAY: Showers taper, clouds linger. Wake-up: 36. High: near 50
SUNDAY: Peeks of sun, late-day T-storms. Wake-up: 40. High: 58
* Photo above courtesy of Media Logic meteorologist Todd Nelson, who assures me rhubarb are coming up in St. Michael.
Record Low Snowpack in Pacific Northwest Could Be "Dress Rehearsal" for Climate Change. PRI, Public Radio International, has the story - here's the intro: "When officials in drought-stricken California found last week that snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada mountains were at historic lows, they took drastic action, implementing unprecedented water-use restrictions. But record-low snowpacks aren’t just a thing in California. They’re also happening further north. In western Washington, snow levels are more than 90 percent below normal, and statewide the snow level is at 71 percent below where it should be. The situation is even more severe in Oregon, which has received less than a quarter of its normal snowfall..."
Photo credit above: "Scott Pattee, a water supply specialist with the National Resources Conservation Service, checks snow levels at Stevens Pass ski resort in Washington's Cascade Mountains." Credit: Ashley Ahearn/KUOW.
The Whole Globe is Warming - But Look At How Much Of It Is Cause By The Northern Hemisphere. Chris Mooney takes a look at the geopolitical implications of CO2 emissions in a story at The Washington Post; here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...The Northern Hemisphere, home to almost 90 percent of the world’s population, is where the majority of atmospheric carbon dioxide originates,” writes Elliott. Indeed, of the world’s top ten cumulative greenhouse gas emitters from 1850 to 2011, only two, Brazil and Indonesia, are at least partly situated the southern hemisphere (and each has contributed about 1 percent of the global total). These are not just idle observations — the situation has significant implications for the difficult international politics of climate change..."
Green Lawns Optional. Photo and story above courtesy of comedian Andy Borowitz at The New Yorker.
Drought, Climate Change and California's Multibillion-Dollar Problem. Here's a clip from an Op-Ed at Forbes: "...Short of such measures, the study — produced by the Risky Business Project, which is co-chaired by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and hedge-fund manager and environmental advocate Tom Steyer — suggests that California will likely face “multiple and significant economic risks from climate change,” over the 21st century. This includes a likely doubling, and perhaps even a tripling, of the average number of days above 95ºF and a 60 percent to 90 percent decline in the average number of days below freezing across the state..."
Photo credit above: "As California enters its fourth year of severe drought and the state’s snowpack is at record lows, little water runoff is reaching reservoirs and recharge ponds that capture water and that percolates through the soil to replenish underground aquifers." (Photo: AP).