66 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.
58 F. average high on April 16.
80 F. high on April 16, 2016.

April 17, 1965: The Mississippi River at St. Paul has a record crest, 4 feet above the previous record. High water records would be set all the way down to Missouri in later days.

Going Green Will Leave More Green In Your Wallet

Friday’s soaking coupled with Sunday’s brilliant sunshine has given spring a green light. Nature’s reboot is urgent-green, almost neon-green. In your face rebirth and renewal.

Which is what our energy system is experiencing. I drive a Tesla, which I charge at home. Our electric rates have not gone up. Thank you Xcel Energy. My insurance premium fell, and there’s little maintenance. “Bring it in once a year and we’ll check the tires” their service guy told me. “But you don’t have to.”

There’s a real ROI, a return on investment. New Tesla Model 3’s and Chevy Bolts are priced in the mid- 30s and prices will continue to plummet. My electric car has 150 moving parts; a typical gas-powered vehicle: 10,000 moving parts. There is simply less that can go wrong. They are cheaper to maintain and cheaper to manufacture.

Installing solar shingles and energy storage (a big battery) will allow me to drive for free, and even power my home for extended periods of time – for free. Free has a nice ring.

Sunshine today gives way to more showers Tuesday & Wednesday. Expect a partly sunny weekend with highs topping 60F. Nothing severe is brewing. Slush season in our rear-view mirror. Soak it up!

The Market Has Spoken, and It Says Electric Cars Are The Future. Yeah, I’m biased. Then again I owned 34 gasoline-powered vehicles before I traded in 2 cars on a gently used Tesla Model S nearly 4 years ago. Best thing I ever did. Driving it every day I feel like I’m getting a glimpse of the future. The navigation is amazing, the entertainment options pretty much infinite. The car can even drive itself if you have a newer model (mine is a 2013 edition, so it doesn’t have the sensor hardware to be able to drive without human intervention. Here’s an excerpt from Grist: “…Investors believe that electric cars with self-driving capabilities are going to become the norm — especially as Tesla is preparing to roll out its first mass-market car. It also doesn’t hurt that Tesla’s cars look cool, and that stock traders grow wistful and dewy-eyed when they see Musk’s face. If the Wall Street crowd is correct, it would be good for everybody. A wholesale shift to electric cars would vaporize one of the most formidable barriers in the fight against climate change: getting cars to stop pumping greenhouse gas into the air. This feels weird, but here’s one instance that it’s in the public interest to root for Wall Street.”

Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The more sources of warning information, the better. But I continue to believe that a NOAA Weather Radio should be mandatory for every home, apartment, office, hospital and nursing home. Nothing else will wake you up at 3 am if a tornado is approaching. Here’s an excerpt from Homeland Security and Emergency Management: “…A weather radio is one of the best ways to stay tuned-in to dangerous weather. These radios receive broadcasts from the National Weather Service. The broadcasts are from local weather service offices. Broadcasts include ordinary forecasts of several kinds, including for boating, farming, traveling and outdoor recreation as well as general forecasts for the area. The stations also broadcast all watches and warnings. Some weather radios have a feature that turn on the radio automatically when a watch or warning is broadcast. Such “tone alert” weather radios are highly recommended for places where large numbers of people could be endangered by tornadoes or flash floods. These include schools, nursing homes, shopping center security offices, hospitals, and recreation areas such as swimming pools.  

This National Weather Service page has information on weather radios, including a list of weather radio stations in each state…”

When a Tornado Looms, Many Residents of Trailer Parks Are On Their Own. I still can’t quite fathom how it isn’t a state law that every mobile home park should have an underground shelter available. I know it costs money, but it’s a little like selling a car without brakes. Which is great, until you need to apply the brakes. Here’s an excerpt of a story at Illinois’s Daily Herald: “…Patti Thompson, a spokeswoman for Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said people living in trailer parks should leave their homes as soon as severe storm or tornado watches are issued and head to a safe place, such as a friend’s house with a basement or another sturdy building. It’s especially important to use weather radios to be aware of the conditions. “Weather radios make a really loud sound when a warning’s been issued in the area,” she said. “But that’s almost too late for people in mobile homes. They really need to be looking for a safer place even when there’s just a watch out.” Thompson said their recommendations are based on the consensus from the weather science community including the National Weather Service…”

84-Hour Future Radar. NOAA’s 12 KM NAM model prints out more showers and T-showers across the Mid South today; flurries for northern New England and showery rains for the Pacific Northwest. Tomorrow a storm spreads a comma-shaped swirl of showers and storms across the Dakotas and Upper Midwest. Animation: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.

Slight Cooling Trend. Temperatures are forecast to run closer to average in the coming weeks with highs in the 50s to low 60s. Expect a few nights in the 30s, but the immediate metro should avoid a widespread frost looking out 2 weeks. MSP meteogram: WeatherBell.

Lightning Factoids. Every thunderstorm, by definition, is potentially deadly, with cloud to ground lightning, striking the U.S. roughly 25 million times a year. An average of 75 to 100 Americans are killed by lightning every year; hundreds injured; many with lifelong disabilities. Most of these injuries are ultimately avoidable. The first growl of thunder signals it’s time to move inside: a home or vehicle offers the best protection. Avoid fields, golf courses and lakes. Remember the “30-30 Rule”; if you count 30 seconds between the flash and the bang, it’s time to race indoors. Wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder to resume outdoor plans. Don’t push your luck.

Will Warming Temperatures Bring More Lightning. New research suggests a correlation; here’s a summary from WXshift: “…The large, long-term dataset constructed from these instruments could also help scientists understand any links between severe storms and climate change. A study published in 2014 found that for every degree Celsius of global temperature rise, we could see a 12 percent increase in lightning rates, leading to a 50 percent increase by the end of the century. “To the extent that warm years now look like normal years in the future, that might tell us something about how we might expect lightning to change in the future from the current average,” Brooks said. And as lightning from these storms increases, it seems possible that climate change will have parallel effects on other dangerous aspects of severe storms, since some research suggests that a warmer climate will be a better breeding ground for severe storms. Some research has found that in recent decades, more severe tornado outbreaks have occurred over fewer days…”

File image from low-Earth orbit: NASA and the International Space Station.

Lightning Favors Men. Why is this? It’s true that more men work outdoors in construction, agriculture and energy services, but could it be that men are also more stubborn than women? Not sure – you can prove anything with statistics, I guess.

Good Reason To Get Off The Lake When Storms Begin to Grumble. Over a third of all U.S. lightning fatalities from 2006 through 2013 were water-related. Granted, that’s a fairly short time period to glean meaningful data, but there’s little doubt that a significant percentage of lightning deaths and injuries occur in fields and on or near lakes and other bodies of water. You don’t want to be the tallest thing in the area – lightning is lazy; looking for the easiest path from cloud to ground. Source: NOAA.

Lightning Round-Up: The World’s Weirdest Electricity. New Scientist has a good summary of some of the new and exotic forms of lightning discovered in recent years, including sprites: “..Once thought to be a myth, sprites are fleeting flashes of red light high above thunderclouds that look like giant jellyfish. These collections of “streamers”, formed of ribbons of ionised air, are believed to be produced by the strong electric fields generated in the upper atmosphere when lightning is born, but we don’t yet understand exactly how they form…”

Image credit: JSC/NASA.

Texas Panhandle Severe T-storm and GOES-16. Check out the 1-minute visible imagery from the latest, greatest weather satellite, courtesy of Satellite Liaison Blog: “On April 14, a severe storm developed rapidly near Clovis, NM and slowly moved east into the southwest portion of the Texas Panhandle. This storm quickly produced hail in excess of 2.5 inches, and by 2305 UTC, had produced a tornado. Finally, given the slow motion of the severe storm, flash flooding became a hazard as well. GOES-16 mesoscale sector #2 provided 1-min imagery of storm development and evolution. Below is a 1-min, 0.64 um visible (0.5 km) animation of the storm between 2309 and 2359 UTC, during which a large tornado was reported. Given the proximity to sunset, storm top features such as overshooting tops and above anvil cirrus plumes are especially evident. The persistent overshooting tops (dome features with adjacent shadow to east) suggest a persistently strong updraft, potential severe weather, and heavy precip threat. Above anvil cirrus plumes (smooth feature downwind of overshooting top) are also indicators of strong updrafts, and occur when overshooting tops extending well above the tropopause inject moisture into the stratosphere. Additionally, the rapid expansion of the cirrus anvil signals continued storm growth...”

Graphic credit: “GOES-16 0.64 um imagery at 1-min temporal resolution.” Full resolution: https://satelliteliaisonblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/20170414_vis_anno.gif

“Worst Flooding in Decades” in Northeast Washington State as Flood Season Begins. Details via The Yakima Herald: “What has been described “as the worst flooding in decades” in Ferry County in northeastern Washington has upended roads, slid a home into a riverbank and resulted in numerous mudslides. In one incident, said Amy Rooker, the county’s emergency manager, “We had a gentleman driving south on Highway 21 towards Keller when he noticed that half the road was gone. He flew across the road and ended up in a yard of a house.” On its official website, the county, population 7,700, says about itself: “Often described as one of the last frontiers of the American West, Ferry County combines a rugged mountain environment dominated by mining and logging industries with the breathtaking beauty of a wilderness retreat...”
Photo credit: Ferry County Sheriff’s Office.

How Disappearing Arctic Ice is Already Changing Your Weather. We’ve been sprinkling hot sauce on our ice cream sundae, then acting surprised when the weather tastes odd. I’ve been talking about this for nearly 20 years and it would appear that the symptoms are becoming more apparent over time. Here’s an excerpt from meteorologist Dan Satterfield at AGU Blogosphere: “…Is Arctic amplification already altering the jet stream? That’s the big question and one of the first scientists to try and answer it was my friend Dr Jennifer Francis at Rutgers University. The wind flow aloft should be getting weaker and it should be more “curvy”. Dr Francis and 5 co-authors have a paper in an upcoming issue of the AMS Journal of Climate that shows that this indeed the case. The atmospheric flow is becoming wavier, and not only that, the newest climate models predict that it should be happening as the ice and snow disappear in the north. These models also show that it will all get dramatically worse by the end of this century as major changes develop in our weather patterns over North America. It looks like the wheat and corn belt in the Plains will be hit the hardest with much hotter and drier conditions, while winters may actually bring even stranger weather as blocks form and persist…”

Graphic credit: “The “curviness” of the winds aloft is indeed increasing as expected.” From: Changes in North American Atmospheric Circulation and Extreme Weather: Influence of Arctic Amplification and Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover Stephen J. Vavrus, Fuyao Wang, Jonathan E. Martin, Jennifer A. Francis, Yannick Peings, and Julien Cattiaux.

After 63 Feet of Snow, Northern California Mountains Break Record for Wettest Water Year. A number so staggeringly-big it doesn’t even compute. Jason Samenow reports at Capital Weather Gang: “A mind-boggling 751 inches of snow have pummeled the Sugar Bowl ski area near Lake Tahoe this winter. It’s emblematic of a record season for precipitation in California’s northern Sierra Nevada mountain range, and the abrupt end to a historic drought. As of Thursday morning, the northern Sierra had achieved its wettest water year in recorded history, the National Weather Service office in Sacramento announced...”

Photo credit: “Frank Gehrke, right, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys program for the Department of Water Resources, lifts a survey tube out of the snow during a manual survey at Phillips Station near Echo Summit, Calif., on March 30.” (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press).

Big Sur, California Still Cut Off From Rest of the World. The Washington Post reports on the aftermath of a series of punishing storms that has effectively isolated this coastal community: “…The “island” of Big Sur — for that’s what this iconic stretch of coastline has become — is entering its ninth week of nearly total isolation, thanks to punishing winter storms, landslides and a failed bridge. The rain ended California’s five-year drought, but it left 45 miles of Highway 1 cut off from the rest of California, with few services for the 450 men, women and children who live here. That means no mail delivery, a limited supply of gasoline, and a single deli where you can buy eggs. Even the resident monks have been forced to pass around the modern-day collection plate known as GoFundMe to help repair the road leading to their monastery...”

Photo credit: “Maria Placencia and her husband, Jesus Mora, follow their children across the storm-damaged Highway 1 Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge on the way to their home in Big Sur, Calif., in February.” (David Royal/Monterey Herald via AP).

Kentucky Coal Mining Museum Converts to Solar Power. You can’t make this stuff up. WYMT in eastern Kentucky reports: “The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham is owned by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. Communications Director Brandon Robinson told WYMT, they’re hoping to save money by the switch. “We believe that this project will help save at least eight to ten thousand dollars, off the energy costs on this building alone, so it’s a very worthy effort and it’s going to save the college money in the long run,” said Robinson. The work began Tuesday to power the energy, not by coal, but by the sun. “It is a little ironic,” said Robinson, “But you know, coal and solar and all the different energy sources work hand-in-hand. And, of course, coal is still king around here…”

Your Farm Is Trying to Kill You. I knew it was a dangerous profession but idea how many threats were lurking out there. Here are a couple of excerpts from The Agenda at Politico: “…Farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in America, with 22 of every 100,000 farmers dying in a work-related accident. Farmers are nearly twice as likely to die on the job as police officers are, five times as likely as firefighters, and 73 times as likely as Wall Street bankers…Farming death rates may be high, but the injury rates are even higher. In 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there were 58,000 adult farm injuries — nearly 6,000 more than the number of U.S. soldiers wounded in all the years since 9/11. Many of those injuries last a lifetime, driving up disability rates among rural Americans, who are 50 percent more likely to have some form of disability than their urban counterparts. Also contributing are high rates of injury in other professions rooted in rural areas, including logging, fishing and trucking…”

Image credit: Edmon de Haro for POLITICO.

The Despair of Learning That Experience No Longer Matters. As you get older you perfect your craft and your income rises. That may have been true in the 1950s and 1960s but today, with globalization, automation, robotics and artificial intelligence all bets are off. Here’s a clip from a New Yorker article: “…Our data are consistent with a model in which the decline in real wages led to a reduction in labor force participation, with cascading effects on marriage, health, and mortality from deaths of despair.” The return to experience is not the best-known economic concept, but it is alive in most of our contemporary economic spook stories, in which the callow private-equity analyst has the final power over an industry in which people have long labored, in which the mechanical robot replaces the assembly-line worker, in which the doctor finds his diagnosis corrected by artificial intelligence. It seemed to match at least one emotional vein that ran through the Trump phenomenon, and the more general alienation of the heartland: people are aging, and they are not getting what they think they have earned…”

Sleep Is The New Status Symbol. In case you missed the story in The New York Times, here’s a link and excerpt: “…For years, studies upon studies have shown how bad sleep weakens the immune system, impairs learning and memory, contributes to depression and other mood and mental disorders, as well as obesity, diabetes, cancer and an early death. (Sedated sleep – hello Ambien – has been shown to be as deleterious as poor sleep.) The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls sleeplessness a public health concern. Good sleep helps brain plasticity, studies in mix have snow; poor sleep will make you fat and sad, and then will kill you...”

Image credit: “Sleep today is a measure of success, a skill to be cultivated and nourished.” Tim Robinson.

TODAY: Cool sunshine much of the day. Winds: NW 5-10. High: near 60. High: near 60

MONDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, showers late. Low: 48

TUESDAY: Showers and T-storms likely. Winds: SW 15-30+ High: 67

WEDNESDAY: Dry start, PM showers likely. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 44. High: 55

THURSDAY: Gray with sprinkles. Spring on hold. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 39. High: 52

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, getting better. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 38. High: near 60

SATURDAY: Plenty of sun, liking April again. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 42. High: 62

SUNDAY: Blue sky, a real Minnesota spring this year? Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 43. High: 65

Climate Stories….

Quora Question: How is Climate Change Affecting Us Now? Here’s an excerpt from Newsweek: “…Climate change is already being felt in innumerable ways today. Climate change is one of the underlying contributors to some of the most major stories of the past decade and is being felt broadly and mostly negatively….

  • Regional conflicts: Climate change has increased drought in the middle east, and has contributed to the rise of ISIS and the destabilization of the middle east playing out now. This in turn has led to the millions of Syrian and other refugees in temporary refugee camps in countries outside of the worst impacted areas and the hundreds of thousands of refugees attempting to get to Europe and often drowning. Researchers Link Syrian Conflict to a Drought Made Worse by Climate Change.
  • Miami is sinking: Many parts of Miami are already experiencing sea water welling up from under foot at king tides and some are experiencing regular flooding at merely high tides. This is with the relatively small amount of sea level rise already experienced. This is an indicator of what is to come. Miami Is Sinking Into the Sea—But Not Without a Fight.…”

Image credit: Jeff Williams, NASA.

To These Pastors, Saving the Colorado River is a Divine Command. The New York Times reports.

Educators Decry Conservative Group’s Climate “Propaganda” Sent to Schoolteachers. Then again, consider the source, The Heartland Institute, the same group that equated people concerned about climate change with the Unabomber, and assured us that smoking was safe. The very definition of fake news. Here’s an excerpt from InsideClimate News: “Science teachers and legislators are fighting back after a conservative advocacy organization mailed false information on climate science to thousands of school science teachers nationwide. After the Heartland Institute began a mass mailing of teaching materials denying the scientific consensus on climate change, lawmakers and teachers’ organizations have raised the alarm over what they characterize as propaganda disguised as information. “I am writing to ask you to consider the possibility that the science in fact is not ‘settled,'” Heartland Institute’s Lennie Jarratt, manager for the institute’s Center for Transforming Education, wrote in a cover letter sent to the teachers accompanying the book, Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming. “If that’s the case, then students would be better served by letting them know a vibrant debate is taking place among scientists on how big the human impact on climate is, and whether or not we should be worried about it.” These statements are false, as is the book’s contention that the overwhelming majority of scientists do not agree on the manmade cause of global warming…”
Image credit: “The Heartland Institute, a libertarian nonprofit organization, has sent mailings discrediting the scientific consensus on climate change to thousands of teachers nationwide.” Credit: Rhett Allain via Twitter

Global Warming and Diabetes. Yes, there may be a link with rising temperatures. Here’s an excerpt of a post at Diabetes In Control: “Diabetes is on a rapid rise, with estimates of 642 million diabetes patients by the year 2040, a 55% increase from 2015. Scientists have begun to question whether the increasing global temperature could have any correlation with diabetes incidence and glucose intolerance. Previous studies have shown that exposing patients to a colder temperature for as short as 10 days can improve insulin sensitivity due to activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT). BAT, considered the body’s good fat, is known to convert lipids into body heat...”

Better Estimates of Clouds’ Climate Effects Are On The Horizon. Details via Eos: “The water that makes up a cloud can exist as liquid droplets, ice crystals, or a mixture of both phases. Cloud phase affects how much radiation from the Sun reaches the ground, stays in the atmosphere, or makes its way back into space; all three influence Earth’s temperature. However, inadequate tools and data have made it challenging for scientists to accurately incorporate cloud phase into predictions of future climate. In a new study, Matus and L’Ecuyer present a recent update to an algorithm for processing satellite data that could make such predictions more accurate. They used the algorithm to determine the influence of different cloud phases on solar radiation. The results confirm that the mixture of liquid and ice in a cloud can significantly influence how the cloud affects its environment...”