67 F. average high on May 6.
77 F. high on May 6, 2015.
May 7, 1916: Strong winds sweep across the state and cause dust storms over southern Minnesota. Great damage is done to standing timber in Northern Minnesota. Many fires develop, one of which would destroy 30,000,000 feet of lumber.
Spring The Way It Was Probably Meant To Be
"I'm so excited about a real spring this year! So often we go from ankle-deep slush to heat and bugs in the span of a week" gushed Barb Peterson, co-proprietor of Gull Dam Brewery in Nisswa. Yes, I was enjoying a few (predicted) showers of cold beer, cooling off from Friday's 90-degree heat spike. A puff of cooler Canadian air drops temperatures almost 20 degrees today with smoky sunshine.
Record winter warmth coupled with an early spring and a warm, dry blocking pattern has produced tinder-dry conditions to our north. Smoke from the massive wildfire near Fort McMurray, Alberta may show up overhead, dimming the sun at times. Imagine the entire population of St. Cloud or Rochester being forced to flee a natural disaster. That's what our neighbors to the north are experiencing.
Winds ease Sunday, with enough blue sky for low 70s. Another perfect spring day. Showers arrive Monday and linger into Thursday; by the end of next week a little frost is possible over northern Minnesota.
A subtle (yet blunt) reminder that spring on the prairie is on-again, off-again.
Last Spring Frost? Probably yes for the Twin Cities metro and most of southern and central Minnesota and western Wisconsin. But from the Red River Valley to the Minnesota Arrowhead? I'm not so sure looking at the latest maps. Here's an excerpt from this week's edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk from Dr. Mark Seeley: "The agricultural planting season has progressed well with a majority (close to 75 percent) of the corn crop planted and more than a third of the soybean acreage planted. In addition gardeners are removing mulches, planting potted plants outdoors and putting in garden vegetable seeds. Some have even mowed their lawns already. Many have been asking if the last spring frost is behind us. For the Twin Cities Metro Area the last sub-freezing temperature reported at the MSP Airport was on April 12th with 27°F, but surrounding communities like Stillwater (26°F), New Hope (32°F), and Chanhassen (32°F) reported frost on April 29th..."
This Week's Wild Weather, Brought To You By The Letter 'Omega'. Are blocking patterns becominig more frequent? For the better part of 10-15 years I've been sharing my personal (anecdotal) views that weather may be slowing down, more prone to stalling for extended periods of time, intensifying droughts and floods. Here's an excerpt from WXshift: "...This is the reason the heat has surged into Canada, worsening the ongoing fire in Fort McMurray. (Climate change also played a role in setting the stage for earlier and more intense fires in the region.) Similarly, it is the reason that the Northeast U.S. has been so chilly. Omega blocks are fairly common in spring, as the jet stream begins to weaken and migrate northward for its summer residence. Like slower moving water near the side of a riverbank, as that flow slows down and moves away, it leaves behind spinning swirls. In the atmosphere, those swirls become blocks. While blocks are a normal part of weather, there is some tentative evidence that blocking may become more common with climate change. The warming Arctic may be the key driver and is a reminder that what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic..." (Image credit: WeatherBell).
...FIRE WEATHER WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM SATURDAY MORNING THROUGH SATURDAY EVENING FOR FOR LOW HUMIDITY AND GUSTY WINDS... ...RED FLAG WARNING HAS EXPIRED FOR FOR LOW HUMIDITY AND GUSTY WINDS... * AFFECTED AREA...IN MINNESOTA...FIRE WEATHER ZONES 010...011... 012...018...019...025...026...033...034...035...036...037 AND 038. * WINDS...NORTHWEST 10 TO 20 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 30 MPH. * RELATIVE HUMIDITY...AS LOW AS 19 PERCENT. * TEMPERATURES...IN THE UPPER 50S. * IMPACTS...ANY FIRES THAT DEVELOP WILL LIKELY SPREAD RAPIDLY. OUTDOOR BURNING IS NOT RECOMMENDED. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... A FIRE WEATHER WATCH MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE FORECAST TO OCCUR. LISTEN FOR LATER FORECASTS AND POSSIBLE RED FLAG WARNINGS.
What Canada's Wildfire Disaster Looks Like From Earth and Space. Capital Weather Gang has interesting perspective on the devastating blaze impacting much of Alberta; here's an excerpt: "...
Imagery of the blaze, obtained from cameras and sensors on Earth and in space, reveal the tremendous scale of this disaster and its intensity. In the surreal dash-cam video at the top of this post, you get a sense for how fast the fire, fanned by gusty winds, was spreading Tuesday. From the vantage point of space at the same time, it looked as if a bomb exploded. Satellite imagery from NASA reveals the likeness of a mushroom cloud over the torched region..."
Graphic credit: "
Graphic credit above: "Although the Pacific plate is moving northwest relative to North America at about 16 feet, or 5 meters, every 100 years, the southern San Andreas fault has been quiet for more than a century." (Thomas Jordan / Southern California Earthquake Center)
Photo credit: "Protesters in Grand Isle chastise BP for the environmental damage caused by the Deep Water Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico." Photograph: KeystoneUSA/Zuma/Rex.
Not-So-Big Oil. The Economist reports.
Here Comes The Next Huge Wave of Solar Panels. Huffington Post reports; here's the intro: "The solar industry is booming. The millionth set of solar panels in the United States was installed sometime in the last two months, and industry leaders expect the number of solar-powered systems to double within two years. That’s a huge deal, experts say. While solar still only makes up 1 percent of the country’s energy mix, the swift rise in solar capacity portends a bright future for an energy source that, less than 10 years ago, a leading solar tech scientist dismissed as “green bling for the wealthy.” Just 30,000 residential solar installations dotted the country a decade ago. Since then, the cost of generating power from solar has dropped by over 70 percent..." (Photo credit: Reuters).
The House of Mugs. Hey, why not? Everyone has a favorite mug, right? Here's an excerpt from Atlas Obscura: "At the very end of an unpaved country road stands a cozy home, completely covered in coffee mugs. The owners, Avery and Doris Sisk, created their quirky attraction almost by accident. It started over 15 years ago with a box-lot of 15 mugs picked up at a flea market. It seemed like a good décor decision at the time, so they hung them up. More and more have been added over the years, and now – at least 20,000 mugs later – Avery and Doris have created a destination. Their cabin in the woods is dripping in cups and mugs of all kinds, the gates and fencing too..."
Image credit here.
TODAY: Sunny, cooler breeze. Winds: N 10-15. High: near 70
SATURDAY NIGHT: Clear and cool. Low: 50
SUNDAY: Perfect spring day. Sunny, less wind. Winds: NE 5-10. High: 72
MONDAY: Sunny start, showers arrive late. Windy. Wake-up: 52. High: 69
TUESDAY: Wettest day, periods of rain likely. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 51. High: 61
WEDNESDAY: Unsettled, a few spotty showers. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 55. High: 65
THURSDAY: Cooler, few leftover showers. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 48. High: 58
Fort McMurray and the Fires of Climate Change. We know that fire season is increasing, and the frequency of large fires is on the increase. But can we connect the dots with the current conflagration in Alberta? Elizabeth Kolbert summaries the trends in a story at The New Yorker; here's an excerpt: "...You can say it couldn’t get worse,” Jolly added, but based on its own projections, the forest service expects that it will get worse. According to a Forest Service report published last April, “Climate change has led to fire seasons that are now on average 78 days longer than in 1970.” Over the last three decades, the area destroyed each year by forest fires has doubled, and the service’s scientists project that it’s likely to “double again by midcentury.” A group of scientists who analyzed lake cores from Alaska to obtain a record of forest fires over the last ten thousand years found that in recent decades, blazes were both unusually frequent and unusually severe. “This extreme combination suggests a transition to a unique regime of unprecedented fire activity,” they concluded..."
Photo credit above: " " Credit Photograph by Jason Franson / The Canadian Press / AP.
Abrupt Sea Level Rise Looms as Increasingly Realistic Threat. If anything climate models have underestimated the rate of sea level rise. Here's the intro of a good summary of the uncertainty involved at Yale Environment 360: "Ninety-nine percent of the planet's freshwater ice is locked up in the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps. Now, a growing number of studies are raising the possibility that as those ice sheets melt, sea levels could rise by six feet this century, and far higher in the next, flooding many of the world's populated coastal areas. Last month in Greenland, more than a tenth of the ice sheet’s surface was melting in the unseasonably warm spring sun, smashing 2010’s record for a thaw so early in the year. In the Antarctic, warm water licking at the base of the continent’s western ice sheet is, in effect, dissolving the cork that holds back the flow of glaciers into the sea; ice is now seeping like wine from a toppled bottle..."
Photo credit above: Christopher Michel/Flickr. "West Antarctica’s glaciers and floating ice shelves are becoming increasingly unstable."
Is There a Right Way to Talk About Climate Change? The Christian Science Monitor reports; here's an excerpt: "Framing climate change as a collective, rather than individual, problem can make Americans care more about the issue, say two doctoral candidates in political science at UC San Diego in a paper published Wednesday in the journal Climatic Change. Contrary to popular opinion, climate communication researchers say personal appeals are largely ineffective. Instead of focusing on individual guilt and fear to illicit environmental action, activists, organizations, and politicians will see better results by framing the issue of climate change as a collective effort already moving in the right direction..."
As Climate Change Cooks the Arctic, East Coast Blizzards May Become More Likely. Counterintuitive, but the rapid warming and melting of Greenland may be having a meteorological domino effect, as described at Capital Weather Gang: "...It is well known that many of the fiercest East Coast storms form when a massive area of high pressure develops over Greenland, known as the Greenland Block. This feature causes the jet stream to dive south over the eastern United States, achieving a configuration that delivers cold air and establishes a path for storms to draw moisture from the Atlantic. A study in the International Journal of Climatology published early this week documents “significant increases” in Greenland blocking “in all seasons” since 1981. A substantial fraction of the biggest snowstorms on record to strike major East Coast cities have occurred since the 1980s..."
Climate Change Will Transform U.S. Forests - Study. Climate Home connects the dots; here's an excerpt: "North America’s great forests could change in dramatic ways by the end of the century, according to new research. Subtropical species may colonise the forests of the Cascade mountain range straddling the US-Canada border, the woodlands of the US Gulf Coast may end up looking more like Cuba, and parts of Texas might become home to the hot, dry forests now found in Mexico..."
Photo credit above: "Native tree species are vulnerable to increasing drought risk." (Flickr/Nicholas A. Tonelli).