Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wave of Summer Warmth Coming - Climate Connection to Alberta Blaze?

66 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
66 F. average high on May 4.
72 F. high temperature observed on May 4, 2015.

May 5, 1965: At least 7 tornadoes hit southern Minnesota. This outbreak is a preview of what would happen the next day…

Back to the Future: 80s Friday, a B+ Weather Weekend

Growing up on Star Trek reruns I'm disappointed with how the future has turned out.
Instead of flying cars and clones (with better attitudes) we have little supercomputers buzzing in our pockets.

Instead of another useless app - would someone hurry up and perfect "transporter" technology that can beam us anywhere, anytime? Elon Musk, are you listening? Future generations will marvel at the utter inefficiency of wasting time crawling to work in our cars; work that most of us could be doing from home. There has to be a better way.

The forecast calls for construction - and a nice warming trend over the next 36 hours. Upper 70s today; mid-80s tomorrow before a wind shift sparks a few growls of thunder late Friday. Skies quickly clear Saturday with temperatures in the 60s; even a few whitecaps on your favorite lake. Winds ease Sunday with enough sun for low 70s. Cooler, showery weather returns next week - another free watering for lawns and fields.

The same wildfire forcing the evacuation of Ft. McMurray, Alberta may give our sky a hazy, milky appearance the next few days.

From wildfire smoke, central Wisconsin frost this morning to temperatures near 90F tomorrow afternoon in the metro, there's something for everyone in today's outlook.

4 PM Friday. Prepare to listen to neighbors whining about the heat tomorrow afternoon. Well, maybe not,  but they'll be tempted. Expect mid-80s, with a chance of 90-degree highs just north and west of the MSP metro area - the hottest day of 2016 to date. 4 KM 2-meter NAM temperature guidance: AerisWeather.

Waves of Summer Warmth. Temperatures reach the mid to upper 70s today (a few bank thermometers may flash 80F by late afternoon) but temperatures peak Friday afternoon, nearly 20F warmer than average. Model guidance: NOAA and Aeris Enterprise.

Abrupt Wind Shift. The arrival of cooler air sets of strong winds (and a few spotty showers and T-showers) Friday night. Model ensembles hint at winds over 30 mph by 10 pm Friday evening. Source: Aeris Enterprise Mobile.

Smoky Sunshine? The same wildfires chasing tens of thousands of residents of Fort McMurray, Alberta from their homes may be swept southeastward into Minnesota today and Friday, creating a milky cast to the sky, and a potentially Technicolor, cherry-red sunset this evening. Source: MPX Weather Service.

A Glimpse of Hell. The Weather Channel has some amazing video of the frantic evacuations underway in Fort McMurray, Alberta on their Facebook page: "An incredible video is shot as residents evacuate because of this intense wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alberta."

Adrian Peterson Donating More Than 100K to Flood-Relief Efforts in Hometown of Palestine, Texas. ESPN has the story; here's an excerpt: "...The flooding shocked the town of roughly 19,000, which Peterson said hasn't been prone to floods in the past. "My mom is over 50, and in her lifespan she's never seen a flood in Palestine," Peterson said. "That's what was so unusual about it. We've never had an issue with flooding. We've had heavy rains for days at a time, but nothing to this magnitude. For this to hit overnight, and the damage that it caused, it was devastating." Peterson said his family is fine but that some of his friends have been affected..."

More Than 300 Million Indians Suffer From a Crippling Drought. Here's a clip from a Washington Post story: "...About 330 million Indians are struggling under grueling heat and drought conditions across 10 states this year, the government said, severely harming the economy of a nation where nearly half the people rely on farming. Reservoirs and rivers here in Maharashtra’s drought districts are almost dry, and a 50-car train now delivers water to Latur city, near Suryavanshi’s village. Thirsty Indians place long, serpentine lines of plastic pots and drums at the municipal water tank and village wells, and fights have broken out at water pumps..." (GFS 2-meter temperature outlook: NOAA and WeatherBell).

Delhi Schools Ordered to Close Early for Summer as Temperatures Soar. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "All schools in Delhi have been ordered to take a “mandatory summer vacation” from 11 May amid a heatwave that has swept the city. Officials say temperatures will continue to rise in the coming weeks, after reaching 44C (111F) on Monday – the hottest day of the year so far. Schools in other parts of India have already been forced to close because of heatwaves and a drought that has affected 330 million people across India..."

Photo credit above: "Officials say temperatures will continue to rise in the coming weeks, after reaching 44C (111F) on Monday." Photograph: Harish Tyagi/EPA.

India's Water Crisis. A combination of factors are in play, as described by The New York Times: "Some 330 million people — about one quarter of India’s population — are reeling from a drought that has turned vast areas of the subcontinent into a dust bowl, withering crops and forcing farmers from their lands. Coal-fired power plants — the major source of India’s electricity — have had to suspend output because there is not enough water in nearby rivers to generate steam. Armed guards are being posted at dams to prevent desperate farmers from stealing water. Part of the problem is El NiƱo, the climate pattern that puts extra heat into the atmosphere. But much of the problem is a result of years of mismanagement of water resources, a failure to crack down on corruption and dithering by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on taking action to help those affected..."

Nearly 200 People Have Been Killed by Flooding in the U.S. During The Last 16 Months. Weather Underground has an interesting post; here's the intro: "Flooding has proved to be extremely deadly in the United States in the last 16 months. Nearly 200 people, including 14 in Texas last month alone, have lost their lives since January 2015. NOAA says that in 2015 176 people were killed by flooding in 26 states. So far in 2016 there have been 19 flood-related deaths in four states. That's a total of 195 fatalities from January 2015-April 2016. For comparison, the 30-year average (1986-2015) number of flood deaths for a 16-month period is 108. There are typically about 81 flood deaths a year, making it, on average, the the second most deadly weather-related event behind extreme heat..."

Map credit above: "Flood deaths by state, January 2015 - April 2016." Please note that this data is preliminary."

Hurricane Project Put on Back Burner After Decade With No Storms. What can possibly go wrong? A sense of hurricane-apathy is growing, especially in Florida, where the last Category 3 strike was 2005. Here's an excerpt of a post at "A landmark hurricane research project that improved forecasts by 20 percent in five years is facing more budget cuts as the federal government seeks to “slow the development” of the program after a decade with no major hurricane landfalls. In its fiscal year 2017 budget request, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said it plans to reduce its investment in the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project, which was launched in response to the record storm seasons of 2004 and 2005..."

Does Your Family Have a Tornado Safety Plan? Everyone should have a plan ready to go. Here's an excerpt from KCAU: "...Do you have a tornado safety kit? The Frosts' do now! After we found a safe underground, interior room away from windows in their basement, the Frosts' and I got a bin together with supplies to stay in that safe room. Non perishable food items, water, and a first aid kit were at the top of the list, along with a flashlight and batteries. The kids also picked a few of their favorite board games and books so that they would have something to do in a prolonged event. Jennifer thought it was a great idea to help the kids stay calm in an emergency situation too.... the exact purpose of our practice drill..."

GAO: DHS Not Doing Enough to Prevent EMP Disaster. Got that? An EMP or electromagnetic pulse can be triggered by the sun, or a high-altitude nuclear detonation. Here are a couple of clips from a Power Magazine article that got my undivided attention: "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) internally recognizes that a power grid failure resulting from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or a solar storm can pose great risk to the security of the nation, but it hasn’t prepared adequately, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a newly released report...The April 25–released report assesses risks posed by a high-altitude—from 25 to 250 miles above the Earth’s surface—EMP event, which could be caused by the detonation of a nuclear device above the atmosphere. The burst of electromagnetic radiation resulting from such an event could disrupt or destroy computers and damage electronics and insulators, as well as severely damage critical electrical infrastructure like transformers..."

Buffet vs. Musk: The Clash of Old and New Energy Titans. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating read at the Las Vegas Sun: "...As regulated monopolies with guaranteed returns and virtually no competition, they were lucrative buys. “It’s a way to stay rich,” Buffett once said of utilities. But times were changing. Over the next several years, another billionaire was threatening that long-held assumption. Musk, the chairman of SolarCity and CEO of Tesla Motors, had entered the energy game, challenging NV Energy’s position as the primary energy player in the state. The two had collided head-on in a battle over the future of electric power ­— how it’s generated and distributed, who controls it and how much it costs consumers. The two capitalists could hardly be more different..."

Madison Project Studies Solar Power in Northern Climate. Here's a snippet from a story at The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "...The three-year study will examine 10 different kinds of solar panels using a variety of different technologies that capture sunlight and convert it into electricity. "What we've been seeing based on the level of interest in solar is that here in the Midwest it will become a larger and emerging resource for us," said Zimmerman, Alliant lead project controls planner. "With the panel technologies improving in their efficiency and the cost going down, even though the Midwest has limited sunlight hours as compared to southern California or New Mexico or Arizona, we believe it's going to be a reliable and dependable energy source for us that will complement our other energy offerings..."

New Record Set for World's Cheapest Solar, Now Undercutting Coal. Moore's Law continues to drop prices, down 80% since 2007. Bloomberg has the story.

The Awe-Inspiring Growth of the U.S. Solar Industry. A few very interesting and encouraging statistical nuggets in a Huffington Post story; here's an excerpt: "...Solar’s costs have come down to the point that we regularly see contracts for utility-scale solar power under 5 cents per kilowatt-hour – making solar, in many cases, a cost-competitive option for utilities. Last year our country added more solar than new natural gas capacity for the first time ever – and you can bet it won’t be the last. In fact, there have been times this year when California, one of the world’s largest economies, has gotten third of its power from the sun. It hasn’t always been sunny on the road to a million solar installations. Although there is sustained double-digit market and job growth, there have also been naysayers, big-moneyed opposition, nasty electoral politics, and stumbles from an industry in its early stages..." (Image credit: Solar City).

Here's What It Would Take for the U.S. to Run On 100% Renewable Energy. Dave Roberts has the story at Vox; here's the intro: "It is technically and economically feasible to run the US economy entirely on renewable energy, and to do so by 2050. That is the conclusion of a study last year in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, authored by Stanford scholar Mark Z. Jacobson and nine colleagues. Jacobson is well-known for his ambitious and controversial work on renewable energy. In 2011 he published, with Mark A. Delucchi, a two-part paper (one, two) on "providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power." In 2013 he published a feasibility study on moving New York state entirely to renewables, and in 2014 he created a road map for California to do the same..."

The United Arab Emirates Wants To Build a Full-Size Artificial Mountain to Encourage Rainfall. Now here's an infrastructure project. Here's an excerpt of an eye-popping proposal at Yahoo News: "The United Arab Emirates is used to building landmasses were there were none before, but creating a mountain from scratch is a whole new level. Nonetheless, the UAE is considering precisely that kind of construction. With hopes that it will encourage raincloud development in a country mostly covered in desert, the UAE is looking to build a full-sized artificial mountain. Desert flatlands make it difficult for air to get the upward climb required to collect into rain clouds, but creating a mountain could help bring a certain amount of rain to the otherwise arid region..."

TODAY: Partly sunny, lukewarm. Winds: SW 8-13. High: 77

THURSDAY NIGHT: Clear and mild. Low: 57

FRIDAY: Warm sun, late-day T-shower possible. Winds: SW 10-20. High: 85

FRIDAY NIGHT: Risk of a few showers, T-storms. Low: 58

SATURDAY: Gradual clearing, cooler breeze. Winds: N 10-20. High: 68

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, less wind. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 49. High: 73

MONDAY: Unsettled, showers develop. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 54. High: 67

TUESDAY: Lingering showers, clap of thunder? Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 53. High: 68

WEDNESDAY: Atmospheric holding pattern, instability showers. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 51. High: 66

Climate Stories...

Destructive Canadian Wildfire Fueled In Part by Global Warming. Other factors are in play (including a stalled Omega Block) but consistently earlier springs and longer growing seasons are providing more fuel for massive fires, according to an Andrew Freedman article at Mashable. Here's an excerpt: "...In addition, long-term trends associated with human-caused global warming include earlier spring snow melt and later starts to the winter season, which is lengthening wildfire seasons from Alaska to Alberta, and south to New Mexico. According to Mike Flannigan, a wildfire specialist at the University of Alberta, the area burned by wildfires in Alberta has more than doubled since 1970, a trend he said is partly tied to global warming. Climate data shows that Fort McMurray has seen an increase in the number of days with high temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius, or 77 degrees Fahrenheit, since 1950. This number has jumped from an average of 21 such days in 1950 to an average of 35 such days in 2010.  A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2013 found that boreal forests, which form a ring around the world just below the Arctic Circle, have been burning at rates that are unprecedented in 10,000 years..."

Photo credit above: "Smoke rises from a wildfire outside of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Tuesday, May 3, 2016." Image: Mary Anne Sexsmith-Segato/The Canadian Press via AP.

The Time Has Come to Turn Up The Heat on Those Who Are Wrecking Planet Earth. Here's the intro to an Op-Ed from climate activist Bill McKibbon at The Guardian: "An interesting question is, what are you waiting for? Global warming is the biggest problem we’ve ever faced as a civilisation — certainly you want to act to slow it down, but perhaps you’ve been waiting for just the right moment. The moment when, oh, marine biologists across the Pacific begin weeping in their scuba masks as they dive on reefs bleached of life in a matter of days. The moment when drought in India gets deep enough that there are armed guards on dams to prevent the theft of water. The moment when we record the hottest month ever measured on the planet, and then smash that record the next month, and then smash that record the next month? The moment when scientists reassessing the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet have what one calls an ‘OMG moment’ and start talking about massive sea level rise in the next 30 years?..."

Photo credit above: "Global direct action began with hundreds of environmental activists invading the UK’s largest opencast coal mine in south Wales on Tuesday." Photograph: Kristian Buus for the Guardian.

The Rising Tide. How will rising seas (and temperatures) impact migration patterns. Is the current refugee crisis the tip of the (tenuous) iceberg? Here's an excerpt of a story at Columbia Law School Magazine: "...According to a recent study compiled by 30 research groups from around the world, land degradation and desertification alone may force tens of millions of people from their homes within the next decade. There has also been an increasingly dire stream of scientific findings that show global sea levels may rise much more quickly than previously predicted. Dr. James E. Hansen, who, as director of the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions program at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, works with Gerrard and his Law School colleagues, notes that the resulting surges of migration and related conflicts would threaten the fabric of civilization. And according to Sabin Center Executive Director Michael Burger ’03, there is no time to waste in addressing that potential reality. “This problem,” he says, “although it’s happening now, already, is just going to get worse as the years go on...” (Image: Real Climate).

Price Water or Prepare for a Thirstier, Poorer Planet. Here's an excerpt from a story at Climate Home: "The future will be thirsty unless governments place a price on water. That’s the stark warning in a World Bank report published on Tuesday, urging lawmakers to make water conservation a national and international priority. Rising populations, soaring energy demand, expanding agricultural lands and climate change are making water increasingly scarce, driving hunger, conflict and economic woes..."

Photo credit above: "Fatuma has lost 190 sheep and goats and 23 cattle because of the drought. She now has 10 goats and sheep and 2 cattle." (Pic: Abiy Getahun/Oxfam).

Voices: In Alaska Climate Change is a Daily Reality. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at USA Today: "...That’s got lots of consequences. It means residents of Little Diomede Island, in the Bering Strait, can no longer consistently land small planes on frozen ocean in front of their village. Instead, they now largely depend on a helicopter that can only land in good weather. Last year, the helicopter couldn’t land for six weeks, and the entire 110-person island ran out of toilet paper. The weaker ice is also affecting polar bears, which normally prowl the edges hunting seals. Forced to swim longer distances between ice floes, cubs often drown, and federal scientists are alarmed by the drop in the polar bear populations. Experts say there could be as few as 25,000 of these iconic animals living worldwide, and polar bears today are listed as a “threatened” species in danger of extinction..."

Resettling the First American "Climate Refugees". Here's an excerpt from an analysis by The New York Times: "...In January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced grants totaling $1 billion in 13 states to help communities adapt to climate change, by building stronger levees, dams and drainage systems. One of those grants, $48 million for Isle de Jean Charles, is something new: the first allocation of federal tax dollars to move an entire community struggling with the impacts of climate change. The divisions the effort has exposed and the logistical and moral dilemmas it has presented point up in microcosm the massive problems the world could face in the coming decades as it confronts a new category of displaced people who have become known as climate refugees..."

Image credit above: "Isle de Jean Charles in southeastern Louisiana. A $48 million federal grant has been allocated to resettle its residents because of flooding." Credit Josh Haner/The New York Times.

April Joins Parade of Record Global Temperatures, Making It 12 Months in a Row. Here's a clip at The Sydney Morning Herald: "...The largest departures from the norm, though, have been occurring at the poles, especially in the north. Parts of Greenland were 8 degrees warmer than average in April, sparking early-season melting of the giant ice sheets so rapid it prompted scientists to check their instruments weren't broken. Unusual heat over the northern winter meant the Arctic Sea ice extent began at a record low level. With less to start with and warmer seas, the area covered by sea ice is retreating, setting new records every day last month, according to US PhD student, Zack Labe..."

Editorial: A Climate Plan for Conservatives. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at "Our planet is now setting records for setting records about the heat. Earth has set monthly heat records for 11 months in a row, a record in itself, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last week. As global warming causes such changes, researchers told the Associated Press that they're worried the public is become desensitized to the drumbeat of broken records. The same could be said for other worrisome trends involving climate change..."

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