Dueling Weather Forecasts Can Be Confusing

Why do weather forecasts change over time, and why do different meteorologists predict different things? Good question. Outlooks change as new data arrives from a variety of sources, including satellites, weather balloons and ocean buoys. This data fuels the weather models, which in theory, become more accurate as a storm approaches.

In the USA meteorologists have the freedom to interpret the models independently and come up with their own version of what should happen. Frustrating, but in theory competition leads to better results.

When weather turns severe meteorologists defer to local National Weather Service watches and warnings. Because conflicting forecasts can lead to confusion – and apathy.

A pop-up T-storm is possible later today with a few severe storms possible Thursday. Gusty winds behind this front usher unusually chilly air into Minnesota Friday and sweatshirts make a comeback this weekend.

No frost for the MSP metro but up north? A possibility. A (much) warmer front returns late next week.


Slight Severe Storm Risk Thursday. The risk is greatest over central and southern Minnesota, close to a warm frontal boundary. Showers and strong to severe thunderstorms are most likely afternoon and evening hours.

Wednesday Future Clouds/Radar

Showers and T-storms. A few pop-up storms are possible later today in an unstable atmosphere, with more numerous (strong to severe) storms expected on Thursday ahead of a vigorous cool front.

Spring Stuck in Second Gear. After relatively mellow temperatures today and Thursday another fairly strong cool frontal passage is likely for the weekend and first few days of next week with temperatures as much as 10-15F cooler than average. Don’t pack away sweatshirts and light jackets just yet.

ECMWF Temperatures for MSP
NOAA GFS Temperatures for MSP

Conflicting Forecasts for Memorial Day Weekend. Confidence levels are lower than usual peering 2 weeks over the horizon. Today’s GFS solution looks warmer than yesterday’s forecast. Sizzling heat continues for the southern half of the USA, and at some point these super-sized warm fronts will reach Minnesota.


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What are Flash Droughts? Minnesota often sees these in August and September. Not every year, but many years. has a good explainer: “You’ve heard of flash floods, but have you heard of flash droughts? These events are relatively new for natural disasters, and come on fast, with conditions going from normal to severely dry in less than one month. This means people have no time to prepare for the consequences, which can include withered crops, dried streams or depleted wells. There’s been an effort over the past six years to better understand flash droughts, according to Ben Cook, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. One goal is to pinpoint early indicators that might help forecast these events and give more warning before they hit...”

NM Fire Breaks Record As Risks Rise Across US: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Fueled by a megadrought worse than any other in the last 1,200 years, the New Mexico’s Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire is now the state’s largest wildfire on record. As firefighters in New Mexico struggle to contain the blaze, a new report from the First Street Foundation details increased wildfire risk across the country due to climate change. Just under 1 in 6 people in the U.S. (16%) live in an area with hazardous wildfire risk, increasing over the next 30 years to more than 1 in 5 people in the U.S. (21%). Nearly half of the fire-vulnerable population lives in the South, and people of color face disproportionate risk.” (New Mexico fire: Reuters, Washington Post $, Axios, KOB-4, KOAT, AP, CNN; Wildfire risk: (Washington Post $, New York Times $, Wall Street Journal $, E&E $, The Verge, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Axios; Climate Signals background: Wildfires, Western U.S. megadrought)


National Hurricane Center Issues First Outlook of 2022 Season. NBC 6 in South Florida has details: “The National Hurricane Center issued its first tropical weather outlook on Sunday regarding weather conditions in the Atlantic basin before the start of the hurricane season. According to the outlook, the formation of tropical cyclones is not expected for the North Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico during the next 5 days. The outlooks are issued four times daily from May 15 to Nov. 30 and describe significant areas of severe weather and its potential for tropical cyclone formation. In the event of hurricanes or tropical storms in the Atlantic, the NHC usually issues more. Although the official date for the start of the hurricane season in the Atlantic basin is June 1, cyclones have appeared earlier in the last several years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will announce its initial outlook for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season during a news conference on May 24 at the New York City Emergency Management Department in Brooklyn…”

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption on Jan. 15, 2022, caused many effects, some illustrated here, that were felt around the world and even into space. Some of those effects, like extreme winds and unusual electric currents were picked up by NASA’s ICON mission and ESA’s (the European Space Agency) Swarm. Image not to scale.
Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith

Satellite Mission Finds That Tonga Volcanic Eruption Effects Reached Space. has details: “When the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted on Jan. 15, 2022, it sent atmospheric shock waves, sonic booms, and tsunami waves around the world. Now, scientists are finding the volcano’s effects also reached space. Analyzing data from NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission and ESA’s (the European Space Agency) Swarm satellites, scientists found that in the hours after the eruption, hurricane-speed winds and unusual electric currents formed in the ionosphere—Earth’s electrified upper atmospheric layer at the edge of space. “The volcano created one of the largest disturbances in space we’ve seen in the modern era,” said Brian Harding, a physicist at University of California, Berkeley, and lead author on a new paper discussing the findings...”

Paul Douglas

Destructive Thunderstorms of May 12, 2022. The Minnesota DNR has details on last week’s craziness with tornado and straight-line wind damage. Here’s an excerpt: “…Within the area of (nearly) continuous 60 mph wind gusts, pockets of extreme winds, often well in excess of the 74 mph threshold used to define hurricanes, streaked northward and northeastward. Measured gusts included 94 mph at Madison and Verndale; 87 mph at Forada; 81 mph at Taunton, 80 mph at Florence, Artichoke, and Trosky; 79 mph at Graceville; 78 mph at Marshall; and 75 mph at Canby. Stronger wind gusts almost certainly occurred in between wind sensors, and National Weather Service teams were surveying the damage and to understand the scope of the storms and the likely ranges of wind speeds. The 94 mph wind gusts recorded at two locations were the highest measured gusts in Minnesota since July 6, 2014, when a sensor at Browns Valley recorded a 98 mph gust...”

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Storm Chasers Face Host of Dangers Beyond Severe Weather. In my tornado-chasing days I feared crazy drivers far more than tornadoes. Here’s a summary of the risk from AP News: “…The storms themselves present dangers to inexperienced chasers who get too close. They can get hit by debris, struck by lightning or worse. Tripoli said he decided to stop teaching his storm chaser class and taking students into the field in the early 1990s after university officials stopped insuring the trips. Nature isn’t the only threat. Storm chasers spend long hours on the road traveling from state to state like long-haul truckers, inviting fatigue. When they catch up to the storms, they can often keep their eyes on the skies instead of the road, sometimes with deadly consequences. Tripoli said he would warn students in his storm chaser class that the most likely way they would get hurt is in a car crash...”

Spanish translation of severe weather risk categories.

When Dangerous Weather Approaches, The Spanish Translation Problem Looms. Dr. Marshall Shepherd reports for “…In his 2021 study published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Trujillo-Falcón noted that Latino or Hispanic population is roughly 20% of the U.S. total and over 70% of them speak Spanish at home. Many of these people live in hurricane-prone regions or in active severe weather areas such as the Great Plains or South. During its Spring 2021 meetings, the National Academies Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) heard from experts like Trujillo-Falcón on the need for incorporating equity, justice, and diversity within the nation’s weather, climate, and water enterprise...”

Are EVs Really Cleaner Than ICE Vehicles? This data is from 2017 and as the grid trends cleaner over time chances are these numbers have further shifted in favor of EVs. Brendan Jordan from Great Plains Institute sent me this post that explains carbon emissions for production and life-of-vehicle. It turns out there is a significant difference. Here is an excerpt from a post at DriveElectricMN: “Last year, GPI reported that electric vehicles provide a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction of at least 42% to 61% compared to gasoline vehicles in Minnesota based on data for the year 2015. Further analysis performed by GPI with updated 2016-2017 data now shows that electric vehicles provide GHG reductions of at least 65% in Xcel’s service territory in 2017 and at least 53% in the greater MISO North Region. Already an improvement from GPI’s 2016 analysis, these emission reductions are set to increase through the year 2030, when an electric vehicle (EV) charging in Xcel’s territory will result in a per-mile GHG reduction of 75%. Like last year’s analysis, GPI again utilized Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET Lifecycle Model to calculate emissions from gasoline and electric vehicles. The results included emissions for the full lifecycle of a vehicle, including vehicle and battery manufacturing, fuel production and refining, and vehicle operation or fuel combustion. The improvement in GHG reductions was largely caused by two factors: updated generation fuel mix projections from Xcel that include significant new wind capacity and the use of more specific generation fuel mix data published by MISO for the MISO North Region…”

Great Plains Institute

Quartz | Data: Energy Innovation

Congratulations New Jersey EV Owners. Quartz explains why the Garden State is so EV-friendly: “If you’re looking to buy an electric vehicle (EV) in the US, you probably won’t find a better deal than New Jersey. The climate policy think tank Energy Innovation compared the monthly cost of buying and owning six EV models to six similar gas-powered cars across all 50 US states, assuming that buyers take out a loan to make the purchase and have to make a monthly car payment. On average, the six EV models—which include the Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck, the Nissan Leaf compact, and the electric Hyundai Kona SUV—were cheaper than their gasoline counterparts in 48 states and Washington DC. But no state offered a consistently better deal for EVs than the Garden State (home to 3.9 million private automobiles)…”

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Short-Term Air Pollution Exposure Heightens Covid-19 Risk. E&E News has the story: “Short-term exposure to common air pollutants may heighten the odds of Covid-19 infection in young adults, researchers found in what’s billed as a first-of-its-kind study of the age group now considered primarily responsible for spreading the respiratory disease. The study, recently published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at 425 students and others in their mid-20s within an existing cohort who tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Despite “relatively low levels of air pollution exposure,” the Swedish researchers tied higher daily levels of airborne particles and black carbon to increased risk of infection in the range of 6 to 7 percent. While no such association was found for exposure for another class of pollutants known as nitrogen oxides, the results support “the broad public health benefits of reducing ambient air pollution levels,” write the authors, who work at the Stockholm-based Karolinska Institutet and other organizations in Sweden and Italy...”

72 F. Twin Cities high on Tuesday.

70 F. Average MSP high temperature on May 17.

79 F. MSP high on May 17, 2021.

May 18, 1980: Mt. St. Helens erupts. The smoke plume eventually rises to 80,000 feet, circling the earth in 19 days. Brilliant sunsets due to the smoke are seen over Minnesota for days afterward.

May 18, 1933: Tornadoes hit McLeod and Mower counties.

WEDNESDAY: Some sun, stray T-storm. Winds: SW 7-12. High: 72

THURSDAY: Showers and T-storms, some severe? Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 54. High: 70

FRIDAY: Showers taper, windy and cooler. Winds: W 15-30+ Wake-up: 55. High: 66

SATURDAY: What May? Mostly cloudy, brisk. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 43. High: 52

SUNDAY: Partly sunny and cool. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 41. High: 57

MONDAY: Periods of rain. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 45. High: 55

TUESDAY: More showers, still chilly. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 48. High: 57

Climate Stories…

Shut Down Fossil Fuel Production Sites Early to Avoid Climate Chaos, Says Study. The Guardian explains: “Nearly half of existing fossil fuel production sites need to be shut down early if global heating is to be limited to 1.5C, the internationally agreed goal for avoiding climate catastrophe, according to a new scientific study. The assessment goes beyond the call by the International Energy Agency in 2021 to stop all new fossil fuel development to avoid the worst impacts of global heating, a statement seen as radical at the time. The new research reaches its starker conclusion by not assuming that new technologies will be able to suck huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere to compensate for the burning of coal, oil and gas. Experts said relying on such technologies was a risky gamble…”

Hurricane Harvey Rainfall Estimates

New Texas Plan for Federal Hurricane Harvey Aid Again Diverts Money Away from Coast. The Texas Tribune has the post; here’s an excerpt: “…After the land office awarded $1 billion of the aid last year, giving the city of Houston nothing, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development accused Bush’s office of discriminating against Black and Latino Texans. The land office had an opportunity to correct these inequities as it developed a new spending plan. But an analysis by The Texas Tribune found that the land office is on track to follow a similar pattern as it prepares to allocate the next $1.2 billion of the federal aid. The agency’s revised plan will once again send a disproportionately high share of money to inland counties with lower risk of natural disasters. Residents in the counties that will benefit most are also significantly whiter and more conservative than those receiving the least aid, an outcome some Democrats view with suspicion as Bush competes for the Republican nomination for attorney general this month...”

Climate Central

The Southwest’s Drought and Fires are a Window to Our Climate Change Future. ProPublica connects the dots with an interview: “…The concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere has reached its highest level in recorded human history. Again. In April, the level of CO2 was 27% higher than it was 50 years ago, according to the latest data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. (Methane, a gas with about 85 times the near-term warming effect of CO2, has risen more than 16% since 1984, the first full year that NOAA collected data.) Each spring, going back decades, we have surpassed the previous year’s CO2 record, as humans continue burning hydrocarbons at breathtaking rates, releasing greenhouse gasses. That impacts temperatures, precipitation, the intensity of storms and other weather patterns. Across the American Southwest, this has amplified record droughts and fires…”

Extreme Heat Drops Birds From Sky In South Asia: Climate Nexus has details, headlines and links: “The oppressive heatwave blanketing India and Pakistan is, if anything, getting worse. Jacobabad, Pakistan, hit 122°F (50°C) on Friday. “It’s like fire burning all around,” Shafi Mohammad, who lives on the outskirts of the city, told AFP. Birds literally fell from the sky in India’s western Gujarat state last week, as the extreme heat dries up water sources, increasing exhaustion and dehydration for avian and human beings alike.” (Jacobabad: AFP, Al Jazeera; Birds: Reuters, Business Insider; Water shortages: Bloomberg $; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves; Commentary: The BMJ, Yogesh Jain and Rachna Jain commentary)

The Kids Are Not OK. An Op-Ed at Yale Climate Connections delves into the frustrations felt by many younger people right now when it comes to climate action: “…So I learned a lot today. I learned that the youth who brought the climate crisis to the attention of the world don’t necessarily see that attention as a victory. Back then, when there was silence and denial, inaction could be explained by climate not being enough of a topic for anyone to care or act. In great part due to the climate strikes of 2018-2019, climate skyrocketed to the top of the agenda, on the surface at least. And as a result, inaction is now perceived as a deliberate, inevitable choice. The grown-ups (and their grown-ups) know they are hurting and harming the youth and they are still doing it. The hurt and despair are immense. No wonder the high school students were muttering while I was pontificating to them about emissions and degrees of warming and impacts. None of that is seen to matter. It’s like coming to a Victorian school and pointing out to the students that sticks are used to beat them, and that beatings hurt. Like, duh. They know already. What they need to know is how to take the stick away from the adults. They need to know how to become a counter-power who can take away our ability to harm them...”

What Is Your Home’s Wildfire Risk Score? Every Single U.S. Home Gets a New Rating. A post at The Daily Beast caught my eye: “With global warming to blame for a spike in wildfires across the U.S., a private firm has just made it possible to check the level of risk by ZIP Code. First Street Foundation released its searchable database on Monday, and gives a ranking to each home in the U.S. based on past events, current risks, and future projections. A map that shows darkened areas in fire-prone regions also provides a handy tool for those who might not know the risks to their region. “For too long, we have let people live in communities, and even attracted them to join a community, while keeping them in a state of ignorance about the risk that they’re under,” Roy Wright, a former head of risk mitigation at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who was involved in the project, told TheNew York Times...”

To check on your home’s wildfire and flood risk score click on