Thursday, May 17, 2012

90 Possible Today & Saturday (number of 3"+ downpours doubles since 1961)

83 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday.

70 F. average high for May 17
68 F. high temperature on May 17, 2011.
99 F. high yesterday in Madison, Minnesota, 96 F. at Granite Falls.
41 mph: highest gust yesterday at KMSP.

June 3: date of the first 90-degree plus day last year (91 F).
.36" rain predicted by midday Sunday in the Twin Cities (NAM).
64.6 F. dew point predicted Saturday evening in the metro area. Translation: a serious case of the stickies.

May 18, 2012         Sunrise: 5:40 AM CDT     Sunset: 8:39 PM CDT

14 hours, 57 minutes of daylight today in the Twin Cities.

Near 90 Today - Sunday: Wettest Day. The weekend won't be a total loss, but have a viable Plan B for late Saturday and Sunday, which (based on the fairly reliable ECMWF data) appears to be the wetter day of the weekend, temperatures 10-20 degrees cooler than Saturday.

Weekend Weather Details. Rest assured - those temperatures are in Celsius. The best chance of significant rain: late Saturday into mid afternoon Sunday, as a slow-moving cool front pushes across Minnesota. Your best odds of salvaging some dry weather this weekend? Saturday morning, and late in the day Sunday, after the dinner hour. Data courtesy of ECMWF.

Weekend Rainfall Outlook. The latest NAM model predicts the heaviest rains (.5 to 1") over western and northern Minnesota.

Timing The Rain. The models print out the most significant rain (showery rain and embedded thunderstorms, some possibly heavy) from late Saturday into Sunday morning. Graph: University of Iowa Meteorology Department.

"The U.S. just experienced the hottest 12 months since the National Weather Service began keeping records in 1895; extreme weather events are on the rise around the globe; and the Midwestern grain belt is overdue for a major drought." - from an article at The Fiscal Times below.

"Six- and seven-day forecasts would be about as accurate as a five-day forecast was a decade ago: about 430 miles on either side of a forecast line, the hurricane center said." - from a Palm Beach Post article about longer-range forecasts on the way from The National Hurricane Center, NHC.

"States in the upper Midwest fared worse than those in the south part of the region, the study found, with the number of severe rainstorms rising by 203 percent in Wisconsin, 180 percent in Michigan, 160 percent in Indiana and 104 percent in Minnesota." - from a new climate study; details in a story from Planet Ark below.

Extreme Rain Doubled In Midwest: Climate Study. No, the rain is not falling as gently as it did for your grandparents. Here's an excerpt from a breaking climate-news study at Planet Ark: "The number of extreme rainstorms - deluges that dump 3 inches or more in a day - doubled in the U.S. Midwest over the last half-century, causing billions of dollars in flood damage in a trend climate advocates link to a rise in greenhouse gas emissions. Across the Midwest the biggest storms increased by 103 percent from 1961 through 2011, a study released by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Natural Resources Defense Council reported on Wednesday. States in the upper Midwest fared worse than those in the south part of the region, the study found, with the number of severe rainstorms rising by 203 percent in Wisconsin, 180 percent in Michigan, 160 percent in Indiana and 104 percent in Minnesota."

90 Possible Today and Saturday. Models are in pretty good alignment. Assuming the sun is out much of today and at least the first half of tomorrow, we stand a good chance of reaching the 90-degree barrier both days, followed by a noticeable cool-down on Sunday. HIghs next week will be more moderate, generally in the 70s to near 80 by the end of the week.

Australia Has Hottest 60 Years In A Millenium. The story from the U.K. Guardian; here's an excerpt: "The last 60 years have been the hottest in Australasia for a millennium and cannot be explained by natural causes, according to a new report by scientists that supports the case for a reduction in manmade carbon emissions. In the first major study of its kind in the region, scientists at the University of Melbourne used natural data from 27 climate indicators, including tree rings, corals and ice cores to map temperature trends over the past 1,000 years."

How much does a large thunderstorm cloud weigh? It must contain a lot of water. Here's a great question, and a thorough answer, from Dr. Mark Seeley's weekly WeatherTalk blog:
Answer: "Thomas Schlatter, a NOAA scientist and contributor to Weatherwise magazine addressed this question in a past issue. Of course the answer is highly dependent on cloud volume. But consider a cumulus cloud with a volume of one cubic mile (1 mile wide, 1 mile long, and 1 mile deep) and a water content of 1 gram/cubic meter. This would calculate to a weight of about 9 million pounds (nearly 1.1 million gallons). That's quite a load to remain suspended in the atmosphere, but of course it does, primarily because of the droplet size and the updraft winds that hold these water droplets aloft until they reach a critical mass."

Major New Project Targets Mystery Of Thunderstorms. Here's a clip of an informative article from meteorologist Andrew Freedman at Climate Central: "A multifaceted air and ground-based scientific field campaign is underway in the Central and Southern U.S., with about 275 scientists, pilots, and technicians out to solve meteorological mysteries about how thunderstorms affect the chemistry of the upper atmosphere. The 45-day field campaign, known as the Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry Project, or DC3, could help climate scientists fine tune their computer models and improve simulations of global warming. The project, which involves experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA, along with researchers from Germany and numerous universities, employs a wide array of assets, including ground-based research radars, sophisticated lightning mapping arrays, as well as three heavily-modified research aircraft that will help measure changes in atmospheric chemistry before, during, and after thunderstorms move through a particular region."

Graphic credit above: "Diagram of the field campaign's research platforms gathering data on a thunderstorm. Click on image for a larger version." Credit: NCAR.

Experts To Test Earlier Hurricane Forecasts. Details from The Palm Beach Post; here's an excerpt: "Buoyed by the increasing accuracy of its three- and five-day forecasts, the National Hurricane Center will test six- and seven-day forecasts this storm season. Those forecasts, however, won't be made public anytime soon. And Gov. Rick Scott says he hopes forecasts of any length won't matter for Florida this year. "I hope we continue the plan of not having any hurricanes," Scott told Wednesday's opening session of the Florida Governor's Hurricane Conference. No hurricanes have made landfall in the state in six storm seasons. The six- and seven-day forecasts would pick up on work the hurricane center started last year. It stopped because of budget cuts - and because some forecasts were leaked to the public before they were ready."

Hurricane Center Recalls Monster "Andrew". Here's a snippet from a story at The Miami Herald: "In this age of smart phones, Twitter and a 24/7 news media, every tropical wave rolling off faraway Africa is almost as closely monitored as a Kardashian sister shopping on South Beach. Things were a lot different 20 hurricane seasons ago, when a weak little system named Andrew meandered toward the Bahamas, not getting a whole lot of attention until it morphed overnight into a Category 5 killer, one of the strongest storms on record. South Florida had just two days of high alert to hunker down for what would become one of the costliest natural disasters in United States history, a catastrophe that exposed gaping holes in emergency planning."

Photo credit above: "Max Mayfield gives some first hand accounts of his experiance during Hurricane Andrew to an audience of weather experts and emergency managers as they look back at how Hurricane Andrew changed what they do. The 20th anniversary of the big one is a main topic at the annual governor's hurricane conference in Lauderdale. C.W. Griffin / Miami Herald Staff."

Read more here:
Storms Of 2011 Among Most Costly Storms Ever, Insurers Report. has the story; here's an excerpt: "Last spring’s storms — including deadly tornadoes in Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala. — ranked among the most damaging events to property in U.S. history, an insurance industry report said Wednesday. Collectively, 2011’s tornadoes, hail and winds inflicted $21.3 billion in insured property damage in a few months, the report from the New York-based Insurance Industry Institute said. The total ranks fourth, behind the $24 billion associated with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the $25 billion in losses from Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and the $47.6 billion in damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005."

Photo credit above: "The medical helicopter at St. John's Hospital was tossed into the in the parking lot after a tornado on May 22, 2011, swept through the center of Joplin, Mo., causing widespread damage."

Minnesota Off-Road Cyclist Weather Blog. Kudos to WeatherNation TV meteorologist Kristin Clark for launching a new blog, marring two of her passions: mountain biking and meteorology. Here's a snippet: "The science behind riding a bicycle is not very well understood.  At first this might seem odd or even trivial but consider this: scientists understand airplanes better than bicycles!  A bike is an extremely complex object.  It would take 30 pages of equations to describe just how mass, geometry, inertia, etc. interact together on a bike.  You would think after 200 years we would have this figured out.  Well, one such scientist (and bike enthusiast) is determined to get to the bottom of it."

What Is The Business Model For "New Media"? An interesting read from; here's an excerpt: "Media, whether old or new, social or linear, has become a complicated matter. Google insists that it is a technology company, even if its business model is based on advertising, this typically is the case for most media. Facebook is a social network, yet gets in excess of 80 percent of its revenue from advertising. Facebook also serves as a way people discover interesting content, and a way people create content. Amazon is a retailer, but much of its retailing success hinges on the content its users supply, and a growing part of what Amazon sells are content products. Facebook may look and function like a social network for the majority of its users, but on the business side it looks almost exactly like a traditional media company."

Read more here:

Read more here:
The $19K "Quadrofoil": Ecologically Sound Sportscar For The Water. I expect one of these to show up any day now on area lakes; has the details: "Due to the remarkable efficiency of hydrofoils, it achieves its 25 mph top speed with just one 3.7 kW electric motor, and thanks to its lightweight (150 kg - 330 lb) carbon fiber and Kevlar body and in-built 4.5 kWh lithium batteries, it has a range of 100km (62 miles). It can also be recharged from a domestic powerpoint in an hour, or via the flexible solar panels which come with each Quadrofoil and are designed to be folded inside the watercraft as an emergency power source, or to top up the battery when "off the grid."

Sony Puts A Phone Display On Your Wrist. Paging Dick Tracy - your watch/computer has arrived. More from the New York Times's Gadgetwise: "You know how people who rudely check their phones every 42 seconds can drive you completely bonkers? Thanks to Sony they won’t do that any longer. Instead they will drive you bonkers by checking their watches. Sony’s SmartWatch links with a phone to show text messages, e-mails,  photos and updates from your social networks on its face. The watch can also be used to hit redial and control other functions, like the smartphone’s music player. Oh — it also tells time." Photo courtesy of Sony, which has more information on the SmartWatch here.

Tracking Potential Hazardous Asteroids. Here's another fascinating article about new technology helping astronomers track asteroids that could strike the Earth. Yep, don't sweat the thundershowers. reports: "Potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) are a subset of near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) that have the potential to come within five million miles (eight million kilometers) of Earth, and are of a size large enough to make it through Earth’s atmosphere to cause significant damage on a regional, or greater, scale. NASA’s asteroid-hunting NEOWISE mission has now provided the best estimate yet of the number of PHAs in our solar system, along with their origins and the potential dangers they might pose. While all NEAs have an orbit that brings them within close proximity to Earth, only some of them have orbits that intersect with Earth’s and are of a large enough size to be classified as PHAs."

Illustration credit above: "Diagram showing the differences between orbits of a typical near-Earth asteroid (blue) and a potentially hazardous asteroid, or PHA (orange) (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)."

I'd Like A "Roast Beef And Finger Sandwich" Please. Read this story and try not to gag. Hey accidents happen, but this one just makes you shake your head. Ah, the perils of fast food. This cautionary tale is brought to you by AP and The Washington Post: "JACKSON, Mich. — A Michigan teen finishing off an Arby’s roast beef sandwich chomped down on something tough that tasted like rubber, so he spit it out. Turns out it tasted like finger. The fleshy, severed pad of an unfortunate employee’s finger, apparently. Ryan Hart, 14, told the Jackson Citizen Patriot on Wednesday that once he got a good look at it, he knew right away what had been in the junior roast beef sandwich he was eating last Friday. “I was like, ‘That (has) to be a finger,’” Hart said. “I was about to puke. ... It was just nasty.”

Photo credit above: Jackson Citizen Patriot, Danielle Salisbury/Associated Press. "Ryan Hart, poses for a photo in Jackson, Mich. Hart, 14, found a piece of finger in his Arby’s sandwich. Jackson police and the county health department say an Arby’s employee cut her finger on a meat slicer. Health officials believe the employee then left her station, and other workers continued to fill orders before they became aware of what happened."

A 4 Inch Screen For The iPhone 5? Calling rumor central. Here is more speculation about the next iteration of the iPhone, from those amazing techno-geeks at "Apple is expected to unveil the next iPhone at its annual mobile keynote this year and as is the case with any high profile product launch, rumors about the device are beginning to materialize months before the event is scheduled to take place. Most recently, Wall Street Journal sources suggest that Apple intends to upsize the iPhone’s display from 3.5 to 4 inches. The information comes from sources "familiar with the matter" who appear to have connections at screen manufacturers Sharp and LG. While this is far from official information, if true, it could mean that Apple is finally feeling the pressure from competitors like Samsung, whose 4.8-inch Galaxy SIII is one the most anticipated devices of the year."

Welcome to Canada! Image courtesy of Facebook.

Warming Up. Yesterday was only the appetizer - the main course (of heat and humidity) comes later today and tomorrow. In spite of clouds lingering into mid afternoon highs reached 86 at St. Cloud, 83 in the Twin Cities, 91 at Alexandria and 92 at Redwood Falls.

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

TODAY: Hot sun, gusty winds. Winds: S 15-30. High: 89

FRIDAY NIGHT: Warm and sultry - very humid. Low: 67

SATURDAY: Morning sun, T-storms possible late. Winds: S 15-30. High: near 90

SATURDAY NIGHT: Heavy showers and T-storms. Low: 61

SUNDAY: Cooler, still damp with heavy showers, T-storms. Winds: N 10-20. High: 75

SUNDAY NIGHT: Gradual clearing. Low: 53

MONDAY: Could have guessed this: sunny and beautiful! High: 75

TUESDAY: Sunny and warmer. Low: 56. High: 79

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny. Late T-storms possible far west. Low: 59. High: near 80

THURSDAY: Showers, few heavy T-storms. Low: 60. High: 77

Relative Risk

"Anyone who has spent a few nights in a tent during a storm can tell you: The world doesn't care all that much if you live or die" wrote Anthony Doerr.

If you're heading out to enjoy Minnesota's 10,000 plus lakes take a radio, or a few storm apps on your smart phone. Riding out a severe storm in your car or truck is probably safer than huddling in a tent with 90 mph winds shrieking overhead.

That said - the odds are in your favor. Out of 100 thunderstorms fewer than 10 will become severe; less than 1 will ever go on to spawn a tornado.

A new research study shows the number of 3 inch downpours hitting Minnesota has doubled since 1961; a 203% spike for Wisconsin. The rain is not falling as gently as it did for your grandparents. Welcome to Weather 2.0. Details on the weather blog.

A "hot front" lures the mercury near 90 today, again Saturday - probably the hottest weather of 2012, to date. The dreaded dew point may reach mid 60s tomorrow, a good excuses to take a dip in the nearest lake. Strong storms rumble in late Saturday. The European (ECMWF) solution keeps heavy rain around much of Sunday, as temperature drop into the 70s.

Monday looks perfect. No surprise there.

Climate Stories....

Weather-Related Disasters On The Rise. Here's a story from The Fiscal Times: "If you don’t have enough to worry about with the stock market sagging and the economy in the doldrums, ponder these facts: The U.S. just experienced the hottest 12 months since the National Weather Service began keeping records in 1895; extreme weather events are on the rise around the globe; and the Midwestern grain belt is overdue for a major drought. This isn’t a story about climate change or a subtle advertisement for hybrid vehicles. Global warming wasn’t even a concept during the 1930s dust bowl, the rain-scarce late 1950s or the major droughts that hit the U.S. plains in 1980 and 1988."

Arctic Death Spiral: More Bad News About Sea Ice. The trends are alarming for the Arctic region; Climate Central brings us up to date: "The sea ice that blankets the Arctic Ocean each winter peaked in early March this year, as usual, and is now in retreat, en route to its annual minimum extent in September. How low it will go is something scientists worry: ice reflects lots of sunlight back into space, and when the darker ocean underneath is exposed, more sunlight is absorbed to add to global warming. That’s the simple version of the story, but things look even worse when you dig into the details. For one thing, all that open water does re-freeze each winter, but it freezes into a relatively thin layer known as seasonal, or first-year ice. Because it’s so thin, first-year ice tends to melt back quickly the following season, giving the ocean a chance to warm things up even more in what National Snow and Ice Data Center director Mark Serreze has called a “death spiral” that could lead to ice-free Arctic summers by 2030."

Photo credit above: "The sun reflects over thin sea ice and a few floating icebergs." Credit: Jefferson Beck/NASA

What The Oil Industry Wants - In Charts. Here's an excerpt from a Washington Post article: "In many ways, life has never been better for the U.S. oil and gas industries. Production is up, thanks to new fracking technology. Profits are high. There’s little chance Congress will cap carbon emissions anytime soon. What more could they ask for? Quite a bit, it turns out. On Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute released a report full of recommendations to the Republican and Democratic committees that are crafting their party platforms this summer. Basically, this is Big Oil’s wish list. It includes everything from opening up more federal lands for drilling to avoiding strict new federal rules on natural-gas fracking. And API has also included a slew of charts that help give a better sense for what’s driving the oil and gas industry."

A Bright Future For Renewable Energy. Here's a clip from an article at The Huffington Post: "The current market for the renewable energy sector in the United States and around the world is a mix of challenge and opportunity. However, the long-term future of clean energy is bright. According to our recent report, "Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2011 Edition," last year saw record private investments globally. And the United States received more investments for clean energy than any other nation. These investments resulted in record deployment levels -- 83.5 gig watts of clean generating capacity overall, including an unprecedented 30 gig watts of solar. But like other emerging high-technology industries before it, the clean-energy sector is going through a period of profound transition. The industry faces powerful financial and policy cross currents."

Only Biofuels Will Cut Plane Emissions. The story from The Guardian: "As a small, maritime trading nation Britain has always been some distance from big international markets. Our ability to visit far-off places and people, and their access to us, has always been at the heart of our ability to punch above our weight in the world, whether that's commercially, culturally or diplomatically. In the past we were dependent on ships, now we are reliant on commercial airlines, as well as the Channel Tunnel and secure data networks. This infrastructure is critical for our future, particularly as we look to major economies like India, China and Brazil for export opportunities. But it is also vital for sustaining our outward facing society and culture; one that's confident engaging with the world and welcoming of its diversity."

Photo credit above: "A plane taking off from Newcastle airport." Photograph: Owen Humphreys/AP

Corporations Are Tackling The Risks Associated With Climate Change. Here's an excerpt from "Companies are accustomed to managing risks such as legal liabilities, accidents, natural disasters, credit and finance risks and security threats. But what about risk arising from climate change, such as its potential effect on production and business operations, regulatory and litigation risks or reputational risks? Processes and policies around climate risk — the risk profile of a company’s exposure to climate change — are still evolving, but companies are addressing climate change in ways that cross over between traditional risk management and corporate sustainability efforts."

Photo credit above: "Post-hurricane flooding in Lake Charles, La. Credit: Chuck Simmins, CC BY 2.0."

Himalayas Warming Faster, Facing Severe Climate Change Impact: Study. Details from The Times of India: "NEW DELHI: A scientific study published on Wednesday revealed that the Himalayas, one of world's richest biodiversity zones, is warming faster than other parts of the globe. The research, conducted by Boston-based University of Massachusetts and Bangalore-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE) points that the average mean temperature during a 25-year period (1982-2006) in the Himalayas has increased by 1.50 degree Celsius. The researchers claimed that the rise in temperature in the Himalayas is three times greater than the increase in global average of temperature during the same period." Photo above: NASA.

Margaret Thatcher, Others: Neither "Murderers, Tyrants , Nor Madmen". The Heartland billboard (fiasco) continues to reverberate; here's a post from The Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Environment: "This month’s “This Is Not Cool” Yale Forum video explores a phrase popularized — or more likely made infamous — by the recent Heartland Institute Chicago highway poster featuring Unabomber Ted Kaczynski: “murderers, tyrants, and madmen.” In a word-association game, it’s unlikely that many would bring up the names of Margaret Thatcher, or of Columbia University’s Wallace Broecker. Nor, for that matter, those of NASA scientist James Hansen; of the late biochemist and novelist Isaac Asimov; of theoretical physicist, author and cosmologist Stephen Hawking; of the late Cornell University astrophysicist and author Carl Sagan; of Microsoft’s Bill Gates; of Navy Admiral David Titley; or of Nobel Laureate, and now Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu."

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