Sunday, April 1, 2012

2012: "The Year We Had A 6-Month Summer?" (slight frost risk mid-April)

67 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday. An easterly gradient was stronger than expected, cool air from the Great Lakes pushed into MSP, keeping us a few degrees cooler than expected in the metro area.

90 F. at Luverne Sunday, in far southwestern Minnesota.
50 F. average high for April 1.
47 F. high temperature a year ago, April 1, 2011.

.06" rain predicted tonight (00z NAM model).
67-73 F. highs possible today, probably the mildest day of the week.
Frost-free until April 14-15, when there's a risk of frost, especially over the suburbs.

No April Fool's Day Joke. From snow to 90, in one convenient state! Details from NOAA: "Quite the temperature contrast across the state of Minnesota (Sunday) afternoon. There is an airport just north of Grand Marais reporting a temperature of 37 with light snow. Meanwhile…it’s 90 in Luverne in southwest Minnesota."

"A March Like No Other." There's a good chance you and I will never experience another March like the one we just went through. It was (no hype here, I promise) off-the-scale historic. Nearly 14,000 warm weather records, coast to coast. Almost surreal, like we skipped 2 months and went right to May. Or June. Map courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

Waverunners...On April 1? No, it wasn't a cruel April Fools' Day joke. I spotted a number of (brave) Minnesotans on waverunners yesterday, in spite of water temperatures in the low 40s. Looking out at Lake Minnetonka you would SWEAR it's May 15!

Sunday Wind-Surfing On Lake Calhoun. Meteorologist Aaron Shaffer sent in this photo of wind surfers yesterday on Lake Calhoun - runners, walkers, bikers all rubbing their eyes in disbelief. Aaron's photo in the upper right was taken in Loring Park - time to fire up the April lawn mowers.

+15.5 F. March, 2012 was the warmest on record for the Twin Cities, with a temperature departure 15.5 F. above average.

"...the departure from normal for temperatures this past month were just staggering, with most of MN and WI seeing the average temperature for the entire month end up being double digits above normal." - from the Twin Cities National Weather Service; details below.

My Kind Of "Cold Front". Depending on how much sun breaks through today, we stand a chance of seeing 70 before an eastbound cool front sparks a few (fleeting) showers, and temperatures "cool" into the 60s this week. A high of 70 is possible Friday or Saturday, before a more significant cool front arrives next Sunday.


5% America represents 5% of the world's population.
25% Twenty five percent of people in prison, worldwide, are in the USA. Source: CBN, Christian Broadcasting Network.

2% America has approximately 2% of the world's proven oil supplies.
20% The USA consumes roughly 20% of the world's oil. Source: New York Times.

123 million U.S. cell phones in 2001
302 million U.S. cell phones in 2011. Source: Sara Croke, "Weather or Not". March 31 NWA Severe Storms and Doppler Conference in Des Moines, Iowa.

Joplin EF-5 Tornado:

$2.8 billion in damage.
4, 380 homes destroyed, roughly 30% of Joplin's homes.
3 million cubic yards of debris created by the tornado.

"every minute the tornado churned across the city, approximately 1,000 homes were being destroyed, 100 people were being injured, and 10 people were dying." Source: Jeff Pietrowski, professional storm chaser, who came to the aid of injured residents of Joplin and helped to coordinate emergency response efforts. Aerial image above from NOAA.

"In response to claims by some U.S. political parties stating that man-made global warming is a "hoax", Mr. Raven said "it's just foolishness" to believe that global warming isn't a real threat. "It's not a matter of conjecture anymore", Mr. Raven told ABC News. - from a Daily Mail article below.

“Climate change is the most serious challenge probably that the human race has ever confronted.” - from Bill Blakemore, ABC News story on climate change denial below.

Does This Mean I Can't Get My Iced, Triple-Shot Latte? Good grief - check out the Starbucks in south Texas, after it was bombarded by a fusillade of golfball-size hail.

* I've talked (ad nauseum) about how climate change is a threat, and an opportunity. Why aren't there companies out there creating hail-proof building materials? A hail-proof, ding-proof plastic film to protect my (hybrid) car? 3M - you thought Post-It Notes were big? Protecting us (from ourselves) is going to be a massive, multi-billion dollar business in the 21st century. Just my opinion.

Warmest March On Record. According to Twin Cities National Weather Service records March finished first, an average temperature of 48.3 F breaking the old record (1910) by 3.4 F. St. Cloud broke their record by a whopping 6.2 F. Details here. "They say records are meant to be broken, and March of 2012 proved that statement to be true. If there was a record for March warmth, the March of 2012 probably broke it. This March saw the earliest occurrence of 80 degrees on record in the Twin Cities (17th) and at Eau Claire (16th); was the greatest number of 70 degree days for a March at all three climate locations, had St. Cloud see its first cooling degree days in March ever, and to top it all off, it was easily the warmest March on record for all three sites....The departure from normal for temperatures this past month were just staggering, with most of MN and WI seeing the average temperature for the entire month end up being double digits above normal."

Serious Temperature Departures. MSP finished the month of March 15.5 F. warmer than average. Rainfall across central and southern Minnesota was slightly less than normal, while northern Minnesota picked up ample rains.

A Bit Above Average. The green-shaded region is considered a normal temperature range. Every city across Minnesota (and much of America east of the Rockies) experienced an historic March; many towns 10-25 F. above average. Check out the details from the Twin Cities NWS office here.

Jaw-Dropping Warmth. In the La Crosse area March temperatures were 18 F. above average, the entire state at least 10-12 F. warmer than typical for March. Map courtesy of the Twin Cities NWS, and the Midwestern Regional Climate Center in Urbana-Champaign.

93 F. at Borger, Texas Sunday - a new record for April 1.

An "Incredible Stretch Of Warm Weather" In Chicago And Rockford. From the Chicago NWS: "Below is some information from Chicago and Rockford to reflect on the historically warm March of 2012. This includes the incredible stretch between March 14th and March 23rd, when summer warmth visited much of the northern tier of the United States and southern Canada, resulting in warm temperature records (high and/or warm low) being broken or tied for 10 consecutive days at both Chicago-O’Hare and Rockford."

"Incredible Warmth Shatters Records At Des Moines." Even the DSM National Weather Service has run out of superlatives: "Last month was by far the warmest March on record. The average temperature of 55.7 bested the old record of 51.5 (set in 1910) by fully 4.2 degrees. This is the widest margin by which a monthly temperature record has ever been broken at Des Moines, besting December of 1889 which is the warmest on record by a margin of 3.7 degrees. March was 16.4 degrees above normal, which is the greatest departure above normal of any month on record, besting the mark of the greatest margin above normal of 15.5 in January of 1880 (greatest absolute margin occurred February 1936 which was 17.2 below normal). In fact, the average temperature for March was so far above normal that it would rank 11th on the list of the warmest Aprils on record. The number of warm days in March was completely unprecedented in the climate record. The last freeze of the month occurred on the 9th, with the remaining 22 days of the month shattering the record for the most consecutive March days above freezing, which was previously 16 days set in 1884 and 1910."

Warmest March On Record In Marquette, Michigan. Details from the Marquette NWS: "The Marquette National Weather Service office in Negaunee, MI has experienced the warmest March on record.  With an average daily temperature of 39.7 degrees F, we have surpassed the previous record set in 2010 (34.7 degrees F) by an impressive 5.0 degrees*"

March Record In Kansas City. "March 2012 will be the warmest March ever recorded in Kansas City with an average temperature of 58.4 degrees. Kansas City is not the only site that experienced the warmest March ever, with St. Joseph, Kirksville and Sedalia all smashing their previous record temperatures.  To put these records in perspective, our average high temperatures on the 31st is only 61 degrees". Source: Kansas City NWS.

Warmest March For Topeka, Kansas. From NOAA: "The average monthly temperature for March at Topeka Kansas was 59.3 degrees.  This is the warmest average monthly temperature ever recoded since records have been kept in Topeka beginning in 1888.  The previous record was 57.2 degrees set in 1910."

March Record For Indianapolis. "March 2012 will go down in history as the warmest March of record in Indianapolis, and nearly a whopping 15 degrees above normal. The last time the record average temperature for a month was tied occurred when March 1946 equaled the record warm March 1910. The last time a record monthly average temperature was set happened at the close of August 1936 during the Heat Wave of 1936. Even more impressive, the average temperature for March 2012 shattered the previous record from March 1910 by nearly 5 degrees." Source: Indianapolis NWS office.

March Records In The New York City Area. From the NYC NWS office: "In March 2012, we once again saw record breaking temperatures and precipitation! The area was well below normal for precipitation, where some sites ranked in the top 3 driest March’s on record. We were also well above average for temperature with 5 of the 6 sites breaking the warmest March average temperature on record! Check out the graphic for a summary and the Public Information Statement for more information."

Monday Severe Risk. The best chance of large hail (and an isolated tornado) later today will come from central Texas into Oklahoma and southern Kansas. Source: SPC.

Budding Trees. I'm more worried about blooming flowers coming up than I am about shrubs and trees - there's a growing potential for frost the second week of April. In spite of our historic March nights are still long enough (and snowy enough over northern Canada) to brew up chilly airmasses. One such cold front may arrive as early as Saturday, setting the stage for a few light jacket days (and potentially frosty nights) by the first half of next week.

Models Still Hinting At A Mid-April Frost.think we'll stay frost-free into at least early next week, but the second full weekend of April may bring frost to the suburbs of the Twin Cities - hopefully not a killing freeze. Right now the GFS is showing sub-freezing temperatures around April 14-15. That said, the GFS has been highly erratic with this (unprecedented) weather pattern - it's just as confused as we are. Nothing etched in stone...yet, but be forewarned.

Even Miami Experiences Gray, Foggy Mornings. Thanks to meteorologist Bay Scroggins, who has a very tough assignment (living and working in the Miami area). At least it's lukewarm fog down there.

Flood-Hit Fiji Fears Storm May Turn Into Cyclone. An update on historic flooding on the tiny Pacific island of Fiji from Australia's ABC Network: "Officials in Fiji say they are worried a storm sweeping across parts of the main island of Viti Levu may deteriorate into a cyclone. Authorities are struggling to cope with the floods that have killed three people and forced almost 8,000 people into evacuation centres. Many people are finding it difficult to leave the country with the main road to Nadi airport closed. Earlier today authorities declared a state of natural disaster for the region. A spokeswoman for Fiji's Ministry of Information, Sharon Johns, says they are worried an incoming depression could turn into a cyclone."

* more on the record flooding in Fiji from The Sydney Morning Herald.

New Tornado Warnings Based On Storm's Severity Aim To Scare. The NWS is testing out new wording for tornado warnings aimed at getting people in the path to take action (not wait for 2-3 more confirmations of a tornado before heading to the basement). Psychology 101. Here's an excerpt from The Huffington Post: "KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Even expert storm chases would have struggled to decipher the difference between the tornado warnings sent last May before severe weather hit Joplin and, a few days later, headed again toward downtown Kansas City. The first tornado was a massive EF-5 twister that killed 161 people as it wiped out a huge chunk of the southwest Missouri community. The second storm caused only minor damage when two weak tornadoes struck in the Kansas City suburbs. In both cases, the warnings were harbingers of touchdowns. But three out of every four times the National Weather Service issues a formal tornado warning, there isn't one. The result is a "cry wolf" phenomenon that's dulled the effectiveness of tornado warnings, and one the weather service hopes to solve with what amounts to a scare tactic." Photo above: AP.

* another angle on the beefed-up wording for tornado warnings from The Washington Post and the Kansas City Star.

"Ask Paul" Weather-related Q&A:

"On April 3, 1910 my mother gave birth to her first child in Fairmont, Minnesota - when the apple trees were blossoming. She always remember that, especially during those awful cold and snowy years - the 30s, 40s, 50s: "No, it hasn't always been this cold!" Will Fairmont see apple blossoms on April 3 this year?"
Glorida Kiester

Glorida - although gardening is not my specialty (I have no specialties, come to think of it), my hunch is that apple blossoms will be in full bloom this year on April 3 in Fairmont. Statewide we're running a good 4-5 weeks ahead of schedule this spring. Let me know, ok?
"I heard you talk of all the record high temps in March of 1910. My grandparents were married in Mpls. on March 30th, 1910 and I wondered what the temp was that day and whether it was a record high for awhile. I know it no longer is the record temp because I found that record. I'd appreciate hearing from you folks."

Wendy - through the magic of the Internet (and some help from The Minnesota Climatology Working Group, I was able to track down weather on March 30, 1910. The high was 59, the low 37, but the previous 2 days the high in the Twin Cities had soared to 76. Yes, 1910 was another flukish, freaky-early spring for much of Minnesota.

Keith Olbermann's Angry E-mail Trail Traces Break-Up With Current TV. One word: karma. It's not enough to be brilliant (although I rarely agreed with his positions you had to admit that Keith Olbermann was a pretty bright guy) - but this is a sad tale that seems to underscore the fact that smarts aren't enough. Social skills are pretty essential too. Here's an excerpt from a baffling story at The Daily Beast:  "It was a terrible marriage from the beginning. Just weeks after Keith Olbermann launched his nightly program on Current TV last June, his team was complaining that the network founded by Al Gore and attorney Joel Hyatt wasn’t living up to its promises to support a professional cable news show. The arguments escalated for months, with Olbermann directly appealing to the former vice president on three or four occasions, until relations had become so poisoned that, on Friday, Current fired Olbermann for breach of contract. He has vowed to take the matter to court and questioned the ethics of Gore and Hyatt."

Photo credit above: "Keith Olbermann poses at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Mark J. Terrill / AP Photo."

Amazing Sunday. After a disappointing Saturday (darn inversion) our weather mellowed considerably on Sunday, enough sun for upper 60s and low 70s. Highs ranged from 67 in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud to 69 Alexandria and 72 at Redwood Falls.

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

TODAY: Still lukewarm. Fading sun. Late T-storm? Winds: E 10. High: 72

MONDAY NIGHT: A passing shower or two, turning cooler late. Low: 47

TUESDAY: Damp start, getting sunnier as the day goes on. High: 66

WEDNESDAY: Blue sky, light winds - very pleasant. Low: 45. High: 68

THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Very nice. Low: 44. High: 65

FRIDAY: Intervals of sun, more humid. Low: 45. High: 68 (some towns near 70)

SATURDAY: Few showers, possible thunder (cool frontal passage). Low: 49. High: 63

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, windy and much cooler. Jackets return. NW 20. Low: 43. High: 57

Spring In My Step

"The trouble with weather forecasting is that it's right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it" mused Patrick Young. I'm relieved the sun came out Sunday, in fact I almost broke into song as the inversion broke and stratus burned away, revealing a magic canvas of blue sky and green yards; like something from a midwinter daydream.

I went to school to be able to call myself a meteorologist, but you can't learn how to predict weather out of a book. You jot down a forecast, then dash to the window every 15 minutes. Over time, you learn from your (prodigious) mistakes, but it's a steep & humiliating learning curve.

"The departure from normal for temperatures this past month were just staggering, with most of MN and WI seeing the average temperature for the entire month end up being double digits above normal," wrote the local NWS office. 15.5 F. above average; the warmest March on record. I'm still worried about drought, low lake water levels and a risk of brushfires. No big storms are brewing until (maybe) mid-April. We "cool" into the 60s this week; 70 possible Friday.

Step away from the annuals (please). Maps are hinting at a frost April 9-12. Yes, we're due.

"I like to look people squarely in the eye and in my most sincere voice tell them: This is our defining moment. Allowing me some poetic license, this decade will define us in a largely permanent way. We simply have to get it right—we‟ve got to get our emissions headed downward in a big way in this decade or we will be paying the consequences for millennia. Society has simply never faced such a critical issue before, not even close to this one in the very important sense that if we get this wrong, there won‟t be any real second chances for recovery of our error. As a species, I‟m not at all sure that we‟re up for that kind of challenge, and I‟m not alone in that skepticism. But I will not let that diminish my commitment to keeping my own life-style as low in carbon emissions as I can make it. And continuing in my efforts to get others to see the extreme danger we are in and the need for urgent and dramatic change."

Gestur Davidson

Climate Stories....

Global Warming Denial In U.S. Will Help China Overtake Says Top Scientist. Here's an excerpt of a story in the U.K. Daily Mail: "One of the world's most respected scientists has slammed America's position on global warming. Peter Raven has been a trusted adviser of U.S. presidents, popes and other heads of state on the issue since 1964. The 76-year old American scientist and former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, says that an anti-climae stance has diminished U.S. presige among world leaders...."The U.S. is cutting off its possibilities to be a leader in this field, to be a leader in green technology (and thus) create jobs", said Ms. Figueres. "The U.S. is losing leadership to China" she continued. Mr. Raven also says that a vigorous 'disinformation campaign' in the U.S. by political parties, particularly the Republicans, and the fossil fuel industry, about the seriousness of the situation has led to an alarming lowering of respect for America..."

Changing Seasons. Here's an excerpt of an article from Puckerclust, a repost of a Huffington Post story: "SANTA FE, NM – Local skiers were festive but disappointed on closing day, a full week earlier than originally planned.  As temperatures in the state capital approached 80 degrees on the first day of April, rivulets of water cascaded into the ski area parking lots. Large patches of bare ground were exposed along with bare skin of skiers and snowboarders who occupied Totamoff’s deck to enjoy the sun and beer. “When I first came to Santa Fe, it always snowed by Halloween and the ski area always opened by the end of November,” observed Michael Wigley, a local skiing legend.  “Now we are lucky if we have decent snow before Christmas."

Weather Extremes May Indicate Climate Change. Here's an excerpt from a story at NBC News: "We're back with a question on many people's minds. What has been causing all this strange and extreme weather we've been seeing in recent months. There may be a lot more to come as a new report out this week brought deepening concern about climate change . Anne thompson has more: Reporter: it's been a whacky and unpredictable winter. not much snow and cold in the U.S. In march alone, more than 6,000 highs broken. Snow blankets in february and arctic blasts killing hundreds. But elsewhere, people are relishing spring fever , including here in Scotland, where the daffodils are out early. And so are the beachgoers. With the thermometer climbing to 74 when it should hover around 50. Perfect weather to stretch the legs. This time of year, it's usually pretty stormy. Luckically for me, it's my long weekend. Reporter: but scientists say ping-ponging between extremes may be a bigger problem. The warming we've seen actually increases the chances, kind of loads the dice, that we're going to see these kinds of events more often."

Photo credit above: "As carefree beachgoers soak up the sun in Scotland, scientists are concerned that Europe's warm temperatures may be the result of heat-trapping gases of climate change. NBC's Anne Thompson reports."

Global Warming Denialism "Just Foolishness" Scientist Peter Raven Says. An excerpt from a post at ABC News: "One of the world’s most widely known and respected senior scientists tells ABC News that current denial about the basic daunting realities of manmade global warming is “just foolishness.” He also reports that the rest of the world has now “pretty well given up” on its hope for U.S. leadership in dealing with global climate change. His assessment reinforces our findings at the recent global climate summit in Durban, South Africa, that the vigorous anti-climate science movement in the United States has significantly damaged American prestige among European leaders who are struggling to deal with the daunting impacts of global warming."

The EPA's (very small) Step On Carbon Emissions. Here's a portion of an Op Ed in Sunday's Washington Post: "ON TUESDAY, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its first limits on carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants. By requiring that facilities produce less than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, the rule essentially bans construction of traditional coal-fired power plants. That’s good: Burning coal releases lots of carbon dioxide and a range of nasty pollutants that encourage heart attacks and respiratory illness. Yet only by the miserable standards of Congress’s continuing inaction on climate change is this rule impressive. The EPA’s new carbon standards won’t change all that much. Low natural gas prices and the high efficiency of natural gas power plants have already moved the market away from coal and toward that cleaner fossil fuel. Should natural gas prices shoot up, the EPA’s rules guarantee that utilities couldn’t turn back to old coal years down the road, The Post’s Brad Plumer and Grist’s Dave Roberts point out."

Climate Changes Aren't So Sweet. The impact on syrup production (Youngstown, Ohio) from; here's an excerpt: "Climate changes aren’t so sweet. The Vindicator’s article last weekend regarding the Boardman Maple Syrup Festival reported that the demonstrations would need to “get creative,” using water instead of sap, due to the premature warm temperatures. Sap runs earlier, has less sugar content, and disappears more quickly when the weather heats too rapidly. What was left unsaid is that this March warmth is most likely caused by anthropogenic climate change, according to the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Maple syrup production is part of Ohio’s history. My grandfather collected sap from 900 taps on his farm, Maplevale, in Canfield, during WW I. Since sugar was being rationed then, he was able to earn a whopping $100/week on maple syrup production, and sent four girls to college on maple syrup profits."

Leaked Documents Reveal Flatland Institute Plan To Brainwash Toddlers With "Baby Inhofe" Videos. I love April Fools' Day - the best headlines of the entire year, as evidenced in this Think Progress "story": "Internal documents acquired by Climate Progress reveal that the Flatland Institute is planning to indoctrinate infants with a “Baby Inhofe” series of DVDs and videos. Flatland is a right-wing, anti-science think tank funded by the Koch brothers, the Resources Development Administration, and other corporate pollutocrats. These shocking videos, which have also been acquired  by Climate Progress, use famous children’s songs to spread disinformation to those who are most at risk from coal pollution. Here’s one grotesque example:
Frosty the coal man is a jolly happy soul
There must be magic in clean coal technology
For when they looked for pollutants
There was nearly none to see.
Photo credit above: "Inhofe family igloo, which they claim is "Al Gore's Home." Leaked emails prove otherwise."

April Fools' Day Test: "Michigan Surrenders To Global Warming". Happy to see some reporters out there with a well-developed sense of humor:  The Detroit Free Press: "TRAVERSE CITY -- Saying that the unusually warm winter was only a hint of future climate change, the Obama administration has given Michigan $136 million for pilot programs to establish an alligator ranch on the east arm of Grand Traverse Bay and a banana plantation on the Leelanau Peninsula. The alligator ranch began last fall but was kept secret until residents along the shoreline of Grand Traverse Bay launched their boats in March and began noticing big "logs" that disappeared under the surface whenever they were approached."

Photo credit above: "A 10-foot alligator basks in the sunshine along the east arm of Grand Traverse Bay on April Fools' Day. Eric Sharp/Detroit Free Press."

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