1. We’re running out of water.
Easter Sunday Sunshine (Red Flag Warning, frost by Tuesday...time for new tornado terminology?)
- Blog Post by: Paul Douglas
- April 8, 2012 - 11:44 AM
57 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.
53 F. average high for April 7.
64 F. high temperature on April 7, 2011.
.17" rain fell yesterday at Twin Cities International Airport.
8.9" snow fell on stunned residents of the Twin Cities back on April 7, 1923
Red Flag Warning in effect for most of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities. Conditions are ripe for brushfires.
Frost likely Tuesday and Wednesday in the suburbs; immediate downtowns may remain frost-free.
.5"+ rain possible late Thursday into Friday. We seem to be transitioning into a wetter pattern - finally.
Mostly Blue-Sky Easter/Passover. Check out the midday WeatherTap visible satellite animation (subscription required to get updates on your own). High, thin cirrus clouds at 25,000 feet will dim the sun from time to time, but I still expect enough sun for highs near 60, maybe some low 60s over southern Minnesota.
22" snow Fishtail, Montana (Stillwater county)
Payback. You didn't really think there wouldn't be any payback for all those 70s and 80s, did you? After flirting with 60 today a colder front arrives Monday - a good chance of suburban frost Tuesday and Wednesday. There may be some minor frost-damage, but right now I don't see a widespread frost within the 494/694 freeway system.
"Weather consulting firm Planalytics said several major cities experienced their warmest March in 118 years, including Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and Oklahoma City, where temperatures were about 15 degrees higher than average." - from a Washington Post article below.
"Actually, one of America’s greatest conservation stories of recent years is that, as a country, we use less water today than we did in 1980. In that span, the United States has doubled the size of its economy and added 70 million people, yet we use 10 percent less water than we did 30 years ago." - from a Washington Post article below.
Tornado Sighting - From My Dock. I dug out this old photo taken on August 8, 2009, looking west, toward Mound and Navarre - showing a developing EF-1 tornado. The funny thing - the sky turned that (evil) shade of green, I ran down to the dock and began snapping photos of this developing tornado. Two minutes later the sirens began to sound. Bottom line - do NOT rely on the sirens. They are not activated by the National Weather Service - every local community sounds the sirens at their discretion, for everything from tornadoes to fires to...well...almost anything. It's a mess, and a potential liability for consumers who are very confused about what the siren means from one day to the next.
"Lunch With Paul". How 'bout an appetizer of Viper Doppler radar? I had the honor of sitting down with Jeffrey Morris "FutureDude" recently to talk about my tortured career and take a peek into the future. Details below.
Red Flag Warning. Here is the latest fire threat map from the Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service. What does a Red Flag Warning mean?
...DANGEROUS WILDFIRE CONDITIONS ACROSS THE AREA THIS AFTERNOON AND INTO THE EARLY EVENING... .VERY LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY ACROSS THE REGION...DRY FUELS AND INCREASING WINDS BY EARLY AFTERNOON WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A DANGEROUS THREAT OF WILDFIRES. RELATIVE HUMIDITY WILL DROP TO 20 TO 25 PERCENT THIS AFTERNOON...WITH SOME AREAS OF CENTRAL AND SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA DROPPING INTO THE TEENS. WEST WINDS WILL ALSO INCREASE AND BECOME GUSTY. RED FLAG WARNINGS ARE POSTED FROM 1 PM TO 8 PM ACROSS CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MINNESOTA INTO WISCONSIN.
Outlook: Friday Puddles. A southern storm may spread steady rain into Minnesota late Thursday and Friday, and some half inch plus rainfall amounts are possible.
Last Frost Of Spring? I hope so - but I wouldn't bet the farm, or your back yard flowerbed on it. The GFS is pulling more Canadian air into town around April 17-18, possibly 1 or 2 more frosty nights the third week of April - followed by more 60s, even a couple of 70s between April 20-23. We'll see.
Soil Moisture Still Short, But Improving In Some Places. Here's a snippet from this week's WeatherTalk blog, courtesy of Dr. Mark Seeley: "University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Centers monitor soil moisture conditions for Minnesota's major crops. Last fall's (2011) measurements made it obvious that soil moisture storage was well below normal going into the winter season. For many areas over winter and early spring precipitation has been inadequate to help fully restore soil moisture to near normal levels for the spring. At Lamberton the final measurements from last fall showed 2.95 inches of stored soil moisture in the top 5 feet of the soil profile. Measurements made earlier this week showed that the profile moisture content had only "improved" to 3.09 inches of stored moisture, still roughly 2.5 inches less than average for this time of year. Further much of this moisture lies well below 3 feet and is out of the reach of crop rooting systems early in the growing season. So additional spring rains in April and early May are needed to recharge the upper layers of the soil for good germination and early development of corn and soybean crops."
* The latest U.S. Drought Monitor, zoomed in on Minnesota, is here - courtesy of NOAA.
“The average elevation in Florida is 6 feet,” London said. “Some places are as little as 3 feet above sea level. And sea level is going to rise as all that ice in the Arctic melts.” - from a Climate Central story below.
"And the key thing then is that we always have weather, some of which is going in the same direction as the climate change. And when we approach those, what used to be limits before, now we're going through them and we're breaking records. And you know, this is sometimes the straw that breaks the camel's back kind of syndrome. You cross the threshold and suddenly you're in a completely different territory, and some bad things can happen as a consequence." - climate scientist Kevin Trenberth, in an NPR interview - details below.
"Averting the worst consequences of human-induced climate change is a "great moral issue" on a par with slavery, according to the leading Nasa climate scientist Prof Jim Hansen." - from a story in The Guardian; details below.
"The U.S. is not alone in its skepticism that man contributes to global warming – a 2009 Gallup survey found Denmark, the United Kingdom, Norway and the Netherlands were other countries where less than half of respondents blamed global warming on human activity." - from a new poll conducted by the Orange County (California) Register. Details below.
Time For New Tornado Terminology? Is it time to fine-tune the wording used by National Weather Service meteorologists to better capture and communicate the threat-level to people in the path of a tornado? I don't pretend to have the answer key, but after listening to tornado experts for 30 years I would propose the following:
"Tornado Alert": rotation on Doppler radar - conditions ripe for a tornado to form. Stay alert and stay tuned to (multiple) different forms of media to monitor the situation. Be ready to move to a place of safety.
"Tornado Emergency": More emphasis than a garden-variety "Tornado Warning", an "Emergency" would only be issued for a confirmed tornado on the ground, based on SKYWARN spotters, law enforcement, or dual-polarization Doppler detecting a "debris ball", the actual signature of a tornado on the ground. Word the warnings to warn of "catastrophic damage" and "an immediate threat to life and property" to instill a sense of imminent danger to the public.
It's just a thought. The problem: most tornado warnings are "rotation-based", and more than 70% prove to be false alarms. That breeds apathy and cynicism. "They're always issuing warnings - we never see anything." That mindset can prove deadly when a real tornado does touch down, and people in the path don't take the warnings seriously.
A Week's Worth Of Storm Reports. If you're keeping score (and who among us isn't): 2, 454 storm reports across the USA since March 31. Check out the interactive map, courtesy of one of my companies, Ham Weather. Yes, I'm a geek, and I'm a bit biased, but I still think the interactivity is pretty cool.
Mild Winter May Have Artificially Inflated Jobs Data, Economists Fear. Here's an interesting article at The Washington Post: "As most Americans basked in the warmest, sunniest March in half a century, economists stared at the skies with dread: Could good weather portend bad news for the economic recovery? Economists say the mild winter has artificially inflated job growth. February alone stole as many as 72,000 positions from March and future months, according to Macroeconomic Advisers. Translation: The surge in hiring early in the year may not be as strong as it appeared. The unusual weather began in January, which was the fourth warmest in more than a century. February ranked in the top 20, according to government data. Weather consulting firm Planalytics said several major cities experienced their warmest March in 118 years, including Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and Oklahoma City, where temperatures were about 15 degrees higher than average."
Photo credit above: AP, Washington Post.
Forney (Texas) Tornado Damage From The Air. Here's a potentially revolutionary way to assess damage in close to real-time: use "news drones". This has amazing implications for covering breaking news too - some of the same technology used by the military is trickling down into civilians (and media) applications. The story from newsdrones.com: "This is exclusive aerial video of the damage caused by the Forney, Texas EF3 tornado east of Dallas. The tornado ripped a path through the Diamond Creek subdivision on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. A number of homes were damaged, and some were completely destroyed. The first home you see in the video was wiped down to the foundation in places. A retired woman was in this home, hiding from the storm in her bathroom, when the twister pulverized her house. Miraculously, She survived with no serious injuries."
Tornadoes: Scientists Are Working On A Model To Better Predict Twisters. The Holy Grail (in my humble opinion?) Hyper-local, high-resolution weather models that enable NWS meteorologists to determine, quickly, whether rotation might lead to a minimal EF-0 tornado, or if the atmospheric conditions/environment is ripe for a larger EF-3 twister, capable of extreme damage. We're not there yet, and may not be for another 5-10 years. Hurricane forecasters at NHC know - in close to real-time - whether a hurricane is a Category 2 or a Category 4, and can plan and warn accordingly. The challenge: right now we can't predict, with consistent accuracy, whether rotation on Doppler will lead to a mini-twister, or an EF-4 monster. Once we get a better handle on that, wording can be adjusted to better capture the threat level to the public in the path of the tornado. WPTV-TV.com has an intriguing story: "(EndPlay Staff Reports) - Unlike NOAA's Atlantic hurricane forecast released each May, experts are not yet able to predict expected tornado activity. For now, tornado watches typically give people only a few hours' notice that dangerous conditions are brewing. Only a few minutes warning is often available before a tornado actually strikes. Tornadoes in 2011 killed more than 550 people – more than in the previous 10 years combined, according to a news release from Columbia University's Earth Institute. On Tuesday, tornadoes struck the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro region. Scientists are working on a model for better predicting of tornadoes."
Photo credit above: "Friends and family of homeowner Brad Smith help salvage what they can from Smith's destroyed kitchen , Wednesday, April 4, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. Preliminary findings indicate one of the tornadoes that struck North Texas had wind gusts ranging from 136 to 165 mph. As many as a dozen twisters touched down across Dallas-Fort Worth. Thousands remained without power Wednesday and hundreds of homes were severely damaged. Officials reported more than 20 injuries, but no deaths. (AP Photo/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Paul Moseley)."
16 Confirmed Tornadoes From Tuesday's Texas Tornado Outbreak. Details from the Ft. Worth office of the NWS:
Tornado number 1 occurred southeast of Joshua, in Johnson county. This tornado produced EF1 damage. The path length was 1.1 miles and the path width was approximately 60 yards wide.
Tornado number 2 occurred in Kennedale and Arlington. This tornado produced EF2 damage. The path length was 4.6 miles, and the path width was approximately 150 yards. This width has been updated from earlier reports.
Tornado number 3 occurred in Lancaster and Dallas. This tornado produced EF2 damage. The path length was 7.1 miles, and the width was approximately 200 yards.
Tornado number 4 occurred in Mesquite. This tornado produced EF0 damage. The path length was 0.3 miles, and the width was approximately 30 yards.
Tornado number 5 occurred near Forney, in Kaufman County. This tornado produced EF3 damage. The path length was 8 miles, and the width was approximately 150 yards.
Tornado number 6 occurred near Royse City, beginning in Rockwall County before moving northeast into Hunt County. This tornado produced EF2 damage The path length was 3.1 miles, and the width was approximately 400 yards.
Tornadoes Fuel $1.2 Billion Monthly Storm Cost In U.S., AON Says. The details from bloomberg.com: "Severe weather in the U.S., led by tornadoes in the Midwest and Tennessee Valley, caused more than $1.2 billion of insured losses in March, according to Aon Corp. (AON), the world’s biggest insurance broker. Insurers reported more than 170,000 claims tied to storms from March 2 and 3, London-based Aon said in a report today. The insured losses exceeded $1.1 billion. Severe weather in the Great Lakes region in the middle of the month cost the industry more than $150 million, according to the report."
Photo credit above: "A home totally destroyed by the tornado on Haverford Dr. in west Arlington, Texas on Thursday Apr. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Ron T. Ennis)."
Satellite Spies Texas Tornado Storms In 3-D. Here's a fascinating article from OurAmazingPlanet.com: "These images, which were captured around 8:30 p.m. local time, show a line of severe thunderstorms stretching from northeast Texas to Arkansas. The 3-D images show the rate of precipitation produced by the storm clouds: The red areas are spots where the storms dropped 2 inches (5 centimeters) of rain per hour. In some places, the severe storms pelted the ground with hailstones the size of softballs. The National Weather Service initially received reports of 18 tornadoes, but the agency has now confirmed that 14 tornadoes touched down on Tuesday, ranging in strength from an EF-0 tornado on the tornado damage scale, which typically does negligible damage, to an EF-3 tornado packing winds of 150 mph (240 kph)."
Graphic credit above: "The 3-D profile reveals heavy precipitation."
DFW Has Had Surprising Few Tornado Deaths. Chalk it up to good fortune - but at some point I fear our good luck will run out. We're talking pure statistics and probabilities - large (drier/warmer) cities may inhibit the smallest tornadoes from forming, but a big EF-3+ tornado is like the proverbial bear in the woods: it goes where it wants to go, and a few high-rise buildings or skyscrapers won't make a bit of difference. More details from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Twenty-seven people died in 15 minutes on the afternoon of May 27, 1997, in Jarrell, a barely noticeable town 10 miles north of Georgetown. By comparison, 17 people have died in 175 recorded tornadoes in all of Tarrant and Dallas counties in the last 60 years. Sixty years. The tornadoes that touched down near Joshua and in Kennedale, Arlington, Lancaster, Royse City and Forney during a dynamic and anxious Tuesday afternoon in North Texas damaged tens of millions of dollars in property. But no one died, again proving that the region is uncommonly fortunate. "I'm amazed there were no fatalities, given what we saw in the videos," said Chris Weiss, professor of atmospheric science at Texas Tech University and a tornado researcher."
Deadly Storms Strike Bangladesh. Here's a post from AP and Chad Merrill at Earth Networks: "New reports say storms with heavy rains and strong winds have killed at least 17 people and injured dozens more in Bangladesh. Dhaka's Prothom Alo and Janakantha newspapers say Friday's storms damaged mud and straw huts and felled trees in 10 of the country's 64 districts. The reports say most of the deaths occurred from lightning. Some victims were buried under their collapsed houses. Offical confirmation of the reports was not immediately available. Rainstorms are common in Bangladesh, a tropical delta nation of 160 million people."
Mixed Blessing: Cleaning Up Pollutants Fueled Hurricanes, Study Says. Say what? One more (possible) example of how our actions - sometimes - impact the atmosphere. MSNBC.com reports: "It's certainly not what officials had in mind when they curbed industrial pollutants called aerosols, but a new study suggests that doing so has had a big effect on Atlantic Ocean temperatures -- and in the case of the U.S. can be linked to warming seas that fueled hurricanes like Katrina. "When industrial pollution peaked over the Atlantic, this effect played a big role in cooling the ocean beneath," Paul Halloran, a study co-author and ocean scientist with the British government's Met Office weather service, said in a statement accompanying the study. "As pollution was cleaned up -- for example after the clean air legislation of the '90s -- the seas warmed." 3-D hurricane visualization above: NASA.
Missouri River Rise Of 2011 Brings Flood Of Information. Forecasters (and the public) were inundated with sometimes confusing and contradictory information during last year's historic 7 month flood on the Missouri River. Yankton.net has a good story focusing on decision-making under impossible conditions: "VERMILLION — Major disturbance events — such as the rise of the Missouri River last year — are out of the scope of most researchers and research projects, according to one expert. “We’ll still be understanding this flood decades from now, so it’s going to be very interesting how that information is compiled and brought forward as new people work on it,” said Gerald Mestl, Missouri River program manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Mestl discussed some of the effects of last year’s river conditions and the history of flooding along the river as part of the annual Missouri River Institute Research Symposium, which was held Thursday at the University of South Dakota."
Photo credit above: "Flood waters from the nearby Missouri River cover a county highway, Wednesday, June 15, 2011, in Hamburg, Iowa. The water level continues to rise and officials say that it should crest sometime later this week. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)."
Arizona Drought Worsens. Details from the Flagstaff, Arizona office of the NWS: "The drought over Northern and Central Arizona has worsened over the past year...here's a quick comparison of the Drought Monitor graphics which illustrate the worsening conditions."
There's Water In The Rio Grande Again! Details from the El Paso, Texas office of the NWS: "For several months the Rio Grande between El Paso and Las Cruces has been bone dry. On April 1st the Bureau of Reclamation began releasing water from Caballo dam. Almost six days later the water is just now creeping into west El Paso. This photo was taken by meteorologist Tom Bird looking south along the river with the Country Club bridge in the background."
Green Bay - What A Contrast. The satellite image upper left was taken a year ago, showing lingering snowcover and plenty of ice on Lake Michigan. The image upper right was taken on Thursday. Thanks to Jeff Last at the GRB National Weather Service, image courtesy of twitpic.com.
What Spring? Interested in a little April skiing or snowboarding? Check out condtions from the Park City, Utah Mountain Ski Resort, via Facebook.
A Wild Sky. Thanks to Sam Carlson, who snapped this photo near Florence, Oregon on Friday.
Mystery Photo Of The Day: "Hole Punch Cloud"? Birmingham TV meteorologist James Spann tweated this pic along - and I can't, for the life of me, figure out how this happened. At first I thought "sky-writing", those planes that can trace text and figures into the sky by releasing chemicals? Someone else speculated "downburst", but I don't see any severe T-storms nearby that could have done this. The pic was taken in the Dallas area, hit hard by tornadoes last Tuesday. Any ideas? Odd.
Where Are Your Tweeps? No, not "peeps", "tweeps" (the people who follow you on Twitter). This proves privacy is a thing of the past - now you can see, on a map of the world, USA or county-level, who is following you on Twitter. For example, 27% of my tweeps are in Minneapolis, 6.6% live in the St. Paul area. Ugh. Feeling insecure about my St. Paul cred. More from tweepsmap.com: "88% of my followers are from USA, 69% from Minnesota and 27% from Minneapolis."
Lunch With Meteorologist Paul Douglas. O.K. I'm starting to feel overexposed, but I'm grateful to Jeffrey Morris, "FutureDude", an amazing graphic artist and futurist who has created a remarkable web site (futuredude.com) that's definitely worth a look. I sat down with Jeff a few weeks ago to talk about my career and fascination with weather and technology. Here's an excerpt: "My quest for weather knowledge has never ceased. When I saw my local TV weather man, Paul Douglas, reveal his 3D weather visualization system, EarthWatch, back in 1991 — I was blown away. Here was a three-dimensional visualization of the weather. It was the stuff of science fiction and it was being used in a real and practical way! It was only the beginning. I’ve been a big fan of Paul’s work, and followed the evolution of his products and services with great interest. I also was aware of his involvement as an advisor and provider of graphics for the films Jurassic Park and Twister. Paul Douglas currently owns and operates five weather-related businesses, including the spectacular WeatherNation. I recently had the chance to have lunch with him, where we discussed his interest in weather and the the future of forecasting."
Washington Monument. Here's a new perspective! Thanks to NASA's Bill Ingalls for passing this along - more details on how this photo was taken here.
Visualize Climate Data With Free iPhone App From NASA. Treehugger.com has the details: "They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, it might just be worth more than that. If the words 'climate change' seem more like trendy buzzwords than something concrete, then perhaps this new app from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory can help you get your head around it. NASA's Earth Now is a free app that uses recent global climate data gathered from Earth Science satellites and displays it on a 3D model of the Earth, letting you visualize a variety of different types of data using "false color" maps. Choose between data sets of the Earth's carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide levels, water vapor, gravity, surface air temperature, ozone, and sea level variations, and rotate or zoom in on the model with just a swipe or a pinch."
Sir Jonathan Ive: The iMan Cometh. If you're a fan of Apple, and the design genius that has catapulted Apple to become more than a company and more of a lifestyle, here's an excerpt of an interview you don't want to miss - from The London Evening Standard:
Q: How does a new product come about at Apple?
A: What I love about the creative process, and this may sound naive, but it is this idea that one day there is no idea, and no solution, but then the next day there is an idea. I find that incredibly exciting and conceptually actually remarkable.
The nature of having ideas and creativity is incredibly inspiring. There is an idea which is solitary, fragile and tentative and doesn’t have form.
What we’ve found here is that it then becomes a conversation, although remains very fragile.
When you see the most dramatic shift is when you transition from an abstract idea to a slightly more material conversation. But when you made a 3D model, however crude, you bring form to a nebulous idea, and everything changes - the entire process shifts. It galvanises and brings focus from a broad group of people. It’s a remarkable process.
Snakes On A Plane - For Real! No, I didn't believe it either, until I read this story from the AP and The Washington Post: "CANBERRA, Australia — An Australian pilot said he was forced to make a harrowing landing reminiscent of a Hollywood thriller after a snake popped out from behind his dashboard and slithered across his leg during a solo cargo flight. Braden Blennerhassett — unsure whether the snake was venomous — said Thursday that his heart raced as he tried to keep his hands still while maneuvering the plane back to the northern city of Darwin. The snake popped its head out from behind the instrument panel several times, Blennerhassett said, and then the ordeal worsened when the animal crawled across his leg during the approach to the airport."
More Than A "Passing Shower". We had a shower in the forecast, but yesterday's precipitation qualified as "rain", meaning a few hours of steady precipitation. The timing was unfortunate, but it's just what your lawn and emerging flowers needed, and Easter Sunday will be a little greener as a result. The front picked up moisture as it pushed east, dropping only a trace of rain at Alexandria, .03" St. Cloud and .17" in the Twin Cities. Highs ranged from a chilly 49 at Grand Marais to 57 Twin Cities, 58 at St. Cloud (where the sun came out 90 minutes earlier).
Sunrise Panorama. Broadcast Weather meteorologist Todd Nelson snapped this photo - actually a series of 3 pics that was stitched together into 1 sweeping view, using a free iPhone app called
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
EASTER SUNDAY: Red Flag Warning for high brushfire risk. Sun dimmed by high clouds, a stiff breeze. Winds: W 15-25. High: 61
SUNDAY NIGHT: Clearing, turning windy and noticeably colder. Low: 38
MONDAY: Jacket weather. Sunny and brisk. High: 52
TUESDAY: Frosty start for the suburbs. Bright sun, chilly. Low: 33. High: near 50
WEDNESDAY: More widespread frost? Light winds under a blue sky. Low: 31. High: 54
THURSDAY: Clouds roll in. PM showers possible. Low: 41. High: 57
FRIDAY: Million-dollar-rain likely, possibly moderate to heavy. Low: 45. High: 54
SATURDAY: Damp start. Some PM sun. Winds: S 10-15. Low: 47. High: 62
Tornado warnings 2.0
Mea culpa. I had a "passing shower" in the Saturday outlook. Yep, that shower passed overhead (repeatedly) much of the day. Ugh. If I could just time the rain for weekdays, preferably at night. I'm working on that.
This is my favorite time of the year: an almost alien, neon-green landscape. We're in a drought, so I won't gripe about rain, even on a Saturday. Easter Sunday should be drier and milder; the last day of 60s all week.<p>Dig out a jacket; the best chance of suburban frost comes Tuesday and Wednesday.
We may be sliding into a wetter pattern: more rain Thursday and Friday; drier by Saturday PM. In general a southward shift to the jet stream, coupled with a northward penetration of Gulf moisture, may spin up a couple of (badly needed) rain storms in the coming weeks - I'm feeling a little more optimistic for farmers, gardeners, and anyone with a boat.
Is it time to go beyond traditional tornado warnings? The NWS issues them for rotating T-storms, but fewer than 3 in 10 spinning "supercells" will ever spin up a tornado. The result? Apathy. Cynicism "They're crying wolf again Erma!"
But what if a "Tornado Alert" was issued for rotation-based storms. Stay alert, this MAY drop a tornado. If dual-polarizaton Doppler, SKYWARN or police confirm a tornado, the NWS upgrades to "Tornado Emergency". Use strong language; THIS IS REAL FOLKS! Tornado on the ground, take cover now! A humble proposition from a very paranoid weatherman.
* photo above of the June 17, 2010 tornado near Albert Lea courtesy of Broadcast Weather meteorologist Aaron Shaffer.
1981 Climate Predictions Were Eerily Accurate. Here's an excerpt of a story from io9.com: "A paper published in the journal Science in August 1981 made several projections regarding future climate change and anthropogenic global warming based on manmade CO2 emissions. As it turns out, the authors' projections have proven to be rather accurate - and their future is now our present. The paper, written by a team of atmospheric physicists led by the now-controversial James Hansen at NASA's Institute for Space Studies at Goddard Space Flight Center, was recently rediscovered by researchers Geert Jan van Oldenborgh and Rein Haarsma from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI). Taking a break from research due to illness, the scientists got a chance to look back through some older, overlooked publications."
Photo credit above: "The retreat of Pedersen Glacier in Alaska. Left: summer 1917. Right: summer 2005. Source: The Glacier Photograph Collection, National Snow and Ice Data Center/World Data Center for Glaciology."
Five Myths About Water. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating read from The Washington Post: "Water is the most familiar substance in our lives, and the most important. Every cell in our bodies is plumped full of water; every heartbeat, every thought — including thoughts about water — happens only because of the cascade of chemistry that water makes possible. Yet we know almost nothing about water, starting with such basics as: Where does our water come from? Where does it go once it disappears down the drain? In fact, even what we think we know about water is often wrong.
Warming: Scientific Fact. Here's an Op-Ed in the Charleston Gazette, in the heart of West Virginia coal country. I admire their courage in stepping up and acknowledging the scientific facts. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed you should read: ....The internal documents also allege that the Koch brothers, conservative oil billionaires, gave Heartland $200,000. New Jersey's Star-Ledger pointed out that the Kochs "backed climate-denier Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign," and their donation shows that Heartland "is a shill for oil companies that have a huge profit motive in dirty fossil fuels." The paper continued: "Climate change deniers use a strategy identical to those who want creationism taught alongside evolution in science classes: Ignore the science and teach the debate, as if the simple fact of disagreeing with scientific fact is educationally significant ... . It's deliberate ignorance. That's the same pseudoscience that leads parents to opt out of vaccinations for their children or oppose fluoride in drinking water. The stakes in climate change are much higher -- planetary, in fact."
Link Between Extreme Weather And Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an interview with noted climate scientist Kevin Trenberth, on NPR. It's worth checking out the full transcript of the interview; here's a snippet:
"TRENBERTH: Spring has been moving up. It has been generally the case, but - this year especially so. And the tornado season seems to have moved up as well.
CONAN: And that means there are going to be more of these storms, no?
TRENBERTH: Well, you know, tornadoes vary quite a lot from year to year, and they depend on other factors, as to whether the jet stream is in just the right location and certainly the warm moist air coming out of the Gulf. And, you know, that's part of the climate change aspect, is that the air coming out of the Gulf is a bit warmer and moister. And so it helps to invigorate the thunderstorms that host these tornadoes. So that is one factor that's underplayed, but there is a lot of variability, of course, from year to year."
Proof Of The Disintegrating Antarctic Ice Shelf; China's Weird Weather. Here's a story (and great time-lapse photo sequence) from The Atlantic Wire: "Perhaps you're a visual learner? Or maybe you just can't believe stories without photo evidence. Well, now you have some! From a European Space Agency Satellite, we get these images of the ice shelf over the last 10 years in GIF form. Over the last decade, the ice shelf has disintegrated by 1790 sq km, which is about as big as the biggest island of the Galapagos. Granted, this shelf has seen it worse than most other areas of the world. "The northern Antarctic Peninsula has been subject to atmospheric warming of about 2.5°C over the last 50 years -- a much stronger warming trend than on global average, causing retreat and disintegration of ice shelves," said researcher Helmut Rott. But, geez, that's a lot of ice meltage. [ESA]"
Ecosystems Dependent On Snow And Ice "Most Threatened" By Global Warming. Details from newstrackindia.com: "Washington, April 7 (ANI): With increasing global warming, the most threatened ecosystems are those that depend on a season of snow and ice, scientists say. The finding results from more than 30 years of Long Term Ecological Research (LTER), a program of the National Science Foundation (NSF). "The vulnerability of cool, wet areas to climate change is striking," said Julia Jones, a lead author of the study. In semi-arid regions like the southwestern United States, mountain snowpacks are the dominant source of water for human consumption and irrigation. Research by Jones and her colleagues showed that as average temperatures increase in these snowy ecosystems, a significant amount of stream water is lost to the atmosphere." Photo: Reuters.
Ice Age Study Delivers Blow To Global Warming Skeptics. The story from The Christian Science Monitor: "Rising levels of carbon dioxide drove much of the global warming that thawed Earth at the end of the last ice age. That's the conclusion a team of scientists has drawn in a new study examining the factors that closed the door on the last ice age, which ended about 20,000 years ago. The result stands in contrast to previous studies that showed temperatures rising ahead of increases in atmospheric CO2 levels. This has led some skeptics of human-triggered global warming to argue that if warming temperatures came first, CO2 wasn't an important factor then and so can't be as significant a factor today as most climate scientists calculate it to be."
Photo credit above: "Changed patterns of deep sea circulation resulted in less sea ice around Antarctica at the end of the last ice age, part of a broader process that led to an influx of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This photo shows Antarctic sea ice today. Alister Doyle/REUTERS/File."
NASA Scientist: Climate Change Is A Moral Issue On A Par With Slavery. The story from the U.K. Guardian: "Averting the worst consequences of human-induced climate change is a "great moral issue" on a par with slavery, according to the leading Nasa climate scientist Prof Jim Hansen. He argues that storing up expensive and destructive consequences for society in future is an "injustice of one generation to others". Hansen, who will next Tuesday be awarded the prestigious Edinburgh Medal for his contribution to science, will also in his acceptance speech call for a worldwide tax on all carbon emissions. In his lecture, Hansen will argue that the challenge facing future generations from climate change is so urgent that a flat-rate global tax is needed to force immediate cuts in fossil fuel use."
Photo credit above: "Prof Jim Hansen: 'We’re handing future generations a climate system which is potentially out of their control'. Photograph: Melanie Patterson/AP."
Poll: Many Conservatives Doubt Global Warming. Here's an excerpt from The Orange County Register: "Among Orange County Republicans polled, 69 percent say man does not contribute to global warming or that there is no global warming. Among Democrats here, 98 percent say man does contribute to global warming. These findings by the OC Political Pulse poll portray an even starker partisanship than shows up in a Gallup nationwide poll, perhaps because OC Political Pulse participants signed up for the polling project and so may be more politically engaged and ideological than those randomly phoned by Gallup. Even more striking: Among county Republicans, 44 percent say no global warming is taking place. Among Tea Party identifiers, 54 percent say there's no global warming."
The Future Is Now For Sea Level Rise In South Florida. Here's an excerpt of a post from Climate Central: "It’s not unusual for Keith London to run into people who doubt that global warming is really such a big deal. “I tell them, ‘the ocean is rising,’ ” he said. “They say, ‘so?’ It drives you crazy.” London is no scientist; he’s a city commissioner in Hallandale Beach, Fla., a municipality of about 37,000 that sits on the Atlantic coast between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. But he talks to scientists and engineers all the time as part of his job, and the story they tell him isn’t pretty. “The average elevation in Florida is 6 feet,” London said. “Some places are as little as 3 feet above sea level. And sea level is going to rise as all that ice in the Arctic melts.”
Ready Or Not: Is Your State Prepared For Climate Change? Here's a story from a senior attorney at the NRDC, the Natural Resources Defense Council, at Huffington Post: "Every state in the U.S. is vulnerable to the water-related impacts of climate change, but a new 300-page report from NRDC reveals that 29 states are failing to adequately prepare for these impacts. Only nine states have undertaken comprehensive planning efforts. Meanwhile, six states -- Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio and South Dakota -- have not taken any meaningful action to prepare for climate change or to address the climate pollution that threatens our communities and the economy."
California At Top In Climate Change Preparedness. More details from The San Francisco Chronicle: "Scarce water supplies and coastal flooding may be part of California's future, but the Golden State is as ready as any state to tackle those and other problems caused by climate change, according to a national study released Thursday. California is one of only nine states that have developed comprehensive strategies and implemented policies to deal with water shortages, droughts, a shrinking snowpack and other water-related problems that are expected to occur if global temperatures increase this century as predicted by scientists, the Natural Resources Defense Council report said." Image credit: NASA.
Many Corn-Belt States Unprepared For Climate Change. The story from cattlenetwork.com: "The Natural Resources Defense Council released a new report ranking states in terms of how their governments have addressed the challenges posed by climate change. The report shows that many Corn Belt states rank in the bottom two categories of four category ranking system NRDC created for the report. Since many Midwestern states don’t have as many water challenges, their governments do not appear to be as focused on setting climate change directives. NRDC’s report focuses on how state governments across the nation are planning and preparing for the water-related impacts of climate change. These impacts include more severe and frequent storms, intense rainfall, sea-level rise, warmer water temperatures and drought events." Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune.
Report Finds Texas Lags In Preparing For Climate Change. Details from The Houston Chronicle: "Texas lags behind most states in planning for the unavoidable impacts of climate change on its landscape and economy, according to a national report released Thursday. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which prepared the report, said Texas must work not just to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, but to prepare for rising sea levels and declining water supplies. The environmental group lumped Texas with 11 other states that have no strategy for responding to the effects of climate change, particularly those related to water. Texas' ongoing drought clearly shows its vulnerability to higher temperatures and changes in rainfall, said Steve Fleischli, director of the NRDC's water and climate program."
Photo credit above: "Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe delivers her Faith Based Response to Climate Change talk to students and faculty during chapel at Hardin-Simmons University Tuesday, April 3, 2012, in Abilene, Texas. (AP Photo, Abilene Reporter-News/Nellie Doneva)."
Global Warming Affects Russia More Than Others - Meteorologists. From RT.com: "Russia is suffering from global warming more than any other country, say state meteorologists. The weathermen’s latest report focuses on climate indicators in 2011, as well as on the trends of the last 35 years. The scientists say that climate change in Russia appears to be double that in other countries. In the last 35 years, the average temperature in Russia went up by 1.5 degrees, while the average figure across the world is 0.8 degrees. “The report shows that global warming is not a gradual process,” said Aleksey Kokorin, the head of WWF Russia climate service. “Although the average temperatures are going up slowly, the temperatures’ actual leaps are 10 times bigger. The number of alarming climate phenomena has gone up by two times.”
Video credit above: "Spring" in Moscow (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich).
Stephen Colbert: Scientific Pioneer? Here's a fascinating post from Chris Mooney - check out the full story at Huffington Post: "In my last post here, I explored what I called the science of "truthiness": How we can come to understand the denial of science, on issues like global warming, by examining the underlying psychology of political conservatism itself. But I must confess that in that item, I was relying on a fairly clichéd understanding of the word "truthiness." Since it was first coined by Stephen Colbert in 2005, the term has taken on a massive life of its own -- coming to mean, in its broadest sense, the problem of people making up their own reality, one just "truthy" enough that they actually believe it. Frankly, though, most of us only have a "truthy" sense of what "truthiness" actually meant in its original formulation."
Photo credit above: Scott Gries/PictureGroup.
Fending Off Invaders In A Warmer Climate. NOAA has the story: "Invasive species come in many shapes and sizes; some might even be swimming around in your aquarium right now. But one characteristic that many of them share is that they tend to thrive under a wide range of environmental conditions, giving them an advantage in the face of climate change. In the Great Lakes region, conservation and resource managers are already fending off attacks by multiple invasive species while trying to anticipate what might happen in the future. One of the region’s most prolific invaders from the past several decades is the zebra mussel. Since the arrival of this invasive species, zebra mussels have all but eliminated native mussels by attaching to their shells (demonstrated in the photo above), inhibiting their movement, and competing with them for food."
Fossil Fuel Subsidies: Helping The Richest Get Richer. Here's an excerpt of a story at The L.A. Times: "Last week, the Senate voted on a proposal by New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez to end some of the billions of dollars in handouts enjoyed by the fossil-fuel industry. The Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act was a curiously skimpy bill that targeted only oil companies, and just the five richest of them at that. Left out were coal and natural gas. Even so, the proposal didn't pass. But that hasn't stopped President Obama from calling for an end to oil subsidies at every stop on his early presidential-campaign-plus-fundraising blitz. And this month Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will introduce a much tougher bill that tackles all fossil fuels and their purveyors."
Photo credit above: "US President Barack Obama delivers remarks urging Congress to vote on the 'Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act', as supporters look on, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington D.C. (Michael Reynolds / EPA / March 29, 2012)."
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