Shocker: Odds Favor Mostly-Nice Holiday Weekend

Which were you more bummed out about, the finale to Game of Thrones or last weekend’s apocalyptically-bad weather? Seems like a draw.

You can’t blame Minnesotans for being upset. Summers are notoriously short enough as it is. Take away balmy weekends in May and September and we become indignant. We feel cheated.

One silver lining: we’ve been on the chilly, soggy, stable side of major storms, so severe T-storm outbreaks have stayed south of Minnesota. And odds are there won’t be a drought this summer at the rate we’re going. If you’re keeping score 12.64 inches of rain fell since January 1; the 8th wettest to start to any year since 1872.

More heavy rain arrives later today and tonight; yet another surge of southern moisture late Thursday into Friday morning. Models hint at slow clearing on Friday and sunshine much of Saturday and even Sunday. Showers may stay just south and west of Minnesota most of the holiday weekend, but storms may return on Memorial Day. I’m anxious to ditch my sweatshirt. Low 70s Friday into Sunday should feel amazing!

ECMWF Predicted Rainfall by Midday Wednesday. European guidance forecasts nearly an inch  of rain for much of the metro area, with the heaviest amounts south/west of the Minnesota River. Map: WeatherBell.

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…”

Consistent 80s by Early June? Yes, please. I’m anxious to whine about the dew point and the heat index, and the GFS 500mb wind forecast roughly 2 weeks out suggest a building ridge of high pressure over the eastern USA with a more typical, summerlike pattern for much of the USA east of the Plains

Here are some of the graphics I showed on TPT “Almanac” Friday evening:

Cool Summer Bias? Confidence levels are low, but a lingering El Nino may increase the odds of a cooler summer for Minnesota and the central USA. My hope is the models are wrong and we’ll all be pleasantly surprised.

Wet Rut To Continue? We’ll see – NOAA guidance shows the best odds of wet weather June, July and August from the central Rockies into the Plains.

Flooding in Chicago Is So Bad in Past Decade That Only Place Ravaged by Hurricanes Have Seen More Damage. Say what? As story at Chicago Tribune was an eye-opener; here’s an excerpt: “…Chronic flooding in the Chicago area likely costs billions more than government data indicates, the new report’s authors concluded, noting that damages aren’t assessed unless the president approves a disaster declaration. Researchers are only beginning to understand the cumulative effects of neighborhoods flooding and sewage backing up into basements time and time again. “Hurricanes understandably get all the attention, but try telling that to somebody whose home just flooded for the third time in the past year,” said Sam Brody, one of the report’s authors and a Texas A&M University professor who considers urban flooding a largely overlooked threat to the well-being of millions of Americans. Climate change is making the problem worse…”

Photo credit: “Valdora Winston, 82, checks on the sewer water flooding the basement of her home in Auburn Gresham neighborhood in Chicago on May 9, 2019.” (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune).

Climate Change May Subtly Shift Tornado Alley. It’s all about the position of the dry line (as well as low-level shear). Axios takes a look at the trends: “While scientists prowl the Plains in search of monster storms, others are looking at broader-scale trends that show tantalizing clues about how Tornado Alley may be shifting both geographically and temporally as the climate changes. Why it matters: The U.S. has the greatest number of tornadoes of any nation on Earth, and where they occur affects emergency management preparations, insurance markets and individual decisions on whether to build a storm shelter. If, as global warming continues, Tornado Alley migrates, or outbreaks become more massive, this would shift the risk distribution. Details: According to Harold Brooks, a senior researcher at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Oklahoma, the overall number of tornadoes of EF-1 intensity or greater touching down in the U.S. each year has not changed in a statistically significant way, averaging around 500…”

Map credit: “Adapted from Gensini and Brooks, npj Climate and Atmospheric Science 2018. DOI: 10.1038/s41612-018-0048-2.” Data: NOAA; Map: Harry Stevens/Axios.

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).

Inside the Long War to Protect Plastic. Protect corporate profits at all cost – the environment be damned. Here’s an excerpt from The Center for Public Integrity: “…The plastics industry — from the chemical giants making the building blocks of plastic to companies using the packaging to sell their products — has been waging that war for more than 30 years. It has pumped millions of dollars into pro-plastic marketing, high-profile lawsuits and lobbyists who travel the country promising that recycling, not bans, presents the best way forward. All this despite decades of repeated warnings about weak recycling markets and plastic pollution problems. Today, about a dozen states restrict local governments from regulating plastic items, while only two (with a third pending) have passed statewide plastic-bag bans. And manufacturers are profiting from a plastics boom. According to the research firm the Freedonia Group, by 2025, the plastic packaging market will be worth roughly $365 billion…”
Photo credit: “Youths scavenge for plastic at a garbage-strewn dam in Jakarta, Indonesia. Much of the plastic collected for recycling in the United States has been shipped overseas, adding to waste problems in Asia.” (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana).

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.

Yes, Robots Are Coming For Your Jobs – So You Better Have Skills. Here’s a snippet from an article at The Motley Fool: “…Automation has been replacing manual labor since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. When it became cheaper to haul goods using trains compared to wagons, some wagon-driving teamsters lost their jobs. Forklifts have replaced strong people in countless moving-things-around roles, and self-checkout machines have certainly lessened demand for cashiers. It’s a simple cost-benefit analysis. If a company can afford the upfront investment in machines to do any set of tasks, and the payoff in terms of lower workforce expenses will outweigh the costs, those tasks will become automated. Nobody questions why retailers use a point-of-sale systems to track sales and inventory instead of physical ledger books. Eventually, nobody will question the use of automation in warehouses, or on the shopping floor...”

Minnesota: 3rd Least Sexy Accent in the USA? Are you kidding me? At least we beat out New Jersey and Long Island, although I still disagree with results at “Whether the voice of Pauly D does it for you or you’re more of a Mark Wahlberg fan, it’s true to say that some accents are saucier than others. America is uniquely diverse when it comes to dialects, with the country’s vast history of immigrants influencing how people talk from coast to coast. Following on from sample survey results of our 1.5million social audience, we have the official ranking of the sexiest – and least sexy – accents in the USA. Consider yourself very lucky if your accent is among the Top 10…”
File photo: Star Tribune.

Taco Bell is Opening a Hotel. Because, why not. CNN explains: “Taco Bell is opening a hotel — sort of — to give it an edge over other fast food chains.  For five nights in August, Taco Bell is taking over a Palm Springs hotel and turning it into The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel and Resort in Palm Springs. The Bell will feature new and traditional Taco Bell menu items, a Taco Bell gift shop, Taco Bell nail art and more. Stunts like this one give fast food chains a chance to set themselves apart in a crowded market, where value meals may not be enough. Ideally, they raise brand awareness and create buzz around the brand on social channels...”

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…”

63 F. high in the Twin Cities on Monday.

71 F. average high on May 20.

73 F. high on May 20, 2018.

May 21, 1960: A downpour at New Prague dumps 10 inches of rain in a 48 hour period.

TUESDAY: Windy, heavy PM rain.Winds: E 20-40. High: 56

WEDNESDAY: Windy with showers tapering. Milder. Winds: SW 10-20. Wake-up: 50. High: 72

THURSDAY: Dry start, late PM showers, T-storms. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 55. High: 71

FRIDAY: Wet start, then skies clear. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 60. High: 77

SATURDAY: Plenty of sun, less humid. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 58. High: 72

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and some sunshine. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 56. High: 71

MEMORIAL DAY: Dry start, PM showers & T-storms. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 59. High: 68

Climate Stories….

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...”

Stay or Go? As Weather Gets Wilder, States Urged to Prepare for Displacement. Thomson Reuters Foundation has the story: “…Figures released by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) in Geneva on Thursday showed disasters had caused an average of 24 million new displacements each year since 2008, more than three times the number for conflict and violence. In a report, the IDMC said extreme weather accounted for more than 87 percent of all disaster displacement, warning the problem was likely to get worse. “The impacts of climate change and the increasing concentration of populations in areas exposed to storms and floods mean that ever more people are at risk of being displaced,” the report noted...”

File photo: “Typhoon Haiyan survivors stand at the entrance of a toppled house that had become a makeshift shelter in Tacloban city in central Philippines December 15, 2013.” REUTERS/Erik De Castro.

How the Mental Health Community is Bracing for the Impact of Climate Change. Eco-anxiety is already on the rise, reports Rolling Stone: “…The fourth federally mandated National Climate Assessment, released in late 2018, lists mental health consequences and stress among the outcomes driven by increased temperatures, extreme weather and sea-level rise. “The last two years, the conversation has shifted toward climate change,” says Reggie Ferreira, editor of the journal Traumatology and director of Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy. “We see disaster causing trauma, but climate change is intensifying the disaster. We need to focus on what’s intensifying these disasters and get people prepared.” Mental health professionals have begun to mobilize against the threat. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has a half-dozen climate change–related sessions planned for its 2019 annual meeting…”

File image: AFP.

Why The Guardian is Changing the Language It Uses About the Environment. The Guardian explains: “The Guardian has updated its style guide to introduce terms that more accurately describe the environmental crises facing the world. Instead of “climate change” the preferred terms are “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” and “global heating” is favoured over “global warming”, although the original terms are not banned. “We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,” said the editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner. “The phrase ‘climate change’, for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.” “Increasingly, climate scientists and organisations from the UN to the Met Office are changing their terminology, and using stronger language to describe the situation we’re in,” she said...”

“Now I Am Speaking to the Whole World.” How Teen Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Got Everyone to Listen. Check out the profile of a remarkably focused and eloquent young woman at TIME; here’s an excerpt: “…Just nine months ago, Thunberg had no such audiences. She was a lone figure sitting outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm, carrying a sign emblazoned with Skolstrejk for Klimatet (School Strike for Climate). She was there for a reason that felt primal and personal. While Thunberg was studying climate change in school at the age of 11, she reacted in a surprisingly intense way: she suffered an episode of severe depression. After a time it lifted, only to resurface last spring. “I felt everything was meaningless and there was no point going to school if there was no future,” Thunberg says. But this time, rather than suffer the pain, she decided to push back at its cause, channeling her sadness into action. “I promised myself I was going to do everything I could do to make a difference,” she says…”

Image credit: Hellen van Meene for TIME.