Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dry & Comfortable into Saturday - Tropical Trouble Brewing For East Coast

78 F. high on Wednesday in St. Cloud.
76 F. average high on August 31.
83 F. high on August 31, 2015

September 1, 1926: Perhaps the most intense rainfall rate ever in downtown Minneapolis falls on this date. 1.02 inches of rain is recorded in six minutes, starting at 2:59pm in the afternoon according to the Minneapolis Weather Bureau. The deluge, accompanied with winds of 42 mph, causes visibility to be reduced to a few feet at times and stops all streetcar and automobile traffic. At the intersection of Second and Sixth Streets in downtown Minneapolis, rushing water tears a manhole cover off, and a geyser of water shoots 20 feet in the air. Hundreds of wooden paving blocks are uprooted and float onto neighboring lawns, much to the delight of barefooted children seen scampering among the blocks after the rain ends.
September 1, 1894: The Great Hinckley Fire. Drought conditions start a massive fire that begins near Mille Lacs and spreads to the east. The firestorm destroys Hinckley and Sandstone and burns a forest area the size of the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. Smoke from the fires brings shipping on Lake Superior to a standstill.
September 1, 1807: The earliest known comprehensive Minnesota weather record begins near Pembina. The temperature at midday is 86 degrees, with a 'strong wind until sunset.'

Dry Into Saturday - Tracking Storms With Names

"We know that in September we will wander through the warm winds of summer's wreckage. We will welcome summer's ghost" wrote Henry Rollins. Ah September: prime time for foggy mornings and raging hurricanes.

Right now 4 different tropical systems are threatening the USA, including 2 hurricanes steamrolling toward the Big Island of Hawaii. Waters were once too chilly to support hurricanes in Hawaii, but that is changing as oceans warm.

A tropical storm forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle may track up the east coast this weekend; inland flash flooding possible from the Carolinas to Washington D.C. and New York City by Sunday.
Hurricane season peaks September 11, the date these pinwheels of trouble are most likely to make landfall, coinciding with peak water temperatures.

Nearly 8 inches of rain soaked the Twin Cities in August; 2016 is now on track to be one of the wettest years on record for much of Minnesota. Dry, comfortable weather lingers into Saturday, but we fall back into a wet rut next week. A series of storms may squeeze out 2-3 inches of rain in the next 2 weeks.

The map looks more like June 1 than September 1.

Minnesota: Still Drought-Free. No kidding. After one of the wettest meteorological summers on record, statewide. The latest Drought Monitor shows moderate drought over parts of Ohio, otherwise the Midwest  and Ohio Valley is drought-free. How unusual is this?
Kevin Hawkins asks:
"I noticed that the DNR shows no drought conditions anywhere in Minnesota right now.  Is that unusual for this time of the year?  It seems like it has been many years since that has happened."

Pete Boulay, at the Minnesota DNR and State Climatology Office answers:
We actually still have a very small area of "abnormally dry" or D0 designation still in far southwestern Minnesota O.K. it covers .13% of the state

"Below the map of Minnesota is a neat table that shows the percentage of drought coverage in the past. The last time Minnesota was free of any drought was back in July 2015, with a longer stretch after the really wet June 2014. Thus for the last couple of years we have had spells during the summer that have been drought free. The last time there was extreme drought (D3) in Minnesota was 2013. The last time there was exceptional drought (D4) in Minnesota was in the 1988 drought."

Best Lake Day: Saturday. Guidance continues to show fading sun, a stiff south breeze and highs well up into the 70s as far north as the Brainerd Lakes area Saturday. Sunday and Monday? Not so much.

Labor Day: Shot at 80+ In The Metro. The approach of a warm front will spark a warming trend by Monday (and more humidity sparking a few random T-storms as well). No monster cold fronts brewing anytime soon. MSP Meteogram: WeatherBell.

Dry Into Saturday - Another Soaking Next Week? GFS guidance (and ensembles) hint at a couple inches of rain next week for much of Minnesota as more sloppy storms spin up overhead. June continues. Graphic: Aeris Enterprise.

A Catastrophic Tornado is Coming to Minnesota. It's Not If, But When. That is a true statement. Here's an excerpt from a compelling story at City Pages: "...We’ve been lucky, say Blumenfeld and Boulay. Big twisters have spared the Cities for a half-century. Which means we’re due. “It’s not on a timer,” Blumenfeld says, “but every decade or so you get a big multiple-event tornado outbreak in Minnesota.” This is what the climatologists worry about. Though consensus is that climate change is having a negligible effect on the volume and severity, the pair believe a warming planet might be causing storms to cluster, spawning three or more tornadoes, say, in a single afternoon..." (File photo: Aaron Shafer).

Aeris Weather Briefings Intermediate Advisory: Issued Wednesday evening, August 31, 2016.

* Faint echoes of "Sandy" are ringing in my head - and although "Hermine" will not be as bad as Sandy, there is a growing potential for disruptive weather all up and down the East Coast from Friday into Sunday; coastal Georgia and the Carolinas right up I-95 into Washington D.C. and New York City may be  impacted by 40-60 mph winds, flash flooding and coastal flooding and beach erosion as Hermine churns north.

* Blocking high pressure system over North Atlantic will act as a temporary road block, causing Hermine to temporarily stall off the Mid Atlantic coast, prolonging a period of pounding waves and heavy inland rains Friday into Sunday.

* Although impacts are not expected to rival Sandy in 2012, this may be the rough late-summer equivalent of a very severe winter Nor'easter. Areas along the coast that normally flood will probably experience water problems (Carolinas by Friday - Mid Atlantic region by Saturday into Sunday).

High Probability of Florida Panhandle Landfall. Hermine will strengthen before hitting the Florida Panhandle Thursday night; it should arrive as a strong tropical storm or weak Category 1 hurricane. From there track uncertainty grows with time, but recent model runs pull Hermine's track farther west, hugging the coast. This means warm, moist inflow will continue and Hermine won't weaken rapidly, in fact it may retain Tropical Storm characteristics as far north as coastal Delaware, New Jerseny, even New York City and Long Island by Sunday. (Map: Tropical Tidbits).

Timing Hermine. NHC is also nudging the predicted storm track farther west, impacting much of Georgia, the Carolinas and Mid Atlantic region this weekend before finally veering out to sea early next week.

Intensity Predictions. Most hurricane models predict that Hermine will retain tropical storm force winds (sustained over 39 mph) into the weekend with higher gusts. The slow-forward motion, with Hermine temporarily stalling off the Mid Atlantic coast, will prolong battering winds and waves with significant coastal flooding possible, especially at high tide, all up and down the East Coast, as far north as coastal Connecticut, even Cape Cod. Map: Tropical Tidbits.

European Model: Friday Evening. ECMWF guidance shows the center of (Tropical Storm) Hermine near Athens, Georgia by Friday evening, spreading flooding rains into the Carolinas, tropical storm-force winds expected from Savannah and Hilton Heat to Myrtle Beach and the Outer Banks. Map: WSI.

European Model: Midday Sunday. The same (12z Wednesday) run of the Euro strongly suggests that Hermine will temporarily stall and wobble inland over Wilmington and Washington D.C., pushing a shield of heavy rain up I-95 into D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Jersey and even metro New York City by Sunday afternoon. Coastal winds may be 30-50 mph (sustained) with gusts over 60 mph, capable of generating a significant storm surge. Not as bad as Sandy, but potentially bad enough.

NOAA GFS Model: Sunday Morning. We actually have (rare) agreement between NOAA  and ECMWF that Hermine will a). track farther west, b). temporarily stall, and c). probably retain tropical storm force into the Mid Atlantic region. This means our confidence level is increasing that this solution will, in fact, verify.

Why We're Sending Out Additional Briefings. Crying wolf - overhyping this storm? That's not our intention. But we do want to err on the side of safety and caution. ECMWF guidance shows hurricane-force wind gusts at 900mb by Sunday morning - that translates into 50-70 mph gusts from Bethany Beach and Ocean City, MD to Cape May and Atlantic City. I hope the models are wrong, but I would rapidly expand preparations beyond the Florida Panhandle and Tampa area into Georgia, the Carolinas and Mid Atlantic region, including major population centers from Charleston to Raleigh to Norfolk, Richmond, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia and New York City.

We'll update you again Thursday morning with an intermediate update Thursday evening. Remember the additional risk to the Big Island of Hawaii posed by Madeline and Lester (downgraded to Tropical Storms, but still capable of flooding rains and damaging winds). Map credit above: WeatherBell.

Paul Douglas, Senior Meteorologist, Aeris Weather

Aeris Weather Briefings: Issued by D.J. Kayser Wednesday morning, August 31st, 2016
Here's an excerpt...

Rainfall Forecast. Potentially the greatest concern with this system will be inland flooding, with at least 3-8” of rain likely along the path from Florida into Georgia. Both of the American models shown above show that potential of 3-8” of rain over the next 60-72 hours, with higher amounts possible. If you live in an area prone to flooding odds are you'll experience more flooding over the next 72 hours.

Storm Surge Potential. Flooding from storm surge will also be likely along the Big Bend of Florida. A storm surge of at least 3-6 feet above ground is possible mainly north of the Clearwater area, from Homosassa Springs to the Spring Creek area.

Labor Day Weekend Trouble. By late Saturday, forecast models are showing this system off the coast of the Carolinas.  Tropical storm force winds, storm surge and heavy rain will be possible along the Mid-Atlantic coast into the holiday weekend.

Northeast Impact? Some of the longer term models are indicating the potential of some sort of impact from this system in parts of the Northeast late this weekend and early next week. Uncertainty is very high right now for this longer term forecast, but interests along the coast as far north as New England should keep an eye on this into early next week.

Busy In The Pacific As Well. We also have our eye on two hurricanes in the Pacific – Madeline and Lester – which could have an impact on the Hawaiian Islands over the next several days.

Madeline To Impact Hawaii. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the Big Island of Hawaii as Madeline makes a very dangerous approach over the next 24-36 hours. This could be a historic storm if it does make landfall on the Big Island as a hurricane has never done so going back to when our records began (1949). Forecast models are showing a good amount of consistency in the track of the storm, so this will be something to watch very closely. If you have any facilities on the Big Island, any preparations ahead of Madeline should be quickly finished.

Hurricane Force Winds Possible. Hurricane conditions (74 mph+ winds) are possible as early as this evening (local time) across parts of the Big Island. While the probability of hurricane force winds at Hilo is 5% and 25% at South Point, those numbers have gone up over the past 24 hours.

Tropical Storm Force Winds. There is a high likelihood of tropical storm force winds across the Big Island, and about a 60% chance across Maui and Moloka’i, as this system passes to the south in the next couple days. I would expect power outages to occur on the islands.

Heavy Rain And Storm Surge. A Flash Flood Watch is in effect for the Big Island, as Madeline has the potential to bring 5-10” of rain. Some windward areas could receive up to 15” of rain. This may lead to flash flooding and mudslides the next couple days. Also of concern will be storm surge, which could range from 1-3 feet, leading to significant coastal flooding.

One-Two Punch? Right behind Madeline we are watching Hurricane Lester, which is expected to approach the Hawaiian Islands into the weekend. This storm will once again have the potential to bring very strong winds and heavy rain to the islands.

Summary: In the Lower 48, all eyes continue to be on Tropical Depression Nine in the Gulf of Mexico. This system still has the potential to strengthen into a tropical storm before making landfall sometime late Thursday/early Friday along the Florida Gulf Coast. Very heavy rain – on the order of at least 3-8” – will be possible across parts of Florida and Georgia over the next 72-96 hours as the system tracks over the region. Tropical storm force winds of 39 mph or greater will also be possible as well as storm surge of 3-6 feet or higher along the Florida Coast.

Preparations should continue across the region today, with conditions quickly deteriorating over the next 24 to 36 hours. In the Pacific, Hurricane Madeline will make a dangerous approach to the Big Island of Hawaii in the next 24 hours, bringing with it very heavy rain and the potential of hurricane force winds (74 mph or greater). Right behind that will be another system that could have an impact on the island chain into the weekend in the form of Lester. Another update on the systems Thursday morning.

Meteorologist D.J. Kayser, AerisWeather

The United States Is Facing Four Simultaneous Tropical Threats. Here's an excerpt from Eric Holthaus at Pacific Standard: "...It’s possible that neither Madeline nor Lester makes landfall, but the current situation points toward a changing relationship between Hawaii and hurricanes. As the Pacific Ocean warms, hurricanes are drifting a bit further north toward Hawaii, currently at the northern edge of a zone that’s favorable for their formation. Two of the five Hawaii landfalls of tropical storm strength or greater on record have occurred in the past three years..."

Why Long-Range Model Forecasts for the Tropics Can't Often Be Trusted: A Case Study. Good, timely perspective from The Weather Channel; here's an excerpt: "...While numerical modeling and meteorology have advanced the past few decades, any model forecast beyond 5-7 days should be taken with a large grain of salt. This is particularly true in the tropics, where data to feed the forecast model's initial guess of the current state of the atmosphere is typically more sparse. Forecasts for tropical cyclones at any stage of their lifetime extend out only to five days because the science hasn't advanced enough to be greatly accurate beyond that time frame, although we are getting there..."

Map credit above: NAM forecast for Saturday evening, courtesy of WeatherBell.

7 Big Changes Since Katrina Made Landfall. Jason Meyers has some interesting nuggets at WFTS-TV in Tampa: "...More storms, hurricanes and large hurricanes formed that year than any other year in recorded history. Half of the six most intense hurricanes on record formed in 2005. Most of the storms formed earlier than previous storms in the past, and the season lasted all the way into the next year while most seasons end at the end of November. Since all those records have been broken, it's been a long, relatively quiet decade where the United States has been lucky enough to avoid anything close to Katrina..."

Is Your Homeowners Insurance a Disaster Waiting to Happen? Here's a clip from Forbes: "...A less expensive form of coverage is cash value coverage, which may not include the added rebuilding costs.  Natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, can cause widespread damage resulting in shortages of building materials and labor, significantly driving up the cost of rebuilding. It is a good idea to make sure your policy coverage limits are sufficiently high to account for these higher replacement costs. Your policy may also include or make available guaranteed or extended replacement cost coverage to protect against these unexpected cost increases. Read the policy and know what you own. Replacement cost and cash value mean different things in the insurance world..."

Welcome to the Anthropocene. TIME has the story; here's the intro: "The Earth has entered a new geological epoch defined by human impact, scientists say. Humanity’s influence on the Earth is so great, an entirely new geological epoch called the Anthropocene should be declared, according to scientists from the Working Group on the Anthropocene, who recommended the change to the International Geological Congress in Cape Town on Monday, the Guardian reported. The Anthropocene epoch should begin in about 1950, as man-made developments ended the geological time defined by the current epoch, the Holocene, the scientists said..."

Cargill, General Mills, Walmart Collaborating to Improve Farm Soil, Water Quality. Star Tribune reports: "Cargill, General Mills, Wal-Mart and several other giant food, agricultural and environmental groups will announce a partnership on Wednesday to accelerate programs and research to improve soil health and water quality on farms. The idea evolved from a meeting of CEOs that Wal-Mart held two years ago at its Arkansas headquarters. The topic: how the companies could help support agriculture in the Midwest. Among other things, it was clear that companies were increasingly making commitments to customers that their products would come from fields or barns where farming is done sustainably with minimal damage to the environment..."

Natural Gas Emissions to Surpass Those of Coal in 2016. Climate Central has details: "The U.S. is expected to reach a major carbon emissions milestone this year: For the first time, carbon dioxide emissions from burning natural gas for electricity in the U.S. are set to surpass those from burning coal — the globe’s chief climate polluter. Emissions from burning natural gas are expected to be 10 percent greater than those from coal in 2016, as electric companies rely more on power plants that run on natural gas than those that run on coal, according to U.S. Department of Energy data..."

Graphic credit: "These graphs show overall U.S. energy consumption and carbon dioixde emissions by fuel through 2015 and projections for 2016." Credit: EIA

Senator Chuck Grassley: Trump Can Get Rid of Wind Energy "Over My Dead Body". Yahoo News has details: "Donald Trump has railed against wind energy for years, but he’d face a backlash from members of his own party if he wins the White House and his administration pushes too hard on the issue. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the author of the original wind energy tax credit in 1992, said a hypothetical President Trump wouldn’t be able to get rid of wind power in the U.S. as long as he’s alive. The GOP nominee has railed for years that wind farms are “ugly,” “obsolete” and “terrible for the environment,” among many other criticisms. “If he wants to do away with it, he’ll have to get a bill through Congress, and he’ll do it over my dead body,” Grassley said Tuesday in an interview with Yahoo News..."

It's Not Just Solar Panels. Electric Cars Can Be Contagious Too. Vox reports: "We already know that solar power can be contagious. Studies have found that if you install a rooftop solar system, it increases the odds that your neighbors will too. Now along comes tantalizing evidence that electric vehicles have a similar dynamic. When charging stations are more visible, people become much more likely to consider buying a plug-in car:
Placing charging stations at workplaces, where cars spend much of their time, will be uniquely powerful. When a workplace installs a charging station, employees are 20 times as likely to buy a vehicle with a plug, according to a survey from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Graphic credit: "Contagion, contagion everywhere!" (Shutterstock).

In Minnesota Churches, Let There Be Light - Solar Light. Why wouldn't churches, temples and mosques take advantage of (free) solar power? Here's an excerpt from The Star Tribune: "When the Bible quotes God declaring “Let there be light,” it wasn’t exactly referring to solar power. But across Minnesota, there’s been an unprecedented surge in religious congregations installing rooftop solar panels, subscribing to off-site solar “gardens” and urging their faithful to do the same. The most ambitious project is slated for this fall at Shiloh Temple International Ministries in north Minneapolis, which will build a solar garden on its roof, make energy available for up to 40 neighbors, and be part of a solar installation job-training program for lower-income workers..."
Image credit: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune. "Maniya Dorsey, 9, toured Ten K Solar in Bloomington with her church group last week."

New York to London in 3 Hours? More Start-Ups Are Looking At Supersonic Travel. PRI, Public Radio International, has the story: "...Kachoria, who began his career with NASA, figured it shouldn’t be that hard to create a new-and-improved supersonic jet, and, at a fraction of the cost. “The software has gotten to the level where we can do things in hours for a few hundred thousand dollars. Just 10 years ago, it would’ve cost hundreds of millions of dollars because you would’ve had to fabricate test aircraft. Now we can do it with computer simulation.” Kachoria is the CEO of Spike Aerospace and now has a team of engineers in Boston working on a new 18-passenger plane geared at business travellers. (The Concorde carried between 92 and 128 passengers.) He'd like to sell his planes to existing airlines as well as individual operators..."

Image credit: "A interior rendering of one of Spike Aerospace’s planes — windows would be replaced by flat panel displays showing images captured by outside cameras." Credit: Spoke Aerospace.

A Massive Amount of Cocaine Was Found at a French Coca-Cola Plant. I suspected something was up. Details via Atlas Obscura: "...But after a racist campaign of drug hysteria aimed at African-Americans, Coca-Cola removed cocaine from its soda in 1903, or 11 years before the drug was illegal in the U.S. And this week in France, authorities uncovered around 815 pounds of cocaine at a Coca-Cola factory in Marseille, according to the Associated Press. Has Coca-Cola been lying to us all these years? A can of soda is a pretty good high..." Photo credit: Ken/CC BY 2.0

TODAY: Sunny and very nice. Winds: E 5-10. High: 75

THURSDAY NIGHT: Clear and comfortable. Low: 55

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, a mild breeze. Winds: S 10-15. High: 77

SATURDAY: Sunniest, driest day of the holiday weekend. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 58. High: near 80

SUNDAY: A few showers and T-storms likely. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 61. High: 77

LABOR DAY: Some sticky sun, another PM T-storm. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 63. High: 81

TUESDAY: What a shock: humid with more T-storms. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 65. High: 83

WEDNESDAY: Showers taper, slow clearing. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 63. High: 77

* Thanks to my friend, Pete Schenck, who snapped this photo up on Lake Ossawinnamakee yesterday.

Climate Stories...

How Quickly Climate Change is Accelerating, in 167 Maps. WIRED has the details; here's a clip: "...His latest visualization, “Mapping global temperature changes,” is less abstract, but conveys a similar sense of urgency. The infographic combines 167 global temperature maps—one for every year from 1850 to 2016—into a single chart. Those maps (Robinson1 projections, for those wondering) come from HadCRUT4, a gridded, color-coded dataset of global surface temperatures produced by the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change. If you hover your cursor over the visualization at the top of this post, you’ll see that each map is divided into pixels colored varying shades of red and blue. Blue signifies cooler temperatures (relative to a 1961-1990 reference period) and red warmer ones. If a cell is grey, it indicates there was insufficient data to determine its color for that year..."

Image credit: Ed Hawkins.

Climate Change "Mother Of All Risks" Says Aviva CEO Amid Calls to End Fossil Fuel Subsidies. Here's an excerpt from CNBC: "...Making a profit is essential in business," Mark Wilson, chief executive of Aviva, said in a media note on the Overseas Development Institute's (ODI) website. "But we will only be in business in the future if we act sustainably and create wider long term social value. That's just good business – and not acting sustainably is very bad business indeed." "Climate change in particular represents the mother of all risks – to business and to society as a whole," Wilson added. "And that risk is magnified by the way in which fossil fuel subsidies distort the energy market. These subsidies are simply unsustainable..."

Climate Change Will Likely Lead to More Explosive Fires in Southern California. Here's an excerpt from 89.3 KPCC: "Southern California is home to some of the most diverse plant communities in the world, from coastal sage scrub and oak woodlands to conifer forests and inland chaparral. But where biologists see ecological niches, fire officials see fuel sources for wildfire. Many climate models predict that greenhouse gasses will create a hotter, drier future for California over the next century. And that will likely amp up the potential for big blazes on these varying landscapes, creating new challenges for firefighters..."

Photo credit: "US Forest Service crew members Paris Krause and Michael DeNicola walk along a high intensity burn area (mostly dead Jeffrey pines and White firs) one year after the Lake Fire in the San Bernardino National Forest on Wednesday, July 20, 2016." Susanica Tam for KPCC.

NASA: Earth is Warming At A Pace "Unprecedented in 1,000 Years". The Guardian explains: "The planet is warming at a pace not experienced within the past 1,000 years, at least, making it “very unlikely” that the world will stay within a crucial temperature limit agreed by nations just last year, according to Nasa’s top climate scientist. This year has already seen scorching heat around the world, with the average global temperature peaking at 1.38C above levels experienced in the 19th century, perilously close to the 1.5C limit agreed in the landmark Paris climate accord. July was the warmest month since modern record keeping began in 1880, with each month since October 2015 setting a new high mark for heat..."

Graphic: NASA Earth Observatory.

The Toughest Question in Climate Change: Who Gets Saved? When we talk about moving entire communities the politics will get very sticky, especially when it comes to "who pays?" Here's an excerpt from Bloomberg View: "...The contest, called the National Disaster Resilience Competition, was the first large-scale federal effort to highlight and support local solutions for coping with climate change. It wound up demonstrating something decidedly less upbeat: The federal government is still struggling to figure out which communities should be moved, and when, and how to pay for it. The importance of answering those questions is shifting from hypothetical to urgent. The Alaskan town of Shishmaref this month became the latest coastal community to vote in favor of relocating; more will follow it. Figuring out who most deserves money to move will only get more contentious as more places raise their hand. If cutting emissions seems like a political nightmare, just wait..." (File image: Andrew Demp, Yale).

The "Social Cost of Carbon" Is The Most Historic Climate Change Decision Yet. The Daily Beast has details: "One of the most significant court cases about climate change was decided earlier this month by a federal appeals court in Chicago. Given that it was steeped in the enervating context of refrigerator regulations, you may have missed it. But amid the stultifying discussions of compressors and insulation foam was a crucial advance in our nation’s belated attempts to forestall global climate catastrophe. It all comes down to a new phrase: the Social Cost of Carbon. Here’s why it’s important. By law, government agencies—in this case, the Department of Energy—are often required to show that the benefits of a proposed regulation exceed the costs..."

Illustration credit: Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast.

The Challenge of Cutting Coal Dependence. The New York Times reports: "It won’t be easy to get rid of coal. Worried the nation might miss its 2020 target to drastically cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the German government proposed a steep levy last year on the most heavily polluting generators. The tax was intended to deliver a decisive blow against lignite or brown coal, the dirtiest fuel around and Germany’s main source of electricity. Germany views itself as a leader in the push against climate change. It is probably the world’s most enthusiastic investor in renewable energy, mainly wind and sun. But even the powerful Chancellor Angela Merkel couldn’t quite pull it off..."

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