Sunday, May 24, 2015

Soggy Memorial Day - Heating Up By Midweek


64 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
72 F. average high on May 24.
80 F. high on May 24, 2015.

.29" rain fell at KMSP yesterday. Eau Claire reported .70" of rain.

May 24, 1925: After seeing a high of 99 degrees two days earlier, the Twin Cities picked up a tenth (.10) of an inch of snow.

May 24, 1908: Tornadoes hit the counties of Martin and Blue Earth. Source: MPX National Weather Service.


Paying Our Respects

Saturday our pontoon wouldn't start, a stiff wind blowing us across the lake. No AAA to save us. A boater puttered over and gave us a tow - a good Samaritan, happy to help. "Lake rules" he laughed, accepting compensation in the form of cold beer.

We love the water - but we've had rotten luck with boats. A 33-footer sank in 2010, another pontoon swept off its lift, drifting for days before the sheriff returned it to our dock.

"Dad, please don't repeat these stories. I'm in the Navy. It's embarrassing" my Naval Academy grad groaned. Sorry son. My life is a cautionary tale.

When you have a child in the military you watch the news very differently. Suddenly Iraq, Iran and the South China Sea are too close for comfort. You flinch when your phone rings late at night.
Take time to thank enlisted, veterans and their families today. Take nothing for granted, especially our freedom.

Showers & T-storms linger into Tuesday; more drought-busting rains. The timing could have been better but we do need this moisture.

The boundary separating steamy from comfortable hovers overhead into next week, sparking more waves of thunderstorms as the drought eases.

Have a terrific Memorial Day.

Flash Flood Potential. NOAA has issued a flood watch from San Antonio to Kansas City - a huge expanse of real estate threatened by sustained urban and river flooding. Texas and Oklahoma have been hit very hard by flooding; an active southern branch of the jet stream Exhibit A of a strengthening El Nino warming phase in the Pacific Ocean. Source: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Moist Plume. NOAA's 12 KM NAM model shows the surge of moisture responsible for extensive flooding over the Southern Plans. Minnesota is on the cool/stable side of a deep trough of low pressure, meaning little or no risk of severe storms today, but showers and T-storms may pack locally heavy rain. 84 hour accumulated rainfall product: AerisWeather.

7-Day Rainfall Potential. QPF values suggest another 4-6" of rain over the next week from near Dallas, Wichita Falls and Tulsa to Little Rock, Huntsville and Atlanta. Although the heaviest rainfall amounts are forecast to remain just south and east of Minnesota, another 1-2" of rain is possible by early next week.

Storms Roughly Every 3 Days. Right now sloppy fronts and storms are spaced about 3 days apart, a trend which should continue into next week. The boundary separating steamy heat over the Plains from cool, comfortable Canadian air will continue to hover over the Upper Mississippi Valley the next 10 days, sparking more rounds of locally heavy rain. Source: Weatherspark.

June Sizzle? Long-range GFS guidance shows the core of the jet stream lifting north as hot, steamy air expands northward across the Rockies and Plains. If this forecast verifies, still a big if, it may heat up into the 80s and 90s by mid-June. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

Decade After Katrina, Pointing Finger More Firmly At Army Corp. As is usually the case in a massive disaster, there was no one smoking gun, but rather a cascade of events, only some of which could have been anticipated in advance. Here's the intro to a story at The New York Times: "Nearly 10 years on, one might assume that the case of Hurricane Katrina is closed. That the catastrophic flooding of this city was caused not merely by a powerful storm but primarily by fatal engineering flaws in the city’s flood protection system has been proved by experts, acknowledged by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and underscored by residents here to anyone who might suggest otherwise..." (Image: NOAA).

Hurricane Expert: "New England Really Gets It In The Teeth" As Climate Warms. Will warmer ocean and a continued northward shift in weather patterns impact hurricane frequency or intensit over New England? Forbes has an interesting article and interview; here's an excerpt: "...Instead of using weather observations from the field, researchers can substitute conditions predicted by global climate models—wind conditions and thermodynamic conditions of the sea and air in a hypothetical climate warmed by greenhouse gas emissions. And that has empowered Emanuel to predict in some detail how hurricanes may behave in a warmer climate. If the models prove correct—a big if—New England faces a stormy ride as the climate warms this century...." (Image: NASA).

Last year was the hottest since 1850, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), part of what it said is a continuing trend.
According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), May 2014 to April 2015 is the joint-warmest 12-month period in 136 years.
Those figures could rise further if the weather phenomenon known as El Nino continues to intensify, as scientists RTCC has spoken to believe it will.
- See more at: http://www.rtcc.org/2015/05/21/el-nino-likely-to-ensure-2015-breaks-warming-records/#sthash.ALmaQ1Uu.dpuf
Your Contribution To The California Drought. Much of our food is grown in California - I remember reading that the average distance from where food is grown to where it's consumed is about 1,000 miles. More incentive to buy (and eat) local, when possible. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...California farmers produce more than a third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. To do that, they use nearly 80 percent of all the water consumed in the state. It is the most stubborn part of the crisis: To fundamentally alter how much water the state uses, all Americans may have to give something up. The portions of foods shown here are grown in California and represent what average Americans, including non-Californians, eat in a week..."

Farming In The Sky. The future of agriculture may be...up? Here's an excerpt of a fascinating story at The Atlantic: "...The future of farming is looking up—literally, and in more ways than one: There are grow towers, rooftops, and industry talk of Waterworld-style “plant factories” in futuristic floating cities. And this vertical movement is happening for a variety of reasons. For one, by prioritizing localized operations, it offers a remedy to the mounting economic difficulties that independent farmers face when otherwise so easily underpriced by Big Ag. But more importantly, it’s rising out of environmental concerns—space, soil health, climate change, vital ecosystems decimated by monoculture..." (Photo: Edgar Su, Reuters).

10 Jaw-Dropping Photos From The 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "The entries for the 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest are in, and the photographs are as stunning as ever. The annual contest asks photographers from all around world to submit photos in four categories: Travel portraits, outdoor scenes, sense of place, and spontaneous moments. Photographers are allowed to submit as many photos as they'd like for $15 apiece, with no cap on the number one person can enter. The contest, which ends June 30, is still open for entries..."

Photo credit above: "I was out in the Arches National Park to take night pictures, but the clouds moved in. I waited for about two hours in the car and finally the sky cleared and I got this image." Photograph and caption by Manish Mamtani/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.



MEMORIAL DAY: A few showers and T-storms likely, damp most of the day. Winds: SW 15. High: 68

MONDAY NIGHT: Showers begin to taper. Low; 57

TUESDAY: Sunny start, PM T-storm possible, especially up north. High: 72

WEDNESDAY: More sun, feels like summer again. Wake-up: 59. High: 80

THURSDAY: Sticky sunshine, a taste of July. Dew point: 62. Wake-up: 62. High: 82

FRIDAY: Showers and T-storms likely. Wake-up: 60. High: 72

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, cooler, less humid. Wake-up: 53. High: 66

SUNDAY: Plenty of sun, quite pleasant. Wake-up: 47. High: near 70


Climate Stories...

Shell Boss Warns That Unchecked Fossil Fuel Burning Will Cause Global Warming. Could there arise new technologies even more disruptive than fracking, that allow us to burn fossil fuels without CO2 emissions? I wouldn't rule anything out. Even though this appears like a remote technological miracle today, new processes and materials could make today's (pipe-dream) a reality at some point in the future. That said, we can't count on this kind of innovation; we may have to dial down fossil fuel use even faster to stay within a 2C temperature rise. Here's an excerpt of a story at Christian Today: "The world's fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned unless some way is found to capture their carbon emissions, Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said on Friday. In an interview published in the Guardian newspaper, Van Beurden forecast that global energy use would produce "zero carbon" by the end of the century, and that his group would get a "very large segment" of its earnings from renewable power..."

Showers and T-storms Likely Next 36-48 Hours: Have a Plan B (Indoors)

73 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.
71 F. average high on May 23.
75 F. high on May 23, 2014.

Trace of rain fell yesterday at KMSP.

May 23, 1914: Early heat wave across the state with 103 at Tracy.


Serious Puddle Potential

Peering out my rain-splattered window I know, instantly, this must be a holiday. Mother Nature has a sadistic streak. It's more fun turning on the rain, thunder and lightning when people are trying to squeeze in a few dry, lukewarm hours outside.

"Paul, can't you DO something about the weather?" a couple in Nisswa joked yesterday. "Yes, but I choose not to" I answered. Why? Because you can't keep farmers, boaters and golfers happy, simultaneously.

The drought is fading fast as the pattern trends wetter - soggy storms taking a more northerly detour in recent weeks; cutting our rainfall deficit. This may be a symptom of El Nino; the warming of Pacific Ocean water. Texas went from severe drought to flood in 3 weeks. Yesterday 95 percent of Texas was in a Flood Watch. I've never seen that before.

Showers and scattered thunderstorms will prowl the state much of today and Monday. It won't be a steady ("stratiform") rain, like we see in spring and autumn but T-storms may drop heavy rain tonight into Monday morning. ECMWF (European) guidance prints out 2-3 inches of additional rain in the next week for MSP.

I'm always amazed by how fast the pattern can change here in Minnesota.

2.49" rain predicted by late Monday night in the Twin Cities (NAM model).

Going Downhill. Have a Plan B for much of today and Monday as a jolt of southern moisture surges northward into Minnesota. The rain will be tricky to time, but it will come down heavy at times later today; again Memorial Day. Graphic: National Weather Service.

Looks Like Rain. NOAA's NAM model shows moisture from the Gulf of Mexico pushing rapidly north. We won't see 5-8" rains like much of central Oklahoma, but some 1-3" amounts are possible between now and Tuesday morning. Source: AerisWeather.

A Drought-Busting Pattern. We aren't out of the woods in terms of drought conditions, but the pattern we're in favors significant rains into early and mid-June as the boundary separating hot from comfortable continues to waver back and forth over Minnesota. As long as the core of the jet stream is howling above the Upper Midwest we should see frequent storms capable of putting a real dent in the drought.

Significant Drought Reduction, Followed By Cold Temperatures. I pray the frosty mornings are behind us now, but the heavy thunderstorm season is just getting wound up. Here's an excerpt from Dr. Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk blog: "...May total rainfall is significantly above normal now for several Minnesota climate stations, including:

6.21" at Moorhead
5.07" at Georgetown
5.98" at Artichoke Lake
6.48" at Cass Lake
5.32" at Park Rapids
5.00" at Pokegama Dam
4.53" at Kabetogama
6.72" at Morris.
.."

El Nino Like To Ensure 2015 Breaks Warming Records. Here's an excerpt from a summary at rtcc.org: "Last year was the hottest since 1850, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), part of what it said is a continuing trend. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), May 2014 to April 2015 is the joint-warmest 12-month period in 136 years. Those figures could rise further if the weather phenomenon known as El Nino continues to intensify, as scientists RTCC has spoken to believe it will..."

Last year was the hottest since 1850, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), part of what it said is a continuing trend.
According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), May 2014 to April 2015 is the joint-warmest 12-month period in 136 years.
Those figures could rise further if the weather phenomenon known as El Nino continues to intensify, as scientists RTCC has spoken to believe it will.
- See more at: http://www.rtcc.org/2015/05/21/el-nino-likely-to-ensure-2015-breaks-warming-records/#sthash.ALmaQ1Uu.dpuf
Your Contribution To The California Drought. Much of our food is grown in California - I remember reading that the average distance from where food is grown to where it's consumed is about 1,000 miles. More incentive to buy (and eat) local, when possible. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...California farmers produce more than a third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. To do that, they use nearly 80 percent of all the water consumed in the state. It is the most stubborn part of the crisis: To fundamentally alter how much water the state uses, all Americans may have to give something up. The portions of foods shown here are grown in California and represent what average Americans, including non-Californians, eat in a week..."

The Best State in America for Women: Minnesota. So says The Washington Post, and they have the data, maps and graphics to prove it; here's the intro: "Minnesota is the best state for women in America. That’s according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a nonprofit that on Wednesday published the final two reports in a sprawling seven-part series exploring how women are faring in the states. The “Status of Women in the States” series, an update on a set of reports from 2004, represents an ambitious attempt to quantify gender inequality in the states—and provide fodder for the national discussion..."

Farming In The Sky. The future of agriculture may be...up? Here's an excerpt of a fascinating story at The Atlantic: "...The future of farming is looking up—literally, and in more ways than one: There are grow towers, rooftops, and industry talk of Waterworld-style “plant factories” in futuristic floating cities. And this vertical movement is happening for a variety of reasons. For one, by prioritizing localized operations, it offers a remedy to the mounting economic difficulties that independent farmers face when otherwise so easily underpriced by Big Ag. But more importantly, it’s rising out of environmental concerns—space, soil health, climate change, vital ecosystems decimated by monoculture..." (Photo: Edgar Su, Reuters).



TODAY: Showers and T-storms likely. Winds: SE 15+ High: 69

SUNDAY NIGHT: Showers and T-storms, locally heavy rain. Low: 59

MEMORIAL DAY: Humid and unsettled, more T-storms likely, especially AM hours. Winds: S 15+ High: 72

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, PM T-shower up north. Wake-up: 60. High: 75

WEDNESDAY: Warm, sticky sunshine. Wake-up: 59. High: 80

THURSDAY: Few showers, heavy T-storms. Wake-up: 61. High: 76

FRIDAY: Some sun, stray T-storm. Wake-up: 60. High: 77

SATURDAY: Slightly cooler, rain far south. Wake-up: 57. High: 72


Climate Stories...

Shell Boss Warns That Unchecked Fossil Fuel Burning Will Cause Global Warming. Could there arise new technologies even more disruptive than fracking, that allow us to burn fossil fuels without CO2 emissions? I wouldn't rule anything out. Even though this appears like a remote technological miracle today, new processes and materials could make today's (pipe-dream) a reality at some point in the future. That said, we can't count on this kind of innovation; we may have to dial down fossil fuel use even faster to stay within a 2C temperature rise. Here's an excerpt of a story at Christian Today: "The world's fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned unless some way is found to capture their carbon emissions, Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said on Friday. In an interview published in the Guardian newspaper, Van Beurden forecast that global energy use would produce "zero carbon" by the end of the century, and that his group would get a "very large segment" of its earnings from renewable power..."

Saudi Arabia Ministoer Sees Day When Nation Exports Solar Power, Not Oil. This caused quite a stir, an acknowledgment that relying on fossil fuels, for a variety of compelling reasons, may be unsustainable. Here's an excerpt from The Boston Globe: "Saudi Arabia’s oil minister predicted an eventual end to the nation’s fossil fuel exports, anticipating instead the day the world’s largest crude exporter will sell solar power. “In Saudi Arabia we recognize that eventually, one of these days, we’re not going to need fossil fuels,” Ali Al-Naimi said at a climate conference in Paris on Thursday. “I don’t know when -- 2040, 2050 or thereafter. So we have embarked on a program to develop solar energy.” He later said fossil fuels will still dominate the world’s energy supply through 2050..."


Exclusive: The CIA Is Shuttering A Secretive Climate Research Program. Mother Jones has a curious story; here's a clip: "...Under the program, known as Medea, the CIA had allowed civilian scientists to access classified data—such as ocean temperature and tidal readings gathered by Navy submarines and topography data collected by spy satellites—in an effort to glean insights about how global warming could create security threats around the world. In theory, the program benefited both sides: Scientists could study environmental data that was much higher-resolution than they would normally have access to, and the CIA received research insights about climate-related threats. But now, the program has come to a close..."

Photo credit above: "Polar bears approach the submarine USS Honolulu near the North Pole." .

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Holiday Weekend Weather Slowly Sours Over Time

75 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Friday.
71 F. average high on May 22.
71 F. high on May 22, 2014.

May 22, 2001: Record cold high temperatures set in over 30 cities in Minnesota including a chilly 47 in the Twin Cities and 39 at Grand Rapids and Pine River. A half-inch of snow fell at International Falls.

May 22, 1925: Temperature takes a nosedive from 100 to freezing in 36 hours at New Ulm and Tracy.


Not Bad For A Holiday

When in doubt, mumble. There is no shame in obfuscation. So here's what we know: a) there will be weather this holiday weekend, b) it will change from time to time, and c) you'll only be impacted by weather when you're outside. Everything else is pretty much up in the air.

Which reminds me of my favorite British (BBC) forecast verbiage; when they have NO IDEA what will happen: "Expect sunny intervals with showery spells." Uh huh. Can you be any more vague?

The holiday weekend won't win awards but it won't be a complete wash-out. A few headlines: today still looks like the best day, with fading sun but a dry sky into this evening. ECMWF guidance is consistently keeping most of the T-showers over southern Minnesota Sunday.

The farther north you go the smaller the risk of groan-worthy weather. Memorial Day still looks like the wettest day, statewide - sticky with heavy thunderstorms capable of downpours and a small severe threat. A few hours of rain is likely Monday; have a Plan B (indoors) for part of the day.
Maybe Netflix a sunny movie?

At least it won't snow. No beachball-size hail, blowing sand, wildfires or volcanic ash either. Let's all give thanks for a hurricane-free holiday!

1.14" rain predicted by Monday evening at KMSP.
Today: nicest, sunniest, driest day of the holiday weekend.
Best chance of heavy rain/T-storms: Sunday night into Monday morning. Have a Plan B.

Looks Like a Holiday Weekend! Get out there today and make the most of a fairly decent Saturday, in spite of high and mid clouds on the increase. Temperatures should hit or just exceed 70F with dry weather the rule until late tonight and Sunday. The best chance of rain and embedded heavy T-storms will come late Sunday, Sunday night into Monday morning. Source: Weatherspark.

Ill-Timed Streak of Moisture. Texas went from drought to flood in less than 3 weeks. Thank you El Nino, which has energized the southern branch of the jet stream. Some of that prolific southern moisture supply will surge north Sunday and Monday, fueling scattered showers and T-storms, some heavy. GFS data: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Significant Drought Reduction, Followed By Cold Temperatures. I pray the frosty mornings are behind us now, but the heavy thunderstorm season is just getting wound up. Here's an excerpt from Dr. Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk blog: "...May total rainfall is significantly above normal now for several Minnesota climate stations, including:
6.21" at Moorhead
5.07" at Georgetown
5.98" at Artichoke Lake
6.48" at Cass Lake
5.32" at Park Rapids
5.00" at Pokegama Dam
4.53" at Kabetogama
6.72" at Morris.
.."

El Nino Like To Ensure 2015 Breaks Warming Records. Here's an excerpt from a summary at rtcc.org: "Last year was the hottest since 1850, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), part of what it said is a continuing trend. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), May 2014 to April 2015 is the joint-warmest 12-month period in 136 years. Those figures could rise further if the weather phenomenon known as El Nino continues to intensify, as scientists RTCC has spoken to believe it will..."

Last year was the hottest since 1850, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), part of what it said is a continuing trend.
According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), May 2014 to April 2015 is the joint-warmest 12-month period in 136 years.
Those figures could rise further if the weather phenomenon known as El Nino continues to intensify, as scientists RTCC has spoken to believe it will.
- See more at: http://www.rtcc.org/2015/05/21/el-nino-likely-to-ensure-2015-breaks-warming-records/#sthash.ALmaQ1Uu.dpuf
Improving Drought Conditions. There's some good news in the latest Drought Monitor update. The percentage of Minnesota in moderate drought dropped from 92% to roughly 50%; severe drought was eliminated altogether. It doesn't mean we're out of the woods yet, but the trends are encouraging.

Trending Wetter. I'm encouraged by the emerging pattern, highlighted by persistent heavy rains last weekend across central Minnesota and the Red River Valley. May rainfall, to date, courtesy of NOAA, shows the heaviest amounts from central Minnesota into the Dakotas; much drier for Wisconsin.

Your Contribution To The California Drought. Much of our food is grown in California - I remember reading that the average distance from where food is grown to where it's consumed is about 1,000 miles. More incentive to buy (and eat) local, when possible. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...California farmers produce more than a third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. To do that, they use nearly 80 percent of all the water consumed in the state. It is the most stubborn part of the crisis: To fundamentally alter how much water the state uses, all Americans may have to give something up. The portions of foods shown here are grown in California and represent what average Americans, including non-Californians, eat in a week..."

The Singularity Is Further Than It Appears. Your job may eventually be replaced by a robot, but The Matrix is still years away. Right? Ramez Naam takes a look on an intellectually dense and thought-provoking post; here's an excerpt: "...And, indeed, should Intel, or Google, or some other organization succeed in building a smarter-than-human AI, it won’t immediately be smarter than the entire set of humans and computers that built it, particularly when you consider all the contributors to the hardware it runs on, the advances in photolighography techniques and metallurgy required to get there, and so on. Those efforts have taken tens of thousands of minds, if not hundreds of thousands. The first smarter-than-human AI won’t come close to equaling them. And so, the first smarter-than-human mind won’t take over the world. But it may find itself with good job offers to join one of those organizations..."

The Best State in America for Women: Minnesota. So says The Washington Post, and they have the data, maps and graphics to prove it; here's the intro: "Minnesota is the best state for women in America. That’s according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a nonprofit that on Wednesday published the final two reports in a sprawling seven-part series exploring how women are faring in the states. The “Status of Women in the States” series, an update on a set of reports from 2004, represents an ambitious attempt to quantify gender inequality in the states—and provide fodder for the national discussion..."

Study Finds That Lyrics Of Many Number 1 Songs Are At Third Grade Reading Level. Why am I not shocked by this? Yes, this is why they hate us - here's an excerpt from Buzzfeed: "...The Flesch-Kincaid test uses a formula that takes into account the number of words and syllables used in a passage and assigns a number based on a grade so it’s easy to understand. Basically, if a song gets a score of 4.2, that means your average fourth-grader would be able to comprehend it. Powell-Morse only measured songs that spent at least three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard music charts..."



TODAY: Increasing clouds - more sun over far northern Minnesota. Winds: S 10. High: near 70

SATURDAY NIGHT: More clouds, chance of a shower or T-shower late. Low: 57

SUNDAY: Best chance of showers and T-storms, some heavy late Sunday and Sunday night. Winds: SE 15. High: 69

MEMORIAL DAY: Wet start, showers and T-storms linger - some peeks of PM sun possible. Wake-up: 58. High: 72

TUESDAY: More sun, drying out. Wake-up: 60. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Hello summer. Warm, sticky sun. Wake-up: 61. High: near 80

THURSDAY: Heavy T-storms rumble into town. Wake-up: 62. High: 77

FRIDAY: More T-storms flare up. Wake-up: 61. High: 75

* right now models suggest that it will dry out and cool down by next weekend.

Climate Stories...


Saudi Arabia Ministoer Sees Day When Nation Exports Solar Power, Not Oil. This caused quite a stir, an acknowledgment that relying on fossil fuels, for a variety of compelling reasons, may be unsustainable. Here's an excerpt from The Boston Globe: "Saudi Arabia’s oil minister predicted an eventual end to the nation’s fossil fuel exports, anticipating instead the day the world’s largest crude exporter will sell solar power. “In Saudi Arabia we recognize that eventually, one of these days, we’re not going to need fossil fuels,” Ali Al-Naimi said at a climate conference in Paris on Thursday. “I don’t know when -- 2040, 2050 or thereafter. So we have embarked on a program to develop solar energy.” He later said fossil fuels will still dominate the world’s energy supply through 2050..."


Exclusive: The CIA Is Shuttering A Secretive Climate Research Program. Mother Jones has a curious story; here's a clip: "...Under the program, known as Medea, the CIA had allowed civilian scientists to access classified data—such as ocean temperature and tidal readings gathered by Navy submarines and topography data collected by spy satellites—in an effort to glean insights about how global warming could create security threats around the world. In theory, the program benefited both sides: Scientists could study environmental data that was much higher-resolution than they would normally have access to, and the CIA received research insights about climate-related threats. But now, the program has come to a close..."

Photo credit above: "Polar bears approach the submarine USS Honolulu near the North Pole." .


10 Reasons Why President Obama Says Global Warming Poses a Threat to National Security. In honor of David Letterman's retirement here is the format that helped to make him famous, courtesy of onEarth:

1. Batten down the hatches!
U.S. coastal areas—home to important military installations (including, duh, the Coast Guard), major infrastructure, and a growing percentage of the population—are increasingly vulnerable to rising seas, storm surges, and flooding.


2. A (new) sea of troubles.
The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe. As a result, melting sea ice is opening new shipping routes that our military will need to keep tabs on. The warming waters also fuel the need to regulate commercial fishing for species like Arctic cod.
..

The Dirty Dozen: The Fossil Fuel Industry's Polluting League Table. Not exactly the list you want to find yourself on. Here's a clip from a story at rtcc.org: "Led by Russia's Gazprom, the coal, oil and gas multinationals emit 8.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (MTCO2e) a year, according to a report by Thomson Reuters. Crunching data on the footprint of 500 companies' supply chains, the findings underscore the contribution of the energy sector to global warming through extraction, transportation, to marketing to the consumer..." (Image: Wikipedia Commons).


Obama Says Climate Change Is An Immediate Threat To National Security. Here's an excerpt of a story at VICE News: "...A White House document released as Obama headed for New London summarized the kind of problems the newly commissioned ensigns will be facing. Sea levels are projected to rise as much as a foot along much of the Atlantic coast by 2050. Military installations even far inland have suffered flood damage from unusually heavy storms. And the Coast Guard would be the lead agency to respond to any oil spills as energy companies like Shell attempt to drill in the Arctic, which is warming at twice the rate of the globe as a whole..." (Photo credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP).

Jeb Bush Rails Against "Intellectual Arrogance" In Climate Change Debate. Isn't the real arrogance in assuming you know more than scientists who deal with this issue every day? Or putting the needs of special interests ahead of the common good? Here's the intro to a story at CNN Politics: "Jeb Bush hit back against President Obama's claim that climate change runs an immediate risk, saying Wednesday that while it shouldn't be ignored, it's still not "the highest priority." As he has before, Bush acknowledged "the climate is changing" but stressed that it's unknown why. "I don't think the science is clear of what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It's convoluted," he said at a house party in Bedford, New Hampshire..."

The Surprising Links Between Faith and Evolution and Climate Denial - Charted. Chris Mooney attempts to connect the dots at The Washington Post; here's an excerpt: "...In any case, while the pattern above may require more analysis, one clear punchline of the figure is that it really doesn’t make sense to say that religion is at war with science. You can say that for some people, religion is clearly linked to less science acceptance — especially on evolution. But for others, clearly, religion presents no hurdle at all. I would also agree that these data reinforce the idea that the pope’s coming encyclical on the environment could really shake matters up..."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Weekend Weather? Looks Like a Holiday - Shower Risk Gradually Increases

74 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Thursday.
71 F. average high on May 21.
66 F. high on May 21, 2014.

32.4" snowfall total for the winter season at KMSP.
69.8" total snowfall last winter.

May 21, 1960: Downpour at New Prague dumps 10 inches of rain in a 48 hour period.


Freeze Frame

"A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken" wrote James Dent.

If I could put my life on perpetual pause - if I could freeze and memorize any moment in time, it might be a sunset on a day like today - in late May. The world is green and lush, lakes bursting with possibilities, the air still fresh, cool and clean. Bugs and sticky thunderstorms have yet to materialize. A day like today is what I would happily bottle - and break out for a few hungry swigs come next February.

Welcome to a flawless Friday; arguably the best day in sight with blue sky, a light breeze and lukewarm 70s by afternoon.

San Diego, with lakes.

As usual weather models have different solutions for the holiday weekend. NOAA's NAM model rushes a few showers in late Saturday; with numerous T-storms Sunday and Monday. But the ECMWF keeps most of the moisture to our south until Memorial Day. If you can sneak off today and make the most of tomorrow you'll thank yourself.

More good news: the latest Drought Monitor shows a lack of severe drought. The percentage of Minnesota in moderate drought has dropped from 94 to 50 percent in a week. Rainfall trends are very encouraging.

* Photo courtesy of Pete Schenck, who snapped this photo from his home on Lake Superior in Herbster, WI.

Improving Drought Conditions. There's some good news in the latest Drought Monitor update. The percentage of Minnesota in moderate drought dropped from 92% to roughly 50%; severe drought was eliminated altogether. It doesn't mean we're out of the woods yet, but the trends are encouraging.

Trending Wetter. I'm encouraged by the emerging pattern, highlighted by persistent heavy rains last weekend across central Minnesota and the Red River Valley. May rainfall, to date, courtesy of NOAA, shows the heaviest amounts from central Minnesota into the Dakotas; much drier for Wisconsin.

Going Slowly Downhill. Saturday still appears to be the best day of the holiday weekend for outdoor plans with morning sun giving way to increasing clouds; a shower is possible by afternoon - a better chance of showers and possible thunder Saturday night. NAM guidance from NOAA shows accumulated rainfall, courtesy of AerisWeather.

ECMWF Guidance: Midday Saturday. The ECMWF (European) model valid at 1 PM Saturday shows dry weather across Minnesota, showers surging northward into the Dakotas. NOAA's NAM and GFS models bring showers into Minnesota sooner than ECMWF. Tomorrow still appears to be the driest day of the holiday weekend. Map: WSI Corporation.

ECMWF Guidance: Midday Sunday. The "Euro" shows heavy showers and T-storms over southern Minnesota Sunday morning, bubbling up along a warm frontal boundary. Most of central and northern Minnesota stays dry most of Sunday, according to the ECMWF. We can keep our fingers crossed and hope this (drier) solution verifies. My confidence level is low. Map: WSI.

ECMWF Guidance: Midday Monday. All the models suggest that Memorial Day will be the wettest day of the holiday weekend with more numerous showers and T-storms, locally heavy rain with temperatures holding in the 60s.

Cool and Showery Weekend - More Like Summer Next Week. European guidance shows highs approaching 80F by the middle and end of next week with high humidity levels and scattered heavy T-storms. Clouds increase tomorrow; the best chance of a few showers and T-showers Sunday and Monday. Source: Weatherspark.

Whispers of El Nino? Big, wet, sloppy whispers, in fact you could make the case that it's more shouting than whispering. A very active southern branch of the jet stream may be one of many symptoms of a warm phase in the Pacific. You won't have to convince folks in Texas, Oklahoma or Arkansas, where as much as 10-20" of rain has fallen so far in May, according to NOAA Doppler radar estimates.


May's Torrential Rainstorms Super-Charged by Strengthening Climate Patterns. A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, and El Nino may be spiking heavy rain events with a much more active southerly branch of the jet stream. Here's an excerpt from The Capital Weather Gang: "...Taken as a whole, these events appear to have at least two things in common — a burgeoning El Niño in the equatorial Pacific, and a well-documented upward trend in extreme rainfall events. Though the pattern tends to be more obvious in the winter months, El Niño’s very warm sea surface temperatures in the tropics tend to fuel a wetter than normal pattern across the West and the South. At the very least, last week’s Southwest storm looks to have been enhanced by El Niño, which, according to recent model forecasts, is shaping up to be an intense one..."

Graphic credit above: "Extreme one-day precipitation events have been on the rise since the mid-20th century." (NOAA)

80% of Sunscreens Don't Really Work Or Have "Worrisome" Ingredients: Report. Check out this article from TIME before you slather on sunscreen; here's an excerpt: "...The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its 2015 sunscreen guide on Tuesday, which reviewed more than 1,700 SPF products like sunscreens, lip balms and moisturizers. The researchers discovered that 80% of the products offer “inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone and vitamin A,” they say. Oxybenzone is a chemical that can disrupt the hormone system, and some evidence suggests—though not definitively—that adding vitamin A to the skin could heighten sun sensitivity..."

Remarkable Weather Graphics. I give credit where credit is due, and I have to say I'm very impressed with the new graphics being used as explainers on The Weather Channel. Check out Jim Cantore's excellent visualization of tornadogenesis - rumor is this is WSI's new "Reality" graphics package. All I can say is well done: "Did you miss it? Jim Cantore gave this incredible step-by-step look inside a tornado this morning on AMHQ with Sam Champion."

Hacking The Brain. Will we be able to take pills to make ourselves smarter in the near future? I sure hope so. Here's an excerpt from a vaguely terrifying piece at The Atlantic: "...But this dream has a dark side: The possibility of a dystopia where an individual’s fate is determined wholly by his or her access to cognition-enhancing technology. Where some ultra-elites are allowed to push the limits of human intelligence, while the less fortunate lose any chance of upward mobility. Where some Big Brother–like figure could gain control of our minds and decide how well we function..."

The Singularity Is Further Than It Appears. Your job may eventually be replaced by a robot, but The Matrix is still years away. Right? Ramez Naam takes a look on an intellectually dense and thought-provoking post; here's an excerpt: "...And, indeed, should Intel, or Google, or some other organization succeed in building a smarter-than-human AI, it won’t immediately be smarter than the entire set of humans and computers that built it, particularly when you consider all the contributors to the hardware it runs on, the advances in photolighography techniques and metallurgy required to get there, and so on. Those efforts have taken tens of thousands of minds, if not hundreds of thousands. The first smarter-than-human AI won’t come close to equaling them. And so, the first smarter-than-human mind won’t take over the world. But it may find itself with good job offers to join one of those organizations..."


TODAY: Postcard perfect. Bright sun Winds: SE 5. High: 74

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and dry. Low: 52

SATURDAY: Fading sun, stray shower late in the day and night. Winds: SE 10. High: 71

SUNDAY: Few showers, T-showers. Winds: SE 15. Wake-up: 57. High: 69

MEMORIAL DAY: Wettest day of the holiday weekend. T-storms likely. Winds: S 15. Wake-up: 59. High: 66

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, drying out. Naturally. Wake-up: 57. High: 74

WEDNESDAY: Sticky sun, feels like summer. Wake-up: 60. High: 81

THURSDAY: Humid, T-storms likely, some heavy. Wake-up: 64. High: 78


Climate Stories....

Obama Says Climate Change Is An Immediate Threat To National Security. Here's an excerpt of a story at VICE News: "...A White House document released as Obama headed for New London summarized the kind of problems the newly commissioned ensigns will be facing. Sea levels are projected to rise as much as a foot along much of the Atlantic coast by 2050. Military installations even far inland have suffered flood damage from unusually heavy storms. And the Coast Guard would be the lead agency to respond to any oil spills as energy companies like Shell attempt to drill in the Arctic, which is warming at twice the rate of the globe as a whole..." (Photo credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP).

Jeb Bush Rails Against "Intellectual Arrogance" In Climate Change Debate. Isn't the real arrogance in assuming you know more than scientists who deal with this issue every day? Or putting the needs of special interests ahead of the common good? Here's the intro to a story at CNN Politics: "Jeb Bush hit back against President Obama's claim that climate change runs an immediate risk, saying Wednesday that while it shouldn't be ignored, it's still not "the highest priority." As he has before, Bush acknowledged "the climate is changing" but stressed that it's unknown why. "I don't think the science is clear of what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It's convoluted," he said at a house party in Bedford, New Hampshire..."

The Surprising Links Between Faith and Evolution and Climate Denial - Charted. Chris Mooney attempts to connect the dots at The Washington Post; here's an excerpt: "...In any case, while the pattern above may require more analysis, one clear punchline of the figure is that it really doesn’t make sense to say that religion is at war with science. You can say that for some people, religion is clearly linked to less science acceptance — especially on evolution. But for others, clearly, religion presents no hurdle at all. I would also agree that these data reinforce the idea that the pope’s coming encyclical on the environment could really shake matters up..."

Oil Giants Band Together To Add Voice To Climate Debate. Here's a clip from a story at Bloomberg Business: "Europe’s largest oil companies are banding together to forge a joint strategy on climate-change policy, alarmed they’ll be ignored as the world works toward a historic deal limiting greenhouse gases. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA, BP Plc, Statoil ASA and Eni SpA are among oil companies that plan to start a new industry body, or think tank, to develop common positions on the issues, according to people with knowledge of the matter..."

House Republicans Slash NASA's Earth-Science Budget. Here's the introduction to a story at the National Journal: "House Republicans unveiled the details of a spending bill on Tuesday that would cut the amount of money NASA spends on earth science and climate-change research.  The push arrives on the heels of a concerted effort by congressional Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz, a 2016 presidential hopeful, to steer NASA away from the study of climate change and towards space exploration. It takes place against the backdrop a broader GOP effort to sink President Obama's ambitious agenda to tackle rising greenhouse gases and stave off the worst impacts of global warming..." (Image above: NASA).

Investors With $25 Trillion Detail Opportunity in Climate Change. It's a threat, and an opportunity to retool, reinvent and build more resilience into everything we do. Here's an excerpt from Bloomberg Business: "...As more than 1,000 executives gather in Paris to discuss their response to climate change, a group of investors managing $25 trillion opened a web portal detailing the action being taken to cut pollution. Four investor groups representing 265 institutions worldwide joined the United Nations Environment Program in opening a web portal that will show which projects gained finance to rein in global warming. The move reflects a shift in the business community toward embracing the inevitability of stricter regulations on fossil fuels and more incentives for cleaner forms of energy..."


The "Shocking" Cost of Letting Companies Pollute for Free. Here's an excerpt of an Eric Roston column at Bloomberg Business: "...In that context, letting companies pollute for free, when that pollution carries a real social cost, can be thought of as a subsidy. That's how researchers at the International Monetary Fund describe energy subsidies in a sobering new paper that puts a comprehensive price tag on global aid to the energy industry. The price tag, which IMF officials describe as "shocking," is a big one: This year, the report estimates, fossil fuels are being subsidized to the tune of $5.3 trillion, or 6.5 percent of global gross domestic product..." (Image credit: EPA).