At Least We Don’t Get Hurricanes or Volcanoes

According to NOAA the contiguous USA experienced the coldest April in 20 years. The entire planet saw the 3rd warmest April, but no matter. Last month was a cruel February-Flashback.

The result: farmers are late getting into their fields, and ice-out dates are running a good 3 weeks later
than average.

According to the Minnesota DNR ice is still on Mille Lacs, Pelican and Leech lakes. It’s coming right down to the wire for Minnesota’s Fishing Opener.

Glimmers of comfortable sunshine today give way  to another round of rain tonight into Friday, when daytime highs will hold in the 40s and 50s. A few showery stragglers spill into Friday night and Saturday over the southern half of Minnesota, but Sunday looks sunnier and drierstatewide, with highs near 70F. No flurries for The Opener this year.

80F is possible next Tuesday, when the next swarm of T-storms arrive.

I’m not complaining. The Kilauea eruption in Hawaii is sparking quakes, lava flows, acid rain and “Vog”, poisonous clouds of deadly sulfur dioxide. Suddenly Minnesota’s cold fronts don’t look quite so forbidding.


Delayed Ice-Out. Most lakes are open for business, but according to the Minnesota DNR some of the big lakes up north had no experienced an official ice-out, as of May 9. For the very latest details about specific lakes click here.

  • Gull Lake: Ice out reported May 5th
  • Whitefish Lake: Ice out reported May 7th
  • Mille Lacs, Leech, Winnibigoshish, Pelican (Brainerd area), Upper and Lower Red: Not yet.

Saturday Morning Future Radar. Odds favor a dry morning for most of Minnesota for Saturday’s Minnesota Fishing Opener, with the bulk of the rain over South Dakota, based on 00z 12km NAM guidance from NOAA. Map credit: pivotalweather.com.


Heaviest Rain To Pass Well South of MSP. Last night’s 00z run confirms that the metro area will only get brushed by showers tonight, with some 1″ amounts over far southern Minnesota, closer to Albert Lea and Austin.


Extended Spring Fling. No wintry relapses (thank God) and no big heat spikes, although I still believe 80F is possible early next week. Highs range from 60s to 70s with nights well above 32F. ECMWF: WeatherBell.


Data Suggests Minnesota is Trending Wetter. It’s getting wetter out there over time, according to the Minnesota DNR and Professor Mark Seeley. Twin Cities average rainfall has increased from 25.93 inches (1941-1970) to 31.16 inches (1981-2010). That doesn’t mean we won’t have dry years, but the trend is wetter. By my count 9 of 16 Minnesota “mega-rains” (6 inches or more over 1,000+ square miles) since 1858 have occurred since 2000. Recent University of Minnesota research suggests that summer storms and fronts are (often) moving slower, with wider gaps between rain events. But when it does rain it often comes down (much) harder.


Trending Wetter. Research from the Minnesota DNR confirms that most of Minnesota has become wetter since 1950, with the most pronounced increases over eastern counties.


Hawaii Could Face Volcanic Smog, Acid Rain After Earthquakes and Lava. CNN reports: “After earthquakes and molten lava tore open the earth, residents of Hawaii’s Big Island have new threats to worry about: hazardous volcanic smog and acid rain. The Kilauea eruption last week created new volcanic vents on the ground miles east of the summit, releasing slow-moving lava and toxic gas into island communities. Officials have warned of dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide gas. If winds weaken, that gas and other volcanic pollutants can settle easily with moisture and dust to create a haze called volcanic smog, or “vog,” with tiny sulfuric acid droplets that can pose respiratory problems, according to the US Geological Survey. At higher concentrations, vog can cause headaches and irritation to the lungs and eyes, the University of Hawaii at Hilo says…”


These States Have Had the Most Violent Tornadoes Since 1950. The Weather Channel has an interesting post; here are excerpts: “…Less than 1 percent of all tornadoes were assigned the EF4/F4 or EF5/F5 rating from 2000 to 2010. Despite their infrequency, tornadoes that produce this extreme damage account for more than half the deaths from all twisters. About 51 percent of all fatalities from 2000-2013 were caused by EF4/F4 or stronger rated tornadoes…Oklahoma has had the most violent tornadoes since 1950 with 65. Rounding out the top five states are Texas (52), Iowa (51), Kansas (49) and Alabama (42). These states also lead the way when just examing EF5/F5 rated tornadoes since 1950. Alabama and Oklahoma have had seven “5-rated” tornadoes, followed closely by Texas, Iowa and Kansas with six such tornadoes each...”


The Most Tornadoes by Calendar Day by State. U.S. Tornadoes has another timely post – in the case of Minnesota the biggest day was June 17, 2010: “Ever wondered what the big tornado day is in your state? Wonder no more! As we’ve mentioned numerous times here, no state in the country is totally immune to tornadoes. There are some hot-spots, as we’ll see in the data below. The hot-spots might not all be the ones you typically think of. At the same time, there are not many huge surprises when it comes to which states are in the lead for the biggest tornado day on record. Lots of Plains, lots of Dixie and Southeast, plus lots of Midwest...”


Detecting Tornado Debris. KFSM 5News had an interesting post; here’s a clip: “…With dual polarization, we often know a tornado is on the ground before the first report ever comes in. The product is called “Correlation Coefficient” and works by detecting the size of the particles lofted in the atmosphere. Traditional Doppler sends a pulse of energy out in ONE direction detecting rain, snow, and hail; however, dual polarization sends pulses of energy out in TWO directions: horizontal and vertical. This gives us the size of raindrops in the air. Tornado debris doesn’t resemble anything that occurs naturally inside the atmosphere. This tells us almost instantly that the tornado is on the ground and doing damage because debris sizes are actually be detected by the radar beam…”


Another Extreme Heat Wave Strikes the North Pole. Jason Samenow reports for Capital Weather Gang: “In four of the past five winters, the North Pole has witnessed dramatic temperatures spikes, which previously were rare. Now, in the lead up to summer, the temperature has again shot up to unusually high levels at the tip of the planet. Scientists say this warming could hasten the melt of Arctic sea ice, which is already near record low levels. In just the past few days, the temperature at the North Pole has soared to the melting point of 32 degrees, which is about 30-35 degrees (17-19 Celsius) above normal. Much of the entire Arctic north of 80 degrees latitude is abnormally warm...”

Map credit: “Temperature difference from normal over the Arctic analyzed by European model on May 7.” (WeatherBell.com).



How to Prepare Cities and Citizens For More Killer Heat Waves. MIT Technology Review explains: “…By analyzing weather forecast models, the researchers found that nearly five billion people inhabit regions where extreme temperatures can be forecast. That at least presents the opportunity for establishing early warning systems and action plans. In the thick of heat waves, responders can provide drinking water, set up cooling shelters, and check in on vulnerable citizens, particularly the elderly, the study says. “We have the ability to prevent a lot of suffering, illness, and death from heat waves and cold waves around the world,” says Erin Coughlan de Perez, lead author of the report and manager of the climate science team at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. “We should be able to take action and adapt in a lot of places…”


Hurricane Maria Made Me a Climate Change Refugee. Teen Vogue has the story. What, you don’t read Teen Vogue? “Hurricane Maria changed my life overnight. The chaos and destruction of the storm, which made landfall on the island as a Category 4 storm in September 2017, changed the lives of millions of Puerto Ricans who call the island home. It forced thousands of people like myself to flee home and build a new life on the United States mainland. Upwards of 2,200 Puerto Ricans have been displaced to Connecticut post-Maria alone, including more than 1,800 children. I left Puerto Rico in January to study as a visiting student at Trinity College in Hartford. After the hurricane, working towards my master’s degree in Puerto Rico was a challenge because the electricity and internet were not reliable. Coupled with the economic crisis that Puerto Rico is facing, living on the island seemed impossible…”

Photo credit: Agnes M. Torres Rivera.



Gearing Up For an Auto Showdown: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “A host of challenges stand in the way as the Trump administration weighs methods to revise Obama-era fuel economy standards. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a leading industry group, urged the White House ahead of a Friday meeting to not freeze fuel economy standards and to keep one set of national standards, while General Motors CEO Mary Barra also reiterated support for a single national program in a LinkedIn post Tuesday. Meanwhile, both Bloomberg and Politico report this week that the administration’s preferred legal strategies to block California’s authority to make its own emissions standards were already rejected by the courts in similar arguments ten years ago. And concerned citizens are making their voices heard: a coalition of groups delivered a quarter-million petition signatures to Ford Tuesday calling for the auto giant and the rest of the industry to uphold clean car standards.” (Industry: Reuters, Washington Examiner, The Hill. GM: Detroit Free Press. Legal arguments: Bloomberg, Politico Pro $. Protest: NBC, AFP, Michigan Public Radio)


Google Searches Account for 40% of Internet’s Carbon Footprint. Quartz explains: “Every Google search comes at a cost to the planet. In processing 3.5 billion searches a day, the world’s most popular website accounts for about 40% of the internet’s carbon footprint. Despite the notion that the internet is a “cloud,” it actually relies on millions of physical servers in data centers around the world, which are connected with miles of undersea cables, switches, and routers, all requiring a lot of energy to run. Much of that energy comes from power sources that emit carbon dioxide into the air as they burn fossil fuels; one study from 2015 suggests internet activity results in as much CO2 emissions as the global aviation industry...”

Photo credit: “The internet is not a cloud.” (Reuters/China Stringer Network).



Switching to Renewables Will Save Millions of American Lives. So says Huffington Post: “…Going 100 percent renewable represents an enormous economic opportunity. A whopping $279.8 billion was invested in renewables in 2017, with a cumulative investment of $2.9 trillion since 2004. Fossil fuels are no longer leading the energy markets: The world invested more in solar power last year than in any other energy resource. Which means there’s a lot of money and a lot of jobs in renewables, particularly in states blessed with lots of sunshine and wind. If we do it right, we can use the transition to renewables to do justice by driving renewable investments into communities most harmed by the pollution and climate disasters that have become hallmarks of a dangerous fossil fuel industry. States are already showing us the way on this…”

File image: MN.gov.


Renewable Energy Tops Top Record 10 Million Led by Solar. Bloomberg explains: “The solar photovoltaic sector was the largest employer in the renewable energy industry last year, accounting for 3.4 million jobs, up from 3.1 million in 2016, according to International Renewable Energy Agency data. Bioenergy was the second biggest employer at about 3.1 million jobs, more than double the size of hydropower, which came in third at 1.5 million. Total jobs for the renewable energy industry topped 10 million for the first time, with China alone being responsible for 43 percent of the positions…”


“Atmospheric Harvesters” Will Enable Arid Nations to Drink From Thin Air. Engadget highlights promising new technology: “…However a newly developed sorbent-based alternative has recently shown that it can harvest atmospheric moisture even when the relative humidity drops to around 10 percent. Under those conditions, that works out to around three liters of water for every million liters of air. If you were to try to harvest that using dewing technology, you’d have to drop the air temperature to below freezing. Once that happens, it “becomes technologically infeasible because you have to first unfreeze the water,” Dr. Evelyn Wang, a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT who helped construct the test device, told Engadget. “The advantage of the work that we’re doing is the fact that you can in fact operate efficiently the system at low humidity conditions...”


How to Keep Google From Owning Your Online Life. Good luck with that. Here’s a clip from The Wall Street Journal: “…Google is so woven into the fabric of the internet it’s all but impossible to avoid. It’s where billions of users find, create and store important information, where they work and distract themselves from working. You can quit Facebook or take a Twitter break and barely notice, save for an increased sense of boredom in the Starbucks line. Google, you’d miss. But even more than other companies offering free services, Google collects astounding amounts of data about you and uses it to sell ads. I’m happy with Google, because to date there haven’t been reports of catastrophic breaches or data-sharing scandals on the level of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica nightmare. If Google springs a leak, it could be disastrous...”

Photo credit: “Google is all but impossible to avoid–it’s also a huge collector of personal data. WSJ’s David Pierce left the bubble of intertwined products and services, and found many comparable apps and services.” Photo/Video: Emily Prapuolenis/The Wall Street Journal.


Uber Unveils the Flying Taxi It Wants to Rule the Skies. Here’s a clip from a story at WIRED.com: “…At the very back, where the tail would be on a conventional plane, a propeller faces forwards, ready to power horizontal flight. There’s just one door, on one side, to simplify ground operations. No need for extra steps or worrying about people exiting on the wrong side into an active landing pad. The concept is supposed to cruise at between 150 and 200 miles per hour, up to 2,000 feet above the ground. A single charge will be good enough for 60 miles of range, and Uber expects the thing to need just five minutes to top up the batteries between flights. Initially, they’ll have a human pilot, but eventually, they should be autonomous…”

Image credit: “The Common Reference Model is the kind of vehicle Uber would like to see, with the sorts of specs and practical features that would allow different aircraft to run the same routes and share infrastructure.” Uber.


Texas Gets It’s First Self-Driving Car Service. Wired.com has the story; here’s a clip: “…Maybe that’s why Mountain View–based startup Drive.ai isn’t taking its robo-cars to the land of the Grand Canyon, but to the wilds of the Lone Star State. Starting in July, the company will run a fleet of driverless vehicles around Frisco, Texas, a city of 164,000 people on the northern edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. Announced today, the six-month pilot—which will keep human safety operators behind the wheel, ready to grab control if the car gets confused or misbehaves—marks Drive.ai’s first large-scale effort to put people in its cars, and the first such deployment in Texas. Waymo has done some testing in Austin, but this service will provide regular rides to the public...”

Photo credit: “Silicon Valley’s Drive.ai is starting an autonomous car service in Frisco, Texas, using hard to miss, orange and blue Nissan vans.” Drive.ai


What’s the Most Common Surname In Your State? Ancestry had an interesting post – here’s an excerpt: “…Smith, along with Johnson, Miller, Jones, Williams, and Anderson make up most of the most common surnames all across the country. But there are still regional differences. If you are in the Northwest, you are more likely to come across an Anderson than a Brown, which is slightly more common on the East Coast. Only the Southwestern portion of the country really has a lot of variety. States like Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona — where there are large Latino populations — boast a variety of names like Garcia, Hernandez, Martinez, and Chavez…”


Would You Buy Fancy Coffee from a Robot? The Hustle has details: “It’s a new, $25k automated barista designed by the Ammunition Group that, according to CNBC, “slings” 120 cups of hot cawffee an hour. Cafe X launched last year in San Francisco. There is generally a human “specialist” (of what? We don’t know) there to monitor and maintain the area while the java-bot makes between 300 and 400 orders a day. Prices are reportedly kept low, with little overhead, and no tip obligation for customers, so ya’ know… a win win for both sides of the coin…”


64 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

68 F. average high on May 9.

71 F. high on May 9, 2017.

May 10, 1934: ‘The Classic Dust Bowl’ hits Minnesota. Extensive damage occurs over the region, with near daytime blackout conditions in the Twin Cities and west central Minnesota. Dust drifts cause hazardous travel, especially at Fairmont where drifts up to 6 inches are reported. Damage occurs to personal property due to fine dust sifting inside homes and businesses.


Top Millenial Injuries Reported at Urgent Care Facilities. McSweeney’s has a very tongue-in-cheek update:

1. Avocado-slicing-related lacerations to the hand

2. Uber-related injuries

3. Job-security-related anxiety attacks

4. Political-rally-sign-making-induced paper cuts

5. Avocado-slicing-related lacerations to the thigh

6. Brunch-related alcohol poisoning

7. Chia seed airway obstruction

8. Injuries sustained after being kidnapped by Airbnb host.


THURSDAY: Cool sun, showers by evening. Winds: N 7-12. High: 64

THURSDAY NIGHT: Showers likely. Low: 45

FRIDAY: Chilly and raw with rain southern MN. Winds: E 10-20. High: 52

SATURDAY: Some sun, shower risk southern MN. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: 43. High: 63

MOTHER’S DAY: Sunnier, drier and milder statewide. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 46. High: 71

MONDAY: Keep fishing. Lukewarm sunshine. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 55. High: 77

TUESDAY: More clouds, sticky. Few T-storms likely. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 58. High: near 80

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, late PM thunder risk. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 59. High: 75


Climate Stories…

Climate Change Ruining California’s Environment, Says Report. The Daily Beast has the update: “There is “unequivocal” evidence that man-made climate change is having a ruinous effect on California’s environment, according to a new report from the California Environmental Protection Agency. The 350-page report—based on research from scientists, academia, and research institutions—sets out how forest fires, droughts, and warmer ocean temperatures all point to man-made climate change destroying the state’s environment. Despite a downward trend in greenhouse-gas emissions measured in California, CO2 levels in the atmosphere and in seawater continue to increase at a steady rate. The report shows that night temperatures have increased 2.3 degrees over the past century…”


The Unintended Consequences of Climate Litigation. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at TheHill: “…At a general level, it is reasonable to hypothesize that participation in the climate litigation will lead to an increase in the scrutiny with which prospective bond purchasers view future bond offerings. After all, flooding and other forms of damage purportedly caused by the oil companies would be likely to have adverse effects on the respective tax bases and budget demands, and thus the municipalities’ abilities to service their debts. The resulting impacts in terms of the ability to borrow at low interest rates cannot be salutary. But the real problem is more concrete: If the cities win their lawsuits against Big Oil, the question that will arise is straightforward: Why were the climate risks not disclosed more fully? Even if they do not win in the litigation, the question of the discrepancy between the causes of action and the disclosures remains...”



HURRICANES: Links courtesy of Climate Nexus: “Because of climate change, hurricanes are raining harder and may be growing stronger more quickly (Washington Post $), Puerto Rico’s electric grid under scrutiny as new hurricane season looms (The Hill), thousands of Puerto Ricans are still in the dark while U.S. agencies leave (Bloomberg), before hurricane Harvey, ocean heat was at record levels in the gulf, feeding storm’s record rain, study finds.” (Weather.com)


Because of Climate Change, Hurricanes Are Raining Harder, And May Be Growing Stronger More Quickly. A summary of new research caught my eye at Capital Weather Gang: “Two studies published in the past week have troubling implications for the effects hurricanes have on society because of climate change, now and in the future. One directly links Hurricane Harvey’s disastrous rains to the amount of heat stored in the ocean, which was record-setting before the storm plowed into Texas last year. The other shows an increasing trend in storms that are becoming really strong, really fast. Storms that unload more rain and explosively intensify cause more destruction and suffering, as the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season painfully made clear. Harvey, Irma and Maria each ranked among the five costliest hurricanes on record…”

Hurricane Harvey image: National Hurricane Center (NHC).


Why Do Some Hurricanes Intensify So Fast? Miami Researchers Find a Key Clue. More perspective on the research highlighted above at The Miami Herald: “…In a paper published in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, scientists now say a look inside the storm might provide forecasters with valuable warning signs. After examining models from a 2014 hurricane that rapidly intensified, they found that interior thunderstorms were able to overcome the power of upper level winds that held them in place. As the thunderstorms begin swirling around the storm’s center, they appeared to increase the storm’s circulation, make the hurricane more symmetrical and lessen its tilt, allowing it to spin more furiously…”

File image: NASA.


Pediatricians Are Concerned About Climate Change, And Here’s Why. CNN Health has the story: “Doctors have long raised alarm about the potential health risks of climate change, but it turns out that children are particularly vulnerable. Children are estimated to bear 88% of the burden of disease related to climate change, according to a paper published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics. The new paper highlights some studies on the implications of climate change for children’s health and then calls for the world to better prepare for these health risks, not just in the future but in the present. “We already have seen the impacts,” said Dr. Kevin Chan, chairman of pediatrics at Memorial University and head of child health at Eastern Health in Canada, who co-authored the paper. Chan pointed to Hurricanes Katrina, Harvey and Irma as examples of climate change-related weather events that have affected children’s health, along with extreme heat waves and emerging infectious pathogens such as the Zika virus…”


Scientists Say Ocean Circulation is Slowing. Here’s Why You Should Care.  InsideClimate News has the story: “Hotter summers in Europe, changing rainfall in the tropics, hurricane risks along the U.S. coast.  If Atlantic currents keep weakening, we’ll feel it. Scientists have found new evidence that the Atlantic Ocean’s circulation has slowed by about 15 percent since the middle of the last century. If it continues to slow, that could have profound consequences for Earth’s inhabitants. Studies suggest it would mean much colder winters and hotter summers in Europe, changing rainfall patterns in the tropics, and warmer water building up along the U.S. coast that can fuel sea level rise and destructive storms. The changes in the North Atlantic could also intensify streams of icebergs into shipping lanes and coastal ice jams that hinder navigation...”

Graphic credit: “There are already signs that the weakening of the Atlantic circulation is having an effect on U.S. fisheries and storms. Ice melting off Greenland as the Arctic warms is believed to play a key role.” Credit: NASA.