Wednesday, May 16, 2012

First 90 of 2012 Friday & Saturday (warmest 12 months in U.S. history)

70 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
69 F. average high for May 16.
69 F. high on May 15, 2011.
+ 5 F. Temperatures through the first 15 days of May are running 5 degrees above average.

First 90 of 2012 possible Friday afternoon, again Sunday.
Weekend: not as wet as previously thought.
.55" rain predicted by Sunday morning (NAM model).
Strong T-storms possible late Saturday; very small risk of a few isolated severe storms.
Sunday: 15-20 degrees cooler than Saturday; best chance of showers morning hours.

"But what minutes! Count them by sensation, and not by calendars, and each moment is a day." - Benjamin Disraeli

Instant Summer. Models are still suggesting highs near 90 tomorrow, again Saturday. It all depends on the sun. If it's out most of the day Friday we may top 90 F. in the metro area. If clouds increase rapidly Saturday afternoon we may have to be content with mid-80s. Either way, Saturday will be the more summerlike day of the weekend, the best chance of dry weather morning and midday hours.

Gardening can help to cure depression and lift your spirits. Really. Trust me, I'm a weatherman. Details below.

"Blumenfeld is one of the very few doing research on twisters that hit metro areas. He says although the tornado that struck north Minneapolis last year killed one person and left destruction in its wake, the twister was relatively weak compared to a large tornado. He believes it is only a matter of time before something big happens here."- from a KARE-11 special on making the metro area more "storm-ready", preparing for the inevitable large, violent tornado.

"Floods are coming more and more frequently, and any time of year," he said. "We call it 'climate chaos.' That's more apt, I feel. With the veggies, we felt it was ridiculous to take the risk." - from an article at below. Photo credit: USGS.

"The last time the globe had a month that averaged below its 20th century normal was February 1985. April makes it 326 months in a row. Nearly half the population of the world has never seen a month that was cooler than normal, according to United Nations data." - from an L.A. Times article below.

Storm-Ready: What Businesses Have Done To Prepare For A Major Storm. Kudos to KARE-11 for running an excellent 2-part series on tornado safety, imagining a worst-case scenario (a large, violent, EF-3+ tornado sweeping across the metro area). Here is an excerpt of Part 2 of the series: "Picking up the pieces is what we do after a tornado strikes, but what about before? What about right before? Would you know what to do if you were not at home? Are plans in place to guide you? Over the last several weeks, KARE 11 has teamed with MPR News and created a simulation of a major tornado on track to hit Minneapolis. While not all businesses are required to have a disaster plan in place, officials believe most do. "Only certain businesses, such as those with chemicals or hazardous waste onsite, are required to have a disaster plan in place. Yet, no businesses are required in Minnesota to submit a disaster plan to the state," said James Honerman, spokesperson with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry."

Frequent Floods Force Farmers To Rethink Age-Old Practices. It sure seems like a boom-bust cycle with the weather: drought or flood, with little in-between. Here are some interesting facts and figures in an article from; here's an excerpt: "In 2008, Katy Lince watched the vegetables she had nurtured at Hawthorne Valley Farm in upstate New York float down a rushing river that days before had been a peaceful creek nowhere near her crops. "We thought, that was a weird flood," said Lince, the farm's field vegetables manager. "That's not going to happen again." It did. The next year. The floods forced Lince and Steffen Schneider, the farm's director of operations, to reconsider an agricultural practice that farmers have followed for thousands of years: planting in flood plains, where the soil is particularly fertile."

Photo credit above: "A flooded vegetable field at Hawthorne Valley Farm. Credit: Steffen Schneider, the farm's director of operations."

It Really Is Hot In Here: U.S. Has Warmest 12 Months On Record. The full story at the Los Angeles Times; here's an excerpt: "Americans just lived through the hottest 12 months ever recorded, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Tuesday. The announcement came as NOAA reported that the U.S. also just experienced its third-warmest April on record. “These temperatures, when added with the first quarter and previous 11 months, calculate to the warmest year-to-date and 12-month periods since record-keeping began in 1895,” the agency reported. NOAA said that for the period from May 2011 to April 2012, the nationally averaged temperature was 55.7 degrees, 2.8 degrees higher than the 20th century average. The national average temperature for April was 55 degrees, 3.6 degrees above average."

Photo credit above: "Texas State Park police officer Thomas Bigham walks across the cracked lake bed of O.C. Fisher Lake, in San Angelo, Texas, in this August photo. Record average temperatures scorched central Texas, the upper Midwest and much of the Northeast over the last year. (Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press / May 15, 2012)."

Globe Records 5th Warmest April On Record. Climate Central has the story; here's a snippet: "According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report released Tuesday, last month was the fifth warmest April on record (record-keeping began in 1880, so we’re talking 132 years).  NOAA’s analysis of global temperatures showed that the planet’s thermometer stood at 57.87°F for the month, averaged over night and day, land and sea, from the poles to the equator. That’s 1.17°F  higher than the 20th -century average — the biggest such departure from average of any month since November, 2010. The last time April was below that average was in 1976, when Gerald Ford was president." (Image credit above: NOAA).

NASA's Latest Hit: Ice Show From Space. Climate Central is on a roll; here's an excerpt of another must-read story: "If you don’t know what causes the seasons, you’re not alone: a mini-documentary made in the 1980’s showed that lots of Harvard grads don’t, either. For the record, the reason is that Earth’s spin axis is slightly tilted. In the months surrounding June, the Northern Hemisphere leans toward the Sun. There’s more sunlight, days are longer, and the north experiences summer. Down below the equator, there’s less sunlight and less heat, so it’s winter. In the months surrounding December, it’s vice versa. OK, lecture’s out. Now you get to watch a new video from NASA that shows one important effect of the waxing and waning of the seasons. It shows satellite views of Earth over both the North and South Poles, side-by-side, demonstrating how sea ice expands in summer and melts back in winter, see-sawing from one pole to the other as summer and winter alternate."

Vermont Storm Front. Yesterday severe storms swept across much of New England. This photo near Waterbury, Vermont was captured by Nicholas Erwin. Here's a full-screen version at the WeatherNation TV FB site.

"Mamma". Here's a nice example of cumulonimbus mammatus, from the Albany National Weather Service.

Waiting (Patiently) For Spring. This photo was taken midday Wednesday at Crater Lake National Park; photo courtesy of Facebook: "Lunchtime for the park's hard working Road Crew. Time to eat, laugh and refuel (both people and equipment)."

Is Climate Change Research Holding Back Advances In Weather Forecasting? Meteorologist Jason Samenow from The Capital Weather Gang connects the dots: "We’ve discussed, to some extent, the question of whether large expenditures in NOAA’s budget on satellites (relative to funding of the National Weather Service) has slowed progress in numerical weather prediction. University of Washington’s Cliff Mass, who has addressed that issue as well, posed another critical question today in a thoughtful, provocative blog post: “Why is the U.S. government providing hugely more computer resources for climate prediction than weather prediction?” Mass contends that the Federal emphasis on long-term climate prediction is a mistake, and that improving our short-term weather forecasts should be a much higher priority."

Hurricane Andrew Remembered At Hurricane Conference. The Miami Herald has the details: "The National Hurricane Center's director says his successor will face the same problem that has perplexed forecasters since Hurricane Andrew made a catastrophic landfall in Florida two decades ago. Forecasters say they've significantly improved their ability to predict a storm's path, giving coastal residents more time to prepare. Hurricane center director Bill Read says the challenge that remains is seeing a day or two in advance how big a storm could be, or whether a storm will rapidly intensify the way Andrew did as it approached Florida."

Read more here:

Federal Flood Insurance May Be Extended Until End Of June. Details from The Insurance Journal: "The House is expected to vote today on an extension of the federal flood insurance program until the end of June but the fate of program in the Senate is still uncertain. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is now scheduled to expire on May 31 unless both houses of Congress act to reauthorize it." Photo credit: FEMA.

Why Gardening Makes You Happy And Cures Depression. I think there's something to this - connecting with nature, disconnecting from FB, Twitter and e-mail. Time to think, ponder, daydream. I get the appeal of gardening - just wish I didn't kill every plant I came into contact with. Here's an excerpt of an article at Permaculture: "While mental health experts warn about depression as a global epidemic, other researchers are discovering ways we trigger our natural production of happy chemicals that keep depression at bay, with surprising results. All you need to do is get your fingers dirty and harvest your own food. In recent years I’ve come across two completely independent bits of research that identified key environmental triggers for two important chemicals that boost our immune system and keep us happy - serotonin and dopamine. What fascinated me as a permaculturist and gardener were that the environmental triggers happen in the garden when you handle the soil and harvest your crops."

"Ask Paul". Weather-related questions:

"At what point does it stop being partly cloudy and start being partly sunny?
David L. Poeschel

Loan Document Specialist 4
Wells Fargo Funding

  David - great question. People often assume that partly cloudy and partly sunny mean the same thing. They don't. A forecast of partly sunny implies the sun will be out roughly 25% of the day (it means the same thing as "mostly cloudy"). But a forecast of partly cloudy implies 75% sun, and 25% cloudiness. So a prediction of partly cloudy suggests the sun will be out most of the day, a prediction of partly sunny gives the impression that clouds will rule. Of course we use partly cloudy at night, for obvious reasons. It points out a real challenge: communicating our vision of what the weather will be - accurately - to people at home; choosing the words (with care) that convey what we thing might actually happen. Yes, words matter. Thanks for a good question. (photo courtesy of meteorologist D.J. Kayser).

Korean Officials Probe Hyundai Sudden-Accleration Case. The YouTube video clip (courtesy of CNN) is harrowing; officials are investigating the cause; human error or a problem with the Sonata's electrical system? Details: "A senior couple's tragic car accident, video images of which have shocked South Korean drivers for the past week, is now getting government attention. On Monday, the Ministry of Land, Transport & Maritime Affairs said it launched an investigation into a sudden acceleration claim that led to the accident in Daegu on May 6. Video evidence appears to show that the couple's Hyundai Sonata suddenly accelerated and, after 13 seconds of maneuvering by the driver to avoid other cars, wound up rear-ending a car at a stoplight at a speed of 130 km/h, or about 80 miles per hour. That set off a chain reaction accident that involved several other vehicles and injured 17 people."

What Is Replacing Traditional "News"? It's a question that gets to the heart over journalistic arguments about "platforms" and "pay walls" and how people are consuming useful information in an age of Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. Here's an excerpt from a must-read post from "We don’t realize how much news media has changed in the past fifteen years. We really don’t. I’m not talking about digital first or about blogging or about data journalism or the mobile web or the curation craze. Yes, journalism has evolved and is better for it. I’m talking beyond that. I’m not even talking about the fact that everyone is a potential publisher now, from white-hat PR by universities and non-profits to the advent of blogging by experts and academics (remember that iPhone antenna thing or the ground-zero mosque kerfuffle?) to citizen journalism and by-us-for-us journalism (even philosophers do it), even though that’s huge. Beyond even that. I think journalism is being replaced."

WikiHouse: Get Ready To Design, "Print" And Construct Your Own Home! I'm fascinated with 3-D printers; here's an excerpt from "Created by a group of young designers from London, WikiHouse is an open source construction solution that aims to make it possible for almost anyone, regardless of skill level, to freely download and build affordable housing. The WikiHouse construction system was on display during last month's Milan Design Week, where the creators themselves demonstrated how the technology can be applied."

Top 2 Reasons LinkedIn Is Taking Over the World. Do you use LinkedIn on a routine basis? I've heard it described as "Facebook for business people". Between FB, Twitter and LinkedIn I'm not sure where to spend the extra 4 minutes a day I have to check social media. Here's an excerpt from "I’m fascinated by LinkedIn, which now seems to me like a combination virtual headhunter and 21st-century international water cooler. Even though I’ve been on Linkedin for years, I started to notice it for real about 18 months ago, when Therese Miclot, our wonderful Practice Director of Training and de facto recruiter, began finding her best job candidates on Linkedin.  Then I read an article about the importance of growing your network on LinkedIn, so I began inviting people to connect (and getting lots of invitations in return)."

Image above: courtesy of Gigra.

Data: Google Totally Blows Facebook Away On Ad Performance. I use Facebook (sparingly, knowing everything I write will probably become public). The FB team has done a remarkable job - no question; I like the fact that they think of themselves as in "perpetual beta" - they're always tinkering. Thinking about getting in on FB's IPO? I'd think twice. Not sure the current valuations can hold up, unless Facebook is working on some, new revolutionary way to get consumers to watch lots of ads on their mobile devices. When was the last time you clicked on a FB ad on your PC or Mac? Here's a snippet of a must-read article at Business Insider: "No one ever got fired for telling clients to advertise on Facebook." That's the sarcastic mantra making its way round the digital advertising world right now. But is Facebook actually an efficient vehicle for marketers compared to the other digital ad giant, Google? A comparison of the two companies from WordStream, a search marketing management company, suggests that Facebook is a much less effective ad medium than Google. (The caveat here is that WordStream is, obviously, rather more dependent on Google than Facebook as a medium.)" Image above: Screengrab.
6 People Mark Zuckerberg Burned On His Way To The Top. Huffington Post has the story; here's an excerpt: "Sometimes you've just gotta play hardball. FacebookCEO Mark Zuckerberg has developed something of a reputation for cutting out business partners as his company rose to prominence.  For example, Business Insider recently published a emails and instant message conversations detailing how Zuck elbowed out of co-founder Eduardo Savarin in 2005. In what appears to be a particularly damning email, a 20-year-old Zuckerberg's outlines his plan to dilute Savarin's shares down from more than 30 percent without modifying the stakes held by other shareholders."
Home-Built "Bio-Computer" Runs Linux, Grows Wheatgrass. I need this, because I'm not getting enough wheatgrass in my diet. has the details: "We've seen the wacky homebrew projects of computer hardware hacker Mike Schropp before. Mindful Gizmag readers may recall his triple quad-core i7 LEGO PC housing that we looked at last July. But his latest project, the "Bio Computer," is rather more oddball, taking a turn distinctly towards the horticultural with a PC case adapted to ... grow wheatgrass."

"Anchorman 2" Is Coming. I'm pumped. I miss Ron Burgandy - feared he went over to cable or satellite, but he's hanging in there at a local affiliate, I think. has more details: "Let the teasing begin. The first poster for the much-anticipated “Anchorman” sequel is now out, and a teaser trailer for the movie is now playing in front of “The Dictator,” which opens nationwide today. While no one has yet posted a shaky cellphone video of the teaser to YouTube yet (it’s only a matter of time), the poster is now circulating the internet. Oh, and Ron Burgundyhas been tweeting."
Another Sign Of The Apocalypse: Cell Phones In Flight. Tell me again how this is a good thing? Now the guy next to you in seat 13B can be babbling away with his wife or boss while you try to read or nap or eat your peanuts in PEACE and QUIET! Business Insider has the depressing news about new "features" coming to Virgin Atlantic. Remind me to avoid Virgin Atlantic. Delta, for the love of God, please don't allow cell phones on your flights: "Virgin Atlantic is preparing to allow passengers to use their cell phones during flights, reports CNET. Flyers will be able to make phone calls, send and receive text messages, check email, and even surf the web. But, you guessed it, the service won't be cheap. Customers will have to pay $1.20 per minute and access will be limited to six people at a time on the flight."

* hopefully limited to the lavatories. If not...I smell riot. Photo courtesy of Dan Frommer.

Pure Weather Bliss. Yesterday was about as close to perfect as you can possibly Minnesota. Under a perfect blue sky (with virtually no wind and low humidity) highs ranged from a chilly 51 at Grand Marais (raw breeze off Lake Superior) to 70 in the Twin Cities, 72 at St. Cloud and 76 at Redwood Falls.
  My Definition Of A "Good Evening". This may be my favorite spot on the planet: overlooking a lake, loitering in my favorite Adirondack chair, a stack of magazines and newspapers, my trusty iPad, maybe a jolt of java. No cell phone please. For a couple of hours a day it's nice to disconnect. In fact, I find it essential when I'm attempting to recharge my muddled, frazzled brain. Who needs therapy when you have this?

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

TODAY: Some sun, more humid - stray T-storm north. Winds: S 15-25. High: near 80

THURSDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, milder, stickier. Low: 63

FRIDAY: Hot sun. Feels like July. Winds: S 15-25. High: near 90

FRIDAY NIGHT: Warm and muggy - probably dry. Low: 66

SATURDAY: Hot sun, T-storms late, some strong, possibly severe. Winds: S 10-20+ High: 91

SATURDAY NIGHT: Showers and heavy T-storms likely. Low: 62

SUNDAY: Unsettled and cooler, few showers, possible thunder. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 73

MONDAY: Cue the sun and chirping robins. Blue sky, perfect. Low: 54. High: 74

TUESDAY: Plenty of sun, warmer. Low: 57. High: 79

WEDNESDAY: Fading sun, late storms out west? Low: 60. High: 81

 Late Week "Hot Front"

The L.A. Times reports "The last time the globe had a month that averaged below its 20th century normal was February 1985. April makes it 326 months in a row. Nearly half the population of the world has never seen a month that was cooler than normal, according to United Nations data."
I hope you enjoyed our fleeting comfortable-front, because a summerlike airmass is brewing for Friday & Saturday; highs surging into the upper 80s. Some towns may experience the first 90-degree heat of the season, the hottest weather of 2012 so far.

This surge of hot, steamy air may set off a renegade T-storm today (best chance north of MSP), but most of the showers and storms hold off until late Saturday and Sunday as a slow-moving cool front limps east. Precipitation will be convective, showery. No all-day washouts are expected, but keep an eye out for a few severe storms late Saturday.

After brushing 90 Saturday - Sunday will cool into the low and mid 70s; the best chance of bumping into a shower around the dinner hour.

I'm feeling better about this weather pattern: the risk of a debilitating, statewide drought has lessened but I still detect a dry bias into early summer.

Let it rain!

"Human destiny is bound to remain a gamble, because at some unpredictable time and in some unforeseeable manner nature will strike back." - Rene Dubos, "Mirage of Health" (1959)

Climate Stories...

North Dakota Tops Alaska In Oil Production. How did this happen? One word: "fracking". Details from The Wall Street Journal; here's an excerpt: "North Dakota has passed Alaska to become the No. 2 oil-producing state in the country, reflecting how the embrace of new drilling technology is redrawing the U.S. energy map. North Dakota's daily production of oil rose 3.1% to 575,490 barrels in March, according to preliminary state data, 1.4% more than Alaska's daily production of 567,480 barrels for the month. Texas, which pumped 1.7 million barrels a day in February, holds a firm grip on first place."

Climate Change Consequences - Often Unexpected. I tell people the truth: we are conducting a massive experiment on the atmosphere and hoping things turn out OK. It reminds me of an 8th grade sex-education video they forced us to watch. The title of the clip was "Hope Is Not A Method." I can't remember what I did yesterday, but I remember the title of that stupid film. So it goes with our climate, as reported by "An increasingly common fallback position once climate change "skeptics" accept that the planet is warming and humans are the dominant cause is the myth that climate change won't be bad.  In fact, this particular myth comes in at #3 on our list of most used climate myths.  It's an ideal fallback position because it allows those who reject the body of scientific evidence to believe that if they are wrong on the science, it's okay, because the consequences won't be dire anyway. One of my colleagues, Molly Henderson recently completed a Masters Degree program class on scientific research which focused on climate change, which she aced (way to go, Molly!).  For her final research paper, she examined the consequences of climate change on the prevalence of water-borne diseases in the US Great Lakes region."

How Will Global Warming Impact Water Availability? The story from; here's an excerpt: "A general increase in average temperatures means there's less snowmelt feeding river basins in the United States, a study found. The U.S. Geological Survey said climate change projections indicate a general warming trend through the 21st century. This should result in snowpack reductions, which could play a role in everything from soil moisture to stream flows. So far, the USGS said it reviewed expected changes in water availability in 14 different river basins across the country."

Almost One Tenth Of Western Hemisphere Mammals In Danger From Climate Change. has the story; here's an excerpt: "A new study led by Carrie Schloss, an analyst in environmental and forest sciences at the University of Washington, finds that nine percent of the Western Hemisphere’s mammals, and nearly forty percent in particular regions, will fall victim to the changing climate. Some mammals are merely too slow to escape climate change in their natural habitats and are unable to move into different areas. The study seeks to understand if the mammals can actually adapt to these conditions by moving or not."
Photo credit:

Arctic Drilling Opponents Swarm The White House. Huffington Post has the story - here's a clip: "Because sometimes to get your point across you need to dress up as an Arctic Tern, scores of anti-drilling activists on Tuesday gathered outside the White House dressed in fuzzy onesies and polar bear masks. The demonstration -- organized by Green Peace, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Earth,, Credo Action and Alaska Wilderness League, among other environmental groups -- comes as part of a larger effort to pressure President Barack Obama to stop drilling in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea, home to such iconic species as the polar bear, bowhead whale and walrus. "We're out here today to deliver a million comments to Obama asking him not to allow Shell to drill this summer," Leah Donahey, western Arctic and oceans program director at Alaska Wilderness League, told The Huffington Post at Tuesday's rally." (Photo credit: AP).

Tiny Frigid Bubbles Get To The Core Of Climate Change. Here's a snippet of an article at Climate Central: "As Michael Bender prepared to lead the way into the storage area of his lab at Princeton University, he gave a visitor a quizzical look. “You really might want to put these on,” he said, holding up a bulky red parka and a pair of thick gloves. “Oh, I’ll be fine,” said his guest. “No, really,” Bender insisted gently. “It would be a good idea.” A minute later, it all made a lot more sense. The storage area is a refrigerator the size of a walk-in closet, chilled to minus 30°F, and with a powerful fan blowing just to ensure the frigid air circulates evenly to every corner of the cramped space. Plastic foam coolers and cardboard boxes lined with insulation cover most of the floor, with more piled on top. Bender reached into one of the coolers, pulled out a plastic bag with a lump of ice inside and held it to the light."

Photo credit above: "A researcher insepcts a freshly drilled ice core. Credit: Kendrick Taylor/WAIS Divide Ice Core Project Research Professor."

More On Extreme Weather And The Greenhouse Effect. Here's a snippet from Andy Revkin at The New York Time's Dot Earth blog: "Martin P. Hoerling, a federal research meteorologist specializing in climate dynamics, faced a lot of pushback after he criticized some assertions made in an Op-Ed article on climate change by James E. Hansen of NASA. One critic is Dan Miller, an engineer and venture capitalist focused on non-polluting energy technologies who blogs on climate at and helped Hansen craft his Times piece. At roughly the same time, Hoerling sent an amplification on his arguments and Miller sent a critique of Hoerling’s initial post. You can read both below. Keep in mind that neither writer has seen the other’s piece. (I asked Hansen for his thoughts on the complaints of Hoerling and Kerry Emanuel, another climate scientist who weighed in on Dot Earth. His response is at the end of this post.)"

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