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Paul Douglas on Weather

Getting Better Out There - Risk of Sunshine Today - 70s by Late Week

Can't Shake a Shower Risk - but Weather Slowly Improves

"Weekends are a bit like rainbows; they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them" wrote John Shirley. Memorial day, summer's big kick-off, is a week away and my nervous tick is back. For good reason.

According to climatologist Mark Seeley Minnesota's statewide average rainfall is roughly 30 percent higher now than it was from 1921 to 1950. There's more water in the air, and it's coming down harder, especially spring and early summer months.

4 to 6 inches of rain swamped the area last week as a stalled trough of low pressure incubated 3 separate sloppy storms.

A 'Sunshine Watch' has been issued for today. Please don't stare up at that bright, glowing mystery-orb, but try to enjoy 60s before a few instability thundershowers mushroom to life. Showers spill into Tuesday before improving weather midweek. A warming trend is still brewing - we should top 70F by late week. No more drenching, all-day rains in sight, but a swirl of chilly air aloft may set off weekend showers, especially up north.

Far from perfect, but a definite improvement in the weather.



More Than a Month's Worth of Rain in 7 Days. The coveted Golden Rain Gauge Award goes to South St. Paul, where 5.08" rain fell since last Monday, according to local observers. The MSP Airport in Richfield picked up a cool 4.18" of rain with 3.45" in St. Paul.


Accumulated Rainfall. 24-hour Doppler radar rainfall estimates are available from NOAA's AHPS Precipitation Analysis site, along with a wealth of additional information.


Excessive Rainfall Potential Today. NOAA WPC is outlining an area of southern Louisiana and Mississippi, including New Orleans and Gulfport, for extreme rains capable of sparking flash flooding today; a slight risk of urban flooding from Houston and Shreveport to Birmingham with a marginal risk for the Mid Atlantic region.


Serious Wet Bias East of the Rockies. Check out 84-hour predicted rainfall amounts for the Gulf Coast and Southeastern USA; a streak of 3-6" amounts forecast from Houston and New Orleans to Atlanta and the Carolinas. The west coast gets a welcome break from puddles in the coming days. Loop: Tropicaltidbits.com.


Sluggish Pattern Increases Flood Risk. When weather systems slow or stall bad things often result. A very slow-moving area of low pressure drags a line of heavy showers and T-storms across the southern USA today, another wave of moisture tracking over the same waterlogged counties by Wednesday. Meanwhile dry, sunny, increasingly warm weather is the rule over the western half of the USA.


Stumbling Into Spring. It's been a rough 7 days, battling a veritable parade of storms. The pattern will slowly improve, although temperatures this week still trend below average. We get a glimpse of spring today before another (minor) relapse tomorrow. With a little luck and Divine Intervention we may rebound into the 70s by late week. Twin Cities ECMWF forecast: WeatherBell.


2-Week Weather Darts: Warmer! Confidence levels are low due to an ongoing tendency for the atmosphere over North America to get temporarily locked into a blocking pattern, where weather systems slow or even stall for days on end. GFS guidance hints at a hot ridge of high pressure building over the southern USA, expanding into the Plains and Midwest. We'll see.


Summer Outlook: Here is the temperature (left) and precipitation outlook for June, July and August, courtesy of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. Much of the USA is forecast to experience a warmer-than-average summer, with the exception of the northern Rockies, northern Plains and Upper Mississippi River Valley, where temperatures are forecast to be close to average. A wet bias is predicted from the Rockies into the Plains for meteorological summer.


Flooding Overview. Floodlist.com has continuous updates, broken out by continent, related to ongoing flooding episodes around the planet. Here's an excerpt of a new United Nations report highlighted on the site: "A recent report by the UN, “The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters”, reveals that in the last 20 years, 157,000 people have died as a result of floods. The report also says that between 1995 and 2015, floods affected 2.3 billion people, which accounts for 56% of all those affected by weather-related disasters – considerably more than any other type of weather-related disaster..."


Image credit: UNISDR / CRED.


Scientists Look to Skies to Improve Tsunami Detection. Here's a snippet from an interesting NASA story: "A team of scientists from Sapienza University in Rome, Italy, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has developed a new approach to assist in the ongoing development of timely tsunami detection systems, based upon measurements of how tsunamis disturb a part of Earth’s atmosphere. The new approach, called Variometric Approach for Real-time Ionosphere Observation, or VARION, uses observations from GPS and other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) to detect, in real time, disturbances in Earth’s ionosphere associated with a tsunami. The ionosphere is the layer of Earth’s atmosphere located from about 50 to 621 miles (80 to 1,000 kilometers) above Earth’s surface. It is ionized by solar and cosmic radiation and is best known for the aurora borealis (northern lights) and aurora australis (southern lights). When a tsunami forms and moves across the ocean, the crests and troughs of its waves compress and extend the air above them, creating motions in the atmosphere known as internal gravity waves..."

Animation credit: "Animation of Oct. 27, 2012, Queen Charlotte Island tsunami as it crossed Hawaii. As the wave (dark blue/white lines approaching from the northeast) moved, it perturbed the atmosphere and changed the density of ionospheric electrons as reflected by navigation satellite signal changes (colored dots)." Credits: Sapienza University/NASA-JPL/Caltech.


Humans Accidentally Created a Protective Bubble Around Earth. The Atlantic explains our good collective fortune: "The next time someone says you’re living in a bubble, remind them that we all are. A pair of NASA space probes have detected an artificial bubble around Earth that forms when radio communications from the ground interact with high-energy radiation particles in space, the agency announced this week. The bubble forms a protective barrier around Earth, shielding the planet from potentially dangerous space weather, like solar flares and other ejections from the sun. Earth already has its own protective bubble, a magnetosphere stretched by powerful solar winds. The artificial bubble that NASA found is an accident, an unintended result of the interplay between human technology and nature..." (File image: NASA).


Solar Employs More U.S. Workers Than Apple, Google and Facebook Combined. With a little perspective on renewables and employment here's a clip from ThinkProgress: "...As of 2016, California has just over 100,000 solar jobs — a one-third increase over the previous year. The country added a record 50,000 solar jobs last year. The U.S. solar industry currently has more than 260,000 workers nationwide, according to The Solar Foundation. Their executive director, Andrea Luecke, points out that’s more workers than “Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon combined.” (As a point of clarification, Amazon has added jobs at a torrid pace in the last couple of years, so the 260,000 solar jobs is ‘only’ more than Apple, Google, and Facebook combined.)..."

Photo credit: "A rooftop is covered with solar panels at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, February 2017." CREDIT: AP/Mark Lennihan.


Public to EPA on Cutting Regulations: "No!" NPR reports: "As part of President Trump's executive order to review "job-killing regulations," the Environmental Protection Agency last month asked for the public's input on what to streamline or cut. It held a series of open-mic meetings, and set up a website that has now received more than 28,000 comments, many of which urge the agency not to roll back environmental protections. "The EPA saves lives," wrote Benjamin Kraushaar, who described himself as a hydrologist, hunter and flyfisherman. He wrote that environmental regulations "ensure safe air and water for our future generations. This should not be even up for debate..."

Photo credit: "The Environmental Protection Agency's flag hangs over EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C." Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call Inc.


5 Apps This Road-Tripper Won't Travel Without. I agree with all 5; here's an excerpt from Linda Steil at Chrysler Capital: "...I’ve already extolled the virtues of this amazing and free app. When we lived in the city, there were many times it got us around traffic jams, not to mention the help it gave us navigating messy downtown construction. Now that we live in a more country-like setting, I’m still constantly reaching to put my destination in Waze. Even when I know where I’m going, but want to predict an arrival time or tell someone else (another Wazer) when I’ll be meeting them, it’s amazingly accurate, updates real-time and is very simple to use..."


The Worst Tourist Trap in Every State. I disagree with Business Insider's perspective on MOA, Mall of America in Minnesota. Otherwise the list looks fairly reasonable: "Maybe you're touring the US as a citizen out to see your homeland. Or maybe you're coming from afar to see what America has to offer. Either way, you probably want to make the most of your travels. While some tourist spots across the country have become legendary landmarks that everyone should see, others are just disappointing tourist traps. Some are blatant attempts to make money, others are plain weird, but either way, they should be avoided at all costs. Save your time, money, and sanity by skipping these 50 tourist traps..."

Photo credit: "The World's Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas." Flickr/Ethan Prater



52 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities. Ouch.

71 F. average high on May 21.

80 F. high in the Twin Cities on May 21, 2016.

May 22, 2011: A strong EF-1 tornado with wind speeds up to 110 mph strikes north Minneapolis, causing extensive tree and structural damage. The tornado touched down in St. Louis Park and moved through north Minneapolis, lasting 14.25 miles before dissipating in Blaine after causing minor damage to the Anoka County Airport. The tornado reached a peak width of 1/2 mile.

May 22, 2001: Record cold high temperatures are set in over 30 cities in Minnesota, including a chilly 47 in the Twin Cities and 39 at Grand Rapids and Pine River. Half of an inch of snow falls at International Falls.

May 22, 1925: Temperatures take a nosedive from 100 to 32 degrees in 36 hours at New Ulm and Tracy.



TODAY: Some sun, PM shower or T-shower. Winds: W 8-13. High: 64

MONDAY NIGHT: Evening shower, then clearing. Low: 47

TUESDAY: Cool and damp, few showers likely. Winds: N 8-13. High: 58

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny and pleasant. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 45. High: 61

THURSDAY: Clouds increase, risk of T-shower. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 43. High: 69

FRIDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, not bad. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 55. High: 75

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, lukewarm breeze. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 57. High: 72

SUNDAY: Sunny start, few PM T-showers possible. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 53. High: near 70


Climate Stories...

Racing to Find Answers in the Ice. The New York Times has done a remarkable job, journalistically and visually, telling the story of what's happening in Antarctica - why not just coastal residents need to pay attention: "...Unraveling the answers, and gaining a better understanding of how Antarctica’s ice has waxed and waned in the past, may offer a rough guide to the changes that human-caused global warming could wreak in the future. Already, scientists know enough to be concerned. About 120,000 years ago, before the last ice age, the planet went through a natural warm period, with temperatures similar to those expected in coming decades. The sea level was 20 to 30 feet higher than it is today, implying that the ice sheets in both Greenland and Antarctica must have partly disintegrated, a warning of what could occur in the relatively near future if the heating of the planet continues unchecked..."

Map credit: "Red areas have lost significant amounts of ice since 2010."


Climate Change Could Slash Staple Crops. CO2 is plant food? Yes, but too CO2 can ruin the recipe. Climate Central explains: "Climate change, and its impacts on extreme weather and temperature swings, is projected to reduce global production of corn, wheat, rice and soybeans by 23 percent in the 2050s, according to a new analysis. The study, which examined price and production of those four major crops from 1961 to 2013, also warns that by the 2030s output could be cut by 9 percent. The findings come as researchers and world leaders continue to warn that food security will become an increasingly difficult problem to tackle in the face of rising temperatures and weather extremes, combining with increasing populations, and volatile food prices. The negative impacts of climate change to farming were pretty much across the board in the new analysis. There were small production gains projected for Russia, Turkey and Ukraine in the 2030s, but by the 2050s, the models “are negative and more pronounced for all countries,” the researchers wrote in the study published this month in the journal Economics of Disasters and Climate Change..."

Photo credit: Andrew Seaman/flickr



Looming Floods, Threatened Cities. What if all those ("alarmist") scientists who specialize in this stuff turn out to be right? Here's an excerpt of Part 2 of The New York Times series on troubling changes in West Antarctica: "...In 2016, Robert M. DeConto of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and David Pollard of Pennsylvania State University published a study, based on a computer analysis of Antarctica, that raised alarms worldwide. Incorporating recent advances in the understanding of how ice sheets might break apart, they found that both West Antarctica and some vulnerable parts of East Antarctica would go into an unstoppable collapse if the Earth continued to warm at a rapid pace. In their worst-case scenario, the sea level could rise by six feet by the end of this century, and the pace could pick up drastically in the 22nd century. Dr. DeConto and Dr. Pollard do not claim that this is a certainty — they acknowledge that their analysis is still rough — but they argue that the possibility should be taken seriously..."


The Arctic Doomsday Seed Vault Flooded. Thanks, Global Warming. Oh the irony. WIRED.com reports: "It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel. The vault is on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and contains almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide “failsafe” protection against “the challenge of natural or man-made disasters...”


Why Do We Crave the Awful Futures of Apocalyptic Fiction? Aeon Videos has a memorable clip that's worth a look.


A Future of More Extreme Floods, Brought To You By Climate Change. The Verge has a must-read story: "Extreme floods along the coastline may become much more common if sea levels continue to climb unchecked, new research says. Scientists estimate that as soon as 2030, a 4-inch sea level rise could double the frequency of severe flooding in many parts of the world, and increase it by as much as 25 times in the tropics. For the communities and ecosystems in the floodwaters’ path, the toll could be catastrophic. Right now, the global sea level is slowly but surely creeping upwards a fraction of an inch each year (0.118 to 0.157 inches per year to be exact). That doesn’t seem like much, but we’re already feeling the consequences of rising waters and eroding coastlines. Tides high enough to flood homes and infrastructure have become more common in some parts of the US like Florida — “turning it from a rare event into a recurrent and disruptive problem,” as a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put it earlier in 2017. In Louisiana, an entire community was driven from their homes on Isle de Jean Charles by rising seas..."

Photo credit: "Flooding after Hurricane Katrina Photo by Lieut. Commander Mark Moran, NOAA Corps, NMAO/AOC."

Record Rainfall Saturday - Over 4" Last Week - Risk of Spring This Week

Meteorologist or Reluctant Weather Therapist?

I went to a wedding yesterday. Everything about it was beautiful. Except the weather. Man, did I get an earful. "I didn't think you'd show up!" Nice to see you too. "Can't you stop the rain, Paul?" Yes, but it's really expensive.

Why do people blame meteorologists for weather they don't like? Where does this pathology originate?

Saturday's monsoon (Tropical Storm Betty?) forced me to become a reluctant weather therapist. "At least it's not snow!" and "Hey, no drought this summer!" I sputtered, to no avail. When the Minnesota Wild lost were sports anchors blamed? Are reporters heckled when the news is bad? It's all a little bizarre...

Springs are trending wetter across Minnesota and yesterday was Exhibit A. Last week may have been the wettest 7-day stretch of 2017 with 3-5 inch rains; over 7 inches in a few spots.

No more super-soakers, but spotty showers pop up today into Tuesday, followed by a warming trend. 70s will feel like a revelation by late week. A few T-showers may sprout Friday & Saturday, but a drier sky should return for Sunday and Memorial Day.

It's a holiday weekend - what can possibly go wrong?


Turn Off The Rain. It has been a wetter-than-average spring for much of the USA, and a lot of Americans could use a break from persistent puddles right about now. No such luck. The Upper Midwest begins to dry out today after a soaking rain on Saturday. That same storm drags a soggy frontal boundary into the eastern USA, where the risk of showers and T-storms will increase later today. Meanwhile a rare stretch of dry weather continues from San Diego to Seattle. Enjoy it while it lasts. NAM guidance: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.


Slow Progress. No overnight meteorological miracles, as nice as that would be, but 60s will feel good by Monday, with a good chance of a few 70s by late-week, according to ECMWF guidance provided by WeatherBell.


Quieting Down by Early June? That may turn out to be wishful thinking, but looking out 2 weeks, GFS guidance suggests more of a zonal flow, with temperatures close to normal and fewer crazy extremes. In theory.


Summer Outlook: Here is the temperature (left) and precipitation outlook for June, July and August, courtesy of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. Much of the USA is forecast to experience a warmer-than-average summer, with the exception of the northern Rockies, northern Plains and Upper Mississippi River Valley, where temperatures are forecast to be close to average. A wet bias is predicted from the Rockies into the Plains for meteorological summer.



A Very Wet Week Across Minnesota. Check out some of the details from Dr. Mark Seeley at Minnesota WeatherTalk: "...Many climate observers reported new daily record rainfall amounts this week. Some examples include:

May 15; 4.94" at Altura (Winona County), 3.43" at Elgin (Olmsted County), 2.96" at Hokah (Houston County)2.25" at Owatonna (Steele County), 2.00" at La Crescent (Winona County), and 1.70" at Rosemount (Dakota County)
May 16: 1.95" at Red Wing Dam, and 1.40" at Duluth
May 17: 2.55" at Jordan (Scott County), 2.45" at Dawson (Lac Qui Parle County), 1.95" at Minnesota City (Winona County), and 1.90" at Montevideo (Lac Qui Parle County)

Many other observers reported total amounts of rainfall this week that exceeded 3 inches. The heavy rains brought a halt to planting of crops around the state, although corn planting is close to being finished, and soybean planting is more than half done. Over 40 climate stations in Minnesota have already seen about normal May rainfall amounts, and that is just for the first 18 days of the month..."

File radar imagery from Saturday morning.


Flooding Overview. Floodlist.com has continuous updates, broken out by continent, related to ongoing flooding episodes around the planet. Here's an excerpt of a new United Nations report highlighted on the site: "A recent report by the UN, “The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters”, reveals that in the last 20 years, 157,000 people have died as a result of floods. The report also says that between 1995 and 2015, floods affected 2.3 billion people, which accounts for 56% of all those affected by weather-related disasters – considerably more than any other type of weather-related disaster..."


Image credit: UNISDR / CRED.


Heat, Snow, Tornadoes, Flooding: Just One Week's Worth of Weather. WXshift has an overview of some of the extremes showing up on the map: "Over the course of just 48 hours this week, summer-like heat hit the Northeast, heavy snow fell in the Rockies, and tornadoes touched down in the Plains, all while the lower Mississippi River remains at flood levels. The heat wave that surged into the Northeast brought multiple days of temperatures that would have been high even for the middle of summer, much less mid-May. Boston went into the 90s during the last three days of the week, with a high of 95°F (35°C) on Thursday afternoon, smashing the old record from 1936 by 4°F (2.2°C). More striking, the low in Boston on Thursday was 71°F (22°C), which was 4°F above the normal high for the date..."


Chetek Man Survives Tornado Stuck Inside His Car. This guy was very, very lucky. Here's an excerpt from TMJ4 in Milwaukee: "A Barron County man manage to survive the EF2 tornado that ripped through his small town this week by waiting it out inside his Chevy Impala. Mark Stefanski was just outside his mom's house, next door to his own and could not get inside. When he decided he would sit in the car he was not sure if he just made a choice that could end his life. "It was just a rumble, it sounded like a train," Stefanski said. "Dark, black, stuff flying," The tornado was heading straight to the Chetek, Wis. and he had a front row view through his front windshield where he said no one ever should be in tornado. "I sat in the car and the car started picking up and I just prayed to God that I lived through it," Stefanski said..."


Tornado Safety Tips for Drivers. In most cases you can drive away from a tornado (or any severe storm) but the last place you want to be during a tornado is in a vehicle. Here are a few good tips from AAA and KFOR.com in Oklahoma City: "...If you are on the road when a tornado warning is issued:

– Leave your car and find shelter.
– Never try to outrun a tornado. Your car will not protect you from the twister.
– Find shelter inside. A basement is safest. Closets or small interior rooms are also good. Cover yourself with a mattress and stay away from windows.
– Do not take shelter in a mobile home. They offer very little protection.
– A “Tornado Warning” means a tornado is developing or is actually on the ground. A “Tornado Watch” means conditions are favorable for the development of severe storms that may create tornadoes.
– Wet roads mean poor traction. Conditions are the most dangerous during the first 10 minutes of a heavy downpour as oil and debris wash away. Driving on wet roads in the rain is comparable to driving on ice. Go slow. Allow extra time
.."


5 Questions About Tornadoes. Phys.org has a post that answers some of the most common queries: "...Even if the environment is extremely favorable for supercell tornadoes, forecasters have limited ability to say when or if a specific storm will produce a tornado. Researchers are studying triggers for tornado production, such as small-scale downdraft surges and descending precipitation shafts of a supercell storm's rear flank, and processes that sustain tornadoes once they form. We don't understand tornado maintenance well, or how tornadoes might be affected by interactions with obstacles such as terrain and buildings. This means that when a tornado is occurring, forecasters have limited ability to tell the public how long they expect it to last..."

Graphic credit: "Scientists' present understanding of how a tornado develops in a supercell thunderstorm." Credit: Paul Markowski.

Scientists’ present understanding of how a tornado develops in a supercell thunderstorm. Credit: Paul Markowski

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-05-tornadoes.html#jCp

Even if the environment is extremely favorable for supercell tornadoes, forecasters have limited ability to say when or if a specific storm will produce a tornado. Researchers are studying triggers for tornado production, such as small-scale downdraft surges and descending precipitation shafts on a supercell storm's rear flank, and processes that sustain tornadoes once they form.

We don't understand tornado maintenance well, or how tornadoes might be affected by interactions with obstacles such as terrain and buildings. This means that when a tornado is occurring, forecasters have limited ability to tell the public how long they expect it to last.



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-05-tornadoes.html#jCp

Even if the environment is extremely favorable for supercell tornadoes, forecasters have limited ability to say when or if a specific storm will produce a tornado. Researchers are studying triggers for tornado production, such as small-scale downdraft surges and descending precipitation shafts on a supercell storm's rear flank, and processes that sustain tornadoes once they form.

We don't understand tornado maintenance well, or how tornadoes might be affected by interactions with obstacles such as terrain and buildings. This means that when a tornado is occurring, forecasters have limited ability to tell the public how long they expect it to last.



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-05-tornadoes.html#jCp

Even if the environment is extremely favorable for supercell tornadoes, forecasters have limited ability to say when or if a specific storm will produce a tornado. Researchers are studying triggers for tornado production, such as small-scale downdraft surges and descending precipitation shafts on a supercell storm's rear flank, and processes that sustain tornadoes once they form.

We don't understand tornado maintenance well, or how tornadoes might be affected by interactions with obstacles such as terrain and buildings. This means that when a tornado is occurring, forecasters have limited ability to tell the public how long they expect it to last.



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-05-tornadoes.html#jCp

Early Heat Wave Broke Records Across the Eastern USA. Mid to upper 90s in May is hardly unprecedented. A taste of the summer to come? Stay tuned. Here's an excerpt from The Associated Press: "Heat records were burning up Thursday in cities in the Northeast as the region gets a summer preview. The mercury reached 92 degrees in Boston shortly after noon Thursday, breaking the old record of 91 degrees for May 18 set in 1936, according to the National Weather Service. The 81-year-old record for the day of 90 degrees also fell in New York City, where it was still 91 degrees in Central Park shortly before 4 p.m. It was the second straight day of midsummer-like conditions in the Northeast, though forecasters said a cooling trend would move in Friday and return the region to more seasonable conditions..."


Scientists Look to Skies to Improve Tsunami Detection. Here's a snippet from an interesting NASA story: "A team of scientists from Sapienza University in Rome, Italy, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has developed a new approach to assist in the ongoing development of timely tsunami detection systems, based upon measurements of how tsunamis disturb a part of Earth’s atmosphere. The new approach, called Variometric Approach for Real-time Ionosphere Observation, or VARION, uses observations from GPS and other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) to detect, in real time, disturbances in Earth’s ionosphere associated with a tsunami. The ionosphere is the layer of Earth’s atmosphere located from about 50 to 621 miles (80 to 1,000 kilometers) above Earth’s surface. It is ionized by solar and cosmic radiation and is best known for the aurora borealis (northern lights) and aurora australis (southern lights). When a tsunami forms and moves across the ocean, the crests and troughs of its waves compress and extend the air above them, creating motions in the atmosphere known as internal gravity waves..."

Animation credit: "Animation of Oct. 27, 2012, Queen Charlotte Island tsunami as it crossed Hawaii. As the wave (dark blue/white lines approaching from the northeast) moved, it perturbed the atmosphere and changed the density of ionospheric electrons as reflected by navigation satellite signal changes (colored dots)." Credits: Sapienza University/NASA-JPL/Caltech.


Humans Accidentally Created a Protective Bubble Around Earth. The Atlantic explains our good collective fortune: "The next time someone says you’re living in a bubble, remind them that we all are. A pair of NASA space probes have detected an artificial bubble around Earth that forms when radio communications from the ground interact with high-energy radiation particles in space, the agency announced this week. The bubble forms a protective barrier around Earth, shielding the planet from potentially dangerous space weather, like solar flares and other ejections from the sun. Earth already has its own protective bubble, a magnetosphere stretched by powerful solar winds. The artificial bubble that NASA found is an accident, an unintended result of the interplay between human technology and nature..." (File image: NASA).


Public to EPA on Cutting Regulations: "No!" NPR reports: "As part of President Trump's executive order to review "job-killing regulations," the Environmental Protection Agency last month asked for the public's input on what to streamline or cut. It held a series of open-mic meetings, and set up a website that has now received more than 28,000 comments, many of which urge the agency not to roll back environmental protections. "The EPA saves lives," wrote Benjamin Kraushaar, who described himself as a hydrologist, hunter and flyfisherman. He wrote that environmental regulations "ensure safe air and water for our future generations. This should not be even up for debate..."

Photo credit: "The Environmental Protection Agency's flag hangs over EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C." Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call Inc.


Mercedes-Benz Brings Its Home Battery to the US. The Verge has details: "Mercedes-Benz has tapped Utah-based solar company Vivint Solar to bring its home battery storage solution to the United States for the first time. Vivint will start selling the Mercedes home batteries to new customers only in California in the second quarter of this year. Mercedes splits up its home batteries differently from Tesla, its most visible competitor in this space, though they’re functionally the same — the batteries let homeowners store and save electricity generated by solar panels so it can be used around the clock. Tesla’s $5,500 Powerwall 2 has a 13.5kWh capacity, and customers can buy up to 10 of those to scale to their needs. Mercedes’ home batteries, on the other hand, have a smaller capacity of 2.5kWh, and customers can scale a total of eight of them for a more modest 20kWh..."

Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz Energy.


The New York Times has more perspective on how Mercedes is positioning its solar/battery products here.


5 Apps This Road-Tripper Won't Travel Without. I agree with all 5; here's an excerpt from Linda Steil at Chrysler Capital: "...I’ve already extolled the virtues of this amazing and free app. When we lived in the city, there were many times it got us around traffic jams, not to mention the help it gave us navigating messy downtown construction. Now that we live in a more country-like setting, I’m still constantly reaching to put my destination in Waze. Even when I know where I’m going, but want to predict an arrival time or tell someone else (another Wazer) when I’ll be meeting them, it’s amazingly accurate, updates real-time and is very simple to use..."


How to Plan an Eco-Friendly Vacation From Start to Finish. The Washington Post explains: "If you travel, you will leave a charcoal smudge in your wake. You can’t help it. Planes spew carbon emissions, hotels guzzle gallons of water to launder sheets and towels, and thirsty travelers chug-a-lug plastic bottles of water. But don’t let the guilt dampen your vacation. Eco-friendly travel practices can lift the remorse and lighten the blemish on Mother Earth. Green travel is not a passing trend but a portable lifestyle choice. According to a TripAdvisor survey, nearly two-thirds of travelers plan to make more environmentally sound choices over the next year. A majority of respondents said that they turn off the lights when leaving their rooms, participate in the hotel’s program to reuse linens and towels, and recycle on-site. Travelers can do much more by building an eco-trip block by block..."


The Key to Getting Paid To Do What You Love, And More Advice for College Graduates. A few good nuggets in a Quartz story, including this: "...The wonderful news is that you don’t have to buy any more $200 textbooks to figure any of this out. Free resources abound: YouTube tutorials and Reddit forums (take a look at r/eatcheapandhealthy, r/fitness, and r/personalfinance, to start) are an excellent way to learn immensely beneficial habits that you may’ve never realized you needed before graduation. Sites like Coursera and Khan Academy are treasure troves for anything you might want to know, from the mundane (how to do your taxes) to the extraordinarily niche (the entire history of Tibetan Buddhism). The biggest mistake you can make is believing that school has taught you everything—or even anything at all. — Amy Wang, reporter..."

Photo credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke.


The Worst Tourist Trap in Every State. I disagree with Business Insider's perspective on MOA, Mall of America in Minnesota. Otherwise the list looks fairly reasonable: "Maybe you're touring the US as a citizen out to see your homeland. Or maybe you're coming from afar to see what America has to offer. Either way, you probably want to make the most of your travels. While some tourist spots across the country have become legendary landmarks that everyone should see, others are just disappointing tourist traps. Some are blatant attempts to make money, others are plain weird, but either way, they should be avoided at all costs. Save your time, money, and sanity by skipping these 50 tourist traps..."

Photo credit: "The World's Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas." Flickr/Ethan Prater




1.45" of rain fell Saturday, breaking the May 20 record of 1.14" in 1937.

51 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday.

71 F. average high on May 20.

76 F. high on May 20, 2016.

May 21, 1960: A downpour at New Prague dumps 10 inches of rain in a 48 hour period.


TODAY: Light showers. Cool and breezy. Winds: W 8-13. High: 52

SUNDAY NIGHT: Partial clearing, drier. Low: 44

MONDAY: Milder. AM sunshine, PM shower. Winds: W 7-12. High: 64

TUESDAY: Still unsettled, few showers/sprinkles. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 47. High: 58

WEDNESDAY: Sunny, a much nicer day. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 46. High: 67

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, lukewarm breeze. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 52. High: 72

FRIDAY: Less sun, risk of a T-shower. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 57. High: 75

SATURDAY: Patchy clouds, another T-shower. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 58. High: 73


Climate Stories...



Looming Floods, Threatened Cities. What if all those ("alarmist") scientists who specialize in this stuff turn out to be right? Here's an excerpt of Part 2 of The New York Times series on troubling changes in West Antarctica: "...In 2016, Robert M. DeConto of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and David Pollard of Pennsylvania State University published a study, based on a computer analysis of Antarctica, that raised alarms worldwide. Incorporating recent advances in the understanding of how ice sheets might break apart, they found that both West Antarctica and some vulnerable parts of East Antarctica would go into an unstoppable collapse if the Earth continued to warm at a rapid pace. In their worst-case scenario, the sea level could rise by six feet by the end of this century, and the pace could pick up drastically in the 22nd century. Dr. DeConto and Dr. Pollard do not claim that this is a certainty — they acknowledge that their analysis is still rough — but they argue that the possibility should be taken seriously..."


The Arctic Doomsday Seed Vault Flooded. Thanks, Global Warming. Oh the irony. WIRED.com reports: "It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel. The vault is on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and contains almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide “failsafe” protection against “the challenge of natural or man-made disasters...”


Why Do We Crave the Awful Futures of Apocalyptic Fiction? Aeon Videos has a memorable clip that's worth a look.


A Future of More Extreme Floods, Brought To You By Climate Change. The Verge has a must-read story: "Extreme floods along the coastline may become much more common if sea levels continue to climb unchecked, new research says. Scientists estimate that as soon as 2030, a 4-inch sea level rise could double the frequency of severe flooding in many parts of the world, and increase it by as much as 25 times in the tropics. For the communities and ecosystems in the floodwaters’ path, the toll could be catastrophic. Right now, the global sea level is slowly but surely creeping upwards a fraction of an inch each year (0.118 to 0.157 inches per year to be exact). That doesn’t seem like much, but we’re already feeling the consequences of rising waters and eroding coastlines. Tides high enough to flood homes and infrastructure have become more common in some parts of the US like Florida — “turning it from a rare event into a recurrent and disruptive problem,” as a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put it earlier in 2017. In Louisiana, an entire community was driven from their homes on Isle de Jean Charles by rising seas..."

Photo credit: "Flooding after Hurricane Katrina Photo by Lieut. Commander Mark Moran, NOAA Corps, NMAO/AOC."


Will the Government Help Farmers Adapt to a Changing Climate? Here's a clip from Harvest Public Media and NPR: "...Sally Rockey, director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, which relies on federal money for a portion of its funding, says climate change adaptation will continue to be a driving force within agricultural research, despite the skeptical tone coming from the executive branch. What might change, however, is what it is called. Climate research may be re-branded under the vague umbrella of "sustainability." "At the core of many of the things we do are sustainability, and sustainability is a lot about climate," Rockey says. "So the two are intertwined in almost every program we do." Federal projects with a climate change focus and the word "climate" in their name — like the USDA's climate hubs — will likely be under the microscope..."

Photo credit: "The Agriculture Department established research centers in 2014 to translate climate science into real-world ideas to help farmers and ranchers adapt to a hotter climate. But a tone of skepticism about climate change from the Trump administration has some farmers worried that this research they rely on may now be in jeopardy." Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media.


Pope to Convince Trump on Climate Change, Sorondo Tells ANSA. Here's an excerpt from Italy's ansa.it: "Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences Monsignor Marcelo Sanchez told ANSA in an interview that he believes the Pope will convince US President Donald Trump to change his mind on climate change. Pope Francis dedicated his 'Laudato Si' encyclical to climate change and will be meeting with Donald Trump on May 24, who has signed an executive order dismantling Obama-era environmental legislation. In the eyes of Sanchez Sorondo, the choices adopted on climate by Trump "are against science, even before being against what the Pope says. In the election campaign he even said it was a Chinese invention to criticize America. But this president has already changed about several things, so perhaps on this as well..." (Photo credit: ANSA).


Study: Inspiring Action on Climate Change is More Complex Than You Might Think. All weather, like politics (and climate action) is local. Here's an illuminating story from Dr. John Abraham at the University of St. Thomas, writing in The Guardian: "...To counter this disconnect, climate change discussions need to be framed as matters related to current impacts at the local level. It is great that we want to save polar bears, but what really will motivate people are the risks to them right now. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint, it is becoming easier and easier to make these connections. Examples abound for instance terrible flooding in the central USA, the record drought in California, recent heat waves in central Asia, or in Australia, as just some examples. The authors identify a variety of strategies for moving forward with human limitations in mind. Since they acknowledge humans tend not to protect those things they either don’t know or don’t value, ingraining a sense of value in the natural world may be critical. In fact, there is a strong relationship between an individual’s connection to nature and their ecological behavior..."

Photo credit: "Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk introduces the falcon wing door on the Model X electric sports-utility vehicles during a presentation in Fremont, California September 29, 2015. Musk is helping create the perception that going green can be cool." Photograph: Stephen Lam/REUTERS.


Imagining a New York City Ravaged by Climate Change. Will technology save us (from ourselves) and how do novelists imagine a future New York City struggling with rising seas? Here's an excerpt of a story at Curbed NY: "...In reality, sea-level rise and climate change are not part of some distant future version of New York City, but are already radically reshaping the urban coastline, especially in Staten Island, Queens, and Brooklyn. Here, neighborhoods like Edgemere, Oakwood Beach, and Ocean Breeze are being demolished to make way for a managed retreat from the rising waters, while in Sea Gate, Breezy Point, and Broad Channel Island, large-scale projects are underway to build coastal defenses, elevate homes, and raise streets levels. None of these communities make an appearance in New York 2140. Perhaps this is because they are predicted to vanish under the water by the end of the century. Yet the ways in which they are preparing for a flooded future are worthy of deeper consideration..."

Photo credit: "East River, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2015."


China, India Become Climate Leaders as West Falters. Climate Central reports: "Less than two years after world leaders signed off on a historic United Nations climate treaty in Paris in late 2015, and following three years of record-setting heat worldwide, climate policies are advancing in developing countries but stalling or regressing in richer ones. In the Western hemisphere, where centuries of polluting fossil fuel use have created comfortable lifestyles, the fight against warming has faltered largely due to the rise of far-right political groups and nationalist movements. As numerous rich countries have foundered, India and China have emerged as global leaders in tackling global warming. Nowhere is backtracking more apparent than in the U.S., where President Trump is moving swiftly to dismantle environmental protections and reverse President Obama’s push for domestic and global solutions to global warming..."