Thursday, May 19, 2011

1"+ Rain This Weekend? (and are weather extremes the "new normal"?)

.98" rain predicted for MSP by Monday morning (00z Friday NAM model)

Dry much of today, up through the dinner hour.

Heaviest rains: late tonight into Saturday morning.

Sunday: brighter, drier, warmer day of the weekend.

80 degree high possible Sunday afternoon, if the sun is out for a couple of hours (likely).

Strong T-storms: possible late Sunday afternoon, evening. Lifted indices fall to -4 with a predicted Cape of over 1,000. We can't rule out an isolated severe storm late Sunday, but most of the day should be dry, sticky and partly sunny.

* In a recent interview with Wall Street analysts, Allstate CEO Thomas Wilson said: "There is a lot more severe weather. We are running our homeowners business as if this is a permanent change as opposed to an anomaly." - Reuters

* "Economic losses from natural disasters have soared from a global average of $25 billion annually during the 1980s to $130 billion a year during the decade ending in 2010." - Reuters story (below).

* "It's a new normal and I really do think that global weirding is the best way to describe what we're seeing," climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University told Reuters.

Freeze-Free? Yes, the frost and freeze season is (finally) behind us now. It's officially safe to plant those tender annuals. According to the local National Weather Service office: "Freezing temperatures after this point are uncommon across much of the area, but are still possible.  The below table shows average and extreme last spring freezes for several communities around the area." No more f-words (frost and freeze - get your mind out of the gutter - until late September).

Potential For Some Gulley-Gushing Rains. Models diverge wildly with how much rain will fall from late Friday into Monday. The National Weather Service is predicting around 1" of rain by Sunday, the 18z GFS model Thursday was hinting at over 2" of rain by early next week. With convection (showery rains) it's impossible to pin down which towns will pick up the heaviest amounts of rain - but watering will probably be optional through the foreseeable future.

Analyzing The Numbers. The 00z Friday NAM model prints out .70" rain late tonight and Saturday morning - skies try to dry out (a bit) during the PM hours tomorrow. If there's any sun Sunday (and the mercury does approach 80 with dew points in the low 60s) there may be sufficient instability aloft for a few strong T-storms. A tiny percentage may even turn severe late Sunday.

Big Variations. The latest NAM model prints out the heaviest amounts (over 1") over the western suburbs, less than a half inch east of St. Paul.

Summer Preview. CPC, the Climate Prediction Center, is still predicting a "cool bias" for much of the Midwest from June through August, the result of a southerly shift in the jet stream. Hotter than average readings are predicted for the south and southwest. I suspect we'll see fewer 90s than usual this summer - it will still get hot, but the odds of sustained, debilitating heat have diminished. Check out the data for yourself here.

"ENSO-Neutral." Some good new: the La Nina cooling of the Pacific is forecast to weaken by June, the pattern transitioning into a weak El Nino later in 2011 - which MAY mean a (slight) bias toward milder than average weather next winter. Maybe that's wishful thinking, but El Nino events do correlate with milder winters in Minnesota. Let's not talk about winter for another 5 months, ok? The latest NOAA ENSO analysis is here.

Tuscaloosa Tornado Terror. Check out this remarkable YouTube video clip. The Spanish-speaking family did the right thing, and showed great bravery in the face of this 200-mph weather monster approaching their home. A few viewer comments about the video clip:

"I'm white, born in Ohio to monolingual parents, and proud that I've learned to speak Spanish. Watching this video was made richer for me by being able to understand the Spanish, to the way the family members encouraged each other, shared their fear, and tried to help protect one another. They said the same things that most anyone in that situation would have said. I'm proud to live in a country that has allowed me my education: it's part of what makes me proud to be an American."
"I have been a television reporter and documentary filmmaker for 30-years and that is the bravest thing I have ever seen anyone do. The scariest video I have ever seen. So glad you all survived."
"That took a lot of guts to stand in a doorway with all that debris flying around. The two large pieces at 1:12 (middle left) could've caused serious injuries. Thank you for sharing!"

Project Weather 2.0: The High Tech Weather Alert Trend. Here's an intriguing story from "StormSector started Project Weather 2.0 calling for a Weather Radio in every home. Recent severe weather outbreaks remind us of the importance of preparedness. Our staff is currently working with the media to raise awareness of alert radios. We believe they are just as important as smoke detectors. Using advanced technology such as cell phone text messaging, email alerts, and Weather Radios, the public can become better aware of severe weather. Modern technology can alert you of dangerous weather while you sleep or are otherwise unaware. Check out the storm facts and if you don't already have one, see how a NOAA Weather Radio could save your life.
Coverage Map: NOAA Weather Radio (map above) covers most of the country with radio towers transmitting weather information without any commercials. NOAA Weather Radio transmitters are spread out throughout the country covering most populated areas with a sufficient broadcast signal. People at home or work can listen and stay informed especially when the weather gets ugly. Without a Weather Radio Alert, you may not get any warning at all leaving you with precious wasted time. By the time you become aware you are in a tornado, it may be too late."

Cheapest Life Insurance On Earth. I'm predicting another above-average severe storm season for Minnesota (I suspect the core of the jet stream will be blowing over Minnesota much of June and July, increasing the potential for severe "supercell" thunderstorms). Have you invested in a NOAA Weather Radio yet? Local media does a terrific job, but how often are you planted in front of a TV set or even a radio? You want to have multiple safety nets, a number of reliable sources of severe storm information, including smart phone apps and NOAA Weather Radio - which is the ONLY device that will wake you and your family up at 2 am if a tornado is approaching your town. More from "You can sign up for free email and text alerts. Many manufacturers are including NOAA Alert technology in their two way radios which can be used for general communications purposes and when the weather gets ugly. NOAA Weather Radios are widely available at most major retailers including Kmart, Radio Shack, REI, Target, and Walmart. These technology tools may save your life when seconds count. You can also check out StormSector product reviews where we feature some demonstrations of these items. "

* NOAA Weather Radios make GREAT birthday and anniversary gifts. Nothing says I Love You more than a radio that can (in theory and reality) save your life. And no, I don't get a spiff or commission. But I firmly believe that every home, every business, every school, nursing home and retail outlet should invest a whopping $30-50 and have one of these radios turned on, 24/7.

Stay Safe And Healthy After Disaster Strikes. has the story: "Every year during tornado season, we're reminded of the importance of knowing where to find flashlights and where to seek shelter. But John Vota, the owner of Safe & Ready Life, an emergency supplies store in Milford, isn't prepared for severe weather: he's ready for the unexpected, and whatever comes after it. In 1992, Vota was living in Florida when Hurricane Andrew struck. "We tracked it all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. Two days before, we had to decide to leave or stick it out," Vota said. "Normally when storms hit, they turn north. So we went south." The category-5 hurricane followed. After surviving the three-hour raging storm, Vota lived with a friend on a boat - the only one in the canal that hadn't sunk - eating canned food for three weeks. Although his belongings - on the 30th floor of an apartment building in Miami - were spared, the area was underwater. The experience taught Vota that emergency preparedness means not only thinking about how to survive a disaster, but also how to preserve your health during the aftermath. "For six to 12 months, it was like living in a third-world country," Vota said." More good information from the article:

Tornado preparedness
• Have a plan for where your family will take shelter in case of a tornado warning. Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection. If underground shelter is not available, go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris.

• Keep an emergency supply kit in your shelter location.

• If in a vehicle, trailer or mobile home, go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible. If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under an overpass or bridge.

• Have a plan for how your family will reach one another in case of an emergency, and in case phone service is not available.

• Inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time, like work, day care and school.

Flooding Continues Along The Mississippi River. The University of Wisconsin (CIMSS) weather blog has an update on how satellite technology is being tapped to track the Great Flood of '11: "AWIPS images of MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel data and MODIS 2.1 µm near-IR “snow/ice channel” data (above) demonstrated the utility of the snow/ice channel imagery for highlighting the areal extent of flooding along parts of the lower Mississippi River on 17 May 2011. Water is a strong absorber at the 2.1 µm wavelength, so it appears very dark on the MODIS snow/ice channel image. CIMSS participation in GOES-R Proving Ground activities includes making MODIS imagery available for National Weather Service forecasters to add to their AWIPS workstations. The VISIT training lesson “MODIS Products in AWIPS” is also available to help users understand the products and their applications to weather analysis and forecasting."

NOAA Hurricane Outlook: "an above-normal" Atlantic season. Click here for all the details.

- 12 to 18 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which:
- 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including:
- 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5, winds of 111 mph or higher).

"Each of these ranges has a 70 percent likelihood, and indicate that activity will exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. 

“The United States was fortunate last year. Winds steered most of the season’s tropical storms and all hurricanes away from our coastlines,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “However we can’t count on luck to get us through this season. We need to be prepared, especially with this above-normal outlook.”
Climate factors considered for this outlook are:
  • The continuing high activity era. Since 1995, the tropical multi-decadal signal has brought ocean and atmospheric conditions conducive for development in sync, leading to more active Atlantic hurricane seasons.
  • Warm Atlantic Ocean water. Sea surface temperatures where storms often develop and move across the Atlantic are up to two degrees Fahrenheit warmer-than-average.
  • La Niña, which continues to weaken in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, is expected to dissipate later this month or in June, but its impacts such as reduced wind shear are expected to continue into the hurricane season."

How Many Hurricanes? Here's a good summary of the hurricanes being predicted for the Atlantic basin (including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean) for 2011 from NOAA, Colorado State, WSI and AccuWeather. Thanks to Brian Alonzo and WeatherNation meteorologist D.J. Kayser for helping me track this down.

Storms Claim 65 Lives In India. Breaking News Network has the latest: "NEW DELHI (BNO NEWS) -- At least 56 people were killed when severe dust storms, accompanied by rain and thundershowers, lashed the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar on Wednesday evening. The Times of India reported that at least 30 people were killed when a cyclonic storm hit several districts in the eastern state of Uttar Pradesh. Eight members of a marriage party were killed when a tree, uprooted by a fierce dust storm, fell on their jeep in Siddhartnagar district, according to Press Trust of India."

A Cool -100 F. In The Shade. I guess I won't complain about a little patchy frost earlier this week. Here's the latest from the University of Wisconsin: "Earlier today, at 7 UTC (2am CDT), an AWS in eastern Antarctica reached a temperature of -100F! This station is JASE2007 and is owned by both the University of Wisconsin and Japan. This is the first time in 2011 that the temperature has fallen to -100F! Below is a plot of the observed AWS temperatures at 7 UTC."
Earthquakes, Networks, And The Tricky Topic Of Quake Prediction. The first company that can (successfully/reliably) predict earthquakes in advance with any level of accuracy: instant (trillion) dollar valuation. You have to think that a lot of start-ups are focused on this incredible challenge. Technology Review has the story: "One of the goals of earthquake research is to provide warnings that can mitigate the effects of a disaster. At present, these attempts are limited to long range warnings which estimate the risk of significant damage over a period of years or decades, and to very short range warnings, on the order of a few seconds. But high quality warnings that a quake is imminent in the next few days or weeks--a period that might allow large-scale evacuation--still elude earthquake scientists. It may be that these kinds of warnings are not possible in principle. But that hasn't stopped scientists looking. The study of earthquakes reveals all kinds of hidden patterns in the way they occur. Much of this work has compared the properties of specific earthquakes themselves, things like their magnitude and the time between successive quakes. This has been rewarding, revealing all kinds of power laws governing things like the number of events of a specific magnitude and the difference between the main shock and its biggest aftershock. But none of these patterns has yet turned out to be particularly useful for predictions on the scale of days or weeks. Perhaps, say the optimists, all that's needed is a new way of thinking about earthquakes. Today, Gene Stanley and pals at Boston University present just such a new approach. Instead of studying the properties of individual earthquakes, these guys have compared the patterns of quakes at different locations in Japan. They then create a network in which they link locations with similar patterns (see picture above)."

Super Storm on Saturday. NASA's Science News has the story: "May 19, 2011:  NASA's Cassini spacecraft and a European Southern Observatory ground-based telescope are tracking the growth of a giant early-spring storm in Saturn's northern hemisphere so powerful that it stretches around the entire planet. The rare storm has been wreaking havoc for months and shooting plumes of gas high into the planet's atmosphere. (The false-color infrared image above shows clouds of large ammonia ice particles dredged up by the powerful storm. Credit: Cassini. [more]) "Nothing on Earth comes close to this powerful storm," says Leigh Fletcher, a Cassini team scientist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and lead author of a study that appeared in this week's edition of Science Magazine. "A storm like this is rare. This is only the sixth one to be recorded since 1876, and the last was way back in 1990." Cassini's radio and plasma wave science instrument first detected the large disturbance in December 2010, and amateur astronomers have been watching it ever since through backyard telescopes.  As it rapidly expanded, the storm's core developed into a giant, powerful thunderstorm, producing a 3,000-mile-wide (5,000-kilometer-wide) dark vortex possibly similar to Jupiter's Great Red Spot."

Smoke From Alberta Fires Spreading Into Pacific Northwest. Sunsets in the coming weeks may be a bit redder and richer than usual, thanks to fires burning out of control across Alberta, Canada. The University of Wisconsin CIMSS blog has the details: "McIDAS images of GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel data (above) revealed a hazy plume moving southward along the Pacific Northwest coast of the US on 18 May 2011. The airborne smoke showed up very well due to a favorable “forward scattering angle” later in the day, as viewed from GOES-13 (GOES East) located at 75º West longitude. It is very likely that this hazy plume was due to long range transport of smoke from recent fire activity in northern Alberta, Canada — large smoke plumes were seen over that region on GOES-11 and GOES-13 visible channel images as early as 15 May. NOAA ARL HYSPLIT model backward trajectories initialized at altitudes of 6 km, 7 km, and 8km (below) did indeed indicate transport from the region of the fires. Lidar data from the University of British Columbia showed that the portion of the aerosol layer over Vancouver was located at altitudes of 7-8 km."

Crowd-Sourced Weather App Provides Real-Time Updates. has a story about a new (and intriguing) weather app available at the iTunes store: "Despite advances in meteorological technology, and the ever increasing accuracy of weather predictions, there is still a degree of uncertainly that comes with any forecast. The new app Weddar hopes to solve this problem through the power of crowdsourcing. The app can be used to both submit and browse for local weather reports. For example, a user in the suburbs wondering what the weather is like in the center of town can send a request to Weddar to find out. Weddar will then alert other users in the town center who can upload a report on the the type of weather they are experiencing, as well as stating how they rate the temperature — as “perfect”, “hot”, “fresh”, or "freezing", for example. Users can also upload reports unprompted by Weddar whenever they feel so inclined, with all the reports being placed on the Weddar map using the smartphone’s geolocator. Whenever an entry is submitted, reporters gain points and are allocated a respective rank on the leader board. Users can also set to have their reports shared automatically as status updates on Facebook or on Twitter. The reports, meanwhile, fade on the map over time, to ensure that those made many hours before the map is checked do not mislead. The app is currently available from the App store. Weddar enables highly localised weather reporting, and also gives users the subjective views of those making the reports. In the words of Ricardo Fonseca, the app’s co-founder, “With the old weather report services you get the usual, broad and generalist “New York, 93º f, 73% humidity, NE light wind” reports. In Weddar, someone, somewhere in Central Park will tell you that the weather “Feels perfect.”, another one near the river will tell you that “Feels good but windy”, because weather conditions really are different in a same city.” Makes sense to us!"

A Blood Test Offers Clues To Longevity. The New York Times offers up a humbling and vaguely troubling question: if you could take a test that showed you how long you might live, would you take it? "Want to know how long you will live? Blood tests that seek to tell people their biological age — possibly offering a clue to their longevity or how healthy they will remain — are now going on sale. But contrary to various recent media reports, the tests cannot specify how many months or years someone can expect to live. Some experts say the tests will not provide any useful information. The tests measure telomeres, which are structures on the tips of chromosomes that shorten as people age. Various studies have shown that people with shorter telomeres in their white blood cells are more likely to develop illnesses like cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, or even to die earlier. Studies in mice have suggested that extending telomeres lengthens lives. Seizing on that, laboratories are beginning to offer tests of telomere length, setting off a new debate over what genetic tests should be offered to the public and what would be the ethical implications if the results were used by employers or others. Some of the laboratories offering the tests emphasize that the results are merely intended to raise a warning flag. “We see it as a kind of wake-up call for the patient and the clinician to say, ‘You know, you’re on a rapidly aging path,’ ” said Otto Schaefer, vice president for sales and marketing at SpectraCell Laboratories in Houston, which offers a test for $290."

You Are The Ad. Here's a fascinating read from MIT's Technology Review. It would seem that Facebook is turning all of us into reluctant marketers and shills. Didn't see that coming: "Facebook has emerged from a privacy scandal to become online advertising's next great hope. Its goal: turning us all into marketers. Three years ago 1-800-Flowers, long a pioneer in Internet marketing, became the first national florist to create a fan page on Facebook. It used the free page to build relationships with customers and sell selected products, but it spent very little money advertising on the site. In January, however, the company began buying a different kind of Facebook advertisement. "Sponsored stories," as they're called, let marketers pay to turn actions people take on Facebook into promotional content. When members click a thumbs-up button to signal that they "like" a product or brand, for example, a simple ad appears on their friends' pages: "Julia Smith likes" Those friends can click a Like button on that ad, which then shows up on their friends' pages, and so on. Thanks in part to those ads, the company now has more than 125,000 Facebook fans, more than twice as many as it had at the start of the year. Now, says 1-800-Flowers president Chris McCann, "We look at Facebook as core to our marketing program." So do dozens of other major brands, including Ford, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola. Suddenly, large companies are running multimillion-dollar ad campaigns on Facebook. Startups, such as the social-game maker Zynga and the daily-deal service Groupon, are mounting similar though smaller campaigns, and so are hundreds of thousands of local businesses, such as fitness salons and photographers. Facebook ads hauled in nearly $2 billion in revenues last year, according to the business information service eMarketer, and a leaked document belonging to investor Goldman Sachs revealed that the privately held company made a profit of about $500 million in the same period. This year, revenues are on track to reach $4 billion—making the $75 billion valuation investors are placing on Facebook seem slightly less crazy."

The iPhone5: Coming This June. Seeking Alpha has the story, which should be of interest to anyone lugging around an iPhone: "A few weeks ago, CNBC contributor Herb Greenberg argued on national television that Apple (AAPL) should stop offering quarterly guidance due to the fact that Apple’s management is far too conservative to be helpful. While it’s obvious to most analysts that conservatism has very little to do with whether a company’s guidance is helpful -- consistency is the far more relevant issue -- Herb Greenberg is about to learn why a careful analysis of Apple’s guidance is important in more ways than one. First of all, good guidance analysis is almost always helpful to investor-analysts who have consistently outperformed Wall Street in accurately predicting Apple’s quarterly earnings. Yet, every so often, Apple’s guidance can also shed light on something very significant beyond the company’s earnings. Take Apple’s recently reported fiscal Q2, for example. In the conference call, Apple’s CFO Peter Oppenheimer, stated very briefly among several other statements, “We expect OpEx [operating expenses] to be about $2.5 billion, including about $255 million related to stock-based compensation expense.” To most people, this may seem to be a relatively benign and largely mundane statement. Something Herb Greenberg might find to be unimportant or trivial. Yet, to those with a more keen eye, Peter Oppenheimer might as well have just said, “Despite what you might hear on Wall Street, we expect the iPhone 5 to be released in late June or early July as planned.” For everyone living under a rock for the past month, the next generation iPhone’s release date – whether it’s called the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S or something else entirely – has been wrought with speculation and rumor. Most on Wall Street now expect the iPhone 5 to be delayed for at least three months from its customary release date in late June to some time in early September. Everyone from chip analysts to overseas component suppliers to Apple analysts to journalists who “know people that know people who are familiar with the situation” have all generally agreed that the iPhone 5 is delayed."

25 More Tech Tips & Tricks. The New York Time's David Pogue (always entertaining and informative) has some useful insights into the world of computers, smart phones and other various gadgets (um..."productivity devices"):


* "You can magnify the iPhone’s screen, for ease in reading tiny type, by double-tapping with three fingers. Then pan around by dragging with three fingers.

* Of course, you first have to turn this feature on. Do that by tapping Settings, then General, then Accessibility. (On the same screen, you’ll find an option to make the text bigger in the built-in iPhone programs, which is handy in its own way.)

* Has your iPhone screen image suddenly become mysteriously enlarged? There’s nothing quite as alarming as seeing jumbo text and graphics, and nothing restores the phone to the way it’s supposed to be.

* I can’t tell you how many people trek off to the Apple Store to get their “broken” iPhones fixed. Of course, the real problem is that you’ve accidentally turned on screen zooming (described in the previous tip). Double-tap with three fingers to restore the screen magnification."

Why It's Not Smart Doing Shots With Strangers. Drugged & Duped: Bolaris' Perfect Storm. John Bolaris is a TV meteorologist in the Philadelphia market. has the amazing details (I'm pretty sure this was highlighted on 60 Minutes not that long ago). Good grief. Note to self: when in Miami do not accept "free" shots from attractive Polish "models". Words to live by. "THE GUY tossed restlessly in his bed, night after night, for the better part of a year. He couldn't sleep. He had nightmares whenever he did - bizarre, Kafkaesque snippets of dialogue involving the Russian mob, a pair of mysterious, dark-haired women, a goofy-looking painting and an incomprehensible credit-card bill. The shadowy characters and confusing plots from the bad dreams haunted John Bolaris in real life, too. Yeah, that John Bolaris. Few people know that the affable local weatherman's life was turned upside down during a visit to Miami Beach last spring that started out pleasantly and ended with his getting drugged - twice - while his credit card was used by Eastern European scam artists to rack up $43,000 worth of expenses in just two days, while he staggered around in a stupor. Even fewer people would probably believe that story, with all its seemingly borrowed-from-the-movies clichés. American Express, Bolaris' credit-card company, didn't buy it. The company abruptly ended an investigation into his claims and demanded that he pay the five-figure bill. Bolaris balked, and American Express referred his account to a collection agency, which decimated his credit score. He recently filed a civil lawsuit against the credit giant."

Preparedess 101: Zombie Apocalypse. The CDC (yes, the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta) has an eye-opening primer on....zombies? "There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency."

A Brief History of Zombies
We’ve all seen at least one movie about flesh-eating zombies taking over (my personal favorite is Resident EvilExternal Web Site Icon.), but where do zombies come from and why do they love eating brains so much? The word zombie comes from Haitian and New Orleans voodoo origins. Although its meaning has changed slightly over the years, it refers to a human corpse mysteriously reanimated to serve the undead. Through ancient voodoo and folk-lore traditions, shows like the Walking Dead were born.

Better Safe than Sorry
Photo: Some of the supplies for your emergency kit.
Some of the supplies for your emergency kit.
So what do you need to do before zombies…or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen? First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored). Below are a few items you should include in your kit, for a full list visit the CDC Emergency page.
  • Water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
  • Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
  • Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
  • Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
  • Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
  • Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
  • First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)

Zombies Ate My Research Assistant. Now this all makes sense. All those climate scientists conspiring to point a finger of blame at (living) people for anthropogenic climate change are really zombies. That explains a lot. Not sure, but I think this post may be subtle sarcasm, brought to you by Patrick Lockerby, the Chatter Box, and "Zombies are the product of communist tampering with forbidden science.  The FACT that most climate "scientists" are zombies also explains why so many skeptics are afraid to speak out.  It takes a very brave person to make bold claims over and over again in the face of stubborn resistance to TRUTH. That's why so many people post skeptic comments as anonymous or abc123 or Dr. [insert name] Phd.  People who use their real names to post their well-founded scientific objections to paying a tax on pollution risk being torn to pieces and eaten alive."

Cloud-Cluttered. Thursday wasn't too bad, but clouds were on the increase during the day, keeping us a couple degrees cooler than we would have been otherwise. The sun stayed out much of the day over the northern half of Minnesota. Highs ranged from 70 at St. Paul to 71 in St. Cloud to 72 at Eau Claire, WI.

Paul's Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:

TODAY: Warm, PM showers, T-storms. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 74

FRIDAY NIGHT: Showers and storms, locally heavy rain possible. Low: 57

SATURDAY: Showers, storms likely, especially morning/midday hours. A brighter PM? Peeks of sun possible by late afternoon and evening. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 75

SATURDAY NIGHT: Partly to mostly cloudy and sticky. Low: 61

SUNDAY: Some sun morning/midday hours. Mostly PM showers, T-storms. Winds: S 10-15. High: 79

MONDAY: Showers linger, cooler - still damp. Low: 59. High: near 70

TUESDAY: Intervals of sun, a cooler, drier day. Low: 52. High: 64

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny & pleasant. Low: 50. High: 67

THURSDAY: More clouds, passing sprinkle? Low: 53. High: near 70

The "New Normal"?

Historic tornado outbreaks in the south, "epic flooding" on the Mississippi. An "exceptional drought" in Texas & Louisiana. Record snowfall out west. What is going on? Is this one great big cosmic coincidence - or is it possible to connect the dots? In a recent Reuters story Allstate CEO Thomas Wilson said: "There is a lot more severe weather. We are running our homeowners business as if this is a permanent change as opposed to an anomaly." In the 80s economic losses from weather-related disasters cost $25 billion annually. Since 2000 the damage toll has spiked to $130 billion every year. "It's a new normal and I really do think that global weirding is the best way to describe what we're seeing," climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University told Reuters. No, you're not imagining it. Welcome to the new normal.

The weekend is at hand and right on schedule: here come the showers and T-storms! The severe risk should pass just south of Minnesota this weekend, but we may pick up nearly 1" rain by Sunday night. The best chance of tripping over puddles: tonight through midday Saturday, more pop-up instability showers & T-storms Sunday afternoon. No snow. Thank God.

Floods, Droughts Are "New Normal" Of Extreme U.S. Weather Fueled By Climate Change. Another timely story, courtesy of Reuters and Huffington Post: "WASHINGTON (By Deborah Zabarenko) – Heavy rains, deep snowfalls, monster floods and killing droughts are signs of a "new normal" of extreme U.S. weather events fueled by climate change, scientists and government planners said on Wednesday. "It's a new normal and I really do think that global weirding is the best way to describe what we're seeing," climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University told reporters. "We are used to certain conditions and there's a lot going on these days that is not what we're used to, that is outside our current frame of reference," Hayhoe said on a conference call with other experts, organized by the non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists. An upsurge in heavy rainstorms in the United States has coincided with prolonged drought, sometimes in the same location, she said, noting that west Texas has seen a record-length dry period over the last five years, even as there have been two 100-year rain events. Hayhoe, other scientists, civic planners and a manager at the giant Swiss Re reinsurance firm all cited human-caused climate change as an factor pushing this shift toward more extreme weather. While none would blame climate change for any specific weather event, Hayhoe said a background of climate change had an impact on every rainstorm, heat wave or cold snap. "What we're seeing is the new normal is constantly evolving," said Nikhil da Victoria Lobo of Swiss Re's Global Partnerships team. "Globally what we're seeing is more volatility ... there's certainly a lot more integrated risk exposure."

Mississippi Flooding Is Part Of "Global Weirding". Here's an article from "Extreme weather events, such as the heavy rains that recently flooded the Mississippi River and the tornadoes that ripped through an unprecendented 300 mile swath in Alabama, are extremely likely to occur more frequently in the future. This is prompting local governments to prepare for the impact of climate change, according to scientists and adaptation experts participating in a telephone press conference held yesterday by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). "Climate change is about more than warming. What we're really seeing is global ‘weirding,'" said climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, associate professor at Texas Tech University. "It is altering the character and conditions of the places we know and love. For many places around the world, what we are likely to see could be feast or famine - more frequency of weather at the extremes, from intense storms to prolonged droughts. "We can't attribute any one event to climate change," she added, "but we do know that every event that happens is already superimposed on very different background conditions than we had 50 years ago." States, municipalities and businesses - especially the insurance industry - are keenly aware of the trend toward more frequent extreme weather events. In a recent interview with Wall Street analysts, Allstate CEO Thomas Wilson said: "There is a lot more severe weather. We are running our homeowners business as if this is a permanent change as opposed to an anomaly."

The Myth of "Energy Security." has the rather provocative story. Theory or fact? Yes, energy security may be an oxymoron right up there with "airline food", "jumbo shrimp" and "Senate Intelligence Committee": "Turmoil across the Middle East and Northern Africa has refocused attention on the impact that political tensions or interference can have on the price and availability of energy imports. Partly because of consumer fears of gas-price hikes, energy security ranks high on many Western governments' policy agenda. Of course, this is hardly a new phenomenon: Europe started trying to build up its energy reserves back in the 1960s. Likewise, every American president since Richard Nixon in the early 1970s has tried, and failed, to reduce dependence on foreign oil. A new trend, though, is that policies that just a few years ago were being touted to fight climate change are being presented as a necessary way to increase energy security. Against the backdrop of the financial crisis, and as public support for climate-change policies scrapes new lows in many developed countries, we hear less from leaders about the threat of global warming, and more about the supposed economic benefits of climate policies. This shift is hardly surprising, given the increasing number of analyses that demonstrate that current—unilateral—climate policies will have virtually no impact on the rise in global temperature."

Debunking Skeptic Arguments:
Skeptic Argument: Antarctic Is Gaining Ice debunked by Angela Flanagan
Skeptic Argument: Oceans are Cooling debunked by Ryan Maloney
Skeptic Argument: Hurricanes are not Linked to Global Warming debunked by Nick Panico
Skeptic Argument: IPCC is Alarmist debunked by Jason Quilty
Note: Each of the students above gave the (Skeptical Science blog) permission to post their papers and names on this blog. Thanks to Scott Mandia for passing these along.

Cash Crops Under Glass And Up On The Roof. The New York Times reports on an encouraging new (urban) trend: "When Lufa Farms began selling produce to customers in Montreal in late April, it signaled what could be the beginning of a tantalizing new era in the gastronomic fortunes of that Canadian metropolis. In all but the short summer season, the availability of fresh, locally grown fruit and vegetables has been little more than a pipe dream for Montreal residents. But Lufa Farms, founded by Mohamed Hage and Kurt Lynn, turned an unassuming office rooftop into a 31,000-square-foot greenhouse that grows tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other produce year-round and is a working example of a developing trend known as urban rooftop farming. It has taken a timely convergence of technologies and consumer attitudes to bring rooftop farming to the fore. The advance of hydroponic growing techniques and innovative, cost-effective greenhouse systems, together with increasing consumer desire for organic produce, has redefined the term locally grown and spurred entrepreneurs to create a variety of greenhouse technologies and business models. The Lufa Farms model is to sell directly to consumers through a co-op. Other urban farms are forming partnerships with supermarket chains by building large greenhouses on supermarket roofs and selling their produce to the store below."

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