.53" rain so far this month in the metro area (1.04" less than average, as of April 21).
.46" rain predicted for the Twin Cities by midday Saturday (NAM model).
50 F. high temperature Thursday at MSP.
60 F. average high on April 21.
95 F. record high for April 21 (1980).
A Stunted Spring. So far in the Twin Cities we've enjoyed only 6 days above 60 since March 1. Last year we saw 23 days above 60. The unpleasant details:
2010 (as of April 21)
Days above 60: 16
Days above 70: 6
Days above 80: 1
2011 (as of April 21)
Days above 60: 5
Days above 70: 1
Days above 80: 0
What a Difference a Year Makes. La Nina has kept us significantly cooler, but also (probably) helped to avert record flooding on Minnesota's rivers, and so far we've been able to avoid widespread severe outbreaks. Yes, you have to look long and hard, but there is a silver lining.
You Just Enjoyed/Endured The 4th Snowiest Winter On Record. I may regret saying this, but I think we've seen the last of the accumulating snow in the Twin Cities this "spring". I know, big mistake by putting that into print. We'll see. Here's an update from the Chanhassen office of the National Weather Service: "2010-2011 Winter Currently Ranks 4th Snowiest of All Time for the Twin Cities
"Another 1.3 inches of snow was recorded at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport on April 20th. This keeps the 2010-2011 winter season in 4th place on the all time snowiest winters list. The average seasonal snowfall in the Twin Cities is 55.9 inches. "
* National Weather Service Warns Of Excessive Weekend Rainfall, Worsening Floods In Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio River Valleys. An update from NOAA: "Forecasters with NOAA’s National Weather Service have begun alerting local communities, emergency management agencies and water managers of the strong possibility heavy rain that will cause significant flooding early next week to main rivers and tributaries in parts of the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio valleys. Rainfall forecasts for many locations from the southern Great Lakes across the Midwest to southern Oklahoma and northern Texas are calling for 3-7 inches and possibly more. Much of that rain will fall on saturated soil that will absorb very little, if any, of the new water. Resultant runoff water will cause rapid rises and flash flooding as well as significant river and overland flooding in many areas. “Forecasters have determined there will be a very significant amount of precipitation falling in areas that don’t need any more rain at the moment,” said National Weather Service Central Region Director Lynn P. Maximuk. “River valley residents are accustomed to springtime floods, but this weekend those drainages will see torrential rain that will push flood levels well above normal stages. Our offices have already started advising local communities about the situation through NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts and agency web sites."
Friday Severe Storm Potential. SPC has a new (refined/colorful) graphical format for their predictions. Marginal instability may lead to a few (isolated) thundershowers today, in spite of cool temperatures at ground-level. The severe risk today extends into far southern Iowa, greatest from Oklahoma City and St. Louis to Indianapolis and Louisville. To see the severe outlook for the next few days click here.
“Realistically speaking, it is not practical, much less reasonable, to build a tornado-proof house,” the report notes.
Texas Wildfire Update. The Atlantic has an eye-opening story about the fires raging across much of Texas; well over a million acres of land have already burned - the combination of extreme drought, high winds, tinder-dry humidity and triple-digit temperatures have created a ripe environment for fires to spread. "According to the Texas Forest Service, March 2011 was the state's driest March on record, leaving it in extreme drought and fueling recent wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of homes and burned more than one million acres over the past two weeks. High winds have been driving some fires eastward, closer to the densely populated Dallas-Fort Worth area. Governor Rick Perry has asked President Barack Obama for federal disaster funding, with the cost of fighting the fires estimated to be $2 million per day, supporting nearly 2,000 personnel across the state. Gathered here are recent images of the wildfires across Texas and the efforts being made to combat them. [30 photos]"
Caption For Photo Above: "Smoke billows from a wildfire that destroyed homes in southwest Austin, Texas on Sunday, April 17, 2011.
NASA Prepares Satellite For A New Era Of Earth Observation. A press release from NASA: "On Christmas Eve in 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts orbiting the moon snapped an ethereal photo of our cloud-speckled blue planet rising over the lunar horizon with a hand-held camera. The photo, known as Earthrise, was one of the first views of Earth from deep space. It’s widely credited with helping spur the global environmental movement that began to find its voice with the first Earth Day celebration on April 22, 1970. More than four decades later, NASA’s view of Earth has grown far more sophisticated. Today, a fleet of satellites -- many of which are part of a project called the Earth Observing System (EOS) -- constantly monitor the oceans, land surfaces, and atmosphere."
The Terminators: Drone Strikes Prompt Ministry Of Defense To Ponder Ethics Of Drone Strikes. Ir you've seen any of the "Terminator" movies you might remember that April 21, 2011 was the day when The Machines were scheduled to rise up against their human inventors and leash all kinds of unspeakable problems on the planet. Didn't happen. This Guardian article brings up a moral question: is it ethical to wage war via remote control? "The growing use of unmanned aircraft in combat situations raises huge moral and legal issues, and threatens to make war more likely as armed robots take over from human beings, according to an internal study by the Ministry of Defense. The report warns of the dangers of an "incremental and involuntary journey towards a Terminator-like reality", referring to James Cameron's 1984 movie, in which humans are hunted by robotic killing machines. It says the pace of technological development is accelerating at such a rate that Britain must quickly establish a policy on what will constitute "acceptable machine behavior".
* Carp Alarm Sounds. The Star Tribune has a story about a 27 pound found in the St. Croix earlier this week. Not good: "It's an ugly brute with a gaping mouth and eyes that hang low on its face. Someday soon, with two of its equally odious cousins, it could take over Minnesota's rivers and lakes, squeezing out native species. Unless somebody stops them. That's why the arrival of a 27-pound bighead carp in the St. Croix River on Monday triggered alarm among Department of Natural Resources officials, who fear the invasive carp could damage Minnesota's aquatic ecosystems and threaten its treasured walleyes and sunnies. Naturalists said that the lunker probably swam upstream from Iowa and that there's no sign the carp are reproducing in Minnesota."
Rain In The Air. After a sunny, promising start Thursday clouds increased during the afternoon - a cold rain spread across the area during the late afternoon and evening hours. Redwood Falls saw .28" rain as of 7 pm yesterday. Highs ranged from 48 at St. Cloud and Duluth to 50 in the Twin Cities and Redwood Falls.
Paul's Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
(My father raised me to believe that "actions have consequences". A lot of my friends on the ultra-conservative side of the political spectrum don't like to hear this. They are convinced that there is, in fact, a Free Lunch, and they (we) are entitled to it. An all-you-can-eat fossil fuel buffet, with no hangover. Right. They tell me that I'm somehow anti-business by believing the 97.4% of climate scientists who say this is a real problem. I point out the business opportunities emerging in this brave, new (green) world, that yes, it's a threat, but it's also the Mother Of All Business Opportunities. I've started 6 companies in Minnesota, and one of the new businesses, Smart Energy, is focused on making wind power more reliable, making wind farms and utilties more profitable. We're dumping 9 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year, and yes, this has consequences. We can either deal with them in a logical, pro-business, pro-growth manner, or dump this in the laps of our kids - buy our wind turbines and solar panels from China in the years ahead).