Soggy, Potentially Severe Holding Pattern

Growing up the weather had a distinct rhythm, a fairly predictable ebb & flow. Things clicked, most of the time. Lately, the Symphony of the Seasons has sounded more like a bored, talent-free 2nd grade orchestra, screeching away. America's manic weather has been playing out of tune since the late 90s, and I've been talking about it ever since.

Rapid warming of the Arctic may be impacting the configuration of the jet stream with a subsequent slowing of patterns - a greater tendency for systems to stall, for weather to get stuck for days or even weeks at a time. Record flooding in Montreal; a record wet winter for California's Sierra Nevada, after a record 7-year drought; another 1,000 year flood for Missouri?

Our weather gets stuck this week, with repeated waves of T-storms and heavy rain. A few storms may turn severe today; models print out 3 inches of new rain by Wednesday night. By Saturday night totals may push 3-5 inches for some communities.

Expect 50s for highs later this week, but 60s return next week with a drier sky; maybe 70s by Memorial Day? My fingers are crossed.

* 84-hour rainfall prediction above (NAM model) courtesy of NOAA and

Tuesday Severe Threat. The best chance of large hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes later today will come from the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle into central Kansas, but strong to severe storms are possible as far north as the Twin Cities and Eau Claire.

Month's Worth of Rain Next 84 Hours. Most spots will pick up an inch or two of additional rain, but NAM guidance suggests as much as 4", especially south and east of the Twin Cities and the Nebraska Panhandle. Animation:

Late Season Snow? Yep, that's an awful lot of blue (snow) on the future radar map for the third week of May, but NAM guidance prints out a few inches of slushy snow from near Boise and Butte to Park City and the higher terrain of Colorado. Meanwhile multiple waves of showers and T-storms soak the Dakotas and Upper Midwest with heavy rain. Generally fair weather lingers from Atlanta and Huntsville to Boston. Loop: NOAA and

Big Temperature Swings Coming. ECMWF and NOAA guidance is consistent: today should be the warmest day in sight with 80s if there's any sunshine whatsoever. We cool down fairly dramatically (but no snow, thank you Lord) before temperatures recover close to average next week. I'd still bet a (stale) bagel we'll be up near or just above 70F on Memorial Day. MSP numbers: WeatherBell.

National Drought Recedes to Record Low Level. NOAA has the details: “April showers bring May flowers,” or so the saying goes. Perhaps a more appropriate description this year might be, “Heavy April showers bring record flooding.” All that rain helped shrink the drought footprint for the contiguous U.S. to the lowest level since the nationwide Drought Monitor program began in 2000. It also caused loss of life and extensive property destruction in many communities. Last month, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 53.8 degrees F, 2.7 degrees above the 20th-century average. The month ranked as the 11th warmest April in the 123-year period of record, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information..."

April 27 Was Second Warmest on Record, Worldwide. NASA GISS has the details: "April 2017 was the second warmest April in 137 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. Last month was 0.88 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean April temperature from 1951-1980. The two top April temperature anomalies have occurred during the past two years. April 2016 was the hottest on record, at 1.06 degrees Celsius warmer than the April mean temperature. April 2017's temperature was 0.18 degrees Celsius cooler than April 2016. This past April was only slightly warmer than the third warmest April, which occurred in 2010 and was 0.87 degrees warmer than the mean..."

Farmers Scramble to Adapt to Volatile Weather. The Wall Street Journal reports: "U.S. farmers are putting aside politics and arming themselves for volatile weather that they expect will be the new normal. Intense heat waves, droughts and floods have led to erratic yields in California, Michigan, Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and other agricultural states. Expecting that trend to continue, farmers big and small are investing in ways to preserve water in their soil, plant crops more quickly and irrigate more efficiently. “We are watching springs dry up,” says Pat O’Toole, a Savery, Wyo., rancher, who uses portable, solar-powered pumps to retrieve groundwater for his 6,000 sheep and 1,000 cows. “We are aggressively looking at our whole operation.” The year 2012, with its record-setting heat wave and drought, was a turning point for many. Growers in 22 states suffered what federal agencies considered “crop failure,” the worst agricultural calamity since a severe dry spell in 1988..." (File photo: Rob Koch).

1 in 1,000 Year Rainfall Caused Missouri Floods. By my count the USA experienced at least 5 separate thousand-year rains in 2016, a number that may be topped this year. Here's an excerpt from USA TODAY: "The massive amount of rain that caused the devastating flooding in the past few weeks in Missouri was a rare 1-in-1,000-year event, meteorologists said Friday. Most of the “once-in-a-millennium” rainfall from late April to early May occurred in Texas and Howell counties in southern Missouri, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. Some areas picked up over a foot of rain within a few hours April 29. "This incredible rainfall resulted in widespread and historic flooding," the National Weather Service in Springfield, Mo., said. "Numerous roads, bridges and buildings were destroyed." Other portions of the state, as well as parts of Illinois and Indiana, experienced less extreme rainfall, on the order of 1-in-200 and 1-in-500-year levels..."

Large Floods Can Flood Aging Sewer Systems with Harmful Bacteria, Viruses. Well here's an implication of more heavy rain events I hadn't pondered before, courtesy of "Researchers have discovered a worrying link between heavy rainfall and upticks in infections caused by bacteria and viruses carried by human waste. The correlation was identified in cities with aging sewer systems. Modern sewer systems separate human waste and storm runoff. But in many old sewer systems, a single pipe handles both. Environmental scientist Jyotsna Jagai has spent several years studying the human health risks associated with "combined sewers," which are found in more than 70 major American cities. In 2014, Jagai began comparing rainfall data with hospital records in Massachusetts between 2003 and 2007. In cities with combined sewers, Jagai found heavy rains led to an 13 percent increase in gastrointestinal disorders linked to human waste-borne bacteria and viruses..."

Gas-Powered Vehicles Will Vanish in 8 Years, Says US Report. I'd be amazed if this happens, yet it's hard not to argue with the trend toward electrification of the world's transportation infrastructure. Then again, the future never turns out quite the way you think it will. Here's an excerpt at The Telegraph and "No more petrol or diesel cars, buses, or trucks will be sold anywhere in the world within eight years. The entire market for land transport will switch to electrification, leading to a collapse of oil prices and the demise of the petroleum industry as we have known it for a century. This is the futuristic forecast by Stanford University economist Tony Seba. His report, with the deceptively bland title Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030, has gone viral in green circles and is causing spasms of anxiety in the established industries. Prof Seba's premise is that people will stop driving altogether. They will switch en masse to self-drive electric vehicles (EVs) that are 10 times cheaper to run than fossil-based cars, with a near-zero marginal cost of fuel and an expected lifespan of 1m miles..."

Photo credit: "Vehicles like the BMW i3 electric car are a future that is coming fast according to a report out the US."

Portland Becomes Home to USA's First Electric Showcase. Try before you buy - makes sense to me. Details at "Imagine a place to check out EVs, learn about EVs, and test drive EVs, with no hassle to buy (because it’s not a dealership). This is all a reality at Portland’s new Go Forth Electric Showcase. The Showcase officially opened in downtown Portland, Oregon, and it’s the first of its kind in the United States. The Electric Showcase intends to educate without sales pressure. You can enjoy a fleet of electric cars to compare and drive, and also use interactive displays to learn about how EVs work. There is also information related to charging, and station locations. You can use Forth’s interactive tools to help figure out which EV is your best fit. Executive director of Forth, Jeff Allen, shared with KGW Portland:

“It gives them a chance to try them out, take a car for a test drive, actually practice plugging in the charger and see what that feels like and learn about all their options in a stress free environment...”

Photo credit: "Inside the Go Forth Electric Showcase." (Image Credit: flickr via Zax9000).

Alzheimer's is Type 3 Diabetes? Big Think has a thought-provoking story: "The idea that Alzheimer's is a form of diabetic disease has been gaining currency in medical circles for almost ten years. The accumulated evidence is now so strong that many specialists are now comfortable referring to Alzheimer's as type 3 diabetes. This shouldn't come as a surprise. Insulin doesn't merely signal the body's somatic cells to take up glucose; it also governs the brain's uptake of glucose. And glucose is what powers the brain. It's the brain's primary energy molecule. We've known for some time that the brain itself makes a certain amount of insulin, and various parts of the brain are rich in insulin receptors. It's also well established that cognitive decline is correlated with both obesity and metabolic abnormalities involving insulin..."

Where Automation Poses the Biggest Threat to American Jobs. Here's an excerpt at CityLab: "...A new analysis suggests that the places that are going to be hardest-hit by automation in the coming decades are in fact outside of the Rust Belt. It predicts that areas with high concentrations of jobs in food preparation, office or administrative support, and/or sales will be most affected—places such as Las Vegas and the Riverside-San Bernardino area may be the most vulnerable to automation in upcoming years, with 65 percent of jobs in Las Vegas and 63 percent of jobs in Riverside predicted to be automatable by 2025. Other areas especially vulnerable to automation are El Paso, Orlando, and Louisville. Still, the authors estimate that almost all large American metropolitan areas may lose more than 55 percent of their current jobs because of automation in the next two decades..."

Map credit: The Atlantic, Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis, University of Redlands.

How Untreated Depression Contributes to the Opioid Epidemic. Interesting food for thought at The Atlantic: "It can sometimes seem strange how so much of the country got hooked on opioids within just a few years. Deaths from prescription drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone have more than quadrupled since 1999, according to the CDC. But pain doesn’t seem to be the only culprit: About one-third of Americans have chronic pain, but not all of them take prescription painkillers for it. Of those who do take prescription opioids, not all become addicted. Several researchers now believe depression, one of the most common medical diagnoses in the U.S., might be one underlying cause that’s driving some patients to seek out prescription opioids and to use them improperly. People with depression show abnormalities in the body’s release of its own, endogenous, opioid chemicals. Depression tends to exacerbate pain—it makes chronic pain last longer and hurts the recovery process after surgery..."

File photo: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters.

Press the Button. Do you like ordering up food on tablets? Miss the human interaction? How will automation impact the food services industry, which employs 10% of the American workforce? Here's an excerpt of an interesting post at Lucky Peach: "...On a smaller scale, that’s what’s likely to play out in the restaurant industry, if server and cashier automation picks up the pace. Fast casual and fast food restaurants are already weighted toward kitchen staff, and replacing front-of-house workers with more efficient computerized systems (that also reduce the time customers spend at the table) will only increase the order volume that a given restaurant can process. This change mirrors the larger hollowing out of middle-income jobs in America. Because unless something drastic happens, all those new back-of house jobs are going to be worse than the waiting jobs they replace. For all the love that the food media showers on chefs, the overwhelming majority of kitchen jobs are still extremely poorly paid..."

Your Shoes Will Be Printed Shortly. 3-D printers will be capable of amazing things, as reported at The Wall Street Journal: "This may be the year you get 3-D-printed shoes. By the end of 2017, the transformation of manufacturing will hit a milestone: mass-produced printed parts. Until now, that concept was an oxymoron, since 3-D printing has been used mainly for prototyping and customized parts. But the radical innovation of 3-D printing techniques means we are finally going to see some previously impossible designs creep into our consumer goods. In the long term, it also means new products that previously would have been impractical to produce, and a geographical shift of some manufacturing closer to customers..."

Photo credit: "Adidas’s Futurecraft 4D performance runnning shoes feature plastic midsoles crafted using “digital light synthesis” 3-D printing technology pioneered by Carbon Inc."

Why Would Aliens Even Bother With Earth? If they're reading our tweets they'll steer clear. Here's a thought-provoking post at Literary Hub: "...Don’t get me wrong—if the Earth received an alien tweet tomorrow, or some other text message beamed at us by radio or laser pulse, then I’d be absolutely thrilled. So far, though, we’ve seen no convincing evidence of other civilizations among the stars in our skies. But let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that there are one or more star-faring alien civilizations in the Milky Way. We’re all familiar with Hollywood’s darker depictions of what aliens might do when they come to the Earth: zapping the White House, harvesting humanity for food like a herd of cattle, or sucking our oceans dry. These scenarios make great films, but don’t really stand up to rational scrutiny. So let’s run through a thought experiment on what reasons aliens might possibly have to visit the Earth, not because I reckon we need to ready our defenses or assemble a welcoming party, but because I think considering these possibilities is a great way of exploring many of the core themes of the science of astrobiology..."

Yawning May Promote Social Bonding Even Between Dogs and Humans. Who knew? NPR reports: "Bears do it; bats do it. So do guinea pigs, dogs and humans. They all yawn. It's a common animal behavior, but one that is something of a mystery. There's still no consensus on the purpose of a yawn, says Robert Provine, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Provine has studied what he calls "yawn science" since the early 1980s, and he's published dozens of research articles on it. He says the simple yawn is not so simple. "Yawning may have the dubious distinction of being the least understood common human behavior," Provine says. There are many causes for yawning. Boredom, sleepiness, hunger, anxiety and stress — all cause changes in brain chemistry, which can trigger a spontaneous yawn. But it's not clear what the yawn accomplishes. One possibility is the yawn perks you up by increasing heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory function..."

Photo credit: "Turns out that humans aren't the only animals that contagiously yawn." iStockphoto.

.24" rain fell yesterday at Twin Cities International Airport as of 7 PM.

70 F. high temperature Monday.

69 F. average high on May 15 in the Twin Cities.

65 F. maximum temperature on May 15, 2016.

May 16, 1934: An extreme hot spell results in temperatures over 100 across parts of Minnesota, and record highs of 94 in St. Cloud and Minneapolis.

TODAY: Muggy and warm with T-storms, some severe. Winds: S 15-25. High: 85

TUESDAY NIGHT: Humid with a risk of thunderstorms. Low: 64

WEDNESDAY: Rain, heavy at times. Flash flood risk. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 73

THURSDAY: Cooler and drier. Peeks of sun. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 49. High: 59

FRIDAY: Clouds return, more showers. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 42. High: 56

SATURDAY: More rain, potentially heavy. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 43. High: 58

SUNDAY: Not as squishy. Sun may come out. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 44. High: 63

MONDAY: Breezy, chance of a late day shower. Winds: W 10-20. Wake-up: 45. High: 65

Climate Stories...

Land Use and Climate Change Could Increase Flood Frequency, Experts Say. In light of recent severe flooding across Quebec CBC News in Canada provides perspective: "...An increasing body of scientific evidence shows that human-driven climate change is leading to more frequent severe weather events — including snowfall. Warmer air can hold more moisture, Schreier said, which leads to more precipitation. But that's not the whole story. In a 2012 paper, Kevin Trenberth — a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado — found that, as average temperatures rise, we should expect to see record levels of precipitation more often. As well, a 2017 study lead by Michael Mann of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University found that human activity is altering the behaviour of the jet stream — a sort of atmospheric conveyor belt that moves heat and moisture around the northern hemisphere — in a way that is causing storm systems to stall more often. These stalled systems result in longer bouts of extreme weather, both wet and dry..."

Photo credit: "A growing body of scientific research suggests extreme flooding like that seen in Kelowna this month will become a lot more common in the future." (Manjula Dufresne/CBC).

Rising Conservative Voices Call for Climate Change Action. Here's an excerpt of an interview at PBS NewsHour: "...SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: Virtually every Republican who has looked at the climate change problem and come to a solution comes to the same solution, which is a price on carbon, a market signal that is revenue-neutral and gives all the money back to the public. And I think our answer is, ‘Yes, yes, we’ll do that.’ So, we agree on the getaway car, we agree on the need for escape, and really the last political problem is how you get Republicans through that kill zone that the fossil fuel industry has set up in Congress.

STEPHANIE SY: The fossil fuel industry has actually come out in favor of some sort of carbon pricing. Do you view them as genuine allies on climate action?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: No. Every part of the fossil fuel industry’s and Big Oil’s political apparatus is still lined up to say, ‘If you dare talk about a carbon price, we are coming after you..."

Image credit: "Climate change is one of many issues seen as dividing Democrats and Republicans. A dominant wing of the GOP has denied climate change exists, as some Democrats have tried to reduce air pollution and push for alternative forms of energy. But meanwhile, some Republicans are also pushing for climate action." NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Stephanie Sy reports.

Under Fire, Climate Scientists Unite with Lawyers to Fight Back. The New York Times reports.

It's All About Solutions. J. Drake Hamilton of Fresh Energy will give a presentation on "Minnesota's Clean Energy Solutions to Climate Change" at the Maple Grove Library (8001 Main St, Maple Grove) on Thursday, May 25th at 7:00PM.

Mom Aims to Protect her Children and the Planet. Does your son or daughter have asthma? A warmer, wetter atmosphere will probably aggravate their symptoms as time goes on. Here's what one concerned mom did to make a difference, courtesy of Yale Climate Connections: "...A warmer climate is expected to cause more days with poor air quality. And ragweed season will likely get longer – triggering more asthma attacks. Becker’s own asthma raised a red flag … increasing her concern about her kids’ future. Becker: “I want them to inherit a planet that people are actually conscientious about what they’re doing, how much energy they’re using, where is the energy coming from, what type of impact are they having on the planet for future generations.” So Becker got involved. As part of the Moms Clean Air Force, she communicates her concerns to elected officials – encouraging them to follow the old advice, and listen to our mothers."

Treat Climate Change Symptoms and Don't Worry About the Cause. But unless we address the cause (addiction to fossil fuels,  deforestation, etc) we'll never be able to lower the gases that are warming the planet, right? Semantics? Let's just call it "endless summer". Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at USA TODAY: "...A policy that focuses on the impact of rising sea levels, building infrastructure that is needed regardless of its cause, and can be financed conservatively — that is a compromise everyone should be able to live with. Republicans don’t have to accept that global warming is real as long as they don’t deny that sea levels are rising. And Democrats get actions to deal with the consequences of climate change, even if the causes are inadequately addressed. If we are very lucky, the rapid transition to solar energy may reduce carbon emissions enough to stabilize global temperatures without onerous taxes or regulations that are, in any event, politically impossible at the moment. Addressing symptoms while sidestepping causes will not satisfy the Al Gores of the world. But it might get us moving on concrete actions to deal with the consequences of global warming. We will need them no matter what."

Drawdown. Paul Hawken has written and edited a book focused on solutions, concrete steps required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without upsetting the global economy. It's a worthy read. Here's an excerpt: "Drawdown maps, measures, models, and describes the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming. For each solution, we describe its history, the carbon impact it provides, the relative cost and savings, the path to adoption, and how it works. The goal of the research that informs Drawdown is to determine if we can reverse the buildup of atmospheric carbon within thirty years. All solutions modeled are already in place, well understood, analyzed based on peer-reviewed science, and are expanding around the world..."

Denying Climate Denial. I like Bret Stephens, but on the subject of climate change and the cost of inaction he's wrong. Andrew Winston takes a look at semantics, and makes a convincing case that denial is, in fact, the right word to use. Here's a clip at Medium: "...People like Bret Stephens suggest more discussion and debate about whether action is really necessary and worth the “cost” (ignoring — and, yes, denying — that if we do nothing it will likely cost the world many trillions more than if we build the clean economy). Let me be clear: denying that we need to act aggressively and immediately is still denial. And it’s really dangerous. So let’s call it climate action denial. Denial in the form of faux support for reasoned discussion is just a more nuanced technique for defending the status quo. Of course we need discussion, but about how we move forward and take carbon out of the economy — and maybe even out of the atmosphere — in the most economic way. And we need to discuss how to help those left behind as the clean economy sweeps through the world.."

Wild Weather and Climate Change: Scientists Are Unraveling the Links. The subject of "attribution" is coming up withh greater frequency: did climate change flavor a specific event, make it hotter, wetter or drier? Here's an excerpt from Yale E360: "...The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) has published an annual report explaining extreme weather events from a climate perspective since 2012, making it easy to see how far attribution studies have come. Its first edition looked at a half-dozen events, from anomalous temperatures to droughts. The most recent 2016 edition tackles more than 20 events ranging from extreme winter sunshine in the U.K. (made 1.5 times more likely by climate change) to an extreme wildfire season in Alaska (dry fuel conditions were made 34 to 60 percent more likely by climate change). Scientists can now tackle smaller weather events, to better separate the impact of natural climate wobbles like El Niño, and to start addressing more complicated systems like cyclones. At the cutting edge of these analyses are projects aiming to attribute bad weather to climate change as extreme events are actually happening, not a year or a decade later..."

The Injustice of Atlantic City's Floods. The wealthy will be able to sell and move, even if they take a loss, but rising seas and increased frequency of coastal flooding will hit the poor the hardest, according to a story at Climate Central: "Coastal communities are enduring growing flood risks from rising seas, with places like Atlantic City, sandwiched between a bay and the ocean, facing some of the greatest threats. Guided by new research by Climate Central’s Scott Kulp and Benjamin Strauss, reporter John Upton and photographer Ted Blanco chronicled the plight of this city’s residents as they struggle to deal with the impacts. Upton spent months investigating how the city is adapting, revealing vast inequity between the rich and the poor..."

Photo credit: "Eileen DeDomenicis on the patio of her home on Arizona Avenue as a high tide and rain cause flooding in parts of Atlantic City." Credit: Ted Blanco/Climate Central.

Nash: Yes, Virginia the Threat of Climate Change is Real. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed that caught my eye in The News & Advance in Lynchburg, Virginia: "...Both Democrats and Republicans have a serious case of the slows, perhaps hoping the problem will just go away. Ask your political representatives, or candidates in the upcoming elections, why that is and what they’ll do about it. Compared to other states, we fail to push for rapid conversion to solar power and other renewable energy sources, aggressive fuel economy requirements for cars, and planning for the changes we will face. Already, Norfolk and Virginia Beach have chronic flooding — about half of it the result of sea level rise from record melting of the Earth’s icecaps. Our coastal waters will be about 1.5 feet higher sometime between 2030 and 2050. That’s enough to drown several billion dollars’ worth of commercial and residential real estate, dozens of miles of highways and rails, and a third of our port facilities..."

Current Wildfires. WXshift has a running tally with background information on trends with fire frequency and intensity: "Since 1970, the annual average number of wildfires larger than 1,000 acres has more than doubled in the western U.S. The typical wildfire season has also stretched by about two and a half months longer over that time. The main cause has been rising temperatures that have led to earlier snowmelt in the western U.S., which has led to drier conditions. These factors are helping drive an increase in the total area burned. Projections indicate that for every 1.8°F further rise in temperature — and the western U.S. could see average temperatures rise by up to 9°F by 2100 — there could be a quadrupling in the area burned each year in the western U.S..."

Global Warming: There Is No Debate. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at TheStarPress: "...Sure there were floods, droughts, hurricanes and tornadoes, but anyone with mild observation will attest something is different today. As I write this letter, five islands in the Pacific have vanished with more to come. The city of Miami is building higher streets and has installed more than $500 million worth of pumps to deal with the ocean water coming into the city (which will be obsolete in 15 years). Undeniable is the NASA imagery and data or the realization that the past three years were the hottest on record. It seems to me what will be humans’ tragic undoing for future generations will be simple greed. The same manipulators of misinformation that the cigarette companies used years ago are now working full force for the fossil fuel industry. The masses take the bait hook, line and sinker. I suppose this is all attributed to the selfish gene in humans, or the philosophy to just live for today, with no thought of tomorrow but either way it will be unbelievable suffering for humans sooner than later..." (File photo: PBS).

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Slight Severe Storm Risk Today: 2-5" Rain Next 7 Days To Spark a Muddy May Mess

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Background on deadly tornado; 2-3" more of rain in Twin Cities forecast