Expecting Perfection In An Imperfect World

Some are quick to pounce on meteorologists when the forecast doesn’t work out exactly as advertised. We all know people who LOVE to complain.

A Twitter follower countered: “I think weather forecasting is one of those scientific miracles that we under-appreciate. It’s stunning we have any idea at all what the weather will be like in a few days. And yet we complain that we didn’t know the exact hour and minute the rain would start.”

Amen brother.

Expect a ration of sunlight today with less wind and 60s, before the next inevitable round of showers and T- storms tonight into Friday. Skies clear from west to east late tomorrow; you may be able to salvage evening
activities outside.

The forecast is still partly-promising for most of the holiday weekend. Expect 70s and sunshine most of Saturday and Sunday. The only fly in the weather-ointment: instability showers may pop over northern Minnesota Saturday afternoon.

Strong to severe T-storms may surge into the state Memorial Day, so have a Plan B ready.

I still see a cool bias into early June.

Photo credit above: Kayla Algren from South Haven, Minnesota.

Observed 7-Day Rainfall. Details via the Twin Cities National Weather Service: “Rainfall map from the past 7 days. Many locations across the region have received 2 to 4 inches of rain. Thank you to the volunteer weather observers who make these reports possible, including our partners in the Coop and networks.”

Taking the Edge Off the Heat. The 2-week outlook continues to show Canadian air pushing unusually far south for early June, with the hottest weather confined to the southern third of America; a series of cooler fronts reducing the need for A/C from the Twin Cities to Detroit and Boston.

2″ Away From Top 10 Wettest Spring for MSP. Over 10″ of rain has fallen on the Twin Cities since March 1; 3.38″ above average. At the rate we’re going we may wind up in the Top 10 wettest meteorological springs. Graphic: Praedictix.

2019 Rainfall To Date. Most of the USA is wetter than average, nearly twice as wet as normal for parts of the Upper Midwest and much of the western USA. Only coastal Georgia and the Carolinas, as well as a sliver of the Pacific Northwest, is trending drier than average, to date. More details from Climate Central: “As recent flash flooding in the Southeast made clear, heavy rain just will not stop. Last week, we covered the increase in extreme downpours — single-day rain events that are getting wetter. But this year has also brought longer-lived rain, helping areas of the Mississippi stay above flood stage for at least three months. That’s the longest stretch since the Great Flood of 1927 — the most destructive river flood ever in the modern U.S. Overall, the nation’s year-to-date rainfall is well above average, in line with the increased annual precipitation observed in most of the country.”

Soggy Perspective. Every state east of the Rockies is trending wetter since 1950. Climate Central has more context: “From 1950 to 2018, average annual precipitation has risen in 90% of the U.S. states analyzed. Eighteen states have recorded an increase of five inches or more, led by New Hampshire (7.0 inches), Vermont (7.0 inches), and Indiana (6.6 inches). The eight largest increases have all come in the Northeast and Midwest, where downpours are also intensifying the most. Only five Western states are trending drier, including Oregon, California, Idaho, Washington, and Arizona. Though these decreases are all less than three inches, an inch or two can make a major difference in the drier West (where many states receive less than 25 inches per year). And even for the drier states, single downpours are still getting stronger...”

10 Deadliest U.S. Tornadoes on Record. Fox News has a list, including the infamous Joplin, Missouri EF-5 in 2011: “…The massive EF-5 tornado that struck the city of Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011 killed 158 people and left over 1,000 injured. “The Joplin tornado is the deadliest since modern record keeping began in 1950 and is ranked 7th among the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history,” the NWS says on a factsheet. Among the 8,000 buildings destroyed by the strong twister included St. John’s Regional Medical Center, where five of the dead included patients. 2011 ended up being the fourth deadliest tornado year in U.S. history, according to the NWS…”

File image: National Weather Service.

Why 2 Tornadoes 71 Years Ago Are the Most Important in U.S. History. Credit some courageous forecasters willing to buck tradition and risk public hysteria by mentioning a risk of tornadoes. Here’s a clip from The Weather Channel: “…Fawbush and Miller would go on to issue additional tornado forecasts with amazing accuracy for the mid-20th century.”Of 75 tornado forecasts issued by the Fawbush-Miller method, 67 have been verified by teletype messages, newspaper clippings and highway patrol reports,” according to a Tinker AFB press release. Their success prompted the Weather Bureau, now known as the National Weather Service, to establish the Severe Weather Unit in 1952. This unit, later renamed the National Severe Storms Forecast Center and now known as the Storm Prediction Center, began issuing its first severe weather outlooks in 1953. You have to wonder where severe weather forecasting would be today if it wasn’t for the twin Tinker tornadoes…”

File photo credit: “A large airplane destroyed by the second Tinker Air Force Base tornado on March 25, 1948, just five days after the first. This tornado was preceded by the first tornado warning ever issued.” NOAA Weather Library.

“Water is What is Killing People”: Hurricanes Could Cause Catastrophic Flooding in Florida. MSN.com has some updated results which turns old assumptions on their head: “…When people close their eyes and envision a hurricane, most will conjure wind-related images, National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said. “Water is what’s killing people,” Graham said during the conference. He cited these statistics:

• 83% of U.S. tropical cyclone fatalities the past three years were water-related (excluding Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico).

• Only 4% of water-related deaths were spawned by storm surge. Inland flooding accounted for the other 96%.

• More than half of those water-related deaths were vehicle-related...”

September 14, 2018 Geocolor file image: AerisWeather.

Here’s How to Build a Hurricane-Resistant House – Not as Expensive as You May Think. CNBC.com has a very interesting story: “...The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety has gone even further. A decade ago it created a “fortified home” standard to protect against hurricanes and hail. It is a voluntary guideline, and so far only 8,000 homes nationwide have built to that designation. Those that do sell for 7% more, according to a University of Alabama study. The standard has three levels, bronze, silver and gold, with the last being the highest protection. Since Florida’s codes are already so high, building to the gold standard there wouldn’t add much to the price of construction. But in areas that have weak codes or lack them altogether, the gold standard would be much more costly…”

3 Problems With the Word “Bust” During Real-Time Weather Threats. Marshall Shepherd makes some good points in a post at Forbes: “...I personally don’ like the knee jerk “bust” declarations as a real-time event is unfolding. As a meteorologist, I certainly understand that when verification statistics are done, this event likely falls short of some of the messaging metrics associated with “outbreaks.”  From a meteorological perspective, was it a bust? If you are using the metrics of “45% coverage of tornadoes or long-track, violent tornadoes,” then the Monday outbreak probably doesn’t meet that threshold. However from a human toll perspective, I say “So what?” The messaging forced people to act and hazardous severe weather (and flooding often overlooked) happened. My concern is that our weather geekery and verification statistics don’t really matter to someone that was impacted…”
Map credit: “Severe weather outlook for May 20th 2019 as issued by the Storm Prediction Center.” NOAA.

Indiana Utilities Are In The Midst of Identity Crisis as Customers Take Power Into Own Hands. Every industry is being disrupted, including the power-generation sector. IndyStar has details: “...Today, the prospect of running your home entirely on electricity produced by you or your community is no longer a fantasy, but a real possibility. As renewable energy technologies become less expensive, ratepayers have started taking generation into their own hands. Homeowners are installing solar panels. Communities are exploring investing in their own, small-scale solar farms. Big businesses — Facebook, General Motors, Cummins — are signing contracts with wind farms. Utilities must adapt, or risk becomingirrelevant. For utilities it means they are becoming less of a power producer and more of a power mover. And the nation’s aging infrastructure, first built in the years after World War II, was not built to accommodate electricity generated by both utilities and their customers. So they have their work cut out for them…”
Image credit: “As renewable energy and natural gas costs decline, it’s harder to justify coal energy. Many utilities also are closing coal-generation plants in Indiana and elsewhere.” Dwight Adams, dwight.adams@indystar.com

Xcel Sunsets Coal Plants: Climate Nexus has details: “Midwest utility giant Xcel Energy will close its two remaining coal plants in Minnesota a decade ahead of schedule, the company said Monday. Plans to close the Allen S. King and Sherco 3 plants by 2030 are part of a larger move by the utility to slash its emissions: in December, CEO Ben Fowke announced Xcel plans to be completely carbon-free by 2050. In exchange for early closure of the two plants, Xcel will seek to keep its Monticello nuclear plant online through 2040, 10 years beyond its current license, as well as expand renewable generation. Environmental groups praised the move to close the coal plants but did not endorse Xcel’s broader plan, noting its continued reliance on natural gas and nuclear.” (MPR News, Greentech Media, Bloomberg, Minneapolis Star-TribuneMinnPost)

Xcel Energy to End Coal Use and Include Nuclear in New Commitment to Renewables. Daily Energy Insider has more perspective: “…The plan features a general revamping of Xcel’s generating menu that has been in the works already:

• Adding 1,850 megawatts (MW) of wind generation by 2022;
• Adding 3,000 MW of solar capacity by 2030;
• Decommissioning the Allen S. King coal plant in 2028;
• Decommissioning the Sherco 3 coal plant in 2030;
• Restricting the amount of coal burned by the Sherco 2 plant, which is scheduled to be retired in 2023;
• Completing the previously announced purchase of the 730-MW gas-fired Mankato Energy Center from Southern Company later this year.

As for the Monticello facility, the new plan will require Xcel to renew the plant’s operating license in 2030; the last renewal was granted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2006. Xcel said the plant’s 671-MW capacity supplies about 10 percent of Xcel’s electricity in the upper Midwest with no greenhouse gas emissions…”

How “Game of Thrones” Failed Fantasy. Do you agree? I thought the series was pretty amazing, and I also suspect some of us are taking these shows way too seriously. It’s a TV show, not life or death. And these days everyone really is an entitled critic. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The New York Times: “…In its rush to finish, the show effectively lost sight of both reasons for fantasy’s appeal. The showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, seemed bored with and embarrassed by the magical element of the saga, hustling through the supernatural stuff and declining to explain crucial motivations and purposes, in order to get back to the political material … but then their haste also deprived the political plot of its sociological complexity, its ripped-from-the-pages-of-history plausibility, that was necessary to make the horror and catharsis of the early seasons work

Image credit: HBO.com.

Velocity is Strangling Baseball – and It’s Grip Keeps Tightening. An arms race when it comes to pitching have a negative impact on the sport? Here’s a clip from The Washington Post: “…Within this scenario are the ingredients many believe are strangling the game of baseball: long games with little action, the growing reliance on relief pitchers at the expense of starters, the all-or-nothing distillation of the essential pitcher/hitter matchup. Those are some of the problems Major League Baseball is contemplating, with newly installed and proposed rule changes. But they are merely the symptoms. What is strangling the sport — the actual disease — is velocity, pitchers’ unprecedented capacity to throw fast. The question facing the stewards of the game is what, if anything, to do about it. This much is undeniable: As baseball celebrates its 150th season this year, the version of the sport being played in 2019 is unlike any other in its history...”

Illustration credit: Washington Post Illustration: Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post.

AT&T Has Become a New Kind of Media Giant. And to think, it wasn’t that long ago that people were writing off “Ma Bell”. Fortune takes a deep dive: “…The grand vision begins with combining all the major elements of the media and telecom businesses, which no company has ever done before. Time Warner’s film and TV studios make some of the most successful and honored entertainment anywhere. Its cable networks—including TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, and Turner Classic Movies—are distribution powerhouses. DirecTV carries those networks and others into homes through its satellite system. Add in AT&T’s wireless and landline customers, and Stephenson boasts that AT&T has “170 million distribution points we can push this through.” With such a combination of media ­assets, the theory goes, AT&T can achieve unprecedented advantages. It can differentiate its fast-commoditizing wireless network by offering customers deals on its proprietary content…”

This Toilet Will Predict If You’ll Have Heart Failure. Lovely. Can’t I just check my phone in peace? Daily Beast has details: “…Their resulting toilet seat monitor contains all the tools necessary to spot a heart patient’s degrading health. The seat has three main instruments: an electrocardiogram, which uses electrodes on the seat’s surface to measure the heart’s electrical activity; a photoplethysmogram, the same sensor that’s in a FitBit, which measures the patient’s heart rate; and a ballistocardiogram, which senses a patient’s weight and, based on how it fluctuates when the heart beats, determines the volume of blood passing through the heart. (This works because the heart builds up enough pressure that when it pumps it physically presses down on your body. The RIT team was the first to ever demonstrate that a ballistocardiogram could be used to calculate blood volume passing through the heart.)...”

Photo credit: “Nicholas Conn, a postdoctoral fellow at Rochester Institute of Technology and founder and CEO of Heart Health Intelligence, is part of the team that has developed a toilet-seat based cardiovascular monitoring system.” Courtesy: A. Sue Weisler/RIT.

Self-driving trucks are now carrying mail in U.S. Star Tribune has details: “Starting on Tuesday morning, letters and packages moving between Phoenix, Ariz., and Dallas will travel on customized Peterbilt trucks run by TuSimple, an autonomous startup based in San Diego, Calif. There will be five round trips between the two cities, with the first haul leaving from Phoenix. It’s the first time that the Postal Service has contracted with a provider of self-driving trucks for long-haul service. Self-driving trucks could save hundreds of millions of dollars by eliminating human drivers and the hours-of-service rules that keep them from driving round the clock...”

Would You Take a Flying Taxi? Yes I would – hope I live to see the day. CNN Business reports: “A flying taxi that you can order through an app? This German company plans to make that a reality in the next six years.  Munich-based startup Lilium unveiled its five-seater electric air taxi prototype on Thursday. The Lilium Jet, which conducted its first flight earlier this month, is part of an app-based flying taxi service that the company expects will be “fully-operational in various cities around the world by 2025.” The battery-powered jet is capable of traveling 300 kilometers (186 miles) in 60 minutes on a single charge, and will connect cities through a network of landing pads. Commuters will be able to book rides from their nearest landing pad through a smartphone app.  Lilium did not reveal how much its service will cost, but claims that it will be “comparable in price” with regular taxis…”

Take a DNA Test – Get Travel Suggestions! VentureBeat has the story: “Ever heard of heritage travel? It’s when folks pilgrimage to uncover family histories in their forebears’ home cities, towns, and countries. According to a recent survey, about 89% of people in India and 69% of those in France and the U.S. have traveled to at least one country of their ancestry, and many travelers in Australia, India, the U.K., and Brazil say that visiting a place connected with their relatives will be the most important consideration when planning their next vacation. To facilitate these types of trips, global hospitality marketplace and service company Airbnb today announced that it is teaming up with 23andMe, the biotech firm perhaps best known for its personalized genomics reports about family history and health…”

4.81″ rain in the Twin Cities so far in May.

2.39″ above average for May.

63 F. high temperature at MSP on Wednesday.

71 F. average high on May 22.

76 F. high on May 22, 2018.

May 23, 1914: An early heat wave hits the state, with a high of 103 at Tracy.

THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 64

THURSDAY NIGHT: Showers arrive, possible thunder. Low: 53

FRIDAY: Heavy showers and T-storms likely. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 75

SATURDAY: Plenty of sun. PM shower up north? Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 57. High: 73

SUNDAY: Blue sky, probably lake-worthy. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 58. High: 75

MEMORIAL DAY: Sticky, some T-storms may be strong/severe. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 60. High: 77

TUESDAY: Lingering shower, then drying out. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 58. High: 68

WEDNESDAY: More clouds than sun, breezy. Winds: W 10-20. Wake-up: 53. High: 72

Climate Stories….

Support for Climate Change Policies is a Mile Wide and an Inch Deep. Mother Jones explains the paradox: “…It appears that, while people are generally concerned about societal problems such as climate change, they may not be willing to incur large costs to achieve a solution. With the perceived existence of a low-cost solution (a nudge), motivated reasoning may tempt some to exaggerate its ultimately small environmental impact. This may explain why participants generally thought the nudge was as or more effective at reducing pollution than the carbon tax. However, even those who knew that the carbon tax is more effective than the green energy nudge were discouraged from implementing the tax when a nudge became available, suggesting that crowding-out is not merely the result of incorrect perceptions of relative effectiveness...”

File image: NASA.

Sea Levels May Rise Much Faster Than Previously Predicted, Swamping Coastal Cities. CNN has an overview of new research: “Global sea levels could rise more than two meters (6.6 feet) by the end of this century if emissions continue unchecked, swamping major cities such as New York and Shanghai and displacing up to 187 million people, a new study warns. The study, which was released Monday, says sea levels may rise much faster than previously estimated due to the accelerating melting of ice sheets in both Greenland and Antarctica. The international researchers predict that in the worst case scenario under which global temperatures increase by 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, sea levels could rise by more than two meters (6.6 feet) in the same period — double the upper limit outlined by the UN climate science panel’s last major report. Such a situation would be “catastrophic,” the authors of the study warn...”

File image: Will Brown, Union of Concerned Scientists.

Ice Sheet Contributions to Future Sea Level Rise From Structured Expert Judgment. The paper referenced in the CNN post is here; an excerpt: “Our findings, using SEJ, produce probability distributions with long upper tails that are influenced by interdependencies between processes and ice sheets. We find that a global total SLR exceeding 2 m by 2100 lies within the 90% uncertainty bounds for a high emission scenario. This is more than twice the upper value put forward by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in the Fifth Assessment Report…”

Sea Levels Could Rise by 6+ Feet: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “Global sea levels could rise by as much as 6.5 feet, around twice the upper limit set out by the IPCC–by the end of the century in a worst-case scenario, experts caution in a new study. The study, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is based on expert estimates from 22 scientists and assumes the ongoing melt of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. While the 6.5-foot figure is based on unchecked emissions leading to an additional 5 degrees C of warming, the study’s authors caution that planners should factor in this scenario as they prepare for the future in a warming world. “Coastal decisions by and large require long lead times, and it would be nice if we could wait for the science to clear up, but we can’t,” study author Michael Oppenheimer told InsideClimate News. “If you knew there was a one-third or even 10 percent chance a plane would crash, you wouldn’t get on it. It’s the same with sea level rise.” (InsideClimate News, CNNUSA Today, BBC, New Scientist).

File image: Eric Risberg, AP.

Klobuchar Becomes 13th Democratic Candidate to Pledge Not to Accept Fossil Fuel Money. TheHill has details: “Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is joining the ranks of a dozen other 2020 presidential hopefuls in committing to limit fossil fuel donations to her campaign. Klobuchar announced on Twitter Monday that she would not take contributions over $200 from the fossil fuel industry, including executives, lobbyists or PACs, and would “instead prioritize the health of our families, climate, and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits.” The senator joins former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and others in signing the pledge, which was organized by youth climate group the Sunrise Movement. “This is essential to show young voters you stand with our generation, not fossil fuel CEOs,” Sunrise tweeted Monday in response to Klobuchar’s signing…”

The Big Climate-Change Disconnect. Many of us want action, but when price comes up we change the subject, according to data crunched by Axios: “More people around the world say they’re worried about climate change — but that concern is not translating into a willingness to pay more for energy or vote for candidates supporting aggressive action on the issue. Driving the news: At least 3 recent developments show this stark disconnect: In Australia, Washington state and France.

  • Australians voted against politicians campaigning on addressing climate change in their national elections last weekend. This is despite polling showing desire for immediate action at 61%, a near record high and close to where it was a decade ago.
  • In the 2018 midterm elections, Washington state voters rejected — for the second time — a proposal to price carbon emissions…”

Illustration credit: Rebecca Zisser/Axios.

Will Climate Change Create Deadlier Tropical Storms? Pacific Standard analyzes the trends; here’s a clip: “…How else cyclones will respond to climate change is less clear. Scientists are confident that sea level rises will exacerbate flooding caused by storm surges, and that tropical cyclone rainfall rates will increase as climates warm because of more evaporated seawater in the atmosphere. “We are a little less confident that hurricane intensities are going to increase, and the expected size of that is relatively modest,” says hurricane expert Tom Knutson from NOAA, adding that a temperature increase of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) will probably lead to around a 5 percent increase in average hurricane intensities...”

File image: NASA.