Minnesota Warm Fronts Running Behind Schedule

Introverts and social misfits are don’t know what to make of the current state of affairs. “Wait, nothing on my calendar. I don’t have to interact with people – or even put on pants?”

This imperfect quarantine forces us to take nothing for granted and live in the moment. We are all finding new ways to teach, learn and share. My 90-year old dad is now a whiz on Skype and Zoom. I can’t hold our new grandson in Seattle, but I can snap (thousands!) of photos during marathon Facetime video sessions. Turn lemons into lemonade, right?

Cold air surging into the Great Lakes and New England is delaying our warming trend, contrary to what
models were forecasting a week ago. Winds ease today with cool sunshine. A compact storm may throw a shield of rain into Minnesota Friday, with showers spilling into Saturday. Daytime temperatures will run a few degrees below the normal high of 60 into the weekend.

Models are at again: ECMWF shows a warm ridge of high pressure late next week: 60s, maybe 70s? I’m ready to sweat it out!

Photo credit of the Matterhorn in Switzerland: Jerry Hofstetter.

Weak Clipper Later Today. After a sunny start clouds increase this afternoon as showers of rain or wet snow push across northern Minnesota – a (rain) shower may brush the MSP metro this evening or tonight. Future radar: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

A Belated Warm Front. Right, I’ll believe it when I see it (or feel it) Paul. I don’t blame you for skepticism, seeing that this week won’t turn out nearly as balmy as we thought it would last week at this time. You can’t fight a rising sun angle forever though – at some point cold air retreats north and waves of warmth over the southern USA will make a real pass at Minnesota – maybe the end of next week. ECMWF (top) and GFS (bottom) courtesy of WeatherBell.

Relatively Mild Launch to May. It doesn’t look hot, but I think most of us would be just fine with 60s and a few 70s as we sail into May. That seems likely, but frequent cool frontal passages may take the edge off any warmth.

30-Day Climatology. Thanks to the USDA Midwest Climate Hub (PDF) for the update; here’s an excerpt: “Cold conditions spread over the Plains and Midwest during the last week bringing extreme cold and well-below freezing conditions last week bringing the last 30 days below average, up to 8°F below in the Dakotas with slightly above in far southern and eastern areas. A change in precipitation has occurred with most of the region now drier than average, especially west where large areas are below50% of average. Above-average precipitation areas are mostly in Wisconsin wrapping around the eastern part of the Corn Belt…”

Wet, But Not as Wet as 2019. USDA topsoil moisture is running above average in Minnesota, but values are dropping over time as some of the biggest storms track to our south and east. Source: USDA.

2-Mile Wide Tornado in Mississippi on Easter Sunday. That’s close to the widest (wedge) tornado ever observed. WMC-TV in Memphis has details: “One of the violent EF-4 tornadoes that touched down in south Mississippi on Easter has been given an official width of at least 2 miles. That report is according to surveys conducted by the National Weather Service out of Jackson, Mississippi. The Easter storm carved a path of damage for 68 miles and growing to at least two miles wide, making it wider than the Yazoo City tornado that hit Central Mississippi 10 years prior. The widest storm on record is the El Reno, Oklahoma tornado that formed during a tornado outbreak back in May of 2013. The EF-3 storms swelled to 2.6 miles in diameter as it ripped a path across the Sooner State, killing nine people in its wake...”

Minnesota Tornado Climatology. The Minnesota DNR has a good summary, an overview of tornadoes in Minnesota; here’s an excerpt: “…In Minnesota, tornadoes have occurred in every month from March through November. The earliest reported tornadoes in Minnesota were the three tornadoes that touched down on March 6, 2017 .The previously earliest verified tornado in Minnesota occurred on March 18, 1968, north of Truman in Martin County. The latest in any year on November 16, 1931, east of Maple Plain. Historically and statistically, June is the month of greatest frequency with July not far behind. May has the third greatest frequency, followed closely by August. Nearly three-quarters of all tornadoes in Minnesota have occurred during the three months of May (15%), June (37%), and July (25%). The most probable danger period in Minnesota, therefore, is late spring and early summer, between 2:00 PM and 9:00 PM. However, tornadoes can and do occur at any time of the day or night…”

TPT Almanac Weather Quiz. Let’s see how well you do with the same questions I ran past Cathy Wurzer and Eric Escola Friday evening on Channel 2’s “Almanac”. Please, no wagering! (answers below).

1). The “30-30 Rule” applies to:
a). Flash floods
b). Tornadoes
c). Thunderstorms
d). IRS refunds

2). The safest place to ride out a tornado is:
a). Basement, under the stairs
b). Bathtub
c). Sturdy tree in backyard
d). Southwest corner of basement

3). Which of the following is associated with the most flash flood deaths?
a). Camping
b). Flooded basements
c). Parking ramps
d). Vehicles

4). You count 13 seconds between seeing lightning and hearing thunder. How far away was the strike?
a). 13 miles
b). 1.3 miles
c). Impossible to calculate
d). 2.5 miles

5). Hot, dry skin, rapid heartbeat and disorientation are all possible symptoms of:
a). Sunburn
b). Heat Exhaustion
c). Heat Stroke
d). Paul’s home cooking

6). Which of the following is NOT true about tornadoes:
a). Never strike at night
b). Can cross lakes and rivers
c). Can hit downtowns
d). Usually preceded by hail

7). Which is true about Emergency Outdoor Sirens:
a). Only foolproof way to get warnings
b). Designed for outdoor use only
c). Can be heard in any location, statewide
d). Can be programmed to play The National Anthem

Question 1: answer: (C) If you count 30 seconds between seeing the flash and hearing the bang, move indoors. And wait 30 minutes after the last thunderclap to safely resume outdoor activities.
Question 2: answer: (A). Statistically, the safest place is in the basement, under the stairs.
Question 3: answer: (D). Half of all flash flood victims perish in their vehicles crossing flooded roads. 75% of flood deaths occur at night.
Question 4: answer: (D) Thunder travels at the speed of sound, covering 1 mile in approximately 5 seconds.
Question 5: answer: (C). Heat stroke can be fatal. Cool the victim and call 911 immediately.
Question 6: answer: (a). Although rare, tornadoes can strike after dark, producing a disproportionate number of injuries and deaths.
Question 7: answer: (b). Do not rely on sirens when you’re indoors; they were designed for outdoor use only.
File image above: NOAA.

Severe Weather Awareness Week: Floods and Flash Floods. Here’s the latest installment of helpful, potentially life-saving information from the Twin Cities National Weather Service: “…Floods claim nearly 200 lives annually, force 300,000 persons from their homes, and result in property damage in excess of 2 billion dollars. Characteristically, 75 percent of flash flood deaths occur at night with half of the victims dying in their automobiles or other vehicles. It may be difficult to believe, but many deaths occur when persons knowingly drive around road barricades indicating the road is washed out ahead. Assume a thunderstorm produces 6 inches of rain in less than 6 hours time near your community. Storms of this magnitude or greater occur several times each year in the U.S.  Would you know what action to take to protect yourself and the people who depend on you for safety? After a major flood event, one of the most common quotes from the survivors of the flood is the expression they did not believe it could happen to them or in their community...

Excessive Heat is Deadly. This is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and Friday’s topic is heat. Here are a few things I didn’t know about excessive heat close to home, courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service: Minnesota’s Third Deadliest Weather Factor Since 1990:
The third greatest number of weather fatalities in Minnesota since 1990 has been due to excessive heat. Eighteen people have died from high heat and humidity. Only tornadoes and flooding have killed more people in the last 25 years…Wisconsin’s Deadliest Weather Factor Since 1982: The greatest number of weather fatalities in Wisconsin since 1982 has been due to excessive heat. 134 people have died from high heat and humidity. This total is more than tornadoes, flooding, blizzards or anything else. The 1995 summer heat waves hold the record as the number one weather-related killer in Wisconsin since it became a state in 1848. Most deaths occurred in the major urban areas in southeast Wisconsin, but there have been a number of fatalities in the rest of the state as well.

Lightning Facts. Last week was Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Here are a few factoids about lightning, courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service: “Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which on a national basis kills more people than tornadoes in a given year.

Lightning kills around 100 Americans annually, with about 300 injuries. In Wisconsin and Minnesota, there have been many deaths and injuries over the years, most in areas such as camp grounds, although people have been injured indoors when talking on the phone.

The following are some lightning safety tips…

  1. All thunderstorms produce lightning. It is surprising that so many people are not aware of this.
  2. Get inside a building or enclosed vehicle. Many fatalities occur when the warning signs are ignored.
  3. If caught in an open area with lightning all around, crouch down immediately! Put your hands on your knees but do not lie down on the ground.
  4. Do not use a telephone or electrical appliance. A nearby lightning strike can travel through the phone or power lines right into the home.
  5. Avoid seeking shelter beneath lone trees.

Myths and facts about lightning…

Myth: If it’s not raining, there is no danger from lightning.
Fact: Lightning often strikes away from heavy rainfall, and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.

Myth: Rubber soles of shoes or rubber tires on a car will protect you from being injured by lightning.
Fact: Rubber provides no protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection from lightning (if you are not touching metal in the car)….”

Photo credit: NOAA.

Color Psychology: What Does Your Favorite Color Say About Your Personality? Hmmm. Not sure about this one, but I found it intriguing how we (apparently) react to color. Here’s an overview of a worthy read at Big Think: “Color psychology has been used in marketing and branding for years, but research in the last decade has taken color psychology and applied it to human personality traits. Colors aren’t merely associated with various feelings but can actually shape our perceptions and personalities. Various studies across multiple years have given us insight into what each color represents in regards to our personality, work ethic, and motivation levels...”

48 mph peak wind gust at MSP International Airport on Monday.

69 F. high temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

60 F. average high on April 20.

78 F. high on April 20, 2019.

April 21, 1910: A snowstorm hits northeastern Minnesota. Duluth picks up 6.5 inches.

TUESDAY: Fading sun, late shower? Winds: NW 8-13. High: near 50

WEDNESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, milder. Winds: E 7-12. Wake-up: 41. High: 62

THURSDAY: Clouds increase, late showers. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 44. High: 59

FRIDAY: Periods of rain expected. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 45. High: 53

SATURDAY: Showers slowly taper. Damp breeze. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 41. High: 55

SUNDAY: A nicer day. Intervals of sunshine. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 40. High: near 60

MONDAY: More clouds. Slight chance of a shower. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 43. High: 58

Climate Stories…

Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories are Dangerous – Here’s How to Stop Them Spreading. Sound familiar? Here’s a clip from a post at The Conversation: “…Another way to neutralise conspiracy theories is through logic-based inoculation. This involves explaining the rhetorical techniques and tell-tale traits to be found in misinformation, so that people can flag it before it has a chance to mislead them. In the Conspiracy Theory Handbook, we document seven traits of conspiratorial thinking. Spotting these can help people identify a baseless theory…”

Image credit: Conspiracy Theory Handbook, Author provided.

Climate Change Multiplies the Threats of Infectious Diseases. Here’s the intro to a story at Truthout: “As the novel coronavirus continues to rage like a wildfire across the planet, its devastating toll has left many asking whether climate change — another multifaceted phenomenon with global reach — has played a part in spreading, even triggering, the pandemic. Some, like Katharine Hayhoe, a climate change scientist and professor of public policy at Texas Tech University, have been able to provide answers. “Climate change didn’t cause the pandemic, and climate change directly causes very few of them,” Hayhoe told Truthout. “But what climate change does is it interacts with, and in many cases has the potential to exacerbate the impacts…”

Western U.S. is Locked in the Grips of the First Human-Caused Megadrought, Study Finds. Capital Weather Gang has the post; here’s the intro: “A vast region of the western United States, extending from California, Arizona and New Mexico north to Oregon and Idaho, is in the grips of the first climate change-induced megadrought observed in the past 1,200 years, a study shows. The finding means the phenomenon is no longer a threat for millions to worry about in the future, but is already here. The megadrought has emerged while thirsty, expanding cities are on a collision course with the water demands of farmers and with environmental interests, posing nightmare scenarios for water managers in fast-growing states. A megadrought is broadly defined as a severe drought that occurs across a broad region for a long duration, typically multiple decades…”

Greenland’s Ice Shelt Melts By Record Amount Due to Climate Change, Study Shows. CNBC.com has the story: “Greenland’s ice sheet experienced record melting last year that was driven by hotter temperatures and more frequent atmospheric circulation patterns triggered by climate change, scientists have confirmed. The stark findings show that researchers could also be underestimating future melting by about half, as most models that project future ice loss do not account for impacts from changing atmospheric circulation patterns, according to the study led by Marco Tedesco, a researcher at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Greenland’s ice sheet experienced the largest outright drop in “surface mass” — or how much mass is lost due to melting compared to mass gained from snowfall — since record-keeping began in 1948...”

“Zombie Viruses”. Can They Escape the Thawing Arctic? A story at E&E News caught my eye; here’s the intro: “The Arctic is full of frozen viruses and bacteria. They’ve been found in everything from glaciers to permafrost, and often in the icy corpses of their buried victims. Most are thought to be harmless to humans. But some experts suggest that “zombie” pathogens are lurking in the ice, waiting to be set free by rising temperatures. The remote risk of old viruses causing new waves of contagion has gained attention as scientists around the world work furiously to understand the coronavirus sweeping over the globe. Just two decades ago, researchers were hoping to unravel the secrets of another pandemic: the 1918 influenza outbreak, which killed at least 50 million people worldwide...”

File image credit: “The influenza ward at a U.S. Army field hospital in 1918. The pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.” Otis Historical Archives National Museum of Health and Medicine/Flickr.