April Showers Bring Snow Plowers (Red River Valley)
Poet T.S. Eliot insists that April is the cruelest month. No argument there, especially this year, in the Age of Pandemic. I surf waves of panic, punctuated by flickers of dread and boredom. How long will we be marooned at home? Will we be safe? We call loved ones, offering up words of encouragement, while watching the world on our screens with a detached, surreal sense of horror.
This too shall pass, but not nearly fast enough.
If it's any consolation: no blizzards, floods or tornadoes are imminent as we limp into an early spring for much of Minnesota.
This next frontal passage doesn't look quite as wet, but a few showers are possible anytime today into midday Friday. Most of the state will enjoy liquid precipitation, but as much as 10 inches of snow may plaster Grand Forks and Crookston. Ouch.
We dry out this weekend with a warming trend early next week. 60s will feel good Monday and Tuesday, before it cools off again.
Yes, April can be cruel, but I'll keep searching for sunny days, daffodils and warm fronts.
Photo credit above: Pete Schenk.
Watches and Warnings. Full-blown Winter Storm Warnings are up for far western Minnesota and much of the Dakotas, with Winter Storm Watches from Bemidji to Alexandria southward to Madison. The farther north and west you drive, the better the odds of running into plowable snowfall amounts. Map: Praedictix and AerisWeather.
The Pandemic Has Led to a Huge, Global Drop in Air Pollution. WIRED.com (paywall) reports: "The coronavirus pandemic is shutting down industrial activity and temporarily slashing air pollution levels around the world, satellite imagery from the European Space Agency shows. One expert said the sudden shift represented the “largest-scale experiment ever,” in terms of the reduction of industrial emissions. Readings from ESA’s Sentinel-5P satellite show that over the past six weeks, levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over cities and industrial clusters in Asia and Europe were markedly lower than in the same period last year. Nitrogen dioxide is produced from car engines, power plants and other industrial processes and is thought to exacerbate respiratory illnesses such as asthma..."
#PlasticsKnew: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: "The plastic industry pushed recycling on the American public despite knowing the process was not effective in order to sell more plastic products, a new investigative partnership between NPR and Frontline has found. Internal records uncovered by NPR and Frontline show that the plastics industry knew as early as the 1970s that widespread recycling was not economically viable, but continued to spend millions of dollars in public relations campaigns, ads and charitable projects to promote the practice. "The feeling was the plastics industry was under fire, we got to do what it takes to take the heat off, because we want to continue to make plastic products," former industry leader Larry Thomas told NPR and Frontline. "If the public thinks the recycling is working, then they're not going to be as concerned about the environment." (NPR/Frontline)
Image credit: World Resources Institute.
The idea that the world we experience is an illusion being fed to us by powerful computers, popularized by the “Matrix” movies, is just crazy enough to be worth taking seriously. But if we’re going to be serious, it is important to distinguish between two very different questions. First: Could there be a richly experienced mental world that is not made of matter, as it appears to be, but of abstract data? And second: Is the world we actually experience—the universe as described by the laws of physics and the facts of cosmology—such a world? The answer to the first question is pretty surely yes. In fact, humans occupy self-generated mind-worlds for an hour or two each day, when we dream during REM sleep. The objects we see in dreams are just patterns of electrical excitation in our brains. Analogously, virtual reality tunes us into data streams that we perceive as objects..."
Image credit: "Keanu Reeves in ‘The Matrix Reloaded’ (2003)..
55 F. high yesterday at MSP.
50 F. average Twin Cities high temperature on April 1.
45 F. high on April 1, 2019.
April 2, 2001: Jumbo-sized snowflakes fall in east central Minnesota and west central Wisconsin. 2.5 to 2.75 inch flakes measured in Maplewood.
April 2, 1920: The temperature falls to 8 degrees in Pipestone. The high the day before was 74.
THURSDAY: Unsettled, few showers. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 55
FRIDAY: Colder wind, showers slowly taper. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 37. High: 39 (falling)
SATURDAY: Partly sunny and dry. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 26. HIgh: near 50
SUNDAY: Clouds increase, a bit milder. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 35. High: 58
MONDAY: Milder with a passing shower. Winds: E 7-12. Wake-up: 45. High: 64
TUESDAY: Unsettled, shower or T-shower. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 51. High: 66
WEDNESDAY: Another shower, then cooling off. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 44. High: 58
Wind, Solar Farms Are Seen as Havens in Coronavirus Storm. The Wall Street Journal reports: "Wind and solar farms are attracting interest from investors hungry for low-risk, stable-yield opportunities at a time of extraordinary market volatility. That interest is a boon for renewable projects, and could give them a financial boost in coming months and years. However, developers could face challenges in getting additional new projects financed and built amid the turmoil created by the new coronavirus. It might seem an odd time for a renewable-energy uptick, given the economic slowdown and a historic crash in oil prices that is making fossil fuels cheap. But wind and solar farms experienced a similar surge after the 2008 financial crisis, when investors seized on the projects as safe-harbor investments with yields in the mid-single-digit percentages..."
File image: Midwest Energy News.
Special Issue: How We Will All Solve the Climate Crisis. WIRED.com (paywall) has a terrific series on climate change solutions that you might want to check out: "...Yes, we did end up taking some liberties with the question, stretching it in some ways and constraining it in others. We primarily focused on technology that exists today, so there are probably fewer wizarding-world-type projects than my children would like. And we narrowed the scope of our assignments to what we consider the five most crucial areas: how we eat, how we move around, how we keep the lights on, how we capture carbon, and how we can set up institutions that can take the risks needed to solve this problem. Children who are now in booster seats, all around the world, are going to be inventing solutions to the crisis, and they'll need support, investment, and, yes, well-designed capitalism to get them off the ground. Even we optimists at WIRED know this is a very, very bad situation—likely the most complex problem humans have ever faced..."
Obama Slams Rollback of Vehicle Emission Standards in Rare Rebuke of Trump. Here's an excerpt from CNN.com: "Former President Barack Obama issued a rare criticism of the Trump administration Tuesday after it announced it's rolling back his signature fuel standards aimed at combating the climate crisis, saying Americans "have to demand better" of their elected leaders. "We've seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic. We can't afford any more consequences of climate denial. All of us, especially young people, have to demand better of our government at every level and vote this fall," Obama wrote in a tweet. The comment is notable as the former President seldom publicly criticizes his successor, who has focused on undoing his legacy -- particularly his environmental and climate policies..."
Health Experts Call Virus Pandemic a Window Into Future Climate Threats. Reuters has the story; here's the intro: "The coronavirus pandemic is a preview of the types of global health threats that will emerge as the planet becomes hotter, and how it is tackled has implications for dealing with climate threats as well, health experts said on Tuesday. “With COVID-19, we can see the urgency of it more readily than some of the impacts of the climate crisis,” said Mandeep Dhaliwal, director for HIV, health and development for the United Nations Development Programme. But in both cases, “we will not be able to ignore anymore that we need to do something about the human activity that’s driving this,” she said during an online panel, part of this week’s Skoll Forum on Social Entrepreneurship..."
File image: NASA.
U.S. to Announce Rollback of Auto Pollution Rules, a Key Effort to Fight Climate Change. Here's the intro to a New York Times summary: "The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to announce its final rule to rollback Obama-era automobile fuel efficiency standards, relaxing efforts to limit climate-warming tailpipe pollution and virtually undoing the government’s biggest effort to combat climate change. The new rule, written by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, would allow cars on American roads to emit nearly a billion tons more carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the vehicles than they would have under the Obama standards and hundreds of millions of tons more than will be emitted under standards being implemented in Europe and Asia..."
File image: EPA.
How Climate Experts Think About Raising Children Who Will Inherit a Planet in Crisis. A story at The Washington Post made me do a double-take: "...What to do with that — a world that is breaking down, and a child who is growing up? Parents are meant to be guardians and guides, the ones to help their offspring make sense of the present and envision a future. Philosophically, and practically, this is a daunting task in the best of times — and these are not the best of times, particularly if one happens to be a climate scientist, or an environmental justice activist, or anyone whose profession demands a constant, clear-eyed acknowledgment of the damage wrought by the climate crisis..."