Thursday, April 28, 2016

Shorts & T-Shirts Return Next Week. Really

45 F. "high" yesterday at KSTC.
63 F. average high on April 28.
64 F. high on April 28, 2015.

.44" rain fell yesterday in the Twin Cities as of 7 PM. St. Cloud reported .15" yesterday.

April 29, 1984: Late season heavy snow blankets the Twin Cities with 6.6 inches.
April 29, 1940: Heavy rain falls in Duluth, with a daily total of 3.25 inches.



Supernaturally Green - Warming Trend Coming

"April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go" mused Christopher Morley. I love this time of year - the landscape bursting out in a carpet of bright, almost urgent lime-green.
Before the inevitable onslaught of giant bugs, sputtering severe thunderstorms and drippy dew point recitations. So much promise.

Yes, Cinderella, it's still cool out there, but you could argue that the weather is "just right"; too warm for slush, too cool for angry supercell thunderstorms. And with El Nino fading into a mild La Nina cooling phase the risk of debilitating summer drought is small.

The sun makes a cameo appearance today (upper 50s will feel surprisingly good) before the next southern storm brushes the metro area with rain Saturday PM. Sunday will be the drier, better day to trim the lawn.

ECMWF (European) guidance shows a steady warming trend next week with a streak of 60s and 70s. 80 degrees isn't out of the question by next Friday with June-like humidity levels; a few strong T-storms a week from Sunday?

I may have to take off my shirt and annoy the neighbors.


Progress. We've come a long way - a few weeks ago I was highlighting 50s and 60s; now we've graduated to 70s, which seem likely the latter half of next week, according to European guidance. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see 80F by the end of next week, with a dew point that may leave you doing a double-take.

Significant Rains Pass South of Minnesota. GFS 10-day model guidance (accumulated rainfall) shows a near-miss Saturday, but rain passing over Iowa. The pattern looks dry and increasingly warm for the Upper Midwest, while flooding rains continue for the Mid South and Gulf Coast. Houston, still cleaning up from record rains, may experience more water-related problems next week. Loop: AerisWeather.

Lukewarm Ridge by mid-May. The GFS has been consistent, predicting a chilly closed low over New England with a warm ridge of high pressure over the central USA as the core of the jet stream lifts north. Jackets give way to shorts and T-shirts as early as next week.


January 22-23, 2016 Blizzard Now Thought To Be Biggest Snowfall on Record for New York City. Nearly 18" fell in Washington D.C. - for NYC it was a legitimate record-setter. Here's an excerpt of a review from NOAA: "...The preliminary Central Park measurement will be adjusted upward to 27.5 inches, which will become an all-time snowfall record for New York City when certified by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. A communication error between the weather forecast office in Upton, New York, and the Central Park Conservancy, which volunteers to take official snow measurements in Central Park, led to an inaccurate preliminary total of 26.8 inches. The snow team found the mistake when reviewing the Conservancy’s logbook..."

"Gnarliest" Tornado Videos of the Week. OK. This is from a Russian web site, so cut them a little slack. Commrade Putin instructed me to say that, for the record. Images and videos courtesy of RT.com.


The Worst-Case Scenario: How To Ride Out a Tornado. Here's an excerpt of a good, timely post at al.com: "...The best place to ride out a tornado is in a storm shelter, or the smallest room in the center of the building you'€™re in on the lowest floor, such as a closet or bathroom, interior hall or under a stairwell. Get away from windows. Get under something that can protect you from flying debris, which is the greatest danger in tornadoes, according to NOAA'€™s Storm Prediction Center. Cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where the heavy things are on the floors above you and don't get under them. Get as low to the floor as you can and cover your head with your hands..."

Photo credit above: "One of the safest places to ride out a tornado in your home is under on the lowest floor, in an interior room, away from windows. This stairwell was just about the only thing left standing after a tornado." (NSSL photo).

Stormbox: Above-Ground Tornado Shelters. Granted, you may not want a massively-reinforced shipping container sitting in your back yard, but if an EF-5 tornado is approaching this is where I would want to be if I didn't have access to an underground shelter. More details: "Every STORMBOX starts with a refabricated mobile storage unit, reinforced with materials robust enough to withstand the worst Mother Nature can devise, and engineered for accessibility and reliability. Unlike previous generations of storm shelters, STORMBOX is designed to sit above the ground, allowing fast and easy access, including wheelchair accessibility, through the reinforced door. The aboveground design also helps prevent flooding and debris blockage caused by weather events. The fabrication process for every STORMBOX ensures that each product is always reliable, built using green construction practices, and less expensive than traditional underground storm shelters. With models available to accommodate up to 80 people, STORMBOX is the reliable solution for families, neighborhoods, schools and businesses..."

* Vilonia, Arkansas - hit by an EF-5 tornado in 2014, just installed one of these near their city hall, as reported by KATV.com.

A Tornado's Heading Your Way. Now What? Are there ever circumstances where trying to drive away from a tornado makes sense? It's a tough question, but if it's an EF-4 or EF-5 and you don't have a basement, the tornado may not be survivable. Here's an excerpt from CNN: "...My advice would be to seek the safest place available. That is: lie in a ditch or ... (get) behind a heavy object if you had a tractor or even a tree." He cited the 1979 Wichita Falls, Texas, tornado as a cautionary lesson. That twister killed 54 people and, Kiesling noted, "many people were killed in automobiles because they tried to outrun it." Still, Kiesling allowed, there may be times when fleeing an impending tornado might be a good option. "If you have good information on the storm, if you have plenty of warning, if you have an automobile, it may make sense, but I personally don't feel that's the advice that we want to give the public..."


Nothing to Sneeze At: More CO2 = More Pollen. Here's an excerpt of a story at Climate Central: "...In a previous report, we illustrated how ragweed pollen production increases with CO2 levels. New research continues to shed light on the relationship between pollen and climate change. While ragweed studies give one example of how pollen is impacted by higher levels of CO2, other plants have also been subsequently examined. In this report, we highlight a new study that looks at Timothy Grass pollen, a major cause of allergies during the early summer. Researchers investigated the amount of pollen produced at CO2 concentrations of 400 ppm, which is near current levels, and 800 ppm, which we would pass before the end of the century if current emissions trends continue. Not surprisingly, the grass produced about twice as much pollen at 800 ppm..."

San Diego Republican Mayor Pushes Plan to Run on 100% Renewable Energy. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...But San Diego’s bipartisan push to embrace clean energy such as solar and wind, while radically paring back greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, is a glimpse into how the rancorous brawls over climate change could have been avoided across the rest of the US. “This isn’t a partisan issue,” Faulconer told the Guardian. “I’ve said from the very beginning there’s enough partisan politics at the national level. I was a volunteer for our parks before becoming mayor; I love our natural resources, our beaches and landscapes. I feel strongly about protecting them...”

Photo credit above: "San Diego is among a large group of cities impatient with federal government bickering over climate change." Photograph: Gregory Bull/AP.

In Minnesota, Waste to Energy Debate Firing Up Once Again. Here's the intro to a  story at Midwest Energy News: "Three prominent Minnesota environmental and community action organizations recently announced they are joining forces in an effort to close a solid waste incinerator on the edge of downtown Minneapolis. The Sierra Club’s statewide chapter, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change and Minnesota Public Interest Research Group met in April to create a collective campaign to close the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center, better known as HERC. The groups’ concerns — primarily about local impacts from pollution — put them at odds with Minnesota state policy, which places a higher value on waste-to-energy production over landfills..."

Photo credit: "The Hennepin Energy Recovery Center near downtown Minneapolis."

Curt Shilling: ESPN Employs "Some of the Biggest Racists in Sports Commentating." Tell me how you really feel, Curt. Here's a clip from an eye-opening story at The Washington Post: "Curt Schilling was fired by ESPN last week for “unacceptable conduct,” which was understood to involve his penchant for sharing politically controversial comments and memes via social media. Now the former pitcher is apparently free to train his fire squarely on the network that parted ways with him. In an interview Wednesday with the “Breitbart News Patriot Forum” on Sirius XM radio, Schilling said, “Some of the most racist things that I’ve ever heard come out of people that are on the air at ESPN..."

Image credit above: "Former Red Sox pitcher and ESPN analyst Curt Schilling was fired after he posted a seemingly transphobic meme on his Facebook. Here are some other times he's offended people." (Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

A Majority of Millenials Now Reject Capitalism, Poll Shows. My first reaction was, huh? Where are we living - Sweden? Be careful what you wish for. Here's a clip from The Washington Post: "In an apparent rejection of the basic principles of the U.S. economy, a new poll shows that most young people do not support capitalism. The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it. It isn't clear that the young people in the poll would prefer some alternative system, though. Just 33 percent said they supported socialism. The survey had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points..."

Image credit above: Amy Cavenaile/The Washington Post; iStock; Emojipedia.

The King of Frequent Flier Miles? Quora has an interesting post - not feeling nearly as good about my 900K with Delta: "I'm going to have to go with Fred Finn, with 15 million miles, to include 718 Concorde flights—logging three crossings in a day once. Being a British citizen, he's evidently garnered more miles with British Airways than any other, but I can't find all of the airlines—139 countries is a lot and must mean lots of other airlines—nor if BA has a majority of the impressive total."

Minneapolis: "Hell's Half Acre?" I suspect the city has cleaned itself up in the last 100-150 years, literally and figuratively. Here's an excerpt of an intriguing story at Atlas Obscura: "...The name has been applied to those vice areas of those communities but also to physical geographical terrain that is also deadly, or very dangerous, or very arduous to try to cross: lava fields and basalt fields and things like that,” said Marilyn Hudson, author of Tales of Hell's Half Acre: Murder, Mayhem, and Mysteries of Early Oklahoma and Oklahoma City. But mostly, newspapers titillated readers while condemning drunkenness and debauchery in Hell’s Half Acres that ranged from Wild West-era saloon districts in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado to poor urban slums, including struggling African-American neighborhoods in the Southeast and white working-class enclaves in Chicago, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Minneapolis..."


TODAY: Mostly cloudy, milder. Winds: NE 7-12. High: 58

FRIDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, still cool. Low: 43

SATURDAY: Clouds increase, PM rain southern MN. Winds: NE 10-20. High: 59

SUNDAY: Nicer day of the weekend? Drying out again, peeks of sun. Wake-up: 42. High: 61

MONDAY: Partly sunny, feels like spring again. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 45. High: 67

TUESDAY: Plenty of sun, lukewarm breeze. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 43. High: 71

WEDNESDAY: Blue sky, extra spring in your step. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 48. High: 68

THURSDAY: Sunny streak continues, more humidity. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 44. High: 72


Climate Stories...


Climate Change Could Threaten Trillions of Dollars of Financial Assets, a New Study Reports. Here's the intro to a story at PRI, Public Radio International: "New research from the London School of Economics estimates that a broad range of global stocks and other financial assets are overvalued because investment managers don’t take the risks of climate change into account. The LSE research estimates financial assets worldwide are presently overvalued by $2.5 trillion — and, in the worst case, $24 trillion. Massive climate-related writedowns are not far off in the future, which would mean huge losses for investors who ignore the risks, says Alex Bowen of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at LSE and co-author of the new study, published in Nature Climate Change..."

Photo credit above: "Coastal real estate in cities like Miami are one type of asset that may be dangerously overvalued, if climate change proceeds as scientists predict." Credit: Daniel Chudosov/Flickr.

Half of U.S. Conservatives Say Climate Change is Real. The ship is turning, as the symptoms of a rapidly warming climate become harder to dismiss or deny. Here's a clip from Bloomberg: "The percentage of conservative Republicans who consider global warming a threat shot up 19 points in two years, to 47 percent, according to public opinion researchers at Yale University and George Mason University. Overall, 56 percent of Republicans agree that it’s happening. Including Democrats and independents, the national average for the U.S. is 73 percent. The new survey results, “Politics & Global Warming 2016,” suggest a growing gap between what most registered Republican voters understand to be true and what the party leadership says it believes, particularly on the presidential campaign trail this year..."

Politics and Global Warming, Spring 2016. Here's an excerpt from Yale Program on Climate Change Communication that got my attention:
  • An increasing number of registered voters think global warming is happening. Three in four (73%, up 7 points since Spring 2014) now think it is happening. Large majorities of Democrats—liberal (95%) and moderate/conservative (80%)—think it is happening, as do three in four Independents (74%, up 15 points since Spring 2014) and the majority of liberal/moderate Republicans (71%, up 10 points).
  • By contrast, only 47% of conservative Republicans think global warming is happening. Importantly, however, there has been a large increase in the number of conservative Republicans who think global warming is happening. In fact, conservative Republicans have experienced the largest shift of any group—an increase of 19 percentage points over the past two years....

Q&A: A Canadian Evangelical Confronts U.S. Climate Politics. Here is a good summary and terrific interview transcript with one of my personal heroes, climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe, who recently visited Minnesota - courtesy of Midwest Energy News: "...It is not politically acceptable to say that climate change is a problem but we don’t want to do anything about it. But it is politically acceptable to say, it’s going to cost too much and I care about other things. It’s acceptable to say the science isn’t settled. It is definitely acceptable to say an all-powerful sovereign God would never let this happen. These are very acceptable statements in the United States in 2016..."

File photo credit: "Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe speaks at Hardin-Simmons University in Texas in 2012."

Catholic Bishops: "Confronting Climate Change is our Moral Obligation. As tempting as it is to look away or change the subject, as people of faith we (all) have a duty to pay attention and be part of the solution. Here's a snippet from TheHill: "...Climate change threatens all life—and the life cycle of the earth itself. Climate change attacks the human dignity of those most affected, with the least fortunate bearing a disproportionate burden from its impacts. What the scientific consensus tells us, and what real observations and experiences around the world have shown us, is that humanity’s current reliance on fossil fuels is altering the atmosphere. Warmer oceans and higher temperatures are already being connected with increased sea levels, storm surges, rainfall intensities and droughts, as well as disruptions in growing seasons and migratory patterns. In Laudato Sí, Pope Francis highlighted the urgency of our task: “Technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay.” We have a moral obligation to reduce carbon pollution, to protect people from climate impacts and to safeguard human health..."

The Clean Energy Revolution. If we jump-start and empower the markets we might just need less regulation to have the (growing) economy we all want - without the unpleasant side-effects. Here's a clip from Foreign Affairs: "...But without major advances in clean energy technology, the Paris agreement might lead countries to offer only modest improvements in their future climate plans. That will not be enough. Even if they fulfill their existing pledges, the earth will likely warm by some 2.7 to 3.5 degrees Celsius—risking planetary catastrophe. And cutting emissions much more is a political nonstarter, especially in developing countries such as India, where policymakers must choose between powering economic growth and phasing out dirty fossil fuels. As long as this tradeoff persists, diplomats will come to climate conferences with their hands tied..."

Republican Donor Backs Clean Energy Senators with Digital Campaign. Here's an excerpt from Reuters that left me encouraged: "A Republican political donor said on Wednesday he would spend "seven figures" on a targeted digital campaign backing two senators who support clean energy policies, which could help tip the balance in their tight November re-election races. Jay Faison, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based executive of an audio-vision equipment company, said he would endorse Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio and Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire for re-election. Portman is a co-sponsor of a bipartisan energy efficiency bill, while Ayotte is one of the only Republican supporters of President Barack Obama's plan to cut carbon emissions..." (File photo: Charlotte Observer).

Scientist Offers Hopeful Look at Climate Change. We'll figure this out - collectively - because in the end we won't have a choice in the matter. The last time I checked there is no Planet B. Here's an excerpt from The San Diego Union-Tribune: "Amid the gloomy forecast of climate change, climatologist Richard Somerville sees a glimmer of light. Somerville, a distinguished professor emeritus and research professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, will speak at U.C. San Diego Thursday about the prospects for turning the tide on the worst impacts of global warming. “This is not a gloom and doom issue,” Somerville said. “It’s a serious issues but the world is taking the right steps to deal with it in a rational way.” His talk, “Climate Change: Strong Science, Forceful Actions, Positive Outcomes,” will cover what we know about climate change and what Somerville believes we need to do..."

Scientists Now Know the Psychology Behind Your Worries About the Environment. Here's a clip from The Washington Post: "...Past research has highlighted that those who care about the environment tend to be “Open to Experience” — wanting to try out new things and new experiences — and also to have high levels of empathy, or sensitivity to the suffering of others (including not just humans, but plants and animals). New research, though, suggests there’s a more intellectual side to being green as well. In particular, it finds that those with a tendency to engage in what is called “systems thinking” — embracing complex, multifaceted causal explanations for phenomena and recognizing the unpredictability of how nature works — also tend to value the environment more and to be more concerned about climate change..."

Why States and Cities Must Lead The Way on Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Wall Street Journal: "...The truth is that despite the large-scale, global impact of climate change, it is the states and cities, not Washington D.C., that have most of the legal powers to prevent global warming by helping the United States transition to cleaner energy. States create energy building codes; localities enforce them. Cities establish the zoning that governs sprawl. They make mobility investments that can simultaneously save adults from traffic jams and children from asthma. State commissions regulate investor-owned electric utilities and the policies that either reward or punish customers who want to produce their own power..."

Image credit above: "The truth is that despite the large-scale, global impact of climate change, it is the states and cities, not Washington D.C., that have most of the legal powers to prevent global warming," says WSJ Energy Expert Bill Ritter." Photo: iStock Photo.


The Political Hurdles Facing a Carbon Tax - And How To Overcome Them. How do you adequately factor (real) costs into the equation? Dave Roberts has an interesting post at Vox; here's a clip: "...The point is, carbon prices, where they exist, are too low. Why? The obvious answer is that carbon pricing faces various political constraints, which prevent the carbon price from rising to the proper (high) level. Unfortunately, these political constraints are not nearly as well-understood as the economic dynamics of carbon pricing. Among climate economists and wonks, the hunches, pet theories, and ritual invocations of "political will" too often are substitutes for deeper, systemic political analysis. The Jenkins-Karplus paper is an attempt to make some progress on that score. It sets out to model carbon pricing scenarios, seeking to determine which policy design leads to the greatest aggregate social welfare under various political constraints..." (Image credit: Star Tribune).

Big Oil Ads Beat Out Climate News on CNN. But those ads pay the bills, another inconvenient truth. When in doubt, follow the money. Here's an excerpt at Huffington Post: "Fossil fuel ads are drowning out news reports about climate change on CNN. During one week in January, just after NASA announced that 2015 was the hottest year on record, CNN viewers saw over 10 times more advertising from the oil and gas industry than reporting about the world’s climate, according to a new study from the nonprofit Media Matters. While the cable news network devoted less than a minute to stories about the warming planet that week, it sold over 13 minutes of air time to the American Petroleum Institute, the country’s largest oil and gas trade group..."

"There Is No Doubt". Exxon Knew CO2 Pollution Was A Global Threat by late 1970s. Here's a snippet of a post at DeSmogBlog: "Throughout Exxon’s global operations, the company knew that CO2 was a harmful pollutant in the atmosphere years earlier than previously reported. DeSmog has uncovered Exxon corporate documents from the late 1970s stating unequivocally “there is no doubt” that CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels was a growing “problem” well understood within the company.
It is assumed that the major contributors of CO2 are the burning of fossil fuels… There is no doubt that increases in fossil fuel usage and decreases of forest cover are aggravating the potential problem of increased CO2 in the atmosphere. Technology exists to remove CO2 from stack gases but removal of only 50% of the CO2 would double the cost of power generation.” [emphasis added]
Those lines appeared in a 1980 report, “Review of Environmental Protection Activities for 1978-1979,” produced by Imperial Oil, Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary..."

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Brushed by Showers - Heaviest Rains Pass South - Spring Returns Next Week

52 F. high in St. Cloud Wednesday.
63 F. average high on April 27.
70 F. high on April 27, 2015.
.27" of rain had fallen at KMSP as of 7 PM yesterday. Only .01" fell at St. Cloud
 
Proving it could be worse...
April 28, 1994: Heavy snow falls over parts of Minnesota with 7.5 inches at Tower and 4.5 inches in the Twin Cities.

April 28, 1966: A heavy snowstorm leaves 10 inches of snow on the ground across a wide chunk of northern Minnesota.



Forever Laughing in a Purple Rain

“I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain.” Prince Rogers Nelson was a Minnesota Original; self-made, possessing infinite range and supernatural style. He was a musical savant; a funked-up Jimi Hendrix with the poetic spark of Maya Angelou.

I admired his entrepreneurial genius. Prince went against the flow; he zigged when others zagged, reinventing his music, even his business model. He commandeered a color and changed his name to a symbol.

Who does that?

I’m ignoring the inevitable media-hype, rumors and gossip, focusing not on how he died – but how he lived. Purple on Doppler radar denotes something extreme. Off-the-scale. That seems about right.
Purple puddles shrink later today as rain tapers; sunny peeks Friday, before the next southern storm pushes a pinwheel of rain into southern Minnesota Saturday. Sunday looks better (drier and brighter) with a warming trend the latter half of next week. The first weekend of May could bring hazy sun and 80 degrees.

I may even feel a supernatural urge to purify myself in the cool waters of Lake Minnetonka.

Thank you Prince.

Heaviest Rains South of MSP Metro. 4 KM NAM guidance from NOAA shows the best chance of 1"+ rains from Redwood Falls and Mankato into the southern suburbs of the Twin Cities this morning - rain should be tapering off this afternoon. 60-hour accumulated rainfall: AerisWeather.

Raw Thursday - Spring Returns Next Week. Temperatures may not climb out of the 40s today with a stiff breeze, but the sun angle is too high for chilly/jacket weather to linger for long. European guidance shows a warming trend next week; maybe 70s toward the end of next week. Source: WeatherSpark.

Warm Ridge Builds by Mid-May? GFS guidance continues to hint at a closed low over the Great Lakes or New England as we sail into May, a trend toward building a warm bubble of high pressure across the Plains into Minnesota with 70s close to home the second week of May. No late-season snowy surprises showing up just yet.


The Worst-Case Scenario: How To Ride Out a Tornado. Here's an excerpt of a good, timely post at al.com: "...The best place to ride out a tornado is in a storm shelter, or the smallest room in the center of the building you'€™re in on the lowest floor, such as a closet or bathroom, interior hall or under a stairwell. Get away from windows. Get under something that can protect you from flying debris, which is the greatest danger in tornadoes, according to NOAA'€™s Storm Prediction Center. Cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where the heavy things are on the floors above you and don't get under them. Get as low to the floor as you can and cover your head with your hands..."

Photo credit above: "One of the safest places to ride out a tornado in your home is under on the lowest floor, in an interior room, away from windows. This stairwell was just about the only thing left standing after a tornado." (NSSL photo).

A Tornado's Heading Your Way. Now What? An article at WMUR has some good reminders; here's an excerpt: "...Remember, the biggest threat is getting hit by flying debris, not getting sucked into the tornado. So protect your head and neck. Here's what you should do, courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security:

• If you're near a well-built structure (no mobile homes or temporary buildings), check if it has a safe room and use that. If there's no safe room, go to the basement. If there's no basement, go to a room in the centermost part of the building on the ground floor. You're looking for something that puts as many walls in between you and the storm and has no windows. Try to hide under something sturdy (a hard desk) and protect your head and neck. Be aware of what's above you if you're in a multi-story building (like a refrigerator that could fall on you)..."

Stormbox: Above-Ground Tornado Shelters. Granted, you may not want a massively-reinforced shipping container sitting in your back yard, but if an EF-5 tornado is approaching this is where I would want to be if I didn't have access to an underground shelter. More details: "Every STORMBOX starts with a refabricated mobile storage unit, reinforced with materials robust enough to withstand the worst Mother Nature can devise, and engineered for accessibility and reliability. Unlike previous generations of storm shelters, STORMBOX is designed to sit above the ground, allowing fast and easy access, including wheelchair accessibility, through the reinforced door. The aboveground design also helps prevent flooding and debris blockage caused by weather events. The fabrication process for every STORMBOX ensures that each product is always reliable, built using green construction practices, and less expensive than traditional underground storm shelters. With models available to accommodate up to 80 people, STORMBOX is the reliable solution for families, neighborhoods, schools and businesses..."

* Vilonia, Arkansas - hit by an EF-5 tornado in 2014, just installed one of these near their city hall, as reported by KATV.com.

Was Tuesday's Severe Weather Forecast a Bust? Short answer: yes. The ingredients were present, but the tornado count was low. Here's an excerpt of a post from Dr. Marshall Shepherd at Forbes: "...A week ago we were talking about the possibility of severe weather and tornadoes. Tuesday (April 26th) was supposed to be the “day.” Adequate warnings were up. The National Weather Service even issued a rare “Potentially Dangerous Situation (PDS)” Tornado Watch, which is only used about 3% of the time according to the Weather Channel (more on this later). As the event played out (and afterwards), I couldn’t help but notice on social media that the word “bust” was starting to appear in the narrative of some colleagues and enthusiasts. I ask the question this morning, “Was Yesterday’s Severe Weather Forecast A Bust?...”

Storm Chasers Look Back on Deadly (Tuscaloosa) Tornado. A monstrous EF-4 struck Tuscaloosa 5 years ago today; here's an excerpt of a perspective from local storm chasers at al.com: "...Five years later, Chandler would do it again. Not for the adrenaline, although he felt it. Ill-advised as it was, the chase changed his life. And not because the "F5 Tuscaloosa tornado" video Hughett filmed and Chandler posted went viral, currently boasting 3.4 million views on YouTube. The chase gave Chandler a new purpose in life, not as a budding storm-chaser, but as public servant. The Tuscaloosa native now works as a firefighter in Tennessee, a career he'd soon pursue in the immediate aftermath of what happened in the afternoon of April 27, 2011. Now a historic document, the video marks a crucial moment the city's history, chronicling 13 of the most dire and challenging minutes in one of Tuscaloosa's darkest and subsequently proudest hours..."

* The raw tornado chaser video is here (rated PG for salty language). No wonder it has 3.5 million views on YouTube - it's amazing.

A Tornado's Heading Your Way. Now What? Are there ever circumstances where trying to drive away from a tornado makes sense? It's a tough question, but if it's an EF-4 or EF-5 and you don't have a basement, the tornado may not be survivable. Here's an excerpt from CNN: "...My advice would be to seek the safest place available. That is: lie in a ditch or ... (get) behind a heavy object if you had a tractor or even a tree." He cited the 1979 Wichita Falls, Texas, tornado as a cautionary lesson. That twister killed 54 people and, Kiesling noted, "many people were killed in automobiles because they tried to outrun it." Still, Kiesling allowed, there may be times when fleeing an impending tornado might be a good option. "If you have good information on the storm, if you have plenty of warning, if you have an automobile, it may make sense, but I personally don't feel that's the advice that we want to give the public..."

Tornado Warnings Get Minds Spinning. Can longer warnings (up to an hour) trigger behavior more likely to get people injured and killed? Quite possibly. Here's an excerpt from The Denver Post: "...For all of their advances in the physical sciences, forecasters have yet to determine when advance warnings are most effective and how urgent their messages should be. They worry about the "cry wolf" syndrome, in which people may tune them out, and about people overreacting, especially with tornadoes. People have left much safer buildings and headed into their cars to flee, but cars are the last place you want to be in a tornado. And it's not just tornadoes. Forecasters are still trying to understand why several people in Houston ignored the mantra "Turn around, don't drown" and died after driving onto flooded streets last week..."

1 Minute Visible Updates. Talk about hypnotic - here is a loop from NOAA's new GOES-14 (GOES-R) satellite, where images are snapped once every 60 seconds, creating a smooth, fluid satellite loop that captures features unseen until now. This animation was recorded around 5 PM Tuesday as tornadic T-storms were firing up along a dry line in western Texas and Oklahoma. Credit: RAMMB, Colorado State.

It May Soon Be Too Late To Save The Seas. Jeff Nesbit has the story at U.S. News; here's the intro: "What happens if marine life in the oceans can't pull in enough oxygen from the oceans to live? We may be about to find out. A startling new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (the federal research arm of the National Science Foundation) published Wednesday found a disturbing trend – a warming planet could overwhelm natural variability and start to significantly affect oxygen levels in the oceans in just 10-15 years. The study confirmed what scientists have long observed - that climate change is causing a drop in the amount of oxygen dissolved in oceans in some parts of the world. But the study's central conclusion is what is so alarming - the effects of this drop in the amount of oxygen all marine life require will start to become evident in just 15 years or so. At some point, the drop in the ocean's oxygen levels will leave marine life struggling to breathe..." (File image: Alamy).

San Diego Republican Mayor Pushes Plan to Run on 100% Renewable Energy. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...But San Diego’s bipartisan push to embrace clean energy such as solar and wind, while radically paring back greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, is a glimpse into how the rancorous brawls over climate change could have been avoided across the rest of the US. “This isn’t a partisan issue,” Faulconer told the Guardian. “I’ve said from the very beginning there’s enough partisan politics at the national level. I was a volunteer for our parks before becoming mayor; I love our natural resources, our beaches and landscapes. I feel strongly about protecting them...”

Photo credit above: "San Diego is among a large group of cities impatient with federal government bickering over climate change." Photograph: Gregory Bull/AP.

The Story Behind Prince's Low-Profile Generosity to Green Causes. I had no idea. Here's an excerpt from Grist: "In the outpouring of media coverage after Prince’s death at the age of 57 last week, fans around the globe began to learn more about the notoriously private star — including that he gave away a lot of money. Van Jones — the activist, author, former Obama administration official, and current CNN commentator — revealed that Prince had secretly funded causes from public radio to Black Lives Matter to the Harlem Children’s Zone. He also conceived of #YesWeCode, an initiative to train black kids for work in tech. And he supported Green For All, a group working to fight climate change and bring green jobs to underprivileged populations. Jones is in the leadership of the latter two organizations..."

Image credit: Olivia Harris, Reuters.

In Minnesota, Waste to Energy Debate Firing Up Once Again. Here's the intro to a  story at Midwest Energy News: "Three prominent Minnesota environmental and community action organizations recently announced they are joining forces in an effort to close a solid waste incinerator on the edge of downtown Minneapolis. The Sierra Club’s statewide chapter, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change and Minnesota Public Interest Research Group met in April to create a collective campaign to close the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center, better known as HERC. The groups’ concerns — primarily about local impacts from pollution — put them at odds with Minnesota state policy, which places a higher value on waste-to-energy production over landfills..."

Photo credit: "The Hennepin Energy Recovery Center near downtown Minneapolis."

The U.S. Has Enough PV To Cover One Lane of its Interstate Highway System. Greentech Media has an intriguing article; here's an excerpt: "Two years ago, YouTube phenomenon "Solar Freakin’ Roadways" garnered 21 million views as part of an Indiegogo campaign, leading 50,000 backers to pledge a total of more than $2 million to help a burgeoning startup to develop road-integrated photovoltaics. Despite skepticism from many experts, parent company Solar Roadways has persevered, winning a two-year, $750,000 contract from the U.S. Department of Transportation last November to pursue its vision. But what if the solar industry is already realizing Solar Roadways’ dream, without the added engineering challenges and costs of designing load-bearing structures which meet regulatory requirements?..."

How Business Can Thrive in the Digital Age. Waves of disruption are arriving with greater frequency and intensity. Is a "sustainable business model" an oxymoron? Continuous experimentation and reinvention is required, an ability to stay lean and move even faster. Here's an excerpt of a relevent article at Fortune: "...In this context, business leaders are no longer asking: “Am I going to be disrupted?” Increasingly, the core strategic questions for Fortune 500 companies have become: “In what ways am I already being disrupted? What does this mean for society at large? And what new assets, skills and sources of information do I need to develop in order to respond?” Executives need to look carefully into the changes that are just starting to emerge and learn as much as they can about how new technologies affect their core value proposition, their competitive positioning, and their relationships with stakeholders..."

A Majority of Millenials Now Reject Capitalism, Poll Shows. My first reaction was, huh? Where are we living - Sweden? Be careful what you wish for. Here's a clip from The Washington Post: "In an apparent rejection of the basic principles of the U.S. economy, a new poll shows that most young people do not support capitalism. The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it. It isn't clear that the young people in the poll would prefer some alternative system, though. Just 33 percent said they supported socialism. The survey had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points..."

Image credit above: Amy Cavenaile/The Washington Post; iStock; Emojipedia.

Daschle and Klain: "We're Not Ready For The Next Zika Virus". Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at USA TODAY: "...Combating biological threats — either naturally occurring like Ebola or Zika, or deliberate, like anthrax or smallpox — requires a coordinated response. We urge the next administration to start planning for biosecurity risks from day one, and to replace the current “governing by crisis” response cycle with a more permanent and resilient approach. We need to build on previous investments in the area, not reinvent the wheel each time a crisis demands a response. Numerous commissions and panels have concluded that biological threats have the potential for catastrophic consequences within the United States, and have provided recommendations for a path forward. But will policymakers finally act?..."

Photo credit above: "Susan Belzer, vice president of Diagnostics at MD Biosciences, held a vile containing a sample of the Zika virus like the one used by scientists at the firm to develop a test for the virus. The Zika virus samples are stored at -80 Centigrade." Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune.

Forget Too Much TV. It's Too Big TV We Should Worry About. Wave goodbye to the traditional 30 and  60 minute TV "show". Streaming TV changes everything, including expectations. Here's a clip at The New York Times: "...Today’s great fattening, like so many trends in TV now, is in part the influence of streaming TV. The only thing limiting the length of a Netflix or Amazon binge show is your ability to sit without cramping. The menu is bigger, and so are the portions. Meanwhile, basic cable channels realized that there was no reason their “hourlong” series needed to end on the hour. If they pushed a 10 p.m. drama’s end to, say, 11:17, they could give their creators the kind of narrative real estate available on ad-free HBO and Showtime..."
The Future of TV Is Happening Faster Than Anyone Thought. Every industry gets disrupted - just about the only thing that is predictable is disruption. The Washington Post reports.

The King of Frequent Flier Miles? Quora has an interesting post - not feeling nearly as good about my 900K with Delta: "I'm going to have to go with Fred Finn, with 15 million miles, to include 718 Concorde flights—logging three crossings in a day once. Being a British citizen, he's evidently garnered more miles with British Airways than any other, but I can't find all of the airlines—139 countries is a lot and must mean lots of other airlines—nor if BA has a majority of the impressive total."

TODAY: Rain slowly tapers, raw. Winds: NE 10-15. High: 46
THURSDAY NIGHT: Thinning clouds, cool breeze. Low: 38

FRIDAY: Glimmers of sun, almost pleasant. Winds: NE 7-12. High: 59

SATURDAY: Early sun, PM rain southern Minnesota. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 43. High: 58

SUNDAY: Damp start, then slow clearing. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 45. High: near 60

MONDAY: Partly sunny, feels like spring again. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 39. High: 65

TUESDAY: Unsettled and cooler. Few showers. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 46. High: 57

WEDNESDAY: More clouds than sun, stray sprinkle. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 41. High: 59

Climate Stories...

Why States and Cities Must Lead The Way on Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Wall Street Journal: "...The truth is that despite the large-scale, global impact of climate change, it is the states and cities, not Washington D.C., that have most of the legal powers to prevent global warming by helping the United States transition to cleaner energy. States create energy building codes; localities enforce them. Cities establish the zoning that governs sprawl. They make mobility investments that can simultaneously save adults from traffic jams and children from asthma. State commissions regulate investor-owned electric utilities and the policies that either reward or punish customers who want to produce their own power..."

Image credit above: "The truth is that despite the large-scale, global impact of climate change, it is the states and cities, not Washington D.C., that have most of the legal powers to prevent global warming," says WSJ Energy Expert Bill Ritter." Photo: iStock Photo.


The Political Hurdles Facing a Carbon Tax - And How To Overcome Them. How do you adequately factor (real) costs into the equation? Dave Roberts has an interesting post at Vox; here's a clip: "...The point is, carbon prices, where they exist, are too low. Why? The obvious answer is that carbon pricing faces various political constraints, which prevent the carbon price from rising to the proper (high) level. Unfortunately, these political constraints are not nearly as well-understood as the economic dynamics of carbon pricing. Among climate economists and wonks, the hunches, pet theories, and ritual invocations of "political will" too often are substitutes for deeper, systemic political analysis. The Jenkins-Karplus paper is an attempt to make some progress on that score. It sets out to model carbon pricing scenarios, seeking to determine which policy design leads to the greatest aggregate social welfare under various political constraints..." (Image credit: Star Tribune).

Big Oil Ads Beat Out Climate News on CNN. But those ads pay the bills, another inconvenient truth. When in doubt, follow the money. Here's an excerpt at Huffington Post: "Fossil fuel ads are drowning out news reports about climate change on CNN. During one week in January, just after NASA announced that 2015 was the hottest year on record, CNN viewers saw over 10 times more advertising from the oil and gas industry than reporting about the world’s climate, according to a new study from the nonprofit Media Matters. While the cable news network devoted less than a minute to stories about the warming planet that week, it sold over 13 minutes of air time to the American Petroleum Institute, the country’s largest oil and gas trade group..."

"There Is No Doubt". Exxon Knew CO2 Pollution Was A Global Threat by late 1970s. Here's a snippet of a post at DeSmogBlog: "Throughout Exxon’s global operations, the company knew that CO2 was a harmful pollutant in the atmosphere years earlier than previously reported. DeSmog has uncovered Exxon corporate documents from the late 1970s stating unequivocally “there is no doubt” that CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels was a growing “problem” well understood within the company.
It is assumed that the major contributors of CO2 are the burning of fossil fuels… There is no doubt that increases in fossil fuel usage and decreases of forest cover are aggravating the potential problem of increased CO2 in the atmosphere. Technology exists to remove CO2 from stack gases but removal of only 50% of the CO2 would double the cost of power generation.” [emphasis added]
Those lines appeared in a 1980 report, “Review of Environmental Protection Activities for 1978-1979,” produced by Imperial Oil, Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary..."

Global Warming: Are Worst Doubts About Future of Climate Change Coming True? Here's a clip from a summary at Firstpost: "...Irrespective of the political debates, the market, including the investment climate, is reacting in favour of de-carbonization like never before. As they say, every boxer has plans and strategies until they get punched in the mouth. Then starts the real fight. The shocking punches are already evident on the face of energy market. In the last two years, the global economy has grown by about six percent, but energy and transport-related carbon dioxide emissions have not grown at all as per the findings of the International Energy Agency (IEA). The US, the EU and even China have all shown that CO2 emissions have been falling. Such decoupling has happened, surprisingly, in the face of a steep fall in oil prices by nearly 75 percent in two years. Clean energy investment, including in renewable energy, broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels..."

Polarization May Cause Climate Communication to Backfire. Here's an excerpt of an interesting post at Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke: "Political advocates who support action on climate change have long sought "the perfect message" for swaying skeptics. If the issue can be framed correctly, they believe, the battle can be won. A new Duke University study suggests it may be more complicated than that. "Because climate change has become polarized along party lines, it's no longer just an issue of finding "the right framing to convey relevant facts," said study author Jack Zhou, who will graduate with a Ph.D. in environmental politics next month from Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment. "Iit has become a matter of political identity, particularly the political party we feel closest to..."
Political advocates who support action on climate change have long sought “the perfect message” for swaying skeptics. If the issue can be framed correctly, they believe, the battle can be won.
A new Duke University study suggests it may be more complicated than that.
“Because climate change has become polarized along party lines, it’s no longer just an issue of finding ‘the right framing’ to convey relevant facts,” said study author Jack Zhou, who will graduate with a Ph.D. in environmental politics next month from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “It has become a matter of political identity, particularly the political party we feel closest to.”
- See more at: https://nicholas.duke.edu/about/news/Polarization-Climate-Communication-Backfire#sthash.zISJNYwk.dpuf

This Worst-Case Scenario Sea-Level Rise Study Will Give Miami Nightmares. Here's the intro to a story at Miami New Times: "Picture this: In less than a century, ice in Greenland and Antarctica has melted far more rapidly than even the most dire predictions have forecast. The seas worldwide have risen by meters, swamping coastal cities like Miami. Even worse, the rapid melt has led Atlantic currents such as the Gulf Stream to collapse, creating new, unstable temperature systems that spark megahurricanes across the tropics. That's roughly the scenario in a paper recently unveiled by James Hansen, a former NASA scientist and current climate-change Cassandra. The 52-page work, available online at Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, makes perfect nightmare fuel for Miamians..."

Photo credit above: "Massive superstorms and dozens of feet of sea water by the end of this century are the doomsday predictions of a former NASA scientist." Photo by Carvalho via Flickr CC


The Global Warming "Tease". Still think it's all a hoax to "grow government" or "take away our personal liberties"? The evidence is there - and it's only going to become more obvious with time. It's good to be skeptical (about everything) but at some point you reach a critical mass of evidence. A friend of mine, Glenn Schwartz, is chief meteorologist at the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia. Here's an excerpt of a recent post: "...So, the obvious result is a contradiction between what many scientists and politicians have been saying. It’s hard to be concerned about something that is showing so few obvious signs of the serious problem that is likely ahead of us. We can raise our voices and point at charts of ice loss in the Arctic and all we get is yawns from too many people. And I’m afraid that there’s not much that can be done about this. It’s hard to tell folks to not believe what they’re seeing with their own eyes...."

Global Warming: Case Closed. That rustling noise is the sound of climate deniers grasping at straws. Here's an excerpt of a Washington Post story responding to a George Will Op-Ed: "...In his April 24 op-ed, “The scientific silencers take aim,” George F. Will claimed that debatable questions still include the extent to which humans are contributing to climate change. William Collins, director of climate and ecosystem sciences at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has succinctly made the case that humans are responsible. He states that the current astronomical and geological factors, such as changes in the sun, changes in Earth’s orbit and volcanic activity, simply can’t explain the increase in temperature in the lower atmosphere while the upper atmosphere is cooling..."


The Math the Planet Relies on Isn't Adding Up Right Now. The warming is taking place faster than those "alarmist climate models" have been predicting. Chris Mooney reports at The Washington Post: "As over 150 nations assemble to sign the Paris climate agreement in New York on Friday, reams of new analysis are pouring out from the planet’s vital number-crunchers, who look at the fundamental relationship between how much carbon we put in the air and how much the planet’s temperature increases as a result. And it’s adding up to a somber verdict: We seem closer to must-avoid climate thresholds than we thought — and crossing them may have bigger consequences than we recognize..."

Image credit: Planetary Visions LTD.

Why Fighting Climate Change Won't Destroy the Economy. Threat, and opportunity for renewal, resilience and reinvention. Here's an excerpt from The Desert Sun: "As the reality of human-caused climate change has become harder to deny, opponents of climate action have adopted a new talking point. Replacing fossil fuels with clean energy, they say, would devastate the American economy, sending electricity prices through the roof, forcing people to abandon their cars and putting millions of people out of work. There's one problem: Researchers who have studied the clean energy transition disagree. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions wouldn't have the dire economic consequences critics have predicted, several comprehensive studies have found. On the contrary, experts say, dramatic action to slash carbon emissions would be relatively inexpensive, if not a money-saver — and that's without accounting for the long-term benefits of avoiding catastrophic climate change..."

The Arctic Is Melting, and Researchers Just Lost a Key Tool to Observe It. The Chicago Tribune has the story; here's the intro: "Earlier this month, a U.S. satellite known as F17 - which was primarily used for meteorological measurements - experienced operational failures that compromised the integrity of its data. And while there are similar satellites in orbit that can take over the data collection for now, they're old enough that scientists are unsure how much longer they'll last. Now, with no government plans to launch a replacement any time soon, scientists who rely on these satellites for valuable climate data are beginning to worry about the future of their research. The problem comes at a vital time, too - one when the Arctic, and other remote regions, are seeing rapid changes and scientists badly need these instruments to track them..."

Image credit above: "This image provided by NASA shows Arctic sea ice at it maximum, the lowest on record. The winter maximum level of Arctic sea ice shrank to the smallest on record, thanks to extraordinarily warm temperatures, federal scientists said." (AP)