Sunday, May 20, 2012

Spring Magic (holiday weekend: T-storms, 90 by Sunday?)

63 F. high temperature Sunday in the metro area.
71 F. average high for May 20.
73 F. high temperature on May 20, 2011.
4.79" rain so far in May.
2.17" average rainfall for May (as of May 20).
1.2" rain fell during the first 20 days of May last year.
.68" rain predicted for Wednesday night (00z NAM model).

3" snow fell on the Twin Cities May 20, 1892

Alberto: earliest tropical storm to form in the Atlantic in 9 years.
$2.8 billion: estimated cost of May 22, 2011 Joplin EF-5 tornado, costliest since 1959 for the USA. Details below.

Holiday Weekend, Start of Summer 2012 - What Can Go Wrong? A lot can (and will) happen between now and next weekend. Maybe the forecast will improve over time, like a fine (box) wine? We can dream, but keep your expectations low. The best chance of T-storms: Wednesday night into Thursday, a few storms Saturday, again Memorial Day (of course). Right now Sunday appears to be the best day of the holiday weekend, highs in the low 90s with a gusty south wind.

Partial Solar Eclipse. Thanks to my friend up in Herbster, Wisconsin, on the shoreline of Lake Superior, Pete Schenck, for passing on these photos from Sunday evenings "annular" eclipse of the sun.
  • The longest duration for a total solar eclipse is 7.5 minutes.

  • A total solar eclipse is not noticable until the Sun is more than 90 percent covered by the Moon. At 99 percent coverage, daytime lighting resembles local twilight.

  • Eclipse shadows travel at 1,100 miles per hour at the equator and up to 5,000 miles per hour near the poles.

  • The width of the path of totality is at most 167 miles wide.

  • The maximum number of solar eclipses (partial, annular, or total) is 5 per year.

  • There are at least 2 solar eclipses per year somewhere on the Earth.

  • Only partial solar eclipses can be observed from the North and South Poles.

  • Total solar eclipses happen about once every 1.5 years.
* eclipse trivia courtesy of NASA.

Chronology Of An Eclipse. Thanks to Jason Parkin and his terrific site, These photos were taken in Urbandale, Iowa.

Eclipse From Space. This is pretty cool (at least if you're a geek, like me). You can see the moon-shadow drifting across the Pacific and the lower 48 states in this NOAA cloud loop.

Remembering The Tornadoes Of May 22, 2011. Here's an informative look back at last year's outbreak, the tornadoes that proved major metro areas are not immune to violent winds. Details from the local National Weather Service: "A 3-D look at the Minneapolis tornado from the Chanhassen radar. The "column of red" is a descending core of air moving away from the radar that can sometimes be seen when stronger tornadic storms are close to a radar (greens represent air moving toward and reds away from the radar). The first image where a column appears is when the storm was near I-394 and MN-100 (fourth image in loop), which is where the tornado touched down. This feature began to fall apart as it moved into Anoka county. This coincides with the tornado weakening as it moved through Fridley."

Too Hot For A Marathon. WeatherNation TV meteorologist Gretchen Mishek reports on the steamy cancellations that forced the cancellation of a marathon in Green Bay yesterday: "Dangerously hot conditions in Green Bay, WI lead to the cancellation of a marathon. The heat and humidity lead to people running the marathon suffering from heat exhaustion.   The temperature at 11 AM was already 86 degrees, which is 4 degrees shy of the record for the day. The webcam view above shows the finish line earlier today, with numerous emergency vehicles responding due to the weather conditions. From the “The 2012 Cellcom Green Bay Marathon was halted shortly before 9:30 a.m. today after dozens of runners and walkers encountered heat-related problems. Runners were told to stop at the nearest water station and wait for a ride back to the start/finish area near Lambeau Field. Buses were sent out onto the course to pick up runners. Race officials struggled to get word to runners that the race had been halted and the course closed, and many runners did not want to stop. The race got under way at 7 a.m. with a record number of entrants, and concerns about a forecast of hot, humid weather. We have well over 8,000 entrants,” race director Sean Ryan said shortly after the last of the runners had crossed the starting line about 8 minutes after the 7 a.m. start.”

Webcam view via

Alberto's Track. In the end wind shear aloft was too strong for Tropical Storm Alberto. In spite of drifting over warmer, Gulf Stream waters (low 80s) strong winds aloft shredded the storm, preventing it from strengthening. Above is a map from, showing the projected track of the soggy remains of Alberto in the coming days.

A Year After Joplin Tornado, Records Show Twister Was The Costliest Since 1950. Details from AP and The Star Tribune: "JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The cost of 30 manhole covers that got sucked away: $5,800. A new concession stand at the destroyed high school: $228,600. Shelter and care for more than 1,300 homeless pets: $372,000. The tornado that tore through Joplin a year ago already ranks as the deadliest twister in six decades. Now it carries another distinction — the costliest since at least 1950. Insurance policies are expected to cover most of the $2.8 billion in damage. But taxpayers could supply about $500 million in the form of federal and state disaster aid, low-interest loans and local bonds backed by higher taxes, according to records obtained by The Associated Press and interviews with federal, state and local officials."

Photo credit above: "FILE - This May 24, 2011 aerial file photograph shows a neighborhood destroyed by a powerful tornado in Joplin, Mo. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday, May 30, 2011 that it will consider bringing in trailers, as it did for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, if enough homes are not available."

5-Day Rainfall Outlook. NOAA's latest QPF outlook shows some 8" rainfall amounts over Cuba, the Bahamas, possibly the Florida Keys. Heavy rain lashes the Pacific Northwest, the D.C. area, and some 2-3" amounts are predicted by Saturday over the Minnesota Arrowhead.

Umbrellas Optional Through Wednesday Afternoon. The models are in fairly good alignment - the best chance of heavy T-storms Wednesday night, a smaller risk on Saturday as a hot front surges into the Upper Midwest, another (better) chance of heavy T-storms on Memorial Day. Could have guessed that months ago huh?

Dan Rather: Corporate Media "Is In Bed With" Washington (Video). Monday's are tough enough without conspiracy theories, but this might be worth a look - I wouldn't dismiss this out of hand; details from Huffington Post: "Dan Rather slammed corporate media on Friday night, alleging that news coverage is guided by political interests and profits. The former CBS News anchor has recently returned to the spotlight, speaking out about his former employer and defending the controversial Bush National Guard story that ended his storied career at the network. On Friday, Rather appeared on Bill Maher's show to discuss his new book "Rather Outspoken." He spoke out about the controversy again, and stood by his story (his comments start at the 1:50 mark in the video above). He said that he was fired because CBS News caved into the Bush administration's demands."

Blind Chinese Dissident Already Sick of Kardashians. This headline could only come from one source, one of my favorite comedy sites, The Borowitz Report: "In his first interview since arriving in America, blind Chinese activist Cneh Guangcheng told reporters today that he is grateful to be in the United States but is already "sick of these Kardashians." "Who are they, and what do they do?" Chen asked. "I have asked these questions of many people, and no one will answer me. It seems to be some kind of state secret." After being monitored for years by Chinese authorities, Chen said he finds the omnipresence of the Kardashians "troubling". "It almost feels as though I have traded one kind of tyranny for another," he said.

Probable Cause To Impound a BMW? Check out the license plate, and the back-seat passenger. That's a dude driving that 3-series BMW convertible. I have nothing against poodles, but this is just...wrong. Thanks to Tricia Frostad in Chanhassen for passing this along. Another sign of the pending Apocalypse.

Foul Start - Promising Finish. Yes, for a few hours Sunday morning it looked more like late March or the first few days of April out there - windblown showers, temperatures stuck in the 50s, people scurrying around in jackets, shaking their fists at the sky. 93 Friday, 88 Sunday, followed by a 30-35 degree temperature drop on Sunday. Welcome to Minnesota! Over 1" rain fell on St. Cloud, about a third of an inch just Sunday (since midnight) in St. Paul. Highs ranged from 61 at St. Paul to 63 St. Cloud, 76 at Eau Claire, on the warm side of the front through midday.

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

TODAY: Blue sky, faith in spring restored. Light winds. Winds: W 5. High: 76

MONDAY NIGHT: Clear and comfortably cool. Low: 55

TUESDAY: Partly sunny and warm, T-storms up north. High: 83

WEDNESDAY: Warm sun gives way to increasing clouds. Heavy T-storms at night. Low: 61. High: 84

THURSDAY: Some sun, a few strong T-storms possible, muggy. Low: 62. High: 79

FRIDAY: Mix of clouds, sun, a bit cooler. Low: 57. High: 72

SATURDAY: Sticky, warmer. T-storms likely, some heavy. Winds: SE 15. Low: 56. High: 73

SUNDAY: Hot front. Plenty of sun, summerlike. Best lake day? Winds: S 10-15. Low: 62. High: 91

MEMORIAL DAY: Partly sunny and sticky, a few heavy T-storms (best chance late in the day). Low: 64. High: 85

Weather Democracy
I wish Mother Nature would friend me. Hey, I "like" every kind of weather she throws at me, even the assorted atmospheric atrocities I didn't have the foresight to predict, in advance. Sure, the toys (um technology) are great. Maps, charts, flashing red Doppler blobs. Guys like shiny things.

But there's something fundamentally democratic about weather; it impacts everyone. Rain falls on the righteous and sinners alike. We have the illusion of control over parts of our lives, but when it comes to the elements we're all bewildered spectators. And tornadoes? A dark and deadly Lotto. Despite super-turbo-bipolar-Doppler we still can't predict where they'll drop out of the sky.

God's revenge for Jerry Springer? No, just a reminder that we live in a random, often violent world.

Saturday was a blunt reminder that even downtown St. Paul can get pelted with ping-pong size hail. A magic Monday gives way to 80s by midweek. The best chance of T-storms: Thursday, again Saturday.

Never underestimate the gravitational pull of storms to major summer holidays. A hot front may push the mercury into the 90s by Sunday (best day for the lake?) but a thundery front returns for Memorial Day.

Climate Stories...

Heartland Institute Facing Uncertain Future As Staff Depart And Cash Dries Up. Here's an excerpt of a story from The Guardian: "The first Heartland Institute conference on climate change in 2008 had all the trappings of a major scientific conclave – minus large numbers of real scientists. Hundreds of climate change contrarians, with a few academics among them, descended into the banquet rooms of a lavish Times Square hotel for what was purported to be a reasoned debate about climate change. But as the latest Heartland climate conference opens in a Chicago hotel on Monday, the think tank's claims to reasoned debate lie in shreds and its financial future remains uncertain."

On Blogging, Comments...And Online Civil Discourse. Here's a portion of a post from St. Thomas professor and climate scientist John Abraham at The Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Environment: "A recent posting on The Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media website linked to a very long piece regarding climate change by Christopher Monckton. "As a practicing scientist, I recognize and value the role that The Yale Forum plays in furthering civil discussion on this topic. As a society, we have too few venues of this type where ideas can be discussed, solutions proposed, and our preconceptions challenged. It is not difficult to appreciate the dilemma faced by editors of sites like The Yale Forum when submissions such as that cited are offered, particularly when, as here, the respondent is addressing an earlier posting in which he or she was specifically named."

  To See Climate Change, Watch The Sea. Here's an excerpt of a story at "THE Earth turns white when a change in large-scale ocean circulation triggers a sudden worldwide shift toward freezing temperatures. You may remember this apocalyptic scenario as the climax of the 2004 US movie The Day After Tomorrow. But how many of us are aware that the ocean can dramatically effect our climate in reality? In addition to well-known currents near the surface of the sea, such as the Kuroshio current around the coast of south east Asia, Japan and China, there is a massive global current that flows unseen in the deep, thousands of metres below the surface, called oceanic general circulation." Photo credit: Jefferson Beck, NASA.

Climate Scientists Say They Have Solved Riddle Of Rising Sea. Here's a clip from a story at Yahoo News: "Massive extraction of groundwater can resolve a puzzle over a rise in sea levels in past decades, scientists in Japan said on Sunday. Global sea levels rose by an average of 1.8 millimetres (0.07 inches) per year from 1961-2003, according to data from tide gauges. But the big question is how much of this can be pinned to global warming. In its landmark 2007 report, the UN's Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ascribed 1.1mm (0.04 inches) per year to thermal expansion of the oceans -- water expands when it is heated -- and to meltwater from glaciers, icecaps and the Greenland and Antarctica icecaps."

Climate Change As An Afterthought. Here's a portion of an Op-Ed from The Bangkok Post: "...However, there are certain steps that could make an immediate difference and that would involve little political risk. As the summit statement in Pittsburgh noted: ''Enhancing our energy efficiency can play an important, positive role in promoting energy security and fighting climate change''. The statement also said ''inefficient fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, distort markets, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with climate change''. This is a very important point, and it can be taken a bit further. Until the true costs of fossil fuels are taken into account, clean energy sources will continue to be at a great disadvantage in attracting investment. These costs include not only climate change but also the deterioration of air quality and the potential for more catastrophic accidents at sea, such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010."

No comments:

Post a Comment