Significant Severe Storm Risk Later Today
In a meteorological blink of an eye. I’m continually amazed how fast we can go from laughing kids, droning lawn mowers and chirping birds to growling skies, startled shouts and blaring sirens.
Minnesota weather will never be for the faint of heart.
Today NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has an “Enhanced Risk” of severe storms, especially south/east of the MSP metro. Conditions aloft are ripe for a few spinning, “supercell” thunderstorms capable of large hail and isolated tornadoes along an irritable warm frontal boundary. Most of us will enjoy a generic thunderstorm. A few of us may not be so lucky, especially southeastern MN and southwest WI. Stay alert and plugged in.
Skies clear tomorrow with a stupidly-cool weekend on tap, with highs holding in the 50s. Scrappy clouds Saturday give way to intervals of September-like sunshine Sunday.
The southern US is sizzling under a 100-degree heat dome, while we see frequent showers and a parade of cool fronts next week.
Long-range weather models hint at 70F as we head into Memorial Day Weekend. Yes please.
Only 35% of Minnesota’s Corn Crop Has Been Planted So Far – Roughly Half the 5-Year Average. Star Tribune has details: “Thunderstorms that walloped southwestern Minnesota farms last week — downing grain bins, flooding fields and killing two people — interrupted what otherwise would’ve been a small, but not insignificant kickoff to spring planting for the state’s corn crop. As of Monday, farmers have planted 35% of Minnesota’s corn, according to the weekly crop progress report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). That trails the 5-year average (72%) but is nearly a four-fold increase from last week, when only 9% of the state’s top crop was in the ground...”
6 Confirmed Minnesota Tornadoes In Last Wednesday’s Derecho. Bring Me The News has details: “The National Weather Service in Grand Forks and Twin Cities has confirmed seven tornadoes that touched down in western Minnesota and North Dakota during last week’s storms. The twisters ranged from EF-0 to EF-2, according to reports. Six of the seven touched down in Minnesota. According to NWS-GF:
– The first tornado happened in Charlesville, in Minnesota’s Grant County. It lasted for about three minutes, ending at 7:10 p.m. near Elbow Lake and had reached estimated winds of 100 mph. The weather service said several trees limbs were broken from the tornado. Two power poles were noted to be cracked and another two were leaning after the storm. This funnel of wind was estimated to be at an EF-1 level…”
Boisterous Warm Frontal Boundary Today. Clusters and individual “supercell” thunderstorms may spin up later today with an atmospheric temperature, wind and moisture profile favorable for a few severe storms later today, with the best chance south and east of the Twin Cities.
Unusually Cool Weekend Shaping Up. 50s in late May? That’s more typical of early or mid April. At least the sirens won’t be sounding. Skies dry out Friday with the best chance of spying the sun over the weekend on Sunday as winds ease. It may feel more like early autumn than late spring out there.
Hot Air Edging Ever Closer. We’ve seen a few spikes of heat, but a lingering La Nina cool phase in the Pacific may be prolonging chilly air (longer than usual), delaying the inevitable parade of warm fronts. GFS guidance shows hot air slowly expanding northward into the Upper Midwest by early June. We can only hope.
Model Consensus: Hotter Than Normal Summer for Most of the USA. It’s good to be skeptical (about everything these days) but NOAA’s suite of longer range models show a strong warm bias from June into August. Place your bets.
What are Flash Droughts? Minnesota often sees these in August and September. Not every year, but many years. Discover.com has a good explainer: “You’ve heard of flash floods, but have you heard of flash droughts? These events are relatively new for natural disasters, and come on fast, with conditions going from normal to severely dry in less than one month. This means people have no time to prepare for the consequences, which can include withered crops, dried streams or depleted wells. There’s been an effort over the past six years to better understand flash droughts, according to Ben Cook, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. One goal is to pinpoint early indicators that might help forecast these events and give more warning before they hit...”
NM Fire Breaks Record As Risks Rise Across US: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Fueled by a megadrought worse than any other in the last 1,200 years, the New Mexico’s Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire is now the state’s largest wildfire on record. As firefighters in New Mexico struggle to contain the blaze, a new report from the First Street Foundation details increased wildfire risk across the country due to climate change. Just under 1 in 6 people in the U.S. (16%) live in an area with hazardous wildfire risk, increasing over the next 30 years to more than 1 in 5 people in the U.S. (21%). Nearly half of the fire-vulnerable population lives in the South, and people of color face disproportionate risk.” (New Mexico fire: Reuters, Washington Post $, Axios, KOB-4, KOAT, AP, CNN; Wildfire risk: (Washington Post $, New York Times $, Wall Street Journal $, E&E $, The Verge, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Axios; Climate Signals background: Wildfires, Western U.S. megadrought)
National Hurricane Center Issues First Outlook of 2022 Season. NBC 6 in South Florida has details: “The National Hurricane Center issued its first tropical weather outlook on Sunday regarding weather conditions in the Atlantic basin before the start of the hurricane season. According to the outlook, the formation of tropical cyclones is not expected for the North Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico during the next 5 days. The outlooks are issued four times daily from May 15 to Nov. 30 and describe significant areas of severe weather and its potential for tropical cyclone formation. In the event of hurricanes or tropical storms in the Atlantic, the NHC usually issues more. Although the official date for the start of the hurricane season in the Atlantic basin is June 1, cyclones have appeared earlier in the last several years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will announce its initial outlook for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season during a news conference on May 24 at the New York City Emergency Management Department in Brooklyn…”
Satellite Mission Finds That Tonga Volcanic Eruption Effects Reached Space. Phys.org has details: “When the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted on Jan. 15, 2022, it sent atmospheric shock waves, sonic booms, and tsunami waves around the world. Now, scientists are finding the volcano’s effects also reached space. Analyzing data from NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission and ESA’s (the European Space Agency) Swarm satellites, scientists found that in the hours after the eruption, hurricane-speed winds and unusual electric currents formed in the ionosphere—Earth’s electrified upper atmospheric layer at the edge of space. “The volcano created one of the largest disturbances in space we’ve seen in the modern era,” said Brian Harding, a physicist at University of California, Berkeley, and lead author on a new paper discussing the findings...”
When Dangerous Weather Approaches, The Spanish Translation Problem Looms. Dr. Marshall Shepherd reports for Forbes.com: “…In his 2021 study published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Trujillo-Falcón noted that Latino or Hispanic population is roughly 20% of the U.S. total and over 70% of them speak Spanish at home. Many of these people live in hurricane-prone regions or in active severe weather areas such as the Great Plains or South. During its Spring 2021 meetings, the National Academies Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) heard from experts like Trujillo-Falcón on the need for incorporating equity, justice, and diversity within the nation’s weather, climate, and water enterprise...”
Are EVs Really Cleaner Than ICE Vehicles? This data is from 2017 and as the grid trends cleaner over time chances are these numbers have further shifted in favor of EVs. Brendan Jordan from Great Plains Institute sent me this post that explains carbon emissions for production and life-of-vehicle. It turns out there is a significant difference. Here is an excerpt from a post at DriveElectricMN: “Last year, GPI reported that electric vehicles provide a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction of at least 42% to 61% compared to gasoline vehicles in Minnesota based on data for the year 2015. Further analysis performed by GPI with updated 2016-2017 data now shows that electric vehicles provide GHG reductions of at least 65% in Xcel’s service territory in 2017 and at least 53% in the greater MISO North Region. Already an improvement from GPI’s 2016 analysis, these emission reductions are set to increase through the year 2030, when an electric vehicle (EV) charging in Xcel’s territory will result in a per-mile GHG reduction of 75%. Like last year’s analysis, GPI again utilized Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET Lifecycle Model to calculate emissions from gasoline and electric vehicles. The results included emissions for the full lifecycle of a vehicle, including vehicle and battery manufacturing, fuel production and refining, and vehicle operation or fuel combustion. The improvement in GHG reductions was largely caused by two factors: updated generation fuel mix projections from Xcel that include significant new wind capacity and the use of more specific generation fuel mix data published by MISO for the MISO North Region…”
GM to Launch Corvette EV. It promises to be wicked-fast, and all-electric. Automotive News reports: “General Motors will launch electrified versions of the Chevrolet Corvette sports car starting next year, GM President Mark Reuss said Monday. Reuss told CNBC that GM will launch an “electrified” version of the Corvette in 2023, followed by a fully electric version later. The all-electric Corvette will be powered by GM’s proprietary Ultium battery platform. In September 2020, GM reassigned engineers who worked on the midengine Corvette to an EV team in an effort to give future EVs a high-performance flair…”
Short-Term Air Pollution Exposure Heightens Covid-19 Risk. E&E News has the story: “Short-term exposure to common air pollutants may heighten the odds of Covid-19 infection in young adults, researchers found in what’s billed as a first-of-its-kind study of the age group now considered primarily responsible for spreading the respiratory disease. The study, recently published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at 425 students and others in their mid-20s within an existing cohort who tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Despite “relatively low levels of air pollution exposure,” the Swedish researchers tied higher daily levels of airborne particles and black carbon to increased risk of infection in the range of 6 to 7 percent. While no such association was found for exposure for another class of pollutants known as nitrogen oxides, the results support “the broad public health benefits of reducing ambient air pollution levels,” write the authors, who work at the Stockholm-based Karolinska Institutet and other organizations in Sweden and Italy...”
The Best Scenic Drive In Every State. For Minnesota the consensus is Highway 61 along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Thrillist has the magic list: “…Hugging the frigid coast of Lake Superior, this northern Minnesota wonderland is a rat-a-tat tour of the state’s most stunning sights, which whiz by with alarming speed as you wind through dense forests and up and down roller coaster hills. The trip starts in the unexpectedly vibrant Duluth before firing you along the waters, where you’ll catch sights like the iconic Split Rock Lighthouse, the funky little Swedish-inspired town of Lutsen, and enough waterfalls and lake overlooks to fill a thousand screensavers. Plan to make it a multi-day adventure: You’ll absolutely want to explore the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Grand Marais. Plus, the North Shore is overflowing with great breweries, which all but demand frequent—and overnight—stop-offs to enjoy…”
A Pizza Like No Other. Not sure what to make of this post from SoraNews24: “In the cut-throat world of pizza delivery services, current king of the chains Domino’s has been battling it out with Pizza Hut for years, as each one tries to outdo the other with unusual offers to attract customers. In Taiwan, Pizza Hut is closing in on the competition with a new creation called the “No. 1 Salted Chicken Pizza in Taiwan“. While the name seems simple, everything about this pizza is not, as it contains some seemingly disparate star ingredients — Taiwanese fried chicken (aka popcorn chicken), Oreo biscuits, and fried squid rings…”
.09” Rain fell at MSP International Airport on Wednesday.
74 F. Twin Cities high yesterday.
70 F. Average MSP high on May 18.
74 F. MSP high on May 18, 2021.
May 19, 1975: Strong winds cause over 2 million dollars of damage across Fridley, Mounds View and New Brighton.
THURSDAY: A few showers and T-storms, some severe. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 72
FRIDAY: Some sunshine, cooler breeze. Winds: W 10-20+. Wake-up: 56. High: 67
SATURDAY: Mayday! Mostly cloudy, chilly. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 45. High: 53
SUNDAY: Partly sunny, less wind. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 44. High: 57
MONDAY: Sunny start, clouds increase. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 41. High: 61
TUESDAY: Periods of rain. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 48. High: 59
WEDNESDAY: Unsettled, few showers. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 49. High: 66
Suspect in Buffalo Rampage Cited “Ecofacism” to Justify Actions. The Washington Post (paywall) reports: “Before 10 people died in a shooting at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday, the alleged gunman wrote a screed citing “ecofascism,” an ideology that blames environmental problems on immigration and overpopulation. “I would prefer to call myself a populist,” 18-year-old Payton Gendron wrote. “But you can call me an ethno-nationalist eco-fascist national socialist if you want, I wouldn’t disagree with you.” The 180-page document, which The Climate 202 is not publishing because it could inspire further violence, scapegoats immigrants and minorities for environmental issues such as air pollution, plastic waste and climate change.…”
Study: Outdoor Air Pollution is “Largest Existential Threat to Human and Planetary Health”. Inside Climate News has a summary; here’s the intro: “Since the turn of the century, global deaths attributable to air pollution have increased by more than half, a development that researchers say underscores the impact of pollution as the “largest existential threat to human and planetary health.” The findings, part of a study published Tuesday in The Lancet Planetary Health, found that pollution was responsible for an estimated 9 million deaths around the world in 2019. Fully half of those fatalities, 4.5 million deaths, were the result of ambient, or outdoor, air pollution, which is typically emitted by vehicles and industrial sources like power plants and factories. The number of deaths that can be attributed to ambient air pollution has increased by about 55 percent—to 4.5 million from 2.9 million—since the year 2000…”
Pollution Caused 1 In 6 Deaths From 2015-’19: More perspective and links via Climate Nexus: “Pollution killed 9 million people, every year, from 2015 to 2019, even as deaths from indoor air pollution fell due to increases from other sources of pollution, including fossil fuel combustion, a study published this morning in The Lancet Planetary Health reveals. “The bad news is that it’s not decreasing,” Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program and Global Pollution Observatory at Boston College, told the AP. “We’re making gains in the easy stuff and we’re seeing the more difficult stuff, which is the ambient (outdoor industrial) air pollution and the chemical pollution, still going up.” Death rates are worst in Africa and Asia; the U.S. is the only fully industrialized nation in the top (worst) 10 countries in terms of total pollution deaths. “Exposure to (tiny pollution particles) like that generated from the burning of fossil fuels is causal for heart disease and death.” Dr. Renee Salas, an emergency room doctor and Harvard professor who wasn’t part of the study, told the AP. While very few deaths are directly attributed to pollution on death certificates, causes of death like heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, other lung issues and diabetes that are “tightly correlated” with pollution by epidemiological studies, and “that cannon of information constitutes causality,” Landrigan said. The study counted deaths from numerous types of pollution including water and toxic chemical pollution, but air pollution caused the vast majority of deaths. “While people focus on decreasing their blood pressure and cholesterol,” Salas said, “few recognize that the removal of air pollution is an important prescription to improve their heart health.” (AP, Washington Post $, Gizmodo, AFP, Deutsche Welle, The Guardian, Forbes, ABC, Reuters, The Hill, The Independent, NBC, Inside Climate News, Wall Street Journal $, BBC)
Hydropower Generation Dipping on the Colorado River System. The Colorado Sun describes how perpetual drought is impacting power generation; here’s a clip: “…One of the upsides to hydropower in general is that it can be made available quickly on-demand, essentially flipped on or off by releasing more or less water through a dam. “It’s our largest low- or no-carbon emissions energy source that we can turn on and off when we need it,” Adrienne Marshall, an assistant professor of geology and geological engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, said. “At the same time, our ability to generate hydropower is significantly threatened by drought.” Marshal noted that last year all Western hydropower accounted for about 53% of the renewable energy generated in the Western U.S. and about 16% of total Western grid power generation. (Those renewable numbers, she said, do not count nuclear as renewable.)...”
Shut Down Fossil Fuel Production Sites Early to Avoid Climate Chaos, Says Study. The Guardian explains: “Nearly half of existing fossil fuel production sites need to be shut down early if global heating is to be limited to 1.5C, the internationally agreed goal for avoiding climate catastrophe, according to a new scientific study. The assessment goes beyond the call by the International Energy Agency in 2021 to stop all new fossil fuel development to avoid the worst impacts of global heating, a statement seen as radical at the time. The new research reaches its starker conclusion by not assuming that new technologies will be able to suck huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere to compensate for the burning of coal, oil and gas. Experts said relying on such technologies was a risky gamble…”
New Texas Plan for Federal Hurricane Harvey Aid Again Diverts Money Away from Coast. The Texas Tribune has the post; here’s an excerpt: “…After the land office awarded $1 billion of the aid last year, giving the city of Houston nothing, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development accused Bush’s office of discriminating against Black and Latino Texans. The land office had an opportunity to correct these inequities as it developed a new spending plan. But an analysis by The Texas Tribune found that the land office is on track to follow a similar pattern as it prepares to allocate the next $1.2 billion of the federal aid. The agency’s revised plan will once again send a disproportionately high share of money to inland counties with lower risk of natural disasters. Residents in the counties that will benefit most are also significantly whiter and more conservative than those receiving the least aid, an outcome some Democrats view with suspicion as Bush competes for the Republican nomination for attorney general this month...”
The Southwest’s Drought and Fires are a Window to Our Climate Change Future. ProPublica connects the dots with an interview: “…The concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere has reached its highest level in recorded human history. Again. In April, the level of CO2 was 27% higher than it was 50 years ago, according to the latest data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. (Methane, a gas with about 85 times the near-term warming effect of CO2, has risen more than 16% since 1984, the first full year that NOAA collected data.) Each spring, going back decades, we have surpassed the previous year’s CO2 record, as humans continue burning hydrocarbons at breathtaking rates, releasing greenhouse gasses. That impacts temperatures, precipitation, the intensity of storms and other weather patterns. Across the American Southwest, this has amplified record droughts and fires…”
Extreme Heat Drops Birds From Sky In South Asia: Climate Nexus has details, headlines and links: “The oppressive heatwave blanketing India and Pakistan is, if anything, getting worse. Jacobabad, Pakistan, hit 122°F (50°C) on Friday. “It’s like fire burning all around,” Shafi Mohammad, who lives on the outskirts of the city, told AFP. Birds literally fell from the sky in India’s western Gujarat state last week, as the extreme heat dries up water sources, increasing exhaustion and dehydration for avian and human beings alike.” (Jacobabad: AFP, Al Jazeera; Birds: Reuters, Business Insider; Water shortages: Bloomberg $; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves; Commentary: The BMJ, Yogesh Jain and Rachna Jain commentary)
The Kids Are Not OK. An Op-Ed at Yale Climate Connections delves into the frustrations felt by many younger people right now when it comes to climate action: “…So I learned a lot today. I learned that the youth who brought the climate crisis to the attention of the world don’t necessarily see that attention as a victory. Back then, when there was silence and denial, inaction could be explained by climate not being enough of a topic for anyone to care or act. In great part due to the climate strikes of 2018-2019, climate skyrocketed to the top of the agenda, on the surface at least. And as a result, inaction is now perceived as a deliberate, inevitable choice. The grown-ups (and their grown-ups) know they are hurting and harming the youth and they are still doing it. The hurt and despair are immense. No wonder the high school students were muttering while I was pontificating to them about emissions and degrees of warming and impacts. None of that is seen to matter. It’s like coming to a Victorian school and pointing out to the students that sticks are used to beat them, and that beatings hurt. Like, duh. They know already. What they need to know is how to take the stick away from the adults. They need to know how to become a counter-power who can take away our ability to harm them...”
What Is Your Home’s Wildfire Risk Score? Every Single U.S. Home Gets a New Rating. A post at The Daily Beast caught my eye: “With global warming to blame for a spike in wildfires across the U.S., a private firm has just made it possible to check the level of risk by ZIP Code. First Street Foundation released its searchable database on Monday, and gives a ranking to each home in the U.S. based on past events, current risks, and future projections. A map that shows darkened areas in fire-prone regions also provides a handy tool for those who might not know the risks to their region. “For too long, we have let people live in communities, and even attracted them to join a community, while keeping them in a state of ignorance about the risk that they’re under,” Roy Wright, a former head of risk mitigation at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who was involved in the project, told TheNew York Times...”
To check on your home’s wildfire and flood risk score click on https://www.riskfactor.com/