Saturday, May 12, 2012

Best Weekend of Spring? (80s return next week)

71 F. high temperature Friday (19th day this spring at or above 70, compared with 5 days last spring).

68 F. average high for May 11.

78 F. high temperature May 11, 2011 in the Twin Cities.

Low 80s likely Monday.

Dry into Tuesday.

T-storms possible next Friday and Saturday as highs top 80 once again.

Weekend Weather For People In A Hurry:

Today: Plenty of sun. Highs: 65-70. Winds: NW 5-10.
Mother's Day: Sunny, milder. Highs: 69-74. Winds: W/SW 7-12

"The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad." - A.K. Best

Lukewarm; Mostly-Dry Into Wednesday. The European ECMWF (which tends to do a better job with long-range weather than the GFS) shows a warming trend into Tuesday, when a puff of slightly cooler, Canadian air may spark a stray shower or T-shower. A surge of hot air arrives late next week, a good shot at 80 by next Friday and Saturday. The hot front will spark T-storms; best chance Friday and Saturday. Enjoy the quiet, dry spell while you can.

Meteorological Miracle. Yesterday's blustery cool front is pushing east, plenty of sun for the Upper Midwest today and Mother's Day. The northeast warms up, the next chance of showers late Sunday into Tuesday for much of the eastern seaboard. Meanwhile record heat settles over the Pacific Northwest over the weekend with the warmest temperatures of the year so far. NAM model data courtesy of NOAA.

"Earlier this spring up to 33 Minnesota counties were designated to be in severe drought by the U.S. Drought Monitor. In Thursday's release (May 10) of a new drought update, only a small portion of Cook County is left in severe drought. For the most part soils have been recharged with near normal moisture levels, and Minnesota's streams and rivers have risen with the recent abundant rainfall."" - from the latest edition of Dr. Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk. Details below.

"There's no doubt that the actual cost of extreme weather is on the rise, with U.S. insured losses from weather disaster soaring from $3 billion a year in the 1980s to about $20 billion a year in the past decade, adjusted for inflation." - from a Time Magazine article below.

"The number of U. S. satellites is expected to plummet over the next eight years, and the decline could impede weather forecasting, a National Academies report says." - from an L.A. Times article below. Illustration above: NASA.

Record Rainfalls For Some To Start Early May. Here's an excerpt of the latest WeatherTalk entry from Dr. Mark Seeley: "According to the NOAA National Climatic Data Center over the first 7 days of May, Minnesota weather observers reported 62 new daily rainfall records, an exceptionally large quantity of records for such a short period of time. Some examples of the record amounts of rainfall include:

May 1st: 1.73 inches at St Cloud Airport
May 2nd: 2.05 inches at Windom and 2.10 inches at Elk River
May 3rd: 2.21 inches at Zumbrota and Wabasha
May 4th: 1.70 inches at Amboy
May 5th: 2.41 inches at Winnebago and 2.33 inches at Sherburn
May 6th: 2.78 inches at Marshall, 2.86 inches at Hawley, 3.06 inches at Redwood Falls, 3.50 inches at Hastings, and 3.62 inches at Pipestone

The 3.62 inches of rainfall reported at Pipestone on May 6th was a new state record for the date, beating the 3.48 inches that fell at Minneota on May 6, 1983.

Chicago Weather Trivia. Here's a Friday tweet from WGN-TV Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling - another (very) warm month shaping up for The Windy City

April Warming Trends. Here's an interesting nugget (and YouTube animation) from NOAA: “After a decade of warmer than average Aprils in the U.S., few highest monthly maximum temperature records for April remain from the 20th Century. This image plots the decade in which the highest average April temperature record was set for different regions of the country, starting in 1911 (i.e., 1911-1920) and running through 2010, using data from the NOAA National Climatic Center’s detailed archives. The records broken in 2011 and 2012 are shown separately. Most of the pixel colors are associated with the 2001-2010, 2011 and 2012 time periods. Gray indicates no data (records) are associated with that area of the country.

Stunning Waterspout Images From Louisiana. I can't recall the last time I saw 4 waterspouts in the same photo. Climate Central has a terrific article about the recent rash of waterspouts (tornadoes over water) off the coast of Louisiana; here's an excerpt: "Severe weather affected Louisiana on Wednesday, with a damaging tornado in Grand Isle, and simultaneous occurrences of multiple waterspouts over the nearshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The waterspouts — technically tornadoes over water — were caught on camera by a National Weather Service employee and many others. For background info on waterspouts, check out this video from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)."

Upper left photo credit: "Twin waterspouts seen off the coast of Grand Isle, La., on May 9. Click on image for a larger version. Credit: Capt. Danny Wray, via NWS/Facebook."

Upper right photo credit: "Four waterspouts seen at once off the La. coast on May 9. Credit: WRAL Mike Maze via Facebook."

Waterspout, Haboobs And More. Here's a great article (and waterspout explanation) from meteorologist Jason Samenow at The Washington Post: "Waterspouts are defined as tornadoes over water but can form under different circumstances - either in fair weather or in tornadic thunderstorms. NOAA explains: The tornadic waterspouts may often begin as tornadoes over land and then move over water. They also form in severe thunderstorms over a body of water. They can wreak havoc with high winds, hail, and dangerous lightning.

Photo credit above: "Twin waterspouts offshore Grand Isle, La. (Tim Osborn, NOAA )."

"Mammatus". Photo from the Bismarck National Weather Service, via Mark Zuckerberg: "Mammatus clouds that rolled through Minot during last night's thunderstorms. Photo courtesy of Sean K."

Most Expensive Weather Disasters Of 2012. 7 of the top 14 weather disasters worldwide during the first 4 months of 2012 were in the USA. Chart courtesy of Aon Benfield.

Summer Preview For The Pacific Northwest. Here's an excerpt of a post from "The warmest temperatures felt so far in 2012 are expected in Seattle, Wash., and Portland, Ore., over the Mother's Day weekend. The mercury should reach 80 degrees in Seattle on Sunday while Portland makes a run at 90. The key ingredient to the warm spell is offshore winds. The flow of air across the Pacific Northwest will be from warm interior areas towards to the cool ocean. This flow of air will keep the cool ocean air at bay."

Russian Satellite Presents The Earth From Top To Bottom (Imagery). This never gets old, seeing Earth from space. Here's a new perspective (from a Russian weather satellite). Details from The Capital Weather Gang: "Who doesn’t love NASA’s stunning “Blue Marble” full disc images of Earth? We now have a new source of high definition hemisphere-spanning imagery: the Russians. Their new geostationary satellite, Electro-L, launched in January 2011, produces ultra-high resolution images of our planet, 121 megapixels to be exact. Gizmodo provides more details on Electro-L: Elektro-L is now orbiting Earth on a geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers [~22,000 miles] above the equator, sending photographs of the entire planet every 30 minutes using a 2.56 to 16.36 Mbits per second connection with ground control. The images—and the video of the Northern Hemisphere—combines four light wavelengths, three visible and one infrared."

Photo credit above: "Full disc satellite image of Earth from Russian Electro-L satellite (Russian Earth Observation centre).

Hail And High Water Grips South Texas. Here's some wild video from AP, showing the flash flooding and large hail that pounded the Corpus Chrisi area of south Texas late Thursday: "Hail and heavy rains pounded Corpus Cristi, Texas on Thursday. One resident took advantage of the flooded streets to go street-surfing. (May 11)."

Driving Through A "Haboob". Funny word huh? It's Arabic. Are these on the increase or in a YouTube world are we just doing a better job of capturing the sandstorms that have always been there? Same question with tornadoes. Wish I had a good answer. Here's some YouTube footage from the Phoenix area - these massive sandstorms (often triggered by thunderstorm downdrafts whipping up sand and dust) can drop visibilities close to zero at times: "Driving home through a miles wide AZ dust storm."

Failing Satellites Jeopardize Weather Forecasting, Report Says. God help us if we lose our Eye in the Sky and can no longer monitor weather from a constellation of satellites. More from The L.A. Times: "WASHINGTON — The number of U.S. satellites watching Earth is expected to plummet by 2020, and weather forecasting, including hurricane tracking, could suffer as a result, a new report warns. The study, released last week by the nation's top science advisors, estimated that the fleet of science satellites operated by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would "decline precipitously" from a peak of 110 probes last year to fewer than 30 in 2020. The drop is a result of several factors, including budget problems and rocket accidents, and scientists said the United States risked blurring its vision of Earth if it did not act quickly to replace satellites expected to die during the next eight years."

Photo credit above: "Science satellites operated by NASA and NOAA track a broad range of environmental markers, including the thinning of ice sheets and changes in cloud cover and temperature. (NASA / June 26, 2010)."

House Slashes Funding Increase For NOAA Climate Website. Meteorologist Jason Samenow at The Washington Post has more details: "Of a possible $1.4 billion dollars in proposed spending cuts in the Departments of Commerce and Justice for 2013, the U.S. House Representatives voted to approve none of them. None of them except a piddly $542,000 for a NOAA climate website. The amendment was approved 219-189 Tuesday evening reported. The NOAA “climate website” is - a portal to NOAA’s climate information. The website - currently in a prototype stage - provides a rich set of climate information, tools, and data resources. With a little investment, it has the potential to provide tremendous benefits to decision makers."

When Disaster Strikes The Nursing Home. Here's an excerpt of a New York Times story: "As hailstones the size of golf balls beat thunderously on the roof of the nursing home, an urgent announcement rang out from the loudspeakers. “Everyone needs to go out into the halls now,” Kaye Russell, 70, remembers a nurse’s assistant saying. Staff members began rolling patients in wheelchairs through the doorway. “Put your heads down; arms over your head, everyone.” “Everybody was crying and praying,” said Ms. Russell, who has multiple sclerosis and had been recovering from a bout of pneumonia at the facility, Green Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Arlington, Tex. Suddenly, the roof began to shake, windows blew out and the nursing home was filled with a trainlike roar. Ms. Russell’s daughter, Lori Coakley, a physical therapist at the facility, rushed down the hall and threw herself on top of her mother." Photo: Randy Widmayer.

Over The Rainbow. Thanks to Joseph Rudd from Central Kentucky Interiors in Muir Station, KY for passing this one along.

Smart Gives Product Not To All-Electric eScooter. Pretty cool - details from "Alongside the smart fortwo electric drive coupé and convertible that appeared at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, smart also unveiled a couple of two-wheeled electric vehicle concepts, the smart ebike and smart escooter. With the ebike having already having received the production nod in 2011 and now nearing its scheduled mid-2012 release, smart has announced plans to bring its smart escooter to market with a planned 2014 launch."

Broadcasters Paint Doomsday Scenario In Case Against Aereo's Streaming TV Service. Here's an excerpt from a story at "In a series of court filings this week, broadcasters argued that the streaming TV service Aereo, currently available only in New York, would cause an end to the TV industry as we know it. In a declaration filed in a New York federal court, Matt Bond, EVP of content distribution at NBCUniversal, said, according to The Hollywood Reporter, that if Aereo is successful in fending off lawsuits from broadcasters and is able to proceed with its service, the economics of TV distribution would be changed forever."

Hybrid Humvee? U.S. Army Shows Its Diesel Hybrid Field Vehicle. Even the Army is going green (to become less reliant on oil, not necessarily out of any concerns about climate change). Even so, every attempt to wean ourselves off Saudi crude makes a difference, as described in this entry at "Still think hybrids and green cars are meek and hipsterish? Plant your eyes on the US Army's Fuel Efficient ground vehicle Demonstrator Bravo. It's one of the burliest vehicles you've likely seen in years, and it's all hybrid underneath its rugged metal shell. If you think you spend a lot of money on gas, imagine how much money the world's most powerful military – with its tanks, generators, military bases, Jeeps and on and on – must spend on gas every day."

Cloud-Cluttered. The sun tried to peek through, but clouds ruled the day yesterday; highs ranging from 61 at Hibbing and Alexandria to 65 St. Cloud, 71 in the Twin Cities and 76 at Rochester. A 75 mile-wide band of rain arrived in the metro around the dinner hour, forcing a 2 hour rain delay at Target Field.

"There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day." - Alexander Woollcott

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

TODAY: Lot's of sun. Walleye Alert. Winds: NW 5-10. High: 69

FRIDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and cool. Low: 50 (mid to upper 40s on central and northern lakes).

SUNDAY (MOTHER'S DAY): Blue sky for mom. Stunning. Winds: SW 5-10. High: 75

MONDAY: Warm sun. Take a comp day. Low: 54. High: near 80

TUESDAY: Partly sunny. Feels like summer. Low: 57. High: 81

WEDNESDAY: Hazy sun. Still balmy. Low: 58. High: 80

THURSDAY: Sticky, summer-like. Isolated thunder-storms north? Low: 60. High: 82

FRIDAY: Plenty of sun, sticky. Dew point: 62. Low: 62. High: 83

Drought Eases

It's a meteorological miracle! The planets have aligned and for some inexplicable reason the sun will be out much of the day (on a Saturday?)

By comparison, last year's Opener was foul with rain and a cool drizzle.

Yesterday's showery front is pushing east; the sun stays out much of today with a light northwest breeze; highs near 70. A well-timed spring daydream. Mother's Day looks warmer: mid 70s.

Pack sunscreen in that tackle box. The sun is about as high in the sky as it ever gets. Many otherwise bright adults believe it has to be hot to get a sunburn. Wrong answer. What matters is the sun angle, the date. Why bother? Two million Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year. Nearly half of all Americans will have skin cancer at least once by the time they turn 65. Take the sun seriously.

A June's worth of rain last weekend has eased Minnesota's drought; only a small portion of south central MN in moderate drought.

No more monsoon rains in sight, in fact a dry sky prevails for at least a week; highs topping 80 next week.

We've enjoyed 18 days above 70 so far this spring. Last year at this time: only 5 days of 70+.
Enjoy a terrific weekend. About time.

"In an underdeveloped country, don't drink the water; in a developed country, don't breathe the air." - Changing Times Magazine.

Climate Stories...

Vast Antarctic Ice Sheet "In Play" With Global Warming. has the story; here's an excerpt: "Scientists have long focused on Antarctica’s smaller ice sheet as being vulnerable to warming, but two new studies project that part of the continent's much larger ice sheet is also at risk -- and that ice now held back on land there could add to sea level rise by 2100. "This is the first legitimate evidence that this part of Antarctica is in play," Bob Bindschadler, a NASA earth scientist who has studied Antarctica for 30 years, told "The potential, the reservoir of ice ... is vast." In fact, that area, known as the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, has 10 times as much ice as the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.  One study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, used a computer model to project what would happen in Antarctica's Weddell Sea if temperatures rose in line with U.N. projections for 2100. "

Photo credit above: Ralph Timmermann / Alfred Wegener Institute. "Part of Antarctica's Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf is seen in the Weddell Sea. Two new studies project the shelf will disappear by 2100, potentially releasing ice trapped on Antarctica's largest ice sheet."

Global Warming: An Exclusive Look At James Hansen's Scary New Math. Here's a snippet of a Time Magazine article about a recent paper linking a warming atmosphere with extreme heat waves around the planet in recent years: "How can NASA physicist and climatologist James E. Hansen, writing in the New York Times today, “say with high confidence” that recent heat waves in Texas and  Russia “were not natural events” but actually “caused by human-induced climate change”? It wasn’t all that long ago that respected MIT atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel flatly refuted the notion that you can pinpoint global warming as the cause of an extreme weather event. “It’s statistical nonsense,” he told PBS....Hansen says the heat wave that struck Texas and Oklahoma last summer and the Moscow heat wave of 2010 (which caused 11,000 deaths in the city) are examples of three-sigma anomalies. In a paper published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Stefan Rahmstorf and Dim Coumou of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, in Germany, wrote that it was 80 percent probable that the Moscow heat wave had been caused by global warming."

Photo credit above: Alexander Demianchuk / Reuters. "Lone tourists walk along Red Square in heavy smog, caused by peat fires in nearby forests, in central Moscow, Aug. 9, 2010."

* Hansen's paper can be found here (pdf).

Varied Views Of Extreme Weather In A Warming Climate. Here's an excerpt of a story from Andrew Revkin at The New York Times: "Through decades of work, James E. Hansen of NASA has earned his plaudits as a climate scientist. But his intensifying personal push for aggressive cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases has come with a framing of climate science that is being criticized by some respected researchers for stepping beyond what peer-reviewed studies have concluded. Here is a critique of “Game Over for Climate,” Hansen’s Op-Ed article in The Times this week, from Martin Hoerling, who runs an effort by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to assess the forces contributing to extreme weather events, followed by a must-read reaction to both from Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology..."

The Weekend Of 100 Tornadoes. Are Killer Storms Being Fueled By Climate Change? It's basic physics: a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, and scientists have observed a 4-5% increase in the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. But is there a definitive link between a warmer, wetter sky and the most extreme storms, like hurricanes and tornadoes. Time Magazine has a story focused on the implications; here's an excerpt: "It could have been so much worse. Over 100 tornadoes ripped through several Plains states in just 24 hours over the weekend. Cars were tossed through the air and houses were pulverized. Hail the size of baseballs fell from the sky, crushing anything left in the open. More than what is ordinarily a month's worth of cyclones struck in a single day, yet miraculously, only one, in the Oklahoma town of Westwood, proved fatal, killing six victims who lived in and around a mobile-trailer park. "God was merciful," Kansas Governor Sam Brownback told CNN on Sunday. But it wasn't just God or chance. The low death toll was also due to a faster and more insistent warning system by weather forecasters, who put the word out early and often and over many platforms that the past weekend could be a dangerous one for the Midwest, thanks to an unusually strong storm system. The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center took the unusual step of alerting people in the region more than a day before what was termed a possible "high-end, life-threatening event."

Photo credit above: "A tornado makes its way through farmlands near Rush Center, Kansas, on April 14, 2012. Over 100 tornadoes ripped through several Plains states in just 24 hours that weekend." Gene Blevins / Reuters

Military Fights Global Warming. Go Navy! Beat Army. Here's a story at Huffington Post: "Is the Navy greener than California? As more polls show that a majority of Americans want action on carbon pollution and global warming, leadership on fighting climate change is coming from surprising places -- starting with the military. At a recent reception held by the Environmental Defense Fund in Washington D.C., Defense Secretary Leon Panetta gave a speech in which he connected the dots between climate change, energy and security issues. He became the highest-ranking official in the Obama administration to do so."
FOI Emails Reveal Threats To Climate Scientists. Here's an excerpt from a story by Australia's ABC News: "The Australian National University has released a series of abusive and threatening emails which were sent to its climate change scientists. The 11 emails to members of the university's Climate Change Institute have been made public after a Freedom of Information request. ANU management initially turned down the FOI request to release them, fearing it would lead to increased harassment. But they have now been released with the names and email addresses removed after an intervention by the privacy commissioner. One email, dated June 2, 2010, describes a threat to use a gun against an academic because a conference participant reportedly disagreed with the climate change research."

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