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.

"May-tober" (warmth returns next week - what spiking insurance premiums tell us about Minnesota's evolving climate)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: May 13, 2014 - 11:29 PM


Nothing like a bracing May wind chill to perk you up, while much of the rest of Northern Hemisphere bakes under a hot, frying sun. Still think climate change is nothing but hot air? Check your latest insurance premium. A run of extreme summer floods and hailstorms in 2013 left behind $942 million in damage across Minnesota, one of the 3 costliest states in the nation.

Bob Johnson is President of the Insurance Federation of Minnesota and he's seeing the impact of climate volatility in the rates we pay for homeowners insurance. "This number means that Minnesota insurance consumers will continue to experience double digit premium increases due to severe weather claims, continuing the decade-long trend. This trend is not sustainable" he e-mailed me Monday night.

At least this rerun of (October) puts a lid on any severe weather risk into the weekend. A storm stalling over the Great Lakes keeps us cool and dry into Sunday; just a few instability showers Thursday. Fields & gardens will finally dry out a little.

Swarms of storms flare up along an advancing warm front next week as temperatures approach 70F. I still don't see a hot front - but 60s & 70s may return in time for Memorial Day.

That would be nice.


Why Insurance Rates are Spiking. Here is the PPT Bob Johnson from the Insurance Federation of Minnesota presented to the 1st annual Minnesota Climate Adaptation Conference on November 7, 2013.


2013 Minnesota Severe Storm Reports. This might be a good time to review what happened last year, data supplied by NOAA SPC: 442 severe storm reports - a major wind event in the metro on June 21. Details:

Total Reports = 442
Tornadoes = 11
Hail Reports = 165
Wind Reports = 266

Why You Wait Until After Memorial Day To Plant Annuals. I've heard Mother's Day, but the seasoned, veteran gardeners insist that to be absolutely safe you should wait until late May. The Frost Advisory posted for much of central and western Minnesota is a poignant reminder that they're probably right:

TEMPERATURES WILL FALL INTO THE LOW TO MID 30S ACROSS MUCH OF
CENTRAL AND WEST CENTRAL MINNESOTA. THIS WILL RESULT IN AREAS OF
FROST...ESPECIALLY IN SHELTERED AND LOW LYING AREAS. SENSITIVE
OUTDOOR PLANTS MAY BE KILLED IF LEFT UNCOVERED.

Risk of a Warm Front? I know, we've been down this road before. Spring has been two steps forward, one step back. Or is it the other way around? ECMWF guidance shows 60s returning by the weekend, with some 70s the middle of next week (and scattered T-storms, some potentially heavy). Source: Weatherspark.


More Jaw-Dropping Extremes. Yesterday, waiting at MSP International for my wife to get home, I called up this image on my HAMweather app, showing excessive heat indices for much of California and southern Arizona, at the same time snow was on the ground over much of the Rockies, with Freeze Warnings as far south as the Texas Panhandle. My memory is shot, but I can't remember (ever) seeing these levels of temperature extremes in mid-May. It is mid-May right?


First 4 Months of 2014: 10th Coolest on Record for Minnesota. Talk about crazy swings: warmest January - April period on record for California and Arizona (120 years of record-keeping), but it was the 10th coldest for Minensota, the 3rd coldest on record for Wisconsin and Michigan. Thank you again, Polar Vortex.


January - April: 21st Wettest on Record for Minnesota. It could have been worse, Wisconsin just experienced it's 14th wettest start to the year on record; the 9th wettest first 4 months of the year in Florida. Meanwhile the southwestern USA continues to dry out.


Precipitation Required To End Current Drought. As much as 15-18" of rain is necessary over central and southern California; 9-12" for northern California and central Texas. Map: NOAA NCDC.


Wildfire Forces 20,000 Evacuations Near San Diego. Here's an excerpt from AP and seattlepi.com: "Wildfires pushed by gusty winds chewed through canyons parched by California's drought, prompting evacuation orders for more than 20,000 homes on the outskirts of San Diego and another 1,200 homes and businesses in Santa Barbara County 250 miles to the north. No homes were reported damaged in either fire, but hundreds were considered threatened. The rugged terrain and unseasonably warm temperatures made firefighting even more difficult..."

Photo credit above: "A helicopter attacks a wildfire burning in the north county of San Diego Tuesday, May 13, 2014, in San Diego. Wildfires pushed by gusty winds chewed through canyons parched by California's drought, prompting evacuation orders for more than 20,000 homes on the outskirts of San Diego and another 1,200 homes and businesses in Santa Barbara County 250 miles to the north." (AP Photo)


Summer Preview. I see a continued cool, wet bias into much of summer, interrupted by a few heat "spikes", sudden rushes of 90s that linger for a few days, then swept away as Canadian winds return. NOAA predicts a slight cool bias for May, June and July (upper right) with significantly warmer than average for the west, south and east as El Nino intensifies.


South Dakota Anchor Goes Off on Viewers Who Complained About Weather Warning. Wow, this brings back memories - I vividly recall a handful of viewers complaining about interrupting Oprah with tornado warnings. "It's not my county, I don't care!" they would screech. But if it WAS your county you would probably want to know, right? "Well, yes". TV meteorologists are put into no-win scenarios, but an anchor in Sioux Falls had enough of the whining. Good for her. Here's an excerpt and video clip from TVSpy: "..I’d like to take a moment to say, ‘my co-anchor rocks!!’” KSFY meteorologist Shawn Cable posted on his facebook page. “We received a lot of nasty calls, emails, etc when I interrupted the Once Upon a Time season finale on Saturday. This morning, Nancy Naeve ripped into them like a monkey on a cupcake!” “I tell you what,” said Naeve on air. “Quit calling and ripping Shawn for being on the air to save people’s lives...”


How Much Energy Is In A Bolt of Lightning? According to Southern California Edison: "One lightning strike can carry up to 30 million volts—as much electricity as 2.5 million car batteries." I did not know that.


Hurricane Season Gadgets Help Before, And After, The Storm. Tampa Bay Times has a list of devices that can help you whether any severe storm: hurricane, flood or tornado. Here's an excerpt: "Coming off of a relatively mild 2013 hurricane season, it's easy to get lackadaisical about emergency planning. But don't get caught off guard. Here are some products to help you be prepared....For a multitasking device, try the Eton FRX5 S Smartphone Charging Weather Alert Radio, which is a rugged charger with a 2000mAh rechargeable lithium battery with a solar panel and a hand-crank generator. Connect your phone or tablet with a USB cable. It's also a weather radio, flashlight, emergency beacon and alarm clock. $130, shopetoncorp.com..."


United States of Secrets. Is there a program more dedicated to consistently solid journalism and enterprise reporting than Frontline on PBS? I can't think of one. Anyone concerned about privacy or potential abuse of America's Constitution (which should be every one of us) will want to check out the remarkable documentary that ran Tuesday night on PBS. Terrorism is a clear and present danger, but do the ends justify the means? Are you willing to sacrifice all digital privacy to stay safer? Here is Episode 1.


The Dangers of....Cheerleading? Yes, it's more dangerous than you might think, in fact in terms of vulnerability to injury it's one of the most dangerous sports out there. Here's a clip from an eye-opening article at FiveThirtyEight: "Think of a dangerous high school sport, and football is probably the first that comes to mind. You might not think of those students in uniform on the sidelines, cheering for the players. And yet cheerleading isn’t as safe as you might think, which was one of the reasons New York State — following 34 other states and Washington, D.C. — reclassified it as an official school sport last month..."


Intensive Mobile Phone Users At Higher Risk of Brain Cancers, Says Study. Well here's a spot of cheery news. Time to drag out my landline (rotary) phone and start a new fad. The Guardian has the story; here's a clip: "People who use mobile phones intensively appear to have a higher risk of developing certain types of brain cancer, French scientists have said, reviving questions about phone safety. Individuals who used their mobiles for more than 15 hours each month over five years on average had between two and three times greater risk of developing glioma and meningioma tumours compared with people who rarely used their phones, they found..."

File photo credit: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune.


Don't Fool Yourself - There Is No Work/Life Balance. No kidding. Now that many of us are connected and on-call 24/7, including "vacations". Whatever you do don't disconnect from The Matrix! Here's the intro to an interesting story from LinkedIn: "The idea of achieving work/life balance is a modern-day knockoff of the American Dream, rooted in the minds of ambitious yet overworked professionals who want to “have it all” -- work and play, career and family. I don’t believe there is such a thing as “work/life balance.” You don’t hear people talking about finding a “family/life balance” or an “eating/life balance.” IT'S ALL LIFE..."


World's "Most Environmentally-Friendly" Office Building Opens in Norway. Energy-positive buildings that generate more power than they use? Tip of the hat to the Norwegians for pushing the envelope. Here's a clip from Gizmag: "...As far as we know, this is the first building in the world that has been renovated into an energy-positive structure," says Ståle Rød, chairman of the Powerhouse consortium and CEO of Skanska Norway. "It is the unique collaboration we have had from the very start that has made this possible." By Powerhouse's standards, an energy-positive building is "a building which generates more clean and renewable energy in its operational phase than what was used for the production of building materials, its construction, operation and disposal..."


53 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

69 F. average high on May 13.

72 F. high on May 13, 2013.

1932: Minneapolis sets a record high temperature of 95 degrees.


TODAY: Mostly cloudy, cool & brisk. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 57

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partial clearing, patchy frost up north? Low: 39

THURSDAY: Gray & raw. Few PM showers and sprinkles. High: 53

FRIDAY: Weather remains "stuck". Mostly cloudy. Wake-up: 37. High: 56

SATURDAY: Partly sunny. Cooler than average. Wake-up: 36. High: 61

SUNDAY: More sun. Almost feels like May again. Wake-up: 41. High: 67

MONDAY: Showers and T-storms arrive late. Wake-up: 44. High: 68

TUESDAY: Unsettled. Shower, possible thunder. Wake-up: 47. High: 66


Climate Stories....

Meteorological Winter Temperature Anomalies. We are hard-wired to look out our windows and react to the weather outside. A stalled polar vortex signature kept temperatures much colder than average over much of Canada and the USA east of the Rockies, but check out all the red on the map; temperatures trending warmer than average. In fact it was much warmer than normal over Alaska, Europe, Asia and portions of Siberia, as well as most of the southern hemisphere. These are mean temperature anomalies from December 1, 2013 to February 28, 2014, compared to a historical 1981-2010 baseline. Map: NOAA NCDC.


Looks Like Rain Again. And Again. Justin Gillis at The New York Times examines trends with heavy summer rainfall, patterns I've been describing for 15 years - this tendency toward weather getting stuck, resulting in biblical rains. Here's an excerpt: "...Many people are still catching up with the science, but it is hard to miss the ubiquity of these heavy rainstorms in recent years. People in the Florida Panhandle recently had to dodge flash floods after two feet of rain fell in 26 hours. Torrential rains caused a Washington State hillside to collapse and bury a community earlier this year. Tumultuous rainstorms and floods overwhelmed Colorado last year, and sudden floods swept through Nashville in 2010, and Atlanta in 2009. We’re seeing a pattern here..."

Photo credit above: "A man struggled to move a submerged vehicle after torrential rain hit the metropolitan area in Seoul in July 2013, flooding roads and homes." Credit Ahn Young-Joon/Associated Press.


How Climate Change Affects Terrorism. Think there isn't a link? Many within the Pentagon think otherwise. Here's an excerpt from a story at Defense One: "...Some of the least stable states in the world will face changing weather patterns that reduce arable land and fresh-water supplies, in turn driving mass-migration, provoking resource conflicts, and fostering global health threats. As a former Army officer, I have seen firsthand how “climate disruption” puts more of my fellow soldiers at greater risk. Both the creeping effects of climate change, producing gradual shifts over time, as well as the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters pose unique threats to global security..."


Is Climate Change Real? The Pentagon Sure Thinks So. Here's an excerpt of a story at NBC News: "...As climate-change arguments continue at home — including pundits who assert the scientific consensus on the issue is overblown or concocted — current and former Department of Defense officials are mapping future strategies to protect U.S. interests in the aftermath of massive floods, water shortages and famines that are expected to hit and decimate unstable nations. “For DoD, this is a mission reality, not a political debate,” said Mark Wright, a Pentagon spokesman. “The scientific forecast is for more Arctic ice melt, more sea-level rise, more intense storms, more flooding from storm surge, and more drought..."


Climate Change Deemed Growing Security Threat By Military Researchers. The New York Times reports; here's the introduction: "The accelerating rate of climate change poses a severe risk to national security and acts as a catalyst for global political conflict, a report published Tuesday by a leading government-funded military research organization concluded. The Center for Naval Analyses Military Advisory Board found that climate change-induced drought in the Middle East and Africa is leading to conflicts over food and water and escalating longstanding regional and ethnic tensions into violent clashes. The report also found that rising sea levels are putting people and food supplies in vulnerable coastal regions like eastern India, Bangladesh and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam at risk and could lead to a new wave of refugees..." (File photo above: AP).


NASA Video Shows Ice Melt in Antarctica. CNN has the video animation. "A joint NASA-University of California Irvine study finds rapidly melting sections of Antarctica."

* Western Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapse Has Already Begun, Scientists Warn. The Guardian has details.

* This Is What A Holy (Crap) Moment For Global Warming Looks Like. It's the unknown unknowns, things like tipping points, that scare climate scientists the most. Chris Mooney has a different perspective at Mother Jones.


Something Scary Comes This Way. I absolutely get the tendency to turn away from gloom and doom; if you really fixate on this stuff it can ruin your day/week/year. As much as I want to turn away, as tempting as that is, we also have a responsibility to see the world as it is, not as we wish it could be. Here's an excerpt from Rabett Run: "Two papers have appeared today which, in the words of Richard Alley, are the equivalent of the guys over in the corner screaming bloody murder.  Both describe the coming, and in their view, inevitable collapse of the West Antarctic ice shelf at some point in the next 200-900 years.  While the exact time of collapse is not predictable, the inevitability is, and 200 years is not so long in the future. Rignot, Mouginot, Morlighem, Seroussi and Scheuch map the observed retreat of these grounding glaciers, and over the past twenty years, and yes, once they let go, there is nothing holding the ice shelf back from lurching into the Southern Ocean..."


Critics Comes With Territory for U. Climate Prof. Jon Tevlin has an interesting interview at The Star Tribune; here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...I told Bolstad that one poll showed that only about 36 percent of Americans are worried about climate change. He wasn’t surprised. I don’t know why the public believes what it believes,” said Bolstad. “They think it’s related to politics, but it’s not. The earth’s climate doesn’t care what you believe. A lot of people just have more immediate concerns and don’t think about climate much.” He even has a relative who disagrees with him on climate change. “I just say you are wrong on this, but I won’t tell you how to be a dentist, and we agree to disagree...”


What Climate Change is Really Costing You. Here's an excerpt from a story at Fiscal Times and a video clip, courtesy of CNBC:

The cost: The frequency of major heat waves in the Midwest is on the rise. During the 1995 Chicago heat wave, about 700 people died, and one study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information projected an increase of between 166 and 2,217 excess deaths per year from heat wave-related mortality in Chicago by 2081-2100.

What's being done: Heat response plans and early warning systems save lives but many municipalities lack such plans...


Climate Change: We Have No Solution. Will a technological magic bullet arise in time to make a difference? It will take nothing less than a revolution in how we power our economies to mitigate some of the worst impacts of climate volatility in the years to come. Here's an excerpt of a particularly gloomy assessment of options at Real Clear Politics: "...The reality is otherwise. The central truth for public policy is: We have no solution. From 2010 to 2040, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects global emissions will increase almost 50 percent. About 80 percent of global energy comes from fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas), which are also the major sources of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. At present, we have no practical replacement for this energy. No sane government will sacrifice its economy today -- by dramatically curtailing fossil fuel use -- for the uncertain benefits of less global warming sometime in the foggy future..." (Image: Department of Energy).


Marco Rubio Denies Climate Change While His Hometown Drowns. There won't be too many climate skeptics left in Miami or anywhere in south Florida in the years ahead. Here's a clip from a story at New Republic: "Marco Rubio, as you may have heard, has issued yet another blunt rejection of the whole notion of man-made climate change. “Well, yeah, I don't agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what's happening in our climate,” he said yesterday on ABC’s “This Week.” He continued: “Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that's directly and almost solely attributable to man-made activities…I don't know of any era in world history where the climate has been stable..."


Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans as Antarctic Ice Melts. I can tell you from first-hand experience that this report, highlighted in Nature, has many climate scientists more alarmed than I've seen them in a long time. Justin Gillis at The New York Times has a good summary; here's an excerpt: "The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the pace of the disintegration, two groups of scientists reported Monday. The finding, which had been feared by some scientists for decades, means that a rise in global sea level of at least 10 feet may now be inevitable. The rise may continue to be relatively slow for at least the next century or so, the scientists said, but sometime after that it will probably speed up so sharply as to become a crisis..."

Graphic credit above: "In this graphic, the red regions are areas where  temperatures have increased the most during the last 50 years, particularly in West Antarctica, The dark blue regions have had a lesser degree of warming. Temperature changes are measured in degrees Celsius [per decade]." Credit NASA/GSFC Scientific Visualization Studio.


5 Stages of Climate Denial. Thanks to Shauna Theel for passing this one along.


The "Climate Debate" on TV: John Oliver Gets It Exactly Right. Could it be that 1 in 4 skeptical Americans are....wrong about science? Not sure, but it seems hypothetically possible. Here's a funny, yet dead-on summary of the "debate" from John Oliver at "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" on HBO, courtesy of SayWhat? "So many earnest words have been written trying to say what John Oliver says here. I have yet to see anyone make this point any clearer. Dead on, plus hysterical." [rated PG]

* the last time I checked this remarkable video had gone viral, with over 1 million views. Good for Mr. Oliver.


A Statistically Representative Debate on Climate Change. Thanks to Media Matters for passing this along.

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