So Long To A Mild and Wet March
Legend has it when March comes in like a Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker (fish) it goes out like a Screaming Hairy Armadillo. Still getting my animals confused, but no matter.
March was over 8F warmer than average with only 4 inches of snow. Average snowfall is 10 inches, but March slush was less than normal, statewide. A persistent warm, Pacific bias was to blame. We saw our fair share of rain: 2.6” liquid precipitation at MSP, 1.14” wetter than average. Farmers are hoping to get crops planted earlier than usual this year.
According to Dr. Mark Seeley the period November through January was the 4th warmest, statewide, since 1895. Followed by a tundra-like February.
A chilly Wednesday gives way to one of the nicer, balmier Easter weekends in recent memory with a shot at 70F Saturday. Temperatures may climb well into the 70s Sunday and Monday, with a few spirited rounds of T- storms next week.
The pattern looks like May into mid April, with numerous 60s and 70s. Yes, I like every season but I’m partial to warm fronts.
Weather Service Internet Systems Crumbling as Key Platforms Fail. Well this isn’t good, coming as we enter prime time for severe weather across the USA. Capital Weather Gang explains the scope of the problem: “The National Weather Service experienced a major, system-wide Internet failure Tuesday morning, making its forecasts and warnings inaccessible to the public and limiting the data available to its meteorologists. The outage highlights systemic, long-standing issues with its information technology infrastructure, which the agency has struggled to address as demands for its services have only increased. In addition to Tuesday morning’s outage, the Weather Service has encountered numerous, repeated problems with its Internet services in recent months, including:
- a bandwidth shortage that forced it to propose and implement limits to the amount of data its customers can download;
- the launch of a radar website that functioned inadequately and enraged users;
- a flood at its data center in Silver Spring that has stripped access to key ocean buoy observations…”
March 2021: Less Snowfall Than Normal. Most stations around state reported less snow than average in March – only 4” of slush in the Twin Cities this month (average is closer to 10”)
Crisp Wednesday, Then Warming Up Again. This is about as cold as it’s going to get, possibly until October or November. There I go being a naive optimist again. We should top 60F by Friday with a very good shot at 70 degrees plus this weekend, with a run of 70s into next week. More early May than early April.
Balmy Twins Home Opener – Or Not? ECMWF is feeling generous with degrees much of next week, predicting 75F on April 8 when Target Field opens up to 10,000 baseball-hungry fans. GFS is suggesting 50s. May the better model win, and please let ECMWF verify this time around.
Warm Bias Continues. I keep waiting for the bubble to burst, but GFS is consistently warmer than average east of the Rockies into the first 2, possibly 3 weeks of April. Only the west coast and Pacific Northwest will experience consistently chillier weather in the weeks to come.
Experts Recommend Moving Away from Term “Tornado Alley”. It’s a pretty big alley, come to think of it. Here’s an excerpt from an informative post at Capital Weather Gang: “…The real area at risk for tornadoes stretches from northern and Central Texas to the Dakotas and all the way eastward to the Midwest and Appalachians; it most certainly includes the Deep South, Mississippi Valley and Tennessee Valley, as well as Florida. The case could even be made to lump tornado-prone parts of the Mid-Atlantic in there. “I think there are several reasons to move away” from the term, wrote P. Grady Dixon, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Fort Hays State University in Kansas, in an email. “But ultimately, I think the most important thing is to continue raising awareness.” Might we rename this much larger area “tornado country?…”
Deadly Alabama “Supercell” Spotted in Satellite Imagery. High-resolution satellite imagery and lightning frequency can be one tip-off, but Doppler radar still works best at identifying the spinning thunderstorms most likely to spawn tornadoes. Here’s an excerpt from Space.com: “…The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GOES East satellite captured an animation of a “supercell” creating a large tornado in central Alabama, near Brent and Centerville. “In the 16-second timelapse, you can see the lightning that accompanied the storm during March 25,” NOAA tweeted Friday (March 26). Earlier Friday, several tornadoes touched down in the state, killing at least six people and leaving effects for local populations across the state ranging from no power, to torn-down houses, to downed trees, according to the New York Times...”
A Look at the Biggest and Deadliest Tornadoes: EF5s. A story at baynews9.com has interesting perspective on the most destructive tornadoes: “...There are also other oddities on the map. For example, Florida has never had a EF5/F5 tornado. The furthest west an F5 tornado was documented was in the Texas Panhandle in Lubbock, Texas, in 1970. The furthest east F5 tornado was in Niles, Ohio in 1985. The southernmost was the monster and slow-moving Jarrell, Texas tornado in May 1997. The northernmost was in Fargo, ND in 1957. Other oddities include two cities that were struck twice: Waco, Texas and Moore, Oklahoma. Waco, TX had F5 tornadoes in 1953 (killing 144) and in May 1973 (on the ground only 100 yards and causing no injuries or fatalities). Moore, Oklahoma (a suburb of Oklahoma City) has also been hit twice and both twisters were devastating. Moore was hit in May 1999 (36 killed) and again in May 2013 (24 killed)...”
Meteorology, Tides and Big Ship Stuck in the Suez Canal. The cargo ship has now been freed, in part thanks to a “supermoon” and the tidal tug of the sun and moon. Yes, blowing sand can be a hazard to shipping, too, as Dr. Marshall Shepherd explains at Forbes.com: “…According to published reports, a strong sandstorm caused by winds in excess of 40 mph is a primary culprit in how the massive 400 meter Ever Given got turned sideways and wedged into one of the most vital passageways on the planet. The sandstorm occurred around March 23rd, 2021. I decided to see if I could find it so pulled up one of my favorite resources, NASA’s Worldview. I tinkered with a few parameters and made some adjustments to produce the image above for March 24th. Dust is clearly evident in the Red Sea – Suez Canal region from the satellite imagery…”
The Antiscience Movement is Escalating, Going Global and Killing Thousands. Scientific American has the story: “Antiscience has emerged as a dominant and highly lethal force, and one that threatens global security, as much as do terrorism and nuclear proliferation. We must mount a counteroffensive and build new infrastructure to combat antiscience, just as we have for these other more widely recognized and established threats. Antiscience is the rejection of mainstream scientific views and methods or their replacement with unproven or deliberately misleading theories, often for nefarious and political gains. It targets prominent scientists and attempts to discredit them. The destructive potential of antiscience was fully realized in the U.S.S.R. under Joseph Stalin. Millions of Russian peasants died from starvation and famine during the 1930s and 1940s because Stalin embraced the pseudoscientific views of Trofim Lysenko that promoted catastrophic wheat and other harvest failures...”
Why People Keep Asking Which Vaccine You Got. The Atlantic (paywall) has an interesting explanation; here’s a clip: “…The long winter of lockdown is breaking, and vaccines promise hope of a return to a new, if different, normal. The sense of dread and despair that made casual greetings feel notable and oppressive for so many people has begun to lift. Small talk’s function remains a little marred—I find myself still answering the literal meaning of phatic utterances, only now with statements of measured optimism: “I’m good, starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel.” But small talk’s use in social bonding is returning. “Which vaccine did you get?” has become a low-stakes way to move from phatic communion to small talk to business. As the pressure eases off the pregnant How are you?, the unfair demands placed on that phrase will ease…”
55 F. Twin Cities high on Tuesday (12:08am)
49 F. average high on March 30.
60 F. high on March 30, 2020.
March 31, 1896: A strong snowstorm dumps 13.5 inches of snow at Maple Plain. Vivid lightning is also in the storm with 10-12 flashes per minute. Visibility was down to less than one block. The high temperature was 57 at Maple Plain the day before.
March 31, 1843: The low temperature at Ft. Snelling plummets to -11.
WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, less wind. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 36
THURSDAY: Bright sunshine, a quiet day. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 23. High: 44
FRIDAY: Sunny, spring fever returns. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 32. High: near 60
SATURDAY: Blue sky, potentially amazing. Winds: NW 3-8. Wake-up: 41. High: near 70
EASTER SUNDAY: Lukewarm sunshine. Easter sunburn. Wake-up: 42. High: 72
MONDAY: Feels like May, isolated T-shower. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 55. High: 75
TUESDAY: Mix of clouds and sunshine. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 48. High: 68
The “Green Energy” That Might be Ruining the Planet. Politico explains: “Here’s a multibillion-dollar question that could help determine the fate of the global climate: If a tree falls in a forest—and then it’s driven to a mill, where it’s chopped and chipped and compressed into wood pellets, which are then driven to a port and shipped across the ocean to be burned for electricity in European power plants—does it warm the planet? Most scientists and environmentalists say yes: By definition, clear-cutting trees and combusting their carbon emits greenhouse gases that heat up the earth. But policymakers in the U.S. Congress and governments around the world have declared that no, burning wood for power isn’t a climate threat—it’s actually a green climate solution. In Europe, “biomass power,” as it’s technically called, is now counted and subsidized as zero-emissions renewable energy. As a result, European utilities now import tons of wood from U.S. forests every year—and Europe’s supposedly eco-friendly economy now generates more energy from burning wood than from wind and solar combined…”
When an Oil Company Profits From a Pipeline Running Beneath Tribal Land Without Consent, What’s Fair Compensation? Inside Climate News has a fascinating and troubling story: “Tribal landowners tried for years to get fair compensation for an oil pipeline that cuts across the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, only to see officials and the courts dismiss their concerns. But now, thanks to new leadership at the Department of Interior, the federal government is taking a fresh look at their claims. Some see it as a sign that, not only might their voices finally be heard in this case but also that a turnaround has begun in the nation’s long history of injustices toward Indigenous people. For Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation members with land allotments at Fort Berthold, an encouraging signal came earlier this month. That’s when the Department of Interior’s Acting Secretary Scott de la Vega scrapped the Trump administration’s decision to reduce a $187 million penalty assessed against the oil company that owns the Tesoro High Plains Pipeline for trespassing on the reservation for seven years after its contract lapsed...”
Biden Announces Major Offshore Wind Expansion In ‘Build Back Better’ Buildup: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “The Biden administration announced a plan to dramatically expand wind energy generation along U.S. coasts on Monday amid its ramp up for a major legislative push on infrastructure and climate change. The offshore wind plan aims to generate thousands of union jobs and 30 gigawatts of power capacity over the next nine years — enough to power more than 10 million American homes and prevent 78 million metric tons of carbon pollution. “We are ready to rock-and-roll,” national climate adviser Gina McCarthy told reporters Monday. President Biden will pitch his major ‘Build Back Better’ infrastructure agenda on Wednesday in a speech in Pittsburgh. The plan is expected to be a multi-trillion dollar package that aims to revitalize the U.S. economy by addressing climate change and domestic inequality, targeting environmental racism and aiding communities ravaged by the fossil fuel industry through major infrastructure investments. Biden hopes to pass the measure over the summer. The administration’s infrastructure and climate efforts would expand on clean energy investments made under the 2009 Obama stimulus package, the implementation of which then-Vice President Biden oversaw. The political environment has shifted and the scientific consensus for accelerated action on climate has grown since 12 years ago, however, and whereas Obama’s stimulus merely included climate and clean energy provisions, they will be a centerpiece of Biden’s.” (Offshore wind: New York Times $, Washington Post $, AP, E&E $, The Hill, Axios, Reuters, Bloomberg $, Reuters, Politico Pro $; Speech: Reuters, E&E $, Axios; BBB agenda: New York Times $, Vox, CNBC, E&E $; Legislative timeline: AP)
Here’s How Biden’s Infrastructure Package Will Likely Tackle Climate Change. CNBC.com has an analysis: “President Joe Biden this week is set to unveil details of a major infrastructure package that’s expected to include record spending on mitigating climate change and accelerating a nationwide transition to clean energy. The president is expected to introduce up to $3 trillion in spending on efforts to boost the economy, including rebuilding aging infrastructure like highways, bridges and rail lines, and investing in technologies to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of the policies on the table include:
- Installing thousands of new electric vehicle charging stations
- Funds to build energy-efficient homes
- Constructing new electric power lines...”
Why Hurricanes and Typhoons Will Become More Dangerous. Dr. Marshall Shepherd has analysis of recent research at Forbes.com: “…A new review study just published in the journal ScienceBrief Review analyzed over 90 peer-reviewed articles to see if there was a consistent signal of human activities affecting typhoons, hurricanes, and other tropical cyclones. As a reminder, these are studies that have been vetted, reviewed, and critiqued by experts. They are not opinions in social media, blogs, or editorials. The researchers were made up of a team of scientists from Princeton University, University of East Anglia, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). According to a press release from the University of East Anglia, “studies showed growing evidence that climate change is probably fueling more powerful hurricanes and typhoons, a trend that is expected to continue as global temperatures rise…”
Why the Climate Crisis Will Intensify the Border Crisis. Axios explains how the two are intertwined: “…People make the difficult decision to leave their homes for many reasons, including conflict and crime, political persecution, and the simple desire for a better life. But a factor now — and even more so in the future — is the push of extreme weather and climate change, which will disproportionately affect the people living in the poorer, hot countries that are already a major source of migrants to the U.S. That means the U.S., as well as the rich nations of Europe and even countries like India, will likely face a permanent and likely growing flow of climate migrants that they and the international refugee system more broadly are ill-equipped to handle...”
Is Hail America’s Most Underrated Climate Risk? The data on hail in a warming climate is still largely inconclusive, but some insurance companies aren’t waiting for more data, according to a post at The Atlantic: “…This runaway hail risk is discombobulating the insurance market: In 2018, the insurance giant Zurich North America announced that it would no longer insure hundreds of Midwestern car dealerships because of “catastrophic” hail damage. Second, I’m intrigued by who the study’s authors are. Kubicek and his colleagues have scientific credentials, but they’re not academics. They work at an insurance start-up called Understory, which protects car dealerships against hailstorms. Kubicek is, in fact, Understory’s chief executive. Insurance is where the economy of spreadsheets and Zoom invites meets the economy of flesh and steel and falling chunks of ice…”
Home Sweet Home
Earth’s New Gilded Era. Income inequality? A sharp divide between the haves and have-nots includes an ability to deal with the implications of a rapidly-changing climate. The Atlantic (paywall) has the post: “…Scientists and people with good sense around the world recognize the manifold perils of a climate crisis: an onslaught of tropical systems in the Atlantic Ocean, the relentless burn of wildfires in California and Oregon, the hundred-year floods that now encroach annually. Less appreciated, perhaps, are the direct effects of that increasing warmth on human bodies and communities. Heat is already often deadly, and even below fatal thresholds it is a grinding attrition that saps personal and economic vitality a little more each day. In the coming century, when wealth inequality will likely increase and the spaces where humans can live comfortably will shrink, the heat gap between rich and poor might be the world’s most daunting challenge…”