Glacier is finally melting…
Paul Douglas

Spring Extremes Play Out Overhead This Week

Mother Nature requires an intervention. Springs are fickle at this latitude – some days it’s hard keeping the big picture.

History may be a guide, however imperfect. Spring weather lovers hit rock bottom during April 2018, when a similar La Nina cool phase in the Pacific Ocean resulted in 26.1” of snow. That’s not a typo. The snowiest month of the winter season came in April. And then things turned around. 84F on April 30, 2018 – 100F on May 28, 2018. May was 9F warmer than average.

NOAA’s suite of long range climate models show Minnesota warmer than average May through July. I’m skeptical, but I’d love to be proven wrong.<p>Rain arrives this afternoon with a few rumbles of thunder possible later. Severe storms may bubble up south/east of MSP by evening. The European model prints out 30” snow for parts of North Dakota by Thursday. Gulp.

A few inches of slush may fall here from a strong clipper Sunday, but NOAA’s GFS model pulls in 50s & 60s the last week of April.

Hey, why should any of this be easy?

Tuesday Severe Threat

Slight Severe Storm Risk for Southern Minnesota. Although the greatest potential for hail and tornadoes remains over Iowa, a few severe storms may push into far southern Minnesota later today – I would not be suprised to see watches and warnings south of MSP.

Tuesday Future Radar/Clouds

ECMWF Predicted Snowfall by next Tuesday evening.

Good Grief. The North Dakota snowfall prediction is between now and Thursday. The plowable snow amounts predicted for much of Minnesota come Sunday PM into Monday AM, if they come at all. Weather models, including ECMWF have been even more erratic than usual this far out. Not buying it (yet).

Temperature Depression. Or is it a recession – is “depression” too harsh and pejorative? Temperatures near normal today and Wednesday give way to cold exhaust on the backside of this storm, setting the stage for potential snow Sunday PM into Monday AM. Need to get away?

ECMWF Temperatures for MSP
NOAA GFS Temperatures for MSP

Buoyed by GFS. That doesn’t mean it’ll verify, but NOAA’s model makes me happier than ECMWF. By late April we will be meteorologically due for a shift to warmer days. Our late, stunted spring limps on.

Run in a southerly direction

Warm and Stormy. The 2-week “wish-cast” shows a milder regime finally returning for most of the USA, a trough of low pressure sparking a series of storms for the central USA – with more rain than snow expected and severe storms on the Great Plains.

Predicted May – July Temperature Anomalies

(Very) Warm Bias Into July? NOAA’s ensemble of longer-range models, including NASA and NCAR hint at a radical shift to a hotter environment for most of the USA. At this point nothing would surprise me.


Scientists Are Seeing a Dangerous Shift in Early-Spring Tornadoes. A warming signal coupled with natural variability (La Nina) appears to be priming the atmosphere for more outbreaks, earlier. reports: “…It’s the second year in a row the country has endured a record number of tornadoes in March, solidifying a trend toward more severe weather earlier in the year and raising questions among scientists, who’ve historically seen such weather peak from April to early June. Meanwhile, more severe storms happening farther east in the country could mean more disastrous and deadly tornado outbreaks are possible. Scientists suspect the climate crisis — which is changing the typical atmospheric patterns of moisture and instability — is playing a major role in the timing and location of severe weather. “Our future projections of how severe weather may change in the future are really showing two things,” Victor Gensini, an associate professor at Northern Illinois University and one of the country’s top tornado experts, told CNN...”

U.S. Drought Monitor

Drought is Threatening Hydro-power in the Southwestern US. has perspective on the implications of a 1200-year long drought: “News that Lake Powell, a reservoir on the border of Arizona and Utah, is slowly but surely drying up has spread far and wide. Behind the 1,320-megawatt Glen Canyon Dam and power station, Lake Powell plays an important role in providing power for some 3 million customers in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. But this year, the reservoir has hit a historic low, due to ongoing drought conditions in the region that have been attributed, at least in part, to climate change. The dam may even stop producing power if the situation continues to worsen, and this issue is not an isolated one in the American Southwest…”

The series of blizzards that hit the Red River Valley in eastern North Dakota this winter were mainly ground blizzards caused by blowing snow. Several accidents on the Interstate highways involving multiple vehicles highlighted the need for accurate and reliable forecasts to warn drivers of hazardous conditions.
North Dakota Highway Patrol photo.

The Blizzard-Whisperers. Can we do a better job predicting ground blizzards? Meteorologists at the University of North Dakota are working on that challenge, as outlined at UND Today: “…UND’s space studies and biology departments are providing facilities for weather instruments located at the Oakville Prairie Field Station and Observatory near Emerado. The North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) at North Dakota State University and NWS offices in Grand Forks and Bismarck are also involved. Currently, there are instruments at airports throughout the region called ceilometers, used to give pilots information on cloud ceilings by projecting a laser beam straight up. According to Kennedy, these instruments could also be used to provide real-time data on blowing snow or precipitation to aid in making more accurate forecasts. “We’ll be able to develop algorithms that can detect blowing snow,” Kennedy said. “The idea is that we’ll pass this information on to NOAA – and if they think it’s useful – then perhaps we can find a way to make this happen with the instruments already out there…”

The GMC Hummer EV is a Brilliant Execution of a Terrible Idea. At least it’s an electric-powered monster. Here’s an excerpt from an analysis and review at “…I just hope that EV stereotypes are the only things Hummers will be crashing through. Weighing over 9,000 pounds, the GMC Hummer EV has twice the mass of many other gas-powered SUVs, let alone ordinary cars. In the event of a crash, that mass could represent a serious risk to others on the road. After spending a day test driving the Hummer on-road and off, I was impressed by its capabilities, but I was left worried that its mass paired with its power could be dangerous. And that’s because the Hummer EV is very good. It has absurd amounts of power. It has four-wheel-steering to help it turn as tightly as a compact car. It rides as smoothly as any other luxury SUV. But it weighs about three times as much as a Honda Civic...”


Most Trusted Source of Information? The Weather Channel. So says a poll from YouGov: “…YouGov asked 1,500 Americans where they get their news from and how much they trust a variety of prominent media organizations and news anchors. The poll, conducted from March 26 – 29, shows that while Americans are more likely to trust than distrust many prominent news sources, there are very few organizations that are trusted by more than a small proportion of Americans on both sides of the political aisle. In fact, the most Americans overall place trust in an organization that rarely covers domestic politics: the Weather Channel (52% of Americans trust it). The Weather Channel is trailed by the U.K. news outlet, BBC (39%), the national public broadcaster, PBS (41%), and The Wall Street Journal (37%)…”

60 F. Twin Cities high temperature on Monday.

55 F. MSP average high on April 11.

55 F. MSP high on April 11, 2021.

April 12, 1931: July-like temperatures are felt across the area with 90 degrees at Beardsley in west central Minnesota.

TUESDAY: Rain arrives, few T-storms late. Winds: E 15-25. High: 54

WEDNESDAY: Showers taper, windy. Winds: SW 15-25. Wake-up: 45. High: 53

THURSDAY: Blustery with flurries. Gusts to 40mph. Winds: W 20-45. Wake-up: 36. High: 43

FRIDAY: Still gusty with a few flakes. Winds: W 15-35. Wake-up: 30. High: 38

SATURDAY: Partly sunny and chilly. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 28. High: 41

SUNDAY: Few inches of snow possible. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 30. High: 39

MONDAY: Snow tapers to flurries. Hurry spring. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 32. High: 38

Climate Stories…

The Razor’s Edge of a Warming World. highlights the cities that may be most impacted by extreme heat in the years and decades to come: “…But some have argued that the Paris Agreement is flawed: Even though countries are required to submit plans to reduce emissions, there is no way of enforcing those pledges, and six years after Paris, we remain on a disastrous course. One recent study projected that, under current policies, the world is on track to warm by 2.7 degrees by 2100—a catastrophic scenario. So, without the will to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, what comes next? Around the world, profound transformations are already under way. Ski slopes are bare. Storms are worsening. Regions are becoming inhospitable for human life. In one future, the world warms by 2 degrees or more and these trends continue to their catastrophic ends. In another, we pull the hand brake now and limit warming to 1.5 degrees. “People don’t realize that every tenth of a degree matters,” Baum explains. Here are some places where they matter the most…”

Methane Emissions Surged by a Record Amount in 2021, NOAA Says. Here’s a clip from “Global emissions of methane, the second-biggest contributor to human-caused climate change after carbon dioxide, surged by a record amount in 2021, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Thursday. Methane, a key component of natural gas, is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide but doesn’t last as long in the atmosphere before it breaks down. Major contributors to methane emissions include oil and gas extraction, landfills and wastewater, and farming of livestock. “Our data show that global emissions continue to move in the wrong direction at a rapid pace,” Rick Spinrad, the NOAA administrator, said in a statement. “The evidence is consistent, alarming and undeniable...”

Calls For Cutting Methane Growing Louder: Climate Nexus has more perspective and links: “The recognition of the need to quickly cut methane pollution, and the cumulative calls to do so, are greater than ever before, the Washington Post reports. Methane, the primary component in what the industry calls “natural gas,” is the second-most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, trapping over 80-times more heat than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. This, combined with the availability of options to reduce methane pollution, like fixing leaky pipelines and electrifying home heating and cooking, makes it a significant part of humanity’s most plausible pathway to limiting warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) above preindustrial levels. Reducing methane pollution has featured prominently in recent IPCC reports on the causes of, and solutions to climate change, and while the U.S. government has made moves to lead the international community in the efforts to cut methane emissions, global energy sector methane pollution is 70% higher than official figures.” (Washington Post $, The Guardian, Gizmodo)

Climate Central

National and Global Emission Sources (2020). Climate Central has a good overview; here’s an excerpt: “…At 22% of national emissions, the Industrial sector emits a significant share of the U.S. total. Industrial emissions are the result of producing commodities (such as steel and cement) through manufacturing, food processing, mining and construction. Maintaining buildings (by heating and cooling them, managing their waste, etc.) falls into the ‘Commercial and Residential’ sector, accounting for 12% of emissions. Finally, agriculture accounts for the remaining 9% of emissions, including through soil management practices as well as methane from livestock and manure. Now at 414 ppm, atmospheric CO2 concentrations are higher than at any time in the past 800,000 years, which directly relates to the planet’s temperature. The world has committed to keep warming well below 2℃ (3.6°F) globally, and that comes with the challenge of a carbon budget—a low-carb diet, if you will. Scientists estimate that humans can only emit 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and reasonably hope to meet the 2℃ target—a budget that would be exhausted in 15 years if emissions continue at the current rate of 36.6 gigatons of CO2 a year...”

Climate Central

U.S. counties that would be impacted by six feet of sea level rise are shaded in blue. Inland counties are shaded in red according to how many migrants they would receive from coastal areas.

As Climate Fears Mount, Some in U.S. are Deciding to Relocate. Yale E360 reports; here’s an excerpt: “…After being forced out of their home, the Brazil family joined other Americans escaping the worsening impacts of climate change. These migrants include New Orleans residents who fled their city after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Houstonians who were driven out by flooding from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Other communities have begun to disappear entirely. Residents of the coastal Louisiana community of Isle de Jean Charles, which sits just a foot or two above sea level, are being pushed out by rising seas. Inhabitants of coastal Native Alaskan villages such as Shishmaref and Newtok — where more intense storm surges caused by declining sea ice are eroding coasts weakened by melting permafrost — are being relocated. Increasingly, worsening climate effects, including heat waves, wildfires, floods, droughts, and sea level rise, are leading a growing number of Americans to have second thoughts about where they are living and to decide to move to places that are perceived to be less exposed to these impacts, according to anecdotal reports and a growing volume of academic research. Some, like the Brazil family, are forced to move to safer areas, while others are well-to-do homeowners who are choosing to leave before fires or floods drive them out...”