May you live in interesting times, the proverb goes. I suspect it’s not a compliment. It may snow a little today, a few fat snowflakes amid chilling sheets of rain. Unusual? You ‘betcha!
The record for latest flakes at MSP is May 28, 1965. The reality: snow has been reported (somewhere in Minnesota) every month of the year except July. I’m pretty sure if you go back far enough it has snowed in July, too. It’s not your imagination. Weather extremes are trending more extreme over time, greater swings from flood to drought, cold to hot.
Expect 40s today with heavy rain (and a few fat flake sightings to keep things interesting). An inch of rain may fall, with heaviest amounts south of MSP. Friday puddles give way to slow clearing and the weekend looks reasonably nice (for a holiday) with 60s Saturday and Sunday, 70s on Monday with a late-day crack of thunder. Summer warmth returns next week.
International Falls went from 82F Tuesday to 35F yesterday with flurries.
Yep, Minnesota still has weather boasting rights.
Trending Wetter. After a dry April and first half of May, recent weeks have been trending wetter, with heaviest amounts from the Twin Cities south and east toward Rochester and Eau Claire.
Liquid Gold. Minnesota is still running a rainfall deficit, so it’s hard to be too indignant with rain in the forecast, especially on a weekday. NOAA NDFD data suggests .5 to 1” of rain for much of central and southern Minnesota.
What Month is This? It sure doesn’t feel like May out there today, but this chilly spasm will be short-lived with moderating temperatures over the weekend, fairly consistent 70s next week. It’s a holiday weekend, and yes, we’ve seen (much) worse.
Summer Heat Builds. Looking out 2 weeks GFS guidance builds a broad ridge of hot high pressure over the eastern half of the USA, with temperatures trending above average as far north as Minnesota and Wisconsin. We shall see if this fantasy or on the right track.
Hurricane Season Could Cause More Shortages and Disruptions in the Nation’s Supply Lines. The Weather Channel wonders what could possibly go wrong later this year: “An above-average hurricane season this year could again strain U.S. supply chains that have been stretched to the breaking point already by COVID-19 and a major winter storm in Texas. From lumber and plastic pipes for building new houses to computer chips for cars and smartphones to toilet paper for, well, you know, we’ve already seen in the past year and a half how a pandemic and freezing weather in February can cause major shortages and disruptions in supply lines. More recently, a cyberattack on an oil and gas pipeline led to panic-buying that left many gas stations with empty tanks…”
Summer Models Trending Warmer Than Average. With the exception of the GEM-NEMO model all of NOAA’s and NASA’s climate models are signaling a warmer than average summer for most of the USA. Place your bets.
Move Over Death Valley: These are the Two Hottest Spots on Earth. Science AAAS has the eye-watering details: “Death Valley holds the record for the highest air temperature on the planet: On 10 July 1913, temperatures at the aptly named Furnace Creek area in the California desert reached a blistering 56.7°C (134.1°F). Average summer temperatures, meanwhile, often rise above 45°C (113°F). But when it comes to surface temperature, two spots have Death Valley beat. A new analysis of high-resolution satellite data finds the Lut Desert in Iran and the Sonoran Desert along the Mexican-U.S. border have recently reached a sizzling 80.8°C (177.4°F). More than 11,000 World Meteorological Organization manned and automated weather stations measure air temperatures in the shade, in ventilated hutches about 1.5 meters above ground level. But vast swaths of Earth’s surface, especially in remote regions, lack these instruments, leaving them out of the record books...”
It Doesn’t Take a Hurricane to Cause a Flood. No kidding. A post at Insurance Journal has a few eye-popping statistics: “However, as Watje says, whether public or private, only about “15% of properties in the United States actually carry flood insurance. And when we think about 85% of properties across the country do not carry that protection, really you can be aggressive as you want in what you think the market would be in terms of potential for premium dollars.” Meanwhile, research released by the First Street Foundation in February 2021 showed that nearly 4.3 million residential properties in the U.S. are vulnerable to substantial flood risk that would be economically damaging. The average estimated annual loss for each those properties is $4,694 per property, with an estimated cumulative total of $20 billion in annualized damage this year. That total annual loss is expected to grow by 61% over the next 30 years due to the impact of climate change to an estimated total loss of $32.3 billion, according to First Street Foundation….”
GPS Satellites Can Provide Faster Alerts When Big Earthquakes Strike, Scientists Say. Here’s the intro to an interesting post at Space.com: “A global GPS-based earthquake monitoring system can provide timelier and more accurate warnings than traditional seismic networks when powerful earthquakes strike, a new study suggests. It could also reduce frequency of false alerts. In the new study, published this month in the Bulletin of Seismological Society of America, a team of researchers detailed new progress in the development of a global earthquake warning system that measures the displacement of Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite receiver stations when an earthquake deforms the Earth’s crust. The system assesses the magnitude of an earthquake within seconds and issues alerts in under two minutes from the first detection of the ground movement…”
What Happens When Americans Can Finally Exhale? Maybe we can transition from worrying about severe injury and death to tending to our mental wounds, argues a post at The Atlantic (paywall): “…A sweeping and continuous crisis produces two almost paradoxical phenomena. First, people become inured and apathetic to suffering at a mass scale, experiencing what the psychologist Paul Slovic of the University of Oregon has called psychic numbing. But people also become sensitized to further traumas in their own life. Silver has repeatedly found this pattern among people who experience successive disasters, such as 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and the Boston Marathon bombings. Many didn’t habituate: Each new blow brought more stress, not less. “Around the one-year anniversary of COVID, a number of journalists asked me, ‘It’s been a year; why aren’t we adjusted to this?’” Silver told me. “I found that question very unusual…”
Ford is the Undisputed King of Trucks. Here’s How It Got There. CNN has some historical context; here’s an excerpt: “…So when Ford recently revealed the F-150 Lightning, the first fully electric full-sized pickup truck, it showed the genius of Ford’s penchant for innovation, Harwood said. Ford did this by focusing on the actual needs of truck buyers, like a 10,000-pound towing capacity and a bed designed to work with accessories purchased for other F-150 trucks, rather than flashy stuff like the Lightning’s zero-to-60 acceleration. “What Ford is really doing is they’re taking people along on their innovation journey,” she said. “They’re saying, ‘We’re going to push this. We’re going to go a little bit further with it,’ but what they’re doing that’s great is they’re creating solutions that people want.”
Interview with Linda Zhang, Ford’s Chief Engineer for the New Ford F-150 Lightning. On WCCO Radio Jordana Green and I had the opportunity to question Linda Zhang, a Chinese immigrant who came to the USA when she was in the 3rd grade, a self-described “car nut”, about electrification of America’s most popular vehicle. She had some insights and predictions I wasn’t expecting.
The Pandemic Saved the Fast Food Industry. Another thing I didn’t see coming, courtesy of Experience Magazine: “…But in pandemic times, fast food’s quaintly defining features — the low contact, the familiar menu items, the ability to feast in the comfort of your car — suddenly became assets. Fast food drive-thrus were a lifeline during the fiercest COVID-19 lockdowns; from April through June 2020, drive-thru business accounted for 42 percent of all restaurant business. And in July 2020, when more restaurants had opened for dine-in, drive-thru visits still increased by 13 percent over the previous year, according to NPD Group, a worldwide market research firm. “There is a grudging cultural embrace of this model again,” says Adam Chandler, the author of Drive-Thru Dreams: A Journey Through the Heart of America’s Fast-Food Kingdom. “People are understanding why it was popular in the first place...”
66 F. Twin Cities high on Wednesday.
73 F. MSP average high on May 26.
81 F. high on May 26, 2020.
May 27, 1930: The Great Empire Builder Tornado occurs. A direct hit derails a famous train in Norman County.
THURSDAY: Cold, soaking rain, heavy at times. Winds: NE 15-30. High: 49
FRIDAY: Wet start, slow clearing PM hours. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 40. High: near 60
SATURDAY: Partly sunny and pleasant. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 44. High: 66
SUNDAY: Some sun, isolated T-shower. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 47. High: near 70
MEMORIAL DAY: Milder, better chance of PM T-storms. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 53. High: 73
TUESDAY: Lukewarm, late-day instability shower. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 52. High: 74
WEDNESDAY: Unsettled with a few T-storms. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 55. High: 75
Shell Ordered by Dutch Court to Cut Carbon Emissions. Fluke or trend? Here’s an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal (paywall): “A Dutch court on Wednesday ruled that Royal Dutch Shell RDS.A +0.69% PLC is partially responsible for climate change and ordered the company to reduce its carbon emissions, a first-of-its-kind ruling that adds fresh pressure on oil-and-gas companies already facing heightened scrutiny from governments and investors. The ruling, issued by the district court in The Hague, ruled Shell must curb its carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, compared with 2019 levels. This is in line with United Nations guidance for member states aimed at preventing global temperatures rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Lawyers said the ruling, which Shell can appeal, could set a precedent in other Western jurisdictions, particularly in Europe, opening oil companies to a new legal jeopardy over their carbon emissions…”
Tropical Storms Spinning Up Earlier. Will NOAA NHC move up the official start of hurricane season to May 15, due to warming oceans and a trend toward earlier spin-ups? Here’s an excerpt from Climate Central: “The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins next week, running from June through November. While experts with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the National Hurricane Center are considering advancing the start date of hurricane season to May 15th, it’s not yet clear that climate change is causing tropical systems to occur earlier. So what do we know about how climate change influences hurricanes? We know that warming sea surface temperatures due to climate change add fuel to hurricanes, making for stronger hurricanes that can strengthen much more quickly (rapid intensification)…”
Hot Summer Days are Even Hotter for Many Americans of Color. The Verge reports: “In cities across the US, people of color are enduring hotter summer temperatures than their white counterparts, new research shows. It’s another sign that the consequences of rising temperatures will hit vulnerable communities harder than others. A person of color, on average, lives in a census tract that’s more than a full degree Celsius (nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter in the summer than their non-Hispanic white counterparts, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Communications. That included anyone who did not identify as “white alone,” plus anyone who identifies as Hispanic. The difference in temperature was slightly larger still for Black residents…”
Climate Changemakers Fighting for Environmental Justice: “This is What Transformation is About”. Here is an excerpt from an analysis at CBS News: “…Woodberry is both a preacher and champion of environmental justice. He believes, as sons and daughters of God, it is our job to care for the earth — a concept called “creation care.” Care for nature and the underserved in his community are a core part of his teachings to parishioners at his Kingdom Living Temple in Florence. When he is not preaching, Woodberry spends a lot of time working on environmental justice solutions, especially polluted water.From 2015 to 2018 his area was hit by three massive floods — two of them were from hurricanes Matthew and Florence — each considered to be the type of flood that statistically the area would expect to see only once every century or so. Woodberry says flooding from storms or sea level rise is becoming more common in the area because of human-caused climate change...”
From Suicide to “Eco-Anxiety”, Climate Change Spurs Mental Health Crisis. Here’s the intro to a story at Thomson Reuters Foundation: “Intensifying climate change impacts, from fiercer heatwaves to more flooded homes, are driving a growing mental health crisis around the world whose costs are so far underestimated and poorly understood, researchers said on Wednesday. From more heat-linked suicides in Mexico and the United States to rising “eco-anxiety” among young people worried about their future, large numbers are being affected, said Emma Lawrance, a mental health specialist with the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London. The effects of planetary heating are hitting the poorest and most vulnerable particularly hard, and could widen existing inequities, warned Lawrance, lead author of a new briefing published by the British university…”
U.S. Identifies Areas for Offshore Wind Energy Projects Near California. Reuters reports: “The Biden administration will seek to approve more than a dozen offshore wind projects in the next four years and open the Pacific Ocean off California to such development as it seeks to bolster the nascent U.S. industry, officials said on Tuesday. The effort is part of the administration’s broader plan to fight climate change by decarbonizing the U.S. power sector by 2035 and the entire economy by 2050. Amanda Lefton, director of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, told the Reuters U.S. Offshore Wind conference that the agency would complete the review of at least 16 new offshore wind project plans by 2025…”
Grim Western Fire Season Starts Much Drier Than Record 2020. Associated Press has the story: “As bad as last year’s record-shattering fire season was, the western U.S. starts this year’s in even worse shape. The soil in the West is record dry for this time of year. In much of the region, plants that fuel fires are also the driest scientists have seen. The vegetation is primed to ignite, especially in the Southwest where dead juniper trees are full of flammable needles. “It’s like having gasoline out there,” said Brian Steinhardt, forest fire zone manager for Prescott and Coconino national forests in Arizona. A climate change-fueled megadrought of more than 20 years is making conditions that lead to fire even more dangerous, scientists said. Rainfall in the Rockies and farther west was the second lowest on record in April, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration…”
Climate-Fueled Drought Douses American West In ‘Gasoline’ Ahead Of Fire Season: Climate Nexus has more perspective on the upcoming western fire season, along with links and headlines: “At the opening of the 2020 wildfire season, 3% of California was in extreme or exceptional drought and more than 4% burned. This year, more than 73% of the state faces similar drought conditions. In other parts of the Southwest, juniper trees are dying off at increased rates because of the intensification of a climate change-fueled megadrought and turning forests, with trees covered in dead needles, into 30-foot-tall tinder boxes. “It’s like having gasoline out there,” Brian Steinhardt, a national forest fire zone manager in Arizona, told the AP. Soil in the western U.S. is drier than at any time since 1895 (the year Frederick Douglass died and Babe Ruth was born), which means “the dice are loaded toward a lot of forest fire this year,” UCLA climate and fire scientist Park Williams told the AP. New research also shows wildfires are burning at higher elevations as climate change dries out forests previously too wet to support large burns. All this adds up, Steinhardt, a veteran of 32 fire seasons, told the AP, to “probably one of the driest and potentially most challenging situations I’ve been in.” California, on the verge of its first ever official water shortage declaration, is increasing its wildfire prevention spending 16-fold, but states across the West, from Oregon to New Mexico, are staring down the barrel of a brutally dry and dangerous fire season. Water shortages that “just couldn’t be any worse,” according to Klamath Irrigation District president Ty Kliewer, threaten massive die-offs of the salmon central to the diet and culture of the Yurok Tribe. One silver lining for the 2021 fire season is that 2020’s record-shattering burns were fueled by a highly unusual concurrence of record-breaking heatwaves and intense, widespread lightning strikes, UCLA meteorologist Daniel Swain told the AP. But, he added, “I’m really grasping at straws here. All we have going for us is dumb luck.” (Fire season: AP; Higher elevations: The Conversation; California spending: Grist; New Mexico: New Mexico Political Report; Oregon: Utility Dive; Klamath water shortages: AP; Climate Signals background: Drought, Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season, Cal. Aug. 2020 heatwave, Cal. Sept. 2020 heatwave)
“Settled Enough”: Climate Science, Skepticism and Prudence. President Obama’s Science Advisory has an Op-Ed at TheHill; here’s an excerpt: “…The body of climate science that has survived this extraordinary vetting has yielded five key conclusions recognized by competent climate scientists around the world as true beyond any reasonable doubt:
- Earth’s climate has been changing over the past century and more at a pace now far beyond what can be explained by natural variability.
- The main cause of the observed changes in this period has been the buildup in the atmosphere of global concentrations of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases emitted by human activities, principally the combustion of fossil fuels but also, importantly, deforestation and agriculture.
- These human-caused changes in climate are already causing harm to life, health, property, economies and ecosystems, with stronger heat waves, downpours, floods, droughts and wildfires; more of the most powerful storms; worse smog and allergies; accelerating sea-level rise; and major impacts on ecosystem dynamics affecting pests, pathogens and valued species…”
NASA Chief Touts New Earth-Observing Satellites for Climate. Axios has details: “The White House is providing fresh details of a major satellite program that administration officials call poised to reveal vital information about climate change and extreme weather events.
Why it matters: Known as the “Earth System Observatory,” the program consists of at least five satellites to be launched through 2029 that will enhance, or in some cases revolutionize, the capabilities of the space agency’s existing fleet of Earth-observing satellites.
Details: In an interview with Axios on Monday, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the upcoming satellite constellation will look at everything from aerosols — tiny particles in the atmosphere that are a major source of uncertainty in climate models — to sea level rise…”
Climate Disasters Caused More Displacement Than War in 2020. The Guardian has details: “Intense storms and flooding triggered three times more displacements than violent conflicts did last year, as the number of people internally displaced worldwide hit the highest level on record. There were at least 55 million internally displaced people (IDPs) by the end of last year, according to figures published by the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). There were more than twice as many people displaced within their own country as forced out of their country as refugees, the IDMC said. The number is the highest on record, but in line with its steady rise over the past decade...”
Climate Change Creates Demand for Off-The-Grid Homes. CNBC.com explains: “…The growing effects of climate change are no longer seasonal. Increasingly extreme weather from climate change is now a year-round phenomenon. This has homebuilders reconsidering how they design and power new homes, and how to take them off the grid, so they can be more environmentally sustainable, as well as operational when disaster hits. It also has traditional homebuyers thinking more like survivalists. “More severe storms each year are going to further and further indicate the needs for resilient development,” said Ben Keys, associate professor of real estate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School…”