Easing Into a More Summer-like Pattern?

Entrepreneur. Noun. “Person who operates a business, taking on greater than normal financial risks.” Farmers are America’s original entrepreneurs, taking on significant risk with uncertain returns.

Lately it’s been a 1-2-3 punch. Low prices, tariffs, now the wettest 12-month period in U.S. history. Flooding is pervasive and widespread. According to USDA 90 percent of corn and 66 percent of beans should be in the ground by now. The actual numbers: 58 percent corn and 29 percent soybeans.

Which is why I’m relieved to track an apparent shift in the pattern. We may finally be pushing into a warmer, drier, more summer-like pattern; with spotty T-showers vs. widespread monsoon rains.

Dress light today with mid-80s likely. Showers and T-storms arrive tonight. Saturday gets off to a wet start, but most of the day should be fine with a clearing trend. Expect a cooler Sunday with blue sky, but I see more 80s next week as we limp into a typical pattern for June.

With warming temperatures the tornado risk should drop too across most of the USA.

Extreme Weather is Pummeling the Midwest, and Farmers Are In Trouble. Capital Weather Gang has the post; here’s an excerpt: “…For months now, the Culps — and many farmers across wide swaths of the Midwest — have rarely seen days dry enough to work, leading to what agricultural experts are calling a historically delayed planting season that could exacerbate the economic and personal anxieties brought on by a multiyear slump in farm prices and the Trump administration’s trade war with China, the world’s largest soybean buyer. For the past five years, the 18 states that produce the majority of America’s corn crop had an average of 90 percent of their fields planted by the end of May, according to data released Tuesday by the Agriculture Department. At the same point this year, 58 percent of the corn crop is in the ground. The outlook for soybeans is just as dismal, with 29 percent in the ground compared with 66 percent in years past…”

Farmers Are Using Twitter to Document the Disastrous Effects of Climate Change on Crops. Here’s a clip from Eater: “…On average over the past four years, farmers in the states that represent a majority of the nation’s harvest would have planted 90 percent of their corn and 66 percent of their soy by May 26, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report. That makes a lot of sense since crop yields tend to decline when corn is planted after May 10 and farmers typically wrap up their planting efforts by May 31. However 2019’s crops are far behind schedule. As of May 26, only 58 percent of the nation’s corn had been planted and just 29 percent of its soy. Farmers are rightly worried and consumers should be too...”

The Hybrid System That Spots Tornadoes. Doppler radar technology is amazing, but it’s still no substitute to trained spotters providing ground truth. The Atlantic reports: “…The United States has a hybrid, almost cyborg method for predicting tornadoes. For decades, meteorologists have been able to detect likely tornadoes remotely by looking for a hook shape on weather radar. But in the past three decades, there have been two major steps forward. First, forecasters can now detect wind speed and direction via Doppler radar, allowing them to identify centers of circulation in storms. Second, they can use reflective radar to look at the presence of objects in the atmosphere that are neither water nor cloud: debris. This technique, made available just in the past few years, lets them confirm the existence of a tornado remotely, by looking for debris lofted high in the sky. But the service still relies on networks of in-person spotters, first formed in the 1940s as protection for military assets, to confirm the existence of a single tornado...”

Photo credit: “A tornado that formed this month in Mangum, Oklahoma.” Reuters.

At Least 225 Twisters in 12 Days: An Historic Tornado Outbreak Ravages the U.S. Ian Livingston puts things into perspective for Capital Weather Gang: “…And the tornadoes have been hitting residential areas, often after sunset. Towns like Golden City, Mo., where the deadliest tornado of the slew killed three people at night. Several other locations were tormented at bedtime. Jefferson City, Mo.; Dayton, and El Reno, Okla., among them. Others shrouded the sun as if it were dark, like the terrible wedge tornado that passed from near Lawrence, Kan., to Kansas City on Tuesday. So, what can we blame for the tornado bombardment? May is peak tornado season, but an extraordinary and persistent pattern has kept conditions conducive for tornadoes on a much longer time scale than normal...”

New Science Explains Why Tornadoes Are So Hard to Forecast. Here’s an excerpt of a solid article at The Wall Street Journal (paywall): “…Researchers say one of the biggest limitations to learning more about tornadogenesis, the technical term for the tornado formation process, is the limitations of their equipment. Any change in terrain—such as hills or the presence of trees—can prevent instruments from collecting crucial data about what is happening close to the ground in an area often no bigger than two football fields across. The missing pieces of the tornadogenesis puzzle keep forecasters from being more accurate with their tornado predictions. “We have big outlooks of doom and gloom, and nothing happens because there are a lot of moving parts that are not well understood yet,” said Erik Rasmussen, a research scientist with NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory...”

No End Seen to Struggle as Mississippi Flood Enters Month 4. The Washington Post reports on a flood many are (increasingly) comparing to The Great Flood of 1927: “…Floodwater has swamped 860 square miles (2,200 sq. kilometers) north of the Mississippi River city of Vicksburg, an area larger than the cities of New York and Los Angeles combined. Residents say it’s the worst flood since 1973. Gov. Phil Bryant last week went further, likening it to the 1927 flood that lives on in books, songs, movies and the folk memory of the Magnolia State. “1927 was a line of demarcation for most of us who lived in the Delta,” Bryant, a Republican, said. “This may replace that.” Levees and floodgates near Vicksburg were built to prevent water from overflowing into the Delta when the river rises. This year, it has been above flood stage at Vicksburg for 102 consecutive days , with the floodgate closed much of that time…”

Photo credit: “In this Thursday, May 23, 2019 photo, Larry Walls, a farmer and businessman stands at the edge of a backwater flooded road leading to his 560 acres of rented farm land near Louise, Miss. Walls can no longer drive to the property without the possibility of getting flooded or stuck. Four months into what seems like a never-ending flood, he’s been trying to stay busy. He pressure-washed his church, and he’s been shooting the snakes that slither out of a swollen creek submerging his backyard.” (Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press)

“Slow Motion Disaster” Along Arkansas River: Every Large Community Will See Major Flooding Next 7-10 Days. USA TODAY has an update on a grim situation: “Every large community along the Arkansas River will see major or record flooding within the next week to 10 days as swift-moving water from weeks of heavy rain challenges Arkansas’ aging levee system, the National Weather Service said Wednesday. Worse, more heavy rain is on the way.  Arkansas is not alone. Record flooding is also creating havoc in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and northeast Oklahoma, both from locally heavy rainfall and from swollen rivers bringing water south from the north-central U.S...”

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Thursday, May 30th, 2019:

  • According to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center there have been more than 2,100 severe storm reports (large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes) nationwide since May 20th. Over the last 10 days, more than 300 tornadoes have been reported, some of which have been deadly.
  • Several rounds of strong to severe thunderstorms in the Central US has lead to significant rainfall this month. More than 10″ to 20″ of rain has fallen in spots, which has caused Major Flooding along many rivers, some even seeing record flooding. Despite the severe threat fading a bit over the next few days, major river flooding will be an ongoin issue over the next several days and weeks.
  • A Slight Risk of severe weather has been issued today across parts of the Southern US from western Texas to far southeastern New Mexico, including the cities of Ft. Stockton and Midland (TX). There is another slight risk area in the Northeast, which stretches from eastern Kentucky to New Jersey, including the cities of Charleston (WV), Washington DC, Baltimore (MD), Pittsburgh and Philadelphia (PA) and Atlantic City and Trenton (NJ).

Active 10 Day Stretch. Since Monday, May 20th (10 days), NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has received more than 2,100 storm reports (large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes) across the nation. There were also more than 300 tornado reports in that 10 day stretch, some of which were strong and even deadly. There have now been nearly 1,000 tornado reports so far this year, which is the most tornadoes (through the end of May) since 2011, when nearly 1,400 tornadoes were reported.

Significant Rainfall This Month. Nearly 10″ to 20″ of rain has fallen across parts of the Central US, since May 1st, which has lead to significant flooding. Note that it has been the Wettest May on record in Kansas City (MO), 2nd Wettest May on record in Witchita (KS), and 3rd Wettest May on Record in Oklahoma City (OK).

Major River Flooding. More than 10″ to 20″ of rain has fallen across parts of the Central US since the beginning of May, which has caused Major Flooding along many rivers. Unfortunately, flooding is going to be a big issue for several days even after the heaviest of the rains subside. The image above comes from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office out of Pulaski, Arkansas along the Arkansas River, which is already at Major Flood Stage and is exptected to get even higher through early June, possibly at record levels.

Record Crest Along Arkansas River At Morrilton, AR. The forecast along the Arkansas River at Morrilton, AR shows Major Flooding ongoin and contuing through the first half of June. However, it is expected to crest at record flood stage this weekend, nearly 1 foot higher than the previous record crest on April 19th, 1927.

Major Flooding Along Arkansas River. The image above was issued by the National Weather Service out of Little Rock, AR, which shows a number of other locations that are currently dealing with Major Flooding along the Arkansas River. Again, some of these locations will even see record crests as we head through the next several days.

Major River Flooding Continues. Thanks to significant rainfall this month, there are several rivers in the Central US that are dealing with Moderate to Major Flooding currently and will likely still be dealing with high water into June. Some locations along the Mississippi River are forecast to be near record crest as we head through the next several days.

Slight Risk of Excessive Rainfall. According to NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center, there is a Slight Risk of Excessive Rainfall across parts of the Northeast as additional heavy rain develops with a few strong to severe thunderstorms later today. Rainfall tallies could approach 1″ or more in some locations there, but more importantly, the ground is already saturated, so any additional rainfall could further exacerbate the flooding concerns there

7 Day Precipitation Forecast. The 7 Day Precipitation Forecast from NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center suggests another round of potentially heavy rainfall developing across parts of the Central US. Unfortunately, this does not bode well for ongoing flood concerns in these areas. Through the first few days of June, some locations in the Central US could see an additional 1″ to 3″ of rainfall or more, which will likely keep the flood concerns at elevated levels.

Slight Risk Of Severe Storms. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a Slight Risk of severe storms for today and tonight across parts of the Southern US from western Texas to far southeastern New Mexico, including the cities of Ft. Stockton and Midland (TX). There is another slight risk area in the Northeast, which stretches from eastern Kentucky to New Jersey, including the cities of Charleston (WV), Washington DC, Baltimore (MD), Pittsburgh and Philadelphia (PA) and Atlantic City and Trenton (NJ). Within these areas, large hail, damaging winds and an isolated tornado may be possible. The good news is that the severe threat is not expected to be as widespread as it has been over the last several days, but facilities located in the severe risk areas should review safety procedures and make sure they are prepared to act quickly if threatening weather impacts the area.

Todd Nelson, Meteorologist, Praedictix

The Military is Locked in a Battle with Wind Farms. Who knew? Here’s an excerpt from WIRED.com: “…Although Pentagon officials don’t see wind power as an obstacle to military readiness, in the past two years, a growing number of state lawmakers are citing national security to block wind farms. That’s what’s happening along the North Carolina coastline, which is home to Marine Corps and Naval aviation facilities as well as a burgeoning wind industry. North Carolina’s state legislature is considering a bill to ban all wind farms within 100 miles of the coast from Virginia to Camp LeJeune. The bill’s sponsor, state senator Harry Brown (R), was also behind an 18-month moratorium on North Carolina wind farms that expired in December 2018. At a legislative hearing on the bill last month, some military experts said prohibition goes too far…”

File image: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune.

Ferrari’s First Plug-In Supercar Is One of Its Most Powerful Cars Ever. CNN Business has the story: “Ferrari’s first plug-in hybrid sports car is also the most powerful Ferrari production car ever. The Ferrari SF90 Stradale has a 3.9-liter V8 engine and three electric motors that, together, can produce as much as 986 horsepower. Two of the motors drive the car’s front wheels while the third is attached to the gasoline engine mounted behind the seats. It also has an eight-speed transmission similar to that in a Formula 1 racecar. The SF90 will be able to go from zero to 60 miles an hour in a little over two seconds and reach a top speed of 211 miles an hour. The car can be driven in full electric mode for up to 15 miles and can go as fast as 84 miles an hour using just its electric motors...

GM and Bechtel Plan to Build Thousands of Electric Car Charging Stations Across the U.S. CNN Business explains: “General Motors, America’s largest automaker, and Bechtel, the country’s largest construction company, are teaming up to build thousands of electric vehicle fast-charging stations across the United States. The two companies have agreed to create a new company that will build the charger network. Adding more fast charging stations should provide a boost to sales of electric cars. One of the biggest concerns Americans have about electric cars is whether there will be enough places to charge them, according to a recent survey by AAA. This network will not only help GM (GM), which plans to introduce 20 new electric vehicle models by 2023. But the new chargers could also be used by other manufacturers’ electric vehicles, too…”

Meal Kits and Food Delivery: How Leading Companies Are Leaning Into Weather. Full disclosure: I’m a co-founder and investor in AerisWeather. I thought you might be interested in how some companies are leveraging our data streams to optimize food delivery: “…One area where meal kit services have traditionally not had control of their destiny however is in the movement of ingredients and packaged kits. It’s in that “final mile” in particular that meal kit services have often relied on tribal knowledge and manual planning to ensure that ingredients are maintaining top shape as they travel from distribution center to countertop. AerisWeather has set out to change that for our clients in the meal kit and perishables transportation space by enabling them to harness detailed weather data to streamline their supply chains and packing logic. Our advanced weather API and weather mapping platform help inform and support logistics efforts—generating greater efficiency and profitability in the process. Today, we’ll be sharing examples of how our clients leverage weather data in their transportation & packaging logic to optimize meal kit solutions…”

New Study Asks: Should We Replace Mental Health Meds with Exercise? Big Think has the post; here’s the intro: “Researchers at the University of Vermont believe exercise should be prescribed to patients with mental health issues before psychiatric drugs. In a study of roughly a hundred volunteers, 95 percent of patients reported feeling better, while 63 percent reported feeling happy or very happy. The researchers suggest that mental health facilities should be built with gyms moving forward. Exercise has long been prescribed as part of a healthy lifestyle — an important directive, considering that 80 percent of Americans are insufficiently active...”

World’s Rivers Are Contaminated with Antibiotics. CNN reports: “The world’s rivers are widely contaminated with antibiotics, according to a new global study, the first of its kind. Researchers from the University of York in the UK analyzed samples from rivers in 72 countries and found that antibiotics were present in 65% of them. Dangerous levels of contamination were most frequently found in Asia and Africa, the team said, with sites in Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan and Nigeria exceeding safe levels by the greatest degree...”

Nearly 30% of Teens Sleep with Their Phones, but Parents’ Device Use May Be More Problematic. Quartz has a short, interesting read – are you hopelessly hooked? “Common Sense Media surveyed parents and teens about their media use: Nearly half (45%) of parents now say they feel addicted to their devices, up 18 points from 2016. Only 39% of kids feel the same, down 11 points from three years ago. Similarly, a whopping 52% of parents say they spend too much time on their devices, up sharply from 2016, while teens seem increasingly comfortable with their phone use…”

Our Prayers Have Been Answered – The “Towelkini” is Here! Radio.com has the head-scratching story: “Forgetting your towel during an impromptu trip to the beach is now a thing of the past. The Towelkini has arrived to make your summer days “easier” and weirder. Designed as a combination bathing suit and beach towel, the ensemble is supposed to make it easy to lay in the sun while still keeping you covered…While the Towelkini looks like a lot of fun, there are a few things you should be aware of before slipping into one. The Towelkini has cutouts for your head and legs with your arms free at your sides. When laying down, your head will have a towel to rest on and your legs will be free to tan…”

It’s Not Natural Gas, It’s “Freedom Gas”. Ars Technica has the story: “Call it a rebranding of “energy dominance.” In a press release published on Tuesday, two Department of Energy officials used the terms “freedom gas” and “molecules of US freedom” to replace your average, everyday term “natural gas.” The press release was fairly standard, announcing the expansion of a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal at the Freeport facility on Quintana Island, Texas. It would have gone unnoticed had an E&E News reporter not noted the unique metonymy “molecules of US freedom.” DOE Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg is quoted as saying, “With the US in another year of record-setting natural gas production, I am pleased that the Department of Energy is doing what it can to promote an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of US freedom to be exported to the world…”

File image: GreenBiz.

The 2 Loves of My Life. Storm Chaser Proposes to Boyfriend as Tornado Approaches. Because why not! Newsweek has details: “As a tornado approached a group of storm chasers on Tuesday, one of them had more on his mind than the weather. Meteorologist Joey Krastel got down on one knee and proposed to his boyfriend, now-fiancé, Chris Scott. Two of their friends, who were along for the ride through Kansas, took a photo of the moment and captured the tornado in the background. Krastel told NBC News that he hadn’t planned to ask Scott to marry him at that moment. “It all just kind of came together and happened so quickly. I was like ‘OK, this is it.,” Krastel said. Krastel shared the photo to his Twitter account on Tuesday, captioning the photo, “The 2 loves of my life…”

82 F. high in the Twin Cities on Thursday.

74 F. average high on May 30.

74 F. high on May 30, 2018.

May 31, 1934: Extreme heat impacts the Twin Cities, with highs of 107 in St. Paul and 106 in Minneapolis. Rush City reached 110. Numerous cases of heat ailments affect people and livestock.

May 31, 1932: A heat wave hits southern Minnesota, with highs of 108 at Campbell, Fairmont, Faribault, and New Ulm.

FRIDAY: Hot sunshine. What a concept. Winds: W 10-15. High: 88

FRIDAY NIGHT: Showers and T-storms arrive. Low: 58

SATURDAY: Wet start, then rapid clearing. Winds N 7-12. High: 72

SUNDAY: Plenty of sun, cool breeze. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 50. High: 68

MONDAY: More clouds than sun, probably dry. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 53. High: 75

TUESDAY: Showers and T-storms likely. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 60. High: 78

WEDNESDAY: Partial clearing, still sticky. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 62. High: 80

THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Feels like June. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 62. High: 82

Climate Stories….

Is Climate Change Fueling Tornadoes? In a warming world wind shear (a major component of tornadogenesis) should drop over time. But not this year. Here’s an excerpt from InsideClimate News: “…There is growing evidence that “a warming atmosphere, with more moisture and turbulent energy, favors increasingly large outbreaks of tornadoes, like the outbreak we’ve witnessed in the last few days,” said Penn State University climate researcher Michael Mann. “There is also some evidence that we might be seeing an eastward shift in the regions of tornado genesis—again, consistent with what we are seeing,” he added. Tornadoes are complex, dynamic, short-lived and small, which makes them hard to study. But the deadly 2011 outbreak, which included the tornado that tore through Joplin, Missouri, spurred a new wave of studies that help explain how global warming affects tornado activity, said Harold Brooks, a senior scientist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma…”

File images from July 18, 1986 Brooklyn Park tornado: KARE-11.

Extreme Weather Has Made Half of America Look Like Tornado Alley. Is there a link with a warmer, wetter climate? The data is, as of today, inconclusive when it comes to tornado frequency/intensity. Here’s a clip from The Washington Post: “…The jet stream shapes the high pressure and low pressure systems that control the weather in any given location. Normally it flows west to east in temperate latitudes in a fairly reliable manner. But lately it has fallen into a roller coaster pattern. It’s dipping, forming deep troughs. The result is weather that’s wildly different from west to east, with regions of extreme instability and too much drama. Worse, the jet stream appears to be stuck in this sinuous pattern. The weather has become not merely extreme but also inert, stubborn, persistent, tiresome, tedious — pick your adjective. Between the cold weather in the West and the heat wave in the Southeast lies a huge swath of the United States that’s primed for tornadoes…”

5 Ways You Can Personally Fight the Climate Crisis. Some good suggestions from Big Think: “…There are many ways to take action. Whether you are a CEO, a student or a professional athlete, your voice matters. We all have a unique reach and can create a ripple effect across our spheres of influence. We all have our personal sphere (social and familial relationships), our community sphere (home city and local organizations), our workplace sphere (job environment or campus environment for students), our industry sphere (professional associations) and our global sphere (social media reach and global affiliations). I’ve outlined five steps that one can take to activate these networks and play a role in battling the greatest challenge of our time…”

Putting a Price on the Risk of Climate Change. Bloomberg delves into the touchy topic of “stranded assets”: “…A drop in consumption of coal, oil, and gas would have knock-on effects felt throughout the global economy, potentially spurring a decline in the value of companies sitting on stranded assets. About a third of the almost $5 trillion in planned fossil fuel capital investment from 2018 to 2025 risks being rendered near-worthless under policies that achieve the 2C target, according to Carbon Tracker, an environmental group that advises institutional investors. It coined the term “stranded asset,” not to argue against such policies, but to get financial markets to consider the economic risks of climate change…”

Meet the Amazon Employees Challenging Jeff Bezos on Climate Change. Here’s the intro to a story at Forbes: “…The proposal would have required Amazon’s board of directors to prepare a public plan for “disruptions posed by climate change” and demonstrate how the company would reduce its dependency on fossil fuels. Although Amazon has previously invested in renewable energy, employees argue that it is insufficient given the company’s role in global carbon emissions. Amazon previously launched programs to address emissions, such as its Shipment Zero plan to have 50% of all deliveries with net zero carbon by 2030. There are also plans to make public the company’s total carbon footprint after years of secrecy…”

Photo credit: “Scores of Amazon employees confronted CEO Jeff Bezos at the annual shareholder meeting over the company’s lack of climate leadership.” Amazon Employees for Climate Justice.

Talking Twisters & Climate: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “A spate of recent tornadoes across the United States have many questioning how climate change may be impacting twisters. Seven are dead after states in the Midwest have clocked at least eight tornadoes per day for a nearly two-week stretch, and 55 tornadoes may have torn across eight different states on Monday alone. Climate scientists stressed to multiple outlets that while climate change is enhancing many extreme weather patterns, there has not been enough research to conclusively establish a link between warming and tornadoes. MIT’s Kerry Emmanuel called the relationship between climate change and tornadoes “absolutely complicated,” telling the New York Times that there are so few studies because “it’s almost impossible to see any signal in the data” and noting that data from current radar technology is much newer for tornadoes compared to data used in the study of how climate impacts hurricanes.” (AP, New York Times $, The GuardianNBC)

File image: Homeland Security.