Sunday, April 29, 2012

String of 70s This Week (significant severe outbreak tomorrow?)

57 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.

64 F. average high for April 29.

65 F. high on April 29, 2011

Trace of sprinkles fell yesterday as of 7 pm.

+3 F. The first 28 days of April are running 3 F. warmer than average in the Twin Cities. Source: NOAA.

  1.3" snow has fallen on KMSP since March 1.
10.1" snow fell between March 1 and April 29, 2011.

70 F. possible today, 70s likely Tuesday into Thursday - slight chance of 80 tomorrow.

Severe storms are most likely late tomorrow; I expect watches and warnings close to home. I expect a few tornadoes, especially central and southern Minnesota. Photo: Wichita office of the NWS.

"It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it." - Albert Einstein. Photo courtesy of

 "PBS' Climate Desk notes that almost four million Americans "now live in coastal communities that could see increased flooding caused by sea-level rise," according to research from Climate Central." - from a story on rising sea level and sinking ground in Norfolk, Virginia at Huffington Post; details below.

  It is frustrating to see that it’s so extremely difficult to include this huge risk of climate change into current business,” Andreas Spiegel, senior climate change adviser at Swiss Re, a large reinsurance company, told Schiller. “There is a bit of a short-term view on the benefits, risks, and costs.” Those companies that have approached the issue have tended to concentrate on the increase in powerful hurricanes while ignoring “non-coastal extreme weather” such as floods, droughts, snowstorms, hailstorms and tornadoes. - from a story at about U.S. insurers largely ignoring the implications of climate change, while insurance and reinsurance agencies elsewhere are not; details below.
"We have limited capability to sustain long-term operations in the Arctic due to inadequate icebreaking capability," Berbrick said. "The Navy finds itself entering a new realm as it relates to having to rely on other nations." - from an article below about Navy readiness and capabilities in a slowly melting Arctic ecosystem.
"The gradual warming of the tropics may not seem as weird as March Madness, but it has much more important implications for biodiversity, food security and the stability of world financial markets. If global warming continues as projected, the global consequences of deteriorating conditions in the tropics will soon be a lot more serious than a foretaste of summer weather in late winter." - from a story at IEEE Spectrum about linking March heat to climage change.
"For example, a 2010 study of trends in European rainfall events between 1950 and 2008 found that there has been a shift toward longer events and that the tendency with the longer events has been for more intense rainfall. A study from last year found that Northern Hemisphere precipitation in general is becoming more intense. Studies examining heat and drought have found that dry periods are increasing in number and getting longer and that extreme summer temperatures are occurring more often in the United States." - from the Dean of Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment in a Huffington Post story below.

                    Today's Severe Threat (SPC)                                                   Tuesday Severe Threat (SPC)
Growing Severe Risk For Upper Midwest. Strong to severe T-storms are expected to mushroom along a vigorous warm frontal boundary forecast to push northward through midweek. For Minnesota the best chance of hail, damaging straight-line winds and even a few isolated tornadoes will come Tuesday afternoon/evening. It's a mixed blessing: welcome rain from showers and T-storms, but a few violent storms can't be ruled out as the atmosphere shifts gears from mid-March to a truly May-like pattern of temperature and humidity. Forecasts above courtesy of NOAA SPC.

A Windy Week? The greater the contrast in temperature, the stronger winds have to blow to keep the atmosphere in equilibrium. A few models are hinting at 40-50 mph. wind gusts late Tuesday with strong/severe T-storms. My hunch is that a few towns could see winds considerably higher than that. Graphic courtesy of Iowa State. Go Cyclones!

Ingredients Converging For Significant Severe/Tornado Event Tuesday PM Hours? Here is why I'm concerned about tomorrow evening. Assuming a few hours of sun the mercury should reach the upper 70s, possibly low 80s. A "Cape" of 1458 assumes moderate instability. The dew point temperature is forecast to be 64.4 F - plenty of low-level moisture. Helicity values (a measure of wind shear) reach 470, which is very high, meaning plenty of horizontal wind shear which could translate around a vertical axis in severe T-storm updrafts. Total totals = 54.5, which is high, with a hail size prediction of 1.25" diameter. It's just a hunch, but our proximity to a vigorous warm front plus all the factors just listed leads me to believe Minnesota will experience a few tornadoes between 4pm and 9 pm Tuesday. We'll see.

Welcome Rain. The latest QPF (quantitative precipitation forecast) pinpoints the heaviest rains from Kansas City to the Quad Cities and Madison (2-4" amounts). South Florida may pick up 5-8" amounts, with 2-3"+ for the Pacific Northwest. A 1.5" bullseye shows up over the Minnesota Arrowhead. I hope the models are right. Map courtesy of NOAA HPC.

5 Days Above 70 This Week? The "correction" is over. Good riddance to our late April "relapse". We had to pay a price for record March warmth, and we have (3 episodes of frost in the last 2-3 weeks, a touch of sleet and snow Saturday morning). That's in our rear-view mirror now, the ECMWF (European) model hinting at 5 days of 70s this week, maybe an 80-degree high Tuesday or Wednesday.

Like Flipping On A Switch. And to think I was cleaning out my storage locker in a heavy leather jacket and gloves Saturday morning. I hope to dig out my (short) shorts and annoy the neighbors by tomorrow as highs climb toward 80. A slight cooling trend is possible by the weekend, if you call 60s to near 70 a cooling trend.

Putting Another Dent In Our Drought? As a strong warm front approaches from the south showers and T-storms will sweep across Minnesota, the best chance of welcome rain late Tuesday, late Wednesday, again Thursday night. The timing is tricky, but at least one model (18z NAM) is hinting at nearly 2" of rain by Friday morning.

Probably Safe To Plant Annuals. If you're smart you'll still wait until after Mother's Day to plant those prize-winning tomatoes. But if you have an urge to get out and work the dirt next weekend you'll probably be OK. The risk of another metro frost is probably less than 1 in 5, maybe 1 in 10. The GFS is showing lows in the mid 30s around May 10, which may be the last episode of chilly readings in May. Then again the way 2012 is zigging and zagging from one extreme to the next, all bets are off.

Frost - Hard Freeze Warnings. Are you sure May is right around the corner? You'd never know it in upstate New York, where Hard Freeze Warnings are posted early this morning. Latest watches, warnings and advisories from NOAA here.

Joplin And Tuscaloosa Becomes Sister Cities Of Destruction. Here's an excerpt of a story at "JOPLIN, Mo. | Twenty-three days and 28 minutes after Tuscaloosa’s 90,468 residents experienced one of the worst natural disasters Alabama has ever seen, a city approximately 600 miles away was struck by one of the deadliest — and, statistically, the costliest — tornadoes in American history. The EF5 tornado tore a 13-mile gash through Joplin, Mo., at approximately 5:41 p.m. on May 22, 2011. It claimed 161 lives, and the cost to rebuild this Midwestern city of 50,175 is expected to reach $3 billion."

Photo credit above: "Demolition of Joplin High School was underway in early March. After an EF5 tornado struck this Midwestern city on May 22, 2011, duct tape was added to the remaining letters of the school’s sign to read “HOPE.” The tornado destroyed four schools and damaged five, but the schools worked to offer summer school classes the following month and have the school year start on Aug. 17. Jason Morton | Tuscaloosa news."

Opinion: Not Ready For An Electric Car? Get An Electric Scooter. Here's an excerpt of an intriguing article from "Until charging stations dot the country, electric scooters make more sense than electric cars. Here’s why – and a look at what might be one of the most unique and practical models yet. Last week I was at Dell’s Annual Analyst Conference, but the product at the event I most wanted wasn’t a desktop, laptop, a tablet or even a smartphone. It was a scooter. It turns out that Dell had actually helped create Current Motor’s electric Super Scooter. What makes this particular scooter unique is that it both uses a hub motor, and was designed to use vehicle wraps instead of paint. That last point is something that I think the car industry will eventually adapt as well."

My Faith: What Does God Sound Like? Here's a snippet of a thought-provoking story from CNN's Religion Blog: "I hear the audible voice of God. No, not in the same way that the Bible’s Eve did when God asked her outright and out loud: “Woman, what in my name have you done now?” Scriptures don’t tell us specifically, but I suspect at that particular moment in eternity God must have sounded a lot like Perry Mason: “C’mon, tell the truth. You know I’m a specialist on getting people out of trouble.” Bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry is a pastor’s daughter in Alabama. You’d think if God spoke to anybody, it would be a pastor’s child, but Patti swears she has never heard the voice of God. The only time God speaks to her is through the written word. I find that odd since God talks to me all the time."

Preparing For A Future That Includes Aging Parents. This story from NPR struck home; my mom has dementia and is bed-ridden, my mother-in-law has Alzheimer's. Many of us are dealing with aging parents, on top of kids and the day to day cruelties of daily life. I feel your pain. Maybe reading this story will help in some small way - here's an excerpt: "Planning a wedding is exciting. Mapping out a vacation is fun. Figuring how to afford care for your confused, elderly father? That one may never cross your mind — at least, not until you need more money to care for him. "Never thought about it," Natasha Shamone-Gilmore, 58, says about her younger self. "Never ever."She thinks about it a lot these days. Shamone-Gilmore, a computer trainer in Maryland, now shares a modest home with her husband, 24-year-old son and 81-year-old father. Like millions of other middle-aged Americans, she had long regarded her parents as robust adults, more than capable of managing their own affairs. "My mom was a very active woman; my dad ... was a Safeway employee for 40-something years," she said."

Photo credit above: Kainaz Amaria/NPR. "Natasha Shamone-Gilmore keeps a letter from her father's doctor diagnosing him with dementia on a wall in her kitchen. She uses it at times to remind Franklin Brunson of his condition."

Should Your Dog Be Watching TV? I don't think I've ever seen those words together in a sentence. Not sure I have a coherent answer, either. Here's an excerpt from a story at The New York Times: "Plenty of things will grab a dog’s attention: squirrels, tennis balls, funny smells, other dogs. But a TV channel? Absolutely, say the makers of DogTV, the first cable network to deliver 24-hour programming for dogs. The idea, they say, is that flipping on the channel while you go out for the day will keep your pet stimulated, entertained and relaxed. Call it “Sesame Street” for those who will never learn their ABCs. The shows on DogTV are actually three- to six-minute segments featuring grassy fields, bouncing balls and humans rubbing dog tummies. There are also segments featuring noiseless vacuum cleaners and muted doorbells to help make dogs more comfortable around such common household agitations. Photo: DogTV.

Obama's Use Of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy. Breaking news from The Borowitz Report: "WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – In the first term in office, President Barack Obama has broken with a tradition established over the previous eight years through his controversial use of complete sentences, political observers say. New polls indicate that millions of Americans are put off by the President’s unorthodox verbal tic, which has Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opens his mouth."

Definition of "Mostly Cloudy". The forecast called for "more clouds than sun", which is a wordy way of saying "mostly cloudy", implying cloudcover more than 75% of the day. The sun did peek out around midday, but it was too gray for reachings to top 60 (with the exception of International Falls, where the sun was out most of the day). Elsewhere highs ranged from a brisk 45 at Grand Marais to 57 Twin Cities, 59 St. Cloud and 62 at Hibbing.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning how to dance in the rain." - Vivian Greene

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

TODAY: Damp start. Milder with peeks of sun. Winds: SW 10. High: near 70

MONDAY NIGHT: Mild with lingering clouds. Low: 57

TUESDAY: Sticky with some AM sun, strong/severe PM storms? A few isolated tornadoes can't be ruled out. High: near 80. Dew point: 60-65 (very humid).

WEDNESDAY: Unsettled. Heavy T-storms (best chance southern Minnesota). Low: 62. High: 78

THURSDAY: Partly sunny and warm. Probably dry. Low: 61. High: 79

FRIDAY: Warm and humid. Late thunder possible. Low: 62. High: near 80

SATURDAY: Damp start, partial clearing. Winds: NW 8. Low: 60. High: 74

SUNDAY: Some sun, T-storms late. Winds: E 10-15. Low: 57. High: 70.

An Olympic Clean Sweep

We had a 24/7 weather channel growing up. It was called a "window". And why not a Spring Cleaning Olympics? I can hear the announcers "the Russians have a legendary synchronized vacuum cleaning team" and "look at those Romanians rake - lovely form, don't you think?" Clothes-shuffling. Competitive dock installation. The USA would sweep up. Literally. I hope someone from NBC is writing this down.

The sun did make a fleeting cameo appearance Sunday; too much low level moisture to keep blue sky overhead for long. No major fireworks today, but 70 should feel great.

A ROF or "ring of fire" pattern is setting up this week; hot, humidified air bulging northward - 80 degree air surging into southern Minnesota by Tuesday and Wednesday. A persistent east-west boundary may ignite a few spirited rounds of thunderstorms. Tuesday may bring the first widespread severe storm outbreak of spring for Minnesota, with a handful of tornadoes possible. That volatile front may get a southward nudge next weekend; most storms rumbling over the Dakotas and Iowa. No guarantees yet.

In news of the weird MLB broadcaster Tim McCarver is blaming a spike in home runs on climate change. Details on the weather blog.

* image above courtesy of

"To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one's own in the midst of abundance." - Buddha

Climate Stories....

Baseball Analyst Blames Rise In Homers On Global Warming. Don't laugh - Tim may be onto something. All other things being equal, a baseball will travel farther on a hot, humid day than on a cool, dry day. We're seeing a spike in humidity levels across Minnesota and the rest of the USA; more summer days with drippy dew points in the 70s, even the low 80s - truly tropical air. A warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor, which might just tilt the odds in favor of more home runs. More details from "A lot of things have been blamed on global warming over the years, but the always quotable MLB broadcaster Tim McCarver has a new theory: maybe "climactic change" is to blame for a rise in home runs. The bizarre idea was noticed by Deadspin. In the video, McCarver says "it has not been proven," but he believes thin air is a factor for the rise in long balls. "There have been climactic changes over the last 50 years in the world, and I think that's one of the reasons that balls are carrying much better now than I remember," he said."

Photo credit above:

Climate Change And More Weather Extremes. Here's a clip of a Huffington Post story from Bill Chameides, Dean, Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment: "Even so, we seem to have been subjected to especially bizarre and extreme weather over the past two to three years. Examples include:
Graphic above: Trends in extreme one-day precipitation amounts across the Lower 48 States courtesy of NCDC.

Climate Change Dispute Erupts With Aspen Telling U.S. Chamber of Commerce To Take A Hike. Details from Real Vail: "Aspen's chamber of commerce isn't the first to sever ties with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over political differences. The chamber in Homer, Alaska, made national headlines when it canceled its membership last year. But Auden Schendler, the Aspen Skiing Co.'s vice president of sustainability, believes the famous Rocky Mountain hamlet's stature may bring more scrutiny to the U.S. Chamber's right-wing agenda. “Homer was a unique story, but Aspen is an even more high-profile town with often outsized influence,” Schendler said Thursday. “It's the iconic ski town that often sets an example for others.”

Photo credit above:

Did Climate Change Drive Record High U.S. Temperatures? One analysis from IEEE Spectrum: "Is global warming responsible for the March temperatures? Writing earlier this week in the Los Angeles Times, John Michael Wallace, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington, delivered a measured assessment. Wallace, one of the world's most highly regarded specialists in climate dynamics, first of all affirms that the effects of global warming are clearly evident in a statistical increase in record high temperatures, which now outnumber record lows by a ratio of three to one. Rising average global temperatures raise all ships, he observes."

* map above of March temperature anomalies courtesy of NASA's Earth Observatory and Weather Underground.

Norfolk, Virginia's Rising Sea Levels And Sinking Ground Pose A Community Challenge. The story from PBS and The Huffington Post: "Experts predict that the effects of climate change may have the greatest impact on low-lying, and often developing nations, but countries like the United States are not immune. The low-lying city of Norfolk, Virginia, located at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, is not only susceptible to sea level rise, but is already experiencing it. Norfolk's longtime mayor, Paul Fraim, told PBS' Climate Desk that "There's no question that the problem's getting worse." Although measurable sea level rise has occurred along the U.S. East Coast, "just over half" of Norfolk's roughly 14 inch sea level rise since 1930 is a result of sinking land, explains PBS. The combination of Norfolk's coastal presence and marshy soil has put Norfolk's sea level rise at "almost double the global rate."

Navy Finds It Falls Short In Arctic Ocean. The story from "KODIAK, Alaska -- In six oceans, the U.S. Navy is considered the master. In the seventh, the Arctic Ocean, it will rely on others. As global warming opens the Arctic Ocean to commercial and industrial traffic, the Navy is pushing to catch up with Russia, Canada and even Denmark in its Arctic ability. If a crisis were to happen now, the Navy lacks the ability to act in the Arctic without the help of one of those countries or the Coast Guard. Last year, the Navy asked the War Gaming Department of the Naval War College to find out what it needs for sustained operations in the Arctic."

Photo credit above: "The Coast Guard heavy icebreaker Polar Star is currently on inactive status in Seattle."

Insurers Prepare For Climate Change, Except In U.S. Here's an excerpt of a story at "Insurance company executives are aware of the future risks posed by climate change. And yet they have been slow to prepare for the coming wave of weather-related accidents and litigation spawned by global warming changes. In a survey conducted by Ceres, a Boston-based coalition of investors and environmental groups, more than 75% of insurers acknowledged the existence of perils stemming from climate change. “Yet despite widespread recognition of the effects climate change will likely have on extreme events, few insurers were able to articulate a coherent plan to manage the risks and opportunities associated with climate change,” the Ceres report states."

Global Warming Is No Longer A Future Problem. It's a Now Event. Here's a story from Jason Mraz at Huffington Post: "....Global warming is no longer a future problem. It's a now event. And it's not a planet problem either. It's a people problem. The rate at which we consume energy through land clearing, factory farming, and the burning of fossil fuels oil and coal, is wreaking havoc on the atmosphere, contributing to the overall, exaggerated warming of the planet. Our very creation of an industrialised system to make our lives convenient and sweet succeeded in the sweetness, but sadly isn't sustainable. The proof is all around us. A billion people live without water. More than that live in extreme poverty. War hasn't found its resolve. And the seasons are only getting stranger."

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