Thursday, April 12, 2012

Global Weirding: 70s Saturday to 30s/snow by Monday?

63 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

56 F. average high on April 12 at KMSP.
68 F. high temperature on April 12, 2011.
6" snow fell on April 12, 1962.

1.61" rain predicted for MSP between today and Monday morning at 7 am.
30-40 degree temperature drop from Sunday afternoon to Monday evening? 
Snow flurries possible in the metro by Monday PM (probably no accumulation locally - but a few inches of slush can't be ruled out from Crosby and Aitkin to the Duluth area). That should cheer people up.

- 6.4". Since September, 2011 the Twin Cities metro is running a greater than 6" rainfall deficit. Source: Pete Boulay, Minnesota Climatology Working Group.

One Crazy 7-Day. Check out the ECMWF predicted highs for the next 7 days. That's celsius, btw. We may top 70 Saturday, near 70 Sunday, then we go over a cliff Monday - a 30-40 degree temperature tumble. The European model is predicting a high of 35 on Monday, which may be extreme, but the trend is undeniable. The weekend feels like May. Monday may feel like late February.

Wild Temperature Swings = Wild Winds. Going from low to mid 70s Saturday to 30s Monday will whip up sustained north/northeast winds of 20-30 on Monday, with higher gusts. Monday may meet the definition of lousy, with a mix of rain and snow showers. Some recovery is likely later next week - the ECMWF hinting at upper 60s again by Thursday.

Small Brushfire In Tonka Bay. I had to do a double-take, a small fire on my commute Thursday. It didn't look like a controlled burn to me, next to a small marina near the Tonka Bay Town Hall. odd.

30 billion gallons of groundwater pumped every day from the world's aquifers.
50,000 dams, approximately, worldwide.

60% of the world's wetlands have vanished in the last 100 years. Water info source: Blue Gold documentary.

Major Tornado Outbreak On Saturday? SPC is predicting a moderate risk over the Central Plains, a possibility of large, violent, long-lasting tornadoes from Oklahoma City and Tulsa to Wichita, possibly Kansas City. A few isolated severe storms are possible over Iowa - I wouldn't be surprised to see a few hail-producing storms brush far southern MN late Saturday. Source: SPC.

4 Feet of Muddy Hail? Details below in Ham Weather's Biosphere Blog.

Putting A (Minor) Dent In The Drought? I'll believe it when I see it. NAM prints out 1.61" by Monday morning, and all the models show a few waves of showers and heavier thunderstorms over the weekend. Rainfall today should be light and stratiform/steady. More convective, showery rain arrives over the weekend, with potentially heavy T-storms Saturday and Sunday - timing is tricky, but the heaviest rains may come at night with a warm frontal boundary lurking nearby. Monday precipitation may be a mix of (mostly) rain and a little wet snow - just to shake us up and appreciate spring even more.

An R-Rated Outlook For Monday. With air (and ground) temperatures above freezing I doubt any snow will stick in the metro Monday, but if you're driving up I-35 toward Duluth you may run into a few inches of slush, especially Monday night, after dark. I'm just the messenger. Any snow that might fall Monday will be gone by midday Tuesday. The sun is too high in the sky for any snow to linger on green lawns for long.

Latest NOAA Drought Monitor. The latest data shows (very slight) improvement: the area covered in moderate drought has gone from nearly 92% to 86.75% as of April 10. Even so, over 99% of Minnesota is characterized as "too dry"; nearly 25% of Minnesota in a severe drought. Hardest hit counties: southern MN and the Arrowhead. The latest Drought Monitor is here.

Deepening Drought. Since August 1, 2011 much of Minnesota is running a 3 to 9 inch rainfall deficit. Hardest hit regions: southern Minnesoeta and the North Shore of Lake Superior. Source: Minnesota Climatology Working Group.

Half Of Iowa's Wine Grape Crop Damaged. A freeze was reported as far south as Des Moines and Chicago. Details from The Des Moines Register: "An unusually early start to Iowa’s grapes during the March warmth proved to be the undoing of much of the crop, as about half f Iowa’s grapes may have been damaged in the frost this week, according to Iowa State University viticulturist Mike White. All is not lost, however. White said that Iowa’s grape plants produce a secondary bud that can generate up to 50 percent of the yield of the primary bud."

The Science Behind The Hail And Muddy Mess In Texas. I have never seen anything quite like this - up to 4 FEET of (dirty) hail. Why did the Amarillo, Texas area wind up with brown-colored hail? Ham Weather's Biosphere Blog has an explanation: "Maybe you have seen some of the incredible images from the crazy hail storm near Amarillo, Texas late yesterday afternoon.  At first glance, it doesn’t even look like hail.   Hence this very understandable question from one of our Facebook fans."

"So why does it look so much like mud? The storm was barely moving at all and managed not only to dump some serious hail, but over 3 inches of rain. Flash flooding quickly ensued. The flood waters managed to scoop up a lot of the hail that had accumulated… leading to the 4 ft. drifts. Remember that much of West Texas remains in a drought too, so a lot of dust on the ground “dirtied up” the hail pretty quickly. The Capital Weather Gang also mentioned that New Mexico (Union County) once saw 15-20 ft hail drifts in 2004. Insanity. In the end, this is a recipe consisting of two ingredients: flash flooding and hail."

Smelling Smoke Across Much Of Florida. Here's a Facebook post from the Tampa office of the National Weather Service: "We're getting numerous reports of a smoke smell across the Tampa Bay region this morning. There are numerous active wildfires to the north of the area, as seen on the map below from the Florida Forest Service, and moderate northerly winds in place just above the surface are bringing that smoke down into our area. This will mix out this afternoon with heating and the seabreeze."

Dust Devil! Check out the spectacular YouTube footage of a dust devil outside Las Vegas, courtesy of Jacob Borsting: "Thanks for the likes everyone! As promised here is the tornado video. This all happened about an hour outside of Las Vegas on Teusday. Quite a sight to see."

How Rare Are Tornadoes In California? A rare EF-1 tornado touched down near Stockton, California Wednesday, as reported by the L.A. Times. Here's a good (FB) post from the Sacramento office of the NWS: "According to the Storm Prediction Center’s tornado data and climatology, here are the tornado reports archived per year for the entire state of California thus far (2000-2012). The majority of the tornadoes reported were found in the Central Valley or in southern California near the coast, in which surface wind convergence is more favorable. Although these tornadoes are considered weak (EF0 – EF2), it is not atypical for California to have a few tornadoes per year. The 2000-2010 tornado average for the state is around 8 tornadoes per year."

Changeable Weather Expected For The Boston Marathon. Well, if the weather isn't perfect I guess I won't be running again this year. Too bad - I was really looking forward to it. Bill Deger from AccuWeather has the synopsis: "The 116th running of the Boston Marathon is this upcoming Monday, and the forecast is shaping up to be a tricky one. Even with the uncertainty, the gamut of weather conditions possible that morning looks favorable for participants, but possibly less so for some spectators. "There is likely going to be a backdoor front in the vicinity, but is it in Maine, New York City or even farther south," questions native New Englander and Meteorologist Mark Paquette."

Photo credit above: "A runner reaches out to a supporter at the start of the 111th Boston Marathon, Monday, April 16, 2007 in Hopkinton, Mass. The 2007 run was a particularly rainy one, with nearly an inch of rain falling in the city that Marathon Monday. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)."

100th Anniversary Of Sinking Of Titanic. From the Google Earth Blog: "This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's collision and subsequent sinking in the North Atlantic Ocean. Today well take a look at the journey that led to the iceberg, and tomorrow well explore ways to view the ship as she sits today at the bottom of the has a great track of the voyage of the ship. You can view it on their site or download this KML file to see it in Google Earth."

Tiny Air Samplers Could Aid In Climate Research. An intriguing article from "The monitoring of air quality can be a tricky business. Gases may be blown into the sampling site from another area, they may leak out of an air sample before it can be analyzed, or the sampling container itself may introduce compounds, emitted through off-gassing. If samples are being gathered in remote areas, it can also be difficult getting bulky equipment to and from the sampling site. Now, scientists from Sandia National Laboratories have announced a tiny new type of air sampler, that addresses these and other challenges."

Creating Jobs Through Conservation. Conservation Minnesota has an interesting post: "Over the decades, the use of electronics has grown extensively. Unfortunately, with use comes waste.  E-waste continued to be the fastest growing source of our total waste stream, and it became clear that something needed to be done to protect our waters from leaking toxic materials.  In July 2006, a ban on landfilling of cathode-ray-tubes, such as televisions and computer monitors, went into effect in Minnesota. But a lack of statewide funding for collection and recycling of this electronic waste left the cost burden on consumers and local governments. After several years of disagreement among the interested parties, Conservation Minnesota helped pass a broadly supported consensus bill that required manufacturers to fund the collection program based on their market share."

Sway Unveils Its Sporty, Tilting, Three-Wheel Scooter Prototype. I need one of these. has more details: "After years in development, Sway Motorsports has unveiled a prototype of its tilting three-wheel electric scooter, one with a rather sportier bent than the tilting electric three-wheelers we've seen before, such as Sidam's Xnovo. And though this is a relatively low-powered machine, judging from the videos this thing isn't without agility and zip. Clearly the Sway is pitched squarely at the leisure market."

World's Rudest Countries. No big surprise which country is #1 on this list. I was surprised to see Canada come in at #27, the good 'ol USA was #7. Do you agree with the ranking? More details from Huffington Post: "Paris may be the most visited city in the world, but it's also home to the nation with the world's rudest people, says a new survey by The survey polled 1,200 users from the travel site, 65 percent from the UK and Ireland, along with continental Europe, North America and Australia, notes Forbes. Other nations with the world's least friendly people include Russia, the U.K. and Germany, respectively. As for the U.S., while Americans topped another survey as the world's worst tourists, it turns out we're much better at hosting than being hosted after scoring seven on the list-- just after "Other" and China, notes the International Business Times." Photo credit above: Alamy.

XLR8 Turns Your Ford Focus Into A Ferrari. Want your wheels to sound like a Ferrari? There's an app for that, as explained by "We can’t always hit the road in the wheels we’d like to. A new app called XLR8, however, can at least make your family sedan sound like the sports car of your dreams. Using your phone’s accelerometer, XLR8 plays sounds similar to what your car might sound like if it was something a little fancier. The audio revs up as you start, just like a vehicle does. It idles when you’re stopped at stop lights, and pays attention to your vehicle’s acceleration, responding accordingly."

The Definition Of A Fine Spring Day. Could it have been any nicer yesterday? Blue sky, light breeze, low humidity. Highs ranged from 55 at Duluth to 62 St. Cloud, 63 Twin Cities to 65 at Redwood Falls. Poor Grand Marais, where spring comes only reluctantly, recorded a "high" of 44.

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

TODAY: Showers likely, soggy breeze. Cool and damp. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 57

FRIDAY NIGHT: Showers, risk of thunder. Low: 53

SATURDAY: Some mild sun. Late T-storms possible, some strong, possibly severe southern MN? Winds: S 10. High: 75

SATURDAY NIGHT: Showers and T-storms, locally heavy rain possible. Low: 57

SUNDAY: Mild and unsettled with more showers and T-storms, locally heavy rain. Winds: N 10. High: 68

MONDAY: Blustery and raw (huge drop in temperature) with rain/snow showers. No metro accumulation, but a few inches possible up north. Low: 35. High: 38

TUESDAY: Frost possible early. Intervals of cool sun. Tolerable again. Low: 32. High: 51

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, turning milder. Low: 40. High: 62

THURSDAY: Shower, then clearing. Low: 46. High: near 60


Global Weirding?

As if this spring couldn't get any more bizarre. We may go from low 70s Saturday to wet snow Monday; slush may accumulate on lawns and baffled robins over central Minnesota in less than 72 hours. I feel like I'm wandering through a weather exhibit at Ripley's Believe It Or Not. No, this isn't even close to being "normal".

I'm happy to see some yellow and red blobs on Doppler radar. Over half an inch of badly-needed rain may fall by Sunday. A 70 degree high Saturday may leave the atmosphere unstable enough for a few strong/severe T-storms, mainly far southern Minnesota. And then surface winds swing around to the northeast. A cool, showery Sunday is followed by a March-like slap of rain & snow showers Monday.
I will talk slowly and use small words: "some towns in central and northern Minnesota may pick up a few inches of slush Monday". Have a nice day!

Another frost/freeze Tuesday morning gives way to 60 later in the week. Long-range guidance still pulls more 60s, even a few 70s, back into town the last week of April. Something on the maps for everyone: drought, fire, 70, hail-producing thunderstorms late Saturday, rain, wet snow, frost/freeze. Did I leave anything out? Oh yeah....plague and pestilence. Happy I don't have to track those two bad omens, but if locust suddenly show up on the weather maps I'm out of here.

Climate Stories...

Attacks On Climate Science By Former NASA Staff Shouldn't Be Taken Seriously. An analysis from The Guardian; here's an excerpt: "Almost exactly two years ago, John Cook wrote about the 5 characteristics of science denialism.  The second point on the list involved fake experts. "These are individuals purporting to be experts but whose views are inconsistent with established knowledge. Fake experts have been used extensively by the tobacco industry who developed a strategy to recruit scientists who would counteract the growing evidence on the harmful effects of second-hand smoke." We have seen many examples of climate denialists producing long lists of fake experts, for example the Oregon Petition and the Wall Street Journal 16.  Now we have yet another of these lists of fake experts.  49 former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) employees (led by Harrison Schmitt, who was also one of the Wall Street Journal 16) have registered their objection to mainstream climate science through the most popular medium of expressing climate contrarianism - a letter."

Photo credit above: "Attacks on climate science by former NASA staff should not be considered equal to the work of NASA climate scientists such as James Hansen, pictured. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA."

Besieged By Climate Deniers, A Climate Scientist Decides To Fight Back. Here's an update from Michael Mann at Yale's Environment 360 blog: "As scientists, we are used to having our work questioned. Anyone who has ever attended a scientific meeting knows that scientists are hardest on themselves. When we present a new research paper at a conference, colleagues often interrupt us with sharp, pointed questions. Those questions are asked in good faith, in an attempt to make our work better and advance scientific knowledge. But scientists who work on climate change are increasingly finding our work questioned by politicians and ideologues who simply don’t like our findings. Too often, politicians start with their conclusion, then work backwards to find the evidence — any evidence, regardless of its quality — to back up their preferred policy positions. And the fossil fuel industry is happy to fund those who attack our work, because our research has pointed to the burning of their products — oil, coal, and natural gas — as the primary drivers of climate change."

100 Years Of Non-Renewable Energy Disasters And Counting. A visualization from

Shooting The Messenger With Blanks. Here's an entry from the blog, "Global Warming. Man or Myth?" "As detailed in previous blog posts (Wegman-gate: Alert Congress & the Media and Science by Error and Trial), and by this recent Washington Post letter from Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), Dr. Michael E. Mann is once again being questioned (attacked) about his paleoclimatology research.  I thought it might be constructive to see how Dr. Mann’s published work stacks up against other, more recent temperature reconstructions.

Summary: Hockey stick shape.  Warmer Medieval Warm Period (MWP) followed by cooler Little Ice Age (LIA) and significantly warmer temperatures in the modern era.

Controversy: This is the plot that gets all of the attention.  This is the plot that the National Research Council (NRC) investigated in 2006 at the request of Congress.  The NRC supported the scientists and their conclusions."

* graph above courtesy of 2001 IPCC summary.

Study Links Raised Carbon Dioxide Levels To Oyster Die-Offs. The story from The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "Oyster hatcheries along the Washington and Oregon coastlines began experiencing calamitous die-offs beginning in 2006. Scientists suspected they were due to increased carbon dioxide levels in the air that were causing ocean acidification. That theory has now proved out, according to a study just published by the journal Limnology and Oceanography. Researchers began studying the oysters at Whiskey Creek Hatchery in Oregon in 2009 after the hatchery reported that production there had declined by as much as 80 percent in recent years. The scientists paid close attention to the seawater that had bathed the oysters."

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