Postcard-Worthy Weather on Mother's Day 2017

"It's not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it" said Dorothy in "The Golden Girls". I'm dating myself. Today we celebrate our miraculous mothers, although in truth that should happen every day.

My late mom (Grace) was a disciplinarian, but kind - slow to anger. She pushed me (cello lessons, sports, Boy Scouts) and I quickly discovered what I was good at, what I loved. She never gave me a guilt trip for not setting out on a different path (doctor/lawyer/engineer). She loved me for what I was, warts and all. In this life that's all one can hope for.

The mercury approaches 80 degrees today with fading sun and a gentle southeast breeze. Dew points are in the 50s - still comfortable out there. That's about to change.

A surge of southern moisture fueling a slow-motion front sparks roving gangs of showers and T-storms this week. Many farms, gardens & lawns will pick up 1-3 inches of rain by Saturday. With any luck things dry out one week from today.

By Tuesday the dew point reaches 70 F, meaning TWICE as much water in the air as right now. The first sweaty front!

Soaking Storms. A few waves of showers and T-storms are likely from Monday into Saturday; some 2-3" rainfall amounts not out of the question over the next week. Graphic: Twin Cities National Weather Service.

84-Hour Rainfall Potential. The data visualized above is from NOAA's 12 KM NAM model, showing a 2-3" bullseye over coastal New England; central Minnesota into the North Woods of Wisconsin, and the highest terrain of the Pacific Northwest. Accumulated rainfall graphic:

New England Nor'easter. What month is this again, May or March? Residents of New England have to be wondering that right now. After freakish warmth during the (winter) spring has been less than ideal. Today's worst weather award goes to Boston, Nashua and Portland, where winds will gust over 30 mph with a persistent wind and wave fetch capable of coastal flooding. The pattern looks ripe for T-storms capable of flooding rain for the Upper Midwest Monday into Wednesday as a front temporarily stalls, waves of low pressure sparking repeated waves of heavy T-storms. Showers lighten up over the Pacific Northwest with a risk spying the sun, but more heavy rain returns by Monday. Graphic:

One Wet Week. GFS model runs are fairly consistent, hinting at 2-3" rainfall amounts this week in the Twin Cities, spaced out over 6 sloppy days. Sounds like a party.

3 Warm Days, Then a Minor Correction. ECMWF data for the Twin Cities suggests 80s Tuesday as the warm sector surges north, setting the stage for what may be a severe storm outbreak Tuesday afternoon or evening. Too early for specifics, but many of the necessary ingredients are brewing. We cool down as the week goes on, but 70s are forecast to return by the middle of next week.

Warm Memorial Day for Much of USA. It sure looks that way; the 2-month guest-cast suggesting strong ridging across America, with the sorry exception of the Pacific Northwest, where cool, soggy weather may hang on. Cut-off low over Nashville? Who knows.

Rapid Progress in Planting. After a slow start due to rain, chilly weather (and a late-season snow) Dr. Mark  Seeley reports farmers are making up for lost time. Here's an excerpt from this week's Minnesota WeatherTalk: "...The USDA reported that as of May 7th Minnesota farmers had planted over a third of the corn acreage in this state, and some of the soybean acreage. Since that time, we have recorded a string of warm, sunny days that have dramatically accelerated the pace of planting around the state. Since May 7th, temperatures have been averaging 3 to 6 degrees F warmer than normal, precipitation has been relatively light and farmers have been putting in 12 to 16 hour work days. I suspect by next week over two-thirds of the corn crop will be planted and a significant fraction of soybeans will be in the ground as well. Soil temperatures are now ranging in the 50s and 60s F, suitable for rapid germination of both corn and soybean crops..."

Map credit: Aeris AMP.

Two Catastrophic Floods in Less Than Two Years Wasn't Just a Case of Bad Luck. Turns out it was a convergence of factors. Some perspective  on recent flooding at St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "...Extreme bouts of precipitation don’t always translate to extreme floods, owing to a variety of factors such as soil moisture. Nonetheless, flood risk is rising with episodes of heavy rainfall becoming more common in the Midwest, says Ken Kunkel, a professor who researches extreme weather at North Carolina State University and is also involved with the National Climate Assessment. “Every decade has been higher than the previous decade in terms of these events,” Kunkel said. He says studies link more frequent downpours to rising global temperatures, which add more water vapor to the atmosphere, increasing the potential for precipitation whenever a storm system comes along. “They’ve got more fuel to work with, with more water vapor,” Kunkel said..."

Photo credit: David Carson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Thousand-Year Flood for Missouri? Here's an excerpt of an analysis at Climate Signals: "A major slow-moving storm brought heavy rains, dangerous winds, tornadoes, and flooding across much of the central US beginning April 28. States from Oklahoma to Indiana recorded extreme three-day rainfall totals of 5 to 11 inches.[1] Eastern Texas saw two EF-3 tornadoes and Kansas experienced a rare late-season blizzard.  An impressively large area of 100- to 1,000-year rains hammered Missouri[2][4] and the Ozarks were hit by record-shattering flood crests. At least 20 people have been killed.[3] Climate change is amplifying rainfall across all storm types. One of the clearest changes in the weather across the globe and in the US is the increasing frequency and intensity of heavy rain and snow. A warmer atmosphere holds more water, and storms supplied by climate change with increasing moisture are widely observed to produce heavier rain and snow..."

Despite Warnings, Drivers Continue to Die on Flooded Roads. And most of those fatalities occur in vehicles, according to U.S. News:  "...Data compiled by Shea shows that 595 Americans have died in floodwater since 2011. A few fell into rivers or drowned while fishing on flooded waterways. And some children died playing too close to high water. But 61 percent of victims died in vehicles, often after driving around barriers or ignoring signs warning them to turn back. Texas, with its vast rural areas and many waterways, has had more flood-related deaths than any other state since 2011. Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said too many people underestimate the power of water and "think emergencies and disasters happen to somebody else..."

File photo: AP.

How to Survive a Flash Flood. There's some very good information (you pray you'll never need) at lifehacker: "...If the water comes at your vehicle suddenly and you have no time to get away, you need to get out as quickly as possible. If you’re stuck and the water is rising, unbuckle your seatbelt, roll down your windows, break them with a specialized tool, or kick them out to allow water to flow freely into the vehicle. If you don’t, you won’t be able to open your doors because nearly 2,000 pounds of pressure will be pushing against it. Once water comes in and the pressure equalizes on both sides—which will take less than a minute—you’ll be able to open the car doors or swim out of the window opening. Abandon your car and move to higher ground following the on-foot rules explained above..."

File photo: Virginia Department of Transportation.

Last Friday Was 20th Anniversary of "Great Miami Tornado". Here's a video link and story from NBC 6 in South Florida: "Friday marks the 20th anniversary of the infamous twister known as the "Great Miami Tornado." The F1 tornado was eight miles long with winds between 100 to 120 mph when it struck on May 12, 1997..."

Traumatized by Hail. Check out the video from a recent hailstorm in Colorado, featured at Holy Kaw!,  and ask yourself how you would have handled this: "As if having four kids in the car in the school pickup line wasn’t bad enough, this mom then had to keep things calm as hail smashed the windows of her minivan and chaos ensued. The storm in Golden, Colorado only lasted a few minutes, but that was enough to do some serious damage.

I was outside of the elementary school waiting to pick up my first grader, and just as the bell rang the sky started assaulting us with giant hail balls of doom. The hail storm came out of nowhere, and we are very thankful none of the kids had been released from school before the hail began falling. The Honda Odyssey is battered and broken, but the kids are all safe..."

Simple Math is Why Elon Musk's Companies Keep Doing What Others Don't Even Consider Possible. I'm convinced Mr. Musk is from a different galaxy, sent here to save us from ourselves. Here's an excerpt at Quartz: "...Does it all add up? “Nothing is impossible, but all of it is very difficult,” says Gregory Hauser, a civil engineer at Dragados who recently managed the replacement of Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct, the largest underground highway project in the US. “I think [The Boring Company] is on par with SpaceX.” Hauser said Musk’s calculations elide serious technical complexities, and today’s technologies are not up to the job. But after 40 years of incremental innovation, most of it from outside the US, “I’m all for it,” he said. “The industry needs new thinking and technology.” Executing on these ideas will require the world’s most advanced engineering, but spotting unexpected solutions just takes an uncommon clarity of mind..."

Photo credit: "A slightly different perspective." (SpaceX)

A Quest to Measure Happiness Is Missing a Key Metric. It's not just about money, but opportunity and upward mobility, argues a post at Quartz: "...A lack of opportunity, real or perceived, was at the heart of these revolts against the status quo, Porter said. Though by many measures people in the West are wealthy, they felt lack of opportunity—in work or the ability to plan for the future—which led to deep discontent. “I think the issue across many societies now is shared prosperity. And what we’re finding is this polarization, or these gaps forming,” Porter said. Of the key variables connected to social progress, opportunity was the least correlated to GDP per capita. It’s not just about poverty: Gaps in richer societies also figure in. Income inequality has become a well-recognized global problem in recent years. But the fact that there isn’t a direct correlation between wealth inequality and unhappiness supports Porter’s view that it’s about a lot more than money..."

Graphic above: Ariel Costa for Quartz.

The Local News Business Model. Yes, there is a future for (smaller/focused) newspapers creating unique local content, argues a post at Stratechery: "...It is very important to clearly define what a subscriptions means. First, it’s not a donation: it is asking a customer to pay money for a product. What, then, is the product? It is not, in fact, any one article (a point that is missed by the misguided focus on micro-transactions). Rather, a subscriber is paying for the regular delivery of well-defined value. Each of those words is meaningful:

  • Paying: A subscription is an ongoing commitment to the production of content, not a one-off payment for one piece of content that catches the eye.
  • Regular Delivery: A subscriber does not need to depend on the random discovery of content; said content can be delivered to to the subscriber directly, whether that be email, a bookmark, or an app.
  • Well-defined Value: A subscriber needs to know what they are paying for, and it needs to be worth it.

This last point is at the crux of why many ad-based newspapers will find it all but impossible to switch to a real subscription business model..."

ESPN Reporters Say They're Not Going to "Stick to Sports". Wait, now ESPN is liberal? Huffington Post has an interesting story: "...Conservatives’ perceptions of ESPN’s politics may come from the outspokenness of some of the network’s reporters, analysts and personalities on social media. But the company is also aiming to maintain its place as, in Schaap’s words, “the source of record on sports news.” And from a journalistic perspective, that requires covering stories like Sam’s and Kaepernick’s, which bridge the gaps between sports, politics and social issues ― especially as those subjects become increasingly intertwined. “Our country has become a lot more politicized over the last year and a half, two years, than it has been in a long time,” Schaap said. “Sports has become a lot more politicized in the last three or four years than it has been in the past. That’s a story we’ve covered: the engagement of athletes...”

For the Weather Nerd In Your Life. The folks at Helicity Designs have done a really good job with this site. This is the first time I've ever seen Doppler radar tennis shoes. Great selection of T-shirts and apparel as well. I hope they do well (I have my order in too).

80 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Saturday.

69 F. average high on May 13.

50 F. high on May 13, 2016.

May 14, 2013: Minneapolis sets a record high temperature of 98 degrees, breaking the previous record of 95 set in 1932.

MOTHER'S DAY: Fading sun, very nice. Hug your mother. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 78

SUNDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, milder. Low: 60

MONDAY: Sticky, few strong T-storms. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 75

TUESDAY: Dew point near 70F. Few severe thunderstorms? Winds: S 15-25. Wake-up: 64. High: 84

WEDNESDAY: More heavy showers and T-storms. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 65. High: 76

THURSDAY: Showers taper, some PM clearing. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 56. High: 70

FRIDAY: More T-storms push in from the south. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 57. High: 69

SATURDAY: Showery rains, wetter day of weekend. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 54. High: 67

Climate Stories...

Study: Chicago's Forests Threatened by Climate Change. Minnesota is experiencing similar trends. Here's an excerpt from a story at Chicago Today, courtesy of WTTW-TV: "A first-of-its-kind study shows that forests in Chicago and surrounding areas face significant threats from climate change, with native trees especially vulnerable to increases in temperature, precipitation and other changes. In conducting the study, a team led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service evaluated a 7-million-acre area covering parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Researchers documented past and current conditions, summarized potential impacts of climate change on urban forests and outlined strategies for municipalities, park districts and forest preserve districts to manage the changes. One of the study’s key findings was that 15 percent of tree species in the region have either moderately high or high vulnerability to climate change..."

Photo credit: Flickr / Laura Marie.

Ocean Acidification. Not a theory, model or forecast, but a reality today. Graphic: Skeptical Science.

Zonal Mean Temperature Change in Observations and Models. Here is a very effective graphic, showing observed vs. predicted temperatures by latitude. All in all the climate models have done a remarkably good job. Here's an excerpt from Climate Lab Book: "...The figure below shows the zonal mean from observations (left) and the average of many different climate models (right). The different coloured lines represent every year from 1861-2016. The dashed horizontal lines indicate the 1.5°C and 2°C global temperature targets suggested by the UNFCCC in the Paris Agreement. An animated version is available by clicking on the image, which also extends the model simulations to 2100 with a medium emissions scenario (RCP4.5). The observations clearly show more variability from year-to-year. This is to be expected as by taking the average of the models we are removing variability from the simulated panel. For example, the observed warming due to the large El Nino of 1877-78 can be seen, along with the warming in the Arctic in the 1940s and subsequent cooling. These are examples of natural variations occurring on top of the long-term trend..."

* thanks to AerisWeather modeling genius Patrick Francis for passing this post along.

Intelligence Community to Trump: When it Comes to Global Warming, You're Wrong. Here's an excerpt of a story at Mashable: "Each year the intelligence community puts together a "Worldwide Threat Assessment" report, and it inevitably scares the hell out of Congress and the public by detailing all the dangers facing the U.S. (Hint: there are a lot of them.) This year's report, published Thursday and discussed at a congressional hearing, makes for a particularly disquieting reading. While it focuses on the increasing danger that North Korea's nuclear weapons program poses as well as cyberterrorism threats, one environmental concern stands out on the list: climate change. According to the new report, delivered to the Senate Intelligence Committee by Dan  Coats, the direction of national  intelligence (DNI), warns that climate change is raising the likelihood of instability and conflict around the world..."

Photo credit: "Norfolk Naval Base, the largest in the world, is experiencing flooding from sea level rise." Image: U.S. Navy/Shutterstock.

U.S. Endorses Global Action to Curb Greenhouse Gases at Arctic Summit. Here's a clip from a recap at Climate Home: "The US has endorsed global action to reduce greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants, at a meeting of the Arctic Council. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson signed a declaration along with seven other foreign ministers in Fairbanks, Alaska on Thursday. The statement merely noted the entry into force of the Paris climate deal. The Trump administration has yet to decide whether to continue US participation or quit the agreement. International declarations signed by the previous administration, such as the 2016 G20 leaders communique, went further, recommitting to pledges made under the accord..."

Photo credit: "US secretary of state Rex Tillerson at the Arctic Council meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska." (Pic: Arctic Council Secretariat/Linnea Nordström).

Climate Change is Unraveling Natural Cycles in the West. High Country News reports: "...This follows a growing trend. According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, from 1950 to 2005, spring shifted about eight days earlier in the Western United States, due to climate change. “This trend matters because of what it means for a lot of ecosystem processes and interactions between organisms,” says Kathy Gerst, research scientist with the USA-NPN. “Plants may flower earlier, but other organisms may respond to different cues, or to the same cues in different ways...”

Map credit: USA-National Phenology Network and the  U.S. Geological Survey. Illustration by Brooke Warren/High Country News.

U.S. Spy Agencies Wimp Out on Science of Climate Change, But Still Say It's a Security Threat. Science AAAS reports: "...The 2017 Worldwide Threat Assessment, delivered to Congress today by Daniel Coats, U.S. director of national intelligence, is a 32-page rundown of global and regional threats that the nation’s spy agencies believe demand attention from policymakers. Along with familiar warnings about terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and cyberattacks, the report flags a number of science-related issues. On climate change, the intelligence agencies go out of their way to state that “we assess national security Implications of climate change but do not adjudicate the science of climate change.” That’s a big change from last year’s blunt assertion that “human activities, such as the generation of greenhouse gas emissions and land use, have contributed to extreme weather events including more frequent and severe tropical cyclones, heavy rainfall, droughts, and heat waves...”

* The 32 page 2017 Worldwide Threat Assessment is here.

Disappearing Montana Glaciers a "Bellwether" of Melting to Come? NPR reports: "The glaciers in Montana's Glacier National Park are rapidly disappearing. Some have been reduced by as much as 85 percent over the past 50 years, while the average loss is 39 percent, according to a new study from the U.S. Geological Survey and Portland State University. The researchers looked at historic trends for 39 glaciers, 37 of which are found in the park. The other two are on U.S. Forest Service land. The stark data actually calls into question whether all of these formations are still glaciers. In fact, the scientists found that only 26 of them are still larger than 25 acres — a common benchmark for determining whether a mass of ice is classified as a glacier..."

Image credit: "Boulder Glacier in 1932 (left) and in 2005." T.J. Hileman/Glacier; NPGreg Pederson/USGS.

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