Fishing Opener Outlook. O.K. By now you know it's going to rain (lightly) with a raw north breeze at 10-20, plenty of "walleye chop" out there, along with low, ragged clouds and a steady barometer. Not ideal conditions, but you may just catch some fish out there with these atmospheric conditions:
Saturday Brainerd/Alexandria Lakes Forecast:
7 am: 38-42 F. Light rain. Winds: N 10-20. Steady barometer.
Noon: 44-48 F. Light, showery rains. Winds: N 15-20, gusts to 25. Steady to slowly rising barometer.
6 pm: 47-52 F. Showers linger, drying out north of Leech Lake where skies may brighten. Winds: N/NE 10-20. Slowly rising barometer.
.24" rain predicted for the Twin Cities Saturday (NAM model).
.06" rain predicted for Brainerd on Saturday.
.18" rain predicted for Alexandria.
Sunday: Partly sunny skies, still windy with a rising barometer. Winds: NE 15-25. Still choppy on area lakes. Sunrise temperatures: 38-43 F. Afternoon highs: 57-62 F.
Gusty Sunday. The good news: the sun returns tomorrow. The bad news: a strong pressure gradient will whip up northeast winds at 10-20, with a few gusts as high as 22-25 mph tomorrow. The strongest Sunday winds will blow across southern Minnesota, winds easing up the farther north you go tomorrow. Click here to see the raw NWS data.
Saturday Breakdown. The good news: the farther north you travel (or fish) today, the lighter and more sporadic the showers will be. The heaviest rains (over .50") are predicted to fall south of the Minnesota River.
Tracking The Puddles. The models predict anywhere from .13" to .45" for the Twin Cities today (I suspect about a quarter inch or so will wind up being close to what really falls). A dry spell is likely from Sunday into Thursday morning, followed by scattered showers by late Thursday and Friday.
A "Plan B" Saturday. The latest NAM model suggests one surge of light rain during the morning hours, another, second wave of showery rains arriving this evening.
$2.7 billion: average annual damage toll from flooding since 2000 in the USA.
25% of Americans live in areas that are classified as "low or moderate flood risk"
4% of American homeowners have flood insurance (CNN).
* The local NWS has more on the record high May dew point readings here.
Satellite Images Display Extreme Mississippi River Flooding From Space. Landsat 5 shows a remarkable before and after series, details from NASA: "Recent Landsat satellite data captured by the USGS and NASA on May 10 shows the major flooding of the Mississippi River around Memphis, Tenn. and along the state borders of Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas as seen from 438 miles above the Earth. The flood crest of 47.87 feet on May 10, is the second highest rise in recent history; the highest being 48.7 feet in 1937. Five counties surrounding Memphis have been declared disaster areas, and the costs of the flooding are expected to approach $1 billion. The Mississippi River crest continues to move south and is expected to occur in the Greenville, Miss. Area around May 16 to finally crest in New Orleans around May 23.
Photo Credit: (Left) Landsat 5 image of the Mississippi River in the Memphis, Tenn. Area on May 12, 2006. (Right) Landsat 5 image of the Mississippi River in the Memphis, Tenn. Area on May 10, 2011. Credit: USGS/NASA
America's Achilles Heel: The Mississippi River's Old River Control Structure. Jeff Master's Wunderblog is must-reading for true weather enthusiasts. His latest post has a fascinating explation of flood control systems in place across Louisiana, and how these levies, spillways and flood plains will be tested as never before in the coming weeks: "America has an Achilles' heel. It lies on a quiet, unpopulated stretch of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, a few miles east of the tiny town of Simmesport. Rising up from the flat, wooded west flood plain of the Mississippi River tower four massive concrete and steel structures that would make a Pharaoh envious--the Army Corps' of Engineers greatest work, the billion-dollar Old River Control Structure. This marvel of modern civil engineering has, for fifty years, done what many thought impossible--impose man's will on the Mississippi River. Mark Twain, who captained a Mississippi river boat for many years, wrote in his book Life on the Mississippi, "ten thousand river commissions, with the mines of the world at their back, cannot tame that lawless stream, cannot curb it or define it, cannot say to it "Go here," or Go there, and make it obey; cannot save a shore which it has sentenced; cannot bar its path with an obstruction which it will not tear down, dance over, and laugh at." The great river wants to carve a new path to the Gulf of Mexico; only the Old River Control Structure it at bay. Failure of the Old River Control Structure would be a severe blow to America's economy, interrupting a huge portion of our imports and exports that ship along the Mississippi River. Closure of the Mississippi to shipping would cost $295 million per day, said Gary LaGrange, executive director of the Port of New Orleans, during a news conference Thursday. The structure will receive its most severe test in its history in the coming two weeks, as the Mississippi River's greatest flood on record crests at a level never before seen."
Cajun Country Prepares For 15 Feet Of Water. MSNBC.com has more details: "BUTTE LAROSE, La. — Cajun country residents threatened by Mississippi River flooding were packing their things Friday as they anxiously awaited word on when federal engineers could open a massive spillway that would inundate hundreds of thousands of rural acres and swamp thousands of homes. The Army Corps of Engineers is close to opening the key Morganza floodway to relieve pressure on the levees downstream that protect the more densely populated Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas. The corps could make the move as early as this weekend, though officials stress that no final decision has been made. Still, the governor has warned residents in the spillway's path to assume they'll have to leave their homes. With that threat looming, some 25,000 people in an area known for small farms, fish camps, crawfish and a drawling French dialect are hurriedly packing and worrying that their homes and way of life might soon be drowned. At a meeting earlier, Army Corps of Engineers Col. Ed Fleming warned a crowd at a volunteer fire station in rural Butte LaRose that where they were standing was projected to be swamped by up to 15 feet of water from Mississippi River flooding. The crowd let out a collective gasp."
Online Media Is Replacing Newspapers And TV. Is That A Bad Thing? There's little doubt that people are consuming information much differently than they did even a decade ago. We spend much of the day grazing our laptops, phones (and now tablets) for relevant nuggets of news and information. Now we can filter than information for our tastes and specific needs. Some worry about the future of democracy in this new, information-fragmented world. Democracy is predicated on an "informed electorate", yet it sometimes seems like a significant percentage of Americans don't have a basic grasp of some of the most important issues, ranging from health care to education to the growing deficit challenge. The Christian Science Monitor has a long (and excellent) story about the state of the news business. People have been predicting the imminent demise of newspapers and TV news for a long time. Are they right? How will we be getting our the information we need 10 years from now? The need for perspective, analysis and deep background is greater than ever. Are we going to get that from the content aggregators of the world? Personally, I hope newspapers can adapt from dead-tree editions to bibrant, dynamic, personalized, 24/7 information centers for the 21st century, providing enough value and utility to command a subscription in the mobile and online worlds. The jury is still out - it's coming down to a race against the clock: "There were 80 million more people in the United States in 2010 than in 1980. And though evening news viewership certainly isn't limited to the nation's senior centers, Katie, Brian, Diane, and Jim are well-known visitors in them. The median age of the nightly TV news viewer stands at over 62. So, in response to declining ratings at CBS, here we go again: another anchor shift aimed at bringing in younger viewers and bringing up ratings.There were 80 million more people in the United States in 2010 than in 1980. And though evening news viewership certainly isn't limited to the nation's senior centers, Katie, Brian, Diane, and Jim are well-known visitors in them. The median age of the nightly TV news viewer stands at over 62. So, in response to declining ratings at CBS, here we go again: another anchor shift aimed at bringing in younger viewers and bringing up ratings. But regardless of who is in the anchor chair for any of the networks, they are bound to seem smaller in 21st-century America than they once did. The changes cascading through the news media have made the old models of news delivery – like, say, an anchor reading the news at an appointed time – seem archaic. And it is about more than just TV – newspapers, magazines, radio, all the "legacy" media are feeling the earth move beneath them. Journalists look out and see thousands of empty campus TV lounges and newsprint-less recycling bins and millions of iPads and smart phones and they wonder what's coming next. For the public, the questions are deeper. What is the changing media landscape doing to the way the public gets news? What is it doing to the news itself? And what is it doing to the public as people?"
In Search Of Spring. Nice Friday, huh? Good grief. With a May like this who needs March. Under a gray, drippy sky temperatures were 13 degrees below average in the Twin Cities (normal high is 69) - yet still 3 degrees warmer than May 13, 2010. Elsewhere, highs ranged from 45 at International Falls, Hibbing and Redwood Falls to 56 at St. Cloud.
Dangerous Move. Hiding under a bridge overpass may protect your car from hail-dimples. It may also wind up in a fiery rear-end collision. Unless you can pull all the way over to the far shoulder, I'd resist the urge to park in the middle of a freeway, no matter what the weather is doing overhead. Photo courtesy of sky-chaser.com.
How Bill Gates Would Solve The Climate Crisis. The older I get the more respect I have for Mr. Gates. Not only was he the driving force behind Microsoft, but he's focusing almost all of his time (and considerable wealth) on philanthropy, helping to erradicate many childhood diseases in third world countries. It's no secret that climate change is going to impact the poor disproportinately hard in the decades to come. Gates seems like a prescient thinker and a straight-shooter. Now, if he could only do something about Vista and my occasional blue-screen-of-death. Greenbiz.com has his thoughts about the climate challenge: "It takes a lot -- perhaps a minor miracle -- to put more than a thousand people in a celebratory mood at 7:30 a.m. And apparently, a public discussion with Bill Gates about climate change and its solutions is just such an occasion. This week, the former Microsoft chief and current philanthropist and head of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation served as the main attraction at a fundraiser in Seattle put on by Climate Solutions, a regional non-profit organization with operations in Washington, Oregon and Montana. During the breakfast event, Climate Solutions promoted its mission of clean energy solutions, in part through the premiere of its Solutions Stories video series, and in part through presentations from other regional environmental and political leaders, including Dean Allen, CEO of architecture and construction firm McKinstry; Climate Solutions' policy director, K.C. Golden; Washington state governor Christine Gregoire and Representative Jim McDermott were also in attendance. But the real reason the crowds had thronged, and Climate Solutions had gathered dozens of volunteers wearing bright green hard hats as greeters and coordinators to welcome attendees, was to hear Bill Gates speak on climate change challenges and solutions, and how to, as Golden put it, "pioneer a sustainable path to prosperity that works for us for the long run and for the billions of people around world" who are less privileged."
Climate Disasters: Unlikely To Be Agents Of Progressive Change. It's hardly scientific or statistically significant, but a lot of people have been coming up to me and saying "what the HECK is going on with the weather, between record tornado outbreaks, records floods, record snows, record drought in Texas - is this the new normal, Paul"? Wish I had a good answer for that - I'm just a bewildered spectator, but I strongly suspect that climate change is one of (several) factors contributing to a recent spike in extreme weather events, not just in the USA but worldwide. Grist magazine has an interesting post: "Americans won't wake up and get serious about climate change until there's a disaster." I've been hearing people say that for years, but more and more lately. There's always an uptick after a political defeat like the failure of the climate bill. It's delivered with "more in sadness than in anger" earnestness, and of course no one will ever say they want a disaster to happen, but it's hard not to detect, beneath the surface, some small bit of relish at the thought of saying "I told you so." In more heated circles, there's even a touch of Old Testament justice in the mix, as though Americans are getting what they deserve for their sinful ways and need to learn a lesson. I think that's a dangerous temptation that should be strenuously avoided. First and foremost, disasters suck: They impose a great deal of suffering on innocent people. It is never a good thing when that happens. But even if the moral reason is set aside, there are still two practical reasons to doubt that disasters will prompt the kind of change climate hawks would want. First, the U.S. has an almost $15 trillion economy. No sudden disaster this side of a massive nuclear attack could produce enough economic damage to substantially change the inertia of an economy that size."