Whistling Through the Slush
”Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoeful of slush” wrote Doug Larson. Yep. Second-string shoes. Spring in Minnesota is always two steps forward – one (big) step back. Waves of warmth, interrupted by spits of snow. There will be relapses. Old Man Winter is like a noisy uncle who doesn’t know when it’s time to leave.
A little slushy snow falls today, just a coating. Friday’s clipper brings a light mix. Payback for 60s Sunday and Monday. But what a joyously overdue free lawn watering and car wash yesterday was. I have no problem with rain in March.
Springs are trending wetter over time and NOAA suggests last year’s drought may ease in coming weeks. Let it rain.
I predict more wardrobe malfunctions ahead. Shorts or heavy jackets? Looking ahead I see highs mostly in the 40s, close to average, but weekend temperatures may not climb out of the 30s. No big storms in sight, just a few dribs and drabs of snow.
Up to 1” of rain soaked much of Minnesota yesterday; a million-dollar rainfall.
When to Expect Your Last Spring Freeze? Late April (metro) or May for much of greater Minnesota, according to new 30-year data highlighted in a NOAA post: “…New Ag Normals for 1991-2020 have been produced by NCEI that include the chances of freezing on any given day, or for reaching some other cold threshold important for certain crops or pests.The normal length of the growing season and its first freeze date in the fall are also available, along with the expected growing degree days at any climate station. Ag Normals can help farmers determine when they’re most likely to see their last spring freeze, allowing them to mitigate some risks to crop vulnerability. Additionally, the Ag Normals can help determine where pests are likely to overwinter. Plant nurseries can use these Normals to help determine where and when to advertise plants and seeds to customers in a specific area…”
Wind-Whipped Mix. The atmosphere may stay just warm enough for a rain-snow mix today, light precipitation with mainly wet roads, but slush is possible on some roads and bridge decks.
Candy-Coating of Slush Metro. A few inches will pile up outside the metro with the heaviest (6”+) amounts forecast to fall from the North Shore and Duluth into northern Wisconsin.
Canadian Exhaust. It’s March, we could be butt-deep in snow drifts – a little slush and a few days in the 30s isn’t that bad, considering how wintry it could really be out there right now. After a Friday clipper and chilly weekend, temperatures recover a bit next week with 40s and a few days in the low 50s.
Stormy Start to April? A cut-off low nearby during the first week of April? That’s what NOAA’s GFS model is hinting at, as the coldest air of winter continues a fast retreat into northern Canada. After a colder than average spell into early next week I see a milder than average April for Minnesota and most of the lower 48 states.
A Warm Spring Bias. Every climate model above shows warmer than average temperatures for most of the USA (including Minnesota) from April into June. Could they all be wrong? Absolutely. But I doubt it.
These Were the Best and Worst Places for Air Quality in 2021. CNN.com has a summary; here’s an excerpt: “…Only 222 cities of the 6,475 analyzed had average air quality that met WHO’s standard. Three territories were found to have met WHO guidelines: the French territory of New Caledonia and the United States territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were among the countries with the worst air pollution, exceeding the guidelines by at least 10 times. The Scandinavian countries, Australia, Canada, Japan and United Kingdom ranked among the best countries for air quality, with average levels that exceeded the guidelines by 1 to 2 times. In the United States, IQAir found air pollution exceeded WHO guidelines by 2 to 3 times in 2021...”
It’s 70 Degrees Warmer Than Normal in Eastern Antarctica. Scientists are Flabbergasted. That’s probably not a good omen – here’s an excerpt from MSN.com: “The coldest location on the planet has experienced an episode of warm weather this week unlike any ever observed, with temperatures over the eastern Antarctic ice sheet soaring 50 to 90 degrees above normal. The warmth has smashed records and shocked scientists. “This event is completely unprecedented and upended our expectations about the Antarctic climate system,” said Jonathan Wille, a researcher studying polar meteorology at Université Grenoble Alpes in France, in an email. “Antarctic climatology has been rewritten,” tweeted Stefano Di Battista, a researcher who has published studies on Antarctic temperatures. He added that such temperature anomalies would have been considered “impossible” and “unthinkable” before they actually occurred...”
Smart Devices Spy on You. 2 Computer Scientists Explain How the IoT Can Violate Your Privacy. Great! Thanks a lot Siri and Alexa. Here’s an excerpt from an eye-opening post at The Conversation: “Have you ever felt a creeping sensation that someone’s watching you? Then you turn around and you don’t see anything out of the ordinary. Depending on where you were, though, you might not have been completely imagining it. There are billions of things sensing you every day. They are everywhere, hidden in plain sight – inside your TV, fridge, car and office. These things know more about you than you might imagine, and many of them communicate that information over the internet. Back in 2007, it would have been hard to imagine the revolution of useful apps and services that smartphones ushered in. But they came with a cost in terms of intrusiveness and loss of privacy. As computer scientists who study data management and privacy, we find that with internet connectivity extended to devices in homes, offices and cities, privacy is in more danger than ever…”
Science Says Keeping Shoes Outside May Improve Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality, According to Two Scientists. A post at Martha Stewart caught my eye; here’s a clip: “…According to their research, some of the microorganisms present on shoes and floors are drug-resistant pathogens that are difficult to treat. Additionally, when you wear your shoes inside you may also be tracking cancer-causing toxins from asphalt road residue and lawn chemicals into your home. A primary focus of their work involves assessing the levels of potentially toxic metals inside homes across 35 different countries. The contaminants are odorless and colorless, meaning there’s no way to determine if they’ve been brought into your home by your shoes…”
.85” rain fell at MSP International yesterday as of 7pm.
47 F. Twin Cities high temperature on Tuesday.
45 F. average MSP high on March 22.
59 F. MSP high on March 22, 2021.
March 23, 1966: A snowstorm brings a foot of snow to southern Minnesota.
WEDNESDAY: Gusty with some slushy snow. Winds: N 15-30. High: near 40
THURSDAY: Cloudy, breezy and cool. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 32. High: 45
FRIDAY: Next clipper: light PM mix. Windy. Winds: NW 15-35. Wake-up: 33. High: 41
SATURDAY: Sunny and chilly. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 24. High: 37
SUNDAY: Clouds increase, colder than average. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 23. High: 36
MONDAY: Unsettled, few rain showers. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 27. High: 45
TUESDAY: Windy, rain and snow showers. Winds: NW 15-30. Wake-up: 33. High: 42
Rich Countries Must Stop Producing Oil and Gas by 2034, Says Study. The Guardian has the results of that study: “Rich countries must end all oil and gas production in the next 12 years, while the poorest nations should be given 28 years, to provide a fair transition away from fossil fuels, according to a study. The report, led by Prof Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research at Manchester University, found that wealthy countries such as the UK, US and Australia had until 2034 to stop all oil and gas production to give the world a 50% chance of preventing devastating climate breakdown, while the poorest nations that are also heavily reliant on fossil fuels should be given until 2050. Anderson said that while it was now clear there had to be a rapid shift away from “a fossil fuel economy”, it was essential this was done in a fair and equitable way…”
U.S. SEC Proposes Companies Disclose Range of Climate Risks, Emissions Data. Reuters has the details: “The U.S. securities regulator on Monday proposed requiring U.S.-listed companies to disclose a range of climate-related risks and greenhouse gas emissions, part of President Joe Biden’s push to join global efforts to avert climate-related catastrophes. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) unveiled its long-anticipated draft rule under which companies would disclose their own direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, known as Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. It would also require companies to disclose greenhouse gases generated by suppliers and partners, known as Scope 3 emissions, if they are material or included in any emissions targets the company has set...”
SEC Proposes First Ever Climate Disclosure Rule: Climate Nexus has more links and analysis: “The Securities and Exchange Commission proposed regulations on Monday to require companies to disclose their exposure to climate change risks, as well as—to varying extents—the greenhouse gas pollution they generate. The proposed rule would give investors a baseline of consistent and comparable information, and “Companies and investors alike would benefit from the clear rules of the road proposed in this release,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a statement. The rule would encompass the risks posed by the physical impacts of climate change like stronger storms, droughts, heatwaves, or wildfires, that could affect businesses operations, as well as political and financial risks linked to the transition away from fossil fuels, towards clean forms of energy. The rule would require companies to disclose the direct greenhouse gas pollution their operations emit and the indirect greenhouse gas emissions from the energy they consume (“Scope 1” and “Scope 2” emissions, respectively). It would also require some larger companies to report pollution generated by a firm’s suppliers and customers (“Scope 3” emissions) if those emissions are “material” to investors.” (Washington Post, AP, New York Times $, Bloomberg $, Axios, Reuters, NPR, The Guardian, E&E News, Grist, Politico Pro $, The Hill, Washington Examiner, Wall Street Journal $, Reuters, factbox)
Climate Change is Making Allergy Season Even Worse. The Atlantic has the sneeze-worthy details: “Brace yourselves, allergy sufferers: New research shows that pollen season is going to get a lot longer and more intense with climate change. Our latest study finds that the U.S. will face up to a 200 percent increase in total pollen this century if the world continues producing carbon-dioxide emissions from vehicles, power plants, and other sources at a high rate. Under that scenario, the spring pollen season will generally start up to 40 days earlier and last up to 19 days longer than it does today. As atmospheric scientists, we study how the atmosphere and climate affect trees and plants. Although most studies focus on pollen overall, we zoomed in on more than a dozen types of grasses and trees and how their pollen will affect regions across the U.S. in different ways…”
Record-High Temperatures are Preventable. Check out the widget I found at pudding.cool: “This project juxtoposes heat records with accident safety signage often displayed in factories. These “scoreboards” draw attention to injuries and build morale around safety by highlighting “days since last injury.” This map depicts temperature records in a similar design aesthetic: temperature records might seem “unprecedented,” but in reality occur nearly every few weeks. Specifically, “daily high” records show that never-before-seen warm days are occurring year-round, not just in the heat of the summer months. Or as Probable Futures reports, “Since the big change isn’t the amount of energy coming in from the sun, summers are only slightly warmer, while spring, fall, and especially winter are much warmer. It’s less that the Arctic is getting hotter and more that it is losing its cold.” Climate change is creating these conditions. As environmental data scientist Dr. Robert Rohde told the New York Times, “What were hot days in the past are becoming more common. What were very, very hot days in the past are now two or three times more common than they used to be...”
Climate Change is Making Armed Conflict Worse. Here’s How. A post at The New York Times connects the dots: “…Climate change can intensify the risks. A hotter planet often makes dry places drier and hotter, supercharging competition over an already-scarce resource. How much of a role climate change plays in each conflict is hard to know, and, most certainly, poor management and rising demand for water play a role equally if not more important. But, said Peter Gleick, president emeritus of the Pacific Institute, who has studied water conflicts for decades, “climate change is unambiguously worsening the very conditions that contribute to water conflicts: drought, scarcity and inequities.” Water conflicts have gone up sharply in the last 20 years, the study found…”
Biden’s Chance to Tackle Climate Change is Fading Amid Global Energy Upheaval. The Washington Post has analysis: “As the war in Ukraine has raised oil prices and launched Western leaders on a global hunt for new sources of energy, environmentalists have tried to leverage the chaos in energy markets to move the United States off fossil fuels. But there’s a problem: Despite major advancements in wind and solar power — and renewed investor enthusiasm — Democrats, who narrowly control Congress, have yet to devise a legislative strategy that could accelerate this shift. And without major climate legislation soon, President Biden is likely to lose his opportunity to transform the nation’s energy mix during his first term. Experts say that for the United States to supercharge renewable power, lawmakers have to lower the upfront costs of building wind turbines, solar arrays and energy battery storage through federal tax breaks and other incentives...”
Climate Change: Wildfire Smoke Linked to Arctic Melting. BBC News explains: “The dense plumes of wildfire smoke seen in recent years are contributing to the warming of the Arctic, say scientists. Their study says that particles of “brown carbon” in the smoke are drifting north and attracting heat to the polar region. The authors believe the growing number of wildfires helps explain why the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet.They’re concerned that this effect will likely increase. Over the past decade, smoke from raging wildfires in Australia, Portugal, Siberia and the US have changed the color of the skies. The smoke has impacted human health, and the amount of carbon released by the burning has helped push emissions to record levels. But now scientists say that all this burning has contributed to another serious issue – the loss of sea ice in the Arctic...”
Kuwait, Among World’s Hottest Places, Lags on Climate Action. AP News reports: “It was so hot in Kuwait last summer that birds dropped dead from the sky. Sea horses boiled to death in the bay. Dead clams coated the rocks, their shells popped open like they’d been steamed. Kuwait reached a scorching temperature of 53.2 degrees Celsius (127.7 degrees Fahrenheit), making it among the hottest places on earth. The extremes of climate change present existential perils all over the world. But the record heat waves that roast Kuwait each season have grown so severe that people increasingly find it unbearable. By the end of the century, scientists say being outside in Kuwait City could be life-threatening — not only to birds. A recent study also linked 67% of heat-related deaths in the capital to climate change…”