Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Cool & Showery - Spring Returns by Late Next Week - Don't Plant Annuals Just Yet

37 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.
52 F. average high on April 5.
53 F. high on April 5, 2015.

.07" rain fell yesterday at KMSP.

April 6, 1991: The second of three consecutive record highs, all above 80 degrees, is set at MSP airport (86 on 4/6/1991).
April 6, 1964: A snowstorm hits Minnesota with 9 inches at Fosston and 8.7 at Park Rapids.

Atmospheric Foul Play - Springy By Late Next Week

"You can’t see Canada across lake Erie, but you know it’s there. It’s the same with spring. You have to have faith, especially in Cleveland" mused Paul Fleischman.

Is this pattern foul or fowl? Only a duck could love this weather. Then again spring is always two steps forward - one step back. Or is it the other way around?

Weather is the pond in which we live, impacting us in a myriad of ways, beyond the obvious. Today comes word of new research showing the risk of concussion and injury in the NFL is twice as high when it's 50F than when it's a balmy 70F at the stadium. If you've ever been tackled on a subzero day that finding should resonate.

Showers linger today, spiked with wet snowflakes Thursday. A few slushy lawns can't be ruled out by Friday morning - even a few inches of sloppy snow along the North Shore.

Temperatures bottom out Saturday morning; the atmosphere warm enough for rain showers by Sunday. Models show another minor Canadian intrusion early next week, but a more springlike pattern returns by late next week. Consistent 50s and 60s within 2 weeks?

Bring it.

Average "Last 32-Degree Low". Data from the Minnesota Climate Office shows the average last 32F reading as April 29 at the airport (where nobody lives - not on purpose, at least). But scanning the data you quickly see that many locations outside the urban heat island of MSP routinely get down to 32F or colder through the first week or 2 of May. The old rule of thumb: wait until after Mother's Day to plant annuals, still applies, even in a warming world.

Looking Forward to Retiring This Map. NAM model guidance is fairly persistent, printing out plowable amounts of snow north and east of Duluth; maybe a couple inches for Bemidji. I wouldn't be surprised to hear a few slush reports from the metro, especially east of the St. Croix River. Map: AerisWeather.

Spring in Hibernation Mode. At least for the Great Lakes and New England into early next week. Plowable amounts of snow (4-6"+) are forecast by the GFS model from the Minnesota Arrowhead and northern Wisconsin into Michigan and the snow bands near Cleveland and Buffalo. Like the November we never had.

This One Too. I'm sick of wind chill. Give it 60 days - I'll be including heat index in the weather narrative. Something to look forward to. By Friday morning the chill factor may dip into the mid and upper teens. Glad I didn't plant my tomatoes back in March. Model guidance: NOAA and Aeris Enterprise.

Biggest Storms Take a Southerly Detour. Nothing new there, and fairly typical for an El Nino pattern. I don't see any significant/heavy rain events looking out through the end of next week. Beyond that the crystal ball becomes murky. GFS accumulated rainfall forecast for the next 10 days: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Shot of Atmospheric Adrenaline. GFS guidance from NOAA shows fairly consistent 50s and 60s within 2 weeks, even a shot at 70s the weekend after next. Good reason to keep going.

Spring Regains Its Bounce. The weekend after next may very well bring a surge of 60s and 70s into much of Minnesota as the pattern finally shifts back to something resembling April. Will we see record rains as we stagger into May and June, like we have in many recent springs? Possible, but with El Nino fading rapidly I sort of doubt it.

A More Benign Pattern Returns. Next week looks a little less comfortable, but we don't really break out into a springy airmass for another 10-14 days. By the third week of April as zonal flow of Pacific origin reignites spring fever across the Upper Midwest and much of the USA east of the Rockies.

What Counties See The Most Tornado Watches? Southern Alabama sees more tornado watches (on average) than Texas and Oklahoma? Here's an excerpt of an interesting post at The Weather Channel: "...The first map below shows the number of tornado watches issued by county in the United States during the 20-year period 1993-2012. During that time, ten or more tornado watches were issued each year from parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, and north Texas to portions of Alabama, west Georgia and the Florida panhandle. Counties near the Gulf Coast typically see the most tornado watches each year. Washington County, Alabama, tops the list with 17 tornado watches annually..." (Map source: NOAA SPC).

Man Recalls Terrifying Tornado That Took His Wife's Life. This is the most terrifying and disturbing video I've ever seen of a direct hit from an (EF-4) tornado in Fairdale, Illinois on April 9, 2015. Here's an excerpt from ABC News: "Cell phone video captured a terrifying tornado that swept through an elderly man's home last year, killing his beloved wife of nearly 25 years. On April 9, 2015, Clem Schultz was at his home in Fairdale, Illinois, with his wife, Geraldine, known as Geri. "We just finished supper," Schultz, 85, told ABC News. "My wife called me in the kitchen. She said, 'Look out the window.' And sure enough I looked out -- we see this big, ugly tornado coming." "It looked like it was going to miss us," he said. Geri stayed in the kitchen while he went upstairs to get some lanterns. As the loud tornado loomed, Schultz decided to start recording cell phone video..." (more details on this wedge tornado from the Chicago National Weather Service). 

Talking About The Weather - and 2016 Outlook. I'm looking forward to chatting up the weather with Vineeta Sawkar at The Star Tribune in downtown Minneapolis on April 13. Will El Nino flip-flop into a La Nina pattern? What are the implications for spring severe weather and possible drought later this year? This is Vineeta's final appearance at The Star Tribune. I hope you can come out, wish her well (and win a new umbrella?) What a deal. More details on the April 13 event here.

Last Month Was The Hottest March in the Global Satellite Record, and the Arctic is Still Sizzling. Here's an excerpt at ThinkProgress: "...The NSIDC has a metric for how warm (or cold) the Arctic has been called “freezing degree days” (FDDs). Their website explains:
The relationship between thermodynamics and sea ice thickness can be thought of most simply in terms of freezing degree days (FDD), which is essentially a measure of how cold it has been for how long. The cumulative FDD is simply daily degrees below freezing summed over the total number of days the temperature was below freezing.
NSIDC scientist Andrew Slater has an amazing chart on his website of freezing degree days in 2016 compared to other years at 80 degrees north latitude..."

Graphic credit above: "In the Arctic, 2016 (bottom red line) has been anomalously warm."

Summer in March? Warming Climate Alters Europe's Seasons. Here's an excerpt from National Geographic: "Earth’s seasonal clock is out-of-whack. Summers in Europe are coming ten days ahead of schedule, and could be up to 20 days early by century’s end if the current pace of carbon emissions continues, according to a new study by French scientists published Monday. And it’s not just Europe. Trees leafing out sooner, birds shifting migrations and butterflies arriving early provide evidence of climate change altering seasonal weather conditions across the Northern Hemisphere.  Europe's first day of summer conditions has moved up 10 days over the past four decades, according to the study published in Nature..."

In Cold Weather, NFL Players Have a 2-Fold Greater Risk for Concussions. Medical Daily has a summary of recent research; here's an excerpt: "Researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital in Canada collected and analyzed data collected for each week over the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 sports seasons for all 32  National Football League (NFL)  teams.  They found that NFL players had a two-fold greater risk of concussions and a 1.5 times higher risk for ankle injuries when they played in colder weather. According to the study, the higher rates of concussions and injuries occurred when during games played in 50 degrees Fahrenheit or colder when compared with games played in temperatures of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit and higher..."

File photo: Pixabay.

Springtime in D.C. Means Mosquitoes - and Zika. There's a comforting thought; here's an excerpt from Foreign Policy: "...Recently, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) published a probability map for the potential spread of Zika, based on U.S. rain and mosquito patterns. Not surprisingly, the cities at highest risk were identified as those in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and the Carolinas, where summers are hot, wet, and mosquito-dense. Using the weather-based projections, we (Research Associate Gabriella Meltzer and myself at the Council on Foreign Relations) examined recent histories of mosquito-borne disease, net budgets for insect control, and estimated per capita spending on abatement in each high-risk area..."

Cloud-Seeding Drone Over Nevada Hopes to Increase Rainfall by 15% The Daily Mail Online has an interesting story - drones to seed clouds? Why not. Here's an excerpt: "A team of Nevada scientists have been using a drone to control the weather. Engineers and meteorologists say they have created the first autonomous cloud seeding platform that could increase rainfall by 15 percent. Cloud seeding involves spraying fine particles of silver iodide into a cloud system in an effort to boost the amount of rain that falls..."

What Happens When You Combine Satellite Imagery and Artificial Intelligence. Fortune has an interesting story - here's a link and excerpt: "...Orbital Insight, another Silicon Valley geospatial data company, tracks national and global trends as well as more esoteric indicators, such as where all the world’s surface water is at any given time, which holds significant interest for scientists and the global insurance industry. Descartes Labs, of Los Alamos, N.M., uses satellite data to predict the yield of U.S. corn harvests, often more accurately than the Department of Agriculture. And where logging companies previously used samples to estimate the number of trees in an area of forest, DigitalGlobe taps its software to count trees, one by one, across millions of acres of forest..." (Image credit: Digital Globe).

A Renewable Energy Boom. A clean energy revolution is coming, faster than most people expected. Here's a snippet of an Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...Last year, for the first time, renewables accounted for a majority of new electricity-generating capacity added around the world, according to a recent United Nations report. More than half the $286 billion invested in wind, solar and other renewables occurred in emerging markets like China, India and Brazil — also for the first time. Excluding large hydroelectric plants, 10.3 percent of all electricity generated globally in 2015 came from renewables, roughly double the amount in 2007, according to the report. The average global cost of generating electricity from solar panels fell 61 percent between 2009 and 2015 and 14 percent for land-based wind turbines..."

Clean Energy Jobs Benefitting South Dakota. KELO.com has the story - here's a clip: "...An estimated 25,000 new clean-energy jobs are expected to be added to the Midwest over the next year and Parsons says the region is becoming a powerhouse for those careers.  She says many think of corn, or farms, but the Midwest should be known for clean energy.  Contributing over a half-million workers, certainly not fly-over country when it comes to the clean energy field..."

Promising Signs That Economies Can Rise as Carbon Emissions Fall. Here's a clip from an encouraging New York Times article: "...But a study released by the International Energy Agency last month found that the trend continued in 2015. In another study published on Tuesday, Nathaniel Aden, a research fellow at the World Resources Institute, a Washington think tank, found that since the start of the 21st century, 21 countries, including the United States, have already fully decoupled their economic growth from carbon emissions. In those countries, while G.D.P. went up over the past 15 years, carbon pollution went down..." (Graphic credit: World Resources Institute).

The Car Industry Has Never Witnessed What Tesla Is About To Go Through. The Washington Post has perspective on the potentially transformative shift in the auto industry now underway: "Most of the best selling cars in America, such as the Honda Accord or Nissan Altima, generally hit around 300,000 in sales every year. Tesla saw 276,000 people sign-up to buy its newest all-electric Model 3 sedan — in two days. That massive number, which far exceeded optimistic forecasts, upends traditional thinking about how to sell cars and is expected to spur the auto industry to shift more dramatically to market electric technology to consumers, analysts said..."

Look At The Tiny Tourists and Bite-Size Burglars of Japan's "Mini World". I'd like to live in this world, as described in glorious detail by Atlas Obscura: "In a country where highly detailed, unapologetically kitsch attractions reign supreme, Tobu World Square takes the cake. Nestled among the idyllic mountain surroundings of Nikko, around two hours north of Tokyo, Tobu World Square is an architectural park with 102 1:25 scale replicas of famous landmarks from around the world. The replicas, which took five years to complete, were built by the people of Toho Eizo Bijutsu, a Japanese film production company renowned for designing the sets of the early Godzilla Films. Scattered around the landmarks are 140,000 people, each about three inches tall, each involved in some sort of intriguing scene..."

TODAY: Showers linger - still raw. Winds: NW 15-25. High: 48

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Sprinkles taper, chilly. Low: 34

THURSDAY: Rain mixes with a little snow. Foul. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 42

FRIDAY: Harsh wind, few flurries around. Winds: NW 15-30+ Wake-up: 31. High: 36

SATURDAY: Sunnier, easier to take. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 26. High: 43

SUNDAY: Another round of rain showers likely. Winds: SW 10-20. Wake-up: 36. High: 55

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, turning colder again. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 34. High: 42

TUESDAY: More clouds than sun. Take a jacket. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 27. High: near 40

Climate Stories....
White House Says Climate Change Will Damage Public Health. TIME has the article; here's the introduction: "Climate change will contribute to a wide array of public health issues in the United States in the coming decades, including everything from the spread of vector borne illness to the diminished nutritional content of food, according to a new White House report. The report, the product of a three-year collaboration between a number of federal agencies, suggests that extreme heat alone will drive more than 11,000 additional deaths in the summer of 2030 and 27,000 additional deaths in the summer of 2100, barring an accelerated effort to address climate change..." (File image: Wikipedia).

Which Countries Are Most At Risk of Climate Change and How Can We Help? Here's the intro to a story at IRIN: "The countries most vulnerable to climate change are among the poorest and least able to respond. How to resolve that dilemma and help these places adapt to a warming world remains among the knottiest problems facing climate financing. The good news is that identifying those most in need – step one – is now a good deal easier thanks to a global league table developed by the University of Notre Dame. The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) measures a country’s vulnerability in relation to its ability to cope with climate change..."

Evangelical Christians Gather in Charlotte to Pray for Action on Climate Change. The Charlotte Observer reports: "...As Billy Graham himself said, “Why should we be concerned about the environment? It isn’t just because of the dangers we face from pollution, climate change, or other environmental problems – although these are serious. For Christians, the issue is much deeper: We know that God created the world, and it belongs to Him, not us. Because of this, we are only stewards or trustees of God’s creation, and we aren’t to abuse or neglect it.” As evangelicals, we are called to action wherever there is conflict between people and the environment. We recognize that we cannot do this well if we are not committed to tackling climate change at its root causes..."

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article69894937.html#storylink=cpy

Column: A Carbon Tax is a Conservative Answer to Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed written by former GOP South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis at The Tampa Bay Times that resonated: "...Too often the question is, "Do you believe in climate change?" What's there to believe? Climate change is just data. The question is what to do about the data. The question is whether we can rise to full citizenship, full humanity. The question is whether we can own up to full accountability. I believe in that kind of accountability. I believe that we are the stewards of creation and that accountability brings blessings. I believe that accountability drives the free enterprise system to deliver innovation..."

NASA Is Facing a Climate Change Countdown. Here's a snippet from a New York Times article: "...This is America’s busiest spaceport, and the water is coming. Like so much of Florida, the Space Coast — a 72-mile stretch along the Atlantic — is feeling the threat of climate change. Some of the erosion is caused by the churning energy of ocean currents along the coastline. Hurricane Sandy, whose power was almost certainly strengthened by climate change, took a big bite in 2012, flattening an already damaged dune line that provided protection from the Atlantic’s battering. A rising sea level will bring even greater risk over time — and perhaps sooner than most researchers expected. According to a study published last week, warming pressure on the Antarctic ice sheet could help push sea levels higher by as much as five or six feet by the end of this century..."

Photo credit above: "The refurbished Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center, which is on the ocean and surrounded by marshland, in 2013." Credit Kim Shiflett/NASA.

Massive Carbon Capture Investment "Needed to Slow Global Warming". The Guardian reports: "Combating climate change successfully will require massive investments in technologies to capture and store carbon dioxide, new research has found. Myles Allen, professor of climate dynamics at Oxford University, said carbon disposal technologies would be needed as “backstop” options because they would be the only way to reduce net carbon emissions into the atmosphere to zero, and thus stop temperatures from continuing to rise..."

Photo credit above: "Carbon disposal consists chiefly of the burial of carbon dioxide in underground caverns, known as carbon capture and storage (CCS)." Photograph: Sipa Press / Rex Features

Climate Catastrophe, Coming Even Sooner? I realize (many) people shut down and tune out when they hear a story like this. "There's nothing we can do - so why do anything?" The reality is that there may still be time to avoid a worst-case scenario of Antarctic and Greenland ice melt, but the clock is ticking, and has been for the last few hundred years as greenhouse gases have ramped up in the atmosphere. Here's an excerpt of an Elizabeth Kolbert story at The New Yorker: "...The latest example comes from a study published Wednesday, in the journal Nature. “Antarctic Model Raises Prospect of Unstoppable Ice Collapse,” ran the headline in the news story that accompanied it. The new paper, coauthored by Rob DeConto, of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and David Pollard, of Pennsylvania State University, arose out of frustration. The two researchers had spent years working on a computer model that did not seem to capture rises in sea level that were already known to have taken place. Before the last ice age, about a hundred and twenty thousand years ago, for instance, sea levels were at least twenty feet higher than they are now. But DeConto and Pollard found that unless they programmed the model with temperatures that were unrealistically high for that period it could not account for such levels..."

Photo credit above: "New research indicates that, due to global warming, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) may be headed for an unavoidable and disastrous collapse, triggering a rapid rise in sea levels." Credit Photograph by Natacha Pisarenko/AP.

Climate Change Will Wipe $2.5 Trillion Off Global Financial Assets: Study. Here's a clip from The Guardian: "Climate change could cut the value of the world’s financial assets by $2.5tn (£1.7tn), according to the first estimate from economic modelling. In the worst case scenarios, often used by regulators to check the financial health of companies and economies, the losses could soar to $24tn, or 17% of the world’s assets, and wreck the global economy..."

Image credit above: "The economic impact of climate change could play havoc with the world economy, according to an LSE study." Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

How To Fight Climate Change? Put a Price on Pollution. We've done it before - it works. British Columbia has had a revenue-neutral tax on carbon since 2008 and the Canadian province is booming, economically. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Star Tribune: "...The risks of climate change may be uncertain, but actuaries price risk for insurance companies — an approach that could be adopted for gauging the cost-benefit calculation on limiting CO2 emissions. “Cap and trade” is an antipollution strategy that already has worked. In the days when Congress actually passed legislation, a law set limits on sulfur dioxide emissions that created the bane of “acid rain” in the 1970s. Result: A cap-and-trade program that reduced that pollutant by 85 percent. It cost about $3 billion but yielded benefits of $167 billion to $427 billion — effectively relegating “acid rain” to the dustbin of history. Economists making the dollars-and-cents case for action on climate change already often find themselves outside their comfort zone..."

Graphic credit: Star Tribune.

We've Been Getting These Key Details About Greenland's Melting All Wrong. It's not just surface temperature increases and carbon soot accelerating melting of ice; it's also surrounding water. The Washington Post reports; here's an excerpt: "...It’s also believed that warm ocean water can help destabilize glaciers from the bottom up, melting the ice where it’s grounded to the seafloor and eventually causing large chunks to break away. Truffer pointed out that it’s “only in the last 10-plus years that people really started realizing how much of a role melting by ocean water played.” So scientists are still getting a handle on the kinds of information we need to really understand the process. And one under-studied part of the picture is underwater topography..."

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