Perfectly Average Weather - For April 28
I went ahead and issued a Toupee Alert and High Wig Warning for gusts as high as 50 mph tonight and Tuesday, maybe 60 mph over western Minnesota - where tree damage and power outages are possible.
The bigger the differential in temperature, the wider the range over a given spot, the faster winds have to blow to keep the atmosphere in a state of equilibrium.
We'll go from mid-60s today (with a few strong thunderstorms) to low 20s Wednesday morning. The result: gale-force wind gusts.
Temperatures cool off close to average by late week with a series of slushy clippers, but nothing that will rock your world or mess up travel plans. This chilling Canadian Correction lingers into much of next week before the mercury recovers into the 40s and 50s later in March.
Mud season comes early this year but look at the bright side: a supernatural lack of snow means a reduced risk of river flooding. Oddly enough the risk of brush fires will be high until we green up (which may come 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule).
Nationwide this is the most active year for tornadoes since 2012. I doubt Minnesota will see 144 tornadoes like 2010, but I'm expecting a busier severe storm season.
Enhanced Severe Risk. A few large and violent tornadoes are likely across the Mid South later today, with the best chance from Springfield and Joplin, Missouri toward Fort Smith and Fayetteville, Arkansas. A few strong T-storms are possible as far north as the Twin Cities and Madison. Map: NOAA SPC.
Winter Camps Out Over Pacific Northwest - While Spring is in Full Swing East of Mississippi. It's odd to be seeing rain for Maine and even the U.P. of Michigan during the first week of March. A powerful storm pushes across the Dakotas toward Winnipeg, a tight pressure gradient whipping up sustained winds of 30 mph with gusts to 50 from the northern Plains into the Upper Midwest. More rain and snow torments the west coast as a remarkably persistent pattern hangs on. 84-hour NAM Future Radar: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.
Clash of Seasons. Tie down garbage cans, pets and small, imported cars over the next 36 hours because the wind will be wailing away, especially Tuesday when sustained winds may be in the 30-35 mph range with gusts over 50 mph. I could even see minor wind damage, downed tree limbs, possibly a few power outages. Meteogram: AerisWeather.
Spring Today - Feels Like Winter by Friday. Enjoy the warmth and humidity because we'll all be donning heavy jackets and coats by the end of the week. ECMWF guidance shows a correction lasting into the middle o f next week before temperatures moderate again the latter half of March. Graphic: WeatherBell.
Snowfall Potential Through Thursday Morning. As has been the case all winter the most prolific snows will be found from the Cascades to the Rockies; a couple inches of snow spreading across the Dakotas into northern Minnesota.
Moderating Temperatures Within 2 Weeks. After an inevitable temperature correction over northern states and New England specificially, GFS guidance shows a west-to-east wind flow aloft returning after mid-month. Just about the time we spring forward with our clocks the atmosphere should as well.
Early Spring Warmth Wreaks Havoc on Plants, Allergies, Bugs. USA TODAY talks about the implications of another early spring for much of the USA: "...In Memphis, many of the city's trees and plants are about a month ahead of schedule, Rick Pudwell, director of horticulture at Memphis Botanic Garden, said recently. And in New Jersey, the recent warmth has caused tree and shrub buds to start swelling early. However, any extended cold could still affect early-spring flowering trees, said Bill Zipse, regional forester for the state forest service. Changes in the timing of spring can affect human health, bringing early-season disease-carriers such as ticks and mosquitoes, and an earlier, longer and more vigorous pollen season, the National Phenology Network warned. While a longer growing season can result in increased yields for some crops, it is risky because of the higher likelihood of plant damage caused by late frosts or summer drought..."
The Southeast Just Had One of Its Warmest Winters. Here's an excerpt from WXshift: "...More than 120 weather stations, mostly in the Southeastern United States, notched their warmest winter on record, and 84 percent of over 1,500 stations recorded a warmer than average winter. Only the Pacific Northwest saw cooler than average temperatures. Perhaps the most remarkable warmth came over the weekend of Feb. 11-12, when locations in Northern Texas, Western Kansas and Oklahoma, as well as Eastern Colorado set all-time February records for warmest temperatures. Beaver, Okla. hit 93°F on Feb. 11. The previous monthly record at that site was 90°F set on Feb. 28, 1904..." (Map credit: Climate Central).
NOAA Cuts Could Stymie Research, Put Lives at Risk. Climate Central takes a deep dive into proposed cuts at NOAA: "...The OAR and satellite divisions are critical for maintaining and advancing forecasting and modeling capabilities in both the weather and climate spheres, experts said, and any cuts will curtail those capabilities well into the future. Polar orbiting satellites, which aide in longer-term forecasting, are already facing problematic gaps, as funding shortfalls and planning delays have resulted in a delay in the launch of replacement satellites. The Government Accountability Office included the polar satellite program and a potential coverage gap on its 2017 high risk list due to the challenges it already faces. The new budget zeroes out funding for the Polar Follow On program, which is developing the next polar satellites. Modeling capabilities could also be impacted. For several years, some meteorologists and climate researchers have remarked that the U.S. is already behind European weather and climate modelling efforts, run by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, which is investing more than $50 million in a new building to house a new, next-generation supercomputer..."
Large Cuts Proposed for U.S. Weather Prediction. Here is an excerpt of a must-read post from Cliff Mass, outlining the implications of proposed NOAA budget cuts: "...The proposed cuts (described here) are huge and would cripple the ability of the National Weather Service to improve the quality of weather predictions provided to the American peopleCuts include:
1. A half-billion dollar reduction in NOAA's satellite program run by National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS). Weather satellite's provide 95% of the information used to initialize weather prediction models and such a large cut would result in the loss of major satellite observing systems. Weather prediction skill would decline.
Surprising Facts About NOAA. Roughly a third of America's GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is dependent on the weather: agriculture, retail, energy, transportation, leisure, it's a long list. Here's an excerpt from a post at The Union of Concerned Scientists: "...Anyone who eats seafood benefits from NOAA’s stewardship of sustainable fisheries and healthy ecosystems in ways that support jobs and helps keep our seafood safe. NOAA has improved forecasts for harmful algal blooms. Scientists at the agency and cooperative institutes conduct research and monitoring for changes in fisheries and marine ecosystems from ocean acidification and temperature changes. Businesses, farmers, homeowners and nearly everyone living in the US at some point makes important decisions based on weather forecasts. No matter your source of weather, all forecasts are underpinned by observations and models provided by NOAA through its National Weather Service (NWS) and National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS)..."
ECMWF Heading to Italy by 2020? The BBC has an update: "The next-generation supercomputer that will drive Europe’s medium-range weather forecasts looks set to be housed in Bologna, Italy, from 2020. It would succeed the current system based in Reading, UK. Member states of the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) made the indicative decision to relocate the facility on Wednesday. Detailed negotiations will now be held with Italian authorities. The intention is to confirm the choice in June. That is the date of the next full Council meeting of the ECMWF..."
Weather Service: Perryville (Missouri) Tornado Was Rare EF-4. FOX2now.com has details on an especially violent, long-lasting tornado: "The National Weather Service has reclassified a tornado that killed one person and destroyed dozens of homes in the Perryville area as an EF-4 twister. The weather service’s preliminary finding classified Tuesday night’s tornado as an EF-3. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/2mnK8KG ) the new information was released Saturday by the Perryville Police Department, which was briefed by the weather service Friday. Meteorologist Rick Shankland says the tornado carried winds up to 180 mph. Shankland told police the tornado was six-tenths of a mile wide and traveled 50.4 miles, the longest track in 25 years..."
Photo credit: "Perryville tornado damage in a neighborhood near Moore Drive off Hwy 61." (Source: Katie Kormann)
Overuse of Severe Thunderstorm Warnings? Should we tighten up criteria for issuance of severe thunderstorm warnings to make them less common? The Weather Social makes a case: "...So what would happen IF we changed the minimum criteria? How many of these warnings would drop off if we went to 70mph winds and/or 1.5″ hail minimums? The warnings issued are represented by the orange bars. Also note, as I mentioned at the IWT, the actual number of initial warnings issued based on the minimum criteria that then intensified into a 70mph and/or 1.5″ hail tag was pretty small–mostly under 10 per year. We’re talking about 20 to 25 percent of these warnings would have been issued! In other words, even being a bit generous, 60 to 70 percent of the warnings would have been reduced. That’s pretty significant! My thought is that IF we don’t issue so many SVRs, when one is issued, our consumers would pay more attention to what is happening. A topic discussed thoroughly on thewxsocial.com, are people fatigued by the sheer volume of warnings?..."
What Causes Rainbow Colors in Clouds? EarthSky has a good explanation and some wonderful examples of one of my favorite optical illusions: iridescent clouds: "Sky watchers sometimes report seeing rainbow colors within clouds. These colorful clouds are called iridescent clouds. When you see a cloud like this, you know there are especially tiny ice crystals or water droplets in the air. Larger ice crystals produce solar or lunar halos, but tiny ice crystals or water droplets cause light to be diffracted – spread out – creating this rainbow-like effect in the clouds. The phenomenon is called cloud iridescence or irisation. The term comes from Iris, the Greek personification of the rainbow..."
Wettest and Driest Months of the Year? Brian Brettschneider does a terrific job visualizing data; here's another example from his prolific blog: "What are the wettest and driest months of the year? Using published normal values, we can answer that question. These maps were generated using the 1981-2010 NCEI climate normals for monthly precipitation within the U.S. In Canada and Mexico (and the rest of the globe [not shown]), the GHCN v.2 monthly precipitation was used. To standardize the months due to differences in the number of days, I used an average daily precipitation value. In a few instances, this will cause discrepancies. For example, if February averages 3.00" of precipitation and March averages 3.10", I show February as having more precipitation – since their per-day value is higher..."
Coal Industry Casts Itself as a Clean Energy Player. The New York Times has the story; here's a clip: "...Seeking to shore up their struggling industry, the coal producers are voicing greater concern about greenhouse gas emissions. Their goal is to frame a new image for coal as a contributor, not an obstacle, to a clean-energy future — an image intended to foster their legislative agenda. Executives of the three companies — Cloud Peak Energy, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal — are going so far as to make common cause with some of their harshest critics, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Clean Air Task Force. Together, they are lobbying for a tax bill to expand government subsidies to reduce the environmental impact of coal burning. The technology they are promoting is carbon capture and sequestration — an expensive and, up to now, unwieldy method of trapping carbon dioxide emitted from coal-fired power plants before the gas can blanket the atmosphere and warm the planet..."
Photo credit: "Carbon capture equipment at NRG’s power generating station southwest of Houston." Michael Stravato for The New York Times.
An Evolutionary Psychologist Explains Why You Will Always Be Haunted by High School. Quartz has the story; here's a clip: "...My research experience as an evolutionary psychologist leads me to believe that many factors interact to make our teenage memories so vivid. But the main driver is the collision between the hardwiring of our brains that took place across several million of years of evolution and the odd social bubble created by high school, which poses an unprecedented social challenge to our prehistoric minds. In other words, the world that we evolved to be successful in (a small, stable group of interrelated people of various ages) is very different from the holding pen full of teenagers brimming with hormones that populate our world during the high school years..."
Inside the Quest to Monitor Countries' CO2 Emissions. From commercial aircraft to satellites, we need cost-effective ways to measure greenhouse gas emissions. Here's a clip from Scientific American: "...While some space satellites can measure greenhouse gas emissions, they are expensive, depend on computer models and “have all kinds of biases” that make it difficult to reach the precision needed to accurately measure man-made emissions, explained NOAA’s Tans. NASA has recently selected a more sophisticated satellite for a launch in 2022, however, that offers some hope. It is called the Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory (GeoCARB), and would hover 22,000 miles in space, rotating with a constant view of most of the Americas. It comes with a bargain basement price (for a satellite) of $166 million over the next five years, partly because it will hitchhike a ride into space sitting in an unused area of a payload carrying a commercial communications satellite..."
Image credit: "This is an artist’s concept of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory. The mission, scheduled to launch in early 2009, will be the first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide." Credit: NASA, JPL
4 Ways Climate Change is Messing with our Brains. Here's an excerpt from a story at Grist: "...But those brutal conditions also affect our mental health, changing how we think and act. Mental health professionals are paying attention to the link between climate change and emotional health — and health insurance companies are, too. Here are some of the impacts they’re concerned about. (Hat tip: CBS.)
- Disasters like floods, tornadoes, and drought have been found to trigger PTSD, anxiety, depression, and drug abuse.
- Slight increases in heat or rainfall have been found to raise the risk of riots and civil wars, as well as crimes like rape and murder.
- Babies in the womb who are exposed to urban air pollutants from fossil fuels are more likely to develop anxiety or depression later in life.
- Many people now experience “climate anxiety” — feeling depressed and overwhelmed by you-know-what — and support groups have emerged to help them..."
File photo credit: Shutterstock
Latest in Climate Change Debate: Cost-Benefit Analysis. A domestic or global cost of carbon? Here's an excerpt of a post at The Houston Chronicle: "...The Obama administration calculated a carbon cost for the entire planet, not just the United States, said Ted Gayer, director of economic studies at the nonpartisan think tank Brookings Institution. But that approach only makes sense if one was considering a global regulation, one that all the countries in the world would follow, Gayer testified at the hearing. "Absent such an approach… a global measure deviates from standard practice," he said. "The global measure is 4 to 14 times greater than the estimated domestic measure." Republicans have taken issue with other assumptions in the Obama administration's calculations. For example, why didn't the old administration factor in potential increases in crop yields from higher carbon dioxide levels - something many scientists believe could be happening already? Where people come down on these questions seems to largely depend on their views on climate change..."
Public Criticized DNR, Scott Walker Over Climate Change Scrub. Maybe if we ignore it - it'll go away. Here's an update from Wisconsin State Journal: "Hundreds of phone calls and emails voicing shock, outrage and ridicule flooded state Department of Natural Resources offices in December after top managers deleted language from the DNR website that had described the urgency of addressing human activity that has accelerated climate change. Some DNR employees handling the public reaction expressed frustration as managers waited days before telling them how to respond, and then provided a script that treated the altered web pages as a routine update. Documents released to the Wisconsin State Journal under the state open records law show how the DNR tried to manage the outpouring that was unleashed after a blogger discovered the rewritten climate change pages around Christmas and the word spread through other news outlets..."
Past Disasters Reveal Terrifying Future of Climate Change. Here's an excerpt from NatGeo: "...Two things are different. We’re on a track that’s going to be hard to turn away from. Carbon dioxide is the major greenhouse gas that causes global warming, and it will be there for a long, long time. It’s not like the ash in the atmosphere after Mount Tambora, which settled out within 2-3 years. Man-made warming is putting a momentum into climate change that wasn’t there in the past and is going to be hard to move away from, the later we leave it. There’s another thing, too: that is, the rate of change. The world has warmed twice, by as much as 4-6 degrees, in last 60 million years, as a consequence of natural cycles but these occurred over thousands of years. Today, we are talking about a possible increase of 4-6 degree over the next 100 years. It’s that rate of change that is testing when it comes to adaptation for all species, humans as well..."
Was Our Snowless January and February a Sign of Climate Change? Here's an excerpt from Chicago Magazine: "...Just two months of abnormal weather can’t prove anything on their own, the climate experts say. However, the Earth is setting more record-high temperatures than record-low temperatures lately, and that is a sign of global warming. According to Horton, weather variability is natural in Chicago due to its location in the mid-latitudes, “the middle segment of the Earth where the weather is controlled by an oscillating jet stream,” which are slim strips of wind. This means that naturally, Chicago will have more irregularity in weather, as compared to the area near the equator, where temperatures are steady and predictable..."
Photo credit: "Photo: Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune.
Antarctic Sea Ice Sets Record Low, Providing Another Mystery for Scientists. Here's an excerpt from InsideClimate News: "...The news came as sea ice around Antarctica is experiencing its lowest extent ever. As of March 1, only 820,000 square miles of the ocean around Antarctica was covered in ice, according to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. The loss of ice represents an all-time minimum for Antarctic sea ice cover since satellite observations began in 1979. The current decline, however, may not be part of a larger climate change trend. The low point comes less than three years after Antarctic sea ice set a record high in October 2014. "If you look at the long-term trend, Antarctic sea ice is still increasing slightly, said Son Nghiem, a researcher with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory..."
Graphic: National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Striking Photos Show People vs. Climate Change. National Geographic has the photo essay: "An incredibly complex web of cause and effect that’s global in scope, climate change is like light itself: enormously present, yet difficult to directly perceive. It’s just as likely to make its presence known in overly tough goat meat in Kenya as it is in a terrifying “gateway to hell” in Sibera. But where do we, as individuals, come across the effects of climate change? What does it actually look like to us? And what are we doing about it?"
Photo credit: "Spread over 400 acres, Nevada Solar One is a massive project built in the hot, dry desert just south of Las Vegas. The plant uses 760 parabolic trough concentrators with more than 182,000 mirrors that concentrate the sun’s rays onto more than 18,240 receiver tubes. Every year, the projected amount of CO2 emissions this plant avoids putting into the atmosphere is equivalent to taking approximately 20,000 cars off the road. It is a refreshing site to look at—I can't wait to fly a solar-powered aircraft one." Photograph by Jassen T., National Geographic Your Shot.