Sunday, April 6, 2014

Minor Meteorological Miracle: Spring Reaches MSP This Week

62 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
53 F. average high on April 6.
55 F. high on April 6, 2013.

Trace of snow left on the ground at KMSP.

70F highs possible Wednesday, again Saturday.

Rain showers today, again Thursday and Saturday/Sunday


Cue Carly Simon (but hold the ketchup). The sound track works for tired neighbors emerging from hibernation, dazed parents pushing dusty strollers over nagging piles of dirty snow, cyclists and runners weaving around pond-size puddles.

"I love this time of year" my wife of 30 years confided. Really? It's still kind of nasty-looking out there. "No bugs or beastly humidity, just chirping birds and an earthy aroma that smells like rebirth. In 2 weeks trees will be freckled with lime-green buds" she sighed.

Yes, Minnesota was somehow able to shrug off the polar vortex and the coldest 4 month winter season in 78 years. A reluctant spring hits the fast-forward button this week; at least 4 days at or above 60F. Above average temperatures for a change?

If you're lucky enough to be down at Target Field for the Twins Home Opener today expect 50s with a few spotty rain showers. By Wednesday a stiff southwest breeze lures the mercury near 70F. By then most of the slush will be gone; the sun's ample energy going into heating up the air instead of melting snow.

Thundershowers may pop Saturday before a temperature relapse early next week. Don't pack away the heavy jackets just yet OK?

Honeymoon, Then Relapse. A fine, mostly-springlike week is shaping up for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota. ECMWF guidance shows the warmest days coming Wednesday, again Saturday, although I'm not yet convinced we'll see 70F with numerous showers and even a few T-showers in the area early in the weekend. Soak up the warmth because a colder front is brewing for next week. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Stormy Detour. NAM guidance into Thursday (Future Radar product) shows heavy showers and T-storms pushing across the Deep South into the Eastern Seaboard over the next 36 hours; a few PM instability showers for Minnesota later today. A more organized band of showers arrives Thursday ahead of a puff of slightly cooler air. NOAA guidance: Ham Weather.

48 Hour Rainfall. I'm just relieved not to be visually assaulting you with a snowfall map. That's progress right? Some 2-4" rainfall amounts will spark sporadic flash flooding from near New Orleans to Huntsville and Atlanta, rain spreading up the east coast by Tuesday before drying out. Map: NOAA.

Feeling Lucky? I'm not either, not after the winter we just muddled through. GFS guidance is hinting at rain ending as a period of wet snow late next week. It's early, much can change - with any luck much WILL change and this scenario won't materialize. But 850 mb temperatures may be cold enough for snow between April 18-20. Something to definitely look forward to.

December Thru March: Coldest Since 1936. Unless I'm missing something here, which is entirely possible considering how sleep-deprived I am, the 4 month period from December 1, 2013 thru March 31, 2014 was the 10th coldest on record, and the coldest for MSP since 1936. Yep, I'd say we're all ready for spring right about now. Details from NOAA here.

TODAY: Patchy clouds, few rain showers. Winds: NW 15. High: 56
MONDAY NIGHT: Partly to mostly cloudy. Low; 34
TUESDAY: More clouds than sun, cooler. High: 52
WEDNESDAY: Lukewarm sun. Try and stay indoors. Wake-up: 35. High: near 70
THURSDAY: Passing showers, then cooler again. Wake-up: 48. High: 59
FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, passing sprinkle. Wake-up: 40. High: near 60
SATURDAY: Few showers, clap of thunder? Wake-up: 44. High: 67
SUNDAY: Much colder, chance of rain. Wake-up: 42. High: 44 (falling)

Climate Stories...

Climate Change Threats To "The Least Of These" Compel Evangelical Christians To Act. Here's an excerpt from a story at Huffington Post: "...The [climate change] issue is not inconsistent with Christian values," Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, told The Huffington Post. "In fact, Christian values demand we take action. Climate change disproportionately affects the poor and vulnerable -- the very people Christians are called to care for and love." That the poor bear the brunt of global warming's effects, from food insecurity to waterborne diseases, is one of the key takeaways from the United Nation's latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released this week..."

Mothers Vs. Climate Change. A startup activist group turns to an ages-old network for recruits: moms. The Boston Globe has the story; here's an excerpt: "...By contrast, Wirth is a woman who could probably itemize her carbon footprint down to the cubic foot, from the Prius (a plus) parked outside her spacious (a minus) Cambridge home recently retrofitted with efficient LED bulbs (another plus) to her second home (another minus) in Colorado, equipped with solar panels on the property that help offset the energy it takes to fly there and to run the house. By tapping mothers, both apathetic and green true believers, Wirth is hoping to unleash a broad social movement that ultimately evolves into a national force — similar to what journalist-turned-activist Bill McKibben’s has done with college students, this time with moms..."

Photo credit above: Essdras M. Suarez/Globe Staff. "Kelsey Wirth has concluded that the big environmental groups have for whatever reason largely failed to engage the masses. Mothers — who vote, who purchase, who network — could be the ones to change that."

Climate Change Denial IS Conspiracy Theory. Here is an excerpt from the man, the climate scientist, at the center of a furor over conspiracy ideation, who has compiled a significant body of evidence that shows a strong, verifiable link between a tendency to rely on conspiracy theories (in general) and a willingness to deny climate science, at Lack of Environment.  "...In 2012, Stephan Lewandowsky et al published research – in the Psychological Science journal – highlighting the fact that rejection of the scientific consensus regarding primary human causation of ongoing climate disruption correlates very strongly with invocation of conspiracy theory explanations for other things:  NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science. In response, the conspiracy theorists who got annoyed at being labelled conspiracy theorists, invoked conspiracy theories in an attempt to discredit the research.  Lewandowsky et al were so astonished by this that they published a second ‘Recursive Fury’ article – on the Frontiers journal website...

* Climate researcher Stephan Lewandowsky has more information on his recent paper, rejected due to potential legal threats from climate deniers apparently upset to be scientifically connected to conspiracy ideation. Read his latest thoughts and updates in a recent update, "Revisiting a Retraction" at

Our Year Of Extremes: Did Climate Change Just Hit Home? If you didn't watch Ann Curry's (excellent) hourlong documentary on climate change Sunday evening you can get an overview and a few video clips on the web. Here's an excerpt: "...Changing your light bulb is not going to make a big difference. We need to go after the big sources of energy," he said. According to scientists, a huge volume of greenhouse gases is trapped under permafrost — frozen soil that spans large areas of the Northern hemisphere, at a thickness of up to one mile in places — and that permafrost is showing signs of thawing. If the trapped greenhouse gases escape, Box says there could be severe consequences — something he calls the "doomsday scenario." "That's climate catastrophe. Runaway climate heating," he said. "That would ravage agricultural systems. We cant feed people, mass starvation, famine, breakdown of civilization...."

File photo credit: David Fine, FEMA.

Can Generation Hot Avoid Its Fate? Here's an excerpt from a poignant story from Daily Beast writer and journalist Mark Hertsgaard: "...As a journalist who has reported on climate change from dozens of countries since then, I can’t say I was surprised by the IPCC’s report. Most of its findings were familiar to anyone following the subject; I mentioned many of them in my 2011 book, HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years On Earth. But the report did provoke other emotions, because I read it not only as a journalist, but also as a father. And as a father, I felt grief, fear, rage, frustration and, finally, a determination to resist. One emotion I never permit myself, however, is despair. For despair only paralyzes at a time when action is urgently needed..."

Climate Meeting To Discuss Future Of Fossil Fuels. Will it be business as usual for the fossil fuel industry, in spite of the changes we're witnessing worldwide? After all, they're only giving us what we want and need, right? A tough problem to crack, but I'm still convinced the marketplace (not government) can make renewables more cost-effective, scaling up with home-grown energy sources from the sun and the wind. It's already happening, the question is how fast prices fall and whether our aging grid needs to be replaced by smaller "smart grids" able to localize energy production and consumption. Here's an excerpt from AP and ABC News: "...A leaked draft of the report sent to governments in December suggests that in order to keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) by the end of the century — the stated goal of international climate talks — emissions need to fall by 40-70 percent by 2050. Investments in fossil fuels such as oil and coal would have to drop by $30 billion a year, while spending on renewables would have to go up by $147 billion annually, according to the draft. That message is likely to face opposition from the fossil fuel industry and countries that depend on it..."

Climate Change Is A Game Of Risk. You'll be hearing more about a more volatile climate in the context of risk management in the years ahead. Here's an excerpt of a very good explanation from Time Magazine: "...Risk—you’ll be hearing that word a lot in the context of climate change. That’s because the best way of thinking about the impact of global warming—and especially the economic impact—is as a risk factor. As the climate warms, sea level will rise, which puts coastal communities—from tens of millions of poor people in Bangladesh to ultra-wealthy Manhattanites—at greater risk of flooding. Warming may also intensify tropical weather, potentially increasing the risk of catastrophic storms like Katrina. If climate change cuts into the yield of crops like wheat or corn—as the latest IPCC report predicts—that could raise the risk of violent conflict in already impoverished countries. Climate change is a risk multiplier..."

Image above:

Journal Pulls Paper Due To "Legal Context" Created By Climate Contrarians. Cue the tinfoil hats. So a new paper responding to conspiracy theories taking hold among climate science deniers has been pulled, most likely due to legal threats. Ars Technica has the head-scratching details; here's the intro: "Two years ago, a group of researchers published a paper with a provocative title: "NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax." In the paper, they noted that a subset of the community that has a hard time accepting the evidence for human-driven climate change tends to more generally believe conspiracy theories. Ironically, the community responded with... conspiracy theories. Which some of the original authors then analyzed in a paper that was accepted for publication in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. But shortly after its appearance, the article was pulled from the journal website and has existed in an unusual academic limbo since. Today, Frontiers has confirmed that the paper will be pulled permanently—not due to any flaws in it or misconduct by its authors, but because its "legal context is unclear." All indications are that lack of clarity involves some of its subjects threatening defamation suits..." (photo credit above: B. Rosen).

* The paper "Recursive Fury" that's causing such a furor among climate denialists is here, courtesy of the University of Western Australia.

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