Conservation Minnesota

Putting A (Big) Dent In The Drought (1-4" rains since Friday)

60 F. high Saturday in the Twin Cities. Clouds and rain kept us cooler than predicted.
66 F. average high for May 5.
63 F. high temperature on May 5, 2011.
.91″ rain fell yesterday at MSP International Airport. As of 7 pm.
1-3″ many towns across the metro area have seen several inches of rain since Friday.
2.83″ rain since May 1 in the Twin Cities. Talk about a precipitation turn-around. Like turning on a light switch.

Wettest Weekend In Nearly A Year? This map shows 24 hours Doppler radar rainfall estimates – it doesn’t include Friday’s rain. Some towns around Montevideo and Willmar picked up over 4″ of rain just on Saturday, the south metro of the Twin Cities seeing considerably more rain (2-3″) than the north metro, where closer to 1″ of rain fell yesterday. A wonderfully lousy weekend – farmers and gardeners are breathing a lot easier today.

4.37″ rainfall estimate at Farmington (Dakota County).
2.98″ rain fell on Waconia (Carver County) – 24 hour total.
2.7″ rain fell at Jordan (Scott County)
2.31″ Kimball (Stearns County)
1.9″ fell at Chanhassen.

.5 to 1″ hail pelted the metro between 1-3 am Sunday morning, winds over 60 sparked some pockets of damage, numerous tree limbs down in the Bloomington area. More details from NOAA here.

One Wild Week. According to SPC there were 2,611 reports of severe weather in the last 7 days, just across the Upper Midwest. Red dots are tornado or funnel sightings, all those blue dots are hail, green dots record 24 hour rainfall reports. Saturday’s data will pop in later today – pretty amazing. For an interactive map from Ham Weather click here.

Total Storm Reports: 2611
Wind: 576
Rain: 433
Snow/Blizzard: 13
Tornado: 95
Hail: 1484
Fire: 4
Lightning: 5
Tides: 1

Simmering Down. No more fireworks today; the heaviest rain, hail and gusty winds pushing to our south/east. Winds will turn around to the northwest behind a cool frontal passage – skies may brighten this afternoon, but most of the rain seems to be over now, with the exception of far southern Minnesota, where rain will linger into late morning.

A Whole ‘Lotta Gray. Clouds will linger into midday, probably early afternoon, but some partial clearing is possible later today. In general, if you have something scheduled for outside after 11 am or so, you should be ok. Today won’t win any awards for beauty and splendor, but you won’t be running for the basement either. 1 km. vis loop courtesy of WeatherTap.

 

.75″ diameter hail reported at St. Augusta (Stearns County) at 6:33 pm Saturday.

Wild & Windy. The line of strong T-storms that swept across the metro area midday Saturday whipped up powerful sustained winds, clocked as high as 48 mph at 3:46 pm yesterday at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie. That’s tropical storm force. More details from NOAA here.

Gust Front. I’m impressed with the caliber of photos we’re getting – check out this gust front pic, taken by Matt Goyette, near Spencer, Iowa late Saturday. Check it out on Twitter. Thanks Matt!

Serious “Hailers”. Julie Swanson sent in this photo from the St. Paul area in the aftermath of Friday’s severe storms. Keep in mind 1″ diameter is considered severe (roughly the size of quarters). Some of these stones were 2″ in diameter. That’ll put a dimple in your Prius.

Fine Fishing Opener? The only thing I guarantee is sunrise and sunset, but I’m cautiously optimistic about the outlook for Saturday: highs in the upper 60s to near 70 with sunshine, a northerly breeze at 10 (rising barometer?). Fingers and eyes crossed. Not to be outdone, Mother’s Day looks sunny and a few degrees milder: low 70s. Hey, a guy can dream. Data above from the European ECMWF model.

Hopeful Fishing Opener Outlook. The heavy rain is over, for now. The amazing news: all the models are hinting at a dry Saturday. I know, it’s early… Map: Iowa State University meteorology department.

Perigree “Super Moon” On May 5-6. OK. I didn’t play it up too much in the blog because I feared clouds would get in the way (and they did). You may get another shot tonight. Details from NASA: “The full Moon has a reputation for trouble. It raises high tides, it makes dogs howl, it wakes you up in the middle of the night with beams of moonlight stealing through drapes. If a moonbeam wakes you up on the night of May 5th, 2012, you might want to get out of bed and take a look.  This May’s full Moon is a “super Moon,” as much as 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full Moons of 2012. The scientific term for the phenomenon is “perigee moon.” Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon’s orbit. The Moon follows an elliptical path around Earth with one side (“perigee”) about 50,000 km closer than the other (“apogee”).  Full Moons that occur on the perigee side of the Moon’s orbit seem extra big and bright.”

Flood Watch In An Area Experiencing Severe Drought. “Only in Minnesota can you be ankle-deep in mud with dust blowing in your face” the adage goes. Go figure: much of southern Minnesota was running at 3-6″ long-term rainfall deficit since last autumn, before yesterday. The soil is now saturated/waterlogged across much of central and southern Minnesota; the Flash Flood Watch has been discontinued.

Sunday Severe Risk. Strong/severe storms are likely again today from Des Moines and Madison to Chicago and St. Louis, on south to Kansas City and Tulsa – a second severe risk from Birmingham to Macon and Florida’s Emerald Coast. Map: SPC.

“Supercell.” Wow. I wish I could be articulate, but when I saw Paul Zunkel’s photo taken near Fairmont late Friday I almost fell off my sofa. Well done – a perfect example of a rotating “supercell” thunderstorm. This is the same cell that dropped as many as 9 tornado touchdowns (from the same parent thunderhead) all the way from Worthington to near Kiester.

Iowa “Haboob”. I know – kind of a funny word; something you might expect to see in Phoenix or Las Vegas – an advancing wall of dust and dirt, whipped up by an advancing gust-front in Orange City, Iowa. I don’t think this was a “gustnado”, but rather the symptom of a wall of wind picking up dirt/topsoil into a swirling, seething cloud that totally enveloped this town. Sheric Hull captured this footage on the campus of Northwestern College. The (remarkable) YouTube clip is here. Details: “This is a gustnado(short for gust front tornado) that formed in Orange City, IA on the Northwestern College campus. A gustnado is similar to a tornado in the fact that it rotates, but it’s direction is horizontal rather than a vertical like an actual tornado.” (video clip rated PG for salty language – if I saw this thing approaching my neighborhood I might be using the same words. Sorry mom).

* here is a good overview on haboobs from Wikipedia.

Wisconsin Fishing Opener. It won’t rain the entire time, but a few showers and T-storms are likely east of the St. Croix, especially today with locally heavy rain. Click here to type in a town and get a personalized forecast from Ham Weather.

Ballfield – or Instant Lake? Thanks to Chris Blumberg, who sent in this photo of a flooded softball field in the Owatonna area Friday evening. Some of these storms may have packed 2-3″ rains.

Finally, Looks Like Spring. The GFS is hinting at consistently lukewarm temperatures between May 13 – 21, highs in the 60s and 70s. No more frosty relapses. I think you’re safe to dig in and plant your annuals without any nasty Canadian surprises.

Iowa Twisters. Over the last 48 hours Iowa has been hit much harder by tornadoes than southern Minnesota.

Photo credit above: “Lightning strikes in the distance as volunteers (on right) help rescue more than a thousand turkeys from a destroyed barn on the property of a farmer who did not wish to be identified east of Wayland, Iowa Thursday, May 3, 2012 after a suspected tornado went through the area. Wayland Police Chief Ron Roth said he saw a tornado around nine o’clock Thursday night heading for the small town. (AP Photo/The Gazette-KCRG,Brian Ray).”

The World’s Most Offensive Billboard Taken Down. Comparing climate scientists and reporters to “mass murderers and madmen”? The idiots at The Heartland Institute took down their scathing billboard late Friday, but damage has been done to what little credibility and stature they had left. The Chicago Tribune has an update below.

The area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security,” Panetta said. “Rising sea levels, severe droughts, the melting of the polar caps, the more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.” – excerpt from a statement by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in “The Hill”; details below.

The trend lines for the number and cost of U.S. natural disasters have steadily risen since 1980, according to the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade group. Losses from thunderstorms have grown fivefold. Losses from winter storms have doubled since the early 1980s.” – from a Chicago Tribune article; details below. Wall cloud photo courtesy of Larry Maloney.

Climate Signals: Extreme Weather Guide. More compelling evidence that a warmer atmosphere with 4-5% more water vapor floating overhead is having an impact on extreme weather. Details from Climate Nexus below.

Fishing Forecast. Ham Weather (one of my companies) has personalized information available – free to consumers. Click here to type in the town you’re interested in. Information above for Hayward, Wisconsin. Good luck out there!

Wet Start To May For Some. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Mark Seeley’s WeatherTalk blog for May 4: “Strong thunderstorms crossed the state overnight from May 1st to 2nd producing numerous reports of heavy rainfall, hail, strong winds, and even tornadoes. NOAA Storm Prediction Center received reports of brief tornado touchdowns in Pope and Stearns Counties between 9:00 and 10:00 pm Tuesday night. No serious damage reports from tornadoes were evident. There were numerous reports of strong winds and large hail (1-2 inches in diameter) from many western and southern counties. Sauk Rapids reported wind gusts to 64 mph while Wabasha reported winds up to 74 mph. Many observers reported rainfall from 0.75 inches to 1.50 inches, and some reported new record rainfall amounts for May 2nd. Among the new record amounts were 2.20 inches at St Francis; 2.10 inches at Elk River; 2.05 inches at Rush City, Slayton, and Windom; and 1.63 inches at Rice. The campus of St Cloud State University reported a rainfall of 3.11 inches.”

End To The Drought In Sight? The map above shows a long-term rainfall deficit of 1.5 to near 7″ across Minnesota – this is how much additional rain we need to end the drought. As much as 1-2″ of rain may fall over the weekend, putting a big dent in our drought – if these trends continue much of Minnesota may be drought-free within a couple of weeks. But we need another 3-5″+ to start start raising lake water levels significantly. I think the worst of the drought is behind us now. It was a $500 million weekend for farmers across the Upper Midwest, no question.

“The Puddles Page”. Looking for rainfall information? The Minnesota Climatology Working Group has put together a terrific resource to get close to real-time rainfall data, in tabular or map form. You can access information for the metro, the state, or the entire nation, on a state-by-state basis. Well done.

Severe Flash Flooding In Flint, Michigan. The same “supercell” that spawned tornado warnings across central Michigan dumped excessive rainfall amounts on Flint. Details from AP’s YouTube page: “An overnight storm dumped nearly half a foot of rain on the Flint area and drenched other parts of Michigan, killing power to neighborhoods, stranding cars on roadways and forcing the boat evacuation of some residents.”

Water Water Everywhere. Britons Baffled By Simultaneous Drought And Flood. Here’s an excerpt of an AP story at The Washington Post: “LONDON — Sodden fields. Deep puddles. Flash floods. This is what drought looks like in Britain. Last month, water authorities banned 20 million U.K. homeowners from using hoses to water their lawns or wash their cars, saying two exceptionally dry winters had plunged much of Britain into drought. Since then, the rain has hardly let up. Official figures show that April was both cooler than average and the wettest in a century, leaving a trail of flooded properties, canceled events and grumpy residents. But officials insist the drought and the watering ban remain — to the bafflement of many Britons.”

Satellites At Risk. Budget cuts are threatening the constellation of weather satellites we use to monitor Earth. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Washington Post: “The National Research Council (NRC) reported Wednesday that the U.S. system of earth observation satellites is “beginning a rapid decline” and is “at risk of collapse.” Already, the network of satellites that NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) use to monitor weather and climate relies on instruments that are operating beyond their intended use or long past their expiration dates. They will eventually run down their batteries or otherwise fail. The NRC reckons that the country could be left with as little as a quarter of its current number of earth observation satellites by 2020.” (image above: NOAA).

Miraculous Tornado Before/After Photos. I’m always amazed by the resilience of Americans, willing to rebuild, start over, after a devastating tornado.

Upper left photo credit: “This photo combo shows a view of Main Street in Greensburg, Kan., a few days after the town was leveled by a tornado on May 4, 2007, top, and what it looks like on May 1, 2012, bottom. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Travis Heying).”

Upper right photo credit: “This photo combo shows an area of Greensburg, Kan., a few days after the town was leveled by a May 4, 2007 tornado, top, and what it looks like on May 1, 2012, bottom. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Travis Heying).”

Worst. Airline. Ever. Again. I’m feeling even better about flying Delta these days. Here’s a snippet of an article at portfolio.com: “A Seat 2B column on the dreadful state of United Airlines in 2008 cribbed a line from The Simpsons for its headline: “Worst. Airline. Ever.” Four years later, there’s ample reason to revive the line and dub the United Airlines of 2012 “Worst. Airline. Ever. Again.” Two years to the day after it announced its merger with Continental Airlines, United is lagging its competitors among the legacy carriers by most any financial measure or service metric. The airline’s fractured employee groups are unhappy, and C-suite executives are bolting. Many of its best and most profitable customers are in open revolt, and average travelers are filling United’s Facebook page with tales of woe. The airline’s management seems alternately clueless and arrogant and unwilling or unable to fix what’s gone awry.”

Inside The First Production-Ready Electric Airplane. Here’s an interesting article at popsci.com: “Engineers have historically faced two obstacles when designing electric aircraft. Batteries that run the electric motors have been too heavy and not energy-dense enough to provide sufficient power. And the consequences of failure were too high: Running out of power would all but assure a crash landing. But in the past several years, says Paul Peterson, the founder and CEO of the Portland, Oregon, aeronautics company Volta Volare, off-the-shelf electric-car batteries and motors have become light, powerful and efficient enough to make electric—or at least hybrid—flight viable. This spring, Volta Volare will begin testing its four-passenger GT4. Constructed around a standard airframe, the plane runs on a hybrid powertrain similar to the one in the Chevrolet Volt, with batteries plus a backup gasoline engine.”

Photo credit above: “Volta Volare GT4 Daniel Schumpert and Jason Briney.”

The Battery-Driven Car Just Got A Lot More Normal. Here’s an excerpt of a New York Times article:CRITICS of electric vehicles say they are too expensive and lack sufficient driving range. But I wonder if those gripes would disappear if the E.V.’s on sale weren’t so — let’s not mince words — homely. I adore my all-electric Nissan Leaf, but its wide rear end, bulging headlights and odd proportions evoke a Japanese gizmo aesthetic that doesn’t necessarily appeal to mainstream American car buyers. Enter the handsome 2012 Ford Focus Electric, the first all-electric car from an American automaker in the 21st century. Ford will begin selling the electric version of the new Focus in the next few weeks in California, New York and New Jersey, followed by 19 additional markets in the fall.”
* more on the Ford Focus Electric here, courtesy of The Ford Motor Company.

Taking E-Mail Vacations Can Reduce Stress, Study Shows. No kidding. Technology was supposed to set us free; instead we’re all connected 24/7. I had one recent Facebook “friend” harrass me because I didn’t immediately respond to her post – unreal. The New York Times has more: “You probably don’t need a doctor or scientist to tell you this, but your e-mail could be killing you. A new study released Thursday by the University of California, Irvine, which was co-written with United States Army researchers, found that people who do not look at e-mail on a regular basis at work are less stressed and more productive. The study, “A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons: An Empirical Study of Work Without Email,” looked at 13 workers in a typical office setting and asked them to discontinue e-mail for five days. The results were that during the e-mail hiatus, these people spent longer periods of time focusing on a single task at work and shifted between computer windows much less than those who were slaves to their in-box.”

Flow Concept Turns Wind Into Light With Novel Bamboo Turbine. The rate of innovation on clean-energy options continues to amaze me. Here’s an excerpt from gizmag.com: “Grid-powered street lighting is something that many of us take for granted, but there are parts of the world where electricity is a scarce resource and when the sun goes down, local pedestrian traffic in areas where public lighting is not abundant can all-but cease due to safety concerns. In searching for an inexpensive off-grid solution for places like the Colombian city of Cartagena, designer Alberto Vasquez looked to the wind for help. His Flow concept makes use of readily-available bamboo for the construction of a vertical wind turbine in a similar vein to the Power Flowers concept, but with LED light modules at the end of each blade. As the wind catches the blades, the LEDs light up the walkway beneath.”

Beatings will continue until morale improves.” – anonymous

Saturday Soaking. If you’re keeping score (and who among us isn’t) that’s 3 sloppy Saturdays in a row for the Twin Cities. Yes, we need the rain, but the timing was unfortunate. Rainfall amounts ranged from .14″ at St. Cloud to 1.9″ at Redwood Falls, highs in the upper 50s to low 60s. Rainfall amounts as of 7 pm Saturday.

Camping Out On I-94. WeatherNation TV meteorologist Todd Nelson sent me this photo of stop-and-go traffic on I-94, at 9:45 pm Friday evening. Isn’t it fun driving up to the cabin on a Friday afternoon…or evening…or night? Don’t answer…

There Are No Words. Hey, isn’t that WeatherNation TV star Aaron Shaffer. Was it hot in Studio A? A sudden, inexplicable urge to show off your kneecaps? Either way – it’s a good look. Trust me, I’m a weatherman.

Captions Encouraged. I love this photo – not sure why, but this one speaks to me.

 

  Cumulonimbus Mammatus. Thanks to Randy Widmayer for one of the better examples of “mamm” I’ve ever seen.

Paul’s Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:



TODAY: Cloudy, cool and damp through midday. Skies brighten this afternoon, partial clearing by evening?  Winds: NW 8-13 (after lunch). High: 65
 
 
SUNDAY NIGHT: Drying out with partial clearing. Low: 50
 
MONDAY: Sun returns (naturally), turning less humid. High: near 70

TUESDAY: Morning sun, PM shower. Not severe. Low: 48. High: near 60

WEDNESDAY: Bright sun, less wind. Much better. Low: 44. High: 65

THURSDAY: Perfect spring day. Sunny and milder. Low: 49. High: 71

FRIDAY: Unsettled. Few PM T-storms. Low: 54. High: 69

SATURDAY (MN FISHING OPENER): Sunny and seasonably mild. A dry Saturday? Looks like it right now. Winds: N 10. Low: 49. High: 69

MOTHER’S DAY: Blue sky, a few degrees warmer. Low: 50. High: 73

Weather Treadmill
“Only in Minnesota can you be ankle-deep in mud with dust blowing in your face.” It’s been a surreal 48 hours; flash flooding reported in some drought-stricken counties across southern Minnesota. I just wish Mother Nature would take one weekend off. 
“Mamma, don’t let your kids grow up to be meteorologists.” I love the weather, but it’s a full-time, 24/7 gig. 
“You’re up at the cabin. Relax! Here, grab a rake,” my wife pleaded yesterday. “Honey, there’s severe weather over southern Minnesota – I need to update the blog.” So there I was, hunched over a hot laptop, enjoying my “day off”.
Maybe hooking up Wi-Fi at the cabin wasn’t such a great idea after all. Bottom line: meteorology isn’t an 8 to 5 job. You don’t predict the weather; you live it, 7 days a week. No complaints, it still beats punching a clock. 
“Paul, where else can you be wrong half the time and still get paid!” Haha. LOL. Gag me with a Doppler.
A wet start to May is taking the edge off our drought; we’ve gone from dusty to standing water in some fields. The storms are gone, a cool frontal passage dries us out later – the sun (remember?) could make a cameo appearance by late afternoon or evening. 
Minnesota’s Fishing Opener? Friday storms give rise to weekend sun and low 70s. We may just luck out.

The system of nature, of which man is a part, tends to be self-balancing, self-adjusting, self-cleansing. Not so with technology.” – E.F. Schumacher, “Small is Beautiful” (1973)

Climate Stories…

Connecting The Dots. Here’s an excerpt from Marketwatch below. Click here to see the latest stream of stories and anecdotes of extreme weather around the world from 350.org.

In New Mexico, firefighters standing in the remains of the Santa Fe Forest, which was burned last summer during the state’s worst wildfire in history.
In Pakistan, a group of women holding dots in front of the makeshift shelter that became their home after the devastating floods in 2010 that displaced over 20 million people.
In Lebanon, over 1,000 students making their dots the wheels of a giant bicycle to protest air pollution and request more bike-lanes to combat the problem.
In Vermont, citizens unfurling a “dot” banner at the site of a covered bridge that was swept away in the devastating flooding brought on by Hurricane Irene last August.
Over the next 12 hours, climbers will unveil giant dots on melting glaciers, divers will carry dots underwater to bleached coral reefs, and more hi-res photos and videos will stream into the ClimateDots.org website that is serving as a virtual hub for Climate Impacts Day.

Weather Is On A Wild Ride, But Is It Actually Getting Weirder? Here’s an excerpt from The Chicago Tribune: “…After all, U.S. weather records have been toppling like tulips in a hail storm, more than 3,000 records last year alone, including one big one, what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls $1 billion weather disasters. These are events that, since 1980, have caused an inflation-adjusted $1 billion in damages. In a typical year, the United States sees three or four of them. In 2011, there were a record 14. “The weather is definitely weird,” said Jeff Masters, director of meteorology for the website Weather Underground. He’s seen extreme events in the last two years that he had not seen in a 30-year career. “The climate is certainly much different today than when I was growing up.” Global warming is partly to blame, inducing something akin to ‘roid rage in the Earth’s atmosphere.”

Photo credit above: Paul Zunkel, who captured this “supercell” near Fairmont, Minnesota late Friday.

Climate Signals: Extreme Weather Guide. Thanks to Hunter Cutting and Climate Nexus for passing this along. Still think a warmer, wetter atmosphere isn’t having any impact on the frequency or intensity of extreme weather? This detailed, peer-reviewed slide show may change your mind.

Heartland Takes Heat Over Billboard. Yes, the world’s most offensive billboard was taken down after 1 day, but the damage has been done to whatever credibility Heartland Institute had left. The Chicago Tribune reports: “For about a day last week, a billboard featuring a mug shot of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, loomed over the inbound Eisenhower Expressway in west suburban Maywood, posing a question to drivers cruising toward the city: “I still believe in Global Warming,” the electronic sign said in large red letters. “Do you?” The ad, paid for by the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based group, was to be the first in a series of billboards equating those who believe in global warming with infamous figures — including Fidel Castro and Charles Manson — who have allegedly expressed the same belief, according to the institute.”

Who Still Supports The Heartland Institute? Here’s an excerpt of a Huffington Post article from Shawn Lawrence Otto: “Here are some other leading U.S. corporations and foundations who support the Heartland Institute. Those who do business with them and find the Heartland Institute’s tactics objectionable may wish to contact these companies and ask them if they feel this is in keeping with their codes of ethics and corporate responsibility.:”

The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the private petro-chemical giant
Altria Client Services Inc, parent company of Philip Morris and Ste. Michelle Wine
AT&T
Comcast Corporation
Credit Union National Association
CTIA – The Wireless Association
Eli Lilly & Company
GlaxoSmithKline
Golden Rule Insurance Company
John William Pope Foundation associated with Variety Wholesalers, Inc.
Kayser Family Foundation
Microsoft Corporation
Pfizer
Reynolds American Inc., parent of RJ Reynolds
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
Time Warner Cable
USAA

Leading GOPer Chastises Right Wing Group For Comparing Climate Change Believers To Mass Murderers. Here’s an excerpt of a story at The Washington Post: “As you may have heard, the Heartland Institute, a right-wing anti-climate-science think tank, has launched a billboard campaign that’s getting widely pilloried on the Web — it compares people who accept climate science as legitimate to Osama Bin Laden, Charles Manson, and the Unabomber. Now the Heartland Institute has suffered its first major defection in the way of GOP public officials: GOP Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a leading climate “skeptic,” will be pulling out of an upcoming conference sponsored by the group where he was supposed to speak, his spokesperson confirms to me.”

Panetta Warns Climate Change Having “Dramatic Impact” On National Security. Here’s an excerpt from “The Hill“….”But the Pentagon’s adoption of environmentally sensitive practices was driven more by the department’s dire fiscal situation than politics, Panetta said on Tuesday. DOD spent roughly $15 billion to fuel its fighters, tanks and ships in 2012, the Defense chief said. The Pentagon spends $50 million on fuel each month to keep combat operations in Afghanistan going, Panetta added. As oil prices continue to skyrocket, the department “now [faces] a shortfall exceeding $3 billion of higher-than-expected fuel costs this year,” according to Panetta. In order to dig its way out of that financial hole, DOD has no choice but to look to alternative fuel technologies. Pentagon officials plan to invest more than $1 billion into developing those technologies in fiscal 2013, he said.”

Connecting The Dots Between Climate Change And Extreme Weather. Here’s a snippet of a recent post from Dr. Jeff Masters in his excellent Wunderblog: “Connecting the dots between human-caused climate change and extreme weather events is fraught with difficulty and uncertainty. One the one hand, the underlying physics is clear–the huge amounts of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide humans have pumped into the atmosphere must be already causing significant changes to the weather. But the weather has huge natural variations on its own, without climate change. So, communicators of the links between climate change and extreme weather need to emphasize how climate change shifts the odds. We’ve loaded the dice towards some types of extreme weather events, by heating the atmosphere to add more heat and moisture. This can bring more extreme weather events like heat waves, heavy downpours, and intense droughts. What’s more, the added heat and moisture can change atmospheric circulation patterns, causing meanders in the jet stream capable of bringing longer-lasting periods of extreme weather. As I wrote in my post this January, Where is the climate headed?” Photo credit: “Restless Skies”.



Climate Change Is Real And Here: What You Can Do NOW To Protect Your Building. An interesting post from Habitat: “Based on the model of probability used by New York City’s task force on climate change, extreme precipitation is expected, and in a greater frequency, intensity and duration in coming decades. Greater downpours will put considerable strain on the combined sewage outflow system of the city. Condos and co-ops can do their part to mitigate this by installing green roofs. These structures can absorb and capture the excess rainfall during intense precipitation events, helping to forestall sewage overflows. Additionally, rainfall can be captured and re-appropriated for use in building systems or, in some cases, toilet flushing. Doing this not only saves on water, it also hygienically preserves quality, since the increased flooding makes the water grid susceptible to dirt.”

Is Climate Change Real? For The Thousandth Time – Yes. Here’s an excerpt from a story at KQED: “From PBS NewsHour yesterday, a story about the difficulties teachers confront when discussing climate science in the face of both skeptical parents and hostile state laws. From the report: CHERYL MANNING, high school science teacher: They hear it on the news. They see it in the newspaper. They hear their parents talking about it. There are people who say that climate — the climate may be changing, but it’s not our fault, or the climate isn’t changing at all; this is a natural cycle. There are all sorts of things that the kids hear. They want clarification.”

Photo credit above: “In January of this year, snow was still sparse at high elevations in the Sierra Nevada. (Molly Samuel/Climate Watch).”

Correcting Science Myths: “There Is No Consensus On Climate Change”. Here’s a post that often comes up from perpetual climate-deniers: “There is no consensus The Petition Project features over 31,000 scientists signing the petition stating “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide will, in the forseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere …”. (Petition Project)

Skeptical Science’s response: “97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming. Science achieves a consensus when scientists stop arguing. When a question is first asked – like ‘what would happen if we put a load more CO2 in the atmosphere?’ – there may be many hypotheses about cause and effect. Over a period of time, each idea is tested and retested – the processes of the scientific method – because all scientists know that reputation and kudos go to those who find the right answer (and everyone else becomes an irrelevant footnote in the history of science). Nearly all hypotheses will fall by the wayside during this testing period, because only one is going to answer the question properly, without leaving all kinds of odd dangling bits that don’t quite add up. Bad theories are usually rather untidy. But the testing period must come to an end. Gradually, the focus of investigation narrows down to those avenues that continue to make sense, that still add up, and quite often a good theory will reveal additional answers, or make powerful predictions, that add substance to the theory. When Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleev constructed his periodic table of elements, not only did he fit all known elements successfully, he predicted that elements we didn’t even know about would turn up later on – and they did!

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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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