58 F. average high on April 17.
78 F. high on April 17, 2016.
April 18, 2004: A strong cold front whips up winds of up to 55 miles an hour over southern Minnesota. The wind causes black clouds of soil to lift into the air, creating soil erosion and reduced visibility. Some old-timers remarked that it reminded them of the dust storms from the 1930's Dust Bowl era.
April 18, 2002: Baseball-sized hail falls in Eagan, creating small craters in the soft ground and broken windows in apartments.
April 18, 1977: A tornado touches down at the mouth of the Minnesota River.
Severe Weather Myths, Misses and Misconceptions
Every spring I hear the same stuff from bright, high-functioning adults. "Tornadoes can't hit cities or cross lakes & rivers!" Wrong. "If it's not raining I can't be hit by lightning." Wrong. "It's just "heat lightning" Paul, not a threat!" No such thing as heat lightning; it's just lightning from a distant T-storm, too far away to hear the thunder.
554 tornadoes have already touched down in 2017 (preliminary count), on track to rival record seasons in 2011 and 2008. Fact: 44 percent of Americans killed by tornadoes since 1985 were in mobile homes. Make sure there's a shelter nearby - consider moving to a safer location (office building or a store) when a "watch" is issued. It pays to be perpetually paranoid; you may live long enough to enjoy great grandchildren.
Over an inch of additional rain may fall this week; the best chance of showers today and Wednesday. Any severe storms should track well south of Minnesota, in the sticky "warm sector". Expect sunshine next weekend with highs close to 60F.
Minnesota has been trending wetter for 30 years. My gut (nausea?) is no drought this summer.
File photo: NOAA.
When a Tornado Looms, Many Residents of Trailer Parks Are On Their Own. I still can't quite fathom how it isn't a state law that every mobile home park should have an underground shelter available. I know it costs money, but it's a little like selling a car without brakes. Which is great, until you need to apply the brakes. Here's an excerpt of a story at Illinois's Daily Herald: "...Patti Thompson, a spokeswoman for Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said people living in trailer parks should leave their homes as soon as severe storm or tornado watches are issued and head to a safe place, such as a friend's house with a basement or another sturdy building. It's especially important to use weather radios to be aware of the conditions. "Weather radios make a really loud sound when a warning's been issued in the area," she said. "But that's almost too late for people in mobile homes. They really need to be looking for a safer place even when there's just a watch out." Thompson said their recommendations are based on the consensus from the weather science community including the National Weather Service..."
This National Weather Service page has information on weather radios, including a list of weather radio stations in each state..."
Graphic credit: NOAA SPC.
Wednesday Severe Storm Risk. NOAA SPC has outlined an area from Rockford and Des Moines to Kansas City and Wichita for large hail and a few isolated tornadoes Wednesday.
More Green (rain) - Less Blue (snow). Warm air can't just push cold air out of the way. Wintry air has to retreat on its own, and that's happening, although probably not fast enough for residents of the northern USA. More showers and T-storms push across the Upper Midwest today; garden-variety thundershowers sprouting from Houston to Nashville with more rain for the western USA, where the sun is now on the endangered species list. 84-hour NAM Future Radar: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.
Lightning Factoids. Every thunderstorm, by definition, is potentially deadly, with cloud to ground lightning, striking the U.S. roughly 25 million times a year. An average of 75 to 100 Americans are killed by lightning every year; hundreds injured; many with lifelong disabilities. Most of these injuries are ultimately avoidable. The first growl of thunder signals it's time to move inside: a home or vehicle offers the best protection. Avoid fields, golf courses and lakes. Remember the "30-30 Rule"; if you count 30 seconds between the flash and the bang, it's time to race indoors. Wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder to resume outdoor plans. Don't push your luck.
Going Green Will Leave More Green In Your Wallet I drive a Tesla, which I charge at home. Our electric rates have not gone up. Thank you Xcel Energy. My insurance premium fell, and there's little maintenance. "Bring it in once a year and we'll check the tires" their service guy told me. "But you don't have to." There's a real ROI, a return on investment. New Tesla Model 3's and Chevy Bolts are priced in the mid- 30s and prices will continue to plummet. My electric car has 150 moving parts; a typical gas-powered vehicle: 10,000 moving parts. There is simply less that can go wrong. They are cheaper to maintain and cheaper to manufacture. Installing solar shingles and energy storage (a big battery) will allow me to drive for free, and even power my home for extended periods of time - for free. Free has a nice ring.
Geronimo Energy Buys 40 Acres in Rosemount for Solar Garden Project. Here's an excerpt from Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal: "Geronimo Energy, a renewable energy developer, has closed on a $703,000 cash deal for 40 acres in Rosemount, the future site of a community solar garden. Equuleus Community Solar Gardens, the name of the project, will involve five individual, one-megawatt solar gardens that are part of Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards Community Program. One average, 164 homes can be powered by a single megawatt of solar power, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association..."
The Despair of Learning That Experience No Longer Matters. As you get older you perfect your craft and your income rises. That may have been true in the 1950s and 1960s but today, with globalization, automation, robotics and artificial intelligence all bets are off. Here's a clip from a New Yorker article: "...Our data are consistent with a model in which the decline in real wages led to a reduction in labor force participation, with cascading effects on marriage, health, and mortality from deaths of despair.” The return to experience is not the best-known economic concept, but it is alive in most of our contemporary economic spook stories, in which the callow private-equity analyst has the final power over an industry in which people have long labored, in which the mechanical robot replaces the assembly-line worker, in which the doctor finds his diagnosis corrected by artificial intelligence. It seemed to match at least one emotional vein that ran through the Trump phenomenon, and the more general alienation of the heartland: people are aging, and they are not getting what they think they have earned..."
Image credit: "Sleep today is a measure of success, a skill to be cultivated and nourished." Tim Robinson.
Spring Comes Reluctantly To The North Shore. Praedictix meteorologist D.J. Kayser sent this photo from Gooseberry Falls, where a dusting of snow was observed early Monday. What spring?
TODAY: Mild and windy with showers, possible T-storm. Winds: SW 15-30. High: 68
TUESDAY NIGHT: Showers taper off. Low: 43
WEDNESDAY: Dry start, then more rain arrives. Winds: NE 8-13. High: 54
THURSDAY: Showers taper to sprinkles. Raw breeze. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 40. High: 49
FRIDAY: Sunshine returns, feels like spring by afternoon. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 37. High: 60
SATURDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, nicer day of the weekend. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 41. High: 61
SUNDAY: More clouds than sun, no drama. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 43. High: 59
MONDAY: More clouds, passing shower. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 45. High: 57
Graphic credit: "Global temperature anomalies for each month since 1880. March 2017 was the second warmest March, behind only 2016." Credit: NASA
Arctic Meltdown: Sea and Land Ice Are Cracking Up at a Record Rate. ThinkProgress has details: "Driven by warming air and water temperatures, Arctic sea ice continues its death spiral. A big new crack has been found in a major outlet glacier of the Greenland ice sheet, whose disintegration is speeding up. Last month set records for the lowest Arctic sea ice extent ever in March, as well as the lowest sea ice volume and lowest sea ice thickness. Here is a chart of the volume of Arctic sea ice found at the end of every March since 1979. Not a pretty picture..."
Graph credit: "The volume of sea ice at the end of March has dropped sharply since 1979." CREDIT: PIOMAS data plotted by Oren at the Arctic Sea Ice Forum.
Quora Question: "How Valid is the Assertion by NOAA That There Has Been No Hiatus in Global Warming? Here's an excerpt of an answer at Quora from Dr. Richard Muller, CoFounder, Berkeley Earth, Prof Physics UCBerkeley, Energy for Future Presidents: "Look at it yourself and see what you think. Does the last 15 years look like a pause to you? Some people mistakenly argue that these results are inconsistent with those taken from satellite measurements. That conclusion is true only if you ignore the systematic uncertainties in the satellite results. Include those in, and you'll see that they do not disagree with these more precise surface measurements. Please note that we pay a great deal of attention to skeptics. We use only the raw unprocessed data. We use all of it, thus avoiding the potential for data selection bias. All our adjustments are automated and published. All the data are made publicly available, in a convenient format. We did careful studies of station quality bias and urban heat islands. We make no use whatsoever of global climate models."
All this is available at our website:
A new study published in Nature Communications looks at changes in solar activity and carbon dioxide levels over the past 420 million years. The authors found that on our current path, by mid-century humans will be causing the fastest climate change in approximately 50 million years, and if we burn all available fossil fuels, we’ll cause the fastest change in the entire 420 million year record...."
Image credit: "Changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and in the combined solar and carbon dioxide forcing over the past 420 million years." Illustration: Foster et al. (2017); Nature Communications.
There was a time when typewriters were the tools used to communicate in the written form, but then along came the computer. Initially computers were very expensive and not very useful. The typewriter was a much better tool. Fast forward to today and clearly that is not the case. But that is the way technology works – technology gets better and cheaper. Renewable energy technologies have already improved and lowered in costs and will only continue to do so. In fact, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s chief editor, Angus McCrone, “wind and solar could become the cheapest available option by the 2020s in some countries.” Fossil fuels will not follow this trend, and their cost to our environment and our health just keeps going up..."
Marchers Around the World Tell Us Why They're Taking to the Streets for Science. The March for Science is this upcoming Saturday in Washington D.C. Details via Science Magazine: "What started out as a march on Washington, D.C., has grown into well over 400 marches in more than 35 countries on 22 April. Some international participants are worried about science under the Trump administration; others have local concerns; many feel that science and reason are under threat. Science's correspondents talked to marchers from 17 countries; click on the flags to jump straight to their stories..."
More details on the March for Science here.
Climate Change Reroutes a Yukon River in a Geological Instant. The New York Times reports.
A 2015 meta-analysis of dozens of studies found that political ideology is the best predictor of one’s view of climate change — far better than gender, level of education or experience with extreme weather. Recent surveys of people living in New Hampshire and along the Gulf Coast found the same. Rampant floods, supercharged storms and scorching-hot summers did little to change conservatives’ view of climate change. If that sounds bad, don’t worry. It gets worse. A new study from the University of Wisconsin found that unusually hot or cold weather made Democrats more convinced that humans are causing climate change, but it had the opposite effect on Republicans. Republicans were less likely to believe that humans were causing climate change as temperatures grew warmer..."
Graphic credit: Gallup
Quora Question: How is Climate Change Affecting Us Now? Here's an excerpt from Newsweek: "...Climate change is already being felt in innumerable ways today. Climate change is one of the underlying contributors to some of the most major stories of the past decade and is being felt broadly and mostly negatively....
- Regional conflicts: Climate change has increased drought in the middle east, and has contributed to the rise of ISIS and the destabilization of the middle east playing out now. This in turn has led to the millions of Syrian and other refugees in temporary refugee camps in countries outside of the worst impacted areas and the hundreds of thousands of refugees attempting to get to Europe and often drowning.
- Miami is sinking: Many parts of Miami are already experiencing sea water welling up from under foot at king tides and some are experiencing regular flooding at merely high tides. This is with the relatively small amount of sea level rise already experienced. This is an indicator of what is to come.
To These Pastors, Saving the Colorado River is a Divine Command. The New York Times reports.
Educators Decry Conservative Group's Climate "Propaganda" Sent to Schoolteachers. Then again, consider the source, The Heartland Institute, the same group that equated people concerned about climate change with the Unabomber, and assured us that smoking was safe. The very definition of fake news. Here's an excerpt from InsideClimate News: "Science teachers and legislators are fighting back after a conservative advocacy organization mailed false information on climate science to thousands of school science teachers nationwide. After the Heartland Institute began a mass mailing of teaching materials denying the scientific consensus on climate change, lawmakers and teachers' organizations have raised the alarm over what they characterize as propaganda disguised as information. "I am writing to ask you to consider the possibility that the science in fact is not 'settled,'" Heartland Institute's Lennie Jarratt, manager for the institute's Center for Transforming Education, wrote in a cover letter sent to the teachers accompanying the book, Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming. "If that's the case, then students would be better served by letting them know a vibrant debate is taking place among scientists on how big the human impact on climate is, and whether or not we should be worried about it." These statements are false, as is the book's contention that the overwhelming majority of scientists do not agree on the manmade cause of global warming..."
Image credit: "The Heartland Institute, a libertarian nonprofit organization, has sent mailings discrediting the scientific consensus on climate change to thousands of teachers nationwide." Credit: Rhett Allain via Twitter.