Spring Is In No Particular Hurry This Year
"A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you" wrote Bob Proctor. It's strange how careers get started. For me in was study hall (which I excelled in) my senior year of high school. One of my classmates had his own show on a little AM radio station in town. I tapped him on the shoulder. "Why not have your own weather guy on the air?" I asked, impulsively. He thought about it, put me on the phone to his boss, and that would be the first of nearly 100 radio stations I've been on over the years, from Pennsylvania to Minnesota.
Bob Roerig, the friend who took a chance on me, died of a massive heart attack. Be sure to thank the people (teachers, mentors, parents, etc) who gave you your first shot.
I'm conflicted: I want it to warm up as much as you do, but spring warm fronts are often serenaded by thunder and shrieking sirens. The south will see a series of severe weather outbreaks this week; just brushing Minnesota with showers late Wednesday into Thursday.
No quality time in your basement anytime soon. At least the sun comes on Tuesday with 60F possible next Sunday!
More Warm Spring Days. Not every day, but the trend is more warmth earlier in the warm season, according to Climate Central: "...Spring is getting warmer, on average, as the globe heats up from the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As a result, the number of spring days with above-normal temperatures is increasing in many places in the U.S. In an unchanging climate, the number of days above normal and below normal should be relatively balanced and constant through the years. For meteorological spring, that number would be 46 out of the 92 days. In the majority of these cites, the number of days above normal has risen sharply. In some cases, there are more than 10 additional above-normal days than there were a few decades ago..."
A Windy March. The greater the contrast in temperature, the stronger winds have to blow to keep the atmosphere in a state of equilibrium. Dr. Mark Seeley reports on a blustery March at Minnesota WeatherTalk: "March has been a windy month so far with average daily wind speed over 12 mph, and 9 days with peak wind gust over 30 mph. This continues a trend of windy weather which began the last week of January. The peak wind gust from MSP airport of 60 mph on the morning of March 8th was just the 5th time in the past 20 years that peak wind gusts in the Twin Cities have hit 60 mph or greater. The other years were 1998 (May), 2007 (Aug), 2008 (June), and 2010 (Oct). Historical trends in wind speed are difficult to study. There is great geographic disparity across the state. In western Minnesota, as well as the Twin Cities Metro Area wind speeds have been greater than normal more frequently in the months of February, April, and November. over the past two decades. Conversely, over the same time period, wind speeds have generally been less than normal more frequently during the months of May and October..."
Rainy Day? Microbes May Be at Play. Science Friday provides details: "Bacteria are all around us—even in the atmosphere. Under the right wind conditions, air currents sweep up ultra-light microbes, which can drift as high as the stratosphere. For instance, a 2012 study appearing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences identified over 300 different families of bacteria floating amid the clouds. As it turns out, these airborne microbes seem to influence the weather. Recently on Science Friday, we spoke with Cindy Morris, a microbial ecologist at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research in Avignon, France, and Athanasios Nenes, a professor of atmospheric sciences and chemical and biomolecular engineering at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia, to understand how microbes participate in precipitation..."
Fun Factoids About Clouds. Your typical run-of-the-mill popcorn cumulus cloud weights as much as 100 elephants. Who knew? Here's a nugget from a very good post at Mental Floss: "...Clouds look like they weigh little more than a tuft of cotton, but they’re heavier than they look. Your average cumulus (fair weather) cloud can weigh more than a million pounds, and a vivacious thunderstorm can pack billions (if not trillions) of pounds of water in one tiny part of the sky. Yet, all of that weight seems effortlessly suspended in the air. It’s both a little unsettling and, at the same time, awesome to think about..."
Minnesota's Earliest Tornado. It's strange seeing tornado damage with snow on the ground. If the dynamics and wind shear is strong enough it doesn't much matter what's happening on the ground. Here's are two excerpts from the Faribault County Register: "The severe storm that uprooted trees, deroofed buildings and overturned a camper on March 6 in Pihl's Park, near Wells, actually included a tornado. And not just any twister. A March 17 survey by the National Weather Service (NWS) determined that the campground damage was the product of an EF-1 tornado one that struck earlier in the year than any other twister in the history of Minnesota...But Faribault County's March 6 heavy winds, which forced Pihl's Park to close its campground and public park for an anticipated seven weeks' worth of repairs, were actually the first to strike at around 5:04 p.m. that evening, according to the NWS..."
Photo credit: "The March 6 storm that did some heavy damage to the county’s Pihl’s Park, including flipping this camper over, was designated as a tornado that first touched down near Bricelyn and traveled nearly 10 miles to near the Wells area. It was designated by the National Weather Service last week as the earliest-in-the-season tornado ever reported in Minnesota."
UW-Madison Researcher Creates Tornado Computer Simulation. As computers become more powerful (and cheaper) we are getting closer to modeling a simulation very close to reality, as reported at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "...Orf is a scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Studies at UW-Madison who leads a team of researchers using computer models to unlock the mysteries of tornadoes. As tornado season gets underway, scientists like Orf are working to peel back the layers of twisters to determine how and why they form. The recipe always includes wind shear, instability and lots of moisture plus a trigger to move the air up, which can be a difference in temperature or moisture. But what vexes researchers is that storms that have all of those ingredients often don't form tornadoes. Unlocking the tornado code could help forecasters better predict them and give people in their path more time to seek shelter. "My dream, and maybe in my lifetime it will happen, is we can predict a scenario where in a 1 square kilometer region we can say a tornado will hit and we can do that well in advance of the storm," said Orf..."
Image credit: "When a tornado is fully formed, the simulation reveals several structures that make up the tornado, including the streamwise vorticity current (SVC), thought to be a main driver of the tornadic activity (seen in yellow)." (Photo: University of Wisconsin-Madison).
CBS Affiliate in Ohio Cut Away from UNC-Kentucky Finish for Tornado Warning. Talk about bad timing. The Washington Post reports.
VORTEX Southeast: Tornado Study Gears Up For Another Year of Research. Here's an excerpt of a press release from the University of Alabama/Huntsville and WeatherBug: "The mysteries of severe weather in the southeastern U.S. -- and why tornadoes kill and injure more people here than any other part of the country -- will get an in-depth probe this spring, as researchers from 11 research institutions around the country gather at UAH for the second year of a major research campaign. Coordinated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Severe Storms Laboratory and hosted by UAH's Severe Weather Institute, Radar and Lightning Laboratories (SWIRLL), VORTEX Southeast (V-SE) uses mobile and portable research hardware, such as UAH's MAX Doppler radar, to get in front of strong storms to learn more about how these storms develop, how they interact with the local terrain and environment, and why some storms create tornadoes and others do not..."
Image credit: "Erik Rasmussen, VORTEX-SE project manager and NOAA senior research scientist, speaks about the research at Signature Aviation with a NOAA Lockheed WP-3S Orion aircraft in the background. The WP-35, nicknamed Kermit, has been brought to Huntsville to support VORTEX-SE."
Solar Employs More People in U.S. Electricity Generation Than Oil, Coal and Gas Combined. Here's a clip from The Center for Climate Protection: "In the United States, more people were employed in solar power last year than in generating electricity through coal, gas and oil energy combined. According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy, solar power employed 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation sector’s workforce in 2016, while fossil fuels combined accounted for just 22 percent. It’s a welcome statistic for those seeking to refute Donald Trump’s assertion that green energy projects are bad news for the American economy. Just under 374,000 people were employed in solar energy, according to the report, while coal, gas and oil power generation combined had a workforce of slightly more than 187,000. The boom in the country’s solar workforce can be attributed to construction work associated with expanding generation capacity. The gulf in employment is growing with net generation from coal falling 53 percent over the last decade. During the same period, electricity generation from natural gas increased 33 percent while solar expanded 5,000 percent..."
Drake Equation Revision Hugely Ups Odds Intelligent Extraterrestrial Life Exists. Maybe so, but where are the aliens? Could it be they've sampled our TV shows (or politics) and want nothing to do with us? Here's an excerpt from Inverse: "Mankind doesn’t explore space solely in search of extraterrestrials, but we keep our eyes peeled. Still, scientists know that the chances of happening across a fellow traveler in the great beyond are minimal — and they wrap their heads around the infinitesimal odds using the Drake Equation, a seven-variable way of deriving the chance of active civilizations existing beyond Earth. But equations get older and equations get wrong. The Drake Equation, which takes into account various factors like the rate of star formation, the fraction of stars that could form planetary systems, the number habitable planets in those systems, and so on, is now 55 years old. It doesn’t reflect the new information SETI researchers have collected since the 1960s..."
Inside Alabama's Auto Jobs Boom: Cheap Wages, Little Training, Crushed Limbs. Bloomberg Businessweek has a tough article that should be essential reading: "...Alabama has been trying on the nickname “New Detroit.” Its burgeoning auto parts industry employs 26,000 workers, who last year earned $1.3 billion in wages. Georgia and Mississippi have similar, though smaller, auto parts sectors. This factory growth, after the long, painful demise of the region’s textile industry, would seem to be just the kind of manufacturing renaissance President Donald Trump and his supporters are looking for. Except that it also epitomizes the global economy’s race to the bottom. Parts suppliers in the American South compete for low-margin orders against suppliers in Mexico and Asia. They promise delivery schedules they can’t possibly meet and face ruinous penalties if they fall short. Employees work ungodly hours, six or seven days a week, for months on end. Pay is low, turnover is high, training is scant, and safety is an afterthought, usually after someone is badly hurt. Many of the same woes that typify work conditions at contract manufacturers across Asia now bedevil parts plants in the South..."
"Sea of Despair" Among White, Working-Class Americans. Industries are being disrupted, jobs automated; companies making do with fewer employees. A Washington Post article claims it's not just blue collar America that's feeling the heat: "Sickness and early death in the white working class could be rooted in poor job prospects for less-educated young people as they first enter the labor market, a situation that compounds over time through family dysfunction, social isolation, addiction, obesity and other pathologies, according to a study published Thursday by two prominent economists. Anne Case and Angus Deaton garnered national headlines in 2015 when they reported that the death rate of midlife non-Hispanic white Americans had risen steadily since 1999 in contrast with the death rates of blacks, Hispanics and Europeans. Their new study extends the data by two years and shows that whatever is driving the mortality spike is not easing up. The two Princeton professors say the trend affects whites of both sexes and is happening nearly everywhere in the country..."
Can We Know What Animals Are Thinking? My dog (Leo) thinks I'm pretty stupid (and predictable), but he loves me anyway. Here's an excerpt of an eye-opening story from The Economist and Medium: "...Nevertheless, most scientists now feel they can say with confidence that some animals process information and express emotions in ways that are accompanied by conscious mental experience. They agree that animals, from rats and mice to parrots and humpback whales, have complex mental capacities; that a few species have attributes once thought to be unique to people, such as the ability to give objects names and use tools; and that a handful of animals — primates, corvids (the crow family) and cetaceans (whales and dolphins) — have something close to what in humans is seen as culture, in that they develop distinctive ways of doing things which are passed down by imitation and example. No animals have all the attributes of human minds; but almost all the attributes of human minds are found in some animal or other..."
Netflix: The Monster That's Eating Hollywood. Every industry gets disrupted - nobody gets a pass. The Wall Street Journal reports: "...The ongoing legal battle is just one sign of the escalating tensions between Netflix and Hollywood as the streaming-video company moves from being an upstart dabbling in original programming to a big-spending entertainment powerhouse that will produce more than 70 shows this year. It is expanding into new genres such as children’s fare, reality TV and stand-up comedy specials—including a $40 million deal for two shows by Chris Rock. The shift has unnerved some TV networks that had become used to Netflix’s original content being focused on scripted dramas and sitcoms..."
The Average Young American Binge-Watches TV for Five Hours Straight. Wave goodbye to linear (appointment) television. Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "Binge-watching has hit critical mass in the US, according to a new study. Nearly three-quarters—73%—of Americans said they binge-watched videos, either on TV or another device, found a survey by Deloitte, including a staggering 90% of US millennials. And 38% of those millennials also said they binge-watched pretty much every week. The firm interviewed more than 2,100 Americans, aged 14 and up, for its 11th annual study on US media consumption. The research was conducted by an independent firm last November..."
Photo credit: "Streaming and mobile video has made it so much easier to binge." (AP/Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Showtime).
.04" rain fell yesterday in the Twin Cities.
44 F. maximum temperature yesterday at MSP.
47 F. average high on March 26.
51 F. high in the cities on March 26, 2016.
March 27, 1946: A record high of 78 is set at Redwood Falls.
TODAY: Lingering clouds, cool. Winds: NE 5-10. High: 49
MONDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 34
TUESDAY: Partly sunny, springy again. Winds: E 5-10. High: 56
WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, showers late. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: 39. High: 52
THURSDAY: Damp, showery start, slow PM clearing. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 40. High: 51
FRIDAY: Plenty of sun, your yard beckons. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 33. High: 54
SATURDAY: Fading sun, rain may stay south of MN. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 37. High: 56
SUNDAY: Partly sunny, feels like April. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 41. High: near 60
What You Can Do About Climate Change. There are lots of things you can do, including voting for pro-science politicians running for local, state and national offices. An article at The New York Times argues that the most important thing you can do is drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle: "...The simple fact is that American drivers are a significant contributor to greenhouse gas pollution, so having a vehicle fleet that burns less fuel can have an outsize impact on total emissions. Though the United States has just 4 percent of the world's population, it is responsible for 14 percent of man-made greenhouse gases that end up in the atmosphere. Transportation accounts for 27 percent of those emissions. And 60 percent result from driving personal vehicles..."
The Major U.S. TV Networks Spent a Grand Total of 50 Minutes on Climate Change Last year - Combined. Quartz has the story: "By all accounts, 2016 was an eventful year for the planet. It was the year when a record amount of coral perished in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, deforestation in the Amazon increased nearly 30%, polar sea ice the size of India disappeared, and of course it got hotter. In fact, it was the hottest year ever recorded. But the average American could be forgiven for not knowing about any of this. Because major US TV news networks, fixated on an election that provided the drama and entertainment of reality TV, dedicated almost no time to covering climate change. The nightly news programs of ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox News Sunday collectively aired 50 minutes of climate-change coverage in 2016, according to research from Media Matters, a nonprofit research organization that covers American media. This is 96 minutes less than in 2015, a combined drop of about 66%..."
Documentary Explores How Climate Change is Impacting Yosemite. CBS News has the video promo: " PBS' "Nature" series will premeire "Yosemite," a sublime look at one of our nation's most stunning national parks. It's also a sobering one, as the park's ecosystem is threatened by climate change. Award-winning nature filmmaker Joseph Pontecorvol, who produced, wrote and served as a cinematographer, joins "CBS This Morning: Saturday" to discuss the filming process and the park's future."
Climate Change Signal in Great Plains Wildfires? Is the unusual warmth that helped to create conditions favorable for record wildfires over the southern Plains related to background warming, or just a random event? Here's an excerpt from Climate Signals: "...Since the 1970s, large grass and shrubland fires have increased by more than 100,000 acres per decade. The frequency and intensity of wildfires in the Great Plains are increasing as the combination of higher temperatures, untamed underbrush and more extreme drought elevate wildfire risk. Formal attribution work has identified the fingerprint of global warming in the record hot temperatures that swept across the US east of the Rockies in February 2017, as climate change increased the likelihood of such heat by threefold. The heat fueled worsening drought conditions in the Great Plains region, contributing to the extreme fire conditions in early March that precipitated major blazes in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Texas. One blaze, encompassing Clark and Comanche counties along Kansas' southern border with Oklahoma, is the largest wildfire on record in the state..."
Global Warming is Increasing Rainfall Rates. Here's an excerpt of a story from Dr. John Abraham at the University of St. Thomas, writing for The Guardian: "...In my state, we have had four 1000-year floods since the year 2000! Two years ago, Minneapolis, Minnesota had such flooding that people were literally fishing in the streets as lakes and streams overflowed and fish escaped the banks. No joke, I actually observed fish swimming past me as I waded up a street. This occurrence is being observed elsewhere in my country and around the world. It falls upon city planners and engineers to design infrastructure that is more able to accommodate heavy rains and manage water. This means designing river containment areas or flood plains, reinforcing buildings and houses, and increasing the capacity of storm drainage in urban areas, just to name a few. These modifications present costs but not preparing for increased flooding poses even greater financial and social costs. Moreover, storing water from times when there is too much for the inevitable times when we have too little (drought), results in better water management and multiple benefits..."
Photo credit: "Jared Bakko hauls a boat down a flooded road after taking supplies to his grandmother as the Red River flood waters began to recede just south of Moorhead, Minnesota, USA, 28 March, 2009." EPA/CRAIG LASSIG Photograph: Craig Lassig/EPA.
How Climate Change is Altering Spring. Michigan Radio has the report, confirming what many of us have already observed: "...That “magical spring period” she’s talking about is called the vernal window. It’s basically when the snow melts, the rivers start rushing, the seeds sprout, birds start to sing: all of the classic signs of spring. But Contasta’s new study finds that those very basic, ecological things are changing. In our warmer winters, that vernal window – the spring awakening, basically – happens over a much longer period of time. And things that used to happen back to back, now have a longer lag time in between. “That could be a longer time when, soil is warm, where water could be moving through the soil, and trees are not active,” she says. Which could be bad for the trees, of course..."
Photo credit: "Spring is arriving earlier, and the vernal window is lasting longer." ellenm1 / Flickr, http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM.