A Fairly Decent Holiday Weekend Coming

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest” wrote Ernest Hemingway in ‘A Moveable Feast’.

It’s hard not to be impacted by the Sturm and Drang of everyday weather. But if we pin happiness on the state of the atmosphere floating overhead, we’re setting ourselves up to be disappointed on a regular basis.

Spring has been cool & wet, but it can always be worse. Denver just picked up 3.4 inches of snow; the most May snow since 1975.

Send. Help.

Instability showers linger today, but the sun should be out most of Thursday, before the next slug of southern moisture delivers rainy splatter Thursday night thru midday Friday.

Holiday weekend weather looks a little better than average, especially Sunday and Memorial Day. The arrival of cooler air may set off PM clouds and a shower up north Saturday, otherwise sunshine should be the rule with highs in the low 70s. I’ve never been happier to see “average” temperatures on a 7-Day Outlook.

No hot fronts are brewing; shorts remain optional.

Natural A/C in Early June. We just can’t shake the Canadian air this spring, at least not over northern tier states. The 2 week trend shows intense heat for the south central and southeast USA, but a series of weak, clipper-like systems may provide natural cooling from the Twin Cities and Chicago to Detroit.

3 Problems With the Word “Bust” During Real-Time Weather Threats. Marshall Shepherd makes some good points in a post at Forbes: “...I personally don’ like the knee jerk “bust” declarations as a real-time event is unfolding. As a meteorologist, I certainly understand that when verification statistics are done, this event likely falls short of some of the messaging metrics associated with “outbreaks.”  From a meteorological perspective, was it a bust? If you are using the metrics of “45% coverage of tornadoes or long-track, violent tornadoes,” then the Monday outbreak probably doesn’t meet that threshold. However from a human toll perspective, I say “So what?” The messaging forced people to act and hazardous severe weather (and flooding often overlooked) happened. My concern is that our weather geekery and verification statistics don’t really matter to someone that was impacted…”
Map credit: “Severe weather outlook for May 20th 2019 as issued by the Storm Prediction Center.” NOAA.

10 Deadliest U.S. Tornadoes on Record. Fox News has a list, including the infamous Joplin, Missouri EF-5 in 2011: “…The massive EF-5 tornado that struck the city of Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011 killed 158 people and left over 1,000 injured. “The Joplin tornado is the deadliest since modern record keeping began in 1950 and is ranked 7th among the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history,” the NWS says on a factsheet. Among the 8,000 buildings destroyed by the strong twister included St. John’s Regional Medical Center, where five of the dead included patients. 2011 ended up being the fourth deadliest tornado year in U.S. history, according to the NWS…”

File image: National Weather Service.

Why 2 Tornadoes 71 Years Ago Are the Most Important in U.S. History. Credit some courageous forecasters willing to buck tradition and risk public hysteria by mentioning a risk of tornadoes. Here’s a clip from The Weather Channel: “…Fawbush and Miller would go on to issue additional tornado forecasts with amazing accuracy for the mid-20th century.”Of 75 tornado forecasts issued by the Fawbush-Miller method, 67 have been verified by teletype messages, newspaper clippings and highway patrol reports,” according to a Tinker AFB press release. Their success prompted the Weather Bureau, now known as the National Weather Service, to establish the Severe Weather Unit in 1952. This unit, later renamed the National Severe Storms Forecast Center and now known as the Storm Prediction Center, began issuing its first severe weather outlooks in 1953. You have to wonder where severe weather forecasting would be today if it wasn’t for the twin Tinker tornadoes…”

File photo credit: “A large airplane destroyed by the second Tinker Air Force Base tornado on March 25, 1948, just five days after the first. This tornado was preceded by the first tornado warning ever issued.” NOAA Weather Library.

“Water is What is Killing People”: Hurricanes Could Cause Catastrophic Flooding in Florida. MSN.com has some updated results which turns old assumptions on their head: “…When people close their eyes and envision a hurricane, most will conjure wind-related images, National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said. “Water is what’s killing people,” Graham said during the conference. He cited these statistics:

• 83% of U.S. tropical cyclone fatalities the past three years were water-related (excluding Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico).

• Only 4% of water-related deaths were spawned by storm surge. Inland flooding accounted for the other 96%.

• More than half of those water-related deaths were vehicle-related...”

September 14, 2018 Geocolor file image: AerisWeather.

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…”

MSP: 8th Wettest Start on Record. Praedictix meteorologist Todd Nelson shared the following nuggets with me: “MSP has received 3.71″ of liquid so far this month, which is the 18th wettest start to any MAY on record. MSP has received 12.64″ of liquid so far this year (through May 19th), which makes it the 8th wettest start to any YEAR on record!” Note that 7 out of the 10 wettest starts to any year since 1872 have been observed since 1983.

Will a Cool, Wet Pattern Prevail? Cool springs can, in fact, shed some light on the summers that follow, according to Dr. Mark Seeley at Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…The new seasonal outlook for the USA released on Thursday (May 16) suggests that for our region of the country we will see a cooler and wetter than normal climate pattern prevail across most of the state. This is further reinforced by history which shows that a strong prevalence of cooler than normal temperatures throughout the spring is most often a precursor to a cooler than normal growing season (something we refer to as a serial correlation). It is not a guarantee by any means, but the probability is certainly stacked in favor of cooler and wetter. Remember too, that a majority of the recent growing seasons in Minnesota have been warmer and wetter…”

EPA Checks Its (Deadly) Math on Pollution: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “The EPA is changing how it calculates the number of premature deaths from pollution under the administration’s proposed replacement of the Clean Power Plan by excluding the health co-benefits of reduced PM2.5 pollution, the New York Times reports. The agency’s own analysis last August found that the Affordable Clean Energy rule could cause an additional 1,400 deaths per year by 2030 in addition to thousands of new cases of upper respiratory problems and tens of thousands of missed school days, adding up to between $1.4 billion and $3.9 billion in health costs each year. EPA air chief and former industry lobbyist Bill Wehrum confirmed that the agency’s final version of the rule in June would ignore the health impacts of particulate pollution, lowering the numbers calculated last August. Industry interests have long asked for this change in modeling the health impacts of particulate pollution.” (New York Times $)

File photo: Jim Cole, AP.

States Aren’t Waiting for the Trump Administration on Environmental Protections. The Washington Post explains: “More than a dozen states are moving to strengthen environmental protections to combat a range of issues from climate change to water pollution, opening a widening rift between stringent state policies and the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda.In recent months, Hawaii, New York and California have moved to ban a widely used agricultural pesticide linked to neurological problems in children, even as the administration has resisted such restrictions. Michigan and New Jersey are pushing to restrict a ubiquitous class of chemical compounds that have turned up in drinking water, saying they can no longer wait for the Environmental Protection Agency to take action…”

Photo credit: “A pump jack over an oil well in Colorado, which is tightening its methane emission regulations.” (David Zalubowski/AP).

Xcel Sunsets Coal Plants: Midwest utility giant Xcel Energy will close its two remaining coal plants in Minnesota a decade ahead of schedule, the company said Monday. Plans to close the Allen S. King and Sherco 3 plants by 2030 are part of a larger move by the utility to slash its emissions: in December, CEO Ben Fowke announced Xcel plans to be completely carbon-free by 2050. In exchange for early closure of the two plants, Xcel will seek to keep its Monticello nuclear plant online through 2040, 10 years beyond its current license, as well as expand renewable generation. Environmental groups praised the move to close the coal plants but did not endorse Xcel’s broader plan, noting its continued reliance on natural gas and nuclear. (MPR News, Greentech Media, Bloomberg, Minneapolis Star-TribuneMinnPost)

Xcel Energy to End Coal Use and Include Nuclear in New Commitment to Renewables. Daily Energy Insider has more perspective: “…The plan features a general revamping of Xcel’s generating menu that has been in the works already:

• Adding 1,850 megawatts (MW) of wind generation by 2022;
• Adding 3,000 MW of solar capacity by 2030;
• Decommissioning the Allen S. King coal plant in 2028;
• Decommissioning the Sherco 3 coal plant in 2030;
• Restricting the amount of coal burned by the Sherco 2 plant, which is scheduled to be retired in 2023;
• Completing the previously announced purchase of the 730-MW gas-fired Mankato Energy Center from Southern Company later this year.

As for the Monticello facility, the new plan will require Xcel to renew the plant’s operating license in 2030; the last renewal was granted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2006. Xcel said the plant’s 671-MW capacity supplies about 10 percent of Xcel’s electricity in the upper Midwest with no greenhouse gas emissions…”

Will Your Next Car Be a Plug-In? Here’s an excerpt from Jennifer Bjorhus at Star Tribune: “...Of the state’s nearly 5 million registered vehicles, just 10,000 are electric (which means plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles, not conventional hybrids such as the Toyota Prius.) That’s about 0.2% of the overall fleet, well below leaders such as Washington state or California. But Minnesota’s electric future may be arriving sooner than people realize. There are about 27 electric car and SUV models on the market here, and more than 300 charging stations, including an electric corridor on Interstate 35 between Minneapolis and Duluth. Lightning advances in lithium-ion battery technology have dramatically improved performance and caused prices to fall “at a staggering pace,” according to Andrew Twite of Fresh Energy, a Twin Cities advocacy group…”
Photo credit: Glen Stubbe – Star Tribune. “Vendors showed off electric cars, e-bikes, an e-school bus and rooftop solar systems at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s electric vehicle showcase in St. Paul in April.”

Sears’ Seven Decades of Self-Destruction. Sad to see this happen – like many I have fond memories of getting lost at my local Sears. Fortune traces the decline: “…Almost every corporate demise can be traced to a blown CEO succession, and that was Sears’ first decisive error. Indeed, it could be regarded as five or six bad successions because the board perpetuated its error for 20 years. This error permitted a gradual accumulation of weaknesses that became almost insurmountable. The second decisive error was a bad strategic choice: to diversify heavily into financial services. The plan didn’t look bad at the time, and for a few years, it seemed to succeed. But in fact, it was disastrous. When the strategy was adopted in 1981, Sears was the king of retailing. By the time it was fully abandoned 12 years later, Sears was in decline, no longer the world’s or America’s largest retailer, and it had forever lost any chance of regaining the title…”
Photo credit: “Sign of the times: A closed Sears location in Nanuet, N.Y., in January.” Photograph by Mike Segar—Reuters.

AT&T Has Become a New Kind of Media Giant. And to think, it wasn’t that long ago that people were writing off “Ma Bell”. Fortune takes a deep dive: “…The grand vision begins with combining all the major elements of the media and telecom businesses, which no company has ever done before. Time Warner’s film and TV studios make some of the most successful and honored entertainment anywhere. Its cable networks—including TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, and Turner Classic Movies—are distribution powerhouses. DirecTV carries those networks and others into homes through its satellite system. Add in AT&T’s wireless and landline customers, and Stephenson boasts that AT&T has “170 million distribution points we can push this through.” With such a combination of media ­assets, the theory goes, AT&T can achieve unprecedented advantages. It can differentiate its fast-commoditizing wireless network by offering customers deals on its proprietary content…”

Italian Island Will Refund Your Hotel Room If It Rains. CNN Travel explains: “Even though there’s nothing a destination can do to guarantee perfect weather during vacation season, the Italian island of Elba — best known for being where Napoleon was exiled toward the end of his life — has a new program called “Elba No Rain,” where guests on the island during May can get their night’s hotel fee refunded if it rains. According to Elba’s official tourism site, “the overnight stay is free for days when there is rainfall for more than two hours between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.” To qualify for the deal, guests must be staying at one of an approved list of local inns and guesthouses that are participating in the program…”

Self-driving trucks are now carrying mail in U.S. Star Tribune has details: “Starting on Tuesday morning, letters and packages moving between Phoenix, Ariz., and Dallas will travel on customized Peterbilt trucks run by TuSimple, an autonomous startup based in San Diego, Calif. There will be five round trips between the two cities, with the first haul leaving from Phoenix. It’s the first time that the Postal Service has contracted with a provider of self-driving trucks for long-haul service. Self-driving trucks could save hundreds of millions of dollars by eliminating human drivers and the hours-of-service rules that keep them from driving round the clock...”

Would You Take a Flying Taxi? Yes I would – hope I live to see the day. CNN Business reports: “A flying taxi that you can order through an app? This German company plans to make that a reality in the next six years.  Munich-based startup Lilium unveiled its five-seater electric air taxi prototype on Thursday. The Lilium Jet, which conducted its first flight earlier this month, is part of an app-based flying taxi service that the company expects will be “fully-operational in various cities around the world by 2025.” The battery-powered jet is capable of traveling 300 kilometers (186 miles) in 60 minutes on a single charge, and will connect cities through a network of landing pads. Commuters will be able to book rides from their nearest landing pad through a smartphone app.  Lilium did not reveal how much its service will cost, but claims that it will be “comparable in price” with regular taxis…”

61 F. Twin Cities maximum temperature on Tuesday.

71 F. average high on May 21.

71 F. high temperature on May 21, 2018.

May 22, 2011: A strong EF-1 tornado with wind speeds up to 110 mph strikes north Minneapolis, causing extensive tree and structural damage. The tornado touched down in St. Louis Park and moved through north Minneapolis, lasting 14.25 miles before dissipating in Blaine after causing minor damage to the Anoka County Airport. The tornado reached a peak width of 1/2 mile.

May 22, 2001: Record cold high temperatures are set in over 30 cities in Minnesota, including a chilly 47 in the Twin Cities and 39 at Grand Rapids and Pine River. Half of an inch of snow falls at International Falls.

May 22, 1925: Temperatures take a nosedive from 100 to 32 degrees in 36 hours at New Ulm and Tracy.

WEDNESDAY: Windy with leftover showers. S 15-30. High: near 60

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, pleasant. Rain late. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 49. High: 66

FRIDAY: Shower into midday. Slow PM clearing. Winds: W 10-20. Wake-up: 54. High: 71

SATURDAY: Mix of clouds & sun. PM shower north. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 56. High: 72

SUNDAY: More sunshine, decent lake day. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 56. High: 74

MEMORIAL DAY: Plenty of sun, breezy. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: 54. High: near 70

TUESDAY: Heavy showers and T-storms. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 52. High: 64

Climate Stories….

Sea Levels Could Rise by 6+ Feet: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “Global sea levels could rise by as much as 6.5 feet, around twice the upper limit set out by the IPCC–by the end of the century in a worst-case scenario, experts caution in a new study. The study, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is based on expert estimates from 22 scientists and assumes the ongoing melt of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. While the 6.5-foot figure is based on unchecked emissions leading to an additional 5 degrees C of warming, the study’s authors caution that planners should factor in this scenario as they prepare for the future in a warming world. “Coastal decisions by and large require long lead times, and it would be nice if we could wait for the science to clear up, but we can’t,” study author Michael Oppenheimer told InsideClimate News. “If you knew there was a one-third or even 10 percent chance a plane would crash, you wouldn’t get on it. It’s the same with sea level rise.” (InsideClimate News, CNNUSA Today, BBC, New Scientist).

File image: Eric Risberg, AP.

Klobuchar Becomes 13th Democratic Candidate to Pledge Not to Accept Fossil Fuel Money. TheHill has details: “Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is joining the ranks of a dozen other 2020 presidential hopefuls in committing to limit fossil fuel donations to her campaign. Klobuchar announced on Twitter Monday that she would not take contributions over $200 from the fossil fuel industry, including executives, lobbyists or PACs, and would “instead prioritize the health of our families, climate, and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits.” The senator joins former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and others in signing the pledge, which was organized by youth climate group the Sunrise Movement. “This is essential to show young voters you stand with our generation, not fossil fuel CEOs,” Sunrise tweeted Monday in response to Klobuchar’s signing…”

The Big Climate-Change Disconnect. Many of us want action, but when price comes up we change the subject, according to data crunched by Axios: “More people around the world say they’re worried about climate change — but that concern is not translating into a willingness to pay more for energy or vote for candidates supporting aggressive action on the issue. Driving the news: At least 3 recent developments show this stark disconnect: In Australia, Washington state and France.

  • Australians voted against politicians campaigning on addressing climate change in their national elections last weekend. This is despite polling showing desire for immediate action at 61%, a near record high and close to where it was a decade ago.
  • In the 2018 midterm elections, Washington state voters rejected — for the second time — a proposal to price carbon emissions…”

Illustration credit: Rebecca Zisser/Axios.

Will Climate Change Create Deadlier Tropical Storms? Pacific Standard analyzes the trends; here’s a clip: “…How else cyclones will respond to climate change is less clear. Scientists are confident that sea level rises will exacerbate flooding caused by storm surges, and that tropical cyclone rainfall rates will increase as climates warm because of more evaporated seawater in the atmosphere. “We are a little less confident that hurricane intensities are going to increase, and the expected size of that is relatively modest,” says hurricane expert Tom Knutson from NOAA, adding that a temperature increase of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) will probably lead to around a 5 percent increase in average hurricane intensities...”

File image: NASA.

Earth Experiences Second Hottest April on Record. TheHill has details: “This past April was the second hottest in recorded history, according to data released by the Japan Meteorological Agency. The report found that April 2019 was the second hottest month since records began in 1891, rivaled only by April 2016. Five of the hottest recorded Aprils have occurred in the past decade, according to the agency, with April 2017 and 2018 being the third and fourth hottest months respectively across the globe. April 2014 and 1998 tied for fifth. This April’s temperatures were 0.43 degrees Celsius above the recorded average, the data found...”

Graphic: Japan Meteorological Agency.

Are Hurricanes Getting Stronger – and Is the Climate Crisis to Blame? The Guardian has perspective: “…While the overall number of hurricanes has remained roughly the same in recent decades, there is evidence they are intensifying more quickly, resulting in a greater number of the most severe category four and five storms. The proportion of tropical storms that rapidly strengthen into powerful hurricanes has tripled over the past 30 years, according to recent research. A swift increase in pace over a 24-hour period makes hurricanes less predictable, despite improving hurricane forecasting systems, and more likely to cause widespread damage. The devastation unleashed by recent hurricanes has led to warnings that premiums may rise as insurers face ballooning claims. A record $135bn was paid out by insurers in North America in 2017, mostly as a result of hurricane damages…”

Apple’s Tim Cook Says His Generation Failed on Climate Change. CNN Business has the story; here’s an excerpt: “Apple CEO Tim Cook says his generation failed on climate change. “We spent too much time debating,” Cook told Tulane University graduates during a commencement speech in New Orleans on Saturday. “We’ve been too focused on the fight and not focused enough on progress — and you don’t need to look far to find an example of that failure.” During his 15-minute speech, Cook, 58, called on the students to do better for humanity and to ignore the political noise around the climate change issue in order to make a real difference. “This problem doesn’t get any easier based on whose side wins or loses an election,” he said, adding that people should stop and think about why some deny climate science...”