Mostly Rain – But Don’t Rule Out More Slush

“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems” wrote Rainer Maria Rilke. The weather never repeats, but sometimes it rhymes. Although right now I don’t expect a rerun of the mid-April blizzard of 2018, we’re not out of the woods just yet when it comes to accumulating snow.

It’s still a long way off, but a few models are hinting at (plowable) amounts of slush next week for parts of Minnesota. Maybe I shouldn’t have yanked out my driveway stakes in a fit of weather-induced rage.

Today looks dry, but showery rain is likely this weekend. ECMWF guidance predicts about an inch of rain. All-liquid this weekend – no slushy concerns. With any luck temperatures top 60F Saturday and Sunday with a welcome dash of humidity in the air.

We’ve been blessed with 3 relatively dry weeks in a row, a happy coincidence that’s lowered the threat of river flooding close to home. Models spin up an impressive storm the middle of next week; maybe a cold rain changing to snow. It could be significant pile of
white.

Try not to panic. It’ll melt…eventually.

Map above: ECMWF surface isobars and precipitation, valid 1 am Thursday morning, April 11, courtesy of WSI.


A Thorough Lawn-Watering. ECMWF (European) guidance continues to print out close to an inch of rain for much of the Twin Cities and central Minnesota over the weekend, which still seems a little high to me, but not outside the realm of possibility. Map: WeatherBell.



April is a Fickle Month. It’s worth remembering average April snowfall in the Twin Cities is 2.5″. Will we see a rerun of last April, when 1-2 feet of snow fell midmonth? The odds are small, but not zero. Whatever snow falls will melt quickly, thanks to a high sun angle.


Massive Flood in Minnesota Was “Sitting On Our Doorstep”. Star Tribune outlines the nearly-perfect weather conditions that helped Minnesota avoid Nebraska’s fate: “...We had probably the biggest potential flood sitting on our doorstep,” Craig Schmidt, a senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Chanhassen, said Monday. “If you want to see how bad it could have been, look at Nebraska and Iowa.” The region experienced above-average snowfall, and much of it fell in a six-week period in January and February, Schmidt said. What’s more, the extreme cold in those months meant that every flake stayed. “Not only did we have deep snow, but it was so extensive,” he added. “It covered all of Minnesota, all of Wisconsin. Every river was a potential problem.” The slow and steady March thaw, coupled with an extremely dry stretch of days with little to no precipitation, saved the day, keeping the snow from melting too quickly, overwhelming streams and rivers…”

Photo credit: Brian Peterson • brian.peterson@startribune.com. “People gathered Monday along the Mississippi River in St. Paul to see the pavilion at Harriet Island surrounded by water. The Mississippi River crested just under 20 feet Sunday night.”


Why Tornado Chasers Are Facing a Storm Over Safety. Having accompanied NSSL in Oklahoma with tornado intercepts on 3 different trips I have personally seen this in action. I’m rarely scared of the tornado itself, but rather guys in vans driving 40 mph over the speed limit with a camera in one hand. That’s what scares the Holy Doppler out of me. Here’s an excerpt from BBC and MSN.com: “… Most storm chaser deaths – seven – have been in car accidents, and all but one of those have occurred since 2005. Even before the fatal collision in Texas in 2017, one meteorologist and storm spotter of 45 years, Charles Doswell, had warned of the risks some chasers were taking while driving after he witnessed the aftermath of one collision. In a follow-up blog post written after Williamson, Yarnall and Jaeger’s deaths, Doswell said he was increasingly concerned about “chaser hordes” who were obsessed with getting as close as possible to tornadoes, rather than observing from a safe distance…”

File image: NOAA NSSL.



How Meteorologists Compare To Other Professions That Predict the Future. Financial analysts and professional pollsters…if only. Thank you Marshall Shepherd for a great post at Forbes; here’s an excerpt: “…A study out of Hamilton College analyzed the accuracy of political pundits. In their analysis of 26 political experts, they considered over 472 predictions made over a 16-month period on Sunday talk shows. The results, summarized in a press release, confirmed that

only nine of the prognosticators they studied could predict more accurately than a coin flip. Two were significantly less accurate, and the remaining 14 were not statistically any better or worse than a coin flip.

Meteorologists are able to predict, with up to 90% or more accuracy within 2 to 5 days, how a complex fluid on a rotating planet with oceans, mountains, and varying heat distributions changes. Kudos colleagues...”

File image: NOAA.


The President’s Proposed Budget Would Fire Hundreds of Meteorologists and Slash Tornado Research. Dennis Mersereau explains in a post at Forbes: “The president’s proposed budget for 2020 makes more than $75,000,000 in cuts to the National Weather Service that, if passed, could adversely affect the agency’s ability to keep the public safe during severe weather. The NWS is a force of nature that works tirelessly behind the scenes to warn every square inch of land in the United States when hazardous weather is on the way. Most Americans hardly realize how much they utilize the agency’s products and services until they’re under threat. The National Weather Service occasionally faces political pressure due to the mistaken belief that private weather companies could pick up the slack of a reduced NWS and provide the same services the federal agency does. Contrary to those assertions, private companies would find themselves lost without the critical services and infrastructure provided by the NWS…”

Photo credit: “Forecasters at the National Weather Service office monitor Hurricane Irma Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at the hurricane center in Miami.” (AP Photo/Andy Newman) ASSOCIATED PRESS.


Bob Ryan Talks Meteorology, Retirement and His Shot on The Today Show. Bob is a friend, and I am a long-time fan. He fits the definition of a professional class act and mentor. Here’s a clip from Northern Virginia Magazine: “…As Ryan describes the unique warming and cooling properties of his 1940 “solar house” he’s asked his thoughts about the fluctuations in global weather patterns—climate change. “We have a place in Rappahannock, and you talk to anybody who has lived there for a while, the farmers in particular, they will say this isn’t the weather they grew up with,” Ryan says. “It doesn’t matter if you prescribe it to 70 percent of human activity or just the way greater things than we have control over in our destiny, everybody knows the climate is changing.” Those who say they are skeptics about climate change, Ryan has another word for you: “You’re not a skeptic, you’re a naysayer. Naysayers have highjacked the word ‘skeptic.’” The atmospheric scientist explains the effects of a warmer atmosphere on extreme events and how his grandchildren will probably not see as many snow days as the kids in the region before them...”

Photo credit: Jonathan Timmes.


Mitch Albom: Why is Living Shorter, Dying Sooner a Trend? Here’s an excerpt of a staggeringly sobering post from Mitch Albom at Detroit Free Press: “...Now, it’s hard to believe that being depressed over not outdoing our folks leads to a lowered life expectancy. And it doesn’t. Not by itself. But economic pressure, foreclosures, job loss, divorce, combined with a general malaise, a general dissatisfaction in life, and the insidious way social media can make you feel inept, angry or left out, can understandably build up drug and alcohol use, and, in worst cases, suicide. And if you say, “Oh, come on, people don’t kill themselves over such things,” look at the numbers. Incredibly, our nation’s suicide rate is up nearly 30 percent since 1999, federal health officials reported in 2018. And amongst rural Americans, it’s up a staggering 40 percent…”


YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Let Toxic Videos Run Rampant. Because it’s all about the algorithm, stupid. Check out an expose at Bloomberg; here’s a clip: “…And YouTube is, a year later, even more associated with the darker parts of the web. The conundrum isn’t just that videos questioning the moon landing or the efficacy of vaccines are on YouTube. The massive “library,” generated by users with little editorial oversight, is bound to have untrue nonsense. Instead, YouTube’s problem is that it allows the nonsense to flourish. And, in some cases, through its powerful artificial intelligence system, it even provides the fuel that lets it spread. Wojcicki and her deputies know this. In recent years, scores of people inside YouTube and Google, its owner, raised concerns about the mass of false, incendiary and toxic content that the world’s largest video site surfaced and spread…”

Illustration credit: Graham Roumieu.


How Rupert Murdoch’s Empire of Influence Remade the World. Here’s a clip from Part 1 at The New York Times Magazine: “…Few private citizens have ever been more central to the state of world affairs than the man lying in that hospital bed, awaiting his children’s arrival. As the head of a sprawling global media empire, he commanded multiple television networks, a global news service, a major publishing house and a Hollywood movie studio. His newspapers and television networks had been instrumental in amplifying the nativist revolt that was reshaping governments not just in the United States but also across the planet. His 24-hour news-and-opinion network, the Fox News Channel, had by then fused with President Trump and his base of hard-core supporters, giving Murdoch an unparalleled degree of influence over the world’s most powerful democracy...”


It’s Not Just What You Eat – It’s What You Don’t Eat That Can Kill You. CNN.com has the story: “…And it’s not just that people are choosing unhealthy options such as red meat and sugary sodas. Just as critical, said Afshin, the lead author of a 27-year global diet analysis published Wednesday in the journal the Lancet, is the lack of healthy foods in our diets, along with high levels of salt. “While traditionally all the conversation about healthy diet has been focused on lowering the intake of unhealthy food, in this study, we have shown that, at the population level, a low intake of healthy foods is the more important factor, rather than the high intake of unhealthy foods,” he said. One in five deaths globally — that’s about 11 million people — in 2017 occurred because of too much sodium and a lack of whole grains, fruit and nuts and seeds, the study found, rather than from diets packed with trans fats, sugar-sweetened drinks and high levels of red and processed meats…”


The 9 Wackiest Minor League Baseball Team Names. Fox News has a head-scratching list: “…The Amarillo Sod Poodles’ name and logo were unveiled in November. The new Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, the term “sod poodle” is slang for a prairie dog. The team took the name after a “Name the Team” contest set up by the organization. The Sod Poodles will play in the Texas League. Their first game is April 4 against the Corpus Christi Hooks…”


46 F. Twin Cities high temperature yesterday.

52 F. average high on April 4.

30 F. high on April 4, 2018.

April 5, 1999: Heavy snow falls over the Arrowhead, with 11 inches at Two Harbors.

April 5, 1929: A tornado cuts a path from Lake Minnetonka through North Minneapolis and leaves six dead.


FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, milder. Winds: SW 5-10. High: 62

SATURDAY: Showery rain, possible T-storm. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 48. High: 63

SUNDAY: Periods of rain, still damp. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 51. High: 61

MONDAY: Breezy and mild. Stray shower? Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 47. High: 64

TUESDAY: Partly sunny and cooler. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 44. High: 55

WEDNESDAY: Windy, rain-snow mix possible. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 35. High: near 40

THURSDAY: Heavy snow tapers. Could be quite a pile. Winds: N/NE 10-20+ Wake-up: 31. High: 36


Climate Stories….

Climate Change Linked to More Seasonal Allergies in the U.S., Study Says. CBS Baltimore connects the dots and confirms the trends: “Climate change may be the cause of more spring allergies reported across the U.S., a new study shows. According to researchers at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health, human-induced climate change is changing when plants bloom and when spring begins. Ultimately, it’s leading to more seasonal allergies. The study, which was based on more than 300,000 responses between 2012 and 2103, show that hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis increases when the spring blooms. “We found that areas where the onset of spring was earlier than normal had 14% higher prevalence of hay fever,” said Associate Professor Amir Sapkota in the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health. “Surprisingly, we also found similar risk in areas where the onset of spring was much later than what is typical for that geographic location...”


Climate Change Group Scrapped by Trump Reassembles to Issue Warning. The Guardian reports: “A US government climate change advisory group scrapped by Donald Trump has reassembled independently to call for better adaptation to the floods, wildfires and other threats that increasingly loom over American communities. The Trump administration disbanded the 15-person Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment in August 2017. The group, formed under Barack Obama’s presidency, provided guidance to the government based on the National Climate Assessment, a major compendium of climate science released every four years. Documents released under freedom of information laws subsequently showed the Trump administration was concerned about the ideological makeup of the panel. “It only has one member from industry, and the process to gain more balance would take a couple of years to accomplish,” wrote George Kelly, then the deputy chief of staff at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in a June 2017 email…”



Investing Prophet Jeremy Grantham Takes Aim at Climate Change. And he’s putting his money where his mouth is, according to a story at Bloomberg: “…He gives a talk titled “Race of Our Lives”—the one between the Earth’s rapidly warming temperature and the human beings coming up with ways to fight and adapt to climate change. Green technologies, like batteries and solar and wind power, are improving far faster than many realize, he says. Decarbonizing the economy will be an investing bonanza for those who know it’s coming—“the biggest reshuffling of the economy since the Industrial Revolution.” Despite these gains, people are losing the race: Climate change is also accelerating, with consequences so dire that they’re almost impossible to imagine. Grantham says he’ll devote 98 percent of his net worth, or about $1 billion, to help humans win the race…”


Heaven or High Water. Good time to buy a place in Miami Beach? Read this post at Popula first; here’s an excerpt: “Sunny day flooding” is flooding where water comes right up from the ground, hence the name, and yes, it can certainly rain during sunny day flooding, and yes, that makes it worse. Sunny day flooding happens in many parts of Miami, but it is especially bad in Sunset Harbour, the low-lying area on Miami Beach’s west side. The sea level in Miami has risen ten inches since 1900; in the 2000 years prior, it did not really change. The consensus among informed observers is that the sea will rise in Miami Beach somewhere between 13 and 34 inches by 2050. By 2100, it is extremely likely to be closer to six feet, which means, unless you own a yacht and a helicopter, sayonara. Sunset Harbour is expected to fare slightly worse, and to do so more quickly…”

Photo credit: Sarah Miller.



Has the Green New Deal Changed Republican Politics on Climate Change? The ship is turning, however slowly, according to The Washington Post: “After denying the existence of climate change for years, a handful of elected Republicans now acknowledge that human activity is the primary cause and are calling for “innovative” action to address it. In 2011, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney staked out no fewer than four different positions on climate change, at one point telling a Pennsylvania voter, “We don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet.” By mid-2018, Romney was calling for federal action to curb climate change. Before heading the House Republican conference for six years, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) called the science around human activity and climate change “inconclusive at best.” Now she says human activity is at least “partially” responsible…”

Photo credits: “For years, Republicans cast doubt on whether climate change was even occurring. Now, some Republicans acknowledge the existence of human-caused climate change.


Royal Dutch Shell says it’s quitting a major US oil lobby because it disagrees with the group’s policies on climate change. The energy company said Tuesday that it would not renew its membership in the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers lobby next year because of “material misalignment.” Shell (RDSA) CEO Ben Van Beurden wrote in a report that it was important to ensure “that the industry associations we belong to do not undermine our support for the Paris Agreement.” Almost every country has signed up to the 2015 Paris Agreement, pledging to limit the rise in temperatures to well below two degrees Celsius. The United States decided to withdraw from the agreement in 2017…”


Shell Peaces Out of Industry Group: Climate Nexus has more perspective and links: “Shell Oil is leaving a key oil and gas lobby body over the group’s stance on climate change, the oil giant said Tuesday. Following a review of the company’s membership in trade associations, Shell said that it will not renew its membership with American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers due to “material misalignment on climate-related policy positions,” including the group’s lack of support for the Paris Agreement and carbon pricing and its support for the EPA’s proposed fuel economy standards rollback. While Shell found “some misalignment on climate-related policy” with nine other groups, including the American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers and the US Chamber of Commerce, it is keeping its membership in those organizations.” (Reuters, CNN, Fast Company, Axios, Bloomberg, Washington Post $. Commentary: Bloomberg, Liam Denning column)


How Climate Change is Fueling the U.S. Border Crisis. A story at The New Yorker caught my eye; here’s a snippet: “...In the years before the report was published, three hurricanes had caused damage that cost more than the previous four decades’ worth of public and private investment in the national economy. Extreme-weather events were just the most obvious climate-related calamities. There were increasingly wide fluctuations in temperature—unexpected surges in heat followed by morning frosts—and unpredictable rainfall. Almost half a year’s worth of precipitation might fall in a single week, which would flood the soil and destroy crops. Grain and vegetable harvests that once produced enough food to feed a family for close to a year now lasted less than five months. “Inattention to these issues,” the report’s authors wrote, can drive “more migration to the United States” and “put at grave risk the already deteriorating viability of the country...”

Photo credit: “Outside the small village of Chicua, in the western highlands, in an area affected by extreme-weather events, Ilda Gonzales looks after her daughter.”