Conservation Minnesota

Hot Front Arrives Today – 51st Anniversary of Twin Cities Tornado Super-Swarm

79 F. high temperature at KMSP yesterday.
66 F. average high on May 5.
70 F. high on May 5, 2015.

Trace of rain reported at Twin Cities International Airport Thursday.

May, 1965: 6 strong tornadoes, 4 of which were rated F4 on the Fujita Scale, devastate parts of east central Minnesota, including parts of the Twin Cities metro area. 14 people are killed, and 683 are injured. 2 of the F4 tornadoes hit Fridley.


Case of “Summer Fever” – Tornadoes Can Hit Twice

Tornadoes are mesmerizing and fickle. And they can strike the same place twice.

Just ask residents of Fridley, Minnesota. On May 6, 1965 two severe, F4-strength tornadoes hit Fridley, roughly half an hour apart. This was part of a larger swarm of Kansas-size twisters that plowed up the Twin Cities, leaving 14 dead and 683 injured. It was a blunt reminder that large and violent tornadoes CAN hit the immediate metro area.

Speaking of bad luck the town of Codell, Kansas was hit by a tornado on the same day, May 20, in 1916, 1917 and 1918. According to Brent McRoberts at Texas A&M the 1918 tornado was probably an F-4; the town never fully recovered.

Nothing severe today, just an intense case of summer fever as the mercury pushes well into the 80s. A lonely thundershower may bubble up tonight. A drying northerly breeze clears skies Saturday with temperatures holding in the 60s. Winds ease a little on Sunday; enough sun for low 70s.

With the fiery conflagration gripping Fort McMurray, Alberta and high fire risk north of MSP you’ll be happy to hear about more rain by Monday.


May 5, 1965 Twin Cities Tornado Swarm. These were not garden-variety tornadoes – these were large, violent, long-track tornadoes typical for Oklahoma. Here’s an excerpt of an overview at Wikipedia: “…On May 6, an outbreak of six strong tornadoes, four of them violent F4s, affected Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, and has been nicknamed “The Longest Night”, killing 13 people and causing major damages—at the time the most damaging single weather event in Minnesota history.[1] Three of the six tornadoes occurred on the ground simultaneously, and two of them hit the section of Minnesota State Highway 100 (now Interstate 694) and University Avenue in the city of Fridley.[4] Both Fridley tornadoes damaged 1,100 homes and destroyed about 425; total losses reached $14.5 million, $5 million of which was to the Fridley school system…”


Near 90 Today? With bright sun, a stiff southwest wind and no thundershowers expected until evening I’m expecting upper 80s close to home – I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few 90F readings just west of MSP by 5 pm. Source: NOAA and Aeris Enterprise.



Breaking Updates on Fort McMurray Wildfire. Canada’s CBC News has updating online coverage. A few highlights as of Thursday evening:

  • “Forced all 88,000 residents to flee Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada exploded tenfold in size on Thursday, cutting off evacuees in camps and shelters north of the city.” 
  • “The blaze, which erupted on Sunday, grew from 18,500 acres (7,500 hectares) on Wednesday to some 210,000 acres (85,000 hectares) on Thursday, an area roughly 10 times the size of Manhattan.”

CBC News Edmonton has ongoing updates via Facebook. Another perspective from Canadian Joint Operations Command on Twitter.


Massive Smoke Plume. NOAA is tracking the smoke plumes from widespread (catastrophic) wildfires burning out of control across Alberta, Canada. Click here to see the latest smoke guidance.


Significant Fire Risk Northwest Wisconsin. NOAA has issued a Red Flag Warning for a combination of low humidity and strong winds capable of supporting rapid growth of wildfires near Spooner and Hayward. Details:

...RED FLAG WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 9 AM TO 8 PM CDT FRIDAY FOR
VERY DRY AND BREEZY CONDITIONS FOR PARTS OF NORTHWEST WISCONSIN...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN DULUTH HAS ISSUED A RED FLAG
WARNING FOR VERY DRY AND BREEZY CONDITIONS...WHICH IS IN EFFECT
FROM 9 AM TO 8 PM CDT FRIDAY.

* AFFECTED AREA...IN WISCONSIN...FIRE WEATHER ZONES 001...002...
006...007 AND 008.

* WINDS...SOUTHWEST 8 TO 12 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 20 MPH.

* RELATIVE HUMIDITY...AS LOW AS 20 PERCENT.

* TEMPERATURES...IN THE LOW TO MIDDLE 80S.

* IMPACTS...ANY FIRES THAT DEVELOP WILL LIKELY SPREAD RAPIDLY.
OUTDOOR BURNING IS NOT RECOMMENDED.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS
ARE EITHER OCCURRING NOW....OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF
STRONG WINDS...LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY...AND WARM TEMPERATURES CAN
CONTRIBUTE TO EXTREME FIRE BEHAVIOR.

Friday Night Thunder? Model guidance from NOAA’s 4 KM NAM model prints out some .25 to .50″ rainfall  amounts from showers and T-storms forecast to bubble up after 7 or 8 pm; forming along the leading edge of cooler, Canadian air. Map: AerisWeather.


ECMWF Guidance. After mid-80s today temperatures will probably hold in the 60s Saturday before recovering into the low 70s Sunday, probably the nicer day to get out to the lake or park. European guidance prints out 2″ of rain by Friday of next week – next Tuesday and Thursday forecast to be the wettest days. Graphic: WeatherBell.


NOAA Guidance Confirms a Wetter Pattern Next Week. Models predict about 1.5″ of rain for the metro area over the next 8 days; Tuesday the wettest day in sight. Good news for lawns, gardens, fields (and the ongoing fire risk).


Heaviest Rains Stay South of Minnesota. GFS guidance keeps the most significant storms and rainfall rates south of Minnesota over the next 10 days; hinting at closer to 1″ of additional rain during that period. Source: NOAA and Aeris Enterprise.

Tornadoes CAN Hit The Same Towns Twice. Just ask residents of Fridley, or Codell, Kansas. Brent McRoberts at Texas A&M explains at theeagle.com: “Proof of this is the small town of Codell, Kansas. It was hit by a tornado on the same day for three straight years — May 20 of 1916, 1917 and 1918. The 1916 tornado is believed to have been a fairly strong one, but the worst was the 1918 storm that we now think was probably an F-4 with winds of at least 150 miles per hour and it destroyed most of the town. Although some of the buildings were eventually rebuilt, the town never fully recovered from the 1918 tornado…”


Recent Studies Shed New Light on European Tornado Activity. The USA is #1 (by a big lead) but Europe sees its fair share of twisters. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting article at Red Dirt Report: “…The study written by Bogdan Antonescu, David M. Schultz and Fiona Lomas showed an exponential increase of tornado reports in Europe since the 19th century with a total of 9,563 tornadoes during the last 214 years. The result is simply amazing when only eight tornadoes per year were reported between 1800 and 1850; this number jumped up to 242 tornadoes a year during the period 2000-2014. The increase of reported tornadoes is due to a better coverage and a better awareness of the phenomenon…”


High Fire Risk. The combination of a dry week, strong winds and low humidity levels has increased the fire  risk across much of Minnesota, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. The map above shows the 7-Day “Significant Fire Potential” for the USA.


Adrian Peterson Donating More Than 100K to Flood-Relief Efforts in Hometown of Palestine, Texas. ESPN has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…The flooding shocked the town of roughly 19,000, which Peterson said hasn’t been prone to floods in the past. “My mom is over 50, and in her lifespan she’s never seen a flood in Palestine,” Peterson said. “That’s what was so unusual about it. We’ve never had an issue with flooding. We’ve had heavy rains for days at a time, but nothing to this magnitude. For this to hit overnight, and the damage that it caused, it was devastating.” Peterson said his family is fine but that some of his friends have been affected…”


More Than 300 Million Indians Suffer From a Crippling Drought. Here’s a clip from a Washington Post story: “…About 330 million Indians are struggling under grueling heat and drought conditions across 10 states this year, the government said, severely harming the economy of a nation where nearly half the people rely on farming. Reservoirs and rivers here in Maharashtra’s drought districts are almost dry, and a 50-car train now delivers water to Latur city, near Suryavanshi’s village. Thirsty Indians place long, serpentine lines of plastic pots and drums at the municipal water tank and village wells, and fights have broken out at water pumps...” (GFS 2-meter temperature outlook: NOAA and WeatherBell).


GAO: DHS Not Doing Enough to Prevent EMP Disaster. Got that? An EMP or electromagnetic pulse can be triggered by the sun, or a high-altitude nuclear detonation. Here are a couple of clips from a Power Magazine article that got my undivided attention: “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) internally recognizes that a power grid failure resulting from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or a solar storm can pose great risk to the security of the nation, but it hasn’t prepared adequately, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a newly released report…The April 25–released report assesses risks posed by a high-altitude—from 25 to 250 miles above the Earth’s surface—EMP event, which could be caused by the detonation of a nuclear device above the atmosphere. The burst of electromagnetic radiation resulting from such an event could disrupt or destroy computers and damage electronics and insulators, as well as severely damage critical electrical infrastructure like transformers...”


Exxon Mobile Backs FuelCell Effort to Advance Carbon Capture Technology. Here’s an excerpt from a story at The New York Times: “For years, FuelCell Energy has been considered a company to watch. Its technology promised to help economically reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, which could help combat climate change. The Danbury, Conn., company might be able to make a difference, experts said, if only it had a partner with really deep pockets. Now it has one. In an agreement announced on Thursday, Exxon Mobil said it had tightened an existing relationship with FuelCell in hopes of taking the technology from the lab to the market…”

Photo credit above: “A fuel cell used to capture and sequester carbon emissions, at the headquarters of FuelCell Energy in Danbury, Conn.” Credit Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times.


Solar Power is Contagious. These Maps Show How It Spreads. I suspected this was the case but now there’s proof – here’s a story clip from Vox: “…But there’s another, little-discussed factor here: Residential solar power is contagious. Yep, contagious. Studies have found that if you install solar photovoltaic panels on your roof, that increases the odds that your neighbors will install their own panels. SolarCity, the largest solar installer in the United States, just published some fascinating data on this “contagion” effect. The company has installed 230,000 rooftop systems nationwide (often by allowing customers to lease panels rather than buy them upfront). It says fully one-third of customers were referred by a friend or neighbor…”


Here’s What It Would Take for the U.S. to Run On 100% Renewable Energy. Dave Roberts has the story at Vox; here’s the intro: “It is technically and economically feasible to run the US economy entirely on renewable energy, and to do so by 2050. That is the conclusion of a study last year in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, authored by Stanford scholar Mark Z. Jacobson and nine colleagues. Jacobson is well-known for his ambitious and controversial work on renewable energy. In 2011 he published, with Mark A. Delucchi, a two-part paper (one, two) on “providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power.” In 2013 he published a feasibility study on moving New York state entirely to renewables, and in 2014 he created a road map for California to do the same…”



What Chatbots Can Teach Us About Ourselves. Here’s the intro to a fascinating article at How We Get To Next: “There are more bots on the internet than humans. According to figures from Distil Networks, a cybersecurity firm, almost 60 percent of 2014’s internet traffic consisted of automated code. Despite the world’s growing population of internet users, that figure is undoubtedly higher today.Among the oldest of those bots is ELIZA, who turns 50 this year. ELIZA, who was written at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in the mid-1960s by a German-Jewish computer scientist named Joseph Weizenbaum, can perform natural language processing and pattern match users’ responses to different scripts..”



TODAY: Hot sun, feels like June. Winds: SW 10-15. High: 85

FRIDAY NIGHT: Mild with a passing shower or thundershower. Low: 55

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, cooler breeze kicks in. Winds: N 10-15. High: 68

SUNDAY: Plenty of sun, a fine spring day. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 49. High: 72

MONDAY: Sunny start, showers arrive late – windy. Winds: E 15-25. Wake-up: 52. High: 66

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, few light showers. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 51. High: 62

WEDNESDAY: Intervals of sun, comfortably cool. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 49. High: 67

THURSDAY: Clouds increase, few PM showers. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 50. High: 64


Climate Stories…

Is Your Governor or Attorney General a Climate Denier? This Map Will Tell You. Here’s more detail at ThinkProgress: “After sweating through the second straight year that earned the title of hottest year on record, new research from the Center for American Progress Action Fund finds that 24 governors and attorneys general publicly deny the reality of climate change. It also gives a comprehensive summary of their records and public views on climate change and energy issues. The 21 governors publicly confirmed as climate deniers is an increase from previous years. The public is way ahead of these state lawmakers — a recent poll found that 76 percent of Americans said they believed global climate change is occurring, including 59 percent of Republicans…” (Map credit: Dylan Petrohilos).


To Visualize Climate Change, Think About Water. Increasingly too much or too little, as the hydrological cycle goes on fast-forward. Here’s a snippet from a story at Marketplace: “…If you’ve been having trouble getting your uncle or former college roommate to understand how climate change would affect them, you might find water availability to resonate more than atmospheric carbon or starving polar bears. “Whether it’s droughts, whether it’s floods, whether it’s storms and cyclones or sea level rise, most of the deleterious, the bad impacts occur through the water cycle,” said Richard Damania, an economist at the World Bank and lead author of the study.It’s probably no exaggeration to say that much of climate change is about change in the water cycle or the hydrological cycle and its impacts.” As the planet warms, it will change how much water evaporates into the atmosphere and where it comes back down as rain…”



As Climate Change Cooks the Arctic, East Coast Blizzards May Become More Likely. Counterintuitive, but the rapid warming and melting of Greenland may be having a meteorological domino effect, as described at Capital Weather Gang: “…It is well known that many of the fiercest East Coast storms form when a massive area of high pressure develops over Greenland, known as the Greenland Block. This feature causes the jet stream to dive south over the eastern United States, achieving a configuration that delivers cold air and establishes a path for storms to draw moisture from the Atlantic. A study in the International Journal of Climatology published early this week   documents “significant increases” in Greenland blocking “in all seasons” since 1981. A substantial fraction of the biggest snowstorms on record to strike major East Coast cities have occurred since the 1980s…”


Climate Change Will Transform U.S. Forests – Study. Climate Home connects the dots; here’s an excerpt: “North America’s great forests could change in dramatic ways by the end of the century, according to new research. Subtropical species may colonise the forests of the Cascade mountain range straddling the US-Canada border, the woodlands of the US Gulf Coast may end up looking more like Cuba, and parts of Texas might become home to the hot, dry forests now found in Mexico…”

Photo credit above: “Native tree species are vulnerable to increasing drought risk.” (Flickr/Nicholas A. Tonelli).


Making Climate Change All About “You” Doesn’t Work For Anyone – Including You. Fusion has the results of new research and food for thought when it comes to framing the challenge: “…Ever try to convince someone to take personal responsibility for climate change? A new study reveals why this probably didn’t work. According to two University of California San Diego researchers, the better question to ask is what can we do about climate change? This is because the results of their study show that when determining how much to act on climate change, framing the issue collectively is significantly more persuasive than focusing on personal responsibility. This finding contradicts many well-intentioned climate efforts that rely on personal appeals and individual calls to action to catalyze engagement and build momentum around the movement…”


Trump Supporters Believe in Trump and, Weirdly, Science. Grist explains: “Donald Trump may believe that climate change is a myth created by the Chinese to weaken American manufacturing, but believe it or not, a majority of his supporters — 56 percent — say that climate change is real. Trump supporters are more likely to have a grasp on climate reality than supporters of ex- presidential candidate and Zodiac Killer Ted Cruz. According to a new report released today by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, 38 percent of Ted Cruz supporters said that climate change is stone-cold fact. Like Trump, Cruz denies climate change; unlike Trump, he holds the more shopworn theory that it’s a hoax created by scientists out to scare everybody...” (Image credit: Tony Webster).


Destructive Canadian Wildfire Fueled In Part by Global Warming. Other factors are in play (including a stalled Omega Block) but consistently earlier springs and longer growing seasons are providing more fuel for massive fires, according to an Andrew Freedman article at Mashable. Here’s an excerpt: “…In addition, long-term trends associated with human-caused global warming include earlier spring snow melt and later starts to the winter season, which is lengthening wildfire seasons from Alaska to Alberta, and south to New Mexico. According to Mike Flannigan, a wildfire specialist at the University of Alberta, the area burned by wildfires in Alberta has more than doubled since 1970, a trend he said is partly tied to global warming. Climate data shows that Fort McMurray has seen an increase in the number of days with high temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius, or 77 degrees Fahrenheit, since 1950. This number has jumped from an average of 21 such days in 1950 to an average of 35 such days in 2010.  A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2013 found that boreal forests, which form a ring around the world just below the Arctic Circle, have been burning at rates that are unprecedented in 10,000 years…”

Photo credit above: “Smoke rises from a wildfire outside of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Tuesday, May 3, 2016.” Image: Mary Anne Sexsmith-Segato/The Canadian Press via AP.


The Rising Tide. How will rising seas (and temperatures) impact migration patterns. Is the current refugee crisis the tip of the (tenuous) iceberg? Here’s an excerpt of a story at Columbia Law School Magazine: “…According to a recent study compiled by 30 research groups from around the world, land degradation and desertification alone may force tens of millions of people from their homes within the next decade. There has also been an increasingly dire stream of scientific findings that show global sea levels may rise much more quickly than previously predicted. Dr. James E. Hansen, who, as director of the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions program at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, works with Gerrard and his Law School colleagues, notes that the resulting surges of migration and related conflicts would threaten the fabric of civilization. And according to Sabin Center Executive Director Michael Burger ’03, there is no time to waste in addressing that potential reality. “This problem,” he says, “although it’s happening now, already, is just going to get worse as the years go on…” (Image: Real Climate).


The Time Has Come to Turn Up The Heat on Those Who Are Wrecking Planet Earth. Here’s the intro to an Op-Ed from climate activist Bill McKibbon at The Guardian: “An interesting question is, what are you waiting for? Global warming is the biggest problem we’ve ever faced as a civilisation — certainly you want to act to slow it down, but perhaps you’ve been waiting for just the right moment. The moment when, oh, marine biologists across the Pacific begin weeping in their scuba masks as they dive on reefs bleached of life in a matter of days. The moment when drought in India gets deep enough that there are armed guards on dams to prevent the theft of water. The moment when we record the hottest month ever measured on the planet, and then smash that record the next month, and then smash that record the next month? The moment when scientists reassessing the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet have what one calls an ‘OMG moment’ and start talking about massive sea level rise in the next 30 years?…”

Photo credit above: “Global direct action began with hundreds of environmental activists invading the UK’s largest opencast coal mine in south Wales on Tuesday.” Photograph: Kristian Buus for the Guardian.

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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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