Minnesota: Land of Abundant Fresh Water

Well, the drought is over. We have that going for us this year, with water levels on many area lakes up 1-2 feet since mid-March, and ample soil moisture for farmers. Now if it can only stay dry enough for them to get out into their fields.

In a world of resource-haves and have-nots, Minnesota has something much of the planet will covet in decades to come: an abundant supply of clean water locked up in its lakes, rivers and aquifers. Our water supplies will be under stress as warming continues, but we have water-wealth.

After tripping over puddles with morning showers, skies dry out and brighten up later today. No way to spin this: the weekend will be...brisk. Saturday will offer up a cloud-cluttered sky with 50s. Winds ease a bit on Sunday with sunny breaks. Up north a little frost is possible on area docks and daffodils.

A warming trend arrives next week with 70s for Memorial Day Weekend. NOAA's GFS model promises 80s the first week of June. La Nina is hanging on - so are the cool fronts this year.

The Staggering Rise of Minnesota's Most Famous Lakes This Spring. Sven Sundgaard has some eye-popping details at Bring Me The News: "...Lake of the Woods is up 3-4 feet this spring. Upper and Lower Red Lakes are up 2 feet. The increases are less as you go south but still high. Lake Mille Lacs, for example, is up almost 1.5 feet and Lake Minnetonka is up a foot. The BIG question you might have is what about the BIG lake? It takes A LOT of water to raise the levels of Lake Superior since it's such a large surface area. And weather can vary substantially on the west or east side of it since there's over 350 miles between Duluth and Sault Ste. Marie..."

Drying Out Today. Heaviest rains fell south and east of MSP yesterday and last night, and a westerly wind (gusting up to 30 mph at times) will slowly dry us out today with 60s and peeks of sunshine.

April Flashback This Weekend. 50s on Saturday and Sunday? Perfectly normal for the middle of April. At least it'll be dry (fewer bugs) and temperatures do rebound into the 60s next week with a bump of warmth just in time for the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend.

Trending Warmer. Model guidance carves out a massive high pressure ridge centered over the southeastern USA by early June, suggesting an expansion of the heatwave into much of the eastern USA in coming weeks, with unusually cool, wet weather lingering for the Pacific Northwest.

Only 35% of Minnesota's Corn Crop Has Been Planted So Far - Roughly Half the 5-Year Average. Star Tribune has details: "Thunderstorms that walloped southwestern Minnesota farms last week — downing grain bins, flooding fields and killing two people — interrupted what otherwise would've been a small, but not insignificant kickoff to spring planting for the state's corn crop. As of Monday, farmers have planted 35% of Minnesota's corn, according to the weekly crop progress report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). That trails the 5-year average (72%) but is nearly a four-fold increase from last week, when only 9% of the state's top crop was in the ground..."

6 Confirmed Minnesota Tornadoes In Last Wednesday's Derecho. Bring Me The News has details: "The National Weather Service in Grand Forks and Twin Cities has confirmed seven tornadoes that touched down in western Minnesota and North Dakota during last week's storms. The twisters ranged from EF-0 to EF-2, according to reports. Six of the seven touched down in Minnesota. According to NWS-GF:

– The first tornado happened in Charlesville, in Minnesota's Grant County. It lasted for about three minutes, ending at 7:10 p.m. near Elbow Lake and had reached estimated winds of 100 mph. The weather service said several trees limbs were broken from the tornado. Two power poles were noted to be cracked and another two were leaning after the storm. This funnel of wind was estimated to be at an EF-1 level..."

Warm Bias This Summer? Hard to imagine after our slow-motion spring, but nothing would surprise me at this point. The epicenter of heat: New England and the Intermountain West.

Model Consensus: Hotter Than Normal Summer for Most of the USA. It's good to be skeptical (about everything these days) but NOAA's suite of longer range models show a strong warm bias from June into August. Place your bets.

Loop Current May Increase Potential for Stronger Atlantic Hurricanes. MarketWatch has the story: "...The Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1, and the Gulf of Mexico is already warmer than average. Even more worrying is a current of warm tropical water that is looping unusually far into the Gulf for this time of year, with the power to turn tropical storms into monster hurricanes. It's called the Loop Current, and it's the 800-pound gorilla of Gulf hurricane risks. When the Loop Current reaches this far north this early in the hurricane season—especially during what's forecast to be a busy season—it can spell disaster for folks along the Northern Gulf Coast, from Texas to Florida..."

Ford May Have Just Changed Our Electric-Vehicle Future. Check out an Op-Ed at The Washington Post (paywall); here's an excerpt: "...But the breakthrough moment — the event that turns gradual change into a seismic shift — might only now be at hand. Ford Motor Co., one of the oldest names in the transportation business, is coming out with an all-electric pickup truck. After nibbling at the edges of America's car culture, the electric revolution is going after the main course. It's difficult to overstate the importance of Ford's F-series trucks, most notably the F-150. Despite a hiccup in manufacturing last year caused by a pandemic-related shortage in microchips, the trucks finished 2021 as the best-selling vehicles in the United States for the 45th year in a row. It's a streak that's older than "Star Wars..."

GM to Launch Corvette EV. It promises to be wicked-fast, and all-electric. Automotive News reports: "General Motors will launch electrified versions of the Chevrolet Corvette sports car starting next year, GM President Mark Reuss said Monday. Reuss told CNBC that GM will launch an "electrified" version of the Corvette in 2023, followed by a fully electric version later. The all-electric Corvette will be powered by GM's proprietary Ultium battery platform. In September 2020, GM reassigned engineers who worked on the midengine Corvette to an EV team in an effort to give future EVs a high-performance flair..."

The Best Scenic Drive In Every State. For Minnesota the consensus is Highway 61 along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Thrillist has the magic list: "...Hugging the frigid coast of Lake Superior, this northern Minnesota wonderland is a rat-a-tat tour of the state's most stunning sights, which whiz by with alarming speed as you wind through dense forests and up and down roller coaster hills. The trip starts in the unexpectedly vibrant Duluth before firing you along the waters, where you'll catch sights like the iconic Split Rock Lighthouse, the funky little Swedish-inspired town of Lutsen, and enough waterfalls and lake overlooks to fill a thousand screensavers. Plan to make it a multi-day adventure: You'll absolutely want to explore the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Grand Marais. Plus, the North Shore is overflowing with great breweries, which all but demand frequent—and overnight—stop-offs to enjoy..."

A Pizza Like No Other. Not sure what to make of this post from SoraNews24: "In the cut-throat world of pizza delivery services, current king of the chains Domino's has been battling it out with Pizza Hut for years, as each one tries to outdo the other with unusual offers to attract customers. In Taiwan, Pizza Hut is closing in on the competition with a new creation called the "No. 1 Salted Chicken Pizza in Taiwan". While the name seems simple, everything about this pizza is not, as it contains some seemingly disparate star ingredients — Taiwanese fried chicken (aka popcorn chicken), Oreo biscuits, and fried squid rings..."

Big Mac Warning. Hey, I like Big Macs (in moderation). Whatever makes you happy. Here's a clip from HuffPost Life: "When it comes to Big Macs, Don Gorske is a creature of habit. That's because the Wisconsin resident has eaten one almost every day for 50 years ― more than 32,000 as of last August, according to Guinness World Records. The streak started on May 17, 1972, when Gorske bought a car from his dad and went to McDonald's on his first drive to pick up one of the fast food chain's signature double-decker hamburgers, according to FDL Reporter. "In that moment I said, 'I'm going to probably eat these for the rest of my life,'" Gorske told Guinness last year..."

72 F. Twin Cities high on Thursday.

70 F. Average MSP high on May 19.

77 F. MSP high on May 19, 2021.

May 20, 1892: Very late season snowfall hits central Minnesota. Maple Plain receives 4 inches of snow, with 3 inches falling in Minneapolis. This is the latest significant snow on record for the Twin Cities, and one of the latest widespread snowfalls in Minnesota.

May 20, 1876: A tornado touches down near Ft. Ripley.

FRIDAY: AM showers, some PM sun. Winds: W 15-35. High: 65

SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy, unusually brisk. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 45. High: 54

SUNDAY: A few sunny breaks, cool breeze. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 41. High: 56

MONDAY: Mix of clouds and sunshine. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 45. High: 62

TUESDAY: More clouds, passing shower. Winds: E 7-12. Wake-up: 49. High: 63

WEDNESDAY: Patchy clouds, stray shower. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 50. High: 65

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, a bit milder. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 52. High: near 70

Climate Stories...

Climate Change Has Made India's Heat Wave 100 Times More Likely: UK Weather Service. Details via CNBC.com: "The blistering heat wave in northwest India and Pakistan was made over 100 times more likely because of human-caused climate change, according to a new study published Wednesday by the United Kingdom's national weather service. The extreme temperatures, which began in March, have already set records in the region and have forced millions of people to change how they work and live. India experienced its highest March temperatures and third-highest April temperatures in 122 years of records, and Pakistan has experienced its hottest April on record..."

Can You Even Call Deadly Heat "Extreme" Anymore? An analysis at The New York Times (paywall) caught my eye; here's a clip: "...But just as remarkable as the intensity and duration of the South Asian heat wave is the fact that it is, already, not much of an anomaly at all. We want to call events like this "extreme," but technically we can't, "because they're not rare anymore," Friederike Otto told me, from London, just as the heat wave reached its April peak. Dr. Otto is a senior lecturer at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at the Imperial College of London, whose World Weather Attribution group just published a "state of the science" briefing. Among other things, it concluded that climate change has made every single heat wave in the world both more intense and more likely..."

Climate Change Benchmarks All Set Records Last Year, Report Finds. Axios has the latest: "Key data released Wednesday underscores how swiftly human activities are reshaping the climate. The "State of the Climate" report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a stark reminder for policymakers and business leaders that if the world continues on its current course, climate impacts will escalate in severity and scope. The WMO report confirms the past seven years were the warmest such period on record.

  • 2021 was comparatively cool, at 1.11°C above the pre-industrial level, due to a La Niña event in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
  • Once that event ends, and an inevitable El Niño sets in, a new warmest year will be crowned..."

Foresters Hope "Assisted Migration" Will Preserve Landscapes as The Climate Changes. NPR has the post; here's an excerpt: "...The saplings include a variety of species chosen to see if they will increase the forest's resiliency. One variety of red spruce, especially chosen for its origins in the mountains of West Virginia, will become a test of what scientists call "assisted migration," introducing populations from warmer areas to northern latitudes projected to become hotter and drier in a changing climate. "Grace, you got trouble over there," warns the refuge's forester, Jeremy Goetz, as a deer appears on the far end of the partially-cleared test plot. Besides hungry deer who will snack on unprotected saplings, the refuge also provides habitat for grouse, Canada lynx, moose, and other bird species with declining populations, including a songbird with a bright yellow stomach called a Canada warbler..."

Suspect in Buffalo Rampage Cited "Ecofacism" to Justify Actions. The Washington Post (paywall) reports: "Before 10 people died in a shooting at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday, the alleged gunman wrote a screed citing "ecofascism," an ideology that blames environmental problems on immigration and overpopulation. "I would prefer to call myself a populist," 18-year-old Payton Gendron wrote. "But you can call me an ethno-nationalist eco-fascist national socialist if you want, I wouldn't disagree with you." The 180-page document, which The Climate 202 is not publishing because it could inspire further violence, scapegoats immigrants and minorities for environmental issues such as air pollution, plastic waste and climate change...."

Study: Outdoor Air Pollution is "Largest Existential Threat to Human and Planetary Health". Inside Climate News has a summary; here's the intro: "Since the turn of the century, global deaths attributable to air pollution have increased by more than half, a development that researchers say underscores the impact of pollution as the "largest existential threat to human and planetary health." The findings, part of a study published Tuesday in The Lancet Planetary Health, found that pollution was responsible for an estimated 9 million deaths around the world in 2019. Fully half of those fatalities, 4.5 million deaths, were the result of ambient, or outdoor, air pollution, which is typically emitted by vehicles and industrial sources like power plants and factories. The number of deaths that can be attributed to ambient air pollution has increased by about 55 percent—to 4.5 million from 2.9 million—since the year 2000..."

Pollution Caused 1 In 6 Deaths From 2015-'19: More perspective and links via Climate Nexus: "Pollution killed 9 million people, every year, from 2015 to 2019, even as deaths from indoor air pollution fell due to increases from other sources of pollution, including fossil fuel combustion, a study published this morning in The Lancet Planetary Health reveals. "The bad news is that it's not decreasing," Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program and Global Pollution Observatory at Boston College, told the AP. "We're making gains in the easy stuff and we're seeing the more difficult stuff, which is the ambient (outdoor industrial) air pollution and the chemical pollution, still going up." Death rates are worst in Africa and Asia; the U.S. is the only fully industrialized nation in the top (worst) 10 countries in terms of total pollution deaths. "Exposure to (tiny pollution particles) like that generated from the burning of fossil fuels is causal for heart disease and death." Dr. Renee Salas, an emergency room doctor and Harvard professor who wasn't part of the study, told the AP. While very few deaths are directly attributed to pollution on death certificates, causes of death like heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, other lung issues and diabetes that are "tightly correlated" with pollution by epidemiological studies, and "that cannon of information constitutes causality," Landrigan said. The study counted deaths from numerous types of pollution including water and toxic chemical pollution, but air pollution caused the vast majority of deaths. "While people focus on decreasing their blood pressure and cholesterol," Salas said, "few recognize that the removal of air pollution is an important prescription to improve their heart health." (AP, Washington Post $, Gizmodo, AFP, Deutsche Welle, The Guardian, Forbes, ABC, Reuters, The Hill, The Independent, NBC, Inside Climate News, Wall Street Journal $, BBC)

Hydropower Generation Dipping on the Colorado River System. The Colorado Sun describes how perpetual drought is impacting power generation; here's a clip: "...One of the upsides to hydropower in general is that it can be made available quickly on-demand, essentially flipped on or off by releasing more or less water through a dam. "It's our largest low- or no-carbon emissions energy source that we can turn on and off when we need it," Adrienne Marshall, an assistant professor of geology and geological engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, said. "At the same time, our ability to generate hydropower is significantly threatened by drought." Marshal noted that last year all Western hydropower accounted for about 53% of the renewable energy generated in the Western U.S. and about 16% of total Western grid power generation. (Those renewable numbers, she said, do not count nuclear as renewable.)..."

Shut Down Fossil Fuel Production Sites Early to Avoid Climate Chaos, Says Study. The Guardian explains: "Nearly half of existing fossil fuel production sites need to be shut down early if global heating is to be limited to 1.5C, the internationally agreed goal for avoiding climate catastrophe, according to a new scientific study. The assessment goes beyond the call by the International Energy Agency in 2021 to stop all new fossil fuel development to avoid the worst impacts of global heating, a statement seen as radical at the time. The new research reaches its starker conclusion by not assuming that new technologies will be able to suck huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere to compensate for the burning of coal, oil and gas. Experts said relying on such technologies was a risky gamble..."

New Texas Plan for Federal Hurricane Harvey Aid Again Diverts Money Away from Coast. The Texas Tribune has the post; here's an excerpt: "...After the land office awarded $1 billion of the aid last year, giving the city of Houston nothing, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development accused Bush's office of discriminating against Black and Latino Texans. The land office had an opportunity to correct these inequities as it developed a new spending plan. But an analysis by The Texas Tribune found that the land office is on track to follow a similar pattern as it prepares to allocate the next $1.2 billion of the federal aid. The agency's revised plan will once again send a disproportionately high share of money to inland counties with lower risk of natural disasters. Residents in the counties that will benefit most are also significantly whiter and more conservative than those receiving the least aid, an outcome some Democrats view with suspicion as Bush competes for the Republican nomination for attorney general this month..."