Paul Douglas

It May Be Safer to Retire in Minnesota

I’d like you to consider retiring in Minnesota. A nutty proposition? Hear me out. Winters are formidable (but trending milder over time). We are earthquake-free. No concerns about sea level rise up here. Wildfires are rare, and if Minnesota runs out of water the world will have much bigger problems. Perfect? No place is (except Maui, but living on an island would eventually make me crazy).

Sorry to be defensive, but heatwaves, water shortages and super-sized hurricanes are likely in the years ahead. It’s cold here? Yep. Pick your poison.

Surges of spring warmth often spark severe weather outbreaks. More spirited rounds of thunderstorms are expected into Thursday, when temperatures approach 90. First 70F, 80F and 90F in less than a week? Definition of a “light-switch spring”!

We’ve seen (much) worse Fishing Openers. Expect lukewarm sun Friday and a few pop- up showers Saturday. No tornadoes. No flash floods. 60s return next week – it’s safe to plant annuals now. I think. I hope.

Good luck with that.

Severe Threat

Severe Storm Potential. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has a slight risk over Minnesota today, with an enhanced threat of hail and isolated tornadoes on Thursday as heat peaks across the Upper Midwest.

Future Clouds/Radar

Temperatures Peak Thursday, Then Cooling Off. Thursday’s all-time record high at MSP is 92. I don’t think it’ll get that hot, but if the sun stays out (longer) we stand a good chance of touching 90F Thursday afternoon, with a colorful assortment of strong to severe thunderstorms. Temperatures cool off into the 60s next week.

ECMWF Temperatures for MSP
NOAA GFS Temperatures for MSP

Zonal: Rapid Changes? Confidence levels are low (there has been a lot of flip-flopping with GFS looking out 2 weeks). The latest guidance suggests more of a zonal flow the last week of May, with rapid weather changes, frequent showers and T-storms, and temperatures either side of normal.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Tuesday, May 10th, 2022:

  • Key Points:Models are indicating a heightened threat of severe weather across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest Thursday afternoon into the overnight hours.
  • Large to very large hail, a few tornadoes, and damaging winds are possible.

Thursday: Enhanced Severe Risk. Thursday into Thursday night an area of low pressure is expected to move across the Dakotas into southern Canada. This, along with associated frontal boundaries, will help to spark off strong to severe thunderstorms across the region. Already an expansive Enhanced severe risk area (threat level 3 of 5) is in place across portions of the Northern Plains and upper Midwest, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, Sioux Falls, Fargo, and Sioux City. All severe weather hazards would be possible, however, large to very large hail and tornadoes would be more favored in the afternoon in individual storms with the threat turning more toward damaging winds (with tornadoes and hail still possible) as we see more of a linear storm setup into the evening and overnight hours.

Forecast Radar. We are likely to see those individual storms pop sometime during the afternoon hours out toward the eastern Dakotas, western Minnesota, and eastern Nebraska capable of that large to very large hail and tornadoes. As storms move eastward into the evening and overnight we would expect more of a linear structure to storm activity, meaning the threat of widespread damaging winds will increase. While the wind threat will be the primary threat later into overnight hours, a few embedded tornadoes and hail reports can’t be ruled out.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

States Impacted: ND, SD, NE, KS, MN, WI, IA, MO



New Mexico Wildfire Puts Spotlight on Use of Prescribed Burns. E&E News explains: “A wildfire that’s burned nearly 190,000 acres in New Mexico may become the next talking point in the debate over the use of fire in managing national forests. The Hermits Peak Fire near Las Vegas, N.M., started as a prescribed burn by the Forest Service, which has been increasingly turning to the practice to carefully reduce underbrush and other potential wildfire fuel in national forests. But the agency’s inability to keep this one in check is already leading to second-guessing. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) told E&E News he’ll support additional oversight to find out how the intentional fire grew out of hand and to clarify Forest Service policy on the use of prescribed fire — a tool he has supported in the past and which some other lawmakers are trying to boost through legislation, the “National Prescribed Fire Act” (S. 1734). The Forest Service said it ignites 4,500 prescribed fires annually, although the great majority are not in the West or Southwest...”

Paul Strauss, WMO

Some of the Most Extreme Heatwaves Fly Under the Radar. A post at caught my eye as we move rapidly into severe-heat season: “…A new research study, led by scientists from the University of Bristol, has analyzed heatwaves not only in terms of their maximum temperatures, but also in terms of how much of a deviation they represent from the average temperatures that are normal in each location. The results, published today in the journal Science Advances, reveal the most intense heatwaves ever experienced across the world. “The recent heatwave in Canada and the United States shocked the world. Yet we show there have been some even greater extremes in the last few decades,” said study lead author Dr. Vikki Thompson. “Using climate models, we also find extreme heat events are likely to increase in magnitude over the coming century – at the same rate as the local average temperature...”

An Unprecedented View Inside a Hurricane. Eos focuses a post on how drones on the water may be able to help hurricane intensity forecasts: “…Predicting rapid intensification, normally defined as an increase in maximum wind speed of at least 15.5 meters per second (30 knots) in 24 hours or less, remains extremely challenging and is a top research and forecast priority [Gall et al., 2013; Cangialosi et al., 2020]. If we are to continue improving hurricane intensity forecasts, we will need further advancements in our knowledge and understanding of the processes that affect hurricane intensification. We will also need expanded measurements of the ocean and the atmosphere ahead of and within hurricanes, as well as improvements to hurricane forecast models. Last year, NOAA scientists deployed five uncrewed saildrones in regions of the western Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea where hurricanes have been historically prevalent. In August, the scientists and pilots in charge of remotely operating the saildrones got a chance to practice positioning them ahead of Tropical Storms Fred and Grace. But the real test came in September as Hurricane Sam headed westward across the Atlantic…”


Time Spent in Space Changes Astronaut’s Brains. Digital Trends explains: “Researchers have found changes in the brains of astronauts who visited the International Space Station, with parts of the brain called perivascular spaces expanding in volume. This new study looks at how the space around blood vessels in the brain, which is filled with fluid, changed in 15 astronauts. The researchers looked at their brains before they went to space using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), then after the astronauts had stayed on the International Space Station for periods of months, the researchers looked at their brains again at intervals of one month, two months, and six months after they came back to Earth...”

14 (Thankfully) Discontinued Guinness World Records. Mental Floss has some doozies here, including this old, retired category: “Perhaps unsurprisingly, records that entailed guzzling massive amounts of alcohol died with the other gluttony categories. If you knock back 200 fluid ounces of beer in an hour next weekend (please do not), don’t expect a Guinness World Record. But even if Guinness still had that record, you wouldn’t qualify for it. In 1969, 23-year-old Jack Keyes of Northern Ireland downed 36 pints of beer—576 U.S. ounces—in 60 minutes flat…”

80 F. Twin Cities maximum temperature on Tuesday.

67 F. MSP average high on May 10.

56 F. MSP high on May 10, 2021.

May 11, 1915: A waterspout is seen on Lake Mills.

I have questions….

WEDNESDAY: Some sun, T-storms tonight. Winds: E 10-15. High: 81

THURSDAY: Hot and sweaty with T-storms (severe). Winds: S 15-25. Wake-up: 70. High: 88

FRIDAY: Plenty of warm sunshine, dry. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 65. High 83

SATURDAY: Sunny start, few pop-up showers. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 57. High: 75

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, not bad at all. Winds: W 10-20. Wake-up: 52. High: 72

MONDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, cooler. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 49. High: 68

TUESDAY: Intervals of sun, comfortable. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 45. High: 66

Climate Stories…


Earth Given 50-50 Chance of Hitting Key Warming Mark by 2026. AP News reports: “The world is creeping closer to the warming threshold international agreements are trying to prevent, with nearly a 50-50 chance that Earth will temporarily hit that temperature mark within the next five years, teams of meteorologists across the globe predicted. With human-made climate change continuing, there’s a 48% chance that the globe will reach a yearly average of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels of the late 1800s at least once between now and 2026, a bright red signal in climate change negotiations and science, a team of 11 different forecast centers predicted for the World Meteorological Organization late Monday. The odds are inching up along with the thermometer. Last year, the same forecasters put the odds at closer to 40% and a decade ago it was only 10%...”

Scott Duncan

Basically A Coin Flip Whether Earth Hits 1.5°C In Next Five Years — WMO: Climate Nexus has more perspective: “Earth stands a 48/52 chance of heating, if temporarily, 1.5°C (2.7°F) above pre-industrial levels within the next five years, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization said Monday. Fossil fuel pollution is the main driver of global warming. While the annual temperature average of 1.5°C may recede back below the target threshold, above which scientists say the destructive impacts of climate change will worsen beyond what they are even now, the milestone is significant in no small part because of the stark trend in which it is situated. “We’re going to see continued warming in line with what is expected with climate change,” UK Met Office senior scientist Leon Hermanson, who coordinated the report, told the AP.” (AP, The Guardian, Axios, BBC, Reuters, FT $, Forbes)

India’s Deadly Heat Wave Shows the Real-World Effects of Climate Change. The heat waves that would have developed naturally are, increasingly, super-sized, hotter – lasting longer. Here’s an excerpt of an interview at PBS News Weekend: “…There are really two things to keep in mind. First, many parts of India are hot in the summer. But at a time when global average temperatures are going up, heat waves are more intense, more frequent. And that’s what we are seeing now. They’re also more dangerous for the second reason, which is that millions of people lack basic protections, they work outdoors. And if they don’t work, they don’t get paid. Children go to school, in school buses that are not air conditioned. People come home to houses that may not be insulated well enough. Certainly hundreds of millions of people don’t have access to air conditioning. This makes intense heat waves like this, exacerbated by climate change, deadly and dangerous to the health and well well-being of hundreds of millions of Indians...”

Paul Douglas

Climate Change Means More Rain Will Fall, But Its Impact on Severe Storms is Less Clear. CBC News summarizes the state of the science – here’s an excerpt: “…Although we see a clear link between climate change and damaging rainfall events, the link between the other impacts of severe thunderstorms — like hail and tornadoes —aren’t easy to predict. “When it comes to severe convective storms, we don’t have such a high confidence,” says Xuebin Zhang, a research scientist with Environment and Climate Change Canada. “We don’t really have lots of good observations to help us understand what has changed in the past. So we don’t know if severe convective summer storms have increased or decreased.” Thunderstorms are common occurrences in our summers but they need specific conditions to form. They like an unstable environment, they need moisture and they need something to get them started. In the weather world, we call that a trigger...”

Hurricane Maria file image
NASA Earth Observatory

How Climate Scientists Keep Hope Alive as Damage Worsens. Here’s a clip from a story at AP News: “…The coping technique these scientists have in common is doing something to help. The word they often use is “agency.” It’s especially true for climate researchers — tarred as doomsayers by political types who reject the science. Gill, who describes herself as a lifelong cheerleader, has also battled with depression. She said what’s key in fighting eco-anxiety is that “regular depression and regular anxiety tools work just as well. And so that’s why I tell people: ‘Be a doer. Get other there. Don’t just doomscroll.’ There are entry level ways that anyone, literally anyone, can help out. And the more we do that, ‘Oh, it actually works,’ it turns out...”


On Climate “Doomism”: Heart and Mind Reasons to Resist It. Some helpful advice in a post at Yale Climate Connections: “...We can, with a reasonable amount of effort, simply decide we won’t let hopelessness take charge of what we think and feel, what kind of people we want to be, and especially how we act in the world. Read on for some anti-doomer encouragement. Start with these two very good overview articles:

As Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann points out, to give up is to join the opposition: the big carbon polluters want us to think they’ve already won. He also reminds us that our situation is one of urgency (we really do have to act quickly) and agency (our actions matter a lot)...”

Americans are Missing a Key Stratum of Modern Knowledge. Why isn’t Earth science taught in our schools on a consistent basis? The Atlantic delves in – here’s an excerpt: “…You need [an Earth-science] education to live with our changing hazardous environment. I truly believe that,” Jazmin Scarlett, a volcanologist at the University of East Anglia, in the United Kingdom, told me. This knowledge can help people make better sense of the changes that they see in the environment, and how to cope with those changes. But the fact that I took Earth science at all makes me something of an anomaly. In the United States, only 7 percent of high schoolers take Earth-science courses, according to a 2010 study. (Scarlett said that Earth-science education in the U.K. is not much better.) And I couldn’t take AP Earth science in high school, because the course didn’t exist back then. These days, the College Board does have two AP courses that are related to Earth science: environmental science and human geography. High school in particular matters because many of us stop taking science after that. Yet Earth science generally disappears from the curriculum after middle school…”


Filipino Inquiry Finds Big Polluters “morally and Legally Liable” for Climate Damage. The Guardian reports: “The world’s most polluting companies have a moral and legal obligation to address the harms of climate change because of their role in spreading misinformation, according to an inquiry brought about by Filipino typhoon survivors. Experts say the long-awaited report published on Friday, which concludes that coal, oil, mining and cement firms engaged in “wilful obfuscation” of climate science and obstructed efforts towards a global transition to clean energy, could add fuel to climate lawsuits around the world. The inquiry by the Philippines Commission on Human Rights began seven years ago after a petition by survivors of Typhoon Haiyan and local NGOs…”