The One Radio You Should Own

I married an amazing architect, who was kind enough to spare me an invoice for her time and effort building a new home for us a few years ago. It has a concrete and steel-reinforced, mostly-underground “bunker”, able to withstand an EF-5 tornado.

In theory.

At the recommendation of experts we have no electronics in our bedroom, except for a NOAA Weather Radio.

If a tornado touches down at 3am an audible alarm on the $30 NOAA Weather Radio will make sure we have enough lead time to reach that bunker.

One of many things that freak me out: nighttime tornadoes are 2.5 times deadlier than daytime twisters. People are sleeping, unaware of what’s swirling around nearby. Wednesday’s outbreak spawned 2 dozen tornadoes in “Dixie Alley”. Mercifully, big cities were spared.

Today and Saturday will be stunning, with blue sky and 50s. A shower or T- shower may sprout Sunday afternoon ahead of a cooler front. Models show a cold rain Tuesday, possibly ending as a few inches of slushy snow Wednesday.

It may be premature declaring our victory over the virus, and our independence from winter, too.


Shrinking Snow Cover. Thursday afternoon’s GOES visible image shows where snow is still on the ground. I’m struck by an almost total lack of snow for much of central and northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

This map depicts where there is a greater than 50% chance of drought persistence, development, or improvement based on short- and long-range statistical and dynamical forecasts during March 18 through June 30, 2021.

Drought Outlook. NOAA predicts drought conditions will persist and expand across much of the western US and High Plains: “Nearly one-half of the country — stretching from the Pacific Coast to the Great Plains and upper Midwest — is currently experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions, and that is expected to continue and expand, according to NOAA’s U.S. Spring Outlook released today. Drier conditions in the Southwest U.S. associated with La Niña and the failed 2020 summer monsoon have been contributing factors to the development and intensification of what represents the most significant U.S. spring drought since 2013, which will impact approximately 74 million people...”

Government Interventions, Rather Than Climate Conditions, Primarily Curb COVID-10’s Spread, NOAA and International Team Say. Here’s an excerpt from a press release by NOAA CPO: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists and the public have speculated that, as with cold-causing viruses, meteorological factors like warm or cold weather may influence the spread of COVID-19. Now a new report cautions that weather and climate conditions, including the onset of higher temperatures during spring, should not be used as a trigger to relax COVID-19 transmission reduction measures. The report is the first from a World Meteorological Organization COVID-19 Task Team—composed of 16 experts from NOAA’s Climate Program Office and other meteorological services around the world—assessing whether meteorological and air quality factors affect the pandemic. Government interventions, such as mask mandates and travel restrictions, rather than meteorological factors appear to have primarily influenced COVID-19’s spread in 2020 and early 2021, according to the Task Team. Other relevant drivers include changes in human behavior and demographics of affected populations, and more recently, virus mutations…”

Too Nice for Bugs. We get to enjoy bright sunshine, without the humidity, bugs or allergies. I’m OK with 50s and low 60s in March, before spring green-up, and everything that comes with it.

ECMWF Temperatures for MSP
GFS Temperatures for MSP

A touch of April. ECMWF (top) is more aggressive with warm blips and cold corrections in the days to come. By the way, the European model is printing out accumulating snow for Wednesday of next week. Too early for details. Just saying…

Echoes of Winter. It would be premature to write off cold fronts in the coming weeks. Nothing polar, no more subzero weather is imminent, but a few more days in the 30s with slush? Yes.

Weather World, Twitter

Rick Smith, Twitter

Dr. Robert Rohde, Twitter

A pickup truck sits covered in snow in downtown Cheyenne, Wyo., on Monday.
Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle via AP.

Wyoming Got Buried Beneath a Record Blizzard, Trapping Meteorologists In Their Office for 5 Days. Hope someone there had a subscription to Netflix. Capital Weather Gang has the harrowing tale: “…A good amount of us have been here since Saturday morning,” said Matthew Brothers, a meteorologist at the Cheyenne office, reached via phone early Wednesday. “We are in the process of packing up right now and getting out now that the road got cleared late last night.” Six meteorologists have been snowed in at the office since the weekend, working in 12-hour shifts round-the-clock. Though Wyoming is accustomed to heavy snowfalls, this event, which featured blizzard conditions, was nonetheless rare. Some places were even forced to break out large rotary-style snowplows…”

Brian McNoldy, Twitter

This Wednesday, May 27, 2020 satellite image made available by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Tropical Storm Bertha approaching the South Carolina coast. On Wednesday, March 17, 2021, a World Meteorological Organization committee plans to discuss whether the Atlantic hurricane season should start on May 15 instead of the traditional June 1.
NOAA via AP.

Bye Alpha, Eta: Greek Alphabet Ditched for Hurricane Names. Associated Press has more details: “With named storms coming earlier and more often in warmer waters, the Atlantic hurricane season is going through some changes with meteorologists ditching the Greek alphabet during busy years. But the Atlantic hurricane season will start this year on June 1 as traditionally scheduled, despite meteorologists discussing the idea of moving it to May 15. A special World Meteorological Organization committee Wednesday ended the use of Greek letters when the Atlantic runs out of the 21 names for the year, saying the practice was confusing and put too much focus on the Greek letter and not on the dangerous storm it represented. Also, in 2020 with Zeta, Eta and Theta, they sounded so similar it caused problems…”


10 Hazard Alerts You Might Not Know About. And not want to know about, I suspect. Capital Weather Gang runs down a few alerts that might fill you with dread, including Radiological Hazard Warnings: “…While neither a natural hazard nor issued by the Weather Service, the radiological hazard warning is transmitted by the Weather Service. Moreover, the Weather Service’s forecasts of wind conditions, which affect how such substances are dispersed through the air, may be instrumental in determining when and where to issue it. It’s exactly what it sounds like — “a warning of the loss, discovery, or release of a radiological hazard,” writes the Weather Service. The agency goes on to list examples of what could trigger its issuance, including “the theft of a radioactive isotope … the discovery of radioactive materials, a transportation accident which may involve nuclear weapons,” etc...”

File image: Offshore Wind

“They Aren’t Used to Losing”: Wealthy New York Enclave Battles Over Offshore Wind Farm. The Guardian tells a fascinating tale of what the prospect of clean energy is doing to one wealthy town at the tip of Long Island: “Should Joe Biden’s plans for a huge expansion of renewable energy across the US survive the gamut of congressional bickering, a very different obstacle threatens progress – wealthy homeowners who enjoy sweeping scenic views. Wainscott, a hamlet in the wealthy New York enclave of the Hamptons, is the unlikely setting for a rancorous battle over what would be the state’s first offshore wind farm. A flurry of angry letters to the local newspaper has escalated to petitions, the hiring of high-powered lobbyists and now lawsuits, in what could presage similar quarrels elsewhere as the Biden administration seeks to support a national boom in new wind turbines at sea and on land…”


Can Bird Poop Damage Cars? One of the most important questions of our time (short answer is yes), and once again Mental Floss has answers: “…When a bird drops its payload on the surface of your vehicle and is allowed to remain there, it will begin to burn through the clear coat, wax, and paint, eventually making an etching as deep as a piece of notebook paper. The bird has essentially left a corrosive material on the car. Worse, a warm day will expedite the damage. That’s because the sun will cause paint to expand, making it more susceptible to the poop’s acidic profile. If the conditions are just right, bird poop can leave a permanent mark in minutes…”

Trace of snow at MSP Thursday.

53 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday.

42 F. average high on March 18.

45 F. high on March 18, 2020.

March 19, 2012: This is the 4th day in a row that the Twin Cities reaches at least 79 degrees, and the 8th record high in a 10 day span.

March 19, 1977: An energy emergency finally ends in Minnesota. It was caused by the extended cold.

FRIDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: S 8-13. High: 51

SATURDAY: Sunny, breezy and milder. Winds: S 15-25. Wake-up: 34. High: 58

SUNDAY: AM Sun, PM showers, thunder? Winds: S 15-25. Wake-up: 45. High: near 60

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy and cooler. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 39. High: 52

TUESDAY: Cold rain moves in. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 35. High: near 40

WEDNESDAY: Rain changes to snow. Slush potential. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 33. High: 35

THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sunshine. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 33. High: 46

Climate Stories…

Democrats Promised Climate Action. Now, Chuck Schumer Stalls a Key Project. The rubber meets the road – insurance rates have to reflect true risk, including growing climate risks for coastal areas, as reported by The New York Times (paywall): “One of the federal government’s main efforts to push Americans to prepare for climate threats is in question after the Senate majority leader’s office objected to a plan to adjust flood insurance rates. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was preparing to announce new rates for federal flood insurance on April 1, so that the prices people pay would more accurately reflect the risks they face. The change would very likely help reduce Americans’ vulnerability to floods and hurricanes by discouraging construction in high-risk areas. But it would also increase insurance costs for some households, making it a tough sell politically. Last week, the office of Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic majority leader, pushed back on the changes, according to several people familiar with the discussion…”

Oil Firms Knew Decades Ago Fossil Fuels Posed Grave Health Risks, Files Reveal. The Guardian reports: “The oil industry knew at least 50 years ago that air pollution from burning fossil fuels posed serious risks to human health, only to spend decades aggressively lobbying against clean air regulations, a trove of internal documents seen by the Guardian reveal. The documents, which include internal memos and reports, show the industry was long aware that it created large amounts of air pollution, that pollutants could lodge deep in the lungs and be “real villains in health effects”, and even that its own workers may be experiencing birth defects among their children. But these concerns did little to stop oil and gas companies, and their proxies, spreading doubt about the growing body of science linking the burning of fossil fuels to an array of health problems that kill millions of people around the world each year...”

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows a residential area affected by floods, which damaged the embankment of the Citarum river following the heavy rains, in Bekasi, West Java province, Indonesia, February 22, 2021.

Over 10 Million Displaced by Climate Disasters in Six Months: Report. Reuters summarizes the findings: “About 10.3 million people were displaced by climate change-induced events such as flooding and droughts in the last six months, the majority of them in Asia, a humanitarian organization said on Wednesday. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said about 2.3 million others were displaced by conflict in the same period, indicating the vast majority of internal displacements are now triggered by climate change. Though the figures cover only a six-month period from September 2020 to February 2021, they highlight an accelerating global trend of climate-related displacement, said Helen Brunt, Asia Pacific Migration and Displacement Coordinator for the IFRC...”


COVID Pollution Drop No Match For Western Wildfires: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Wildfires across the American West caused so much deadly air pollution in 2020 that they far more than overcame the drop in pollution caused by pandemic-responsive travel restrictions, according to a new air quality report. The findings, released Tuesday by IQAir Group, a Swiss-based air-quality technology company, show an overall 7% increase in fine particulate (PM2.5) pollution for the year nationwide despite a 13% drop between March and July from reduced fossil fuel combustion. Climate change worsens wildfires in multiple ways as heated temperatures and drought turn landscapes into proverbial tinder boxes. Of the world’s 25 most polluted cities last September, 24 were in California and Oregon, with heavy smoke in Weed, California, driving PM2.5 levels to 471 times the WHO’s target.”(Washington Post $, Wall Street Journal $; Climate Signals background: Wildfires; 2020 Western wildfire season)

Dr. Robert Rohde, Twitter

A Crack in a Major Climate-Denial Coalition. A blurb at The Atlantic caught my eye as many companies “adjust” their focus on climate change: “…At the core of railroads’ opposition to climate change was their reliance on coal’s business. Coal makes up nearly one in three tons of rail freight. Yet the coal industry is in free fall. During the first half of 2020, coal generation dropped by 30 percent compared with the year before; coal now generates only about a fifth of U.S. electricity. The financial industry is also fleeing coal. Just this week, Citi announced it would no longer fund any company with plans to expand thermal coal operations after 2021—and even more important, the huge insurance firm Swiss Re said that it would stop insuring coal plants by 2040. Freight railroads will need to find new customers, which means finding new political allies. They will look on the left if need be…”

Global mean surface temperatures from Berkeley Earth (black dots) and modeled influence of different radiative forcings (colored lines), as well as the combination of all forcings (grey line) for the period from 1850 to 2017. See methods at the end of the article for details.
Carbon Brief

Analysis: Why Scientists Think 100% of Global Warming is Due to Humans. A post from Dr. Zeke Hausfather at Carbon Brief caught my eye: “The extent of the human contribution to modern global warming is a hotly debated topic in political circles, particularly in the US. During a recent congressional hearing, Rick Perry, the US energy secretary, remarked that “to stand up and say that 100% of global warming is because of human activity, I think on its face, is just indefensible”. However, the science on the human contribution to modern warming is quite clear. Humans emissions and activities have caused around 100% of the warming observed since 1950, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) fifth assessment report. Here Carbon Brief examines how each of the major factors affecting the Earth’s climate would influence temperatures in isolation – and how their combined effects almost perfectly predict long-term changes in the global temperature…”

SEC Inches Closer to New Climate Disclosure Regulations. Axios explains the implications: “The Securities and Exchange Commission is formally asking for input about how companies should disclose climate-related risks in filings with the regulators.

Why it matters: It’s the latest sign the commission is moving toward the creation of requirements that go beyond efforts to breathe life into existing 2010 guidance to companies.

How it works: The document asks for information in areas like what kinds of risks can be quantified and measured; what types of emissions metrics companies should provide; whether to have different reporting standards for different industries and more...”

The sediment diversion project would infuse the highlighted portion of the map with fresh sediment.
Restore the Mississippi River Delta.

“There’s No Alternative”: Louisiana’s Ambitious Plan to Stay Above Water. Grist has the post; here’s the intro: “Louisiana has never been hard to pinpoint on a map — it’s the only state in the U.S. that looks like a giant boot. At least it did, before the ocean swallowed the carbon emissions belched out by industrializing nations and began to swell. Now, the boot is losing a football field of land every hour to the rising tide. In order to save the state from sea-level rise, the Louisiana state government is embarking on a series of years-long, multi-billion dollar projects to slow the rate of land loss. This month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal civil works and military engineering agency, greenlighted the first of those large projects. The money to fund it is coming from an unlikely place: BP, the multinational oil corporation...”

Enviros Launch Campaign To Fund Climate Action With Infrastructure Bill: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Environmental groups are launching a $10 million push for Congress to make climate change central to infrastructure legislation. “The Great American Build” campaign, a joint effort of Climate Power, the League of Conservation Voters and Potential Energy Coalition, will pressure lawmakers to include funding for climate action as part of the emerging infrastructure package. “Americans elected pro-climate majorities in Congress, and they expect big things on the issues that drove them to the polls — including clean energy and climate change,” Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power, told NBC.” (NBC, The Hill, E&E $)

Avon, N.C., faces a crisis: The main road into town risks being destroyed by the sea.
New York Times

Tiny Town, Big Decision: What Are We Willing to Pay to Fight the Rising Sea? Here’s an excerpt from a story at The New York Times (paywall): “…The risk to tiny Avon from climate change is particularly dire — it is, after all, located on a mere sandbar of an island chain, in a relentlessly rising Atlantic. But people in the town are facing a question that is starting to echo along the American coastline as seas rise and storms intensify. What price can be put on saving a town, a neighborhood, a home where generations have built their lives? Communities large and small are reaching for different answers. Officials in Miami, Tampa, Houston, San Francisco and elsewhere have borrowed money, raised taxes or increased water bills to help pay for efforts to shield their homes, schools and roads...”