Mother Nature Puts On An Amazing Show Today
Lesser known Minnesota weather phenomenon include “secret springs” and “surprise summers”. Surprise! We’ll experience one of those today.
Preceding verbiage courtesy of the actors (and policy wonks) at The Theater of Public Policy in Uptown, which mixes improv with current events, in a way I’ve never seen before. Tane Danger interviewed me about weather and climate trends Monday evening and the cast turned it into a spontaneous play. Pretty cool.
According to USDA, Minnesota farmers are making up for lost time. Spring wheat is 59 percent planted, only 2 days behind the 5-year average. Corn planting is 40 percent complete; 8 days behind average.
A summer preview today and Thursday brings low to mid 80s as humidity levels creep upward. A lonely T-storm may rumble into town Thursday PM, with a better chance of more widespread showers and T-storms Friday night and Saturday. Sunday looks like the drier, nicer day.
On today’s weather blogbelow: Chinese weather modification, detecting tornadoes by sound, and El Nino may be brewing for next winter.
No, odds are it won’t be quite as memorable.
Rainfall by Sunday Morning. The 00z GFS shows close to an inch in the MSP metro area by 12z Sunday. Heaviest amounts set up over the Dakotas and Nebraska; with 7″ amounts expected in the Nebraska Panhandle and northeastern Colorado. Map: pivotalweather.com.
USA QPF. It looks like a very soggy stretch for the Mid Atlantic states and central Plains; where some level of flooding is quite possible in the coming days.
Listening to Tornadoes Could Revolutionize How Meteorologists Forecast These Monster Storms. USA TODAY explains some promising new technology: “We’ve all heard the description of what a tornado sounds like: The most common sound is a continuous rumble, like a nearby train. But twisters also produce noises that humans can’t hear, and it’s that sound, known as “infrasound,” that experts say could revolutionize how meteorologists forecast tornadoes. Infrasound waves have frequencies below the range of human hearing that need special acoustic equipment to be detected. Other weather and geological phenomena, such as hurricanes and volcanoes, also produce infrasound. The theory goes that tornado-producing thunderstorms emit specific infrasound waves up to two hours before the actual tornado develops, which could be a big help in forecasting…”
Before the Next Flood, Protect America’s Infrastructure. An Op-Ed at TheHill caught my eye: “…Flooding is the costliest natural disaster in the United States. It accounted for more than $268 billion in damage last year, a number that has risen steadily over the past two decades, and it affects the entire country, including areas well inland. Every state has experienced at least two major floods in the past 10 years. That’s why I’ve joined more than 250 state and local officials, representing all 50 states and more than 45 million Americans, in signing a statement of principles to make our infrastructure more flood-ready. We believe this can be done with policies that improve resiliency requirements for buildings and infrastructure; enhance the use of natural defenses, such as open green space and wetlands, in disaster preparedness; and reduce unsustainable development in high-risk areas…”
File photo: Walt Jennings, FEMA.
Record Heat in the Gulf Fueled Hurricane Harvey’s Deluge. KPBS explains the physics: “Hurricane Harvey, which devastated South Texas last August, was powered by what scientists say were the highest ocean temperatures they’ve ever seen in the Gulf of Mexico. Portions of the Gulf to the south of the Texas coast were 86 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s several degrees higher than normal — and it’s heat that drives big storms. Kevin Trenberth, an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, says the extraordinarily high heat lasted for several days before the storm. “Record high ocean heat values not only increased the fuel available to sustain and intensify Harvey,” he says, “but also increased its flooding rains on land.” Warm sea surface temperatures create more water vapor, which rises into the atmosphere, then falls as rain during a tropical storm. Trenberth, writing in the journal Earth’s Future, says measurements showing the amount of evaporation as the storm formed match the amount of rain that fell during the storm…”
Hurricane Harvey file photo: Andrees Latif, Reuters.
Why Do People Believe in Weather Control Conspiracy Theories? Observer explains the psychology involved: “…People believe in weather control conspiracy theories for five main reasons. Money. It’s the single strongest factor behind the spread of conspiracy theories. If you search “chemtrails” or “HAARP” and look into the people and organizations pushing these conspiracy theories, the common factor is that they’re profiting from doing so. Not only do they reap ad revenue, but they often ask for donations or try to sell their readers products. There’s a clear financial incentive to convince people to believe their claims. People don’t want to believe that disasters are random. It’s terrifying to think that a tornado could sweep away your home with only a moment’s notice and that earthquakes can trigger tsunami waves that kill hundreds of thousands of people…”
Photo credit here.
18 Lava Outbreaks, a Jungle Ablaze and a Hawaii Volcano Still Poised to Explode. USA TODAY has the latest: “Frustration, anxiety and unpredictable 2,000-degree lava are taking their toll on volcano evacuees on Hawaii’s Big Island while they await an “imminent” eruption that could rain down car-size boulders and ash onto this tropical paradise. About 1,700 people have been barred from their homes for 10 days as the Kilauea volcano pours lava through a rural neighborhood about 35 miles from Hilo, the island’s largest city. At least 36 structures have been destroyed by lava flows, including 26 homes. Plumes of poisonous gases are killing off trees and grasses left untouched by the lava. And now the volcano itself appears ready to explode, although the damage is expected to radiate only about 12 miles from the crater, leaving Hilo untouched…”
A Beginner’s Guide to Hawaii’s Otherworldly Lava. The Atlantic explains what’s going on: “…For scientists, the defining quality of Hawaii’s lava is its chemistry. It’s what geologists call a basaltic lava, and this affects everything from its color to its hazards. There are roughly two types of lava—and both types are, of course, runny and hot. Kilauea’s lava is formed by the melting of an oceanic plate, which means that it contains less silicon dioxide—the same mineral that becomes quartz—than continental plates. As such, it’s extremely runny and super hot. It also doesn’t put up much resistance to gases, which can freely pass through it. (When a continental plate melts, you get an eruption more like Mount St. Helens: That lava is stickier, and it often traps gas until it suddenly all escapes at once...”)
Photo credit: “USGS Handout / Reuters.
China’s Massive Plan to Control the Weather. Fox News has the eye-opening details: “China is setting forth to change the weather. According to Chinese media, the state-owned Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation of China has begun to turn just such a plan into reality. It’s starting work on producing thousands of rainmaking machines. These will be scattered across the Himalayan Tibetan Plateau. Each machine is supposed to be able to seed the sky in such a way as to produce a 5km-long storm-cloud on-demand. Put together, the weather-making array is intended to irrigate 1.6 million square kilometers with 10 billion cubic centimeters of water each year. That’s about the size of New South Wales and Victoria combined. They’ve done it before, on a smaller scale…”
White House, EPA Headed Off Chemical Pollution Study. POLITICO reports: “Scott Pruitt’s EPA and the White House sought to block publication of a federal health study on a nationwide water-contamination crisis, after one Trump administration aide warned it would cause a “public relations nightmare,” newly disclosed emails reveal. The intervention early this year — not previously disclosed — came as HHS’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry was preparing to publish its assessment of a class of toxic chemicals that has contaminated water supplies near military bases, chemical plants and other sites from New York to Michigan to West Virginia…”
Photo credit: “Discussions about how to address the HHS study involved EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s chief of staff and other top aides, including a chemical industry official who now oversees EPA’s chemical safety office.” | AP Photo.
Trump Administration Fretted Over Chemical Study “PR Nightmare”: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “The EPA and the White House worried about a draft study on pollutants in water near military bases and attempted to delay the study’s release by mandating interagency review, internal emails show. The emails, first reported Monday by Politico, show an unnamed White House aide fretting about the potential “huge” backlash from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry report showing that chemicals polluting military base water supplies cause harm at lower levels than previously found by EPA. “We (DoD and EPA) cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be,” the aide wrote in January of this year. ATSDR has said it has no schedule to release the still-unpublished study for public comment.” (Politico, The Hill, CNBC).
America’s Clean Power Map: Solar on Coasts, Wind Rules Heartland. Bloomberg published an interesting map; here’s an excerpt: “Companies that sign long-term contracts to buy clean energy in the U.S. generally look to the heartland for wind power and to coastal states for solar. Wind blows best in places like Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa, and that’s where information technology giants like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc. secure most of their power-purchase agreements for wind. California and, more recently, North Carolina, are among the top sources of solar...”
Noise Exposure is Becoming “The New Secondhand Smoke”. As a result, many of probably have some level of (undiagnosed) hearing loss. The Washington Post reports: “…The Environmental Protection Agency has said that noise below an average of 70 decibels over 24 hours is safe and won’t cause hearing loss. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says anything below an 85 won’t cause hearing loss for workers exposed to loud machinery. But those levels are way above recommendations made by the European Union. In 2009, the E.U. set noise guidelines of 40 decibels at night to “protect human health.” And it said steady, continuous noise in the daytime — such as the noise on highways — should not exceed 50 decibels. “We’re in active denial” about the effects of noise, said Rick Neitzel, director of environmental health policy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “We’re far, far behind what Europe is doing…”
Photo credit: “Tucked deep inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is the Astor Chinese Garden Court, a quiet spot in a noisy city.” (Mary Altaffer/AP).
America’s Landfills May Be Completely Full in Just 13 Years. We need new and better solutions to recycle and dispose of waste, as reported at The Outline: “…In that story, I noted that according to the state’s own estimates, New York sends roughly 265 tons (!) of processed poo to out-of-state landfills. A new report from SWEEP, a division of the nonprofit Northeast Resource Recovery Association, helps explain why that may be happening — the Northeast is piling trash on its landfills so quickly that they may be completely full by 2029.The report doesn’t have particularly good news for the rest of the country, either. “At current rates of net landfill capacity changes, by 2021 there will be approximately 15 years of landfill capacity remaining,” the report states, adding that, “Even this grave forecast may be optimistic...”
Photo credit here.
Just Being Exposed to Fake News Makes You More Likely to Believe It. Here’s a clip from The Nieman Journalism Lab: “…Familiarity with a fake news headline increases your likelihood of rating it as accurate. Here’s an updated version of Gordon Pennycook and David Rand’s paper on how simple exposure to fake news increases its perceived accuracy a week later; it will be published soon in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. “Using actual fake news headlines presented as they were seen on Facebook, we show that even a single exposure increases subsequent perceptions of accuracy, both within the same session and after a week. Moreover, this ‘illusory truth effect’ for fake news headlines occurs despite a low level of overall believability, and even when the stories are labeled as contested by fact-checkers or are inconsistent with the reader’s political ideology…”
Robot Dogs That Terrified People By Opening Doors May Be Coming to a Building Near You. Lovely. The Washington Post explains: “…SpotMini robots, first unveiled by Boston Dynamics in June 2016, could become commonplace following CEO Marc Raibert’s announcement Friday at a conference that his company will begin selling the robots to businesses next year. They might appear outside construction zones — surveying the sites and collecting building data — or outside offices, where they could use their cameras to provide security. They could also be used to get into hard-to-reach spaces, such as the stairwells of skyscrapers, where they could check for explosives or “bad things” that shouldn’t be there, Raibert said...”
Why Traditional TV is in Trouble. Note to self: every industry is being disrupted by the Internet, outsourcing, automation, robotics and AI. Show me a “safe gig”. The New York Times reports on the trends. Graphic courtesy of NYT and Magna.
Save Lives With Smarter, Slower Streets – Not Self-Driving Cars. Food for thought from WIRED.com: “…Almost 40,000 Americans died on the road last year. And a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety finds ugly driving trends have hit one group particularly hard: pedestrians. Nearly 6,000 pedestrian died in 2016, a 46 percent jump over 2009. And if robots won’t save the bipeds, who will? Your friendly carbon-based neighborhood traffic engineer can—and they don’t even need artificial intelligence or $75,000 laser sensors to do it. “If there is too much emphasis on autonomous vehicles solving the problem, when widespread deployability is decades in the future and not next year, I think it increases the temptation to hope that the technology is going to save us,” says Liisa Ecola, a transportation planner and senior policy analyst with the Rand Corporation…”
Image credit: Alta Planning.
Study: Sharks Like Jazz Over Other Genres of Music. Helpful to know. Big Think has the unlikely explanation: “…There’s a reason for this preference to jazz among sharks. When prey is dying, it gives off a kind-of staccato beat as it flops around. The unpredictable groove of jazz music actually makes jazz the perfect music for sharks, who began to associate the music with food and even develop a “taste” (food joke!) for jazz as the test progressed. The sharks did, however, have trouble discerning between classical and jazz when both were played at the same time on opposite sides of the tank. Sure, it’d be pretty funny if the study had preferred the Jaws theme. But sadly that wasn’t included in the test…”
Photo credit: Big Think, Wikicommons.
How the Enlightment Ends. If you’re not just a little bit paranoid about AI (artificial intelligence) you’re not paying attention. Here’s an excerpt from The Atlantic: “…But at that point, will AI be able to explain, in a way that humans can understand, why its actions are optimal? Or will AI’s decision making surpass the explanatory powers of human language and reason? Through all human history, civilizations have created ways to explain the world around them—in the Middle Ages, religion; in the Enlightenment, reason; in the 19th century, history; in the 20th century, ideology. The most difficult yet important question about the world into which we are headed is this: What will become of human consciousness if its own explanatory power is surpassed by AI, and societies are no longer able to interpret the world they inhabit in terms that are meaningful to them?…”
Photo credit: Edmon de Haro.
I Don’t Know How to Waste Time on the Internet Anymore. A cry for help in this post at New York Magazine: “…In the decade since I took that computer class, the web browser has taken over the entire computing experience. There is nothing to “learn” about computers, really, except how to use a browser; everything you might want to do is done from that stupid empty address bar. Today, through that web browser, there are movies and TV shows and every song ever recorded; it’s where I do my writing and chatting and messaging; it’s where my notes and calendars and social networks live. It’s everything except fun. There is an argument that this my fault. I followed the wrong people; I am too nostalgic about bad blogs; I am in my 30s and what I used to think was fun time-killing is now deadly. But I don’t think so. What happened is that the internet stopped being something you went to in order to separate from the real world — from your job and your work and your obligations and responsibilities...”
Minnesota Has One of the Highest Depression Diagnosic Rates in the U.S., Study Says. Bring Me The News has the story: “This is one top 5 that Minnesota didn’t want to make. Blue Cross Blue Shield has released a study of its own customer data that reveals Minnesota has one of the highest rates of depression diagnosis in the country. The state’s 5.8 percent diagnosis rate was the 4th highest in the country, behind only Rhode Island, Maine and Utah. That is significantly higher than the national average rate of 4.4 percent, covering 9 million commercially insured Americans who have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder (also known as clinical depression). The rate of depression diagnoses among Minnesota women is at 8.1 percent – the joint highest level in the nation…”
Map credit: BlueCross BlueShield.
More Couples are Getting Married in Barns. Details via The Hustle: “Dwindling are the days of tuxedos, crystal stemware, and shimmering chandeliers that once dominated the look of the $119B wedding industry. The new aesthetic for weddings is “rustic chic” — AKA getting married in a barn. Sorry, no cows allowed. According to a survey from The Knot, 15% of couples chose a barn, farm, or ranch for their wedding reception in 2017, up from just 2% in 2009. Good news for the people who love to blame millennials for everything, according to the Atlantic, the average age of marriage hovers around 28 these days, meaning they’ve played a big role in the barn boom. And it’s hurting those who made their livelihood off the venues of yesteryear. Studies show the number of couples choosing to celebrate in banquet halls dropped from 27% in 2009 to 17% in 2017, while similarly, hotel weddings dropped from 18% to 12%…”
78 F. maximum temperature in the Twin Cities on Tuesday.
69 F. average high on May 15.
70 F. high on May 15, 2017.
May 16, 1934: An extreme hot spell results in temperatures over 100 across parts of Minnesota, and record highs of 94 in St. Cloud and Minneapolis.
High Stakes. I think it’s OK to lose the driveway stakes. Then again…
WEDNESDAY: Warm sunshine. Stunning. Winds: SW 8-13. High: 85
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 61
THURSDAY: Some AM sun, PM T-storm chance. Winds: S 8-13. High: 83
FRIDAY: Sticky sun, few T-storms at night. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 62. High: 82
SATURDAY: Best chance of showers, T-storms. Cooler. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 60. High: 68
SUNDAY: Drier, mix of clouds and sun. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 49. High: 69
MONDAY: Warm sunshine returns. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 50. High: 76
TUESDAY: Some sun, risk of a T-shower. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 57. High: 79
A Conservative Climate Change Speaker. My thanks to the people of River Falls, Wisconsin, who turned up to hear about climate trends and clean energy. River Falls is very much ahead of the curve, when it comes to sustainable, renewable power. Here’s a clip from River Towns: “…The group was particularly interested in Douglas’s perspective on climate change, Ostendorf said. River Falls United Methodist Church’s pastor Amy DeLong agreed. “He did a great job of establishing himself as an Evangelical Christian, and as a conservative,” DeLong said. “He did all that so he could get credibility with the people who are climate change deniers … So he could say I’m one of you, but the evidence has lead me to the truth.” Douglas said he’s been giving talks about climate change and faith for about three years. “I’ve been trying to leave together science and faith and making the case that these two are not mutually exclusive,” Douglas said. “Many people respond to science and data and some people, you know, seem to appreciate framing this in a way that appeals to people’s heads and their hearts and their faith and spirituality, so that’s what I’m trying to do…”
Linguistic Analysis Shows Oil Companies Are Giving Up on Climate Change. Quartz details the analytics that went into that headline: “…That’s where “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) reports come in. Issued annually by many large companies, these reports assess performance on measures that go beyond the bottom line, like environmental protection or human rights. Oil companies don’t have to release CSRs, but more than three-quarters of them do anyway. This is where they address the hairy issue of climate change, caused in no small part by their own products. It’s a topic they’d probably rather avoid, and increasingly, that’s exactly what they’re doing. These companies are mentioning the phrase “climate change” less and less in their social responsibility reports, as the chart below shows. It’s the result of a new paper by Sylvia Jaworska, a linguist at the University of Reading in the UK...”
The Female Scientist Who Identified the Greenhouse Effect Never Got the Credit. Quartz explains: “John Tyndall, an Irish physicist, is usually recognized as the first person to prove the greenhouse-gas effect. But some of the credit should have gone to Eunice Foote, an American scientist, who, save a few mentions, remains largely unknown today. To correct the scientific wrong, the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) is organizing an event titled: “Science knows no gender? In search of Eunice Foote, who 162 years ago discovered the principal cause of global warming” on May 17. Foote’s story was first brought to light by Raymond Sorenson, an independent researcher, in 2011. Since then, UCSB researcher John Perlin has unearthed more details…”
File photo credit: “Foote’s discovery was one of the most important of the last two centuries.” (Reuters)
How do Scientists Know that Mauna Loa’s Volcanic Emissions Don’t Affect the CO2 Collected There? Here’s an excerpt of an explainer at NASA’s Earth Observatory: “…Most of the time, the observatory experiences “baseline” conditions and measures clean air which has been over the Pacific Ocean for days or weeks. We know this because the CO2 analyzer usually gives a very steady reading which varies by less than 3/10 of a part per million (ppm) from hour to hour. These are the conditions we use to calculate the monthly averages that go into the famous 50-year graph of atmospheric CO2 concentration. We only detect volcanic CO2 from the Mauna Loa summit late at night at times when the regional winds are light and southerly. Under these conditions, a temperature inversion forms above the ground, and the volcanic emissions are trapped near the surface and travel down our side of the mountain slope. When the volcanic emissions arrive at the observatory, the CO2 analyzer readings increase by several parts per million, and the measured amounts become highly variable for periods of several minutes to a few hours. In the last decade, this has occurred on about 15% of nights between midnight and 6 a.m...”
Dismal Western Snowpack is a Climate “Warning Sign”. Talk about weather (water) whiplash. Scientific American has the post: “…And as of this month, much of the Colorado River Basin was seeing snowpack at levels less than 50 percent—and in some places less than 25 percent—of their typical averages. The implications, even for a single season, are concerning. Snowpack from the Sierra Nevada supplies about 30 percent of California’s water resources as it melts in the spring and summer. And the Rio Grande and Colorado River, both fed by runoff from the Rocky Mountains, each supply drinking water for millions of people. Additionally, spring runoff helps to moisten and recharge the soil—shortages can stress the local vegetation and cause the landscape to dry out faster, potentially increasing the likelihood of earlier and more severe wildfires...”
Image credit: SSEC, University of Wisconsin.
Toxic Algae Blooms Occurring More Often, May Be Caught in a Climate Change Feedback Loop. InsideClimate News has the report: “…Blooms of harmful algae in the nation’s waters appear to be occurring much more frequently than in the past, increasing suspicions that the warming climate may be exacerbating the problem. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) published newly collected data on Tuesday reporting nearly 300 large blooms since 2010. Last year alone, 169 were reported. While NOAA issues forecasts for harmful algal blooms in certain areas, the advocacy group called its report the first attempt to track the blooms on a nationwide scale. The study comes as scientists have predicted proliferation of these blooms as the climate changes, and amid increasing attention by the news media and local politicians to the worst cases…”
Image credit: “A satellite image captures algae blooms in Lake Erie in 2011. Toledo, Ohio, is at the southwestern tip of the lake.” Credit: European Space Agency.
Older and Younger GOP Voters Don’t Agree on Climate Change. The Energy 202 at The Washington Post explains: “According to a new survey released by the Pew Research Center on Monday, millennial GOP voters, those born between 1981 and 1996, disagree with their older partisan counterparts across a range of energy and environmental issues. Younger Republicans disagree with their older partisan counterparts on the extent to which climate change is already affecting the world.This new survey, and others, suggest that tomorrow’s Republican Party, writ large, will think and talk about climate change in a starkly different way from today’s GOP — whose leader, President Trump, along with many Republican members of Congress, have repeatedly dismissed the findings of climate science as a hoax...”
Younger Republicans Are Slightly More Liberal on Climate Change. Here’s a clip from The Atlantic: “…The second bit of intriguing news comes from the poll’s dive into generational attitudes in the Republican party. Millennial Republicans are more likely to endorse centrist environmental positions than their Boomer or Gen X co-partisans, the study found. More than a third of Millennial Republicans agree that the “Earth is warming mostly due to human activity,” as compared to 18 percent of Boomers and older generations. Almost 60 percent of young Republicans say that climate change is having “at least some effect on the United States,” and 45 percent see it active in their community. Nearly half of millennial Republicans say the government is doing too little to “reduce effects of climate change,” as compared to 27 percent of Boomer Republicans, the study found…”
Human-Caused Climate Change is “Supercharging” Hurricanes, Raising the Risk of Major Damage. ImaGeo at Discover Magazine connects the dots: “…The authors, led by Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, say their new research has implications for hurricanes generally. “While hurricanes occur naturally, human-caused climate change is supercharging them and exacerbating the risk of major damage,” they write. Hurricane Harvey offered an excellent opportunity to examine the “supercharging” phenomenon because it traveled by itself over relatively undisturbed water in the Gulf of Mexico. This meant there were fewer complicating factors for the researchers to contend with, including the impact of other storms. As a result, Trenberth and his colleagues could gain a detailed picture of how Harvey feasted on the record-breaking heat in the Gulf of Mexico. To do so, they used temperature data collected by Argo, a network of autonomous floats in the Gulf. They also used satellite-derived precipitation data provided by NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement mission…”
Hurricane Harvey file photo: AP.