Shower Risk Today – A Fine Weekend Coming

Things that may not come back anytime soon: high-fives, random salad bars, grocery store food samples, standing in line and mosh pits. I’m going to miss the mosh pits.

I suspect the new normal will be anything but. There is one saving grace: our yards will be better maintained than anytime in our history. Nothing like power-mulching, or baking, or loitering on a Zoom call, to help you maintain your sanity.

Today won’t be nearly as extraordinary as Thursday was, with a few hours of showers and T-storms expected. The good news: a dry weekend is brewing, with afternoon daytime highs flirting with 70 degrees. Those low-humidity, bug-free, thunder-optional days you were daydreaming about are imminent.

Soak it up, because we will cool off next week, with showery rains Monday and Thursday – a few days with highs in the 50s.

The combination of Tuesday’s soaking, recent sunshine and warming temperatures is leading to an explosion of green. After our rough winters I’m amazed anything comes back to life!

Fine Weather Into Saturday. A passing shower is still possible today, but most of the day will be dry with spurts of sun and mid to upper 60s. Oddly enough the weekend looks sunnier, drier and a bit milder. Good timing. Map sequence above: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Dueling Models. There’s a fair amount of agreement between ECMWF (top) and GFS (bottom), showing a temperature correction next week with 50s and low 60s. Is the frost/freeze risk over the Twin Cities this spring? Probably, yes. MSP Meteograms: WeatherBell.

Low-Confidence. The 2 week GFS winds aloft forecast (500mb – about 18,000 feet above the ground) has been even more erratic than usual in recent days, vascillating between a warm ridge over the central USA and (now/above) a huge cut-off low over central Canada – which would imply temperatures cooler than average as we start the third week of May.

Tracking Billion Dollar U.S. Weather Disasters By Month. NOAA NCEI presents extreme weather disasters in a new format, providing additional perspective: “…NCEI tracks U.S. weather and climate events that have significant economic and societal impacts and provides quarterly summaries of these events. Since 1980, the United States has sustained 265 weather and climate disasters where the overall damage costs per event reached or exceeded $1 billion (including adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index, as of April 2020). The cumulative cost for these 265 events exceeds $1.775 trillion. A new NCEI tool is designed to help users investigate the climatological (long-term) frequency of these events across the Nation and its regions. The climatology provides visualization tools, such as graphs and figures, for several regions and all U.S. states. This can be a useful way for decision-makers to utilize historical data to understand which types of large events typically occur at what times of year, by region…”

USA Has Seen Deadliest Tornado Year In Nearly a Decade. has the post; here’s an excerpt: “…So before the calendar switches to May, the United States has already seen more tornado fatalities than every single year since 2012. That’s why 73 is so significant of a number. The last time this many tornado deaths occurred in a single year was back in the infamous year of 2011; a total of 553 people died from tornadoes that year. Of course, that was the year of the unforgettable tornado outbreak that ravaged Alabama and other southern states in late April. For perspective, the annual average for tornado deaths in the U.S. between 1989 and 2018 was 69. We aren’t even four months into the year and we are above that number. Most of the tornado deaths occurred between April 11 and 22 when a devastating severe outbreak slammed the the South on Easter Sunday into the following Monday morning…”
Graphic credit: “2020 is already the deadliest tornado year since 2011 despite it not even being May yet.” (Source: WSFA 12 News)

Largest Arctic Ozone Hole on Record Closes Itself Up. Because sometimes nature is inexplicable. CNET reports: “Something strange happened over the Arctic this year when a hole developed in the ozone layer. The European Commission’s Copernicus satellite program tracked the unusual occurrence, and now has evidence that the hole healed itself. The ozone layer acts like sunscreen for the Earth, protecting life from harmful ultraviolet radiation. The most famous ozone hole is the one that occurs annually in the Antarctic. Arctic ozone holes aren’t completely unheard of. There was a similar, event in 2011, though not as large. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) described this year’s northern hemisphere hole as record-breaking and unusual…”
Image credit: “Data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite revealed a mini ozone hole over the Arctic in 2020. Includes modified Copernicus data (2020), processed by DLR/BIRA/ESA.”

The Secret Group of Scientists and Billionaires Pushing a Manhattan Project for Covid-19. Check out an eye-opening story at The Wall Street Journal (paywall): “A dozen of America’s top scientists and a collection of billionaires and industry titans say they have the answer to the coronavirus pandemic, and they found a backdoor to deliver their plan to the White House. The eclectic group is led by a 33-year-old physician-turned-venture capitalist, Tom Cahill, who lives far from the public eye in a one-bedroom rental near Boston’s Fenway Park. He owns just one suit, but he has enough lofty connections to influence government decisions in the war against Covid-19. These scientists and their backers describe their work as a lockdown-era Manhattan Project, a nod to the World War II group of scientists who helped develop the atomic bomb. This time around, the scientists are marshaling brains and money to distill unorthodox ideas gleaned from around the globe…”
Image credit above: “Tom Cahill, founder and managing partner at Newpath Partners in Boston.Kayana Szymczak for The Wall Street Journal.

Why Do So Many Anchors Sound Alike? A question I’ve wondered about all these years. Mental Floss has a good explainer: “…The more contemporary practice of sounding linguistically neutral is often referred to as having a General American accent—which is a bit misleading, since there’s really not much of an accent at all. Also referred to as Standard American, Broadcast English, or Network English, General American was a term first used in the 1920s and ’30s by linguists who wanted to isolate a more widespread accent than the New England or Southern dialects. The scholar George Philip Krapp used the phrase in his 1925 book The English Language in America; linguist John Kenyon referred to it in his 1930 title American Pronunciation, where he insisted that 90 million Americans spoke General American…”

German Doctors Pose Naked to Protest Protective Equipment Shortages. CNN reports on the tactics some doctors are using to raise public awareness: “A website apparently featuring photos of German medical workers is calling attention to the working conditions and protective equipment needed by frontline workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. The website, “Blanke Bedenken,” shows photos of apparently nude people, some of whom are partially obscured by medical equipment, paperwork and other props, including stethoscopes, anatomical skeletons and even toilet rolls.  “We are your GPs. To be able to treat you safely, we need protective gear…”

Image courtesy of Blanke Bedenken.

68 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

65 F. average high on April 30.

45 F. maximum MSP temperature on April 30, 2019.

May 1, 1966: Winter makes a last stab at Minnesota with a low of 5 at Cook. A widespread freeze hits the rest of the state.

May 1, 1935: An unusually late snow and ice storm hits east central Minnesota. The heaviest ice accumulations are between St. Paul and Forest Lake and westward to Buffalo in Wright County, with accumulations of 1 to 1.5 inches on wires. The downtown Minneapolis weather bureau records 3 inches of snow.

FRIDAY: Patchy clouds, a few showers. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 65

SATURDAY: Partly sunny and pleasant. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 55. High: 71

SUNDAY: Plenty of sunshine, another weather-winner. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 49. High: near 70

MONDAY: Cooler with showers likely. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 47. High: 59

TUESDAY: More clouds than sun. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 41. High: 57

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, late showers. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 40. High: 59

THURSDAY: Soggy, more showers possible. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 43. High: 56

Climate Stories…

In Fast-Warming Minnesota, Scientists are Trying to Plant the Forest of the Future. The Washington Post has a powerful story about the changes underway in Minnesota; here’s a clip: “A Washington Post analysis of historical temperature data found that seven counties in Minnesota have warmed more than 2 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century — about twice the global average. Winters here have warmed even faster, with 59 of the state’s counties — about two thirds — eclipsing the 2C threshold during the months of December through February. Minnesota is home to a landscape like none other in the United States. It has the boreal forests to the north, with their stately conifers and the moose and lynx that roam them; temperate forests in the middle, dominated by deciduous trees such as oak and maple; and prairie stretching to the south and west. But rising temperatures are altering those boundaries. Experts in the state have testified about what is in store if temperatures continue to rise: more heat-related deaths, lower crop yields, damaging deluges and floods, a surge in pests, increasing drought and worsening air quality…”

Map credit: NOAA.

Climate Change Threatens Drinking Water Quality Across the Great Lakes. Discover Magazine has a post that’s worth your time; here’s an excerpt: “…The culprit was a combination of high nutrient pollution — nitrogen and phosphorus, which stimulate the growth of algae — from sewage, agriculture and suburban runoff, and high water temperatures linked to climate change. This event showed that even in regions with resources as vast as the Great Lakes, water supplies are vulnerable to these kinds of man-made threats. As Midwesterners working in the fields of urban environmental health and climate and environmental science, we believe more crises like Toledo’s could lie ahead if the region doesn’t address looming threats to drinking water quality…”

Photo credit: “A harmful algae bloom in Lake Erie near Pelee Island, Ohio.” (Credit: T. Archer/NOAA/Flickr)

America’s Northernmost City Just Recorded Its First Record-Low Temperature in 13 Years. Capital Weather Gang has some much-needed perspective: “…Sea ice is perhaps the greatest influencer of the weather in Utqiagvik; the hasty retreat of sea ice and the emergence of exposed ocean waters in recent years have amplified Utqiagvik’s climate-driven warming rate even more. So while Wednesday’s morning low did beat out a previous record by a mere degree, it’s negligible in the face of 112 record high temperatures tied or broken in the time since Utqiagvik’s last record low. “In baseball, you don’t see 112 to 1,” Thoman said. “That’s a blowout.” Utqiagvik is ground zero for climate change in the United States, with the city rapidly warming more than five degrees in the past century…”

Photo credit: “A shot of Utqiagvik on Wednesday.” (University of Alaska Fairbanks)

Meteorologists Say 2020 On Track to be Hottest Year Since Records Began. Where have we heard that before? Oh yeah – just about every year since 2000. I’m sure this must all be a cosmic coincidence. Here’s the intro to a Guardian post: “This year is on course to be the world’s hottest since measurements began, according to meteorologists, who estimate there is a 50% to 75% chance that 2020 will break the record set four years ago. Although the coronavirus lockdown has temporarily cleared the skies, it has done nothing to cool the climate, which needs deeper, longer-term measures, the scientists say. Heat records have been broken from the Antarctic to Greenland since January, which has surprised many scientists because this is not an El Niño year, the phenomenon usually associated with high temperatures. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calculates there is a 75% chance that 2020 will be the hottest year since measurements began…”

Image credit: NASA ISS (International Space Station).

More Days of Heavy Rain. Climate Central takes a look at the trends; here’s an excerpt: “...If the old adage is anything to go by, May should bring plenty of flowers (to much of the country)! While seasonal weather patterns like April showers seem to endure, long-term averages show that climate change is fundamentally changing other aspects of precipitation—making heavy rainfall events more common and more intense. In recent years, an increasing percentage of precipitation has come from intense, single-day events. Climate Central analyzed how heavy rain events are changing in U.S. cities since 1950. Since the amount of rain that falls in a heavy rain event varies dramatically from the Desert Southwest to the downpours of Florida, this analysis calculated trends in ½, 1, 2 or 3-inch events, as appropriate to the location (see Methodology for more details). Over the past 70 years, 79% (191) of the 242 stations analyzed recorded an increase in heavy rainfall...”

Tropical Deforestation Releases Deadly Infections. Ah, science. Climate News Network is connecting the dots: “As forest destruction continues unabated in Brazil, scientists are alarmed that, as well as spurring climate change, it may unleash new and deadly infections on humankind. There is growing awareness that large-scale tropical deforestation, as in the Amazon, not only brings disastrous consequences for the climate, but releases new diseases like Covid-19 by enabling infections to pass from wild animals to human beings. As one well-known Amazon scientist, biologist Philip Fearnside, puts it: “Amazon deforestation facilitates transmission both of new diseases and of old ones like malaria…”

How Concern Over Climate Change Correlates with Coronavirus Responses. I’m sensing a trend here. Here’s a clip from Morning Consult: “Adults who say they are not concerned about climate change are less likely than the general public to be taking personal actions to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus, new Morning Consult data shows. And in contrast, climate-concerned U.S. adults are more likely to be taking these actions, which include wearing masks in public, social distancing and disinfecting the home and personal electronics. In a poll conducted April 14-16, 54 percent of climate-concerned respondents said that they have “always” worn a mask in public spaces such as grocery stores or parks over the last month, whereas just 30 percent of the climate-unconcerned said the same — a 24-point gap...”

Fact Check: How Electric Vehicles Help to Tackle Climate Change. Zeke Hausfather has an illuminating post at CarbonBrief: “Here, in response to recent misleading media reports on the topic, Carbon Brief provides a detailed look at the climate impacts of EVs. In this analysis, Carbon Brief finds:

  • EVs are responsible for considerably lower emissions over their lifetime than conventional (internal combustion engine) vehicles across Europe as a whole.
  • In countries with coal-intensive electricity generation, the benefits of EVs are smaller and they can have similar lifetime emissions to the most efficient conventional vehicles – such as hybrid-electric models.
  • However, as countries decarbonise electricity generation to meet their climate targets, driving emissions will fall for existing EVs and manufacturing emissions will fall for new EVs.
  •  In the UK in 2019, the lifetime emissions per kilometre of driving a Nissan Leaf EV were about three times lower than for the average conventional car, even before accounting for the falling carbon intensity of electricity generation during the car’s lifetime.
  • Comparisons between electric vehicles and conventional vehicles are complex. They depend on the size of the vehicles, the accuracy of the fuel-economy estimates used, how electricity emissions are calculated, what driving patterns are assumed, and even the weather in regions where the vehicles are used. There is no single estimate that applies everywhere...”