March 16, 1930: The temperature at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport tops out at a record 71 degrees.
The Definition of Raw - Plowable Snow Up North
I have a sudden, inexplicable urge to ski Duluth. The same storm responsible for windswept rain in the Twin Cities will mix with a fresh surge of Canadian air to whip up some 4-8 inch snow totals for the North Shore. Winter's last gasp? Perhaps, but snow in March is hardly newsworthy at this latitude.
At least on paper March is still the 3rd snowiest month of the year, according to NOAA, just behind January and December, in that order. On this date in 1917 the metro area was pasted with 9 inches of fresh snow.
But this year the warm signal has been too strong and too persistent. El Nino accounts for some of the additional warmth, but warming of the arctic is off the scale. There just isn't as much bitter air for Canada to export to the USA.
A cold rain tapers to showers today as winds gust to 40 mph. A terrible hair day for all. A little slush can't be ruled out on metro lawns, but by the time surface temperatures fall below 32F (Friday morning) moisture will be long gone.
Except in Duluth. If you want to slip and slide in a fresh March snow drive 1-3 hours due north.
* First 15 days of March were 12.6 F. warmer than average in the Twin Cities.
A Swing to La Nina Later in 2016? Not so fast - Miriam O'Brien at HotWhopper sent me this nugget from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology: "Based on the 26 El Niño events since 1900, around 50% have been followed by a neutral year, and 40% have been followed by La Niña. International climate models suggest neutral is most likely for the second half of the year. However, La Niña in 2016 cannot be ruled out, and a repeat El Niño appears unlikely."
Graphic credit: Guardian graphic | Source: NASA.
Why Your Tweets Could Really Matter During a Natural Disaster. Data-mining social media for specific keywords can assist emergency responders pinpoint areas most threatened by natural disasters; here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "...As Hurricane Sandy bore down on the East Coast in late 2012, people in its path fired off millions of tweets that included words such as “stay safe,” “no power,” “frankenstorm,” “flooding” and “blackout.” Such a collective blast of social media activity, it turns out, might one day help officials find and assess the most severe damage caused by a natural disaster. In a study published Friday in the journal Science Advances, researchers detailed how 52 million geographically pinpointed tweets they gathered from before, during and after the hurricane offered telling insight into where it ultimately wreaked the most havoc. In essence, the scientists determined that the areas that experienced the most notable spike in Twitter activity were associated with areas where residents filed the most insurance claims and received the most individual assistance from Federal Emergency Management Agency grants..."
Superstorm Sandy file image: NASA.
13.1 Million U.S. Coastal Residents Could Face Flooding Because of Rising Sea Levels. Here's the intro to a story at The Los Angeles Times: "As many as 13.1 million people living along U.S. coastlines could face flooding by the end of the century because of rising sea levels, according to a new study that warns that large numbers of Americans could be forced to relocate to higher ground. The estimated number of coastal dwellers affected by rising sea level is three times higher than previously projected, according to the study published Monday in the science journal Nature Climate Change. As many as 1 million California residents could be affected. If protective measures are not implemented, the study says, large numbers of Americans could be forced to relocate in a migration mirroring the scale of the Great Migration of African Americans from Southern states during the 20th century..."
Photo credit above: "Pounding surf erodes the beach at The Wedge in Newport Beach." (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times).
Miami Beach Wants to Fast-Track Work to Battle Sea-Level Rise. Here's the intro to a story at The Miami Herald: "A mile-long stretch of road in Miami Beach that has become ground zero for South Florida’s problems with sea-level rise could get a new seawall and an anti-flooding pump over the next two years. Miami Beach and the Florida Department of Transportation are working out an agreement to split the anticipated $25 million it will take to safeguard the low-lying stretch of Indian Creek Drive that was the center of media attention when last fall’s king tides completely flooded the roadway. Images of tourists sloshing in several inches of water to get to their hotels became emblematic of the region’s struggles with seasonal tides that have grown worse in recent years..."
Photo credit above: " Walter Michot.
Sea Level Rise is Predictable. It Will Be Anything from Bad to Awful. WIRED has more perspective and context; here's a clip: "...The results were pretty drastic. A three foot rise in sea level affects 4.2 million people, while a six foot rise would affect 13.1 million. This is several times higher than previous estimates. Example a study published in Global Environmental Change in 2013 put 1.8 to 7.4 million people at risk from rising seas. Which is worrying, until you stop and consider San Francisco. If the city’s action plan for sea level rise works perfectly, higher tides will not force anyone to move (higher rent, on the other hand…). Same for other places preparing for coastal inundation. Heck, ocean front real estate could take a hit from studies like this—sea level rise cannot displace people who never moved to the coast in the first place..."
Photo credit above: " Walter Michot.
Catching Storm Runoff Could Ease Droughts, But It's No Quick Fix. KQED has a story with implications that go beyond California's drought; here's the intro: "Stormwater is starting to get some serious attention in California, as the state’s drought enters a fifth year. Thanks in part to El Niño, rain has been surging through downspouts and gutters lately. And a lot of it: one storm in Los Angeles County, packing one inch of rainfall, means 10 billion gallons of water. The Oakland-based Pacific Institute estimates that rainfall captured in the San Francisco Bay Area and metro Southern California could, in a strong year, provide enough water to supply the entire city of Los Angeles..."
Photo credit: "Storm runoff cascades into the street in Glen Ellen." (Craig Miller/KQED).
Top 5 Tornado Myths. Meteorologist Matt Holiner at Fox19 in Cincinnati has some very good reminders as we head into prime time tornado season. You can rate a tornado just by looking at it? "...I blame the movie Twister for this one. Throughout the movie, they constantly look at tornadoes and say, "That's a F-3," or "There's a F-5 heading our way!" This is all wrong. The width of a tornado gives a general idea of the intensity, but there are plenty of examples of relatively skinny tornadoes that had higher winds than wider ones. It is nearly impossible to measure the wind speed of a tornado as they are happening as the instruments would likely be destroyed. Instead, the wind speed within tornadoes is estimated based on the damage they leave behind. The method that is used to do this is the Enhanced Fujita or EF Scale. The evaluation of the damage can't occur until after the tornado has passed, which is why the official rating of a tornado is usually not announced by the National Weather Service until the day after the storm..."
oil and gas drilling off the southeast Atlantic coast, yielding to an outpouring of opposition from coastal communities from Virginia to Georgia but dashing the hopes and expectations of many of those states’ top leaders. The announcement by the Interior Department, which is seen as surprising, could come as soon as Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the decision who was not authorized to speak on the record because the plan had not been publicly disclosed. The decision represents a reversal of President Obama’s previous offshore drilling plans, and comes as he is trying to build an ambitious environmental legacy. It could also inject the issue into the 2016 presidential campaigns, as Republican candidates vow to expand drilling..." (File photo: Wikipedia).The Obama administration is expected to withdraw its plan to permit
Electric Cars Get a Room of Their Own at Twin Cities Auto Show. Here's the intro to a story at The Pioneer Press: "One of the major draws at the Twin Cities Auto Show this year is expected to be the Porsche 918 Spyder, a mean-looking dark gray two-seater that goes from 0 to 62 mph in 2.2 seconds and costs nearly $1 million — likely making it the priciest auto by far at the event. The Spyder is also an electric car. It is the main attraction in the show’s first-ever electric-car room, a sign the eco-friendly vehicles are getting new respect at the auto show, the biggest event to hit the Minneapolis Convention Center every year..."
Photo credit above: "A $1 million Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid electric car is at the 43rd annual Twin Cities Auto Show at Minneapolis Convention Center. The show opens Saturday." (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri).
Wall Street Tours the Tesla Factory - And Loves What It Sees. Yes, I'm a bit biased. Both GM and Tesla have electric cars coming on the market priced in the low 30s - within 10 years driving a gasoline-powered car will be the rough equivalent of using a rotary telephone. Here's a clip from Bloomberg Business: "Wall Street analysts have been touring Tesla’s massive factory in Fremont, Calif., and they're returning with the same conclusion: Elon Musk's electric-vehicle company is getting ready for something big. In a sign of this enthusiasm, Robert W. Baird & Co. upgraded its Tesla rating on Monday morning following a factory tour. Tesla spent some $1.6 billion on major upgrades last year as it prepares to launch its first attempt at a mass-market car—the Model 3—on March 31The transformation is striking, according to auto analysts at Stifel Financial Corp., Credit Suisse Group AG, and Baird. The firms are telling investors that Tesla is learning from the mistakes that delayed its previous launches and is on track to make the shift from producing tens of thousands of $80,000 cars to hundreds of thousands of $35,000 cars—assuming the Model 3 proves a success with drivers..."
Image credit: "The Entire History of Tesla in Two Minutes."
Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership Receiving National Recognition. Kudos to Xcel Energy, CenterPoint Energy and the city of Minneapolis. Here's an excerpt at Midwest Energy News: "Now into its second year, a unique partnership between the city of Minneapolis and two utilities is receiving national recognition and praise from clean energy advocates. On Wednesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Clean Energy Partnership a Climate Leadership Award in the “Innovative Partnerships” category. That followed a January event at the White House where officials from the city and Xcel Energy were recognized by the Department of Energy for a software program that helps building owners to better understand their energy use. The partnership – the first of its kind in the country – brings together the city of Minneapolis, Xcel and the natural gas company CenterPoint Energy in an effort reduce greenhouse gas emissions through efficiency programs, renewable energy options and other approaches..."
United Airlines is Flying on Biofuels. Here's Why That's a Really Big Deal. The Washington Post has details; here's a clip: "...Friday’s launch will be the first application of that agreement. The flights will use a mixture of 30 percent biofuel and 70 percent traditional fuel, and United says that the biofuel will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 60 percent compared with regular fuel. In general, the idea behind renewable fuels is to use a biological source — for example, plant or animal matter — rather than a geological one, like oil. The Honeywell UOP technology that’s being applied at the AltAir refinery can utilize a range of difference sources, from used cooking oil to algae..."
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TODAY: Blustery. Rain slowly tapers. Winds: NW 20-40+ High: 44
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Light showers mixed with a little snow. Low: 34
THURSDAY: Light rain/snow mix. A little slush Thursday night? Winds: NW 10-20. High: 38
FRIDAY: Slick spots early? Chilly, few leftover flurries. Wake-up: 30. High: 39
SATURDAY: Nagging clouds and flurries. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 28. High: 39
SUNDAY: Partly sunny, feels better out there. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 25. High: 42
MONDAY: Fading sun, breezy and milder. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 31. High: 44
TUESDAY: Patchy clouds, risk of a rain shower or two. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 33. High: 46
Yes, Scientists Can Link Extreme Weather Events to Climate Change. Here's a summary of new research at ThinkProgress: "When asked about a particular weather event’s link to climate change, scientists are typically cautious to make definitive statements — especially in the immediate aftermath, before they’ve had the chance to study the event. But according to a new study, it’s getting easier for scientists to make the link between climate change and some forms of extreme weather. The study, published Friday by the National Academies Press, found that scientific advances over the past several years have helped scientists link increases in frequency and intensity of temperature and precipitation-related events like droughts and heat waves to climate change..."
Photo credit: AP Photo/Eric Risberg.
Graphic credit: "Polling conducted over the past five years shows a growing acceptance of climate change in Florida, where scientists say rising sea levels from ice melting in the Arctic already are stressing the state's stormwater systems." Data courtesy of the University of Texas Energy Poll.
Climate Change and Conservative Brain Death. Here's a clip from an analysis at New York Magazine: "...Even allowing generously for hyperbole, Rubio’s description is as delusional as right-wing predictions of hyperinflation and Greek-style collapse during Obama’s first term. Literally nothing of the sort has taken place. Energy prices have been completely stable. That is because the green-technology subsidies in the stimulus, combined with a wave of tough regulations on the production and use of carbon, have driven a wave of green-technology innovation. Major new clean-energy technologies — wind, solar, batteries, LEDs — have plummeted in cost. All of these innovations have allowed the economy to decarbonize quickly without imposing noticeable costs on consumers. The coal industry is in a state of collapse..."
Graphic credit: U.S. Department of Energy.
Graphic credit: "Global mean surface temperature (anomaly from 1951-1980 mean). NASA data (h/t Tamino). Red dot is February."
File photo: Scott Ackerman Photography.
Rising Sea Levels May Disrupt Lives of Millions, Study Says. For places like south Florida, coastal Louisiana, Virginia's Tidewater, even New York City and Boston, a warming (rising) ocean will be more than a minor inconvenience. It already is. Data suggests seas are rising at the fastest rate in 28 centuries. Here's a summary of new research findings at The New York Times: "Sea-level rise, a problem exacerbated by greenhouse gas emissions, could disrupt the lives of more than 13 million people in the United States, three times more than most current estimates, according to a study published Monday. Rising seas, which already endanger coastal communities through tidal floods and storm surges, could rise three feet or possibly even more over the next century if emissions continue at a high level, threatening many shoreline communities. The study, published in Nature Climate Change, argues that most projections vastly underestimate the number of people at risk because they do not account for population growth. For the study, the authors combined future population estimates with predicted sea-level rise, using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to demonstrate that millions are at risk: 4.2 million if seas rise by three feet; 13.1 million with a six-foot increase, a high-end estimate..."
Photo credit above: " Credit Grace Beahm/The Post and Courier, via Associated Press.
The More We Learn About Antarctica's Past, The Scarier the Present Looks. Chris Mooney has the results of new research at The Washington Post; here's a snippet: "For the second time in a month, leading scientists have closely tied the ancient history of the vast Antarctic ice sheet to a key planetary parameter that humans are now controlling — the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Last month, new research showed that during the Miocene era, some 14 to 23 million years ago, Antarctica gave up huge volumes of ice, equivalent to tens of meters of sea level rise, when levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are thought to have been around 500 parts per million. We’re at a little over 400 parts per million now..."
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Report: Farmers Should Diversify to Adapt for Climate Change. A story at The Flathead Beacon in Kalispell, Montana caught my eye; here's an excerpt: "...Chris Christiaens, legislative and project specialist for MFU, said there has been a push in the last 18 months to educate producers on the importance of diversifying their crops. Farmers are also trying to get their crops in earlier to take advantage of wet weather in the early spring, but that leaves them open to frost damage. Christiaens said the winter wheat is already out of dormancy with the warm spring so far, but if it turns cold again, a snowstorm could smother the crop. “There’s something certainly different,” Christiaens said. “So we’re saying if you want to stay in business, think about diversifying, think about crops that are more drought resistant...”
Photo credit above: "A wheat field and irrigation equipment near Ronan." Beacon File photo.