Red Winged Blackbirds Return 2 Weeks Early!
"No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn" wrote Hal Borland. The coldest 90 days of the year, on average, are behind us now. Meteorological spring starts today, which seems like cheating, after the relatively easy winter we just muddled through.
According to the Minnesota DNR's "Winter Misery Index" and the Midwestern Regional Climate Center, Minnesota - and the eastern 2/3rd of the USA - just enjoyed a "mild" winter. No kidding.
"I saw my first Red Winged Blackbird at Bredeson Park in Edina this morning. That's the earlier ever!" Jack Falker e-mailed me yesterday. "Just watch the birds because they know what's happening instinctively, as opposed to a lot of clueless humans" Jack added.
A quick burst of slush early today (1-2" for many spots - more over western Wisconsin) gives way to flurries by afternoon with highs in the 30s; average for March 1. A few chilly days on tap, then 50s by next Sunday. ECMWF (European) model data hints at 60F late next week.
Wet snow can't be ruled out next Monday, but anything that falls should melt quickly. Lawns are greening up but March is capable of rude, slushy surprises.
Stupid fake spring.
Chicago is 1 Day Away From Breaking a Weather Streak That's Lasted 146 Years. No kidding - yesterday the concern wasn't snow and ice, but severe storms and even isolated tornadoes nearby. ScienceAlert has the details: "...But this year, Chicago has gone the entirety of January and February without any snow on the ground - and isn't expected to before the month closes Tuesday night. According to the local National Weather Service Station, that's a first in the city's 146-year record. Of course, the unusually warm weather hasn't been concentrated in Chicago. NOAA hasn't yet released its official report on the month's weather (usually the third coldest, after January and December), but much of the East Coast and Midwest has experienced unusual or record-breaking warmth..."
Photo credit: " " Jim Schulz via Chicago Zoological Society.
Map credit: Climate Reanalyzer.
Phased-Array Radar Could Improve Tornado Prediction Times. IEEE Spectrum has a good backgrounder piece on the benefits of phased-array; the U.S. Navy has been using it to track missiles - it only makes sense to see a trickle-down from military to the consumer sector: "...A phased-array radar can capture the scene much more quickly. This type of radar system features a fixed, flat antenna composed of thousands of transceiver elements sending and receiving pulses at the same time. The relative delays between the pulses shape the direction of the beam radiating from the array. This electronically steered beam can scan the whole sky in less than a minute. Forecasters would also be able to instantly redirect it to focus on specific areas. "It gives forecasters information almost like a movie, as opposed to taking snapshots of the atmosphere," says Doug Forsyth, who leads radar research at the NSSL. U.S. Navy ships have used phased-array radars for decades to detect missile threats. In fact, since 2003, the NSSL has been testing an antenna donated by the Navy. A group of National Weather Service forecasters are invited to participate in the trials, which include yearly mock tests on real tornado data..."
Photo credit: Mobile, phased-array Doppler radar scanning a supercell in Kansas during VORTEX-2 on June 9, 2009. Coutesy: University of Oklahoma, Norman.
Image credit: "
Have We Underestimated the West's Super-Floods? This winter is redefining wet for California and the entire west coast of the USA, but it pales in comparison to previous deluges. Here's an excerpt from High Country News: "...In California, too, super-floods may be more common than previously thought. United States Geological Survey hydrologist Michael Dettinger and UC Berkeley paleoclimatologist B. Lynn Ingram have studied the paleo-flood record across a broad swath of California and discovered that such floods happen at least every 200 years, and maybe more frequently. The last one was in 1862. Thousands of people died, towns were submerged and the state’s economy was devastated, yet it was nowhere near the worst: One flood in the 1600s was at least twice as big..."
Global climate change is being felt in many coastal communities of the United States, not always in the form of big weather disasters but as a drip, drip, drip of nuisance flooding. According to researchers at the University of California, Irvine, rising sea levels will cause these smaller events to become increasingly frequent in the future, and the cumulative effect will become comparable to extreme events such as Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy. “Catastrophic storms get a lot of media attention and are studied, but we wanted to know more about the non-extreme events,” said Amir AghaKouchak, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California Irvine (UCI) and co-author of a new study on cumulative hazards in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union..."
Photo credit: FEMA. "The effects of climate change are being felt now in American cities. With the steady rise in sea level over the past few decades, events such as an especially strong tide can result in flooding in coastal regions, a new study finds."
According to this PowerPoint, developed and partially presented by the NWS’s Project Management Office, only 37 of the 116 WFOs in the continental U.S. will be operating 24/7/365 by FY 19. Also on February 14, the same date as the NCEP annual meeting, NWS Director Dr. Uccellini assured employees, “the part timing of the offices is off the table” at a Fireside Chat webinar with the Cheyenne, Wyoming and Shreveport, Louisiana Weather Forecast Offices. This follows his statements at the January 2017 AMS meeting in Seattle, Washington that there will be no “part timing of Forecast Offices....”
The Powerpoint in question is here.
Photo credit: "NRG Energy's Petra Nova carbon capture unit in Fort Bend County, Texas."
Photograph courtesy NRG Energy
Trump to Put Obama Water Pollution Rule on Chopping Block. A case of over-regulation; federal over-reach? Here's more perspective from Bloomberg: "...In imposing the Waters of the U.S. rule, the Obama administration’s EPA aimed to resolve decades of uncertainty over what waterways were subject to federal regulation and oversight. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court fractured over the question of whether strictly navigable waters are subject to the Clean Water Act, or if the jurisdiction goes further. Developers said later guidance from the EPA only injected more confusion into permitting processes. Obama’s Waters of the U.S. rule was opposed by dozens of states and an assortment of business and agriculture groups, which complained it did nothing to clear up the murkiness and took an overly expansive view of the law..."
THURSDAY: More clouds than sun, cold wind. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 31
FRIDAY: Partly sunny, less wind. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 14. High: 36
SATURDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, milder. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 26. High: near 50
SUNDAY: Intervals of sun, early spring fever. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 37. High: 56
MONDAY: Mild start. Then blustery, colder. Chance of PM snow. Winds: NW 15-30+ Wake-up: 41. High: 45 (falling quickly)
TUESDAY: Sun returns, winds die down. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 28. High: 41
Image credit: What Shell knew about climate change in 1991
6 Words That Could Go Extinct Because of Climate Change. Outside Magazine reports: Lift Line. Noun: The queue of skiers and snowboarders waiting to board a chairlift for a ride up the mountain at a winter resort. This winter, ski resorts have seen record-breaking storms and crowds. So climate threats must be a Cascadian hoax, right? No. Though colder and warmer winters are determined mainly by fickle jet streams, global warming has contributed to an increased number of “End of Days” storms over the past half-century. The average global temperature has risen 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880: warmer weather means more moisture in the air, which means more intense precipitation events. At lower elevations, another two-degree temperature increase has the potential to turn all that fresh powder into floods and landslides. And you may have noticed this winter that the season is getting shorter. While there might be a few epic days in the middle of winter, there’s less time on either end of winter..."
Photo credit: "Many glacier tips are attached to an unmoving sliver of ice called an "icefoot." Photo: Oskari Porkka/iStock.
What is Wrong With a Carbon Tax? The author of a Scientific American Op-Ed (who happens to be an economist) argues for a cap and dividend approach, instead of tax and dividend: "...The upshot is that a carbon tax is not only a nonstarter in terms of good political optics, but also in terms of good economics, ethics and science. That said, while the CLC should ditch the tax, the public dividend component of their plan is worth keeping. As they convincingly argue, the dividend is a brilliant way to overcome political resistance to a carbon fee by giving every American with a social security number an immediate economic stake in the program. For example, the CLC estimates that at their suggested $40/ton level, “a family of four would receive approximately $2000 in carbon dividend payments in their first year.” As with social security, payouts would go to rich and poor alike, thus generating sufficient popularity to protect the program against shifting political winds..." (File image: Star Tribune)
Photo credit: "Flooding from seasonal king tides has worsened in Fort Lauderdale as a result of sea-level rise." (Joe Cavaretta/Sun-Sentinel)