Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 35 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist and Founder of Media Logic Group. Douglas and a team of meteorologists, engineers and developers provide weather services for various media at Broadcast Weather, high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster and weather data, apps and API’s from Aeris Weather. 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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Spring Fling into Sunday - Severe Weather Awareness Week - Tornado Trends

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: April 13, 2015 - 11:21 PM

Tornado Trends

All or nothing, flood or drought - our climate has become more volatile - and this trend includes tornadoes too. At Saturday's Minnesota Severe Storm Conference Dr. Harold Brooks, from NOAA's NSSL division, confirmed that days with 1 or more EF-1 tornado have dropped by a third. But we're seeing far more tornadoes on the big days, clumped up in major and often deadly outbreaks.

We've had four quiet tornado seasons in a row; the same ridiculously resilient ridge sparking epic drought for California has limited moisture and instability east of the Rockies, putting a lid on tornado formation.

This is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota, which sees an average of 40 twisters every year. In 2010 we saw 104 tornadoes, the most in the nation! With a bias toward heat/drought I expect a relatively quiet 2015.

Then again, all it takes is one.

No atmospheric tantrums are imminent; a stray shower is possible Wednesday night - a better chance of rain next Monday, but the biggest storms will still detour south of Minnesota. We brush 70F today, again Friday before a cool-down early next week.

No snow. Minnesotans lose their stoic sense of humor when it snows on their green, freshly-mowed lawns.


Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota. Skies should remain quiet this week but Sunday night was a subtle (yet blunt) reminder that the atmosphere draped overhead tends to become agitated, especially May and June, the two peak months for tornadoes and severe storms in general. Here's an excerpt from The Minnesota Department of Public Safety: "...According to the National Weather Service, Minnesota experiences an average of 40 tornadoes per year. In 2012, 37 twisters touched down. A record was set in 2010 with 104 tornadoes across the state.  Understanding this threat and knowing what to do when a tornado is approaching can save lives.

Take advantage of Severe Weather Awareness Week to review your own and your family's emergency procedures and prepare for weather-related hazards.
 
Each day of the week will focus on a different topic:

Severe Season Checklist

1). Multiple Safety Nets (e-mails and apps). Don't rely on any one source of severe weather information. There are hundreds of apps that can transmit the latest (NOAA) warnings for your county. You should also invest in a $20-30 NOAA Weather Radio that will send the warning, even if the power goes out.

2). Doppler on your smartphone. My favorite is RadarScope, although our new app, Aeris Pulse, is powerful as well, more of a general interest weather app with extensive mapping capabilities.

3). Don’t rely on outdoor sirens. They were designed for outdoor use only. If you depend on the sirens you're setting yourself up for trouble.

4). Football/bike helmets can avoid injury! It sounds crazy but many people have avoided head injuries by putting on helmets before seeking shelter in a basement or small, windowless room on the ground floor. The greatest source of tornado death and injury is blunt head trauma. A helmet can help lower the odds.

5). Tornado drills for your family. Much like a mock fire drill you should consider a tornado drill, so your kids know exactly where to go and what to do if it was the real thing.


Lightning Myths. Here are a few popular misconceptions about lightning risk, courtesy of NOAA, which adds: "Lightning strikes the United States about 25 million times a year. Although most lightning occurs in the summer, people can be struck at any time of year. Lightning kills an average of 51 people in the United States each year, and hundreds more are severely injured..."

Myth: If it is not raining, there is no danger from lightning.
Fact: Lightning often strikes away from rainfall. It may occur as far as ten miles away from any rainfall.
 
Myth: Rubber soles on shoes or rubber tires on a car will protect you from being injured by lightning.
Fact: Rubber provides no protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides some protection if you are not touching metal.
 
Myth: People struck by lightning carry an electrical charge and should not be touched.
Fact: Lightning victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.
 
Myth: Heat lightning occurs on very hot summer days and poses no threat.
Fact: What is referred to as heat lightning is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.

Late Season Clippers. The GFS model is more impressive for late week showers and T-showers, but the ECMWF solution suggests only a few isolated showers Friday. The heaviest rains continue to slide off to our south and east, next week's pattern dominated by a family of late-season clippers, meaning 50s for highs, even some 40s up north. GFS guidance: NOAA.

A Good-Looking Spell. 60s will do the trick into Sunday, based on European model guidance, a few spotty showers possible Wednesday night into Friday, but the ECMWF solution isn't nearly as wet as the GFS. Steadier rain is possible next Monday ahead of a cooler front. Nothing wintry, but we may have to settle for a string of 50s next week with a northwest wind flow aloft whisking a family of clippers across Minnesota.

Quiet Late April. GFS 500 mb (18,000 feet) forecast winds suggest a relatively benign pattern in about 2 weeks, with a weak west/northwest flow aloft, a pattern that continues to favor drier than normal conditions with temperatures at or just above average. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

Expanding Drought. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows moderate drought over 92% of Minnesota, now expanding across much of northern and central Wisconsin. Much of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes is drying out - with any luck we'll see a few soaking storms in the weeks ahead.

California's History of Drought Repeats. The New York Times has the story - here's a link and excerpt: "...The drought, now in its fourth year, is by many measures the worst since the state began keeping records of temperature and precipitation in the 1800s. And with a population now close to 39 million and a thirsty, $50 billion agricultural industry, California has been affected more by this drought than by any previous one. But scientists say that in the more ancient past, California and the Southwest occasionally had even worse droughts — so-called megadroughts — that lasted decades..."


Beyond Almonds: A Rogue's Gallery of Guzzlers in California's Drought. Almonds take up nearly 10% of California's water supply, but there are other offenders, as pointed out in this story at NPR. Here's an excerpt: "...If you look at this presentation by Blaine Hanson, an irrigation expert also of UC-Davis, one thing jumps out. The agricultural product that truly dominates water use in California isn't almonds. It's alfalfa, plus "other forages," such as irrigated pasture and corn that's chopped into a cattle feed called silage. These forage crops consume more water per acre than almonds, and they also cover nearly twice as much land. And where do those products go? Primarily, they feed California's enormous (though shrinking) herd of milk-producing cows..." (Illustration above: Leif Parsons for NPR ).


A Very Close Call. This is about as close as you can come to an EF-4 tornado and live to talk about it. I'm amazed by how calm this guy is - I would have been screaming the Lord's Prayer. Here's a link to incredible iPhone footage and a story from Oswego Patch: "...A North Carolina man passing through Illinois on a business trip was directly in the path of the EF-4 tornado that struck northern Illinois on Thursday April 9. The motorist, who was on Interstate 39, was just a few hundred feet from the tornado as it passed by. He recorded the twister on his iPhone while sitting in his truck. “It look like it’s coming right towards me,” says the driver, identified as Sam S., by the man who posted the video to YouTube, Aaron Rooney..."


Rochelle Tornado "Stuck Out Like A Sore Thumb" for Meteorologists. Journal Standard in Freeport, Illinois takes a look at best practices for tornado warnings, and whether there is such a thing as too much lead time; here's an excerpt: "...

"I’m not sure we need more warning time for some tornadoes," Sebenste said. "Psychological studies have shown that once you get more than 13 minutes of warning and nothing has happened, people will come out of their basements and look around. That has actually killed some people."

"A researcher in Texas has established pretty convincingly that 15 minutes is the ideal amount of notice for a tornado," Smith said, "and if you have more than 18 minutes, deaths go up. ... People either lose the sense of urgency to take cover or try to flee instead of immediately taking shelter, which is what we want them to do..."

Photo credit above: "In this Thursday, April 9, 2015 photo provided by Northern Illinois University meteorology professor Walker Ashley, a funnel cloud moves through near Rochelle, Ill. The National Weather Service says at least two tornadoes churned through six north-central Illinois counties on Thursday evening." (AP Photo/Walker Ashley)


50 Year Anniversary of Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak. '65 was a tough year, for spring river flooding and tornadoes, leading up to the May 6, 1965 outbreak in the Twin Cities, when Fridley was hit by two EF-4 strength tornadoes. Here's an excerpt of a Wikipedia account of the Palm Sunday outbreak: "The second Palm Sunday tornado outbreak occurred on April 11–12, 1965, in the Midwest U.S. states of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, with 47 tornadoes (15 significant, 17 violent, 21 killers). It was the second-biggest outbreak on record at the time. In the Midwest, 271 people were killed and 1,500 injured (1,200 in Indiana). It was the deadliest tornado outbreak in Indiana history, with 137 people killed.[1] The outbreak also made that week in April 1965 the second-most-active week in history, with 51 significant and 21 violent tornadoes. Despite having 17 F4 tornadoes, 6 of them (4 in Indiana, and 2 in Ohio) are questionable, and may have been F5's. (Photo credit: Paul Huffman, NOAA).


Flood Of The Century: 50 Years Ago Easter Weekend Saw Record Crest for the St. Croix. The flood of '65 was truly historic, one for the record books, with the highest crest on record for the Minnesota River at Shakopee. Stillwater was also hit hard; here's an excerpt from The Stillwater Gazette: "On Easter weekend 1965, Stillwater’s Main Street was shut down. Beginning at 8 a.m. on Good Friday, no one was allowed east of Second Street without an emergency pass. According to news reports from the time, the closure was unprecedented in Stillwater history; so were the record flood levels threatening downtown. Water covered the lift bridge’s driving surface, and a 5,000-foot-long dike built by teenagers served as the only barrier preventing the St. Croix River from bursting onto Main Street..."


Smart Phones As Quake Warning Devices? Scientists Test Concept. That miniaturized supercomputer in your pocket or purse may have implications beyond Snapchat and watching cat videos. Here's an excerpt from SFGate: "...Earthquake scientists are proposing that crowdsourcing hundreds or even thousands of volunteers with their highly sensitive mobile phones could create a seismic early warning system to alert users of oncoming seismic shocks. Seismologists in Menlo Park and UC Berkeley are testing the phones and foresee them as particularly useful in developing regions, like Southeast Asia and parts of Africa, that are prone to large and often devastating earthquakes but where more sophisticated warning systems don’t exist..." (Image credit: NASA).


Power To The People: Bring On The Super-Battery. What will Tesla announce the end of the month? An incremental improvement or something more radical and revolutionary? Here's a clip from The Guardian: "...For some time, Musk has been building a huge factory to make such batteries and he is widely believed to be planning a major announcement on 30 April. Until recently, most people assumed that his new factory would be making improved batteries merely for powering electric vehicles. But if the rumour mill is correct, Musk has set his sights higher – on new battery technology that would make it possible efficiently to store the quantities of electric power needed to run modern homes. If he has indeed managed to do something like that, then it would be a game-changer on an epochal scale..."


64 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Monday.

57 F. average high on April 13.

44 F. high on April 13, 2014.

.01" rain fell yesterday.

1.82" rain so far in April, about .80" wetter than average, to date.

April 13, 1949: Snowstorm dumps over 9 inches at the Twin Cities.


TODAY: Plenty of sun, hard to concentrate. Wind: S 10-15. High: 71

TUESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and pleasant. Low: 45

WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, stray shower Wednesday night? High: 67

THURSDAY: More clouds than sun. Wake-up: 48. High: 65

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, lukewarm. Wake-up: 49. High: near 70

SATURDAY: Sunny, pretty spectacular. Wake-up: 47. High: 66

SUNDAY: Fading sun, probably dry. Wake-up: 48. High: 64

MONDAY: Cold rain, fairly unpleasant. Wake-up: 44. High: 54


Climate Stories...

Minnesota Energy Policy Revision Brings In Political Division. The Market Business dives into the growing controversey surrounding Minnesota's renewable energy policy; here's an excerpt: "...Critics say Garofalo’s package would undercut the mandate that investor-owned utilities get 1.5 percent of their power from solar, end rooftop solar rebate programs, including one for Minnesota-made panels, and repeal mandatory conservation programs by electric and natural gas utilities in 2016. “If any large part of this were to become law, it would be going backward, not forward,” said Michael Noble, executive director of Fresh Energy, a St. Paul-based nonprofit that helped draft the 2013 state law that has triggered increased investment in solar power across the state..." (Image credit: Fresh Energy).


The Rockefellers Offload Oil and Take on Clean Energy (Paywall). Here's the intro to a story at Barron's: "The Rockefeller Brothers Fund—the $866 million-asset foundation started in 1940 by John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s five sons—announced in September that the family would divest itself of all their coal, tar-sands, and fossil-fuel investments held in the fund’s endowment. The eight Rockefeller family trustees on the board decided the fund needed “to better align its endowed assets with its mission” of combating climate change. The irony of Standard Oil’s heirs shedding fossil fuels wasn’t lost on the media..."


Keep It In The Ground: Why This Is A Matter of Basic Ethics. Here's a clip from a post at The Guardian: "...If the purpose of your existence is to make the world a better place, why would you invest billions of dollars in companies that make the greatest contribution to global climate change? That’s the simple question behind the Guardian’s Keep it in the Ground campaign. But is there a simple answer? Sadly, perhaps there isn’t. We could ascribe all of these investments to some kind of misplaced avarice. But that doesn’t make sense: it is not as if buying shares in these companies is some kind of “get rich quick” scheme..." (File photo: M Otero, AP).


Saudi Arabia's Plan To Extend The Age of Oil. Bloomberg Business has the article - here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...Naimi and other Saudi leaders have worried for years that climate change and high crude prices will boost energy efficiency, encourage renewables, and accelerate a switch to alternative fuels such as natural gas, especially in the emerging markets that they count on for growth. They see how demand for the commodity that’s created the kingdom’s enormous wealth—and is still abundant beneath the desert sands—may be nearing its peak. This isn’t something the petroleum minister discusses in depth in public, given global concern about carbon emissions and efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. But Naimi acknowledges the trend. “Demand will peak way ahead of supply,” he told reporters in Qatar three years ago. If growth in oil consumption flattens out too soon, the transition could be wrenching for Saudi Arabia, which gets almost half its gross domestic product from oil exports..."


The "Green" Tea Party Fights For A More Environmentally Friendly GOP. PRI, Public Radio International, has the story - here's a link and excerpt: "...I'm a staunch, right-wing, radical conservative and I believe — I know this is something many don't agree with — but I believe conservation is a conservative principle,” she says. Americans for Prosperity opposes renewable energy, and the group's Georgia chapter fought hard — and dirty, Dooley claims — against the solar power proposal. But Dooley’s group and their environmentalist allies won. A counter-intuitive media narrative was born: This was the green Tea Party, and Dooley was the face of it. She was featured in dozens of publications, and an article about her work appeared in the February issue of the New Yorker..."


Invest in Nuclear Power to Meet Our Carbon Goals. Clean renewables like wind, solar and geothermal won't be able to achieve scale fast enough - we need additional bridge forms of power, including nuclear, especially newer, smaller, safer nuclear plants that don't have the waste (and terrorism) concerns of older technologies. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Washington Post from former U.S. Senator Evan Bayh: "...U.S. nuclear plants generate nearly 20 percent of our electricity but provide 63 percent of our carbon-free energy. Nuclear plants prevented 589 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions in 2013, equal to carbon-dioxide emissions from 113 million automobiles. Unfortunately, this carbon-free energy is at risk as some of our nuclear energy plants face a perfect storm of economic challenges that threaten their continued existence..."


Pope Francis Is A Powerful Messenger for Climate Change. Here's a snippet from a story at Quartz: "This summer, Pope Francis plans to release an encyclical letter in which he will address environmental issues, and very likely climate change. His statement will have a profound impact on the public debate. For one, it will elevate the spiritual, moral and religious dimensions of the issue. Calling on people to protect the global climate because it is sacred, both for its own God-given value and for the life and dignity of all humankind, not just the affluent few, will create far more personal commitment than a government call for action on economic grounds or an activist’s call on environmental grounds..." (File photo: AP).

A Welcome Rain - 60s This Weekend - Slush 8 Days Away?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: April 8, 2015 - 11:21 PM

Accidental Inventions

Penicillin, Velcro, Teflon, Post-It Notes, the microwave, Viagra, even Coca Cola were accidental discoveries. They all did pretty well, in 20/20 hindsight.

During World War II radar operators tracking allied aircraft noticed mysterious smudges of interference on their screens. It turned out to be rain and snow. Now we take it for granted; Doppler radar on your PC, apps, soon on your watch.

Today we can track approaching storm and take evasive action, lowering the risk of damage and injury. Encountering a squall line or tornadic storm must have been even more terrifying before radar came of age, not knowing what was really out there.

Radar, satellites & numerical weather prediction, models that use math and physics to simulate and predict how the fluid of air overhead should move over time, have taken much of the mystery out of the weather.

We're sliding into a wetter pattern; significant rain likely today and Sunday - a surge of warmth sparks T-storms with locally heavy rain the middle of next week. Drought-denting rain.

Mother Nature is still hopelessly confused. Springy 60s return Saturday into much of next week, but ECMWF guidance hints at some slush 8 days out.

Lovely.


Ohio Valley Severe Storm Threat. Our internal TPI (Tornado Potential Index) shows the greatest chance of supercell thunderstorms bubbling up along the Ohio River, from near Louisville and Cincinnati to Dayton and Columbus. I expect more tornado watches and warnings later in the day Thursday. Source: AerisWeather.


Enhanced Severe Storm Threat. NOAA SPC (Storm Prediction Center) shows a broad area of the USA under the gun later today with a significant severe threat from Little Rock and Memphis to Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland. Most communities will see hail and strong winds - any tornadoes will be isolated.


A Spurt of Spring Fever. Today will be rainy and raw with some much-needed moisture perking up your lawn within 72 hours. We should start to green up this weekend as highs surge back into the 60s; 70F possible Monday before we cool down later next week. The best chance of significant rain (and embedded T-storms) comes Sunday, again Tuesday. European guidance suggests the atmosphere may be cold enough for wet snow by the end of next week. I hope that model is wrong.


Satisfyingly Soggy. With 92% of Minnesota in moderate drought very few locals will be whining about rain anytime soon. Computer models show some 1-2" rainfall amounts over central and eastern Minnesota over the next 7 days.


Ask Paul. Weather-related Q&A:

"So you would think it's easy to find the total snowfall for the 2014-2015 winter season.  It's not! (I've spent some time looking). Do you know what the snowfall total was for the Twin Cities this year? (MSP airport as the location is fine)." - Dave Clausen

Dave - the snow subtotal for the winter is 32.1". Average winter snowfall as of April 8 is 52.9". Last year the Twin Cities metro had picked up 69.5" snow as of April 8, 2014. Source: NOAA.


"Are we still looking at about 3.5” for the single heaviest snowfall in the Twin Cities for 2014-2015 Winter/   Thanks!"  - Dennis Fischer

Climate data from the Minnesota DNR shows how pathetic our snowfalls were this past winter season. Thanks to meteorologist D.J. Kayser for tracking this down:

Largest multi-day: 4.2" Dec. 26-27, 2014

Largest single day: 3.4" Dec. 27, 2014


In Parched California, Innovation, Like Water, Has Limits. The New York Times reports; here's an excerpt: "...Innovation, however, has a limit. California’s main challenge is not technological, but economic and political. One thing to keep in mind is that the state still has plenty of water. It just doesn’t have enough for every possible use, no matter how inefficient and wasteful. California’s cities consume 178 gallons per person per day, on average. That’s 40 percent more than the per capita water consumption in New York City and more than double that of parched Sydney, in Australia..."

File photo credit: "A home with a large pool is visible in the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles, Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Southern California's giant Metropolitan Water District will vote next week on a plan to ration water deliveries to the 26 agencies and cities it supplies, according to spokesman Bob Muir. The cuts would take effect July 1." (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)


How Flood Insurance Could Drive Americans From Coasts. Increasingly severe (coastal) storms superimposed on rising seas increases the risk of damage, and the trends are already showing up in insurance premiums, according to Climate Central: "...The 8 inches or so of sea level rise since 1880 is contributing to regular high tide flooding along the Eastern seaboard and Gulf coast, including in Miami, Washington D.C. and Virginia Beach. By the middle of this century, seas are expected to be another four to 19 inches higher than they were at the turn of the century, threatening tens of billions of dollars worth of property in Florida alone. The new paper, written by Moore and NRDC water official Becky Hayat, lays out one vision for how Congress could re-imagine the flood insurance program in two years, when it’s next due to be reauthorized..."


Scientists Explore Changes to Tornado Warnings. WOODTV.com in Grand Rapids, Michigan has the story - here's an excerpt about Doppler radar that caught my eye:

  • Radars have changed the way they scan the skies to better spot small tornadoes. Now when a storm is near, a radar is programmed to scan the base of a storm more frequently. This could help spot quick-starting tornadoes, like the one that rolled through Kentwood in 2014 un-warned.
  • National Weather Service radars are all now “Dual-Pol,” which means they send out horizontal and vertically propagating microwaves. This helps meteorologists identify the size and shape of particles in the sky, which means the radar can identify debris from tornadoes on the ground...

Read more here: http://www.islandpacket.com/2015/04/06/3684699_model-of-storm-surge-simulator.html?rh=1#storylink= 

Digital Billboards Warn Drivers of Tornado Risk. This makes sense, especially considering you're a sitting duck sitting in your vehicle. KFOR.com in Oklahoma City has the video and story - here's an excerpt: "...It may be the last opportunity to warm somebody that they need to be careful as they travel down the road.” said Lamar General Manager, Bill Condon. “We have the ability to get the message out in minutes.” There are 28 digital billboards around Oklahoma City, 24 of them will be used for tornado warnings because they are located on highways around town..."


Better Method For Forecasting Hurricane Season? Is a new model out of the University of Arizona capable of a consistently more accurate/reliable hurricane forecast? I guess we'll find out soon. Here's an excerpt from ScienceDaily: "...The team developed the new model by using data from the 1950 to 2013 hurricane seasons. They tested the new model by seeing if it could "hindcast" the number of hurricanes that occurred each season from 1900 to 1949. "It performed really well in the period from 1949 to 1900," Davis said. "That's the most convincing test of our model." Other investigators have estimated that damages from U.S. hurricanes from 1970 to 2002 cost $57 billion in 2015 dollars -- more than earthquakes and human-caused disasters combined for the time period..."


U.S. Leads Global Oil and Gas Production For Third Year. Here's the intro to a story at Climate Central: "For the third year running, the U.S. produced more crude oil and natural gas than any other country in the world in 2014. More oil than Saudi Arabia. More gas than Russia. And it’s happening at time when the U.S. is trying to take a leadership role in slashing greenhouse gas emissions to avert the worst consequences of climate change. The U.S. is the Earth’s hydrocarbon production leader because of fracking, which has allowed shale oil fields in North Dakota, Texas and elsewhere to gush oil, and shale gas fields in Pennsylvania and other eastern states to produce ever more natural gas..."

Graphic credit above: "This graph shows how U.S. oil and natural gas production compares  to that of Russia and Saudi Arabia in recent years." Credit: EIA


Apple Watch Review: Bliss, But Only After A Steep Learning Curve. The New York Times has a review on the upcoming Apple Watch; here's the intro: "It took three days — three long, often confusing and frustrating days — for me to fall for the Apple Watch. But once I fell, I fell hard. First there was a day to learn the device’s initially complex user interface. Then another to determine how it could best fit it into my life. And still one more to figure out exactly what Apple’s first major new product in five years is trying to do — and, crucially, what it isn’t..."


Your Weather App Sucks. No, not all weather apps are created equal. And keep in mind the forecast is raw model data, no nuance or weighting from a meteorologist trying to pick the RIGHT model for that particular weather event. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Vane: "...Right or wrong, it's this kind of nuance that derives from the forecaster's knowledge and experience, which is something that lacks in most weather apps. This absence of human intervention leads to wildly inaccurate weather information reaching the end user, which is detrimental whether you're simply going to the park or in charge of operating the roof at a baseball stadium in southern Florida..."


Drones With Pepper Spray For Unruly Mobs? This is like a bad science fiction biopic - cue the drones! Details from The Times of India: "...We have purchased five drone cameras with capacity of lifting two kg weight. They can be used to shower pepper powder on an unruly mob in case of any trouble," Senior Superintendent of Police Yashasvi Yadav told PTI here today..."


The Inside Story of the Civil War For The Soul of NBC News. Vanity Fair underscores the fact that being a news executive (or producer or "talent") at NBC News hasn't been much fun in recent years. I don't know Brian Williams but I did work with Lester Holt at WBBM-TV in Chicago. He's extremely competent and professional; a reporter and journalist who paid his dues over the years. He struck me as a really good guy. I wish him luck and hope he can stay out of the line of fire in the coming months. Here's an excerpt: "...It had been a tumultuous period for NBC’s news division, as had the entire four years since the Philadelphia cable/phone/Internet giant, Comcast, took over NBCUniversal, as the company is officially known. There was Ann Curry’s tearful flameout on Today; David Gregory’s long slide to his exit from Meet the Press; the strange firing after less than three months on the job of Jamie Horowitz, an ESPN executive brought in to fix Today; not to mention ratings declines at several of the division’s centerpiece shows, including Today and Meet the Press..."


Map: The Most Liberal and Conservative Towns In Each State. Here's an interesting nugget, courtesy of Business Insider and The Washington Post: "Elbing, Kan. and Wichita, Kan. are just a few miles from one another. At least when it comes to Kansas, however, their political affiliations could not be more different. The former ranks as the most conservative town in the state, while the latter is the most liberal, according to data from political analytics company Clarity Campaign Labs..."


48 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

54 F. average high on April 8.

54 F. high on April 8, 2014.

April 8, 1805: John Sayer at the Snake River Fir Trading Post near present day Pine City mentions: "The most tempestuous (stormy) day of the year. Pines and other trees fell near the fort."


TODAY: Periods of rain, windy and raw. Winds: N 10-20+ High: 44

THURSDAY NIGHT: Showers and sprinkles taper. Low: 34

FRIDAY: A few breaks in the clouds - better. High: 54

SATURDAY: Some sun, feels like spring again. Wake-up: 40. High: 64

SUNDAY: Early sun, late PM showers, thunder. Wake-up: 50. High: 66

MONDAY: Partly sunny and pleasant. Wake-up: 49. High: 68

TUESDAY: Showers, few heavy T-storms? Wake-up: 48. High: near 70

WEDNESDAY: Some sun, humid. Stray T-storm. Wake-up: 52. High: 71


Climate Stories....

Florida North: Some Wisconsin State Workers Banned from Discussing Climate Change? What is in the water down in Madison? I have great respect for the people of Wisconsin, and hope that cooler, saner heads will prevail. Here's an excerpt from Bloomberg Business: "Discussing climate change is out of bounds for workers at a state agency in Wisconsin. So is any work related to climate change—even responding to e-mails about the topic. A vote on Tuesday by Wisconsin’s Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, a three-member panel overseeing an agency that benefits schools and communities in the state, enacted the staff ban on climate change..."


If We Dig Out All Our Fossil Fuels, Here's How Hot We Can Expect It To Get. This is what the fight, fuss and massive misinformation campaign is all about - money. The New York Times runs the calculations; here's a key paragraph: "...For those who don’t like suspense, here’s the total: an astonishing 16.2 degrees. And here’s how that breaks down. Since the industrial revolution, fossil fuels have warmed the planet by about 1.7 degrees. We are already experiencing the consequences of this warming. In recent weeks, we have learned that the world had its warmest winter on record and that Arctic sea ice hit a new low, even as intense storms continue to inflict harm on communities globally. Next, look at fossil fuel reserves, the deposits we know to be recoverable under today’s prices and technology...."


Google, Microsoft Join Obama To Fight Climate Health Woes. Bloomberg Politics has the story - here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...Google, based in Mountain View, California, has donated 10 million hours of high-performance computing to help scientists work to eliminate the spread of infectious disease. The Internet search company also will provide staff time to help the scientists create early warning capabilities and public disease-risk maps, according to the White House statement. Microsoft, the software maker based in Redmond, Washington, is developing drones that would collect mosquitoes and conduct gene-sequencing and pathogen detection, the administration said in its statement..."


Permafrost Thaw Accelerates Global Warming. It's a tipping point as well, and we're not exactly sure how quickly melting permafrost will release methane, which has 20x more warming than CO2. Here's an excerpt from a press release at the University Utrecht in the Netherlands: "...The regions around the Arctic Ocean contain huge quantities of permafrost, which have sometimes been frozen for thousands of years. Around 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon are trapped in those soils, which is twice as much as is currently held in the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. The thawing of those soils and large-scale composting will therefore release huge quantities of carbon into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide and methane..."


Dear Humans, Industry, Not Your Actions, Is Causing Climate Change. It's about making smarter choices going forward, not government control over every aspect of your life. Here's a snippet of an article at Huffington Post that made me do a double-take: "...Given these constraints, we need to be clearer about what is really causing climate change. "Human activities" are great. Climate change is caused by industrial activities. And those activities are incentivized by government policy, which industry goes out of its way to influence. I got to thinking about this because of Rick Heede. He's a geographer who has done the careful work of figuring out how much of the carbon in our atmosphere can be traced back to the coal and oil that companies have extracted from the Earth. The numbers are head-turning: Two thirds of all industrial carbon emissions come from just 90 institutions..."


How Scientists Are Annotating Climate Science Reporting. How trustworthy is the article in question? Now there are new tools to help you judge some of those stories crazy Uncle Earl keeps e-mailing you. Details and an excerpt from Columbia Journalism Review: "...It’s an appropriate name for a group that’s attempting to slow some of the runaway misinformation about climate change, by doing what scientists do with their published work: review it. To achieve this, Climate Feedback—less an organization at this point than an amorphous gathering of climate scientists, oceanographers, and atmosperic physicists—is making use of a browser plugin from the nonprofit Hypothes.is to annotate climate journalism on the Web. Readers with the plugin, or with a link created through it, can read an article while simultaneously reading comments and citations from a cadre of experts. Click on the headline, and you’ll see an overall rating, based on the article’s accuracy, fairness, and adherence to evidence..."


What Will Happen After People Stop Ignoring The Evidence on Climate Change? Chris Mooney at The Washington Post poses the rhetorical question; here's a clip: "...But in the ALEC story and in Segal’s quotation, we see the glimmer of what could be a different relationship between science and politics — an understanding that scientists produce knowledge, and politicians and political actors consult that knowledge as one factor (but only one) in decision-making. In this view, both groups have different spheres. Scientists operate in the realm of knowledge creation and knowledge assessment — but it’s not their job to make explicit policy recommendations..."


The Global Warming "Pause" is More Politics Than Science. Here's the intro to a story at The ABC Network in Australia: "Over the past 17 years, the Earth has warmed rapidly, accumulating energy at a rate equivalent to more than four atomic bomb detonations per second. That's over 2 billion atomic bombs worth of heat built up on our planet since 1998. As discussed in a new book by one of us (Dana Nuccitelli) Climatology versus Pseudoscience, research has shown that much of the heat buildup during that time was deposited in the deep layers of the Earth's oceans, temporarily keeping it from the surface..."


Let's Call It: 30 Years of Above-Average Temperatures Means The Climate Has Changed. Here's an excerpt from The Conversation: "...As you can see in the graphic above, ocean temperature doesn’t vary as much as land temperature. This fact is intuitive to many people because they understand that coastal regions don’t experience as extreme highs and lows as the interiors of continents. Since oceans cover the majority of the Earth’s surface, the combined land and ocean graph strongly resembles the graph just for the ocean. Looking at only the ocean plots, you have to go all the way back to February 1976 to find a month below average. (That would be under President Gerald Ford’s watch.)..."

Graphic credit above: "Temperature history for all Februaries from 1880-2014." NCDC .


Acknowledging Climate Change, County by County. The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication has an interactive map that shows the level of interest/engagement broken down by couunty or congressional district. Overall 63% of Minnesotans believe warming is taking place and man is the primary driver of this observed warming. Nationwide the percentage is an identical 63%.


New NORAD Chief: Increased Russian Patrols, Climate Change Raise Strategic Concerns. Yes, The Air Force is acknowledging the obvious - arctic ice is shrinking (and thinning) and that has geopolitical implications; here's a clip from an interview at Colorado Public Radio: "...Well, the Arctic ice pack is receding. I mean that's clear. We see that every year. We see it receding and so the question is now, 'As it recedes, how much more commercial activity is going to be up there in the form of transportation... Resource extraction: Will companies and nations go up there for resource extraction, you know, oil, gas, minerals?' ... Clearly, the climate is changing and the ice pack is receding. The question is, ‘What does that mean in the future?’ And that’s what we’re trying to determine."

Photo credit above: "A U.S. Air Force F-22 intercepts a Russian bomber near Alaska." (Courtesy of U.S. Air Force).


British Daily's Campaign To Prevent Climate Change Raises Bold Questions About Role of Press Advocacy. Here's the intro to an interesting post at Unsocial Media: "The Guardian, the London daily that has risen from a respected but fringe player on the British political scene to a major transatlantic voice of liberal thought, did something notable and gutsy a few weeks ago, and just about nobody on this side of the ocean paid any attention. Flanked by stories and commentaries, Alan Rusbridger, the editor credited with leading the Guardian’s rise, announced March 6 that his organization was launching a campaign intended to head off the climate catastrophe that the scientific consensus has concluded is unavoidable without deep changes in public policy and industrial practice..."

Damp Breeze - Spring Tease: Warmer, Wetter Pattern Returns Next Week

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: April 7, 2015 - 11:06 PM

A Raw Deal

Nature never moves in a perfectly straight line. We limp, trip and stumble our way into spring - always two steps forward, one step back. Or is it the other way around?

And as much as I'm looking forward to a hot, sweaty summer up at the lake I don't mind this March flashback. Chilly weather is reducing the threat of severe storms and babysitting the Doppler. It also sets the stage for steady "overrunning" rain tomorrow as warm air rides up and over a persistent wedge of Canadian air camped out above our heads. The entire state needs a good long soaking right about now.

Yesterday's rain brushed southern Minnesota; a few severe storms near Rochester - a preview of coming attractions. We temporarily dry out today before a slow-moving storm spreads a shield of rain back into the state Thursday; half an inch of rain possible for thirsty farms, lawn & gardens.

Sunshine returns Friday; Saturday should renew your faith in April with highs surging into the 60s. ECMWF guidance is hinting at mid-70s and severe storms in one week.

Yes, this damp, chilly breeze is annoying, but 40s will inoculate us from any serious weather drama the next few days. Let's just take this one week at a time, OK?


Transitioning Into a Wetter Pattern? It's still too early to say with a high degree of confidence, but it appears that we may be turning a corner with moisture as storms take a more northerly track with a rising sun angle and expanding warmth. The arrival of 60s and a few 70s next week should be accompanied by heavier showers and T-storms, possibly the first severe outbreak of the season by the middle of next week. 84-hour NAM accumulated rainfall forecast above: NOAA and HAMweather.


Severe Outbreak Central Plains Later Today. Our in-house TPI (Tornado Potential Index) values are poking into the extreme range by late afternoon from near Wichita to Kansas City and Springfield, Missouri. I wouldn't be surprised to see a few large tornadoes touch down by the dinner hour. Source: HAMweather.


Springy Come-Back. Skies may brighten for a time today, allowing the mercury to top 50F (where we should be in early April). Steadier rain keeps temperatures in the 40s tomorrow, but then the mercury takes off over the weekend as the sun reappears - Saturday should be the nicer day to clean up the yard and wash the car - more badly needed rain falls Sunday, but the heaviest rains (and embedded T-storms) may hold off until the middle of next week as temperatures spike into the 70s. A severe outbreak by Wednesday of next week? It's way too far off to say with any confidence, but I wouldn't be surprised.


New Interactive Storm Surge Map Helps Residents See Potential Flood Risks. Here's an excerpt of an interesting article (and useful new hurricane season tool) at The Island Packet: "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is testing a new feature that lets people get a look at what kind of damage and storm surges are possible, and using nearby Charleston for the preliminary model.The Experimental Storm Surge Simulator shows a street-level view of where water could rise in a storm surge. "Surveys of the public show there is still a consistent mis-understanding of what the storm surge is, and how deadly it can be," reads the introduction to the app.

Image credit above: "Illustration from the National Atmosphere & Oceanographic Administration's Experimental Storm Surge Simulator showing storm surge projections at various locations in Charleston for different hurricane scenarios." ILLUSTRATION FROM NOAA ESSS.


How Flood Insurance Could Drive Americans From Coasts. Increasingly severe (coastal) storms superimposed on rising seas increases the risk of damage, and the trends are already showing up in insurance premiums, according to Climate Central: "...The 8 inches or so of sea level rise since 1880 is contributing to regular high tide flooding along the Eastern seaboard and Gulf coast, including in Miami, Washington D.C. and Virginia Beach. By the middle of this century, seas are expected to be another four to 19 inches higher than they were at the turn of the century, threatening tens of billions of dollars worth of property in Florida alone. The new paper, written by Moore and NRDC water official Becky Hayat, lays out one vision for how Congress could re-imagine the flood insurance program in two years, when it’s next due to be reauthorized..."



Read more here: http://www.islandpacket.com/2015/04/06/3684699_model-of-storm-surge-simulator.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

A Super-Sized El Nino in 2015 After All? Our on-again, off-again El Nino warming of Pacific Ocean water is very much on again as temperature anomalies continue to rise in the central and eastern Pacific. NOAA CPC is predicting overall temperature anomalies of 1.5 to 2C warmer than average by fall and winter, which would tend to imply a milder (drier) winter for Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. In theory. On paper. Your results may vary.


Remembering The Great Midwest Flood of 1993. I have vivid memories sandbagging the Racoon River in Des Moines, marveling at how high the waters were. Here's an excerpt of a quick recap of historic flooding that spring, courtesy of cdapress.com: "...Dozens of major bridges were washed out from late June through early August of 1993. More than 5,000 barges, loaded mostly with grains and soybeans, were stuck on the Mississippi for weeks on end. The river is normally less than a mile wide, but by early July of 1993, it had grown as wide in places as seven miles! In total, according to my weather scrapbooks, more than half of the levees along the Mississippi River and its various tributaries were broken by the surging floodwaters. In St. Paul, Minn., in late June of 1993, the downtown airport virtually "disappeared" under several feet of water. Town after town along the Mississippi River southward past severely flooded St. Louis, Mo., saw their levees break and their houses and crops washed away. The entire town of Valmeyer, Ill., was moved to higher ground some 500 feet above the level of the Mississippi..."

Photo credit above: "US Army Corp of Engineers photo of the Missouri River's damage to US Highway 63, Jefferson City, Missouri, near the Missouri Capitol building during the "Great Flood of 1993". National Guardsmen created sandbag levees in the parking lot, but the building was still several feet above the water line." Courtesy of Wikipedia, which has more information here.


Digital Billboards Warn Drivers of Tornado Risk. This makes sense, especially considering you're a sitting duck sitting in your vehicle. KFOR.com in Oklahoma City has the video and story - here's an excerpt: "...It may be the last opportunity to warm somebody that they need to be careful as they travel down the road.” said Lamar General Manager, Bill Condon. “We have the ability to get the message out in minutes.” There are 28 digital billboards around Oklahoma City, 24 of them will be used for tornado warnings because they are located on highways around town..."


Better Method For Forecasting Hurricane Season? Is a new model out of the University of Arizona capable of a consistently more accurate/reliable hurricane forecast? I guess we'll find out soon. Here's an excerpt from ScienceDaily: "...The team developed the new model by using data from the 1950 to 2013 hurricane seasons. They tested the new model by seeing if it could "hindcast" the number of hurricanes that occurred each season from 1900 to 1949. "It performed really well in the period from 1949 to 1900," Davis said. "That's the most convincing test of our model." Other investigators have estimated that damages from U.S. hurricanes from 1970 to 2002 cost $57 billion in 2015 dollars -- more than earthquakes and human-caused disasters combined for the time period..."


Under Debate: Social Media's Value For Delivering Hurricane News. Can we rely on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for the biggest weather stories? How do we insure that consumers are getting information from trusted, verified sources? Here's an excerpt of a very interesting story at The Palm Beach Post: "Their grandparents learned of hurricanes in the newspaper, their parents on CNN. Today’s young people might get their news from their pals on Facebook. And what about the generation after that? That’s what really scares some weather forecasters and emergency managers. “Twitter can be wrong and we can’t,” Jim Forsyth, news director of San Antonio news radio station WOAI, told a session of this week’s National Hurricane Conference in Austin, Texas..." (Hurricane Irene file image: NASA).


Will Turning Sea Water Into Drinking Water Help Drought-Hit California. Desalination plants are still prohibitively expensive and energy-intensive. But Santa Barbara is dusting off an old initiative to turn sea water into drinking water, a trend which may expand to other coastal cities suffering through prolonged drought. Here's a clip from NPR: "...That briny waste is one of many concerns raised by environmentalists and other critics of desalination plants like this one and others that are being planned and built along the California coast. "The biggest concern about desalination is that it is expensive, it's energy-intensive and it has a lot of side effects — a lot of unintended consequences to marine life both from the intake and the discharge," says Marco Gonzalez, the executive director of the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation. Right now, the sources of electricity available to run desalination plants are not environmentally friendly..."

File photo credit above: "In this March 11, 2015, file photo, a worker climbs stairs among some of the 2,000 pressure vessels used to convert seawater into fresh water through reverse osmosis in the western hemisphere's largest desalination plant in Carlsbad, Calif. The Carlsbad Desalination Project, scheduled to start operations in late 2015, is expected to provide 50 million gallons of fresh drinking water a day." (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File).


This Is The Back-Up Plan If All Our Crops Are Wiped Out. Well there's a lovely thought, and odds overwhelmingly favor this will never happen. But it's good to have an insurance policy, right? Here's a clip from a story at The Washington Post: "...Here’s where the sci-fi ends: There are no aliens here, and no clones. Instead, the containers are full of humble seeds, frozen and preserved — hopefully forever (or long enough, anyway). Ultimately, there’s enough room to store 2.25 billion of them. Scientifically inclined — and worried — humans built this. It’s the pinnacle of an ancient quest to store seeds so as to preserve agricultural diversity and give a backstop against any crop disaster..."


Anchorman: "A Dumb Job?" Every business is experiencing disruption, including journalism, and I'm not sure our kid's kids will put anchormen and women on pedestals the way some of us did growing up. I can't say I agree with everything in this article - the very best local anchors (Shelby and Magers come to mind) worked their way up from reporter to anchor. They were journalists first, and news-readers second. They actually earned a position of trust. Many in the print media have been historically quick to bash television news any chance they get, so I take some of this with a grain of envy-saturated salt. Here's an excerpt of an interesting read at New York Magazine: "...For all the histrionics, this incident of media blood sport was much ado about not so much. The network-news anchor as an omnipotent national authority figure is such a hollow anachronism in 21st-century America that almost nothing was at stake. NBC’s train wreck played out as corporate and celebrity farce rather than as a human or cultural tragedy because it doesn’t actually matter who puts on the bespoke suit and reads the news from behind a desk..."


The Inside Story of the Civil War For The Soul of NBC News. Vanity Fair underscores the fact that being a news executive (or producer or "talent") at NBC News hasn't been much fun in recent years. I don't know Brian Williams but I did work with Lester Holt at WBBM-TV in Chicago. He's extremely competent and professional; a reporter and journalist who paid his dues over the years. He struck me as a really good guy. I wish him luck and hope he can stay out of the line of fire in the coming months. Here's an excerpt: "...It had been a tumultuous period for NBC’s news division, as had the entire four years since the Philadelphia cable/phone/Internet giant, Comcast, took over NBCUniversal, as the company is officially known. There was Ann Curry’s tearful flameout on Today; David Gregory’s long slide to his exit from Meet the Press; the strange firing after less than three months on the job of Jamie Horowitz, an ESPN executive brought in to fix Today; not to mention ratings declines at several of the division’s centerpiece shows, including Today and Meet the Press..."


43 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

53 F. average high on April 7.

60 F. high on April 7, 2014.

.01" rain fell yesterday at MSP International Airport.

April 7, 1857: Cold snap hits United States. Snow fell in every state.


TODAY: Mostly cloudy, closer to average. Winds: E 10. High: near 50

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Cloudy, rain arrives late. Low: 38

THURSDAY: Rain likely. A bit greener out there. High: 44

FRIDAY: Slow clearing and milder. Wake-up: 34. HIgh: 57

SATURDAY: Jolt of spring fever. Breezy with lukwarm sun! Wake-up: 35. High: 65

SUNDAY: Showers, possible T-storms. Wake-up: 46. High: 63

MONDAY: Sunny intervals, still pleasant. Wake-up: 43. High: 61

TUESDAY: Scattered showers, few T-showers possible. Wake-up: 42. High: near 60


Climate Stories....

The Global Warming "Pause" is More Politics Than Science. Here's the intro to a story at The ABC Network in Australia: "Over the past 17 years, the Earth has warmed rapidly, accumulating energy at a rate equivalent to more than four atomic bomb detonations per second. That's over 2 billion atomic bombs worth of heat built up on our planet since 1998. As discussed in a new book by one of us (Dana Nuccitelli) Climatology versus Pseudoscience, research has shown that much of the heat buildup during that time was deposited in the deep layers of the Earth's oceans, temporarily keeping it from the surface..."


Let's Call It: 30 Years of Above-Average Temperatures Means The Climate Has Changed. Here's an excerpt from The Conversation: "...As you can see in the graphic above, ocean temperature doesn’t vary as much as land temperature. This fact is intuitive to many people because they understand that coastal regions don’t experience as extreme highs and lows as the interiors of continents. Since oceans cover the majority of the Earth’s surface, the combined land and ocean graph strongly resembles the graph just for the ocean. Looking at only the ocean plots, you have to go all the way back to February 1976 to find a month below average. (That would be under President Gerald Ford’s watch.)..."

Graphic credit above: "Temperature history for all Februaries from 1880-2014." NCDC .


Acknowledging Climate Change, County by County. The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication has an interactive map that shows the level of interest/engagement broken down by couunty or congressional district. Overall 63% of Minnesotans believe warming is taking place and man is the primary driver of this observed warming. Nationwide the percentage is an identical 63%.


New NORAD Chief: Increased Russian Patrols, Climate Change Raise Strategic Concerns. Yes, The Air Force is acknowledging the obvious - arctic ice is shrinking (and thinning) and that has geopolitical implications; here's a clip from an interview at Colorado Public Radio: "...Well, the Arctic ice pack is receding. I mean that's clear. We see that every year. We see it receding and so the question is now, 'As it recedes, how much more commercial activity is going to be up there in the form of transportation... Resource extraction: Will companies and nations go up there for resource extraction, you know, oil, gas, minerals?' ... Clearly, the climate is changing and the ice pack is receding. The question is, ‘What does that mean in the future?’ And that’s what we’re trying to determine."

Photo credit above: "A U.S. Air Force F-22 intercepts a Russian bomber near Alaska." (Courtesy of U.S. Air Force).


British Daily's Campaign To Prevent Climate Change Raises Bold Questions About Role of Press Advocacy. Here's the intro to an interesting post at Unsocial Media: "The Guardian, the London daily that has risen from a respected but fringe player on the British political scene to a major transatlantic voice of liberal thought, did something notable and gutsy a few weeks ago, and just about nobody on this side of the ocean paid any attention. Flanked by stories and commentaries, Alan Rusbridger, the editor credited with leading the Guardian’s rise, announced March 6 that his organization was launching a campaign intended to head off the climate catastrophe that the scientific consensus has concluded is unavoidable without deep changes in public policy and industrial practice..."


Climate Change Deniers Are In Retreat. Personally I'm not so sure, although I continue to see hopeful signs that a critical mass of Americans understand what's really going on. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Washington Post: "There is no denying it: Climate-change deniers are in retreat. What began as a subtle shift away from the claim that man-made global warming is not a threat to the planet has lately turned into a stampede. The latest attempt to deny denial comes from the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, a powerful group that pushes for states to pass laws that are often drafted by industry. As my Post colleagues Tom Hamburger, Joby Warrick and Chris Mooney report, ALEC is not only insisting that it doesn’t deny climate change — it’s threatening to sue those who suggest otherwise..."


70% of Western Canadian Glaciers to Disappear by 2100. The Toronto Star has more details - here's a link and excerpt: "Go see Canada’s glorious glaciers while you still have a chance. Seventy per cent of Western Canada’s glaciers — some of them popular destinations in Alberta and British Columbia — will likely be gone by the end of this century, according to shocking new projections published in Nature Geoscience Monday. “These glaciers are an important part of our landscape and we take it for granted . . . the landscape isn’t going to look the same,” said Garry Clarke, a glaciologist at the University of British Columbia and one of the study’s authors..."

Photo credit above: Todd Korol. "A guide holds a pole showing tourists how much the Athabasca Glacier melted since the previous year at the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park, Alberta. Last year, a Parks Canada manager said the glacier is losing more than five metres of ice every year and is in danger of disappearing within a generation."


Urban Sprawl, Cars Hamper Cities' Best Efforts on CO2. This gets to the core of many skeptics' concerns just beneath the surface. "You're attacking my way of life - you're telling me how to live!" I live in the suburbs - maybe I'm rationalizing the obvious: not all of us will live in cities and bike or walk to work. Which means we'll find cleaner, more renewable ways to commute and power our homes and lives. Here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "...A Boston University study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that a major push in cities like Denver to build dense housing, better transit systems and more bike lanes in their urban core doesn’t necessarily lead to lower per-capita CO2 emissions. That’s because suburbs continue to sprawl and residents there still drive to work..."

File photo above: Richard Vogel, AP.


Study: D.C. Residents Worry About Global Warming More Than Anyone Else in U.S. Here's an excerpt from The Capital Weather Gang: "...Levels of concern about global warming have been strongly tied to political party affiliation. A Yale University study conducted last year found that 81 percent of Democrats are worried about global warming, compared with only 19 percent of conservative Republicans. About 75 percent of registered voters in the District are Democrats, which plays a key role in local global warming attitudes..."


Democracy vs. Psychology. Why People Keep Electing Idiots. Possibly my new favorite headline of the year, courtesy of The Guardian. Here's an excerpt: "...What’s going on here? Logically, you’d want an intelligent person who understands the best approach and methods for running a country in the best possible way. But no, people seem drawn to demonstrations of questionable intellectual abilities. There are a wide variety of ideological, cultural, social, historical, financial and other factors involved, because politics incorporates all of these things, but there are also some known psychological processes that may contribute to this phenomenon..."


Wet Basement Last Year? Blame Climate Change. The swings are becoming even more extreme over time, especially precipitation and "whiplash", going from drought to flood, back to drought, much faster than in the past. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Star Tribune: "...Even though this spring has been unusually dry, climatologists say homeowners should get used to volatility — wild swings in weather will be more common as climate change begins working its effects on the atmosphere. “The climate has been changing,” said Peter Snyder, an associate professor of atmospheric science at the University of Minnesota. “It’s pretty clear that we’re seeing more extremes.” While last year’s wet spring doesn’t mean Minnesotans should expect flooded basements every year, Snyder said, his work indicates that intense weather events are becoming increasingly frequent in the Upper Midwest..."


The Incredible Decline of Arctic Sea Ice - Visualized. Here's an excerpt of a Chris Mooney article at The Washington Post: "...The downward trend usually draws the most attention in September, because that’s when overall ice extent reaches its annual low, and the lows have been getting lower and lower. But in a new visualization, the Post’s Kennedy Elliott uses data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center to show that in their records going back to 1979, there’s actually been a plunge, over time, for ice extent for each individual month of the year..."


What Evidence Would Pursuade You That Man-Made Climate Change is Real? Here's an excerpt of a fact-filled, URL-rich essay at Reason.com: "...To restate: The existence of man-made warming does not mandate any particular policies. So back to the headline question: If generally rising temperatures, decreasing diurnal temperature differences, melting glacial and sea ice, smaller snow extent, stronger rainstorms, and warming oceans are not enough to persuade you that man-made climate is occurring, what evidence would be?"

Cold Rain - Springy Weekend - Super-Sized El Nino Shaping Up After All?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: April 6, 2015 - 7:55 PM

A Cold Rain

Ice is coming off Minnesota lakes a couple weeks earlier than 2014. Trees are budding, rhubarb poking up through damp soil - the frost nearly gone now. Yes, we are limping into spring and I am VERY happy to be tracking green blobs on Doppler radar.

The weather this week will help you focus on work and errands; no lukewarm fronts luring you outside anytime soon. Up to 6 inches of snow fell on Pine County yesterday, and models are hinting at a risk of slush in the metro Friday morning, mainly lawns and slow-moving robins.

For the most part the lowest mile of the atmosphere should be mild enough for rain spilling out of a curdling sky; heaviest on Thursday, again Sunday. Many towns will pick up half an inch of rain by next Monday, enough to put a modest dent in our nagging drought.

My gut (nausea?) is telling me that 2015 will be warmer and drier than 2014, based on the way patterns are setting up, and an El Nino warm phase of the Pacific that now looks much stronger than what was predicted months ago.

Before long we may be complaining about heat, whining about the humidity, shaking a fist at a dry, dusty sky.

Forgive me while I enjoy a cold rain and rediscover "green".


Monday Morning Slush. It was a relatively narrow band of snow, stretching from near Brainerd and Lake Mille Lacs to Pine County, where as much as 6" of snow piled up, mainly on lawns and fields. About 2" fell in Brainerd. 4-5 days ago both the ECMWF and GFS hinted at some 6" amounts by early Monday - I have to say that they were on the right track. Map: National Weather Service.


Friday Morning Slop-Snow? My confidence level is lower than usual, but NOAA's NAM ensembles print out a little slush east of the Twin Cities Thursday night and Friday as the entire atmosphere cools behind a slow-moving storm. If this solution verifies an inch or two of slush could accumulated from near Spooner to Baldwin, Red Wing and Rochester. Source: HAMweather.


On The Northern Fringe of Significant Moisture. The Twin Cities could still wind up with half an inch or more of water by Monday of next week; NOAA NAM guidance into early Friday shows some 1"+ rainfall amounts over far southeastern Minnesota, closer to 3" possible near Madison and Rockford.


Spring Fever Returns This Weekend. The next few days will be raw, especially Thursday, when the heaviest rain may fall, keeping temperatures in the low to mid 40s. But the sun peeks out Friday afternoon with a growing chance of 60s returning over the weekend; European guidance hinting at potentially heavy T-storms Sunday PM hours.


A Super-Sized El Nino in 2015 After All? Our on-again, off-again El Nino warming of Pacific Ocean water is very much on again as temperature anomalies continue to rise in the central and eastern Pacific. NOAA CPC is predicting overall temperature anomalies of 1.5 to 2C warmer than average by fall and winter, which would tend to imply a milder (drier) winter for Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. In theory. On paper. Your results may vary.


Remembering The Great Midwest Flood of 1993. I have vivid memories sandbagging the Racoon River in Des Moines, marveling at how high the waters were. Here's an excerpt of a quick recap of historic flooding that spring, courtesy of cdapress.com: "...Dozens of major bridges were washed out from late June through early August of 1993. More than 5,000 barges, loaded mostly with grains and soybeans, were stuck on the Mississippi for weeks on end. The river is normally less than a mile wide, but by early July of 1993, it had grown as wide in places as seven miles! In total, according to my weather scrapbooks, more than half of the levees along the Mississippi River and its various tributaries were broken by the surging floodwaters. In St. Paul, Minn., in late June of 1993, the downtown airport virtually "disappeared" under several feet of water. Town after town along the Mississippi River southward past severely flooded St. Louis, Mo., saw their levees break and their houses and crops washed away. The entire town of Valmeyer, Ill., was moved to higher ground some 500 feet above the level of the Mississippi..."

Photo credit above: "US Army Corp of Engineers photo of the Missouri River's damage to US Highway 63, Jefferson City, Missouri, near the Missouri Capitol building during the "Great Flood of 1993". National Guardsmen created sandbag levees in the parking lot, but the building was still several feet above the water line." Courtesy of Wikipedia, which has more information here.


Under Debate: Social Media's Value For Delivering Hurricane News. Can we rely on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for the biggest weather stories? How do we insure that consumers are getting information from trusted, verified sources? Here's an excerpt of a very interesting story at The Palm Beach Post: "Their grandparents learned of hurricanes in the newspaper, their parents on CNN. Today’s young people might get their news from their pals on Facebook. And what about the generation after that? That’s what really scares some weather forecasters and emergency managers. “Twitter can be wrong and we can’t,” Jim Forsyth, news director of San Antonio news radio station WOAI, told a session of this week’s National Hurricane Conference in Austin, Texas..." (Hurricane Irene file image: NASA).


Will Turning Sea Water Into Drinking Water Help Drought-Hit California. Desalination plants are still prohibitively expensive and energy-intensive. But Santa Barbara is dusting off an old initiative to turn sea water into drinking water, a trend which may expand to other coastal cities suffering through prolonged drought. Here's a clip from NPR: "...That briny waste is one of many concerns raised by environmentalists and other critics of desalination plants like this one and others that are being planned and built along the California coast. "The biggest concern about desalination is that it is expensive, it's energy-intensive and it has a lot of side effects — a lot of unintended consequences to marine life both from the intake and the discharge," says Marco Gonzalez, the executive director of the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation. Right now, the sources of electricity available to run desalination plants are not environmentally friendly..."

File photo credit above: "In this March 11, 2015, file photo, a worker climbs stairs among some of the 2,000 pressure vessels used to convert seawater into fresh water through reverse osmosis in the western hemisphere's largest desalination plant in Carlsbad, Calif. The Carlsbad Desalination Project, scheduled to start operations in late 2015, is expected to provide 50 million gallons of fresh drinking water a day." (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File).


Beneath California Crops, Groundwater Crisis Grows. At some point underground aquifers become depleted (or contaminated) and you can't drill any deeper to find fresh water. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "... Farmers are drilling wells at a feverish pace and pumping billions of gallons of water from the ground, depleting a resource that was critically endangered even before the drought, now in its fourth year, began. California has pushed harder than any other state to adapt to a changing climate, but scientists warn that improving its management of precious groundwater supplies will shape whether it can continue to supply more than half the nation’s fruits and vegetables on a hotter planet..."

File photo credit above: "This Jan. 16, 2015 file photo shows pumpjacks operating at the Kern River Oil Field, in Bakersfield, Calif. California’s top regulators on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 acknowledged lax oversight by the state had allowed oil-and-gas industry contamination of protected water aquifers and other threats to public safety, and pledged to intensify protection of water sources and public health." (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)


California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth. Here's an excerpt from a story at The New York Times: "...But even California’s biggest advocates are wondering if the severity of this drought, now in its fourth year, is going to force a change in the way the state does business. Can Los Angeles continue to dominate as the country’s capital of entertainment and glamour, and Silicon Valley as the center of high tech, if people are forbidden to take a shower for more than five minutes and water bills become prohibitively expensive? Will tourists worry about coming? Will businesses continue their expansion in places like San Francisco and Venice?..."

Image credit above: "Homes in Rancho Mirage, Calif., in the Coachella Valley. Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered a 25 percent statewide reduction in non-agricultural water use." Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times.


3 Reasons Solar and Wind Energy Will Take Over Our Power Grid Much Sooner Than You Think. Here's a snippet from New York Magazine: "Getting power from the wind and the sun no longer seems like a hippie fantasy: Elon Musk is betting that solar power will be so profitable it will help fund space travel, and big tech companies like Apple and Google are buying in, too. Today most homes and businesses are still powered by fossil fuels, but in just a few decades — maybe even as little as 15 years — most energy could be coming from renewable sources..."


Baseball's Decline in America. But we're not even close to writing off baseball just yet. The Washington Post takes a look at demographic trends with a few sobering infographics. Go Twins! "Baseball’s audience is predominantly white, older and higher-earning. The average age of baseball viewers has been rising."


Semiautonomous Driving Arrives, Feature By Feature. This may be feature-creep with more and more automation with each iteration of a vehicle vs. one giant technological splash, according to a story at The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "...The path to fully autonomous driving will still take years to reach consumers, but car manufacturers demonstrated this week that they are now able to offer buyers several levels of so-called active safety features — in which the car takes over driving in certain instances. And they plan to introduce even more advanced semiautonomous capabilities in the coming months..."

Image credit above: Tesla Motor Company.


Anchorman: "A Dumb Job?" Every business is experiencing disruption, including journalism, and I'm not sure our kid's kids will put anchormen and women on pedestals the way some of us did growing up. I can't say I agree with everything in this article - the very best local anchors (Shelby and Magers come to mind) worked their way up from reporter to anchor. They were journalists first, and news-readers second. They actually earned a position of trust. Many in the print media have been historically quick to bash television news any chance they get, so I take some of this with a grain of envy-saturated salt. Here's an excerpt of an interesting read at New York Magazine: "...For all the histrionics, this incident of media blood sport was much ado about not so much. The network-news anchor as an omnipotent national authority figure is such a hollow anachronism in 21st-century America that almost nothing was at stake. NBC’s train wreck played out as corporate and celebrity farce rather than as a human or cultural tragedy because it doesn’t actually matter who puts on the bespoke suit and reads the news from behind a desk..."


43 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.

53 F. average high on April 6.

62 F. high on April 6, 2014.

.18" rain fell at MSP International yesterday as of 7 PM.

April 6, 1964: Snowstorm hits Minnesota with 9 inches at Fosston and 8.7 at Park Rapids.


TODAY: Light rain and drizzle. Winds: NE 10-20. High: 42

TUESDAY NIGHT: Drizzle tapers, still chilly. Low: 35

WEDNESDAY: Drier day, skies try to brighten. High: 51

THURSDAY: Another surge of steadier rain. Wake-up: 39. High: 44

FRIDAY: Early slush in a few towns? Then gradual clearing. Wake-up: 34. High: near 50

SATURDAY: Clouds increase, probably dry. Wake-up: 38. High: 56

SUNDAY: Milder with showers, PM thunder? Wake-up: 45. High: near 60

MONDAY: Drier, breezy and cooler. Wake-up: 43. High: 52


Climate Stories....

Wet Basement Last Year? Blame Climate Change. The swings are becoming even more extreme over time, especially precipitation and "whiplash", going from drought to flood, back to drought, much faster than in the past. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Star Tribune: "...Even though this spring has been unusually dry, climatologists say homeowners should get used to volatility — wild swings in weather will be more common as climate change begins working its effects on the atmosphere. “The climate has been changing,” said Peter Snyder, an associate professor of atmospheric science at the University of Minnesota. “It’s pretty clear that we’re seeing more extremes.” While last year’s wet spring doesn’t mean Minnesotans should expect flooded basements every year, Snyder said, his work indicates that intense weather events are becoming increasingly frequent in the Upper Midwest..."


The Incredible Decline of Arctic Sea Ice - Visualized. Here's an excerpt of a Chris Mooney article at The Washington Post: "...The downward trend usually draws the most attention in September, because that’s when overall ice extent reaches its annual low, and the lows have been getting lower and lower. But in a new visualization, the Post’s Kennedy Elliott uses data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center to show that in their records going back to 1979, there’s actually been a plunge, over time, for ice extent for each individual month of the year..."


What Evidence Would Pursuade You That Man-Made Climate Change is Real? Here's an excerpt of a fact-filled, URL-rich essay at Reason.com: "...To restate: The existence of man-made warming does not mandate any particular policies. So back to the headline question: If generally rising temperatures, decreasing diurnal temperature differences, melting glacial and sea ice, smaller snow extent, stronger rainstorms, and warming oceans are not enough to persuade you that man-made climate is occurring, what evidence would be?"


As Young Evangelical, He Finds God's Call in Focus on Climate "Crisis". Here's an excerpt of a story and interview at madison.com: "...I also believe this is an issue we can do something about,” he said. “There are often arguments about whether climate change is manmade or cyclical, which kind of misses the point.” “I believe Christians are called to be conformed to the image of God,” he added, “and throughout the Bible, we see God creating, sustaining, redeeming and delighting in creation. “We as Christians should always be looking for how we can imitate God in all things, particularly how we care for the world around us.”

Photo credit above: Doug Erickson | Wisconsin State Journal. "Riley Balikian, photographed at an entrance to the UW Arboretum, is a member of the national steering committee for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action."


Climate Experts Called In To Save Skiing. I read this curious and vaguely alarming article in the Norwegian press; here's an excerpt from newsinenglish.no: "Norwegian sports officials are applying to host the Nordic Ski World Championships in Trondheim in 2021, even though the prospects for having enough snow are increasingly bleak. They’re seeking help from local climate experts to make sure they’ll be able to carry out the huge international competition, and ensure the future of a sport that in Norway is part of the cultural heritage..."



Record Low Snowpack in Pacific Northwest Could Be "Dress Rehearsal" for Climate Change. PRI, Public Radio International, has the story - here's the intro: "When officials in drought-stricken California found last week that snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada mountains were at historic lows, they took drastic action, implementing unprecedented water-use restrictions. But record-low snowpacks aren’t just a thing in California. They’re also happening further north. In western Washington, snow levels are more than 90 percent below normal, and statewide the snow level is at 71 percent below where it should be. The situation is even more severe in Oregon, which has received less than a quarter of its normal snowfall..."

Photo credit above: "Scott Pattee, a water supply specialist with the National Resources Conservation Service, checks snow levels at Stevens Pass ski resort in Washington's Cascade Mountains." Credit: Ashley Ahearn/KUOW.


The Whole Globe is Warming - But Look At How Much Of It Is Cause By The Northern Hemisphere. Chris Mooney takes a look at the geopolitical implications of CO2 emissions in a story at The Washington Post; here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...The Northern Hemisphere, home to almost 90 percent of the world’s population, is where the majority of atmospheric carbon dioxide originates,” writes Elliott. Indeed, of the world’s top ten cumulative greenhouse gas emitters from 1850 to 2011, only two, Brazil and Indonesia, are at least partly situated the southern hemisphere (and each has contributed about 1 percent of the global total). These are not just idle observations — the situation has significant implications for the difficult international politics of climate change..."

Infographic credit above: "Where carbon emissions are greatest". (Kennedy Elliott).

Hints of Spring - Brush with Slush Monday Night?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: April 3, 2015 - 10:17 PM

In-Between Season

Early April is an awkward time, suspended between winter and spring. The snow and ice is gone, a foot of frost in the ground and shrinking.

Until we green up the risk of fire will be significant; 92 percent of the state in moderate drought is creating a high threat of fire - extreme over central Minnesota. Wednesday's quarter inch of rain was just enough to settle the dust. We need another 2-5 inches to pull out of a deepening drought.<p>If anyone asks (highly doubtful) Wednesday's 84-degree record high was the warmest temperature ever recorded so early in the year in the Twin Cities.

Friday I talked about models printing out plowable snow early next week, an outburst triggered by a combustible mixture of caffeine, sleep deprivation and Chipotle. My meteorology professors would be horrified. "Never mention inch-amounts until 24 hours before a snow event!" Ever. Although the atmosphere will be cold enough for snow the brunt of the moisture passes south (again) with only a small chance of a slush Monday night and early Tuesday.

Light rain showers brush the state Tuesday, again late next week, but not the soaking we need. Models show 60s & 70s returning by mid-April.

Yes, we earn our springs.


Snowfall Potential. 12 KM NAM model guidance from NOAA shows a potential for a little slush by Monday night and Tuesday morning, a couple inches possible near Williston, ND and Green Bay. Temperatures should be cold enough for wet snow or a mix by Monday evening, but moisture will be limited. Graphic: HAMweather.


Fleeting Relapse. Temperatures will be close to average today and Sunday before dipping to early Marchlike levels Monday and Tuesday; struggling to reach 40F in the metro area. The mercury rebounds later next week; 70 degrees a week from Sunday? Graphic: Weatherspark.


Record-Setting April Fools' Day. Hail, precious moisture, wild lightning displays and blowing dirt. Dr. Mark Seeley takes a look at a wild April 1 in the latest edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk; here's an excerpt: "...The weather system that crossed the state on April 1st also brought some hail, rain, and lightning to some areas.  Hail was reported in some counties like Sibley and Stearns.  Thunderstorms brought a quarter to half inch of rainfall to some central and southern Minnesota observers.  Some of the larger amounts included: 0.68 inches at Rochester, 0.66 inches at Grand Meadow, 0.60 inches at Northfield, 0.81 inches at Austin, 0.80 inches at Albert Lea, and 0.62 inches at Mantorville. The moisture did little to relieve the dryness on a statewide basis as the U.S. Drought Monitor placed nearly 92 percent of the state landscape in the moderate drought category this week..."


Ice Jam, Flood Wreaked Havoc in Sartell in '65. 1965 was the same year that EF-4 tornadoes steamrolled from Lake Minnetonka to Fridley, an amazing year, meteorologically. The SC Times has a very good recap and compelling photos that capture historic flooding in central Minnesota; here's the intro: "It's been 50 years now. But Jan Bettenberg can still recall the sound. The then-20-year-old Sartell resident had spent the night in his car alongside the swollen Mississippi River, keeping watch on a massive ice jam that had developed upstream north of the city. Then that April morning in 1965, the jam broke, unleashing the wall of water behind it..."

Photo credit above: "Massive chunks of ice overtake Gordon’s Bridge north of Sartell during April, 1965." (Photo: Courtesy of Stearns History Museum).


Extreme Weather On The Rise. In spite of major swarms of tornadoes or landfalling hurricanes, 2014 was still a very expensive year. Here's an excerpt from The Center for American Progress: "The United States experienced eight severe weather, flood, and drought events in 2014, each causing at least $1 billion in damage across 35 states. Overall, these disasters caused more than $19 billion in damage and took 65 human lives. Building off of previous analysis, the Center for American Progress looked at disaster data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency,  and Aon Benfield over the past four years and found that:

  • There were 42 extreme weather events that each caused at least $1 billion in damage.
  • These extreme weather events caused 1,286 fatalities and $227 billion in economic losses across 44 states..."

Map credit above: NOAA NCDC.


Xenia Tornado A Vivid Memory 41 Years later. WDTN in Dayton, Ohio has the story - here's the introduction: "It only took five minutes.  The damage was widespread and deadly. Friday, April 3, 2015 marks the 41st anniversary of the Xenia tornado. The F-5 tornado swept 300 mile per hour winds through the Greene County city, killing 32 people and injuring more than 1,100 more.  It caused $100-million in damage. Images of homes flattened, trees stripped down to nothing and stunned victims are as fresh today as they were in 1974. Signs of hope promising to rebuild were erected by citizens, scrawled out in spray paint..." (Photo credit: National Weather Service).


92% of Minnesota in Moderate Drought. O.K. To be precise it's 91.94% - up from 88.82% a week ago. A year ago only 18% of the state was in moderate drought. Precipitation has been consistently below average since June of 2014, which was the wettest month, statewide, in recorded Minnesota history. All or nothing. The latest Drought Monitor is here.


March Weather Highlights. Here's an excerpt of a good summary of March weather across the great state of Minnesota from the local DNR:

  • March monthly precipitation totals were below historical averages across Minnesota. Monthly precipitation totals ranged from one-half inch to one and one-half inches below the long-term average.
  • The U. S. Drought Monitor indicates that Moderate Drought conditions exist over 91% of Minnesota's landscape. The lack of snow during the 2014-2015 winter, combined with the dry early-spring weather, has led to precipitation deficits of three to five inches below average across the state since October 1st.
  • Many lakes in the southern one-half of Minnesota are now free of ice. Lake ice-out dates for these lakes were one to two weeks earlier than the historical median.
  • The potential for wildfires is currently rated by DNR Forestry as Very High to Extreme across most of Minnesota. Historically, 80 percent of all wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May.

Western U.S. Cities Had Hottest March on Record. Here's an excerpt from Fox News: "...With less rain and snow to provide water to drought-stricken California, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday ordered officials to impose statewide mandatory water restrictions for the first time. Surveyors found the lowest snow level in the Sierra Nevada snowpack in 65 years of record-keeping. "We've had the same pattern for the past two winters," Boldt said. He said the high pressure "can be knocked out of the way temporarily ... but it pops back into place..."


Californians Who Conserved Fear State Can't Overcome Those Who Did Not. Get ready for Water Wars. Here's a clip from a New York Times article: "...In a state accustomed to cycles of drought and perennial water fights, the need for such drastic cuts has highlighted discord between cities and agricultural water users (who use about 80 percent of the developed water supply), between California’s wetter north that pumps water to its drier south, and between water’s frugal and spendthrift users..."

* At least 37% of the USA is in moderate drought or worse as of March 31. Click here for an animated time line showing the intensification of drought since December.


The Real Cost of California's Drought. Not pricing water correctly - where have we heard that before (CO2). Here's an excerpt from Bloomberg View: "...I've seen a lot of apocalyptic writing about California only having a year of water left (not true),  and I've heard some idle talk about whether California can continue to grow. But California's problem is not that it doesn't have enough water to support its population. Rather, the problem is that its population uses more water than it has to. And the reason people do this is that water in California is seriously underpriced, as Marginal Revolution's Alex Tabarrok notes..."

Photo credit above: "Water sprinklers are used at Heartwell Park in Long Beach, Calif., on Thursday, April 2, 2015. California Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday, ordered a 25 percent overall cutback in water use by cities and towns, but not farms, in the most sweeping drought measures ever undertaken by the nation's most populous state." (AP Photo/Nick Ut)


New Terminology from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. Fox17 has a good explainer recapping some of the new threat levels from SPC; here's a clip: "...The SPC recently added marginal and enhanced to the list. “A marginal risk, which is the first new category is basically an average ordinary thunderstorm day for us here in lower Michigan” explains Jim Maczko warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service of Grand Rapids, “But that each of those thunderstorms will have the potential to produce some damaging winds and maybe large hail. we’re not expecting a big outbreak in that case.” Maczko adds, “Enhanced risk for us is we’re going to have quite a bit of severe weather..."


The EPA, Pesticides and Honey Bee Declines. Here's an update from Huffington Post: "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Thursday it was unlikely to approve new or expanded uses of certain pesticides while it evaluates the risks they may pose to honey bees. The so-called neonicotinoid pesticides are routinely used in agriculture and applied to plants and trees in gardens and parks. But their widespread use has come under scrutiny in recent years after a drop in the number of honey bees and other pollinating insects, which play key roles in food production..."


Stunning Views of Earth From Space. Here's a link to a breathtaking video from the ISS, the International Space Station, courtesy of The New York Times: "The International Space Station is as far as humans go in space these days, but it is at just the right distance to capture astonishing images of Earth."


Everything You Need To Know About Flying Virgin Galactic. For 250K and change you too can venture to the edge of space. 700+ people have already signed up. Vanity Fair explains; here's the intro: "Commercial passenger service to space is a difficult proposition. To succeed, it has to contend with the pull of gravity, violent rocket-propelled accelerations, heavy vibrations, supersonic speeds and shock waves, vertical climbs, the lethality of the outside environment, and the problems of deceleration and heating during re-entry into the atmosphere. It has to do this safely, reliably, repeatedly, and perhaps profitably, while carrying ordinary passengers in ordinary clothes, who, if they are traveling point-to-point, will want to bring along ordinary luggage as well..."

Photo credit above: "Richard Branson in Mojave, California, in 2010. Behind him, SpaceShipTwo hangs from the twin-fuselage mother ship, WhiteKnightTwo." Photograph by Jonas Fredwall Karlsson.


iPhone Killer: The Secret History of the Apple Watch. WIRED has another terrific behind-the-scenes article; here's the intro: "In early 2013, Kevin Lynch accepted a job offer from Apple. Funny thing about the offer: It didn’t say what he would be doing. So intense is Apple’s secrecy that all Lynch knew was his vague title, vice president of technology, and that he’d be working on something completely new..."


Are Aliens Behind Mysterious Radio Bursts? Scientists Weigh In. To paraphrase George Carlin, don't sweat the slush or thundershowers! We may have bigger issues. Cue the theme from X-Files. Here's an excerpt of a head-scratcher of a story at Huffington Post: "What are those things? For the past eight years, astronomers have been scratching their heads over a series of strange radio signals emanating from somewhere in the cosmos. And now, the mystery has deepened. A new study shows that the so-called "fast radio bursts" follow a weirdly specific pattern -- a finding that the researchers behind the study say "is very hard to explain..."


43 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.

51 F. average high on April 3.

40 F. high on April 3, 2014.

+2.7 F. March temperatures in the Twin Cities were nearly 3F. warmer than average.

April 3 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: Twin Cities National Weather Service:

1999: Ice storm hits Duluth and the Arrowhead. An 800 foot television tower in Duluth collapsed due to the weight of the ice.

1982: A sharp cold front causes the temperature at Lamberton in Redwood County to drop from 78 to 7 degrees. This 71 degree change in 24 hours is the maximum 24-hour temperature change in Minnesota.

1837: Snowstorm rages for four days at Ft. Snelling and dumps 9 inches.


TODAY: Clouds increase, milder breeze. Winds: SW 8. High: 55

SATURDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, chilly. Low: 37

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, temperatures close to average. High: 54

MONDAY: Rain may mix with snow at night. Wake-up: 34. High: 41

TUESDAY: A few light rain showers. Wake-up: 38. High: 43

WEDNESDAY: More clouds than sun, a drier day. Wake-up: 33. High: 53

THURSDAY: Mostly gray, rain stays south. Wake-up: 40. High: 56

FRIDAY: Unsettled, showers likely far south. Wake-up: 38. High: 54


Climate Stories....

California Facing Extreme Heat Waves and Rising Seas. The latest edition of "Risky Business", focused on the business risks of climate change, focuses on California. Here's an excerpt of a story summary at Bloomberg Business: "...The average number of days with temperatures higher than 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) may double or even triple by the end of the century, threatening one of the world’s richest agricultural regions. At the same time, $19 billion in coastal property will likely disappear as sea levels rise, the study found. The report is the third from the Risky Business Project, a nonprofit partnership of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Paulson Institute and TomKat Charitable Trust. It suggests California can reduce these risks if policy makers and business leaders cooperate to reduce emissions driving global warming and adapt to climate change..."

* The Risky Business Report focused on California is here.


Epic California Drought is Preview of Future Global Warming Mega-Droughts. Alarmist hype? Stay tuned. Here's an excerpt from an Andrew Freedman story at Mashable: "...There are two crucial differences between the droughts that occurred a millennium ago and modern drought events, however. The first is obvious: There are now about 38 million thirsty Californians living across the state, watering their lawns and golf courses, and irrigating crops in what is the most agriculturally productive state in the country. The second has been clear to climate scientists for years, but is just now gaining more public recognition. We are now seeing the rise of a new, supercharged type of drought, in which global warming-related temperature extremes combine with dry conditions to transform what would otherwise be an ordinary drought event into a far more severe event..."

Photo credit above: "Boats are docked at San Pablo Reservoir Recreation Area in El Sobrante, Calif., Thursday, April 2, 2015. A spokeswoman for the East Bay Municipal Utility District said that the reservoir is about half full. California Gov. Jerry Brown ordered officials Wednesday, April 1, 2015 to impose statewide mandatory water restrictions for the first time in history as surveyors found the lowest snow level in the Sierra Nevada snowpack in 65 years of record-keeping." (AP Photo/Eric Risberg).


Hot Hands: Fingerprints of Climate Change All Over California Drought. Meteorologist Jason Samenow has an explainer at Capital Weather Gang; here's a snippet: "...The added heat from climate warming acts to intensify the drought in important ways:

* When it’s warmer, the evaporation of water speeds up, allowing the ground to heat up faster, which then evaporates more water in a vicious cycle which continues until meaningful rain stops it.

* When it’s warmer, the snow season shortens. In other words, snow starts falling later in the fall and stops falling earlier in the spring, and snowpack declines..."

File photo above: NOAA.


Long-Awaited "Jump" in Global Warming Now Appears "Imminent". The pause in (atmospheric) warming may be ending, according to a post at ThinkProgress; here's the introduction: "We may be witnessing the start of the long-awaited jump in global temperatures. There is “a vast and growing body of research,” as Climate Central explained in February. “Humanity is about to experience a historically unprecedented spike in temperatures.” A March study, “Near-term acceleration in the rate of temperature change,” makes clear that an actual acceleration in the rate of global warming is imminent — with Arctic warming rising a stunning 1°F per decade by the 2020s..."

Graphic credit above: "NASA temperature data dispel the myth of a recent slow-down in long-term warming trend. But there was a big jump in temps during the mid-1990s. Many scientists believe another jump is “imminent.’"


What Do Conservative Policy Intellectuals Think About Climate Change? Grist has the article - here's a link and brief excerpt: "...But what about conservative intellectuals? Do they have anything more to offer? In an attempt to find out, I looked through their op-eds, opinion magazines, and policy journals. I found that most of them fall into three broad categories: those who argue for adaptation instead of trying to stop climate change (the Adapters), the anguished advocates of a carbon tax (the Handwringers), and those who simply deny climate science (the Deans of Denialism)..."


Siberia's Permafrost is Exploding. Is Alaska's Next? Meteorologist Eric Holthaus has the story at Slate; here's an excerpt: "...According to measurements made by Russian scientists, methane concentration at the bottom of one of the holes was thousands of times higher than in the regular atmosphere. A more thorough recent expedition identified “dozens” of new holes, all of which apparently formed in the last year or two. The Siberian holes draw into question the near-term stability of Arctic permafrost, which traps enough carbon, if fully unleashed, to double atmospheric concentrations and potentially push global warming into a frightening new phase..." (File photo: Siberian Times).


Communicating Climate Change: Focus on Solutions. Here's an excerpt of a story at MIT News: "...Such contrasts between rhetoric and action provide a ray of hope, panelists said. Drezen Prelec, the Digital Equipment Corp. Leaders for Global Operations Professor of Management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, said that sudden and unexpected shifts in public opinion — on issues such as smoking and gay marriage — show that rapid changes are possible, even in the face of strong resistance from political leaders. Judith Layzer, a professor of environmental policy in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, said that politicians will begin to take action on issues such as limiting greenhouse-gas emissions when it becomes clear that their constituents take the issue seriously enough to vote accordingly..."

Photo credit above: "During a discussion on communicating climate change, audience members were able to submit questions and respond to poll questions using a smartphone app." Photo: Justin Knight.


Why Corporate America Is Reluctant To Take a Stand on Climate Action. Thank God for leadership from companies like Google, Mars and Starbucks. Here's a snippet of a Guardian story explaining the apparent reluctance of other Fortune 500 companies to back the EPA's new Clean Power Act: "...Silence isn’t neutral,” says Anne Kelly of Ceres, who is organizing companies to support the EPA. The lack of public support could jeopardize the clean power plan, and – if the US isn’t able to make a strong climate commitment as a result – could ultimately undermine the success of the global climate talks in Paris this year. The companies that won’t get involved say it’s because the regulation of power plant emissions is not core to their business. Environmentalists maintain that climate change is everybody’s business..."


Antarctica's Record High Temp Bodes Ill for Ice. Here's a snippet from a Climate Central story: "...A study last year by Scambos and others showed that unusually warm air was likely the trigger of the 2002 collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf. (Warming waters seeping in below ice shelves around the continent have also been linked to thinning over the past few decades.) That precedent makes Scambos and others worried about the fate of the remaining ice shelves of the peninsula. Adding to those worries is research, done in part by the British Antarctic Survey, that suggests Chinook events could become more common or more intense at the peninsula as the westerly winds that whip around the continent intensify, possibly because of climate change..."

Image credit above: "Long-term trends in yearly surface temperatures across Antarctica from 1981-2007."
Credit: NASA


The Arctic Climate Threat That Nobody Is Even Talking About Yet. Positive feedbacks and tipping points. We are in uncharted waters. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "...The emission of carbon from thawing permafrost is what scientists call a “positive feedback.” More global warming could cause more thawing of Arctic permafrost, leading to more emissions of carbon into the atmosphere, leading to more warming and more thawing of Arctic permafrost — this does not end in a good place..."

File photo: USGS.


Social Science are Best Hope For Ending Debates Over Climate Change. In the end it's not about the science or the data or the mounting evidence. It's about how we see the world. So argues an interesting post at The Conversation; here's an excerpt: "...On the one side, this is all a hoax, humans have no impact on the climate and nothing unusual is happening. On the other side, this is an imminent crisis, human activity explains all climate changes, and it will devastate life on Earth as we know it. Amidst this acrimonious din, scientists are trying to explain the complexity of the issue. To reach some form of social consensus on this issue, we must recognize that the public debate over climate change in the United States today is not about carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas models; it is about opposing cultural values and worldviews through which that science is viewed..."