Serious Relapse: Saturday Slush Potential

Is it ever appropriate to censor a meteorologist? When the news is bad, do you cover your ears and hum “lalalala…”? I sure do. Days like this I feel like a doctor telling his favorite patient he’s going to need his ears lowered and his nose removed.

The rumors are true: computer models suggesting the atmosphere will be just cold enough for slushy snow much of Saturday. A few inches may pile up on lawns and fields; plowable amounts not out of the question over far southern Minnesota, based on ECMWF (European) guidance. Factors to consider: warm topsoil should result in some melting-on-contact. And a high sun angle may keep freeways wet & slushy.

For the record: I’m just as bummed as you are. But whatever falls will melt rapidly Sunday and Monday.

A shower early today marks the leading edge of a cooler front, with enough chilly air leaking out of Canada to set up Saturday’s snowfall scenario. If it’s any consolation, 60s are forecast to return the first weekend of May.

Spring is often two steps forward, one step back. No kidding.

00z Thursday NOAA NAM model showing total snowfall by 12z Sunday. Map credit:

12z Wednesday European Solution. And here’s a sight for sore eyes; ECMWF guidance hinting at 3-6″ of slush for the immediate Twin Cities with over 10″ south of MSP. The ground is relatively warm now so there will be melting on contact for a time, and a high sun angle may keep freeways wet/slushy during the daylight hours Saturday. I’m hoping the models are wrong, too. Map: WeatherBell.

Warming Up Second Week of May. After a cool start to May models suggest a milder southwest flow aloft roughly 2 weeks out, meaning fairly consistent 70s, with occasional waves of showers and T-storms.

Tornado Trends. Climate Central has an interesting update focused on a possible south/eastward shift in traditional Tornado Alley; here’s an excerpt: “…There has been a subtle but detectable increase in tornado risk over the past few decades. Let’s be clear, tornadoes are not going away in the Plains and Upper Midwest, but more have been recorded east of the Mississippi. While there are connections to climate variability modes like ENSO, these overall trends are consistent with an eastward shift in the drier climate zone of the western U.S. and with climate change projections indicating that severe storm environments will become more common in the eastern U.S. The number of tornadoes in large tornado outbreaks is also on the rise. In one study defining an outbreak as having six or more tornadoes in a six-hour period, there are about five more E/F1+ tornadoes in the largest outbreaks now than in the 1950s, and another study showed that the number of days with 30+ tornadoes has also been increasing. One possible reason for the increase is that the weather environments that produce severe storms are occurring more often…”

U.S. Flood Survivors Are Growing in Number, Seeking Answers. A story at Ensia connects the dots. How many times do you have to be hit over the head by a (soggy) 2×4 before you realize the patterns may, in fact, be changing? “…Sea-level rise is inundating coastal cities, where “sunny-day flooding” is now a thing. Rising seas contribute to high-tide flooding, which has grown by a factor of five to 10 since the 1960s in many U.S. coastal communities — and that trend that is expected to accelerate in the future. Farther inland, increased rainfall is a major culprit. Because a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, the past few decades have seen many more “heavy precipitation events,” especially in the Northeast, Midwest and upper Great Plains. In the Northeast, for example, heavy rains pack 50 percent more water than they did before 1991. Not surprisingly, those deluges have led to more flooding from Albany, New York, to Duluth, Minnesota…”

File image: U.S. Coast Guard.

Divining Disaster: Inside The Storm Prediction Center. This is one of the better stories I’ve read about what really goes on at SPC, courtesy of “…The scope — and consequences — of the storms they have charted are similarly sharp in their memories. They know the triple-digit death tolls that sometimes come, even when their forecasts are tragically accurate. Just last month, 23 people died in Alabama after a well-warned tornado outbreak. “You just see the injuries, the damages, the fatalities just piling up, and you’re thinking, ‘What’s the point?’” Mr. Thompson said as he considered some of the larger outbreaks on his watch. “It’s like, I did the best I could, and we just had the most people killed in one of these kinds of forecasts on record. I kind of wondered and thought, ‘Is it just the limit of what we can do?...”

File image: National Weather Service.

More Big Hurricanes Are Coming, and North Carolina Needs to Prepare, a New Report Says. Raleigh News and Observer has the story: “Hurricanes are getting worse, but residents, businesses and governments aren’t doing enough to avoid repeated losses from future floods, according to a new report. Zurich North America, a risk management and insurance company, the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance, and ISET-International, a policy group that does research on climate change and disaster risk, released the report Tuesday. It says “huge, wet, slow” storms — Hurricanes Floyd, Matthew, Harvey and Florence are examples — are strengthened by climate change and becoming more frequent. “There is reason to believe that, at least for the foreseeable future, damages from storms such as Florence may get worse,” the report says...”

September 13, 2018 Hurricane Florence image: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Reconsidering Hurricane Resilience. A link to the report from Zurich Insurance is here.

Read more here:

Military Leaders Face Off Against a Rising Enemy: The Weather. has the article; here’s the intro: “As the White House reportedly considers creating a committee to review the scientific evidence for climate change, the military services not only face the task of rebuilding bases destroyed by storms, they are planning replacement installations hardened to the weather and training forces with an eye toward global instability caused by rising temperatures. In a series of congressional hearings this month, Navy and Air Force leaders told lawmakers that rising sea levels, fires and storms affect military personnel at home as well as at work, where they must train for scenarios such as humanitarian crises and civil war brought on by flooding and drought...”

Photo credit: “Airmen from the 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron drain flood-water from a launch facility near Bowbells, N.D., March 29, 2017. The electromechanical team technicians measured rising water levels and relocated water, snow and mud away from critical 91st MW assets.” (U.S Air Force photo/Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong).

Almost Half of Americans are Breathing Unsafe Air: Report. Daily Beast has details: “About 141 million Americans are breathing unsafe air, according to a new report. That’s seven million more than last year. The American Lung Association reports that 43% of Americans are now living in places where they are breathing dirty air. Conditions are believed to be getting worse as global temperatures rise because more wildfires are spewing smoke across the country and more smog is forming on warmer days. “We’re seeing in this year’s report the impacts of climate change on air quality in really stunning terms,” said Paul Billings, a vice president for the association…”

File photo credit: Reuters / Eric Thayer.

Wet Weather and Flooding Are Testing U.S. Agriculture. Here’s a clip from a story at Forbes: “…This heavy moisture from rain and snow, falling on already-saturated ground from heavy rain last fall, caused extensive flooding, highway closures, and destruction of livestock and stored grain. Now, farmers, agronomists and meteorologists are focused on the Volumetric Water Content (VWC) in these areas and what that means for their fields and crops. VWC is a term used to describe the amount of water that is being held by soil. The VWC is a ratio that compares inches of water to inches of soil. With the increased VWC, soils are extremely saturated, meaning water is entering the soil at a rate faster than it can drain downwards with gravity. Many agriculture areas are either currently experiencing this or are expected to soon due to widespread flooding…”

New Wave of Satellites Could Pinpoint Greenhouse Gas Offenders. The Anchorage Daily News has the story: “A wave of satellites set to orbit the Earth will be able to pinpoint producers of greenhouse gases, right down to an individual leak at an oil rig. More than a dozen governments and companies have or are planning to launch satellites that measure concentrations of heat-trapping gases such as methane, which is blamed for about one quarter of man-made global warming. They are looking to track nations, industries, companies and even individual facilities to identify some of the biggest contributors to climate change. “Space-based technologies are allowing us for the first time to quickly and cheaply measure greenhouse gases,” said Mark Brownstein, a senior vice president at Environmental Defense Fund, which plans to launch its MethaneSAT in 2021...”

Photo credit: “Steam billows from the cooling towers of the Yallourn coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley, Australia, on Wednesday, April 29, 2015.” (Bloomberg photo by Carla Gottgens)

How to Prevent a Hangover. I’m not judging… A story at Real Simple has suggestions on how to take the edge off: “Eat fatty foods. All foods, especially fatty ones, delay the body’s absorption of alcohol, say doctors. And delaying the absorption of alcohol is a good step toward avoiding a hangover. An easy food to eat before going out that’s filled with healthy fats is avocado–guacamole for the table, please! Eat high-fiber foods. Chris Meletis, a dean at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, in Portland, Oregon, says high-fiber foods–like vegetables–break down alcohol and absorb it, keeping it from reaching the bloodstream as quickly…”

73 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

62 F. average high on April 24.

66 F. high on April 24, 2018.

April 25, 1996: Heavy snow falls over northern Minnesota, including 10 inches of snow at Baudette. The International Falls Airport is forced to close for only the second time in history.

THURSDAY: AM shower, PM clearing. Winds: N 10-15. High: 68

FRIDAY: Partly sunny and cooler. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 41. High: 58

SATURDAY: Wet snow, few inches may accumulate; potentially plowable far southern Minnesota. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 36. High: 38

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, a drier day. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 33. High: 45

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, jacket weather. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 36. High: 49

TUESDAY: Cold rain developing. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 38. High: 47

WEDNESDAY: Rain may be heavy at times. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 40. High: 52

Climate Stories….

State of the Climate: Heat Across Earth’s Surface and Oceans Mark Early 2019. Zeke Hausfather reports for Carbon Brief: “Global surface temperatures in 2019 are on track to be either the second or third warmest since records began in the mid-1800s, behind only 2016 and possibly 2017. On top of the long-term  warming trend, temperatures in 2019 have been buoyed by a moderate El Niño event that is likely to persist through the rest of the year. That’s one of the key findings from Carbon Brief’s latest “state of the climate” report, a quarterly series on global climate data that now includes temperatures, ocean heat, sea levels, greenhouse gas concentrations, climate model performance and polar ice…”

Image credit: “Monthly global ocean heat content (in zettajoules – billion trillion joules, or 10^21 joules) for the 0-700 metre and 700-2000 metre layers.” Data from Cheng et al 2017, updated through March 2019. Chart by Carbon Brief using Highcharts.

Big Buildings Hurt the Climate. New York City Hopes to Change That. The New York Times has details: “New York City is about to embark on an ambitious plan to fight climate change that would force thousands of large buildings, like the Empire State Building and Trump Tower, to sharply reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation, expected to be passed by the City Council on Thursday, would set emission caps for many different types of buildings, with the goal of achieving a 40 percent overall reduction of emissions by 2030. Buildings that do not meet the caps could face steep fines…”

Photo credit: “Buildings like the Freedom Tower and the Empire State Building could face fines of up to millions of dollars per year if they do not significantly reduce emissions by 2030.” Credit: Karsten Moran for The New York Times.

The Rich Get Richer Under Climate Change, 50 Years of Data Shows. Check out a post at Smithsonian: “…According to the data, global warming has decreased the wealth of individuals in the world’s poorest countries by 17 to 31 percent. Meanwhile, the world’s richest countries, which are responsible for pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, have benefitted from temperature increase. Most wealthy nations became roughly 10 percent richer over the same time period. Overall, the gap between Earth’s wealthiest and poorest nations is 25 percent larger than it would be without warming. “Researchers and policy makers have been saying for many years that the greatest, most acute impacts of global warming are falling on populations least responsible for creating that global warming,” lead author Noah Diffenbaugh, also at Stanford, tells Phil McKenna of Inside Climate News. “We have quantified the effect...”

Permalost Permafrost’s Permacost: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “A study published yesterday in Nature Communications puts a $70 trillion price tag on the melting of permafrost in the Arctic and changes in surface albedo feedback as ice melts. It finds that even if we limit warming to the 1.5 degree C target, thawing permafrost and sea ice could cost$24.8 trillion by 2300, rising to $33.8 trillion at 2 degrees C, and $66.9 trillion if only the current Paris pledges are met. Lead author Dmitry Yumashev said that these figures, though large, represent only 5% of the total cost of climate change, with the study sending a “clear message” that “the lower emissions scenarios are the safest option.” (Guardian, Motherboard, InsideClimate News, CleanTechnica).

File image: NASA.

Climate Change Becomes Key Voter Concern in Minnesota, Across U.S. Star Tribune has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…It’s a ‘from-the-gut’ issue,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “It affects everything about your life. It’s not just taxes. The environment is the future of the world.” But support for action to address climate change is divided along party and generational lines, with the surge of interest concentrated among Democrats and young voters. Eighty percent of caucusgoers surveyed in a recent Iowa Poll conducted by the Des Moines Register said they want a candidate who talks “a lot” about climate. Youth activists in St. Paul and across the country took part in a mass day of protest to demand action from lawmakers. Several leaders of that movement, including Minnesota teens Maddy Fernands and Isra Hirsi, recently launched a new campaign calling on Democrats to hold a forum on environmental issues ahead of the 2020 election...”

Photo credit: Photos by New York Times (left) and Associated Press. “Republicans are taking aim at the Green New Deal, and Democratic activists are fighting for legislation to tackle climate change.”

Nearly Half of Young Americans Say Climate Change is a “Crisis” That Requires “Urgent Action”. CBS News has the story: “Nearly 50 percent of young Americans believe climate change is creating a “crisis” that warrants “urgent action.” A national poll by the Harvard Institute of Politics of young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 found that 45 percent of young Americans — including 50 percent of those likely to vote — agreed climate change is “a crisis and demands urgent action.” Meanwhile, nearly 30 percent of those surveyed said economic inequality is a national crisis that also requires “urgent action...”

Image credit: NASA.

Greta Thunberg’s Full Speech to Britain’s House of Parliament. Here’s an excerpt of a powerful speech, transcribed at The Guardian: “…Because that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once. You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it’s too late. And yet we are the lucky ones. Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard. Is my microphone on? Can you hear me?…”

The Media Are Complacent While the World Burns. The Nation explains: “…Yet at a time when civilization is accelerating toward disaster, climate silence continues to reign across the bulk of the US news media. Especially on television, where most Americans still get their news, the brutal demands of ratings and money work against adequate coverage of the biggest story of our time. Many newspapers, too, are failing the climate test. Last October, the scientists of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report, warning that humanity had a mere 12 years to radically slash greenhouse-gas emissions or face a calamitous future in which hundreds of millions of people worldwide would go hungry or homeless or worse. Only 22 of the 50 biggest newspapers in the United States covered that report…”

Illustration credit: Doug Chayka.

Why is the U.S. News Media So Bad At Covering Climate Change? More perspective at The Guardian.

99.9999% Chance Humans Are Causing Global Warming. USA TODAY reports: “Climate change is real and increasingly a part of our daily lives. New research and studies out in just the past six months highlight the latest facts about the human-caused shift to our global weather systems and its effects on our planet.  First among them, there’s no longer any question that rising temperatures and increasingly chaotic weather are the work of humanity. There’s a 99.9999% chance that humans are the cause of global warming, a February study reported. That means we’ve reached the “gold standard” for certainty, a statistical measure typically used in particle physics...”

Greenland Ice Sheet Melting 6 Times Faster Than It Was in the 80s – Study. Details via TheHill: “Greenland’s ice sheet, the world’s second largest, is losing volume at twice the pace it was in the 1980s, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Greenland’s glaciers, which dumped about 51 billion tons of ice into the ocean from 1980 to 1990, dumped 286 billion tons between 2010 and 2018, the research says. Of about 14 millimeters of sea-level increase caused by Greenland since 1972, half took place in the past eight years, according to the study. The research indicates that the 1980s were the point at which the planet’s climate began to “drift significantly” from natural variability, Eric Rignot, one of the study’s coauthors, told The Washington Post…”

Photo credit: NASA and Reuters.