Thursday, May 4, 2017

Good Weather News: Dry, Mild and Beautiful Much of Next 2 Weeks

69 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.
66 F. average high on May 4.
66 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities on May 4, 2016.

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

Brush the Cobwebs Off Your Favorite Sunglasses

Is it any coincidence that healthy and wealthy are only one little letter apart? I would argue that if you're healthy, your kids and extended family live nearby - and you have a collection of loyal friends you are wealthy. You may just not realize it yet.

Everyone and everything is interconnected. What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic, either. Is rapid warming and melting impacting the configuration of the jet stream? The science is still emerging, but in the last 20 years I've seen a trend - a tendency toward more "blocking patterns". When weather stalls bad things result, like historic floods or record heat and drought.

A storm stalling over New England for a week means a high pressure bubble stalls above Minnesota, with the nicest weather in America.

You won't want to miss this: highs range from mid-60s to low 70s into Mother's Day with the only chance of a stray thundershower Monday night. Otherwise it's a dry, lukewarm pattern.

A recent parade of storms has set farmers back a few weeks getting into their fields. Dry weather should be the rule the next 2 weeks.

A Fine Spell of Weather. After a couple of cool, soggy weeks the pattern is rapidly shifting into one favoring dry weather into the third week of May. There may be showers and T-storms Monday night, but no heavy, organized rain events looking out to Mother's Day weekend. Highs range from low 60s to low 70s the next 15 days in the Twin Cities, according to ECMWF. Graphic: WeatherBell.

When Weather Gets Stuck. Blocking patterns, atmospheric holding patterns, aren't all that unusual in May, but the one shaping up promises to be super-sized, keeping much of the Northeast and New England cool, damp and showery into mid-May. Severe thunderstorms rumbled into Seattle Thursday but some drying is likely for the Pacific Northwest over the weekend. The best weather: central USA. 12 KM NAM guidance: NOAA and

Lingering Block. GFS guidance continues to suggest a blocking tendency 2 weeks from now, with cut-off lows (swirling puddles of unusually cold air aloft) cut-off from the main belt of westerlies, keeping New England and the Pacific Northwest cooler and wetter than average.

Flooding from Swollen Rivers Threatens Parts of Arkansas, Missouri. The flooding is historic; details via USA TODAY: "...Authorities halted river traffic along a 14.5-mile stretch of the Mississippi, a vital passageway for transporting agricultural products and other goods, because of high water and a swift current, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. “Our collective priority is public safety,” said Capt. Martin Malloy, commander of the Coast Guard’s Upper Mississippi River sector. In Arkansas' Lawrence County, where high water breached nine sections of a levee system along the Black River, floods shut down U.S. Highway 63 and officials urged residents to evacuate quickly ahead of the rising waters. Although the breaches helped divert some of the threat from the city of Pocahontas, Ark., areas south of the town were again expecting more high water "We're surrounded by water," Portia Mayor Kelly Duckworth said, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "The water is rising 1 foot an hour. We don't know what to expect..."

Map credit: Aeris AMP.

Rains End, But Flooding Dangers Loom if Massive Sierra Snowpack Melts Too Quickly. It's the biggest snowpack for the Sierra Nevada range since 1998, when a massive El Nino created a Pacific storm machine. Here's a clip from The Los Angeles Times: "...The storms that set a rainfall record in Northern California have left a vast layer of mountain snowpack, which now sits at almost 200% of average for the first week of May. In some areas, the snow is 80 feet deep, according to state and NASA reports. Downstream, the rapid snowmelt is keeping public agencies juggling water levels across the state’s network of reservoirs. Water district managers conduct daily conference calls to coordinate how much water each expects to release into California’s labyrinth of rivers, creeks, bypasses and canals..."

Map credit: California Department of Water Resources.

Anniversary of May 4, 2007 Greensburg, Kansas EF-5 Tornado. U.S. Tornadoes has a gripping summary of the (unimaginable): "...As the tornado neared the town, it took on the much-feared “wedge” shape, visibly crowding the horizon in the lightning flashes. These are tornadoes that appear wider than they are tall. They’re usually bad news, primarily because they are so huge. Amidst a slew of increasingly urgent warnings, the town of Greensburg prepared as best it could. Life-saving equipment was moved out to wait. The 1,500+ inhabitants of the town were as ready as they could be. Around 9:50 p.m., the tornado that would almost fully destroyed Greensburg began shredding it to bits. The tornado had already been on the ground for almost an hour, and was entering the final part of its 26 mile track. At 1.7 miles in width, the hit would prove unconscionable. Terrible and miraculous all at once, “only” 11 residents lost their lives. Nearly 70 others were injured. The first EF5 on the launched-in-2007 Enhanced Fujita Scale, Greensburg was also the first F/EF5 in the state of Kansas since the Andover tornado of April 26, 1991. It was also the most recent to happen in the state..."

File photo credit: "Marine One flies over tornado damage in Greensburg, Kansas, Wednesday, May 9, 2007." (Charles Dharapak/AP Photo).

How Studying Simulated Tornadoes Could Help Save Real Lives. Here's an excerpt of a Judy Woodruff interview at PBS NewsHour: "...A computer model like the one we’re using essentially emulates or simulates the real atmosphere as faithfully as we scientists know how to make it work. We use the equations of physics to essentially grow a cloud in a specific environment. What goes into the model are atmospheric conditions of winds, temperature, pressure, and humidity. And from there on, it’s just — the model just integrates forward in time. This sequence is designed to give you a sense of the scale of the storm. And what’s really striking about this is, you can see how small the tornado is, at least with respect to the full storm. But the reason I do this is to give people an understanding of how — why we need supercomputers to study this, because the whole storm really needs to be at this very high resolution in order to capture the tornado. This highlights the streamwise vorticity current, which is a feature we have identified in these simulations that seems to be important to maintaining the strength of the storm and, therefore, the tornado. These are just massless. We call them parcels, air parcels in meteorology..."

Climate Change, Tornadoes and Mobile Homes - A Dangerous Mix. This may be correlated with affordable housing and demographics vs. more tornadoes popping up around the USA. Here's an excerpt at "...The annual impact of tornadoes is expected to increase threefold over the next few decades due to the "twin forces of increased climate variability and growth in the human-built environment," according to the study, which is published online in the journal Regional Science and Urban Economics. "If the climatologists are right abouut the continuing effects of climate change," said Mark Skidmore, MSU economics professor and co-author of the study, "then people living in mobile homes could be particularly vulnerable to tornadoes in the years to come."

Photo credit: Michigan State University.
The annual impact of tornadoes is expected to increase threefold over the next few decades due to the "twin forces of increased climate variability and growth in the human-built environment," according to the study, which is published online in the journal Regional Science and Urban Economics.
"If the climatologists are right about the continuing effects of climate change," said Mark Skidmore, MSU economics professor and co-author of the study, "then people living in mobile homes could be particularly vulnerable to tornadoes in the years to come."
The researchers investigated underlying factors of tornado fatalities in the U.S. from 1980 to 2014. There were 2,447 tornado-related deaths during that period; the bulk occurred in the "tornado alley" region of the Midwest and Southeast.

Read more at:

As Arctic Ice Vanishes, New Shipping Routes Open. Here's a clip from The New York Times: "As global warming melts sea ice across the Arctic, shipping routes once thought impossible — including directly over the North Pole — may open up by midcentury. But high costs may keep the new routes from being used right away. The amount of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean has declined sharply each decade since the 1980s, according to measurements taken each September when the ice is at its minimum. Older, thicker ice is disappearing as well. Scientists say global warming is largely responsible for the changes. Parts of the Arctic are warming twice as fast as elsewhere..."

India's Silicon Valley is Dying of Thirst. Your City May Be Next. Here's a clip from "...Bangalore has a problem: It is running out of water, fast. Cities all over the world, from those in the American West to nearly every major Indian metropolis, have been struggling with drought and water deficits in recent years. But Banga­lore is an extreme case. Last summer, a professor from the Indian Institute of Science declared that the city will be unlivable by 2020. He later backed off his prediction of the exact time of death—but even so, says P. N. Ravindra, an official at the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, “the projections are relatively correct. Our groundwater levels are approaching zero...”

Photo credit: "As groundwater wells run dry, the task of supplying Bangalore’s residents and office parks has been taken up by privately operated tanker trucks." Mahesh Shantaram.

America's Tap Water: Too Much Contamination, Not Enough Reporting, Study Finds. Never (ever) take clean, safe drinking water for granted. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "If you live in the United States, there is a nearly one-in-four chance your tap water is either unsafe to drink or has not been properly monitored for contaminents in accordance with federal law, a new study has found. In 2015, nearly 77 million Americans lived in places where the water systems were in some violation of safety regulations, including the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act, according to the report released on Tuesday from the Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental advocacy group..."

EPA Chief: U.S. Needs Coal to Protect Electric Grid. Here's an excerpt from TheHill: "The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) argued Wednesday that using coal for electricity is necessary for the reliability of the electric grid. Speaking on Fox Business’s “Varney & Co.,” Scott Pruitt warned of the problems of relying too heavily on natural gas, which has increased in use over the last decade as coal has fallen. Pruitt argued in part that cybersecurity concerns should inspire the country to maintain coal as a significant fuel source. “Utility companies across this country need fuel diversity. You need solid hydrocarbons on-site that you can store, so when peak demand rises, you’ve got solid hydrocarbons to draw on,” Pruitt told host Charles Payne..." (File image: Reuters).

You Don't Have to Wait for Tesla to Get Your Electric Pickup Truck. A story at got my attention: "...An electric pickup makes a lot of sense, which is why Elon Musk plans to build one eventually. But this isn’t about him. It’s about Workhorse Group, the same outfit that built that wild hybrid drone-slinging UPS van. It just unveiled the W-15 Electric Pickup Truck, an attractive and surprisingly quick truck it plans to start selling to fleet operators next year. This isn’t an electric like the Tesla Model S. It’s an electric like the Chevrolet Volt. When the big battery—60 kilowatt hours—under the floor goes flat after 80 miles or so, a three-cylinder BMW engine under the hood kicks in to generate the electricity..."

Driving Chevrolet Bolt Makes TIME Writer an Electric Car Believer....Maybe. Here's an excerpt from "...He points out that though environmentalists have been touting such vehicles for quite some time, the electric car just wasn’t practical. Short range vehicles that were way too expensive, just didn’t appeal to the masses. The Chevrolet Bolt is the first car to truly change this. So, it will be awhile before the general population starts to realize, but it’s imminent. We are finding more and more of these reviews, in which a general publication, or a non-automotive writer is pleasantly surprised by the Chevrolet Bolt. This is outstanding for the segment, because we all know that the average Joe or Jane is probably not reading about EVs on a regular basis. Fitzpatrick says that once you get past all the futuristic visions, the Chevrolet Bolt feels just like you’re driving any other sporty crossover..."

The Idea of "One True Calling" is a Romanticized Lie. New research suggests today's 20-somethings will  have 2-3 different careers and 1-2 DOZEN different "jobs". A story at Quartz seems to confirm that notion: "...There is no single way to be a multipotentialite. Some of us have a dozen projects on the go at once, others prefer to dive into a single subject for months or years, making it our sole focus until we switch to a new area entirely. A multipotentialite’s interests can occur simultaneously (several interests at one time), sequentially (one interest at a time), or anywhere in between. To figure out your own place on this spectrum, think about your past interests, projects, and jobs. Notice any patterns? Do you tend to be interested in many different topics at once, or do you prefer to focus intently on one thing at a time before moving on to the next one (and then the next)? How many projects do you like to have on your plate at once, and how many is too many?..."

Photo credit: "Why play one instrument when you can play eleven?" (Reuters/Carlo Allegri).

Welcome to "Pleistocene Park" Is it me or are we one (big) step closer to a real-live Jurassic Park? Here's an excerpt from The Atlantic: "...Behind us, through the fresh gap in the forest, our destination shone in the July sun. Beyond the broken trunks and a few dark tree-lined hills stood Pleistocene Park, a 50-square-mile nature reserve of grassy plains roamed by bison, musk oxen, wild horses, and maybe, in the not-too-distant future, lab-grown woolly mammoths. Though its name winks at Jurassic Park, Nikita, the reserve’s director, was keen to explain that it is not a tourist attraction, or even a species-resurrection project. It is, instead, a radical geoengineering scheme. “It will be cute to have mammoths running around here,” he told me. “But I’m not doing this for them, or for any other animals. I’m not one of these crazy scientists that just wants to make the world green. I am trying to solve the larger problem of climate change. I’m doing this for humans. I’ve got three daughters. I’m doing it for them...”

Image credit: Kevin Tong.

TODAY: Lukewarm sunshine. Late PM shower risk over Wisconsin. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 74

FRIDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear. Low: 47

SATURDAY: Plenty of sun, a bit cooler. Winds: NE 8-13. High: 63

SUNDAY: Sunny and very nice. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 43. High: 66

MONDAY: Fading sun, stray T-shower late? Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 47. High: near 70

TUESDAY: Peeks of sun, isolated shower risk. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 53. High: 73

WEDNESDAY: More sun, few complaints. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 49. High: 69

THURSDAY: Lot's of sun, still spectacular. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 46. High: 71

Climate Stories...

Meet the Republicans Taking on Climate Change. A story at TIME caught my eye: "...Several prominent senior members of the new administration and a significant number of Republican members of Congress reject the science of climate change, despite a well-developed international scientific consensus. But the focus on climate change deniers tends to obscure the substantive and scientifically informed conversations taking place in some Republican circles. Indeed, a growing number of Republicans, 40% at last count, say they are concerned about climate change, according to a March Gallup poll. Many GOP leaders outside of Washington––local elected officials, party elders, donors––have begun a discussion about conservative solutions to climate change, which requires acknowledging that climate change is real and humans are causing it..."

Image credit: A list of members of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in Washington D.C. is available at Citizens Climate Lobby.

Climate Change Expected to Make Turbulence Stronger and More Frequent. Still having a little trouble wrapping my brain around why clear air turbulence might increase, but here's a clip from "...There is a growing amount of research that shows that as the planet warms from climate change, the second half of this century will see an increase in turbulence, especially along the heavily-traveled transatlantic routes in the Northern Hemisphere (like routes between Europe and North America). "Climate change is strengthening the north-south temperature difference that drives the jet stream," according to Dr. Paul Williams of the University of Reading in the UK. "A stronger jet stream is less stable and means more clear-air turbulence," Williams told CNN..." (File image: NASA).

Climate Change is Causing More Sweltering Summer Days. More perspective at The Atlantic: "...The technique behind this finding is called rapid attribution, and it works by comparing observed meteorological data against data from climate models. A study published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences attempts to offer a new standardized and conservative approach for tying individual weather events to human-caused global warming. In doing so, it also comes to some significant findings of its own. Chief among these: Across 97 percent of the observed area, the hottest day of the summer and the hottest month of the summer are becoming hotter due to human-caused climate change. In the tropics, global warming has made a new hottest-month temperature record four times more likely to happen than it would otherwise. It has also made the tropics twice as likely to experience the driest year on local record..."

The Rise of "Kinder, Gentler" Climate Change Deniers. The hiring of Bret Stephens at The New York Times continues to baffle much of the scientific world, according to The New Republic: "...As Vox’s David Roberts explained in a Twitter rant this week, conservatives have always opposed liberals’ proposals for addressing climate change: international agreements, federal regulations, taxpayer-funded investments, etc. Conservatives argued against these policies by simply claiming the problem wasn’t real. But as the science on climate change has firmed up, “open denialism has become gauche, just a little too crude,” Roberts wrote. Enter the “lukewarmers,” whose arguments still originate from the same ideological position—that the government shouldn’t try to solve the climate crisis, or at least not try too hard—but appear to be based on sound science. Except they’re not. Stephens’s column, for instance, explicitly ignores the range of uncertainty within climate science..."

Is the Climate Consensus 97%, 99.9% or is Plate Tectonics a Hoax? Follow the logic carefully in a post at The Guardian: "...Lamar Smith also referenced a common denier argument that consensus should be measured by comparing the number of papers explicitly endorsing the theory to the total number of papers examined. By that measure, 0 out of 331 geology papers endorsed the theory, meaning the consensus is 0% and clearly plate tectonics is a hoax. Ultimately those are our three options in defining the climate “consensus.” Either every paper that doesn’t explicitly reject human-caused global warming is part of the 99.9% consensus, or 97% of papers taking a position on the cause of global warming are part of the consensus endorsing the theory, or climate science and plate tectonics are both hoaxes. It’s most accurate to say that 97% of relevant peer-reviewed studies agree that humans are causing global warming, 99.9% of climate papers don’t reject that theory, and those who deny the overwhelming consensus are peddling misinformation..."

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