65 F. maximum temperature in St. Cloud Saturday.
56 F. average high on April 15.
77 F. high on April 15, 2016.
April 16, 1939: A rain, snow, sleet and ice storm begins across southern Minnesota. Despite many phone and power outages, farmers are jubilant that the storm brings needed moisture.
Well-Timed Easter Sunshine - Lightning Facts
Friday's lightning-related injuries at a paintball park in Hudson, Wisconsin were a stark reminder that storm season is upon us. 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.
By the way, research suggests a 12 percent increase in lightning for every 1C rise in temperature. It pays to be weather-vigilant.
The sun returns today with mid-60s and a drop in humidity. Showers pop up over northern Minnesota but the MSP metro should stay dry. More showers and storms arrive Tuesday.
File image from low-Earth orbit: NASA and the International Space Station.
Lightning Round-Up: The World's Weirdest Electricity. New Scientist has a good summary of some of the new and exotic forms of lightning discovered in recent years, including sprites: "..Once thought to be a myth, sprites are fleeting flashes of red light high above thunderclouds that look like giant jellyfish. These collections of “streamers”, formed of ribbons of ionised air, are believed to be produced by the strong electric fields generated in the upper atmosphere when lightning is born, but we don’t yet understand exactly how they form..."
Image credit: JSC/NASA.
Semi-Respectable Easter Sunday. The Upper Midwest dries out behind a sloppy cool front; a band of showers and T-storms pushing across the Ohio Valley and Mid South. A few strong to severe T-storms may flare up over Texas and Oklahoma. Meanwhile California braces for another round of rain showers and heavy mountain snows. Like 63 feet of snow isn't enough. NAM guidance: Tropicaltidbits.com.
Remembering Minnesota's Deadliest Tornado On April 14, 1886 residents of St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids woke up to unimaginable damage and carnage with 72 lives lost. 80 percent of homes in Sauk Rapids were leveled by a wedge tornado the size of 8 football fields. The Mississippi River was temporarily "sucked dry" by the massive funnel. In the words of the Minneapolis Tribune: "This place was today the scene of the most terrible calamity that has ever visited the Northwest." There's a perception that tornadoes only hit farms, and cities are somehow immune - or that they can't cross rivers. Avoid fake tornado news, rumors and gossip.
Photo credit: "The tornado flattened much of Sauk Rapids." (Photo courtesy mnhs.org).
Graphic credit: "GOES-16 0.64 um imagery at 1-min temporal resolution." Full resolution: https://satelliteliaisonblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/20170414_vis_anno.gif
Image credit: "The streamwise vorticity current, depicted in yellow in this supercomputer simulation, seems to be important to maintaining the strength of a tornado." Photo courtesy of David Bock/NCSA.
"Worst Flooding in Decades" in Northeast Washington State as Flood Season Begins. Details via The Yakima Herald: "What has been described “as the worst flooding in decades” in Ferry County in northeastern Washington has upended roads, slid a home into a riverbank and resulted in numerous mudslides. In one incident, said Amy Rooker, the county’s emergency manager, “We had a gentleman driving south on Highway 21 towards Keller when he noticed that half the road was gone. He flew across the road and ended up in a yard of a house.” On its official website, the county, population 7,700, says about itself: “Often described as one of the last frontiers of the American West, Ferry County combines a rugged mountain environment dominated by mining and logging industries with the breathtaking beauty of a wilderness retreat...”
Photo credit: Ferry County Sheriff's Office.
Photo credit: "Flooding in Asuncion, Paraguay, brought on by the strong El Nino in 2016." Andres Cristaldo/European Pressphoto Agency.
How Disappearing Arctic Ice is Already Changing Your Weather. We've been sprinkling hot sauce on our ice cream sundae, then acting surprised when the weather tastes odd. I've been talking about this for nearly 20 years and it would appear that the symptoms are becoming more apparent over time. Here's an excerpt from meteorologist Dan Satterfield at AGU Blogosphere: "...Is Arctic amplification already altering the jet stream? That’s the big question and one of the first scientists to try and answer it was my friend Dr Jennifer Francis at Rutgers University. The wind flow aloft should be getting weaker and it should be more “curvy”. Dr Francis and 5 co-authors have a paper in an upcoming issue of the AMS Journal of Climate that shows that this indeed the case. The atmospheric flow is becoming wavier, and not only that, the newest climate models predict that it should be happening as the ice and snow disappear in the north. These models also show that it will all get dramatically worse by the end of this century as major changes develop in our weather patterns over North America. It looks like the wheat and corn belt in the Plains will be hit the hardest with much hotter and drier conditions, while winters may actually bring even stranger weather as blocks form and persist..."
Graphic credit: "The “curviness” of the winds aloft is indeed increasing as expected." From: Changes in North American Atmospheric Circulation and Extreme Weather: Influence of Arctic Amplification and Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover Stephen J. Vavrus, Fuyao Wang, Jonathan E. Martin, Jennifer A. Francis, Yannick Peings, and Julien Cattiaux.
Photo credit: "
Photo credit: "
Smoke-nado? Check out the footage of a smoke-whirlwind, triggered by intense updrafts sparked by wildfires in Nebraska. Video courtesy of Twitter and WeatherNation.
Americans Used a Lot Less Coal in 2016. Details from Climate Central and Scientific American: "Coal in the U.S. is like landline telephones and fax machines — it was everywhere decades ago, but tastes, technology and the market have moved on. So it was little surprise when the federal government reported this week that U.S. coal use fell 9 percent in 2016, even as Americans consumed more energy overall. The U.S. used more natural gas and renewables last year than ever before, while oil use and even nuclear power were on the rise, too. But coal? Not so much. Coal use fell last year for the third year in a row — after slight increases in 2012 and 2013 — and has been steadily declining in the U.S. since it peaked a decade ago, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data..."
Photo credit: Kimon Berlin Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Photo credit: " Chandler Markie WYMT, Mountain News.
Tech World Ignores DC and Doubles-Down on Renewables. Climate Nexus has the overview and links: "As Trump doubles down on coal, some of the country's largest tech companies are forging ahead with their own plans to reduce emissions and use renewable energy. Cloud computing company Salesforce said Thursday it has achieved net zero carbon emissions in its direct operations and will provide a "carbon neutral cloud" for its customers by offsetting indirect emissions along its supply chain. Apple announced Thursday that seven of its suppliers have now pledged to use 100 percent renewable energy. And Microsoft made an agreement this week to bypass Washington's largest private utility to buy clean power. The tentative arrangement with Puget Sound Energy, which sources 60 percent of its energy from fossil fuels, will allow Microsoft to purchase wind, solar and hydroelectric power from other electricity suppliers." Salesforce: Mashable, SF Gate. Apple: Bloomberg.
Microsoft: Seattle Times
Solar Installers Struggle as Panels Become Cheap Enough to Own. Falling prices are good for consumers (and companies) but not so good for professional installers, according to The Wall Street Journal: "Solar panels are more affordable than ever for U.S. homeowners, and that is bad news for the biggest players in the industry. The price of solar panels dropped by 20% in the past year thanks in part to a global glut of panels and better technology, according to GTM Research, accelerating a shift among homeowners to buy panels rather than lease them. For a six-kilowatt residential array, the average price fell 17% to $17,340, according to GTM. More than half of U.S. homeowners now buy their panels with cash or a loan, rather than sign a lease or power purchase agreement, up from 38% of home installations in 2015..." (File image: Greentech Media).
Image credit: Edmon de Haro for POLITICO.
EASTER SUNDAY: Sunny, breezy, mild - showers up north. Winds: W 10-20. High: 66
SUNDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 43
MONDAY: Plenty of sun, still pleasant. Winds: N 7-12. High: 63
TUESDAY: Showers likely, possible thunder. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 48. High: 61
WEDNESDAY: Some AM sun, showers arrive late. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 42. High: 57
THURSDAY: Cool and unsettled, showery rains. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 43. High: 52
FRIDAY: More clouds than sun, cool breeze. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 39. High: 57
SATURDAY: Partly sunny, so far so good. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 38. High: near 60
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
Four Seasons of Warming. During meteorological winter Minnesota is the fastest warming state in the USA, according to data compiled by Climate Central: "Climate change is driving up the temperature around the year and around the globe, but topography, weather patterns and snow cover — among other factors — yield regional differences for warming. In the U.S., that means winters are warming fastest from Montana to Florida, springs are cranking up the quickest in the Southwest, and falls are feeling the heat in the Northwest. Then there’s the Lone Star State as the lone place where summer is warming the fastest. If you look at all four seasons across all of the Lower 48 states — for a grand total of 192 state-season combinations — there are only three instances of cooling. The Dakotas and Iowa are cooling ever so slightly in summer. Otherwise, there’s only one direction temperatures have gone: up. Snow cover in particular plays a role in why winters are heating up so fast from Montana to North Carolina. Or more specifically, it’s a lack thereof..."
Photo credit: "Harvard University Republican Club members listen to a speaker at a meeting in Harvard Hall, September 6, 2016." Declan Garvey/Harvard Republican Club/Handout via Thomson Reuters Foundation.