Record-Smashing, Jaw-Dropping May Heat Wave

Back in mid-April, when we were all hip-deep in snow drifts, who would have predicted such a jaw-dropping turnaround in the weather? I sure didn’t.

The weather pendulum swung fast and hard in the opposite direction, sparking the biggest May heat wave in the historical record. Memorial Day was the earliest 100-degree reading on record at MSP. The last time we hit 100F was in 2012.

Today is the 6th consecutive day of 90s in May, also a record.

Only May, 1934 brought more 90s to MSP (a total of 8). That year went on to see a total of 34 days above 90F. Average for a summer is 13. I’m starting to believe this won’t be an average summer.

David Brauer speculates that May, 2018 may wind up as the hottest on record, in fact this month may be hot enough to make the “Top 20 Hottest Junes” list! Think cool thoughts, right?

Showers & T-storms cool us off a little by midweek, but temperatures trend 10F above average into the weekend. Expect T-storms Saturday, with Sunday the sunnier, nicer day.

Live long enough you’ll see (almost) everything. Including a year like 2018.

Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke. Heat exhaustion is unpleasant, but heat stroke can be fatal if not caught in time. The Sacramento office of the National Weather Service has a helpful graphic to explain the difference.

In Defense of Gatorade. And here I thought it was merely well-marketed sugar water. I learned something yesterday.

Gradually Cooling Back Down to Average. I’m OK with average (highs in the low 70s). ECMWF guidance  shows 90s today, but 80s the rest of the week, comfortable 70s next week sounds good to me. Graphic: WeatherBell.

84-Hour Rainfall Potential. NOAA’s 12KM NAM Model predicts the best chance of heavy rain between now and Thursday night over far northern MInnesota, where some 1-3″ amounts can’t be ruled out. Map:

Second Week of June: Heat Wave Over Southern USA. Where it belongs. Moderate warmth is predicted for Minnesota; the only cool spots projected to be the northern Rockies and New England.

Ellicott City Maryland Hit by Catastrophic Flooding; 1 Missing. Two thousand-year floods in the span of 2 years? Statistics are meaningless now in a warmer, wetter world. Here’s an excerpt from The Weather Channel: “…Much of the city had just finished rebuilding from 2016’s catastrophic flooding that killed two people and submerged the city. On Sunday, water levels peaked even higher than two years ago. “There are no words,” Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman told reporters Monday morning. “It’s heartbreaking.” Flooding on Main Street in Ellicott City swelled to the point that it almost reached the top of a stop sign, the Baltimore Sun reported. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency for Ellicott City Sunday evening via Twitter.  “They say this is a once-every-1,000-year flood and we’ve had two of them in two years,” Hogan said while surveying the damage. According to meteorologist Jonathan Belles, a line of stagnant thunderstorms dropped more than 6 inches of water in just under two hours between Ellicott City and Baltimore. Some spots may have received 10 inches of rain in a three-hour span...”

Missing Man May Be National Guard Member. Fox News has the story.

Alberto Could Bring $1 Billion in Economic Losses to Gulf Coast. Fortune has the story: “Slowly strengthening Subtropical Storm Alberto could cause more than $1 billion in economic losses to the U.S. Gulf Coast as it tracks north, bringing a growing threat of floods, but it’s had little impact on offshore energy production. Alberto’s top winds rose to 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour early Sunday, up from 40 earlier, the National Hurricane Center said in a 11 a.m. New York time advisory. Winds are forecast to reach 60 mph 12 hours and it should be over land in the Florida Panhandle in 24 hours. A storm’s winds need to reach 74 mph to be called a hurricane. Governors in Florida, Mississippi and Alabama on Saturday declared states of emergency…”

Photo credit: “Tommy Whitlock, Joseph Buckner. Tommy Whitlock, left, places a filled sand bag onto his trailer at a Harrison County Road Department sand bag location, as his friend Joseph Buckner adjusts the load while preparing for Subtropical Storm Alberto to make its way through the Gulf of Mexico in Gulfport, Miss., . Whitlock, who lives near a creek wants to keep the spill off water from entering his home. The slow moving storm is threatening to bring heavy rainfall, storm surges, high wind and flash flooding this holiday weekend. Several similar setups were placed throughout the Mississippi Gulf Coast to help residents protect their property. The sandbagging process was left to the residents Tropical Weather, Gulfport, USA – 26 May 2018.” Rogelio V. Solis—AP/REX/Shutterstock.

NOAA’s 2018 Hurricane Forecast is Here. There’s Good Reason to Believe It. explains why coastal residents should remain weather-aware over the next few months: “The NOAA scientists’ complex model predicts there will be 10 to 16 storms this year that reach wind speeds of at least 39 mph, earning them a climatological name. Of those storms, five to nine are predicted to mature into hurricanes, with winds reaching 74 mph, while one to four of those will graduate to “major” status of at least category 3 on the five-point severity scale, with wind speeds of at least 111 mph. And there’s reason to believe this is a likely possibility. A TIME examination of the past 15 years of NOAA’s forecasts found that the agency’s predictions of the number of significant storms, which are provided as high and low estimates, are usually correct or close to correct, with some major exceptions...”

Storm-Chasing Vacation: Meet the Tornado-Addicted Tourists. Yes, there is an adrenaline-rush when you do see a tornado – hopefully from a safe distance. explains: “…The real dangers of storm chasing, however, often don’t come from being swept up by a tornado. A phenomenon known as “chaser convergence” can occur when there is just one large tornado predicted for the day and a number of storm chasers travel to that one high risk area. The roads in rural areas are often small and not designed for the hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of people who often converge. This can cause traffic jams which make it harder to access the perfect spot to witness a tornado, or at worst, make escape routes too congested. Despite the increasing interest in storm chasing, Lee said it is still a very niche hobby. “When you say to the locals that you’re a storm chaser, they look at you as if you’ve got two heads on you…”

Photo credit: Reuters via AccuWeather.

The Places in the U.S. Where Disaster Strikes Again and Again. The New York Times has a fascinating and vaguely troubling trend: “In the last 16 years, parts of Louisiana have been struck by six hurricanes. Areas near San Diego were devastated by three particularly vicious wildfire seasons. And a town in eastern Kentucky has been pummeled by at least nine storms severe enough to warrant federal assistance…”

Map credit: “All the maps in this article show losses verified by the Small Business Administration for disasters in which a presidential disaster declaration was issued. The values of the losses are expressed in 2017 dollars.The New York Times.

Renewable Energy Jobs Surpass 10 Million for First Time. EcoWatch has the details: “The renewable energy industry employs 10.3 million people globally, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) touted in a report released Tuesday. According to the new figures, the sector help create more than 500,000 new jobs last year, a 5.3 percent increase from 2016. The solar photovoltaic industry employs the most people. Jobs increased about 9 percent to reach 3.4 million around the world in 2017, amid a record 94 gigawatts of installations last year…”

Xcel Energy Cuts Carbon Emissions by 35% Here’s a clip from a press release at Business Wire: “Xcel Energy is a step closer to achieving one of the most aggressive carbon-reduction goals in the industry. Today, the company announced it cut carbon emissions 35 percent, according to its newly released Corporate Responsibility Report. This puts Xcel Energy on track to reach or exceed its ambitious goal of reducing carbon emissions 60 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. “We’re on a path to provide a more sustainable, prosperous energy future and believe reducing carbon emissions while enhancing affordability is a tremendous benefit for the customers and communities we serve,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. Xcel Energy surpassed the U.S. commitment under the Paris Climate Accord in 2016, which called for a 26 to 28 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2025. It’s now working to achieve a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2022 from 2005 levels...”

Is Technology’s Impact on our Brains Overblown? So you’re saying I’m not addicted to my iPhone? Here’s a clip from Quartz at Work: “How concerned should people be about the psychological effects of screen time? Balancing technology use with other aspects of daily life seems reasonable, but there is a lot of conflicting advice about where that balance should be. Much of the discussion is framed around fighting “addiction” to technology. But to me, that resembles a moral panic, giving voice to scary claims based on weak data. For example, in April 2018, television journalist Katie Couric’s “America Inside Out” program focused on the effects of technology on people’s brains. The episode featured the co-founder of a business treating technology addiction...”

Photo credit: “Technology addiction” is scary, but unfounded, argues a psychologist.” Eugene Hoshiko, AP.

Four Rules for Learning How to Talk to Each Other Again. has some good advice: “…Here’s how to speak in a polity where we loathe each other. Let this be the Law of Parsimonious Claims:

1. Say nothing you know to be untrue, whether to deceive, confuse, or, worst of all, encourage a wearied cynicism.

2. Make mostly falsifiable assertions or offer prescriptions whose outcomes could be measured, always explaining how your assertion or prescription could be tested.

3. Whereof you have no evidence but possess only moral intuitions, say so candidly, and accept you must coexist with people who have different intuitions.1

4. When evidence proves you wrong, admit it cheerfully, pleased that your mistake has contributed to the general progress.

Finally, as you listen, assume the good faith of your opponents, unless you have proof otherwise. Judge their assertions and prescriptions based on the plain meaning of their words, rather on than what you guess to be their motives…”

File photo: iStock Photo, The Fiscal Times.

How a Weakened ESPN Became Consumed by Politics. Confused about the NFL’s recent “no-kneeling policy during the National Anthem”? Follow the money. The Wall Street Journal reports: “…Why ESPN found itself torn up by the nation’s partisan politics traces back to its fundamental business challenge. Its status as cable TV’s most expensive channel had become a liability. As consumers grew fed up with their monthly cable prices, big cable distributors began offering discounted packages that didn’t include the network. Many consumers opted for those offers, while others cut the cord entirely, leading ESPN to shed 16 million subscribers over seven years. At the same time, costs have ballooned, especially for vital live sports rights. Average annual payments tied to ESPN’s four biggest, long-term rights deals have more than doubled since 2013 to $4.7 billion. After years of growth, ESPN’s profit declined in the fiscal year that ended in September 2017, people familiar with its finances said…”

Graphic credit: Nielsen (subscribers); Morgan Stanley estimates (ESPN operating income); company filings (Disney operating income); Kagan, S&P Global Market Intelligence (bill).

Why Men Love War. Open to debate – I suspect a significant number of people disagree with the premise, but here’s an excerpt of a reprint of a 1984 article at Esquire: “…That’s why men in their sixties and seventies sit in their dens and recreation rooms around America and know that nothing in their life will equal the day they parachuted into St. Lo or charged the bunker on Okinawa. That’s why veterans’ reunions are invariably filled with boozy awkwardness, forced camaraderie ending in sadness and tears: you are together again, these are the men who were your brothers, but it’s not the same, can never be the same. That’s why when we returned from Vietnam we moped around, listless, not interested in anything or anyone. Something had gone out of our lives forever, and our behavior on returning was inexplicable except as the behavior of men who had lost a great perhaps the great-love of their lives, and had no way to tell anyone about it. In part we couldn’t describe our feelings because the language failed us: the civilian-issue adjectives and nouns, verbs and adverbs, seemed made for a different universe…”

Photo credit:

Hometowns of Americans Who Died for U.S. Since 9/11. Axios has the story: “Today is the 17th Memorial Day since 9/11. Since then, 6,940 U.S. military service members have died for America. Why it matters: Every part of the country has lost soldiers to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All were Americans — someone’s neighbor, child, parent, mentor, buddy. Their average age was between 26 and 27 years old. The losses have not been distributed evenly. The Bible Belt, the Rust Belt, and the Midwest had the most military deaths in proportion to their populations – though that’s often because counties in those regions have small populations that skew the data. Among counties with a population greater than one million, Bexar County, Tex., home to San Antonio, suffered the highest rate of military deaths for its population: 59 servicemembers killed out of a population of 1,928,680…”

Map credit: “Defense Casualty Analysis System, U.S. Census Bureau 2016 population estimates; Note: Map does not include 111 servicemembers who came from outside the 50 states; Get the data.” Map: Harry Stevens/Axios.

Slack Founder: “70% of Office Work is Wasted Output”. Do you agree? Here’s an excerpt from Business Insider: “Slack founder Stewart Butterfield has a dim view of office life. “Think about the tropes of culture around office work, the TV show ‘The Office,’ the movie ‘Office Space,’ and ‘Dilbert’ the cartoon … they involve long meetings, too much email, those have been a constant for decades,” he said today at VivaTech, the giant tech conference in Paris. “People tend to not see that as part of their work,” he said, referring to the way that meetings get in the way of the actual tasks people’s jobs consists of. “Over the last 20 or 30 years in most occupations people have become more productive,” he said. As an example he talked about recruiters. Today, they have LinkedIn, email, “tools for auto-sorting and scoring resumes as they come in.” But “in 1991, all they had was the White Pages…”

The World’s Largest Ship Disappoints Cruisers. First-world problem. Here’s a clip from Luxury Travel Diary: “Just look at it! It’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer size and magnificence of the world’s largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas. If big is better, then this ship has got to be one of the best. It has the tallest waterslide at sea, more artwork than the Louvre has paintings and the fastest Internet at sea. It is huge at 1,188 feet long with 22 restaurants, 24 pools and 2,759 cabins. The ship houses up to 6,680 guests plus 2,200 crew. It definitely has the “Wow” factor. If you take a look at the scroller above, you can see just one of the rooms on board (where’s the window?). When I compare this to the rooms at one of my favourite hotels in the world, the Hermitage Monte Carlo. The ambience of the room on Symphony of the Seas is somewhat different in calibre and let’s face it, it falls horribly short...”

Oh Alexa. CNN explains how an Amazon Alexa speaker recorded a private conversation and e-mailed it to a friend. It’s not a bug – it’s a feature! “An Amazon Echo user in Portland, Oregon, says she was shocked to learn her Echo had recorded a conversation with her husband without them knowing, then sent the audio file to one of his employees in Seattle.  “My husband and I would joke and say I’d bet these devices are listening to what we’re saying,” the Echo owner Danielle told local news station KIRO 7. The news station did not report her last name.  She said the incident happened two weeks ago when the employee called them to say she’d received a strange voice recording of them.  “The person on the other line said, ‘unplug your Alexa devices right now,'” she told KIRO. “‘You’re being hacked…’

Power Causes Brain Damage. Well this explains the current state of our politics. Here’s an excerpt from The Atlantic: “…Subjects under the influence of power, he found in studies spanning two decades, acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view. Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at McMaster University, in Ontario, recently described something similar. Unlike Keltner, who studies behaviors, Obhi studies brains. And when he put the heads of the powerful and the not-so-powerful under a transcranial-magnetic-stimulation machine, he found that power, in fact, impairs a specific neural process, “mirroring,” that may be a cornerstone of empathy. Which gives a neurological basis to what Keltner has termed the “power paradox”: Once we have power, we lose some of the capacities we needed to gain it in the first place...”

Image credit: Justin Renteria.

Spam Recall Issued After Metal Objects Found in Can Cause Metal Injuries. Bring Me The News has details: “Hormel Foods has issued a recall of more than 228,000 pounds of Spam and one of its luncheon meat products after people were injured by shards of metal found inside their cans. The Austin, Minnesota company says that certain 12 oz. metal cans of “SPAM Classic” with a best by date of February 21 are included in the recall. Anyone who has one of the affected products is urged not to eat them. “There have been reports of minor oral injuries associated with consumption of the products,” it says on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website, with four consumer complaints submitted after finding metal objects in the cans...”

Study Confirms This Method for Repelling Ticks Really Does Work. CBS News explains: “…The study involved three types of ticks that, in the United States, are major carriers of disease — including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and what’s known as southern tick-associated rash illness, or STARI. The clothes were pretreated with permethrin, a synthetic form of an insect-thwarting compound from the chrysanthemum flower. It’s used in insecticide sprays and shampoos and creams that treat lice and scabies. Several companies already market permethrin-treated shirts, pants, socks and other clothing, as a way to ward off disease-transmitting pests. The new study adds to evidence that the garments are indeed toxic to ticks, according to senior researcher Lars Eisen, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…”

America’s Coolest Drinking City? National Geographic has some breaking news: “It’s actually two: The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are home to award-winning beverages. With a surprising number of Fortune 500 companies (17) for such a small metropolitan area (Minneapolis and St. Paul together have only 725,000 residents), there’s a good chance you’ve been to the Twin Cities for a meeting. But you may have missed their greatest asset: drinking innovations that come from a long winter. When temperatures drop below freezing, locals at these bars get busy developing award- winning beverage programs to spark their homegrown spirits...”

Photo credit: “Co-founders Dan Oskey and Jon Kreidler at Tattersall Distilling.” Photograph courtesy of Tattersall.

TUESDAY: Steamy, few T-storms. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 94

TUESDAY NIGHT: Scattered T-storms, locally heavy rain. Low: 71

WEDNESDAY: Not quite as toasty, few T-storms. Winds: SW 8-13. High: 86

THURSDAY: Partly sunny and less humid. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 65. High: 83

FRIDAY: Sunshine lingers, probably dry. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 64. High: 84

SATURDAY: Showers and T-storms likely. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 62. High: 79

SUNDAY: Sunnier, nicer day of the weekend. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 59. High: near 80

MONDAY: Blue sky, still very pleasant. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 60. High: 82

Climate Stories…

What Will it take to Get Republicans and Democrats to Agree on Global Warming? Fascinating question. Stated differently, what solutions will be good for business and the economy at large, creating new technologies we can export to the rest of a world looking for solutions? Here’s an excerpt of a post at Quartz with some perspective: “…As the clock to climate-change disaster ticks down, reversing this trend becomes more essential. But right now, Karol argues, the political costs of ignoring the environment are just too low. That could change. He cites the Republican party’s reliance on a declining demographic and the growing number of younger people in both parties who support environmental protection. The rise of the renewable-energy industry at the expense of fossil fuel companies will sap anti-environment lobbying power. The consensus of scientific warnings about the catastrophic risks of global warming, and daily evidence of its advance around the world, has propelled US public opinion on the matter toward taking action. Yet there’s scant reason to hope major change will come any time soon to a hopelessly polarized Congress. The forces that could change this work slowly...”

Image credit: Yale Climate Connections.

Can a City Really Sue an Oil Company for Climate Change? takes a look a legal precedent: “…In 2015 an investigation by the Los Angeles Times and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism partially closed that gap, showing that oil companies like Exxon had acknowledged the planetary risks of their products as early as the 1980s. Attorneys general started asking questions. The oil companies said they saw malfeasance in all this, and it’s true that some of the same lawyers involved in those ideas back then are serving as outside counsel for the cities that have filed the recent lawsuits. Whether you see all that as a conspiracy of business-hating leftists or the origins of a world-saving plan might depend on your political and scientific proclivities. But the climate for climate action has also changed. “What the cities would say is that cities have started to experience the impacts of climate change in ways they haven’t previously,” says Michael Burger, executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School. Sea level rise, drought/fire/storm/slide cycles, hurricane damage… “there’s real money that the cities are putting forward to deal with this,” Burger says…”

Judge Demands More Information From Oil Companies in Climate-Change Suits. Here’s the intro to a story at The Wall Street Journal: “A federal judge on Thursday said he needed more information before deciding whether to dismiss lawsuits by San Francisco and Oakland alleging that five of the world’s largest oil companies should pay to protect the cities’ residents from the impacts of climate change. U.S. District Judge William Alsup  asked the oil companies and the cities to narrow their arguments regarding the merits of the suit. The judge also asked the companies to produce additional material backing up claims by some that they shouldn’t be a part of the case because the court lacked jurisdiction over them. The suits allege that the companies— Exxon Mobil Corp. , Chevron Corp. , Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC and ConocoPhillips —created a public nuisance by producing fossil fuels they knew would result in harmful emissions.…”

Photo credit: “San Francisco and Oakland allege that five of the world’s largest oil companies created a public nuisance by producing fossil fuels. Photo: Paul Sakuma/Associated Press.

Scientists Discovered Massive Hidden Canyons in Antarctica That Could Spell Bad News for the Rest of the Planet. Quartz has the story: “Antarctica, the Earth’s landmass now most synonymous with bad news, has a new feature for us to worry about. A team of scientists from the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway just discovered three canyons hidden beneath hundreds of feet of ice in interior Antarctica. In a paper published this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, they write that the canyons are in the region where the East and West Antarctic Ice Sheets meet, and the deep subterranean grooves are channelizing ice flow into the sea as the two sheets come together. “[If] climate conditions change in Antarctica, we might expect the ice in these troughs to flow a lot faster towards the sea…”

Photo credit: “In the place where West and East Antarctic ice sheets meet is one of the least-explored regions on Earth. These penguins, while in Antarctica, are not in that region. We just thought they were cool looking.” (REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini).

Yep, It’s Warming. Data from Columbia University.

White House Mulled “Ignoring” Climate Science: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “The Trump administration debated whether it should attack or simply ignore federal research on climate change, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. A memo obtained by the Post written last September by former top White House energy and environmental aide Michael Catanzaro presented three pathways for the administration to approach climate science. The menu of options: conducting a red team/blue team exercise to “highlight uncertainties”; using the Administrative Procedure Act to formally attack scientific findings; or “ignor[ing], and not seek[ing] to characterize or question, the science being conducted by Federal agencies and outside entities.” The memo did not present an option for endorsing federal climate science.” (Washington Post $, The Hill, Axios, Huffington PostNewsweek, Slate).

File image: Wikipedia.