40 F. normal high for March 15.
60 F. high temperature reported on March 15, 2010.
5" snow on the ground in the Twin Cities.
6 days/row above 32 F. Temperatures should stay above freezing (consistently) from Wednesday morning through at least Tuesday evening of next week, accelerating snow melt, and possibly speeding up run-off and subsequent flooding over the next 2-3 weeks.
Light showers: Thursday, again Sunday. Potentially heavier rain by next Tuesday.
Flood Watch issued for the Jackson/Windom area of far southwestern Minnesota.
"Ariana": name of the new tropical storm off the coast of Brazil. Highly unusual for mid March in the South Atlantic.
* Is Japan's nuclear situation out of control? U.S. media may be taking an overly optimistic look at the disaster - as difficult as that may be to believe. Details here.
* "Run Faster!" escaping a tsunami by mere inches...
* California stocking up on iodide tablets, just in case. Details in the blog.
...THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SIOUX FALLS HAS ISSUED A FLOOD WATCH FOR THE FOLLOWING RIVERS IN SOUTH DAKOTA...IOWA...MINNESOTA... JAMES RIVER AT HURON JAMES RIVER NEAR FORESTBURG JAMES RIVER AT MITCHELL JAMES RIVER NEAR SCOTLAND JAMES RIVER ABOVE YANKTON VERMILLION RIVER NEAR DAVIS VERMILLION RIVER NEAR WAKONDA BIG SIOUX RIVER NEAR BROOKINGS BIG SIOUX RIVER NEAR DELL RAPIDS BIG SIOUX RIVER AT SIOUX FALLS 60TH STREET BIG SIOUX RIVER AT SIOUX FALLS NORTH CLIFF BIG SIOUX RIVER AT HAWARDEN BIG SIOUX RIVER AT AKRON SPLIT ROCK CREEK NEAR CORSON ROCK RIVER AT ROCK RAPIDS LITTLE SIOUX RIVER AT SPENCER LITTLE SIOUX RIVER AT LINN GROVE DES MOINES RIVER AT JACKSON .THE FOLLOWING RIVER FORECASTS ONLY INCLUDE FORECAST PRECIPITATION THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON AND ARE PRIMARILY DRIVEN BY SNOWMELT. ANY ADDITIONAL FUTURE RAINS COULD AFFECT THE CREST FORECASTS. WARM TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE ACROSS THE REGION FOR THE NEXT 10 TO 14 DAYS. HIGHS WILL BE IN THE 40S AND 50S FOR MOST AREAS WITH SOME 60S POSSIBLE. OVERNIGHT LOWS WILL BE IN THE MID 20S TO LOWER 40S THROUGH THE PERIOD...WHICH WILL MEAN THAT THERE WILL BE FEW HOURS WHERE THE MELTING PROCESS WILL STOP. THE SNOW PACK ACROSS THE REGION WILL BE RAPIDLY MELTING THROUGH THIS WEEKEND WHICH WILL LEAD TO RAPID RISES ON THE AREA RIVERS AND STREAMS. THERE IS ALSO STILL CONSIDERABLE ICE ON THE RIVERS AND STREAMS NORTH OF INTERSTATE 90...AND ANY ICE JAMS THAT COULD DEVELOP WILL AFFECT THE CREST FORECASTS.
There is talk of an apocalypse and I think the word is particularly well chosen [...] I hope that it doesn't happen, but we can't rule out that the worst case scenario [a complete meltdown a la Chernobyl] happens in the next few hours or days.The European view on the subject is way darker than what the IAEA, the Japan government and most of the United States' media is portraying. Oettinger said that the situation is "almost completely out of control" and that it's only going to get worse as workers get evacuated. Nuclear emergency experts believe that you can't keep the situation from escalating without enough personnel on site, pointing at the 50 engineers now at the nuclear complex. Spanish radiobiology scientist Eduard Rodríguez-Farré says that Fukushima is like a "slow-motion camera Chernobyl". According to him, the situation is now "running wild."
(sorry - but with all the horrific news floating around out there I had to include this one. Who knew?)
Fast Forward Spring. Highs at just about every Minnesota reporting station (most of them located at airports) showed Tuesday highs in the 40s, about 5-8 F. warmer than average for March 15. The snow is going fast - down to 7" at St. Cloud and 5" of dirty, grungy-looking snow in the Twin Cities. By Friday (official) snow cover should be 1" in the metro area.
Paul's Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
Radar's Next Phase. Yes, the National Weather Service's 160 NEXRAD (next-generation) Doppler radars are getting an upgrade. Who cares? UCAR Magazine has all the details: "The biggest upgrade to the U.S. weather-radar network in 15 years gets rolling this winter with a minimum of fanfare— debuting under the radar, as it were. But the new capabilities should get their fair share of attention in the long run. By the time the improvements are completed in 2013, each of the 160 Doppler radars operated by the National Weather Service will be able to send and receive signals that are polarized in two directions. Eventually, the dual-pol data from NWS sites should help scientists analyze the fast-changing cloud physics and dynamics that hold some of meteorology’s greatest mysteries. The technology itself is an outgrowth of decades of research at NCAR, Colorado State University (CSU), NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), and elsewhere. Dual-polarization radars send out signals in both horizontal and vertical orientation (gray and red areas above). The relative strength of returning signals provides clues to the shape of objects and allows scientists to infer precipitation type. “I think the biggest improvement that’s going to happen right away is in detecting winter-weather precipitation types,” says Paul Schlatter of NOAA’s Warning Decision Training Branch. Schlatter led the development of a dual-pol training course to be used by NWS meteorologists. Far more precisely than before, forecasters will be able to identify locations where rain is transitioning to snow or vice versa. “Broadcasters will be able to say, ‘It’s changing to snow in this part of the metro area,’” Schlatter says. At any given spot, he adds, “we could have 30 to 60 minutes lead time on when that transition might occur, which can be really important.”
(Image above courtesy Atmospheric Radar Research Center.)
Do Volcanoes Emit More CO2 Than Humans? Climate skeptic Ian Plimer writes, "Volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans. Human additions of CO2 to the atmosphere must be taken into perspective. Over the past 250 years, humans have added just one part of CO2 in 10,000 to the atmosphere. One volcanic cough can do this in a day."
True? Skeptical Science has the real science: "Volcanoes emit CO2 both on land and underwater. Underwater volcanoes emit between 66 to 97 million tonnes of CO2 per year. However, this is balanced by the carbon sink provided by newly formed ocean floor lava. Consequently, underwater volcanoes have little effect on atmospheric CO2 levels. The greater contribution comes from subaerial volcanoes (subaerial means "under the air", refering to land volcanoes). Subaerial volcanoes are estimated to emit 242 million tonnes of CO2 per year (Morner 2002). In contrast, humans are currently emiting around 29 billion tonnes of CO2 per year (EIA). Human CO2 emissions are over 100 times greater than volcanic CO2 emissions. This is apparent when comparing atmospheric CO2 levels to volcanic activity since 1960. Even strong volcanic eruptions such as Pinatubo have little discernable impact on CO2 levels. In fact, the rate of change of CO2 levels actually drops slightly after a volcanic eruption, possibly due to the cooling effect of aerosols."
"Climategate" Shaped TV Weathercasters' Views. It's estimated that at least 1 in 3 professional TV meteorologists is still skeptical (or in denial) about climate science, refusing to believe either a). the atmosphere is warming, and/or b). man is largely responsible for the changes we're observing, what's known as anthropogenic climate change. I get it. We get burned by computer models all the time (Exhibit A: last week's massive bust). If the models can't get the 7-Day right, how on Earth can we look out 30-50 years, or more? But with weather we're talking about small, brief permutations in conditions looking out a few days - with climate we're tracking longer trends and can come very close to simulating a "perfect atmosphere", with all the forcings involved. The long-range climate simulations haven't been flawless, but they've done a fairly good job showing the trends, based on the ocean's capacity to absorb excess CO2, feedback effects (albedo changes in the Arctic and thawing permafrost releasing more methane, which becomes a cycle that amplifies over time). If anything the climate models have underestimated the rate of warming - especially over Greenland and Antarctica. Yet a significant percentage of my colleagues (who I admire and respect) are turning away from the core science, pointing to "Climategate" (the hacked e-mails of climate scientists) as evidence that the "books are cooked" and the climate scientists are not practicing sound science. More from the Capital Weather Gang: "The unauthorized release of thousands of emails between several prominent climate researchers in late 2009 - a scandal often referred to as climategate - caused a significant minority of television weathercasters to become increasingly doubtful that manmade climate change is occurring, and that climate scientists and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are reliable sources of information, according to a recent study. The study, conducted by researchers at George Mason University and the University of Texas and published in the January issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, confirms what was previously anecdotally evident: people who were already skeptical of manmade climate change or who were not sure about the causes of recent climate change were more likely to respond to the allegations that scientists were conspiring to hide climate data and suppress dissenting voices by becoming more skeptical that manmade climate change is occurring. Because TV weathercasters are one of the public’s most trusted sources of climate science information, their beliefs about climate change are an important issue in climate science communication. As I’ve written several times, weathercasters have an enormous opportunity to help educate the public about climate change, but they have (with some noteworthyexceptions) largely shied away from doing so, or in some cases aired erroneous or misleading information."
I'm trying to put my money where my mouth is: a couple years ago I was part of a team that started up a new software/technology company called Smart Energy. Our goal: provide a more accurate, reliable wind forecast for wind farms, utilities and energy traders. We're trying to take wind modeling to the next level - if we can increase accuracy on a consistent basis, wind farms become more profitable, hastening more investment into the wind sector: more wind farms providing not only electricity but a consistent return to investors. I don't know about you - but I'm pretty irritated that we ship $4 billion/week to the Mid East for oil. We're not going to cure our oil addiction in the near-term, but there are logical, incremental steps we can take to wean ourselves off carbon-based fuels in the years ahead. Solar, tide-power, geothermal, and yes, nuclear, are all pieces of the ultimate energy puzzle. The catastrophe in Japan is a blunt reminder that we can't take any shortcuts with nuclear reactor design, or site them near active faults or coastlines vulnerable to tsunamis (California and the entire west coast of the USA is somewhat vulnerable). France is using the latest (safest) nuclear designs in their 104 reactors - no accidents or incidents in recent years. I'm optimistic that we'll find our way over the long haul.