A Warmer Front Brings Weekend T-showers

Storms, given a choice, prefer to come on weekends, major holidays, and NCAA Final Four Tournaments. Because why not?

Next week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota, as we ponder the specter of severe thunderstorms, hail, high winds and tornadoes. Statistically, the first severe storm outbreak in Minnesota is likely later this month.

We all need to make the mental leap from avoiding slipping and falling on ice to avoiding flying debris, and being carried off in a flash flood.

Generic rain showers arrive this afternoon, and we’re still on track for heavier showers and T-showers this weekend. Low dew points and marginal instability will limit the severe storm risk, but the first thunderclaps of spring are possible, with weekend temperatures near 60F. ECMWF model guidance prints out .7 to 1.2 inches of rain by Monday morning, when skies finally begin to clear.

A formidable storm brushes far southern Minnesota with a cold rain next week, but most of the state remains dry.

Am I ever thrilled to see 50s & 60s on the weather maps. 

Weekend Rainfall Potential. 12z ECMWF guidance on Wednesday printed out closer to an inch of rain for the Twin Cities and portions of central Minnesota Saturday and Sunday, as a few waves of showers and T-storms push across the state. Map: WeatherBell.

2 Week Trend: Slightly Warmer Than Average. The extended outlook into mid-April still looks fairly mild with a modified zonal (west to east) wind flow aloft; stormy weather for the Desert Southwest, but fairly mild and dry weather for much of the USA.

Massive Flood in Minnesota Was “Sitting On Our Doorstep”. Star Tribune outlines the nearly-perfect weather conditions that helped Minnesota avoid Nebraska’s fate: “...We had probably the biggest potential flood sitting on our doorstep,” Craig Schmidt, a senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Chanhassen, said Monday. “If you want to see how bad it could have been, look at Nebraska and Iowa.” The region experienced above-average snowfall, and much of it fell in a six-week period in January and February, Schmidt said. What’s more, the extreme cold in those months meant that every flake stayed. “Not only did we have deep snow, but it was so extensive,” he added. “It covered all of Minnesota, all of Wisconsin. Every river was a potential problem.” The slow and steady March thaw, coupled with an extremely dry stretch of days with little to no precipitation, saved the day, keeping the snow from melting too quickly, overwhelming streams and rivers…”

Photo credit: Brian Peterson • brian.peterson@startribune.com. “People gathered Monday along the Mississippi River in St. Paul to see the pavilion at Harriet Island surrounded by water. The Mississippi River crested just under 20 feet Sunday night.”

Why Tornado Chasers Are Facing a Storm Over Safety. Having accompanied NSSL in Oklahoma with tornado intercepts on 3 different trips I have personally seen this in action. I’m rarely scared of the tornado itself, but rather guys in vans driving 40 mph over the speed limit with a camera in one hand. That’s what scares the Holy Doppler out of me. Here’s an excerpt from BBC and MSN.com: “… Most storm chaser deaths – seven – have been in car accidents, and all but one of those have occurred since 2005. Even before the fatal collision in Texas in 2017, one meteorologist and storm spotter of 45 years, Charles Doswell, had warned of the risks some chasers were taking while driving after he witnessed the aftermath of one collision. In a follow-up blog post written after Williamson, Yarnall and Jaeger’s deaths, Doswell said he was increasingly concerned about “chaser hordes” who were obsessed with getting as close as possible to tornadoes, rather than observing from a safe distance…”

File image: NOAA NSSL.

How Meteorologists Compare To Other Professions That Predict the Future. Financial analysts and professional pollsters…if only. Thank you Marshall Shepherd for a great post at Forbes; here’s an excerpt: “…A study out of Hamilton College analyzed the accuracy of political pundits. In their analysis of 26 political experts, they considered over 472 predictions made over a 16-month period on Sunday talk shows. The results, summarized in a press release, confirmed that

only nine of the prognosticators they studied could predict more accurately than a coin flip. Two were significantly less accurate, and the remaining 14 were not statistically any better or worse than a coin flip.

Meteorologists are able to predict, with up to 90% or more accuracy within 2 to 5 days, how a complex fluid on a rotating planet with oceans, mountains, and varying heat distributions changes. Kudos colleagues...”

File image: NOAA.

The President’s Proposed Budget Would Fire Hundreds of Meteorologists and Slash Tornado Research. Dennis Mersereau explains in a post at Forbes: “The president’s proposed budget for 2020 makes more than $75,000,000 in cuts to the National Weather Service that, if passed, could adversely affect the agency’s ability to keep the public safe during severe weather. The NWS is a force of nature that works tirelessly behind the scenes to warn every square inch of land in the United States when hazardous weather is on the way. Most Americans hardly realize how much they utilize the agency’s products and services until they’re under threat. The National Weather Service occasionally faces political pressure due to the mistaken belief that private weather companies could pick up the slack of a reduced NWS and provide the same services the federal agency does. Contrary to those assertions, private companies would find themselves lost without the critical services and infrastructure provided by the NWS…”

Photo credit: “Forecasters at the National Weather Service office monitor Hurricane Irma Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at the hurricane center in Miami.” (AP Photo/Andy Newman) ASSOCIATED PRESS.

Bob Ryan Talks Meteorology, Retirement and His Shot on The Today Show. Bob is a friend, and I am a long-time fan. He fits the definition of a professional class act and mentor. Here’s a clip from Northern Virginia Magazine: “…As Ryan describes the unique warming and cooling properties of his 1940 “solar house” he’s asked his thoughts about the fluctuations in global weather patterns—climate change. “We have a place in Rappahannock, and you talk to anybody who has lived there for a while, the farmers in particular, they will say this isn’t the weather they grew up with,” Ryan says. “It doesn’t matter if you prescribe it to 70 percent of human activity or just the way greater things than we have control over in our destiny, everybody knows the climate is changing.” Those who say they are skeptics about climate change, Ryan has another word for you: “You’re not a skeptic, you’re a naysayer. Naysayers have highjacked the word ‘skeptic.’” The atmospheric scientist explains the effects of a warmer atmosphere on extreme events and how his grandchildren will probably not see as many snow days as the kids in the region before them...”

Photo credit: Jonathan Timmes.

The Hidden Air Pollution In Our Homes. I had no idea, but a post at The New Yorker made me long for take-out food. Here’s a snippet: “…When Vance peeled an orange for the cranberry sauce, Arata noted that its fragrance—that is, its monoterpene VOCs—had made the readings on his instrument soar. Abeleira, checking levels of nitric oxide and carbon dioxide during a brief lull before the turkey went in, observed, “They’re orders of magnitude higher than outdoors.” It was the same for fine particulate matter—particles small enough to reach deep inside our lungs. By around eleven o’clock, the fine-particulate concentration had risen to such a level that, if the house were a city, it would have been officially labelled polluted. Concentrations peaked when the stuffing, and, later, the pies, came out of the oven. And, for nearly an hour, fine particulate matter was within the range that the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index defines as “very unhealthy.” If outdoor air reaches these levels, a public alert is triggered, warning that even healthy individuals are at risk of serious damage to the heart and lungs…”

Animation credit: “We spend most of our lives inside, where air quality has received little scrutiny.” Daniel Savage.

Mitch Albom: Why is Living Shorter, Dying Sooner a Trend? Here’s an excerpt of a staggeringly sobering post from Mitch Albom at Detroit Free Press: “...Now, it’s hard to believe that being depressed over not outdoing our folks leads to a lowered life expectancy. And it doesn’t. Not by itself. But economic pressure, foreclosures, job loss, divorce, combined with a general malaise, a general dissatisfaction in life, and the insidious way social media can make you feel inept, angry or left out, can understandably build up drug and alcohol use, and, in worst cases, suicide. And if you say, “Oh, come on, people don’t kill themselves over such things,” look at the numbers. Incredibly, our nation’s suicide rate is up nearly 30 percent since 1999, federal health officials reported in 2018. And amongst rural Americans, it’s up a staggering 40 percent…”

UFO’s Are Time Machines From the Future, Professor Claims. Uh huh. Fox News explains: “He believes UFOs are time machines from the future. Dr. Michael Masters, a biological anthropologist specializing in human evolutionary anatomy, archaeology, and biomedicine, suggests that people view UFOs largely the same way and uses his background to back up his controversial claim. “The phenomenon may be our own distant descendants coming back through time to study us in their own evolutionary past,” Masters said in an interview with Montana’s KXLF.com. He continued: “The extra-tempestrial are ubiquitously reported as being bipedal, upright-walking, five fingers on each hand and foot, bi-lateral symmetry that they have two eyes, a mouth a nose, they can communicate with us in our own languages…”

YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Let Toxic Videos Run Rampant. Because it’s all about the algorithm, stupid. Check out an expose at Bloomberg; here’s a clip: “…And YouTube is, a year later, even more associated with the darker parts of the web. The conundrum isn’t just that videos questioning the moon landing or the efficacy of vaccines are on YouTube. The massive “library,” generated by users with little editorial oversight, is bound to have untrue nonsense. Instead, YouTube’s problem is that it allows the nonsense to flourish. And, in some cases, through its powerful artificial intelligence system, it even provides the fuel that lets it spread. Wojcicki and her deputies know this. In recent years, scores of people insideYouTube and Google, its owner, raised concerns about the mass of false, incendiary and toxic content that the world’s largest video site surfaced and spread…”

Illustration credit: Graham Roumieu.

How Rupert Murdoch’s Empire of Influence Remade the World. Here’s a clip from Part 1 at The New York Times Magazine: “…Few private citizens have ever been more central to the state of world affairs than the man lying in that hospital bed, awaiting his children’s arrival. As the head of a sprawling global media empire, he commanded multiple television networks, a global news service, a major publishing house and a Hollywood movie studio. His newspapers and television networks had been instrumental in amplifying the nativist revolt that was reshaping governments not just in the United States but also across the planet. His 24-hour news-and-opinion network, the Fox News Channel, had by then fused with President Trump and his base of hard-core supporters, giving Murdoch an unparalleled degree of influence over the world’s most powerful democracy...”

Are You Ready for the Impossible Whopper? CNN Business has the story – would you try one of these? “Burger King has a plan to bring in new customers and encourage existing ones to buy more often: Vegetarian Whoppers.  The burger chain announced on Monday that it is testing out Impossible Whoppers, made with plant-based patties from Impossible Foods, in 59 locations in and around St. Louis. If all goes well, Burger King will roll out the Impossible Whopper nationally (it’ll cost about a buck more than a regular Whopper). The Impossible Whopper is supposed to taste just like Burger King’s regular Whopper. Unlike veggie burgers, Impossible burger patties are designed to mimic the look and texture of meat when cooked…”

The 9 Wackiest Minor League Baseball Team Names. Fox News has a head-scratching list: “…The Amarillo Sod Poodles’ name and logo were unveiled in November. The new Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, the term “sod poodle” is slang for a prairie dog. The team took the name after a “Name the Team” contest set up by the organization. The Sod Poodles will play in the Texas League. Their first game is April 4 against the Corpus Christi Hooks…”

51 F. Twin Cities maximum temperature yesterday.

51 F. average high on April 3.

30 F. high on April 3, 2018.

April 4, 1928: Severe thunderstorms rumble through east central Minnesota. 100,000 dollars damage done at Anoka.

THURSDAY: Cloud with PM showers likely. Winds: E 15-25. High: 46

FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy and milder. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 38. High: near 60

SATURDAY: Showers, possible T-shower. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 49. High: 64

SUNDAY: Damp, showers and T-storms likely. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 51. Hgh: 61

MONDAY: More clouds than sun, drying out. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 47. High: 58

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, cooler breeze. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 37. High: 52

WEDNESDAY: Rain or mix brushes far southern MN? Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 38. High: 47

Climate Stories….

Has the Green New Deal Changed Republican Politics on Climate Change? The ship is turning, however slowly, according to The Washington Post: “After denying the existence of climate change for years, a handful of elected Republicans now acknowledge that human activity is the primary cause and are calling for “innovative” action to address it. In 2011, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney staked out no fewer than four different positions on climate change, at one point telling a Pennsylvania voter, “We don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet.” By mid-2018, Romney was calling for federal action to curb climate change. Before heading the House Republican conference for six years, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) called the science around human activity and climate change “inconclusive at best.” Now she says human activity is at least “partially” responsible…”

Photo credits: “For years, Republicans cast doubt on whether climate change was even occurring. Now, some Republicans acknowledge the existence of human-caused climate change.” (JM Rieger/The Washington Post).

Shell Quits Major U.S. Oil Lobby Over Climate Change. CNN Business reports on an interesting development: “Royal Dutch Shell says it’s quitting a major US oil lobby because it disagrees with the group’s policies on climate change. The energy company said Tuesday that it would not renew its membership in the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers lobby next year because of “material misalignment.” Shell (RDSA) CEO Ben Van Beurden wrote in a report that it was important to ensure “that the industry associations we belong to do not undermine our support for the Paris Agreement.” Almost every country has signed up to the 2015 Paris Agreement, pledging to limit the rise in temperatures to well below two degrees Celsius. The United States decided to withdraw from the agreement in 2017…”

Shell Peaces Out of Industry Group: Climate Nexus has more perspective and links: “Shell Oil is leaving a key oil and gas lobby body over the group’s stance on climate change, the oil giant said Tuesday. Following a review of the company’s membership in trade associations, Shell said that it will not renew its membership with American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers due to “material misalignment on climate-related policy positions,” including the group’s lack of support for the Paris Agreement and carbon pricing and its support for the EPA’s proposed fuel economy standards rollback. While Shell found “some misalignment on climate-related policy” with nine other groups, including the American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers and the US Chamber of Commerce, it is keeping its membership in those organizations.” (Reuters, CNN, Fast Company, Axios, Bloomberg, Washington Post $. Commentary: Bloomberg, Liam Denning column)

How Climate Change is Fueling the U.S. Border Crisis. A story at The New Yorker caught my eye; here’s a snippet: “...In the years before the report was published, three hurricanes had caused damage that cost more than the previous four decades’ worth of public and private investment in the national economy. Extreme-weather events were just the most obvious climate-related calamities. There were increasingly wide fluctuations in temperature—unexpected surges in heat followed by morning frosts—and unpredictable rainfall. Almost half a year’s worth of precipitation might fall in a single week, which would flood the soil and destroy crops. Grain and vegetable harvests that once produced enough food to feed a family for close to a year now lasted less than five months. “Inattention to these issues,” the report’s authors wrote, can drive “more migration to the United States” and “put at grave risk the already deteriorating viability of the country...”

Photo credit: “Outside the small village of Chicua, in the western highlands, in an area affected by extreme-weather events, Ilda Gonzales looks after her daughter.”

Wall Street Embraces Weather Risk in New Era of Storms. Super-sized storms, floods, droughts – America’s businesses are, increasingly, factoring new risk into their business models. Bloomberg explains: “…About one-third of the U.S.’s $18 trillion gross national product is generated by industries vulnerable to changes in the weather. There were 14 weather events that caused at least $1 billion in damages in the U.S. last year, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. That’s more than the 6.2 per year average from 1980 to 2018. And the U.S. is just one part of the picture. Globally, 39 weather events caused at least $1 billion in damage, according to Munich Re, a German reinsurance firm. The average worldwide since 2000: 28 a year. Extreme weather hit 62 million people last year alone and forced 2 million to relocate, according to the United Nations weather agency...”

Graphic credit: NOAA National Centers for Environmental InformationNote: Costs are adjusted for inflation.”

Climate, Conflicts Set to Plunge Millions Into Food Crisis. Thomson Reuters Foundation explains the connection between climate volatility, weather disruption and food insecurity; here’s the intro: “Food crises will affect tens of millions of people across the world this year, researchers warned on Tuesday, after war, extreme weather and economic woes in 2018 left more than 113 million in dire need of help. Conflict and insecurity were responsible for the desperate situation faced by 74 million people, or two-thirds of those affected, in 2018, said the the Global Network against Food Crises in its annual report. The Network’s members include the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme, and the European Union. Analysing 53 countries, it uses a five-phase scale with the third level classified as crisis, fourth as emergency and fifth as famine/catastrophe. Luca Russo, FAO’s senior food crises analyst, warned that millions more are now at risk of reaching level three and above…”

Photo credit: “A man carries food aid he received from a local charity during the holy month of Ramadan in Sanaa, Yemen May 31, 2017.” REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah.

Canada is Warming at Twice the Global Rate. CNN.com has the article: “Canada is warming up faster than the rest of the world, according to a report commissioned by the Canadian Environment and Climate Change Department. The report — titled “Canada’s Changing Climate Report” — says, on average, Canada’s climate has been and will continue to warm at double the rate of global warming. The report also says since 1948, when records became available, Canada’s average land temperature increased by 1.7 degrees Celsius (approximately 3 degrees Fahrenheit).Some of the key takeaways from the report included:

  • The observed warming of Canadian temperatures are due to “human influence.”
  • There has been more rain than snowfall in Canada since 1948, a trend that looks to continue over the 21st century...”

Democratic Green New Deal Defectors Chart Their Own Climate Path. Bloomberg reports: “…Casten is a Democratic Green New Deal defector, one of a group of moderates who are rejecting the progressive package that has become a lightning rod for critics and are instead crafting their own climate-change policies. Among the ideas some defectors are considering are measures that would impose a national mandate for the use of cleaner power sources or implementing a carbon tax. Many, such as Virginia freshman Democratic Representative Elaine Luria, defeated Republican incumbents in moderate-to-conservative districts and helped their party win back the House. “The Green New Deal is aspirational,” Luria said. “What we plan to do is offer tangible, achievable things...”