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Paul Douglas on Weather

Taste of Summer Next 36 Hours - Smoke From Alberta Blaze May Dim The Sun

Back to the Future: 80s Friday, a B+ Weather Weekend

Growing up on Star Trek reruns I'm disappointed with how the future has turned out.

Instead of flying cars and clones (with better attitudes) we have little supercomputers buzzing in our pockets.

Instead of another useless app - would someone hurry up and perfect "transporter" technology that can beam us anywhere, anytime? Elon Musk, are you listening? Future generations will marvel at the utter inefficiency of wasting time crawling to work in our cars; work that most of us could be doing from home. There has to be a better way.

The forecast calls for construction - and a nice warming trend over the next 36 hours. Upper 70s today; mid-80s tomorrow before a wind shift sparks a few growls of thunder late Friday. Skies quickly clear Saturday with temperatures in the 60s; even a few whitecaps on your favorite lake. Winds ease Sunday with enough sun for low 70s. Cooler, showery weather returns next week - another free watering for lawns and fields.

The same wildfire forcing the evacuation of Ft. McMurray, Alberta may give our sky a hazy, milky appearance the next few days.

From wildfire smoke, central Wisconsin frost this morning to temperatures near 90F tomorrow afternoon in the metro, there's something for everyone in today's outlook.


4 PM Friday. Prepare to listen to neighbors whining about the heat tomorrow afternoon. Well, maybe not,  but they'll be tempted. Expect mid-80s, with a chance of 90-degree highs just north and west of the MSP metro area - the hottest day of 2016 to date. 4 KM 2-meter NAM temperature guidance: AerisWeather.


Waves of Summer Warmth. Temperatures reach the mid to upper 70s today (a few bank thermometers may flash 80F by late afternoon) but temperatures peak Friday afternoon, nearly 20F warmer than average. Model guidance: NOAA and Aeris Enterprise.


Abrupt Wind Shift. The arrival of cooler air sets of strong winds (and a few spotty showers and T-showers) Friday night. Model ensembles hint at winds over 30 mph by 10 pm Friday evening. Source: Aeris Enterprise Mobile.


Smoky Sunshine? The same wildfires chasing tens of thousands of residents of Fort McMurray, Alberta from their homes may be swept southeastward into Minnesota today and Friday, creating a milky cast to the sky, and a potentially Technicolor, cherry-red sunset this evening. Source: MPX Weather Service.


A Glimpse of Hell. The Weather Channel has some amazing video of the frantic evacuations underway in Fort McMurray, Alberta on their Facebook page: "An incredible video is shot as residents evacuate because of this intense wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alberta."


Extreme Fire Danger. The risk is highest over Alberta and Saskatchewan, according to Environment Canada.


Adrian Peterson Donating More Than 100K to Flood-Relief Efforts in Hometown of Palestine, Texas. ESPN has the story; here's an excerpt: "...The flooding shocked the town of roughly 19,000, which Peterson said hasn't been prone to floods in the past. "My mom is over 50, and in her lifespan she's never seen a flood in Palestine," Peterson said. "That's what was so unusual about it. We've never had an issue with flooding. We've had heavy rains for days at a time, but nothing to this magnitude. For this to hit overnight, and the damage that it caused, it was devastating." Peterson said his family is fine but that some of his friends have been affected..."


More Than 300 Million Indians Suffer From a Crippling Drought. Here's a clip from a Washington Post story: "...About 330 million Indians are struggling under grueling heat and drought conditions across 10 states this year, the government said, severely harming the economy of a nation where nearly half the people rely on farming. Reservoirs and rivers here in Maharashtra’s drought districts are almost dry, and a 50-car train now delivers water to Latur city, near Suryavanshi’s village. Thirsty Indians place long, serpentine lines of plastic pots and drums at the municipal water tank and village wells, and fights have broken out at water pumps..." (GFS 2-meter temperature outlook: NOAA and WeatherBell).


Delhi Schools Ordered to Close Early for Summer as Temperatures Soar. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "All schools in Delhi have been ordered to take a “mandatory summer vacation” from 11 May amid a heatwave that has swept the city. Officials say temperatures will continue to rise in the coming weeks, after reaching 44C (111F) on Monday – the hottest day of the year so far. Schools in other parts of India have already been forced to close because of heatwaves and a drought that has affected 330 million people across India..."

Photo credit above: "Officials say temperatures will continue to rise in the coming weeks, after reaching 44C (111F) on Monday." Photograph: Harish Tyagi/EPA.


India's Water Crisis. A combination of factors are in play, as described by The New York Times: "Some 330 million people — about one quarter of India’s population — are reeling from a drought that has turned vast areas of the subcontinent into a dust bowl, withering crops and forcing farmers from their lands. Coal-fired power plants — the major source of India’s electricity — have had to suspend output because there is not enough water in nearby rivers to generate steam. Armed guards are being posted at dams to prevent desperate farmers from stealing water. Part of the problem is El Niño, the climate pattern that puts extra heat into the atmosphere. But much of the problem is a result of years of mismanagement of water resources, a failure to crack down on corruption and dithering by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on taking action to help those affected..."


Nearly 200 People Have Been Killed by Flooding in the U.S. During The Last 16 Months. Weather Underground has an interesting post; here's the intro: "Flooding has proved to be extremely deadly in the United States in the last 16 months. Nearly 200 people, including 14 in Texas last month alone, have lost their lives since January 2015. NOAA says that in 2015 176 people were killed by flooding in 26 states. So far in 2016 there have been 19 flood-related deaths in four states. That's a total of 195 fatalities from January 2015-April 2016. For comparison, the 30-year average (1986-2015) number of flood deaths for a 16-month period is 108. There are typically about 81 flood deaths a year, making it, on average, the the second most deadly weather-related event behind extreme heat..."

Map credit above: "Flood deaths by state, January 2015 - April 2016." Please note that this data is preliminary."


Hurricane Project Put on Back Burner After Decade With No Storms. What can possibly go wrong? A sense of hurricane-apathy is growing, especially in Florida, where the last Category 3 strike was 2005. Here's an excerpt of a post at mypalmbeachpost.com: "A landmark hurricane research project that improved forecasts by 20 percent in five years is facing more budget cuts as the federal government seeks to “slow the development” of the program after a decade with no major hurricane landfalls. In its fiscal year 2017 budget request, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said it plans to reduce its investment in the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project, which was launched in response to the record storm seasons of 2004 and 2005..."


Does Your Family Have a Tornado Safety Plan? Everyone should have a plan ready to go. Here's an excerpt from KCAU: "...Do you have a tornado safety kit? The Frosts' do now! After we found a safe underground, interior room away from windows in their basement, the Frosts' and I got a bin together with supplies to stay in that safe room. Non perishable food items, water, and a first aid kit were at the top of the list, along with a flashlight and batteries. The kids also picked a few of their favorite board games and books so that they would have something to do in a prolonged event. Jennifer thought it was a great idea to help the kids stay calm in an emergency situation too.... the exact purpose of our practice drill..."


GAO: DHS Not Doing Enough to Prevent EMP Disaster. Got that? An EMP or electromagnetic pulse can be triggered by the sun, or a high-altitude nuclear detonation. Here are a couple of clips from a Power Magazine article that got my undivided attention: "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) internally recognizes that a power grid failure resulting from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or a solar storm can pose great risk to the security of the nation, but it hasn’t prepared adequately, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a newly released report...The April 25–released report assesses risks posed by a high-altitude—from 25 to 250 miles above the Earth’s surface—EMP event, which could be caused by the detonation of a nuclear device above the atmosphere. The burst of electromagnetic radiation resulting from such an event could disrupt or destroy computers and damage electronics and insulators, as well as severely damage critical electrical infrastructure like transformers..."


Buffet vs. Musk: The Clash of Old and New Energy Titans. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating read at the Las Vegas Sun: "...As regulated monopolies with guaranteed returns and virtually no competition, they were lucrative buys. “It’s a way to stay rich,” Buffett once said of utilities. But times were changing. Over the next several years, another billionaire was threatening that long-held assumption. Musk, the chairman of SolarCity and CEO of Tesla Motors, had entered the energy game, challenging NV Energy’s position as the primary energy player in the state. The two had collided head-on in a battle over the future of electric power ­— how it’s generated and distributed, who controls it and how much it costs consumers. The two capitalists could hardly be more different..."


Madison Project Studies Solar Power in Northern Climate. Here's a snippet from a story at The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "...The three-year study will examine 10 different kinds of solar panels using a variety of different technologies that capture sunlight and convert it into electricity. "What we've been seeing based on the level of interest in solar is that here in the Midwest it will become a larger and emerging resource for us," said Zimmerman, Alliant lead project controls planner. "With the panel technologies improving in their efficiency and the cost going down, even though the Midwest has limited sunlight hours as compared to southern California or New Mexico or Arizona, we believe it's going to be a reliable and dependable energy source for us that will complement our other energy offerings..."


New Record Set for World's Cheapest Solar, Now Undercutting Coal. Moore's Law continues to drop prices, down 80% since 2007. Bloomberg has the story.


The Awe-Inspiring Growth of the U.S. Solar Industry. A few very interesting and encouraging statistical nuggets in a Huffington Post story; here's an excerpt: "...Solar’s costs have come down to the point that we regularly see contracts for utility-scale solar power under 5 cents per kilowatt-hour – making solar, in many cases, a cost-competitive option for utilities. Last year our country added more solar than new natural gas capacity for the first time ever – and you can bet it won’t be the last. In fact, there have been times this year when California, one of the world’s largest economies, has gotten third of its power from the sun. It hasn’t always been sunny on the road to a million solar installations. Although there is sustained double-digit market and job growth, there have also been naysayers, big-moneyed opposition, nasty electoral politics, and stumbles from an industry in its early stages..." (Image credit: Solar City).


Here's What It Would Take for the U.S. to Run On 100% Renewable Energy. Dave Roberts has the story at Vox; here's the intro: "It is technically and economically feasible to run the US economy entirely on renewable energy, and to do so by 2050. That is the conclusion of a study last year in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, authored by Stanford scholar Mark Z. Jacobson and nine colleagues. Jacobson is well-known for his ambitious and controversial work on renewable energy. In 2011 he published, with Mark A. Delucchi, a two-part paper (one, two) on "providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power." In 2013 he published a feasibility study on moving New York state entirely to renewables, and in 2014 he created a road map for California to do the same..."


The United Arab Emirates Wants To Build a Full-Size Artificial Mountain to Encourage Rainfall. Now here's an infrastructure project. Here's an excerpt of an eye-popping proposal at Yahoo News: "The United Arab Emirates is used to building landmasses were there were none before, but creating a mountain from scratch is a whole new level. Nonetheless, the UAE is considering precisely that kind of construction. With hopes that it will encourage raincloud development in a country mostly covered in desert, the UAE is looking to build a full-sized artificial mountain. Desert flatlands make it difficult for air to get the upward climb required to collect into rain clouds, but creating a mountain could help bring a certain amount of rain to the otherwise arid region..."



66 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

66 F. average high on May 4.

72 F. high temperature observed on May 4, 2015.

May 5, 1965: At least 7 tornadoes hit southern Minnesota. This outbreak is a preview of what would happen the next day…


TODAY: Partly sunny, lukewarm. Winds: SW 8-13. High: 77

THURSDAY NIGHT: Clear and mild. Low: 57

FRIDAY: Warm sun, late-day T-shower possible. Winds: SW 10-20. High: 85

FRIDAY NIGHT: Risk of a few showers, T-storms. Low: 58

SATURDAY: Gradual clearing, cooler breeze. Winds: N 10-20. High: 68

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, less wind. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 49. High: 73

MONDAY: Unsettled, showers develop. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 54. High: 67

TUESDAY: Lingering showers, clap of thunder? Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 53. High: 68

WEDNESDAY: Atmospheric holding pattern, instability showers. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 51. High: 66


Climate Stories...

Destructive Canadian Wildfire Fueled In Part by Global Warming. Other factors are in play (including a stalled Omega Block) but consistently earlier springs and longer growing seasons are providing more fuel for massive fires, according to an Andrew Freedman article at Mashable. Here's an excerpt: "...In addition, long-term trends associated with human-caused global warming include earlier spring snow melt and later starts to the winter season, which is lengthening wildfire seasons from Alaska to Alberta, and south to New Mexico. According to Mike Flannigan, a wildfire specialist at the University of Alberta, the area burned by wildfires in Alberta has more than doubled since 1970, a trend he said is partly tied to global warming. Climate data shows that Fort McMurray has seen an increase in the number of days with high temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius, or 77 degrees Fahrenheit, since 1950. This number has jumped from an average of 21 such days in 1950 to an average of 35 such days in 2010.  A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2013 found that boreal forests, which form a ring around the world just below the Arctic Circle, have been burning at rates that are unprecedented in 10,000 years..."

Photo credit above: "Smoke rises from a wildfire outside of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Tuesday, May 3, 2016." Image: Mary Anne Sexsmith-Segato/The Canadian Press via AP.


The Time Has Come to Turn Up The Heat on Those Who Are Wrecking Planet Earth. Here's the intro to an Op-Ed from climate activist Bill McKibbon at The Guardian: "An interesting question is, what are you waiting for? Global warming is the biggest problem we’ve ever faced as a civilisation — certainly you want to act to slow it down, but perhaps you’ve been waiting for just the right moment. The moment when, oh, marine biologists across the Pacific begin weeping in their scuba masks as they dive on reefs bleached of life in a matter of days. The moment when drought in India gets deep enough that there are armed guards on dams to prevent the theft of water. The moment when we record the hottest month ever measured on the planet, and then smash that record the next month, and then smash that record the next month? The moment when scientists reassessing the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet have what one calls an ‘OMG moment’ and start talking about massive sea level rise in the next 30 years?..."

Photo credit above: "Global direct action began with hundreds of environmental activists invading the UK’s largest opencast coal mine in south Wales on Tuesday." Photograph: Kristian Buus for the Guardian.


The Rising Tide. How will rising seas (and temperatures) impact migration patterns. Is the current refugee crisis the tip of the (tenuous) iceberg? Here's an excerpt of a story at Columbia Law School Magazine: "...According to a recent study compiled by 30 research groups from around the world, land degradation and desertification alone may force tens of millions of people from their homes within the next decade. There has also been an increasingly dire stream of scientific findings that show global sea levels may rise much more quickly than previously predicted. Dr. James E. Hansen, who, as director of the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions program at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, works with Gerrard and his Law School colleagues, notes that the resulting surges of migration and related conflicts would threaten the fabric of civilization. And according to Sabin Center Executive Director Michael Burger ’03, there is no time to waste in addressing that potential reality. “This problem,” he says, “although it’s happening now, already, is just going to get worse as the years go on...” (Image: Real Climate).


Price Water or Prepare for a Thirstier, Poorer Planet. Here's an excerpt from a story at Climate Home: "The future will be thirsty unless governments place a price on water. That’s the stark warning in a World Bank report published on Tuesday, urging lawmakers to make water conservation a national and international priority. Rising populations, soaring energy demand, expanding agricultural lands and climate change are making water increasingly scarce, driving hunger, conflict and economic woes..."

Photo credit above: "Fatuma has lost 190 sheep and goats and 23 cattle because of the drought. She now has 10 goats and sheep and 2 cattle." (Pic: Abiy Getahun/Oxfam).


Voices: In Alaska Climate Change is a Daily Reality. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at USA Today: "...That’s got lots of consequences. It means residents of Little Diomede Island, in the Bering Strait, can no longer consistently land small planes on frozen ocean in front of their village. Instead, they now largely depend on a helicopter that can only land in good weather. Last year, the helicopter couldn’t land for six weeks, and the entire 110-person island ran out of toilet paper. The weaker ice is also affecting polar bears, which normally prowl the edges hunting seals. Forced to swim longer distances between ice floes, cubs often drown, and federal scientists are alarmed by the drop in the polar bear populations. Experts say there could be as few as 25,000 of these iconic animals living worldwide, and polar bears today are listed as a “threatened” species in danger of extinction..."


Resettling the First American "Climate Refugees". Here's an excerpt from an analysis by The New York Times: "...In January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced grants totaling $1 billion in 13 states to help communities adapt to climate change, by building stronger levees, dams and drainage systems. One of those grants, $48 million for Isle de Jean Charles, is something new: the first allocation of federal tax dollars to move an entire community struggling with the impacts of climate change. The divisions the effort has exposed and the logistical and moral dilemmas it has presented point up in microcosm the massive problems the world could face in the coming decades as it confronts a new category of displaced people who have become known as climate refugees..."

Image credit above: "Isle de Jean Charles in southeastern Louisiana. A $48 million federal grant has been allocated to resettle its residents because of flooding." Credit Josh Haner/The New York Times.


April Joins Parade of Record Global Temperatures, Making It 12 Months in a Row. Here's a clip at The Sydney Morning Herald: "...The largest departures from the norm, though, have been occurring at the poles, especially in the north. Parts of Greenland were 8 degrees warmer than average in April, sparking early-season melting of the giant ice sheets so rapid it prompted scientists to check their instruments weren't broken. Unusual heat over the northern winter meant the Arctic Sea ice extent began at a record low level. With less to start with and warmer seas, the area covered by sea ice is retreating, setting new records every day last month, according to US PhD student, Zack Labe..."


Editorial: A Climate Plan for Conservatives. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at TheLedger.com: "Our planet is now setting records for setting records about the heat. Earth has set monthly heat records for 11 months in a row, a record in itself, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last week. As global warming causes such changes, researchers told the Associated Press that they're worried the public is become desensitized to the drumbeat of broken records. The same could be said for other worrisome trends involving climate change..."

Comfortable Wednesday - 80s on Friday - 80,000+ Evacuated from Wildfires in Alberta

Question: Will Spring "Stick" This Time Around?

People never ask me about the Twins, foreign policy or existential truth. But they're not shy about quizzing me about the state of the atmosphere.

Here are but a handful of the questions I've received recently. "Paul, are we done with snow?" What snow? We picked up 36.7 inches last winter. Average is 54.4 inches. Flurries could still brush the Minnesota Arrowhead - but accumulating snow is behind us now.

I pray.

"Paul, is it safe to plant annuals?" Yes it is. GFS guidance hints at upper 30s by late next week but the odds of a widespread metro frost are less than 1 in 10. The old adage "wait until after Mother's Day to plant tender plants" rings true this year.

We cool off into the low 60s today with a stiff north breeze, but 70s return Thursday - low 80s will spark an outbreak of shorts and T-shirts Friday. A taste of sultry summer days to come.

A stray T-shower may bubble up late Friday ahead of a cooler front, but skies clear during the day Saturday; Sunday brings peeks of sun and highs near 70.

Enjoy the dry spell; cooler, showery weather returns for much of next week. 


All of Fort McMurray Ordered to Flee Wildfire in the Largest Fire Evacuation in Alberta's History. 80,000 people impacted? The Edmonton Journal has more details: "Fort McMurray’s more than 80,000 residents have been ordered to flee the oilsands city after a massive wildfire, fuelled by soaring temperatures and tinder-dry forest, broached the city limits. At 6:20 p.m., a mandatory evacuation order was issued for the entire city, with residents advised to head north to Noralta Lodge and wait for further instructions. Word came down later that Noralta Lodge was full and evacuees were being sent further north to other work camps. The wildfire burning in the city limits has forced the largest fire evacuation in Alberta’s history. It’s expected to get worse Wednesday, when winds are forecast to switch direction and increase in intensity, at speeds of 25 to 50 kilometres per hour..."



Glimpse of Summer Heat. All the models show low to mid 80s by mid-afternoon Friday. Dew points should be in the mid-50s to near 60F, noticeable humidity levels but hardly uncomfortable, at least not yet. Graphic: NOAA and AerisWeather.


10-Day Rainfall Outlook. Here is GFS guidance from NOAA, printing out a 4" rainfall bullseye near Omaha by Friday of next week; 1" rainfall amounts predicted for much of Minnesota next week.

Sliding Back into Puddles Next Week. Enjoy the dry spell, because ECMWF and NOAA models pull Gulf moisture north next week in multiple waves - by the weekend after next some 1-2" rainfall amounts can't be ruled out.


Nearly 200 People Have Been Killed by Flooding in the U.S. During The Last 16 Months. Weather Underground has an interesting post; here's the intro: "Flooding has proved to be extremely deadly in the United States in the last 16 months. Nearly 200 people, including 14 in Texas last month alone, have lost their lives since January 2015. NOAA says that in 2015 176 people were killed by flooding in 26 states. So far in 2016 there have been 19 flood-related deaths in four states. That's a total of 195 fatalities from January 2015-April 2016. For comparison, the 30-year average (1986-2015) number of flood deaths for a 16-month period is 108. There are typically about 81 flood deaths a year, making it, on average, the the second most deadly weather-related event behind extreme heat..."

Map credit above: "Flood deaths by state, January 2015 - April 2016." Please note that this data is preliminary."


Weather Keeps Killing, But Experts Say Deaths Preventable. Here's a clip from a USA TODAY article: "...Floods, rip currents, lightning and heat kill hundreds of people each year, but experts say almost every one of those deaths is preventable. Heat is the nation's biggest killer, striking down about 130 people each year, according to data from the National Weather Service. Rip currents sweep about 100 people out to sea annually and floods take another 100 people, the data shows. Lightning strikes kill about 25 people a year. Data from the Centers for Disease Control, which uses broader criteria for calculating cause of death, says the numbers are even worse, attributing several hundred deaths to heat and cold..."


Crude Oil is Flooding Texas Rivers. Here's the intro to a story at Grist: "Dramatic, deadly flooding is the new normal for parts of Texas and Louisiana this past year. This weekend, a single flash flood killed six people. But the damage often doesn’t end when the skies are finally clear. In Texas — a state dotted with oil wells — extreme flooding can also mean contaminated water. According to El Paso Times, chemicals and oil from overfilled wells and fracking sites have flushed into majors rivers. Texas officials have reportedly taken dozens of images of waterways polluted with crude oil and fracking chemicals, which show the “sheens and plumes spreading from tipped tanks and flooded production sites.” Affected waterways include the Sabine River on the Texas-Louisiana border, which flooded in March, and the Trinity, Red, and Colorado rivers, which flooded last year..."

Photo credit above: "Flooding in Brookshire, Texas, U.S. April 20, 2016." Handout via REUTERS TPX IMAGES.


Hurricane Project Put on Back Burner After Decade With No Storms. What can possibly go wrong? A sense of hurricane-apathy is growing, especially in Florida, where the last Category 3 strike was 2005. Here's an excerpt of a post at mypalmbeachpost.com: "A landmark hurricane research project that improved forecasts by 20 percent in five years is facing more budget cuts as the federal government seeks to “slow the development” of the program after a decade with no major hurricane landfalls. In its fiscal year 2017 budget request, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said it plans to reduce its investment in the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project, which was launched in response to the record storm seasons of 2004 and 2005..."


Early May Tends to be Feast or Famine for Tornadoes. U.S. Tornadoes has some interesting nuggets and statistics; here's an excerpt: "...tornado climatology is an interesting thing to look at but sometimes averages can be misleading, as tornadoes do tend to come in bunches. It is not until late May and early June that consistent and often day-to-day tornado activity becomes common around the entire country. By June, the potential for a major outbreak starts to decline as the jet stream slows and becomes less variable. However, the frequency of tornado days make this a prime choice for storm chasers who are looking to play the odds for chase prospects. This also serves as a reminder not to let your guard down after the peak of outbreak season passes, especially in the northern tier of the U.S..."


Does Your Family Have a Tornado Safety Plan? Everyone should have a plan ready to go. Here's an excerpt from KCAU: "...Do you have a tornado safety kit? The Frosts' do now! After we found a safe underground, interior room away from windows in their basement, the Frosts' and I got a bin together with supplies to stay in that safe room. Non perishable food items, water, and a first aid kit were at the top of the list, along with a flashlight and batteries. The kids also picked a few of their favorite board games and books so that they would have something to do in a prolonged event. Jennifer thought it was a great idea to help the kids stay calm in an emergency situation too.... the exact purpose of our practice drill..."


Earth's New Lightning Capital in the World: 233 Flashes Per Square Kilometer A Year. Move over Congo, we have a new, electrifying winner, according to NASA and a story at Space Coast Daily: "Earth has a new lightning capital, according to a recent study using observations from the Lightning Imaging Sensor onboard NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission. Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela earned the top spot receiving an average rate of about 233 flashes per square kilometer per year, according to the study.Researchers had previously identified Africa’s Congo Basin as the location of maximum lightning activity..."

Image credit above: "Earth has a new lightning capital, according to a recent study using observations from the Lightning Imaging Sensor onboard NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission." (NASA Image).


Researchers Find Tsunamis on the Great Lakes. My first reaction was....huh? Check out this story at mlive.com; here's an excerpt: "New research has found the Great Lakes may have a type of tsunami after all. They are not tsunamis caused by earthquakes. These tsunamis are caused by organized areas of thunderstorms. The type of tsunami is called a meteotsunami, meaning a tsunami caused by meteorological conditions. While the waves are not as big as ocean tsunamis caused by earthquakes, researchers have found an instance when the tsunami on a Great Lake was nine feet high..."

Image credit above: "Radar on May 31, 1998. This line of storms generated a meteotsunami at White Lake Harbor, south of Ludington, MI." (NOAA).


More Evidence That Melting Arctic Ice Drives Widespread Changes in Northern Hemisphere Weather Patterns. Here's a clip from an interesting story at Summit Couny Citizen's Voice: "...The study, published in the International Journal of Climatology, looked at large-scale weather patterns over Greenland going back to 1851 using a measure called the Greenland Blocking Index, which marks the how strong the high pressure systems are, how long they last and how often they occur. Hanna said the research team found that high pressure blocking systems have become more common over Greenland since the 1980s in all seasons, which relates to a significantly strong warming of the Greenland and wider Arctic region compared with the rest of the world. The pattern has become more common in the summer, as a northward-meandering branch of the jet stream enables warmer air to move north into the region more often in recent years..." (Image credit: meteorologist Joe Cioffi).


Take A Deep Dive - Visually and Scientifically - Into Spectacular Aurora. Discover Magazine has the story, and links to an amazing video that gives an amazing sense of what it must be like to be gazing down on the planet. It's transcendent. Here's a clip: "The video is in ultra-high definition 4K. Even if you don’t have a UHD monitor, it’s still a stunner. In addition to numerous auroras, you can see the bright crackling of lightning at night; the orange glow of towns and cities helping to sketch out maps of the landscape below; and stars, constellations and galaxies turning in the heavens above. Most spectacular are the curtains of auroral light. If they seem akin to the glow of neon lighting, that’s no coincidence. The same basic physical process are at work..."


Biggest Wealth Fund Pushes for Climate Disclosure at Exxon. Here's the intro to an explanation at Bloomberg: "Norway’s $870 billion sovereign wealth fund will back proposals to force Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., two of the biggest oil companies, to assess how climate-change policies can affect their business. The fund, the largest of its kind, will vote in favor of shareholder proposals to introduce climate reporting at both companies’ annual general meeting on May 25, Norges Bank Investment Management, said in two separate statements. NBIM owned 0.78 percent of Exxon and 0.85 percent of Chevron at the end of 2015, according to its website..."


Buffet vs. Musk: The Clash of Old and New Energy Titans. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating read at the Las Vegas Sun: "...As regulated monopolies with guaranteed returns and virtually no competition, they were lucrative buys. “It’s a way to stay rich,” Buffett once said of utilities. But times were changing. Over the next several years, another billionaire was threatening that long-held assumption. Musk, the chairman of SolarCity and CEO of Tesla Motors, had entered the energy game, challenging NV Energy’s position as the primary energy player in the state. The two had collided head-on in a battle over the future of electric power ­— how it’s generated and distributed, who controls it and how much it costs consumers. The two capitalists could hardly be more different..."


Solar Energy Will Thrive. The New York Times has an Op-Ed that resonated - here's an excerpt: "...The growth of solar energy will be driven by three factors. First and most important, costs are falling sharply. Solar module costs have fallen roughly 80 percent since 2007 and are projected to keep falling. Already, solar power is cheaper than the competition in many sunny places. Solar power’s competitive strength will continue to grow in the years ahead. Second, governments around the world strongly support solar power due its many social benefits. Solar power produces neither local air pollutants nor heat-trapping gases. In many places it is ideally suited for extending electricity to those who now lack it..."

File photo credit: Michael Nagle, Bloomberg.


The Awe-Inspiring Growth of the U.S. Solar Industry. A few very interesting and encouraging statistical nuggets in a Huffington Post story; here's an excerpt: "...Solar’s costs have come down to the point that we regularly see contracts for utility-scale solar power under 5 cents per kilowatt-hour – making solar, in many cases, a cost-competitive option for utilities. Last year our country added more solar than new natural gas capacity for the first time ever – and you can bet it won’t be the last. In fact, there have been times this year when California, one of the world’s largest economies, has gotten third of its power from the sun. It hasn’t always been sunny on the road to a million solar installations. Although there is sustained double-digit market and job growth, there have also been naysayers, big-moneyed opposition, nasty electoral politics, and stumbles from an industry in its early stages..." (Image credit: Solar City).


Selling Bottled Water That's Better for the Planet. Here's an excerpt of an interesting read at The New York Times: "...As Ms. Jeon sees it, she is making the best of a bad situation. The paper used for her bottles is sourced from trees that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The bottles, which are fully recyclable, are made of 53 percent paper; the rest of the bottle is made of plastic and a small amount of aluminum. Last month, Just Water released a new bottle with the top portion made of plant-based plastic derived from sugar cane. All told, she said, her product is less harmful to the environment and creates fewer carbon emissions than energy-intensive plastic..."

Photo credit above: "Just Water’s bottle is made of 53 percent paper, sourced from trees that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The rest is plant-based plastic, along with a small amount of aluminum." Credit Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times.


The Lazy Way to an Awesome Life: 3 Secrets Backed by Research. I read it on the internet -  so it must be true. Here's an excerpt at bakadesuyo.com: "...tons of research (and common sense) shows that the people around you influence your behavior. In fact, they influence it a lot more than you might think and probably more than you’re comfortable with admitting. But here’s the really crazy part: not only do your friends affect your behavior, so do their friends. And their friends’ friends. Here’s Nicholas:

Across many different kinds of behavior: voting, cooperation, smoking, weight loss and weight gain, happiness, cooperative behavior, public health behaviors, we and others have been able to show that people are very meaningfully affected by the behaviors of other people to whom they’re connected..."


The United Arab Emirates Wants To Build a Full-Size Artificial Mountain to Encourage Rainfall. Now here's an infrastructure project. Here's an excerpt of an eye-popping proposal at Yahoo News: "The United Arab Emirates is used to building landmasses were there were none before, but creating a mountain from scratch is a whole new level. Nonetheless, the UAE is considering precisely that kind of construction. With hopes that it will encourage raincloud development in a country mostly covered in desert, the UAE is looking to build a full-sized artificial mountain. Desert flatlands make it difficult for air to get the upward climb required to collect into rain clouds, but creating a mountain could help bring a certain amount of rain to the otherwise arid region..."



73 F. high temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

66 F. average high on May 3.

83 F. high on May 3, 2015.

May 4, 1926: Morris goes from winter to summer temperatures in one day. The morning low was 32, followed by a high of 89.


TODAY: Sunny, comfortable breeze. Winds: N 10-15. High: 63

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clear and cool. Low: 44

THURSDAY: Sunny - serious case of spring fever returns. Winds: SW 8-13. High: 74

FRIDAY: Hazy sun, almost hot, late-day T-shower? Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 54. High: 82

SATURDAY: AM shower possible, then gradual clearing. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 56. High: 67

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, fine spring day. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 44. High: near 70

MONDAY: More clouds, chance of showers. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 44. High: 66

TUESDAY: More showers, possible thunder. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 53. High: 63


Climate Stories...

Resettling the First American "Climate Refugees". Here's an excerpt from an analysis by The New York Times: "...In January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced grants totaling $1 billion in 13 states to help communities adapt to climate change, by building stronger levees, dams and drainage systems. One of those grants, $48 million for Isle de Jean Charles, is something new: the first allocation of federal tax dollars to move an entire community struggling with the impacts of climate change. The divisions the effort has exposed and the logistical and moral dilemmas it has presented point up in microcosm the massive problems the world could face in the coming decades as it confronts a new category of displaced people who have become known as climate refugees..."

Image credit above: "Isle de Jean Charles in southeastern Louisiana. A $48 million federal grant has been allocated to resettle its residents because of flooding." Credit Josh Haner/The New York Times.


April Joins Parade of Record Global Temperatures, Making It 12 Months in a Row. Here's a clip at The Sydney Morning Herald: "...The largest departures from the norm, though, have been occurring at the poles, especially in the north. Parts of Greenland were 8 degrees warmer than average in April, sparking early-season melting of the giant ice sheets so rapid it prompted scientists to check their instruments weren't broken. Unusual heat over the northern winter meant the Arctic Sea ice extent began at a record low level. With less to start with and warmer seas, the area covered by sea ice is retreating, setting new records every day last month, according to US PhD student, Zack Labe..."


Editorial: A Climate Plan for Conservatives. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at TheLedger.com: "Our planet is now setting records for setting records about the heat. Earth has set monthly heat records for 11 months in a row, a record in itself, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last week. As global warming causes such changes, researchers told the Associated Press that they're worried the public is become desensitized to the drumbeat of broken records. The same could be said for other worrisome trends involving climate change..."


Jimmy Kimmel Tears Into Sarah Palin's "Offensive and Dangerous" Climate Change Denial. Here's a link to the video and story at The Daily Beast: "...We’ve had 15 of the 16 hottest years ever since 2001. That’s not an opinion. It’s a fact,” he added to applause from his audience. “For some reason whether or not humans are contributing to this has become a left versus right issue. The politicians debate it. Our scientists don’t. A huge majority of climate scientists say climate change is happening. They say we’re causing it and we need to do something about it before it has a terrible effect on all of us. There’s no debate about the greenhouse effect, just like there’s no debate about gravity. It someone throws a piano off the roof, I don’t care what Sarah Palin tells you, get out of the way. It’s coming down on your head...”


Scientists Find More Reasons that Greenland Will Melt Faster. Tipping points and "unknown unknowns". Here's a clip from a Chris Mooney story at The Washington Post: "...The more we learn about this crucial yet inscrutable place, the more worrying it seems. The latest exhibit: New research out of Greenland conducted by Dartmouth earth sciences Ph.D. student Kristin Schild and two university colleagues — work that has just been published in the Annals of Glaciology. The study examined the 5.5-kilometer-wide Rink Glacier of West Greenland, with particular focus on how meltwater on the ice sheet’s surface actually finds its way underneath Rink, pours out in the key undersea area described above and speeds up the glacier’s melt..."

Photo credit above: "Photograph of Torsukatat Avannarleq, a tidewater glacier in West Greenland, with 2 visible sediment plumes at its terminus. These plumes are made up of glacier meltwater that has traveled under the glacier, gathering eroded material, and buoyantly floated to the surface after entering the ocean." This photograph was taken in July 2014 by Adam LeWinter, US Army Corps of Engineers, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.


Arctic Sea Ice Monitoring Satellites Are Dying: Here's Why You Should Care. Here's an excerpt of an explanation from Dr. Marshall Shepherd at Forbes: "...Sea ice affects the large scale global ocean circulation patterns as well as weather patterns. Professor Tom Mote is a hydroclimatologist and head of the Geography Department at the University of Georgia. He studies Greenland and other cryospheric processes. He says,

The long-term record of sea ice, in particular, is important to our understanding of the Arctic. Reductions in sea ice amplify warming in the Arctic by increasing the absorption of sunlight (i.e., the ice-albedo feedback). Some scientists believe that a warmer Arctic may change the path of the jet stream, altering weather over further south, including the U.S. (See this paper for a summary of the literature).

Climate models have been conservative with sea ice decline. They have underestimated the amount of change in many cases..."

Graphic credit above: "Actual decline vs model projections." Source: NCA2014.globalchange.gov


Researchers Aim To Put Carbon Dioxide Back to Work. Will someone figure out cost-effective, scalable carbon sequestration? I wouldn't bet against it. Here's the intro to a story at The New York Times: "Think, for a moment, of carbon dioxide as garbage, a waste product from burning fossil fuels. Like other garbage, almost all of that CO2 is thrown away — into the atmosphere, where it contributes to climate change. A small amount is captured and stored underground to keep it out of the air. But increasingly, scientists are asking, rather than throwing away or storing CO2, how about recycling some of it? At laboratories around the world, researchers are working on ways to do just that. The X Prize Foundation has created an incentive, a $20 million prize for teams that by 2020 come up with technologies to turn CO2 captured from smokestacks of coal- or gas-fired power plants into useful products..."


Impact of Warming on Middle East and Northern Africa Could be Devastating. The Daily Mail has an article highlighting new research and projections that made me do a double-take. Yes, I hope the scientists are wrong. Here's an excerpt: "...Lelieveld and his team concluded that if Earth's temperature were to increase on average only be two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industraial times the temperature in summer in these regions will increase more than twofold. By mid-century,  during the warmest periods, temperatures will not fall below 30 degrees at night, and during daytime they could rise to 46 degrees Celsius  (approximately 114 degrees Fahrenheit). By the end of the century, midday temperatures on hot days could even climb to 50 degrees Celsius (approximately 122 degrees Fahrenheit)..."

* More details on the new research here.