Conservation Minnesota

Leapfrogging into April – Record High Today – Mild Bias Continues into March

42 F. high temperature on Friday at KMSP.
33 F. average high on February 26.
11 F. high on February 26, 2015, after waking up to -3 F.

February 26, 1981: Thunderstorms move across Minnesota, dumping 1.61 inches of rain at Montevideo. Many places were glazed over with ice.
February 26, 1948: A severe ice storm occurs over central Minnesota. At the St. Cloud Weather Office 1/2 inch of clear ice was measured. 65 telephone poles were down in St. Cloud.

I’m Serious: Let’s Build a Wall Around Minnesota

I’m paranoid, agitated and semi-delusional, but that doesn’t mean building a wall around Minnesota isn’t a great idea!

Think about it. An embarrassing trade deficit with Wisconsin. North Dakota exports dirty-oil trains. Iowa lurks just to our south. Manitoba has its way with us every winter.

I’ll get Canada to pay for it. Let’s keep tornadoes out, and immediately deport all undocumented mosquitoes. Let’s start winning again!

Why me, you ask? Look, I’ve built 4 beautiful companies. My people love me, even when I’m wrong, which is most of the time. But that doesn’t matter when you’re SHOUTING!

I must be running a fever. Spring fever? Expect April-like 50s today, probably breaking the record set in 1896. We cool off next week – Tuesday’s storm brushing Chicago with plowable snow; but no headline-grabbing weather drama expected here. NOAA’s GFS model pulls 50s and a hard rain into Minnesota within 12 days.

Canada’s influence is fading, but we still need that wall. Despite my inane ramblings please consider me for Hennepin County Dog Catcher on Tuesday. Vote early and often.



February Continues Minnesota’s Warm Streak. Here’s an excerpt of this week’s installment of Minnesota WeatherTalk, courtesy of Dr. Mark Seeley: “Following the strong trend of the past several months and enhanced by a string of unusually warm days to end the month, February of 2016 will likely finish as a warmer than normal month for most places in the state. Mean monthly temperatures will range from 3 to 6 degrees F above normal around the state. Extreme values include high temperatures in the 50s F on February 19th and February 27th (this Sat) at such locations as Redwood Falls, Marshall, Browns Valley, Wheaton, MSP, and other communities; and minimum temperatures of -36°F at Embarrass and -35°F at Cotton on February 14th (Valentine’s Day). Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the nation on only six dates during the month, fewer than the 9 dates in January with the nation’s lowest reading…”

Mid-50s Today at MSP – Typical for Early April. I know – it’s early to be babbling about spring fever. Sorry, but the maps sort of demand it, not just today’s record warmth but another, even milder surge about 12 days out. NOAA’s NDFD data shows 57F at MSP around 3 PM this afternoon. Now that we’ve lost our snow more of the sun’s energy can go into heating up the air – and that it will. Graphic: Aeris Enterprise.


3 PM Temperature Forecast. Here is the 4 KM NAM solution for 3 PM, showing mid-50s around the metro area,  a shot at 60F. at Mankato, the 32-degree isotherm pushing into southern Ontario and Manitoba.


Precipitation Type. A dry, almost lukewarm (for February) day is on tap today, but the approach of cooler air may set off a few light rain showers Sunday morning, a light mix changing to snow brushing northern Minnesota – perhaps an inch or two by Monday. NAM guidance: NOAA and AerisWeather.


10-Day Snowfall Potential. Here is GFS guidance, displaying accumulated snow amounts looking out 10 days. A few inches may pile up near  Lake Superior and the U.P. of Michigan Monday and Tuesday; models hinting at a plowable snow late next week from near Philadelphia and New York and Boston.


Skipping a Month This Year? We’ll see spurts of cold air and a few slushy encounters in March, but if the 500mb forecast wind flow predicted by the GFS model verifies 2 weeks from now it may feel more like mid-April than mid-March. The forecast calls for a mild, zonal, west-to-east wind flow aloft, which favors warmer (drier) weather for most of the USA, with the possible exception of New England.


60s Within 12 Days? I wouldn’t bet the farm on this, not yet. Not ever, come to think of it. But the GFS model pulls a jolt of 60-degree air into MSP around March 9-10. Mother Nature appears to be as interested in spring break as the rest of us.


Follow The Trends. Meteorologists call this “continuity”, which is slang for “go with the flow” as your best, first guiess moving forward in time. A turbocharged El Nino signal continues to overwhelm other factors. Arctic temperatures are running 7-15F warmer than average, and NOAA’s CFSv2 (Climate Forecast System) model predicts temperature anomalies of +8F across Minnesota, even warmer over central and western Canada. Feeling a little better about my guess-cast of an early spring. Map: WeatherBell.


Deadly Tornadoes Were First Ever in Virginia in February. USA TODAY has the details; here’s the intro: “The tornadoes that killed four people in Virginia on Wednesday were the state’s first deadly February twisters on record. Three people died in the small town of Waverly and a fourth person was killed in Appomattox County, according to local officials. The Appomattox tornado was rated an EF-3, with wind speeds estimated at 136 to 165 mph, the National Weather Service reported Thursday. This made it the strongest February tornado ever recorded in Virginia...”

Photo credit above: “Tornado damage along Richmond Highway in Appomattox County is shown on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016.” (Photo: Jill Nance, AP).


The Tornado Formula. Why is the USA the tornado capital of the planet? It’s complicated. Here’s an excerpt of a good explainer at The Atlantic: “…The U.S. gets so many tornadoes because, in large part, the presence of the Rocky Mountains and the Gulf of Mexico,” Harold Brooks, a scientist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory, told me in an email. Those features create the conditions for the three key ingredients necessary for the kind of severe thunderstorm that can produce tornadoes:
1. Warm, moist air at low levels
2. Cool, dry air aloft
3. Horizontal winds that increase with height from the ground-up—and change direction, so that they blow from the equator at low levels, and from the west aloft.
The United States sees all three of those ingredients…”
Photo credit above: “A mile-wide tornado is seen near El Reno, Oklahoma in May 2013.” Richard Rowe / Reuters.

Study: Within 80 Years, 80% of Wetlands Could Just Be Wet. Implications for Minnesota’s wetlands? Here’s a snippet from a recap of new research at Fusion: “Wetlands cover nearly 300,000 square miles of the globe, an area about the size of Texas and West Virginia combined. A new study has shown that primarily due to sea level rise, this cover could be reduced by as much as four-fifths by 2100, putting it more on par with New York in size. By using new models to determine the impact of climate change on wetlands across the planet, researchers from the U.K. and Germany were able to determine that even with a low estimate of sea level rise by 2100, about 11 inches, much of the world’s wetlands will find themselves vulnerable to destruction…” (Image credit: AP).


Quit Apologizing! World Needs Fossil Fuels, Saudis Tell Oilmen. Here’s an excerpt from Bloomberg Business: “In addition to telling oil producers to cut costs or get out of the market, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister delivered another unpalatable message this week: the green movement can’t be ignored. Ali al-Naimi, whose nation is the biggest exporter of crude, said that the industry for too long “has been portrayed as the dark side” of energy by environmentalists seeking to curb global warming. He urged executives, who often try to sidestep the debate on climate change, to promote technologies that will rein in emissions — alongside the idea that fossil fuels are needed to sustain economic growth…”


Study: California Methane Leak Largest in U.S. History. Here’s the intro to a story at Climate Central: “The gas leak that forced the evacuation of 1,800 homes in the mountains above Los Angeles late last year was the largest methane leak in U.S. history and shows the climate risks of aging natural gas infrastructure, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science. The Aliso Canyon leak near the Porter Ranch neighborhood was so big that it emitted 97,100 tons of methane — the equivalent of the annual greenhouse gas pollution from 572,000 cars, according to the study, which used aircraft to measure methane concentrations in the atmosphere near Aliso Canyon during the leak…”

Photo credit: “The site of the Aliso Canyon gas leak.” Credit: UC-Davis 

* The report is here.



St. Paul to Bar Itself From Investing in Fossil-Fuel Companies. Here’s an excerpt from twincities.com: “The city of St. Paul won’t be investing in oil companies in the near future. Expressing concern about climate change, the St. Paul City Council voted Wednesday on a resolution barring the city from investing pension funds and other public money directly into fossil-fuel companies. The divestment decision is mostly symbolic, as the city’s public employee pensions are managed by the Minnesota State Board of Investment and not invested by the city itself…” (Photo credit: Dan Anderson at Flickr).

What Does Your Energy Utopia Look Like? Fusion, solar (film), new sources we can’t even imagine today? Here’s an excerpt of an interesting story at How We Get To Next: “…What struck me most when going through them to put this closing post together was how different many of those visions are from each other. From the billion-year gaze of Britain’s top fusion scientist, to worries over running out of lithium, to the communities rejecting big energy in favor of something they can own, it’s clear that there are many alternative answers. But many of them are complementary to each other — they work together, offering a bridge from the old to the new. Given the importance that energy plays in modern society, it’s crucial that we get this right. This isn’t a short-term decision — our lives, as well as the lives of our children and their children, depend on it...”

Image credit above: Jonas de Ro // CC BY-SA 3.0



Let’s Keep Moving Minnesota’s Clean-Energy Vision Forward. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at MinnPost from arctic explorer Will Steger and Kentra Roedl: “…We envision a goal of zero emissions and 100 percent clean energy in Minnesota by 2050, a goal that echoes the call from the youth who gathered in Paris to demand a strong climate agreement that safeguarded their future. We know what’s at stake. We’ve seen climate change alter the Arctic as well as our winters here in Minnesota. The recent news of 2015’s record-setting heat is a sobering reminder that climate change is not slowing down. We need to chart a path to a clean-energy future that is faster than the path to climate catastrophe. We don’t have time for pauses or delay. The good news is, the clean-energy industry is not pausing either. In Minnesota, solar jobs have increased 131 percent since 2013, according to the newly released Solar Jobs Census, and the industry expects another 20 percent increase this year…”

Photo credit above: CC/Flickr/Sebastian Celis. “We envision farmers putting up wind turbines and solar panels among their cornfields as new and profitable crops to harvest.”


Electric Cars “Will Be Cheaper Than Conventional Vehicles by 2022.” Far fewer moving parts, things that can go wrong or need maintenance, as battery prices go down and range goes up there may be a perfect storm within 5-10 years? Here’s a clip from The Guardian: “Electric cars will be cheaper to own than conventional cars by 2022, according to a new report. The plummeting cost of batteries is key in leading to the tipping point, which would kickstart a mass market for electric vehicles, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) analysts predict. The large-scale roll-out of electric vehicles (EVs) is seen as vital in both cutting the carbon emissions that drive climate change and in dealing with urban air pollution, which leads to many premature deaths every year...”


Honda Aims for Green Cars To Make Up Two-Thirds of Line-Up Line-Up by 2030. Here’s an excerpt from Reuters: “Honda Motor Co Ltd on Wednesday said it aimed for new-energy vehicles to account for two-thirds of its line-up by 2030 from around 5 percent now, as increasingly stringent global emissions regulations prompt automakers to make greener cars. Japan’s third-biggest automaker by sales said in its latest strategy update that its petrol-battery hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric and fuel cell vehicles (FCV) would collectively outnumber its petrol-only offerings in less than 15 years’ time. Plug-in hybrids – which can also be recharged via household wall sockets – will be “at the core of electrification in the future” for Honda, said Chief Executive Takahiro Hachigo…”

Photo credit above: “The 2014 Honda Accord plug-in hybrid is displayed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan January 14, 2013.” Reuters/James Fassinger.


The Bright Future Ahead for Electric Vehicles, in 4 Charts. Here’s a clip from Mother Jones: “Last month, Elon Musk predicted that the electric vehicle industry will “definitely suffer” from low oil prices—a barrel of crude is about $33 today, down from more than $100 a year ago. Why invest in an electric car when gas is so cheap? And sure enough, sales of gas-guzzling SUVs jumped 10 percent in 2015, while electric vehicle sales dipped 4 percent. But don’t expect that trend to last, even if oil prices stay relatively low. A new market forecast from Bloomberg New Energy Finance paints a rosy picture for the future of electric vehicles, rising from about 1 percent of global annual vehicle sales today to 35 percent by 2040—about 41 million cars…”


Is Google’s New Two-Legged Robot the Soldier of the Future? Here’s an excerpt from Newsweek: “Boston Dynamics, Google’s robotics subsidiary, has unveiled the latest version of its Atlas humanoid robot—giving a glimpse of what future soldiers might look like. The Atlas robot is demonstrated in a video showing its ability to navigate rough terrain, pick up objects and self-right itself when pushed to the ground. At 5 feet 9 inches and weighing 180 pounds, Atlas is similar in size and proportion to a human and follows on from previous bi-pedal versions of the robot…”


The Secret Society Antonin Scalia Spent His Final Hours With. Atlas Obscura has the details; here’s an excerpt: “When Antonin Scalia was found dead 11 days ago at Cibolo Creek Ranch in a remote area of West Texas, officials said then that Scalia was there at the invitation of the ranch’s owner, John Poindexter. Most of his companions, numbering a dozen or so, were not publicly identified. Would you believe us that it was because they are members of a centuries-old, all-male, secret society of elite hunters?…”

Photo credit: Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/Wikimedia



TODAY: Blue sky, record high temperature. Winds: SW 10-15. High: 55

SATURDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, mild for late February. Low: 36

SUNDAY: Windy and cooler. Sprinkles/flurries possible.. Winds: NW 15-25. High: 41 (falling)

MONDAY: Overcast and milder again. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 29. High: 45

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, colder breeze. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 21. High: 28

WEDNESDAY: Chilled sunlight, less wind. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 13. High: 26

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, few flurries? Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 14. High: 29

FRIDAY: Overcast, late mix possible. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 24. High: 35


Climate Stories….

Arctic Feedback: Is Rapid Warming Fueling More Dangerous Storms? The jury is still out, the science far from settled, but The Independent has the results of new research attempting to connect the dots; here’s an excerpt: “…Dr Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute in California, said there was a growing body of “pretty scary” evidence that higher temperatures in the Arctic were driving the creation of dangerous storms in parts of the northern hemisphere. According to a graph on the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre’s website, there were 14.2 million km squared of sea ice on 24 February. On an average year over the last three decades, it would take until about 29 April for there to be as little sea ice as temperatures warm in the spring. Since about 10 February, the area covered by sea ice has been noticeably below any of the last 30 years as the Arctic has experienced record-breaking temperatures of about 4C higher than the 1951-1980 average for the region…”

Graphic credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center.



Scientists Are More Confident Than Ever in Troubling Sea Level Rise Projections. A confidence level of 95% that seas are rising faster now than anytime in the last 27 centuries? Here’s an excerpt from ThinkProgress: “…That’s not to say the scientific community was unsure sea level rise is happening, and that greenhouse gases are behind it. It means that the certainty surrounding sea level rise projections needed to improve, according to the IPCC. Now, however, two separate studies developed by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, and Rutgers University in the United States, say modeling techniques are agreeing like never before in their conclusions. Most importantly, while the Potsdam study found that sea level rise will likely be as much as 50 inches by the end of the century unless greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly reduced, the Rutgers study found that global sea levels rose faster in the last century than in the last 3,000 years. Both studies were published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…” (Photo credit: AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton).

Rising Tides. USA TODAY has an interactive graphic that shows projected sea level rise based on best estimates; here’s an excerpt: “…One forecast by Climate Central, an independent organization of scientists and journalists, shows sea levels rising by 2 to 7 feet from current levels by 2100. But the water won’t rise to the same level in every part of the USA. Because of “land movement,” such as erosion and sinking, some areas would experience rising sea levels anyway; climate change only compounds that…”

Sources and credits: Climate Central, EPA, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Dino Kordopitoulas, Justin Peebles, Frank Pompa and Jim Lenahan, USA TODAY Network.



What’s The Best Way to Cut Your Carbon Emissions? Here’s an excerpt from CityLab: “…If Americans aren’t interested in buying dramatically more efficient vehicles, they could instead try an across-the-board approach, piling up little actions in different sectors. For instance, you could reduce driving by 6 percent, buy a car that’s 22.8 mpg instead of 21.4, replace any remaining incandescent bulbs with LEDS, eat 35 percent less meat, and cut 67 percent of personal food waste. Each of those piecemeal choices makes a 1 percent cut in overall emissions.If you want to do things on several fronts and combine the benefits that way because it’s easier for you, you would have to do a lot of different small things to equal the benefit of a large increase in fuel economy,” Sivak tells CityLab…” (Photo credit: AP / Jae C. Hong).

A Coal Miner’s Daughter and the End of Fossil Fuels. How We Get To Next has another good read; here’s an excerpt: “…The United States generated about 4,093 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2014, 67 percent of which was from fossil fuels. Coal accounted for 39 percent, natural gas for 27 percent, nuclear for 19 percent, hydroelectricity for 6 percent, and other renewables (primarily wind and biomass) for 7 percent. While coal use in the country decreased in 2015 to 34 percent and carbon emissions fell to their lowest annual level since 1995, the world’s biggest single source of climate change still has a sizable chunk of the U.S. energy pie.Unless you live underground, by now you’ve heard the warnings about the dangers of climate change: severe floods, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, unpredictable rainfall, and a serious reduction in crop yield…” Image credit: xpe // CC BY 3.0



Bill Nye: My Question for the GOP Candidates. Here’s an excerpt from CNN.com: “…As you may know, the three front-running candidates are apparently in denial about the effects and seriousness of climate change and global warming. As a voter and taxpayer, I’d like to know why each of them has no apparent concern about a problem that is worrying people all over the rest of the world. And by the way, those same people are very much hoping the U.S. will lead, showing the way to produce all of our energy renewably. Texas is a remarkable example of the number of jobs we could create and the new economy we’d establish by embracing renewable energy sources. Right now, Texas gets 10% of its electricity from the wind. I hope you find that remarkable, if not astonishing, because it’s a huge number. The wind industry there is just getting started. The Stanford University-based Solutions Project estimates that Texans could get over 60% of their energy from the wind, and virtually all of the remaining 40% from the sun…”

EPA Draft Says Oil and Gas Methane Emissions are 27% Higher Than Earlier Estimates. Here’s an excerpt from EDF, The Environmental Defense Fund: “Methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are significantly higher than previous official estimates, according to draft revisions of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions inventory released Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency. At 9.3 million metric tons, revised estimates of 2013 emissions are 27% percent higher than the previous tally. Over a 20-year timeframe, those emissions have the same climate impact as over 200 coal-fired power plants. The lost gas is worth $1.4 billion at 2015 prices…”


James Hansen on Ice Sheets – 2016. Check out the latest video at Climate Denial Crock of the Week. Hansen has been called an alarmist, but his predictions have been remarkably precient, and accurate: “...I finally caught up with James Hansen at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December, and he gave a terrific interview, touching on many key topics. Here, he gives a brief synopsis of one of the most important points in his most recent paper. Hansen’s concerns, if borne out, would mean substantially higher sea level rises than most other researchers predict – but one hesitates to bet against someone with his track record…”


Lord Stern Warns Economic Models are Underestimating Climate Risks and Clean Tech Opportunities. Business Green has the story; here’s the intro: “The economic models currently used to calculate the risks and costs associated with climate change adaptation and mitigation are “grossly misleading”, Lord Stern has said. Writing in an article published today in the journal Nature, the Grantham Institute chair and former Treasury advisor urged researchers to help policymakers by better modelling both the risks climate change presents to future generations and the vast potential of clean technologies…”


Consumerism Plays a Huge Role in Climate Change. No sacrifices necessary; just smarter, cleaner choices, rewarding companies that offer low-carbon options. Here’s an excerpt from Grist: “…A new study published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology shows that the stuff we consume — from food to knick-knacks — is responsible for up to 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and between 50 and 80 percent of total land, material, and water use. So, you know, get that Amazon trigger finger ready, because you’re gonna want to do some comfort shopping after this. “We all like to put the blame on someone else, the government, or businesses. … But between 60-80 percent of the impacts on the planet come from household consumption…” (Image credit: Realsociology).

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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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