An Almost Perfect Recipe For Snow Melt

How long can you hold your breath? Meteorologists are breathing a quiet sigh of relief after scanning the latest weather models. Nighttime temperatures dip below 32F over the weekend, slowing the rate of snow melt. And most weather models keep us fairly dry through the end of next week. We're not out of the woods just yet, but a lack of widespread/heavy rain in recent weeks is increasing the odds that Minnesota may avoid the watery fate that befell Nebraska and Iowa.

Too early for a victory lap though.

Unless you're at Target Field, where opening day  weather for the Twins will be considerably better than last
year, when it was in the 30s. Expect 50F with a few peeks of sun. Light jacket weather.

A chilling breeze whips up on Saturday, followed by another warming trend with 60s by midweek. Midweek
showers are possible, but we dry out late in the week, with sunshine and highs in the upper 40s and low 50s for Final 4 festivities in Minneapolis.

Considering we could be butt-deep in drifts in early April (remember last year?) I am relieved. 

St. Paul Prepares For Possible Flooding in Lowertown. Fox 9 has the story: "...In Lowertown, crews completed an earthen and sandbag levee on 2nd Street between Jackson and Sibley streets to protect the area from a potential long-term flood event. At its current height, the levee can sustain a 23-foot crest with the ability add another three feet on top if something truly disastrous occurs in the weeks ahead. “It is something we have learned over time,” Lantry said. “Unfortunately, St. Paul has dealt with floods a number of times in the past, so we have an excellent protocol.” Lantry said the temporary levees will likely be in the place for weeks, potentially a month depending on what the river does. She estimated the total costs of the temporary flood efforts could reach about $750,000..."

West Central Minnesota Flooding 2019 Photo Gallery. West Central Tribune has a photo essay on the efforts underway to hold back flood waters across western Minnesota.

Photo credit: "Students at the Montevideo High School are filling 20,000 sandbags Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in preparation of the community’s flood fight. The sandbags will be used to build up the levee along the Minnesota River where waters are projected to reach major flood stage by week’s end." Tom Cherveny / Tribune photo.

Adding Insult to Injury for Farmers. reports: "Planalytics, a business weather intelligence firm based in Pennsylvania estimates more than half of all corn and soybean acres are at risk of flooding this spring. “Planalytics… recently reported on the convergence of conditions that led to what has already been described as the worst flooding disaster to ever hit the region,” the company said in a news release. “Planalytics estimates that 55% of U.S. corn acres and 60% of soybean acres are at risk of either major or moderate flooding this spring...”

North Dakota Climatologist: 2019 Flood Not Shaping Up to Rival 2009 Record. Bismarck Tribune has the details; here's an excerpt: "...Will the 2019 flood-in-the-making be in the same category as the record flood, which crested on March 28, 2009, with a Red River level of 40.84 feet? Unlikely, according to North Dakota’s state climatologist. The conditions that created the 2009 flood were highly unusual, and so far the conditions that are lining up to produce this year’s spring flood are not nearly as severe, said Adnan Akyuz, the state climatologist and professor of climatology at North Dakota State University. “I have heard from several others that the conditions were comparable to 2009,” he said. “I didn’t think so, but decided to check.” He did so, he said, “To give them the opposite of a scare, maybe comfort...”

Photo credit: "The Red River flows freely along Elm Street in north Fargo on Monday. The river, still ice-covered in stretches, likely won’t fully break open here this week as freezing temperatures continue to delay a spring thaw, weather service meteorologist Greg Gust said." Forum News Service.

Record Flood Concerns Gradually Giving Way in Minnesota. Although it would be wildly premature to let your guard down just yet. Here's an excerpt from The Star Tribune: "...Pete Boulay, assistant state climatologist for the Department of Natural Resources, said the mild weather has done a good job of "eroding the snowpack" across central and southern Minnesota. "Obviously, it's encouraging to see highs above freezing and lows below freezing" in the forecast for the next week, Boulay added. But he noted that a substantial amount of water remains in the snowpack across the Red River Valley. Amanda Lee, a NWS hydrologist and meteorologist covering the Red River Valley from the Grand Forks office, said Monday that the rivers in the region are still largely frozen, though water was starting to move a bit at the juncture of the Bois de Sioux and Otter Tail rivers, which forms the Red River of the North, and in west-central Minnesota..."

Photo credit: Carlos Gonzalez – Star Tribune. "Downtown St. Paul is reflected in the water flooding Harriet Island Regional Park on Monday afternoon."

After Devastating Floods, U.S. Midwest Farms Need More Than "Paper Towels" to Recover. Reuters has the story: "...But what Oswald really needs is money. Hit by the worst flooding in living memory, he and thousands of other farmers along the Missouri River will each require hundreds of thousands of dollars in disaster funds or loans to start over. “The typical response on flood relief is groups like the Red Cross show up with paper towels and rubber gloves and scrub buckets,” said Oswald, 69, who does not expect to be able to get to his home or land for weeks. “The biggest thing farmers need is cash, or ways to access funds...”

Photo before/after credit: "A combination of aerial photos show the farm of Richard Oswald near Langdon, Missouri after flooding March 20, 2019 and in the fall of 2018 at right." Courtesy of Richard Oswald/Handout via REUTERS.

Flood Damages Now Estimated at $3 Billion. Hoosier Ag Today has an update: "Damages from flooding in the Midwest are now estimated to top $3 billion, with threats of more flooding on the horizon. President Donald Trump has approved federal disaster declarations for counties in Iowa and Nebraska. Iowa officials say agriculture losses are at least $214 million. The Missouri River flooding will continue as an above normal snowpack in the North begins to melt and move downstream. Forecasters warn the flooding could continue through May..."

Midwest Floods: Ruptured Levees Could Cost Billions to Repair. A story at CBS News caught my eye: "...Twelve levees have already been breached, others have been "overtopped." And still others are in danger. "The public needs to remain vigilant."  "The whole thing is trashed," said Pat Sheldon, who is president of a regional "levee district" that extends from Iowa to the Missouri border. He predicted that doing a "total rebuild" of his levee system alone could cost "several billion dollars."  There are nearly 100,000 miles of levees across the country, protecting almost 150 million people, and when they fail, it can be disastrous. Others who've witnessed the misfortune of a levee rupturing weren't so lucky. The biggest tragedy occurred in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when a dike that was supposed to protect the city gave way and 1,300 people died..."

Commerce Unveils a Budget to Decimate NOAA. Southern Fried Science reports: "...Whatever goodwill Secretary Ross may have earned has been destroyed by this new budget, which is nothing less than an attack on American Science, America’s Coastal Communities, and America’s Ocean Economy. It is a betrayal of whatever values Ross claimed to posses during his nomination. This budget is the product of mediocre men of limited vision. I can’t even be mad, I’m just disappointed. Below are just a few of the most uninspired cuts to the NOAA budget..."

The administration's 2020 Commerce budget proposal is here.

Scientists Are Blown Away by Hurricane Experiment's Results. Nature has an uncanny way of picking up the pieces and pushing forward, according to new research highlighted at The Harvard Gazette: "...Around them were trees that, while younger and thinner than those they replaced, had long ago closed the gaps in the forest canopy. They were similar in makeup to those prior to the storm — a surprise for researchers expecting more pioneer species to take hold. Also remarkable was just how unremarkable the tract looked. It was like many other New England deciduous forests, bare and awaiting spring’s leaf-out on a chilly late-winter morning. In fact, that ordinariness — an expression of the stability of the New England forest ecosystem, even in the wake of a once-in-a-century calamity — was another key lesson, along with the finding that forests managed as natural environments are best left to recover themselves rather than being helped along by the “salvage logging” widespread after the 1938 storm and still common after blowdowns, fires, and tree-killing insect infestations today..."

Photo credit: Kai-Jae Wang/Harvard Staff.

$125 Million Lawsuit Filed Against The Weather Channel For "Horrific" Crash That Killed 3 During 2017 Tornado Chase. USA TODAY has the details: "The mother of a man killed in a "horrific" 2017 car accident filed a $125 million wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against the Weather Channel for its role in the crash. On March 28, 2017, the lawsuit alleges that storm chasers Kelley Williamson and Randall Yarnall – who were contractors for the Weather Channel – drove past a stop sign while storm chasing near Spur, Texas. With a speed estimated at 70 mph, their car smashed into another car driven by Corbin Lee Jaeger, 25, a storm spotter for the National Weather Service.  All three men were killed instantly in the wreck, which happened at a remote intersection near the town of Spur, about 55 miles southeast of Lubbock..."

Photo credit: "The car of storm chasers Kelley Williamson and Randall Yarnall was destroyed in the March 2017 wreck near Spur, Texas. Both men and storm spotter Corbin Lee Jaeger were killed in the accident." (Photo: The Law Offices of Robert A. Ball).

Coal Plants Are 'Zombies': Climate Nexus has links and headlines: "Nearly three-quarters of the nation's coal plants cost more to operate today than it would cost to entirely replace them with new renewable energy projects, new research shows. A report from think tank Energy Innovation released Monday finds that 74 percent of current US coal capacity costs more than wind and solar, and the number is expected to rise to 86 percent by 2025. A third of plants currently operating in the US cost 25 percent more to operate than new renewables. "US coal plants are in more danger than ever before," Energy Innovation electricity policy director Mike O'Boyle told CNN Business. "Nearly three-quarters of US coal plants are already 'zombie coal,' or the walking dead." (CNN, The Guardian, InsideClimate News, Gizmodo, E&E, Fast Company, ThinkProgress, US Energy News)

Get Yourself a Nemesis. Incentive comes in many forms. The Atlantic has an interesting read; here's a snippet: "...All these cases suggest that a nemesis is a special kind of foe. It’s not someone you hate with every inch of your being. That’s more of an enemy. A nemesis also isn’t a bully. A rival might be a fairer description, but a rival is someone you’re pitted against in a naturally adversarial environment, such as a sports game. Nemeses, meanwhile, are worthy foes in any area of life. They require a particular kind of jealousy, because you compete with them, even if they’re unaware of your existence. They can drive you mad with their achievements. But they can also push you to work harder..."

Illustration credit: OSTILL / Shutterstock / Taylor Lorenz / Katie Martin / The Atlantic.

Spam Has Taken Over Our Phones. Will We Ever Want To Answer Them Again? No kidding. The Washington Post reports on a troubling trend: "...Spam bots nest in call centers on every continent, spewing out phone calls by the millions, saturating the communication networks. Spam and scams swarm through our phones like Hitchcock’s birds down the living-room chimney. There is no escape. More than 10 billion robo-calls have been placed so far in 2019, by call-blocking company YouMail’s estimate — almost double the same period a year before. Another report by First Orion, the call-blocking and caller-ID tech company, estimates that nearly half of all cellphone calls will be scams at some point this year..."

Graphic credit: "Ever get a phone call from a number that looks suspiciously like your own? This video explains them, and what you should do about them." (Jhaan Elker/The Washington Post

Science Confirms: Dark Chocolate is Good For You. CookingLight has the delicious details: "Good news, chocolate lovers: Your favorite sweet treat may actually be good for you. So start sprinkling cacao nibs on your yogurt and sipping on dark chocolate smoothies, because new research shows chocolate could be beneficial to your health. Researchers from Loma Linda University presented two studies at the Experimental Biology 2018this link opens in a new tab conference. According to the press releasethis link opens in a new tab, the studies found that dark chocolate can reduce inflammation and stress, while also improving memory, immunity, and mood...."

Study Finds Women Sleep Better Next to Dogs Than Humans. Oh great. has the excruciating details: "Women, if you want to catch better zzz’s, you should trade in your partner for your dog. That may sound extreme, but consider this: A new study published in the journal Anthrozoös found that a woman’s quality of shut-eye improves when she sleeps in bed next to her canine rather than her human partner. Researchers from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, surveyed more than 960 women. They discovered that women are less likely to have their sleep disrupted by dogs than humans. Of the participants, 55 percent shared a bed with canines, while 57 percent cuddled up next to a human partner. The researchers wrote in the study, “Compared with human bed partners, dogs who slept in the owner’s bed were perceived to disturb sleep less and were associated with stronger feelings of comfort and security...”

Does Nudity Make You More Aerodynamic? Fox News reports: "Well, at least there was some logic behind it. A traveler passing through Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport reportedly claimed to be more “aerodynamic” while nude, shortly after stripping off his clothes and attempting to board a Ural Airlines flight to Crimea. The man, identified as a Moscow-area resident born in 1981, had made his way through security at Domodedovo completely clothed, before getting naked sometime ahead of arriving at the boarding gate, according to The Moscow Times. “He shouted that he was naked because clothing impairs the aerodynamics of the body. He flies with more agility when undressed,” a witness told Russia’s REN TV network, as translated by The Moscow Times..."

64 F. maximum temperature in the Twin Cities on Wednesday.

47 F. average high on March 27.

48 F. high on March 27, 2018.

March 28, 1924: A drought is broken with style in southern Minnesota as up to 25 inches of snow falls.

THURSDAY: More clouds than sun. Winds: NW 8-13. High: near 50

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, cool and dry. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 30. High: 51

SATURDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, brisk. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 27. High: 45

SUNDAY: Clouds increase, less wind. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 28. High: near 50

MONDAY: Blue sky, milder breeze kicks in. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 31. High: 56

TUESDAY: Patchy clouds, mild wind. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 38. High: 60

WEDNESDAY: Balmy. Stray shower or T-shower. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 47. High: 62

Climate Stories....

Xcel Energy Was a Coal-First Power Company. Now It's Going Carbon-Free. CNN has the story: "Xcel Energy burned coal to generate nearly half its power just a few years ago. Now it's helping to lead America's clean energy revolution. The $30 billion Minneapolis-based utility has already shut down a quarter of its coal power plants. And it will soon pull the plug on another quarter. Xcel Energy (XEL)recently announced an ambitious plan to deliver zero-carbon electricity by 2050, making it the first large American power company to set that challenging goal. "We are leading the industry," Xcel Energy CEO Ben Fowke told CNN Business. "It's a product of what our customers and regulators want..."

They Grew Up Around Fossil Fuels. Now, Their Jobs Are in Renewables. Check out this post at The New York Times: "Chris Riley comes from a coal town and a coal family, but he founded a company that could hasten coal’s decline. Lee Van Horn, whose father worked underground in the mines, spends some days more than 300 feet in the air atop a wind turbine. They, and the other people in this story, represent a shift, not just in power generation but in generations of workers as well.They come from places where fossil fuels like coal provided lifelong employment for their parents, grandparents and neighbors. They found a different path, but not necessarily out of a deep environmental commitment. In America today there is more employment in wind and solar power than in mining and burning coal. And a job’s a job..."

Photo credit:

Global Carbon Emissions Hit Record High in 2018: IEA. Reuters has the sobering news: "Global energy-related carbon emissions rose to a record high last year as energy demand and coal use increased, mainly in Asia, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday. Energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.7 percent to 33.1 billion tonnes from the previous year, the highest rate of growth since 2013, with the power sector accounting for almost two-thirds of this growth, according to IEA estimates. The United States’ CO2 emissions grew by 3.1 percent in 2018, reversing a decline a year earlier, while China’s emissions rose by 2.5 percent and India’s by 4.5 percent..."

Wall Street is Masking the True Cost of Climate Change for Coastal Homes. Bloomberg Businessweek has the story; here's a clip: "...People are moving into harm’s way, and there are multiple threats associated with living near the coast,” he says, “but there’s been a tremendous abundance of capital that has become available to insure property risks.” The investment capital that has gone into insurers and reinsurers has increased competition in the industry and held premiums down. That, in turn, has artificially suppressed the cost of coastal homeownership. “The consumer got the benefit of the disconnect between the flood of available capital that came into the reinsurance market and the voices of scientists indicating higher client risk,” says Rollins. Simultaneously, “the national flood insurance program is artificially subsidized due to a lot of political pressure,” says Howard Mills, the global insurance regulatory leader at Deloitte. “Currently, people who live in areas of the country that will never, ever flood are subsidizing those who live in risky areas...”

Green New Deal: Where the 2020 Presidential Candidates Stand. Here are a few quotes lifted from a story at Axios:

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted "I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal proposal. We must address the existential crisis of planetary climate change."
  • Sen. Cory Booker likened the GND to fighting Nazis and going to the Moon, reports the Washington Times.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, via C-SPAN: "We have to have goals. It's a resolution that requires us to have goals and think about what we can achieve and put metrics on it."
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted that she is "excited" to back the GND after initially saying she backed the general "idea" of it.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar: "I see it as aspirational, I see it as a jump-start. So I would vote yes, but I would also, if it got down to the nitty-gritty of an actual legislation as opposed to, 'Oh, here are some goals we have,' that would be different for me," reports The Hill...

Here's What Warren Buffet Thinks About Climate Change. CNBC has a long and interesting post; here's an excerpt: "...The issue before the shareholders is not how I feel about whether climate change is real. ... I don’t think you and I have any difference in the fact that it’s important that climate change — you know, since it’s something where there is a point of no return — if we are on the course that you think is certain and I think is probable, that it’s a terribly important subject.” For most of his life Buffett has taken a provincial view of investing, focused almost exclusively on the U.S., and in that sense, many of the changes being wrought by climate change around the globe may not directly bear on his holdings. But right now, Buffett’s home state of Nebraska is experiencing record flooding..."

Fed Researcher Warns Climate Change Could Spur Financial Crisis. Bloomberg has the post - here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...Climate change is becoming increasingly relevant to central bankers because losses from natural disasters that are magnified by higher temperatures and elevated sea levels could spark a financial crisis, a Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco researcher found. “Climate-related financial risks could affect the economy through elevated credit spreads, greater precautionary saving, and, in the extreme, a financial crisis,’’ Glenn Rudebusch, the San Francisco Fed’s executive vice president for research, wrote in a paper published Monday..."

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