Outside Shot at 60F This Weekend

“Spring is nature’s way of saying let’s party!” said the late, great Robin Williams. The always-awkward transition from winter to summer brings flooding, tornadoes and slush – often in the same week.

Considering the sun is as high inbthe sky today as it was on September 23, web shouldn’t be shocked that thermometers will make a pass at 60F next weekend. 50s are pretty much a slam dunk. The only think that might prevent us from warming up is snow melt-induced fog and stratus, which would keep us 10-15F cooler.

My euphoria over April warmth is tempered by the headlines out of Nebraska and Iowa, where flooding has
been historic in many areas. A preview of what’s to come in Minnesota? River models only go out 7-10 days. All the flooding risk factors are in place; the question is whether impending warmth will be accompanied by heavy rain, accelerating snow
melt and runoff.

Mercifully, this week appears dry, and next week’s storm pinwheels just south of Minnesota. Many of us will be holding our breath for the next 4-5 weeks as The Big Melt accelerates. 



384-Hour Rainfall Guestimate. Don’t bet the farm based on a 16-day outlook, but I’m trying to get a sense of longer-term trends with rainfall. NOAA’s GFS model keeps heaviest rains south of Minnesota, with some 2-3″+ amounts for parts of Colorado, Iowa and northern Illinois – closer to an inch for parts of central and southern Minnesota. I don’t see heavy rain through the end of next week; after that all bets are off. A worst-case scenario would combine a streak of 40s and 50s with a few heavy rainfall events, capable of accelerating snowmelt. I don’t see that scenario – yet. Map: pivotalweather.com.


Ice Jams, Melting Snow Escalate Flooding in Minnesota. Star Tribune reports: “Crews in southern Minnesota used pumps and backhoes Sunday to battle flooding caused by melting snow and ice chunks that choked creeks, sending water spilling onto nearby land. In Jordan, which has been fighting the ice jams on Sand Creek, workers cleared one blockage midday Sunday and watched as water levels dropped nearly 3 feet in an hour and 15 minutes, said Police Chief Brett Empey. But then another dam formed — this time on the north side of the Valley Green mobile home park. Last week, about 300 households voluntarily evacuated that neighborhood. About 13 residents remained at the Red Cross shelter Sunday…”

Image credit: Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service.


North Dakota’s Largest City Prepares for Major Flooding. Star Tribune has details: “The mayor of North Dakota’s largest city declared an emergency Monday and asked residents to help fill 1 million sandbags in preparation of major Red River flooding. “This is a very serious flood forecast, and we’ll meet it with a serious response,” Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said during a news conference. The latest National Weather Service outlook says “significant” snowmelt flooding is likely this spring in the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota after last week’s massive late-winter storm brought heavy rain and snow to the Upper Midwest. The chance the river will reach major flood stage in Fargo has increased from 50 percent to 90 percent...”

Photo credit: “The Missouri River floods across and closes K-7 highway near White Cloud, Kan., Monday, March 18, 2019.” Orlin Wagner – Associated Press.


Red River Basin: “Moderate to Major River Flooding Nearly Guaranteed”. So say the hydrologists at the National Weather Service in the Twin Cities. Click here for details.


Towns Isolated, Roads and Bridges Wash Away in Historic Midwest Flooding. USA TODAY has an update: “…This is really the most devastating flooding we’ve probably ever had in our state’s history, ” Gov. Pete Ricketts told CNN. “So many people are being displaced; towns are being isolated.” The culprit is a combination of runoff into rivers from the “bomb cyclone” storm that blasted across the Midwest last week and spring snowmelt after a winter of heavy snows. Thousands of people in Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri have been driven from their homes by the fast-rising waters. At least two deaths were blamed on flooding, and a Nebraska man has been missing for days. Some areas are bracing for more rain Tuesday, forecasters said…”

Photo credit: “Gabe Schmidt, owner of Liquid Trucking, top right, travels by air boat with Glenn Wyles, top left, Mitch Snyder, bottom left, and Juan Jacobo, bottom right, as they survey damage from the floodwaters of the Platte River in Plattsmouth, Neb., on March 17, 2019.” (Photo: Nati Harnik, AP)


Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin Declare States of Emergency Amid Historic Flooding. Newsweek had a post with some jaw-dropping perspective: “Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts described the scene to local news outlets as “devastating” as officials in at least three states declared emergencies amid ongoing emergency responses to flood problems. The Fremont Tribune and Lincoln Journal-Star reported numerous major waterways had overlowed and started flooding nearby areas at “historic” levels. The Platte River near Louisville, Nebraska, crested and broke a water height that had stood since 1960. The Platte River, near Ashland, broke its own record set in 1997, and the Elkhorn River, which runs along Waterloo, swelled to over 17 feet Saturday to break a record set in 1962…”


Before and After Imagery of Historic Flooding in Nebraska and Iowa. Check out the photos at weather.com.

Image credits: Before image: Google Earth | After Image: Fremont County Iowa EMA/Facebook.


Home of America’s Strategic Air Command Under Water. An update at War Zone at The Drive made me do a double-take: “The home to America’s prized RC-135 “Rivet Joint” strategic reconnaissance and E-4B “Nightwatch” Advanced Airborne Command Post aircraft, as well as others, and the headquarters of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), is flooding with water from a swollen Missouri River.  Offutt Air Force Base sits near Omaha, Nebraska and is considered one of the most critical installations in the U.S. Air Force’s portfolio. Not only does it house extremely high-value, but low density reconnaissance and command and control aircraft—massively expensive platforms that are essential to national security—but it is also the beating heart of STRATCOM that oversees America’s strategic nuclear forces. In fact, a brand new command bunker, buried underground at the base, was just opened in January—which sounds far less than ideal considering water is now nearly covering the end of the base’s runway…”


April Fool’s Day Preview. Winds at 500mb (about 18,000 feet) in 2 weeks are forecast to be blowing from the west/southwest, a good chance of milder than average weather for most of the USA, with the exception of New England and the Pacific Northwest.


Piling Up: How China’s Ban on Importing Waste Has Stalled Global Recycling. Yale Environment 360 has an update: “…In the year since, China’s plastics imports have plummeted by 99 percent, leading to a major global shift in where and how materials tossed in the recycling bin are being processed. While the glut of plastics is the main concern, China’s imports of mixed paper have also dropped by a third. Recycled aluminum and glass are less affected by the ban. Globally more plastics are now ending up in landfills, incinerators, or likely littering the environment as rising costs to haul away recyclable materials increasingly render the practice unprofitable. In England, more than half-a-million more tons of plastics and other household garbage were burned last year. Australia’s recycling industry is facing a crisis as the country struggles to handle the 1.3 million-ton stockpile of recyclable waste it had previously shipped to China…”

File image: Robert Galbraith, Reuters.



To Build the Cities of the Future, We Must Get Out Of Our Cars. A story at National Geographic made me do a double-take: “…In Calthorpe’s utopia, in China or America or elsewhere, cities would stop expanding so voraciously, paving over the nature around them; instead they’d find better ways of letting nature into their cores, where it can touch people. They’d grow in dense clusters and small, walkable blocks around a web of rapid transit. These cities of the future would mix things up again: They’d no longer segregate work from home and shopping, as sprawl does now, forcing people into cars to navigate all three; they’d no longer segregate rich from poor, old from young, and white from black, as sprawl does, especially in the United States. Driving less, paving less, city dwellers would heat the air and the planet around them less. That would slow the climate change that threatens, in this century, to make some cities unlivable…”

Image credit above: “SHANGHAI, CHINA. Near the center of this city of 24 million, China’s largest, the Yanan expressway crosses under the North-South expressway. The country has gained half a billion city dwellers since 1990—and nearly 190 million cars. “It’s truly almost incomprehensible what happened in China,” says American urban designer Peter Calthorpe, who has worked there extensively. With nearly 300 million more people expected in cities by 2030, Chinese planners say they’re changing course, prioritizing walkable streets and public transit over cars.” Photo: Andrew Moore.


Tesla Launches the Model Y. Quartz has an overview on the smaller, more affordable (electric) SUV: “…The invite-only crowd seemed slightly more subdued than at previous car launches, but cheered Musk as he ran through the Model Y’s features. The SUV is expected to have a 230-mile range (extendable up to 300 miles), a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 3.5 seconds, and an option for seven seats. Like the Model 3 (with which it shares 75% of its parts and a chassis), the SUV comes with a panoramic glass roof and Autopilot features. Tesla aims to start selling a $60,000 performance version next fall, followed by a $39,000 model in 2021. You can pre-order the Model Y…”

Image credit: Tesla.


Not Even the Joneses Can Keep Up Anymore. The key operative word here is…more. Here’s a clip from Intelligencer: “…Anybody who’s been around parents consumed with the status of the kindergarten or even preschool their offspring attend can imagine that the desire to keep the next generation of the very privileged at the top might be intense enough to encourage corner-cutting and perhaps even law-breaking. And there’s not much question this is a by-product of a society, and an economic system, in which competition is deeply embedded by every instrument of culture — including education itself. The historian and sociopolitical critic Garry Wills once observed that the reigning metaphor of American life was the footrace, in which some people felt disadvantaged by a poor position at the beginning of the race and others felt entitled to self-congratulation for finishing well…”


Does It Matter Where You Go To College? Some Context For the Admissions Scandal. Some interesting perspective from NPR: “…Low-income students who do manage to get into top colleges graduate at high rates and do nearly as well financially as their silver-spoon peers. But the colleges that most excel in promoting social mobility, according to an analysis by economist Raj Chetty, aren’t the Ivies — they are excellent, open-access public institutions and community colleges with large numbers of working-class students, like the City University of New York. All else being equal, highly selective colleges do seem to confer an income premium over nonselective colleges. But an individual’s choice of major, such as engineering, is a far more powerful factor in her eventual earnings than her choice of college. If you have more specific dreams, the Ivy League holds a near monopoly over the Supreme Court...”

Image credit: Rob Dobi/For NPR.


The College Admissions Scandal and the Banality of Scamming. Let’s hope we never become immune to this stuff. Here’s a clip from The New Yorker: “…As I read the documents, I wondered why perusing the minute interactions between Singer and his clients gave me so much pleasure. The people whose words are in the affidavit—save for Singer, post-flip—thought they were doing something that would remain private. Part of what I was experiencing was the slightly gross excitement one feels when sneakily reading a diary: fulfilling the prurient fantasy of observing people behaving despicably, as they really are. But what captured my attention even more was the sheer everydayness of the documented conversations, whose polite blandness, in the context of their apparent criminality, often led to high comedy. In one moment, Loughlin expresses her happiness at her younger daughter’s fraudulent acceptance at the University of Southern California by texting Singer a high-five emoji…”


The Biggest Test You Should Prep For Isn’t the SAT. My sister sent me this story last week and it’s too good not to share, courtesy of acuMOM: “…If you have a child who is not a ‘good test taker’, please remember all the other things they are. And then remind them. Repeatedly. Some of our kids have been taking tests and seeing scores that chip away at their psyches for years. Don’t let that happen. People who don’t do well on standardized tests have non-standardized minds not sub-standard ones. And non-standardized minds are often the ones that create ideas and change the world. Know one who lives and learns with dyslexia/dysgraphia? Show them this list: Spielberg, Picasso, Lennon, Kennedy, Washington, Da Vinci, Disney, Einstein. And in honor of National Women’s Day show them this less commonly known list too: Erin Brockovich, Cher, Agatha Christie, Octavia Spencer, Jennifer Aniston, Ann Bancroft (arctic explorer), Jessica Watson (youngest to sail solo around the world), Florence Welch (of Florence + the Machine), Prof. Elizabeth Blackburn (Nobel prize winner) and then tell them chances are they’re going to be famous…”


The Future of Sports is Interactive, Immersive and Intense. Finally, a use for virtual reality beyond gaming? Check out an eye-opening Wall Street Journal article: “…The future of sports is, of course, interactive. You’ll be able to join a teeming mass of soccer fans in the chat section on Twitch, or offer real-time feedback on every play and moment. Fantasy games will get even bigger, as broadcasters of different sports try to copy features like the March Madness bracket. Traditional leagues will learn a lot on this front by watching esports, as gamers continue to gain recognition as a new breed of professional athlete. “Our players jump in the chat, and they’ll engage with fans,” said Brendan Donohue, general manager of the 2K League, the NBA’s esports offering. It’s not crazy to imagine one day watching an actual basketball game, chatting with other viewers, when suddenly one of the bench players logs on and joins in…”

Image credit: “The way you watch sports is about to change: A concept video for Microsoft’s HoloLens headset showed how you might one day watch the game while tracking in-game stats and a player’s running speed.” Photo: Microsoft.


Middle Finger Protected by Constitution. Well that’s a relief. AP News explains: “When it comes to the middle finger, police might need a thicker skin. A federal appeals court says a Michigan woman’s constitutional rights were violated when she was handed a speeding ticket after giving the finger to a suburban Detroit officer in 2017. The decision means a lawsuit by Debra Cruise-Gulyas can proceed. In a 3-0 decision Wednesday, the court said Taylor Officer Matthew Minard “should have known better,” even if the driver was rude. Minard stopped Cruise-Gulyas and wrote her a ticket for a lesser violation. But when that stop was over, Cruise-Gulyas raised her middle finger…”


The Glories of Minnesota Hockey Hair. Even The New Yorker is paying attention now: “In 2013, BuzzFeed published a list of “38 Things Minnesotans Are Too Nice to Brag About.” No. 1 was Bob Dylan. No. 2 was “the hockey haircut,” by which the author meant, basically, the mullet, although the page embedded a video of boys at the annual state high-school tournament in which the narrator identified additional styles, such as “the cotton candy,” “the tsunami,” and the “portobella” (a mushroom cut). The main ingredient in hockey hair is volume. Games at the Minnesota state tournament, which rivals Texas football and Indiana hoops in terms of regional fervor, begin with player introductions that have evolved into one of the most endearing rituals in American sports…”

Illustration credit: Gabriel Alcala.


U.S. Government Will Pay You $1,000 to Adopt a Wild Horse. Quartz explains: “The American West is home to roughly 82,000 wild horses and burros. As idyllic as that sounds, their grazing damages rangeland and some begin to starve when their numbers grow too large, according to a report from Boise State Public Radio. Typically, the US Bureau of Land Management captures wild horses and keeps them in corrals, where they cost the agency around $2,000 per year in food and veterinary care. But with 6,000 animals currently in their care, the BLM corrals are at capacity, and numbers of the wild-roaming population continue to rise, Boise radio reports. So the agency is offering to pay people who adopt one...”

Image credit: “Drag me away.” Bureau of Land Management Flickr/Blue Fountain Photography.


2″ snow on the ground at MSP International Airport yesterday, down from 17″ a week ago.

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

42 F. average high on March 18.

43 F. high on March 18, 2018.

March 19, 2012: This is the 4th day in a row that the Twin Cities reaches at least 79 degrees, and the 8th record high in a 10 day span.

March 19, 1977: An energy emergency finally ends in Minnesota. It was caused by the extended cold.


TUESDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: SW 5-10. High: 46

WEDNESDAY: Some sun. Nice to be above average. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 31. High: 48

THURSDAY: Blue sky. Cue the chirping birds. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 30. High: 51

FRIDAY: Plenty of sun, hints of April. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 35. High: 54

SATURDAY: Spring Fever Alert. Mild sunshine. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 41. HIgh: near 60

SUNDAY: High clouds increase, still mild. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 46. High: 58

MONDAY: Patchy clouds, showers may stay south. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 43. HIgh: 56


Climate Stories….

David Titley: The Warriors Who See the Face of Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from The Fayetteville Observer: “…As our climate changes, the environment in which our nation’s military operates changes. Imagine if the fundamental surroundings in which you were trained to do a specific job changed in ways you didn’t plan for. It would be challenging, indeed, to do the job you were hired to do. Imagine now, for a role as critical as protecting our country, the implications of a work environment that turns out to be unlike the one you thought you knew. Our armed forces are having to reevaluate their readiness to do their jobs, and the stakes — life and liberty — are high. The impacts of climate change are also threatening our military bases and infrastructure, as well as the ability of our personnel to perform their jobs both on-site and when deployed. As a Naval officer, I spent many days steaming offshore near Onslow Beach at Camp Lejeune, so I can picture that beach when I hear about the damage it sustained during Hurricane Florence. All of the state’s bases were touched by the storm — Fort Bragg, Cherry Point, and Camp Lejeune. These installations, the people who run them, and the families who support them all took a direct hit from climate change. Buildings and homes were destroyed, and vital training facilities were compromised...”

File image: AP.


The Switftness of Glaciers: Language in a Time of Climate Change. Check out this Aeon post at Pocket; here’s an excerpt: “…Shelley saw glaciers as predatory, immortal forces, eternal beings, before whose might mere humans quaked. But global warming has flipped that perception. We are now more likely to view glaciers as casualties of humanity’s outsize, planet-altering powers. Glaciers in the 21st century constitute an unfrozen hazard, as receding glaciers and ice packs push ocean levels higher. Just as alarming as the big thaw’s impact on sea rise is its impact on the security of our freshwater reserves. For glaciers serve as fragile, frigid reservoirs holding irreplaceable water: 47 per cent of humanity depends on water stored as seasonally replenished ice that flows from the Himalayas and Tibet alone…”

Photo credit: Payton Ferris on Unsplash



The Side Effects of Solar Engineering Could be Minimal. Then again, they may be significant on a planetary scale. What can possibly go wrong? Here’s an excerpt of a post at WIRED.com: “…It could very well be that, on closer consideration, offsetting half of our future warming isn’t the optimal scenario, but this does suggest we could do a lot of solar geoengineering without significant side effects on precipitation. “Our results do not […] support the common claims that

[solar geoengineering]

would inevitably lead to significant harms to some regions,” the researchers write, “nor the claims that [solar geoengineering’s] benefits and harms always have a strongly unequal distribution.” Many climate scientists are staunchly opposed to—or at least deeply skeptical of—the concept of solar geoengineering…”

Image credit: JPL/NASA.


Kids Striking Against Climate Change: “We’re Fighting For Our Future”. National Geographic reports: “…In October of 2018, the IPCC issued a report that warned that without serious, coordinated international action to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, it was nearly certain that the planet would warm by over 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit)—and that the impacts of that warming would potentially be much more disruptive and devastating than previously thought. The timeline? Get emissions in check by 2030…“I have a lot of goals and dreams to achieve by the time I am 25,” says Karla Stephan, a 14-year old organizer of the D.C. strike from Bethesda, Maryland. “But in just 11 years, the damage of climate change cannot be undone. That is simply something I choose not to accept.” And when they looked around, they saw little or no action being taken to deal with the problem. So, Stephens and many others realized, it was up to them to push the conversation forward. “Ignorance isn’t bliss,” says Stephan. “It is death. It’s a crime against our future.”


Kids Aren’t Gonna Take It: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “Students in more than 100 countries around the world are missing school today to protest inaction on climate change. Inspired by Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, whose regular strikes earned her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination this week, young people at more than 1,600 events worldwide are taking part in the coordinated Youth Strike 4 Climate effort. In the United States, thousands of students in 136 cities and towns are expected to participate today, including many in deep-red and fossil-fuel-dependent states. “It is very important that strikes and marches take place in fossil-fuel producing areas of the country, like Oklahoma,” high school student Luke Kerr, who plans to protest today in Oklahoma City, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We are showing the rest of the country that we can fight for climate.” (Live: CNN, The Guardian. US: Time, Mother Jones, NBCNew Republic, Reuters,Thomson Reuters Foundation. Int’l: AP, Reuters, BBC, Buzzfeed. Commentary: The Guardian, Greta Thunberg, Anna Taylor and others op-ed, BBC, various interviews, CNN, various interviews, Grist, various interviews, Washington Post, Per Adman and Katrin Uba analysis $, New York Times, Zayne Cowie video op-ed $)


French Government Sued For Inadequate Climate Action. Climate Liability News has an explainer: “Four environmental organizations filed suit against the French government for failing to live up to its commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement and other national and international agreements. The suit, which was filed in the Administrative Court of Paris on Thursday, alleges that France has violated its duty by failing to taking action to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius. The organizations—Oxfam, Greenpeace, Fondation Nicolas Hulot pour la Nature et l’Homme and Notre Affair à Tous—also say the French government has repeatedly postponed implementing policies to curb emissions, as required by its national climate policy,  and has failed to respect international commitments…”

Big Oil Must Choose: Bad Guys or Good Guys on Climate Change? Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from the Editorial Board at The Houston Chronicle: “…The White House has withdrawn from the Paris Accord, rolled back the Clean Power Plan and appointed bad-faith climate change deniers to a federal climate panel. The United States needs to claim this leadership mantle, not only for the sake of saving the planet, but also to ensure that we remain the best place in the world for the energy industry. Oil and gas executives get this. Talk to the experts who have descended upon Houston for the annual CERAWeek energy conference, named for consulting firm Cambridge Energy Research Associates, and they’ll tell you the truth: Global warming is real, man-made emissions are a key cause, it is a threat to humanity and the U.S. government has to step up for the future of our children and grandchildren…”

File image: Business Green.