Conservation Minnesota

Warming Trend This Week – April: Warmest on Record Worldwide

52 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.
69 F. average high on May 14.
57 F. high temperature on May 14, 2015.

May 15, 1998: Damaging tornadoes impact Minnesota. One tornado hits a flea market in Albany, killing one person and injuring 30 others. 102 homes are severely damaged in the northern Twin Cities due to another tornado.

May 15, 1969: Torrential rain occurs in Synnes Township, dumping 8 inches of rain in three hours.

Saved By a Breeze – May Mellows This Week

Well that was fun, as refreshingly unexpected as a cold slap across the face. Yesterday may have been the coldest Minnesota Fishing Opener since 2004. Freezing temperatures were reported across central and western counties – a coating of snow delighted anglers over the Minnesota Arrowhead.

Once again we’re waking up to frosty temperatures, mainly north of the MSP metro. The same gusty wind that carved out whitecaps on area lakes yesterday kept the low layers of the atmosphere stirred up. That, coupled with the urban heat island, prevented widespread frost damage in the immediate Twin Cites.

The last few days were a vivid reminder that the march into summer rarely goes in a straight line, but lukewarm days are coming. A stray instability shower sprouts Monday afternoon; otherwise dry weather is the rule this week with highs in the 60s – 70s by late week. Mother Nature may restore your faith in May next weekend with mid-70s under a sunny, lake-worthy sky.

A sticky warm front may shove heavy T-storms into town in 8 days; enjoy the quiet spell and a well-deserved warm front.



Saturday Morning Lows. St. Cloud tied a record Saturday morning at 29F, 34F at MSP International and Crystal but 33F St. Paul and 31F in Alexandria.


St. Cloud Record. Saturday’s wake-up air temperature of 29F at St. Cloud tied the record set in 1921.


Late Showers Far Northern Minnesota. A wrinkle of cold air rotating around a broad trough of low pressure ignites a few instability showers over far northern counties by late afternoon or evening – the same feature may spark a couple of showers in the Twin Cities by Monday afternoon. 2-meter precipitation type: NOAA and AerisWeather.


Suitable For Framing. After a cool, wet week and October-like Fishing Opener temperatures recover nicely this week; 70 degrees by late week as chilly air finally retreats into Canada. Good riddance. Source: WeatherBell.


80s Early Next Week? I wouldn’t take it to the bank, not yet, but the trends are encouraging. GFS guidance hints at low to mid 80s by early next week (with a good chance of heavy T-storms). Source: Aeris Enterprise.

Heaviest Rains Pass South of Minnesota Next 10 Days. GFS model guidance (accumulated rainfall) prints out excessive amounts of rain from the Central and Southern Plains into the Mid South, compounding the flooding woes in Texas and Louisiana.


Dry Week – Storm Potential Increases Again Next Week. Any rainfall amounts from Monday PM showers should be light – dry weather the rule into Sunday. But models suggest a heightened risk of showers and T-storms, some potentially heavy, by next week.


Welcome Rains Arrive. Here’s an excerpt of Mark Seeley’s latest post at Minnesota WeatherTalk: “After starting the month with 8 consecutive dry days, interspersed with some record-setting high daily temperatures (90s F in many areas), and low relative humidity (7-15 percent range) some widespread welcome rains blanketed the state this week. Total amounts were generally less than an inch in many northern and central counties, but many southern Minnesota observers reported over 2 inches, including Pipestone, Worthington, Albert Lea, Fairmont, New Ulm, St James, and Caledonia. A handful of observers reported over three inches for the week including Windom, Lakefield, and Sherburn (3.93”)…”

Photo credit: Mike Hall.





Weather Prediction: It’s Math! Lot’s and lot’s of math – calculus that still gives me night-sweats. Here’s an excerpt from NOAA: “Dutifully processing 2.8 quadrillion mathematical calculations per second around the clock, these computers — each about the size of a school bus — are the nucleus of weather and climate forecasting in the United States and the calculations they make are the foundation of NOAA’s life-saving weather predictions. Every day, the supercomputers collect and organize billions of earth observations, such as temperature, air pressure, moisture, wind speed and water levels, which are critical to initialize all numerical weather prediction models. All these observations are represented by numbers...”

The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Scientist and writer Greg Laden has an interesting post at scienceblogs.com; here’s the intro: “This year’s Atlantic Hurricane season will be stronger, forecasts suggest, than that of the previous two years, and stronger than the average year. The Atlantic Hurricane Seasons starts on June 1st. But, there was a hurricane that happened already, either late in last year’s season or very early in this year’s season, called Alex. That hurricane had to go somewhere, and I suppose the keepers of the records had already put their spreadsheet to bed when Alex came along on January 7th, so that storm gets counted as part of the season that will nominally start at the beginning of next month...”

Image credit: “The following graphic shows the relationship between the median number of named storms predicted each year by those three sources and the actual number of named storms in the Atlantic.”


Myths and Facts About Tornadoes. Some very good advice at Livingston Daily: “…Another myth is that you should crawl up under an overpass while a tornado passes. This is very dangerous. Again, debris is being hurled about — even under the bridge. Do not try to outrun the tornado in your vehicle. A tornado has the potential of traveling 60 mph, and they don’t follow a road like your vehicle. If you see a tornado developing where you are driving, the best thing to do is pull over and evacuate your vehicle. Seek shelter in the nearest sturdy building or storm shelter. Do not hide under your car. The wind could potentially roll your car over. If there isn’t an available shelter, find the nearest ditch or low-lying area and crouch low to the ground, covering your head with your arms. Don’t forget, sturdy buildings are all around you. Fast-food restaurants, banks, and churches may offer shelter and a safe place to enter…”

File photo credit: Aaron Shafer.


Twister Chasing in Tornado Alley. Josh Edelson at AFP takes us along for the frustrations, terror and temporary euphoria of an ultimately successful tornado chase; here’s an excerpt: “…As far as taking pictures, it was a challenging situation. I was soooo excited to finally see one after all these days waiting and all of the sudden I had to think about things like what lens to use, what aperture setting, what shutter speed, the ISO, how to compose the shot. At one point, I was shooting and I realized that for the past five minutes I had been shooting in manual focus and I thought, “Damn, did I just blow the whole thing?” (Luckily I didn’t). As I was shooting, I tried to also just take it all in. It was just monstrous — there was no end to it, it just melded into the sky, ominous and otherworldly…”
Photo credit: AFP / Josh Edelson.

America’s Shrinking Middle Class: A Close Look at Changes Within Metropolitan Areas. Why are we so angry? New findings from Pew Research Center offers strong clues: “The American middle class is losing ground in metropolitan areas across the country, affecting communities from Boston to Seattle and from Dallas to Milwaukee. From 2000 to 2014 the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 U.S. metropolitan areas examined in a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. The decrease in the middle-class share was often substantial, measuring 6 percentage points or more in 53 metropolitan areas, compared with a 4-point drop nationally...”

Public Health Professor: Because of Zika, Rio Olympics “Must Not Proceed”. No sugar-coating here, as explained at NPR: “Amir Attaran, a professor in the School of Public Health and the School of Law at the University of Ottawa, isn’t afraid to take a bold stand. He has written a commentary for the Harvard Public Health Review, published this week, with the headline, “Why Public Health Concerns for Global Spread of Zika Virus Means that Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Olympic Games Must Not Proceed.” The World Health Organization is soon expected to release a statement with guidance on travel to the Olympics…”


Should the 2016 Summer Olympics Still Be Held in Rio? With additional perspective (that makes me happy to watch the spectacle on television, but wondering how I would feel if I had a son or daughter participating in the games) here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Washington Post: “…Still, there are two reasons why I suspect that Attaran is not overreacting. The first is that a big global gathering like the Olympics seems tailor made to spread the disease. Normally when an epidemic breaks out, the concern is that people will travel from the infected area to other places to spread the disease, and whether other governments are overreacting to that migration. Indeed, that’s the cause of the myriad epidemiological freakouts that have occurred this century: SARS, H1N1, Ebola, etc. This is a different question. This is all about whether it’s a good idea to have a major global event in a city that is in the middle of this kind of outbreak. This strikes me as a different kind of debate. Is it really such a hot idea to have a significant global gathering in the middle of a hot zone?…”

Photo credit: “Municipal workers wait before spraying insecticide at Sambodrome in Rio de Janeiro on Jan. 26.” (REUTERS/Pilar Olivares).


Scientists Can Now Make Lithium-Ion Batteries Last a Lifetime. Computerworld has the story; here’s the intro: “Who says playing around is a waste of time? Researchers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) said that’s exactly what they were doing when they discovered how to increase the tensile strength of nanowires that could be used to make lithium-ion batteries last virtually forever. Researchers have pursued using nanowires in batteries for years because the filaments, thousands of times thinner than a human hair, are highly conductive and have a large surface area for the storage and transfer of electrons…”

Photo credit: “University of California doctoral student Mya Le Thai holds a nanowire device that has the potential to enable hundreds of thousands of recharges in a lithium-ion battery.” Credit: Steve Zylius/UCI


Try Not To Jiggle While Watching These Amazing Bladeless Wind Turbines. Is this the future of wind power? Here’s an excerpt from upworthy.com: “…It’s called Bladeless, and it’s a wind turbine with — you guessed it — no blades.The bladeless turbines are massive poles jutting out of the ground. Because they’re thinner than a regular wind turbine and have no blades, more of them can fit into a space, meaning more electricity can be generated while taking up less real estate. So how does the bladeless turbine generate power?…”

Image credit: “Jiggle jiggle jiggle.” GIF via Vortex Bladeless/YouTube.


This Scientist Has Created Speakers that Spew Scents, Not Sounds. What about knitted socks? Here’s another excerpt of a wonderfully head-scratching article at Atlas Obscura: “David Edwards is obsessed with olfaction. The Harvard University professor has spent the last five years building a library of digital smells. The goal? To figure out a way to transmit those aromas through technology—carrying and communicating scent memories through the air. Now, he has stored a selection of these scents on a “scent speaker” called Cyrano. The device emits olfactory notes, which you can arrange into playlists on a smartphone app. With a few bursts, a home stereo system in a New York City apartment can evoke the scents of a Hawaiian vacation, or a Christmas market in Germany…”

Photo credit: “Cyrano is David Edwards new invention to communicate through scent.” (Photo: © Wayne E. Chinnock/Vapor Communications).


Find Out If Your Name Was Ahead of Its Time. How popular was your name when you were born? A calculator at TIME brings out the inner-narcissist in all of us: “…To find out how popular your name was when you were born—and how it has fared since then—enter your gender, birth year and first name into this interactive. We’ll tell you which of eight categories your name fits into based on your birth year, like “trendsetter,” “Mr. or Ms. Popular,” or even a “snowflake”—a name that was never common…”



TODAY: Sunny and milder after a frosty start in some outlying suburbs. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 61

SUNDAY NIGHT: Clear and cool. Low: 47

MONDAY: Clouds increase, PM shower. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 63

TUESDAY: Bright sun returns, light winds. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 44. High: 64

WEDNESDAY: Sunny and spectacular. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 49. High: 69

THURSDAY: Blue sky, mild breeze returns. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 51. High: 72

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, lukewarm. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 54. High: 73

SATURDAY: Plenty of sun, cabin-worthy. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 56. High: 75


Climate Stories…

A CO2 Milestone in Earth’s History. 400 ppm over Antarctica too? Here’s an excerpt from UCAR: “Earth’s atmosphere is crossing a major threshold, as high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2)—the leading driver of recent climate change—are beginning to extend even to the globe’s most remote region. Scientists flying near Antarctica this winter captured the moment with airborne CO2 sensors during a field project to better understand the Southern Ocean’s role in global climate. This illustration shows the atmosphere near Antarctica in January, just as air masses over the Southern Ocean began to exceed 400 parts per million of CO2. The 400 ppm level is regarded as a milestone by climate scientists, as the last time concentrations of the heat-trapping gas reached such a point was millions of years ago, when temperatures and sea levels were far higher…”

Illustration credit: Eric Morgan, Scripps Institution of Oceanography.


A Brief History of Climate Science. If anyone asks the science dates back to Fourier in the 1820s. Here’s an excerpt from climate scientist Ed Hawkins at The Conversation: “…What was missing however was an estimate of how much these gases could warm or cool the planet. Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish chemist, provided the first numerical estimates of “climate sensitivity” – defined as the temperature change corresponding to a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. He suggested a value around 4°C in 1896. While the scientists continued to debate the causes of the ice ages, the Earth was warming. From the 1920s onwards meteorologists began to realise that the climate of various regions had changed. Joseph Kincer suggested in 1933 that temperatures in individual cities had been rising. At the same time, others had started measuring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But it took an amateur meteorologist to put the puzzle together…”

Image credit: “The future of the globe used to look a lot brighter.” ToastyKen.



Obama Administration Issues New Rules on Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Industry. The rules only apply to new point sources, as explained at VICE News: “The Obama administration issued new rules on Thursday for reducing climate-warming methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector, continuing its string of executive branch actions aimed at addressing climate change. The regulations cover only new or substantially modified oil and gas facilities: wells, processors, storage facilities, and pipelines. The administration says it will be up to the next president to lead the charge on reining in emissions from existing sources. US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said the rules highlight President Barack Obama’s commitment to addressing climate change, and limiting pollutants that compromise public health...”

Photo credit: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP.


Just Because Sea Level Rise Threatens Miami Doesn’t Mean the City Should Give Up. Here’s a snippet of an Op-Ed at Miami New Times: “…We know Miami (and, indeed, most of the southern half of Florida) is particularly vulnerable to climate change. We do not, however, know exactly when the effects will become untenable. There may be a scientific consensus on man-influenced climate change and sea-level rise, but there isn’t scientific consensus on a timeline. In any event, it seems most likely that Miami will continue to be a functioning city that is home to millions of people for the next few immediate decades (which translates to a large chunk of human life, if not longer)…”

Photo credit: Carolina del Busto.



Freddie Mac Economist Warns of Housing Crisis Caused Sea Level Rise. New-Times Broward Palm Beach has the story; here’s a link and excerpt: “…In an April “Insight” report by Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored home loan agency, its chief economist warned of sea levels and flooding reaching a point where properties becomes uninsurable and unmarketable, causing homeowners to begin defaulting on their mortgages. This would instigate another housing crisis—except this time, it’d be unlikely that housing prices ever recover.  Sean Becketti, Chief Economist, Freddie Mac said in a statement:  “In the housing crisis, a significant share of borrowers continued to make their mortgage payments even though the values of their homes were less than the balances of their mortgages. It is less likely that borrowers will continue to make mortgage payments if their homes are literally underwater. As a result, lenders, servicers and mortgage insurers are likely to suffer large losses…”

Photo credit: DVIDSHUB via Wikipedia Commons.


Fractures Seen in Rapidly Melting Sea Ice, and It’s Only May. Andrew Freedman has the story at Mashable; here’s a clip: “Even accounting for the accelerating pace of Arctic climate change, sea ice loss in the Far North is running well ahead of schedule. This may signal a near record or record low sea ice extent to come in September. Fractures in the ice cover are evident north of Greenland, which Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, told Mashable are “quite unusual” for this time of year…”


How Scared or Hopeful Should We Be in a Warming World? The Conversation asks the rhetorical question; here’s the intro: “For anyone who takes notice of the climate change debate, a mass of often-contradictory information comes flooding into our lives. Some of it prompts great alarm. The Great Barrier Reef is suffering severe bleaching. Wild fires are consuming Alberta. Last year was the warmest on record, and 15 of the 16 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001. Yet there are also some positive signs that the world is at last getting serious about the threat. Global investment in renewable energy last year exceeded investment in fossil energy for the first time. Coal use in the United States is falling rapidly...”

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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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