Conservation Minnesota

Sunday Was "Normal" for May 11 – Minor Reality Check This Week

68 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
51 F. average high on April 3.
43 F. high on April 3, 2015.

April 5, 1999: Heavy snow falls over the Arrowhead, with 11 inches at Two Harbors.
April 5, 1929: A tornado cuts a path from Lake Minnetonka through North Minneapolis and leaves six dead.

Canadian Leakage – Another Warm Front Next Weekend

Here’s my annual public service for brides planning outdoor weddings this summer: rent the tent. If you don’t – all bets are off.

People become illogical and borderline pathological when it comes to weddings and the weather. My oldest son was married in late October. Mercifully the sun came out for a few hours as the mercury hit 50F. Afterwards, in the parking lot, a woman came up and said “I noticed you had a perfect fall day for YOUR wedding. It POURED on my daughter’s wedding yesterday. How does that make you feel?” She was only half-joking. “Lucky?” I said. Oy vey. The perils of trying to predict the weather.
After a stunning Sunday Canadian air burbles south again today; temperatures much of the week a few degrees below average. Under a scrappy sky that resembles late October at times showery rains are likely Tuesday into Thursday. The thrust of the cold air is Great Lakes and New England; Minnesota just enjoys a glancing blow of brisk with 50s next weekend.
Outdoor events?
Hope for the best, but plan for worst-case. Just remember, Mother Nature doesn’t owe you any favors.

Perfectly Normal – For May 11. Sunday was remarkable, even nicer than expected with upper 60s and a few low 70s across the metro – but 40s over far northern suburbs – 30s closer to Spooner. Map: Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Cool Bias Next 10 Days. After warming up to 68F Sunday (significantly milder than expected or predicted – although I heard few complaints) Canada returns for an encore performance much of this week and next with temperatures running a few degrees below average. Although the core of the cold air is heading toward the Great Lakes and New England I see a streak of 40s (with a few 50s thrown in) into early next week. 2-meter (GFS) predicted temperatures: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Mostly 40s – Weekend Warming. Models are in fairly good agreement keeping it cool this week, an upward blip into the 50s, possibly 60F by next Saturday. Source: Aeris Enterprise.

Showery Rains Metro Area – Mix Up North. Models hint at over half an inch of rain by Thursday; the best chance of showery rains coming on Tuesday. Now that it’s April the maps look like mid-March.

Sloppy Week. Good news for your lawn and budding plants and trees. Another free watering is on the way; the best chance of half inch precipitation amounts north of MSP, where precipitation may fall as a mix – even a couple inches of slushy snow. 12 KM NAM guidance: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Echoes of The March We Never Had. Back to the future – folks living in Duluth and the Minnesota Arrowhead will enjoy a few inches of slushy snow by midweek. With a high sun angle and UV radiation penetrating thick stratus roads should be mostly-wet during the day, but potentially slippery after dark.

Warm(er) and Unsettled by Mid-April. After a cool, damp start to the month temperatures should moderate a bit within 1-2 weeks; more consistent 50s with a few 60s – even a growing chance of T-storms by the third week of April.

Looking Back at the April 3-4, 1974 Tornado “Super Outbreak”. U.S. Tornadoes does a good job recapping the amazing outbreak of ’74, an event that generated a new crop of meteorologists fixated on severe weather (myself included). The 2011 outbreak spun up more tornadoes, but the number of extreme EF4-5 tornadoes in 1974 was greater; here’s an excerpt: “…Many comparisons have been made between this outbreak and the April 25-28, 2011 outbreak which featured 358 tornadoes.  Although the more recent outbreak featured many more tornadoes, they occurred over a longer time period in an age of better tornado detection, and the worst was confined to a smaller area compared to April 3-4, 1974. Perhaps the most staggering fact from the 1974 outbreak was the amount of F4 and F5 tornadoes; an incredible 30 (23 F4s and 7 F5s).   The 1974 outbreak featured 30 violent tornadoes in less than one day when the national average is only about 7 per year...”

Graphic credit above: “Comparison of tornadoes F/EF3 or higher in 1974 and 2011.” Chart by Kathryn Prociv.


Northern Hemisphere Snowcover is Decreasing. No, you’re not imagining it. Here’s an excerpt from a post at WXshift: “Since satellites started collecting data in the early 1970s, there has been a trend toward less summer snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere. While most people might think of the summer as beach time, snow still covers a wide swath of land in the northern stretches of the globe. But over the past 50 years, that snow cover has been receding from a peak of 10.28 million square miles set in 1979 to a record low 3.69 million square miles set in 2013. Spring snow cover is also on the decline and this reduced snow cover is consistent with rising temperatures driving increased snowmelt...”

Even in a Warming World, It Will Still Snow Somewhere. God help us if it stops snowing durinig the winter; but snowfall patterns are becoming more sparse and erratic – continuous snow on the ground from October to March is no longer a given, even in Minnesota. Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “…Adam H. Sobel, a climate scientist at Columbia University who wrote a recent book on Hurricane Sandy and extreme weather, reminds people to make sure to differentiate between weather and climate. If you really want to know what is going on with climate change, he said, look at the long-term averages over large areas. Do not be fooled by short-term weather fluctuations, or by distractions like snowballs…”
Photo credit above: “If you really want to know what is going on with climate change, climate scientists urge looking at long-term averages over large areas. A snow storm on Capitol Hill does not mean climate change is not happening.” Credit Drew Angerer for The New York Times.

Will La Nina Affect the 2016 Presidential Election? It’s a generalization, but La Nina cool phases in the Pacific tend to favor drought and more numerous hurricanes. Dr. Mashall Shepherd takes a look at Forbes; here’s an excerpt: “…Given the timing of a possible La Niña onset, it is not unreasonable to ask the question, “Could it affect the upcoming U.S. Presidential election in November?” This question is not as far fetched as you may think. Published research from the University of Georgia found that Hurricane Sandy may have affected voter turnout in some Northeast states. Previous studies have also indicated that extreme temperatures, rainfall or snowfall can suppress turnout among sporadic or less-intense voters, which often tend to vote Democrat. While some studies suggest adverse weather conditions favor Republicans, other studies  have also contradicted this premise. It is clear that weather does have some effect…”

The Southwest May Have Entered a “Drier Climate State”. Here’s a good summary of new research findings, courtesy of WXshift: “The Southwest is already the most arid part of the U.S. Now new research indicates it’s becoming even more dry as wet weather patterns, quite literally, dry up. The change could herald a pattern shift and raises the specter of megadrought in the region. “We see a very intense trend in the Southwest,” Andreas Prein, a postdoctoral researcher at the National Corporation for Atmospheric Research, said. “The Southwest might already have drifted into a drier climate state…”

There’s a Reason Why Some Birds Don’t Seem to Fly South for Winter Anymore, Scientists Say. The Washington Post has a summary of new research confirming the obvious: “…Thursday’s study supports previous research commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that said warming temperatures are altering the habitat ranges of birds in every state, so much so that the mascot of Baltimore’s baseball team — the oriole — might no longer inhabit the Baltimore-Washington region 30 years from now. The same is true for eagles. As the area warms and dries, they would have to find other habitats, possibly fight other species for a place there, and quickly adapt or possibly perish, a study published two years ago by the National Audubon Society says. Of 588 species studied, about 125 were expected to be pushed from half their range and likely decline…”

Photo credit above: “The American robin, a familiar species across much of the continental United States, has declined in some southern states, such as Mississippi and Louisiana, but increased in north-central states, such as the Dakotas.” (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)


Hail Cannons, the Devices that Supposedly Blast Away Bad Weather. I’d like to order a dozen, please. Here’s a snippet from Atlas Obscura: “Prior to the 1890s, humans attempted to modify the weather using rain dances, prayers, incantations, and bell ringing. Then came an exciting new form of weather modification technology: the hail cannon. Employed to prevent or reduce hail’s deadly damage to crops, hail cannons can be traced back to an Italian professor of mineralogy, who in 1880 raised the idea of preventing hailstorm formation by injecting smoke particles into thunderstorms via cannon...”

Photo credit above: “An old-school hail cannon in a castle in Slovakia.” (Photo: Etan J. Tal/CC BY-SA 3.0)


The Invisible Catastrophe. The New York Times puts the recent Porter Ranch methane leak into perspective; here’s an excerpt that caught my eye: “…In a paper published in the February issue of Science, Conley and his co-­authors estimate that 97,100 metric tons of methane escaped the Aliso Canyon well in total. Over a 20-year period, methane is estimated to have a warming effect on earth’s atmosphere 84 times that of carbon dioxide. By that metric, the Aliso Canyon leak produced the same amount of global warming as 1,735,404 cars in a full year…”

Image credit above: “A view of the neighborhood, Aliso Canyon and the methane wells (on the ridge).” Credit Ewan Telford for The New York Times.


An Ancient Site Spotted from Space Could Rewrite the History of Vikings in North America. Here’s an excerpt of a fascinating tale at The Washington Post: “…But after analyzing countless images of the Canadian coastline, Parcak couldn’t deny that one site looked promising: A bit of exposed headland on the southwestern side of Newfoundland where intriguing, almost-imperceptible patterns in the ground suggested that manmade structures once stood there. One of them seemed to have internal divisions and is almost the exact size and shape of longhouses uncovered at L’Anse aux Meadows...”

Image credit above: “An unprocessed satellite image of Point Rosee. Parcak and her team were alerted to the presence of an archaeological site here by almost imperceptible variations in the vegetation.” (Courtesy Environmental Council of Newfoundland and Labrador)


Can An Outsider Ever Truly Become Amish? Atlas Obsura and LongReads has a fascinating story; here’s an excerpt: “…Now, the wishful Amish have dedicated internet forums (ironically) on which they write with the feverishness of the unrequited lover about their long-held desire to get close to the aloof objects of their spiritual desire. Many say they’ve wanted to become Amish for “as long as [they] could remember,” though most of them say they have only seen Amish people on a few occasions, and don’t know much, if anything at all, about Amish theology. Some talk about wanting to find an Amish partner, others, about the fear they won’t be accepted into the community because they are single parents, or divorced, or have tattoos or once dabbled in drugs…”

Photo credit above: “Two sisters in their traditional, everyday, Lancaster County Amish attire.” (Photo: Tessa Smucker).


TODAY: Partly sunny, cooler breeze. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 41

MONDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, chilly. Low: 33

TUESDAY: Cool & damp, few showers likely. Winds: SE 15-30. High: 45

WEDNESDAY: Few instability showers possible. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 38. High: 46

THURSDAY: More showers, few flakes mixed in? Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 36. High: 43

FRIDAY: Still chilly, sprinkles and flurries. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 32. High: 41

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, breezy & milder. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 36. High: 58

SUNDAY: Clouds increase, few showers. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 43. High: 56


Climate Stories….

Climate Model Predicts West Antarctica Ice Sheet Could Melt Rapidly. In case you missed the Justin Gillis story at The New York Times; here’s a clip: “For half a century, climate scientists have seen the West Antarctic ice sheet, a remnant of the last ice age, as a sword of Damocles hanging over human civilization. The great ice sheet, larger than Mexico, is thought to be potentially vulnerable to disintegration from a relatively small amount of global warming, and capable of raising the sea level by 12 feet or more should it break up. But researchers long assumed the worst effects would take hundreds — if not thousands — of years to occur. Now, new research suggests the disaster scenario could play out much sooner...”
Photo credit above: “A view from a NASA airplane of large icebergs that have broken from the calving side of Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica in November 2014. A disaster scenario of West Antarctic ice sheet disintegration could occur much sooner than previously thought, new research suggests.” Credit Jim Yungel/NASA.

With Climate Change, U.S. States Routinely Achieving New Levels of Extreme Warmth. Jason Samenow has the story at Capital Weather Gang; here’s a snippet: “In globe’s warmed climate today, U.S. states are setting new records for extreme warmth with regularity while record cold is almost impossible to come by. The huge disparity between record warmth and cold across the United States is the screaming message portrayed in a slide showing state climate records. It was posted to social media Wednesday by Deke Arndt, chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration…”

Map credit above: “Climate warming in U.S. from 1991-2012 compared to 1901-1960 average.” (National Climate Assessment, 2014).


Its Hazy, But China’s Carbon Emissions May Have Peaked. Here’s a clip from a story at The New York Times: “…Now, some researchers examining recent data from the slowing Chinese economy are asking whether emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, are already falling in China — more than a decade earlier than expected. If so, there could be important consequences. China’s success could energize worldwide efforts to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or two degrees Celsius, above preindustrial levels, considered a difficult mission but critical for forestalling catastrophic environmental changes...”

Changing Climate, Observed from an Iowa Woodland. I was struck by a post at patheos.com; here’s an excerpt: “The impetus for Connie’s book came in part from the approaching birth of her granddaughter Ellie. She wondered what sort of world her generation was leaving to this new generation. For this reason she blends scientific facts about climate change with her own personal narrative. Connie’s years of experience in science writing help her make this complicated topic clear and accessible for a general reader. It’s a sobering analysis, and she doesn’t shy away from describing her own despair at times. She describes how global average temperatures are rising on a trajectory that could, within decades, propel us beyond far-reaching, irreversible atmospheric changes…”


Carolina Hunter/Fisherman In His Own Words. Here’s another excerpt of a testimonial, courtesy of Yale Climate Connection: “…But Darden is concerned over what he and his fellow hunter friends now are seeing. Darden says he and other hunters have become “more attuned to noticing things that change over the years.” He now finds ticks a concern well into November and December. And now, as early as March, he experiences being “bombarded by mosquitoes, an infestation that was unheard of as a kid.” “Mother Nature tells you in a myriad of ways that something is a-kilter,” Darden says. He points to the importance of using turkey calls and says the sounds “carried better when woods were not so foliated.” Now they leaf-out earlier, hurting hunters’ success rates, he says…”

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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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