Rain? May As Well Go Shopping…

I was up north last weekend, chatting up a shop owner who filled me in on a dirty little secret. “Nobody wants to say it out loud, but rainy weekends are good for business. If people can’t get on the lakes they self-medicate with shopping.” she whispered. Remind me where I can buy a hot front or two?

On that subject, just so I don’t bury the lede: NOAA’s GFS weather model is predicting 90F here in less than 2 weeks. Yeah. yeah. I’m skeptical too. Considering it was 100F on Memorial Day, 2018, a sudden heat spike isn’t out of the question after a long cool spell.

Damaging tornadoes pushed across southeast Minnesota yesterday afternoon, a reminder that May and June are peak severe weather months. As much as 2-4 inches of rain soaked southern counties; a few week’s worth of rain, falling in 24 hours. We get a break today, more showers Wednesday, and then we warm up, with a shot at 80F by Friday. T-storms prowl the state Saturday, Sunday will be the nicer day for outdoor plans.

It’s official: welcome to a warm front recession.

Memorial Day Tornadoes. There was at least one confirmed touchdown yesterday in far southern Minnesota, according to the La Crosse office of the National Weather Service: “A low pressure system moved from the Central Plains to across northeast Iowa during late afternoon on Monday, May 27th (Memorial Day). The storm system brought clouds and widespread rain (moderate to heavy at times) to much of southeast Minnesota and western/central Wisconsin, but south of Interstate 90, the atmosphere was favorable for more. For those locations, a mix of sun and clouds and a warmer, more moist airmass coupled with strong, veering winds (winds shear) that could (and would) support thunderstorms capable of tornadoes. A couple did develop: one near Charles City, IA and the other around Lime Springs, IA. Both tracks were north northeast and eventually came to an end in Fillmore Co, MN.”

First Hot Front of 2019? I know, I’ll believe it when I see it – not on a weather model but staring out at my back yard thermometer. If NOAA’s GFS forecast for 500mb winds the evening of June 10 verifies a hot ridge of high pressure is forecast to build across the central USA and Canada, which could be good for a streak of 80s and 90s. Time will tell if it’s a fluke or a true trend.

100 Degrees on Memorial Day, 2018. Seems like a long time ago, huh? The Minnesota DNR jogs our memories: “On May 28, 2018 the mercury reached 100 degrees at the Twin Cities International Airport. This is the earliest reading of 100 degrees at the official Twin Cities reporting site since 1871. A large area of high pressure entrenched across the midsection of the country set the stage for a pre-summer heat wave. From May 24-29, 2018 the mercury climbed at or above 90 degrees for six days in a row, the second most number of 90 degree maximum temperatures or higher in May for the Twin Cities, with only 1934 having more 90 degree days with eight. The 100-degree reading set the maximum temperature record for May 28, breaking the old record of 98 in 1934. The highest temperature found statewide was 102 at Madison in Lac Qui Parle County in west central Minnesota…”

Photo credit: “Thermometer on May 28, 2018.” Courtesy: MNDNR State Climatology Office.

Great Lakes Have Gotten Greater. Duluth News Tribune reports: “Three of the five Great Lakes are at or above record high water levels for May and the other two are getting close as a winter of heavy snow and a spring of heavy rains continues to flow downstream. And with wet weather now expected to continue for at least the short term, new all-time record lake levels are possible in late summer or early fall when the lakes hit their usual yearly peaks. Lake Superior sat at 183.8 meters at mid-week, above the record May average of 183.7 set in 1986…Lake Superior is so high that, when northeast winds push toward Duluth, the water is flowing upstream against the St. Louis River, flooding boat landings and docks well away from the lake…”

Image credit: News Tribune graphic, source: U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

Forecasters Predict Up to 8 Hurricanes in “Near Normal” 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season. TCPalm has details of NOAA’s prediction: “The federal government predicted a near-normal hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin, expecting four to eight hurricanes. A normal season can still be disastrous, since “it only takes one,” warned Neil Jacobs, acting administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which released the forecast. Overall, NOAA said nine to 15 named storms will develop. This number includes tropical storms. A tropical storm contains wind speeds of 39 mph or higher and becomes a hurricane when winds reach 74 mph. Of the four to eight hurricanes, two to four could be major, packing wind speeds of 111 mph or higher…”

Here’s How to Build a Hurricane-Resistant House – Not as Expensive as You May Think. CNBC.com has a very interesting story: “...The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety has gone even further. A decade ago it created a “fortified home” standard to protect against hurricanes and hail. It is a voluntary guideline, and so far only 8,000 homes nationwide have built to that designation. Those that do sell for 7% more, according to a University of Alabama study. The standard has three levels, bronze, silver and gold, with the last being the highest protection. Since Florida’s codes are already so high, building to the gold standard there wouldn’t add much to the price of construction. But in areas that have weak codes or lack them altogether, the gold standard would be much more costly…”

Frigid Offices Might Be Killing Women’s Productivity. The Atlantic confirms your worst suspicions regarding frigid office spaces: “…Now a new paper confirms what many of us have long suspected. Women don’t just prefer warmer office temperatures. They perform better in them, too. For the study, published today in the journal PLOS One, the researchers Tom Chang and Agne Kajackaite had 543 college students in Berlin take different types of tests in a room set to various temperatures between 61 and 91 degrees Fahrenheit. When the room was warmer, women answered more questions on the math and verbal tests and got more questions right. A 1-degree Celsius increase in the room’s temperature was associated with a nearly 2 percent increase in the number of math questions the women correctly answered, and a 1 percent increase in their performance on the verbal task. The men, meanwhile, did better at cooler temperatures…”

Voters are Bullish on Electric Vehicles, but There’s a Partisan Gap. Axios explains: “A newly released poll shows partisan differences over electric vehicles but nonetheless has bullish data for those excited about rapid expansion of what’s still a niche market. 44% of voters plan to go electric when they replace their wheels in the next 5 years, including over half of Democrats. Why it matters: EVs are growing fast, but cars with a plug are still in the low single digits of total U.S. car sales.

  • We’ll have to wait and see how many of those “likely” answers actually translate into actual new sales, but it’s still a sign of strong consumer interest...”

Graphic credit: “Climate Nexus poll conducted April 16-17, 2019 among 1,939 registered U.S. voters.” Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios.

Netflix Has 175 Days Left to Pull Off a Miracle, Or It’s All Over. Truth or hype? One analyst lays out a fairly convincing scenario at Forbes; here’s an excerpt: “…Picture this…Disney puts a blockbuster like Avengers Endgame on its platform the same day it opens in theaters. After a few weeks it’s no longer in theaters. You can’t buy it. You can’t rent it. The only way to watch is to subscribe to Disney’s steaming service, Disney+. For example, the only place your children or grandchildren will be able to see Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2 may be on Disney+. Can you imagine how many parents will sign up for this? I’ll certainly be subscribing for my daughter. At $6.99/month, what family with kids under 12 years wouldn’t subscribe?…”

Image credit: AdExchanger.

New York to London in 90 Minutes? CNN Travel has the tantalizingly expensive details: “A US start-up has revealed plans to develop a plane that will travel at five times the speed of sound, transporting passengers between New York and London in 90 minutes or less.  Aerospace company Hermeus Corporation, based in Atlanta, said it has obtained finance from seed funders and private investors to develop a plane that will travel at Mach 5 — five times faster than Mach 1, the speed of sound.  If the project succeeds, it could revolutionize commercial transatlantic flights. Currently, air travel between London and New York takes more than seven hours…”

Chevy Has a Surprise for Teens Who Refuse to Buckle Up. Sounds like a very good idea to me. NPR has details: “Know a young driver who’s ignoring your pleas to buckle up? Chevrolet suggests you might try to see if they’ll listen to a different authority figure: their car.  The automaker is introducing a feature, specifically for teen drivers, that will temporarily block the auto from shifting into gear if their seat belt isn’t buckled. A message will alert the driver to buckle up in order to shift into gear.  After 20 seconds, the vehicle will operate normally…”

Image credit: “Chevrolet’s new Buckle to Drive feature, available on some 2020 models, is set when the vehicle is in Teen Driver mode.” John F. Martin for Chevrolet.

Worried About Weather For Your Cruise? So is James Van Fleet. And here I thought I had a pretty good gig. The New York Times explains: “…James Van Fleet joined Royal Caribbean International two years ago, after more than two decades as a meteorologist on television and radio. As the first full-time, on-staff chief meteorologist for both the company and the cruise industry, a position he calls a “dream job,” he travels around the world and works with cruise staff to keep travelers safe. He has helped dozens of captains navigate through storms and heavy rain, fog and other inclement weather. His job also involves forecasting the weather weeks ahead, to help the company’s shoreside and shipboard teams decide if they should cancel, reroute or reschedule cruises...”

Photo credit: “James Van Fleet, chief meteorologist for Royal Caribbean Cruises, tracks the weather around the world for dozens of ships.” Credit: Royal Caribbean.

Owners of Biblical Replica of Noah’s Ark Sue Over (Wait for It) Rain Damage. Courier Journal has the unlikely details: “The owner of the life-size replica of Noah’s Ark in Northern Kentucky has sued its insurers for refusing to cover, of all things … rain damage. Ark Encounter, which unveiled the 510-foot-long model in 2016, says that heavy rains in 2017 and 2018 caused a landslide on its access road, and its five insurance carriers refused to cover nearly $1 million in damages. In a 77-page lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Ark Encounter asks for compensatory and punitive damages. The ark itself was not damaged and the road has been rebuilt, according to the suit…”

Image credit: “The Ark Encounter confirms beliefs to some in Williamstown as others protest the message and tax use of the $100 million dollar wooden edifice.” Matt Stone, The CJ.

1.83″ rain soaked the Twin Cities on Monday.

6.68″ rain so far in May in the Twin Cities.

64 F. high yesterday at MSP.

73 F. average high on May 27.

91 F. high on May 27, 2018.

May 28, 1965: Late season snow falls across much of Minnesota with Duluth and Caribou reporting an inch.

TUESDAY: Peeks of sun, drying out. Winds: NE 8-13. High: 64

WEDNESDAY: Showers central & southern Minnesota. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 56. High: 62

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, getting better. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 55. High: 77

FRIDAY: Warm sun, late-day T-storm? Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 60. High: 82

SATURDAY: Unsettled, few T-storms in the area. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 63. High: 77

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, nicer day of weekend. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 59. High: 74

MONDAY: Warm winds, T-storms western MN. Winds: SE 15-25. Wake-up: 60. High: near 80

Climate Stories….

For the Midwest, Epic Flooding is the Face of Climate Change. Here’s a clip from a story at WIRED.com: “…More recent work, published in February by scientists at the University of Notre Dame, shows that floods aren’t just getting more frequent—they’ll also get more powerful in the future. Using a statistical method to blend data from global climate models with local information, the researchers predicted that the severity of extreme hydrologic events, so-called 100-year floods, hitting 20 watersheds in the Midwest and Great Lakes region will increase by as much as 30 percent by the end of the century. The approach, called “downscaling,” has been used to look at hydrological dynamics in other parts of the country before, but it was never applied to the Midwest. “What we’re seeing is that the past really is not a good predictor of the future,” says the study’s lead author, Kyuhyun Byun. “Especially when it comes to extreme weather events…”

File image: John Sommers II. Reuters.

Climate Change Visualized: How Earth’s Temperature Has Changed Since 1970. Axios looks at global trends: “2018 was Earth’s 4th-warmest year on record, coming in behind 2016, the planet’s warmest recorded year, as well as 2015 and 2017, according to information released by NOAA, NASA and the U.K. Met Office. Why it matters: The yearly rankings don’t tell the whole story of long-term climate change, since natural variability can still push or pull an individual year up or down the rankings. However, the overall picture is growing starker with each passing year. Nine of the 10 warmest years on record since reliable data began in 1880 have occurred since 2005. At the same time, greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels — as well as deforestation and intensive agriculture — have skyrocketed to levels not seen in more than 800,000 years...”

Graphic credit: NASA GISS; Graphic: Harry Stevens/Axios.

Ocean Winds and Waves Are Getting Higher and Stronger. Here’s an excerpt of research highlighted at Pursuit, at the University of Melbourne: “…But our new research, published in Science, shows that these waves, and the winds that generate them, are increasing in magnitude and have been doing so for the last 30 years. These new measurements show that global average wave conditions are increasing but, more importantly, extreme wave conditions are increasing even more rapidly with the largest increases occurring in the Southern Ocean. We found that extreme winds in the Southern Ocean have increased by approximately 1.5 metres per second or 8 per cent over the last 30 years. Similarly, extreme waves in this same region have increased by 30 centimetres or 5 per cent. Generally, winds are increasing at a faster rate than the waves…We used data from a total of 31 satellites that were in orbit between 1985 and 2018. For more than thirty years, these satellites made approximately 4 billion measurements of wind speed and wave height…”

New Studies Increase Confidence in Measure of Earth’s Temperature. NASA has the story: “A new assessment of NASA’s record of global temperatures revealed that the agency’s estimate of Earth’s long-term temperature rise in recent decades is accurate to within less than a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit, providing confidence that past and future research is correctly capturing rising surface temperatures. The most complete assessment ever of statistical uncertainty within the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) data product shows that the annual values are likely accurate to within 0.09 degrees Fahrenheit (0.05 degrees Celsius) in recent decades, and 0.27 degrees Fahrenheit (0.15 degrees C) at the beginning of the nearly 140-year record. This data record, maintained by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, is one of a handful kept by major science institutions around the world that track Earth’s temperature and how it has risen in recent decades. This global temperature record has provided one of the most direct benchmarks of how our home planet’s climate has changed as greenhouse gas concentrations rise. The study also confirms what researchers have been saying for some time now: that Earth’s global temperature increase since 1880 – about 2 degrees Fahrenheit, or a little more than 1 degree Celsius – cannot be explained by any uncertainty or error in the data…”

Image credit: “Earth’s long-term warming trend can be seen in this visualization of NASA’s global temperature record, which shows how the planet’s temperatures are changing over time, compared to a baseline average from 1951 to 1980. The record is shown as a running five-year average.” Credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Kathryn Mersmann.

Climate Change is Making Allergy Season Worse. No kidding. Vox has details: “Allergy season is upon us once again. And if it seems as though your allergies are getting worse year after year, it’s not just your imagination. Pollen is a fine powder produced as part of the sexual reproductive cycle of many varieties of plants. It is also the culprit behind the seasonal allergies that one in five Americans suffers from. As climate change warms the planet, pollen season is not only getting more intense, it’s getting longer. What’s more, pollen is becoming more potent for allergic people. This is a problem — whether you suffer from seasonal allergies or not. Check out the video above to find out what effects rising temperatures have on pollen production and how pollen season is changing in your city…”

This AI Shows What Climate Change Could Do To Your House by 2050. Fast Company reports: “Climate change has a NIMBY problem. That’s short for “not in my backyard,” and while the threat of a warming world may finally be getting more social and political traction than ever, for most people it’s still something that happens far away, whether it’s at polar ice caps or on distant islands. That’s why some AI researchers from Montreal decided to create a system for generating hyper-personalized visuals about the impact climate change is likely to have in 50 years. How personalized? Try the most literally “IMBY” visual you can imagine: a picture of your own house, flooded out by rising sea levels...”

Image credit: Mila.

Climate Change, Predicting Floods and the Impact on People. A story at 3NewsNow in Omaha caught my eye: “…Just to give you an idea: The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration shows that from 2008-2018, the average temperature in a place like Omaha rose by 3.3 degrees. This has led to more rain…nearly 4 inches in the same time period. “Not the intensity of the rain but the frequency of intense rainfall throughout the state,” says Krajewski. A warming climate and old levee system is a recipe for disaster…immeasurable for a small-town economy. The center created an incredibly accurate map showing a 100-year flood using the city of Hamburg. It’s accurate to the event in March, right down to the streets…”