Sunday, April 23, 2017

Soggy Week - Midweek Slush Potential - Minnesota Trending Wetter Over Time

56 F. high temperature yesterday in St. Cloud. The Twin Cities hit 70 F.
61 F. average high on April 23.
68 F. high on April 23, 2016.

April 24, 1854: It feels like summertime at Ft. Snelling with temperatures in the 80s.

Like It Or Not Minnesota Is Trending Wetter

"Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet" said Roger Miller. People are asking me if this will be a flood-summer or a drought-summer. How 'bout those Twins! After hemming and hawing for a few minutes I tell them the truth: although there's no way to know with total confidence, odds favor wet versus dry. Because that's the trend in Minnesota and most northern tier states.

Climate guru Mark Seeley shared some statistics that made me do a double-take. Between 1941 and 1970 average annual precipitation in the Twin Cities was 25.93 inches. The most recent 30-year average (1981 to 2010) was 31.16 inches.

Minnesota is warming roughly 2F a century and warmer air holds more water. Basic physics. So yes, odds favor more rain - in general.

60s will feel good today with a passing shower, then cool 50s from Wednesday into next weekend. An inevitable correction. Another surge of rain Tuesday may end as a couple inches of slushy snow up north Tuesday night. Just Mother Nature making sure you still have a sense of humor.

Models hint at a more summer-like pattern setting up by mid-May.

Trending Wetter. The atmosphere never moves in a straight line, but step back and look at the big picture and there's no question Minnesota's weather is becoming wetter with time. State precipitation trends above courtesy of the Minnesota Climatology Office and NOAA.

Excessive Rainfall Potential. According to NOAA NCEP the best chance of flooding rains today will come in the Carolinas, where some 3-5"+ amounts can't be ruled. Flood watches are posted - warnings are likely.

Super-Soaker. Pacific storms are being reinforced with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic; the result will be 7-day rainfall totals in excess of 3-4" across the central Plains and Mid South, as well as the Carolinas. Heavy rain brushes Chicago, the Twin Cities and Des Moines Tuesday into Wednesday.

Smile Through Gritted Teeth. I'm not entirely buying this solution; not yet, although there's little doubt we'll see accumulating snow from the Dakotas into parts of central and northern Minnesota. Over a foot for the North Shore? Not convinced, but if your travels take you toward Duluth, Brainerd or Alexandria by midweek you'll want to stay up on the latest forecast. NAM forecast: NOAA and

Slow-Moving Drenching East Coast. Today's forecast calls for hard rains spreading from the Carolinas into the Mid Atlantic, drenching New England by Tuesday. Meanwhile a Tuesday storm tracking into  the Upper Midwest will drop rain, sleet and heavy wet snow. The Pacific Northwest still looks wet. What a shocker.

Don't Retire the Jackets Just Yet. We hang onto relatively mild air today, but a temperature relapse is likely midweek with highs stuck in the 40s - a few wet snowflakes even possible in the Twin Cities. Temperatures begin to recover next weekend with a few more 60s showing up next week. ECMWF guidance: WeatherBell.

More Summerlike Pattern Second Week of May? Confidence levels are low - solutions have been all over the map (literally) in recent days, but the latest forecast calls for a weak ridge over the central USA, hinting at warmer than average for much of the USA, except for New England and the Pacific Northwest.

Earth Day Top 10 Staff Picks. Here is one of 10 remarkable images of our home, courtesy of SSEC at The University of Wisconsin: "To celebrate Earth Day, we asked staff at the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) and the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) to share their favorite images of Earth as seen from space and terrestrially. Selections range from the most historic images captured in the late 1960s, to the most recent snapshot from this week. Here are our top choices..."

Image credit: "Earth at night taken by Suomi NPP in 2016. Eric Verbeten, SSEC Communications Specialist. NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data from Miguel Rom├ín, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center."

April 21: First Day UK Was Powered Without Coal Since the Industrial Revolution. Quartz reports on the milestone: "The seismic shift in global energy production was powerfully in evidence today (April 21), when all electricity in the UK was produced for a 24-hour period without burning a single shovelful of coal—for the first time since the industrial revolution. Britain led the world into industrialization in the 18th century, when machines powered by coal—and eventually by electricity produced from burning it and other fuels—began to take over from manual labor. Ever since then, billions of tonnes of coal have been incinerated to keep power grids feeding the country’s homes and businesses. As recently as 2014, the UK was still getting 40% of its energy from coal..."

General Mills Commits Millions to Soil Health Initiative. The Star Tribune reports: "General Mills is committing $2 million over three years to help The Nature Conservancy improve soil health. The Golden Valley-based food company announced its initial partnership with the conservation organization back in November when unveiling a new Soil Health Roadmap. The roadmap attempts to build a business case for investing in sustainable soil health practices. This new funding announced Thursday will help The Nature Conservancy, along with the Soil Health Institute and the Soil Health Partnership, implement those plans outlined last fall..."

Space Junk is a Growing Problem. Here's a video link and story excerpt at The Washington Post: "...Hundreds of thousands of bits of space junk are orbiting Earth, according to NASA. These include tiny paint flecks that can take out a space shuttle window, and some 2,000 satellite shards left by a collision of Russian and American satellites several years ago. In Germany, the audience was shown a slide from another depressing space film, “Gravity.” The part where the International Space Station is destroyed in an avalanche of space trash. “There were many mistakes in that movie; I will not go through that,” ESA Director General Jan Woerner said. “But the effect, as such, is a very serious one...”

Silicon Valley Executives are Hiring Philosophers to Teach Them to Question Everything. Can one optimize happiness? Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "Silicon Valley is obsessed with happiness. The pursuit of a mythical good life, achievement blending perfectly with fulfillment, has given rise to the quantified self movement, polyphasic sleeping, and stashes of off-label pharmaceuticals in developers’ desks. Yet Andrew Taggart thinks most of this is nonsense. A PhD in philosophy, Taggart practices the art of gadfly-for-hire. He disabuses founders, executives, and others in Silicon Valley of the notion that life is a problem to be solved, and happiness awaits those who do it. Indeed, Taggart argues that optimizing one’s life and business is actually a formula for misery..."

Animation credit: Ariel Costa for Quartz.

Tips for Traveling to America. Some of these are priceless. Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "...This year, people seem less willing to chance travel to the US. As Leslie Josephs wrote last week: “After Trump took office under the banner ‘America First,’ searches for flights from abroad to the US dropped. Other recent developments, like the United States’ recent ban on in-cabin electronics on flights from the Middle East, or this week’s viral video of a United Airlines passenger being violently dragged off a flight, aren’t likely to encourage tourism, either.” But in the spirit of the free movement of people and ideas, here’s the advice most likely to make the journey smooth for first-time visitors, and to give Americans a surprising glance in the mirror. Speaking to women:
Avoid slang terms that you might hear Americans use for women (“babe”, “broad”, “chick”) and to be safe, avoid any equivalents in your language. It is just best to simply address an American woman by her given name..."
Photo credit: New York City. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson).

A Farewell to Skyways: The Case For Bringing Them Down. Are skyways sucking the vitality and long-term prospects out of our downtowns streets? Eric Dayton makes a convincing case in an Op-Ed at Star Tribune: "...We’re a 2017 city living with 1967 urban-design thinking, and it’s not working for us anymore. Why are the skyways so bad? Fundamentally, they rob our streets of the energy and vitality that come with foot traffic, the lifeblood of healthy retail. And that’s not just my opinion. It’s an assessment shared by every urban designer who has ever analyzed our city’s challenges. In 2007, the Downtown Council commissioned a report on our retail woes. The No. 1 factor identified was the bifurcation of foot traffic by the skyways. In response, we did nothing. We prefer to point the finger elsewhere, because it’s easier. The sad state of our retail is the Mall of America’s fault. Or online shopping is to blame. Or, most recently, it’s the Nicollet Mall construction. We’ve looked everywhere for the cause of our problems except in the mirror..."

Weather Modification and Other Bad Business Ideas. In business you experiment, tinker, iterate. You fail until you succeed. But some of my ideas have not done well. Hairbnb. Borrow other people's hair for a fee? Didn't end well. GUBER. Rent out my old sport coats by the hour? I wish I could take that one back. We celebrate our successes but let's not forget the flops. At a recent book signing I heard "Paul, can't you make every weekend this nice?" Uh, sure. Lukewarm sunshine on the weekends, rain only on weekdays? Great idea! But a weather modification business would consist of one mad science - and 50 overpaid lawyers. Because you'd be getting sued every other day. Because you just can't please all the people, all the time. Boaters and golfers want sunshine, farmers want rain. It's just a fact of life.

Frozen Hash Browns Recalled Due to "Inadvertently Harvested" Golf Balls. This could scare me into eating more vegetables; an excerpt from The Chicago Tribune: "A food company is recalling frozen hash browns from stores in nine states because the potatoes may have pieces of golf balls in them. McCain Foods USA's recall notice said the golf balls apparently were "inadvertently harvested" along with the potatoes and chopped up. They say the pieces could be a choking hazard, but no injuries have been reported. The company is recalling 2-pound bags of Harris Teeter Brand Frozen Southern Style Hash Browns in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia and Maryland..."

Graphic credit: "Roundy's Brand Frozen Southern Style Hash Browns from Marianos, Metro Market, and Pick 'n Save stores in Illinois and Wisconsin are included in a food recall."

Read more here:

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TODAY: Still mild. Passing shower or T-shower. Winds: S 15-30. high: 68

MONDAY NIGHT: Showers taper, cooling off. Low: 48

TUESDAY: Heavier, steadier rain. Slushy snow Tuesday night - couple inches close to home? Winds: N 8-13. High: 53 (falling)

WEDNESDAY: Flurries taper. Overcast with drizzle. Chilly. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 40. High: 47

THURSDAY: Windy and raw, more rain or mixed precipitation possible. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 38. High: 42

FRIDAY: More clouds than sun, drying out a bit. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 36. High: 54

SATURDAY: Clouds thicken, rain arrives PM hours. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 39. High: 49

SUNDAY: Go see a movie. Rain likely. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 42. High: near 50

Climate Stories....

Solar-Powered Sermon. I want to thank Reverend Sarah Campbell the good people of Mayflower Church in South Minneapolis for their warm welcome and words of hope and encouragement. I gave the sermon yesterday, which was a first, a humbling undertaking at that. I presented the biblical case for climate justice, clean air, water and land; how we are all called to be stewards of God's Creation. Mayflower Church installed solar panels 6-7 years ago - and a rough back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests a 20% savings on their electrical bill, to date. They are ahead of the curve, but when other churches discover they can save considerable money I suspect this clean, renewable-energy success story will multiply. Thank you!

Scientists: Get Used to Wildfires in a Warming World. Here's a clip from a story at Climate Central: "...Yet homes and even whole communities still go up in flames, and there’s little indication that many efforts to reduce the risk have done much good, the study says. “Neither suppression nor current approaches to fuels management adequately reduce vulnerability of communities to increasing wildfire,” said the study’s lead author, Tania Schoennagel, a research scientist at the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. “We’ve been very effective with fire suppression for many years, but wildfires are increasing beyond our capacity to control, especially with more people in fire’s way." Park Williams, a bioclimatologist the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, said the paper makes a valuable point: Forest density and climate change have converged to vastly increase catastrophic wildfire frequency and size in a way a that is entirely out of human control..."

Photo credit: "The 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire in eastern Alberta." Credit: The Premier of Alberta/flickr.

Christian Earth Day Lessons: Worship by Protecting Creation. There's a place for faith in absolutes, and science. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed I wrote for The Guardian: "...It’s true that all knowledge is relative; science is never “settled” and one never quite reaches solid bedrock. There’s always a new observation, a new discovery, a radical theory, more testing to do. We look at the universe through a pinhole as God gradually reveals himself to us. Regardless of how you pray or how you vote, we can all agree that fewer toxic chemicals in our air and water is a good thing. But today, more Americans die prematurely from air pollution than traffic accidents. More than 5 million premature deaths result from dirty air every year, worldwide. Air pollution disproportionately impacts minority and low-income communities across the USA. And statistically, America’s poor are much more likely to live near toxic waste sites..."

Image credit: GOES-16, NOAA.

Download a digital copy of "Caring for Creation": The Evangelicals Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment" for $1.99 today only, courtesy of Baker Publishing.

Evangelical Leaders Find Climate Change Message a Tough Sell. EEN President Mitch Hescox and I have been framing the challenge/opportunity in a way that appeals to people's heads and hearts. There is no one-size-fits-all way to tell the climate story. Here's an excerpt from The San Francisco Chronicle: "...In November, there was another message that resonated even more loudly than science with evangelical voters. “Most evangelicals voted for Trump for one reason and one reason only: The promise to put someone on the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade,” said the Rev. Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network — which claims 80 organizations and 3 million pro-life Christians as members. A contingent from the organization will march in Washington on Saturday behind the banner: “Climate science: It’s a matter of life.” For years, Hescox said he has been trying to rally support among evangelicals “to see pro-life is not just about abortion. It’s about all of life.” Like how working to improve air quality in a poor neighborhood would improve the health of children and the unborn there, he said. But often, he said, faith community members don’t connect with the way that progressives try to explain climate change concerns — worrying about melting polar ice caps doesn’t resonate with many conservative evangelical voters, he said..."

Photo credit: Stephen Crowley, STF. "Demonstrators gather in front of the White House to voice their opposition after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that rolled back many climate-change policies, in Washington, March 28, 2017. In April, scientists and science advocates are expected to fill the streets for the March for Science, a rally in support of scientific research, which many feel has increasingly come under attack during the Trump administration."

Our Climate Future Is Actually Our Climate Present. Here's a snippet from a New York Times Magazine story: "...The future we've been warned about is beginning to saturate the present. We tend to imagine climate change as a destroyer. But it also traffics in disruption, Disarray: increasingly frequent and more powerful storms and droughts; heightened flooding; expanded ranges of pests turning forests into fuel for wildfires; stretches of inhospitable heat. So many facets of our existence - agriculture, transportation, cities and the architecture they spawned - were designed to suit specific environments. Now they are being slowly transplanted into different, more volatile ones, without ever actually moving..."

Illustration: Christoph Niemann.

Climate Change and Health are Inextricably Linked. Huffington Post has details: "...WHO estimates that 12.6 million people die each year as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment, contributing to nearly one-quarter of deaths around the world. Similarly, a WHO assessment concluded that climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050. This is a future we must avoid if we are to achieve our universal health coverage targets. That is why the health impacts of climate change are among my five priorities as candidate for Director-General of the WHO. Climate change and variations particularly impact many aspects of life that are inextricably linked to health: food security, economic livelihoods, air safety and water and sanitation systems..."

Graphic credit: World Health Organization Climate change and human health program.

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