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Paul Douglas on Weather

Don't Read Too Much Into This Chilly Phase

Last Weekend of Winter...
It's been fairly quiet across much of the state over the last several days and Saturday was just about as nice as any St. Patrick's Day can be here in Minnesota. However, who could forget the 80F record high temperature on St. Patrick's Day in 2012? Yea, that was nice! 2012 was an exceptional spring that came VERY early, almost too early that year. This year, spring seems to be coming at a pretty normal rate. We still have snow on the and there is still a lot of ice on area lakes.
2017 Ice Out Dates
Take a look at ice out dates across the state from last year. Note the darker red markers, which indicated that ice out occurred on many lakes in central and southern MN before March 18th! As of March 17th, we have no ice outs anywhere across the state this year. 

Spring is Just Around The Corner!
"On Tuesday, at 11:15:21 a.m. CDT, the winter season will officially come to an end in the Northern Hemisphere. How can we be so sure? At that moment, the sun will arrive at one of two positions where its rays will shine directly down on the equator. Indeed, if you were standing on the equator at a point just to the west of the Itapará River of the Roraima State in northern Brazil, the sun would appear directly overhead, even as we in the Northern Hemisphere make the transition from winter to spring. At that time, the sun will also be shining equally on both halves of the Earth. Spring at last! Many look upon the arrival of spring as an end to cold — and, in northern climes — snowy weather. That, of course, is simply not true. In some years, unseasonably cold temperatures and accumulating snows can linger well into April, just as warm weather sometimes hangs on well into October."
Signs of Spring
For me, spring officially arrives when I hear the first call of the Red-winged Blackbird! It is probably one of my favorite springtime birds, not sure why, but I do! Thanks to Journey North, there are a number of different spring things that are being tracked. From Red-winged Blackbirds to Robins to Loons and even Hummingbirds! Here is a map of Red-winged Blackbird first sightings and note that there have already been a few sightings through the first half of March around the Twin Cities and in southeastern MN!
Spring Phenology in the Twin Cities
"One of the first signs of spring have arrived in 2018. The songs of the first red-winged blackbirds of the season were heard in north Maplewood on Thursday, March 8, six days earlier than the median date of March 14. There is still plenty of reminders that winter is still here. At the same time the red wing blackbird call was heard, 14 inches of snow was on the ground and morning temperatures were around 10 degrees. Phenology which is derived from the Greek word phaino meaning to show or appear, is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events that are influenced by environmental changes, especially seasonal variations in temperature and precipitation driven by weather and climate. The USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN)  collects phenological data from across the United States. Also track the progress of The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds  as they migrate north. According to the National Phenology Network spring is about a week ahead of average for 2018 so far. Here is some recent spring phenology for a site in Maplewood just north of St. Paul."

Spring Leaf Index

According to the USA National Phenology Network, the spring leaf index shows spring creeping north. The red colors indicate that spring leaves have been emerging earlier than normal, while the blue indicates that spring leaves have emerged later than normal. It was a later than normal start to the season across the Gulf Coast States, but across the Mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley, things are off to an earlier start. Keep in mind that the average bloom date for lilacs in the Twin Cities is around May 10th, so we still have a ways to go, but we're not that far away!

Starting Your Garden Indoors
Local gardeners are well on their way to starting their 2018 garden! As you can see from the image below, a number of different flowers and vegetables can already be planted INDOORS. Earlier this week, I planted 108 different seeds from peppers to flowers. Looks like we have a couple of weeks yet before tomato seeds can be planted! Such a fun time of the year!! Grow baby grow!!
Snow Depth
Here's the latest modeled snow depth across the state, which shows the snowpack dwindling from where we were 3 weeks ago when nearly 10" of snow was on the ground in the Twin Cities on February 25th. As of Saturday, March 17th, the MSP Airport still had 2" of snow on the ground in the morning.


Snow Melt Ahead

The extended forecast through the end of March suggests high temperatures bouncing around the 30s and 40s. The GEFS seems to be a little more aggressive with mid to upper 40s during the last full week of March, while the ECMWF remains cooler with highs in the 30s to 40s this week and next week. The good news is that average highs and lows are going up and the avearge high by the end of the month in the Twin Cities is 49F!

Weather Outlook Ahead
Sunday will be another quiet day across the Upper Midwest, but as we head into the week ahead, we may be looking at a little rain and snow. Here's the weather outlook from Monday into Tuesday night, which shows a fairly weak system scooting across the region, which could bring some minor slushy accumulations to parts of Minnesota.
Rain/Snow Next Weekend?
The weather could stay active into the end of next week as another, larger, storm system could develop. Although it is still several days away, we could be looking and more rain and snow. Stay tuned...

Great Lakes Ice Coverage

According to NOAA's GLERL, the Great Lakes were 23.5% covered in ice as of March 16th. Interestingly only 14.4% of the Great Lakes were covered at this time last year.
Lake Superior Ice Coverage
Here's a look at the ice coverage across Lake Superior and as of March 16th, NOAA's GLERL, said that 42.9% of Lake Superior was covered. Interestingly, at last time last year only 11.1% of the lake was covered in ice! Quite a difference from this year to last.   
Visible Satellite
The visible satellite from Friday, March 16th revealed a wintry landscape across the Great Lakes Region and Upper Mississippi Valley. Much of the white you see is snow on the ground, while big chunks of ice can still be seen floating around the Great Lakes and some of the lakes in Minnesota, including Mille Lacs, Leech and Upper/Lower Red Lake.
Snow Depth 2018
The snow depth map across the country for March 17th suggests that 34.8% of the country is covered in snow, mainly across the northern half of the nation. At this time last year, 22.7% of the nation was covered in snow. As of March 17th, the Twin Cities officially had 2" of snow on the ground at the MSP Airport, but at this time last year, there was juat a trace of snow on the ground. Note also that last year at this time, the Sierra Nevada Range in California had a significantly greater snow pack than what is there now.
Snow Depth 2017
At this time last year, 22.7% of the nation was covered in snow.  

2018 Tornadoes So Far...

According to NOAA's SPC, there have been 71 preliminary tornaoes so far this year (March 16th), which is more than what we had at this time in the last couple of years. Interestingly, there were 482 tornadoes at this time in 2008; that year ended with 2,194 tornadoes, which is nearly 800 more than the short-term 2005-2015 average. 

Average Tornadoes in March By State
Here's the average number of tornadoes during the month of March by state. Texas sees the most with 11, but interestingly, Minnesota averages 1 tornado in March!

Major River Flooding

According to NOAA, there were 69 river gauges in flood stage as of Saturday, 6 of which where at Major flood stage! Interestingly, 2 of those are in North Dakota near Devils Lake.

MAJOR Flooding Forecast along Mississippi River at Baton Rouge, LA
Take a look at the river gauge along the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge, LA. It entered MAJOR flood stage earlier this month and may not go below major flood stage until late next weekend! This flooding is the result of very heavy rainfall that happened during the 2nd half of February across the Mississippi and Ohio River Valley areas. It finally looks like the flood waters will recede a bit as we get closer to April.
"Cool satellite image shows rising Mississippi River pouring sediment into the Gulf of Mexico"
"Fresh water from the Ohio River Valley is flooding into the Mississippi River, causing it to rise and pick up speed. A new image taken by a National Aeronautics and Space Administration research satellite shows a fan of sediment leaving the bird's foot delta as a result of the increased flow. The plume extends 10 to 20 miles offshore, said Alex Kolker, an associate professor with Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. Bent by a southeast wind, the plume curls in on itself.  "It's cool to be able to have the wealth of data that we have in near real time," Kolker said of the image. Louisiana State University's Earthscan Lab compiles satellite images of the state almost every day. Before the Mississippi River was leveed off, flood waters from the river carried sediment into the marsh, rebuilding and stabilizing land along the coast. The state's coastal master plan calls for two river diversions in Plaquemines Parish to reconnect the river with the degrading marsh."
"Deadline to remove fish houses approaching"
"The deadline for anglers to remove fish houses from lakes in Minnesota is approaching quickly, according to the Department of Natural Resources.  Removal dates are determined by an east-west line formed by U.S. Highway 10, east along Highway 34 to Minnesota Highway 200, east along Highway 200 to U.S. Highway 2, and east along Highway 2 to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. The removal deadline south of that line is the end of the day Monday, March 5. The deadline north of that line is the end of the day Monday, March 19. “With the recent snow and a forecast that calls for warmer weather, travel conditions on lakes may be difficult,” said DNR Conservation Officer Brent Grewe, who patrols the Minnetonka area. “But anglers are responsible for removing their shelters by the deadline, so they should plan ahead and make sure they’re able to do so.” Fish house owners also should be cognizant of taking trash off the lake – whether it’s theirs or was left by someone else. “Minnesota’s lakes are among the best in the nation and it’s up to each one of us to do our part to keep them clean,” said Col. Rodmen Smith, director of the DNR Enforcement Division."


"Minnesota Sees Deadliest Winter In Years"

"Minnesota has already had five ice-related deaths this winter. The state typically averages three during the whole season. Minnesota is on track to have one of its deadliest winters in years. Five people have died this season after falling through ice. The state typically averages three ice-related deaths over the course of the entire winter. The 2015-2016 winter had zero ice-related deaths, while the 2016-2017 winter had two. The last time Minnesota saw ice-related deaths in the double digits was in the 2002-2003 winter, when the state had 10 fatalities. The most recent death this year happened in northern Minnesota where a women drowned after riding an ATV on Rice Lake. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Hannah Mishler has already responded to multiple ice rescue calls. "Ice, especially snow covered ice, is extremely deceptive. You can't see dangerous cracks or the thickness of the ice under the snow," Mishler said in a statement."
Ice Safety!!
Before you go testing the ice on area lakes and ponds, remember that "ICE IS NEVER 100% SAFE!" So when is ice safe? Here is an excerpt from the MN DNR regarding ice safety: 
"There really is no sure answer. You can't judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on all these factors -- plus the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and currents, the distribution of the load on the ice, and local climatic conditions."
General Ice Thickness Guidelines
Here are some general ice thickness guidelines from the MN DNR:
For new, clear ice ONLY:

Under 4" - STAY OFF
4" - Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5" - 7" - Snowmobile or ATV
8" - 12" - Car or small pickup
12" - 15" - Medium truck

Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.
White ice or "snow ice" is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.

See more from the MN DNR HERE:

Temperature Anomaly on Saturday
The temperature anomaly across North America from Saturday, showed above average temperatures across much of the Southern US and from central Canada to the Northwest Territories. Meanwhile, cooler than average temperatures across the Northeast, High Plains and the Western US.
Temperature Trend
The 850mb temperature anomaly from Sunday to Tuesday, shows a blob of chilly temps moving back in across much of the eastern half of the country as we head into the 3rd full week of March. Sure this will be chilly, but the deep winter bite has lost its punch, so it won't be as bad as it was back in January or even February. 
Weather Outlook Ahead
Weather conditions through the rest of the weekend and into early next week shows another storm system developing and moving into the Central US. Areas of rain and high elevation snow in the Western US on Sunday will move into the Central US early this week with wintry weather up north and rain/rumbles across the Central and Southern US. Keep in mind that some of the storms could be on the strong to severe side through Tuesday. 
Severe Threats Ahead
The images below are the severe weather threats on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. As our next storm system moves east, areas of hail, high wind and even tornadoes can't be ruled out.
Severe Threat Sunday
Severe Threat Monday
Severe Threat Tuesday

7 Day Precipitation Outlook

According to NOAA's WPC, the 7-day precipitation outlook suggests areas of heavy precipitation continuing across the Western US. Areas of heavy rain could lead to flooding along the California Coast, while more heavy snow will fall across the Sierra Nevada Range. There will also be a few areas of heavier precipitation along and east of the Mississippi River. One swath across the Ohio Valley, another across the Gulf Coast State and another potentially along the East Coast. It's safe to say that the next 7 days could be pretty active across the country.

Snowfall Potential Ahead

The GFS snowfall potential through the 3rd full week of March suggests areas of heavy snow across the Western US and especially in the Sierra Nevada Range as another large storm system looks to move into the region late week. There may also be some slushy snow accumulations across the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic States. 
Don't Read Too Much Into This Chilly Phase
By Paul Douglas
The weather never moves in a straight line. Data is "lumpy" - the challenge is to discern long-term trends amidst seemingly chaotic gyrations of day to day weather.
I'm up north, staring out at an endless expanse of ice, marveling at what happened 6 years ago. The mercury in the Twin Cities hit 80F on St. Patty's Day, 2012 - the warmest day of the warmest March on record at MSP. The summer that followed was a perpetual steam bath; hotter and more humid than average.
Spring still seems like a mirage this year. So does our lack of serious warmth, to date, suggest a cooler than normal summer? I wouldn't connect those dots just yet. In spite of a cool bias into early April, the pattern can shift on a dime. Count on it.
Clouds increase today and a light mix is possible Tuesday into Wednesday. A more significant period of rain coupled with mid-40s will accelerate snow melt later this week, and models hint that a cold rain may end as wet snow next weekend. Keep a shovel handy just in case.
On a positive note: the risk of damaging tornadoes will remain low until further notice.

Extended Forecast

SUNDAY: Clouds increase. Winds: SE 3-8. High: 46.

SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy. Winds: NE 5-10. Low: 30.

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy and cooler. Winds: E 8-13. High: 41.

TUESDAY: Chance of a little wet snow. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 27. High: 37.

WEDNESDAY: Light snow and flurries linger. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 26. High: 39.

THURSDAY: Partly sunny. More springlike. Winds: NW 3-8. Wake-up: 25. High: 46.

FRIDAY: Rain arrives late in the day. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 30. High: 45

SATURDAY: Cold rain may change over to snow. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 35. High: 40.

This Day in Weather History
March 18th

1968: The earliest tornado to hit Minnesota. No one was hurt when it hit Watonwan County.

Average High/Low for Minneapolis
March 18th

Average High: 42F (Record: 79F set in 2012)
Average Low: 25F (Record: -8F set in 1923)

Record Rainfall: 1.07" set in 1968
Record Snowfall: 9.6" set in 1951

Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
March 18th

Sunrise: 7:20am
Sunset: 7:23pm

Hours of Daylight: ~12 hours & 3 minutes

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 3 minutes & 9 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): 3 Hour 18 Minutes

Moon Phase for March 18th at Midnight
1.7 Days Since New Moon


 Temp Outlook For Sunday

Temps on Sunday will be fairly mild for mid March with readings in the 40s across much of the state. There may be a few lingering 30s across the Red River Valley and Arrowhead, but not bad for this time of the year. 
8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

According to NOAA's CPC, the last part of March, cooler than average temperatures will be found across much of the nothern US and especially across the High Plains. Meanwhile, warmer than average temps will be found from Texas to Florida. 

"Pacific Heat Wave Known As 'The Blob' Appears To Be In Retreat"
"Ocean conditions off the Pacific Northwest seem to be returning to normal after a three-year spike in water temperature.

It’s promising long-term news for fishermen who are looking ahead in the short term to yet another year of low salmon returns. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) outlined the latest ocean observations for the organization that sets salmon catch limits off the West Coast. The Pacific Fishery Management Council will set those limits in early April.

The extended marine heatwave of the past few years has been nicknamed “the Blob.”

“The high pressure system over the North Pacific basically got stalled out and stuck there. And so the ocean warmed up about 6 degrees Fahrenheit,” NOAA’s Toby Garfield said."

See more from KUOW HERE:


"Is the Western U.S. Snowpack Declining "Dramatically"?"

"Last week a paper (Mote et al., 2018)  was published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Scienceclaiming "dramatic" declines in western U.S snowpack. The article had all kinds of scary details. The loss in water resources would be "comparable in volume to the West’s largest man-made reservoir, Lake Mead" and the losses would be so great that "new reservoirs cannot be built fast enough to offset the loss of snow storage." The principal author's (Phil Mote) institution put out a press release that amplified the message, with the lead author noting that: “It is a bigger decline than we had expected,” The media headlined this "dramatic" loss of western snowpack, with hundreds of stories in major outlets around the world, allowing millions of people to learn about the bad news. Here are a few examples. I could show you a hundred more, but you get the point."

See more from Cliff Masters HERE:


"This is What a West Without Water Will Look Like"

"A huge swath of the US is facing massive droughts. It’s only going to get worse. The Southwest United States is wrapping up an abnormally dry winter. Nearly all of Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and California are facing drought conditions in 2018. About a quarter of the West’s drinking water relies on melting snow, which has been in short supply this year, to fill up reservoirs. While it’s unlikely that the Southwest United States is headed for a full-scale disaster like in Cape Town, South Africa, where residents have severely restricted water usage after three years of drought. But thanks to climate-changed linked droughts in the Southwest, water will become a precious commodity in this part of the US. “There’s a general sense that there will be less water in the future,” says Michael Cohen, a senior research associate at the Pacific Institute, a global water think tank."

See more from Mother Jones HERE:


"Weird winter weather has scientists looking to the North Pole"

"Temperatures in the Arctic could help drive extreme weather in the United States. Last October, experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationpredicted a fairly mild winter for the United States. Though they were careful to hedge their bets (“maps show only the most likely outcome,” NOAA warned, “but this is not the only possible outcome”), models suggested a weak La Niña would bring slightly colder than average temperatures to the northwest, with slightly warmer than average temperatures cropping up in the south and east. But this winter, as anyone with a TV—or window—knows, appears to have turned out rather differently. The northeast has experienced three back-to-back-to-back storms. We rang in the New Year with a so-called “bomb cyclone” and, for one day only, it was colder in Florida than in Alaska. This weird weather wasn’t confined to the eastern seaboard, either. Seattle and other communities in the Pacific Northwest saw unusual snowfall in November, December, and February. Last month, Europe got colder than the north pole, allowing the residents of Rome to toss a few snowballs."

See more from Raw Story HERE:


"It’s not your imagination, we really are getting more blizzards"

"We’ve all spent the last several weeks reading nonstop nor’easter news, as three major winter storms bombarded the East with wet snow and power outages. It turns out that having three storms so close together isn’t that unusual—it happened just a few years ago—but we are having more storms these days. If you were around in 1959, you experienced an average of 5.9 blizzards annually. Well, not you personally, because blizzards don’t always affect the same area. But across the U.S. there were about six every year. That number rose to 21.6 in 2014 following a long, fairly steady rise over the decades, according to a study from last year. Those same meteorologists predict we’ll get up to 32 blizzards per year by 2050, assuming this trend continues. Most blizzards, as you’d expect, happen from December to February—that’s meteorological winter, and peak snow season. But when they happen outside that timeframe, it’s actually more common to get them in spring than in the fall. Even though it can seem weird for us to get snowstorms in March, these late-season blizzards happen twice as often as early-season ones. The U.S. usually gets about three storms from March to May, making us exactly average right now."

See more from Popular Science HERE:


Thanks for checking in and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWX

Almost 10F Warmer Than Average on St. Patty's Day - Meteorological March Madness

March in Minnesota: A Month Like No Other?

Welcome to the meteorologically manic month of March. It's like Mother Nature tried to cram an entire year's worth of weather into 31 days.

Think I'm kidding? Temperatures have ranged from -27F (1948) to 86F (most recently in 1986). Minnesota has seen March tornadoes; blizzards are rare - but possible. River flooding & wildfires until things green up? Did I mention ice dams?

No hurricanes or earthquakes, if that's of any consolation!

NOAA data highlighted at The New York Times shows that Minnesota winters from 1989 to 2018 were 3F warmer than a 20th century baseline. We just experienced an average winter. Average feels like punishment, since most winters are trending milder.

Much of the snow in your yard will be gone by Monday with weekend temperatures consistently above freezing. There's an outside shot at 50F today, again Sunday, before cooling off a little next week. Another mild surge late next week brings a smear of showery rain by Friday; possibly ending as flurries next Saturday.

The sun is now too high in the sky for snow to linger. Spring is coming, reluctantly. 

Relatively Quiet. Residents of New England are still digging out from 1-2 feet of snow, while a Pacific storm with much-needed rain and snow pushes into the western USA. A persistent longwave ridge of high pressure means relatively quietweather for Minnesota Saturday and Sunday. 12km NAM Future Radar: NOAA and

Few Degrees Above Average. Average high temperatures at MSP are around 41F now; and we'll be above average this weekend and late next week as spring makes a pass at Minnesota. I still see a cool bias into at least early April - no rush of 60s or 70s shaping up anytime soon. Twin Cities ECMWF numbers: WeatherBell.


Updated Flood Threat. Here's an excerpt from NOAA's just-released Spring Outlook: "...Through May, moderate flooding is likely in the lower Mississippi Valley, parts of the Ohio River Basin, the Illinois River Basin, and in parts of the lower Missouri River Basin. Minor flooding is possible in parts of the Columbia River and upper Missouri River Basin as above-normal snowpack in the Northern Rockies melts. The flood risk outlook is based on a number of factors, including current conditions of snowpack, drought, soil moisture, frost depth, streamflow and precipitation. Local heavy rainfall, especially associated with thunderstorms, can occur throughout the spring and lead to flooding even in areas where overall risk is considered low..."

Map credit: "2018 U.S. Spring Flood Outlook: This map depicts the locations where there is a greater than 50 percent chance of moderate or minor flooding during March through May, 2018." (NOAA).

Spring Temperature Outlook. Much of the USA is forecast to trend warmer than average from April into June; temperatures predicted to be close to average across Minnesota. Map credit: NOAA CPC.

A Wet Bias? Hardly a shock, considering springs across the Upper Midwest are trending wetter than average. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center says there's a good chance of wetter than normal conditions from the Dakotas into the Great Lakes and New England this spring. Place your bets.

Snowfall Trends. Thanks to Brian Brettschneider for sharing this graphic, showing (net) increases or decreases in annual snowfall in the last 30 years. There's a fairly dramatic decrease in winter snow from Wichita Falls and Little Rock to Nashville and Norfolk. Closer to home nowfall has actually increased over western Minnesota, but fallen from near St. Cloud to the Twin Cities and Mankato.

After the Storm. Many people wrote checks, which is terrific, but I have even more respect and admiration for people who were able to put their lives on hold and head down to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to help out after Hurricane Irma and Maria. Popular Mechanics has their amazing story: "When hurricanes Irma and Maria destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced thousands of people in the U.S. Virgin Islands last fall, some people sent money and supplies. A smaller group showed up. They left their lives and families, dealt with occasional awkwardness and tetanus shots, to see what they could do to help. This is their story..."

Photo credit: Drew Alston.

It's Not Your Imagination: Allergy Season Gets Worse Every Year. As things continue to warm up more of us will be sneezing and wheezing much of the year, reports Vox: "You may have heard that last year’s allergy season was the worst ever. So was the year before. Allergy season has become so predictably terrible that late-night comedians have taken to venting about warnings of the “pollen tsunami” ad “pollen vortex” or a “perfect storm for allergies.” But it turns out there is truth behind the bombast. Pollen allergy seasons truly are getting worse, and global warming is a major factor. For one, there’s evidence that the number of people with allergies is increasing, and with changes in average temperatures, pollen seasons are also getting longer, as you can see here in this map of the growth in ragweed’s pollen season..."
Map credit: "Changes in the ragweed pollen season between 1995 and 2015." Environmental Protection Agency

In Virginia, Black Clergy Lead Charge Against Fossil Fuel Lobby: From Climate Nexus: "Black communities in Virginia, led in large part by faith leaders, are galvanizing against fossil fuel lobby messaging specifically targeted to them, according to a new report from Grist. A Koch-funded gospel concert to surreptitiously promote oil and gas held in Richmond in 2016 generated significant backlash in the community, activists say--and encouraged many community members and faith leaders to reconsider how the fossil fuel industry targets and exploits black Americans. "God didn’t put me on this earth to pimp death for profit," Rev. Paul Wilson, who took up arms against environmental racism after the concert and was recently arrested protesting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, told Grist. "That’s what the Kochs and these energy folks are doing to my people now. It’s up to us in the church to stop it." (Grist)

Unplugging from the Internet Nearly Destroyed Me. I like the idea of tapering, but totally disconnecting from The Matrix? Good luck with that. A link to a harrowing story at The Atlantic is here.

Finland is the World's Happiest Country. Here's an excerpt from CNN: "...The United States landed in 18th place, dropping four spots from last year. "Governments are increasingly using indicators of happiness to inform their policy-making decisions," said economics professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of Columbia University's Center for Sustainable Development and report co-editor. "US policymakers should take note. The US happiness ranking is falling, in part because of the ongoing epidemics of obesity, substance abuse and untreated depression." Other major powers didn't crack the top 10 rankings, either. Germany came in 15th place, while the United Kingdom was 19th. Japan came in 54th place, Russia came in 59th place and China came in 86th..."

Sorry, There is No Such Thing as a "Normal Person". I rest my case, your honor. Here's a clip from Quartz: "...There’s no one right way to be a human, and that applies to mental as well as physical states. That’s why neuroscientists are advocating for more recognition of the bizarre normalcy of all complex humans in psychiatry—an argument that can help all of us take a bigger-picture view. A new study published in Trends in Cognitive Science on Feb. 20 debunks the myth of normalcy in people and animals. “The Myth of Optimality in Clinical Neuroscience” (paywall), by Avram Holmes and Lauren Patrick of the Yale University psychology department, uses evolution to show that uniformity in our brains is totally abnormal. What’s much more common in life, during its 3.5 billion years of evolving existence on Earth, is range and change, variety in and among creatures and habitats..."

Photo credit: "Crocodile taunting isn't a normal job for a regular joe. But it's not the sign of a diseased mind." (Reuters stringer/2015 Wenling, China zoo).

Does Tech Need Silicon Valley? It turns out that many start-ups are flourishing the Midwest, a trend that may accelerate as costs continue to escalate in Silicon Valley. Here's a clip from an interesting read at California Sunday Magazine: "... Poring over the available data, Case discovered that plenty of Midwestern and Southwestern cities were leveraging tax incentives to stanch local brain drain, and a few, such as Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, were cultivating their own robust startup scenes. The talent wasn’t all on the coasts. Nor, for that matter, were the jobs. Metro areas like Detroit and Atlanta were adding jobs in tech services and software at surprisingly steady rates. But the requisite venture capital, that ultimate driver of any startup economy, was missing. The vast majority — 80 percent — of VC investment goes to the coasts, Case pointed out, referring to a report from the Martin Prosperity Institute in Toronto. The other states have to fight for the scraps. “It was pretty clear there was a problem here and an opportunity...”

Photo credit: "The new office space of Memory Ventures, a photo-digitization startup. The founder, Anderson Schoenrock, moved to Indianapolis from Los Angeles."

Newsflash! Robots Can't Live Without Us. A robotic machine that flips hamburgers - is it an omen of a world that doesn't need human workers? Not so fast, argues a story at USA TODAY: "On its surface, the idea sounds like a no-brainer: Replace young men and women who can’t take the heat and monotony of standing over a hot griddle -- and end up quitting in weeks, if not months -- with a robot. A $100,000 robot can grill hamburgers to perfection all day long. It never takes a break, or a sick day while turning out as many as 2,000 identical burgers a day. Flippy the robot opened for business Monday at the Caliburger restaurant in Pasadena with huge fanfare.  From here to England, reporters from around the world marveled at the machine that threatened to take away human jobs while improving productivity and consistency..."

Photo credit: "Patrons at the Pasadena Caliburger restaurant are greeted by a sign saying that Flippy, the burger flipping robot is coming soon." (Photo: Jefferson Graham).

John Skipper Details His ESPN Exit and a Cocaine Extortion Plot. A story at The Hollywood Reporter is worth a read: "The former network chief goes public in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter about the real reason behind his abrupt departure from Disney after 27 years, a confession to Bob Iger and his hope to work in sports media again. On Dec. 18, 2017, John Skipper suddenly resigned as president of ESPN and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, citing his desire to seek treatment for what he called a “substance addiction.” The announcement shocked employees at ESPN and its parent company, and was met with disbelief and confusion throughout the sports and media worlds..."

Here's How Cycling Can Slow Down the Aging Process. Bicycling Magazine has the story: "...They found that while cycling didn’t protect against every single measure of immune-system decline, the cyclists had white blood cell levels comparable to those of the younger control group—meaning that their immune systems were acting “younger.” These studies are only two of many that demonstrate how physical activity like cycling can slow the aging process. One 2017 study found that high-intensity interval cycling increased mitochondrial capacity—a big deal when it comes to aging, as the decline of these organelles leads to the onset of age-related disease. Another study from last year found that regular vigorous exercise protected telomere length. Shortened telomeres are what cause cell death—i.e., aging—and those who exercised saved themselves up to nine years of cellular deterioration."

File image: Harvard School of Public Health.

Family That Found 7 Baseball Cars Worth Millions Finds 8th. Some people have all the luck, according to a story run by The Associated Press: "What could be better than becoming a millionaire after finding seven vintage baseball cards while cleaning out your late great-grandfather’s house? How about finding an eighth? The family that two years ago made one of the greatest finds in sports collectibles history when they found seven Ty Cobb baseball cards printed between 1909 and 1911 have now found one more in the matching set. “It falls under the category of ‘you can’t make this stuff up,’” said Joe Orlando, president of Professional Sports Authenticator of Newport Beach, California..."

Rain Triggers Fires in Denver Area. Rain? Who knew? This is the first time I've heard of this phenomenon, highlighted in a story at CBS Denver: "...Officials were forced to close Interstate 270 in both directions for several hours Thursday night when power poles near the intersection with Interstate 70 caught fire. The fires knocked down some of the poles. Approximately 50,000 people lost power due to the situation, most for only a short time. Denver’s official weather station at Denver International Airport recorded .04 inches of rain on Thursday. Xcel Energy said after similar fires a year ago that after weeks of dry weather power poles can accumulate gunk that comes from dust, debris and other material. Then when it rains, it can potentially spark a fire."

Image credit: CBS.

2" snow on the ground at Twin Cities International Airport.

41 F. high in the Twin Cities on Friday.

41 F. average high on March 16.

40 F. high on March 16, 2017.

March 17, 2012: The Twin Cities hits 80 degrees, a new record for St. Patrick's Day and the warmest temperature during the warmest March on record. Amazingly, the high also reached 79 on March 16, 18, and 19 this year.

March 17, 1965: The Great St. Patrick's Day Blizzard hits northern Minnesota. Two feet of snow dumped at Duluth. 19 inches at Mora.

SATURDAY: Sunny and mild. Winds: E 3-8. High: 49

SATURDAY NIGHT: Clear to partly cloudy. Low: 31

SUNDAY: High clouds increase, still pleasant. Winds: SW 3-8. High: 47

MONDAY: Cooler as clouds thicken up. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 30. High: near 40

TUESDAY: Chance of a very light mix. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 25. High: 37

WEDNESDAY: Patchy clouds, few flakes around. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 22. High: 40

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, milder breeze kicks in. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 25. High: 47

FRIDAY: Windy with a chance of rain. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 35. High: 46

Climate Stories...

Climate Change Affecting Taste and Cost of Beer. No, not the beer! explains: "On St. Patrick’s Day, many celebrate with good music, food, and drinks. According to research by one investment firm, March 17 ranks fourth behind New Year’s Eve, Independence Day, and Christmas Day in the amount of daily alcoholic drinks consumed in the U.S. As the world’s climate warms, an interesting effect is happening on beer’s core ingredients: hops, water, and barley. Hops are affected by heat and drought, and with 99 percent of U.S. hops grown in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho (with over 70 percent grown in Washington alone), the drier climate developing in the West will impact production..."

None Like it Hot: Warmer Winters Worry Arctic Scientists. Here's an excerpt from a Reuters story: "...The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet, something Norway’s Svalbard archipelago - where Longyearbyen is located - is seeing firsthand, said Kim Holmen, international director of the state-funded Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI). “It has been 86 consecutive months where every month has been above normal (temperatures),” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in his office at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS). “This type of weather was highly unusual,” the scientist said, gesturing at the rain lashing his office window. “Now we have it every winter and several times a winter.” Svalbard’s winter temperatures have increased by 2 to 2.3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade since 1979, said Ketil Isaksen, Oslo-based senior scientist for the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MET Norway)..."

File image: Reuters.

Natural Disasters Are Costing Farming Billions of Dollars a Year. Here's the intro to a story at Bloomberg Markets: "Natural disasters from droughts to floods are costing farmers in poorer countries billions of dollars a year in lost crops and livestock, and it’s getting worse thanks to climate change. Agricultural losses from weather events in developing nations totaled $96 billion in a decade through 2015, with Asia accounting for half the amount, according to the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization. In addition to climate issues, sectors from forestry to aquaculture face risks from problems such as market volatility, diseases and conflicts, the FAO said in a report. “This has become the ‘new normal,’ and the impact of climate change will further exacerbate these threats and challenges,” FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said in a statement. Natural disasters have become more frequent and intense since the 1980s, presenting challenges for about 2.5 billion people who depend on agriculture, the FAO said..."

After Back-to-Back Climate Disasters in 2017, FEMA Ditches Climate Change in Strategic Plan: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: "The Federal Emergency Management Agency has removed references to climate change from its new strategic plan, released Thursday. The 2018-2022 planning document, released after the costliest year of climate and weather disasters in the United States, also fails to mention global warming, sea-level rise, extreme weather, or other terminology associated with scientific predictions of the impacts of climate change. The document instead vaguely references "rising natural hazard risk," warns of "increasingly complex and difficult to predict" disasters, and advises that "pre-disaster mitigation works." FEMA Administrator Brock Long told Bloomberg last summer that climate change is a "political hot button that...keeps us from having a real dialogue." (Bloomberg, NPR, Mother Jones, Axios).

It's 50 Years Since Climate Change Was First Seen. Now Time is Running Out. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Guardian: "...The damage is all around us, from hurricanes on steroids – scientists attribute 15-40% (8in-24in) of the epic rain of Hurricane Harvey to climate change – to California’s deadly wildfires which were set up by five years of drought, followed by record snowfall, then record heat that turned huge areas of the state into tinderboxes. In 2017 there were 16 separate billion-dollar disasters in the US, resulting in a total of $306bn of damages, nearly $100bn more than the second highest year 2005 (Katrina). While technically climate change did not “cause” these disasters, most of the carnage was aggravated in some way by climate change and the fossil fuel emissions that cause it in the first place..."

File image: NASA ISS.

Weathering Trump's Skepticism, U.S. Officials Still Fighting Global Warming. Here's an excerpt from Reuters: "...But there is a disconnect between what Trump says at home and what his government does abroad. While attention has been focused on Trump’s rhetoric, State Department envoys, federal agencies, and government scientists remain active participants in international efforts to both research and fight climate change, according to U.S. and foreign representatives involved in those efforts. “We really don’t detect any change with the Americans,” said one of the officials, Aleksi Härkönen of Finland, who chairs the eight-nation Arctic Council’s key group of senior officials, who are charged with protecting a region warming faster than any other on Earth. Over the past year, the United States has helped draft the rulebook for implementing the Paris climate accord, signed international memoranda calling for global action to fight climate change, boosted funding for overseas clean energy projects, and contributed to global research on the dangers and causes of the Earth’s warming..."

CLIMATE IMPACTS: More headlines and links via Climate Nexus: "The fast-melting Arctic is already messing with the ocean’s circulation, scientists say (Washington Post $), summer daze: hot season will be two months longer in eastern Mediterranean by 2100, study says (USA Today), Easter Island is eroding (New York Times $), coral reefs at severe risk as world's oceans become more acidic (USA Today), this is what a West without water will look like." (Mother Jones).

Biofuels Can Help Solve Climate Change, Especially With a Carbon Tax. So says Dr. John Abraham at The University of St. Thomas, writing for The Guardian: "...The term “biofuels” has many meanings, but basically they are grown fuels (like corn ethanol) that we can use instead of fossil fuels (like petroleum). While biofuels can be any fuel produced from plant material, historically they have been produced from food crops such as corn and soy. But, new technologies are enabling biofuel production from non-edible gases, wood, and other plant waste material. The beauty of biofuels is that they suck carbon dioxide out of the air as they grow. When we burn them in our automobiles, we release carbon dioxide, but it is the same carbon that the plants absorbed while growing. Just on that basis, biofuels appear to be zero net emitters..."

Photo credit: "Willow trees grown for biofuel next to a biofuel power station in Lockerbie, Scotland, UK." Photograph: Ashley Cooper / Alamy/Alamy.

Schwarzenegger Wants to Sue Big Oil for Climage Change. Does He Have a Case? Plenty of money for the lawyers in all of this. Here's a clip from a story at Climate Liability News: "Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he wants to sue oil companies for first-degree murder, a move that will focus the public’s attention on their role in climate change but one that will face considerable hurdles in court. Schwarzenegger, speaking at South by Southwest (SXSW) at an event hosted by Politico, said he had been talking to law firms about suing Big Oil producers because they knew about the public health risks of climate change and should pay for the costs.  “We’re going to go after them, and we’re going to be in there like an Alabama tick. Because to me it’s absolutely irresponsible to know that your product is killing people and not have a warning label on it, like tobacco,” he said during the live podcast on Sunday..."

Fear, Fun or Facts? Researchers Look at What Drives Climate Action. Here's a snippet from another post at Reuters that caught my eye: "...The more matter-of-fact weatherman most successfully helped participants understand the reasons behind climate changes, according to study participants. But humor was most effective in inspiring people aged 18-24 to take action themselves against climate change, such as joining rallies and volunteering for organizations, Niederdeppe said. Nonetheless, it was fear that most motivated a desire for broad action on climate change, prompting watchers to say they would contact officials to see if they supported environmentally friendly policies, the study said. That was true across all the age groups surveyed, he said, not just 18-24-year-olds. After looking at the results, the researchers now aim to try delivering climate change information with a satirical bite to see if it produces even greater drive for action among viewers, Niederdeppe said..."