Freezing rain
Paul Douglas

Stalled Spring? Please Blame La Nina

A year ago ice was coming off area lakes and Minnesotans had an unmistakable spring in their step. After the coldest winter in 8 years we are all sitting by the phone, waiting for spring to ring us up and invite us out on a date. Because chronic hibernation is not a good look.

”Why aren’t we enjoying a fast-forward spring, Paul? Is your Doppler malfunctioning?” Perhaps, but a more likely culprit is a La Nina cool phase of the Pacific, lingering long after its expiration date. A chilly signal has put the brakes on big warm fronts. We get a little taste, followed by frequent swooshes of Canadian exhaust. Like someone left the freezer door open.

Things are looking up, weatherwise, with one ill-timed exception. Skies clear later today with temperatures rising to or just above 50F from tomorrow into Wednesday of next week. I see a run of 60s by mid-April.

Take something warm and waterproof to the Twins Home Opener next Thursday. I’m predicting a damp start, giving way to brightening skies at Target Field with highs in the 40s.

Perfect baseball weather!

Thursday Future Radar/Clouds

Slushy Start – Then Slow Clearing. The beauty (wrong word) of a late March snowfall? The sun is too high in the sky for any slush to linger for long. A little blue sky should be visible later today.

Limping Into Spring. Most of us will be thrilled to see 50 degrees again, and the models are all fairly consistent showing daytime highs at or just above 50F almost every day next week. Except for the Twins Home Opener next Thursday, when readings may not climb out of the 40s with windswept showers and sprinkles. Lovely.

ECMWF Temperatures for MSP
NOAA GFS Temperatures for MSP

More Mellow. Moderation will accelerate by mid-April, based on model guidance showing less Canadian air, and more of an influence from the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. 50s should give way to a few 60s within 2 weeks, give or take. We’re due for a real warm front.

New Orleans after the recent tornado
MAXAR Techologies

Satellite Images Show Extent of Damage from New Orleans Tornado. It was at least EF-3 in strength with estimated winds of 160 mph. USA TODAY has a link to a video showing before/after imagery from the tornado: “Satellite images taken before and after a tornado struck the Arabi area of New Orleans show the extensive damage.” Credit: Maxar Technologies via Storyful

More Women Are Becoming Storm Chasers, Defying Convention and Breaking Barriers. I’ve chased tornadoes with amazing women over the years. The Washington Post and take a look at the trends: “…As with many extreme sports and adrenaline-fueled hobbies, storm chasing has a demographics imbalance. Although Helen Hunt played a starring role as a chaser in the box office blockbuster “Twister,” male chasers have historically grabbed much of the spotlight. When a viral tornado video pops up on the evening news or on social media, it’s almost always produced by or featuring a man. But there are signs that the ranks of women storm chasers are growing, with more women attracted to the pursuit by both the intrigue of the science and the adventure. And they are having a positive influence on the endeavor…”

2011 Concord, Alabama tornado aftermath

When “Tornado” Was a Forbidden Word. Censorship of weather terms, in the USA? Yep. does a good job explaining this story: “What do “the Ed Sullivan Show,” “I Love Lucy,” and early 20th-century weather reports have in common? Censorship. 74 years ago, the first Tornado Warning was issued and the first tornado forecast delivered, but it wasn’t until 1950 that the word “tornado” was allowed to be used over the airwaves. Just like Elvis’ gyrating hips were cropped from view on “the Ed Sullivan Show” and the word “pregnant” was forbidden when Lucille Ball was “with child” on “I Love Lucy,” the word “tornado” was thought to be too provocative. Some feared the word would panic the public, so it was not used on TV or radio. Before Dr. Fujita (for whom the current tornado severity scale is named), there was an Army Signal Service Officer and meteorologist named John Park Finley. Finley was a tornado forecast pioneer and is the first known author to pen a book specifically about the study of tornadoes...”

34 F. Twin Cities high on Wednesday.

49 F. average MSP high on March 30.

55 F. MSP high on March 30, 2021.

March 31, 1896: A strong snowstorm dumps 13.5 inches of snow at Maple Plain. Vivid lightning is also in the storm with 10-12 flashes per minute. Visibility was down to less than one block. The high temperature was 57 at Maple Plain the day before.

March 31, 1843: The low temperature at Ft. Snelling plummets to -11.

THURSDAY: Windy, slow clearing. Winds: NW 15-25. High: 39

FRIDAY: Fading sun, few showers late. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 24. High: near 50

SATURDAY: Unsettled with a few rain showers. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 33. High: 51

SUNDAY: Partly sunny and quiet. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 30. High: 50

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, passing shower. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 32. High: 53

TUESDAY: Clouds increase, rain late. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 38. High: 57

WEDNESDAY: Periods of rain. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 41. High: 47

Climate Change…


A Recipe for Climate Disasters. A post at The Atlantic (paywall) connects the dots with increasingly favorable conditions for landslides: “…Landslides happen for many reasons, set off by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or human behavior. But “probably the most common driver we see for landslides worldwide is rainfall,” Ben Leshchinsky, an associate professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, told me. “Say you have lots of rain. What that effectively does is it reduces the strength of the soil. When that soil strength decreases, it can reach a point where it fails, and naturally just slides away.” And climate change is creating more extreme rain events. The 13 inches of rain that triggered the landslide in Uttarakhand was a more than 400 percent increase over the daily norm of 2.5 inches. Rain is why landslide researchers are warning that climate change may make landslides more likely, and that we are not prepared for this growing risk…”

Climate Change Impacts Compound Each Other To Make Lots Of Things Worse: More perspective from Climate Nexus: “Drought and extreme rainfall, both exacerbated by climate change, are increasing air pollution and landslide risks, compounding the impacts of continued extraction and combustion of fossil fuels. As drought conditions in the U.S. push east, wildfires are following. Hundreds of thousands of acres have burned in Colorado and Texas in the last few weeks alone, and on Tuesday red flag warnings covered nearly 10 million people across multiple Plains states while fires burned southeast of Birmingham, Alabama. New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences finds dangerous particulate pollution (also known as PM2.5) from wildfires will increase regardless of emissions reductions. Without reductions, air pollution could triple, with extremes in fire and resulting pollution of 2017-2020 occurring every 3-5 years. Extreme precipitation is also increasing due to climate change, thus increasing risks of dangerous landslides. Longer and more extreme wildfire seasons, however, are compounding the danger by incinerating the vegetation that holds mountainside soil in place during heavy rains, even years after the burn.” (Drought and wildfire risks: CNN; Red flag warnings: Washington Post $, CNN; Alabama: AP; Wildfire pollution: Inside Climate News, Yale Climate Connections; Landslide risks: The Atlantic; Climate Signals background: Drought, Wildfires, Extreme precipitation increase)

Climate Central

The Wilted West. Water shortages and perpetual drought may linger and even accelerate during the 21st century, according to research highlighted at Climate Central: “The western U.S. has fallen into an extreme dry spell. California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho have had an exceptionally dry wet season, and more than 44 million people are experiencing drought across these five states. The country’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are both at record-low levels since they were first constructed 86 and 56 years ago, respectively. And drought conditions are forecast to continue for the vast majority of the western U.S. at least through June. Drought and dry spells are common in the west, but recent years have been unprecedented. The ongoing southwestern megadrought (since 2000) is the most severe of the past 1,200 years, and a recent study suggests that the drought would be 42% less intense without human-caused climate change. Exceptional drought and our warming climate put water in the west—and the people, ecosystems, and food supplies that depend on them—at risk…”

Climate Central

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

White House Officials Open Crypto Climate Inquiry. Axios explains the climate implications of mining cryptocurrencies: “The White House science office is seeking input about climate harm from expanding use of cryptocurrencies — and ways to tackle the problem. Why it matters: Digital “mining” to verify and record transactions often involves the use of very powerful, energy-intensive computing equipment. That’s creating concerns about carbon emissions, especially when mining occurs in regions with fossil-heavy power grids. Driving the news: The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on Friday issued a formal “request for information” that solicits feedback by May 9. OSTP wants info on “protocols, hardware, resources, economics, and other factors that shape the energy use and climate impacts of all types of digital assets...”

Hydrogen Could Replace Much of Russian Gas by 2030. A post at Fortune makes for a good read; here’s an excerpt: “…Since taking the reins as CEO of Snam, one of Europe’s biggest natural-gas pipeline operators, in 2016, Alverà has been repositioning the Italian energy giant as a leader in supplying emissions-free hydrogen power. During the COVID lockdown, he wrote a book, The Hydrogen Revolution, outlining his vision for making green hydrogen a key technology to help the world’s biggest economies achieve their net-zero goals. “It’s simple to make and simple to use. You are essentially bottling sunlight from renewable energy sources in the form of hydrogen, and using it to bring clean energy to every corner of the globe,” Alverà wrote of “green hydrogen,” the latest term for using electricity derived from renewable energy sources—solar, wind, etc.—to produce hydrogen power. Alverà is hardly alone in his enthusiasm. Climate hawks, green-energy startups, and dozens of countries are buzzing about the potential for hydrogen, the most abundant chemical substance in the universe…”

Cooling paper by Ruby Wallau
Northeastern University

Goodbye AC: This New Roofing Material Keeps Houses Cool. A post at caught my eye: “Air conditioning is something you barely notice — until the power goes out, and it no longer works. But what if keeping cool didn’t require electricity at all? A scientist has invented a material that reflects the sun’s rays off rooftops, and even absorbs heat from homes and buildings and radiates it away. And — get this — it is made from recyclable paper. Air conditioners are in 87% of homes in the United States, costing the homeowner $265 per year, on average. Some homes can easily spend twice that. With global temperatures on the rise, no one is giving up their AC. More people are installing air conditioners than ever before, especially in developing countries where the middle class can finally afford them…”

Severity and Sweep of Prairie Droughts Could Spiral as Climate Changes. CBC News has a story focused on Canada, with implications for America’s Great Plains: “As we continue to warm and see more variability in our weather, the chance for longer and more severe droughts grows. While we will likely see more precipitation overall, the nature of the precipitation will differ, with more of it falling in winter or spring or in short bursts with bigger storms, according to Canada in a Changing Climate: Regional Perspectives Report. “When we get the water, it might come all at once as opposed to where we’ve had nice gentle storms that will occur over two or three days and really soak the soil that needs it,” Bonsal says. In the winter, we can expect more rain instead of snow. The loss of snow, which replenishes soils in the spring, will be critical. Despite the odd snowy winter like this one, the snowpack is declining, says John Pomeroy, professor and Canada Research Chair in water resources and climate change at the University of Saskatchewan…”

Extraordinary Antarctic Heatwave, 70 Degrees Above Normal, Would Likely Set a World Record. has more perspective: “…With more than 60 years of data, this record “is unheard of in the history of climatology,” according to a Meteo-France analysis. A unique combination of meteorological events had to occur in order for Mother Nature to turn up the heat in East Antarctica that day. “Definitely, a very interesting and unusual set of meteorological events triggered this event,” Cerveny told CNN. There was “the moist inflow of an atmospheric river” — storms pulling large amounts of ocean moisture over land, much like what the West Coast sees in winter, Cerveny said. And there was also an intrusion of very hot air, rare for this time of year, onto the Antarctic plateau. The arrival of the moisture trapped the hot air, allowing for the temperatures to shoot up in East Antarctica…”

This satellite image provided by NASA, Aqua MODIS 12 on March 2022 shows the main piece of C-37 close to Bowman Island. Scientists are concerned because an ice shelf the size of New York City collapsed in East Antarctica, an area that had long been thought to be stable. The collapse last week was the first time scientists have ever seen an ice shelf collapse in this cold area of Antarctica.

Ice Shelf Collapses in Previously Stable East Antarctica. AP News has the latest: “An ice shelf the size of New York City has collapsed in East Antarctica, an area long thought to be stable and not hit much by climate change, concerned scientists said Friday. The collapse, captured by satellite images, marked the first time in human history that the frigid region had an ice shelf collapse. It happened at the beginning of a freakish warm spell last week when temperatures soared more than 70 degrees (40 Celsius) warmer than normal in some spots of East Antarctica. Satellite photos show the area had been shrinking rapidly the last couple of years, and now scientists wonder if they have been overestimating East Antarctica’s stability and resistance to global warming that has been melting ice rapidly on the smaller western side and the vulnerable peninsula...”