Friday, May 12, 2017

Flawless Mother's Day Weekend Weather - Heavy Rain Next Week - Turn Around, Don't Drown

77 F. high temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.
68 F. average high on May 12.
58 F. high on May 12, 2016.

May 13, 1872: A hailstorm hits Sibley County. Hail up to the size of pigeon eggs is reported. Lightning burns down a barn near Sibley, killing a horse tied up inside.

Just About Perfect for Minnesota's Fishing Opener

"Fishing is not an escape from life, but often a deeper immersion into it" wrote Harry Middleton. Remember, no fishing and texting today! Soak it up. Be in the moment.

Fishing is the means to and end: disconnecting from the harried, frenetic digital detritus of modern life. If I actually catch fish that's just icing on the cake.

Considering we could be dodging snow flurries - today will be a slice of atmospheric perfection. Plan on 50s this morning with a light breeze from the west. Not much walleye chop out there today. Under a sunny sky the mercury brushes 80F by late afternoon. Looks like the only thing I'm going to catch is a memorable sunburn. Don't forget a six-pack of sunscreen.

Good news for mom: Sunday looks just as nice, with a light southeast breeze and no red blobs on Doppler radar.

This well-timed Kumbaya Weather Weekend gives way to a slow-moving frontal complex next week. 1-3 inches of rain could easily fall between Monday and Friday, before we dry out next weekend.

Hey, I'm trying to time the rain for weekdays and sun on the weekends. Then everyone's happy!

Summer Preview Central USA. 2-meter temperature predictions from NAM's 12 KM model show above average temperatures into the middle of next week from the Rockies to the Ohio Valley; unusually cool weather lingering over New England and the Pacific Northwest. Animation:

Northeast Soaking. Another miserable weekend is shaping up from the Mid Atlantic into New England as a storm intensifies off Long Island, whipping up strong winds and coastal beach erosion as it temporarily stalls off Cape Cod. Dry weather graces much of the nation's midsection with more rain for the Pacific Northwest. What a shock. 84-hour NAM guidance: NOAA and

Steamy Week Shaping Up. Enjoy the comfortable dew points today and Sunday, because a lengthy southerly fetch will pump high-humidity air into Minnesota next week. 80 is not out of the question the next 3-4 days, slightly cooler air late next week. Twin Cities temperature outlook: WeatherBell.

Slow Warming Trend. After another chilly week things are looking up for New England and the eastern seaboard in the next 1-2 weeks, but chilly, damp weather hangs on from the Pacific Northwest into the northern Rockies. Significant heat is forecast to kick in across California and Arizona by late May.

Rapid Progress in Planting. After a slow start due to rain, chilly weather (and a late-season snow) Dr. Mark  Seeley reports farmers are making up for lost time. Here's an excerpt from this week's Minnesota WeatherTalk: "...The USDA reported that as of May 7th Minnesota farmers had planted over a third of the corn acreage in this state, and some of the soybean acreage. Since that time, we have recorded a string of warm, sunny days that have dramatically accelerated the pace of planting around the state. Since May 7th, temperatures have been averaging 3 to 6 degrees F warmer than normal, precipitation has been relatively light and farmers have been putting in 12 to 16 hour work days. I suspect by next week over two-thirds of the corn crop will be planted and a significant fraction of soybeans will be in the ground as well. Soil temperatures are now ranging in the 50s and 60s F, suitable for rapid germination of both corn and soybean crops..."

Map credit: Aeris AMP.

Could It Happen Again? In mid-May, 1934 the sky over Minnesota was black with clouds of roiling dust; half-foot drifts of topsoil - dirt getting inside homes. There was no place to hide from the dust storm, the result of original prairie grass being being plowed under to plant wheat. New, gas-powered tractors accelerated the plowing; a series of storms lifting topsoil into the air as far east as Boston and Atlanta. Soil management has improved dramatically since the 30s. We all want to believe there couldn't be another Dust Bowl.

Image credit: Ken Burns and PBS.

On This Date in 1934: Massive Dust Storms Sweeps from Midwest Into Eastern USA. has a good overview: "On this day in 1934, a massive storm sends millions of tons of topsoil flying from across the parched Great Plains region of the United States as far east as New York, Boston and Atlanta. At the time the Great Plains were settled in the mid-1800s, the land was covered by prairie grass, which held moisture in the earth and kept most of the soil from blowing away even during dry spells. By the early 20th century, however, farmers had plowed under much of the grass to create fields. The U.S. entry into World War I in 1917 caused a great need for wheat, and farms began to push their fields to the limit, plowing under more and more grassland with the newly invented tractor. The plowing continued after the war, when the introduction of even more powerful gasoline tractors sped up the process. During the 1920s, wheat production increased by 300 percent, causing a glut in the market by 1931..." (Image:

An Overview of the Modern Tornado Record, 1950 Through Present. U.S. Tornadoes has an excellent overview of tornado technology, frequency and trends over time: "...In the 1950s there was a practical use of numerical weather prediction and development of computers. Forecasts were done by hand, on printed weather maps. By the 1960s, numerical weather prediction by computer began. The first successful weather satellite was launched, TIROS-7. On a 78-day mission, it relayed thousands of images showing large-scale cloud regimes, thus proving that satellites can provide useful information and surveillance of global weather from space. This satellite paved the way for the Nimbus Program, a NASA and NOAA collaboration for decades that advanced further research and use of satellite programs. During the first 20 years of the database, tornado reports steadily grew as awareness grew. The Palm Sunday outbreak in 1965 has been attributed to some of the growth in awareness. Forty-seven tornadoes occurred on April 11th and 12th in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. They killed 271. In many ways, it was a generational tornado outbreak like 2011 despite its lower death toll. History is replete with big tornado events that bring discussion of their destructive force out of hiding..."

Graphic credit:  "Tornadoes by year." (Ian Livingston/

Despite Warnings, Drivers Continue to Die on Flooded Roads. And most of those fatalities occur in vehicles, according to U.S. News:  "...Data compiled by Shea shows that 595 Americans have died in floodwater since 2011. A few fell into rivers or drowned while fishing on flooded waterways. And some children died playing too close to high water. But 61 percent of victims died in vehicles, often after driving around barriers or ignoring signs warning them to turn back. Texas, with its vast rural areas and many waterways, has had more flood-related deaths than any other state since 2011. Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said too many people underestimate the power of water and "think emergencies and disasters happen to somebody else..."

File photo: AP.

Thousand-Year Flood for Missouri? Here's an excerpt of an analysis at Climate Signals: "A major slow-moving storm brought heavy rains, dangerous winds, tornadoes, and flooding across much of the central US beginning April 28. States from Oklahoma to Indiana recorded extreme three-day rainfall totals of 5 to 11 inches.[1] Eastern Texas saw two EF-3 tornadoes and Kansas experienced a rare late-season blizzard.  An impressively large area of 100- to 1,000-year rains hammered Missouri[2][4] and the Ozarks were hit by record-shattering flood crests. At least 20 people have been killed.[3] Climate change is amplifying rainfall across all storm types. One of the clearest changes in the weather across the globe and in the US is the increasing frequency and intensity of heavy rain and snow. A warmer atmosphere holds more water, and storms supplied by climate change with increasing moisture are widely observed to produce heavier rain and snow..."

How to Survive a Flash Flood. There's some very good information (you pray you'll never need) at lifehacker: "...If the water comes at your vehicle suddenly and you have no time to get away, you need to get out as quickly as possible. If you’re stuck and the water is rising, unbuckle your seatbelt, roll down your windows, break them with a specialized tool, or kick them out to allow water to flow freely into the vehicle. If you don’t, you won’t be able to open your doors because nearly 2,000 pounds of pressure will be pushing against it. Once water comes in and the pressure equalizes on both sides—which will take less than a minute—you’ll be able to open the car doors or swim out of the window opening. Abandon your car and move to higher ground following the on-foot rules explained above..."

File photo: Virginia Department of Transportation.

As Heat Index Climbs, Emergency Visits, Deaths Rise in New England. It turns out the Heat Index (temperature + dew point) doesn't have to be as high as thought for people to succumb to the heat. Here's an excerpt from Brown University: "New research shows that New Englanders are susceptible to serious health effects even when the heat index is below 100, a finding that has helped to change the National Weather Service threshold for heat warnings...Data from the study, published in Environmental Research, has helped to shape a new National Weather Service policy for the New England region, according to a recently posted statement from the service’s eastern region headquarters. “The old threshold of 100 to 104 degrees Farenheit for two or more consecutive hours has been lowered to 95 to 99 degrees Farenheit occurring for two or more consecutive days, or any duration of heat index 100 to 104 degrees Farenheit,” the statement says..."

The Crop That Ate America. Wait, North Dakota? Bloomberg takes a look at the benefits of planting corn: "Farmers who had long rotated plantings among a diverse group of grains are increasingly turning to a single one. Corn has always been a mainstay of U.S. agriculture, but its increasing profitability has driven up corn's share of total production, while grains such as wheat, oats and sorghum have steadily fallen, according to a Bloomberg analysis of a half-century of crop data. This locks farmers, as well as machinery-makers including Deere & Co., to the rises and falls of one crop, as both domestic and export markets grow more and more tied to the dominant U.S. grain. That exposes farmers to greater volatility and greater trade risk if a major buyer, such as Mexico, were to decide to stop buying U.S. corn. Corn will make up 68 percent of this year’s projected harvest of major U.S. grains and oilseeds this year, according to data the U.S. Department of Agriculture released Wednesday. That’s up from 47 percent in 1968. New markets and technology have made corn more profitable compared to other crops, which is why longtime farmers once devoted to competitive grains have switched to the nation’s number-one source for biofuels and cattle feed..."

File photo: Star Tribune.

Tesla's Solar Roof Pricing is Cheap Enough to Catch Fire. Bloomberg has a good overview of the technology: "...The vision Musk describes with the solar roof is the grand unification of Tesla’s clean-energy ambitions, combining solar power, batteries, and electric cars. “These are really the three legs of the stool for a sustainable energy future,” Musk said. “Solar power going to a stationary battery pack so you have power at night, and then charging an electric vehicle … you can scale that to all the world’s demand.” The rooftop shingles are virtually indistinguishable from traditional high-end roofing products, with discreet solar cells embedded beneath a glass surface. From most viewing angles, they look just like ordinary shingles, but they allow light to pass through from above onto a standard flat solar cell..." (photo credit: Tesla).

Self-Driving Electric Ship Will Replace Thousands of Truck Trips at Norwegian Fertilizer Farm. You had me at 'electric'. Here's an excerpt at Quartz: "Norwegian chemicals group Yara announced today that it’s building a battery-powered ship that will be able to drive itself by 2020. It says the new container vessel will replace 40,000 of the diesel truck journeys it makes hauling fertilizer from its plant to ports every year. The new ship, named the Yara Birkeland, is a zero-emissions vehicle developed with shipping technology company Kongsberg. The ship will begin operations as a manned vessel next year, move to remote operation in 2019, and be capable of fully autonomous travel in 2020..."

Image credit: "Rendering of Yara's self-driving ship." (Yara)

A Quest to Measure Happiness Is Missing a Key Metric. It's not just about money, but opportunity and upward mobility, argues a post at Quartz: "...A lack of opportunity, real or perceived, was at the heart of these revolts against the status quo, Porter said. Though by many measures people in the West are wealthy, they felt lack of opportunity—in work or the ability to plan for the future—which led to deep discontent. “I think the issue across many societies now is shared prosperity. And what we’re finding is this polarization, or these gaps forming,” Porter said. Of the key variables connected to social progress, opportunity was the least correlated to GDP per capita. It’s not just about poverty: Gaps in richer societies also figure in. Income inequality has become a well-recognized global problem in recent years. But the fact that there isn’t a direct correlation between wealth inequality and unhappiness supports Porter’s view that it’s about a lot more than money..."

Graphic above: Ariel Costa for Quartz.

The Local News Business Model. Yes, there is a future for (smaller/focused) newspapers creating unique local content, argues a post at Stratechery: "...It is very important to clearly define what a subscriptions means. First, it’s not a donation: it is asking a customer to pay money for a product. What, then, is the product? It is not, in fact, any one article (a point that is missed by the misguided focus on micro-transactions). Rather, a subscriber is paying for the regular delivery of well-defined value. Each of those words is meaningful:
  • Paying: A subscription is an ongoing commitment to the production of content, not a one-off payment for one piece of content that catches the eye.
  • Regular Delivery: A subscriber does not need to depend on the random discovery of content; said content can be delivered to to the subscriber directly, whether that be email, a bookmark, or an app.
  • Well-defined Value: A subscriber needs to know what they are paying for, and it needs to be worth it.
This last point is at the crux of why many ad-based newspapers will find it all but impossible to switch to a real subscription business model..."

ESPN Reporters Say They're Not Going to "Stick to Sports". Wait, now ESPN is liberal? Huffington Post has an interesting story: "...Conservatives’ perceptions of ESPN’s politics may come from the outspokenness of some of the network’s reporters, analysts and personalities on social media. But the company is also aiming to maintain its place as, in Schaap’s words, “the source of record on sports news.” And from a journalistic perspective, that requires covering stories like Sam’s and Kaepernick’s, which bridge the gaps between sports, politics and social issues ― especially as those subjects become increasingly intertwined. “Our country has become a lot more politicized over the last year and a half, two years, than it has been in a long time,” Schaap said. “Sports has become a lot more politicized in the last three or four years than it has been in the past. That’s a story we’ve covered: the engagement of athletes...”

Minneapolis Named Best Place for Doctors to Avoid Burnout. Who knew? Details via Minneapolis - St. Paul Business Journal: "The weather in Minneapolis is often cold, but when it comes to avoiding doctor burnout, it's No. 1. According to Medscape, a medical trade publication, Minneapolis ranks as the best place for physician satisfaction when it comes to a calm life coupled with professional and personal satisfaction. Factors used in the study include: the number of medical malpractice lawsuits, least punitive medical boards, teamwork with physician assistants and nurse practitioners, local amenities and overall quality of life..."

For the Weather Nerd In Your Life. The folks at Helicity Designs have done a really good job with this site. This is the first time I've ever seen Doppler radar tennis shoes. Great selection of T-shirts and apparel as well. I hope they do well (I have my order in).

TODAY: Warm sun. Wow factor. Winds: W 5-10. High: 81

SATURDAY NIGHT: Clear and pleasant. Low: 57

SUNDAY: Mother's Day sunscreen. Breezy with blue sky. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 81

MONDAY: Sticky sun, PM T-storms. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 61. High: 80

TUESDAY: T-storms. Locally heavy rain. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 63. High: 83

WEDNESDAY: Peeks of sun, a bit drier. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 62. High: 79

THURSDAY: Muggy, another round of T-storms. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 59. High: 78

FRIDAY: T-storms, more heavy rain possible. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 63. High: 77

Climate Stories...
U.S. Endorses Global Action to Curb Greenhouse Gases at Arctic Summit. Here's a clip from a recap at Climate Home: "The US has endorsed global action to reduce greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants, at a meeting of the Arctic Council. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson signed a declaration along with seven other foreign ministers in Fairbanks, Alaska on Thursday. The statement merely noted the entry into force of the Paris climate deal. The Trump administration has yet to decide whether to continue US participation or quit the agreement. International declarations signed by the previous administration, such as the 2016 G20 leaders communique, went further, recommitting to pledges made under the accord..."

Photo credit: "US secretary of state Rex Tillerson at the Arctic Council meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska." (Pic: Arctic Council Secretariat/Linnea Nordström).

Zonal Mean Temperature Change in Observations and Models. Here is a very effective graphic, showing observed vs. predicted temperatures by latitude. All in all the climate models have done a remarkably good job. Here's an excerpt from Climate Lab Book: "...The figure below shows the zonal mean from observations (left) and the average of many different climate models (right). The different coloured lines represent every year from 1861-2016. The dashed horizontal lines indicate the 1.5°C and 2°C global temperature targets suggested by the UNFCCC in the Paris Agreement. An animated version is available by clicking on the image, which also extends the model simulations to 2100 with a medium emissions scenario (RCP4.5). The observations clearly show more variability from year-to-year. This is to be expected as by taking the average of the models we are removing variability from the simulated panel. For example, the observed warming due to the large El Nino of 1877-78 can be seen, along with the warming in the Arctic in the 1940s and subsequent cooling. These are examples of natural variations occurring on top of the long-term trend..."

* thanks to AerisWeather modeling genius Patrick Francis for passing this post along.

Intelligence Community to Trump: When it Comes to Global Warming, You're Wrong. Here's an excerpt of a story at Mashable: "Each year the intelligence community puts together a "Worldwide Threat Assessment" report, and it inevitably scares the hell out of Congress and the public by detailing all the dangers facing the U.S. (Hint: there are a lot of them.) This year's report, published Thursday and discussed at a congressional hearing, makes for a particularly disquieting reading. While it focuses on the increasing danger that North Korea's nuclear weapons program poses as well as cyberterrorism threats, one environmental concern stands out on the list: climate change. According to the new report, delivered to the Senate Intelligence Committee by Dan  Coats, the direction of national  intelligence (DNI), warns that climate change is raising the likelihood of instability and conflict around the world..."

Photo credit: "Norfolk Naval Base, the largest in the world, is experiencing flooding from sea level rise." Image: U.S. Navy/Shutterstock.

Climate Change is Unraveling Natural Cycles in the West. High Country News reports: "...This follows a growing trend. According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, from 1950 to 2005, spring shifted about eight days earlier in the Western United States, due to climate change. “This trend matters because of what it means for a lot of ecosystem processes and interactions between organisms,” says Kathy Gerst, research scientist with the USA-NPN. “Plants may flower earlier, but other organisms may respond to different cues, or to the same cues in different ways...”

Map credit: USA-National Phenology Network and the  U.S. Geological Survey. Illustration by Brooke Warren/High Country News.

U.S. Spy Agencies Wimp Out on Science of Climate Change, But Still Say It's a Security Threat. Science AAAS reports: "...The 2017 Worldwide Threat Assessment, delivered to Congress today by Daniel Coats, U.S. director of national intelligence, is a 32-page rundown of global and regional threats that the nation’s spy agencies believe demand attention from policymakers. Along with familiar warnings about terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and cyberattacks, the report flags a number of science-related issues. On climate change, the intelligence agencies go out of their way to state that “we assess national security Implications of climate change but do not adjudicate the science of climate change.” That’s a big change from last year’s blunt assertion that “human activities, such as the generation of greenhouse gas emissions and land use, have contributed to extreme weather events including more frequent and severe tropical cyclones, heavy rainfall, droughts, and heat waves...”

* The 32 page 2017 Worldwide Threat Assessment is here.

Disappearing Montana Glaciers a "Bellwether" of Melting to Come? NPR reports: "The glaciers in Montana's Glacier National Park are rapidly disappearing. Some have been reduced by as much as 85 percent over the past 50 years, while the average loss is 39 percent, according to a new study from the U.S. Geological Survey and Portland State University. The researchers looked at historic trends for 39 glaciers, 37 of which are found in the park. The other two are on U.S. Forest Service land. The stark data actually calls into question whether all of these formations are still glaciers. In fact, the scientists found that only 26 of them are still larger than 25 acres — a common benchmark for determining whether a mass of ice is classified as a glacier..."

Image credit: "Boulder Glacier in 1932 (left) and in 2005." T.J. Hileman/Glacier; NPGreg Pederson/USGS.
Image: US NAVY HAND/REX/Shutterstock

Glacier National Park Losing Its Glaciers With Just 26 of 150 Left. Better take a road trip to Montana to check them out, while you still can. The Guardian has details: "...Warming winters are bringing more rain, rather than glacier-forming snow, to Montana and other states. Even when there is plenty of snow, as Montana experienced this winter, the increasing heat of spring and summer is melting it away more quickly. Spring snow melts are now occurring at least two weeks earlier than they were in the 1960s. Scientists analyzed the extent of the 39 Montanan glaciers by studying aerial and satellite imagery stretching back to 1966. The latest data, from 2015, shows that there are now just 26 glaciers larger than 25 acres. The largest, Harrison glacier, is now 410 acres – a 19% decrease over the past 50 years. Others have declined by up to 85%..."

Map credit: "The perimeter of Sperry Glacier in Glacier national park in 1966,1998, 2005, and 2015." Photograph: US Geological Survey.

Going, Going: Glacier National Park's Iconic Glaciers Are Melting Away. InsideClimate News has more perspective and detail on troubling trends in Montana: "...Over the past 50 years, some of the glaciers have shrunk about 82 percent, so they won't be with us soon," said Daniel Fagre, the lead USGS scientist on the project. "For others, shrinkage has been more modest — about 13 percent. But the amount of ice in all cases is diminished, so the long-term prospects for our glaciers are not good." Fagre and his colleagues analyzed measurements, taken over the past five decades, of the park's 37 major glaciers and two others on adjacent U.S. Forest Service land. They found that of those 39 glaciers, only 26 still meet a 25-acre threshold. Glaciologists consider that amount of mass a convenient cut-off point to distinguish between a glacier (a perennial wedge of ice and snow that moves) and stagnant ice or a perennial snowfield (a wedge of ice and snow that doesn't)..."

Photo credit: "Glacier National Park is losing its glaciers as global temperatures rise. When the park was founded in 1910, it had about 150 glaciers. Today, only 26 still meet the 25-acre threshold to be called a glacier." Credit: Jinrui Qu/CC-BY-SA-2.0.

Climate Change is Turning the American Southwest into "Mad Max". Esquire digs into the data and the trends: "...According to the study, the number of dust storms that the American southwest experiences each year has more than doubled from the 1990s to the 2000s. These storms—which can spread infectious disease, damage airplane engines, disrupt land transportation, wreak further havoc on drought-ravaged farms, and serve as a key component of the Mad Max lifestyle—are likely more frequent because of warmer ocean temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. That, according to the EPA (last year), is one of many splendid results of climate change. Dust storms now strike the Southwest 48 times a year, compared to an average of 20 times per year during the 1990s. Researchers traced the spike to a combination of warmer sea temperatures in the North Pacific and colder waters off the California coast, which allows the cooler, drier winds from the North Pacific to come sweeping into the southwestern United States. That has dried out the soil, and kicked up more dust storms..."

Photo credit: Joseph Plotz/NWS/NOAA). "A July 2012 dust storm in Gilbert, Arizona."

Arctic Heating Up Twice as Fast as Rest of the Globe. CNN reports: "The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world -- triggering a "massive decline in sea ice and snow," according to a new federal report. On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its 11th annual Arctic Report Card, which compiles data from 61 scientists in 11 countries. "Rarely have we seen the Arctic show a clearer, stronger or more pronounced signal of persistent warming and its cascading effects on the environment than this year," Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA's Arctic Research Program, said in a statement..."

Animation credit: Arctic ice melt from 1984 to 2016. Courtesy of NASA.

New Book Ranks the Top 100 Solutions to Climate Change. The Results Are Surprising. You'll never guess what's number 1. Here's an excerpt of an interview with Dave Roberts at Vox: "...We thought at least the top of the list would — solar, wind, wind, solar. Because that’s what you hear from Charles Ferguson, Al Gore, [Jeffrey] Sachs, or Christiana Figueres. They’re all saying the same thing. It’s understandable — 62 percent of the [greenhouse gas] molecules up there came from fossil fuel combustion, so you just invert it, right? It makes sense. It just doesn’t work out that way. If you take solar, which is eight and 10 [on the list], and wind, which is two and 22, and you combine them, they are definitely near the top. But you can’t model on- and off-shore wind the same, because the economics are vastly different. And you can’t model rooftop and solar farms in the same model. So in some cases we broke things up that people think of as aggregated. But even then, the number one solution is educating girls and family planning..."

Image credit: "Educating girls: 60 gigatons of potential." (Drawdown)

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