More Slushy Encounters On The Way
I’m not superstitious, but it would be bad luck (and bad form) to remove driveway stakes anytime soon. Or banish your heavy jacket to cold storage. That would be presumptuous and woefully premature. Tantalizing flashes of spring are heartwarming, but pace yourself. Winter is wounded, but death-spasms of cold and snow will be with us into April. I pray we don’t experience anything like April, 2018, when 26” fell on the metro.
Harmless flakes swirl around your yard today; a Friday clipper may pile up another inch of slush on your greening lawn Friday night. It’s still early for rampant speculation, but models print out potentially plowable amounts of snow next Tuesday. One benefit of late March snows? With a sun angle equivalent to mid-September, new snow doesn’t stay on the ground for long. Those same models show a warming trend in early April, with more 50s, maybe 60s?
Our drought is easing. No more subzero cold. Daylight is increasing rapidly. Spring is coming.
Top 13 Signs Spring Has Arrived in Minnesota. It’s a tenuous spring in Minnesota. The forecast calls for advances and frequent setbacks into April. Laura Yuen summed this up quite nicely for Star Tribune: “…I knew it had arrived when that unfamiliar orb in the sky started to work its mystical powers on my brain, making me forget the dreariness of pitch-black mornings and the peeling disaster that was my lips. I had to bust outside for a midday walk, to inhale and remember why I fell hard for you. Here are the telltale signs that spring has sprung — and that you and I are going to be A-OK:
1) Everyone’s at the car wash.
Nothing screams Midwestern optimism like lines a half-mile deep to get our cars cleaned on the first warm day. Naysayers will grouse about how wrong this is: Your vehicle is going to be splattered by mud puddles the second you leave the parking lot! But it feels glorious to get it done…”
Steady Snow, Rainfall Lifted Much of Minnesota Out of Drought. Star Tribune has some good news: “…Steady, deep snow cover and recent rainfall lifted much of Minnesota out of drought and greatly improved conditions across the state. The winter offered enough precipitation to help relieve one of the driest periods in the past 50 years, without bringing too much down that would overwhelm rivers and creeks to flood the state. The snowmelt has thus far set up Minnesota for a type of spring that’s been elusive during the past decade: normal. “A decent snowpack helped tremendously,” said Craig Schmidt, service hydrologist for the National Weather Service. “The entire western part of the state is now drought-free, and the soil moisture in a lot of the eastern part of the state is very, very close — a few millimeters from normal…”
When to Expect Your Last Spring Freeze? Late April (metro) or May for much of greater Minnesota, according to new 30-year data highlighted in a NOAA post: “…New Ag Normals for 1991-2020 have been produced by NCEI that include the chances of freezing on any given day, or for reaching some other cold threshold important for certain crops or pests.The normal length of the growing season and its first freeze date in the fall are also available, along with the expected growing degree days at any climate station. Ag Normals can help farmers determine when they’re most likely to see their last spring freeze, allowing them to mitigate some risks to crop vulnerability. Additionally, the Ag Normals can help determine where pests are likely to overwinter. Plant nurseries can use these Normals to help determine where and when to advertise plants and seeds to customers in a specific area…”
We Found the Red Pickup Truck That Flipped Over in Elgin (Texas) Tornado. If you haven’t seen the video, check it out here. KXAN.com has a follow-up on the man who survived a direct hit with a tornado (while driving): “He was in shock; he was crying,” said Ruben Briones, who said he helped the driver of the red pickup truck seen flipping over on Highway 290 in Elgin in a widely-circulated video. “He told me it was scary,” said Briones, who added the driver is from Manor but is leaving the truck in Elgin near where the tornado touched down for the time being. The video of the truck driving through the tornado has gone viral. Hundreds of thousands have seen it across the world. That includes Elgin resident Keith Leschber. He also happens to drive a red pickup truck. It was parked safely at home when the tornado hit, but when his friends saw the video — they got worried…”
Patchy Clouds Today. 40s will feel pretty good out there later today; Friday’s clipper arriving with rain showers changing over to snow showers by Friday night.
Cooler Than Average Into Next Week. Spring came, and it went. Temperatures will be in a rut more typical of early March through next week, meaning highs mostly in the 40s, but weekend temperatures may not climb out of the 30s across much of Minnesota.
Temperature Recovery Within 2 Weeks? The timing sounds about right, with steering winds forecast to become more west to southwesterly by the second week of April, meaning fairly consistent 50s, even a few 60s.
A Warm Spring Bias. Every climate model above shows warmer than average temperatures for most of the USA (including Minnesota) from April into June. Could they all be wrong? Absolutely. But I doubt it.
West Coast Should Brace for Spring Megadrought, NOAA Warns. Smithsonian Magazine has an overview: “The record-shattering megadrought gripping the Western United States will likely only get worse this spring, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) seasonal outlook released yesterday. For the second consecutive year, NOAA forecasters are predicting “prolonged, persistent drought in the West where below-average precipitation is most likely,” the agency stated. The West has been locked in a drought for years, and important reservoirs have been drained to historic lows to support thirsty communities and agriculture. The West’s upcoming hot, dry spring also sets the stage for intensifying wildfires, according to Seth Borenstein for the Associated Press…”
Where the Most Weather Warnings are Issued in the U.S. The Weather Channel confirmed my suspicions: “…Based on the data, the 10 NWS offices that issued the most warnings were largely from the Southern Plains to the Southeast. The Norman, Oklahoma, NWS office, serving central and western Oklahoma and extreme northwestern Texas, led the pack with over 9,100 warnings. The Jackson, Mississippi, office came in second with over 7,600 warnings. You can see the entire dataset of warnings considered, broken down for each NWS office in the 50 states, in the links below...”
Advanced Satellite System Sets its Sights on Ice Clouds to Improve Weather and Climate Modeling. A post at NASA caught my eye: “Wispy white cirrus clouds stretched across a blue sky may seem insubstantial, but they actually have a huge impact on Earth’s climate. Learning more about these clouds would allow scientists to develop better models for understanding storms and climate change. “Cirrus clouds cover more than 50% of our planet. If we can build a better body of fundamental data describing the structure of these clouds, we’ll have a far superior understanding of how that coverage will affect our weather and climate moving forward,” said William Deal, a staff engineer at Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation. With a grant from NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO), Deal is working with a team of researchers at Northrop Grumman and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to develop a new instrument that would reduce the cost and complexity of using space-based remote sensors to study the tiny ice crystals making up cirrus clouds…”
These Were the Best and Worst Places for Air Quality in 2021. CNN.com has a summary; here’s an excerpt: “…Only 222 cities of the 6,475 analyzed had average air quality that met WHO’s standard. Three territories were found to have met WHO guidelines: the French territory of New Caledonia and the United States territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were among the countries with the worst air pollution, exceeding the guidelines by at least 10 times. The Scandinavian countries, Australia, Canada, Japan and United Kingdom ranked among the best countries for air quality, with average levels that exceeded the guidelines by 1 to 2 times. In the United States, IQAir found air pollution exceeded WHO guidelines by 2 to 3 times in 2021...”
Smart Devices Spy on You. 2 Computer Scientists Explain How the IoT Can Violate Your Privacy. Great! Thanks a lot Siri and Alexa. Here’s an excerpt from an eye-opening post at The Conversation: “Have you ever felt a creeping sensation that someone’s watching you? Then you turn around and you don’t see anything out of the ordinary. Depending on where you were, though, you might not have been completely imagining it. There are billions of things sensing you every day. They are everywhere, hidden in plain sight – inside your TV, fridge, car and office. These things know more about you than you might imagine, and many of them communicate that information over the internet. Back in 2007, it would have been hard to imagine the revolution of useful apps and services that smartphones ushered in. But they came with a cost in terms of intrusiveness and loss of privacy. As computer scientists who study data management and privacy, we find that with internet connectivity extended to devices in homes, offices and cities, privacy is in more danger than ever…”
Are Advertisers Going to Infiltrate Our Dreams? A post at The Hustle made me sit up a little straighter: “Last year, Molson Coors, the esteemed purveyor of watered-down frat-party beer, ran a jarring ‘experiment.’ In a discreet building in downtown Los Angeles, 18 subjects were instructed to watch a strange video featuring a synth-laden soundtrack and natural imagery interspersed with glimpses of Coors Light cans. The participants were then asked to drift off to sleep while listening to an 8-hour soundtrack featuring audio from the video. Coors’ stated goal was science-fiction worthy: The company wanted to “shape and compel [the] subconscious” into dreaming about beer. Shockingly, it seemed to work. Around 30% of the participants reported that Coors products made an appearance in their dreams…”
37 F. Twin Cities high on Wednesday.
45 F. average MSP high on March 23.
59 F. MSP high on March 23, 2021.
March 24, 1851: Minnesota experiences an early spring ‘heat wave’ with 60s and 70s common.
THURSDAY: Cloudy and cool. Winds: N 10-15. High: 47
FRIDAY: Gusty. Rain/snow showers. Slushy late. Winds: NW 15-35. Wake-up: 37. High: 43
SATURDAY: Partly sunny and brisk. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 19. High: 38
SUNDAY: Clouds increase, chilly. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 18. High: 35
MONDAY Mostly cloudy. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 28. High: 37
TUESDAY: Wintry mix changes to snow. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 29. High: 34
WEDNESDAY: Snow tapers to flurries. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 23. High: 32
U.N to Roll Out Global Early-Warning Systems for Extreme Weather. The briefing and alerting systems being used right now we need to evolve and improve as extreme weather events become more frequent (and even more extreme). Here’s an excerpt from Thomson Reuters Foundation: “With climate change fueling dangerous weather worldwide, the United Nations is pledging that early-warning weather monitoring will cover everyone on the planet in five years. “Half of humanity is already in the danger zone,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said earlier this week. And yet, “one-third of the world’s people, mainly in least developed countries and small island developing states, are still not covered by early warning systems.” Today, there are about five times the number of weather-related disasters than there were in the 1970s. These droughts, floods, heatwaves and storms have killed more than 2 million people and wrought $3.64 trillion in losses worldwide since 1970, WMO data show. With the trend expected to worsen as global temperatures continue to climb, “there is a need to invest $1.5 billion” in the next five years to predict when extreme events might occur, said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas…”
Florida Panhandle Residents Breathing Mold 3 Years After Hurricane Michael: We vacation on the Florida Panhandle every February and I’ve been blown away by the damage from 2018 Hurricane Michael, and how slow the reconstruction has been since the Category 5 storm devastated the area just east of Panama City. Here are more links and headlines from Climate Central: “More than three years after Hurricane Michael slammed the Florida Panhandle, residents in historically Black and low-income neighborhoods are still living in tarp-covered, mold-infested homes, Inside Climate News reports. Layers of systemic racism and housing injustice are amplifying the impacts of climate change in numerous ways. While money has been appropriated, byzantine application processes favor whiter communities with more access to resources. Many people also lack official documentation proving they own the home they inherited from their family, and a dearth of affordablehousing means they are forced to remain in unsafe and unhealthy homes. “I had to tarp my roof about seven times because the wind would come and tear up the tarp,” Patricia Roundtree of Panama City told ICN. “And this brings in water and more mold inside my house, and, basically, I can only live in about two-thirds of my house.” (Inside Climate News; Climate Signals background: Hurricane Michael)
Solar and Wind Power Gains. Here’s a look at national and state trends with renewable power, courtesy of Climate Central: “Climate Central’s new report, WeatherPower Year in Review, analyzes when and where the most wind and solar energy was produced in the U.S. in 2021. The contiguous U.S. generated an estimated 606,000 GWh of wind and solar electricity in 2021, up to 16% of electricity consumed. Wind energy accounted for 73% of the total, and peaked in December. Solar peaked in July.In terms of total generation, Texas was the top wind state with 113,000 GWh (about a quarter of the national total). California led for solar with 55,000 GWh (about a third of the national total). Despite strong growth in wind and solar, faster rates of production are needed between now and 2030 to reach U.S. energy goals…”
Rich Countries Must Stop Producing Oil and Gas by 2034, Says Study. The Guardian has the results of that study: “Rich countries must end all oil and gas production in the next 12 years, while the poorest nations should be given 28 years, to provide a fair transition away from fossil fuels, according to a study. The report, led by Prof Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research at Manchester University, found that wealthy countries such as the UK, US and Australia had until 2034 to stop all oil and gas production to give the world a 50% chance of preventing devastating climate breakdown, while the poorest nations that are also heavily reliant on fossil fuels should be given until 2050. Anderson said that while it was now clear there had to be a rapid shift away from “a fossil fuel economy”, it was essential this was done in a fair and equitable way…”
U.S. SEC Proposes Companies Disclose Range of Climate Risks, Emissions Data. Reuters has the details: “The U.S. securities regulator on Monday proposed requiring U.S.-listed companies to disclose a range of climate-related risks and greenhouse gas emissions, part of President Joe Biden’s push to join global efforts to avert climate-related catastrophes. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) unveiled its long-anticipated draft rule under which companies would disclose their own direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, known as Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. It would also require companies to disclose greenhouse gases generated by suppliers and partners, known as Scope 3 emissions, if they are material or included in any emissions targets the company has set...”
The 510 page SEC proposal is here.
SEC Proposes First Ever Climate Disclosure Rule: Climate Nexus has more links and analysis: “The Securities and Exchange Commission proposed regulations on Monday to require companies to disclose their exposure to climate change risks, as well as—to varying extents—the greenhouse gas pollution they generate. The proposed rule would give investors a baseline of consistent and comparable information, and “Companies and investors alike would benefit from the clear rules of the road proposed in this release,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a statement. The rule would encompass the risks posed by the physical impacts of climate change like stronger storms, droughts, heatwaves, or wildfires, that could affect businesses operations, as well as political and financial risks linked to the transition away from fossil fuels, towards clean forms of energy. The rule would require companies to disclose the direct greenhouse gas pollution their operations emit and the indirect greenhouse gas emissions from the energy they consume (“Scope 1” and “Scope 2” emissions, respectively). It would also require some larger companies to report pollution generated by a firm’s suppliers and customers (“Scope 3” emissions) if those emissions are “material” to investors.” (Washington Post, AP, New York Times $, Bloomberg $, Axios, Reuters, NPR, The Guardian, E&E News, Grist, Politico Pro $, The Hill, Washington Examiner, Wall Street Journal $, Reuters, factbox)
Climate Change is Making Allergy Season Even Worse. The Atlantic has the sneeze-worthy details: “Brace yourselves, allergy sufferers: New research shows that pollen season is going to get a lot longer and more intense with climate change. Our latest study finds that the U.S. will face up to a 200 percent increase in total pollen this century if the world continues producing carbon-dioxide emissions from vehicles, power plants, and other sources at a high rate. Under that scenario, the spring pollen season will generally start up to 40 days earlier and last up to 19 days longer than it does today. As atmospheric scientists, we study how the atmosphere and climate affect trees and plants. Although most studies focus on pollen overall, we zoomed in on more than a dozen types of grasses and trees and how their pollen will affect regions across the U.S. in different ways…”
Record-High Temperatures are Preventable. Check out the widget I found at pudding.cool: “This project juxtoposes heat records with accident safety signage often displayed in factories. These “scoreboards” draw attention to injuries and build morale around safety by highlighting “days since last injury.” This map depicts temperature records in a similar design aesthetic: temperature records might seem “unprecedented,” but in reality occur nearly every few weeks. Specifically, “daily high” records show that never-before-seen warm days are occurring year-round, not just in the heat of the summer months. Or as Probable Futures reports, “Since the big change isn’t the amount of energy coming in from the sun, summers are only slightly warmer, while spring, fall, and especially winter are much warmer. It’s less that the Arctic is getting hotter and more that it is losing its cold.” Climate change is creating these conditions. As environmental data scientist Dr. Robert Rohde told the New York Times, “What were hot days in the past are becoming more common. What were very, very hot days in the past are now two or three times more common than they used to be...”