Freeze Frame

"A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken" wrote James Dent.

If I could put my life on perpetual pause - if I could freeze and memorize any moment in time, it might be a sunset on a day like today - in late May. The world is green and lush, lakes bursting with possibilities, the air still fresh, cool and clean. Bugs and sticky thunderstorms have yet to materialize. A day like today is what I would happily bottle - and break out for a few hungry swigs come next February.

Welcome to a flawless Friday; arguably the best day in sight with blue sky, a light breeze and lukewarm 70s by afternoon.

San Diego, with lakes.

As usual weather models have different solutions for the holiday weekend. NOAA's NAM model rushes a few showers in late Saturday; with numerous T-storms Sunday and Monday. But the ECMWF keeps most of the moisture to our south until Memorial Day. If you can sneak off today and make the most of tomorrow you'll thank yourself.

More good news: the latest Drought Monitor shows a lack of severe drought. The percentage of Minnesota in moderate drought has dropped from 94 to 50 percent in a week. Rainfall trends are very encouraging.

* Photo courtesy of Pete Schenck, who snapped this photo from his home on Lake Superior in Herbster, WI.

Improving Drought Conditions. There's some good news in the latest Drought Monitor update. The percentage of Minnesota in moderate drought dropped from 92% to roughly 50%; severe drought was eliminated altogether. It doesn't mean we're out of the woods yet, but the trends are encouraging.

Trending Wetter. I'm encouraged by the emerging pattern, highlighted by persistent heavy rains last weekend across central Minnesota and the Red River Valley. May rainfall, to date, courtesy of NOAA, shows the heaviest amounts from central Minnesota into the Dakotas; much drier for Wisconsin.

Going Slowly Downhill. Saturday still appears to be the best day of the holiday weekend for outdoor plans with morning sun giving way to increasing clouds; a shower is possible by afternoon - a better chance of showers and possible thunder Saturday night. NAM guidance from NOAA shows accumulated rainfall, courtesy of AerisWeather.

ECMWF Guidance: Midday Saturday. The ECMWF (European) model valid at 1 PM Saturday shows dry weather across Minnesota, showers surging northward into the Dakotas. NOAA's NAM and GFS models bring showers into Minnesota sooner than ECMWF. Tomorrow still appears to be the driest day of the holiday weekend. Map: WSI Corporation.

ECMWF Guidance: Midday Sunday. The "Euro" shows heavy showers and T-storms over southern Minnesota Sunday morning, bubbling up along a warm frontal boundary. Most of central and northern Minnesota stays dry most of Sunday, according to the ECMWF. We can keep our fingers crossed and hope this (drier) solution verifies. My confidence level is low. Map: WSI.

ECMWF Guidance: Midday Monday. All the models suggest that Memorial Day will be the wettest day of the holiday weekend with more numerous showers and T-storms, locally heavy rain with temperatures holding in the 60s.

Cool and Showery Weekend - More Like Summer Next Week. European guidance shows highs approaching 80F by the middle and end of next week with high humidity levels and scattered heavy T-storms. Clouds increase tomorrow; the best chance of a few showers and T-showers Sunday and Monday. Source: Weatherspark.

Whispers of El Nino? Big, wet, sloppy whispers, in fact you could make the case that it's more shouting than whispering. A very active southern branch of the jet stream may be one of many symptoms of a warm phase in the Pacific. You won't have to convince folks in Texas, Oklahoma or Arkansas, where as much as 10-20" of rain has fallen so far in May, according to NOAA Doppler radar estimates.

May's Torrential Rainstorms Super-Charged by Strengthening Climate Patterns. A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, and El Nino may be spiking heavy rain events with a much more active southerly branch of the jet stream. Here's an excerpt from The Capital Weather Gang: "...Taken as a whole, these events appear to have at least two things in common — a burgeoning El Niño in the equatorial Pacific, and a well-documented upward trend in extreme rainfall events. Though the pattern tends to be more obvious in the winter months, El Niño’s very warm sea surface temperatures in the tropics tend to fuel a wetter than normal pattern across the West and the South. At the very least, last week’s Southwest storm looks to have been enhanced by El Niño, which, according to recent model forecasts, is shaping up to be an intense one..."

Graphic credit above: "Extreme one-day precipitation events have been on the rise since the mid-20th century." (NOAA)

80% of Sunscreens Don't Really Work Or Have "Worrisome" Ingredients: Report. Check out this article from TIME before you slather on sunscreen; here's an excerpt: "...The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its 2015 sunscreen guide on Tuesday, which reviewed more than 1,700 SPF products like sunscreens, lip balms and moisturizers. The researchers discovered that 80% of the products offer “inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone and vitamin A,” they say. Oxybenzone is a chemical that can disrupt the hormone system, and some evidence suggests—though not definitively—that adding vitamin A to the skin could heighten sun sensitivity..."

Remarkable Weather Graphics. I give credit where credit is due, and I have to say I'm very impressed with the new graphics being used as explainers on The Weather Channel. Check out Jim Cantore's excellent visualization of tornadogenesis - rumor is this is WSI's new "Reality" graphics package. All I can say is well done: "Did you miss it? Jim Cantore gave this incredible step-by-step look inside a tornado this morning on AMHQ with Sam Champion."

Hacking The Brain. Will we be able to take pills to make ourselves smarter in the near future? I sure hope so. Here's an excerpt from a vaguely terrifying piece at The Atlantic: "...But this dream has a dark side: The possibility of a dystopia where an individual’s fate is determined wholly by his or her access to cognition-enhancing technology. Where some ultra-elites are allowed to push the limits of human intelligence, while the less fortunate lose any chance of upward mobility. Where some Big Brother–like figure could gain control of our minds and decide how well we function..."

The Singularity Is Further Than It Appears. Your job may eventually be replaced by a robot, but The Matrix is still years away. Right? Ramez Naam takes a look on an intellectually dense and thought-provoking post; here's an excerpt: "...And, indeed, should Intel, or Google, or some other organization succeed in building a smarter-than-human AI, it won’t immediately be smarter than the entire set of humans and computers that built it, particularly when you consider all the contributors to the hardware it runs on, the advances in photolighography techniques and metallurgy required to get there, and so on. Those efforts have taken tens of thousands of minds, if not hundreds of thousands. The first smarter-than-human AI won’t come close to equaling them. And so, the first smarter-than-human mind won’t take over the world. But it may find itself with good job offers to join one of those organizations..."

74 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Thursday.

71 F. average high on May 21.

66 F. high on May 21, 2014.

32.4" snowfall total for the winter season at KMSP.

69.8" total snowfall last winter.

May 21, 1960: Downpour at New Prague dumps 10 inches of rain in a 48 hour period.

TODAY: Postcard perfect. Bright sun Winds: SE 5. High: 74

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and dry. Low: 52

SATURDAY: Fading sun, stray shower late in the day and night. Winds: SE 10. High: 71

SUNDAY: Few showers, T-showers. Winds: SE 15. Wake-up: 57. High: 69

MEMORIAL DAY: Wettest day of the holiday weekend. T-storms likely. Winds: S 15. Wake-up: 59. High: 66

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, drying out. Naturally. Wake-up: 57. High: 74

WEDNESDAY: Sticky sun, feels like summer. Wake-up: 60. High: 81

THURSDAY: Humid, T-storms likely, some heavy. Wake-up: 64. High: 78

Climate Stories....

Obama Says Climate Change Is An Immediate Threat To National Security. Here's an excerpt of a story at VICE News: "...A White House document released as Obama headed for New London summarized the kind of problems the newly commissioned ensigns will be facing. Sea levels are projected to rise as much as a foot along much of the Atlantic coast by 2050. Military installations even far inland have suffered flood damage from unusually heavy storms. And the Coast Guard would be the lead agency to respond to any oil spills as energy companies like Shell attempt to drill in the Arctic, which is warming at twice the rate of the globe as a whole..." (Photo credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP).

Jeb Bush Rails Against "Intellectual Arrogance" In Climate Change Debate. Isn't the real arrogance in assuming you know more than scientists who deal with this issue every day? Or putting the needs of special interests ahead of the common good? Here's the intro to a story at CNN Politics: "Jeb Bush hit back against President Obama's claim that climate change runs an immediate risk, saying Wednesday that while it shouldn't be ignored, it's still not "the highest priority." As he has before, Bush acknowledged "the climate is changing" but stressed that it's unknown why. "I don't think the science is clear of what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It's convoluted," he said at a house party in Bedford, New Hampshire..."

The Surprising Links Between Faith and Evolution and Climate Denial - Charted. Chris Mooney attempts to connect the dots at The Washington Post; here's an excerpt: "...In any case, while the pattern above may require more analysis, one clear punchline of the figure is that it really doesn’t make sense to say that religion is at war with science. You can say that for some people, religion is clearly linked to less science acceptance — especially on evolution. But for others, clearly, religion presents no hurdle at all. I would also agree that these data reinforce the idea that the pope’s coming encyclical on the environment could really shake matters up..."

Oil Giants Band Together To Add Voice To Climate Debate. Here's a clip from a story at Bloomberg Business: "Europe’s largest oil companies are banding together to forge a joint strategy on climate-change policy, alarmed they’ll be ignored as the world works toward a historic deal limiting greenhouse gases. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA, BP Plc, Statoil ASA and Eni SpA are among oil companies that plan to start a new industry body, or think tank, to develop common positions on the issues, according to people with knowledge of the matter..."

House Republicans Slash NASA's Earth-Science Budget. Here's the introduction to a story at the National Journal: "House Republicans unveiled the details of a spending bill on Tuesday that would cut the amount of money NASA spends on earth science and climate-change research.  The push arrives on the heels of a concerted effort by congressional Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz, a 2016 presidential hopeful, to steer NASA away from the study of climate change and towards space exploration. It takes place against the backdrop a broader GOP effort to sink President Obama's ambitious agenda to tackle rising greenhouse gases and stave off the worst impacts of global warming..." (Image above: NASA).

Investors With $25 Trillion Detail Opportunity in Climate Change. It's a threat, and an opportunity to retool, reinvent and build more resilience into everything we do. Here's an excerpt from Bloomberg Business: "...As more than 1,000 executives gather in Paris to discuss their response to climate change, a group of investors managing $25 trillion opened a web portal detailing the action being taken to cut pollution. Four investor groups representing 265 institutions worldwide joined the United Nations Environment Program in opening a web portal that will show which projects gained finance to rein in global warming. The move reflects a shift in the business community toward embracing the inevitability of stricter regulations on fossil fuels and more incentives for cleaner forms of energy..."

The "Shocking" Cost of Letting Companies Pollute for Free. Here's an excerpt of an Eric Roston column at Bloomberg Business: "...In that context, letting companies pollute for free, when that pollution carries a real social cost, can be thought of as a subsidy. That's how researchers at the International Monetary Fund describe energy subsidies in a sobering new paper that puts a comprehensive price tag on global aid to the energy industry. The price tag, which IMF officials describe as "shocking," is a big one: This year, the report estimates, fossil fuels are being subsidized to the tune of $5.3 trillion, or 6.5 percent of global gross domestic product..." (Image credit: EPA).

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Sun and Puddles for Memorial Day Weekend

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Looks Like a Holiday: Weekend Weather Sours With Time - Heaviest Rains late Sunday into Monday Morning