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April Showers Bring Snow Showers (Red River Valley). 60s Early Next Week

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.




Future Radar. NAM model guidance from NOAA suggests a slush mix over much of western Minnesota with accumulating snow for the Red River Valley. Graphics: Praedictix and AerisWeather.



ECMWF Snowfall Potential. A (very) plowable snowfall is shaping up for the Red River Valley, ECMWF (European) guidance showing 10" of snow for far northwestern Minnesota. Ah, spring. Map: WeatherBell.









Spash of Warmth Early Next Week. After a raw Friday Monday and Tuesday of next week should feel good with 60s, even an outside shot at 70F Tuesday afternoon if the sun is out for a few hours. Strong T-storms may pop up in response to the surge of warmth and moisture. ECMWF (top) and GFS (bottom) courtesy of WeatherBell.

Mid-Month Relapse. Nothing arctic is brewing, but we may get slapped around by a few Canadian cold fronts within a couple of weeks. That said, the sun is too high in the sky now for it to stay cold for long.

Relentless Floods. Although the probability of widespread/extreme river flooding similar to 2019 has fallen in recent weeks, it's premature to let our guard down right now. NASA's Earth Observatory has perspective: "...With the arrival of the spring flood season, millions of Americans living near rivers in the Midwest and Great Plains will be warily watching the weather. In parts of South Dakota, however, last year’s flood season never really ended. While federal forecasters do not expect flooding in 2020 to be as severe or prolonged as during record-breaking 2019 floods, they do predict major to moderate floods in 23 states, especially North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. With many parts of these states coming off their wettest years on record, soils are already saturated. In South Dakota in 2019, many areas received about twice the average amount of precipitation. Rain and snowfall have been so relentless that at least one river has been stuck at flood stage for more than a year..."


Abnormally Warm Gulf of Mexico Could Intensify Thunderstorms and Hurricane Seasons. The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has the story - here's the introduction: "Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are running more than three degrees above average, increasing the prospects for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes this spring and potentially stronger hurricane activity in the summer and fall. The last time Gulf of Mexico waters were similarly warm in 2017, it coincided with an above-average tornado season through the spring, and then Category 4 Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas Gulf Coast at the end of summer. The balmy gulf waters have already contributed to abnormal warmth across the Deep South, where virtually the entirety of the Interstate 10 corridor through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia is wrapping up one of its top five warmest Marches on record. Numerous records have toppled, with some cities soaring into the 90s..."
 
Map credit: "Current Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperature difference from normal." (WeatherBell).


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..."

Image credit: Courtesy of European Space Agency.



#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.



Are We Living in a Simulated World? I've heard this before, just not in The Wall Street Journal. Here's the intro: "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)." Photo: Warner Bros/Everett Collection.


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


Climate Stories...

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..."

Showery Spell into Friday - 60s and Thunder Early Next Week

Good News For Ducks and Worms: Showery Spell Into Friday

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts" said Winston Churchill. Our bombs and bullets are futile against such an unseen, microscopic enemy as COVID-19.

History shows that we always (eventually) rise to the occasion. We find a viable way forward. But that will require sacrifice, humility, empathy and charity - in equal measures. The Pandemic of 2020 will change us in ways we can't even imagine.

I'm ready for some good news. We've picked up 4 hours of daylight since December 21. The threat of widespread river flooding has diminished. Ice is coming off lakes earlier than last year and odds favor a warmer, drier summer season.

You may bump into a stray shower today, with more widespread showers Thursday and Friday. Some quarter to half inch rainfall amounts are possible with a dash of ice up north.

We dry out over the weekend and a surge of humid, 60-degree air may spark a few hefty thunderstorms early next week. ECMWF is predicting 70F next Tuesday - we'll see.

More cool fronts are inevitable, but nothing wintry. That said, don't retire your heavy jacket yet.




Slushy Possibilities Out West. Models suggest a light icy mix up north and a few inches of snow from the Red River Valley westward across the Dakotas.  Most of Minnesota will experience rain showers, with heaviest precipitation amounts north/west of the Twin Cities. Map sequence: Praedictix and AerisWeather.






Slow Warming Trend. Temperatures slowly moderate over the weekend, reaching 60s Monday and Tuesday of next week with a rise in humidity and a few T-storms possible the first half of next week.



Spring In Your Step Early Next Week? Quick, buy a Lotto ticket. Both ECMWF (top) and GFS (bottom) are predicting a high of 72F next Tuesday. Temperatures should easily be 10-20F above average early next week before a cooling trend sets in. Meteograms: WeatherBell.

Cooler Phase by Mid-April? After an unusually mild start to April GFS guidance is hinting at a correction by mid-month, although the scope and duration of any cool-down is very much up in the air. April: shorts and heavy jackets in the same closet.

Weather Service: EF-1 Tornado Struck Southwestern Wisconsin. Tornadoes in March are rare, but possible at this latitude. Star Tribune has details: "The National Weather Service in La Crosse confirms that an EF-1 tornado struck southwestern Wisconsin over the weekend, damaging barns and outbuidings but causing no injuries. The tornado struck around 8:30 p.m. Saturday near Potosi, in Grant County, and was on the ground for about five minutes, traveling about 7 miles (11 kilometers). The weather service says barns and trees were damaged and a house sustained minor damage, but no injuries were reported."


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..."

Image credit: Courtesy of European Space Agency.


Are We Living in a Simulated World? I've heard this before, just not in The Wall Street Journal. Here's the intro: "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)." Photo: Warner Bros/Everett Collection.


54 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

49 F. average high temperature on March 31 at MSP.

38 F. high on March 31, 2019.

April 1, 1882: A record high of 75 degrees is set at Minneapolis.



WEDNESDAY: More clouds, stray shower. Winds: SE 15-25. High: 55

THURSDAY: Heavier showers, possible T-storm. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 43. High: 62

FRIDAY: Showery rains slowly taper. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 39. High: 47

SATURDAY: Sunny peeks, light jacket weather. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 30. High: 48

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, trending milder. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 34. High: 59

MONDAY: Humid. Feels like spring again. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 45. High: 67

TUESDAY: Sticky with a few strong T-storms possible. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 51. High: 69


Climate Stories...

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..."


American Climate: She Thought She Could Ride Out the Storm, Her Daughter Said. It Was a Fatal Mistake. Here's an excerpt of another powerful story in an ongoing series at InsideClimate News: "...It had been 22 years since Hurricane Opal hit the region. Ahead of that storm, Agnes fled Mexico Beach and drove six hours out of town. When she returned, her home was hardly damaged. Gina suspects this is the reason that her mother decided not to evacuate when Michael was headed their way. "The regret is that I didn't realize she was staying in her home," Gina said. "I wish that I could have known that. But I honestly don't think I would have been able to do anything." Although scientists can't say that a specific hurricane is linked to climate change, studies show that warmer ocean temperatures fuel more dangerous hurricanes, making Category 4 and 5 storms more frequent, with higher rainfall. Warming global temperatures lead to sea level rise, and higher seas means more severe storm surge during hurricanes..."


Maybe Keep It In The Ground?: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: "A glut in global oil supply amid a deep price drop and decreased demand from the coronavirus means that the world is quickly running out of storage facilities for its oil, analysts say. As Saudi Arabia and Russia remain tangled in a price war begun in February, where both countries refuse to slow production, analysts told Fortune that more than 75% of storage sites are already full and the world could run out of places to put the oil by April. Oil currently in production “will just move from a tank in Saudi, probably, into someone else’s tank or just sit on a vessel,” analyst Alexander Booth told the New York Times. “It is certainly not needed.” (Fortune, New York Times $)

Image credit: Clean Technica.


One Planet: The Impact Of Climate Change on Infectious Diseases. KALW.org in San Francisco has an interview; here's the intro: "On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, we're discussing the links between climate change and infectious diseases. According to the World Health Organization, environmental threats to human health include "climate changes in ecosystems due to loss of biodiversity, supplies of freshwater, land degradation, urbanization, and stresses on food-producing systems." How is the climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity impacting the spread of infectious diseases?..."