Welcome Spring Showers and Thundershowers

"May, more than any other month of the year, wants us to feel most alive" wrote Fennel Hudson. Just think, 2 weeks ago we were clawing out from under 1-2 feet of snow; despondent over a mid-April blizzard. Today we're watching our yards green up, tracking showers on Doppler, wagering on when the ice will come off of our favorite lake.

With any luck Mother Nature should take the edge off this dry phase: a few NOAA models print out over half an inch of rain tonight. A few isolated storms may approach severe limits today, but most of us will enjoy generic, garden-variety showers and T-storms, with a few showers straggling into Thursday before skies begin to dry out.

Amazingly, the weekend looks pretty nice with 60s and a lack of weather-drama. ECMWF guidance hints at 80F early next week, and what may be the first real severe outbreak next Tuesday. We'll see.

It may be wishful thinking but the GFS model shows 80s to near 90F by the middle of May; a month that's
forecast to be warmer than average. Yes please. April was 10F colder than normal.

Time for a change in the weather. 




More Minnesota Lakes Experience Ice Outs. Here's the latest from the Minnesota DNR: "The definition of lake ice out can vary from lake to lake. For the citizen observers reporting data, ice out occurs when the lake is completely free of ice. Or, it may be when it is possible to navigate from point A to point B. Ice out may also be when a lake is 90 percent free of ice. Observers use consistent criteria from year to year when reporting lake ice out dates..."


Consistent 60s and 70s. What happened? I was just digging out from a freak blizzard? Not an arctic front in sight, according to ECMWF. Courtesy: WeatherBell.


7-Day Rainfall Potential. 2-3"+ over portions of Iowa? That seems believable, and I agree that the heaviest rainfall amounts will come over southeastern Minnesota this week. Bring on the rain. Map: NOAA.


Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast. A colleague at Praedictix forwarded this link along from the Minnesota DNR, helping farmers apply (long pause) manure, based on the risk of heavy rain and runoff. the definition of a crappy forecast. For every problem there's a potential solution right? "The Minnesota Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast (RRAF) system is a tool designed to help farmers and commercial applicators determine the best time to apply manure. Precipitation, snow melt or other conditions can cause recently applied manure to move off target. The movement can decrease productivity and increase the risk of impairing local bodies of water. This model takes into account soil moisture content, forecast precipitation and temperatures, snow accumulation and melt to predict the likelihood of daily, next day, and 72 hour runoff events. Farmers and commercial applicators use an interactive map to locate their field and find the forecasted risk..."

The latest map/index for Minnesota is here.


An Opposite Swing in the Weather Pendulum? My confidence level is quite low, but NOAA's CFSv2 climate model is (fairly consistently) showing warmer than average temperature anomalies for much of North America this month. Place your bets. Map: WeatherBell.



Minneapolis Sets Goals for 100% Renewable Energy. A worthy goal, and there's a high probability the city will save money for residents in the process. Here's an excerpt from The City of Minneapolis: "The Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey set goals today for Minneapolis to move to 100 percent renewable electricity: for municipal facilities and operations by 2022 and citywide by 2030. These goals serve as a strategy to meet the City’s aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction and climate change goals by moving away from fossil fuels. The resolution responds to overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is a real and existential threat to human civilization and is caused primarily by the combustion of fossil fuels. The City opposes the rollback of climate policy at the federal level and reaffirms its ongoing commitment to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. “An effective way to make sure that energy remains affordable and that our transition to clean energy meets the needs of those most marginalized and historically impacted by pollution is persistent, intentional community engagement from a wide range of people,” said Mayor Jacob Frey..."



Production Cost of Renewable Energy Now "Lower" Than Fossil Fuels. It's happening, as reported by Forbes: "For the first time in history, the production cost of renewables is lower than that of fossil fuels, an industry asset manager has claimed. In a recent note to its clients, Hamburg, Germany-based Kaiserwetter Energy Asset Management, wrote that its "internal analysis" – based on data from Bloomberg, The Frankfurt School, Renewable Cost Database of the International Agency for Renewable Energy (IRENA) and UN Environment – puts fossil fuels generated energy costs in the range of $49 and $174 per MWh (Megawatt hours) in G20 energy markets in 2017. Over a comparable period, renewable energy production came in between $35 and $54 per MWh. Breaking the data down further, Kaiserwetter said the international average cost for hydroelectric projects were more than $50 per MWh, wind power was $51 per MWh, and photovoltaic solar energy was $54 per MWh on average..."


Bill Gates Calls on U.S. to Lead Fight Against a Pandemic That Could Kill 33 Million. The Washington Post reports: "Bill Gates says the U.S. government is falling short in preparing the nation and the world for the “significant probability of a large and lethal modern-day pandemic occurring in our lifetimes.” In an interview this week, the billionaire philanthropist said he has raised the issue of pandemic preparedness with President Trump since the 2016 presidential election. In his most recent meeting last month, Gates said he laid out the increasing risk of a bioterrorism attack and stressed the importance of U.S. funding for advanced research on new therapeutics, including a universal flu vaccine, which would protect against all or most strains of influenza..."

Image credit: "The Gates Foundation released an animation April 27, showing what would occur if a highly contagious airborne pathogen, like the 1918 flu, would happen today."


Ominous Views of Japan's New Seawalls. How do you make a coastal town tsunami-proof? Is it even possible? WIRED.com dives in: "...The most controversial of these tsunami prevention measures was the construction of hundreds of miles of concrete seawalls and breakers along the most vulnerable stretches of the coast. So far, Japan has spent approximately $12 billion building towering concrete walls, some as high as 41 feet. Tokyo-born photographer Tadashi Ono, who now lives in Paris, traveled to Japan’s northeast coast after the 2011 tsunami to document the destruction, and recently returned to see how the impacted areas have changed..."

Photo credit: "Following the 2011 tsunami the Japanese government began building seawalls like thos one in Ofunato Bay, Iwate prefecture." Photographer: Tadashi Ono.


BMW's New Electric iX3 SUV Looks Shockingly Normal. WIRED.com has more details: "...BMW says the iX3 will carry its fifth generation electric drive system, with the electric motor (good for 200kW or 270 hp), power electronics, and transmission made into one drive component. It’s promising a range of around 250 miles from a 70-kWh battery, which puts it right in the middle of the EV pack (ahead of Maybach, behind Tesla). The vehicle will come ready for 150kW fast chargers—not many of those have been built yet, but they’re promised soon, and will allow an 80 percent charge in under 30 minutes. And while it's technically a concept, its lack of zany features and close resemblance to a production-ready car means it's almost certainly headed for the mass market in the next few years..."

Image credit: "After the ultra-funky i3 and i8, the German automaker is bringing its batteries into the mainstream with the iX3 SUV." BMW Group.


Cable-TV's Cord-Cutting Woes Grow, Highlighting Divergence with Netflix. The Wall Street Journal reports on trends; here's an excerpt: "...Investors are growing concerned about such services stealing away market share, said Guggenheim Securities analyst Michael Morris, leading some to sell out of slow-growth traditional cable and telecom and buy into tech stocks. “Companies like Amazon and Netflix are delivering game-changing convenience at incredibly efficient prices,” Mr. Morris said. “As an investor, you say, ‘I don’t know how this plays out, but I do know it is very difficult to compete if my competitor is undercutting me on the pricing side.’ ” The upheaval in the pay-TV economy is stark. From the beginning of 2015 through the end of last year, nine million Americans have either cut the cord or chosen not to buy a traditional cable package when moving into new households, according to estimates from MoffettNathanson..."


Facial Recognition May Be Coming to a Body Camera Near You. The Washington Post explains: "The country’s biggest seller of police body cameras on Thursday convened a corporate board devoted to the ethics and expansion of artificial intelligence, a major new step toward offering controversial facial-recognition technology to police forces nationwide. Axon, the maker of Taser electroshock weapons and the wearable body cameras now used by most major American city police departments, has voiced interest in pursuing face recognition for its body-worn cameras. The technology could allow officers to scan and recognize the faces of potentially everyone they see while on patrol. A growing number of surveillance firms and tech start-ups are racing to integrate face recognition and other AI capabilities into real-time video..."

Photo credit: "An Axon police body camera, as seen during a company-sponsored conference at the California Highway Patrol in 2015." (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)


Why Trump is Winning and the Press is Losing. Here's an excerpt from the New York Review of Books: "There is alive in the land an organized campaign to discredit the American press. This campaign is succeeding. Its roots are long. For decades, the Republican coalition has tried to hang together by hating on elites who claim to know things, like: “What is art?” Or: “What should college students be taught?” Or: “What counts as news?” The media wing of this history extends back to Barry Goldwater’s campaign in 1964. It passes through Spiro Agnew’s speeches for Richard Nixon in 1969, and winds forward to our own time through William Rusher’s 1988 book, The Coming Battle for the Media, the growth of conservative talk radio in the 1990s, and the spectacular success of the Fox News Channel, which found a lucrative business model in resentment news, culture war, and the battle cry of liberal bias..."


7 Years After a Football Accident Paralyzed Him, She Helped Him Walk Down the Aisle. CNN has the remarkable story: "Her floor-length veil blowing gently in the wind, the young bride glances at her beloved, dressed in a navy, three-piece suit, on this, their wedding day. Then, she crouches over his wheelchair, slips her arms under his armpits and heaves. Together, they stand in their first moment as husband and wife and embrace in a kiss. Then, she braces him from the side as he takes one wobbly step at a time, the unsteady -- and extraordinary -- effort captured in video of the ceremony in Jupiter, Florida. Some steps are harder than others as he swings his leg out front, focusing on each and every step. Chris Norton, 26, was told nearly a decade ago that he might never walk again. Alone in his motionless body, he feared he'd never find love. Then came Emily Summers..."

Photo credit: "Chris works hard at the gym in February 2018, to regain some of his strength."


Study: Youth Football is Linked to Earlier Symptoms of Brain Disease. Details via The Daily Beast: "Professional football players who played tackle football when they were children suffered from symptoms of “brain disease, like cognitive impairment and mood swings, earlier in their lives,” Time magazine reported. Dr. Ann McKee, whose work on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) uncovered the health risks that football poses to players, studied 211 brains in an attempt to see if more severe CTE developed in those that started playing the game at a very young age. McKee found that 84 brains from individuals who had participated in tackle football before the age of 12 “had an earlier onset of cognitive, behavior and mood symptoms by an average of 13 years, compared to those who started after age 12...”

Photo credit: REUTERS/AI Project.


50 Ways the World is Getting Better. I needed this. Check out an impressive list at A Wealth of Common Sense: "You don’t have to look too far to find negativity these days. Just watch the news, go on social media, or even have conversations with friends, family members, or co-workers. You’ll likely hear or read about political instability, natural disasters, murder, disease, or an endless list of bad news you can find 24/7 because of the free flow of information. Every year people label the current year the worst year ever but these people have obviously never read a history book. The combination the negativity and availability bias make it easy to assume the world is getting worse on a daily basis. It feels as if we’re now taking one step forward and two steps back. In reality, this is the greatest time in history to be alive..."


Rain of Terror: Egypt to Crack Down on "Fake Weather Reports". In the USA meteorologists have the freedom to issue their own forecasts - we aren't forced to abide by the official (NOAA) forecast. I don't take that right for granted. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "The head of the Egyptian Meteorological Association has said it is the only government body authorized to make predictions about the country’s weather, and is preparing a draft law to ban unauthorized forecasts. Dr Ahmed Abdel-Al, the EMA chairman, said during a television interview that the bill seeks to punish anyone “talking about meteorology, or anyone using a weather forecasting device without our consent, or anyone who raises confusion about the weather”. The EMA is Egypt’s primary, if not sole, source of domestic information on the country’s weather patterns. Egypt’s media is under increasing pressure, with frequent accusations of fake news levelled at reporters and outlets, even those reporting in favour of the state. But false reports about the weather are rare, except perhaps for the annual repetition of doctored photos showing snow covering the pyramids and sphinx of Giza..."

Photo credit: "A taxi drives through a flooded street in Cairo … or does it? "Photograph: Khaled Elfiqi/EPA.


84 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

65 F. average high on April 30.

49 F. high on April 30, 2017.

May 1, 1966: Winter makes a last stab at Minnesota with a low of 5 at Cook. A widespread freeze hits the rest of the state.

May 1, 1935: An unusually late snow and ice storm hits east central Minnesota. The heaviest ice accumulations are between St. Paul and Forest Lake and westward to Buffalo in Wright County, with accumulations of 1 to 1.5 inches on wires. The downtown Minneapolis weather bureau records 3 inches of snow.




TUESDAY: Some sun, few T-storms. Winds: SW 8-13. High: 71

TUESDAY NIGHT: Showers and T-storms, locally heavy rain. Low: 51

WEDNESDAY: Showers taper, turning a bit cooler. Winds: N 5-10. High: 64

THURSDAY": Showers most likely far southern MN. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 50. High: 65

FRIDAY: Partly sunny with a mild breeze. Winds: W 10-20. Wake-up: 53. High: 73

SATURDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, not bad. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 48. High: 66

SUNDAY: Partly sunny and pleasant. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 50. High: 68

MONDAY: Intervals of sun with a milder breeze. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 52. High: 72


Climate Stories...

Extreme Weather and Politics Driving Divide on Climate Change. WCAI has an interesting post; here's a clip: "...This latest survey does suggest that a new player has entered the game - weather. The number of Americans who think that climate change will affect them or those they know, personally, is growing. Forty percent of Americans now think they’ve experienced the effects of climate change first-hand. Leiserowitz attributes that increase to the highly visible increase in extreme weather, from hurricanes to droughts and wildfires. Still, he says politics remains the dominant factor when it comes to shaping public opinion on climate change..."


Climate Change Could Make Thousands of Tropical Islands "Uninhabitable" in Coming Decades, New Study Says. The Denver Post reports: "More than a thousand low-lying tropical islands risk becoming “uninhabitable” by the middle of the century – or possibly sooner – because of rising sea levels, upending the populations of some island nations and endangering key U.S. military assets, according to startling new research published Wednesday. The threats to the islands are twofold. In the long term, the rising seas threaten to inundate the islands entirely. More immediately, as seas rise, the islands will more frequently deal with large waves that crash farther onto the shore, contaminating their drinkable water supplies with ocean saltwater, according to the research..."

Photo credit: "Thomas Reiss, U.S. Geological Survey. "An aerial photograph of Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands shows its low-lying islands and coral reefs."


Olympians Take on Politics As They Fear Climate Change is Hurting Their Sport. Here's the intro to a story at CNN Politics: "Five Winter Olympians have traded in the slopes for briefing rooms to urge Congress to take action on climate change. As global temperatures continue to rise, snowboarder Arielle Gold, along with skiers David Wise, Jessie Diggins, Stacey Cook and biathlete Maddie Phaneuf, traveled to Capitol Hill this week to brief lawmakers on how climate change is a growing threat to winter sports and outdoor recreation. Gold, who showed up to the briefing wearing an arm sling, said she attributes her injury to the conditions in Sochi, Russia, where temperatures were 50-60 degrees and athletes were not able to practice because the course would fall apart due to the warm temperatures. She said the lack of practice led to a crash, which highlights how climate change has contributed to the reduction of snowpack and affected the safety and future of winter sports..."

Photo credit: "Olympic gold medalists highlight the dangers climate change brings to winter sports, as they urge Congress to take action."


"We're Now Racing Primarily On Man-Made Snow": Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: "Five Winter Olympians traveled to Capitol Hill earlier this week to educate lawmakers on the impacts of climate change on winter sports. The group of American athletes explained during the event hosted by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Susan Collins (R-ME) that global temperature rise is forcing more and more competitions to use exclusively man-made snow, and expressed their worry for future generations. "I’m really worried about the future of our sport," cross country skiing gold medalist Jessie Diggins told lawmakers. "When winters warm up and continue to do so, our sport is going to disappear. It’s heartbreaking." (CBS, ThinkProgress, Nexus Media News, Minneapolis Star Tribune. Commentary: The Hill, Mark Reynolds and Mario Molina op-ed)

Image credit: Alta Ski Area.



Hiroshima, Kyoto and the Bombs of Climate Change. Bill McKibbon files a story for The New Yorker; here's an excerpt: "...Still, global warming doesn’t haunt even the uncorrupted imagination in quite the same way as the bomb, perhaps because it unfolds more slowly. On a geologic time scale, a day and a century are roughly the same unit, but for the purposes of a news cycle, the difference is crucial. Every single day, climate change is the most important thing happening on the planet—there’s nothing even remotely close. But, on any single day, there’s always something more dramatic, more urgent. It feels as if we have time to deal with global warming, whereas deportations or assault rifles or lunatics in white vans mowing down women must be dealt with now. (In fact, climate change is the one problem that the planet has ever faced that comes with an absolute time limit; past a certain point, it won’t be a problem anymore, because it won’t have a solution.) And the fact that it’s happening everywhere, which should mean that it engages us more deeply, seems in some ways to do just the opposite..."


The Dangerous Belief That Extreme Technology Will Fix Climate Change. Here's a snippet from Huffington Post: "...I think it’s bad news how cheap this is,” Smith told a small group last month in a conference room at Harvard’s Center for the Environment. For that kind of money, Smith argued, it’s possible that any rogue nation, organization or individual could start experimenting with the climate. The impacts of geoengineering on the global scale are unknown, in part because no massive geoengineering project has been undertaken ― apart from human-induced climate change. But models are potentially troubling. Some suggest geoengineering will disrupt rainfall worldwide and damage the earth’s protective ozone layer. A Rutgers University study published in January suggested that suddenly stopping a large geoengineering project, once it has started, could lead to rapid warming, pushing species into extinction and accelerating climate change..."

Image credit: NASA/Reuters. "Some scientists have proposed dumping gas in the earth’s skies to cool its temperature."


Confessions of a Former Carbon Tax Skeptic. Washington Examiner has an Op-Ed that's worth a read: "Hi, my name is Josiah, and I am a conservative who supports a revenue-neutral carbon tax. To many people, especially those on the Right, that may seem like an odd combination. In fact, some people might assume that if I’m for a carbon tax, I can’t really be a conservative. Or maybe I’ve sold out my principles because environmental leftists drove a dump truck full of money to my house. I can understand the skepticism (although, sadly, my bank account doesn’t bear out the dump truck theory). I used to be a carbon tax skeptic myself. Over time, however, I found that the arguments I deployed against a carbon tax were chipped away until they felt more like excuses..."


Study: Republicans Can Be More Persuasive When Correcting Climate Change Misinformation. Michigan Radio has the story - here's a clip: "...Salil Benegal is an assistant professor of political science at DePauw University in Indiana. He and his colleague Lyle Scruggs studied what happened when they gave people articles with incorrect information on climate change, and then also gave different groups of those people the correct information that was attributed to a Democrat, a Republican, or a scientist. “We found that the corrections coming from Republicans were most persuasive in getting Republican respondents and independent respondents to report greater agreement that there’s a scientific consensus on climate change, that climate change is affected by human activity and that it’s a serious issue,” he says..."

Image credit: Yale.

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