When Coronavirus Hits Close to Home

My 91-year-old mother in law, Josephine Kmak, has coronavirus. We wanted to wait until doctors thought she was out of the woods to go public. Today is Day 17. She had a fever and dry cough, but she is  improving. “Jo” was one of 10 residents at a skilled care facility in Bethesda, Maryland who caught the virus. Only 1 is in the hospital.

Caregivers in biohazard suits hold a phone up to her ear for a daily Facetime call with family. My point in mentioning this: it can happen to anyone, and many older people are recovering.

Yesterday’s million dollar soaking (over an inch in some spots) put spring planting on pause, but the rest of this week looks dry, with a slow warming trend. The sun peeks out today, with blue sky the rule into Friday. Models hint at a late-day shower Saturday, followed by a drier, cooler, windier sky on Sunday. The next 2 weeks? Everything from 50s to 80 degrees. Pretty typical for early May.

I’m grateful for the little things now, like not checking models for predicted snowfall amounts.











Spring Fever Returns Later This Week. Temperatures flirt with 70F again later this week, with a slight correction on tap for next week. ECMWF data for MSP: WeatherBell.

Moderate for Mid-May. After a slight cool correction the second week of May temperatures are forecast to run close to average by mid-month; the only cool weather found over New England and the Pacific Northwest.



Tornado Leaves a Mark on Rural Texas. Tornadoes so big their tracks show up on satellite imagery? Here’s an excerpt from NASA’s Earth Observatory: “…The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired this image showing the trail of damage caused by an EF-2 tornado that tore through Jasper and Newton counties in Texas. According to the National Weather Service, the storm had peak winds of 130 miles (210 kilometers) per hour. It damaged roofs and snapped trees along a track that extended 37 miles (60 kilometers). While this tornado passed through a rural area and caused no injuries, the same supercell storm system spawned several other tornadoes, some of which caused injuries, deaths, and severe damage to homes in several places in the region…”

Tornado Season Brings New (Coronavirus) Risks for Chasers. Ian Livingston reports for Capital Weather Gang: “Whisper the word spring, and the ears of storm chasers all across the world perk up. Thoughts drift toward the immense Great Plains, and the monstrous rotating storms, known as supercells, that contort into all sorts of shapes as they prowl across the rolling flatlands. We’re entering peak time for tornado season, which typically runs from April through June. In a typical tornado season, one might see many different types of chasers flocking to each storm. In addition to the storms themselves, this year brings another risk to the mix: the novel coronavirus. The coronavirus continues to tour the country, showing up in densely packed cities and rural crannies…”
Image credit: Ian Livingston.

18 Year Anniversary of La Plate (Maryland) EF-4 Tornado. WJLA-TV in Washington D.C. explains what happened in 2002, when a Kansas-size tornado struck: “The La Plata tornado peaked at an F-4 intensity, making it the second strongest tornado to strike the east coast of the United States. (The strongest remains an F-5 that struck Worcester, MA in 1953.) On April 28, 2002, a “Moderate Risk” for severe weather was placed over the D.C. area by the Storm Prediction Center. Hours later, the region would be struck by one of the strongest tornadoes ever recorded in the Mid Atlantic and the strongest since another F-4 tornado struck Frostburg, Maryland just four years earlier. The tornado carved a 64-mile path through 4 Maryland Counties and was moving at an astounding 58 miles per hour which is nearly a mile per minute giving residents little time to prepare…”

Storm Surge Maps Will Warn Coastal Residents of Potential Deadly Floods. I came across a timely post at Scientific American: “…The National Hurricane Center is stepping up its warnings about storm surge and will start publishing maps this summer that show where tropical storms are likely to cause flooding along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Storm surge color maps will perform the same warning function as the center’s traditional hurricane maps, which President Trump famously altered last year with a Sharpie to inaccurately show Hurricane Dorian possibly hitting Alabama. The new storm surge maps will highlight in red the coastal areas that face possible flooding and will show the expected height of the storm surge at numerous locations…”

Travel the World With These Livestream Cameras. The next best thing to being there – sort of. Thanks to Outside for finding a few really good ones, like the one above (Hawaii): “...During a period when we can’t travel, livestream feeds are one of the best armchair experiences. Until we can all get back out there, these webcams will take you on a journey around the world—and inspire future trips. Listen to crashing waves and catch a surfer or two on this live cam at the Pipeline break on Oahu’s North Shore (where surfing is still allowed for now). And Surfline, a website that specializes in surf news and forecasting, has a Cam of the Moment set on a different break around the world at any given time...”


Bored? Consider a Daily Tattoo. A story at BBC in the UK had me considering my options: “…I found myself pottering around, not knowing what to do and eating all the food in the cupboards,” Chris says. “So the idea of tattooing myself every day was to give myself a bit of direction. Without structure people are at a complete loss.” Each afternoon between 2pm and 4pm, Chris sits down to sketch designs inspired by his current situation. Then, once he’s made a cup of tea, he puts ink in a pot and unwraps a needle. He’s ready to transfer his drawing indelibly to his skin. “I find tattooing therapeutic anyway. Right now I’m drawing what’s on my mind,” he says. “And there’s not much else going through my mind at the moment apart from this monumental crisis…”

Photo credit: Chris Woodhead.


.83″ rain yesterday at MSP International Airport.

62 F. high on Tuesday in the Twin Cities.

64 F. average high on April 28.

54 F. high on April 28, 2019.

April 29, 1984: Late season heavy snow blankets the Twin Cities with 6.6 inches.

April 29, 1940: Heavy rain falls in Duluth, with a daily total of 3.25 inches.


No Pants – No Problem. Small oversight, cut the guy a break. Buzzfeed has details and helpful reminders to wear pants when you’re on TV. Just in case.


WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy and windy. Winds: N 15-25. High: 63

THURSDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 43. High: 67

FRIDAY: Some sun, isolated T-shower. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 50. High: 69

SATURDAY: Mild sunshine, late-day storm risk. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 52. High: 72

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, breezy and cooler. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 49. High: 66

MONDAY: Sunshine through high clouds. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 45. High: 61

TUESDAY: Cold rain possible. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 43. High: 54


Climate Stories…

A Warming Arctic Turns Topsy Turvy. NASA’s Climate Program explains: “Last summer was hot in Alaska. How hot was it, you ask? Well, last summer was so hot, salmon were literally cooking themselves in the rivers. Bad joke? Perhaps. While you won’t find river-boiled salmon on the menu at your local seafood restaurant anytime soon, it’s a fact that last July, as Alaska and much of the Arctic experienced near-record warmth, the water temperature in some Alaskan rivers reached an unfathomable 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius). The abnormally warm waters led to mass salmon die-offs…”

Photo credit: “Clouds obscure Yellowknife and Great Slave Lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories. The ABoVE team is studying approximately 4 million square kilometers (more than 1.5 million square miles) of northwestern North America, spanning from Canada’s Hudson Bay to Alaska’s Seward Peninsula.” Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.


First Federal Assessment of Arctic Ocean Finds Drastic Change. A story at Canada’s CBC caught my eye: “The top of the world is turning upside down, says the first overall assessment of Canada’s Arctic Ocean. The assessment, the result of work by dozens of federal scientists and Inuit observers, describes a vast ecosystem in unprecedented flux: from ocean currents to the habits and types of animals that swim in it. The Arctic Ocean, where climate change has bitten deepest, may be changing faster than any other water body on Earth, said lead scientist Andrea Niemi of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “As the Arctic changes, the rest of the ecosystem is going to track with those changes,” she said. “There isn’t going to be a delay…”



Are Summers Longer Than They Used To Be? For much of America the answer is yes, according to climatologist and data/mapping guru Brian Brettschneider on his blog: “...Is summer longer than it used to be? Is Winter shorter than it used to be? To answer these questions, we first need to define what winter and summer are. Should we think of them as December-February  and June-August? If so, then winter and summer are exactly the same length every year. Of course this isn’t what you were thinking. What you really want to know is whether summer heat lasts for a longer period of time and if winter cold is shorter. The answer to these questions are an unambiguous yes for most places. The reason for this is simple, the climate is warming in most places. If the average temperature is warmer, then the comparison to what temperatures used to be like will change accordingly. Think of it this way, if you live in Omaha, Nebraska, and you imagine what summer is like (length and intensity) and then you move to Houston, Texas, you would experience a (much) longer period of summer conditions in Houston that what you are accustomed to…”


Climate Science Deniers At Forefront of Downplaying Coronavirus Pandemic. Here’s an excerpt from The Guardian: “…From the conservative conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to the US-based Heartland Institute and UK-based James Delingpole, the review concludes that the same influencers trying to make the public question the severity of global heating are also discounting the science surrounding Covid-19. “The climate war has largely been about confusing the public and making people trust in science and government less,” said DeSmog’s executive director, Brendan DeMelle. “And here we are in a pandemic where science and global cooperation are critical, and that’s a threat to the ideology of a lot of these … organizations. “You end up with this conspiracy theory about big government taking over our lives, taking away our freedoms, subjecting us to stay-at-home orders that we have to liberate ourselves from,” DeMelle said...”


Satellite Images Reveal Huge Amounts of Methane Leaking From U.S. Oil Fields. Here’s the intro to a story at CBS News: “Oil and gas operations in the Permian Basin, the largest oil-producing area in the United States, are spewing more than twice the amount of methane emissions into the atmosphere than previously thought — enough wasted energy to power 7 million households in Texas for a year. That’s the result of a new study by researchers at Harvard University and the Environmental Defense Fund. The Permian Basin stretches across a 250-mile by 250-mile area of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico, and accounts for over a third of the crude oil and 10% of the natural gas in the U.S…”


2019: Warmest Year on Record for Europe. Here’s an excerpt of a Forbes post: “The annual temperature in 2019 was the highest on record for Europe, the new European State of the Climate 2019 shows. The continent is heating at a faster rate than the global average. The data, compiled by Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) as well as other Copernicus services and external partners, focuses on some gauges of long-term regional and global climate change including surface temperature, sea level and ice sheets. A clear warming trend emerged over the last four decades and 11 of the 12 warmest years have occurred since 2000…”

Credit: “European surface air temperature anomaly for annual averages from 1979 to 2019, relative to the annual average for the 1981-2010 reference point.” Data source: ERA5. Copernicus Climate Change Service, (C3S)/ECMWF/KNMI.