Tuesday, April 24, 2012

70s Today, Then Cooler (80s late next week?)

73 F. high in the Twin Cities at 3:38 pm Tuesday.
62 F. average high for April 24.
62 F. high temperature 1 year ago, on April 24, 2011.
4 days above 70 so far in March in the Twin Cities.
8 days above 70 in March, 2012 in the metro area.

Trace of flurries in the metro so far in April, 2012.
1.9" had fallen on the Twin Cities from April 1-24, 2011.

"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." - Elwyn Brooks White

One More Temperature Correction - Then 70s (and 80s) Next Week. The latest European (ECMWF) model, which tends to do a better job after Day 3, shows a dry weekend (storm tracks just south of Minnesota) with highs in the 50s, but we may be close to 70 by next Tuesday, a few 80-degree highs possible by the end of next week.

  105 F. high at Phoenix Monday, a new record - tied for the hottest ever observed in April at KPHX.

113 F. high reported at Death Valley, the hottest April temperature ever recorded.

23.2" snow reported at Laurel Summit, Pennsylvania.

Disaster Emergency declared for parts of western Pennsylvania early Tuesday due to heavy wet snow, school closings and power outages. More details from USA Today.

Photo credit above: "Nick Brogan shows how deep the snow was on Mallory Babcock's porch on Monday, April 23, 2012, on Armenia Mountain in Armenia Township, Pa. It measured 13 inches in this spot. (AP Photo/The Daily Review, Eric Hrin)."

7 am Tuesday: 37 F. at Cross City, Florida - at the same time it was 41 F. at Quebec, Canada

Photo Of The Day: Northern Lights. Here's a great pic of the Aurora Borealis, taken by Reid Wolcott at the National Weather Service in Riverton, Wyoming Monday night. Details via Flickr: "Got a message and texts from a couple of my co-workers that there was an Aurora event going on, visible from the office. I was able to rush up there and grab a few shots before it faded away. This was the best display I've seen since moving here, hopefully we get a few more opportunities while the sun is still active!"

The United (Meteorologically Insane) States of America. Check out Monday's records: 100-degree heat out west, with 24 hour snowfall records from West Virginia into western New York. Unreal. Details courtesy of NOAA - interactive map courtesy of Ham Weather (one of the Media Logic family of companies).

Hot Facts


* The high temperature of 105 F. on April 22nd ties the hottest temperature ever recorded in Phoenix in the month of April (April 20, 1989 and April 29, 1992).
* The 3 consecutive days of 100+ heat hasn't happened during the month of April in Phoenix since 1992.
* All 3 of these days set daily record high temperatures for the city, but is a far cry from April 1989 when 10 daily record highs were set during the month.

Salt Lake City:
* Temperatures reached 86 F. at Salt Lake City Tuesday. This broke the the daily record of 85 set in 1977. That's 3 record days in a row for SLC!
"Despite clear indications on weather radar of a powerful thunderstorm with a possible tornado heading toward the DFW airport, the issuance of a tornado warning, and a “tornado emergency” airport weather warning, airline pilots were still caught off guard on taxiways with full loads of passengers — exposed and vulnerable to a powerful tornado. The tornado emergency warning for DFW was issued 17 minutes in advance of the storm, according to the National Weather Service." - excerpt of an article at Climate Central below focusing on a continued danger to aviation, pilots and passengers during severe storm episodes. Photo credit.

"A poll due for release on Wednesday shows that a large majority of Americans believe that this year's unusually warm winter, last year's blistering summer and some other weather disasters were probably made worse by global warming. And by a 2-to-1 margin, the public says the weather has been getting worse, rather than better, in recent years." - from The New York Times and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; details below.

"A warmer Arctic means slower-moving storm systems across the mid-latitudes." - details from Earth Gauge below.

"With the help of well-oiled politicians, ill-equipped and often complicit media outlets, and vested interests like the fossil-fuel industry, climate deniers have tried to portray the evidence for human-caused climate change as some house of cards – a hoax that’s teetering on a single hockey-stick graph. In reality, the evidence for human-caused climate change is more like a vast puzzle, a few pieces of which come from paleoclimate data like what my colleagues and I studied in our hockey-stick paper." - climate scientist Michael Mann, in a story at The Energy Collective below.

"But research by Yale and George Mason universities suggests Americans are now seeing that the hoax may all be on the climate change denier side. By a 2-to-1 margin, they say that U.S. weather – including heat waves, droughts and severe rainstorms – has been getting worse, rather than better, in recent years." - from an Op Ed at The Climate Daily below.

Snow From Space. Almost 2 feet of snow over western Pennsylvania? Good grief. Here's a post from the Philadelphia office of The National Weather Service: "An unusual sight on a late April visible satellite image. The yellow arrow points to the area of snow that extends southward from the mountains of western Pennsylvania, across extreme western Maryland and down into eastern West Virginia." MODIS 1,000 meter resolution Tuesday image courtesy of NASA.

Anatomy Of A Nor'Easter. Check out the 3-5" rainfall amounts from eastern Virginia into the Philadelphia area, New Jersey and much of southern New England. Had that been all snow: 2-4 feet. Details from the Washington/Baltimore office of the National Weather Service, via Facebook: "A regional map of rain and snow fall from the Nor'easter."

5-Day Rainfall Amounts. Some 2"+ rainfall amounts are predicted for the Pacific Northwest, South Dakota and Nebraska, the Louisville, Kentucky area, and western Pennsylvania. The late-week storm is predicted to pass just south of Minnesota - again.

Shorts & Jackets. After one more day of 70s today temperatures cool off into the 50s the rest of the week, a few models hinting at a frost for the suburbs Saturday and Sunday morning, before temperatures recover into the 60s early next week.

80s Imminent? The GFS has been fairly consistent hinting at a warm spell after May 2-3, with 3-4 days in a row above 80 F. a very real possibility. Will it stick? Nope. Another cool front tugs temperatures into the 50s after May 7.

Springy Comeback Next Week. After a cool start temperatures should mellow into the 60s, possibly a few 70s toward the end of next week. Map above courtesy of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center and Ham Weather's new Aeris graphics.

Idaho "Hailers". From the Boise, Idaho office of The National Weather Service (via Facebook): "Isolated Severe Thunderstorms are producing large, damaging hail and wind gusts over 70 mph across portions of eastern Oregon and Southwestern Idaho this afternoon. These hail stones were photographed near Caldwell."

Critical Flaws Bared In Aviation Tornado Warning System. Another interesting article from Andrew Freedman at Climate Central; here's an excerpt: "One year ago, a violent tornado struck Lambert-St.Louis International Airport, exposing hundreds of passengers to danger from flying debris in the concourses as well as onboard aircraft sitting on the tarmac. Despite a half-hour heads up from the National Weather Service, the airport authority never warned passengers of the approaching twister, and the tornado warning was not relayed to pilots either. Damage to one of the concourses was so severe — the EF-4 tornado peeled away a section of the roof from the one of the concourses and blew out the large windows in the main terminal — that repairs were only completed earlier this month. The St. Louis tornado was supposed to be a wakeup call for the aviation and weather communities. Yet three weeks ago, the same perilous scenario was repeated at a different airport, this time at Dallas-Ft. Worth International, the eighth-busiest airport in the world. There, a severe thunderstorm on April 3 that was showing signs of producing a tornado tracked directly over DFW, and while airport officials succeeded in warning passengers in the concourses and ushering them to safety, there are indications that there was a failure to inform pilots of the severity of the approaching storm."

Graphic credit above: "Radar images and explanation for the tornadic thunderstorm that struck DFW Airport on April 3, 2012. Credit: NWS Dallas. Click on image for a larger version."

Storm-Chasing Proves To Be An Increasingly Popular Pasttime. If you have an itch to chase tornadoes (or have tornadoes chase you) you'll want to read this article from The Columbia Daily Tribune; here's an excerpt: "No doubt about it, University of Missouri senior Dustin Mazzio got some pretty impressive photographs and video footage of a twister in Kansas last weekend. A lot of other storm chasers did, too. A YouTube search for Kansas tornadoes brings up dozens of videos from the April 14 outbreak. There were so many thrill seekers chasing storm clouds with camera phones that Kansas safety officials have complained about traffic snarls, with one official calling the situation "outrageously stupid." The thing is weather spotters and chasers are extremely helpful to the National Weather Service, said Robb Lawson, a meteorologist with the service's Wichita, Kan., office."

Photo credit above: "University of Missouri student Dustin Mazzio captures a tornado on camera while storm chasing in Kansas."

UW Student Hopes To Add New Dimension To Weather Research. 3-D weather? That rings a bell. Check out this story from trib.com: "For centuries, scientists have relied on the same fairly humdrum techniques to understand our planet’s weather: taking measurements, then crunching numbers. But with the help of University of Wyoming computer science graduate student Ashish Dhital, weather researchers may soon be able to move with a tornado twirling across the plains, or watch a fog bank roll in from just about any viewpoint they could hope for. Dhital has been chosen as a summer intern this year in the Parallel Computational Science (SIParCS) program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. While there, Dhital will focus on developing computer programs that can turn raw weather data into interactive 3-D animations.

Photo credit above: Ron Podell | UW Public Relations. "University of Wyoming computer science graduate student Ashish Dhital has been chosen as a summer intern this year at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. While there, Dhital will focus on developing computer programs that can turn raw weather data into interactive 3-D animations."

Economists Point To Weather As A Key Driver. When in doubt, blame the weather. Only this time there may be more than a hint of truth to that claim. More details from The Shreveport Times: "When in doubt, blame it on the weather. It's human nature to want to arrive at an understandable explanation to everything that happens in the world. Rather than feeling like it's all random, we want to know why the market went up or why bats hang upside down or why white is the most popular auto color. Having no clue about the "why" of things leaves us feeling very vulnerable.The recent employment report is no different. The government said the economy added 120,000 new jobs in March; however, that was well below the 210,000 increase expected by surveys of economists. So, to what did some economists attribute the smaller than expected increase? Believe it or not — the weather!"

Northern Lights (from 200+ miles above the ground). Check out this spectacular YouTube clip, courtesy of NASA: "This previously uploaded video has now been enhanced by adding narration from a Crew Earth Observations team member, Justin Wilkinson. This video was taken by the crew of Expedition 30 on board the International Space Station. The sequence of shots was taken January 30, 2012 from 06:13:36 to 06:23:09 GMT, on a pass from northern Mexico to northwest New Brunswick. This video begins looking northeast over Texas, where cities like San Antonio, Houston, and the Dallas/Fort Worth area can be seen. Continuing northeast over the Great Plains states, cities like Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and St. Louis can be easily distinguished. The pass continues over the familiar shape of the Michigan Peninsula, with Chicago at the south edge of Lake Michigan. As the ISS continues northeast, the Aurora Borealis can be seen over Canada."

Research: Millenials Rarely Interact With Brands On Facebook. This could be a problem for FB - younger users use it to connect (with friends) but not so much with favorite brands. Details from Penn State Live: "UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Millennials rarely visit brand pages on Facebook even after they become their “fan.” That’s what research by Marcia DiStaso, an assistant professor of public relations in the College of Communications at Penn State, Tina McCorkindale, an assistant professor of communications at Appalachian State University, and Hillary Fussell Sisco, an assistant professor of public relations in the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University found. The results of their work were presented during the International Public Relations Research Conference.  The three researchers surveyed 18- to 29-year-old participants on the three university campuses and found 86 percent of the millennials access Facebook every day and 75 percent have “liked” an organization.  However, while millennials might initially connect with an organization, 69 percent percent of respondents reported they rarely or never visit those pages again."

Bears Invade WNEP During 11 pm Newscast. Full disclosure: I got my start at Channel 16, WNEP-TV, serving the Twin Cities of northeastern PA: Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. It's here that "backyard weather" was born, for better or worse. Check out this close call from TVSpy.com: "WNEP had some unexpected visitors during its 11 p.m. newscast on Monday. Just before meteorologist Kurt Aaron was to appear live from the station’s weather backyard on Monday night, four bears (one mother and three cubs) descended on the outdoor space. “I ran like I stole something,” Aaron said during the newscast, after seeking safety indoors. “No offense, but I don’t want to be doing the weather with four bears.” Video inside…"

Career Advice From Robin Meade: "Don't Make The Mistake Of Always Looking For The Next Job." Amen. I couldn't agree more. If you're in in a good situation where you like the people you're working with, management isn't too much of a pain in your butt, and there's an opportunity for (internal) advancement, stay put. Ride the wave. The grass is NOT always greener on the other side. I speak from personal experience. More from TVSpy.com: "In the first part of mediabistroTV’s three-part “Media Beat” interview with HLN’s Robin Meade, the former WJW, WCMH, WSVN, and WMAQ anchor offers advice about making it in TV news. “Don’t make the mistake of always looking for the next job,” Meade warns, “so much so that you’re not learning in your current position.” Meade also talks about her music career and describes how she’s been able to maintain her 18-year marriage while working the crazy hours of a morning anchor."

Trying To Keep My (Cartographic) Sense Of Humor. Some people aren't aware of the friendly rivalry between Minneapolis and St. Paul. The first month I started at KARE-11, March of 1983, the News Director pulled me aside and told me "Paul, don't ever mention Minneapolis...or St. Paul. It's "Twin Cities" We don't play favorites here." Got it. Recently our developers created some new radar maps with just Minneapolis. Big mistake. I asked them to change it to "Twin Cities". Here is what I got back. Nice.

"Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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

TODAY: Mild with more clouds than sun, an isolated T-shower possible. Winds: S 10-15. High: 73

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Evening thunder, then clearing late. Low: 46

THURSDAY: Bright sun, cooler breeze. High: 58

FRIDAY: Sunny north, clouds increase southern Minnesota. Low: 42. High: 55

SATURDAY: Storm tracks south. Some sun expected - still cool. Winds: NE 10. Low: 40. High: 53

SUNDAY: Early frost central/northern MN? Sunnier, still too dry. Winds: SE 5-10. Low: 37. high: 56

MONDAY: Sunny start - clouds increase, slightly milder. Low: 39. High: 61

TUESDAY: Warmer, sticky with T-showers possible. Low: 48. High: near 70

* a string of 70s are likely next week, even a few 80-degree highs the latter half of next week.

Thunder Potential

Take a bow. You live in one of the 2-3 most extreme states, in a United States that experience more severe weather than any other nation on Earth. On average we experience about 35 days that are potentially life-threatening: tornadoes, extreme lightning, flash floods, blizzards, wind chill, etc. America's diverse geography brews up a smorgasbord of airmasses that often converge on Minnesota. Last Saturday brought snow up north, tornadoes west. At the rate we're going April may wind up cooler than March. Never a dull moment.

It helps to know we're not alone. Monday brought 23.2 inches of snow to Laurel Summit, Pennsylvania. Meanwhile Phoenix saw a record high of 105; 113 at Death Valley, hottest ever recorded in April.

70-degree air surging north sparks T-storms today, the risk of anything severe slim. Cooler air pushes south, highs in the 50s late week - but frost-free in the metro area.

Not sure whether to cheer (or weep) but our late-week storm will probably pass south of Minnesota; weekend highs in the 50s under a mostly-blue sky. Expect 70s, even a few 80s from late next week into the first weekend of May.

No guarantees, but you may want to look for the Northern Lights the next few nights.

* photo of Tuesday kayaking on Lake of the Isles courtesy of WeatherNation TV meteorologist Aaron Shaffer

"We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive." - Albert Einstein

Climate Stories...

In Poll Many Link Weather Extremes To Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of a story from The New York Times and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Scientists may hesitate to link some of the weather extremes of recent years to global warming -- but the public, it seems, is already there. A poll due for release on Wednesday shows that a large majority of Americans believe that this year's unusually warm winter, last year's blistering summer and some other weather disasters were probably made worse by global warming. And by a 2-to-1 margin, the public says the weather has been getting worse, rather than better, in recent years. The survey, the most detailed to date on the public response to weather extremes, comes atop other polling showing a recent uptick in concern about climate change. Read together, the polls suggest that direct experience of erratic weather may be convincing some people that the problem is no longer just a vague and distant threat."

Climate Fact: Changes In Arctic Sea Ice Are Affecting U.S. Weather. Is melting of Arctic ice triggering a meteorological domino effect that is, in turn, slowing down weather systems across North America, resulting in drier droughts and heavier rain events, especially over the southern and eastern USA? Earth Gauge has more details: "Spring is the time of year when the Arctic comes out of its long, dark winter and the sea ice that covers most of the Arctic Ocean in winter begins its annual melt. This melting continues through the warm summer months until the sea ice reaches its minimum extent in September. Then, the ice begins to grow back throughout the winter until it reaches its maximum extent in late February or early March.  Over the past few decades, the Arctic has warmed approximately twice as fast as the rest of the Northern hemisphere which makes ice harder to grow in the winter and easier to melt in the summer. Today, the Arctic’s average sea ice minimum is approximately 1.3 million square miles smaller than it was at the beginning of the 1980s – 1.3 million square miles is enough ice to blanket most of Europe. Larger areas of the Arctic Ocean are exposed to the sun’s energy for longer periods the year, which allows it to release its surplus energy into the atmosphere.  This affects the general circulation of the atmosphere in two distinct ways.

•    First, the temperature differences create a pressure gradient between the mid-latitudes and the poles. This pressure gradient creates strong upper-level eastward winds that during most of the year pull storm systems away from the United States at a rapid speed."

Correction: Climate Change Is A Fact. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Huffington Post: "If I could start a movement of a STOP SOPA nature, it would be to get every newspaper in the world to lead their publications on the same day with the same banner headline: CLIMATE CHANGE IS A FACT. Every news network would run a lower third stating the same thing for 24 hours. Because we need to set the record straight, once and for all, and it is a correction that is decades overdue. (Sunday) was Earth Day; since 1970 this date has been dedicated to appreciation and increasing awareness of the planet's natural environment. But the scientific community has been aware of climate change and the conditions that bring it about for much longer than four decades. Scientists recognized the greenhouse effect in the early 19th century and tied it to the paleoclimate. Calculations in the 1950s became increasingly convincing, and by the '70s and early '80s, consensus among experts was completely clear: human activity on a global scale was warming the climate."

Michael Mann: The Danger Of Climate Change Denial. Here's an excerpt of an Op Ed at The Energy Collective: "As a climate scientist, I have seen my integrity perniciously attacked, politicians have demanded I be fired from my job, and I’ve been subject to congressional and criminal investigations. I’ve even had death threats made against me. And why? Because I study climate science and some people don’t like what my colleagues and I have discovered. Their attacks on scientists are part of a destructive public-relations campaign being waged in a cynical effort to discredit climate science. My work first appeared on the world stage in the late 1990s with the publication of the third assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which featured what is now popularly known as the hockey-stick graph. Using what we call proxy data – information gathered from records in nature, like tree rings, corals, and ice cores – my co-authors and I pieced together the puzzle of climate variability over the past 1,000 years. What we found was that the recent warming, which coincides with the burning of fossil fuels during the Industrial Revolution, sticks out like the blade of an upturned hockey stick."

Climate Change Is A Human Rights Issue - And That's How We Can Solve It. The story from The Guardian: "Global climate-change talks often resemble the scene of a traffic accident. Multiple voices shout each other down in a bid to tell their own version of events. What is the real damage, how quickly must it be repaired, and who should foot the bill? But the real concern is not that the debate is congested and gridlocked; it is that the current clamour masks a deeper failing, namely to identify an honest starting point. In Prosperity Without Growth, the economist Tim Jackson convincingly expounds the myth of "absolute decoupling" of emissions from economic growth. The growth of emissions can be slowed, relative to the growth rate of the economy. However, emissions cannot conceivably be stalled or reversed while the economy continues to expand, however great the carbon-saving technologies of the coming years."

U.S. And U.K. To Collaborate On "Floating" Wind Turbines. Here's an interesting concept from The Guardian: "The UK and US will work together to develop "floating" wind turbines to harness more offshore wind power at a potentially lower cost, the government said on Monday. Before this week's clean-energy meeting of ministers from 23 countries in London, the government announced it will collaborate with the US in developing wind technology to generate power in deep waters that are currently off-limits to conventional turbines. In order to exploit the UK's huge wind resource, which accounts for about one-third of Europe's offshore wind potential, new technology is needed to access waters between 60 and 100 metres deep: too deep for turbines fixed to the seabed, but where wind speeds are consistently higher."

Photo credit above: "A floating wind turbine with a capacity of 2.3MW, about 12km south-east of Karmøy, Norway. Photograph: StatoilHydro."

Opinion: Wacky Weather Shifting Voters Away From GOP's Climate Stance. Here's a portion of an Op Ed at The Daily Climate: "Global warming could prove fatal to the GOP this November – or in the near future. Why? A large majority of Americans now say unequivocally that global warming intensified the drought, deluge and scorching heat afflicting mostly Republican-leaning states the past two years, according to a new study. Meanwhile, Republican congressional hopefuls and Mitt Romney have hitched their election bids to climate change skepticism, siding with Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, who calls global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” But research by Yale and George Mason universities suggests Americans are now seeing that the hoax may all be on the climate change denier side. By a 2-to-1 margin, they say that U.S. weather – including heat waves, droughts and severe rainstorms – has been getting worse, rather than better, in recent years."

About The "Lack Of Warming". Here's an excerpt of an interesting post from The Houston Chronicle: "So we see a couple of recent La Niñas have caused the recent global temperature trend to level off.  But be honest: doesn’t it seem likely that, barring another major volcanic eruption, the next El Niño will cause global temperatures to break their previous record?  Doesn’t it appear that whatever has caused global temperatures to rise over the past four decades is still going strong? So about that lack of warming:  Yes, it’s real.  You can thank La Niña. As for whether this means that Tyndall gases are no longer having an impact: Nice try."

Graph credit above: "GISTemp global temperatures, with trends for El Niño, neutral, and La Niña years computed separately. Pinatubo years are excluded." Courtesy John Nielsen-Gammon and The Houston Chronicle.

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