Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 33 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist for WeatherNation TV, a new, national 24/7 weather channel with studios in Denver and Minneapolis. Founder of Media Logic Group, Douglas and a team of meteorologists provide weather services for media at Broadcast Weather, and high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster. His speaking engagements take him around the Midwest with a message of continuous experimentation and reinvention, no matter what business you’re in. He is the public face of “SAVE”, Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education, based in Bloomington. | Send Paul a question.

"Moderate" Severe Risk for MSP (risk of a few large/violent tornadoes near MSP later today; 122 tornadoes Saturday)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: April 20, 2012 - 9:55 PM

73 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Saturday.

57 F. average high for April 14.

48 F. high a year ago - April 14, 2011.

.75" additional rain predicted for the Twin Cities by Monday morning (12z NAM model)

Moderate severe threat from the Twin Cities south/east (moderate risk over Wisconsin). As many as 6-12 tornadoes may drop between the Twin Cities, Rochester, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Madison, The Dells, Wausau and Appleton.

Tornado can't be ruled out for the Twin Cities and suburbs later today. A moderate risk from SPC means a significant risk of large, violent, long-track tornadoes nearby. Have multiple safety nets (TV, radio, NOAA Weather Radio, apps on smartphones, e-mail, web - the more sources of severe weather info the better). Do NOT rely on the sirens.

122 tornadoes reported Saturday across the USA, as close to us as southern Iowa.

 

 

 

Apps. If you have an Apple or Android smart phone you should have a few severe apps loaded and ready to go, to monitor Doppler and get potentially life-saving warnings (in time). None of these are from my companies. I don't get a commission. I just want you to have as many different ways of getting severe warning information as possible. My suggestions are below.

30-40 mph winds possible later tonight as temperatures drop nearly 30 degrees.

36 F. predicted temperature at 7 am Monday (very slight chance of flurries, mainly north metro).

70s likely again between April 24-30.

 

"Wedge." This was the scene Saturday evening near Salina, Kansas - hit by two tornadoes in the same day! Thanks to Matt Unruh from Lawrence, Kansas for sharing this. He was southeast of Salina when he took this pic - that's probably an EF-3 tornado over the ridge, winds 120-145 mph?

Here's more information from Matt Unruh: "This picture was taken roughly 4 miles west of Marquette, KS, which is southwest of Salina, KS. The caption on the blog mentions the picture was taken southeast of Salina. The road in the foreground is Kansas Highway 4 (K-4). This would put us around 3 miles away from the tornado at the time of the picture. The National Weather Service in Wichita has done its preliminary damage survey, and this storm was rated as an EF-4. If you want additional information regarding this storm please do not hesitate to contact me at MUnruh@kdeks.gov - or on Twitter at @UnruhMatt."

 

Baseball sized hail reported in the following towns/cities so far: Petersburg, Neb., Selman, Okla., Murray, Iowa, Dodge City, Kan., Glenvil, Neb. Grapefruit sized hail reported in Randolph, Kansas.

Wind Gusts: 74 mph at Russell Airport in Kansas, 78 mph in Union, Neb., 78 mph in Red Oak, Iowa, 70 mph in Dallas Center, Iowa, 97 mph at Oskaloosa Airport, Iowa, 70 mph in Clearwater, Kan., 84 mph at Wichita Mid Continent Airport, Kansas, 76 mph at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., and 70 mph in Cassoday, Kan., and South Bend, neb.

* Thanks to Chad Merrill from Earth Networks for passing these reports along.

 

Moderate Severe Threat Today. Although not as widespread and severe as yesterday, I expect a few more tornadoes today, as close as the Twin Cities, much of southeastern and south central Minnesota and central and southern Wisconsin, where the wind, moisture and instability field is ripe for more "supercell" thunderstorms, capable of large hail and a few tornadoes. If you're driving east on I-94 or southeast down Highway 61 toward Winona and La Crosse, the risk of severe weather will increase the farther south/east you travel. Stay alert (local media, e-mail alerts, smartphone apps, etc). Do NOT rely on the sirens. Map courtesy of SPC.

* SPC map upper right shows the probability of a tornado within 25 miles of any location (15% over the metro and most of southestern MN and western WI). Please take the threat seriously.

 

Tornado Risk Over Southeastern MN? This is the "Tornado Composite" Field for the morning hours today, showing a significant risk over southeastern Minnesota through midday, sufficient low-level wind shear and instability (and a vigorous frontal boundary) capable of spinning up a few tornadoes. Graphic courtesy of Earl Barker's excellent Wxcaster site - thanks to Randy Peterson for bringing this to my attention.

 

Nagging Severe Risk. Although the best dynamics will stay south/east of MSP, vertical velocities, a measure of upward motion overhead, are forecast to reach +21.1 this evening with a lifted index of -4, sufficient wind shear and instability for a few severe storms again by late afternoon/evening as a vigorous cold front approaches. Stay alert today. Total rainfall amounts are forecast to reach 1.54" by Monday morning.

 

 

 

Thinning Clouds, Sunshine = Explosive Instability. Clouds are thinning, the sun may be out for a few hours by early/mid afternoon with temperatures topping 70. That's not good. Any low-level heating will leave the atmosphere VERY unstable, capable of af few supercell (rotating) thunderstorms capable of large hail, even a few large, violent, long-track tornadoes. 10:30 am visible satellite loop from WeatherTap (subscription required to get updates at this resolution).

 

Details from the local NWS office:

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP ACROSS SOUTHWEST
MINNESOTA THIS AFTERNOON...AND SPREAD NORTHEAST AND AFFECT MUCH
OF EAST CENTRAL AND SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA AND WEST CENTRAL
WISCONSIN LATE THIS AFTERNOON...AND INTO THIS EVENING. THE STORM
PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A MODERATE RISK OF SEVERE
THUNDERSTORMS FOR THE AREA. LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WINDS ARE THE
MAIN SEVERE WEATHER THREATS...BUT A TORNADO CANNOT BE RULED OUT.
 
STRONG NORTHWEST WIND FROM 25 TO 30 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 40 MPH WILL
BE POSSIBLE LATER TONIGHT AS THE LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM EXITS THE
REGION...AFFECTING MAINLY WEST CENTRAL INTO SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA.

 

122 Tornado Reports...And Counting. Updated as of 11 am Sunday. SPC reported 122 (preliminary) reports on Saturday, but that count will probably rise. You can instantly see the tracks of long-lasting, violent EF-2 to EF-4 strength tornadoes from Oklahoma northward to Iowa. SPC did an amazingly good job pin-pointing where these tornadoes would touch down. Everyone is so quick to criticize - let's give credit where credit is due.

 

Wichita Nightmare. I was running around like a crazy-man Saturday (along with most of my staff at WeatherNation TV), covering what may have been the biggest, or at the very least the Top 2-3 tornado outbreaks of 2012. I took a few pics (from GR2 Analyst) of the supercell moving into Wichita: reflectivity upper left, velocity field upper right. There were reports of a 1/4 to 1/2 mile wide wedge moving across the south side of Wichita, hitting Wichita's main airport and McConnell Air Force Base. Authorities won't know the full extent of damage, injuries and possible fatalities until this morning.

 

* The New York Times has a story about Saturday's outbreak here.

 

Best Weather Apps. In light of the moderate risk I am re-running this earlier post. If you have a smartphone, Apple or Android, do yourself a favor and download one (or all) of these apps to get the information you need to keep your family safe. Do NOT rely on sirens! The more sources of data, the better:

 

 

 

a). RadarScope. Price: $29.99 (and worth every penny). You'll agree the first time it saves your butt. In my humble opinion this is still the best pure-play radar app. It works anywhere in the USA (you can get a data signal - which can be problematic for parts of the western USA away from cell towers). Click on any NWS Doppler site and see high resolution Doppler radar, an animated loop, hail detection, velocity fields (to see if a storm is rotating and capable of generating a tornado), even storm rainfall estimates - great for determining the risk of flash flooding, which can be VERY important if you've just pitched a tent next to a babbling brook, which might be tranformed into a raging, muddy torrent if 6" of rain falls 20 miles up the road. More details from RadarScope:

"RadarScope is a specialized display utility for weather enthusiasts and meteorologists that allows you view NEXRAD Level 3 radar data along with our most requested new feature, Tornado, Severe Thunderstorm, and Flash Flood Warnings issued by the National Weather Service. It can display the latest reflectivity, velocity, and other products from any NEXRAD radar site in the United States, Guam and Puerto Rico. These aren't smoothed PNG or GIF images, this is real Level 3 radar data rendered in its original radial format for a high level of detail.

This version *now includes* support for Hawaii, Alaska, and Guam!

Whether you are scanning reflectivity for a mesocyclone's tell-tale hook echo, trying to pinpoint the landfall of a hurricane's eye wall, or looking for small features like velocity couplets in the storm relative radial velocity product, only RadarScope gives you the power to view true radial NEXRAD weather radar on your iPhone or iPod touch.

When there are any Tornado Warnings (outlined in RED), Severe Thunderstorm Warnings (YELLOW polygons), or Flash Flood Warnings (GREEN polygons) in effect throughout the US, tap the warning button in the top right corner to browse the list of current warnings, view the details, and even zoom to the selected warning on the map
".

 

b). My-Cast Weather Radar. Price: $2.99 (no, I don't get a commission). My last company (Digital Cyclone) was sold to Garmin, and they have what I still consider to be the best warning app on the planet. I'm a little biased, yes, but I've tested scores of weather apps and I still think My-Cast Weather Radar, created by Digital Cyclone, is the best overall app for getting storm warnings. You can even set it up to give you "lightning alerts" (if lightning strikes within 20 miles of your location you get an SMS alert, telling you precisely how far away it was, and what direction the strike was). More details:

"The award-winning My-Cast app delivers comprehensive yet intuitive weather information specifically for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Un-cluttered base maps display animated radar, clouds and StormWatch severe weather alerts allowing effortless interpretation of how the weather affects your day. As you check out the current weather, you may see drifting clouds or falling rain as My-Cast's distinctive weather themes come to life. Whether you are interested in weather for today, tomorrow or next week, My-Cast has you covered. When severe weather strikes, My-Cast transmits the latest alerts direct from the National Weather Service.

• Real-time, animated radar
• Weather Map with conditions, temperatures, dew points, wind direction and wind speed overlays
• Animated Visible and Infrared Clouds
• Interactive StormWatch map with National Weather Service alerts
• Complete severe weather warnings, watches, and advisory alert text
• 7-day forecast with high/low temperatures and chance of precipitation
• Hourly forecast with temps, wind speed/direction and chance of precipitation
• Forecast graph including past, present and forecast wind, dew point, temperature, and sky conditions
• Save your favorite and recently viewed locations for anywhere in the U.S.
• Shake for live data refresh
• One-button push for GPS positioning
• No ads!
"

 

c). iMapWeather Radio. Price: $1. This is another app that sends out real-time warnings, only this one follows the SMS warning with a real-time stream from the local NWS office, so you can hear the latest warnings in audio form, providing another welcome level of detail. More details on Weather Radio:

"Listen to over 170 scanner radio stations providing access to NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) broadcasts. NWR is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information. NWR broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Weather Radio comes with Twitter & Facebook support: tell your friends what station you're listening to, "live", without stopping your audio to invoke an external Twitter or Facebook client! Weather Radio allows users to select from NWR audio streams by State-City, or add your favorite stream."

* all 3 apps are available on iTunes. Some of these may be available for Android and Blackberry as well. It's well worth your time to look into this and download these onto your phone, set up your favorite locations (home, work, cabin, beach, etc) and see how they can give you the information you need to make smarter decisions, and keep your family out of storm-related trouble.

 

For Android Users:

 

PYKL3 For Android. Much of the same functionality of RadarScope can be found in the (new) PYKL3 app for Android phones. Functionality includes:

* NEXRAD Level 3

* Local Storm Reports (LSR)

* SPC Day 1 Outlooks

* SPC Thunderstorm and Tornado Watches

* Summarized Lightning

* NWS Storm Tracks

 

Definition Of A "Wall Cloud". Thanks to Larry Maloney for sharing a terrific pic of a spinning "supercell" thunderstorm.

"Hi Paul, I took this storm picture last summer in Nebraska on my way home from a vacation in Colorado.  Is this a supercell?  It did not last long but is one of my favorite pictures from my vacation."

Thanks, 

Larry Maloney

Stormy Sunday Blues. Repeat after me: "we're in a drought. It sucks that it's raining on a Sunday, but we NEED the rain!" Feel better? Me neither. We stay in the "warm sector" much of today, meaning 70-degree warmth and noticeable humidity, and a few waves of strong to severe storms: best chance this morning, again late afternoon/evening. Strong winds on the backside of an intense storm will pull chilly air into town late tonight - jacket weather returns by Monday with a few inches of slush over the North Shore of Lake Superior. More (welcome) rain is likely late Tuesday into Wednesday as the mercury bounces back up to near 60.

 

Temperature Trend: "E-Ride At DisneyWorld". From 70 to 30s in the span of about 18 hours, sparking high winds tonight (gusting past 40 mph). Highs will be stuck in the mid 40s tomorrow, a wind chill dipping into the 20s. Readings recover a bit by midweek, after a risk of patchy frost Tuesday morning. I don't expect a widespread freeze this time around.

 

European Solution. The ECMWF (which often does a - much - better job than the GFS model) shows highs near 60 Tuesday and Wednesday, again next Sunday - readings approaching 70 a week from tomorrow.

 

Lukewarm Last Week Of April. The GFS shows a run of 70s, even a shot at 80, during the last week of April, over half an inch of rain possible between April 25-28. We need 3-6" of additional rain to pull out of our long-term drought.

 

1,400. Average number of tornadoes every year across America. Fewer than 1% will reach EF-4 or EF-5 strength.

13 minutes. Average lead time for a tornado in the USA (time from when a warning is issued until arrival).

6-7 minutes. Average lead time in 1975.

+2.5 F. Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico were 2.5F warmer than average in March, the mildest ever observed. Meteorologists are concerned that this added warmth and moisture over the Gulf may be a factor in what is turning into an especially severe tornado season across the USA. Details below.

* photo above of the April 11, 1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak courtesy of NOAA. Details from Wikipedia.

 

Growing Potential For A Major Tornado Tragedy. We've been (very) lucky that a major tornado has not hit a heavily populated area in Tornado Alley recently. Meteorologically - there is nothing preventing a large, violent tornado from hitting a close-in suburb or even a downtown. Here's a recent story I wrote for Huffington Post, highlighting the potential for a major loss of life from a "wedge" striking a major population center. Tim Marshall, a meteorologist and structural engineer, recently warned "there will be 1,000 or more deaths from a single tornado hitting a major population center in the near future." I hope he's wrong - but, like many meteorologists, I'm worried about complacency and apathy. You'd be amazed at the number of otherwise logical people who believe living in a city insulates them from tornadoes. Nothing could be farther from the truth. June 17, 2010 Albert Lea tornado courtesy of WeatherNation TV meteorologist Aaron Shaffer.

 

"According to the Mayo Clinic, "If you're in denial, you're not being realistic about something that's happening in your life -- something that might be obvious to those around you." ... But like the Mayo Clinic writes, "(D)enial has a dark side. Being in denial for too long can prevent you from effectively dealing with issues that require action." - from a blog post at redding.com; details below.

 

 

"Tornadogenesis" Although the exact mechanism is still unclear, meteorologists theorize that a (warm/buoyant) downdraft, called an RFD, or rear-flank downdraft, wrapping around a spinning supercell, may be the mechanism that focuses horizontal wind shear about a vertical axis, stretching the rotating, violently rising column of air within a severe thunderstorm into a tight vortex, the tornado signature. The map above is from twisterdata.com, valid at 7 pm this evening. I'm most concerned about Omaha, Lincoln, Sioux City, even the suburbs of Des Moines - best chance of a few large, violent tornadoes between 5 pm and 9 pm this evening.

 

Dangerous Tornado Outbreak Expected Saturday; Gulf of Mexico SST's Warmest On Record. Here's an excerpt from Jeff Master's Wunderblog - he points out record warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico: "Temperatures in the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico were the 3rd - 7th warmest on record during the first three months of 2012, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. This allowed Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) in the Gulf of Mexico (25 - 30°N, 85 - 90°W) to climb to 1.4°C (2.5°F) above average during March 2012, according to a wunderground analysis of the Hadley Centre SST data set. This is the warmest March value on record for the Gulf of Mexico, going back over a century of record keeping."

Map credit above: "Departure of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) from average for April 12, 2012, as computed by NOAA/NESDIS. SSTs in the Gulf of Mexico are at their warmest levels on record for this time of year. Follow Weather Underground on twitter for the latest on this potential severe weather outbreak."

 

Learn About Extreme Weather's Local Impact. Based on the last 6-7 years I'm thinking of moving to northeastern Minnesota, where there have been NO major weather-related disasters. Why is this? All I can think is that a persistently chilly wind off Lake Superior innoculates much of the Northland for large, violent tornadoes and tends to dampen many of the most severe T-storms. Details from Environment Minnesota. "Click on your county to see a tally of weather-related disasters since 2006. Extreme weather is happening—and it's causing extremely big problems. To make matters worse, global warming increases the likelihood that we'll see even more extreme weather in the future. To tackle this threat, we must cut the carbon pollution from power plants, cars and trucks, and other sources that fuels global warming."

 

A Touch Of ....Snow Up North? The latest NAM model (00z) prints out some 2-5" snowfall amounts over far northeastern Minnesota, from Lutsen to Grand Marais. We could wake up to a few flurries Monday morning - but with warm ground temperatures nothing will stick. I pray.

 

Monday F-F-Flurries? Here's the latest NAM model, showing accumulated snowfall by Monday evening, a couple inches over the North Shore and BWCA -maybe a few renegade flurries into the metro early tomorrow. Something to look forward to. We'll see. Map from policlimate.com.

 

Dry Start To Growing Season. Here's an excerpt from Dr. Mark Seeley's Friday WeatherTalk blog: "With field working season underway, and some of the state's 2012 crops already in the ground many Minnesota farmers are waiting for rain to replenish the dry soils that were a carryover from last year. The precipitation deficiency reported by some climate observers is very significant. There are many areas of the state that have reported precipitation totals since last August (a period of 8.5 months) that are more than 7 inches behind normal values for the period. Some of these locations are in the list below, showing how the deficiency for this 8.5 month period ranks historically.

Location; Precipitation Total; Departure from Normal; Historical Rank
(8/1/2011-4/11/2012); (8/1/2011-4/11/2012);

Lamberton; 5.35 inches; -7.51 inches; Driest of record
Winnebago; 8.03 inches; -7.17 inches; Driest of record
Marshall; 4.66 inches; -8.69 inches; 2nd Driest
Granite Falls; 4.89 inches; -7.82 inches; 3rd Driest

 

Lake Minnetonka Conservation District Initiates "Low Water Declaration". I know I should have gone into propeller repair (or the dock business). Plan on a few extra dock sections this summer, whatever lake you're hanging out on. More from LMCD: "When Lake levels fall below 928.0 feet, the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District (LMCD) Code states that the Board of Directors may approve a resolution that allows for temporary dock length extensions for licensed (multiple dock facilities) and unlicensed (primarily residential) sites on Lake Minnetonka. The LMCD Board of Directors has been considering this matter based on water level readings provided by the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District since mid-March, as well as projected precipitation. Based on those findings, a resolution was adopted at the April 11th Regular LMCD Board Meeting declaring “Low Water” on Lake Minnetonka. This resolution authorizes temporary dock extensions per LMCD Code." (I snapped this photo back on March 13).

 

Latest Army Corps Analysis Says 2011 Flood Was "Beyond Control". Here's an excerpt of an interesting story from journalstar.com: "Even if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had released water at record levels from Gavins Point Dam for 365 consecutive days, it wouldn't have been enough to prevent serious flooding on the Missouri River in 2011. That was one of the findings in an analysis the corps released on Friday about possible adjustments in flood control storage. The size of the 2011 challenge begins with the 61 million acre feet of runoff in the basin, said Brig. Gen. John McMahon, commander of the corps' Northwest Division and a key figure in the operation of Gavins Point and five other main-stem dams."

 

Kansas Storm Chaser/Photographer Sues Over Montana Wreck Of SUV. When I'm chasing tornadoes (think of how insane that sounds) I'm not so much worried about the tornado. I am worried about hail, cloud to ground lightning, and getting creamed by a guy in a pickup driving 100 mph to catch up to a supercell. I'm amazed there haven't been any fatal accidents, to date. But dodgeglobe.com has a cautionary tale about the perils of taking your favorite vehicle into Tornado Alley: "A Kansas storm chaser and photographer is suing a motorist whose car struck his SUV during a Montana snowstorm, alleging that the wreck destroyed a vehicle that had "unique value" for surviving more than 350,000 miles through hurricanes, tornadoes and other extreme weather. Jim Reed of Wichita, Kan., filed the lawsuit April 6 in Helena against an East Helena man involved in the November 2010 crash. He is seeking unspecified compensation for his cranberry-colored SUV and his injuries, the Independent Record (http://bit.ly/HDLgyQ ) reported Thursday. Reed said his 1994 Ford Explorer was featured in much of his work, including a two-page spread in the June 2009 issue of National Geographic, and in a 2009 series on the Speed Channel."

 

2012 Wildfire Season: States Prepare For Dangerous Fires. It is a bit troubling that we're seeing so many fires so early in the season. Our fast-forward spring has accelerated the frequency and intensity of wildfires and forest fires. It may be a long, hot (and fiery) summer for much of the western USA. Huffington Post reports: "DENVER -- The West's 2012 wildfire season exploded in earnest last month with a wind-whipped blaze that killed three people in rugged alpine canyon country near Denver. It took a 700-strong federal firefighting team a week of labor, day and night, to tame the blaze – and other states throughout the West took notice. Fire experts say this year's drought, low snowpack and record-high temperatures in much of the West portend a dangerous installment of what has become a year-round wildfire threat. Wildfires burned more than 1,500 square miles in Arizona last year and have already torched about 12 square miles this year. Most were caused by people, and fire officials hope the public has learned some lessons from the Wallow Fire, the worst in state history. Campfire embers ignited a blaze that forced nearly 10,000 people to evacuate their homes." Photo above courtesy of AP.

 

"Irene" Retired From List Of Atlantic Basin Storm Names. From NOAA: "Irene has been retired from the official list of Atlantic Basin tropical storm names by the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) hurricane committee because of the fatalities and damage it caused in August 2011 and will be replaced by Irma. Storm names are reused every six years for both the Atlantic Basin and eastern North Pacific Basin, unless retired for causing a considerable about of casualties or damage. Irene is the 76th name to be retired from the Atlantic list since 1954. Irene became a hurricane on Aug. 22 and intensified to a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale on Aug. 24 while centered between Mayaguana and Grand Inagua in the Bahamas. It gradually weakened after crossing the Bahamas, making landfall in North Carolina on Aug. 27 as a Category 1 hurricane. Irene made another landfall the next day as a tropical storm very near Atlantic City, New Jersey. The center moved over Coney Island and Manhattan, New York, the same day." Hurricane Irene image courtesy of NASA.

 

Irene Replaced By Irma On Atlantic Hurricane Name List. Nola.com in New Orleans has a slightly different perspective on the "retirement" of Irene's name from the master list; here's an excerpt: "The World Meteorological Organization has dropped Irene from its six-year list of names for tropical storms and hurricanes because of the fatalities and damage caused by Hurricane Irene last August. Irma will replace it on the list, and could be first used in 2017. Irene is the 76th name to be retired from the Atlantic list since 1954."

 

Thailand's Blueprint To Reign In Fallout From Floods And Drought. An interesting story from The Christian Science Monitor; here's an excerpt: "Despite seeing his 60 acres of rice paddies covered in more than 10 feet of water for three months during late 2011, farmer Tawee Wongsan is sanguine about flooding this year. “I don't think there will be flooding this year,” he says. “The water in the big dams is not so high like last year.” Last year's floods killed more than 800 people and caused an estimated $40 billion damage to the country's $345 billion economy, which is the world's 25th largest. Water covered several districts of Bangkok and swamped industrial zones that include vital automobile and electronics sectors, disrupting global supply chains."

Photo credit above: "Thai residents wade through floodwaters in Bangkok, Thailand, in this October 2011 file photo. Altaf Qadri/AP/File."

 

Local Earth Day Activities. Earth Day is next Sunday, April 22. Here is a list of local events, courtesy of The Will Steger Foundation.

 

New "Future Earth" Exhibit At St. Paul Science Museum Opens Next Saturday, April 21. This will be a must-see exhibit, and there's added incentive to attend the Grand Opening a week from today. Details from The Science Museum: "What will Earth be like in 2050 with 9 billion people? No one knows. But as the healthiest, wealthiest, most educated and most connected population in Earth's history, we're in a good position to face the challenges ahead. Join us in exploring Future Earth!

On Saturday, April 21, help us celebrate Earth Day and the opening of Future Earth! From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., you can hear free presentations by polar explorer Will Steger; Shawn Otto, science advocate and author of Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America, and Maggie Koerth-Baker, writer and science editor at boingboing.net. And from 1-4 p.m. join in on hands-on family activities with Creative Kidstuff and NASA's Earth Ambassadors."

 

The 10 Worst Jobs Of 2011. What in God's name is a "roustabout"? You're about to find out. This list is making news. Is your job in the Top 10? More from careercast.com: "From bad to worse: thanks to upheaval in the oil industry, Roustabout ranks as the Worst Job of 2011 – its second straight year in last place. Twelve-hour shifts, exposure to the elements in hostile environments, low pay, high risk of injury and isolation from loved ones for weeks at a time are just some of the factors that combine to make Roustabout the worst job of 2011. As the key providers of maintenance for oil rigs and pipelines, Roustabouts routinely perform backbreaking labor at all hours of the day and night in conditions that can range from arctic winters to desert summers to ocean storms. They even face the threat of attack in unstable parts of the world. Braving these inhospitable surroundings, Roustabouts work on the front lines, getting hands-on with dangerous drilling equipment and risking serious injury or worse – as last year’s explosion at the Deepwater Horizon facility in the Gulf of Mexico illustrates. Why does Roustabout rank as the worst job of 2011, as opposed to other worst jobs such as Lumberjack or Construction Worker? Surveying 200 different jobs, the Jobs Rated report ranks professions according to five core criteria: Work Environment, Physical Demands, Outlook, Income and Stress."

 

 

"Astrada" Superyacht Launches In China. How long before one of these shows up on the St. Croix River? Gizmag.com has the decadent details: "....The finished product is worth US$15 million, and will likely be used by Marden and his wife Elaine to sail between two islands that they own off the coast of Indonesia. The trimaran measures 42.5 by 16 meters (139.5 by 52.5 feet), and weighs 52 tons (47 tonnes). It has a top speed of 22.5 knots, although at 17 knots it has a remarkable range of 4,000 nautical miles (7,408 km) – this comes thanks largely to a lightweight hull made from a glass/Kevlar foam sandwich material, a superstructure made from carbon fiber with a honeycomb core, and other weight-saving and streamlining considerations. Its fuel economy is estimated at 90 liters (24 U.S. gallons) per hour at 13 knots, or 120 liters (32 gallons) per hour at 17 knots."

 

Hi Roger. It's Me, Joe: The "Fox Mole". It's fascinating what some publications will do for a scoop; details from gawker.com: "Hi. My name is Joe Muto. I was the Fox Mole. Two hours ago I was called into a meeting with Dianne Brandi, the Fox News Executive Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs and suspended indefinitely... with pay, oddly enough. They nailed me. In the end, it was the digital trail that gave me away. They knew that someone, using my computer login, had accessed the sources for two videos that ended up on Gawker over the past few weeks. They couldn't prove it entirely, but I was pretty much the only suspect. I denied it, which is why they didn't fire me outright. But two nice gentlemen from security escorted me to my desk to pack up my stuff, and it was pretty obvious at that point that I would not be setting foot back into 1211 Avenue of the Americas again."

 

A Fool's Paradise. Was Instagram Too Free To Last? Another fascinating story from one of my favorite sites (you can sign up for a free, daily HTML e-mail with story highlights) at gizmag.com. Here's an excerpt: "...The fact is, no one except a handful of people inside Instagram and Facebook knows what the future holds, though it's certainly true that if we look to acquisitions of the past for clues, there are worrying precedents - even if we limit the field down to the services Facebook has itself obtained (recall Gowalla). A question fewer people seem to be asking is was such a takeover inevitable, given that Instagram is a free download. Since its launch 18 months ago, Instagram has attracted a community 35-million strong, but apart from investment it hasn't generated a bean in revenue. One has to wonder, of that part of the community that is now jumping ship for competing services, what on Earth did they think was going to happen? The situation as it was couldn't continue indefinitely."

 

Pinpoint Unsavory Elements In Your Neighborhood With The "Criminal Tracker" App. Live in a rough neighborhood - worried about personal safety? There's an app for that. Here's an excerpt from gizmag.com: "U.S. Publications Inc says that a study by the U.S. Department of Justice has revealed that sex offenders are four times more likely to re-offend than other convicted criminals, and that 60% of convicted sex offenders are out on parole or probation. Playing on the fear that there could well be just such a person living secretly in your neighborhood, the company has announced a new app that's said to be capable of pointing out the location of such undesirables within a 40 mile (64 km) radius of a given area. The Criminal Tracker app doesn't limit its results to sex offenders, however, as the company's database is claimed to be the most comprehensive National Criminal Index available."

 

 
"Go Benchpress.... A Goose?" I have no additional information. God save us all.
 
 

"Someone's Having A Birthday!" Is it me, or is that dog smiling? If you want a good Sunday chuckle check out this story from buzzfeed.com.
 
 

Gorgeous - And "Average" For May 29. Yes, this is why we stay. That, and occasional 22" winters. Under a mostly-blue sky Saturday highs ranged from 57 at International Falls to 70 Alexandria, 73 Twin Cities, and 74 at St. Cloud. By late afternoon severe thunderstorms bubbling up over Iowa swept a canopy of high, thin, cirrus clouds over the metro, keeping us 1-2 degrees cooler than we would have been, otherwise. Still - what a day.

 

 
"Searching For Tornadoes?" No idea on this one. Hope he got down ok.

 

Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:

 

TODAY: Moderate risk of severe storms later, including hail, high winds and a few tornadoes. Muggy and mild, strong/severe T-storms likely. Stay alert during the afternoon/evening hours. Winds: S 15-25. High: 67-71

 

SUNDAY NIGHT: Evening T-storms may be strong/severe. Showers taper, turning gusty and sharply colder. Low: 35

 

MONDAY: Morning sprinkles, possibly mixing with snow flurries? Gradual clearing - feels like early March. High: 46

 

TUESDAY: Patchy frost central MN and far outlying suburbs, then sunny, milder. Low: 36. High: 62

 

WEDNESDAY: Passing shower, unsettled. Low: 48. High: near 60

 

THURSDAY: Welcome soaking rain PM hours. Low: 45. High: 55

 

FRIDAY: Wet start, slow clearing. Brisk! Low: 42. High: near 50

 

SATURDAY: Jackets early. Generous sun - a bit milder. Low: 37. High: 57

 

 

Deadly Tornado Myths

What keeps me up at night? The specter of a large, violent tornado steam-rolling into a major U.S. city, catching thousands off-guard. Statistically, it's only a matter of time. As I described in an earlier post hundreds, maybe thousands will be killed and injured from a single metro tornado. There will be Congressional inquiries. "How could this happen - why weren't we prepared?"

There's a dangerous urban myth that tornadoes can't hit cities or close-in suburbs. Not true. As cities expand into farmland we are increasing the potential for a tornado tragedy.

We're all mobile now; make sure you have apps loaded on your cell phone, so you can get word in time.Situational awareness is critical.

Target Field was the first ballpark in America to be certified "StormReady" by NOAA. Meteorologist Craig Edwards is on-site, watching Doppler, ready to evacuate fans and players to safety if dangerous storms approach. But take responsibility for your own safety.

We are under a moderate risk of severe storms today, according to SPC. That means a high probability of large, potentially violent, long-lasting, long-track tornadoes, especially south/east of MSP. Best chance: 3 pm to 8 pm.

Severe storms are possible later today (risk of high winds, hail and as many as a dozen tornadoes across southeastern MN and WI - the metro area is on the edge of the "moderate" risk) - followed by a (much) colder front tonight. Any wind-whipped flurries Monday morning (!) will give way to 60 by Tuesday with more rain late Tuesday into Wednesday. Yes, we seem to be sliding into a wetter (more severe) pattern very quickly.

Hang on - welcome to a chaotic April.

 

… "Often deniers portray themselves as reasoned, cautious, and conservative scientists, while the real scientists working in the field are described with emotionally charged adjectives like "alarmists," "warmists," and the like to weaken the public's respect for their work and to fool journalists about who's who. If you can degrade, mock or destroy the individual, then it's easier for the public to dismiss everything that individual said."The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements."So here we see fifty years of science manipulatively described instead as "unbridled advocacy." - excerpt from Climate Science Watch, details below.

 

Climate Stories...

 

Stopping Climate Change Is Much Cheaper Than You Think. An intriguing story in The Atlantic: "You've heard it before: politicians say they'd love to take action against climate change, but they're reeling from sticker shock. Today, a new report from the UK's leading climate change watchdog refutes this oft-cited argument that climate action will herald economic Armageddon. The Committee on Climate Change report, with the hairy-sounding title "Statutory Advice on Inclusion of International Aviation and Shipping," says that in 2050, the UK's emissions reductions across the whole economy will cost 1-2 percent of the total GDP. This updates, in greater detail, the range predicted half a decade ago by the watershed Stern Review."

Photo credit above: "CarbonQuilt/Flickr."

 

"Things Happen". This may be the most important 2 minute video clip you see in the near future. "An accumulation of coincidence". Things Happen was produced by 360.org.

 

Overcoming Climate Change Denial. Here's an interesting post from Doug Craig at redding.com: "All of us are in denial about something some of the time. I know I am going to die someday and chances are I am going to suffer before that happens. Or it is possible people I love and care about might suffer or die. I really don't want to think about that too much. I like to pretend that bad stuff is so far away, that it's like it does not or will not ever exist. I know that the climate is changing and it is going to be bad and I blog about it an awful lot. I know I am obsessed about it and have been for over six years now. I know what is coming and yet like everyone else, sometimes I pretend it isn't coming. It's how I cope with the stuff I can't control."

 

How Green Are Electric Cars? Depends Where You Plug In. Here's an excerpt of a story at The New York Times: "The answer may be a surprise. According to a report that the Union of Concerned Scientists plans to release on Monday, there would be a considerable difference in the amount of greenhouse gases — primarily carbon dioxide — that result from charging the cars’ battery packs. By trapping heat, greenhouse gases contribute to climate change. The advocacy group’s report, titled “State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel Cost Savings Across the United States,” uses the electric power requirements of the Nissan Leaf as a basis for comparison. The Leaf, on sale in the United States for more than a year and the most widely available electric model from a major automaker, sets a logical baseline."

 

NASA Climate Change Letter Belongs To Long Tradition Of Fake Expertise. More from Huffington Post: "WASHINGTON -- When former NASA administrators, astronauts and engineers released a letter earlier this week attacking the science of climate change, its veneer of legitimacy kicked off a media blitz. Yet none of the letter's 49 signatories are climate scientists, and with more than 18,000 people currently working for NASA, to say nothing of the tens of thousands more who are retired, the letter seems more than anything like a empty publicity stunt -- for which there's considerable precedent. "This is an old stunt," explained Michael Mann, a well-known climate scientist and Penn State professor. "When you have an area of the science where there is a consensus like in climate change, where the problem is real and the scientific implications are on a collision course with vested interests like the fossil fuel industry, you often see this."

 

From A Boy Who Loved NASA: How Could 49 Former NASA Astronauts And Scientists Soil Their Good Names Over Climate Politics? An important post from Shawn Lawrence Otto at Neorennaisance: "When I was a boy, I loved NASA.  So imagine how pleased I was to be invited to speak at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center this week - where the kindly, soft-spoken and brilliant Willy Wonka of the place, astrophysicist John Mather, and his team are building the James Webb Space Telescope - perhaps humanity's most ambitious engineering project - and where scientists use satellites to study climate change in incredible detail.  My talk, on Wednesday, was about the subject of my new book, called Fool Me Twice: fighting the assault on science in America, and how NASA scientists, particularly NASA climate scientists, could communicate complex science in the face of antiscience attacks, such as those by global warming deniers. At that very moment a living example was was happening all around me.  I started getting texts, tweets and emails about 49 former NASA employees who were taking the agency to task for publishing information on climate change."

 

49 Cliff Clavin's Walk Into A Bar And Talk Climate Change. A post related to the indignant NASA astronauts from local St. Thomas professor John Abraham at desmogblog.com: "You could almost set your watch by it.  It has become a regular absurdity that a bunch of non-scientists try to tell the world that they know something the experts don’t.  Those of us who watched that iconic television show called Cheers remember Cliff, the mailman.  He considered himself the expert on everything even though it was painfully obvious he knew very little about anything. Well we got our latest batch of Cliff Clavin wisdom this past week when 49 former staff members from NASA wrote a letter to NASA administrators decrying the work that the organization does on climate.  It makes one wonder what the thousands of current NASA employees think of their former colleagues."

 

On The Intellectually Empty, Politically Motivated Attacks On NASA Climate Scientists By Former Astronauts. Wait a minute - astronauts are lecturing climate scientists (in their own organization) about climate science? Am I missing something here? It would be like a NASA climate scientist giving John Glenn tips on how to correct a burn to reach low-Earth orbit. Huh? More on this tempest in a NASA-teapot from Climate Science Watch: "With the 2013 NASA budget endangered by upcoming votes in Congress, attacks on Earth Science (where climate research and observing systems are funded) are to be expected.  A denial machine letter signed by 49 former NASA administrators, astronauts, and engineers – i.e., folks who want to steer budget cuts away from human space flight – stoops to attacks on NASA climate scientists, essentially calling for them to be disowned and muzzled by their agency.  The letter signers collectively have zero climate science expertise or relevant publications, in contrast with the NASA climate scientists, who are leaders in climate change research with a mountain of peer-reviewed publications.  And endless impediments to honest discourse and meaningful action."
 

* more from NASA Watch here.

 

Public Understanding Of Climate Change: Getting Warmer. From Climate Progress and grist.org: "To go by the polls, the high point of public understanding of climate science was 2006 to 2008. That’s no surprise, since that period saw a peak in media reporting on climate science, starting in 2006 with An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary of Al Gore’s PowerPoint presentation on climate science, and continuing in 2007 with the four scientific assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change." Graphic above courtesy of Gallup and grist.org.

 

How Climate Change Makes Trees Sick. Here's an excerpt of a story from KQED-FM, public radio for northern California: "A patch of tanoak, killed by Sudden Oak Death, in the Los Padres National Forest in Monterey County. Climate change is likely to wreak havoc on California’s forests. Extreme weather, wildfires and insect outbreaks will all take a toll. Add to those another looming threat: disease. Forest diseases like Sudden Oak Death, which has infected trees in 14 counties in the state, stand to benefit from the effects of climate change, to the detriment, obviously, of the trees. Trees are big and long-lived. Tree pathogens, mostly fungi and bacteria, are the opposite. They’re mobile, able to blow around on the wind. And they reproduce and evolve rapidly. That’s the crux of the problem, according to Susan Frankel, a plant pathologist with the Forest Service."

 

Rising Pacific Seas Linked To Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of a story at Mother Nature Network: "SYDNEY — Sea levels in the southwest Pacific started rising drastically in the 1880s, with a notable peak in the 1990s thought to be linked to human-induced climate change, according to a new study. The research, which examined sediment core samples taken from salt marshes in southern Australia's Tasmania island, used geochemistry to establish a chronology of sea level changes over the past 200 years. Patrick Moss, from the University of Queensland, said major environmental events that impacted the ocean, such as the introduction of unleaded petrol and nuclear tests, showed up in the samples and were used for dating."

Photo credit above: "WATERY CULPRIT: Seagulls standing on an iceberg in a fjord, near Ilulissat in Greenland, in 2007. The Greenland ice sheet is likely the source of rising waters in the Pacific Ocean. (Photo: Michael Kappeler/AFP)."

 

Addressing Climate Change Through Diet. From VOA, Voice of America: "A new study says one of the best ways to curb greenhouse gas emissions is to eat less meat. In fact, the study says meat consumption in the developed should be cut by 50 percent per person by 2050."

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