Saturday, April 1, 2017

Few Stray April Showers Today - Perils of "Tornado Amnesia"

62 F. maximum temperature yesterday in St. Cloud.
48 F. average St. Cloud high temperatures on April 1.
37 F. high on April 1, 2016.

April 2, 2001: Jumbo-sized snowflakes fall in east central Minnesota and west central Wisconsin. 2.5 to 2.75 inch flakes measured in Maplewood.
April 2, 1920: The temperature falls to 8 degrees in Pipestone. The high the day before was 74.

The Perils of Tornado Amnesia - Time to Prepare

"One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory" said Rita Mae Brown. What keeps me up at night? The possibility of an EF-4 or EF-5 tornado steam-rolling through the close-in Twin Cities suburbs.

Cheap, headline-churning hype? It happened in 1965, from Chanhassen to Fridley as a series of EF-4 strength tornadoes churned across the western and northern suburbs.

We've had 6 fairly quiet tornado seasons in Minnesota since 2010, when 113 tornadoes touched down, most in the USA. That's the year Wadena was hit by an EF-4.

Officials worry about amnesia after a string of quiet years. Many people forget that we can see large, violent twisters.

Nationwide a typical year brings 1,200 tornadoes, 80 fatalities and a billion dollars in damage. With rising temperature and humidity comes an elevated risk of severe storms, peaking in May and June.
Garden-variety showers sprout later today; maybe steadier rain Wednesday as another Pacific storm churns to our south. 50s are the rule this week; low 60s next weekend as a springy warm front flirts with Minnesota.

March was the 19th month in a row warmer than average in the Twin Cities. The last cool month at MSP? August 2015.

Moderate and major tornado tracks since 1950: NOAA SPC.

March: 19th Month in a Row of Warmer Than Average at MSP. Here's an excerpt from Dr. Mark Seeley at Minnesota WeatherTalk: "Most climate observers reported mean monthly temperature values near normal, or 1 to 2 degrees F warmer than normal for the month. For MSP Airport it was the 19 consecutive month with above normal temperature. For most climate stations over half the days of the month were warmer than normal. Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the nation on four dates during the month:

-20°F at Embarrass on the 3rd
3°F at Warroad and Flag Island on the 8th
-4°F at Embarrass on the 9th
-11°F at Crane Lake on the 14th

Extreme values of temperature for the month ranged from 74°F at Redwood Falls on the 6th to -21°F at Cotton (St Louis County) on the 4th..."

Ripe for Tornadoes. NOAA SPC has issued a moderate threat of severe weather for southeastern Texas and much of Louisiana, meaning a significant risk of a few large, violent, long-track tornadoes later today. The risk is greatest from Houston and Pasadena to Lafayette, Baton Rouge and Shreveport.

Parade of Sloppy Storms. Today's storm spawns a squall line of tornadic thunderstorms from eastern Texas into Louisiana, then pushes a shield of moderate rain across the Midwest and Great Lakes into England, where precipitation will mix with ice and snow over northern New Hampshire and Maine. California enjoys a quiet/dry spell, but more heavy rain pushes into the Pacific Northwest by Wednesday. 84-hour NAM: NOAA and

Towns Where April Is Snowiest Month of the Year. Who knew? From the Black Hills of South Dakota into parts of Colorado and Wyoming, according to research compiled by prolific climate guru Brian Brettschneider.

7-Day Rainfall. NOAA's model ensembles predict heaviest rainfall amounts for the southern USA and from northern California north to Vancouver. A couple inches of rain may douse much of the Midwest and New England by next weekend.

Spring Hangs On. We'll see another minor temperature relapse late next week before the mercury surges close to 70F one week from today. After a few false starts the maps are looking more springlike. Twin Cities temperatures: WeatherBell.

A Few More Atmospheric Potholes. The road to spring is never a smooth one. There are setbacks, roadblocks, potholes capable of temporarily detouring and delaying warm weather gratification. The sun is too high in the sky for a February-like relapse, but 2 weeks out GFS model ensembles show a cut-off low over the Upper Midwest capable of cool, showery unsettled weather.

6 Life-Threatening Tornado Myths Debunked. Here's an excerpt from "...Another myth that could prove deadly is that seeking shelter under an overpass is safe. Experts warn that an overpass is not a safe shelter if a tornado is approaching. "Winds will actually funnel under the bridge and accelerate, which can cause the car to be pulled out," Warren said. Debris is another concern as the tornado can slam cars and other objects underneath bridges. If you happen to be caught on the highway and cannot get out of the path of a tornado, Warren said, seeking shelter in a ditch or remaining in your car is safer than being under an overpass..."

30 Second vs. 1 Minute Visible Imagery for Severe Convection. A new image every 30 seconds with GOES-16? Amazing. Here's an excerpt at Satellite Liason Blog: "An SPC Day 1 Moderate Risk for severe thunderstorms was issued for March 28, 2017 as yet another potent shortwave trough moved through the southern Plains. SPC requested GOES-East Rapid scan mode, and both GOES-16 mesoscale sectors were moved over the moderate risk area, meaning 30-sec imagery was available. (Above) is a side-by-side comparison of GOES-16 0.5 km visible 30-sec imagery and 1-min imagery. The scene is of rapidly developing convection among mature storms. Overshooting tops and above-anvil cirrus plumes are apparent, indicators of strong-to-severe convection.  When compared side-by-side, the 30-sec imagery does indeed have a slightly smoother appearance..."

Minnesota Should Not Be Affected by Trump's Rescinding Clean Power Plan. Star Tribune reports: "President Donald Trump’s efforts to roll back clean power standards will probably have a minimal effect on Minnesota, since state policy — combined with changing energy economics — has already been leading utilities away from coal. As expected, Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order aimed at rescinding former President Barack Obama’s climate-change initiatives, including the Clean Power Plan. But many utilities in Minnesota are already on a clean-power path. “They are going to make the [carbon] reduction that would be required under the Clean Power Plan anyway,” said Will Seuffert, executive director of the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, which coordinates environmental policy across state agencies..."

Photo credit: "Xcel Energy has switched on 160 megawatts of solar power in the past few months, including a massive project in Chisago County." Source: Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune.

Wind Power Cuts CO2. Here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "We’ve reached the end of the windiest month of the year. But in other months, wind will continue to play an increasingly large role in the U.S. power mix. At the end of last year, wind capacity surpassed hydroelectric capacity for the first time in the U.S. Over the past decade, wind power has exploded in the U.S. Over that time, generating capacity from wind has increased by a factor of seven, surpassing 82,000 megawatts, or enough to power 24 million homes. Wind is most consistent in the Great Plains and on the Front Range of the Rockies. The prevailing west winds come rushing off of the mountains, making the area especially conducive for generating electricity, as higher wind speeds produce disproportionately more power from a wind turbine..."

Clean Energy Employs More People Than Fossil Fuels in Nearly Every U.S. State. Here's a clip from ThinkProgress: "Nationally, clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs by more than 2.5 to 1, according to a new Sierra Club analysis of Department of Energy jobs data. And when it comes to coal and gas — two sectors President Donald Trump has promised to bolster through his upcoming executive order on energy regulation — clean energy jobs outnumber jobs dealing with those two fossil fuels by 5 to 1. “Right now, clean energy jobs already overwhelm dirty fuels in nearly every state across America, and that growth is only going to continue as clean energy keeps getting more affordable and accessible by the day,” Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in a statement..."

Photo credit: AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin.

Hackers Next Target Could Be the U.S. Electric Grid. Here's an excerpt from CNBC: "You've heard about hackers trying to steal credit card numbers and wipe out bank accounts. But there's another group that many cybersecurity experts say especially worry them. These criminals are targeting critical infrastructure, like power grids — and what makes them dangerous is that some are backed by governments and big money. "Turning off water, turning off electricity. Those are all realistic attacks now," said Liam O' Murchu a director with cybersecurity company Symantec, the manufacturer of Norton security products. Symantec is currently tracking more than 100 government backed groups, more than ten times the number from five years ago..."

We're So Unprepared for the Robot Apocalypse. How, when and where many of work will be increasingly impacted by automation as computers get smarter and AI matures. Here's an excerpt from  The Washington Post:  "...Industrial robots alone have eliminated up to 670,000 American jobs between 1990 and 2007, according to new research from MIT’s Daron Acemoglu and Boston University’s Pascual Restrepo. The number is stunning on the face of it, and many have interpreted the study as an indictment of technological change — a sign that “robots are winning the race for American jobs.” But the bigger takeaway is that the nation has been ill-equipped to deal with the upheaval caused by automation. The researchers estimate that half of the job losses resulted from robots directly replacing workers. The rest of the jobs disappeared from elsewhere in the local community..."

UW Professor: The Information War is Real, and We're Losing It. Because conspiracy theories are so much more interesting than reality. Here's an excerpt of a harrowing story at The Seattle Times: "...Starbird is in the UW’s Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering — the study of the ways people and technology interact. Her team analyzed 58 million tweets sent after mass shootings during a 10-month period. They searched for terms such as “false flag” and “crisis actor,” web slang meaning a shooting is not what the government or the traditional media is reporting it to be. It happens after every mass shooting or attack. If you search for “false flag” and “Westminster,” you’ll find thousands of results theorizing that last week’s attack outside British Parliament was staged (presumably to bring down Brexit, which makes no sense, but making sense is not a prerequisite). Starbird’s insight was to map the digital connections between all this buzzing on Twitter with a conglomeration of websites. Then she analyzed the content of each site to try to answer the question: Just what is this alternative media ecosystem saying?..."

ESPN Has Seen the Future of TV and They're Not Really Into It. Is ESPN reinventing and innovating fast enough? Here's food for thought from Bloomberg Businessweek: "...In some respects, the challenges facing ESPN are the same that confront every other media company: Young people simply aren’t consuming cable TV, newspapers, or magazines in the numbers they once did, and digital outlets still aren’t lucrative enough to make up the deficit. But while most of ESPN’s TV peers have courted cord cutters—CBS and Turner Broadcasting, for instance, are allowing anyone to watch some of their March Madness games online for free—ESPN’s view cuts against the conventional wisdom in new media. “Everything we do supports the pay television business,” says John Kosner, the network’s head of digital and print media. The strategy, simply put: Defend the cable-TV bundle at all costs..."

"My Phone is My TV!" Check out this story at "...As one might expect, popularity of viewing on digital devices is even higher among millennials. When asked to evaluate the statement “My phone is my TV,” a whopping 40% agreed. That’s in contrast to the average of 27% from all smartphone users. Today’s consumers are shifting from “best screen available” to “best experience available.” It follows, says Magid, that stations need to consider complimentary extension offerings as well as stand-alone digital products. Magid reiterated that only 30% of consumers who plan to discontinue their cable or satellite TV service consider cost as the chief reason for doing so. Other reasons included control, convenience, customization and other features that align with SVOD services..."

Elon Musk's Billion-Dollar Crusade to Stop the A.I. Apocalypse. It's cheap hype until it happens, then it's "why weren't we prepared?" Here's an excerpt from Vanity Fair: "...You’d think that anytime Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates are all raising the same warning about A.I.—as all of them are—it would be a 10-alarm fire. But, for a long time, the fog of fatalism over the Bay Area was thick. Musk’s crusade was viewed as Sisyphean at best and Luddite at worst. The paradox is this: Many tech oligarchs see everything they are doing to help us, and all their benevolent manifestos, as streetlamps on the road to a future where, as Steve Wozniak says, humans are the family pets. But Musk is not going gently. He plans on fighting this with every fiber of his carbon-based being. Musk and Altman have founded OpenAI, a billion-dollar nonprofit company, to work for safer artificial intelligence..."

Photo credit: "PROPHET MOTIVE: Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla and OpenAI, inside part of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, 2010." Photograph by Jonas Fredwall Karlsson.

A Quick Guide to Backing Up Your Critical Data. You can't back up your files enough, I've learned the hard way, especially family photos and videos. here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...An automated backup system can preserve all the essential files, even your iTunes library, that are stored on your computer. Microsoft includes File Recovery software with Windows 10 (or Backup and Restore if the computer is running Windows 7), while Apple’s Mac operating system has had the Time Machine program for backup since 2007. For those who want more than the basic built-in backup software, third-party programs like Acronis True Image (for Windows and Mac, as well as Android and iOS) or Carbon Copy Cloner (for Mac) can grab a backup of the entire computer..."

Why You Should Be Walking 7 Miles a Day - At Least. Does driving 7 miles a day count? Here's a snippet from Esquire: "...But walking any amount lessened the risk, putting the mail carriers at an advantage. Mail carriers who walked more than three hours a day had no heightened risk for heart disease at all—their BMIs, metabolisms, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels were normal. So, according to this (small, limited) study, 15,000 steps keeps people healthy. For those curious, 15,000 steps is equivalent to about seven miles of walking. Easy. People can get 15,000 steps a day "by walking briskly for two hours at about a four-mile-per-hour pace," lead researcher Dr. William Tigbe told The Times. (An average walking pace is three miles per hour.) Another totally realistic suggestion was "a 30-minute walk before work, another at lunch, and multiple 10-minute bouts throughout the day..."

An Updated (and Depressing) List of All the April Fool's Pranks on the Internet. Some of these are excellent, I must say. Here's an excerpt of an amazing rundown at The Washington Post:

TODAY: More clouds, late showers pop up. Winds: S 8-13. High: 54
SUNDAY NIGHT: Few evening showers. Low: 44

MONDAY: Intervals of sun. Stray shower for Twins Opener. Winds: NE 5-10. High: 58

TUESDAY: More clouds than sun, probably dry. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 48. high: 56

WEDNESDAY: Raw, steadier rain possible. Winds: NE 10-20+ Wake-up: 41. High: 49

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, drying out. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 38. High: 51

FRIDAY: Sunny and pleasant again. Winds: SE 3-8. Wake-up: 34. High: 55

SATURDAY: Sunny, breezy and milder. Feverish. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 37. High: 62

Climate Stories...

General Electric Chief: "Cliate Change is Real". Here's an excerpt from an article at MarketWatch: "General Electric Co. CEO Jeffrey Immelt defended efforts to reduce emissions and fight climate change, after President Donald Trump reversed rules that pushed U.S. utilities to use cleaner-burning fuels. In a blog post to employees Wednesday, Immelt highlighted the administration’s move and said climate change “should be addressed on a global basis through multi-national agreements” such as the 2015 Paris Agreement. The U.S. hasn’t withdrawn from that agreement, but the executive order has raised concern it will be hard to reach the pact’s targets. “We believe climate change is real and the science is well accepted,” Immelt wrote. “We hope that the United States continues to play a constructive role in furthering solutions to these challenges...”

Twitter Feed. Characteristics of chronic climate science deniers? NASA's Gavin Schmidt reviewed a few symptoms in a recent Twitter exchange.

Half in US Are Now Concerned Global Warming Believers. The headline makes it sound like a religion - which it is most definitely not. I believe in God; I acknowledge the data, the evidence, the trends which all point to a gradual man-made warming of the atmosphere, cryosphere (poles) and oceans. Science is never settled, we continue to test the theories, and multiple strands of evidence all point in the same direction. Here's an excerpt from Gallup: "With a record number of Americans sounding the alarm on global warming, the share of the U.S. population that Gallup categorizes as "Concerned Believers" on climate change has consequently reached a new high of 50%. This is up slightly from 47% in 2016 but is well above the 37% recorded only two years ago. While the half of Americans classified as Concerned Believers take global warming very seriously, the other half are split between what Gallup calls "Cool Skeptics" and the "Mixed Middle." The percentages of Americans falling into these last two groups have declined in recent years as the ranks of Concerned Believers have swelled..."

Climate Executive Order Leaves Communities More Vulnerable to Disasters. Here's an excerpt from Vox: "...Trump’s move to pull back the federal government’s consideration of climate change in planning may prove to be a shot in the foot. “Given the president’s focus on building infrastructure and his desire to cut federal spending, many analysts said it would make sense for him to maintain or even expand programs to reduce the cost of disasters,” Bloomberg’s Christopher Flavelle writes. Why spend money on developments that may get washed away in a future flood? Extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent and unpredictable in the future, and increase in severity. And the cost of climate-related disasters — like hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes — is higher than ever. What’s more, as the country grows wealthier, disasters are going become even costlier..." (Image credit: NOAA).

Energy Plan Rollback: More Illnesses, Disasters Possible, Experts Say. USA TODAY reports: "...Burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas has caused global temperatures to rise to levels over the past several decades that scientists say cannot be explained by natural cycles. Though the plan was primarily aimed at reducing carbon dioxide and methane emissions — which are invisible and odorless and don't necessarily harm human health directly— it also served to reduce the more traditional air pollution that's associated with burning coal. "Anyone who values wildlife, clean air and clean water will be hurt by this plan to let dirty companies pollute our climate and exploit our beautiful public lands,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. Trump's order attempts to roll back Obama-era policies on power plant emissions limits, coal mining on federal lands and regulations on fracking and methane..."

Does the New Environmental Executive Order Threaten National Security? TheHill has additional perspective: "In March 2013, four-star Admiral Samuel Locklear III sat down with a Boston Globe reporter in a Cambridge hotel. As head of the Pacific Command, Admiral Locklear commanded the 400,000 troops stationed in the Pacific Command, stretching from California to India to Korea. The admiral had to worry about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, tensions between China and Japan over the South and East China Seas and typhoons in the Pacific. But when reporter Bryan Bender asked him what was the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region Admiral Locklear gave a two-word answer: “climate change.” He explained, “If it goes bad, you could have hundreds of thousands or millions of people displaced and then security will start to crumble pretty quickly...”

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