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.

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Monsoon Season: Flash Flood Watches & Warnings

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: June 1, 2014 - 9:26 AM

Super Soakers

I'm thoroughly enjoying the Mosquito Olympics, now playing out in my buggy backyard (available on ESPN7). If the rains keep up I'm going to need a low-flying helicopter to cut my lawn.

Welcome to monsoon season in Minnesota. Rainfall for the last 30 days is already 3-8 inches above average for portions of central Minnesota, and the rains just keep on coming. Once again, for the umpteenth time in recent memory, weather systems are stalling, and when weather gets stuck you need to pay close attention.

A stalled frontal boundary snaking across Minnesota will ignite more heavy T-storms again today; heaviest rains on the cooler north/west side of the front - but the MSP metro may see tropical downpours capable of (another) 1-2 inches, enough for standing water and garage-worthy grad parties.

Have a Plan B and hope for the best.

A ripple of low pressure keeps gulley-washers in the forecast into Monday but Wednesday's storm may steer showers and storms south of the metro. We slowly warm late next week with spotty weekend T-storms. Right on cue.

I'm still betting on a wetter than average summer, statewide, but El Nino may keep us warmer and drier the latter half of 2014.

Keep the faith.


3.7" near Jordan.

4" Cottage Grove

4.25" Hudson, Wisconsin

4.43" Sauk Centre

2.6" Breezy Point, on Pelican Lake

* Click here for rainfall and flash flood details, courtesy of NOAA.

* more Minnesota rainfall amounts from CoCoRaHS.


Storm Rainfall. Check out some of the rainfall amounts from near Sauk Centre to Little Falls and Brainerd; Doppler radar estimates of 4-8" in less than 24 hours. To put that into perspective that's 1-2 month's worth of rain since Friday morning. Some of the northern and western suburbs of the Twin Cities, as well as Dakota county, picked up 2-4" of rain from training thunderstorms overnight.


Metro Rainfall Estimates. These amounts are based on Doppler radar estimates - the purple shaded regions saw 3", everything shaded white or gray at least 4-5" of rain. Heaviest amounts have been observed from near Henderson to Chaska, another region of 4"+ amounts from near Woodbury and Hudson to Baldwin and Knapp, Wisconsin. Over 1 month's worth of rain in 24 hours.



Flash Flood Warning. Flash Flood Watches are posted for much of Minnesota today. Here are the latest details for the Twin Cities metro - the greatest concern in the short term is for residents who live along Minnehaha Creek. Details from NOAA:

...FLASH FLOOD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR SOUTH CENTRAL WRIGHT...
WASHINGTON...EASTERN SIBLEY...SCOTT...RAMSEY...EASTERN MCLEOD...
HENNEPIN...NORTHERN DAKOTA...CARVER AND SOUTHEASTERN ANOKA COUNTIES
UNTIL 1000 AM CDT...

AT 755 AM CDT...LIGHT TO MODERATE RAIN WAS STILL OCCURRING ACROSS
THE WARNED AREA. RADAR ESTIMATES AND REPORTS FROM OBSERVERS INDICATE
THAT BETWEEN 1 AND 4 INCHES OF RAIN HAS OCCURRED ACROSS THE AREA
OVER THE PAST 6 HOURS.

RUNOFF FROM THIS EXCESSIVE RAINFALL WILL CAUSE FLASH FLOODING TO
OCCUR. SOME LOCATIONS THAT WILL EXPERIENCE FLOODING INCLUDE...
BLOOMINGTON...BURNSVILLE...DOWNTOWN MINNEAPOLIS...DOWNTOWN ST PAUL...
EDEN PRAIRIE...SHAKOPEE...ST LOUIS PARK...AFTON STATE
PARK...CHANHASSEN...CHASKA...EAGAN...EDINA...EXCELSIOR...LAKEVILLE...
MINNETONKA...NEW PRAGUE AND NORTH MINNEAPOLIS.

RESIDENTS NEAR MINNEHAHA CREEK SHOULD BE ALERT FOR FLOODING. THE
CREEK IS EXPECTED TO CREST WELL ABOVE THE LEVEL IT REACHED IN LATE
MAY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

DO NOT DRIVE YOUR VEHICLE INTO AREAS WHERE THE WATER COVERS THE
ROADWAY. THE WATER DEPTH MAY BE TOO GREAT TO ALLOW YOUR CAR TO CROSS
SAFELY.

REPORT FLOODING TO THE NEAREST LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY SO THAT THEY
MAY TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION TO CLOSE FLOODED ROADWAYS. THEY WILL
RELAY YOUR REPORT TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN THE TWIN CITIES.

Rising Minnehaha Creek Leads to Flood Warnings. KARE-11 has an update on the ongoing flood potential on Lake Minnetonka, which empties into Minnehaha Creek: "...Currently, Lake Minnetonka's water level is 930.21 feet. The MCWD is discharging water from the Gray's Bay Dam into Minnehaha Creek. Due to high lake levels, water is also flowing over the emergency spillway north of the dam, which has an elevation of 930 feet. As a result of heavy rains this spring, the lake level has been at or above 930 since May 9 and there is no additional capacity in the lake or Minnehaha Creek for more rainfall, increasing the likelihood for flooding in some areas..." (photo: Matt Passolt).


Lingering Flash Flood Potential. NOAA's RAP model thru 4 PM Sunday shows more showers and heavy T-storms flaring up along a stalled frontal boundary. Based on this guidance I could see the Flash Flood Watch extended into late Sunday or early Monday. Future Radar: HAMweather.com.


84-Hour Future Radar. NOAA's 12 km NAM model finally dries us out during the day Monday as winds swing around to the west and heavy T-storms pinwheel into the Great Lakes. A dry Tuesday gives way to another risk of showers and thundershowers Wednesday, with the greatest potential for heavy rain south of the Twin Cities.


Protecting Your Home From Disasters. Here's a clip from a timely story at The Wall Street Journal: "Many homeowners are flirting with disaster - and they may not even know it. Natural catastrophes and severe weather events that cause major damage are occurring more frequently and inflicting more costly harm. Insurers have responded by putting stricter limits on their liability for losses, forcing homeowners to take on a greater share of the risk. The result is a growing financial incentive to prepare wisely..."

Photo credit above: "Residents of Joplin, Mo, survey the damage after a tornado hit the city in May 2011." Associated Press.


Reflecting Back on Historic (El Reno) May 31, 2013 Tornado. KOCO-TV has a good recap of a massive EF-5 that struck outside Oklahoma City; here's a clip: "...The tornado also had smaller tornadoes within the larger circulation. These are called sub-vortices. Thanks to the help of research meteorologist Gabe Garfield, we know that one of the more intense sub-vortices moved on the ground at 180 mph. It was also stationary at times. The Doppler On Wheels (DOW) measured a 255 mph wind gust in one of the smaller tornadoes just south of I-40. There were also satellite tornadoes, or tornadoes that occur outside of the main circulation. The main gigantic tornado also spawned a tornado with clockwise winds. Most tornadoes have counter-clockwise winds..."


Late Start to Planting Season. Here's a clip from the latest installment of Dr. Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk Newsletter: "...There were numerous reports of hail during the month, and two tornadoes were reported on May 8th, near St James and Madelia. Straight line wind damage occurred near Waseca, Montgomery, and Red Wing damaging buildings, trees, and powerlines. This cool, wet spring produced a late planting season for farmers, but nearly all of the state corn acreage was planted by May 30, and over half of the soybean acreage was planted as well. Southern Minnesota farmers began harvesting alfalfa the last week of the month. Moderate drought remained in the extreme southwestern counties of the state..."


Dust Storm Kills 12 in New Delhi. The Times of India reports.


How To Read The Mind of a Wildfire. An article at The Atlantic has some details about how tree rings and computer models are being tapped to gain a greater understanding of wildfires; here's a clip: "...When fires do burn, they're more destructive, often killing the big trees along with the small. “What's being released in a fire is the accumulated capital stored up through years of photosynthesis,” Falk says. “You're not destroying the carbon, hydrogen, or oxygen molecules. They're just being liberated.” And on a tremendous scale: even a relatively small fire of a couple hundred acres can pump out energy equivalent to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and can push a mushroom cloud of hot air, ash, and soot miles into the sky..."

Animation credit above: "A FIRETEC animation of a 1996 blaze in Malibu." (icess.ucsb.edu).


The Wealthy, English-Speaking Country Starbucks Can't Conquer. Here's a snippet of a fascinating business case study at Quartz: "...The Seattle-based chain also has a large and growing presence in international markets: Seoul has more Starbucks locations than New York City does, and Canada has more stores on a per capita basis than anywhere else in the world. There is, however, a wealthy international market where the coffee chain has struggled: Australia. That might seem surprising, given it is one of the world’s wealthiest countries and is also completely obsessed with coffee..."


Virgin Spaceflights Cleared For Take-Off. Will my 250k get me peanuts and a drink? That, and a sturdy barf bag? The FAA cleared the way for low-orbit trips later this year, as reported by CNN Money: "...Virgin Galactic has been gearing up to offer space flight services for the general public and has said it wants to start offering flights by the end of 2014. Branson and his family will be on Virgin's first space flight. Virgin Galactic said it has accepted more than $70 million in deposits from about 580 individuals. That's about 10% more than the total number of people who have ever gone to space..."

* more fascinating details on Virgin Galactic's upcoming "flights" at The Houston Chronicle.


86 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.

74 F. average high on May 31.

79 F. high on May 31, 2013.

.05" rain fell as of 7 PM Saturday at MSP International Airport.

May 31 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: Twin Cities NWS.

1993: St. Cloud reported its latest ever freezing temperature.

1897: Cold night in Tower. The temperature drops to 18.


TODAY: Flash Flood Watches and Warnings.Tropical humidity. More showers and T-storms. Downpours likely with localized flooding problems. Dew point: 68. Winds: S 10. High: 81

SUNDAY NIGHT: A few more showers, possible thunder. Low: 67

MONDAY: Early thunder? Showers slowly taper. High: near 80

TUESDAY: Peeks of sun, drying breeze. Dew point: 55. Wake-up: 61. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Showers and T-Showers brush far southern MN. Sun central/north. Wake-up: 57. High: 77

THURSDAY: Warm sun much of the day. Dew point: 60. Wake-up: 58 High: 78

FRIDAY: Hazy sun, pop-up T-storms possible. Wake-up: 60. High: 81

SATURDAY: Sticky sun, storms up north. DP: 64. Wake-up: 62. High: 83

* photo above courtesy of John Siegrist, who snapped this photo at Ruttger's on Bay Lake.


Climate Stories...

Climate Change Meets Kitchen Table As Issue Gets Personal. Will curbing emissions from coal-fired plants be a net positive or negative, when it comes to everything from energy bills to human health? Here's an excerpt of a post at Bloomberg Businessweek: "The White House, as it prepares to announce new limits on carbon emissions, is working to transform the debate from distant threats to more immediate issues. President Barack Obama wants to shift the conversation from polar bears and melting glaciers to droughts in Iowa and more childhood asthma across the nation. Opponents are also making the issue personal. They’re homing in on the rules’ potential kitchen-table impact, raising the prospect of higher utility bills and job losses. They expect those arguments to resonate with voters as the country is still recovering from the worst recession in seven decades..."


Global Warming and the Vulnerability of Greenland's Ice Sheet. Climate models have consistently underestimated the rate of ice melt in Greenland (and the Arctic). Here's an excerpt of a story at The Guardian: "...This work is important because in the past decade or so, it has been found that Greenland is losing ice, lots of ice, to the world’s oceans. As a consequence, Greenland is one of the significant contributors to sea level rise. The level our oceans will rise to in the next decades and centuries depends strongly on how fast the Greenland ice sheet will melt. This study is novel because of the way it combined measurements with mass-conservation calculations. The method allowed far better resolution of the thickness of Greenland glaciers and the shape of the valleys beneath the glaciers. The shape and depth of these valleys is important for moderating the speed of ice flow to the oceans. In fact, in the paper, authors state, “the overall state of mass balance of the ice sheet is affected by considerable uncertainties in bed topography and ice thickness...”


GOP Science Deniers Threaten National Security. Not my headline, but from a marine veteran who is hot under the collar. Here's a snippet of his Op-Ed at Marketwatch: "...The Republican Party is now officially on record as the party of climate-science denialism. These research programs, ongoing and widely used by the Pentagon in strategic national defense planning for many years, could, if the Senate agrees, become illegal to use. Yes, this Marine veteran is mad as hell. GOP science deniers have “crossed the line,” they’re now messing with national security. America is now under attack from an enemy within, irrational science denialism, a toxic mind-set, a spreading, self-destructive mental virus. Yes, this is a “War on America.” The military has been using climate-science research for decades. This vote is self-destructive. These research studies are essential in our national defense..."


Obama Is Planning His Biggest Climate Policy Yet - And He Doesn't Need Congress. Vox has more details on the upcoming rule changes regarding coal-fired energy; here's an excerpt: "...Early reporting suggests that the EPA will set overall emissions limits for each individual state. Power companies in those states will have a variety of options for getting below that limit — using more efficient technology, boosting their use of solar or wind or nuclear, or even joining regional cap-and-trade systems that require companies to pay to emit carbon-dioxide. Early reports suggest that US coal plants could ultimately have to reduce their emissions around 20 percent (though we still don't know the baseline — more on that below). Those coal plants, in turn, are responsible for about 28.7 percent of all US carbon-dioxide emissions.."

Graphic credit: Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.


How Obama's Power Plant Emission Rules Will Work. More details, and a Q and A, from The Washington Post; here's a clip: "Obama says the rules are essential to curb the heat-trapping greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. Critics contend the rules will kill jobs, drive up electricity prices and shutter plants across the country. Environmentalists and industry advocates alike are eagerly awaiting the specifics, which the Environmental Protection Agency will make public for the first time on Monday and Obama will champion from the White House..." (File photo above: Matt Brown, AP).


The All of the Above Energy Strategy as a Path to Sustainable Economic Growth. More details and light reading in this 43 page PDF from The White House.

Upgraded to "Moderate": Significant Severe T-storm Risk Today (Fishing Opener Weather Outlook)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: May 8, 2014 - 8:51 AM

Severe Risk upgraded to "Moderate": a few large, violent tornadoes are possible over central and southern MN later today; details below.


"...The stakes are high, as nearly five million Americans and hundreds of billions of dollars of property are located in areas that are less than four feet above the local high-tide level..." - Huffington Post.


Iceberg-free Opener?

There's nothing more enjoyable than fumbling with a fishing rod, wrapped in multiple layers like The Michelin Man, shivering uncontrollably as you grip that can of ice-cold beer, on the lookout for slabs of lake ice.

Amazingly, weather for Saturday's Fishing Opener looks better than that: AM peeks of sun - dry early with PM rain showers and a south breeze at 10 mph (minor walleye chop). Expect dawn temperatures near 40F - highs in the low 60s north to upper 60s on Twin Cities lakes. With a falling barometer and showers in the forecast you might actually catch some fish this year.

Good luck.

I wish I had better news for mom. An embroidered umbrella might make a lovely gift for Mother's Day this year. Expect some rain late Sunday, even heavier on Monday as a storm spins up just to our east. Grilling optional.

Expect some watches/warnings later today; some storms packing hail, even a stray tornado can't be ruled out. It's ripe for severe, but pinpointing which towns will see hail/high winds, more than 30 minutes in advance, is a fool's errand. Keep an eye on the sky today and be ready to move to a shelter.

Enjoy 60s into Saturday but temperatures stumble to April-like levels (50s) by early next week.

Oy vey.


.95" rain by Friday morning at KMSP. (00z NAM model)

Fishing Opener weather details below.


Volatile. Warm air surging north will spark severe storms from Minnesota south to Texas today; a few isolated tornadoes can't be ruled out. Locally heavy rains may trigger flash flooding in some communities; the next round of (lighter) showers pushing into Minnesota in time for Saturday's Fishing Opener. NAM Future Radar courtesy of NOAA and HAMweather.


Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Thursday morning, May 8, 2014.

* Volatile, potentially violent storm pushing into Upper Midwest, capable of a widespread severe storm outbreak, including 2" diameter hail, damaging straight-line winds, and a few large, long-track EF-2+ intensity tornadoes capable of extensive damage and injury.

* As we predicted last night NOAA SPC has upgraded the risk to "Moderate" from the Twin Cities southward to Des Moines, meaning an enhanced threat of (large/violent) tornadoes later today.

* Be alert for possible issuance of PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) Tornado Watches and even Tornado Emergencies, disseminated with confirmed tornadoes on the ground are moving into more heavily populated areas.

* Greatest tornado risk appears to be between 4 PM and 8 PM this evening.


Upgraded to Moderate Threat. Whenever NOAA SPC goes with a Moderate or High Risk of severe storms there's an inherent implication that we won't be tracking small, brief, garden-variety tornadoes later in the day. There's enough low-level moisture, instability and wind shear aloft to sustain long-lasting, long-track supercell thunderstorms. These are the especially damaging storms capable of baseball-size hail and large tornadoes. The Moderate Risk area includes much of the Twin Cities metro area, Willmar, Mankato, Albert Lea, Mason City, Fort Dodge, Spencer, Ames and metro Des Moines. This is the area most ripe for the large tornadoes, and "families" of tornadoes that form in quick succession, capable of significant injury or loss of life.


Isolating The Risk. Although it's impossible to say, this far in advance, where tornadoes may touch down 8-12 hours from now the greatest potential runs from central Minnesoeta into central Iowa, where there is a 1 in 10 chance of an EF-2 to EF-5 intensity tornado within 25 miles of any point. The risk is considerably lower in Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Madison and Dallas, although a few tornadoes from Oklahoma City to Tulsa may be large and intense.


EHI: 7 PM This Evening. Our internal Alerts Broadcaster models show a significant risk of violent storms over the southern third of Minnesota, where meteorological conditions may converge for a significant outbreak later today.


Tracking Potential Supercells. Our internal WRF model guidance shows powerful storms sprouting south/west of the Twin Cities by 5 PM (upper left), a second line forming in advance of a cold front by 7 PM may also spin up tornadic thunderstorms from central Minnesota to near La Crosse, Waterloo and Des Moines (upper right).

Summary: This is prime time for severe storms and tornadoes across much of the central USA,  and today promises to be another busy day tracking potentially dangerous cells on Doppler radar. Staff at facilities within 200 miles of I-35 should be on alert, with an even higher state of readiness (and weather paranoia in general) over Iowa and the southern half of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, Mankato, Rochester and Albert Lea. I expect as many as 2-5 large/violent tornadoes by evening. As always, the big question/concern: will they hit sparsely populated farmland or urban/suburban areas? Monitor Alerts Broadcaster Alerts for your specific county - we will continue to assess the situation and pass along any subsequent Tornado Emergencies as quickly as possible. A little well-deserved paranoia will go a long way later today.

Paul Douglas - Senior Meteorologist - Alerts Broadcaster.


Forecast Calls for Walleye Widows. Many of us are packing up, ready to ship out late Friday or first thing Saturday. Minnesota's Fishing Opener is an institution, and a family tradition passed down from generation to generation. Here's a clip from the Minnesota DNR: "Minnesota anglers consider the fishing opener -- when walleye, northern pike, and sauger become legal game on the state's inland waters -- one of the defining moments of their year. Minnesota's Walleye Fishing Opener is the Saturday two weeks before Memorial Day weekend. This allows most walleyes to spawn before being caught by anglers..."


A Late Ice-Out. Ice is off most Minnesota lakes, local reports suggest Gull Lake just became entirely ice-free earlier this week. Expect patchy ice on far northern lakes though. For an interactive map check out the Minnesota DNR site.


Fishing Opener Weather. Expect morning wake-up temperatures shortly after dawn on Saturday ranging from upper 30s northern lakes to about 43-44F for metro lakes; afternoon highs in the low 60s north to mid 60s central Minnesota, possibly upper 60s closer to Lake Minnetonka and White Bear Lake. The chance of showers will increase during the day, although I expect a dry start to the day, statewide. Maps: NOAA.


Light Winds Saturday Morning. The map above shows expected wind speed/direction at 8 AM Saturday, generally from the south at 5-10 mph; only a light walleye chop this year.


U.S. Climate Has Already Changed, Study Finds, Citing Heat and Floods. The NY Times map above shows observed warming: 1991-2012 data vs. longer term historical averages (1901-1960). What jumps out at me is the warming over far northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, over 3F at Hibbing. This refutes the skeptical argument that "it's all urban heat island showing up in the data). This is exactly what climate models have been predicting for more than 30 years. Here's an excerpt of a very good summary of the latest NCA, National Climate Assessment, from Justin Gillis at The New York Times: "...One of the report’s most striking findings concerned the rising frequency of torrential rains. Scientists have expected this effect for decades because more water is evaporating from a warming ocean surface, and the warmer atmosphere is able to hold the excess vapor, which then falls as rain or snow. But even the leading experts have been surprised by the scope of the change. The report found that the eastern half of the country is receiving more precipitation in general. And over the past half-century, the proportion of precipitation that is falling in very heavy rain events has jumped by 71 percent in the Northeast, by 37 percent in the Midwest and by 27 percent in the South, the report found."


 

Extended Outlook: Growing Risk of Owning Beachfront Property. I guess if you can afford the (rapidly increasing) insurance premiums go ahead and roll the dice. Certain areas are more vulnerable than others, due to rising seas and land subsidence, metro areas like Miami, Tampa and New Orleans. Water levels are already rising - that's not a climate model, but actual observations. The big question is how much higher, and how quickly. That's the subject of today's Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over which cities are most vulnerable to rising sea levels. What causes the sea level increases besides climate change? What can we expect to see by 2100?"


Tornado Hunter Wants To Walk Into A Twister. I hope he has a chat with his life insurance guy first. No, I would not try this at home. I suspect he's watched the movie "Twister" one too many times. Here's an excerpt from CBS St. Louis: "...Steve Green is a self described “tornado hunter.” In 2004, he spent $500,000 on an armored vehicle and drove right into a tornado. Now, 10 years later, he’s going to try to walk into a twister. His plan is to drive a 4×4 vehicle with a motorcycle attached out in front of the storm, jump on the bike, get in front of the winds, screw himself into the ground using corkscrews (think of what you’d tie a dog leash to) and hold on tight..."


MAT-TER Designs Typhoon-Resistant School for the Philippines. One of my favorite tech sites, gizmag.com, has the details: "In recent years, Gizmag has reported on several architectural projects which aim to aid those living in areas prone to natural disaster, including the Bamboo Lakou community and Blooming Bamboo home. Californian studio MAT-TER is the latest firm to throw its hat in the ring, with a modular, passively-cooled, and typhoon-resistant school that's due to be constructed in the Philippines later this year..."


60 Years: The Road To Color Television Took A Complex Path. I know I'm dating myself but I still vividly remember my first color show (I Dream of Jeannie). It was magic. TVNewsCheck has a fascinating story about the rocky and litiguous transition from black and white to color; here's a clip: "...In the six decades since that first broadcast, the color pictures have gotten better, the screen sizes larger and the cameras smaller. Only the need for rearrangement of furniture — which is called for with each new generation of audio and video equipment — has remained unchanged. However, to those who saw that first color broadcast, it’s the “wow factor” that still comes to mind. Perhaps Omaha’s then mayor, Glenn Cunningham, after seeing those first color pictures at the Paxton Hotel, put it best: “It was most amazing thing I’ve ever witnessed.”


Air-Purifying Billboard Does The Work of 1,200 Trees. This is the best use I've seen of billboards. I'd actually stare at this one, and give thanks for innovation and human ingenuity. Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "Billboards could do more than just advertise, if scientists at the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Peru have their way. While UTEC's earlier billboard produced drinkable water, its latest creation scrubs the air free of pollutants. According to the team, a single billboard can do the work of 1,200 trees, purifying 100,000 cubic meters (3.5 million cubic feet) of air daily in crowded cities..."


65 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

67 F. average high on May 7.

78 F. high on May 7, 2013.


TODAY: Windy, warm and humid. Scattered storms, some turning severe. Large hail, damaging winds and a few tornadoes can't be ruled out. Winds: SE 15. High: 76

THURSDAY NIGHT: Evening storms, some strong. Low: 52

FRIDAY: Breezy and cooler. Showers taper early, some PM clearing. High: 61

SATURDAY (FISHING OPENER): Some sun early, PM showers likely. Wake-up: 43. High: 68

MOTHER'S DAY: Early sun, rain arrives PM hours. Wake-up: 54. High: 59

MONDAY: Periods of rain, fairly foul. Wake-up: 47. High: 55

TUESDAY: Partial clearing. Hello April. Wake-up: 44. High: 61

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, light showers. Wake-up: 44. High: 56


Climate Stories...

Climate Change is Happening, Here and Now. Jeff Nesbit takes a look at how the hypothetical has become real at U.S. News; here's an excerpt: "...Climate change isn’t a computer model, a fuzzy prediction, a cute picture of polar bears on shrinking icebergs, or some far-off, distant threat that people who aren’t born yet will have to deal with. It’s here, now – and it’s disrupting our lives. It’s affecting food prices through extended droughts and flooding basements in extreme rainfall events – the types of dry and wet extremes that scientists have been telling us for years would be part of a changing world. Now we can see these things with our own eyes, out our own windows..."

* Increasing CO2 Threatens Human Nutrition. Here's the abstract at Nature.


Observed Temperature Increases. This isn't output from a climate model, but rather observed temperature increases: 1991-2012 mean temperatures vs. the 1901-1960 average. Parts of southern Alabama have cooled, but the vast majority of the USA has warmed, with the greatest warming over the northern and western USA, precisely what climate models were predicting 30 years ago. Source: National Climate Assessment.


Minnesota: Trending Wetter Over Time. It's basic physics: as the atmosphere warms it can carry more water vapor, fueling heavier rains. In general wet areas are getting wetter, dry areas drier. But the increase in precipitation has been most pronounced from the Dakotas and Minnesota into the Midwest and New England. Data: 1991-2012 mean precipitation vs. 1901-1960 average. Source: National Climate Assessment.


Which U.S. Cities Are The Most Vulnerable To The Impacts of Climate Change? The report cited in this Washington Post article delve into resiliency; climate change is one of many factors to consider. Here's an excerpt: "...Climate change is only one of the factors that go into a city’s overall vulnerability rating. It includes an analysis of a city’s vulnerability to rising sea levels, hurricanes and typhoons, wildfires, floods, droughts, and vulnerability to earthquakes and tsunamis. Among U.S. cities, Los Angeles and Seattle are among the most vulnerable to climate change, according to Grosvenor’s rankings. And Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C are among the least vulnerable to climate change, at least among U.S. cities..."

Graphic credit: Grosvenor.


The Risks To U.S. Water Resources from Climate Change. Climate scientist Peter Gleick includes a long list of potential impacts on water, as described in the latest National Climate Assessment; here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "...There are hundreds of pages of information, observations, projections, and conclusions to absorb -- almost all of it bad news. Here, in short form and in the actual wording from the NCA (with page numbers from the "Highlights" summary report), are some of the most important conclusions related to U.S. water resources:

  • Agriculture, water, energy, transportation, and more, are all affected by climate change." (p.33)
  • Climate change is already affecting societies and the natural world (p. 32)
  • Climate change affects more than just temperature. The location, timing, and amounts of precipitation will also change as temperatures rise. (p. 29, Figure)..."

The G.O.P. Can't Ignore Climate Change. Here's the introduction to an Op-Ed at The New York Times from Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah and U.S. Ambassador to China: "TO waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.” These words were spoken by one of the nation’s most passionate conservationists: Republican President Teddy Roosevelt. I admire him for his pragmatism and individualism — foundational traits of the Republican Party. We must summon these qualities and apply them immediately and stoutly to the issue of climate change..."


On Climate Change, Republicans Can't Deny Reality Forever. Here's a clip from an Op-Ed at The Washington Post: "...One look at the comments sections of news articles on this report tells a depressing story. Many conservatives still believe that climate change is an elaborate hoax, that somehow thousands of scientists all over the world have conspired with public officials, the media, and who knows how many other people to pull off history’s greatest scam, and also managed to keep anyone from spilling the beans on the conspiracy. It isn’t all conservatives who feel this way; Republicans as a whole are split on the question. But the faction that inspires fear in Republican politicians — Tea Partiers — are the ones who most fervently believe it’s all a scam..."


Americans Start To Feel Effects of Climate Change. Here's a clip from a story at Politico: "...Rising temperatures will mean more heat-related deaths, asthma and spreads of infectious diseases, while longer pollen seasons will burden people who have allergies. Children, the elderly, the poor and some racial minority communities are especially vulnerable..."


Global Warming: The Inevitability Trap. The problem seems insurmountable, beyond the grasp of any one person to affect change. Which can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. "Nothing I can do about it, may as well sit back and watch TV". Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "Is the biggest hurdle on climate change outright denial? Or is it the sense that of being overwhelmed and too late, that there's nothing we can do? As K.C. Golden writes in an excerpt from my newly updated political hope anthology The Impossible Will Take a Little While, defeat is certain only if we accept it as such. What we often call preordained only becomes so through our resignation. So the only way to discover what's achievable is by taking action, trying new approaches, expanding the bounds of the possible..." (Image: NASA).


Climate Change Impact No. 326: The Birds Start Sleeping Around. Bloomberg has one of many curious side-effects of a warming climate; here's a clip: "Those monogamous birds? Another casualty of climate change. As it gets hotter here on Earth, they're more apt to start cheating on each other, according to the U.S. National Climate Assessment, released today. Scientists have said for years, decades even, that climate change is going to be rough. Storms, fires, heat extremes -- the works. The research tends to get more solid and detailed every year. It's all laid out in the Assessment, and it's mostly a bummer..."

Photo credit: Wikipedia.


Voices: Climate Change - It's Here. USA Today has an Op-Ed that shows how impacts are already being felt around the nation; here's an excerpt: "...In Norfolk, Va., where the sea level is rising, I met Bob Parsons and Jennifer Priest, whose homes have repeatedly flooded. In Spicewood, Texas, drought has triggered severe watering restrictions. Resident C.J. Teare was using soapy water left from washing clothes to try to keep her decades-old oaks alive. And in the Chicago area, doctors and patients said allergies are getting worse as the pollen count rises — and that's also linked to a rise in heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions..." (Flood photo above: AP).

April Wind Chill (second wettest April on record; 60s return next week)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: April 29, 2014 - 11:05 PM


"Keep your expectations low. That way you may be pleasantly surprised from time to time."

Good advice, especially for a meteorologist. Especially this "spring". Goldilocks had a point: rarely is our weather "just right". It's usually too hot-cold-wet-dry. The 7-Day Outlook should come with a 7-Day supply of Zoloft.

But here's what I've discovered: the weather has an uncanny way of evening things out. It may not happen next week or next month, but this cold, foul, puddle-infested FAIL of a spring will be balanced by an extended spell of gloriously lukewarm blue-sky postcard-worthy days.

Then again I have been standing way too close to the Doppler.

Any unwanted slush in your yard gives way to rain showers today as temperatures aloft begin to mellow. Puddles shrink tomorrow as skies brighten; 50s will feel like sweet relief this weekend as the sun makes a rare cameo appearance. Next week will feel like spring again; consistent 60s and even a few low 70s by the second week of May.

Like a cruel meteorological mirage spring keeps getting pushed back.

And as much as I'm rooting for warm fronts to reach our lofty latitude, my hope is that we have a quiet tornado year in Minnesota. Stay tuned.

* photograph of a new lake in a farmer's field near Cologne, Minnesota courtesy of WeatherNation meteorologist Bryan Karrick.

** Second wettest April on record in the Twin Cities. The Star Tribune has details. More data from NOAA here.


Unstuck. The stormy pinwheel of moisture that has stalled out over the Ohio Valley much of this week, sparking tornado outbreaks in the south and soaking rains from the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes into the Upper MIdwest, will finally get kicked out to sea by late week. Another clipper-like system may push a few scattered instability showers into Minnesota on Friday. NAM Future Radar: NOAA and HAMweather.


East Coast Soaking. Some 2-3"+ rainfall amounts are likely from Washington D.C. to Albany today and early Thursday, capable of minor flooding problems over the Mid Atlantic and New England. Data: 84 hour NAM model, courtesy of NOAA and HAMweather.


Severe Threat Lingers - Not As Extreme. I'm happy to see a lack of "Moderate Risk" from NOAA SPC, a slight risk from Washington D.C. to Charlotte, Atlanta and Orlando later today with hail, straight-line winds and a few isolated tornadoes possible.


Another Springy Mirage? Probably not. The ECMWF model is fairly consistent pulling 60-degree air back into Minnesota next week. You may even be able to lose the jacket for a couple of days. Today will be raw, but spring returns in all it's glory by Tuesday. Graphic: Weatherspark.


Cheering On The 45-Day Wish-Cast. Confidence levels remain low on details, but the sun is climbing higher in the sky; at some point it WILL warm up. NOAA's 45-day CFS (Climate Forecast System) trend shows fairly consistent 60s in May, with 80s surging into Minnesota in June. Better late than never. Source: HAMweather.


72 Hour Rainfall Amounts. Most parts of the Twin Cities metro just picked up an April's worth of rain since Saturday. Check out some of the amounts, courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service:

Location County, ST     Provider 72 Hr Pcpn
N SAINT PAUL 1 NW  Ramsey EC MN COCORAHS 4.97
FALCON HEIGHTS 2 SSE  Ramsey EC MN COCORAHS 4.11
VICTORIA 2 ENE  Hennepin EC MN COCORAHS 4.07
COLUMBIA HEIGHTS 1 S  Hennepin EC MN CoCoRaHS 3.87
CHANHASSEN NWS Carver EC MN COOP 3.72
BUFFALO Wright C MN AWOS 3.64
ANOKA 2 SE  Anoka EC MN COCORAHS 3.60
ST CLOUD AP  Sherburne C MN ASOS 3.58
CHANHASSEN 1 SE  Carver EC MN COCORAHS 3.51
FOREST LAKE 5NE Chisago EC MN COOP 3.49
ST CLOUD SCSU Stearns C MN UCOOP 3.48
JORDAN 1SW Scott EC MN COOP 3.47
CRYSTAL AP  Hennepin EC MN ASOS 3.44
DELANO Wright C MN COOP 3.38
KIMBALL 3N Stearns C MN COOP 3.34
MPLS LWR ST ANTHONY FALLS Hennepin EC MN COOP 3.31
MANKATO 4E Blue Earth SC MN UCOOP 3.20
ST PAUL DWNTN AP Ramsey EC MN ASOS

3.14

 

Mississippi Weatherman Evacuates On Air As More Tornadoes Hit The South. Everyone wants to err on the side of caution, even the local meteorologist in the path of a large, violent tornado. At least this station in Tupelo has a basement, which came in handy Monday afternoon. New York Magazine reports (check out the video clip): "...A video from NBC affiliate WTVA offers a dramatic illustration of that point. On Monday afternoon chief meteorologist Matt Laubhan was reporting on the storm live on air when a tornado touched down near the station in Tupelo, Miss. After the feed stalls for a moment, Laubhan yells "Basement, now!" to other employees, then runs off camera. Later, the station tweeted "We are safe here..." 


Four Things That Turn America Into The "Tornado Super Bowl". Where have you heard that before? NBC News has an explainer, focused on why the USA experiences (far) more tornadoes than any other nation on Earth; here's a clip: "A one-of-a-kind combination of weather factors make the United States the twister capital of the world, with the ominous funnels 10 times more common in the states than anywhere else on the planet, scientists say. The four main ingredients all are geographical, all unique to America's borders: a massive mountain wall to the west, a warm ocean to the southeast, a cold-air “shield” to the north – and above these particular latitudes, a narrow river of wind, the jet stream, that surges eastward at hundreds of miles per hour..."


Little Rock Outbreak Details. Here is additional information on the Sunday evening outbreak that leveled parts of Vilonia and Mayflower, courtesy of the Little Rock, Arkansas National Weather Service: "In the picture: Rotation associated with the parent storm on 04/27/2014 was persistent for roughly 40 miles (Tornado #1) before weakening (where the gap is indicated). Another tornado (Tornado #2) was likely spawned a short time later by the same storm and tracked through White, Jackson, and Independence Counties. Note: Tornado #2 may actually be several tornadoes. This will be determined through damage surveys. The graphic is courtesy of the National Severe Storms Laboratory..."

• This is the strongest tornado to hit the state since the Denning tornado on May 24-25, 2011. That tornado was rated EF4, with a path length of 45.71 miles. Four were killed, 27 injured. The fatalities were at Etna and Denning in Franklin County, and Bethlehem in Johnson County, all in mobile homes.

• This is the second time in three years that Vilonia has been hit by a tornado. The last time was April 25, 2011, when a long-tracked EF2 tornado hit, killing four.

• Since reliable records began in 1950, Vilonia has seen five tornado tracks within the present-day city limits. Aside from 4/27/2014, there was 4/25/2011 (EF2), 12/24/1982 (F3), 12/23/1982 (F2), and 03/12/1961 (F2). Source: National Weather Service, Little Rock.

* 2 confirmed deaths from Sunday's tornado outbreak in Iowa. Details here.


Preliminary Tornado Ratings:

EF-4: Louisville, MS

EF-3: Mayflower/Vilonia AR, Limestone County, AL (at least), Tupelo, MS

EF-2 : Union City, TN, Heard/Troup County, GA

EF-1 : Kimberly, AL (north Jefferson County)


Storm Chaser Says He's Retiring After Deadly Arkansas Tornado. CNN has a remarkable interview with a storm chaser who's apparently had enough; here's the description: "Deadly tornadoes have left a path of death and destruction for miles in the south. Our Ed Lavandera is in Mayflower, Arkansas where he caught up with a storm chaser who came dangerously close to it all. He tells us why his experience on Sunday will be his last."


Tornado "Scar". Chris Dolce points out a comparison of high-resolution NASA MODIS images taken before and after the Mayflower-Vilonia tornado. You can see the damage swath left behind in the top image, taken April 28.


Most Tornado Watches? Looking at data from 1999-2008 the most tornado watches issued by NOAA SPC weren't in traditional Tornado Alley, but southern Alabama and Mississippi; an average of 16 tornado watches every year. Not quite what I was expecting.


Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due. Meteorologists take a lot of flak for missing forecasts, but the folks at NOAA SPC in Norman, Oklahoma nailed the tornado prediction Sunday, again on Monday. That's the topic of today's first Climate Matters segment: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over the factors that went into the historic tornado outbreak that dropped large destructive tornadoes over Alabama and Mississippi. What has to happen to make a situation like this occur?"


Dome It! Schools Can Affordably Survive Tornadoes. Yes, tornadoes are a threat, and an opportunity to make our communities more resilient and storm-prooof. Here's an excerpt of a timely, interesting article from Andrew Revkin at The New York Times: "... I spoke Monday with David B. South, the co-inventor of a dome manufacturing process 37 years ago whose company, Monolithic Dome, has been erecting storm-safe domed school buildings from Sarasota, Fla., through Geronimo, Okla., and Lumberton, Tex., and even west to Payson, Ariz. (where the benefits include the big energy savings that come with thick insulation and concrete). There are ways to build a safe haven into a conventional school design, as well. But old building codes, tight budgets and simple inertia continue to get in the way of change..."

Photo credit above: Monolithic Dome. "A domed building at the Dale, Okla., elementary school doubles as a tornado shelter and cafeteria."


Supercell. Check out the timelapse footage of a supercell thunderstorm passing over Des Moines, courtesy of meteorologist Jason Parkin. Great animation.


Why It's Hard To Outsmart A Tornado (And How Scientists Are Trying). NBC News has an interesting story about the difficulty in determining which supercell thunderstorms will go on to spawn large/deadly tornadoes. As a nation we over-warn for twisters, which is probably better than the alternative. Here's an excerpt: "...As a result, Wurman said forecasters tend to "overwarn" about tornadoes. The false-alarm rate for tornado warnings is about 75 percent. But Brooks said it's better to sound a false alarm than to risk missing a killer tornado. "That 75 percent number is a result of the fact that deciding whether this is a tornado-making storm is a fundamentally hard problem," he said..." (Image: Gene Blevins, Reuters).


Tornado Tip-Offs. Meet the new starting pitcher for the Twins. There's a sign of The Apocalypse. No, I'm using visual aids to remind you about hail and tornadoes. Most large, violent tornadoes are preceded or accompanied by large hail. The larger the hail, the stronger the thunderstorm updraft. The stronger the updraft the higher the probability of a supercell powerful enough to tornado. That's the subject of this Climate Matters segment: "Large destructive storms capable of dropping baseball sized hail and damaging tornadoes don't happen where you think. WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas shows just where most of these powerful storms are witnessed."


Tornadoes: The Science Behind The Destruction. National Geographic has more good information and background on tornadogenesis - here's a clip: "...Even then, "we still don't know why some thunderstorms create tornadoes while others don't," tornado-chaser Tim Samaras said in early 2013. Samaras was a scientist and National Geographic grantee who was killed by a twister on May 31, 2013, in El Reno, Oklahoma. (Read "The Last Chase" in National Geographic magazine.) Brooks says scientists believe strong changes in winds in the first kilometer of the atmosphere and high relative humidity are important for the formation of tornadoes. He adds that there also needs to be a downdraft in just the right part of the storm..."


From "Gale" To "Inconceivable". Ranking Tornado Strength. Here's a good explanation of the new enhanced Fujita (EF) scale, courtesy of an article at Time Magazine: "...The Enhanced Fujita scale was adopted in 2007. It was designed to more accurately reflect the actual damage a tornado had done on the ground. The EF scale uses 28 different damage indicators, ranging from small barns to hardwood trees to shopping malls—and each of those indicators is assessed based on several different points of possible damage..."


61 Facts About Tornadoes. Here are just a few from abc15.com in Phoenix:

- "A tornado emergency is enhanced wording in a tornado warning indicating a large tornado is moving into a heavily populated area. Significant widespread damage and numerous fatalities are likely. The term was coined by forecasters in May 1999 and is used sparingly.

- Enhanced Fujita Scale: The Fujita scale is used to estimate the wind speed of a tornado by the damage the tornado causes."

* details on the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak, featured above, from Wikipedia.


Yes, Tornadoes Are Getting Stronger. To be fair and balanced, there is still no widely accepted scientific gun that can directly connect the dots, to the point we can say "climate change absolutely produces more numerous or more powerful tornadoes". But this story out of Wired just made me do a double-take; here's a clip: "...A tornado-power equation that actually gauges a twister’s kinetic energy would be more useful to scientists who are also examining the effects of climate change, so that’s what Elsner built. He looked at the length and width of a storm’s damage path, correlated that to the amount of damage, and then used the result to estimate wind 1.0 speed. A little more crunching and bam!—integrated kinetic energy of a storm. Non-linear upward trend estimated values of kinetic energy Elsner’s analysis suggests that since the turn of the century, tornadoes have packed a more powerful punch..."


Researchers Develop Model To Correct Tornado Records. With Doppler (and a proliferation of storm chasers after the movie "Twister" was released in the early 90s) we've seen an apparent uptick in tornadoes. More people and technology looking for them. But are tornadoes becoming more intense over time? Here's a clip from a story posted by Florida State University: "...The increase in reports has diminished the population bias somewhat, but it introduced a second problem: There are more reports, but are there also, in fact, more tornadoes? In other words, is the risk actually increasing? To address these issues, the FSU researchers first made the assumption that the frequency of tornadoes is the same in cities as in rural areas. They also operated on the assumption that the reported number of tornadoes in rural areas is low relative to the actual number of tornadoes. Their model calls for the reported number in rural areas to be adjusted upward by a factor that depends on the number of tornadoes in the nearest city and the distance from the nearest city. The model shows that it is likely that tornadoes are not occurring with greater frequency, but there is some evidence to suggest that tornadoes are, in fact, getting stronger..."


100-Degree Heat Brewing For Los Angeles Area - Records May Fall. 100F in late April? Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "A heat wave this week is expected to send temperatures soaring to 20 degrees above normal for much of the Southland, potentially breaking records with triple digits in some areas, forecasters say. Building high pressure is also expected to bring gusty Santa Ana winds to the region, prompting warnings of high fire danger, particularly Tuesday through Thursday, when temperatures could hit 100 degrees in some inland areas, the National Weather Service said..."

* forecast graphic above: NOAA and HAMweather.


 

Phones Are Giving Away Your Location, Regardless Of Your Privacy Settings. No, you're not paranoid - you are being tracked until further notice. Maybe if I start using my old brick phone...? Quartz has the story; here's an excerpt: "...A new study has found evidence that accelerometers—which sense motion in your smartphone and are used for applications from pedometers to gaming—leave “unique, trackable fingerprints” that can be used to identify you and monitor your phone. Here’s how it works, according to University of Illinois electrical and computer engineering professor Romit Roy Choudhury and his team: Tiny imperfections during the manufacturing process make a unique fingerprint on your accelerometer data..."


Confirming Our Suspicions: Oreos Are As Addictive As Crack. Here's a clip from a story at Huffington Post: "...Thanks for telling us what we already knew, science! Just last year, a team at Connecticut College got a bunch of lab rats, Oreos, and cocaine, and set off for Vegas. Actually, they set up two mazes. The first maze had Oreos at one end and rice cakes on the other; the second promised an injection of saline on one side and an injection of morphine/cocaine at the other. After they had received their prize, the rats could choose to linger as long as they liked, presumably in the hopes of seconds they would never get..."


Best TV News Bloopers Of April. There are some really good ones in here - video courtesy of TVNewsCheck. (PG rated).


42 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

64 F. average high on April 29.

75 F. high on April 29, 2013.

.56" rain fell yesterday at MSP International Airport.

6.2" rain so far this month, second wettest April on record.

Trace of snow fell yesterday.

69.8" snow so far this winter/spring season. Not sure what to call this anymore.


 

TODAY: Slushy start in some towns? Light rain. Still foul. Winds: NW 15. High: 43

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Light rain or drizzle. Wet roads. Low: 39

THURSDAY: Showers taper, skies brighten late in the day. High: 49

FRIDAY: Some sun, passing shower. Wake-up: 40. High: 55

SATURDAY: More clouds than sun. Wake-up: 42. High: 57

SUNDAY: More sun, nicer day of weekend. Wake-up: 39. High: 56

MONDAY: Unsettled. Risk of a shower. Wake-up: 44. High: 57

TUESDAY: Stray T-storm. Finally feels like spring. Wake-up: 43. High: 61


Climate Stories...

* cartoon courtesy of David Horsey at The Los Angeles Times.


Typhoon Haiyan Was Just The Start - Prepare For An Even Stormier Future. As oceans continue to warm will hurricanes and typhoons become more intense over time? Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...The damage Haiyan caused outstripped any storm the typhoon-prone islands had experienced before. Reibl says typhoon Bopha in 2012 had already redefined ideas on how big a typhoon could get, and yet "just a year later, Haiyan made Bopha seem like just a little wind … When Bopha happened we didn't envisage a Haiyan. Can we envisage something more than Haiyan?" Reibl says that in the past the Philippines were considered the 7-11 of natural disasters – small but open all hours. Indonesia, with its large but infrequent disasters, was more like a mega mall. He says the scale of devastation wrought by Haiyan meant the Philippines had become "a mega mall that is now also open 24/7"...

Photo credit above: "An aerial photograph of a coastal town in Samar province in central Philippines, taken on 11 November 2013." Photograph: Erik De Castro/REUTERS.


Top Military Commanders Have Declared Our Biggest Threat, And It's One We're All Ignoring. I have a son in the Navy and I can assure you that Navy brass take climate change very seriously. Seas are rising; that will impact Navy ports in the years and decades to come. Anything that potentially destabilizes economies and can spark conflict is of great interest to the Pentagon. Here's an excerpt from PolicyMic: "...For the U.S. military, climate change isn't just about sad-looking polar bears and declining biodiversity. It's a real challenge that has the potential to seriously destabilize nations and throw entire regions into conflict, potentially escalating into wars that will require new strategies and new technologies to win. In a recent interview with the Responding to Climate Change blog, retired Army Brig. Gen. Chris King said that the military is extremely concerned about climate change. "This is like getting embroiled in a war that lasts 100 years..."


Supreme Court Backs EPA Rules For Coal Pollution. The New York Times has an update - here's an excerpt: "The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate coal-plant pollution that wafts across state lines from 27 Midwestern and Appalachian states to eastern states. The 6-to-2 ruling is a major environmental victory for the Obama administration, which has instituted several new E.P.A. regulations under the Clean Air Act in an effort to crack down on coal pollution. Republicans and the coal industry have criticized the effort as a “war on coal...”

File photo: Matt Brown, AP.


Climate Scientist Katherine Hayhoe On Time Magazine's Most Influential People of 2014 List. Here's an excerpt of an interview with Dr. Hayhoe from The University of Toronto: "... I’m encouraged when international relief and development organizations like World Vision put climate change at the forefront of their concerns. I’m inspired by faith leaders from Pope Francis to the U.S. National Association of Evangelicals who emphasize how the Christian faith demands a response to climate change. With 97 per cent of climate scientists agreeing that climate change is happening due to the choices people make every day, the simple truth is that the scientific debate is over, and now it’s time for all of us, from every walk of life and part of society, to take action..."

Wednesday Thaw - Tricky Thursday Snow Forecast (heaviest snow should pass east of MSP)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: February 19, 2014 - 8:44 AM


Perspective. It's hard to come by when you're hip-deep in snow. 47" snow so far; the 43rd snowiest winter on record, to date. 44 subzero nights, the most since 1981-82.

Looking at a Misery Index that measures snow & cold this isn't even close to rough Minnesota winters of the late 70s. But much harsher than most winters since 1998.

My lead programmer reminded me of the "Grumble Factor", the number of days between measurable snow events during the warm weather season. During the record warm year of 2012 we went from March 8 to November 12 without slush. Last year? May 3 to November 3, almost 2 1/2 months less snow-free weather.

Ouch.

Many Minnesotans were already grouchy about last year's abbreviated summer, now this.

Here, let me cheer you up. A Blizzard Warning is posted just south of the Twin Cities Thursday. A plowable snowfall is expected, maybe as much as 2-4" in the metro, with heavier 6"+ amounts east of the St. Croix. An even bigger concern is 25-40 mph winds, capable of blowing/drifting, especially from Mankato and La Crosse to Eau Claire. If you plan on driving south/east of MSP Thursday into early Friday expect treacherous travel.

The Twin Cities metro is in a Winter Storm Warning, but latest guidance still keeps the heaviest snowfall amounts to our east. I suspect travel conditions will get worse as the day goes on tomorrow, with the worst conditions east of St. Paul Thursday night into early Friday.

A thaw lingers into Thursday but colder weather returns next week. 3-4 more subzero nights? Yes, but no school-closing cold.

* thanks to Steve Burns, who snapped the photo above along the North Shore on Sunday.


Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Tuesday night, February 18, 2014.

* First significant severe thunderstorm risk Thursday from the Ohio Valley into the Mid South and Tennessee River Valley. Slight risk from SPC, meaning probable squall line with damaging straight-line winds, 1-2" diameter hail, and a few (isolated) tornadoes.

* Blizzard potential late Thursday into early Friday from Iowa into eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin as a powerful storm winds up, producing blowing and drifting problems from near Des Moines and Waterloo, Iowa to Rochester, the Twin Cities, Duluth, La Crosse andEau Claire, Wisconsin.


Blizzard Watch. The concern is not only falling snow, but 20-40 mph sustained winds whipping up the considerable snow already on the ground, especially northeast Iowa, eastern Minnesota (including the Twin Cities and Duluth) and much of Wisconsin. The worst travel conditions and potential for airline delays will come Thursday afternoon into Friday morning for this region.


 

 

Latest Model Solution. These numbers will change as new model data arrives and the final track crystallizes. The latest NAM model from NOAA is not nearly as impressive as yesterday's solutions, suggesting some 3-6" amounts for Wisconsin, but only a couple inches of slush for the MSP metro.  Conditions improve PM hours Friday.


Thursday Severe Thunderstorm Risk. SPC has issued a slight risk - right now I do not expect a widespread tornado outbreak, but we can't rule out a few smaller, EF-0 to EF-1 tornadoes, especially south of the Ohio River. Storms may exceed severe storm criteria from near Chicago to Indianapolis and Columbus, with 1-2" diameter hail and locally heavy rain capable of flash flooding. With frost still in the ground there is a heightened risk of stream and river flooding, especially across the Ohio Valley by late week.


TPI: Tornado Potential Index. Our in-house models show a heightened risk of supercell T-storms capable of (isolated) tornadoes, especially Bowling Green and Louisville southward to Nashville and Huntsville by Thursday evening. I expect mainly linear T-storms capable of 50-70 mph wind gusts and sporadic tree damage and power outages; hail may reach 1-2" in diameter. A couple of EF-2 tornadoes can't be entirely ruled out.


River Flooding Potential. Although rainfall amounts probably won't be heavy enough for widespread river flooding, the combination of melting snow, lingering frost in the ground and .5 to 1.5" amounts may create minor to moderate flooding of urban areas and small streams and rivers, especially Champaign-Urbana to Indianapolis, South Bend and Toledo, according to NOAA guidance.

Summary: Tornadoes are possible, climatologically, much of the winter along the Gulf Coast. By late February the risk shifts northward as temperatures warm and 60-degree dew points begin to surge north. We'll have many of the ingredients for severe storms Thursday; more linear (squall line) than supercellular, but a few isolated tornadoes are possible with this outbreak. The greater risk is straight-line wind damage and large hail.

Farther north, deeper in the cold air, a rapidly intensifying storm will drop heavy snow over the Upper Midwest with blizzard potential by Thursday night from near Des Moines to Rochester, the Twin Cities and Duluth, along with much of western Wisconsin. We'll keep you posted.


Factors That Go Into Flood Forecasting. As temperature continue to thaw, and rain storms track farther north, the potential for river flooding will increase. That growing risk, and another whopping case of weather-whiplash, are the subjects of today's edition of Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over yet another case of weather whiplash across the United States. Some areas with a decent covering of snow could see strong to severe storms move through the area on Thursday. What does ground frost have to do with flooding concerns?"


A Little Subzero Icing On The Cake? After 44 nights of negative fun many of us have stopped counting. I suspect we'll see 3-4 more nights below zero the first half of next week, but not the intensity of cold we enjoyed a few weeks ago. Enjoy the thaw. ECMWF guidance: Weatherspark.


The Official Forecast Of The U.S. Government Never Saw This Winter Coming. Did I mention that weather forecasting, especially long-range weather forecasting, is a humbling endeavor? Bloomberg Businessweek has the story; here's the introduction: "Surprised by how tough this winter has been? You’re in good company: Last fall the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that temperatures would be above normal from November through January across much of the Lower 48 states. This graphic shows just how wrong the official forecast of the U.S. government was.The big red blotch in the top map represents parts of the country in which the Climate Prediction Center forecast above-average temperatures. The frigid-looking blue blotch in the bottom “verification” map shows areas where temperatures turned out to be below average..."


Winter Weather Update. Thanks to Climate Nexus; here's an excerpt of a recent press release: "The Eastern United States is one of the only parts of the globe that was colder than average this winter. This is because cold Arctic air is normally confined by the jet stream, but the anomalous waves and shifts in its position (which also influenced other events on this list) allowed pockets to escape and move south. Warm air moved into its vacated position, causing the crazy situation on Jan 26: Homer, Alaska was warmer at 54ºF than any part of the country except southern Florida and southern California. The South was completely unprepared for the unusual snowstorms, resulting in logistical fiascos like the traffic jam in Georgia that left some stranded for over 12 hours."


Are Crime And Clime Linked? A Potential Upside To A Lousy Winter. Grasping at straws? Perhaps, but this story at The San Jose Mercury News includes research that has been substantiated elsewhere. It turns out criminals aren't fond of the wind chill either. Here's an excerpt: "...Researchers have long studied the correlation between weather and crime. Anecdotally, it appears as though there's some truth to the old idea that violence calms during cold weather and spikes when it's warm. “There is some evidence that hot weather, particularly hot, humid weather is related to upticks in violent crime,” said Jay Corzine, a sociology professor at the University of Central Florida. “If the weather gets really cold, if anything there is a decrease in street crime, because there aren't as many people in the streets . . . potential offenders don't like to be outside much, either...”

Photo credit above: "A Georgia Department of Transportation sign warns drivers of winter weather as they travel a bleak section of Highway 141 on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Norcross, Ga." (John Amis/AP).


Arthritis Pain May Be Affected By Weather, Study Says. I've seen numerous papers linking a possible uptick in arthritis with rapidly changing weather conditions, including sudden swings in barometric pressure. Fox News has the story; here's the introduction: "For people with osteoarthritis of the hip, pain levels tracked with the weather over the course of a small two-year study, Dutch researchers say. They looked at reported pain levels in a previous study of arthritis, then went back to weather records to document the conditions each day. It turns out the participants' aches were just a little worse and joints just a little stiffer when humidity and barometric pressure levels rose..."


Is The Harsh Weather Affecting The Housing Market? Here's a clip from a story at The Houston Chronicle: "As the housing market has slowed down in the winter months, many people assume the weather is a major factor. It is safe to say that there are fewer home shoppers during this time of year, as CF Funding mentioned previously. With the snow and cold that the Midwest has been experiencing, this winter is even more difficult than usual to buy or sell a home. However, some economists are worried that the weather may have very little to do with the slowdown, suggesting that the market could be performing poorly for other reasons, such as low inventories and rising interest rates..."


Third Coldest U.S. Winter On Record For USA? Here's an excerpt from Steven Goddard: "If February ended today, this would be the third coldest winter on record in the US, after 1979 and 1899."


Warming Arctic May Be Causing Jet Stream To Lose Its Way. Echoing trends I've been seeing since roughly 2010-2011, NPR reports on how changes in far northern latitudes may be showing up in the skies floating above your house; here's an excerpt: "...The temperature difference between the Arctic and lower latitudes is one of the main sources of fuel for the jet stream; it's what drives the winds. And because the Arctic is warming so fast, that temperature difference is getting smaller, and so the fuel for the jet stream is getting weaker," Francis says. "When it gets into this pattern, those big waves tend to stay in the same place for some time. The pattern we've seen in December and January has been one of these very wavy patterns..."

Image credit above: "The jet stream that circles Earth's north pole travels west to east. But when the jet stream interacts with a Rossby wave, as shown here, the winds can wander far north and south, bringing frigid air to normally mild southern states." NASA/GSFC.


At Sochi Olympics, Finding Risk Is Snow Problem. No shortage of lukewarm slush on the slopes of Sochi. In the city of Sochi itself there are days when I ask myself "Winter or Summer Olympics?" Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "The snow around here looks like soup, a creamy bisque that seems harmless enough until the athletes plunge into it and find the hard crags of the Caucasus beneath, which is when the medics race out. The sounds of the Sochi Games are a whack and the clatter of boards and skis, followed by wails — or worse, a terrible stillness. The mounting crash toll includes a broken back, a broken jaw and an assortment of head injuries. The logo for this Olympics ought to be a stretcher..."

Photo credit above: "Rain drops hang on a railing at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. After days of warm weather at the Sochi Olympics, fog up in the mountains is causing an even bigger disturbance.Thick fog rolled in over the mountains in Krasnaya Polyana on Sunday night and was still lingering on Monday, and the limited visibility forced organizers to delay a biathlon race and cancel the seeding runs in a snowboard event." (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth).


A Mad Dash For Salt Rescues Olympic Slopes. This sounds like the plot for a (bad) made-for-TV-movie of the week, but it's true. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...Homeowners use salt to melt ice on the sidewalk, but Alpine experts cleverly use it to overcome soft snow conditions when a hard, icy surface is preferable. The salt melts the soft snow, and when the temperature drops — usually overnight — a layer of ice forms. Large-grain salt, about five millimeters in size, is best for soft, deep snow, because it drops farther into the snow and lasts for days, not hours..."

Photo credit above: "A referee throws salt on the track prior to the men's biathlon 20k individual race, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia." (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man).


The Terrible Effect Of One Year Of California's Drought Seen From Space. Gizmodo has the year-to-year contrast from space; here's a clip: "Here's the effect of one entire year of drought in California, going from February 15, 2013, to February 16, 2014, as seen from NASA's Terra satellite. It's really scary to see the land die like this—especially after you read what NASA has to say about it..."


Can Anybody Save California? Politico has the article; here's an excerpt: "...The mega-drought is pitting farmers against fishermen, north against south and, of course, Democrats against Republicans. But that’s frequently the case in California, which has battled for more than a century over how to allocate too little water for too many people. The dry landscape adds another layer of rancor, and with the planet heating up and fueling bigger, longer and more severe droughts, that’s likely to be a permanent fixture. How state and federal lawmakers respond to the crisis could offer a window into how the United States writ large will react to climate events in real time—and so far, the politics appear too small for the task..."


Water In America: Is It Safe To Drink? Minnesota has been blessed with clean lakes, streams and acquifers - something none of us should take for granted. In light of the recent contamination of drinking water supplies in West Virginia here's an excerpt of a story at National Geographic Daily News: "...We often don't think about where our water comes from," said Steve Fleischli, director and senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Water Program in Los Angeles. "Does it come from a nearby river or a lake, intermittent streams, isolated wetlands, or an aquifer? Yes, you may have a water treatment plant, but if your water source is not protected, people face a real risk..."

Photo credit above: "A chemical plant sits along a branch of the Kanawha River in South Charleston, West Virginia, site of a recent coal slurry spill." Photograph by Steve Helber, AP.


Why Do People Get Drunk? Because they can. But let's built a (fake) bar and find out, turn it into a "research project". Uh huh. A university in Britain is doing just that, as reported by The London Evening Standard; here's an excerpt: "A University has spent £20,000 building a mock pub for students to investigate why people get drunk. Researchers at London South Bank University are looking into how much people choose to drink  and how willing drinkers are to take risks as their alcohol consumption increases. Hidden cameras and microphones will be used to monitor behaviour as volunteers are given free drinks,  some of which will smell of ethanol but be alcohol-free..."


4 Sales Strategy Lessons From House Of Cards. Yeah, I'm hooked, up to Episode 12 of Season 2. Thank you Netflix. Here's an excerpt of a well-timed article from LinkedIn that made me do a double-take: "...Underwood is known for his particularly ruthless political tactics, but he ultimately gets his way through sheer determination. While we don’t endorse any under-the-table dealings, sales professionals can still take a few lessons from Underwood when looking to advance their goals. Keep these 4 thoughts in mind when structuring your sales strategy:

1). Know (and grow) your network

In season one, Underwood served as the Democratic House Majority Whip under a new White House administration...."


Loneliness Is Killing Us - We Must Start Treating This Disease. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Guardian that made me do a double-take: "That loneliness is a health issue would not have been a surprise to Mother Teresa who once said: "The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody." But now doctors have quantified the effects of the loneliness disease, warning that lonely people are nearly twice as likely to die prematurely as those who do not suffer feelings of isolation. Being lonely it seems, is a lot more worrying for your health than obesity..."


1 in 4 Americans Don't Know That Earth Orbits The Sun. Yes, Really. Good grief - nice to see those high school diplomas and college degrees are paying off. Discovery News has the details; here's a clip: "...And then, today, the National Science Foundation (NSF) delivered news of a pretty shocking poll result: around one in four Americans (yes, that's 25 percent) are unaware that the Earth orbits the sun. Let’s repeat that: One in four Americans — that represents one quarter of the population — when asked probably the most basic question in science (except, perhaps, “Is the Earth flat?” Hint: No.), got the answer incorrect..." (Graphic above: scienceblogs.com).


Here's How To Predict The Weather Using Your Cat. Who needs Doppler or the ECMWF when you have Tabby wandering around (sulking most of the time). Hey, I'm up for anything - that works. Here's a clip from Time Magazine: "...In his book Weather Proverbs, unearthed by NPR, Dunwoody documents a long list of widely-held folk beliefs about weather predictions, including signals from bears, foxes, and goats, but he particularly focuses on cats. Here’s what you should look for.

  • When cats sneeze it is a sign of rain.
  • The cardinal point to which a cat turns and washes her face after rain shows the directing from which the wind will blow.
  • When cats are snoring foul weather follows..."

Photo credit: "This cat is predicting a storm." Photographer: brokinhrt2/Flickr.


44 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday (warmest in 37 days).

30 F. average high on February 18.

34 F. high on February 18, 2013.

18" snow on the ground at MSP International Airport.

47.1" snow so far this winter.

31.3" snow last winter, as of February 18, 2013.


TODAY: Partly sunny, almost pleasant. Winds: S 10. High: near 40

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, light snow late. Low: 28

THURSDAY: Winter Storm Warning metro. Blizzard Warning parts of southern MN. Potential for 2-4" in the metro by early Friday; 4-8" far east metro into Wisconsin - blowing/drifting with potentially treacherous travel into Thursday night. High: 34 (falling PM hours)

FRIDAY: Snow tapers early. Windy with a very slow AM commute possible. Mostly cloudy skies. Wake-up: 11. High: 19

SATURDAY: Partly sunny and brisk. Wake-up: 1. High: 11

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, cold. Wake-up: -2. High: 13

MONDAY: Some sun, storm stays south. Wake-up: -3. High: 12

TUESDAY: Bright sun, spring on hold. Wake-up: -5. High: 14


Climate Stories....

Is Climate Change Causing Extreme Weather? Experts Disagree. Most climate scientists believe there is a potential link, but more research is needed. Here's a link to an interview at Colorado Public Radio.

Photo credit above: "Flood devastation to County Road in Berthoud, Colo. in September 2013." Photo courtesy of Lornay Hansen.


Global Warming: Ice Loss Makes Arctic Itself A Bigger Climate Changer. Check out the video in this story at Christian Science Monitor; here's an excerpt: "A long-term darkening of the Arctic region – occurring as sea ice retreats in the face of warmer summers – has been a stronger contributor to global warming during the past 32 years that previously estimated, according to a new study. The Arctic's contribution over this period is about 25 percent of the warming the climate has undergone from carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions alone, say the researchers. That's "considerably higher" than estimates from climate models or from studies that use less-direct methods of measuring, they have found..."

Image credit above: "NOAA distributed this photo of Arctic ice in December 2013. The Arctic isn't nearly as bright and white as it used to be because of more ice melting in the ocean, and that's turning out to be a global problem, a new study says. With more dark, open water in the summer, less of the sun's heat is reflected back into space, so the entire Earth is absorbing more heat than expected." Photo: NOAA/AP.


Flood devastation to County Road in Berthoud, Colo. in September 2013.

(Photo: Courtesy of Lornay Hansen)
- See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/climate-change-causing-extreme-weather-experts-disagree#sthash.azWX2xgV.dpuf

Are all these events just Mother Nature cycling through her natural mood swings? Or is it, as some scientists suggest, that the human influence on our climate is causing these weather catastrophes?

Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and environmental scientist Roger Pielke Jr., director of the Center for Science and Technology in Boulder, disagree on the answer.

- See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/climate-change-causing-extreme-weather-experts-disagree#sthash.azWX2xgV.dpuf

Warming From Arctic Sea Ice Melting More Dramatic Than Thought. Here's an excerpt of a post at LiveScience: "...Now, scientists based at the University of California, San Diego have analyzed Arctic satellite data from 1979 to 2011, and have found that average Arctic albedo levels have decreased from 52 percent to 48 percent since 1979 — twice as much as previous studies based on models have suggested, the team reports today (Feb. 17) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The amount of heat generated by this decrease in albedo is equivalent to roughly 25 percent of the average global warming currently occurring due to increased carbon dioxide levels, the team reports..."

Image credit above: "This pristine photo of Arctic sea ice was taken by scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in German. In the summer of 2012, the researchers journeyed to the high Arctic to investigate the physics and biology of Arctic sea ice. The scientists also monitored reactions of the deep sea ecosystem to changes in sea ice cover."Credit: Stefan Hendricks, Alfred Wegener Institute.


While Britain Floods, Politicians Debate Climate Change. Time Magazine has a good overview of historic flooding gripping the U.K., and how it's unleashed a political firestorm of debate. Here's a clip: "Britons are normally never more comfortable than when talking about the weather, but recent extreme weather events have began to test that theory. Since December, the U.K. has faced a relentless assault from some of the worst winter weather on record. It began with the worst storm and tidal surges in 60 years hitting the North Sea coastline, floods that ruined Christmas for thousands across Surrey and Dorset and in January, the most exceptional period of rainfall since 1766. The deluge has transformed swathes of southern England into cold, dark lakes, destroying homes and businesses, and in some cases taking lives..."

Photo credit above: "Flood water surrounds homes in Shepperton, Surrey, England, as Royal Engineers are now being tasked to carry out a high-speed assessment of damage to the UK's flood defense infrastructure, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. The military could have been brought in earlier to help deal with the winter storms that have been wracking Britain, a Cabinet minister has admitted. As the weather finally gave the country a respite, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond defended the Government's handling of the crisis." (AP Photo/PA, Steve Parsons).


More Heat Is Going Into The Ocean. Really. The experiment continues, and we're not really sure how the deep-ocean heating will manifest itself with weather. Here's an excerpt of a post from Simon Donner: "You may have heard climate scientists, myself included, state that “global warming” has indeed continued with little interruption over the past 10-15 years, but that more of the heat trapped in the climate system by greenhouse gases has been “going into the ocean”. This is not the rhetoric of irrational climate alarmists. This is what the measurements show. The human enhancement of the greenhouse effect has reduced the outgoing radiation to space and increased the energy content of the climate system, as is shown on the graph (above)...."

Graphic credit above: "Change in energy content of different components of the climate system." (IPCC, 2013).


You Don't Have To Live On A Coast To Get Flooded Out By Climate Change. The African nation of Zimbabwe is experiencing record floods; here's an excerpt from Grist: "...The crisis has prompted the country’s leaders to plead for international aid. They are asking for $20 million of assistance to evacuate more than 2,000 families living downstream from the Tokwe-Mukorsi dam, which is so overladen with water that experts fear it is about burst. Such floods may be a symptom of climate change, which is also ravaging the impoverished country with rising temperatures and increasingly frequent droughts..."
 
Map above: Google Earth.
Featuring Skeptics In News Media Stories Reduces Public Beliefs In The Seriousness Of Global Warming. Here's an excerpt of a summary of a study from Stanford University: "News media coverage of global warming has often offered “balanced” accounts, quoting mainstream scientists and skeptics in the same story. Balanced accounts might be considered admirable efforts to abide by the journalistic norms of objectivity and fairness.However, critics have noted that balanced reporting of this particular issue actually conveys a misleading portrait of the science of climate change, since scientists endorsing the mainstream view appear to outnumber skeptics.Our study explored the impact of including skeptical voices in news media coverage. In particular, we explored whether adding a skeptic to a story about a mainstream scientist’s views or findings would reduce the number of people who perceive agreement among scientific experts on this issue and think global warming is a serious problem..."

Viewpoints: Fracking During The Drought Is Destructive and Irresponsible. The Sacramento Bee has an Op-Ed that caught my eye; here's a clip: "...Fracking is a triple threat to California’s water. Not only does it exacerbate the climate crisis, it requires mixing vast amounts of water with harmful chemicals, and it puts our vital aquifers at risk of contamination for generations. Last week, the green investment group Ceres released a report that found that 96 percent of fracking wells in California were drilled in regions under high or extremely high water stress..."

Photo credit above: "This Feb. 14, 2014 photo shows a freeway sign in Los Angeles advising motorists to save water because of the state's severe drought. This week the California Department of Transportation launched an education campaign with 700 electronic highway boards displaying the message: "Serious Drought. Help Save Water."

Wednesday Thaw - Treacherous Thursday (amounts look more impressive; blizzard potential south/east of MSP)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: February 18, 2014 - 11:32 PM

Grumble Factor

Perspective. It's hard to come by when you're hip-deep in snow. 47" snow so far; the 43rd snowiest winter on record, to date. 44 subzero nights, the most since 1981-82.

Looking at a Misery Index that measures snow & cold this isn't even close to rough Minnesota winters of the late 70s. But much harsher than most winters since 1998.

My lead programmer reminded me of the "Grumble Factor", the number of days between measurable snow events during the warm weather season. During the record warm year of 2012 we went from March 8 to November 12 without slush. Last year? May 3 to November 3, almost 2 1/2 months less snow-free weather.

Ouch.

Many Minnesotans were already grouchy about last year's abbreviated summer, now this.

Here, let me cheer you up. A Blizzard Watch is posted south and east of the Twin Cities Thursday. A plowable snowfall is expected, maybe as much as 3-8", but an even bigger concern is 25-40 mph winds, capable of blowing/drifting, especially from Mankato and La Crosse to Eau Claire. If you plan on driving south/east of MSP Thursday into early Friday expect treacherous travel.

A thaw lingers into Thursday but colder weather returns next week. 3-4 more subzero nights? Yes, but no school-closing cold.


Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Tuesday night, February 18, 2014.

* First significant severe thunderstorm risk Thursday from the Ohio Valley into the Mid South and Tennessee River Valley. Slight risk from SPC, meaning probable squall line with damaging straight-line winds, 1-2" diameter hail, and a few (isolated) tornadoes.

* Blizzard potential late Thursday into early Friday from Iowa into eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin as a powerful storm winds up, producing blowing and drifting problems from near Des Moines and Waterloo, Iowa to Rochester, the Twin Cities, Duluth, La Crosse andEau Claire, Wisconsin.


Blizzard Watch. The concern is not only falling snow, but 20-40 mph sustained winds whipping up the considerable snow already on the ground, especially northeast Iowa, eastern Minnesota (including the Twin Cities and Duluth) and much of Wisconsin. The worst travel conditions and potential for airline delays will come Thursday afternoon into Friday morning for this region.


Snowfall Potential. These numbers will change as new model data arrives and the final track crystallizes. There is certainly a potential for (very) plowable amounts of snow, especially eastern and northern Minnesota and far western and northern Wisconsin, where visibilities may fall close to zero at times in falling/blowing snow Thursday night into early Friday. Conditions improve PM hours Friday.


Thursday Severe Thunderstorm Risk. SPC has issued a slight risk - right now I do not expect a widespread tornado outbreak, but we can't rule out a few smaller, EF-0 to EF-1 tornadoes, especially south of the Ohio River. Storms may exceed severe storm criteria from near Chicago to Indianapolis and Columbus, with 1-2" diameter hail and locally heavy rain capable of flash flooding. With frost still in the ground there is a heightened risk of stream and river flooding, especially across the Ohio Valley by late week.


TPI: Tornado Potential Index. Our in-house models show a heightened risk of supercell T-storms capable of (isolated) tornadoes, especially Bowling Green and Louisville southward to Nashville and Huntsville by Thursday evening. I expect mainly linear T-storms capable of 50-70 mph wind gusts and sporadic tree damage and power outages; hail may reach 1-2" in diameter. A couple of EF-2 tornadoes can't be entirely ruled out.


River Flooding Potential. Although rainfall amounts probably won't be heavy enough for widespread river flooding, the combination of melting snow, lingering frost in the ground and .5 to 1.5" amounts may create minor to moderate flooding of urban areas and small streams and rivers, especially Champaign-Urbana to Indianapolis, South Bend and Toledo, according to NOAA guidance.

Summary: Tornadoes are possible, climatologically, much of the winter along the Gulf Coast. By late February the risk shifts northward as temperatures warm and 60-degree dew points begin to surge north. We'll have many of the ingredients for severe storms Thursday; more linear (squall line) than supercellular, but a few isolated tornadoes are possible with this outbreak. The greater risk is straight-line wind damage and large hail.

Farther north, deeper in the cold air, a rapidly intensifying storm will drop heavy snow over the Upper Midwest with blizzard potential by Thursday night from near Des Moines to Rochester, the Twin Cities and Duluth, along with much of western Wisconsin. We'll keep you posted.


Factors That Go Into Flood Forecasting. As temperature continue to thaw, and rain storms track farther north, the potential for river flooding will increase. That growing risk, and another whopping case of weather-whiplash, are the subjects of today's edition of Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over yet another case of weather whiplash across the United States. Some areas with a decent covering of snow could see strong to severe storms move through the area on Thursday. What does ground frost have to do with flooding concerns?"


A Little Subzero Icing On The Cake? After 44 nights of negative fun many of us have stopped counting. I suspect we'll see 3-4 more nights below zero the first half of next week, but not the intensity of cold we enjoyed a few weeks ago. Enjoy the thaw. ECMWF guidance: Weatherspark.


The Official Forecast Of The U.S. Government Never Saw This Winter Coming. Did I mention that weather forecasting, especially long-range weather forecasting, is a humbling endeavor? Bloomberg Businessweek has the story; here's the introduction: "Surprised by how tough this winter has been? You’re in good company: Last fall the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that temperatures would be above normal from November through January across much of the Lower 48 states. This graphic shows just how wrong the official forecast of the U.S. government was.The big red blotch in the top map represents parts of the country in which the Climate Prediction Center forecast above-average temperatures. The frigid-looking blue blotch in the bottom “verification” map shows areas where temperatures turned out to be below average..."


Winter Weather Update. Thanks to Climate Nexus; here's an excerpt of a recent press release: "The Eastern United States is one of the only parts of the globe that was colder than average this winter. This is because cold Arctic air is normally confined by the jet stream, but the anomalous waves and shifts in its position (which also influenced other events on this list) allowed pockets to escape and move south. Warm air moved into its vacated position, causing the crazy situation on Jan 26: Homer, Alaska was warmer at 54ºF than any part of the country except southern Florida and southern California. The South was completely unprepared for the unusual snowstorms, resulting in logistical fiascos like the traffic jam in Georgia that left some stranded for over 12 hours."


Are Crime And Clime Linked? A Potential Upside To A Lousy Winter. Grasping at straws? Perhaps, but this story at The San Jose Mercury News includes research that has been substantiated elsewhere. It turns out criminals aren't fond of the wind chill either. Here's an excerpt: "...Researchers have long studied the correlation between weather and crime. Anecdotally, it appears as though there's some truth to the old idea that violence calms during cold weather and spikes when it's warm. “There is some evidence that hot weather, particularly hot, humid weather is related to upticks in violent crime,” said Jay Corzine, a sociology professor at the University of Central Florida. “If the weather gets really cold, if anything there is a decrease in street crime, because there aren't as many people in the streets . . . potential offenders don't like to be outside much, either...”

Photo credit above: "A Georgia Department of Transportation sign warns drivers of winter weather as they travel a bleak section of Highway 141 on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Norcross, Ga." (John Amis/AP).


Arthritis Pain May Be Affected By Weather, Study Says. I've seen numerous papers linking a possible uptick in arthritis with rapidly changing weather conditions, including sudden swings in barometric pressure. Fox News has the story; here's the introduction: "For people with osteoarthritis of the hip, pain levels tracked with the weather over the course of a small two-year study, Dutch researchers say. They looked at reported pain levels in a previous study of arthritis, then went back to weather records to document the conditions each day. It turns out the participants' aches were just a little worse and joints just a little stiffer when humidity and barometric pressure levels rose..."


Is The Harsh Weather Affecting The Housing Market? Here's a clip from a story at The Houston Chronicle: "As the housing market has slowed down in the winter months, many people assume the weather is a major factor. It is safe to say that there are fewer home shoppers during this time of year, as CF Funding mentioned previously. With the snow and cold that the Midwest has been experiencing, this winter is even more difficult than usual to buy or sell a home. However, some economists are worried that the weather may have very little to do with the slowdown, suggesting that the market could be performing poorly for other reasons, such as low inventories and rising interest rates..."


Third Coldest U.S. Winter On Record For USA? Here's an excerpt from Steven Goddard: "If February ended today, this would be the third coldest winter on record in the US, after 1979 and 1899."


Warming Arctic May Be Causing Jet Stream To Lose Its Way. Echoing trends I've been seeing since roughly 2010-2011, NPR reports on how changes in far northern latitudes may be showing up in the skies floating above your house; here's an excerpt: "...The temperature difference between the Arctic and lower latitudes is one of the main sources of fuel for the jet stream; it's what drives the winds. And because the Arctic is warming so fast, that temperature difference is getting smaller, and so the fuel for the jet stream is getting weaker," Francis says. "When it gets into this pattern, those big waves tend to stay in the same place for some time. The pattern we've seen in December and January has been one of these very wavy patterns..."

Image credit above: "The jet stream that circles Earth's north pole travels west to east. But when the jet stream interacts with a Rossby wave, as shown here, the winds can wander far north and south, bringing frigid air to normally mild southern states." NASA/GSFC.


At Sochi Olympics, Finding Risk Is Snow Problem. No shortage of lukewarm slush on the slopes of Sochi. In the city of Sochi itself there are days when I ask myself "Winter or Summer Olympics?" Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "The snow around here looks like soup, a creamy bisque that seems harmless enough until the athletes plunge into it and find the hard crags of the Caucasus beneath, which is when the medics race out. The sounds of the Sochi Games are a whack and the clatter of boards and skis, followed by wails — or worse, a terrible stillness. The mounting crash toll includes a broken back, a broken jaw and an assortment of head injuries. The logo for this Olympics ought to be a stretcher..."

Photo credit above: "Rain drops hang on a railing at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. After days of warm weather at the Sochi Olympics, fog up in the mountains is causing an even bigger disturbance.Thick fog rolled in over the mountains in Krasnaya Polyana on Sunday night and was still lingering on Monday, and the limited visibility forced organizers to delay a biathlon race and cancel the seeding runs in a snowboard event." (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth).


A Mad Dash For Salt Rescues Olympic Slopes. This sounds like the plot for a (bad) made-for-TV-movie of the week, but it's true. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...Homeowners use salt to melt ice on the sidewalk, but Alpine experts cleverly use it to overcome soft snow conditions when a hard, icy surface is preferable. The salt melts the soft snow, and when the temperature drops — usually overnight — a layer of ice forms. Large-grain salt, about five millimeters in size, is best for soft, deep snow, because it drops farther into the snow and lasts for days, not hours..."

Photo credit above: "A referee throws salt on the track prior to the men's biathlon 20k individual race, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia." (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man).


The Terrible Effect Of One Year Of California's Drought Seen From Space. Gizmodo has the year-to-year contrast from space; here's a clip: "Here's the effect of one entire year of drought in California, going from February 15, 2013, to February 16, 2014, as seen from NASA's Terra satellite. It's really scary to see the land die like this—especially after you read what NASA has to say about it..."


Can Anybody Save California? Politico has the article; here's an excerpt: "...The mega-drought is pitting farmers against fishermen, north against south and, of course, Democrats against Republicans. But that’s frequently the case in California, which has battled for more than a century over how to allocate too little water for too many people. The dry landscape adds another layer of rancor, and with the planet heating up and fueling bigger, longer and more severe droughts, that’s likely to be a permanent fixture. How state and federal lawmakers respond to the crisis could offer a window into how the United States writ large will react to climate events in real time—and so far, the politics appear too small for the task..."


Water In America: Is It Safe To Drink? Minnesota has been blessed with clean lakes, streams and acquifers - something none of us should take for granted. In light of the recent contamination of drinking water supplies in West Virginia here's an excerpt of a story at National Geographic Daily News: "...We often don't think about where our water comes from," said Steve Fleischli, director and senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Water Program in Los Angeles. "Does it come from a nearby river or a lake, intermittent streams, isolated wetlands, or an aquifer? Yes, you may have a water treatment plant, but if your water source is not protected, people face a real risk..."

Photo credit above: "A chemical plant sits along a branch of the Kanawha River in South Charleston, West Virginia, site of a recent coal slurry spill." Photograph by Steve Helber, AP.


Why Do People Get Drunk? Because they can. But let's built a (fake) bar and find out, turn it into a "research project". Uh huh. A university in Britain is doing just that, as reported by The London Evening Standard; here's an excerpt: "A University has spent £20,000 building a mock pub for students to investigate why people get drunk. Researchers at London South Bank University are looking into how much people choose to drink  and how willing drinkers are to take risks as their alcohol consumption increases. Hidden cameras and microphones will be used to monitor behaviour as volunteers are given free drinks,  some of which will smell of ethanol but be alcohol-free..."


4 Sales Strategy Lessons From House Of Cards. Yeah, I'm hooked, up to Episode 12 of Season 2. Thank you Netflix. Here's an excerpt of a well-timed article from LinkedIn that made me do a double-take: "...Underwood is known for his particularly ruthless political tactics, but he ultimately gets his way through sheer determination. While we don’t endorse any under-the-table dealings, sales professionals can still take a few lessons from Underwood when looking to advance their goals. Keep these 4 thoughts in mind when structuring your sales strategy:

1). Know (and grow) your network

In season one, Underwood served as the Democratic House Majority Whip under a new White House administration...."


Loneliness Is Killing Us - We Must Start Treating This Disease. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Guardian that made me do a double-take: "That loneliness is a health issue would not have been a surprise to Mother Teresa who once said: "The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody." But now doctors have quantified the effects of the loneliness disease, warning that lonely people are nearly twice as likely to die prematurely as those who do not suffer feelings of isolation. Being lonely it seems, is a lot more worrying for your health than obesity..."


1 in 4 Americans Don't Know That Earth Orbits The Sun. Yes, Really. Good grief - nice to see those high school diplomas and college degrees are paying off. Discovery News has the details; here's a clip: "...And then, today, the National Science Foundation (NSF) delivered news of a pretty shocking poll result: around one in four Americans (yes, that's 25 percent) are unaware that the Earth orbits the sun. Let’s repeat that: One in four Americans — that represents one quarter of the population — when asked probably the most basic question in science (except, perhaps, “Is the Earth flat?” Hint: No.), got the answer incorrect..." (Graphic above: scienceblogs.com).


Here's How To Predict The Weather Using Your Cat. Who needs Doppler or the ECMWF when you have Tabby wandering around (sulking most of the time). Hey, I'm up for anything - that works. Here's a clip from Time Magazine: "...In his book Weather Proverbs, unearthed by NPR, Dunwoody documents a long list of widely-held folk beliefs about weather predictions, including signals from bears, foxes, and goats, but he particularly focuses on cats. Here’s what you should look for.

  • When cats sneeze it is a sign of rain.
  • The cardinal point to which a cat turns and washes her face after rain shows the directing from which the wind will blow.
  • When cats are snoring foul weather follows..."

Photo credit: "This cat is predicting a storm." Photographer: brokinhrt2/Flickr.


44 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday (warmest in 37 days).

30 F. average high on February 18.

34 F. high on February 18, 2013.

18" snow on the ground at MSP International Airport.

47.1" snow so far this winter.

31.3" snow last winter, as of February 18, 2013.


TODAY: Partly sunny, almost pleasant. Winds: S 10. High: 39

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, light snow late. Low: 28

THURSDAY: Winter Storm Watch metro. Blizzard Watch parts of southern MN and western WI. Potential for 3-8" by early Friday; blowing/drifting with potentially treacherous travel into Thursday night. High: 34 (falling PM hours)

FRIDAY: Snow tapers early. Windy with a very slow AM commute possible. Mostly cloudy skies. Wake-up: 11. High: 19

SATURDAY: Partly sunny and brisk. Wake-up: 1. High: 11

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, cold. Wake-up: -2. High: 13

MONDAY: Some sun, storm stays south. Wake-up: -3. High: 12

TUESDAY: Bright sun, spring on hold. Wake-up: -5. High: 14


Climate Stories....

Is Climate Change Causing Extreme Weather? Experts Disagree. Most climate scientists believe there is a potential link, but more research is needed. Here's a link to an interview at Colorado Public Radio.

Photo credit above: "Flood devastation to County Road in Berthoud, Colo. in September 2013." Photo courtesy of Lornay Hansen.


Global Warming: Ice Loss Makes Arctic Itself A Bigger Climate Changer. Check out the video in this story at Christian Science Monitor; here's an excerpt: "A long-term darkening of the Arctic region – occurring as sea ice retreats in the face of warmer summers – has been a stronger contributor to global warming during the past 32 years that previously estimated, according to a new study. The Arctic's contribution over this period is about 25 percent of the warming the climate has undergone from carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions alone, say the researchers. That's "considerably higher" than estimates from climate models or from studies that use less-direct methods of measuring, they have found..."

Image credit above: "NOAA distributed this photo of Arctic ice in December 2013. The Arctic isn't nearly as bright and white as it used to be because of more ice melting in the ocean, and that's turning out to be a global problem, a new study says. With more dark, open water in the summer, less of the sun's heat is reflected back into space, so the entire Earth is absorbing more heat than expected." Photo: NOAA/AP.


Flood devastation to County Road in Berthoud, Colo. in September 2013.

(Photo: Courtesy of Lornay Hansen)
- See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/climate-change-causing-extreme-weather-experts-disagree#sthash.azWX2xgV.dpuf

Are all these events just Mother Nature cycling through her natural mood swings? Or is it, as some scientists suggest, that the human influence on our climate is causing these weather catastrophes?

Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and environmental scientist Roger Pielke Jr., director of the Center for Science and Technology in Boulder, disagree on the answer.

- See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/climate-change-causing-extreme-weather-experts-disagree#sthash.azWX2xgV.dpuf

Warming From Arctic Sea Ice Melting More Dramatic Than Thought. Here's an excerpt of a post at LiveScience: "...Now, scientists based at the University of California, San Diego have analyzed Arctic satellite data from 1979 to 2011, and have found that average Arctic albedo levels have decreased from 52 percent to 48 percent since 1979 — twice as much as previous studies based on models have suggested, the team reports today (Feb. 17) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The amount of heat generated by this decrease in albedo is equivalent to roughly 25 percent of the average global warming currently occurring due to increased carbon dioxide levels, the team reports..."

Image credit above: "This pristine photo of Arctic sea ice was taken by scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in German. In the summer of 2012, the researchers journeyed to the high Arctic to investigate the physics and biology of Arctic sea ice. The scientists also monitored reactions of the deep sea ecosystem to changes in sea ice cover."Credit: Stefan Hendricks, Alfred Wegener Institute.


While Britain Floods, Politicians Debate Climate Change. Time Magazine has a good overview of historic flooding gripping the U.K., and how it's unleashed a political firestorm of debate. Here's a clip: "Britons are normally never more comfortable than when talking about the weather, but recent extreme weather events have began to test that theory. Since December, the U.K. has faced a relentless assault from some of the worst winter weather on record. It began with the worst storm and tidal surges in 60 years hitting the North Sea coastline, floods that ruined Christmas for thousands across Surrey and Dorset and in January, the most exceptional period of rainfall since 1766. The deluge has transformed swathes of southern England into cold, dark lakes, destroying homes and businesses, and in some cases taking lives..."

Photo credit above: "Flood water surrounds homes in Shepperton, Surrey, England, as Royal Engineers are now being tasked to carry out a high-speed assessment of damage to the UK's flood defense infrastructure, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. The military could have been brought in earlier to help deal with the winter storms that have been wracking Britain, a Cabinet minister has admitted. As the weather finally gave the country a respite, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond defended the Government's handling of the crisis." (AP Photo/PA, Steve Parsons).


More Heat Is Going Into The Ocean. Really. The experiment continues, and we're not really sure how the deep-ocean heating will manifest itself with weather. Here's an excerpt of a post from Simon Donner: "You may have heard climate scientists, myself included, state that “global warming” has indeed continued with little interruption over the past 10-15 years, but that more of the heat trapped in the climate system by greenhouse gases has been “going into the ocean”. This is not the rhetoric of irrational climate alarmists. This is what the measurements show. The human enhancement of the greenhouse effect has reduced the outgoing radiation to space and increased the energy content of the climate system, as is shown on the graph (above)...."

Graphic credit above: "Change in energy content of different components of the climate system." (IPCC, 2013).


You Don't Have To Live On A Coast To Get Flooded Out By Climate Change. The African nation of Zimbabwe is experiencing record floods; here's an excerpt from Grist: "...The crisis has prompted the country’s leaders to plead for international aid. They are asking for $20 million of assistance to evacuate more than 2,000 families living downstream from the Tokwe-Mukorsi dam, which is so overladen with water that experts fear it is about burst. Such floods may be a symptom of climate change, which is also ravaging the impoverished country with rising temperatures and increasingly frequent droughts..."
 
Map above: Google Earth.
Featuring Skeptics In News Media Stories Reduces Public Beliefs In The Seriousness Of Global Warming. Here's an excerpt of a summary of a study from Stanford University: "News media coverage of global warming has often offered “balanced” accounts, quoting mainstream scientists and skeptics in the same story. Balanced accounts might be considered admirable efforts to abide by the journalistic norms of objectivity and fairness.However, critics have noted that balanced reporting of this particular issue actually conveys a misleading portrait of the science of climate change, since scientists endorsing the mainstream view appear to outnumber skeptics.Our study explored the impact of including skeptical voices in news media coverage. In particular, we explored whether adding a skeptic to a story about a mainstream scientist’s views or findings would reduce the number of people who perceive agreement among scientific experts on this issue and think global warming is a serious problem..."

Viewpoints: Fracking During The Drought Is Destructive and Irresponsible. The Sacramento Bee has an Op-Ed that caught my eye; here's a clip: "...Fracking is a triple threat to California’s water. Not only does it exacerbate the climate crisis, it requires mixing vast amounts of water with harmful chemicals, and it puts our vital aquifers at risk of contamination for generations. Last week, the green investment group Ceres released a report that found that 96 percent of fracking wells in California were drilled in regions under high or extremely high water stress..."

Photo credit above: "This Feb. 14, 2014 photo shows a freeway sign in Los Angeles advising motorists to save water because of the state's severe drought. This week the California Department of Transportation launched an education campaign with 700 electronic highway boards displaying the message: "Serious Drought. Help Save Water."