Fleeting Flashes of Spring - More Weekend Slush?

Hypothetical question: if Minnesota meteorologists went on strike, would anyone notice - or even care?

If it's any consolation (probably not) I'm just as disgusted and distraught by our perpetual winter as everyone else.

Scanning the 7-Day Weather Outlook has about as much appeal as thumbing through the obituaries. A morbid curiosity about our weather has degenerated into simmering rage. Our summers are short enough. I feel cheated! Yes, I have to agree.

We have good reason to be offended. The first 7 days of April were nearly 19F colder than average. Will the weather-pendulum swing in the opposite (warm) direction by late April? The local National Weather Service reminds us that since January, 2011 60 of the 87 months have been warmer than average in the Twin Cities. Perspective is always elusive.

A run of 50s Wednesday and Thursday give way to heavy rain Friday, and a potential changeover to snow next weekend. More slush is possible. Cue the howls of protest. This too shall pass.

My late mother reminded me not to sweat the things I couldn't change. Sage words of wisdom. 

Please God, No. The forecast for Saturday calls for 1-9", give or take. The reality: it's way too early to be talking about inch-amounts on Saturday. Too many unknowns. But another pile of slush is possible, especially north/west of the Twin Cities. Meteograph: Iowa State University (go Cyclones!)

Weekend Changeover. Too early for specifics, but I think the Twin Cities National Weather Service (graphic above) has the right idea.

Snowfall Since September, 2017. A respectable winter for snow over the northern half of the USA, with over 10 feet piling up downwind of the Great Lakes. Map courtesy of NOAA.

Peaks and Valleys. 50s will feel pretty good Wednesday and Thursday; again late next week - if ECMWF is to be trusted. But the upcoming weekend? 29F on Sunday seems extreme, but this current cold weather blocking pattern has been rather extreme, so all bets are off. Twin Cities forecast: WeatherBell.

Moderating Temperatures? If we say this long enough maybe it will come true. Peering out roughly 2 weeks GFS guidance suggests a cut-off low pressure system over the Mid South, with mild ridging over much of the central USA. I'm not holding my breath, but wouldn't it be nice.

One Can Dream. Will May make up for April's atmospheric indignities? I'm not at all convinced, but at some point this persistent cool phase will give way to a higher sun angle and spring will bust out, probably overnight. May temperatures anomalies: NOAA CFSv2 and WeatherBell.

A Simmering El Nino? It's much too early to say with any accuracy, but it's not hard to believe that the current La Nina (cool) phase may swing to an El Nino (warm) phase later this year. If (and it's a big if) this actually happens the odds of next winter being relatively mild just went up.

Should We Be Concerned About “WinterKill”? Here's an excerpt of a timely story at Patch.com: "Cold, long winters with lots of snowfall (sound familiar?) can lead to fish die-offs. It's been happening throughout the Minnesota this year, in lakes near Brainerd, Hinckley and in the Twin Cities. "While seeing lots of dead fish can be disconcerting, we remind people that winterkill is normal and happens every year to some extent," Neil Vanderbosch, DNR fisheries program consultant, said in a statement. Once a lake is capped with ice, the amount of dissolved oxygen present in a lake depends on how much oxygen is produced by aquatic plants..."

Weatherwise, It's Already Been a Disastrous Start to the Year in the U.S. USA Today has the story: "Weatherwise, it's already been a disastrous start to the year in the U.S., even before the tornado season ramps up and long before any direct hits from hurricanes. In just the first three months of year, the U.S. has endured three separate weather disasters that each caused at least $1 billion in damages, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Friday. The events included a severe storm outbreak in the Southeast in March and two winter storms in the central and eastern U.S. in January and March. At $1.8 billion in damages, the costliest event so far was the nor'easter that walloped the Northeast on March 1-3, killing 9 people. The damage from the storm was due to high winds, heavy snow and coastal erosion, NOAA said..."

Photo credit: "This photo provided by Johnny Tribble shows a damaged house after a tornado, Tribble said, passed the area in Ardmore, Ala., Monday." (Photo: Johnny Tribble, AP)

Tim Samaras Became a TV Star Driving Into Tornadoes; a Dallas Writer Explains What Happened Next. Check out a book review at Dallas News: "...In this new biography, Dallas-based writer Brantley Hargrove explores Samaras's rise to storm-chasing legend. Many of the details are familiar to anyone who follows the field: How Samaras became entranced with tornadoes while watching The Wizard of Oz as a kid. How he first joined and then clashed with academic scientists, who deployed storm-chasing fleets in direct competition with Samaras's small team. How he began selling dramatic tornado videos to help finance his shoestring operation. But Hargrove finds fresh stories to tell. With access to Samaras's family, he illuminates the personal demands of storm-chasing — including how Samaras's wife dealt with his dangerous work, and questioned whether he should be taking his sons along for the ride..."

Image credit: "The Man Who Caught the Storm, by Brantley Hargrove. (Simon and Schuster).

We're Not Ready for Hurricane Season, and It's 6 Weeks Away. Eric Holthaus takes a look a preparation in a story at Grist: "...Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico are still recovering from last year’s devastating hurricane season, the most destructive in U.S. history. And it looks like another rough hurricane season is just eight weeks away. Forecasters at Colorado State University released their “extended range” pre-season hurricane forecast on Thursday, and it’s not pretty. The combination of a weak La Niña in the Pacific Ocean and warmer than average waters in the Atlantic Ocean means this year’s hurricane season is likely to be slightly more active than normal, with a greater than average chance of major storms hitting the U.S. mainland, Caribbean islands, and Central America. These early forecasts (sponsored in part by a few insurance companies) have shown decent skill in predicting whether a season is going to be more or less active..."

Hurricane Maria Storm Report. Here is NOAA NHC's evaluation of the major hurricane that ravaged Puerto Rico with Category 4 force winds.

Here's How a Few People Knew the Strongest Earthquake in Years Was About to Hit LA. Buzzfeed explains: "...The select few who received an early heads-up that shaking was about to begin Thursday are beta testers for an app called QuakeAlert. Josh Bashioum, whose company Early Warning Labs built the app, told BuzzFeed News that hundreds of alerts went out across Southern California, giving users "anywhere from just a few seconds to tens of seconds" of lead time before the shaking reached them. "Today was a huge success," Bashioum said. "We saw the threshold filters work extremely well." Though the number of people who have access to QuakeAlert is still small — those hoping to receive the alerts have to sign up for access — Bashioum said that the plan is to roll it out on a large scale this summer..."

Apple Now Runs on 100% Renewable Energy, And Here's How it Got There. Fast Company has details: "You have to see Apple’s Reno, Nevada, data center from the inside to truly understand how huge it is. It’s made up of five long white buildings sitting side by side on a dry scrubby landscape just off I-80, and the corridor that connects them through the middle is a quarter-mile long. On either side are big, dark rooms–more than 50 of them–filled with more than 200,000 identical servers, tiny lights winking in the dark from their front panels. This is where Siri lives. And iCloud. And Apple Music. And Apple Pay. Powering all these machines, and keeping them cool, takes a lot of power–constant, uninterrupted, redundant power. At the Reno data center, that means 100% green power from three different Apple solar farms..."

Photo credit: "Apple Park’s enormous roof is covered with solar panels." [Photo: Carlos Chavarria]

Why are Electric Cars So Much Harder to Build Than Reusable Rockets? Quartz has an interesting take on SpaceX vs. Tesla; here's an excerpt: "...The world makes very few rockets, and it makes a lot of cars. In 2017, there were 90 orbital rocket launches in the world; SpaceX was responsible for 18. The same year, global carmakers built 73 million cars; Tesla made about 100,000. Tesla, rather than entering a stagnant market, entered one of the most competitive on earth, facing off not only against domestic competitors like Ford and GM, but also global giants like Volkswagen, Toyota, and Hyundai that have spent decades developing ultra-efficient plants that make 5,000 cars or more each week. Tesla’s growing pains have lately focused on the challenge of catching up to these automated mass-production systems; Tesla is currently churning out 2,200 Model 3 sedans a week with significant back-orders to fulfill..."

Image credit: "Making it look easy." (SpaceX)

Here's the AI Documentary Elon Musk Thinks is Essential Viewing. I had a chance to watch this last weekend and it is, in fact, essential viewing. Big Think has the links and story: "...Forgive me for saying it at the beginning of a tech article, but Elon Musk is a massive hipster in that if he's really into something, he's going to broadcast it. And it's absolutely going to catch on with the rest of the world. On his Twitter account on Thursday evening, he blasted a documentary he is both in and thinks is accurate. Want to watch it? Click here. The documentary - Do you trust this computer - is particularly relevant given Facebook's ongoing Cambridge Analytica scandal. With so much data being pumped into companies like Google and Facebook, the world has to wonder just what those companies are doing with that information. Elon's tweet even goes as far to say "Nothing will affect the future of humanity more than digital super intelligence." So should we be scared?..."

Facebook's Surveillance is Nothing Compared to Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. It almost makes you want to unplug - but connected life is so damn convenient! Here's a clip from The Guardian: "...The thing is, Facebook isn’t the only company that amasses troves of data about people and leaves it vulnerable to exploitation and misuse. As of last year, Congress extended the same data-gathering practices of tech companies like Google and Facebook to internet providers like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. Because service providers serve as gatekeepers to the entire internet, they can collect far more information about us, and leave us with far less power to opt out of that process. This means that the risks of allowing our internet providers to collect and monetise the same type of user data that Facebook collects – and the potential that such data will therefore be misused – are much, much worse. Your internet provider doesn’t just know what you do on Facebook – it sees all the sites you visit and how much time you spend there..."

38 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities. (Insert special expletive here)

55 F. average high on April 9.

72 F. high on April 9, 2017.

April 10, 1977: A record high of 86 is set at Redwood Falls.

TUESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Winds: SW 8-13. High: 43

TUESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 31

WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, few showers late? Winds: SE 8-13. High: 51

THURSDAY: Drying out with intervals of sun. Winds: NE 5-10. High: 52

FRIDAY: Rain may be heavy. Few T-storms? Winds: E 15-25. Wake-up: 39. High: 48

SATURDAY: Rain may change to wet snow. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 34. High: 36

SUNDAY: Light snow tapers to flurries. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 28. High: 34

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy. Please send help. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 27. High: 39

Climate Stories...

The Sky's the Limit. My thanks to Stuart Sudak at Southwest Metro Magazine for stopping by for a chat. here's an excerpt of his recent story: "...I can’t say I celebrate Earth Day, but I certainly acknowledge that we have an obligation as Christians to pay attention and see the world as it is, not as we think it should be,” he says. Douglas knows there is much skepticism among Evangelicals and conservatives on climate change. He at one time was skeptical, too. But, the weather patterns he noticed in the late 1990s and early 2000s swayed him. “A warmer atmosphere holds more water like a sponge sucking up more moisture,” he says. “And when the water comes down, it’s coming down harder and faster and longer. And it isn’t a climate model. It’s based on Doppler [Radar], and it’s based on water in your rain gauge. The rain is falling harder in Minnesota.” Douglas co-wrote in 2016 the book, Caring for Creation: The Evangelical’s Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment with the Rev. Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN). The book’s goal is to reach out to conservatives with “climate change messaging that resonates,” he says..."

Oil Companies Appear Willing to Do More in Face of Climate Change. Axios explains: "Oil companies of many stripes have gone out of their way to talk about climate change at CERAWeek, the big oil industry conference in Houston — reflecting a significant shift in the industry. Why it matters: Years ago the struggle between climate change activists and oil companies was around the underlying science and getting companies to accept the role that fossil fuels play and that action is necessary. Now the call throughout the oil and gas sector is to become part of the solution. Not everyone is there yet, and even among those who are, the pace required to transition the world’s energy system and to meet global climate targets is simply daunting, a path often often marked by uncertain commercially viability. Yet many large international oil companies are beginning to invest in the transition to a low-carbon future. Smaller oil and gas companies are recognizing the shareholder-driven need to evaluate climate change as a potential risk facing their business..."

Climate Change a Risk to National Security, Retired Navy Officer Says. Actually, Dave Titley is a retired Rear Admiral for the U.S. Navy (and a friend). Here's an excerpt of an interview he gave to Wisconsin's Post Crescent: "...A threat has intent. A risk is something that happens. The climate isn’t saying, “How can I set out to screw the United States.” It doesn’t. I tell people: the ice just melts. We’re always dealing with risks. The climate doesn’t have malevolent intent like, arguably, Russia might have toward the U.S. It’s simply changing and if we don’t adjust to that change, like almost anything if you don’t adjust to the change, bad things happen to you. Take a look at the sea level rise in places like Florida. At some point, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, all those places in south Florida basically become unlivable. The long-term property values go to zero. If you look at that happening along the coastlines, that could make the Great Recession look like a cakewalk..."

How a Small Start-Up Firm Wants to Revitalize Climate Change Research. Jason Samenow reports at Capital Weather Gang: "Where the Trump administration sees waste, the small but rapidly expanding Silicon Valley climate services firm Jupiter Intel sees opportunity. Jupiter announced Monday it is launching a community science program to invest in academic climate research, the same kind of research the president’s fiscal 2017 and 2018 budgets placed on the chopping block. In an intriguing demonstration of what may become a more common funding model in coming years, Jupiter named Columbia University as its initial collaborator. Jupiter, which offers tools to help customers manage the risks of climate change, is funding several projects at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, whose research evaluates many of these same risks. The two parties said they believe the collaboration will build a mutually beneficial partnership, while putting society in a better position to deal with the consequences of climate change..."

Which Cities are Most Vulnerable to Climate Change Conflict? Pacific Standard has details: "...Sherri Goodman, a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center and the United States' former deputy undersecretary of defense for environmental security, coined the term "threat multiplier" to describe how climate change accelerates security risks. She said water stress is a source of instability around the globe. "When there is a shortage or scarcity of water, it can be used to make people vulnerable and can be used by combatants, terrorists, or others to put innocents in precarious positions for exploitation, to force migration, and to target vulnerable populations," Goodman said. "You can see that that's happened now in Yemen. You can see the patterns of prolonged drought in Syria, which forced migration." Where else could climate change prove especially destabilizing? Experts say the cities below are among those most at risk of climate-related conflict. The good news is that at least two of them are taking measures to prevent it..."

Trump's EPA Chief Betrays Pro-Life Values. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Christian Post: "...Our nation has provided subsidies for almost 100 years to the fossil fuel industries. Yet the most egregious costs are hidden in the bodies of our children. Over 100 toxic chemicals are emitted as a direct result of fossil fuel combustion that directly damage human health. These include: polyaromatic hydrocarbons; arsenic; lead and mercury; carcinogens like benzene; and fine particles that are all inhaled and harm vital organs including the heart, lungs, and brain. Nearly 4 million kids go to school within a half mile of oil and gas facilities, exposing them to airborne toxins throughout the day. Up to 40% of babies born to mothers living within that same half mile of gas facilities are born early, have low birth weights, and have increased risks to birth defects, cancers, and other life-long health hazards. Yet the Trump Administration's EPA and BLM have decided to halt common-sense standards to limit the methane leaks, defend our kids, and save industry money..."

File image: Wikipedia.

Climate Impacts: Summaries and links via Climate Nexus: "Report: Indiana faces significant climate challenges (Greensburg Daily News), Another reason climate change is a public health nightmare: Allergies. (Grist), Seattle thinks it knows rain. Climate change begs to differ. (CityLab), Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas facing tornado and wildfire threats (AP), Here's how climate change could make air travel even worse Popular Mec

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