Sunday, May 29, 2011

Moderate Severe Storm Risk Today (expect a tornado watch later - stay alert)

90% of the world's tornadoes touch down on the United States.

MCS: potential for a meso-convective system this morning, a large sprawl of strong/severe storms forming along the leading edge of an 80-degree warm front, moving southwest to northeast across the state. best chance: central MN.

80s likely later today - skies brighten later this morning with enough midday sun for low/mid 80s.

Moderate Risk: severe storms are likely again late this afternoon and evening. I expect a tornado watch for portions of Minnesota on Memorial Day, the greatest risk around the dinner hour, when the atmosphere will be most unstable. We can't rule out a few tornadoes in Minnesota later today.

90 possible by Friday in the metro area (mid 80s likely next weekend). It will finally feel like summer out there.

HRRR Rapid Refresh Model. One of NOAA's more reliable models is hinting at a few supercell thunderstorms over central Minnesota, near Little Falls or Brainerd, by 7-8 am this morning. I could envision a few severe storms early today, another (more widespread) risk of severe storms by late afternoon and evening. Map above is valid at 7 am this morning.

Moderate Threat. SPC has west central and southwestern Minnesota in a "moderate" risk of severe storms, which implies a better than 50/50 chance of tornado watches later today for portions of Minnesota. The risk is greatest west of the Twin Cities, but severe storms are possible statewide, with the possible exception of the North Shore of Lake Superior.

Ripe. We have many of the ingredients necessary for severe storms later today. According to the 00z NAM "cape" values (measure of instability) are forecast to be over 2,000, the lifted index (another stability index) is -5 (anything under 0 is potentially unstable). Highs should reach the mid 80s in the metro area - I suspect warm thermals will be able to break through the "cap" (an inversion a few thousand feet above the ground) - initiating strong/severe storms by late afternoon or evening, best chance western and central Minnesota.

Tornado Tips. In Sunday's Star Tribune Bill McAuliffe filed a terrific story about this year's stunning tornado outbreaks, why there have been so many (large/violent) tornadoes hitting urban areas. I have a bad feeling about today - I'm fairly sure there will be "a few" tornadoes later today - best chance western and central Minnesota. I expect SPC to issue a tornado watch for portions of Minnesota by midday or early afternoon; the greatest risk of a few supercell, tornadic storms spinning up by late afternoon and evening. I wanted to share my correspondence with Bill for his story - in the hope that this will be a quick recap focused on tornado safety, as well as a look at some of the ingredients that have made this such a terrible year for nature's most extreme (and unpredictable) storms:

1.       Bill: "Why do you think so many people have been killed by tornadoes this year?"

 A couple of reasons: twice as many tornadoes as usual, to date, and many large, violent, long-lasting tornadoes have been touching down east of the Mississippi, where population densities are much higher than traditional Tornado Alley. It’s the law of averages (mixed with a big dash of bad luck). If you have more tornadoes, and they’re touching down in population centers – the odds of injury and death are going to go up exponentially, in spite of Doppler radar, streamlined NWS warnings (which have been issued 20-40 minutes before these large tornadoes struck), media saturation, SKYWARN spotters and heightened awareness on the part of the public, the potential for disaster is rising – because of urbanization, and the fact that so many homes do not have basements, for a variety of reasons: bedrock, cost, groundwater, etc.
I suspect this spring’s extreme tornado season is the result of La Nina, coupled with a touch of climate change – although I don’t think we can pin everything on a warmer, wetter atmosphere. Water vapor has spiked by 4%. Tornadoes feed off of low-level moisture and wind shear. There’s no evidence that climate change is increasing wind shear, but a warmer atmosphere can hold more water (which is well documented). Something is injecting more energy into the system – I’ve never seen the jet stream blow this fast, or so far south in May, in my professional career. The jet should be blowing over the U.S./Canada border, instead it’s been dipping as far south as the Gulf coast – very odd.

2.      Bill: "Does it say anything about the nature of and response to tornado warnings? Or about the way we run our lives these days, or the way we design our homes or cities?"

Hurricanes give us days to prepare, board up coastal homes and evacuate inland – they are slow-motion natural disasters. Same with floods, we can see them coming days, sometimes weeks in advance. Not so with tornadoes. We can tell when conditions are ripe, Sunday’s tornado watch in the Twin Cities preceded touchdown by over 2 hours. I think there is still a false sense of complacency among many people living in urban centers, a feeling that tornadoes can’t hit the close-in suburbs or downtowns, which is just plain wrong. We are also saturated with warnings (70% of tornado warnings are false alarms). Doppler picks up rotating thunderstorms that often go on to spin up tornadoes, but only 30% of these ever go on to spin up tornadoes. This breeds apathy (“they issue warnings, we never see anything at our place, let’s ignore the warning sirens”). That can lead to disaster.
A 2000 simulation in Dallas recreated what would happen if the May 3, 1999 Moore (EF-5) had gone through downtown Ft. Worth. They estimated a potential for 1,000-3,000 deaths with tens of thousands of injuries (as many as 80,000 local motorists might be stuck in the path of this monster tornado during gridlock on the freeways). It sent chills up my spine, reading the report. Statistically it’s only a matter of time before a major city is, in fact, struck by a large, violent tornado. To date America has been very, very lucky. But as cities expand, farmland continues to be developed, and our weather becomes more extreme over time, the potential for tornado disaster will continue to climb.

(photo courtesy of Weather Underground)

Bill "What’s your general reaction to the tremendous outbreak and toll, here and nationally?"

My reaction was one of scientific fascination mixed with utter horror. From the standpoint of being a meteorologist, this has been an unprecedented spring, unlike anything I have ever witnessed before. The 1974 “Super Outbreak” was the event that originally got me interested in meteorology. And the recent Alabama/Mississippi outbreak was even worse than ’74, which I thought I would never see again in my lifetime. This story tugs at your heart – seeing the interviews with parents searching for their kids, the not knowing…I can’t imagine what these people are going through.
I hope it’s a wake-up call for Minnesotans, a chance to review tornado drills with their kids. Like a fire drill, everyone should know exactly where to go in the event of a tornado. If you don’t have a basement consider spending 1-3k to reinforce a small interior room and turning it into a “safe room”. If you have a basement you’re generally ok. The sad reality: if an EF-4 or EF-5 hits your home and you don’t have a basement the odds of survival drop precariously. Residents of mobile homes should make sure there is an underground shelter they can get to with 1-2 minutes warning. People need to take tornado watches seriously. When watches are issued they should stay alert, keep an eye on the sky, always ask “where would I go, what would I do if a tornado approached at this location.
Situational awareness is key, so is having multiple safety nets. The more sources of tornado information, the better. That means:
-          * Local media: radio, TV.
-          *  Internet (we will be trying some new ways to cover severe weather at, by the way, shortly, maybe as soon as Monday).
-          * NOAA Weather Radio (still the cheapest life insurance you can buy – the only thing that will wake you up at 2 am if a tornado is approaching).
-          * Sirens (don’t rely on the sirens – they were never meant for indoor use).
-          * Cell phone apps. This is the future. There are a handful of great apps that send out alerts when warnings are issued for your favorite locations or even your GPS location. One particularly good one that works well is My-Cast Weather Radar (full disclosure: it’s the company I sold to Garmin in 2007, but I’ve tried them all, this is still the best one out there – it even sends you an alert if lightning strikes within 5 miles of your location).
The F Scale: created in 1971 by T. Theodore Fujita, provided a means to rate tornadoes and estimate their wind speed based on damage caused. The revised scale was developed at Texas Tech University in conjunction with engineers, meteorologists and others from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is the umbrella agency for the National Weather Service.

The scale number reflects a top three-second wind gust:

■ EF-0 65 mph to 85 mph: Peels surface off of some roofs, damages some gutters or siding, breaks branches off trees and knocks over shallow-rooted trees.
■ EF-1 86 mph to 110 mph: Roofs are severely stripped, mobile homes are flipped or badly damaged and windows and glass break.
■ EF-2 111 mph to 135 mph: Roofs are torn off well-constructed houses, foundations of frame houses move, and it destroys mobile homes, breaks large trees and lifts cars off the ground.
■ EF-3 136 mph to 165 mph: Well-constructed houses are destroyed, damage is severe to large buildings such as shopping centers, lifts heavy cars and carries away structures with weak foundations.
■ EF-4 166 mph to 200 mph: Levels houses, throws around cars.
■ EF-5 More than 200 mph: Well-constructed houses are carried away, cars are turned into missiles and even steel-reinforced concrete is badly damaged. High-rise buildings have their structures deformed.

* thanks to for including this EF-scale in a larger story about storm threats for south Florida.

Lightning Facts. The National Weather Service reports there are an estimated 25 million lightning flashes each year in the United States. During the past 30 years, lightning killed an average of 58 people per year. Here are tips from the National Weather Service’s website:

■ Watch for developing storms: Thunderstorms are most likely to develop on spring or summer days but can occur year-round. As the sun heats the air, pockets of warmer air start to rise and cumulus clouds form. Continued heating can cause these clouds to grow vertically into towering cumulus clouds, often the first sign of a developing thunderstorm.
■ When to seek safe shelter: Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from the area where it is raining. That’s about the distance you can hear thunder. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Go to a large building or fully enclosed vehicle and wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder to go back outside.
■ Minimize the risk: Stop outdoor activities at the first roar of thunder to ensure everyone has time to get to a large building or enclosed vehicle. Leaders of outdoor events should have a written plan all staff are aware of and enforce.
■ Things to avoid: Stay off corded phones, computers and equipment that puts you in direct contact with electricity. Stay away from pools, indoor or outdoor, tubs, showers and other plumbing. Buy surge suppressors for key equipment. Install ground fault protectors on circuits near water or outdoors.
■ Helping a victim: If a person is struck by lightning, call 911 and get medical care immediately. Cardiac arrest and irregularities, burns and nerve damage are common in these cases. You are in no danger helping a victim. The charge will not affect you.

* Lightning information courtesy of

2011 Now The Deadliest Year For Tornadoes Since 1950. USA Today has more details on what is turning into the deadliest year in 6 decades: "JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — The death toll from the monster tornado last week in Missouri has risen by three to at least 142, Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr said during a news conference Saturday. That makes this the deadliest year for tornadoes since 1950, based on an assessment of figures from the National Weather Service. The tornado death toll for 2011 is now 523. Until now, the highest recorded death toll in a single year was 519 in 1953. There were deadlier storms before 1950, but those counts were based on estimates and not on precise figures. Missouri says the number of people still unaccounted for since the Joplin tornado is now at 100. State Department of Public Safety deputy director Andrea Spillars said Saturday that within that number, nine people have been reported dead by their families, but state officials are working to confirm. She said that the temporary morgue has 142 human remains, but that includes partial remains. "Some of those remains may be the same person," she said, adding that officials are trying to use scientific means rather than relying on relatives giving visual identifications."

Joplin Tornado Imagery Viewer. NOAA has arranged all the aerial images of the aftermath of Joplin's EF-5 tornado, available here.

When Warnings Don't Work. The New York Times asks the question: with 25 minutes lead-time why did so many people die in Joplin? Why has the death toll been so high nationwide, in spite of Doppler radar, timely NWS warnings, and continuous media saturation? "TORNADO experts had seen it all before: whole neighborhoods obliterated, big-box stores flattened, even a hospital badly damaged. But what really shocked them about the powerful storm that struck Joplin, Mo., last week was the toll in lives: more than 125 and counting. “We thought we were done with the 100-dead tornadoes,” said Thomas P. Grazulis, a tornado historian in St. Johnsbury, Vt. “With warnings and Doppler radar, there was a lot of feeling that we were done with this stuff.” Experts are not sure yet why the toll was so high. Forecasts were made and warnings were issued, and this was an area, in the heart of Tornado Alley, where people knew what to do to protect themselves. “But something didn’t work the way we’d like it to,” said Harold Brooks , a research meteorologist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla. Experts say there will always be deaths when a strong tornado scores a direct hit on a heavily populated area. The question — for all disasters, not just twisters — has been how low casualty figures can go. “The fundamental characteristic of a major disaster is that there is going to be loss,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, a professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness. “The goal of preparedness is to make that loss as minimal as possible, to optimize survival.”

Making Sense Out Of The Senseless. A very worthy post in the aftermath of Joplin. Divine retribution? I doubt it. More like a reminder of where we (really) are. In spite of all our technology and scientific wisdom, we're still at the mercy of the elements. Talk about humbling: "Soon after the tornado hit Joplin last week, I figured that at some point, I’d write about making sense of how karma could have played into such an awful act of Mother Nature. Really, how on earth could something so awful be anything close to balancing the universe? The pictures, and the stories were horrific. Nearly an entire nation waited with bated breath to discover the fate of Will Norton, senselessly pulled from the passenger seat of his car by 200 mile an hour winds. His crime? Leaving his high school graduation with his dad. For every well publicized story like this, there were hundreds that most will never hear about, and all of them would break your heart. The description of a missing 12 year old painted on the side of a truck; a woman waiting for 4 hours besides the body of her grandfather, knowing that no one was coming until the living had been attended to; the discovery of the clothing of a missing infant wrapped around a telephone pole, but the baby was nowhere to be found....Maybe it was the proximity to Memorial Day, but the person that had the greatest impact on me was one that I never exchanged a word with, never had a change to give him a hot burger and maybe a smile. As the sun was going down, a kid in the National Guard (I can say kid because at that distance, he might have been all of 24), striding across the street, in uniform, deep in conversation with his partner. From the look of them, even at that distance, they were engrossed in work conversation. It looked just like the dozens of conversations I witnessed from a distance that day with one exception: This guy was missing his left arm below the elbow. Having already given so much, and seen what was likely a hundred times worse than what is beyond words for the rest of us, he was back out there, still giving. I only wish I would have had the opportunity to thank him, and let him know what kind of blessing he’d given me, just by his presence. Ancient wisdom says that acts of Karma will be visited on you ten fold. I only wish I knew what wonderful thing I had done in my life to have deserved what was returned to me last Thursday. The road to recovery will be long, and Joplin is not the only community suffering. Please visit the Red Cross to find out how you can help."
Donating To The Red Cross. Click here to make a contribution to the Red Cross to support their efforts in Joplin, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Raleigh - so many towns have been devastated this spring - thanks for considering a modest donation.

How Long Can South Florida's Hurricane Luck Last? The Miami Herald has the story - a fair number of paranoid Floridians, wondering if the spike in tornadoes means a greater risk of hurricanes this summer and fall: "Florida enters hurricane season 2011, which commences on Wednesday, officially pushing its luck. It’s not because Mother Nature has gone wild on global warming juice. It’s a matter of simple odds. The last hurricane to hit the state was Category 3 Wilma, which roared ashore near Naples and buzz-sawed across the peninsula, leaving a $9 billion trail of ripped roofs and shattered high-rise windows from Miami to Palm Beach. That was five years ago, come October. History, the only reliable indicator of where hurricanes wind up, suggests South Florida is due. The statisticians at the National Hurricane Center calculate that the coastline from Palm Beach County to Key West has averaged a hit from a Category 1 hurricane every four to five years. It doesn’t take the sharpest knife in the drawer to figure South Florida’s hurricane-free run, at five years and counting, might just be at risk. “Obviously, when you look at the return frequency, the greatest risk in Florida is South Florida,’’ said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center. “We’re sticking pretty far down into the tropics.’’ Most preseason forecasts predict a slightly calmer season than 2010, but that’s small comfort. Last year churned out 19 named storms — tied for third-highest number on record."

Don't Ignore Facts About Hurricanes. has an update on what may be another above-average hurricane season for the USA: "Hurricane season is easy to ignore, especially when earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and tornadoes fill the news. And who wants to think of the worst possible scenario when the weather is finally so glorious? But ignoring the start of the hurricane season is like playing with matches — it’s a dangerous game that can lead to heartache. Instead, those who live in hurricane-vulnerable Eastern North Carolina need to be aware of the facts that surround the season: Fact: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it’s anticipating a busier than average 2011 hurricane season. NOAA officials expect 12 to 18 named storms this year, with six to 10 hurricanes and three to six of those hurricanes turning into major storms. That’s a forecast worth monitoring."

* video clips courtesy of WeatherNation meteorologist Jason Parkin.

Winter Holding On Across The West. Brian Edwards from AccuWeather has the story: "This continued wintry weather is wreaking havoc on some of the roadways that travelers are normally able to use this time of year. For the first time since 2005, the Beartooth Highway in Montana will remain closed through Memorial Day. This key route into Yellowstone National Park has received more than 25 feet of snow this winter. According to the National Park Service, crews are working to reopen the highway for travel by June 3. Similar stories are being found elsewhere across the West. Rocky Mountain National Park's Trail Ridge Road is closed due to 17-foot snow drifts. This roadway which crests at 12,183 feet usually allows motorists to experience a very scenic high elevation drive. The National Park Service and road crews are hoping to have the road open by early June.

"The Big Thirst." The Washington Post has a fascinating review of a book focused on something we all take for granted - but most of the world does not - having enough water to get through the day: "In a slender essay titled “Here Is New York,” E.B. White wrote about the implausibility of the great city, mentioning among other things the millions of gallons of water needed each day just so people could brush their teeth. That was in 1948. Since then, the implausibility factor has increased thousands-fold — or at least an awful lot — a fact among many that prompted Charles Fishman to expand White’s thought in his new book, “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water.” If you read it — and you should — you will be very thirsty. And you will never flush again with the same nonchalance. Somewhere between implausible and insane lies this little fact: The main way Americans use water at home is flushing the toilet. That is, 18.5 gallons per day per person. And the water is as pure as the drinking water that runs from our taps. Translation: 5.7 billion gallons of clean drinking water down the toilet each day. Such numerical musings are plentiful in Fishman’s deliciously fun book. He has a way with numbers, making the inconceivable accessible. Example: The total water on the surface of the Earth makes up 0.025 percent of the mass of the planet. Or, “If Earth were the size of a Honda Odyssey minivan, the amount of water on the planet would be in a single, half-liter bottle of Poland Spring in one of the van’s 13 cup holders.” You don’t say."

Hollywood Starts To Worry As 3-D Dizzles In The U.S. Do you have a 3-D TV set? Me neither. Seems that's the rule, not the exception. "Avatar" was great in 3-D, but I don't need to see Wolf Blitzer on CNN in 3-D to feel contented. 3-D is probably NOT the next "HD", as reported by the New York Times: "LOS ANGELES — Has the 3-D boom already gone bust? It’s starting to look that way — at least for American moviegoers — even as Hollywood prepares to release a glut of the gimmicky pictures. Ripples of fear spread across Hollywood last week after “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” which cost Walt Disney Studios an estimated $400 million to make and market, did poor 3-D business in North America. While event movies have typically done 60 percent of their business in 3-D, “Stranger Tides” sold just 47 percent in 3-D. “The American consumer is rejecting 3-D,” Richard Greenfield, an analyst at the financial services company BTIG, wrote of the “Stranger Tides” results. One movie does not make a trend, but the Memorial Day weekend did not give studio chiefs much comfort in the 3-D department. “Kung Fu Panda 2,” a Paramount Pictures release of a DreamWorks Animation film, sold $53.8 million in tickets from Thursday to Sunday, a soft total, and 3-D was 45 percent of the business, according to Paramount. Consumer rebellion over high 3-D ticket prices plays a role, and the novelty of putting on the funny glasses is wearing off, analysts say. But there is also a deeper problem: 3-D has provided an enormous boost to the strongest films, including “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland,” but has actually undercut middling movies that are trying to milk the format for extra dollars."

The Trouble With The Echo Chamber Online. I didn't even realize until recently that I was getting (personalized) Google search returns - what I see is different than what you see, for the same search request - based on my previous searches and preferences. Great. Personalization sounds great, but according to the New York Times there may be a downside: "ON the Web, we often see what we like, and like what we see. Whether we know it or not, the Internet creates personalized e-comfort zones for each one of us. Give a thumbs up to a movie on Netflix or a thumbs down to a song on Pandora, de-friend a bore on Facebook or search for just about anything on Google: all of these actions feed into algorithms that then try to predict what we want or don’t want online. And what’s wrong with that? Plenty, according to Eli Pariser, the author of “The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You.” Personalization on the Web, he says, is becoming so pervasive that we may not even know what we’re missing: the views and voices that challenge our own thinking. “People love the idea of having their feelings affirmed,” Mr. Pariser told me earlier this month. “If you can provide that warm, comfortable sense without tipping your hand that your algorithm is pandering to people, then all the better.” Mr. Pariser, the board president of the progressive advocacy group, recounted a recent experience he had on Facebook. He went out of his way to “friend” people with conservative politics. When he didn’t click on their updates as often as those of his like-minded contacts, he says, the system dropped the outliers from his news feed. Personalization, he argues, channels people into feedback loops, or “filter bubbles,” of their own predilections. Facebook did not respond to e-mails seeking comment."

Potential For Gulley-Gushing Thunderstorms. The latest NAM model prints out some 1-2" rains for far western and southern Minnesota, as much as 3" near Albert Lea - lesser amounts in the Twin Cities.

Gray Sunday. No, the sun wasn't out nearly as much as I had hoped. So much for "partly sunny" (which means the same thing as "mostly cloudy" by the way). No matter - it was pretty well "overcast" most of the day. At least it didn't rain, just a few spotty sprinkles. Highs ranged from 58 at Grand Marais to 65 at St. Cloud, 68 in the Twin Cities and a "balmy" 71 down at Rochester. All these readings were a good 10 degrees cooler than average - nothing new there.

Paul's SC Times Outlook for St. Cloud and all of central Minnesota:

MEMORIAL DAY: Strong/severe T-storms early. Enough midday sun for 80s by afternoon. Strong/severe storms develop by late afternoon/evening. I expect a tornado watch for portions of central Minnesota later today - stay alert. Winds: South 15-30. High: 82

MONDAY NIGHT: More T-storms, some severe early, locally heavy rain with a few of these storms. Low: 63

TUESDAY: Getting sunnier, turning breezy and less humid. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Plenty of sun, no weather-drama. Low: 53. High: 74

THURSDAY: Warm frontal passage. More strong T-storms possible. Low: 60. High: 80

FRIDAY: New word: "hot". Isolated T-storm? Low: 65. High: 86

SATURDAY: Steamy and humid, scattered T-storms. Low: 68. High: 85

SUNDAY: Murky sun, few T-storms likely. Low: 66. High: 84

(May 21 tornado photo taken in Medina by Richard Sennott)

Warm & Thundery Memorial Day (significant severe threat)

The reluctant spring of 2011 has been annoying, but I tell people the truth: our spell of cooler than normal days has inoculated us from the worst of the severe weather this spring. The battle-zone has stayed south, with a few notable exceptions. Record snow out west and freeze warnings up north, while the Deep South bakes under 90-degree heat. The result has been an energized, turbo-charged jet stream howling over the nation's heartland, creating a ripe environment for mutant, rotating "supercell" T-storms that often go on to spin up baseball-size hail and tornadoes.

Welcome to Tornado Nation; we've already seen a year's worth of twisters and the trends are ominous. Meteorologists call this "persistence", which is babble for "go with the flow - don't fight the trends." That's why I am worried about another unusually severe summer season for Minnesota.

Conditions are ripe for an MCS early today, a "meso-convective system", a swarm of heavy storms capable of frequent lightning & torrential rains. Skies brighten by midday, setting the stage for a few severe storms later. Be ready to move the party into the garage. A summerlike airmass arrives late week: 80s to near 90 anyone?

"In the foreword to a new book debunking scepticism of science - Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand - Oreskes argues that fear is the major driver of denial. ''Fear that our current way of life is unsustainable. Fear that addressing the issue will limit economic growth. Fear that if we accept government interventions in the market place … it will lead to a loss of personal freedom. Or maybe just plain old fear of change.''

- Sydney Morning Herald article.

An Unlikely Power Duo Emerges In The Global Fight Against Climate Change. The New York Times reports on a new initiative between President Bill Clinton and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg: "WASHINGTON — Bill Clinton and Michael R. Bloomberg have circled each other warily for a decade, ever since Mr. Clinton landed in Harlem after leaving the White House and Mr. Bloomberg ascended from a hugely successful business career to become the mayor of New York City. They have appeared together at a few civic functions, dined out a couple of times a year and hacked at golf balls on the same course. But until now they have never joined forces on a project with global reach that could advance both of their legacies. They are taking on an issue — climate change — that may well shape the world’s economic and social future for decades to come. Mr. Bloomberg’s billions of dollars and Mr. Clinton’s billions of friends are a potent combination, but can this unlikely power coupling make an impact in stemming rising seas or cooling the planet? “This is enough to choke a horse, one of the two or three biggest challenges in the world,” Mr. Clinton said in an unusual joint telephone interview last week with Mr. Bloomberg. “But if we can prove that this is good economics, good public health and fights the most calamitous consequences of climate change, then we will have done a world of good.” Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bloomberg are men of considerable accomplishment and healthy self-regard. So, naturally, questions arose last month when they announced the merging of their climate-change initiatives into a single global effort focused on the world’s largest cities."
Ocean Acidification Is Latest Manifestation Of Global Warming. The U.K. Guardian has more details: "Ocean acidification is now one of the most worrying threats to the planet, say marine biologists. "Just as Vulcano is pumping carbon dioxide into the waters around it, humanity is pouring more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere," Dr Jason Hall-Spencer, a marine biologist at Plymouth University, told a conference on the island last week. "Some of the billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide we emit each year lingers in the atmosphere and causes it to heat up, driving global warming. But about 30% of that gas is absorbed by the oceans where it turns to carbonic acid. It is beginning to kill off coral reefs and shellfish beds and threaten stocks of fish. Very little can live in water that gets too acidic."

Could Global Warming Be Behind The Havoc? The Winnipeg Free Press has the story: "This will be a rich topic of research in the coming years,"said Russell Schneider, director of the Storm Prediction Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Norman, Okla. Warm air, moisture, and specific wind patterns are the deadly ingredients that mix together to form tornadoes, and climate change impacts at least one of them by increasing the amount of moisture the air can hold. "Climate change could be boosting one of those ingredients (for tornadoes), but it depends on how these ingredients come together" said Robert Henson, a meteorologist at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. The intense twister that whipped through Joplin spun with windspeeds approaching 300 kilometres per hour, ranking it as an F4, just below the top of the tornado scale. "We are now on pace for a record year for tornado fatalities" since national record-keeping began in 1950, said Schneider. The April total of 875 U.S. tornadoes shattered the previous record of 267 set in April 1974. The first two weeks of May were relatively quiet."

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