A Real Warm Front Arrives Saturday

With apologies to The Beatles, Minnesota’s transition to summer is a long and winding road, littered with stormy potholes.

It often comes down to situational awareness – keeping tabs on the weather pattern and listening for county-specific watches and warnings. But don’t neglect gut feel.

In August of ‘09 conditions were ripe for twisters. I remember watching the sky turn green, running down to our dock and taping the formation of a tornado, roughly 5 minutes before the sirens sounded.

A green tint to the sky may be the result of large hail. Tornado-producing storms usually have violent updrafts that favor big hailstones.

No weather drama in sight, just a cool breeze today followed by a good shot at 80 degrees and shorts on Saturday. A few passing T-showers Sunday mark the leading edge of a cooler front with highs in the 60s much of next week. A second, even chillier front arrives late next week with a risk of jackets the second week of May. Spring is a roller coaster.

Pass the Dramamine! Strap yourself in!!

EF-1 Tornado Over Orono on August 8, 2009
Paul Douglas

From My Dock. Not what I expected to see, but a small EF-1 to EF-2 strength tornado did spin up over Orono the evening of August 8, 2009. I remember the green sky preceding the tornado, and an odd feeling of foreboding.

8th Cloudiest April Since 1963 at MSP.
Minnesota State Climatology Office

Good Timing. Near 80F on Saturday? Yes please. Temperatures may be 15-20F above average Saturday, before a slow cool-down next week (back into the 60s). But I don’t see any heavy-jacket weather looking out 2 weeks.

ECMWF Temperatures for MSP
NOAA GFS Temperatures for MSP

Not Summer Yet. A few more chilly corrections may be in the cards for northern tier states into mid-May, if you buy into ECMWF model solutions. GFS is trending milder than The European, and I sincerely hope it’s correct.

April: Less Snow Than Average. Half an inch of slush fell on MSP this month; average for April is closer to 2.5”. It wasn’t just the Twin Cities – snowfall across the Upper Midwest was consistently less than normal during April.

U.S. Drought Monitor

Extreme Drought As Close as the Dakotas. Remind me not to complain about the rain, even if it’s falling on a Saturday afternoon. Drought conditions are deepening across the western half of the USA.

Map of tornado tracks from the April 25-28, 2011, Super Outbreak, color-coded by intensity (EF0: aqua; EF1: light green; EF2: yellow; EF3: orange; EF4: red; EF5: pink). Notes: 1) Tornadoes are rated based on the worst damage along its track, which is almost always not representative of all the damage along its path. 2) These are general tracks.
NWS Southern Region Headquarters

10 Years After April, 2011 Tornado Super Outbreak, 16 Things We Will Never Forget. The Weather Channel has the look back; here’s the intro: “The April 25-28, 2011, Super Outbreak remains one of the worst tornado outbreaks in United States history. This single outbreak claimed over 300 lives, injured 2,775 and was responsible for $12 billion in total damage, making it the costliest tornado outbreak in U.S. history. Ten years later, there are jaw-dropping facets of this massive outbreak that remain burned in the memory of the meteorologists and journalists on our team – here’s a list of them…”

Meet the Man Who Led Alabama Through The April 2011 Tornado Disaster. James Spann is on an entirely different level – he was preordained to talk about supercells in real-time. Capital Weather Gang takes us back 10 years, recapping his live TV coverage and countless lives he saved that fateful night: “Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear suspenders. On April 27, 2011, the largest tornado outbreak in nearly 40 years tore through the South, spinning up 216 tornadoes on a single calendar day and claiming more than 300 lives. Hardest hit was the state of Alabama, where multiple EF5s and more than half a dozen EF4s carved deadly scars into the landscape. Residents of northern Alabama, many of whom had been awakened by an early morning band of severe thunderstorms, huddled in safe rooms and storm shelters for much of the afternoon and evening amid a relentless onslaught of rotating thunderstorms. For many, one man was their lifeline during the seemingly endless hours of fury: James Spann…”

Greg Carbin, Twitter

Decade After 2011 Tornado Super-Outbreak, Survey Reveals Americans Have More to Learn About Tornado Safety. Here’s a clip that left me gob-smacked from Cision PR Newswire: “…FLASH surveyed 1,000 residents and homeowners in tornado-prone states to measure awareness and understanding of safe and unsafe behaviors during tornadoes, the importance of certified safe rooms and storm shelters, and common terms used by meteorologists and the media. Top survey findings found that nearly 50 percent of respondents were unaware that safe rooms can provide near-absolute protection in most tornadoes, and more than 44 percent of respondents overestimated the cost of purchasing and installing a safe room. Additionally, 50 percent of respondents mistook a tornado watch for a tornado warning…”

NOAA Ocean Today

Flood Risk’s Impact on Home Values. A post at ScienceBlog.com caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…In some states, such as Florida, as many as one in six homes are in floodplains. As more people have built more homes in areas exposed to cyclones, sea-level rise and other inundation hazards, flooding damage costs have skyrocketed. Since 2000, overall flood damages have quadrupled in the U.S. More frequent extreme weather could magnify the trend. In the next 30 years, flood damages to U.S. homes are projected to rise more than 60 percent, from $20 billion to nearly $32.2 billion a year, according to nonprofit research group First Street Foundation. While some states, such as Louisiana, require detailed flood risk disclosures, others require no risk disclosures of any kind...”

63 F. Twin Cities high on Wednesday.

64 F. average high on April 28.

62 F. MSP high on April 28, 2020.

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.

Paul Douglas

THURSDAY: Cloud and sun, windy. Winds: NW 15-25. High: 62

FRIDAY: Blue sky, light winds. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 42. High: 62

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, warm and lake-worthy. Winds: W 10-20. Wake-up: 54. High: 81

SUNDAY: More clouds, passing T-shower. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 56. High: near 70

MONDAY: Mostly sunny and comfortable. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 47. High: 63

TUESDAY: More clouds than sun, quiet. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 44. High: 60

WEDNESDAY: Unsettled, showers likely. Winds: W 10-20. Wake-up: 47. High: near 60

Climate Stories…

John Kerry Calls on Scientists to Lead Fight Against Climate Change Denial. Note to self: climate scientists have been doing this for over a generation now. Thomson Reuters Foundation reports: “Widespread mistrust of science and disputes over basic facts, tied to growing political polarization and disinformation campaigns, are undermining efforts to tackle climate change globally, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry warned. During a virtual summit organized by the Nobel Foundation and major science academies this week, Kerry said building greater public understanding and agreement on the world’s “existential” challenges was crucial to addressing them. “We have to establish a baseline of truth or we can’t build consensus in a democracy,” he said. “Paid-for denial” about climate change by big polluters and political disregard by some governments of scientific warnings about COVID-19 risks are “costing us enormously”, he added...”


Climate Tipping Points May Have Been Reached Already, Experts Say. CBS News has the story; here’s the intro: “Through decades of research, and now lived experience, it has become clear that the impacts of climate change will have drastic and far-reaching consequences on our planet. And while some of those consequences are predictable — like more extreme weather, sea-level rise and loss of biodiversity — the pace at which these unfold and their eventual severity hinge on what happens with key linchpins in the climate system, called tipping points. A tipping point is a threshold or point of no return in the climate system that once passed can no longer be reversed. Passing a tipping point does not necessarily mean immediate, drastic consequences, but it does mean those consequences become unavoidable, and over time the impacts may be dramatic…”

Glacier National Park
Jacob Frank, National Park Service

Glaciers Are Melting More Rapidly, Risking Floods and Droughts. Bloomberg Green has the story: “The world’s glaciers are shrinking at a faster rate than before, with densely-populated parts of Asia at risk of flood and water shortages if the trend continues. That’s the conclusion of a new study by ETH Zurich and University of Toulouse researchers, who found the world’s ice fields lost 298 gigatons of ice per year from 2005 to 2019, a 30% increase in the rate of retreat compared with the previous five years. Glaciers in Alaska, the Alps and Iceland are among those disappearing at the fastest pace. “The situation in the Himalayas is particularly worrying,” said Romain Hugonnet, one of the study’s authors, adding that swathes of India and Bangladesh could face water stress during dry periods when major rivers like the Ganges and Indus are mainly fed by glacial runoff…”

Climate Central

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman speaks before a hearing on climate change in 2020. On Monday, Pittman’s Office of Law filed a lawsuit against some of the biggest names in the fossil fuel industry — ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Shell and others — to hold them financially responsible for what it calls the “costs and consequences” of climate change and attempts to cover up the truth about its impacts on the environment.
Rachael Pacella / Capital Gazette

Anne Arundel Follows Annapolis – Sues Oil and Gas Companies Over Climate Change. Expect more cities and states to turn to litigation in the months and years ahead. Here’s an excerpt from Capital Gazette in Annapolis, MD: “Anne Arundel County is following Annapolis by suing more than two dozen oil and gas companies over their role in contributing to climate change. The county Office of Law filed a lawsuit Monday against some of the biggest names in the fossil fuel industry — ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Shell and others — to hold them financially responsible for what it calls the “costs and consequences” of climate change and attempts to cover up the truth about its impacts on the environment…”

Maryland County Sues Big Oil: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Anne Arundel County, Maryland, is suing more than two dozen oil and gas companies and API for covering up what they knew to be the truth of their products’ impact on global warming and, seeking to hold them liable for the “costs and consequences” of climate change. Anne Arundel is home to Maryland capital Annapolis, which filed a similar lawsuit in February and is one in a drumbeat of suits filed by states and municipalities across the country.” (Capital Gazette, Maryland Matters, WTOP, E&E $)


“Time to Shake Things Up”: Music Industry Confronts Climate Crisis as Gigs Resume. The Guardian has an interesting post about reducing carbon footprints and raising climate awareness: “Before the pandemic struck, it wasn’t uncommon for DJs to fly between three European cities in a weekend. The carbon footprint of globetrotting tours was massive. Festivals and gigs were criticised for the levels of waste they created. Streaming services, requiring ever more processing power, have had a burgeoning impact, as has the recent craze of selling music via NFTs (non-fungible tokens). But a series of announcements last week, coordinated by the Music Declares Emergency collective, have challenged the idea that the industry is not taking the climate emergency seriously. After a uniquely difficult year for those in live music, perhaps this is an inflection point: can the recovery from Covid-19 be green?…”


White House Pushing for 80% Clean U.S. Power Grid by 2030. Reuters has details: “The White House hopes to capitalize on growing support from U.S. utilities, unions and green groups for a national clean energy mandate by pushing Congress to pass a law requiring the U.S. grid to get 80% of its power from emissions-free sources by 2030, according to a senior administration official. The goal would fall short of President Joe Biden’s stated ambition of net zero carbon emissions in the grid by 2035, but is an interim milestone that could be passed without Republican support through a process called budget reconciliation. “Our goal is to enact this into law,” deputy White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi told Reuters. “There are multiple pathways to get meaningful progress in the power sector…”


Biden’s Climate Summit Launches the World Into a Climate Sprint. Here’s some perspective from TIME.com: “…Kerry’s visit to China yielded a joint statement saying the two countries are “firmly committed to working together.” When the summit finally rolled around in April, a handful of countries were ready to announce new climate targets. Canada upped its commitment to slash emissions to at least a 40% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030. Japan said it would aim for a 50% cut from 2013 levels by the end of the decade. The most important commitment, of course, came from the U.S.: the Biden Administration said the country would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030 from 2005 levels, a significant ramp up from the U.S.’s Obama-era plan...”

Screenshot: Gizmodo

Joe Biden is Not Coming For Your Poorly-Cooked Hamburger. Oh thank God! No need to guard my back yard grill – that’s a huge relief. Here’s an excerpt from Earther: “Folks, Joe Biden is bringing big government into the kitchen. Your kitchen. Sleepy Joe, he’s coming for your sweet, beautiful meat. Your fridge, it’s going to be full of kale after Biden is done cleaning out your delicious hamburgers and Angus sirloin. Filet mignon? It’s gonna be a thing of the past in Biden’s America. Maybe you get it once a year—if you win the meat lottery. (You probably won’t because you know they rigged it. #StoptheVealSteal) Your grill? Forget about it, unless you want to put some turnips on it...”

Global Construction Review

Climate Change is a Bigger Challenge for Construction Than Covid-19. Say what? Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Global Construction Review that caught my eye: “…There will be a great deal of disruption from projects and built environment initiatives that are late, delayed or cancelled entirely as a result of the pandemic, requiring careful dispute resolution that, though precipitated by Covid-19, will be overtaken by issues surrounding a project’s green credentials going forward. In other words, while the pandemic has forced a pause in proceedings for which there will be legal ramifications in the short-term, climate change will be our greatest challenge and have a profound effect on how we build long into the future...”