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April Showers - Wildfire Risk - Another El Nino Brewing?

No Drama, Just A Few Premature April Showers

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome" wrote Anne Bradstreet.

Our youngest Naval Officer son is stationed in San Diego, the city with the best overall climate in America. Lukewarm sunshine. Palm trees. What's not to like? "Dad, I'm bored - every day is the same" Brett told me recently. "I miss Minnesota's lakes and four distinct seasons" he said, much to my surprise.

Minnesota DNR data shows a high fire risk for the Twin Cities. Until we green up, the risk of brush fires will persist. And latest guidance hints at an El Nino warm phase returning by summer and fall. Based on record warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and an active subtropical jet stream I'm predicting the most violent spring for U.S. tornadoes since 2011. I hope I'm wrong.

After a false start the maps look like spring again: showery rains today into Saturday. ECMWF guidance shows highs near 50F into much of next week. No freezes or slushy slaps for the next 2 weeks as we limp into an uncertain spring.


Fire Risk Until Spring Green-Up. Rain over the next 3 days will help to keep topsoil and brush damp, reducing the fire risk slightly. But until we really green up a nagging wildfire threat will linger. Map: MN DNR.


Springier Next Week. It looks like 40s the next few days with (rain) showers and sprinkles - fairly unpleasant, but hardly unusual for late March. ECMWF guidance shows highs above 50F next week. Not time to break out the shorts, but things should be greening up within 2 weeks or so. MSP data: WeatherBell.



Winter Hanging On Out West - and New England. Don't write winter off just yet. GFS 10-day snowfall totals show impressive 1-2 foot snowfall amounts over much of northern New England and more fresh snow for the Rockies and higher elevations of the western USA. Spring is always two steps forward, one step back. Or is it the other way around? GFS animation: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.



Active Pattern Continues into April. After an extended tornado drought I have a hunch 2017 will bring far more violent storms to the USA, the result of unusually warm water in the Gulf of Mexico and a persistent subtropical jet stream turning up the intensity of wind shear east of the Rockies. Looking 2 weeks out the flow is mainly zonal - no bitter slaps into the first week of April.


Another El Nino Brewing? According to NOAA NCEP ENSO-neutral may morph into another El Nino warm phase in the Pacific by late summer and autumn.


Gulf of Mexico Waters Are Freakishly Warm, Which Could Mean Explosive Springtime Storms. With unusually warm water in the Gulf and a persistent and powerful subtropical jet stream providing sufficient shear, there's every reason to believe the upcoming severe weather season will be formidable, possibly the most severe in 5-6 years. Here's an excerpt from Jason Samenow at Capital Weather Gang: "...The warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, in particular, could mean that thunderstorms that erupt over the southern and central United States are more severe this spring. Berger explained in his Ars Technica piece: “While the relationship is far from absolute, scientists have found that when the Gulf of Mexico tends to be warmer than normal, there is more energy for severe storms and tornadoes to form than when the Gulf is cooler.” Victor Gensini, a professor of meteorology at the College of DuPage, agreed that the warm Gulf could intensify storms this spring but cautioned that additional ingredients will need to come together. “The water is only one piece,” he said. An additional key component for severe thunderstorms is a phenomenon known as the elevated mixed layer, a zone of hot and dry air at high altitudes that develops over Mexico’s high plateau and can flow into the southern and central United States. When it interacts with the warm, moist air from the Gulf, the resulting instability can give rise to explosive thunderstorms..."

Map credit: "Sea surface temperature difference from average." (WeatherBell.com)


Most Active Start to Tornado Season Since 2008. Thanks to Johnny Kelly for passing this nugget along.


Freezing Temperatures Devastate South Carolina Farmers. More details via South Carolina Department of Agriculture: "Last week, temperatures dipped to record lows and now South Carolina peach farmers face the worst crop damage they have seen in ten years. Strawberries and blueberries were among other crops damaged during the freeze. Members of the South Carolina Peach Council and other industry representatives met Monday morning to discuss the severity of the damage to the peach crop, which was in early bloom due to an unseasonably warm winter. Farmers are hopeful to have ten to fifteen percent of their usual crop. Peach-lovers can still expect to see local peaches in July and August in limited quantities. Statewide, strawberries have experienced about a fifteen percent loss. Midland and Upstate blueberry farmers are reporting significant loss, similar to that of peaches. Information is still being gathered from blueberry farms in the lower part of the state..."



Springtime's Cherry Blossoms Have a Dark Side. The date of first bloom is coming consistently earlier, from Tokyo to Washington D.C., based on meticulous record-keeping. Here's an excerpt from TIME: "...The following numbers are one example of cherry blossoms have reached peak bloom earlier as temperatures have been getting warmer, courtesy of Takehiko Mikami, a meteorology professor emeritus at Tokyo Metropolitan University, whose calculations are based on data from Japan Meteorological Agency.

Average March temperatures in Tokyo:

1981-1990: 8.7°C [46.7°F]

1991-2000: 9.4°C [48.92°F]

2001-2015: 10.0°C [50°F]

Average full blossoming dates of cherry trees in Tokyo:

1981-1990: April 9

1991-2000: April 4

2001-2015: March 29

The same trend has occurred in Washington, D.C., as peak bloom has shifted early by about five days since 1921, and weather station measurements since 1946 show a temperature increase of 1.6 degrees Celsius (2.88 degrees Fahrenheit) per century..."


Why People Think Weather Forecasts Are Bad When They Are Actually Pretty Good. Dr. Marshall Shepherd explains weather-accuracy perception vs. reality at Forbes: "...The reality is that modern-day weather forecasts are pretty accurate so I decided to explore reasons people think they are bad. A field goal kicker could make every single kick during football season, but what if he misses the "big one" in the championship bowl game? He may be ridiculed or criticized, but is he a bad kicker? Probably not, but he did miss a kick with great impact. Weather forecast outcomes are very similar. The March Blizzard of 2017 happened. It really did. However, a vigorous debate ensued on whether it was a "bust" because it did not produce snowfall totals and blizzard conditions in the big cities along the I-95 corridor. Some argued that forecasters adequately conveyed the uncertainty with the forecast while others suggested that the National Weather Service made some errors in leaving Blizzard warnings up in the big cities though models seemed to be backing off..."


Healthcast: Air Quality Impacts Exercise. Outdoor air pollution is the world's biggest killer, claiming more lives, worldwide, than malaria and HIV/AIDS. Praedictix.com meteorologist Kristin Clark reports: "Now a new study finds that simply exercising outdoors in poor air quality can be more detrimental to your health than not exercising at all. Researchers reveal that in some cities air pollution levels have increased to the point where just 30 minutes of cycling outweigh the benefits of the exercise altogether. As a cyclist myself this is a surprising stat. Seems counterintuitive, right? Exercise, no matter in what environment, should be good for our body and our overall health, right? Wrong. Air pollution is so bad in certain areas that even walking poses a serious health threat. Granted this finding holds true for only the most polluted cities on Earth. Zabol, Iran and Gwalior, India are the top two most polluted cities in the world according to the World Health Organization (WHO). More than 80% of people living in low-income cities that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits..."

Image credit: "Scale of PM2.5 particles. The human hair is 30 times larger than fine particles." Source: EPA


As the Captain: What Happens When Lightning Strikes a Plane? An interesting response at The Detroit Free Press: "...Lightning strikes will usually leave small burn marks or holes at the entry and exit point. Airplanes are designed to allow lightning to move along the skin of the airplane without doing damage. Occasionally, a static wick will be the victim of lightning exiting the airplane. I have been in airplanes that have sustained lightning strikes several times with very little damage.... In the air, airplanes are designed to dissipate the lightning quickly. I have been flying airplanes that were struck multiple times, and there was little or no damage sustained. All the surfaces are bonded, giving the lightning a pathway to pass back into the atmosphere. On the ground, there is a risk to people on the ramp if the airplane discharges the lightning. For the passengers, there is very little or no risk in either situation..."


Visualizing Uncertain Weather. Scientific American highlights research showing the power of maps to tell the story and quantify uncertainty: "...As defined by the National Hurricane Center, the cone, “represents the probable track of the center of a tropical cyclone, and is formed by enclosing the area swept out by a set of circles (not shown) along the forecast track (at 12, 24, 36 hours, etc). The size of each circle is set so that two-thirds of historical official forecast errors over a 5-year sample fall within the circle.” But as a visualization—even with the on-image text disclaimer “NOTE: The cone contains the probable path of the storm center but does not show the size of the storm. Hazardous conditions can occur outside of the cone.”— that full context isn’t terribly clear..."


Is The Dark Really Making Me Sad? Here's an excerpt of a fascinating look at how a lack of sunlight can impact people's moods and mental health at Mosaic Science: "...Why should darker months trigger this tiredness and low mood in so many people? There are several theories, none of them definitive, but most relate to the circadian clock – the roughly 24-hour oscillation in our behaviour and biology that influences when we feel hungry, sleepy or active. This is no surprise given that the symptoms of the winter blues seem to be associated with shortening days and longer nights, and that bright light seems to have an antidepressive effect. One idea is that some people’s eyes are less sensitive to light, so once light levels fall below a certain threshold, they struggle to synchronise their circadian clock with the outside world. Another is that some people produce more of a hormone called melatonin during winter than in summer – just like certain other mammals that show strong seasonal patterns in their behaviour..."


Why Scientists Are Worried About a Landslide No One Saw or Heard. Atlas Obscura has an intriguinig story: "If a steep mountainside in a remote national park gives way and drops 200 million tons of rock into deep glacial water, will anyone hear? In the case of the massive landslide that fell into Taan Fjord, Alaska, the answer was no—and yes. No one heard the mountainside fall into the fjord on a rainy night on October 17, 2015. No one saw an almost unimaginably huge and powerful wave crest at 600 feet and sweep down the inlet. The tsunami obliterated forests on both sides of the inlet, and its rush to the sea dragged an iceberg over a marine spit and out into coastal Icy Bay. The enormous wave, an estimated 60 feet high in the middle of the inlet, traveled eight miles to open water and made it all the way to about five miles north of Icy Bay Lodge..."

Photo credit: "The giant scar of the landslide is put into perspective by the skiff surveying the damage." Photo by Bjørn Olson, Courtesy of Ground Truth Trekking


Minnesota Utility's Long-Term Plan Calls For More Renewables, Less Coal. Because they're cheaper. Here's an excerpt from Midwest Energy News: "Clean energy groups won a victory last week after Minnesota regulators approved a long-range plan by Otter Tail Power Company that will double its investment in wind power and close a coal plant within the next five years. Otter Tail’s updated 15-year “integrated resource plan” included suggestions from the groups Fresh Energy (which publishes Midwest Energy News), Wind on the Wires, Minnesota Center For Environmental Advocacy and Sierra Club. The plan calls for a portfolio with 400 megawatts (MW) of wind and 30 MW of solar; an ambitious energy efficiency goal; and the closing of the 140 MW Hoot Lake coal-fired plant in Fergus Falls by 2021. The utility — which serves customers in western Minnesota and the Dakotas — will generate more than 30 percent of its energy needs from renewables by 2031 under the plan..."



Analysis: Electric Vehicles Pay Their Fair Share in State Taxes. Here's an excerpt of a story at Great Plains Institute that caught my eye: "Recent tax policy analysis by the Great Plains Institute (GPI) for Drive Electric Minnesota found that electric cars pay just as much or more taxes as comparable gasoline vehicles. Like most other states, Minnesota uses a tax on the sale of gasoline and other motor fuel to pay for transportation infrastructure like highways and bridges, among other uses. This excise tax is paid by the consumer at the pump at a rate of 28.5 cents per gallon ($0.285 / gal), which means that the more one drives, the more taxes one will pay through the consumption of additional fuel. Since more driving causes more wear and damage to public driving infrastructure, this makes sense. This also means, however, that plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) do not pay any motor fuel excise tax..."


Energy Storage is America's Industry to Lose. Will we rise to the opportunity? Here's a clip from E&E News: "...She sees a market that is strapping on its boots for a steep and inexorable climb. Blunden and a growing number of experts believe that energy storage will be worth tens of billions of dollars in revenue within a decade, regardless of what the Trump administration does to harm or help. Batteries will start showing up everywhere, sending shock waves through the auto industry, the electric grid, the petroleum industry and the broader power sector, adding tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs to the economy. The question that Blunden keeps asking herself is whether that money and those jobs will go to Michigan and North Carolina, or flee to Shanghai or Seoul, South Korea. The problem, Blunden said, is that the United States is wandering into a global competition without much urgency or a plan. "Are we going to make the decision to take a significant share of the next wave of manufacturing growth globally?" Blunden asked. "Or are we just going to give it to [Asia]?..."

Image credit: "In the next decade, the energy storage industry will go from the familiar, like the iPhone, into much bigger applications like electric cars and the power grid." Photos courtesy of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Pixabay, Dave Dugdale/Flickr (Tesla).


47% of Jobs Will Disappear in the Next 25 Years, Says Oxford University. White collar positions will continue to be disrupted, according to a summary at Big Think: "...According to Art Bilger, venture capitalist and board member at the business school, all the developed nations on earth will see job loss rates of up to 47% within the next 25 years, according to a recent Oxford study. “No government is prepared,” The Economist reports. These include blue and white collar jobs. So far, the loss has been restricted to the blue collar variety, particularly in manufacturing. To combat “structural unemployment” and the terrible blow it is bound to deal the American people, Bilger has formed a nonprofit called Working Nation, whose mission it is to warn the public and to help make plans to safeguard them from this worrisome trend. Not only is the entire concept of employment about to change in a dramatic fashion, the trend is irreversible..."

Image credit: BBC


Job-Stealing Robots? Millennials See Hope, Fear in Automation. Every threat is an opportunity, right? Here's a clip from LinkedIn: "...Dramatic shifts in the how and the where of the future of work recently prompted my 15-year-old to ask, “Mom, are robots going to take my job someday?” Timely question. Deloitte Global’s latest survey of millennials shows many are asking the same thing. While they recognize the benefits of automation in terms of productivity and economic growth, they also see it providing opportunities for value-added or creative activities, or learning new skills:

  • 40 percent see automation posing a threat to their jobs;
  • 44 percent believe there will be less demand for their skills;
  • 51 percent believe they will have to retrain; and
  • 53 percent see the workplace becoming more impersonal and less human. Which is news that should make every CEO sit up and take notice, given this generation’s use of social media..."

40 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

44 F. average high on March 22.

55 F. high on March 22, 2016.

March 23, 1966: A snowstorm brings a foot of snow to southern Minnesota.


TODAY: Few rain showers - damp. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 43

THURSDAY NIGHT: More showers. Low: 40

FRIDAY: Milder with showery rains, heaviest over southern Minnesota. Winds: NE 8-13. High: 49

SATURDAY: Early showers, then slow clearing. Wake-up: 38. High: near 50

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, cool breeze. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 37. High: 49

MONDAY: Still gray, cool and damp. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 39. High: 48

TUESDAY: Partly sunny and milder. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 36. High: 56

WEDNESDAY: Fading sunshine, stronger winds. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 38. High: 57


Climate Stories...

Record-Breaking Climate Change Pushes World into "Uncharted Territory". The Guardian reports: "The record-breaking heat that made 2016 the hottest year ever recorded has continued into 2017, pushing the world into “truly uncharted territory”, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. The WMO’s assessment of the climate in 2016, published on Tuesday, reports unprecedented heat across the globe, exceptionally low ice at both poles and surging sea-level rise. Global warming is largely being driven by emissions from human activities, but a strong El Niño – a natural climate cycle – added to the heat in 2016. The El Niño is now waning, but the extremes continue to be seen, with temperature records tumbling in the US in February and polar heatwaves pushing ice cover to new lows..."

* The 28 page WMO (World Meteorological Organization) report on the climate is here.


More Extreme Weather Coming After Record 2016 Heat, WMO Says. Bloomberg provides more perspective on the WMO report: "Unusually warm weather in the Arctic is helping shift weather patterns this year from North America to the Middle East, after global warming shattered records in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Rising ocean temperatures that are melting polar ice sheets, killing marine life and flooding coastal communities may have increased more than previously reported last year, the WMO said in a report Tuesday. Average sea-surface temperatures hit their highest levels ever last year, and overall temperatures over sea and land were 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period. At least three times this winter, the Arctic has experienced the polar equivalent of a heat wave with Atlantic storms driving warm, moist air..." (Map credit: NOAA NCDC).


The Seasons Aren't What They Used To Be. Here's an excerpt of a poignant piece at The New York Times: "...Spring has been particularly hasty and irregular this year, but this is no anomaly. In the latter half of the 20th century, the spring emergence of leaves, frogs, birds and flowers advanced in the Northern  Hemisphere by 2.8 days per decade. I'm nearly 50, so springtime has moved, on average, a full two weeks sinnce I was born. And you? We now experience climate change not only through the abstraction of science, but also through lived experience..." (Image credit: NOAA).


Arctic's Winter Sea Ice Drops To Its Lowest Recorded Level. The New York Times has details. Graphic credit above: National Snow and Ice Data Center.



How Americans Think About Climate Change, in Six Maps. The New York Times has details: "Americans overwhelmingly believe that global warming is happening, and that carbon emissions should be scaled back. But fewer are sure that the changes will harm them personally. New data released by Yale researchers gives the most detailed view yet of public opinion on global warming..."


These Republicans Think Climate Change is Real. They Can See It In Their States. The symptoms of climate volatility will be harder to dismiss or deny. Here's an excerpt from News & Observer: "Republicans may have a president and a congressional majority that doesn’t believe climate change is a big threat or that the cause is driven by human activity – but they also have a bloc of congressional lawmakers with very different views. About 13 of the House of Representatives’ 237 Republicans are part of the Climate Solutions Caucus. Among them, Florida Republican Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen represent south Florida, where rising sea levels pose a grave threat to coastal communities. “We’re already seeing the effects of rising sea levels,” Curbelo told reporters. “These are very real concerns.” The bipartisan caucus, which also has 13 Democrats, was established last year to promote economically viable options to reducing the risks from climate change. Though it hasn’t proposed specific legislation, it has brought some influential voices to the cause..."

Photo credit: "Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., speaks to reporters at the Capitol about climate change on Monday, March 20, 2017. He is flanked by Republican Reps. Mark Sanford of South Carolina (from left), Brian Mast and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania." Curtis Tate McClatchy


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article139889718.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article139889718.html#storylink=cpy

Republican Green Groups Seek to Temper Trump on Climate Change. Here's a snippet from Reuters: "...Conservative green groups such as ConservAmerica and republicEn, along with politically neutral religious groups such as Catholic Climate Covenant and bipartisan groups such as the Citizens Climate Lobby, have ramped up efforts to recruit more congressional Republicans to work on addressing climate change since Trump's election. Conservative environmental advocates promote what they call "free enterprise" solutions to climate change, like a carbon tax. That stands in contrast to the approach of liberal environmentalists under former President Barack Obama, who backed bans on certain kinds of oil drilling and regulations aimed at discouraging petroleum use. But whatever their differences, the conservative groups say they have an important role to play. "Conservatives now have a chance to earn back the trust of Americans on environmental issues," said Alex Bozmoski, director of strategy for republicEn. "They can lead in a completely different direction that actually grows the economy while cutting greenhouse gasses..."


Climate Change is Certainly Causing More Powerful Storms. Here's a clip from an article at Salon: "...The ‘100-year flood’ now occurs more often than once a century,” Hansen said. Michael E. Mann, Director of the Earth System Science Center and Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University, observed that the warming climate is actually causing more snow. “The oceans have been at record levels of warm the past two years (and climate change is a key contributor to that),” Mann said. “That record warmth means that there is more moisture in the atmosphere that is available both to help strengthen the storm and produce record snowfalls as the warm oceanic air is entrained in toward the eastern U.S. by the cyclonic winds of the storm. Climate model simulations indicate a likelihood for stronger, more snow-making storms, and that’s what we’re seeing...”

Superstorm Sandy file imagery: Mel Shapiro, NCAR.


Here's How Climate Change is Already Affecting Your Health, Based on the State You Live In. Yahoo News has the story: "Climate change is already beginning to wreak havoc upon the planet. In the short term, we're facing more winter storms, miserably hot summers, and a longer allergy season. In the long term, entire coastlines will likely disappear, threatening communities and wildlife. On a more local level, experts say the US will be unrecognizable in 100 years. But just how is all of this affecting you — your state, your coastline — right now? A new report from the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health reveals that different geographic regions in the US are facing a range of effects, many of which are already taking shape today. Some of them are as geographically specific as to affect only one state..."

Map credit: Medical Society Consortium on Climate Change and Public Health map

Sun fades Wednesday. Last dry day for a while

Second Sunrise of Spring 2017
 
 
Visible Satellite on Tuesday

Here's the visible satellite from Tuesday, which shows mostly sunny skies across the state as an area of high pressure settled in behind a cold front. This bubble of high pressure will keep weather conditions quiet and cool through midweek, but steady precipitation starts to move in by the end of the week. Interestingly, you can actually see the larger lakes in the northern half of Minnesota are still ice covered, but some of the lakes in the southern half of the state have already seen ice out.

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2017 Ice Out Dates

Here's a look at the lakes that have already seen ice out in 2017 vs the average ice out dates. Note that all the lakes that have already seen ice out are well head of average this year. In fact, some have actually seen a record early ice out! Note that Lake Calhoun, Harriet and Nokomis in the Twin Cities had their earliest ice out this year and was set on March 7th!

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UPDATE: Earliest Minnesota Tornado on Record
 
A new damage survey from the Twin Cities National Weather Service revealed another tornado touched down on March 6th, 2017 in Bricelyn, MN located in Faribault county. Interestingly, this tornado becomes the earliest Minnesota tornado on record as it touched down at 5:04PM whereas the other 2 tornadoes that day touched down a little after 5:30PM. Note that this tornado was also rated an EF-1 with winds up to 90MPH.
 
 
 
Radar Loop: March 6th, 2016
 
Here's a replay of the radar from March 6th, 2016 as severe thunderstorms with large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes blew through blew through the state. These thunderstorms produced 3 tornadoes that become the earliest Minnesota tornadoes on record, beating the previous earliest tornado on record set on March 18th, 1968.
 
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Upcoming Severe Threats

A fairly vigorous area of low pressure moving in from the Pacific will help to kick out a several day severe threat across parts of the Central and Southern US from Thursday to Saturday. Here are the severe weather outlooks for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from NOAA's SPC. 




Stormy Friday in the Southern Plains

The extended forecast suggests a fairly stormy PM Thursday to PM Saturday across the Central and Southern US.  

 
Southern Rainfall Potential

A strong storm system will work through the central part of the country later this week and weekend ahead with severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall potential. Note that 1" to near 3" rainfall tallies could be possible through the weekend 


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2017 PRELIMINARY Tornado Count

According to NOAA's SPC, the PRELIMINARY tornado count for 2017 is at 369 (thru March 19). Note that this is the most (thru March 19th) since 2008 when nearly 500 tornadoes reported through that time frame. The 2005-2015 average through that time period is 175. 

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World Meteorological Day - 23 March 2017
 
Understanding Clouds is the theme of World Meteorological Day 2017 to highlight the enormous importance of clouds for weather climate and water. Clouds are central to weather observations and forecasts. Clouds are one of the key uncertainties in the study of climate change:  we need to better understand how clouds affect the climate and how a changing climate will affect clouds. Clouds play a critical role in the water cycle and shaping the global distribution of water resources. 
 
 
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Sunshine Fire in Boulder Colorado - 100% Contained!
 
Good news out of Boulder Colorado where fire crews have completely contained the Sunshine Fire! Here's a excerpt from DailyCamera.com about the fire: Residents evacuated Sunday were allowed to return home Monday as firefighters reached full containment on the Sunshine Fire west of Boulder. The fire grew to 74 acres from the 62 acres reported on Sunday, but crews were able to reach 100 percent containment on the fire after 5 p.m., according to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management. The OEM tweeted that firefighters would continue to work overnight on hot spots and flare-ups. The high winds that fire crews were fearing overnight Sunday never materialized, and as a result firefighters were "comfortable" enough with where the fire was on Monday morning that they could lift the evacuations.
 
 
(Payton Larson, 11, tries to balance her parents' wedding album as she and her mom Brooke unload the family car after returning to their Boulder home Monday morning after being evacuated due to the Sunshine Fire. Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer / March 20 2017 (Paul Aiken))

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Steady Stream of Pacific Moisture
 
The precipitable water loop from the Eastern Pacific shows streams of moisture starting to worth their way towards the West Coast once again. This will help to bring fairly significant quantities of moisture to parts of the West Coast with heavy rain along the coast and lower elevations, while snow will be found across the high elevations and mountains.
 
Precipitation Continues in the Western US This Week
 
Here's the weather outlook from through early next, which shows several round of precipitation working into the Western US. Note that the higher elevations will be dealing with snow, while heavy rainfall will be possible at the lower elevations. 
 
 
 Western Precipitation Potential
 
Here's a look at the precipitation potential through the early next week, which shows as much 4" to 8"+ liquid! There certainly could be areas of flooding with snow melt and as much precipitation as there is expected to be.
 

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High Temperatures From Average Wednesday

Here's a look at high temperatures from average on Wednesday. Note that temperatures in the Northeast, Midwest and across the western part of the country will be cooler than average, but folks in the Rockies and along the Gulf Coast will be nearly 10F to 15F above average.

Record Warmth Continues...

With temperatures running nearly 10F to 20F+ above average across the Rockies and Gulf Coast, record high temperatures may be possible there. Take a look at the image below, which show the potential record highs (circled numbers) that could be set on Wednesday.

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Sun fades today. Last dry day for a while
By Todd Nelson, filling in for Douglas.

Despite not seeing any blooming flowers or budding trees, signs of spring are starting to pop up, but you have to look close.

It's easy to see that we've gained more daylight, but did you know that we are enjoying an additional 3 hours and 30 minutes since the winter solstice (December 21st)? Additional daylight and the lack of Arctic air have coaxed a few of my favorite feathered friends out of winter hiding. Spring calls from the Northern Cardinal and American Robin are increasing, but I'm still waiting to hear the first Red-winged blackbird. Then it's spring in my book!

Enjoy the last little bit of sunshine while you can today. A water-logged storm system arrives later this week with heavy rainfall tallies up to 1 inch or more across parts of southern Minnesota. The extended forecast suggests a series of Pacific storm systems sliding across the country. Stubborn low clouds and showers look likely into the last week of March with rainfall tallies possibly topping 2 inches in spots to our south.

Keep the umbrella handy!
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Extended Forecast:

WEDNESDAY: Increasing clouds. Light mix late? Winds: SE 10-15. High: 40

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy. Winds: SE 10. Low: 30.

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy. Rain showers late. Winds: SSE 5-10. High: 48.

FRIDAY: Breezy. Steady rain in southern Minnesota. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 37. High: 48.

SATURDAY: Cloudy. Lingering rain showers. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 35. High: 48.

SUNDAY: Persistent cloud. A few spits of rain. Winds: NNE 10-15. Wake-up: 32. High: 47.

MONDAY: Gray. Scattered showers redevelop. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 35. High: 52.

TUESDAY: Rain, rain, go away... Winds: NE 5-15. Wake-up: 38. High: 50
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This Day in Weather History
March 22nd

1972: Copious amounts of rain fall in parts of Minnesota, with 10.84 inches of rainfall in 24 hours at Ft. Ripley. 14 inches of rain is measured at a farm in Morrison County.
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Average High/Low for Minneapolis
March 22nd

Average High: 44F (Record: 71F set in 1945)
Average: Low: 27F (Record: -14F set in 1888)

*Record Snowfall: 13.7" set in 1952
 
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Sunrise Sunset Times For Minneapolis
March 22nd

Sunrise: 7:12am
Sunset: 7:28pm

*Daylight Gained Since Yesterday: ~3 minutes & 9 seconds
*Daylight Gained Since Winter Solstice (December 21st): ~3 hours & 30 minutes

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Moon Phase for March 21st at Midnight
2.6 Days After Last Quarter

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Weather Outlook For Wednesday

Wednesday will be another cool day across the region with readings in the 30s across much of the state. Note that will will once again be a little cooler than average. Winds will pick up a little out of the southeast, feels like temperatures will be in the 10s and 20s around midday.

Weather Outlook For Wednesday

Winds on Wednesday will turn to the southeast in advance of our next storm system that will move in later this week.

 
Weather Outlook For Wednesday

Weather conditions on Wednesday will start off fairly quiet, but clouds will be on the increase as moisture start to move into the region. There maybe a little light moisture later Wednesday, but the bulk of the precipitation will move in Thursday and Friday.

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Late Week Storm System
 
Weather conditions will be somewhat active as a storm system blows through later this week. Here's a quick glimpse of what weather conditions could be like from Thursday through AM Sunday. Note that the primary precipitation type appears to be rain and it appears that the heaviest will be found across southern MN.
 
 
Precipitation Potential
 
Here's the precipitation potential through AM Monday, which shows some fairly widespread 1"+ rainfall tallies across southern MN, including the Twin Cities.
 
 
Extended Temperature Outlook for Minneapolis

Here's the temperature outlook through April 6th, which shows temperatures leveling off a bit through the end of the week with temperatures in the low to mid 40s. However, note that the extended forecast through the end of the month suggests temperatures warming to near 60F once again!

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8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

According to NOAA's CPC, the 8 to 14 day temperature outlook suggests equal chances of above and below normal temperatures from March 31st - April 4th with warmer than average temperatures settling in across Midwest once again.


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Temperature Outlook

Here's the 8 to 14 day temperature outlook, which takes us through early April. Note that warmer than average temperatures look to settle in from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast States. Lingering cooler than avg. temps hang on across the Northern New England States and in California.

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 National Weather Outlook

Here's the national weather outlook through the end of the week and note how much more active things look to be getting across the Western half of the country. This next bigger surge of Pacific moisture will not only bring copious amounts of liquid to the Western US, but it will also bring thunderstorms and heavier rain chances to the Central US on Friday and Saturday.

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5 Day Precipitation Forecast

According to NOAA's WPC, the 5 day precipitation forecast suggests widespread 3" to 6"+ precipitation amounts across parts of the Western US with some of the heaviest tallies in the higher elevations. Later this week, a storm system will move into the Central US with some 1" to 2"+ rainfall tallies.

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Snowfall Potential

Here's the snowfall potential over the next several days, which shows some accumulations across parts of the Northeast and in the Western mountains, but there doesn't appear to be any major snow event unfolding across the Lower 48. The heaviest appears to be farther north in Canada.

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"Freezing Temperatures Devastate South Carolina Farmers"
 
"Last week, temperatures dipped to record lows and now South Carolina peach farmers face the worst crop damage they have seen in ten years. Strawberries and blueberries were among other crops damaged during the freeze. Members of the South Carolina Peach Council and other industry representatives met Monday morning to discuss the severity of the damage to the peach crop, which was in early bloom due to an unseasonably warm winter. Farmers are hopeful to have ten to fifteen percent of their usual crop. Peach-lovers can still expect to see local peaches in July and August in limited quantities. Statewide, strawberries have experienced about a fifteen percent loss. Midland and Upstate blueberry farmers are reporting significant loss, similar to that of peaches. Information is still being gathered from blueberry farms in the lower part of the state."
 
 
(Image Credit: UGA.edu)

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"Coral reefs have another enemy: Dead zones"
 
Dead zones affect dozens of coral reefs around the world and threaten hundreds more, according to a new study by Smithsonian Institution scientists released Monday. This is the first study to find such a link, said study lead author Andrew Altieri of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. After seeing a massive coral reef die-off on the Caribbean coast of Panama in September 2010, Altieri and his team suspected it was caused by a dead zone — a low-oxygen area that kills marine life — rather than by warm or acidic ocean water, both of which are well-known causes of coral die-offs. "Ocean warming and acidification are recognized global threats to reefs and require large-scale solutions, whereas the newly recognized threats to coral reefs caused by dead zones are more localized," Altieri said. He said his findings can be extrapolated to coral reefs worldwide, adding that such dead zones may be common in the tropics but have gone largely unreported, simply because scientists never looked for them.

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"Weather outlook could be game-changer for U.S. corn, soy planting: Braun"
 
"The latest outlook from the U.S. government predicts warmer-than-average weather that could have a game-changing impact when the U.S. corn and soybean planting campaign gets underway in a few weeks. The U.S. Climate Prediction Center on Thursday said the warm trend will start in April and strengthen through June, except in the Dakotas and Minnesota. (reut.rs/2mNRCVf) Warm weather in April is particularly favorable for the planting of corn, which is the first of the United States’ two primary exported crops to be sown. Springtime weather is always a big factor in how many of the intended corn and soybean acres actually get planted. If April and early May weather forecasts start to look like a corn farmer’s dream, analysts might be more inclined to maintain or even raise corn acreage predictions. But CPC's precipitation forecast could work against corn, as the U.S. agency has flagged the possibility of a wet spring in the Dakotas and the Upper Midwest - areas that usually cannot afford to plant corn too late for fear of an early fall freeze. (reut.rs/2nsvbrS) A rain-induced delay in corn planting could propel farmers in these swing states to favor beans, in which case soybean plantings over 90 million acres would almost seem guaranteed."

See more from Reuters HERE:

(A corn field is seen in DeWitt, Iowa in this July 12, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/Files)

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"The world’s largest chocolate makers are finally working together to save trees"

"For the first time, key players in the chocolate industry have agreed to cooperate to stop deforestation in major cocoa-growing areas, and they plan to start in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. In signing the agreement (pdf), Nestlé, Mars, Mondelez, Cargill, and Olam are acknowledging that their cocoa buying habits have helped destroy virgin forests. Until now, palm oil, beef, timber, and soybean producers have been targeted as the chief deforestation villains. Getting chocolate companies on the same page is an important step, but the hard work of finding a solution won’t be easy. The agreement commits the companies to developing and presenting a plan-of-action to address deforestation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference at Bonn, Germany, in November. “We all know that delivery on such commitments can be challenging, to put it mildly, and that the list of commodities covered remains far from complete,” said Prince Charles, in speech at the announcement in London. The Prince of Wales is big advocate of preserving virgin forests as part of fighting global climate change."

(Big chocolate confronts deforestation. (Reuters/Pierre Albouy))

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"Climate Change As An Issue Of National Security"
 
"Defense Secretary James Mattis called climate change a national security threat. Retired Brig. Gen. Gerald Galloway talks about how the Pentagon will manage challenges presented by climate change. Last week, ProPublica published excerpts of a testimony by Defense Secretary James Mattis calling climate change a national security threat. In his written statements given in January to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mattis says climate change is, quote, "impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today." Now questions are circulating about how the Pentagon will manage these challenges presented by climate change, especially as some members of the Trump administration and the president himself have denied its impact. With us to discuss this growing topic is Brigadier General Gerald Galloway from the Center for Climate and Security. He's also a professor of engineering at the University of Maryland. Welcome, sir."
 
 
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"Half of U.S. doctors alarmed about health effects of climate change"

About half the nation’s physicians — more than 400,000 doctors — officially sounded the medical alarm on climate change Wednesday and the effect it’s having on their patients. Among the health care providers present for the launch of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health in Washington, D.C., were Hardin physicians Lori and Rob Byron. Rob Byron, an internist retired from the Indian Health Service who nowadays divides his time between St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings and Bighorn Valley Health Center in Hardin, spoke during the event as part of a six-member panel announcing the new movement. During his brief remarks, Byron — filling in for another presenter whose flight was canceled by a snowstorm — said a “marked increase” in Montana wildfires has led him to urge his patients suffering such diseases as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to spend more time indoors during summer and early fall months.

See more from BillingsGazette HERE:


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