Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 33 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist for WeatherNation TV, a new, national 24/7 weather channel with studios in Denver and Minneapolis. Founder of Media Logic Group, Douglas and a team of meteorologists provide weather services for media at Broadcast Weather, and high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster. His speaking engagements take him around the Midwest with a message of continuous experimentation and reinvention, no matter what business you’re in. He is the public face of “SAVE”, Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education, based in Bloomington. | Send Paul a question.

Instant Spring - Glorious 60s; Late Day Thundershower

Posted by: Paul Douglas under Lions Updated: April 18, 2014 - 9:16 PM

Keeping It Official

For the sake of ease, continuity and accuracy official NOAA and FAA weather measurements are taken at airports around the nation. The Twin Cities official weather observations are hourly snapshots at MSP International.

But all weather, like politics, is local. This last snowstorm only brushed the airport with .3 inches of slush; a total of 69.8 inches this winter at MSP. But locals up in Mora, far north metro, would beg to differ. 94.2 inches of Sweet Saskatchewan Slush has piled up there this winter season; close to the 1930-31 record of 99.5". Hayward, Wisconsin has seen a record, jaw-dropping 108.1 inches!

At 75.5 inches St. Cloud is tied for the 5th snowiest winter on record; the 6th snowiest April, with 12 inches and counting.

I think the heavy snow is over now. Let's tempt fate. If it snows more than 2 inches I will personally power-wash & wax Amelia Santaniello's minivan. There. What can go wrong.

A sudden warm front lifts spirits into Monday; highs well into the 60s. Above average! Watch for a late-day T-shower today - more showers possible late Easter Sunday; again midweek.

We cool off into the 50s late next week but no more front-page-worthy mega-snows.

Trust me, I'm a weatherman.


A Springy 72 Hours. ECMWF guidance suggests upper 60s to near 70F each of the next 3 days. Getting to 70F will be a function of how long the sun stays out (and any rain will keep temperatures a few degrees cooler). We cool off a bit Tuesday; another round of potentially heavy showers and T-storms late Wednesday into Thursday. Light jackets stage a comeback by next Friday. Graphic: Weatherspark.


Easter Sunday National Outlook. With the exception of cool weather over much of New England, most of America experiences a mild Easter Sunday, even northern cities from Minneapolis to Chicago and Detroit. Good timing on this latest warm front. Graphic: WeatherNation TV.


7-Day Rainfall Forecast. GFS guidance shows 1-3" amounts pushing into the Pacific Northwest, some 3-5" rains capable of flash flooding into the weekend over Georgia, South Carolina and the Florida Panhandle. An upper level disturbance pushing across the Upper Midwest may drop some 1-2"+ amounts on southeastern Minnesota and central Wisconsin late Saturday into Monday morning. Source: NOAA and HAMweather.



Near-Record Breaking Winter Snowfall at Mora. Yes, the official NWS measurements are taken at MSP International, but snowfall amounts this past winter were much higher over the northern suburbs. Case in point: Mora, where 94.2" of snow has fallen this winter, close to the all-time record of 99.5" in 1930-31. Graph courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service NOWdata.


Above Average Snowfall for MSP. Normal winter snowfall, to date, at MSP International Airport is 53.8". So far 69.8" of snow has piled up in Richfield, according to NOAA records.



Doubly Taxing. As if April 15 isn't tough enough. Dr.Mark Seeley has some trivia about April 15's weather that made me do a triple-take. Here's an excerpt of the latest edition of WeatherTalk: "...Tax filing day in 2014 will likely be remembered as the coldest April 15th in state history (or at least a rival to 1875, 1935, and 1962 as among the coldest). Scores of Minnesota weather observers reported new record lows for April 15th, and the National Weather Service Cooperative weather observer at Camp Norris (Lake of the Woods County) reported a new all-time statewide low temperature for the date with a reading of -4 degrees F..."


Let's shift gears and acknowledge that the pattern is (finally) shifting into spring...

Will The Next El Nino Break A Global Temperature Record? Not al El Ninos are created equal. The really big warm phases of ENSO, the ones that lead to global temperature records, tend to be EP or Eastern Pacific El Ninos. The CP (Central Pacific) warmings tend not to have as great an influence on global temperature. Climate scientist Simon Donner explains at Maribo; here's an excerpt: "...This has important implications for the “pause” in surface warming. Over the past 10-15 years, the easterly winds have been abnormally strong, with few gaps sufficient to generate Kelvin waves. This is related to decade-scale variability in the Pacific Ocean conditions, called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) or Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). It may then come as no surprise that all the El Nino events since 1998, including the 2009/10 event that made the cherries blossom early in Vancouver, have all been of the CP variety.  The same happens to be true for other “slowdowns” in the rate of global surface temperature change since the Industrial Revolution. This suggests the decade-scale variability in the Pacific affects El Nino development, and in turn, the ups and downs in the rate of human-caused global surface warming..."


Average Data Of The First Tornado Warning? Iowa Environmental Mesonet put together an interesting graphic, showing the average first Tor Warning, office by office. As early as January 24 in Jackson, Mississippi, March 11 in Oklahoma City, May 2 in Denver, May 9 in Washington D.C. and May 12 in the Twin Cities. Can we please have a few quiet weeks between the snow and the tornadoes?


Spewing Sewage Into The Ocean Is Bad: Toxic Algae and Man-Size Jellyfish Edition. Remind me not to take a dip in the South China Sea anytime soon after reading this post from Quartz. Here's a clip: "...In July 2013, the biggest algal bloom ever recorded in China covered 28,900 square kilometers (11,158 square miles) of the Yellow Sea—meaning more than three New York City metro areas of ocean was carpeted in green muck—requiring Qingdao city officials to bulldoze 7,335 tonnes (8,085 tons) of beached scum. A similar incident almost shut down the sailing competition of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The army dispatched 15,000 soldiers to remove 1 million tons of algae, costing more than $100 million..."

Photo credit above: "The Red Army battling green algae." AP Photo/Ng Han Guan.


Pollution From Asia Makes Pacific Storms Stronger. It's all about the aerosols, man-made pollutants seeding clouds and ultimately storms hundreds, even thousands of miles downwind. Is Chinese pollution impacting our weather? Here's a clip from National Geographic: "...Whether the weather [in North America] will change in a good direction or bad is hard to say at this time," says Renyi Zhang, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University in College Station. Zhang is a co-author, along with several scientists from the U.S. and China, of a study released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. The scientists say pollution from Asia is likely leading to stronger cyclones in the midlatitudes of the Pacific, more precipitation, and a faster movement of heat from the tropics toward the North Pole. As a result of these changes, "it's almost certain that weather in the U.S. is changing," says Zhang..."


California Suffers Astonishingly Fast Snowpack Melt As Drought Intensifies. It's going to be a long, hot, potentially fiery summer and autumn for California and much of the Southwest. Andrew Freedman has more details in a story at Mashable; here's a clip: "...Officials already knew that the snowpack was unusually thin and would provide below average amounts of water when it melted, considering that the state had its third-driest winter on record, following its driest calendar year in 2013. However, they did not anticipate it would melt so quickly. The California state snow survey on April 1 found that the snowpack contained just 32% of the average water content at that time of year, when snowpack typically reaches its annual peak. This placed 2014 as among the lowest water-content years on record since such data began in 1930..."

Photo credit above: "The dry bed of the Stevens Creek Reservoir is seen on Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif." Image: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press.


California's Wildfire Threat Is So Severe That The Season Started Early. Following a deepening drought and unusual heat during the winter months, 2014 promises to be a very rough year on the wildfire front. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "Don’t let the recent rains and green hillsides fool you -- the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the fresh growth is only covering up months of dry, dead grass, putting California at risk for one of its most severe fire seasons ever. Warnings issued to homeowners in the state’s most wildfire-prone areas urged them to prepare earlier than ever for the summer fire season in light of California’s historic drought, ABC News 10 reported..."


California Drought To Push Produce Prices Higher. AZCentral has the story; here's an excerpt: "Drought conditions in California's agricultural fields are going to push prices higher for fruits and vegetables, according to a Arizona State University study. The biggest price hikes are likely for lettuce, up 34 percent, and avocados, up 28 percent, according to Professor Timothy Richards of W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU. "You're probably going to see the biggest produce price increases on avocados, berries, broccoli, grapes, lettuce, melons, peppers, tomatoes and packaged salads," Richards said..."

* latest U.S. Drought Monitor for California is here.


The Drought Hitting 40% of the Entire Country, in 5 Maps. The Washington Post has the story - here's an excerpt: "...Every inch of five states — California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Nebraska — are experiencing some level of drought. Much of the northern Texas Panhandle is under extreme or exceptional drought warning, as is most of California and parts of northern Nevada. A weekly snapshot of drought conditions shows 21 percent of the country is experiencing severe drought or worse; all told, 40.9 percent of the country is under some kind of drought watch or warning...."

* latest U.S. Drought Monitor is here.


Silver Lining. Those piles of April slush lingering in your yard have some benefits: they've delayed allergy season, and moisture is trending above average. NOAA may remove the drought designation for parts of central and southwestern Minnesota in the coming weeks if these (wetter than normal) trends continue.


Encouraging Moisture Trends Midwest, Great Lakes & Ohio Valley. Here is the 90-day departure from normal precipitation composite, courtesy of NOAA. The Plains continue to dry out, along with portions of the Mid South and Southeast, much drier than average, overall, for California.


Despite all the public education, a staggering 84 percent of people surveyed still believe wind, not water,is the greatest threat to their safety, and base their evacuation decisions on wind speed or a storm’s category, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes said this week.

The national Harris Interactive Survey, commissioned by the nonprofit group FLASH, revealed “frightening perceptions,” FLASH said Tuesday in a release.

The survey clashes with the reality that hurricane evacuation zones are based on the threat of water, not wind, and nearly all evacuation orders reflect the threat of inland flooding and storm surge.

- See more at: http://blogs.palmbeachpost.com/eyeonthestorm/2014/04/15/hurricane-survey-waters-the-threat-but-most-fear-wind/#sthash.6UHHm3wb.dpu

The 2,000-Year History of GPS Tracking. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating story (and book review) from Mother Jones: "Boston Globe technology writer Hiawatha Bray recalls the moment that inspired him to write his new book, You Are Here: From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves. "I got a phone around 2003 or so," he says. "And when you turned the phone on—it was a Verizon dumb phone, it wasn't anything fancy—it said, 'GPS'. And I said, 'GPS? There's GPS in my phone?'" He asked around and discovered that yes, there was GPS in his phone, due to a 1994 FCC ruling. At the time, cellphone usage was increasing rapidly, but 911 and other emergency responders could only accurately track the location of land line callers..."

Image credit above: "Egyptian geographer Claudius Ptolemy and Hiawatha Bray's "You Are Here". .


Easter's Coming. Beware Bunny Ears? Oh the shame. The Washington Business Journal has a nugget in this article that made me think back to the days of Easter Egg baskets - did I steal from my kids? Uh oh. Here's an excerpt: "...The Washington-based trade group says Americans will spend $2.26 billion on candy this Easter, up 4 percent from last year. The increase is largely because Easter is three weeks later than it was last year. The association says 87 percent of parents will buy or create Easter baskets for their kids and 81 percent of them will steal candy back from their kids' Easter stash..."

* "5 Hotels for Chocoholics". CNN investigates.


52 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.

59 F. average high on April 18.

35 F. high on April 18, 2013.

Minnesota Weather History on April 18, from the Twin Cities National Weather Service:

1928: Chilly air moves across the region with a record low of 19 at the Twin Cities.

1893: Heavy snowstorm at Bird Island that would last until the 21st. 17 inches of snow fell with drifts 3 to 4 feet high.

1820: A tornado hits the camp that would soon become Ft. Snelling. This was the first tornado ever reported in Minnesota and it damaged the roof of a barracks, with no one injured.


TODAY: Intervals of sun, breezy and milder. PM thunder. Winds: S 15-25. High: 67

SATURDAY NIGHT: Showers taper. Low: 48

EASTER SUNDAY: Some sun, PM showers/storms develop, especially southern and east central MN. High: near 70

MONDAY: More sun, turning cooler late. Wake-up: 47. High: 68

TUESDAY: Sunny and cooler. Wake-up: 40. High: 59

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy with showers & T-storms late. Wake-up: 39. High: 57

THURSDAY: Windy and raw. Heavy rain tapers to showers. Wake-up: 43. High: 54

FRIDAY: Showers taper, clouds linger, a chilling wind returns. Wake-up: 38. High: 48


Climate Stories....

Why Western Wildfires Keep Getting Bigger. Here's a clip from the web site vox.com: "...So what's driving this? Global warming is one likely suspect. "The really amazing thing is that we don't just see an increase in one or two regions," says lead author Philip Dennison, a geographer at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. "We're seeing it almost everywhere — in the mountain regions, in the Southwest. That tells us that something bigger is going on, and that thing appears to be climate change." The study itself stops short of estimating how much of the increase might be caused by global warming — especially since other factors, such as forestry practices and invasive species are likely at play, too. But their finding is in line with previous research suggesting Western fire activity will become more common as temperatures rise..."

Map credit above: "Western U.S. trends for number of large fires in each ecoregion per year." Philip E. Dennison, Simon C. Brewer, James D. Arnold, Max A. Moritz. Large wildfire trends in the western United States, 1984-2011. Geophysical Research Letters, 2014.


Universities Must End Financial Ties to Climate Denying Fossil-Fuel Giants - Now. Where does the University of Minnesota stand on this issue? There's an opportunity for the U to take a true leadership role with divestment. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Guardian: "There are many compelling reasons for universities to divest themselves of investment in the fossil fuel industry – including and especially the physical and potentially irreversible effects of climate change to which university endowments essentially contribute. But for our colleagues now asking for an end to these investments, there's an almost equally compelling argument: universities exist to foster knowledge, learning and understanding, and the fossil-fuel industry has worked systematically over the past 20 years to undermine that work. It has worked and continues to work in direct opposition to our mission as scientists and educators through the political process and PR campaigns..."

Photo credit above: "University administrators argue that divesting won't make a difference, that it's not our job to "punish" bad actors. History does not support these claims." Photograph: Murdo Macleod.


Why This Is A Dark Time For The Field Of Climate Science. The Huffington Post has the story - here's the introduction: "These are dark times for science -- in particular, climate science and related fields of study. Hate mail, harassment campaigns, accusations of scientific fraud and threats of lawsuits have become the new normal for climate scientists and researchers who study climate change denial. These problematic conditions have a chilling effect on scientific research. So what happens when a scientific journal becomes part of the problem?..."


Pseudoskeptics Are Not Skeptics. Scientists are, as a profession, skeptical by nature. Science is organized skepticism. But organized denial, orchestrated, well-funded skepticism of climate science? That's something altogether different, as explained at DeSmogBlog: "Genuine scientific skepticism is not just the unmoving rejection of evolution or climate change by fake skeptics, called pseudoskeptics.  The real thing avoids premature conclusions, recognizes uncertainty, motivates searches for good data and causes real skeptics to change their minds,  as put succinctly by John Maynard Keynes: “When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?”....


Drunken Trees: Dramatic Signs of Climate Change. Seeing is believing, unless one chooses not to see. Here's a clip from National Geographic: "Sarah James, an Alaska Native elder, says global warming is radically changing her homeland. Even the forests no longer grow straight. Melting ground has caused trees to tilt or fall. "Because permafrost melts, it causes a lot of erosion," says James, who lives in Arctic Village, a small Native American village in northeastern Alaska. "A lot of trees can't stand up straight. If the erosion gets worse, everything goes with it..."

Photo credit above: "According to scientists, melting ground is to blame for tilting spruce trees." PHOTOGRAPH BY GALEN ROWELL, CORBIS.


The High Cost of Climate Change Denial. Here's a segment of an Op-Ed from The San Antonio Express-News: "...In fact, there is a wide scientific consensus. Reluctance to act in go-slow or denier quarters likely has more to do with the perception that doing what needs to be done will slow economic growth. This is shortsighted. While one of these U.N. reports acknowledges an initial slowing, it also says countries will be richer by the end of the century than they are today. The price should be calculated according to what costs will come to roost if these scenarios unfold, not just short-term effect. The future is clear and harsh: Without action, people will have to live with the effects of climate change for hundreds and hundreds of years..."


Virginia Supreme Court Rule For U-Va. in Global Warming FOIA Case. It's a victory for academic freedom and scientific research, free from political or ideological influence, as reported by The Washington Post; here's a clip: "Unpublished research by university scientists is exempt from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled Thursday, rejecting an attempt by skeptics of global warming to view the work of a prominent climate researcher during his years at the University of Virginia. The ruling is the latest turn in the FOIA request filed in 2011 by Del. Robert Marshall (R-Prince William) and the American Tradition Institute to obtain research and e-mails of former U-Va. professor Michael Mann..."



Weather-Related Blackouts Doubled Since 2003: Report. A ten-fold increase in major power outages between the mid-80s and 2012? Here's the introduction to a disturbing report, summarized at Climate Central: "Climate change is causing an increase in many types of extreme weather. Heat waves are hotter, heavy rain events are heavier, and winter storms have increased in both frequency and intensity. To date, these kinds of severe weather are among the leading causes of large-scale power outages in the United States. Climate change will increase the risk of more violent weather and more frequent damage to our electrical system, affecting hundreds of millions of people, and costing Americans and the economy tens of billions of dollars each year..."

* Climate Central has a detailed 23 page report on power outage trends and the link to increasing outbreaks of severe weather impacting the grid here (PDF).

The number of wildfires over 1,000 acres in size in the region stretching from Nebraska to California increased by a rate of seven fires a year from 1984 to 2011, according to a new study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal published by the American Geophysical Union.

The total area these fires burned increased at a rate of nearly 90,000 acres a year – an area the size of Las Vegas, according to the study. Individually, the largest wildfires grew at a rate of 350 acres a year, the new research says.



Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-04-bigger-wildfires-western.html#jCp

U.S. GHG Emissions At Lowest Levels In 20 Years. The trends are encouraging in the USA, but any drop in carbon pollution here has been more than offset by spiking greenhouse gas emissions in China, India and other rapidly developing nations. Here's a clip from Climate Central: "U.S. greenhouse gas emissions declined 3.4 percent in 2012 from 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday. Those emissions are down 10 percent from what they were in 2005, the EPA said, and are at their lowest levels since 1994. Most of the decline came from reductions in energy consumption, increased fuel efficiency of cars and other types of transportation, and a shift to natural gas from coal in fueling power plants, the EPA said in a statement..."

Graphic credit above: "U.S. greenhouse gas emissions per year since 1990, broken down by type of gas."
Credit: EPA.


Analysis: How The Media Covered The U.N. Climate Reports In Three Charts. Are we losing interest or avoiding the subject altogether? Here's an excerpt from Media Matters: "...A Media Matters analysis found that the major print and television outlets devoted far less coverage to the most recent installment of the IPCC report than the first two reports by Working Group 1 (WG1) and Working Group 2 (WG2), which outlined the evidence that manmade climate change is happening and having largely negative impacts, respectively. The third report received only about a quarter (28 percent) of the amount of coverage given to the first report..."

Imminent Temperature Inflation - 60s Saturday into much of next week

Posted by: Paul Douglas under Lions Updated: April 17, 2014 - 9:45 PM


There was at least one Minnesotan excited to see snow on Wednesday. My youngest son took a few days off from Navy aviation, got off the plane and promptly tweeted photos of the snow to his friends in Pensacola, Florida. The excitement was palpable. He may have been the ONLY person happy to see big, fat flakes falling in mid-April.

Another head-shaking, jaw-dropping weather moment - a 20 inch variation in snow; from a coating of slush at MSP International to 20 inches at North Branch. Wow.

Any slush in your yard is doomed, considering the sun is as high in the sky as it was on August 24. Spring isn't on a dimmer switch; it's either ON or OFF.

Our temperature roller coaster reverses course, topping 50F today; 60s likely this weekend with a late-day thundershower possible Saturday. As the front stalls a shower may linger on Easter Sunday. At least it'll be a lukewarm rain.

The extended outlook next week calls for bright green: a streak of balmy 60s leading up to heavy showers/storms by Wednesday & Thursday.

According to Rhett Bollinger at MLB.com yesterday's 31F reading at Target Field made it the coldest Twins game on record. Is snow season over? I think so.

Place your bets.


Coldest Twins Game On Record? According to Rhett Bollinger, Twins beat reporter for MLB.com, yesterday's midday temperature for the game at Target Field was a crisp 31F, beating the previous cold weather record of 32F, on May 2, 1967 at Met Stadium. May you live in interesting times. Yep.


Snowfall Summary. With any luck (and hours of prayer and meditation) may this be the LAST time I post a snowfall map for the next 6 months. The northern and western suburbs did, in fact, see plowable amounts, the heaviest (15"+) amounts between Isanti and Taylors Falls and Hinckley. Source: National Weather Service.


5th Snowiest Season On Record At Duluth. Here is more information from the Duluth National Weather Service: "As of April 17th, the seasonal snowfall total for Duluth is 125.3 inches which is now the 5th most in recorded history. The following is a list of the top 5 snowiest seasons on record at Duluth.

1. 135.4 inches 1995-1996

2. 131.8 inches 1949-1950

3. 129.4 inches 2012-2013

4. 128.6 inches 1996-1997

5. 125.3 inches 2013-2014

* file photo above courtesy of Brian Peterson at The Star Tribune.


Shifting Gears. The jet stream is finally pushing north, an expanding ridge of high pressure allowing warmer air to reach northern cities again much of next week, sparking a few spirited rounds of showers and T-storms. Meanwhile a disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico will soak the Florida Panhandle and much of the Southeast, with more flash flooding likely. A Pacific storm pushes heavy rain into the Seattle and Portland, but little or no appreciable rain is likely across California. NAM Future Radar: NOAA and HAMweather.


Shifting Gears - Rapidly. I'm continually amazed by how quickly the patterns can shift. Exhibit A: next week, as warm air surges north, sparking waves of heavy showers and T-storms over the Midwest, capable of 1-2" of rain. The heaviest rains over the next week are forecast to soak the Pacific Northwest and parts of the Southeast. 7-Day rainfall guidance through 12z next Thursday courtesy of NOAA.


Will Spring Stick This Time? After a few false starts, our on-again, off-again spring appears to be on again, with temperatures forecast to be above average much of next week, cooling off in about 1 week. No snow in the extended forecast, I'm happy to report. ECMWF guidance shows highs near 70F Easter Sunday, again Monday, with the best chance of (potentially heavy) showers and T-storms Wednesday into early Thursday. Graphic: Weatherspark.


Pollution From Asia Makes Pacific Storms Stronger. It's all about the aerosols, man-made pollutants seeding clouds and ultimately storms hundreds, even thousands of miles downwind. Is Chinese pollution impacting our weather? Here's a clip from National Geographic: "...Whether the weather [in North America] will change in a good direction or bad is hard to say at this time," says Renyi Zhang, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University in College Station. Zhang is a co-author, along with several scientists from the U.S. and China, of a study released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. The scientists say pollution from Asia is likely leading to stronger cyclones in the midlatitudes of the Pacific, more precipitation, and a faster movement of heat from the tropics toward the North Pole. As a result of these changes, "it's almost certain that weather in the U.S. is changing," says Zhang..."


Hurricane Survey: Water's The Threat, But Most Still Fear Wind. By emphasizing wind speed vs. predicted storm surge over the years, meteorologists may be at least partly to blame for this misperception. The Palm Beach Post has the story; here's the intro: "Despite all the public education, a staggering 84 percent of people surveyed still believe wind, not water, is the greatest threat to their safey, and base their evacuation decisions on wind speed or a storm's category, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes said this week...."


TSR Lowers 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast, Cites El Nino. Although all El Nino warming phases of ENSO are different, MOST increase winds over the tropics while cooling Caribbean waters slightly, lowering the risk of hurricanes over an "average" year. Here's an excerpt from artemis.bm: "...With the update published yesterday, TSR’s Professor Mark Saunders and Dr. Adam Lea have reduced their forecast to 12 named storms, 5 hurricanes and 2 major (Category 3+) hurricanes, which is around 25% below the 1950-2013 norm and 40% below the more recent 2004-2013 norm. The forecasters cite two factors as leading the forecasters to believe that 2014 will be a below-average year for Atlantic hurricane formation..."


California's Wildfire Threat Is So Severe That The Season Started Early. Following a deepening drought and unusual heat during the winter months, 2014 promises to be a very rough year on the wildfire front. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "Don’t let the recent rains and green hillsides fool you -- the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the fresh growth is only covering up months of dry, dead grass, putting California at risk for one of its most severe fire seasons ever. Warnings issued to homeowners in the state’s most wildfire-prone areas urged them to prepare earlier than ever for the summer fire season in light of California’s historic drought, ABC News 10 reported..."


California Drought To Push Produce Prices Higher. AZCentral has the story; here's an excerpt: "Drought conditions in California's agricultural fields are going to push prices higher for fruits and vegetables, according to a Arizona State University study. The biggest price hikes are likely for lettuce, up 34 percent, and avocados, up 28 percent, according to Professor Timothy Richards of W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU. "You're probably going to see the biggest produce price increases on avocados, berries, broccoli, grapes, lettuce, melons, peppers, tomatoes and packaged salads," Richards said..."

* latest U.S. Drought Monitor for California is here.


Silver Lining. Those piles of April slush lingering in your yard have some benefits: they've delayed allergy season, and moisture is trending above average. NOAA may remove the drought designation for parts of central and southwestern Minnesota in the coming weeks if these (wetter than normal) trends continue.


Encouraging Moisture Trends Midwest, Great Lakes & Ohio Valley. Here is the 90-day departure from normal precipitation composite, courtesy of NOAA. The Plains continue to dry out, along with portions of the Mid South and Southeast, much drier than average, overall, for California.


Despite all the public education, a staggering 84 percent of people surveyed still believe wind, not water,is the greatest threat to their safety, and base their evacuation decisions on wind speed or a storm’s category, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes said this week.

The national Harris Interactive Survey, commissioned by the nonprofit group FLASH, revealed “frightening perceptions,” FLASH said Tuesday in a release.

The survey clashes with the reality that hurricane evacuation zones are based on the threat of water, not wind, and nearly all evacuation orders reflect the threat of inland flooding and storm surge.

- See more at: http://blogs.palmbeachpost.com/eyeonthestorm/2014/04/15/hurricane-survey-waters-the-threat-but-most-fear-wind/#sthash.6UHHm3wb.dpuf

MIT Designs A Floating, Tsunami-Proof Nuclear Plant. Well, I guess this makes sense on many levels, but romping on the beach I can't say it would be comforting watching a nuclear power plant bobbing on the horizon. Then again, we're going to need some safe, viable nuclear options to power our economy to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Here's a clip from Engadget: "What's the safest place to put a nuclear reactor? Offshore, apparently. A new power plant design concept from MIT envisions a facility built on floating platforms, moored in deep water several miles off the coast. This, the concept's creators explain, lends it several crucial advantages -- making it virtually immune to earthquakes, tsunamis and meltdowns..."


Amazon And Google Are In An Epic Battle To Dominate The Cloud - And Amazon May Already Have Won. Our companies use Amazon's AWS cloud-based services, but we're taking a hard look at Google as well. Here's a clip from another interesting read at Quartz: "...To understand the scale of the war brewing between them, it helps to understand that what Amazon and Google are really contesting is who gets to eat a bigger portion of the total corporate information-technology pie. All the warehouses of servers that run the whole of the internet, all the software used by companies the world over, and all the other IT services companies hire others to provide, or which they provide internally, will be worth some $1.4 trillion in 2014, according to Gartner Research—some six times Google and Amazon’s combined annual revenue last year..."

Photo credit above: "Let's do this." AP Photo/Rick Bowmer.


The 2,000-Year History of GPS Tracking. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating story (and book review) from Mother Jones: "Boston Globe technology writer Hiawatha Bray recalls the moment that inspired him to write his new book, You Are Here: From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves. "I got a phone around 2003 or so," he says. "And when you turned the phone on—it was a Verizon dumb phone, it wasn't anything fancy—it said, 'GPS'. And I said, 'GPS? There's GPS in my phone?'" He asked around and discovered that yes, there was GPS in his phone, due to a 1994 FCC ruling. At the time, cellphone usage was increasing rapidly, but 911 and other emergency responders could only accurately track the location of land line callers..."

Image credit above: "Egyptian geographer Claudius Ptolemy and Hiawatha Bray's "You Are Here". .


Proof That Neflix Is Destroying Cable TV. Have you officially "cut the cord" yet? Is Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Roku providing most of the content you watch on a daily basis? Here's a clip from a story at Business Insider: "A new report from consumer data company Experian Marketing Services suggests that online video content services like Netflix are pulling people away from cable television. After surveying more than 24,000 U.S. adults, EMS found that households with a Netflix or Hulu subscription were nearly three times as likely not to have a cable subscription than the average household. In total, 6.5% of Experian's surveyed households did not subscribe to cable in 2013, up from 4.5% in 2010. But cord-cutters became 18.1% of Netflix subscribers, up from 12.7%. Cord-cutters are three times as likely to be Netflix subscribers than the average consumer, in other words..."

Graphic credit: Experian Marketing Services.


42 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

59 F. average high on April 17.

42 F. high on April 17, 2013.


GOOD FRIDAY: Fading sun, a bit milder. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 52

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 38

SATURDAY: Springy with early sun giving way to increasing clouds. PM thundershowers. High: 67

EASTER SUNDAY: Some mild sun, lingering shower or two. Wake-up: 48. High: 68

MONDAY: Partly sunny. Risk of spring fever. Wake-up: 43. High: near 70

TUESDAY: Sunny, breezy, a bit cooler. Wake-up: 41. High: 59

WEDNESDAY: Unsettled. Showers and T-storms likely. Wake-up: 43. High: 57

THURSDAY: Heavy rain tapers to showers. Wake-up: 47. High: 61


Climate Stories....


Weather-Related Blackouts Doubled Since 2003: Report. A ten-fold increase in major power outages between the mid-80s and 2012? Here's the introduction to a disturbing report, summarized at Climate Central: "Climate change is causing an increase in many types of extreme weather. Heat waves are hotter, heavy rain events are heavier, and winter storms have increased in both frequency and intensity. To date, these kinds of severe weather are among the leading causes of large-scale power outages in the United States. Climate change will increase the risk of more violent weather and more frequent damage to our electrical system, affecting hundreds of millions of people, and costing Americans and the economy tens of billions of dollars each year..."

* Climate Central has a detailed 23 page report on power outage trends and the link to increasing outbreaks of severe weather impacting the grid here (PDF).


More, Bigger Wildfires Burning Western U.S. - Study Shows. Here's an excerpt from an interesting story at phys.org: "...The Number of wildfires over 1,000 acres in size in the region stretching from Nebraska to California increased by a rate of seven fires a year from 1984 to 2011, according to a new study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal published by the American Geophysical Union. The total area these fires burned increased at a rate of nearly 90,000 acres a year - an area the size of Las Vegas, according to the study..." (File photo: AP).

The number of wildfires over 1,000 acres in size in the region stretching from Nebraska to California increased by a rate of seven fires a year from 1984 to 2011, according to a new study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal published by the American Geophysical Union.

The total area these fires burned increased at a rate of nearly 90,000 acres a year – an area the size of Las Vegas, according to the study. Individually, the largest wildfires grew at a rate of 350 acres a year, the new research says.



Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-04-bigger-wildfires-western.html#jCp

U.S. GHG Emissions At Lowest Levels In 20 Years. The trends are encouraging in the USA, but any drop in carbon pollution here has been more than offset by spiking greenhouse gas emissions in China, India and other rapidly developing nations. Here's a clip from Climate Central: "U.S. greenhouse gas emissions declined 3.4 percent in 2012 from 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday. Those emissions are down 10 percent from what they were in 2005, the EPA said, and are at their lowest levels since 1994. Most of the decline came from reductions in energy consumption, increased fuel efficiency of cars and other types of transportation, and a shift to natural gas from coal in fueling power plants, the EPA said in a statement..."

Graphic credit above: "U.S. greenhouse gas emissions per year since 1990, broken down by type of gas."
Credit: EPA.


Analysis: How The Media Covered The U.N. Climate Reports In Three Charts. Are we losing interest or avoiding the subject altogether? Here's an excerpt from Media Matters: "...A Media Matters analysis found that the major print and television outlets devoted far less coverage to the most recent installment of the IPCC report than the first two reports by Working Group 1 (WG1) and Working Group 2 (WG2), which outlined the evidence that manmade climate change is happening and having largely negative impacts, respectively. The third report received only about a quarter (28 percent) of the amount of coverage given to the first report..."


U.N. Climate Report Was Censored. Or at least very watered down for public consumption, it seems. This, according to an article at Grist; here's an excerpt: "...And it turns out the summary was watered down — diluted from an acid reflux–inducing stew of unpalatable science into a more appetizing consommé of half-truth. The Sydney Morning Herald has the details: A major climate report presented to the world was censored by the very governments who requested it, frustrating and angering some of its lead authors. … [E]ntire paragraphs, plus graphs showing where carbon emissions have been increasing the fastest, were deleted from the summary during a week’s debate prior to its release. Other sections had their meaning and purpose significantly diluted... (Image credit: Shutterstock).


It's The End Of The World As We Know It...And He Feels Fine. Is it too late to do anything? I sure hope not - it may be a sense of naive optimism, but I suspect we can still avoid a worst-case scenario. Here's an excerpt of a long and sobering story at The New York Times Magazine: "...For Kingsnorth, the notion that technology will stave off the most catastrophic effects of global warming is not just wrong, it’s repellent — a distortion of the proper relationship between humans and the natural world and evidence that in the throes of crisis, many environmentalists have abandoned the principle that “nature has some intrinsic, inherent value beyond the instrumental.” If we lose sight of that ideal in the name of saving civilization, he argues, if we allow ourselves to erect wind farms on every mountain and solar arrays in every desert, we will be accepting a Faustian bargain..."

Coating to 17" Reported Over The Twin Cities Metro - Spring Returns This Weekend. Really

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: April 17, 2014 - 8:22 AM

Only in Minnesota can you be ankle-deep in slush, in a T-shirt, grilling. This "spring" is taking weather-whiplash to a new & outlandish extreme. I guess it could be worse. Residents of Washington D.C. just went from 80F to flurries, wind chills in the teens, in less than 24 hours.

Much of Minnesota is waking up to snow; the heaviest bands north & west of the immediate Twin Cities, where enough warm air wrapped into the storm for a period of rain, keeping snowfall totals down a bit. But the northern and western suburbs did pick up a plowable snowfall, with some 1 foot plus amounts from Anoka County westward to Rogers and Maple Lake. If you're driving north/west, away from the downtowns this morning, leave plenty of extra time.

Memories of 2013: Duluth picked up 51 inches of snow last April, the snowiest month on record.

In April. Go figure.

One silver lining to our cold bias: no pollen yet. A researcher at the University of Tulsa reports that trees are flowering late this spring, dumping pollen all at once. Details below.

Welcome to a Light-switch Spring. Like flipping on a light, spring arrives this weekend. Expect 60s on Saturday; a few showers likely, even a clap of thunder. Skies dry out a bit Easter Sunday; 70F not out of the question by Monday & Tuesday as thoughts turn to May; cleaning up the yard & dusting off the fishing boat.

I'm ready for a long, sweaty summer. I suspect I'm not the only one.

We're due.


* 17" of snow reported in Nowthen, in Anoka County, as of late last night. 19" at Isanti, while MSP International picked up 3/10ths of an inch of slush.

* 8.1" snow piles up at St. Cloud, setting a new 24-hour snowfall record for April 16. Old record: 3" (1961).

* 71 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities the previous Wednesday, April 9.


All Or Nothing. I can't remember the last time I saw a snowfall gradient this impressive across the Twin Cities. In the span of 30 miles you go from a slushy coating to nearly a foot. The northern and western suburbs got clobbered by snow Wednesday; an icy mix of rain, freezing rain and sleet kept amounts much lower south of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The latest snowfall reports are here and here. I pray this is the last time I have to include these links until sometime in October or November.


Like Turning On A Lightswitch. ECMWF data is still hinting at 60s this weekend; GFS data from NOAA only keeping us in the 50s. Most days I prefer the European model, and I'm going to roll the dice and (hope) ECMWF is on the right track. There's little doubt that spring will stage a comeback next week. It may be hard to believe, but with a sun angle as high in the sky as it was on August 25 most of the snow in your yard will be gone by Friday evening. Graphic: Weatherspark.

New Concept: "Warmer Than Average". I can't remember the last time I saw a map like this - last autumn perhaps. NOAA CPC is predicting a warm bias from the Rockiest to the Mississippi much of next week. That will mean 60s and 70s over the Upper Mississippi Valley, with a few 80s to near 90F over the central Plains. Map: NOAA and HAMweather.


March Was The Coldest In U.S. Since 2002. Climate Central has all the details; here's a clip: "...For the lower 48 as a whole, this March was the coldest on record since 2002 (though it ranks as only the 43rd coldest in the longer-term records), according to the latest State of the Climate update from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), released Tuesday. The average national temperature for the month was 40.5°F, 1°F below the 20th century average for the month. The Great Lakes and Northeast saw the coolest conditions, and Vermont actually saw its coldest March on record, with temperature 8.9°F below average..." (image credit: NOAA).


From Polar Vortex To Pollen Vortex? 45 million Americans may be doing more spring sneezing and wheezing than usual, no thanks to an abrupt end to the Polar Vortex in the coming weeks. Here's an excerpt of a good explanation from Mother Jones: "...The long winter, the particularly cold weather, it all pushed the pollen season back quite a bit," says Estelle Levetin, the chair of the biology department at the University of Tulsa. Individual flowering trees probably aren't producing more pollen, Levetin says—but they're all dumping their pollen at once, making this allergy season particularly difficult for people who are sensitive to more than one type of pollen..." (Pollen file photo: Wikipedia).


Largest Solar Array For Department of Defense Coming to Arizona Army Base. Take advantage of free energy, especially in sun-drenched Arizona? Seems like a pretty good idea and the Defense Department is testing new ways to keep the lights on. EcoWatch has the story; here's a clip: "A U.S. Army base near the Mexican border will soon be home to the U.S. Department of Defense’s largest solar array on a military installation. The U.S. Army announced Monday that Fort Huachuca, in Southeast Arizona’s Cochise County, on April 25 will break ground on a solar array with panels that collectively will provide one quarter of the base’s electricity needs..."

Photo credit above: "Fort Huachuca in Arizona will soon be home to the U.S. Department of Defense’s largest solar array on a military installation." Photo credit: U.S. Army.


Parrots Name Their Children For Life. Robert Krulwich has the details in this piece that ran on NPR; here's an excerpt: "..."Most people say, 'Well, all those calls are just noise,' " Karl told Virginia Morell, but "I think they're having conversations." Berg has listened to so many parrots in so many nests for so long, he has that weeks after birth, these little birds begin to use very specific peeps to identify themselves to others. Not only that, they learn the peeping "names" of their parents, brothers, sisters, and use them in conversation, as in, "Peep-duh-dee-Peep, is that you?"... (File photo: Wikipedia).


"Climachill" Cools Athletes In Hot Weather. Can I get boxers made out of this material? Inquiring minds want to know. Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "The sports apparel market has no shortage of solutions for cold weather, with waterproof-breathable materials, advanced natural and synthetic insulations, and battery powered heat among them. But athletes have fewer options in hot, humid weather: take off clothing, get a cold headband/cloth, or stop exercising and find an air conditioner or pool. Adidas offers one more. Its new Climachill fabric combines several cooling elements to keep athletes more comfortable during hot summer sessions..."


Bees On A Plane. A flight from Las Vegas to Duluth had to turn around because of...wait for it...bees? No, truth is stranger than fiction some days. Here's a clip from The Duluth News Tribune: "...Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said the flight crew reported at 5:30 p.m. Duluth time that shortly after takeoff, a swarm of bees was clouding the windshield and bees were being ingested into the plane’s engines. The crew decided to abort the flight, landing safely back in Las Vegas..."



37 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

58 F. average high on April 16.

47 F. high on April 16, 2013.

.3" of snow at MSP International Airport.


TODAY: Slushy, slippery start. Patchy clouds, still chilly. Winds: NW: 10-15. High: near 40

THURSDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and cold. Low: 28

FRIDAY: Peeks of sun, feels more like April. High: 52

SATURDAY: Hints of May. PM T-storms? Wake-up: 42. High: 65

EASTER SUNDAY: Damp start. Clouds linger much of the day. Wake-up: 45. High: 62

MONDAY: Partly sunny. Mostly springy. Wake-up: 40. High: 68

TUESDAY: Fading sun, still lukewarm. Wake-up: 44. High: 67

WEDNESDAY: Humid. Showers & T-storms. Wake-up: 48. High: 64


Climate Stories...

The world is losing the equivalent of 50 soccer fields of forest every minute. NYT. Source: Climate Nexus.


U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Dropped 3.4% In 2012. Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "Greenhouse gas emissions in the United States dropped by 3.4% in 2012, federal environmental regulators reported Tuesday. The decline over the previous year was driven mostly by power plant operators switching from coal to natural gas, improvements in fuel efficiency for transportation and a warmer winter that cut demand for heating, according to an inventory released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency...."


Study Ties Epic California Drought, "Frigid East" To Manmade Climate Change. ThinkProgress has the details of a new NASA-funded study; here's an excerpt: "...A new study in Geophysical Research Letters (subs. req’d) takes the warming link to the California drought to the next level of understanding. It concludes, “there is a traceable anthropogenic warming footprint in the enormous intensity of the anomalous ridge during winter 2013-14, the associated drought and its intensity.” The NASA-funded study is behind a pay wall, but the brief news release, offers a simple explanation of what is going on. The research provides “evidence connecting the amplified wind patterns, consisting of a strong high pressure in the West and a deep low pressure in the East [labeled a 'dipole'], to global warming.” Researchers have “uncovered evidence that can trace the amplification of the dipole to human influences...”


* Jeff Masters at Weather Underground weighs in on new papers linking the historic California drought and a persistent polar vortex signature this past winter to rapid warming in the northern latitudes. Here's a clip: "...A new study published this week in Geophysical Research Letters, led by Utah State scientist S.-Y. Simon Wang, found that this jet stream pattern was the most extreme on record, and likely could not have grown so extreme without the influence of human-caused global warming. The study concluded, there is a traceable anthropogenic warming footprint in the enormous intensity of the anomalous ridge during winter 2013-14, the associated drought and its intensity..."

* Is climate change impacting the ENSO signal in the Pacific? Here's a technical paper (PDF) with details.


Canada's Climate Warms To Corn As Grain Belt Shifts North. The growing season on the Canadian prairie has lengthened by 2 weeks in the last 50 years; the trends are undeniable. Bloomberg has a story and video explanation; here's a clip: "...This is here to stay,” said Gross, who sells CNH Global NV tractors for Southeastern Farm Equipment Ltd. in nearby Steinbach. His customers are increasingly devoting acreage to corn. “There are a lot of guys who are experimenting with it and looking at it,” he said. Corn is the most common grain in the U.S., with its production historically concentrated in a Midwestern region stretching from the Ohio River valley to Nebraska and trailing off in northern Minnesota. It had been ungrowable in the fertile farmland of Canada’s breadbasket. That is changing as a warming climate, along with the development of faster-maturing seed varieties, turns the table on food cultivation. The Corn Belt is being pushed north of what was imaginable a generation ago..."


January Global Temperature Anomalies. Check out this video clip from NASA, showing a persistent pocket of cold over the eastern USA (thank you Polar Vortex), while most of the rest of the planet was milder than average. That trend lingered into March.


Turning Our Backs To Global Warming. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Virginian-Pilot that caught my eye: "...The problem, as in so many things, is America's paralyzing politics. Since limiting global warming carries its own small cost - one that will affect free-spending energy interests most - partisan opposition to change has been particularly vociferous in America. Global warming has become just another American litmus test, along with health care reform, immigration, abortion, unemployment insurance, pay equity. While the rest of the world is baffled by America's partisan disagreement over a century-old and well-supported scientific theory, it is also frustrated by the lack of leadership from the world's only superpower..."


A Risk Analyst Explains Why Climate Change Risk Misperception Doesn't Necessarily Matter. By the time the symptoms of climate change begin impacting everyone's daily lives will it be too late to do anything about it? That's why climate change has often been described as "the perfect problem". Andrew Revkin takes a look in an interview at his Dot Earth column at The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "...Consider that combating climate change requires nothing less than a radical restructuring of how the world makes and uses energy, and consider the overwhelming level of public concern it would take to impose such sweeping changes on the vested interests profiting by the status quo (and let’s be honest…to impose such changes on a public comfortable with the status quo). We’d have to feel we were at war — bullets-flying, bombs-dropping, buildings-burning and body-bags real, live, NOW “I am in Danger” war — before public concern about climate change would grow strong enough to drive those sorts of actions. The psychology of risk perception warns against the naive hope that we can ever achieve that level of concern with effective communication, but even if it is possible, we are just not going to get there in time, a point made dramatically by the latest IPCC Working Group 3 report..."

Update: 1-2" Icy Slush Much of Metro, 3-6" Expected Northern/Western Suburbs (up to a foot parts of central Minnesota)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: April 16, 2014 - 6:48 PM
Amazing Snowfall Gradient Across Metro Area. Otsego reports 9" of snow on the ground, with 7" at Ham Lake, 5" Forest Lake, 4" Maple Plain and 5" at Delano. Expect a burst of moderate to heavy snow this evening, capable of a couple inches of slushy accumulation across most of the metro, but as much as 3-6" for portions of the northern and western suburbs before snow tapers around 10-11 PM.
 

Latest Snowfall Reports, Updated 6:30 PM. 10.5" of snow has already piled up near Big Lake with 10" at Annandale and 9" at St. Francis, in northern Anoka County. An icy mix of snow, freezing rain and sleet changes to mostly snow this evening with 1-2" for the immediate downtowns, less south of the airport, more north and west of Minneapolis. The far northern and northwestern suburbs will see a plowable snowfall; most of it cutting off after midnight. Latest snow reports from NOAA are here.


Latest WRF Model. The 18z HopWRF (3 km resolution - it's done a pretty good job this winter isolated snowfall amounts) shows a band of 5-8" from near Willmar and St. Cloud, as much as 10-12" from Sandstone and Hinkley to near Duluth and Superior by Thursday morning. Expect some 3-6" amounts for the far northern and western suburbs. The farther north and west you drive up I-94 or I-35 the more treacherous travel conditions will be overnight. Pretend it's still February.