Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Very Springy Week - How an F5 Tornado Helped to Launch the Mayo Clinic

64 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
63 F. average high on April 26.
55 F. high on April 26, 2014.

April 26, 1954: Downpour in Mora, where nearly 7 inches of rain fell in a little over 10 hours.

Tornadic Silver Lining

“I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe" said the Dalai Lama. Terrible events often spark good outcomes.

On Sunday I spoke at Earthfest, in Rochester, driving past the Mayo Clinic, arguably the best hospital in the world. There's a reason why Saudi sheiks fly to Minnesota for treatment, right?

On August 21, 1883 a massive F-5 tornado leveled much of Rochester. There were no hospitals nearby so Dr. William Mayo, his sons and the Sisters of St. Francis converted a dance hall into an emergency room. This became St. Mary's Hospital, which ultimately transformed into the Mayo Clinic. The 1883 tornado claimed 37 lives. How many lives have been saved by the Mayo Clinic over the years? A poetic ending to a random tragedy.

Sunday's sky was so blue it almost hurt the eyes, and atmospheric oohs & aahs continue this week with a streak of 60s and 70s. An isolated shower may sprout Tuesday; heavier T-storms by Sunday, but probably nothing severe. We need more rain to put a substantive dent in Minnesota's drought.

Oh, the forecast calls for angry ice; The Blues will soon extend to The Blackhawks. How 'bout that Minnesota Wild?

A Rare and Devastating F5. The photo above shows what was left of Rochester after the 1883 tornado roared across the city, leaving 37 dead and over 200 injured. Wikipedia has more details.

Spring Sticks This Time? No more wintry relapses in sight, at least looking out 2 weeks. Highs reach the 60s all week, a few 70s by the weekend with the best chance of heavy showers and T-storms on Sunday. With most of the state in moderate drought let it rain...

Windy April. Here's an excerpt from this week's edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk, courtesy of Mark Seeley (who has a new book out on Minnesota weather and climate). "As we have reported before, April is generally the windiest month of the year based on climate history from most Minnesota communities.  But, April of this year has been particularly windy, with average wind speeds above the historical average, as well as a high frequency of wind gusts over 30 mph.  Here is a list of average wind speeds and frequency of gusts over 30 mph for selected cities across the state:

Location        Ave Wind Speed for April 2015     Number of days wind has gusted above 30mph
MSP                        12.3 mph                           9 days (peak of 46 mph on the 2nd)
Rochester                 14.4 mph                          14 days (peak of 47 mph on the 1st)
St Cloud                   11.5 mph                           8 days (peak of 49 mph on the 2nd)

50th Anniversary of 1965 Tornado Super-Outbreak: The Twin Cities National Weather Service Wants To Hear From You. Do you have memories, photos (videos) from the swarm of F-4 tornadoes that descended on the MSP metro area the evening of May 6, 1965. The MPX office of the National Weather Service wants to hear from you: " The 50th anniversary of the 1965 Twin Cities tornadoes is right around the corner and we want to hear from you! May 6, 1965 is a date that many people in the Twin Cities remember as tone of the worst weather days in Minnesota history. Six tornadoes carved a path of destruction across the western and northern Twin Cities metro. We are seeking your personal account of the events of that day. We are also interested in any photos you wouldn't mind sharing with us...."

Photo credit above: "A photo taken by Minnetonka resident H.B. Milligan of a tornado crossing to the west of the junction of Hwy 7 and 101 on May 6, 1965. It is believed that this was the tornado that touched down in Chanhassen at 6:27 PM and dissipated in Deephaven at 6:43 PM."

Seasonal Tornado Forecasts Could Soon Be A Reality, Researchers Say. Here's an excerpt of an interesting story at The Oklahoman: "...But weather researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Severe Storms Laboratory and elsewhere are working on a new method they hope will allow emergency responders to prepare weeks ahead of time when tornadoes are likely. Harold Brooks, senior research scientist at the Norman-based laboratory, said scientists could be a few years away from being able to release seasonal forecasts for tornadoes. Rather than predicting individual outbreaks, those forecasts would predict how likely tornadoes were over the course of a few weeks or an entire season, he said..."

Tornado-Free U.S. Zip Codes Since 1950 On One Cool Map. Here's an excerpt of an interesting article at, although as financial planners like to say, past performance is not an indicator of future returns: "Jordan Tessler, a geographer/amateur meteorologist in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area, tweeted the interesting map you see above, showing the U.S. ZIP codes without a confirmed tornado from 1950-2013, using data from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. There are a couple of caveats. The map does not imply the areas in green above have never seen a tornado, since it dates to only 1950. In decades past, some tornadoes in areas of lower population have gone undetected. Today, advanced radar technology, smartphones, social media and dense spotter networks make it increasingly rare a tornado is not documented..."

Map credit above: "Zip codes in the Lower 48 states without a confirmed tornado from 1950-2013, shaded in green." (Jordan Tessler/@TerpWeather).

Tornadoes By Zip Code. The University of Michigan has a pretty cool tool that allows you to plug in a zip code to find all the tornadoes that have passed nearby. Worth a look.

Apple Won't Always Rule. Just Look At IBM. I'm a fan of Apple, always will be, but how long can they sustain their run? Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...Now it’s Apple’s world. Apple is the most widely held stock in American mutual fund portfolios. IBM, the former undisputed heavyweight champion, isn’t even in the running anymore. It ranks 62nd, according to a Morningstar analysis performed at my request. IBM is still an important company, but it is struggling. Investors judge it to be worth less than one-quarter of Apple’s market value today. What happened to IBM — how it became this small, in comparison with Apple — is worth remembering..."

Bentleys Don't Float: Exhibit A. Greg Hardy of the Cowboys got a weather lesson on Friday; here's an excerpt from USA TODAY Sports: "Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy was suspended 10 games by the NFL, and his week keeps getting worse. Hardy was involved in a “verbal altercation” with a teammate Friday at a Cowboys facility, and also ran into trouble while trying to drive along a flooded road. Severe storms in the area left thousands without power, and many roads and highways were covered in several inches of water. Hardy left his Bentley near Interstate 35 in Dallas, and it was later towed away..."

TODAY: Plenty of sun, very nice. Winds: North 5-10. High: 68
MONDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 47
TUESDAY: More clouds, isolated shower. High: 66
WEDNESDAY: Plenty of sunshine. Wake-up: 46. High: 68
THURSDAY: Warm sunshine. Just about perfect. Wake-up: 48. High: 72
FRIDAY: Less sun, stray T-shower. Wake-up: 51. High: 71
SATURDAY: Fading sun, feels like May. Wake-up: 53. High: 76
SUNDAY: Humid, heavy showers & T-storms. Wake-up: 55. High: 74

Climate Stories...

Obama Finally Gets Angry At Climate Science Deniers And It's Hilarious. ThinkProgress has a review of President Obama's performance at the White House Correspondent's Gala; here's an excerpt: "...But this was not only Obama’s best “speech” on climate change to date, it was delivered to the perfect audience — the DC elite and the panjandrums of the media. The “not-so-intelligentsia” have been wildly underplaying the story of the century for a long, long time. They should have called “Bull–” on deniers a long time ago. Kudos to the President for finally doing so."

* A YouTube clip of Saturday night's commentary is here, courtesy of The Daily Conversation.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Insists He's Not Turning Into a Democrat; Explains GOP Skepticism of Global Warming. Here's a clip from Huffington Post: "...I don't see the environment as a Democratic issue or as a Republican issue."Schwarzenegger pointed to Theodore Roosevelt, who protected public land and created the U.S. Forest Service, and Richard Nixon, who created the Environmental Protection Agency, as notable Republicans with a strong history of conservation. The former governor added that the widespread denial of global warming among Republicans comes down to "a matter of communicating..."

Photo credit above: "Arnold Schwarzenegger attends the Tribeca Film Festival world premiere of "Maggie" at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, April 22, 2015, in New York." (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

2 Degrees: The Most Important Number You've Never Heard Of.  CNN has the story - here's a snippet: "...But here's why it matters: If we humans warm the world more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), we greatly up the odds of climate catastrophes. Think super droughts, rising seas, mass extinctions and acidifying oceans. We don't want to cross that mark. Humans never have lived in post-2-degree world, said Carlo Jaeger, chair of the Global Climate Forum, based in Germany, and author of a paper on this history of 2 degrees. "If we start warming the planet way beyond what humans have ever experienced, God knows what will wait for us," he told me. Good news, though. If we drastically cut carbon emissions, we can stay below the 2-degree threshold. As part of this series, I'll be exploring exactly what it would take to do so..."

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