Data Suggests Minnesota is Trending Wetter

Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said “There are three kinds of lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Then again, the data is the data. 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 comes down (much) harder.

Light showers linger today, but heavier rain returns Thursday night into Friday. 1-2 inches of rain is possible in the metro with some 3 inch amounts for far southern Minnesota. Stating the obvious: we need the rain.

We salvage lukewarm sun on Sunday with 70s, even a few 80s returning early next week.

Yes, spring is here. What a concept!


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.


Good ‘Ol Fashioned Soaking for Southern Half of Minnesota? The map above shows predicted rainfall amounts by Friday evening, according to NOAA’s 12km NAM model. 1-2″ rain amounts are prevalent over the southern half of the state – just what the doctor ordered. Map: pivotalweather.com.


Hanging Onto Spring. ECMWF forecast highs are generally 60s and 70s looking out 2 weeks, although I still believe there’s a good chance we’ll see a couple of 80-degree readings the first half of next week. Graphic: WeatherBell.

Relative Warmth. Summer-like heat builds over the southern and eastern USA by late May; the only pocket of cooler than normal weather forecast to be over the Pacific Northwest.

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).



Worst River Flooding Since 1975 to Threaten Lives, Property in Montana. AccuWeather has details: “Ongoing flooding along streams and rivers is likely to worsen across parts of the northern Rockies this week. Surging temperatures are causing deep snow cover over intermediate and high elevations from this past winter to rapidly melt. Temperatures have lunged into the 60s, 70s and 80s F since late April. In some cases temperatures reached 20 to 30 degrees above average, following a winter with well below-average temperatures and well above-average snowfall...”


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...”


Lava Showers. Remind me not to complain about snow flurries. Click here for some amazing photos. Here’s a clip from The Atlantic Daily: “In this May 5 image from the U.S. Geological Survey, lava from the Kilauea Volcano flows across a road in the Leilani Estates subdivision, on Hawaii’s Big Island. More than 1,000 residents have been evacuated because of the lava flow, which, though slow-moving, is concerning to volcanologists…”


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…”


How I Ran at a Tornado for the Photo of a Lifetime. Jim Reed explains at PetaPixel: “This week marks the 10th anniversary of one of the most memorable, satisfying and career-changing days as a professional extreme-weather photographer. In early 2008, Nikon asked if I’d test-drive the D700, the company’s latest DSLR camera at the time, ahead of its launch. I accepted the challenge and my goal was to capture striking and severe weather images. I began shooting on April 3 and spent the next month in the field traveling through Texas and Oklahoma. I wasn’t, however, finding the storm I wanted: something extra picturesque over a stark landscape. May 8 marked the shoot’s 36th day and by this time, I was in Colby, Kansas. I had a gut feeling it was going to be a good day and hoped to finally shoot a landspout tornado…”



How to Stay Safe During a Tornado. Lifehacker has timely reminders, including the following: “…Hotels may have a basement or other designated safe area. Follow the instructions of hotel staff. Otherwise, seek shelter in interior bathrooms or closets near the center of the building. Protect yourself with pillows, blankets, and mattresses. Be sure to inform management of any injuries or damaged property when it’s all over. If you’re in a concourse or terminal of an airport during a tornado warning, airport staff should guide you to a safe area (often designated tornado shelters). You may be advised to leave your luggage behind, so do as instructed. Do not try to outrun a tornado—it’s faster than you and doesn’t have to stick to roads. Instead, safely drive to the nearest sturdy-looking building. Once there, park your car outside of any traffic lanes and get inside…”

File photo: Charles Whisenant.


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.


Old Boy’s Club That Ran Power World Cracking With Its Model. Bloomberg explains the new world order of energy: “…Almost a quarter of regulated electric utilities in the U.S. are now run by women — three times their representation in the Fortune 500 by percentage, according to the industry group Edison Electric Institute. That compares with single digits at the turn of the century. Power companies say they’re part of a new energy economy at a time when growing numbers of people, male and female, have said that’s important. A 2017 poll commissioned by wind power giant Orsted A/S showed 82 percent of 26,000 respondents in 13 countries believe it’s important to create a world fully powered by renewable energy...”

Photo credit: “Mary Powell speaks at a conference in Austin, Texas, on March 29, 2017.” Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg.


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.


RENEWABLES: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “Steel town that voted for Trump banks on renewables (E&E $), former Trump energy adviser joins conservative clean energy advocacy group (Washington Examiner), regulators reject Dominion’s renewable energy proposal (AP), is 100% renewable energy by 2030 a feasible idea? Fort Collins City Council will decide (Coloradoan), state renewable energy increases under bill (Connecticut Post), wind farms boost tax base for local U.S. governments -Moody’s (Reuters), British sun beats natural gas to provide most electricity.” (Bloomberg)


Navy Signs Lease for Solar Panels Near Naval Station. Resilience, reliability and not being dependent on oil supply lines has a nice ring for the military. AP has the story: “The U.S. Navy has signed a lease to add solar panels to land it owns near a naval station in Rhode Island. Naval Station Newport says the Navy and Solar Breakers, LLC signed a 37-year lease to complete a large off-base solar photovoltaic facility and a combined heat and power plant at the station. The planned 21-megawatt solar park is scheduled to begin operating in the summer of 2019. It will be located on 75 acres of Navy-owned land north of the main installation, bordering the towns of Middletown and Portsmouth…”

File image: National Report.


“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.


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…”


How Many People Are Killed by Police Every Year? The Atlantic has some harrowing statistic: “…Of the 1,146 and 1,092 victims of police violence in 2015 and 2016, respectively, the authors found 52 percent were white, 26 percent were black, and 17 percent were Hispanic. Together, these individuals lost 57,375 years to police violence in 2015 and 54,754 to police violence in 2016. Young people and people of color were disproportionately affected: 52 percent of all the years of life lost were lost by nonwhite, non-Hispanic ethnic groups. Whites also tended to be killed by police at older ages than African Americans and Hispanics—though this is partly because in the general population, whites are older on average than the other groups…”


Women Who Eat More Pasta Tend to Get Menopause Earlier. Who knew? New Scientist has details: “…Janet Cade, at the University of Leeds, UK, and colleagues analysed data from 900 women who experienced menopause between the ages of 40 and 65. They found that the average age of menopause was 51, but that certain foods were associated with when menopause begun. Women who ate an additional daily portion of refined white pasta or rice tended to reach menopause around one-and-a-half years earlier than average, while an extra daily serving of oily fish was associated with a delay of more than three years…”


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.


Dessert, Served in a Shoe? Think twice before trying this one at home. The Washington Post reports: “There aren’t that many cultures where putting a shoe on the dining room table is acceptable behavior, but for the Japanese there is clear etiquette against allowing outdoor shoes inside. That might explain the furor following a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, to Israel last week. After a day of high-level meetings on May 2, the Japanese leader was treated to a festive meal at the official residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara Netanyahu. It was their second time in Israel, and the visiting couple were served a top-notch meal by celebrity Israeli chef Segev Moshe. But then came dessert. A selection of delectable chocolate pralines — artistically arranged inside a shiny leather shoe…“This was an insensitive decision,” the article quoted one unidentified senior Israeli official as saying. “There is nothing lowlier than a shoe in Japanese culture. Not only do they not wear shoes at home, you also won’t find shoes in their offices. This is disrespect of the first order...”


WEDNESDAY: Light showers, sprinkles. Winds: NW 10-15.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partial clearing late. Low: 50

THURSDAY: Sunny start, more rain late PM. Winds: NE 7-12. High: near 60

FRIDAY: Period of rain, heavy over far southern MN. Raw. Wake-up: 45. High: 53

SATURDAY: Sunshine north, showers over southern MN. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 44. High: 57

SUNDAY: Sunny, nicer day of the weekend. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 44. High: near 70

MONDAY: Lukewarm sunshine, spring fever flu? Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 51. High: 74

TUESDAY: Showers and T-storms, some heavy. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 57. High: 76


Climate Stories…

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.



The Case for Climate Reparations. Who should pay the costs for climate-change-related disasters? Sierra Club has the story: “…The mounting price tag of extreme weather events and the prospect of greater destruction to come have brought into focus a question that has been lurking at the edges of climate change conversations: Who should pay the costs of the death and destruction caused by human-driven global warming? The debate over climate accountability is not new. In the late 1980s, when climatologists were still trying to determine the magnitude of the risks from industrial greenhouse gas emissions, academics and policy specialists began calling attention to the fact that the alteration of the planet’s atmosphere would lead to unequal harms, and that basic principles of fairness would require that those harms be compensated…”

Top photo: “Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath on the Jersey Shore.” Photo by Julie Dermansky.

Bottom photo: “Santa Rosa, October 2017.” Photo by Reuters/Dronebase.


Exxon Strikes Back Against Bay Area Communities. The Mercury News has the story: “In January, ExxonMobil struck back, petitioning the Tarrant County District Court in Texas to allow it to question 17 government officials who work for the plaintiffs and a Hagens Berman lawyer. The move has been interpreted as the first step toward ExxonMobil suing the government entities. ExxonMobil did not respond to a request for comment. Among the officials that ExxonMobil wants to depose are County Administrator Matthew Hymel and Marin County Counsel Brian Washington. “It’s not technically a lawsuit yet,” Washington said, “but they’ve filed in court to ask for permission to do investigative depositions to try to find evidence for a lawsuit…”

Photo credit: “Marin County is among jurisdictions to sue oil, gas and coal companies asserting the companies knew their fossil fuel products would cause sea level rise and coastal flooding.” (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File).


Earlier Runoff, Less Snow: Montana Professor Warns of Climate Change’s Effects on Recreation. Here’s a snippet from Montana Untamed: “Mild-mannered Cathy Whitlock is blunt when she talks about climate change in Montana. “Spoiler alert,” she said. “The climate is getting warmer, and we’re going to have to deal with it.” Whitlock is in a position to know. As a professor at the Department of Earth Sciences at Montana State University she’s spent decades analyzing mud core samples drilled from lakes around the world to examine climate and fire going back thousands of years. She also recently co-wrote the 2017 “Montana Climate Assessment” report, which can be found online at montanaclimate.org…”

Photo credit: “Changes in when moisture comes to Montana and in what form is part of the alterations to climate that scientists like Cathy Whitlock, from Montana State University, are seeing when looking at long-term data.”


Do our behaviors really reflect our beliefs? New research suggests that, when it comes to climate change, the answer is no. And that goes for both skeptics and believers. Participants in a year-long study who doubted the scientific consensus on the issue “opposed policy solutions,” but at the same time, they “were most likely to report engaging in individual-level, pro-environmental behaviors,” writes a research team led by University of Michigan psychologist Michael Hall. Conversely, those who expressed the greatest belief in, and concern about, the warming environment “were most supportive of government climate policies, but least likely to report individual-level actions…”

File image: Climate Nexus.