In-Between Season

Early April is an awkward time, suspended between winter and spring. The snow and ice is gone, a foot of frost in the ground and shrinking.

Until we green up the risk of fire will be significant; 92 percent of the state in moderate drought is creating a high threat of fire - extreme over central Minnesota. Wednesday's quarter inch of rain was just enough to settle the dust. We need another 2-5 inches to pull out of a deepening drought.<p>If anyone asks (highly doubtful) Wednesday's 84-degree record high was the warmest temperature ever recorded so early in the year in the Twin Cities.

Friday I talked about models printing out plowable snow early next week, an outburst triggered by a combustible mixture of caffeine, sleep deprivation and Chipotle. My meteorology professors would be horrified. "Never mention inch-amounts until 24 hours before a snow event!" Ever. Although the atmosphere will be cold enough for snow the brunt of the moisture passes south (again) with only a small chance of a slush Monday night and early Tuesday.

Light rain showers brush the state Tuesday, again late next week, but not the soaking we need. Models show 60s & 70s returning by mid-April.

Yes, we earn our springs.

Snowfall Potential. 12 KM NAM model guidance from NOAA shows a potential for a little slush by Monday night and Tuesday morning, a couple inches possible near Williston, ND and Green Bay. Temperatures should be cold enough for wet snow or a mix by Monday evening, but moisture will be limited. Graphic: HAMweather.

Fleeting Relapse. Temperatures will be close to average today and Sunday before dipping to early Marchlike levels Monday and Tuesday; struggling to reach 40F in the metro area. The mercury rebounds later next week; 70 degrees a week from Sunday? Graphic: Weatherspark.

Record-Setting April Fools' Day. Hail, precious moisture, wild lightning displays and blowing dirt. Dr. Mark Seeley takes a look at a wild April 1 in the latest edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk; here's an excerpt: "...The weather system that crossed the state on April 1st also brought some hail, rain, and lightning to some areas.  Hail was reported in some counties like Sibley and Stearns.  Thunderstorms brought a quarter to half inch of rainfall to some central and southern Minnesota observers.  Some of the larger amounts included: 0.68 inches at Rochester, 0.66 inches at Grand Meadow, 0.60 inches at Northfield, 0.81 inches at Austin, 0.80 inches at Albert Lea, and 0.62 inches at Mantorville. The moisture did little to relieve the dryness on a statewide basis as the U.S. Drought Monitor placed nearly 92 percent of the state landscape in the moderate drought category this week..."

Ice Jam, Flood Wreaked Havoc in Sartell in '65. 1965 was the same year that EF-4 tornadoes steamrolled from Lake Minnetonka to Fridley, an amazing year, meteorologically. The SC Times has a very good recap and compelling photos that capture historic flooding in central Minnesota; here's the intro: "It's been 50 years now. But Jan Bettenberg can still recall the sound. The then-20-year-old Sartell resident had spent the night in his car alongside the swollen Mississippi River, keeping watch on a massive ice jam that had developed upstream north of the city. Then that April morning in 1965, the jam broke, unleashing the wall of water behind it..."

Photo credit above: "Massive chunks of ice overtake Gordon’s Bridge north of Sartell during April, 1965." (Photo: Courtesy of Stearns History Museum).

Extreme Weather On The Rise. In spite of major swarms of tornadoes or landfalling hurricanes, 2014 was still a very expensive year. Here's an excerpt from The Center for American Progress: "The United States experienced eight severe weather, flood, and drought events in 2014, each causing at least $1 billion in damage across 35 states. Overall, these disasters caused more than $19 billion in damage and took 65 human lives. Building off of previous analysis, the Center for American Progress looked at disaster data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency,  and Aon Benfield over the past four years and found that:

  • There were 42 extreme weather events that each caused at least $1 billion in damage.
  • These extreme weather events caused 1,286 fatalities and $227 billion in economic losses across 44 states..."

Map credit above: NOAA NCDC.

Xenia Tornado A Vivid Memory 41 Years later. WDTN in Dayton, Ohio has the story - here's the introduction: "It only took five minutes.  The damage was widespread and deadly. Friday, April 3, 2015 marks the 41st anniversary of the Xenia tornado. The F-5 tornado swept 300 mile per hour winds through the Greene County city, killing 32 people and injuring more than 1,100 more.  It caused $100-million in damage. Images of homes flattened, trees stripped down to nothing and stunned victims are as fresh today as they were in 1974. Signs of hope promising to rebuild were erected by citizens, scrawled out in spray paint..." (Photo credit: National Weather Service).

92% of Minnesota in Moderate Drought. O.K. To be precise it's 91.94% - up from 88.82% a week ago. A year ago only 18% of the state was in moderate drought. Precipitation has been consistently below average since June of 2014, which was the wettest month, statewide, in recorded Minnesota history. All or nothing. The latest Drought Monitor is here.

March Weather Highlights. Here's an excerpt of a good summary of March weather across the great state of Minnesota from the local DNR:

  • March monthly precipitation totals were below historical averages across Minnesota. Monthly precipitation totals ranged from one-half inch to one and one-half inches below the long-term average.
  • The U. S. Drought Monitor indicates that Moderate Drought conditions exist over 91% of Minnesota's landscape. The lack of snow during the 2014-2015 winter, combined with the dry early-spring weather, has led to precipitation deficits of three to five inches below average across the state since October 1st.
  • Many lakes in the southern one-half of Minnesota are now free of ice. Lake ice-out dates for these lakes were one to two weeks earlier than the historical median.
  • The potential for wildfires is currently rated by DNR Forestry as Very High to Extreme across most of Minnesota. Historically, 80 percent of all wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May.

Western U.S. Cities Had Hottest March on Record. Here's an excerpt from Fox News: "...With less rain and snow to provide water to drought-stricken California, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday ordered officials to impose statewide mandatory water restrictions for the first time. Surveyors found the lowest snow level in the Sierra Nevada snowpack in 65 years of record-keeping. "We've had the same pattern for the past two winters," Boldt said. He said the high pressure "can be knocked out of the way temporarily ... but it pops back into place..."

Californians Who Conserved Fear State Can't Overcome Those Who Did Not. Get ready for Water Wars. Here's a clip from a New York Times article: "...In a state accustomed to cycles of drought and perennial water fights, the need for such drastic cuts has highlighted discord between cities and agricultural water users (who use about 80 percent of the developed water supply), between California’s wetter north that pumps water to its drier south, and between water’s frugal and spendthrift users..."

* At least 37% of the USA is in moderate drought or worse as of March 31. Click here for an animated time line showing the intensification of drought since December.

The Real Cost of California's Drought. Not pricing water correctly - where have we heard that before (CO2). Here's an excerpt from Bloomberg View: "...I've seen a lot of apocalyptic writing about California only having a year of water left (not true),  and I've heard some idle talk about whether California can continue to grow. But California's problem is not that it doesn't have enough water to support its population. Rather, the problem is that its population uses more water than it has to. And the reason people do this is that water in California is seriously underpriced, as Marginal Revolution's Alex Tabarrok notes..."

Photo credit above: "Water sprinklers are used at Heartwell Park in Long Beach, Calif., on Thursday, April 2, 2015. California Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday, ordered a 25 percent overall cutback in water use by cities and towns, but not farms, in the most sweeping drought measures ever undertaken by the nation's most populous state." (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

New Terminology from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. Fox17 has a good explainer recapping some of the new threat levels from SPC; here's a clip: "...The SPC recently added marginal and enhanced to the list. “A marginal risk, which is the first new category is basically an average ordinary thunderstorm day for us here in lower Michigan” explains Jim Maczko warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service of Grand Rapids, “But that each of those thunderstorms will have the potential to produce some damaging winds and maybe large hail. we’re not expecting a big outbreak in that case.” Maczko adds, “Enhanced risk for us is we’re going to have quite a bit of severe weather..."

The EPA, Pesticides and Honey Bee Declines. Here's an update from Huffington Post: "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Thursday it was unlikely to approve new or expanded uses of certain pesticides while it evaluates the risks they may pose to honey bees. The so-called neonicotinoid pesticides are routinely used in agriculture and applied to plants and trees in gardens and parks. But their widespread use has come under scrutiny in recent years after a drop in the number of honey bees and other pollinating insects, which play key roles in food production..."

Stunning Views of Earth From Space. Here's a link to a breathtaking video from the ISS, the International Space Station, courtesy of The New York Times: "The International Space Station is as far as humans go in space these days, but it is at just the right distance to capture astonishing images of Earth."

Everything You Need To Know About Flying Virgin Galactic. For 250K and change you too can venture to the edge of space. 700+ people have already signed up. Vanity Fair explains; here's the intro: "Commercial passenger service to space is a difficult proposition. To succeed, it has to contend with the pull of gravity, violent rocket-propelled accelerations, heavy vibrations, supersonic speeds and shock waves, vertical climbs, the lethality of the outside environment, and the problems of deceleration and heating during re-entry into the atmosphere. It has to do this safely, reliably, repeatedly, and perhaps profitably, while carrying ordinary passengers in ordinary clothes, who, if they are traveling point-to-point, will want to bring along ordinary luggage as well..."

Photo credit above: "Richard Branson in Mojave, California, in 2010. Behind him, SpaceShipTwo hangs from the twin-fuselage mother ship, WhiteKnightTwo." Photograph by Jonas Fredwall Karlsson.

iPhone Killer: The Secret History of the Apple Watch. WIRED has another terrific behind-the-scenes article; here's the intro: "In early 2013, Kevin Lynch accepted a job offer from Apple. Funny thing about the offer: It didn’t say what he would be doing. So intense is Apple’s secrecy that all Lynch knew was his vague title, vice president of technology, and that he’d be working on something completely new..."

Are Aliens Behind Mysterious Radio Bursts? Scientists Weigh In. To paraphrase George Carlin, don't sweat the slush or thundershowers! We may have bigger issues. Cue the theme from X-Files. Here's an excerpt of a head-scratcher of a story at Huffington Post: "What are those things? For the past eight years, astronomers have been scratching their heads over a series of strange radio signals emanating from somewhere in the cosmos. And now, the mystery has deepened. A new study shows that the so-called "fast radio bursts" follow a weirdly specific pattern -- a finding that the researchers behind the study say "is very hard to explain..."

43 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.

51 F. average high on April 3.

40 F. high on April 3, 2014.

+2.7 F. March temperatures in the Twin Cities were nearly 3F. warmer than average.

April 3 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: Twin Cities National Weather Service:

1999: Ice storm hits Duluth and the Arrowhead. An 800 foot television tower in Duluth collapsed due to the weight of the ice.

1982: A sharp cold front causes the temperature at Lamberton in Redwood County to drop from 78 to 7 degrees. This 71 degree change in 24 hours is the maximum 24-hour temperature change in Minnesota.

1837: Snowstorm rages for four days at Ft. Snelling and dumps 9 inches.

TODAY: Clouds increase, milder breeze. Winds: SW 8. High: 55

SATURDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, chilly. Low: 37

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, temperatures close to average. High: 54

MONDAY: Rain may mix with snow at night. Wake-up: 34. High: 41

TUESDAY: A few light rain showers. Wake-up: 38. High: 43

WEDNESDAY: More clouds than sun, a drier day. Wake-up: 33. High: 53

THURSDAY: Mostly gray, rain stays south. Wake-up: 40. High: 56

FRIDAY: Unsettled, showers likely far south. Wake-up: 38. High: 54

Climate Stories....

California Facing Extreme Heat Waves and Rising Seas. The latest edition of "Risky Business", focused on the business risks of climate change, focuses on California. Here's an excerpt of a story summary at Bloomberg Business: "...The average number of days with temperatures higher than 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) may double or even triple by the end of the century, threatening one of the world’s richest agricultural regions. At the same time, $19 billion in coastal property will likely disappear as sea levels rise, the study found. The report is the third from the Risky Business Project, a nonprofit partnership of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Paulson Institute and TomKat Charitable Trust. It suggests California can reduce these risks if policy makers and business leaders cooperate to reduce emissions driving global warming and adapt to climate change..."

* The Risky Business Report focused on California is here.

Epic California Drought is Preview of Future Global Warming Mega-Droughts. Alarmist hype? Stay tuned. Here's an excerpt from an Andrew Freedman story at Mashable: "...There are two crucial differences between the droughts that occurred a millennium ago and modern drought events, however. The first is obvious: There are now about 38 million thirsty Californians living across the state, watering their lawns and golf courses, and irrigating crops in what is the most agriculturally productive state in the country. The second has been clear to climate scientists for years, but is just now gaining more public recognition. We are now seeing the rise of a new, supercharged type of drought, in which global warming-related temperature extremes combine with dry conditions to transform what would otherwise be an ordinary drought event into a far more severe event..."

Photo credit above: "Boats are docked at San Pablo Reservoir Recreation Area in El Sobrante, Calif., Thursday, April 2, 2015. A spokeswoman for the East Bay Municipal Utility District said that the reservoir is about half full. California Gov. Jerry Brown ordered officials Wednesday, April 1, 2015 to impose statewide mandatory water restrictions for the first time in history as surveyors found the lowest snow level in the Sierra Nevada snowpack in 65 years of record-keeping." (AP Photo/Eric Risberg).

Hot Hands: Fingerprints of Climate Change All Over California Drought. Meteorologist Jason Samenow has an explainer at Capital Weather Gang; here's a snippet: "...The added heat from climate warming acts to intensify the drought in important ways:

* When it’s warmer, the evaporation of water speeds up, allowing the ground to heat up faster, which then evaporates more water in a vicious cycle which continues until meaningful rain stops it.

* When it’s warmer, the snow season shortens. In other words, snow starts falling later in the fall and stops falling earlier in the spring, and snowpack declines..."

File photo above: NOAA.

Long-Awaited "Jump" in Global Warming Now Appears "Imminent". The pause in (atmospheric) warming may be ending, according to a post at ThinkProgress; here's the introduction: "We may be witnessing the start of the long-awaited jump in global temperatures. There is “a vast and growing body of research,” as Climate Central explained in February. “Humanity is about to experience a historically unprecedented spike in temperatures.” A March study, “Near-term acceleration in the rate of temperature change,” makes clear that an actual acceleration in the rate of global warming is imminent — with Arctic warming rising a stunning 1°F per decade by the 2020s..."

Graphic credit above: "NASA temperature data dispel the myth of a recent slow-down in long-term warming trend. But there was a big jump in temps during the mid-1990s. Many scientists believe another jump is “imminent.’"

What Do Conservative Policy Intellectuals Think About Climate Change? Grist has the article - here's a link and brief excerpt: "...But what about conservative intellectuals? Do they have anything more to offer? In an attempt to find out, I looked through their op-eds, opinion magazines, and policy journals. I found that most of them fall into three broad categories: those who argue for adaptation instead of trying to stop climate change (the Adapters), the anguished advocates of a carbon tax (the Handwringers), and those who simply deny climate science (the Deans of Denialism)..."

Siberia's Permafrost is Exploding. Is Alaska's Next? Meteorologist Eric Holthaus has the story at Slate; here's an excerpt: "...According to measurements made by Russian scientists, methane concentration at the bottom of one of the holes was thousands of times higher than in the regular atmosphere. A more thorough recent expedition identified “dozens” of new holes, all of which apparently formed in the last year or two. The Siberian holes draw into question the near-term stability of Arctic permafrost, which traps enough carbon, if fully unleashed, to double atmospheric concentrations and potentially push global warming into a frightening new phase..." (File photo: Siberian Times).

Communicating Climate Change: Focus on Solutions. Here's an excerpt of a story at MIT News: "...Such contrasts between rhetoric and action provide a ray of hope, panelists said. Drezen Prelec, the Digital Equipment Corp. Leaders for Global Operations Professor of Management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, said that sudden and unexpected shifts in public opinion — on issues such as smoking and gay marriage — show that rapid changes are possible, even in the face of strong resistance from political leaders. Judith Layzer, a professor of environmental policy in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, said that politicians will begin to take action on issues such as limiting greenhouse-gas emissions when it becomes clear that their constituents take the issue seriously enough to vote accordingly..."

Photo credit above: "During a discussion on communicating climate change, audience members were able to submit questions and respond to poll questions using a smartphone app." Photo: Justin Knight.

Why Corporate America Is Reluctant To Take a Stand on Climate Action. Thank God for leadership from companies like Google, Mars and Starbucks. Here's a snippet of a Guardian story explaining the apparent reluctance of other Fortune 500 companies to back the EPA's new Clean Power Act: "...Silence isn’t neutral,” says Anne Kelly of Ceres, who is organizing companies to support the EPA. The lack of public support could jeopardize the clean power plan, and – if the US isn’t able to make a strong climate commitment as a result – could ultimately undermine the success of the global climate talks in Paris this year. The companies that won’t get involved say it’s because the regulation of power plant emissions is not core to their business. Environmentalists maintain that climate change is everybody’s business..."

Antarctica's Record High Temp Bodes Ill for Ice. Here's a snippet from a Climate Central story: "...A study last year by Scambos and others showed that unusually warm air was likely the trigger of the 2002 collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf. (Warming waters seeping in below ice shelves around the continent have also been linked to thinning over the past few decades.) That precedent makes Scambos and others worried about the fate of the remaining ice shelves of the peninsula. Adding to those worries is research, done in part by the British Antarctic Survey, that suggests Chinook events could become more common or more intense at the peninsula as the westerly winds that whip around the continent intensify, possibly because of climate change..."

Image credit above: "Long-term trends in yearly surface temperatures across Antarctica from 1981-2007."
Credit: NASA

The Arctic Climate Threat That Nobody Is Even Talking About Yet. Positive feedbacks and tipping points. We are in uncharted waters. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "...The emission of carbon from thawing permafrost is what scientists call a “positive feedback.” More global warming could cause more thawing of Arctic permafrost, leading to more emissions of carbon into the atmosphere, leading to more warming and more thawing of Arctic permafrost — this does not end in a good place..."

File photo: USGS.

Social Science are Best Hope For Ending Debates Over Climate Change. In the end it's not about the science or the data or the mounting evidence. It's about how we see the world. So argues an interesting post at The Conversation; here's an excerpt: "...On the one side, this is all a hoax, humans have no impact on the climate and nothing unusual is happening. On the other side, this is an imminent crisis, human activity explains all climate changes, and it will devastate life on Earth as we know it. Amidst this acrimonious din, scientists are trying to explain the complexity of the issue. To reach some form of social consensus on this issue, we must recognize that the public debate over climate change in the United States today is not about carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas models; it is about opposing cultural values and worldviews through which that science is viewed..."

Older Post

Early Ice-Out, Moderate Drought Reaches 92% of Minnesota - Slush Potential Early Next Week

Newer Post

A Chilly & Damp Week - Sliding Into a Wetter Pattern?