Conservation Minnesota

Glorious Weather Into Sunday – Earth's Warming Just Hit an Ominous New Threshold

74 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.
70 F. average high on May 19.
57 F. reported maximum temperature on May 19, 2015.

May 20, 1892: Very late season snowfall hits central Minnesota. Maple Plain receives 4 inches of snow, with 3 inches falling in Minneapolis. This is the latest significant snow on record for the Twin Cities, and one of the latest widespread snowfalls in Minnesota.
May 20, 1876: A tornado touches down near Ft. Ripley.

Forecast Calls for Blue-Ribbon A+ Weekend Weather

The only predictable thing is change. That applies to the weather, and the last time I checked there isn’t a thing we can do about it. We try and predict it but we’ll never control it.

I’ve heard some of the conspiracy theories about weather-weapons, but the amount of energy required to alter weather on a large scale is staggering, beyond the scope of any energy-source available today.
The weather is impacted by volcanoes, water temperatures in the Pacific and rapid warming of the Arctic, which may be affecting the speed and configuration of the jet stream, worldwide.

Moisture from a southern storm turned off the sun for a few hours yesterday (people were indignant!) and more cumulus may sprout today, but the weekend still looks phenomenal. Saturday features blue sky and light winds. Stronger southerly winds may kick the mercury up to 80F Sunday afternoon. Models pull a showery front into town Monday; I’d bet a stale bagel the weekend after next will be much wetter.

GFS guidance from NOAA hints at a heat bubble by early June. Hazy, lazy, sticky days are on the way.


ECMWF Temperature Guidance. The “Euro” hints at mid to upper 70s this weekend with peak warmth next Tuesday before cooling off as another, more significant surge of moisture approaches late next week. Graphic: WeatherBell.


Pushing 80F on Sunday. NOAA’s NDFD guidance shows 79F at 4 pm Sunday, which I think is more than realistic, assuming sunshine, stiff south winds and no rain, all of which appear to be good assumptions right now. I still think we’ll see some low 80s close to home by late afternoon Sunday. Source: Aeris Enterprise.


Memorial Day Guess-Cast. People are asking so I thought I’d walk the plank and oblige. Long-range GFS guidance from NOAA suggests low 70s on Memorial Day. The Dow will be up 33 points. Politicians will stay stupid stuff on TV.


Swerving Back Into a Wet Pattern Next Week. The graphic above shows predicted rainfall amounts between now and Sunday, May 29 at 1 pm, courtesy of NOAA’s GFS model. One band of showers sweeps across Minnesota Monday, but a slower-moving, potentially wetter storm arrives….wait for it….late next week into at least a portion of Memorial Day weekend. But we could have predicted that months ago. Source: AerisWeather.


Insert Deep, Mournful Sigh Here. What’s more fun than navigating construction zones during rush hour? Commuting in the rain! Models print out showers and possible thunder Monday, but a more potent southern storm arrives with heavier rain by the end of next week. 3-4″ amounts seem extreme right now – not quite believing it yet, but it is a holiday weekend, and there will be payback for all this glorious weather.


Heat Bubble by Early June? Looking out roughly 2 weeks at predicted (GFS) 500 mb winds suggests a high pressure ridge reestablishing over the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest, which would imply a few 80s as we push into the first week of June. We’re due for a more sustained heat spike or two.


Warming Trend into Memorial Day. Here’s an excerpt from a prediction by Planalytics: “Warmer conditions will encompass much of the country over the Memorial Day Weekend (Friday, May 27th – Monday, May 30th), boding well for outdoor activities. Major population centers along the Atlantic seaboard will continue to enjoy warmer temperatures vs. recent weeks, supporting demand for summer consumables such as suncare, bottled water, and bagged ice. Locations along the West Coast will see a shift to warmer than normal temperatures over the weekend. The South Central, Plains, and Upper Midwest are expected to see seasonal warmth...”


Highest Temperature Departure for April Since Records Began in 1880. Not my words but NOAA’s. Here’s an excerpt from a recent summary: “…The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for April 2016 was 1.10°C (1.98°F) above the 20th century average of 13.7°C (56.7°F)—the highest temperature departure for April since global records began in 1880. This value surpassed the previous record set in 2010 by 0.28°C (0.50°F). This was also the fourth highest monthly temperature departure among all 1,636 months on record, behind March 2016 (1.23°C/2.21°F), February 2016 (1.19°C/2.14°F), and December 2015 (1.12°C/2.02°F). Overall, 13 out of the 15 highest monthly temperature departures in the record have all occurred since February 2015, with February 1998 and January 2007 among the 15 highest monthly temperature departures…”


April 2016: Earth’s 12th Consecutive Warmest Month on Record. Weather Underground’s Jeff Masters and Bob Henson have a very good post with more perspective, including the implications of a brewing La Nina cool phase: “… If we were to experience a similar drop in global temperature later this year—which is possible if we transitioned to a moderate La Niña, as predicted by several models—then the departure from average for the last eight months of the year could be in the neighborhood of 1.02°C. In that case, 2016 will still cruise handily to the title of warmest year on record. The drop from Jan-Apr to May-Dec would need to be twice as large this year as it was in 1998 in order to put this year’s annual average below that of 2015. Small wonder, then, that NASA/GISS director Gavin Schmidt has laid 99% odds on this year becoming the warmest in global records….”

Image credit: “Departure from average for the global January-through-April temperature for the years 1880 – 2016. This year has seen by far the warmest temperatures on record for each of the four months.” Image credit: NOAA/National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).


Earth Has Now Seen an Unprecedented 12 Straight Months of Record Warmth. Andrew Freedman has ann update at Mashable: “Each of the past 12 months has set a record for being the warmest such month in 137 years of record-keeping, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The agency released new data on Wednesday finding that April also was the warmest such month on record for the globe, creating the 12-months of consecutive warmth, which has never happened before since instrumental records began in 1880. According to NOAA, global average surface temperatures during April were 1.10 degrees Celsius, or 1.98 degrees Fahrenheit, above the 20th century average, which was the most unusually mild April on record…”

Image credit: “Year-to-date global average temperatures compared to previous record warm years.” Image: NOAA/NCEI.


Hurricane Hunters Pierce Heart of Storm With Skill. Here’s a clip from a story at The Houston Chronicle that caught my eye: “…Once they find the windless, dead center, Sr. Master Sgt. Jay Latham, the loadmaster, loads a spring-loaded cannon with small tubes, known as dropsonde, packed with instruments. Latham fires the tubes out the bottom of the aircraft. Parachutes open and they drift away, taking readings that are radioed to Bundy’s instruments until they land in the ocean, where the water destroys their electrical system. Going into the jaws of a hurricane takes experience and teamwork. “It takes a very experienced crew to make this work easily,” Latham said. “It takes two to three years before guys are up to speed.

Photo credit above: Photo: Marie D. De Jesus, Staff. “Master Sgt. Ed Scherzer shows how a spring-loaded cannon with small tubes and packed with instruments, known as dropsonde, is dropped into a hurricane.”


“More Will Die”: The Ethics of Up-Close Tornado Chasing. Sadly, I have to agree with Jason Samenow at The Capital Weather Gang: “Daring storm chasers have come perilously close to violent tornadoes this spring while acquiring some of the most dramatic storm scenes ever filmed. But the videos have raised important questions about how aggressive chasers should be when they pursue these storms, whether for the thrill or for research. How close is too close? Does “extreme” close-up video, obtained and sold by chasers and shared by media for profit, encourage copycat chasing that puts people’s lives at risk?…”


Facts and Figure From The Joplin Tornado: What Did It Cost? KSMU Radio has a good summary of that horrific day in Joplin nearly 5 years ago: “The facts of the story are all too familiar by now—especially to those who lived through it.  On Sunday May 22nd, 2011, the most devastating level of tornado, an EF-5 packing winds of over 200 miles per hour, tore through Joplin, Missouri.  The ¾-mile-wide twister touched down at the western city limits of Joplin, stayed on the ground clear across the city for six miles, and continued another seven miles into the town of Duquesne and into rural Jasper and Newton counties. 161 people lost their lives that afternoon. Now, it’s been five years since the Joplin tornado…”


A 3-D Window Into a Tornado. UCAR has a fascinating story and visualization – here’s an excerpt: “…Due to the difficulties of measuring wind speeds in tornadoes, scientists don’t have answers to these questions. However, a collaborative project between researchers at the University of Miami and NCAR has been seeking clues with new, highly detailed computer simulations of tornado wind fields. The simulations can be viewed in a series of animations, created by NCAR scientist George Bryan, that provide a 3D window into the evolving wind fields of idealized tornadoes at different rates of rotation…”

Image credit: “This simulation was created by NCAR scientist George Bryan to visualize what goes on inside a tornado. The animation is the “high swirl” version in a series that goes from low, to medium, to high. Click to enlarge.” (Courtesy Goerge Bryan, NCAR.


20th Anniversary of “Twister”, the Movie. Weather World, a daily TV program produced by Penn State is seen across the state of Pennsylvania. Yesterday they ran a segment on the anniversary of “Twister”, including my small role with special effects and my one (amazing!) line in the movie. Sadly, they also made reference to my last royalty check from Warner Brothers. No, the film career is not working out as planned.



Billion Dollar U.S. Weather and Climate Disasters. Here’s an excerpt from the National Centers for Environmental Information: “The graphic below helps to visualize how the different types of identified U.S. Billion-dollar disaster events have changed over time. Caution should be used in interpreting any trends based on this graphic for a variety of reasons. For example, inflation has affected our ability to compare costs over time. To reflect this, the graphic also shows events with less than $1 billion in damage at the time of the event, but after adjusting for Consumer Price Index (inflation), now exceed $1 billion in damages. Continued assessment of these data are in process, as there are other factors as well that affect any rate of change interpretation. Comparison of events in most recent years is most reliable…”

7 States With The Most Dangerous Weather. I was surprised to see Nevada and Wyoming make the cut; the findings for Alabama are skewed by a particularly violent series of tornado outbreaks in 2011. Here’s an excerpt from 24/7 Wall St: “…While geography and climate play a central role in dangerous weather, poverty amplifies its negative effects. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, weather-related death rates are “2 to 7 times as high in low-income counties as in high-income counties.” This is likely because those living below the poverty line to not have the means to prepare for, or adapt to, extreme weather events and conditions, according to the CDC. It is perhaps no coincidence that the poverty rate is as high or higher than the 15.6% national rate in each of the states on this list except for Wyoming…”



Ebola Czar: America Failing on Zika. POLITICO has the story – here’s the intro: “The man who led the successful White House response to the Ebola outbreak says the Zika virus is a slow-motion public health disaster — and Congress is to blame. Ron Klain, who served as White House Ebola czar and as Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, told POLITICO’s “Pulse Check” podcast that Congress has failed to heed the lessons of the Ebola epidemic and that the Zika funding battle has become unforgivably partisan in the face of such dire human costs, including severe brain defects in infants...” (Image: Climate Nexus).

Is USA Falling Behind in Race to Prepare for Electromagnetic Pulse Attacks? Here’s the intro to a story at Nextgov.com: “Electromagnetic pulses and violent space weather outbursts might seem like national security threats straight out of science fiction. But the House Homeland Security Committee wants to ensure federal agencies are doing their best to prepare for them. During an Oversight and Management Efficiency subcommittee hearing Tuesday, legislators reviewed the possible ramifications that a man-made EMP weapon, detonated nuclear device or even space weather phenomena could have on the nation’s power grid. While seemingly remote, the threats drew comparisons to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks…”


The Energy Interstate. Do we have the political will to build the energy equivalent of the U.S. interstate system? Here’s a clip from The Atlantic: “…The most recent high-profile paper making this argument was published in January by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Christopher Clack and colleagues built a model to predict the long-term costs of putting all kinds of energy into the electrical system. When they imposed a constraint on their model—it couldn’t use coal—they found that the cheapest option involved a grid of transmission lines that could carry solar and wind energy from almost any part of the country to anywhere else. Other technologies—perhaps Gates’s imagined miracle—would still be required to get rid of carbon-emitting fuels altogether, but the new grid would get us quite far, reducing emissions from power plants by up to 80 percent within 15 years...” (Photo credit: Justin Renteria).



Storing The Sun’s Energy Just Got a Whole Lot Cheaper. Joe Romm explains at ThinkProgress: “With prices dropping rapidly for both renewables and battery storage, the economics of decarbonizing the grid are changing faster than most policymakers, journalists, and others realize. So, as part of my ongoing series, “Almost Everything You Know About Climate Change Solutions Is Outdated,” I will highlight individual case studies of this real-time revolution. My Monday post discussed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) report that in the first quarter, the U.S. grid added 18 megawatts of new natural gas generating capacity, but 1,291 MW of new renewables. But one of FERC’s “Electric Generation Highlights” for March deserves special attention as a leading indicator of the revolutionary new economics of solar plus storage..”

Photo credit: S&C Electric Company. “Part of a game-changing 4.2 MW solar + storage system in Minster, Ohio.”

Google To Introduce Its Voice-Activated Home Device. I fear Google knows me better than I know myself. Now I can talk back to myself. Here’s an excerpt from a New York Times story: “Google will introduce its much-anticipated entry into the voice-activated home device market on Wednesday, according to people who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Named Google Home, the device is a virtual agent that answers simple questions and carries out basic tasks. It is to be announced at Google’s annual developers’ conference in Silicon Valley. Google Home will come to market in the fall — a long time away, given the speed of technology, but Google needed to plant a stake in the ground now. The device will compete with Amazon’s Echo, which was introduced less than two years ago. Amazon has already sold an estimated three million units…”


TODAY: More clouds than sun. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 70
FRIDAY NIGHT: Clearing and comfortably cool. Low: 53

SATURDAY: More sun, light winds. Perfect. Winds: SE 5-10. High: 76

SUNDAY: Warm sun, stronger winds kick in. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 58. High: 81

MONDAY: Few showers, possible thunder. Winds: SW 10-20. Wake-up: 62. High: 76

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, late-day thunder? Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 59. High: near 80

WEDNESDAY: More widespread showers, storms- some heavy. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 60. High: 77

THURSDAY: Showers linger, still soggy. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 61. High: 76


Climate Stories…

Earth’s Relentless Warming Just Hit a Terrible New Threshold. Here’s the introduction to a story at Bloomberg: “The number of climate records broken in the last few years is stunning. But here’s a new measure of misery: Not only did we just experience the hottest April in 137 years of record keeping, but it was the 12th consecutive month to set a new record. It’s been relentless. May 2015 was the hottest May in records dating back to 1880. That was followed by the hottest June. Then came a record July, August, September, October, November, December, January, February, March—and, we learned from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday—the hottest April. In an age of rising temperatures, monthly heat records have become all too common. Still, a string of 12 of them is without precedent...”

Graphic credit: GHCN-M & ICOADS Data Sets Provided by NOAA. GRAPHIC: Blacki Migliozzi


“Fundamentally Unstable”: Scientists Confirm Their Fears About East Antarctica’s Biggest Glacier. Chris Mooney has the story at The Washington Post: “Scientists ringing alarm bells about the melting of Antarctica have focused most of their attention, so far, on the smaller West Antarctic ice sheet, which is grounded deep below sea level and highly exposed to the influence of warming seas. But new research published in the journal Nature Wednesday reaffirms that there’s a possibly even bigger — if slower moving — threat in the much larger ice mass of East Antarctica. The Totten Glacier holds back more ice than any other in East Antarctica, which is itself the biggest ice mass in the world by far...”

Photo credit: “Aerial photo of Totten Glacier’s ice shelf edge.” (Jamin Greenbaum)


NOAA: Global Warming Effect of Emissions Up 37 Percent Since 1990. Here’s an excerpt from Colarado Public Radio: “The warming effect of greenhouse gases got a little bigger last year, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And unfortunately for us, it’s gotten a little bit bigger each year for awhile now. The latest installment of NOAA’s Annual Greenhouse Gas Index shows an increase of 37 percent since 1990…” (Graphic credit: NOAA).


If You Care About Kids, You Care About Climate. NRDC.com takes a look at a new study – here’s a story excerpt: “…Regardless of what else we may believe in, we all can get behind making the world a better place for our children. The wish to see them grow and prosper in a safe, stable, and healthy environment transcends ideology or political partisanship. I’ve come to understand what all parents come to understand: Having kids really does change the way you think about the world, and especially about where we’re all headed. To take responsibility for a child’s life is to take responsibility for that child’s present—and future—environment. A new report underscores the staggering importance of that responsibility and also provides a scorecard as to how seriously we’ve been taking it. In doing so, Children and Climate Change, which was copublished by Princeton University and the Brookings Institution...”


Climate Changes to Mean Canada to Spend More on Disasters: Insurers. Reuters has the article; here’s an excerpt that caught my eye: “…Climate change … has moved from future threat to present danger.” The Insurance Bureau represents more than 90 per cent of all car, home and business insurers in Canada. Forgeron said the world had entered a troubling new era in which natural disasters such as fires and floods were happening more frequently. Ways to help mitigate the damage include taking steps to better identify risks and then manage them. “This means limiting or ending the practice of building in areas deemed high risk by flood mapping and having a hard discussion about where to build in areas that are close to our boreal forests,” he said...”

Photo credit above: “A massive plume of smoke, from a wildfire north of the city, stretches over Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada Wednesday evening, May 5, 2016.” Courtesy Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta/Handout via Reuters


Scientists, Investors Seek to Identify Financial Risks of Climate Change. Here’s a clip from Reuters: “A Norwegian group of climate scientists will form an alliance on Thursday with investors including BlackRock Inc and the World Bank to try to assess the financial risks of rising global temperatures. The Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Oslo (CICERO) said it wanted to help investors judge risks from global warming such as more heatwaves, floods, downpours, the extinction of animals and plants and rising seas. The head of CICERO, Kristin Halvorsen, said the aim was to help investors and researchers to “understand each other more easily so that the financial sector can define climate risks“…


The warming effect of greenhouse gases got a little bit bigger last year, according to new data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And unfortunately for us, it’s gotten a little bit bigger each year for awhile now. The latest installment of NOAA’s Annual Greenhouse Gas Index shows an increase of 37 percent since 1990.
– See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/newsbeat/noaa-global-warming-effect-emissions-37-percent-1990#sthash.ZZrufp6O.dpuf


Climate Change Puts 1.3 Billion People and $158 Trillion at Risk, World Bank Says. The Guardian reports; here’s the intro: “The global community is badly prepared for a rapid increase in climate change-related natural disasters that by 2050 will put 1.3 billion people at risk, according to the World Bank. Urging better planning of cities before it was too late, a report published on Monday from a Bank-run body that focuses on disaster mitigation, said assets worth $158tn – double the total annual output of the global economy – would be in jeopardy by 2050 without preventative action. The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery said total damages from disasters had ballooned in recent decades but warned that worse could be in store as a result of a combination of global warming, an expanding population and the vulnerability of people crammed into slums in low-lying, fast-growing cities that are already overcrowded…”


Rising Seas Levels Made This Republican Mayor a Climate Change Believer. As I tell people, I don’t believe the science, I test the science. And every time I test theory with actual observations it confirms that the atmosphere and oceans are warming; the symptoms becoming harder  to dismiss  or deny over time. Here’s an excerpt from NPR: “A man moves to a city in Florida and decides he wants to be mayor. He wins the election. He’s happy. Then he’s told his city is slowly going underwater. Not financially. Literally. James Cason had settled in Coral Gables, a seaside town near Miami, six years ago. He ran for mayor on the Republican ticket and, soon after he won, heard the lecture by scientists about sea level rise and South Florida that left him flabbergasted. “You know, I’d read some articles here and there,” he recalls, “but I didn’t realize how impactful it would be on the city that I’m now the leader of...”

Photo credit: “The mayor of Coral Gables, Fla., worries that the continued rise in sea levels could sink the property values of waterfront neighborhoods.” PictureWendy/Flickr.


Climate Change, Runaway Development Worsen Houston Floods. The tempo and severity of flash flooding and river flooding in Texas is increasing – odds are it’s not a coincidence, based on a variety of factors. Here’s an excerpt from ABC News: “…Extreme downpours have doubled in frequency over the past three decades, climatologists say, in part because of global warming. The other main culprit is unrestrained development in the only major U.S. city without zoning rules. That combination means more pavement and deeper floodwaters. Critics blame cozy relations between developers and local leaders for inadequate flood-protection measures. An Associated Press analysis of government data found that if Harris County, which includes Houston, were a state it would rank in the top five or six in every category of repeat federal flood losses — defined as any property with two or more losses in a 10-year period amounting to at least $1,000 each…”
File photo above: Texas Monthly. “A person paddles through a flooded neighborhood, Tuesday, April  19, 2016, in Spring Texas. Storms have dumped more than a foot of rain in the Houston area, flooding dozens of neighborhoods.” AP Photo – David J. Phillip.

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About Paul Douglas

Paul Douglas
Paul Douglas is a meteorologist, author, entrepreneur, and software expert in Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota. He is a nationally recognized meteorologist with over 30 years of broadcast television and radio experience.
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