Minor Flash Flood Risk This Weekend

The expression “bolt from the blue” is valid. People have been struck by lightning with blue sky directly overhead; a thunderstorm 10 miles away. Although rare, people have been struck on corded landline phones, using electronics and washing their face or in a bath tub. It’s a good idea to avoid wiring and plumbing during electrical storms. That said, any building or vehicle offers a first line of defense against lightning.

A rogue thunderstorm is possible early today, but a north breeze should unleash enough sunshine for low 80s. Soak up the warmth, because a cool, sloppy weekend is shaping up, as a slow-moving storm tracks south of Minnesota, keeping a pinwheel of heavy showers and storms overhead much of Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

We get a brief break Monday before the next storm pushes more heavy rain into town next Tuesday and
Wednesday. It’s just a model, and models are often wrong, but ECMWF predicts over 5 inches of rain for the MSP metro over the next week.

Weekend sweatshirts should give way to 70s and 80s late next week.

ECMWF Rainfall Prediction. The map above shows the European model forecast for accumulated rainfall between now and next Thursday morning; over 5″ for the Twin Cities and much of central Minnesota, with a 7″ bullseye just southwest of MSP. Is ECMWF overdoing the rainfall amounts? I sure hope so. Map: WeatherBell.

No Extended Heat In Sight – Yet. Looking out 2 weeks at 500 mb predicted winds a cool bias lingers for much of Canada and the northern tier of the USA with heat building for the southwestern USA. Summer heat is taking it’s sweet old time pushing north this year.

Think Twice Before Showering or Washing Dishes During a Thunderstorm. A post at The Today Show caught my eye – I would not want to be touching electronics or plumbing during an electrical storm: “Don’t shower during a thunderstorm or you could get struck by lightning.”It’s one of those old wives’ tales that most people have heard a zillion times throughout their lives. But it couldn’t possibly be true … or could it? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the “old wives” were onto something: It really is dangerous to shower while there’s a storm brewing outside — and there’s an entire laundry list of other activities you should avoid, too. “If your house is struck, lightning tends to go through either the wires or the plumbing, so that means anything that’s plugged into the wall or connected to an outside wire could become energized … Any plumbing in your house is vulnerable to a lightning strike,” said John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist at the National Weather Service/NOAA…”

File image: Florida Tech.

Wettest 12 Months in U.S. History. Bob Henson breaks it down at for Category 6 at Weather Underground: “The 12 months ending in April 2019 were the wettest year-long period in U.S. records going back to 1895, according to the monthly U.S. climate summary issued Wednesday by the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. Averaged across the contiguous U.S., the total of 36.20” made the period from May 2018 to April 2019 the first year-long span ever to top 36”. The old record for any 12-month period was 35.78”, from April 2015 to March 2016. Given the fierce drought-related impacts of the 2010s—including multiple deadly wildfire disasters from Tennessee to California—it may seem a bit counterintuitive that the nation has actually been getting wetter overall. Across the contiguous U.S., average yearly precipitation has risen by about 2” over the past century, from around 29” to just over 31”...”

Graphic credit: “Annual precipitation across the contiguous U.S. has increased by about 7% over the past century. Blue bar shows the linear increase since 1895, while the red curve is a smoothed version of the year-to-year numbers in green. When averaged over running four-year periods (not shown), the past four years are the wettest on record for the contiguous U.S.” Image credit: NOAA/NCEI.

365-Day Precipitation. Total precip. from May 13, 2018 to May 13, 2019, courtesy of Greg Carbin and NOAA. Check out how much of the south and east haspicked up over 60″ of water. Amazing.

4th Wettest on Record for Minnesota. The last 12 months have been the 4th wettest since 1895 for Minnesota, but the wettest on record for Wisconsin and Iowa, according to NOAA NCEI.

14th Wettest for MSP. Looking at the data, 36.22″ of precipitation has fallen on the Twin Cities since May 1, 2018, making in the 14th wettest 12-month period at MSP since 1895. It’s worth noting that 8 of the 15 wettest 12-month periods have been observed since 1998.

April Tornado Count Highest Since 2011, Costing Billions. Property Casualty 360 has details: “April experienced an unofficial total of at least 250 tornado touchdowns, making it the highest level of tornado activity in the U.S. since April 2011. This record number of tornado events in one month contributed to a costly thunderstorm loss bill of several billion dollars…”

Photo credit: “Roman Brown, left and Sam Crawford, right move part of a wall out of their way Sunday, April 14, 2019, as they help a friend look for their medicine in their destroyed home along Seely Drive outside of Hamilton, Miss. after a tornado touched down Saturday night, April, 13, 2019.” (AP Photo/Jim Lytle).

Tornado Warnings Don’t Adequately Prepare Mobile Home Residents. Eos has an interesting read: “Mobile homes are death traps in a tornado. And yet new research shows that residents across the southeastern United States, where mobile homes make up nearly 20% of the housing stock, don’t have the information or resources they need to safely respond to a twister. More than half of mobile home residents don’t know the best place to take shelter. Many don’t have a community shelter to get to. And mobile home residents don’t perceive tornadoes as any worse a threat than their neighbors in permanent homes, despite data indicating that nationwide, they are nearly twice as likely to die in a tornado. “We know a lot about how corporations can protect their reputations, but we know comparably a lot less about how governments can help protect the public during extreme events,” says Brooke Liu, a risk communications researcher at the University of Maryland in College Park…”

Photo credit: “A tornado in Berrien County, Ga., damaged this mobile home on 22 January 2017.” Credit: National Weather Service.

Will 5G Mess With Weather Satellites? The FCC doesn’t seem to care all that much, according to a post at Ars Technica: “A US Navy memo warns that 5G mobile networks are likely to interfere with weather satellites, and senators are urging the Federal Communications Commission to avoid issuing new spectrum licenses to wireless carriers until changes are made to prevent harms to weather forecasting. The FCC has already begun an auction of 24GHz spectrum that would be used in 5G networks. But Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) today wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, asking him to avoid issuing licenses to winning bidders “until the FCC approves the passive band protection limits that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determine are necessary to protect critical satellite‐based measurements of atmospheric water vapor needed to forecast the weather...”

Image credit: NOAA.

Say What? I asked a friend to explain how 5G could possibly interfere with weather satellites and here is his explanation:

“The FCC is looking at opening up the bandwidth just above 23.8 GHz for the 5G network. The satellites have very sensitive recievers that measure the 23.8 GHz energy radiated from the earth. H2O absorbs 23.8 GHz energy because it’s a resonant frequency of the molecule. (One of the resonances) This lets them measure the density of water vapor in the air. They use narrow beam antennas to actually scan during the orbit that gives them a radio picture of the water vapor in any given area.” – Tom Ring.

Impossible Research Produces 400-Year El Nino Record, Revealing Startling Changes. A story at Phys.org caught my eye: “…The 400-year record revealed a clear change in El Niño types, with an increase of Central Pacific El Niño activity in the late 20th Century and suggested future changes to the strength of Eastern Pacific El Niños. “We are seeing more El Niños forming in the central Pacific Ocean in recent decades, which is unusual across the past 400 years,” said lead author Dr. Mandy Freund. “There are even some early hints that the much stronger Eastern Pacific El Niños, like those that occurred in 1997/98 and 2015/16 may be growing in intensity...”
Photo credit: “Researchers dive down to corals to extract coral cores that will give us information about Earth’s past climate.” Credit: Jason Turl.

Solar Plants Cheaper Than Natural Gas “Just About Everywhere” by 2023: WoodMac. Greentech Media has the story: “Solar will soon be able to out-compete gas-fired plants around the world on a levelized cost basis*. That doesn’t mean it will be any easier to make a living in the solar business. “By 2023, we think solar’s going to be cheaper than gas almost everywhere around the world,” Tom Heggarty, senior solar analyst for Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, said Tuesday at GTM Solar Summit in Phoenix. New combined-cycle gas plants remain competitive with new utility solar in many big markets today, from China to the U.K. to South Korea. But that will no longer be the case by the early 2020s, as equipment costs continue to fall and competitive auctions proliferate, Heggarty said...”
Photo credit: “Dawn of an era.” Shutterstock.com.

How Viable Are AOC’s Green New Deal Energy Proposals? Just Ask Europe. Here’s a clip from analysis at Fortune: “…No country on Earth has tried to implement all the Green New Deal ideas at once—it’s a policy smorgasbord heaving with environmental, social and stimulus-related offerings. Critics have painted the resolution as radical, but many of its social elements are so common in Europe they’re almost taken for granted, such as universal healthcare. And two of its energy-related proposals have started to become reality there, too. Europe has, in essence, tested the viability of transitioning to renewable energy and making houses more energy efficient. And the results of those experiments are worth inspecting, particularly when it comes to timing and the question of jobs…”

Lenovo Shows of Foldable-Display Laptop. Not sure how I feel about this….yet, but if smart phones can fold up why not laptop displays? Here’s an excerpt from WIRED.com: “…During the Lenovo Accelerate conference today in Orlando, Florida, the company gave attendees an early look at its upcoming foldable-display laptop. The still-to-be-named product will be a part of Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 line of laptops, and the company says it envisions this as a clear laptop replacement, not a supplemental device. The foldable PC has a 13.3-inch diagonal display, with a 4 by 3 aspect ratio, when it’s in full-screen mode. When it’s folded, it turns into a 9.6-inch display. Like Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, it has an OLED display with a polymer screen. Unlike Samsung’s foldable, this one will be made by LG Display...”
Image credit: Lenovo.

Technology Could End Humanity – and How to Stop It. A story at WIRED.com is a grimly worthy read: “…But since founding the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford in 2005, Bostrom has been focused on a decidedly more grim field of speculation: existential risks to humanity. In his 2014 book Superintelligence, Bostrom sounded an alarm about the risks of artificial intelligence. His latest paper, The Vulnerable World Hypothesis, widens the lens to look at other ways technology could ultimately devastate civilization, and how humanity might try to avoid that fate. But his vision of a totalitarian future shows why the cure might be worse than the cause...”

Most of America’s Rural Areas Are Doomed to Decline. I’m not sure I agree with the premise, but some of the trends are worrisome. The Conversation has the post: “…The U.S. has been consistently urbanizing, especially for the past 100 years. Technology advances in manufacturing, agriculture, mining, fishing and forestry accelerated migration from rural to urban areas. Over time, incremental innovations in those original core industries required fewer workers, further boosting migration away from rural areas. Much of the blue-collar and middle-income shares of more rural economies dwindled as a result. Small and medium-sized urban areas – and the rural counties that are linked to them – are left with transportation, public works, housing and commercial bases that they struggle to maintain. Inevitably, blight ensues...”

A New-Look TV Industry Descends on Madison Avenue. Take away sports programming and all of the traditional TV networks are bleeding viewers, according to a story at Wall Street Journal (paywall). Here’s an excerpt: “…The ratings picture for broadcasters doesn’t look pretty. Prime-time viewership for three of the big four networks is down, excluding sports, as consumers flock to Netflix Inc. and other streaming services. Ratings erosion has been exacerbated by cable TV cord-cutting. Despite those challenges, ad spending has been surprisingly resilient. Spending commitments in the spring TV ad season will grow an estimated 2.4% to $21.25 billion this year, according to research firm eMarketer. For 2019 as a whole, networks are expected to collect $67.23 billion from TV ads, a 1.4% decline from 2018, according to estimates from media-buyer Zenith…”

This GenX Mess. Baby Boomers and Millenials are getting most of the exposure, good and bad. The New York Times (paywall) has a quirky look at the “forgotten ones”; here’s a clip: “…Like many things considered “cool,” Gen X is pretty exclusive. You had to be born between 1965 and 1980 to get in to this gloomy, goofy club of forgotten middle children, and only about 65 million of us were. (Both boomers, at 75 million, and millennials, at 83 million, far outnumber us.) The idea behind that “X” was about coming between. Gen X supposedly didn’t know what they were, or what they wanted. All they knew, they were told, was what they didn’t want — marriage, money, success — and then they shrugged and popped a Prozac…”

Drinking 2 Cups of Coffee a Day Can Help You Live Longer. The Independent has the miraculous news: “Drinking as little as two cups of coffee a day can increase your life expectancy by up to two years, according to researchers. The research, published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, was conducted by analysing previous studies on the benefits of drinking coffee. By looking at 40 studies including 3,852,651 subjects and 450,256 causes of death, researchers found that drinking coffee had an inverse association with all-cause mortality – “irrespective of age, overweight status, alcohol drinking, smoking status, and caffeine content of coffee”…”

Minnesota: 3rd Least Sexy Accent in the USA? Are you kidding me? At least we beat out New Jersey and Long Island, although I still disagree with results at bigseventravel.com: “Whether the voice of Pauly D does it for you or you’re more of a Mark Wahlberg fan, it’s true to say that some accents are saucier than others. America is uniquely diverse when it comes to dialects, with the country’s vast history of immigrants influencing how people talk from coast to coast. Following on from sample survey results of our 1.5million social audience, we have the official ranking of the sexiest – and least sexy – accents in the USA. Consider yourself very lucky if your accent is among the Top 10…”
File photo: Star Tribune.

76 F. maximum Wednesday temperature in the Twin Cities.

69 F. average high on May 15.

78 F. high on May 15, 2018.

May 16, 1934: An extreme hot spell results in temperatures over 100 across parts of Minnesota, and record highs of 94 in St. Cloud and Minneapolis.

THURSDAY: Early thunder, then warm sunshine. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 82

FRIDAY: PM showers and T-storms. Severe risk southwest MN. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 54. High: 66

SATURDAY: Heavy rain, a few T-storms. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 51. High: 57

SUNDAY: Unpleasant. A cold rain lingers. Winds NE 10-20. Wake-up: 46. High: 49

MONDAY: Peeks of sun, drying out a bit. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 44. High: 63

TUESDAY: More heavy showers & T-storms arrive. Winds E 10-20. Wake-up: 50. High: 62

WEDNESDAY: Showery rains hang on. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 55. High: 58

Climate Stories….

In Flood-Hit Midwest, Mayors See Climate Change as a Subject Best Avoided. Because I’m pretty sure the problem will go away if we ignore it. Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “…We know there’s something going on, so how do we come together and deal with that?” said Mr. Klipsch, a two-term mayor who said taking a stance on climate change could be “divisive.” “Let’s not try to label it. Let’s not try to politicize it. It’s just a matter of something is changing.” Across the Midwest this spring, floods have submerged farms and stores, split open levees and, in some places, left people stranded for days or weeks. The disasters have renewed national attention on how climate change can exacerbate flooding and how cities can prepare for a future with more extreme weather. But in some of the hardest-hit areas, where bolstering flood protection and helping the displaced are popular bipartisan causes, there is little appetite for bringing climate change — and the political baggage it carries — into the discussion…”

Photo credit: Mayor Frank Klipsch said that taking a stance on climate change could be “divisive. Credit: Daniel Acker for The New York Times.

#ExxonKnew This, Too: Headlines and links courtesy of Climate Nexus: “Nearly 40 years ago, ExxonMobil’s scientists predicted a frightening emissions milestone reached this month, documents show. Scientists said that data taken from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii last week showed carbon dioxide levels surpassing 415 parts per million–the highest level in 800,000 years. Internal documents from 1982 obtained by InsideClimate News in 2015 as part of its investigation into Exxon’s scientific research shows that company scientists projected CO2 levels would reach between 400 to 420 ppm by 2020. “Some scientists suggest there could be considerable adverse impact including the flooding of some coastal land masses as a result of a rise in sea level due to melting of the Antarctic ice sheet” as a result of high emissions, the scientists wrote. Despite the research, InsideClimate News’s investigation showed, the company pivoted to encourage climate denial and bury the science around climate.” (Gizmodo, ThinkProgress. Commentary: Rolling Stone, Jeff Goodell column).

Photo credit: Matt Brown. AP.

84 Degrees Near the Arctic Ocean as CO2 Hits Highest Level in Human History. Jason Samenow reports for Capital Weather Gang: “Over the weekend, the climate system sounded simultaneous alarms. Near the entrance to the Arctic Ocean in northwest Russia, the temperature surged to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 Celsius). Meanwhile, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eclipsed 415 parts per million for the first time in human history. By themselves, these are just data points. But taken together with so many indicators of an altered atmosphere and rising temperatures, they blend into the unmistakable portrait of human-induced climate change. Saturday’s steamy 84-degree reading was posted in Arkhangelsk, Russia, where the average high temperature is around 54 this time of year. The city of 350,000 people sits next to the White Sea, which feeds into the Arctic Ocean’s Barents Sea…”

Image credit: “Carbon dioxide levels from approximately 1750 to present.” (Scripps Institute of Oceanography).

415: The Most Dangerous Number. Jeff Goodell reports for Rolling Stone; here’s a clip: “…Despite the decline in the cost of solar power, despite all the climate marches in the streets, despite the wildfires and melting glaciers and increasing summer heat, it is very obvious that, by the only metric that really matters, we have done less than zero to reduce the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The second thing you notice is that not only is the curve continuing to rise, but it is rising faster than ever before. Among other things, the Keeling curve is a perfect record of Homosapiens’ self-destructive impulse. We have known for precisely 61 years now that burning fossil fuels is warming the Earth’s atmosphere and putting the stability of our Goldilocks climate – the not-too-warm-not-too-cold world that has allowed humans to thrive over the last 10,000 years – at risk. And we have done nothing about it…”

Wettest Days Getting Wetter:

Increase in 1, 2 and 3″ Downpour Days. Graphics above courtesy of Climate Central.

Bill Nye, the Pissed Off Science Guy. If you have seen Bill’s profanity-laced tirade on Facebook regarding climate denial check it out. Rated R for spicy language.

New CEO Push on Climate Change Policy. Axios has perspective: “A new coalition of more than a dozen major corporations and environmental groups is launching on Wednesday to urge Congress to pass legislation addressing climate change. Driving the news: The initiative, the CEO Climate Dialogue, features CEOs from oil giants BP and Royal Dutch Shell, as well as from companies across the economy including Citi, Dominion Energy and Ford Motor Company. The Environmental Defense Fund and The Nature Conservancy are among the environmental groups that helped convene the group. The big picture: This is the latest sign that the political window for Washington to seriously consider comprehensive climate legislation is opening again after a decade of being closed...”

Illustration credit: Sarah Grillo/Axios.

Bad Climate Resources Hound Teachers: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Teachers across the country are struggling to find accurate information on climate change to teach in classrooms, the AP reports. A recent review from the Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network, which was funded by federal grants, found only 700 out of 30,000 free online resources surveyed were appropriate for use in schools. The oil and gas industry and denial-centric organizations like the Heartland Institute and Koch-affiliated entities have pushed in recent years to make free lesson plans that cast doubt on science and extol the virtues of fossil fuels available and present in classrooms. “The school systems of the country are so fragmented and under-resourced that they have no choice but to turn to people like the oil industry who offer them free stuff,” Charles Anderson, a professor of science education at Michigan State University, told the AP.” (AP)

CO2 Hits Levels Not Seen in 3 Million Years. NBC News has details: “In the latest bit of bad news for a planet beset by climate change, the concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere has climbed to a level last seen more than 3 million years ago — before humans even appeared on the rocky ball we call home. On Saturday, sensors at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii indicated that concentrations of the greenhouse gas — a byproduct of the burning of fossil fuels — had reached 415 parts per million (ppm), meaning that for every 1 million molecules of gas in the atmosphere, 415 were of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide traps heat from the sun, and higher levels are associated with higher global temperatures and other effects of climate change, such as rising seas and unusual weather patterns...”

Republicans Want a Climate Deal, But Please Don’t Call It the Green New Deal. Vice News has an overview; here’s an excerpt: “...A number of Republicans calling for measures to address climate change brush aside such criticisms, claiming they were climate realists even before the damning U.N. report came out because they see its impact at home on coral reefs and fisheries and on tourism. “I think there’s a lot of evidence beyond that report that demonstrates that major habitat loss is a consequence of climate change,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told VICE News while riding an escalator on the Capitol grounds. Gaetz, like Katko, says he’s all in for more nuclear and supports enhancing the nation’s power grid so it can better transmit renewable power...”

Los Angeles Fire Season is Beginning Again. And It Will Never End. David Wallace-Wells reports for Intelligencer: “...Already, the fires are different. Cal Fire used to plan for wind events that could last as long as four days; now it plans, and enlists, for 14. The infernos bellowed by those winds once reached a maximum temperature of 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, Cal Fire’s Angie Lottes says; now they reach 2,100 degrees, hot enough to turn the silica in the soil into glass. Fires have always created their own weather systems, but now they’re producing not just firestorms but fire tornadoes, in which the heat can be so intense it can pull steel shipping containers right into the furnace of the blaze. Certain systems now project embers as much as a mile forward, each seeking out more brush, more trees, new eaves on old homes, like pyromaniacal sperm seeking out combustible eggs, which lie everywhere. In at least one instance, a fire has projected lightning storms 21 miles ahead — striking in the right place, these ignite yet more fire. “California is built to burn,” the fire historian Stephen Pyne tells me. “It is built to burn explosively...”

Photo credit: “Day two of the Woolsey fire in Malibu last year.” Photo: Stuart Palley.

How Video Games Can Address Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt from Venturebeat: “65% of Americans play video games. So what better way to educate people about an issue like climate change than a video game. That was the thinking behind two recent games — Eco and Jupiter & Mars — that hit the market recently. We had the good fortune of having the leaders of the studios that made those games speak at our GamesBeat Summit 2019 event last month…”