A Week That Restores Your Faith in a Minnesota May

Weather is an apt metaphor for life: storms of unhappiness, squalls of bad news; careening around puddles of misfortune. And then the sun comes out, birds begin to chirp, and you remember how good it is to be alive. This week will be one of those happy chapters.

One last swirl of cold air aloft sparks a few afternoon showers; otherwise I see a dry week with slowly warming temperatures. Expect 70s the latter half of the week; sticky 80s possible Sunday and Monday. In little over a week we will go from complaining about wind chill to whining about bugs & humidity. Wait for it.

ECMWF models hint at a few severe T-storms early next week, but it's remarkable how quiet it's been here; fewer hail and tornado-producing storms than usual. June is, historically, the wettest, most severe month of the year in Minnesota - so it's premature to let our guard down yet.

Meanwhile flood-weary residents of Texas and the Gulf Coast get doused again this week. And April was the 7th month in a row of "hottest months" worldwide; 2016 on track to be the warmest year on record.

Another coincidence. 

Instability Showers Today. A steep lapse rate (temperatures falling more rapidly with altitude than normal) may spark a few pop-up showers today; a thundershower can't be ruled out but conditions aren't ripe for anything severe. Today may bring the only chance of rain for the next 6 days. Future Radar: NOAA's 4 KM NAM model and AerisWeather.

Upward and Onward. All the models are in alignment and agreement, showing a steady warming trend into next week, with 70s likely late week and over the weekend.

Taste of Summer Next Week? GFS guidance from NOAA shows fairly consistent 80s next week with dew  points rising above 70F by the middle of next week, sparking a few T-storms. We're overdue for severe storms - I wouldn't be surprised to see a few watches and warnings within 7-9 days.

A Dry Week - Stormy Weather Returns Next Week. With the exception of a few instability showers today a dry sky prevails into Sunday, but models print out 1-2" rain the latter half of next week. Graphic: Aeris Enterprise.

Lukewarm End to May. I don't see any extended heatwaves, no record warmth brewing (yet) but GFS predictions for 500 mb winds the end of May suggest temperatures a few degrees above average as we transition into a more summerlike pattern.

Seven In A Row: April is the Hottest April on Record - a 7,000 Year Record? Details via HotWhopper: "...This is the seventh month in a row of "hottest months", all of which had an anomaly more than one degree Celsius above the 1951-1980 mean. This breaks the previous record of six in a row, set last month. This hasn't happened before in the record since at least the 1950s. Earlier times probably aren't sufficiently accurate on a month by month basis to say. I didn't check back that far and, in any case, pre-1950s temperatures would probably have been hotter at some time in the last couple of millenia. What that means is that it's probably more than 7,000 years since there was a similar run of hottest months on record. That is, not since the Holocene climatic optimum (and it's probably hotter now than it was back then)..."

Graphic credit: "Global mean surface temperature for El Nino years". Data source: GISS NASA.

Earth Just Recorded Its Warmest April on Record, And It Wasn't Even Close. More perspective from Andrew Freedman at Mashable: "...The record all but assures that 2016 will set another milestone for the warmest calendar year in NASA's database, regardless of whether the rest of this year sees comparatively cooler global temperatures. During each of the past seven months, global average surface temperatures have exceeded the 20th century average by more than 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Until October, that 1-degree threshold had not been crossed since NASA's global temperature records began in 1880..." (Image: NASA GISS).

Lloyd's of London Urges U.S. Government To Stop Insuring Floods. Financial Times ran an article that made me do a double-take; here's an excerpt: "Lloyd’s of London insurers have called on the US government to stop providing cover for flood damage, arguing that state support has become unsustainable and encourages irresponsible housebuilding. The national flood insurance programme has 5.2m policyholders, takes in about $3.4bn in premiums a year and covers $1.3tn worth of assets. But it has racked up debt of $23bn, mainly because of the costs from disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy..." (File photo: NOAA).

Fewer Tornado Days, But More Big Outbreaks. WXshift takes a look at the trends - natural variation or something more? Here's an excerpt: "...A 2014 NOAA study examined trends in the tornado record for a possible climate change signal. Since the early 1970s, the nationwide average annual number of days with at least one (E)F1 or stronger tornado has dropped from 150 to 100. Yet, there has been an increase in the number of days with a very high number of tornadoes. In the 1970s, the average number of days with more than 30 (E)F1 or stronger tornadoes was less than one. In the last decade, that number had jumped to 3..."

Weather Prediction: It's Math! Lot's and lot's of math - calculus that still gives me night-sweats. Here's an excerpt from NOAA: "Dutifully processing 2.8 quadrillion mathematical calculations per second around the clock, these computers — each about the size of a school bus — are the nucleus of weather and climate forecasting in the United States and the calculations they make are the foundation of NOAA’s life-saving weather predictions. Every day, the supercomputers collect and organize billions of earth observations, such as temperature, air pressure, moisture, wind speed and water levels, which are critical to initialize all numerical weather prediction models. All these observations are represented by numbers..."

Mission Impossible? New England's Snowstorm "Bomb" From Inside a Doppler-On-Wheels. Here's an excerpt of an interesting series from NSF, the National Science Foundation: "Jan. 26, 2015. The day computer models forecast one of the most intense snowstorms in history. Meteorologists call it a "bomb." The bomb would hit coastal New England that afternoon. And night. And the next morning. Eventually it blitzed the region with more than 3 feet of snow. Blizzard warnings were issued from New Jersey to Maine. Cities in the path of the storm ground to a halt. In the first driving snows, a Doppler-on-Wheels (DOW) mobile radar--a truck with a swiveling radar dish mounted on its back like a huge eye--made its way through Massachusetts..."

Photo credit: "DOW scientists Karen Kosiba and Traeger Meyer brave winds gusting more than 50 miles per hour." Credit: Josh Wurman, Karen Kosiba, Center for Severe Weather Research

Fracking's Air Pollution Puts Infants and Children at Risk of Developing Heart, Lung Problems. Truthout has the article; here's the intro: "A newly published peer-reviewed study concludes that air pollution from fracking puts people's lungs, hearts, and immune systems at risk -- and that the health risks are particularly pointed for young children and infants. The study -- the first to specifically focus on how shale oil and gas drilling affects children ability to breathe -- concludes that starting in the womb, children's developing respiratory systems are particularly at risk from five airborne pollutants associated with fracking and drilling..."

America's Shrinking Middle Class: A Close Look at Changes Within Metropolitan Areas. Why are we so angry? New findings from Pew Research Center offers strong clues: "The American middle class is losing ground in metropolitan areas across the country, affecting communities from Boston to Seattle and from Dallas to Milwaukee. From 2000 to 2014 the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 U.S. metropolitan areas examined in a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. The decrease in the middle-class share was often substantial, measuring 6 percentage points or more in 53 metropolitan areas, compared with a 4-point drop nationally..."

Rich People Have Access to High-Speed Internet; Many Poor People Still Don't. Here's an excerpt from a story at the Center for Public Integrity: "...An investigation by the Center for Public Integrity found that even though Internet access has improved in recent years, families in poor areas are almost five times more likely not to have access to high-speed broadband than the most affluent American households. That means no access to online jobs, and no access to health care advice, education, government services and banking — everything needed to be a full participant in today’s society. This harsh reality has led to a new kind of segregation. “Internet access,” says James Lane, superintendent of Goochland County Public Schools, “is the civil rights issue of our time...”

Map credit: Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Communications Commission, Census Bureau data. Road map by Stamen Design (CC BY 3.0), OpenStreetMap contributors.

Scientists Can Now Make Lithium-Ion Batteries Last a Lifetime. Computerworld has the story; here's the intro: "Who says playing around is a waste of time? Researchers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) said that's exactly what they were doing when they discovered how to increase the tensile strength of nanowires that could be used to make lithium-ion batteries last virtually forever. Researchers have pursued using nanowires in batteries for years because the filaments, thousands of times thinner than a human hair, are highly conductive and have a large surface area for the storage and transfer of electrons..."

Photo credit: "University of California doctoral student Mya Le Thai holds a nanowire device that has the potential to enable hundreds of thousands of recharges in a lithium-ion battery." Credit: Steve Zylius/UCI

Try Not To Jiggle While Watching These Amazing Bladeless Wind Turbines. Is this the future of wind power? Here's an excerpt from upworthy.com: "...It's called Bladeless, and it's a wind turbine with — you guessed it — no blades.The bladeless turbines are massive poles jutting out of the ground. Because they're thinner than a regular wind turbine and have no blades, more of them can fit into a space, meaning more electricity can be generated while taking up less real estate. So how does the bladeless turbine generate power?..."

Image credit: "Jiggle jiggle jiggle." GIF via Vortex Bladeless/YouTube.

Why Impactful Businesses Generate More Profit. Here's an excerpt of an interesting post at virgin.com: "What’s worked before is no longer an option. It’s time for Maverick entrepreneurs, visionary creators, change makers, and impactful leaders to rewrite the rules of business for the 21st century. In fact, I predict that businesses without a core impact will be at a competitive disadvantage in four to seven years (or less). The time has come for an Evolved Enterprise to create (or re-create) a company that authentically comes straight from your true essence, wrapped around a meaningful impact, and then develops the community, culture, and product or service in total alignment. And the most interesting part is all of this is actually good for business in all ways..."

Find Out If Your Name Was Ahead of Its Time. How popular was your name when you were born? A calculator at TIME brings out the inner-narcissist in all of us: "...To find out how popular your name was when you were born—and how it has fared since then—enter your gender, birth year and first name into this interactive. We’ll tell you which of eight categories your name fits into based on your birth year, like “trendsetter,” “Mr. or Ms. Popular,” or even a “snowflake”—a name that was never common..."

Anthony Bourdain On The One Type of Food You Should Never Eat. Amen brother. Here's a clip from TIME: "...But there are a few things the No Reservations and Parts Unknown host will never eat again, including Icelandic fermented shark, Namibian warthog rectum —and airplane food. In a conversation with Bon Appetit, Bourdain claimed that he never eats the food on the many, many plane rides he takes as he travels the world. “Never,” said Bourdain. “No one has ever felt better after eating plane food. I think people only eat it because they’re bored. I don’t eat on planes. I like to arrive hungry...”

Prince's Final Revolution: How The Purple One Transformed The Way We Grieve. Here's an excerpt of a poignant post at City Pages: "...Regardless of whatever’s in those vaults, Prince’s final and perhaps his most vital, beguiling stunt, the one that will resonate the furthest, is how he transformed the way we grieve in public. This is territory previously unknown. We are celebrating at the funeral. In the aftermath of death, we say things like “what a life” or “we were blessed to have known this person,” but these are platitudes. It’s small talk for people with nothing to say. No platitude can soften the blunt emptiness brought with this kind of permanence. The only real shelter from grief is time..." (Image credit: Slate).

65 F. high temperature Sunday in the Twin Cities.

69 F. average high on May 15.

67 F. maximum temperature at KMSP on May 15, 2015.

May 16, 1934: An extreme hot spell results in temperatures over 100 across parts of Minnesota, and record highs of 94 in St. Cloud and Minneapolis.

TODAY: Some sun, then clouds increase. Passing shower likely.  Winds: NW 7-12. High: 64

MONDAY NIGHT: Evening sprinkle, then clearing. Low: 44

TUESDAY: Bright sun, much nicer. Winds: NE 7-12. High: 67

WEDNESDAY: Sunny, pretty close to perfect. Wake-up: 46. High: near 70

THURSDAY: Lukewarm sun, distractingly nice. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 51. High: 74

FRIDAY: Intervals of sun, cabin-worthy. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 53. High: 73

SATURDAY: Potentially postcard perfect. Sunny. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 56. High: 77

SUNDAY: Blue sky with a warm breeze. Wake-up: 60. High: near 80

Climate Stories...

NASA: April 2016 Was The Seventh Consecutive Warmest Month on Record for Earth. Here's a clip from a post by Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground: "Every month from October 2015-April 2016 has now had a departure of 1 degree Celsius or greater above the 1951-1980 average used by NASA. The departure from average in a single month had never exceeded 1 degree Celsius prior to October dating back to 1880. April 2016 also continues a string of 369 consecutive months at or warmer than average. The last colder-than-average month in NASA's database was July 1985..."

A Song of Fire and No Ice: We Just Had Our Fourth Record-Breaking Hottest Month in a Row. Here's an excerpt from ThinkProgress: "...How big a jump was April 2016 compared to the historical record? In an email, Stefan Rahmstorf, Head of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, notes that “The margin by which April beats the previous record April is three times larger (0.24 °C) than the margin of any previous record April (biggest was 0.08 °C).” Also, this has easily been the hottest January-April on record, which isn’t a surprise given that last month’s record was hot on the heels of the hottest March on record by far, which followed the hottest February on record by far, and hottest January on record by far..."

Graphic credit: "Global mean temperature anomaly (vs 1951-1980 mean), month of April only." CREDIT: NASA.

A CO2 Milestone in Earth's History. 400 ppm over Antarctica too? Here's an excerpt from UCAR: "Earth’s atmosphere is crossing a major threshold, as high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2)—the leading driver of recent climate change—are beginning to extend even to the globe's most remote region. Scientists flying near Antarctica this winter captured the moment with airborne CO2 sensors during a field project to better understand the Southern Ocean's role in global climate. This illustration shows the atmosphere near Antarctica in January, just as air masses over the Southern Ocean began to exceed 400 parts per million of CO2. The 400 ppm level is regarded as a milestone by climate scientists, as the last time concentrations of the heat-trapping gas reached such a point was millions of years ago, when temperatures and sea levels were far higher..."

Illustration credit: Eric Morgan, Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

A Brief History of Climate Science. If anyone asks the science dates back to Fourier in the 1820s. Here's an excerpt from climate scientist Ed Hawkins at The Conversation: "...What was missing however was an estimate of how much these gases could warm or cool the planet. Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish chemist, provided the first numerical estimates of “climate sensitivity” – defined as the temperature change corresponding to a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. He suggested a value around 4°C in 1896. While the scientists continued to debate the causes of the ice ages, the Earth was warming. From the 1920s onwards meteorologists began to realise that the climate of various regions had changed. Joseph Kincer suggested in 1933 that temperatures in individual cities had been rising. At the same time, others had started measuring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But it took an amateur meteorologist to put the puzzle together..."

Image credit: "The future of the globe used to look a lot brighter." ToastyKen.

Obama Administration Issues New Rules on Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Industry. The rules only apply to new point sources, as explained at VICE News: "The Obama administration issued new rules on Thursday for reducing climate-warming methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector, continuing its string of executive branch actions aimed at addressing climate change. The regulations cover only new or substantially modified oil and gas facilities: wells, processors, storage facilities, and pipelines. The administration says it will be up to the next president to lead the charge on reining in emissions from existing sources. US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said the rules highlight President Barack Obama's commitment to addressing climate change, and limiting pollutants that compromise public health..."

Photo credit: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP.

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