Just For Balance, a Bit of Good Weather News

The number of deaths from natural disasters is about 25 percent of what it was 100 years ago. Media often focuses on loss of life and property destruction from floods and fires, but at a time when extreme weather events are increasing, Americans are actually safer.

That didn’t happen by accident. Supercomputers, weather satellites and 160 NWS Doppler radars have
lowered the risk of death and injury. TV and radio updates are now supplemented by smartphone apps that send out continuous updates. We can detect and track severe weather like never before.

But there’s still a glaring need for personal responsibility. Don’t rely on anyone or anything to keep you safe. There’s no substitute for situational awareness – and common sense.

Models print out 1-2 inches of rain by Thursday; the best chance of a much-needed dousing tonight. Another soaking is possible Friday, with showers spilling into Saturday over southern Minnesota. Sunday looks like the sunnier, drier day.

After a few cool days 80s may return by early next week. I predict lawn-mowing season will kick off shortly.

Extreme Fire Danger. According to the Minnesota DNR the wildfire risk is about as high as it ever gets over parts of central and east central Minnesota, including the Twin Cities.

60-Hour Rainfall Potential. NOAA’s 3km NAM prints out some .5 to 1″ amounts close to home (most of that coming tonight). I hope the models are right, although last night’s 00z run wasn’t as wet as previous models.

Looks Like May. Cold air vortexes continue to lift northward into Canada in the coming weeks, leaving much of the USA with the exception of the Pacific Northwest) in a warmer-than-average flow – true summer heat forecast to extend from the Desert Southwest and Southern Plains into the East Coast.

Phoenix Heats Up: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “Phoenix broke a heat record set in 1947 and hit a high of 106 degrees Sunday, about 13 degrees above average. The city’s first major heatwave of 2018 came one month earlier than 2016 and 2017, years that witnessed back-to-back record-shattering heat waves. Unseasonal, extreme heat is a classic signal of climate change, and the signal is especially strong in the southwestern United States where the fingerprint of anthropogenic warming has been formally identified.” (Arizona Republic, Weather Nation, AP, KTAR. Background: Climate Signals).

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...”

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 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.

California Burning: Life Among the Wildfires. The frequency and intensity of wildfires in California is forcing many residents to give climate change another look. The Guardian reports: “...It was an experimental prototype course founded on the ideas in George Marshall’s book Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change. After spending 15 years studying climate change-denying microcultures, Marshall concluded that facts don’t change people’s minds – only stories do. We’re so motivated by wanting to belong that we’d rather risk the dangers of climate change than the more immediate symbolic death of estrangement from our peers. In order to address climate change in our communities, Marshall suggests, we must appeal to the same desires that religion does: belonging, consolation and redemption…”

Photo credit: “A wildfire near Keenbrook, California in August 2016.” Photograph: Noah Berger/AP

Insect-Born Diseases Have Tripled. Here’s why. WIRED.com tracks some worrisome trends: “...Since 2004, the number of people who get diseases transmitted by mosquito, tick, and flea bites has more than tripled, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday. Between 2004 and 2016, about 643,000 cases of 16 insect-borne illnesses were reported to the CDC—27,000 a year in 2004 (the year in which the agency began requiring more detailed reporting), rising to 96,000 by 2016. At least nine such diseases have also been discovered or introduced into the US in that same timeframe. Most of them are found in ticks. Many of them are potentially life-threatening. What’s to blame for the surge in reported cases? Warmer weather for one thing, said the agency’s director of vector-borne diseases, Lyle Petersen, during a media briefing…”

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.

Mark Zuckerberg Doesn’t Understand Journalism. Or maybe he does, and he just doesn’t care. Here’s an excerpt from The Atlantic: “…Zuckerberg runs a media company that distributes news, but doesn’t have a proper newsroom. He runs a media company that has—with Google’s help—dominated the vast majority of digital ad dollars and eviscerated the journalism industry’s business model, all while preaching about the importance of journalism. He runs a media company that, he says, believes deeply in the need to sustain independent journalism, but won’t pay publishers to license journalistic content. And he runs a media company that has decided to show its users less news from professional outlets—it’s really not what people want to see, he says—in favor of more individual opinions…”

Photo credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP.

Sweden Officially Admits that Swedish Meatballs are Actually Turkish. Say what?  Time.com has the surprising details: “Sweden has admitted that Swedish meatballs — the signature food served in traditional holiday meals and in Ikea cafeterias around the world — are, in fact, Turkish. “Swedish meatballs are actually based on a recipe King Charles XII brought home from Turkey in the early 18th century,” the official Twitter account for Sweden said Saturday…”

File photo credit: “Swedish — or Turkish —meatballs.” Food and Drink—Shutterstock.

Wisconsin Man Breaks Record by Eating 30,000 Big Macs. 10tv.com has the mouthwatering details: “A Wisconsin man has found his life calling in the form of food. CBS 58 reported on Friday, Donald Gorske broke the world record for eating the most Big Macs by anyone, which was 30,000. Gorske didn’t eat those burgers all at once, it took him more than 40 years to reach the foodie milestone. He said he has eaten at least two burgers a day since 1972 and has been able to keep track of it all with receipts, wrappers, and bags…”

Photo credit: “Donald Gorske broke a world record by officially eating 30,000 McDonald’s Big Mac’s.” (CBS 58/Facebook).

A Cockroach Burrowed into a Woman’s Ear. It Took 9 Days to Get It Out. Suddenly I’m just fine with Minnesota’s cold fronts. The Washington Post has the harrowing story: “Katie Holley was jolted awake by a cold thing — what she had initially thought was a small piece of ice that somehow slid down her left ear. Disoriented, she rushed to the bathroom, grabbed a cotton swab and slowly stuck it inside her ear. And then Holley felt something move. It was like a “rhythmic” movement, she recalled, as if whatever that thing was trying to burrow deeper into her ear canal. She pulled out the cotton swab and saw small, dark brown pieces that looked like legs...”

Photo credit: “Katie Holley, 29, of Melbourne, Fla., said a palmetto bug crawled into her ear, and much of the insect’s remains stayed there for nine days.” (Courtesy of Katie Holley).

86 F. maximum temperature in the Twin Cities on Monday.

67 F. average high on May 7.

67 F. high on May 7, 2017.

May 8, 1924: A snowstorm brings up to 4 inches to parts of Minnesota. Minneapolis sees a half inch of snow with St. Paul picking up an inch. Up to 50 mph winds accompany the snow.

TUESDAY: PM showers and T-storms. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 73

TUESDAY NIGHT: Rain and T-storms, heavy at times. Low: 57

WEDNESDAY: Soggy start, showers linger. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 68

THURSDAY: Sunny start, more showers arrive late. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 49. High: 61

FRIDAY: Showers and T-storms, some heavy. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 47. High: near 60

SATURDAY: Sun up north, showers central and south. Wake-up: 46. High: 63

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, breezy and better. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 48. High: 71

MONDAY: Plenty of sun, warming up again. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 51. High: 78

Climate Stories…

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.

Climate Change Turns Coastal Property into a Junk Bond. Bloomberg reports: “…Most markets don’t depend very much on things that are projected to happen many decades in the future — the Internal Revenue Service counts the useful life of a rental property as only 27.5 years, and the longest-dated U.S. Treasury bonds are only 30 years. Even in the worst-case scenario, sea level rise will be moderate by 2050 — perhaps 1 or 2 feet along most U.S. east coast locations. And there’s a good chance it will be much less. A rise of that magnitude doesn’t sound like a lot. But it would inundate a number of low-lying coastal areas. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s sea level rise viewer app lets you play around with the data and look at maps. Even a moderately bad climate-change scenario could swamp some pieces of coastal real estate within a few decades. But sea level rise isn’t a gradual, steady thing. The ocean is not a still bowl of water, but a roiling mass tossed around by winds and tides…”

File photo: Michael Lopez, Washington Post.

Sea-Level Rise: The Defining Issue of the Century. Here’s an excerpt from The Invading Sea; a collaboration of Florida newspapers: “No graver threat faces the future of South Florida than the accelerating pace of sea-level rise. In the past century, the sea has risen 9 inches inKey West. In the past 23 years, it’s risen 3 inches. By 2060, its predicted to rise another 2 feet, with no sign of slowing down. Think about that. Water levels could easily be 2 feet higher in 40 years. And scientists say thats a conservative estimate. Because of melting ice sheets and how oceans circulate, theres a chance South Florida’s sea level could be 3 feet higher by 2060 and as much as 8 feet by 2100, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It’s not just a matter of how much land we’re going to lose, though the barrier islands and low-lying communities will be largely uninhabitable once the ocean rises by 3 feet. It’s a matter of what can be saved. And elsewhere, how we’re going to manage the retreat…”

File image: NASA.

Actors Were Paid to Support Entergy’s Power Plant at New Orleans City Council Meetings. This takes duplicity and dishonesty to a whole new level. Here’s an excerpt from The Lens: “...They were paid $60 each time they wore the orange shirts to meetings in October and February. Some got $200 for a “speaking role,” which required them to deliver a prewritten speech, according to interviews with the actors and screenshots of Facebook messages provided to The Lens. “They paid us to sit through the meeting and clap every time someone said something against wind and solar power,” said Keith Keough, who heard about the opportunity through a friend. He said he thought he was going to shoot a commercial. “I’m not political,” he said. “I needed the money for a hotel room at that point…”

Photo credit: Michael Stein / The Lens. “It was easy to tell who supported Entergy’s proposed power plant at a public hearing last fall; they were the ones wearing fluorescent orange shirts that read “Clean Energy. Good Jobs. Reliable Power.” Some of those people were paid to show up and support the plant.”

Utility to Meeting Attendees: “Tell Nobody You’re Being Paid”: More perspective from Climate Nexus: “Local actors were paid to appear at New Orleans city council meetings to show support for a gas-fired power plant, according to a new report. Investigative news site The Lens spoke to three actors who say they were paid $60–with $200 given for a speaking role–to attend a public hearing in October to show support for Entergy’s power plant proposal, which was approved in March. A coalition of green groups filed suit last month to reverse the plant’s approval, claiming that community members opposed to the plant were turned away from meetings due to lack of space while supporters of the plant were allowed in early. The plant will be built on a FEMA floodplain in a primarily Vietnamese, Black and Latinx neighborhood.” (The Lens, NPR, Times-Picayune, 4WWL, The Advocate)

You’re Keeling Me: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide reached the highest levels in recorded history last month. On Wednesday, scientists confirmed that readings from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii show an average concentration of carbon dioxide topping 410 parts per million–46 percent higher than concentrations in 1880 at the start of the industrial revolution. “As a scientist, what concerns me the most is not that we have passed yet another round-number threshold but what this continued rise actually means: that we are continuing full speed ahead with an unprecedented experiment with our planet, the only home we have,” Texas Tech’s Katharine Hayhoe said in a statement.” (Washington Post $, Grist, Mashable)

Graphic credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography.