32 F. average high on March 1.
25 F. high temperature in the cities on March 1, 2016.
March 2, 1913: A record low of 24 degrees below zero is set at the St. Cloud Regional Airport.
Another Early Spring Brings Back Memories of 2012
The decorative, cosmetic splashes of snow in your yard are in grave peril. Snap a photo soon, because another warm front is coming. This winter, when in doubt, predict a warm front. Odds are you'll be right.
Then again, data shows February was the 18th month/row of warmer than average temperatures, according to the Minnesota DNR. NOAA reports that meteorological winter was the 8th warmest on record.
Nationwide there were 3,146 record highs and 27 record lows last month. Chicago had no snow on the ground in January and February. Spring is in full bloom south of a line from Kansas City to Indianapolis and Pittsburgh.
Yes, odds favor an early ice-out and at the rate we're going we may see flowers blooming within a month, much like we saw in 2012.
Today and Friday will be cooler than average but a weekend thaw is on tap. ECMWF (European) guidance hints at 60F Sunday & Monday. Another warm front surges north late next week and T-storms may pop up 1 week from today.
It's hard not to cheer on these amazing early springs - until you realize the planet is running a low-grade fever.
Early Bird Special: Spring Pops Up Super-Early in Much of U.S. Here's an update from AP: "Spring has sprung early — potentially record early — in much of the United States, bringing celebrations of shorts weather mixed with unease about a climate gone askew. Crocuses, tulips and other plants are popping up earlier than usual from Arizona to New Jersey and down to Florida. Washington is dotted with premature pink blossoming trees. Grackles, red-winged blackbirds and woodpeckers are just plain early birds this year. The unseasonably warm weather has the natural world getting ahead of — even defying — the calendar, scientists said Tuesday. In cities like Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio, spring has arrived about a month earlier than the 30-year average and about 20 days earlier than in 2012, which was the earliest spring on record..."
Graphic credit: NOAA. "Snow cover across North America has been diminishing during March and April for the past 30 years."
Phased-Array Radar Could Improve Tornado Prediction Times. IEEE Spectrum has a good backgrounder piece on the benefits of phased-array; the U.S. Navy has been using it to track missiles - it only makes sense to see a trickle-down from military to the consumer sector: "...A phased-array radar can capture the scene much more quickly. This type of radar system features a fixed, flat antenna composed of thousands of transceiver elements sending and receiving pulses at the same time. The relative delays between the pulses shape the direction of the beam radiating from the array. This electronically steered beam can scan the whole sky in less than a minute. Forecasters would also be able to instantly redirect it to focus on specific areas. "It gives forecasters information almost like a movie, as opposed to taking snapshots of the atmosphere," says Doug Forsyth, who leads radar research at the NSSL. U.S. Navy ships have used phased-array radars for decades to detect missile threats. In fact, since 2003, the NSSL has been testing an antenna donated by the Navy. A group of National Weather Service forecasters are invited to participate in the trials, which include yearly mock tests on real tornado data..."
Photo credit: Mobile, phased-array Doppler radar scanning a supercell in Kansas during VORTEX-2 on June 9, 2009. Coutesy: University of Oklahoma, Norman.
Have We Underestimated the West's Super-Floods? This winter is redefining wet for California and the entire west coast of the USA, but it pales in comparison to previous deluges. Here's an excerpt from High Country News: "...In California, too, super-floods may be more common than previously thought. United States Geological Survey hydrologist Michael Dettinger and UC Berkeley paleoclimatologist B. Lynn Ingram have studied the paleo-flood record across a broad swath of California and discovered that such floods happen at least every 200 years, and maybe more frequently. The last one was in 1862. Thousands of people died, towns were submerged and the state’s economy was devastated, yet it was nowhere near the worst: One flood in the 1600s was at least twice as big..."
Global climate change is being felt in many coastal communities of the United States, not always in the form of big weather disasters but as a drip, drip, drip of nuisance flooding. According to researchers at the University of California, Irvine, rising sea levels will cause these smaller events to become increasingly frequent in the future, and the cumulative effect will become comparable to extreme events such as Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy. “Catastrophic storms get a lot of media attention and are studied, but we wanted to know more about the non-extreme events,” said Amir AghaKouchak, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California Irvine (UCI) and co-author of a new study on cumulative hazards in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union..."
Photo credit: FEMA. "The effects of climate change are being felt now in American cities. With the steady rise in sea level over the past few decades, events such as an especially strong tide can result in flooding in coastal regions, a new study finds."
Humans Are Responsible for 84 Percent of Wildfires in the U.S. Atlas Obscura has details: "In the past decades, the number of wildfires in the U.S. has spiraled upwards, as has the cost of fighting them: In recent years, by the end of the fire season, the Forest Service has usually exhausted its budget. According to a new paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, one factor contributing to the increasing impact of wildfire is how often humans ignite them. The team of researchers found that, from 1992 to 2012, people were responsible for starting 84 percent of wildfires and that, in most of the U.S., it’s more common from humans to start wildfires than for lightning to ignite them, as they report in the new paper..."
Map credit: "This map shows where human-ignited wildfires dominate." Balch, et al. “Human-started wildfires expand the fire niche across the United States.” PNAS, 2017. DOI:10.1073
This Real-Time Pollution Map Will Enlighten You On Your City's Air Quality. Yahoo News has the story: "...The map delivers real-time information on air pollution along with hourly forecasts and helpful weather-related health and fitness recommendations. Its data is drawn from "official air quality sensors" placed across cities that monitor airborne particles and combined with information on wind, weather and traffic conditions. By simply searching a location, users will be shown a color-coded map of the pollution level in the surrounding area. They'll also receive useful information such as carbon monoxide and ozone levels, weather forecast updates, and heath, sports and child care-related suggestions..."
Trump Order Will Aim To Roll Back a Clean Water Rule. Is this to protect farmers and fossil fuel interests at the expense of consumers, or does agriculture and industry have a legitimate gripe? The New York Times reports: "President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday aimed at rolling back one of former President Barack Obama’s major environmental regulations, a clean water rule known as Waters of the United States. But on its own, Mr. Trump’s order will have almost no legal effect on the sweeping rule, which was imposed in 2015, according to two people familiar with the White House plans. An advance copy of the order was viewed by The New York Times on Monday. The order will essentially give Mr. Trump a megaphone to direct his new Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, to begin the lengthy and complicated legal process required to rewrite the rule — a process that could take longer than Mr. Trump’s first term, legal experts said..."
Photo credit: " Credit Jonathan Ernst/Reuters.
Trump to Put Obama Water Pollution Rule on Chopping Block. A case of over-regulation; federal over-reach? Here's more perspective from Bloomberg: "...In imposing the Waters of the U.S. rule, the Obama administration’s EPA aimed to resolve decades of uncertainty over what waterways were subject to federal regulation and oversight. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court fractured over the question of whether strictly navigable waters are subject to the Clean Water Act, or if the jurisdiction goes further. Developers said later guidance from the EPA only injected more confusion into permitting processes. Obama’s Waters of the U.S. rule was opposed by dozens of states and an assortment of business and agriculture groups, which complained it did nothing to clear up the murkiness and took an overly expansive view of the law..."
Graphic credit: "Note: Share of electricity output by major energy source, trailing 12-month averages."
The Mobile Solar Boom is Just Beginning. Solar can pull people out of energy poverty faster/cheaper/cleaner. A principal in the company Lumos explains at TheHill: "...Lumos brings affordable, accessible, and reliable solar energy to off-grid homes. By partnering with mobile operators, Lumos allows customers to pay for their electricity with existing mobile phone accounts. I believe that this is the solution for the billion people who are living with a mobile phone and without reliable electricity. For only 50 US cents a day, customers can power lights, a fan, a tv, mobile chargers, and small appliances all at the same time. For decades, these off-grid communities have been underserved. With Lumos and mobile operators working together, students are able to do homework at night, entrepreneurs can keep stores open after dark, health clinics and religious centers can further their mission, and billions of people are able to connect to one another with cellphones they previously couldn’t reliably charge..."
SpaceX Plans to Send 2 Tourists Around Moon in 2018. Serenaded by Pink Floyd as they travel around the dark side of the moon? Sign me up (and have someone else pay for it). The New York Times reports: "SpaceX, the ambitious rocket company headed by Elon Musk, wants to send a couple of tourists around the moon and back to Earth before the end of next year. If they manage that feat, the passengers would be the first humans to venture that far into space in more than 40 years. Mr. Musk made the announcement on Monday in a telephone news conference. He said two private individuals approached the company to see if SpaceX would be willing to send them on a weeklong cruise, which would fly past the surface of the moon — but not land — and continue outward before gravity turned the spacecraft around and brought it back to Earth for a landing..."
Image credit: " Credit SpaceX.
Didn't Quite Work Out That Way. Here is what the Farmer's Almanac was predicting for January through March of 2017.
TODAY: Clouds, few flurries, cooler than average. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 32
THURSDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, feels like winter. Low: 14
FRIDAY: More sun, less wind. Still chilly. Winds: S 8-13. High: 34
SATURDAY: Patchy clouds, milder breeze. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 25. High: 48
SUNDAY: Welcome to April. Partly sunny. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 38. High: near 60
MONDAY: Still balmy, passing T-shower? Winds: S 15-25. Wake-up: 49. High: 62
TUESDAY: Gusty and cooler. Sprinkles/flurries. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 36. High: 42
WEDNESDAY: Plenty of sun, winds ease up. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 26. High: 44
Massive Permafrost Thaw Documented in Canada, Portends Huge Carbon Release. Details via InsideClimate News: "Huge slabs of Arctic permafrost in northwest Canada are slumping and disintegrating, sending large amounts of carbon-rich mud and silt into streams and rivers. A new study that analyzed nearly a half-million square miles in northwest Canada found that this permafrost decay is affecting 52,000 square miles of that vast stretch of earth—an expanse the size of Alabama. According to researchers with the Northwest Territories Geological Survey, the permafrost collapse is intensifying and causing landslides into rivers and lakes that can choke off life downstream, all the way to where the rivers discharge into the Pacific Ocean..."
File photo credit: "Melting permafrost is altering the landscape in northern Canada on a grand scale." Credit: Wikimedia.
Image credit: What Shell knew about climate change in 1991
6 Words That Could Go Extinct Because of Climate Change. Outside Magazine reports: Lift Line. Noun: The queue of skiers and snowboarders waiting to board a chairlift for a ride up the mountain at a winter resort. This winter, ski resorts have seen record-breaking storms and crowds. So climate threats must be a Cascadian hoax, right? No. Though colder and warmer winters are determined mainly by fickle jet streams, global warming has contributed to an increased number of “End of Days” storms over the past half-century. The average global temperature has risen 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880: warmer weather means more moisture in the air, which means more intense precipitation events. At lower elevations, another two-degree temperature increase has the potential to turn all that fresh powder into floods and landslides. And you may have noticed this winter that the season is getting shorter. While there might be a few epic days in the middle of winter, there’s less time on either end of winter..."
Photo credit: "Many glacier tips are attached to an unmoving sliver of ice called an "icefoot." Photo: Oskari Porkka/iStock.
What is Wrong With a Carbon Tax? The author of a Scientific American Op-Ed (who happens to be an economist) argues for a cap and dividend approach, instead of tax and dividend: "...The upshot is that a carbon tax is not only a nonstarter in terms of good political optics, but also in terms of good economics, ethics and science. That said, while the CLC should ditch the tax, the public dividend component of their plan is worth keeping. As they convincingly argue, the dividend is a brilliant way to overcome political resistance to a carbon fee by giving every American with a social security number an immediate economic stake in the program. For example, the CLC estimates that at their suggested $40/ton level, “a family of four would receive approximately $2000 in carbon dividend payments in their first year.” As with social security, payouts would go to rich and poor alike, thus generating sufficient popularity to protect the program against shifting political winds..." (File image: Star Tribune).