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Paul Douglas on Weather

Lightswitch spring - First 60s of 2018 ahead!

The Big Melt!
If you're a Twitter user, a good follow is @UWCIMSS out of Madison Wisconsin. They share a lot of neat satellite images and this one on Thursday was really neat! If you follow the link HERE you can see how rapidly the fresh snow melted in one day under strong April sunshine. Keep in mind that some spots in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa had nearly a foot of fresh snow on Wednesday! WOW! Let's keep the melt going, huh?!

Record MSP April Snowfall!

April 2018 has been pretty impressive so far in terms of snow and cold. I feel like we had a repeat of January, don't you? Well, if you haven't heard, this has been the snowiest April in recorded history with a whopping 26.1" of snow, beating the previous snowiest April of 21.8" set in 1983. By the way, the average April snow is only 2.4".


Snow Depth

The snow depth across the state of Minnesota is still pretty impressive considering that it is the 2nd to last week of April. However, even with all the snow we've had this month, the strong April sunshine is really doing a number on that snow pack. With temperatures expected to remains closer to if not even above average over the next several days, the snow will melt VERY fast!

Coldest April on Record... So Far
The average temperature at the Twin Cities Airport through the first 19 days of the April have been the coldest on record with an average of only 29.1F! Impressively, we are nearly -15.5F below average through the first 19 days of the month.

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 April 15th, we have no ice outs anywhere across the state this year. 

See more from MN DNR HERE:


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."

 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 MN DNR HERE:

Latest First 60F on Record For MSP...
Hallelujah! Our first 60F high of the season is on track this weekend for Minneapolis and it's going to feel great! Keep in mind that the last time Minneapolis had a high in the 60s was on November 27th, nearly 5 months ago! With that said, this spring has been very chilly and we will likely have one of our latest first 60F highs on record. Note that the latest on record was on April 29th set in 1874, but the most recent was on April 26th set in 2013! By the way, last year, our first 60F high was on February 17th at 63F! At this time last year, we had already had 15 days with highs in the 60s or warmer, 3 of those days were in the 70s!


Extended Temperature Forecast

The extended forecast through May 4th & 5th warmer temps FINALLY moving in as we head through the last full week of April and into early May. Highs look to be more consistently in the 50s and 60s and possibly in the 70s as we head into May. Cross you fingers! The images below suggest the GFS (American model) and ECMWF (European model) temperature outlook. Keep in mind that the average high at the end of April in the Twin Cities is in the mid 60s. 


Cold Start to April

The first half of April has featured some VERY chilly air across much of the Central US and as you can see in the image below many locations are running a good -10F to -15F (or colder) below average. Meanwhile, temps in the Southwestern US are running nearly +5F to +10F above average. When in comes to the Twin Cities, we are running -15.6F below average through the first 19 days 


Great Lakes Ice Coverage

According to NOAA's GLERL, the Great Lakes were 5.1% covered in ice as of April 19th. Interestingly only 0.2% 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 April 20th, NOAA's GLERL, said that 5.5% of Lake Superior was covered. Interestingly, at last time last year only 0.1% of the lake was covered in ice! Quite a difference from this year to last.


Snow Depth 2018

The snow depth map across the country for April 20th suggests that 16.2% of the country is covered in snow, mainly across the northern tier of the nation and across the Intermountain West. At this time last year only 6.0% of the nation was covered in snow. As of April 20th, the Twin Cities officially had 3" of snow on the ground at the MSP Airport in the morning, and at this time last year, there was no snow on the ground.

Snow Depth 2017

At this time last year, 6.0% of the nation was covered in snow. 

2018 Tornadoes So Far...

According to NOAA's SPC, there have been 257 preliminary tornadoes so far this year (April 19th), which is more than what we had at this time in the last couple of years. Interestingly, there were 631 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 April By State

Here's the average number of tornadoes during the month of April by state. Texas sees the most with 29, but interestingly, Minnesota averages 1 tornado in April.


3-7 Day Hazard Forecast

1.) Heavy rain across portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Southeast, and the Southern Plains, Sun, Apr 22.
2.) Heavy rain across portions of the Southeast, the Southern Appalachians, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Central Appalachians, Mon-Tue, Apr 23-Apr 24.
3.) Flooding occurring or imminent across portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley and the Northern Plains.
4.) Flooding likely across portions of the Upper Mississippi Valley and the Northern Plains.
5.) High winds across portions of the Southeast and the Mid-Atlantic, Mon-Tue, Apr 23-Apr 24.
6.) Heavy precipitation across portions of the Alaska Panhandle and mainland Alaska, Sun-Tue, Apr 22-Apr 24.
7.) High winds across portions of the Alaska Panhandle and mainland Alaska, Sun, Apr 22.
8.) High winds across portions of mainland Alaska and the Aleutians, Mon-Wed, Apr 23-Apr 25.
9.) High significant wave heights for coastal portions of mainland Alaska and the Aleutians, Mon-Wed, Apr 23-Apr 25.
10.) Slight risk of heavy precipitation for portions of the Middle Mississippi Valley, the Lower Mississippi Valley, and the Southern Plains, Sun, Apr 29.
11.) Severe Drought across the Central Plains, the Central Rockies, the Central Great Basin, the Northern Plains, the Southern Rockies, California, the Southeast, the Southern Plains, and the Southwest.


Temperature Anomaly on Friday

The temperature anomaly across North America from Friday, showed WELL below average temperatures across a large chunk of the Central and Eastern US.

Temperature Trend

The 850mb temperature anomaly from Saturday to Tuesday shows well below average temperatures across much of the Eastern two-thirds of the nation starting to fade a little as we head into the next few days. Meanwhile, warmer than average temperatures look to continue in the Southwestern US. 


 Weather Outlook Ahead

A storm system will move acorss the central and southern US and we head through the weekend with areas of heavy rain and strong to severe storms. Areas of heavy snow will wrap up early Saturday across the Central Rockies, but strong to severe storms may continue across the Southern US through the weekend.


Severe Threats Ahead

As the storm system slides east through the weekend, a few strong to severe storms can't be ruled out across the Southern US. Here are the SPC threats for Saturday and Sunday

Severe Threat Saturday

Severe Threat Sunday

7 Day Precipitation Outlook

According to NOAA's WPC, the 7-day precipitation outlook suggests areas of heavy precipitation continuing across the Southern and Southeastern US as we head through the weekend and last full week of April. Some spots could see 2" to 4" especially in the Southeast/Mid-Atlantic States.

Snowfall Potential Ahead

The GFS snowfall potential  as we head into the last full week of April suggests more snow across the high elevations in the Central and Northern Rockies. However, note that there doesn't appear to be any major snow storms brewing across the Upper Midwest. Let's hope we're all done with the snow!


Lightswitch spring - First 60s of 2018 ahead!
By Todd Nelson, filling in for Douglas

Palms to the sky today my friends! I think we've finally reached the end of the never-ending long, dark and cold winter. Hallelujah!

Hard to believe that one week ago, we were dealing with blizzard warnings and thundersnow. This April has been an anomaly, no question. Not only has it been the snowiest April on record for the Twin Cities, but it has also been the coldest start to any April on record. Ugh!

According to MLB, there have 25 weather-related postponements this month, which ties the record set in 2007 (records date back to 1986). 4 of first 10 Twins home games actually had to be postponed due to snow. Again, this has been a very rare April and I think we're all ready to get on with spring.

I am happy to report that our first 60 degree highs of 2018 are in the forecast this weekend, which would be the first since around Thanksgiving, nearly 5 months ago! I predict that many will feel feverish today with raging spring fever setting in Monday as we make a run 70 across parts of the state.

Cue the choir, we've earned it!

Extended Forecast

SATURDAY: Feverish. More melting. Winds: SSE 5. High: 58.

SATURDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear. Above freezing! Winds: S 5. Low: 38.

SUNDAY: Raging spring fever. First 60s of 2018! Winds: SSW 5-10. High: 65.

MONDAY: A run at 70F? Now we're talking! Winds: SW S-10. Wake-up: 43. High: 68.

TUESDAY: April showers. Breezy afternoon winds. Winds: NNW 10-20. Wake-up: 46. High: 40.

WEDNESDAY: Sun returns. Not bad. Winds: NW 5-10.. Wake-up: 38. High: 58.

THURSDAY: PM shower? Chillier wind develops. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 38. High: 60.

FRIDAY: Still looks like spring! Winds: NW 5-15. Wake-up: 40. High: 63.

This Day in Weather History
April 21st

1910: A snowstorm hits northeastern Minnesota. Duluth picks up 6.5 inches.

Average High/Low for Minneapolis
April 21st

Average High: 61F (Record: 95F set in 1980)
Average Low: 40F (Record: 22F set in 1966)

Record Rainfall: 0.74" set in 1912
Record Snowfall: 6.6" set in 2002

Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
April 21st

Sunrise: 6:18am
Sunset: 8:06pm

Hours of Daylight: ~13 hours & 48 minutes

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 2 minutes & 55 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): 5 Hour 1 Minute

Moon Phase for April 21st at Midnight
0.6 Days Before First Quarter Moon


 Temp Outlook For Saturday

Remember last weekend? Yea, it seems like a bad dream right about now doesn't it? The Twin Cities picked up 11.1" of snow on Saturday and was under a blizzard warning for the first time since April 1983! Good grief! Well, I'm happy to report that we'll be far removed from that kind of weather this weekend as highs warm into the 50s and 60s across the state. Saturday will still be a bit cooler than average, but at least we're heading in the right direction. 

8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

According to NOAA's CPC, April 27th - May 3rd will be warmer than average across the Plains to the West Coast, while cooler than average temps may still be found across the Mid-Atlantic States. It sure is good to see that the widespread cooler than average temps aren't in the forecast anymore isn't it?


"March 2018: Earth's 5th Warmest March on Record"

"March 2018 was the planet's fifth warmest March since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Wednesday. NASA rated March 2018 as the sixth warmest March on record, with the only warmer March months being 2016, 2017, 2010, 2002, and 2015. The difference in rankings between NASA and NOAA is mostly due to how they handle data-sparse regions such as the Arctic, where few surface weather stations exist. The rankings for March were cooler than we've seen in recent years thanks to the presence of colder weather than average over much of Europe, plus the presence of cool ocean temperatures over the Eastern Pacific from a weak La Niña event. Global ocean temperatures during March 2018 were the fifth warmest on record, and global land temperatures were the seventh warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures in March 2018 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the sixth or ninth warmest in the 40-year record, according to the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) and RSS, respectively."

See more from Wunderground HERE:


"The Great Barrier Reef may never recover from the devastating 2016 heat wave"

"Australia's Great Barrier Reef will never be the same following the devastating marine heat wave that hit it between 2015 and 2016, according to a new study published Wednesday. The new research found that the northern third of the reef — which as a whole, is the largest living structure on the planet — experienced a "catastrophic die-off" of fast-growing coral species, like staghorn and tabular corals. These reefs have now shifted to a new state, with a different balance of coral species than were present prior to the marine heat wave. Scientists have tied that marine heat wave itself, and the increasing prevalence and severity of them, to human-caused global warming."

See more from Mashable HERE:

"The Flood In Hawaii Is So Bad That Bison Are Being Washed Away"
"It rained 28 inches within 24 hours on Kauai, leading Hawaii's governor to issue an emergency proclamation for the island.  In case you haven't heard, things are getting very crazy in the Hawaiian island, Kauai, right now. The island had a record-breaking 28 inches of rain within 24 hours — destroying several homes and property, triggering mudslides, and even creating sinkholes. More than 200 people had to be airlifted and rescued from the North Shore, including both residents and tourists, the Associated Press reported."

"This towering ‘snow canyon’ is carved into one of the snowiest places on Earth"
"There’s a mountain in Japan where the snow falls so heavily, they do not even attempt to clear it until spring. As much as 125 feet of snow falls on this mountain each year — around 1,500 inches. It is the snowiest place in Japan and probably one of the snowiest places on Earth. Tateyama (Mount Tate) is one of Japan’s three holy mountains, located on the west side of the country near the Sea of Japan. It’s a popular destination for hikers in the warm months and just as popular in late winter after workers carve a canyon through the snow up to the mountain’s peak. Route 6 snakes up the mountainside from the city of Toyoma on the coast. The altitude climb is from sea level to just under 10,000 feet. Because of its location next to the Sea of Japan, winds from the west create lake-effect-like storms, picking up moisture from the sea and dumping it onto Tateyama in the form of snow. When the snow begins to melt, crews bring in bulldozers to clear the highway. By that time, there could be as much as 66 feet of densely-compacted snow beneath their tires."

"Dozens Of Homes Have Been Destroyed In Deadly Wildfires That Are Now Larger Than New York City"
"I don’t know what words to use to describe what’s going on over here," said a woman who was forced to flee her home. Massive wildfires in Oklahoma, fueled by the most dangerous conditions in a decade, have killed two people, destroyed dozens of homes, and charred an area larger than New York City. The largest of the blazes, the Rhea Fire, had burned 283,095 acres in western Oklahoma and was only 15% contained as of Thursday. Several other wildfires in the state have collectively burned tens of thousands of additional acres, and in total flames have raced across more than 500 square miles — an area that is more expansive than most major US cities including New York and Los Angeles. At least two people have died and at least 20 others have been injured in the fires, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokesperson Keli Cain told BuzzFeed News. In Dewey County, which has suffered much of the Rhea Fire's fury, 50 homes spread across at least five separate communities have been destroyed. Hundreds of other buildings, such as barns, have also been lost. While several other fires continue to rage across the region, authorities say they don't yet know how bad the damage is."
Thanks for checking in and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWX

Cue the Hallelujah Chorus: Spring Arrives This Weekend. Finally

The Rumors are True: Spring Fling is Imminent

Cue Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus". It's time to break out confetti and (cheap) champagne, because after multiple false-starts spring is finally paying a visit to Minnesota.

If you doubt that we live in the Super Bowl of Weather consider this: a blizzard last weekend - 60s this weekend. Mother Nature needs to be sedated.

In Atlanta, Dallas and Little Rock spring is a given; locals tend to take it for granted. Not here. The Midwestern Regional Climate Center counted 130 snowfall records across the Midwest in April. 26.1 inches in the Twin Cities - but 47.1 inches in Kalkaska, Michigan.In April.

Dry weather may spill over into most of next week as a warming ridge of high pressure builds over the central USA; storms sliding south of home until further notice. An August-like sun angle will remove most of the snow in your yard by Sunday, and then the mercury can reach into the 60s. I wouldn't be surprised to see 70 degrees by the end of next week. Be still my heart.

I am really looking forward to strangers waving at me with all their fingers again. Bring on the warmth! 

Yes. ECMWF guidance hints at a pretty good shot at 60 degrees Sunday and Monday; another surge of warmth later next week. I suspect/hope we're really turning the corner - finally. Source: WeatherBell.

Drought Returns to Huge Swaths of U.S. - Fueling Fears of a Thirsty Future. Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "Texas Less than eight months after Hurricane Harvey pelted the Texas Gulf Coast with torrential rainfall, drought has returned to Texas and other parts of the West, Southwest and Southeast, rekindling old worries for residents who dealt with earlier waves of dry spells and once again forcing state governments to reckon with how to keep the water flowing. Nearly a third of the continental United States was in drought as of April 10, more than three times the coverage of a year ago. And the specter of a drought-ridden summer has focused renewed urgency on state and local conservation efforts, some of which would fundamentally alter Americans' behavior in how they use water..."

* The latest U.S. Drought Monitor is here.

Wildfires: From Climate Nexus: "A massive wildfire is spiraling out of control in Oklahoma (Earther, Reuters), Southwest fire threat called ‘extreme to historic’ amid brutally hot and dry conditions (Washington Post $), Climate change, wildfire, and the future of forests." (Outside Magazine)

Decoding the Weather Machine. If you missed the program Wednesday evening you can stream the 2-hour PBS NOVA special here: "Disastrous hurricanes. Widespread droughts and wildfires. Withering heat. Extreme rainfall. It is hard not to conclude that something’s up with the weather, and many scientists agree. It’s the result of the weather machine itself—our climate—changing, becoming hotter and more erratic. In this two-hour documentary, NOVA will cut through the confusion around climate change. Why do scientists overwhelmingly agree that our climate is changing, and that human activity is causing it? How and when will it affect us through the weather we experience? And what will it take to bend the trajectory of planetary warming toward more benign outcomes? Join scientists around the world on a quest to better understand the workings of the weather and climate machine we call Earth, and discover how we can be resilient—even thrive—in the face of enormous change."

This Towering "Snow Canyon" is Carved Into One of the Snowiest Places on Earth. I felt a little better about nearly 80" of snow this winter in the Twin Cities after reading this post at Capital Weather Gang: "There’s a mountain in Japan where the snow falls so heavily they don’t even attempt to clear it until spring. As much as 125 feet of snow falls on this mountain each year — around 1,500 inches. It is the snowiest place in Japan, and probably one of the snowiest places on Earth. Tateyama (Mount Tate) is one of Japan’s three holy mountains, located on the west side of the country near the Sea of Japan. It’s a popular destination for hikers in the warm months, and just as popular in late winter after workers carve canyon of snow onto the mountain peak..."

Photo credit: "The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route in Japan opened April 15 and features towering walls made of compacted snow."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is still dealing with last year’s hurricane season—and the 2018 season is less than two months away. The federal agency extended its shelter program another month for survivors of Hurricane Harvey Tuesday, while the Puerto Rican government requested that FEMA extend the Transitional Assistance Program for Hurricane Maria refugees Wednesday. Both these programs help cover the costs of hotels and other temporary housing for individuals and families whose homes were left uninhabitable after these destructive natural disasters..."

Hurricane Harvey file image: AerisWeather and Praedictix.

It's a Common Myth That Tornadoes Avoid Cities - But It's Not True. Meteorologist Marshall Shepherd makes the case at Forbes: "...About a decade ago, Dr. Josh Wurman and colleagues published a paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society called "Low-Level Winds in Tornadoes and Potential Catastrophic Tornado Impacts in Urban Areas." They used wind estimates from Doppler on Wheels mobile radars, census data, and modeling to estimate impacts of tornadoes crossing densely populated cities. Results were startling. For example, they argued that a large, intense tornado moving through parts of Chicago, Illinois could destroy nearly a quarter of a million homes and result in 4500 to 45,000 deaths. They did similar evaluations for Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, New York, and St. Louis. While this results may be exaggerated as noted by some scholars in the literature, I think the point that they convey is real..."

Image credit: FiveThirtyEight.

San Francisco's Big Seismic Gamble. The New York Times reports: "San Francisco lives with the certainty that the Big One will come. But the city is also putting up taller and taller buildings clustered closer and closer together because of the state's severe housing shortage.  Now those competing pressures have prompted an anxious rethinking of building regulations. Experts are sending this message: The building code coes not protect cities from earthquakes nearly as much as you might think. It's been over a century - Wednesday marks the 112th anniversary - since the last devastating earthquake and subsequent inferno razed San Francisco...."

More Than 95% of the World's Population Breathes Dangerous Air. The Guardian reports: "More than 95% of the world’s population breathe unsafe air and the burden is falling hardest on the poorest communities, with the gap between the most polluted and least polluted countries rising rapidly, a comprehensive study of global air pollution has found. Cities are home to an increasing majority of the world’s people, exposing billions to unsafe air, particularly in developing countries, but in rural areas the risk of indoor air pollution is often caused by burning solid fuels. One in three people worldwide faces the double whammy of unsafe air both indoors and out. The report by the Health Effects Institute used new findings such as satellite data and better monitoring to estimate the numbers of people exposed to air polluted above the levels deemed safe by the World Health Organisation. This exposure has made air pollution the fourth highest cause of death globally, after high blood pressure, diet and smoking, and the greatest environmental health risk..."

Photo credit: Oliver Berg, EPA.

U.S. Wind Energy Now Supplies More Than 30% in Four States. Clean Technica has the story; here's a clip: "Wind energy is one of the fastest growing forms of electricity generation in the United States, with the largest share renewable electricity generating capacity in the country, and according to new information from the American Wind Energy Association, wind energy now supplies more than 30% of the electricity in four states — Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota...According to this latest report, wind power generated 6.3% of US electricity in 2017. However, wind’s impact can be better seen in its role in states like Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota, where it is generating over 30% of capacity..."

Scientists Inadvertently Create Mutant Plastic-Eating Enzyme. The Daily Beast explains: "An international group of scientists has accidentally created an enzyme that eats plastic, a discovery that is being hailed as a major breakthrough in the fight against pollution. The mutant enzyme stems from the 2016 discovery of a bacterium that had evolved to devour plastic at a waste site in Japan. Scientists from Britain’s University of Portsmouth and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory then altered that enzyme to study its evolution, but they later learned they had actually improved its ability to break down plastic. “Serendipity often plays a significant role in fundamental scientific research and our discovery here is no exception,” Portsmouth biologist John McGeehan said of the finding. Researchers say the enzyme can be further enhanced and used as a new recycling solution. An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste winds up in the world’s oceans each year, wreaking havoc on the ecosystem..."

Photo credit: Carlos Jasso/Reuters.

More People Have Amazon Prime Than Live in Germany. Quartz reports: "Amazon Prime now has more than 100 million members, CEO Jeff Bezos said April 18 in his annual letter to shareholders. For context, that’s greater than the population of Germany, Vietnam, or Egypt. From the shareholder letter: "13 years post-launch, we have exceeded 100 million paid Prime members globally. In 2017 Amazon shipped more than five billion items with Prime worldwide, and more new members joined Prime than in any previous year – both worldwide and in the U.S. Members in the U.S. now receive unlimited free two-day shipping on over 100 million different items. We expanded Prime to Mexico, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, and introduced Business Prime Shipping in the U.S. and Germany..."

Photo credit: "A good day for Jeff Bezos." (Reuters/Rick Wilking)

Georgia Teen Makes Her Prom Entrance in a Casket. Yes, she got her point across, according to a story at Yahoo: "...As Clark explained to USA Today, she currently works at a funeral home and plans to be a funeral director once she graduates from Ogeechee Technical College. She chose her unusual ride in part to celebrate her career choice, and in part to warn her fellow classmates against drinking and driving. “I was thinking about my class and how they are going to prom and doing the bad stuff after prom; like having drugs and doing all that,” she said. In light of the current debate over guns in schools, this stunt has angered some people who say a teen in a casket is all too reminiscent of real life..."

Forecast Calls for Severe Tumbleweeds. I've never seen this before; a post at explains: "A strong breeze can toss around all sorts of detritus, but for residents of one California community on the edge of the Mojave Desert, where area gusts topped 50 mph Monday, it was tumbleweeds at the whims of the wind. Lots of tumbleweeds. "It looked like a war of tumbleweeds, like we were being invaded," Victorville resident Bryan Bagwell, 42, tells NPR. He says cleanup in Victorville, about an 85-mile drive from Los Angeles, was continuing Wednesday. Dozens of homes in his neighborhood, which borders an undeveloped tract of desert land, were seemingly swallowed up by mounds of the dry brush. Bagwell says the buildup reached 7 feet high on his own property and that it took a laborer several hours with a pitchfork to move the tumbleweeds to the street for the city to pick up with a front loader..."

Image credit: "A member of the Victorville public works team clears tumbleweeds from homes in Victorville, Calif., on Monday." James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP.

What Snow? Small Minnesota High School Team Clears Entire Baseball Field. Now that's the spirit! Bring Me The News Explains: "If last weekend's blizzard was a curve ball, the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City Falcons knocked it out of the park. ACGC, a small high school located about 90 miles west of Minneapolis, spent Monday's snow day clearing their baseball field in Atwater.  No exaggeration, their baseball players and coaches, in addition to other volunteers, literally removed 10 inches of snow from the field, not to mention larger drifts created by the blizzard's fierce winds.  It went from looking looking like a blinding white blanket of heavy, wet snow to what you see in the photo above...Kingery then got the shoveling party started by texting all of the school's baseball players, inviting anyone interested to come help clear the field. More than 30 people responded with shovels and snowblowers, and they wound up clearing the entire field, a seven-hour task that Kingery described as "daunting..." 

5" snow on the ground Thursday evening at MSP.

53 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

60 F. average high on April 19.

51 F. high on April  19, 2017.

April 20, 1970: Snow falls across much of Minnesota.

FRIDAY: Sunny and AOK. Winds: SE 3-8. High: 54

FRIDAY NIGHT: Clear and quiet. Low: 35

SATURDAY: Sunny, risk of seeing your lawn. Winds: SE 5-10. High: 56

SUNDAY: Blue sky. All is forgiven. Almost. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 38. High: near 60

MONDAY: Sunny, distractingly nice. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 45. High: 67

TUESDAY: Clouds increase, risk of a shower. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 47. High: 62

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, a bit cooler. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 41. High: near 60

THURSDAY: Lukewarm sunshine. Feverish again. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 45. High: 68

Climate Stories....

Americans Who Accept Climate Change Outnumber Those Who Don't by 5 to 1. Yale E360 has the story: "Seventy percent of Americans now accept that climate change is happening, outnumbering those who don’t by a 5 to 1 ratio, according to a new survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. More than half of those surveyed, 58 percent, said they also understand global warming is caused mostly by human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels. The share of Americans who think climate change is happening has increased seven percentage points since March 2015. Their certainty has increased 12 percentage points in three years, with 49 percent of the U.S. now “extremely” or “very sure” it is happening, according to the new survey..."

Sea Levels Could be Rising Faster Than Predicted Due to New Source of Antarctic Ice Melting. The Independent has the story; here's a clip: "...The research was published in the journal Science Advances. It comes shortly after analysis by a team at the University of Leeds found an area of underwater ice the size of Greater London had melted from the bottom of the region’s ice shelves in just five years. Ice shelves currently act as structural support, holding the Antarctic ice sheet in place. Warm waters flowing underneath these shelves will diminish this support as they cause them to decline and fragment. Other studies have demonstrated that the “catastrophic collapse” of areas like the West Antarctic ice sheet have the capacity to raise global sea levels by more than three metres..."

Photo credit: "The Mertz glacier in East Antarctica is one of the many areas that could be melting faster as warm water trapped underneath it accelerates the process." Alessandro Silvano.

Glacier Loss is Accelerating Because of Global Warming. University of St. Thomas scientist John Abraham reports for The Guardian: "... A paper was just published by the American Geophysical Union that shared research carried out by Dominic Winski and his colleagues. This team of researchers extracted ice cores from the glaciers on Mt. Hunter, in Alaska. The ice cores held snow and ice from as far back as 400 years. The researchers showed that the amount of water melt currently is 60 times greater than it was prior to 1850. They also found that the summertime temperature changes on Mt. Hunter are almost 2°C per century (about 3.5°F). To put this in perspective, the temperatures are rising about twice as fast as global temperatures. The fact that temperatures on these northern mountains is rising faster than the globe as a whole is something predicted by climate models..."

Graphic credit: "Changes to water content of glaciers." Illustration: World Glacier Monitoring Service.

Pruitt Upgraded to a Larger, Customized SUV with Bullet-Resistant Seat Covers. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt upgraded his official car last year to a costlier, larger vehicle with bullet-resistant covers over bucket seats, according to federal records and interviews with current and former agency officials. Recent EPA administrators had traveled in a Chevrolet Tahoe, and agency officials had arranged for Pruitt to use the same vehicle when he joined the administration in February last year. But he switched to a larger, newer and more high-end Chevy Suburban in June. One former EPA official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation, said Pruitt remarked that he wanted the larger car because it was similar to ones in which some other Cabinet officials rode. The first year’s lease of the vehicle cost $10,200, according to federal contracting records..."

Photo credit: "Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt faces rising scrutiny over several ethics issues, including his use of taxpayer money."

Great Barrier Reef Feels the Heat: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: "The Great Barrier Reef will never be the same after an unprecedented heat wave in 2016, according to a new study in Nature. Nearly 30 percent of the reef’s corals perished during the nine-month heat wave, which disproportionately affected different species. Because of the extent of the losses, the researchers believe that it’s likely the “entire ecological identity” of the reef system has changed. Terry Hughes, one of the lead scientists of the study, said that if global warming continues at its current pace, “it’s game over” for the reef." (News: Washington Post $, CNN, Earther, Carbon Brief, LA Times $, Guardian, New York Times $, BBC, Sydney Morning Herald, Boston Globe $, NPR, Atlantic, Mashable, TIME, Huffington Post. Background: Climate Signals)

Here's What Happens When You Tell People the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change. Here's a clip from a post at ThinkProgress: "...The overwhelming majority of climate scientists — 97 percent  — understand that humans are the primary cause of climate change. Yet, as a new peer-reviewed study in journal Nature Climate Change points out, “only 11 percent of the US public correctly estimate the scientific consensus on climate change as higher than 90 percent.” So what happens when you inform people about the actual consensus on climate science? Researchers in the Nature study did a survey experiment with 6,300 Americans and found exposing the survey respondents to the message about the scientific consensus increases their perception of the scientific norm by 16.2 percentage points on a 100-point scale..."

Image credit: "Scientific consensus results on the question of human-caused global warming." CREDIT: John Cook.

Consensus on Consensus. The paper referenced above by John Cook is here.

How do Climate Models Work? Carbon Brief has a good explainer; here's an excerpt: "...A global climate model typically contains enough computer code to fill 18,000 pages of printed text; it will have taken hundreds of scientists many years to build and improve; and it can require a supercomputer the size of a tennis court to run. The models themselves come in different forms – from those that just cover one particular region of the world or part of the climate system, to those that simulate the atmosphere, oceans, ice and land for the whole planet. The output from these models drives forward climate science, helping scientists understand how human activity is affecting the Earth’s climate. These advances have underpinned climate policy decisions on national and international scales for the past five decades..."