June 17, 2010 near Albert Lea, Minnesota
Meteorologist Aaron Shaffer

Tornado Alley? More Like “Tornado Country”

Data suggests “Tornado Alley” is shifting south and east over time, with more severe, long-track tornadoes hitting the Mid South (Little Rock to Birmingham) in recent years. A symptom of climate change? The honest answer: we’re not sure yet.

Tornado Alley should be renamed “Tornado Country” because twisters are fairly commonplace east of the Rockies. In 2010 a total of 145 tornadoes struck Minnesota, the most in the nation that year. Details on the June 17, 2010 super-outbreak here. Severe damage was reported from Wadena to near Albert Lea.

The emergency sirens will sound Thursday at 1:45pm and 6:45pm across Minnesota and Wisconsin, a reminder of inevitable severe storms to come.

Our pattern will be too cool for anything severe anytime soon. Flurries taper today with daytime highs generally in the 50s by late week. Storms track south of Minnesota over the weekend; the next chance of a few showers and T-storms may come the last weekend of April, when a surge of warmth may spark a few pop-up storms.

Spring is on hold but sticky warm fronts will be here soon.

March 25, 2021 Birmingham tornado velocity couplet
Paul Douglas

University of Illinois, Twitter

Ken Barlow, Twitter

Slow Moderation. Any coating of slush should quickly disappear, with a sun angle as high as it is in late August. NOAA NDFD numbers above show temperatures inching closer to normal for mid-April by the weekend with no (big) storms in sight.

ECMWF Temperatures for MSP
NOAA GFS Temperatures for MSP

The Path to Spring is Long and Arduous. While most of the USA warms up nicely by late April a conga-line of cool fronts will prolong the chill from Seattle to the Twin Cities, where temperatures will be slower to recover in the coming weeks.

SO2 (sulfur dioxide) Layer

Volcanic Plume. Here is a message I received from fellow Praedictix meteorologist todd Nelson: “Take a look at this from Windy.com – if you add the SO2 Layer (Sulfur Dioxide), you can see the volcanic plume from La Soufriere going all the way to Africa & Europe. Pretty amazing!

Barbados Met Service, Twitter
A look at Jason Robinson’s setup for PowerOutage.US.
Jason Robinson

How Man’s “Side-Project” Became Go-To Info Source During Major Weather Extremes. I did not know this, but a story at Yahoo News is a worthy read: “…The beginnings of PowerOutage.US stemmed from a combination of Robinson’s fascination with watching storms move through areas via power outage maps along with a history of work with IT and databases, and he noticed a gap in the marketplace. “I thought, ‘Hey, there’s no place right now to view all this information in one spot. Let’s try and make one,’” Robinson said. “It purely started as a side project for learning about new technology, and it’s just grown exponentially from there.” The website tracks power outages from more than 650 utilities across the U.S., and while it relies on the data it receives from these sources for accuracy, it’s also one of the most complete sources of power outage information currently available...”

Goguryeo armor mural, lifetime 37 BCE-668 CE.
Public Domain

Ancient History Sheds New Light on Connection Between Weather and War. Is the risk of war heightened during times of extreme weather? Here’s an excerpt from phys.org: “Data extracted from the oldest surviving document recording Korean history shows a strong correlation between extreme weather events and war. The research, which was recently published as a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), shows the three states that ruled over the Korean Peninsula from 18 BCE to 660 CE were more than twice as likely to be involved in an armed conflict with a neighbor when also experiencing a weather shock such as drought or excessive rainfall...”


Severe Weather Awareness Week. I know, it seems odd with slush in the forecast later today, but it won’t be long before the sirens are sounding. A test of the sirens is scheduled for Thursday at 1:45 and 6:45 pm. For the latest NOAA SPC severe storm risk for the USA click here.


Trending Toward More Hurricanes in Atlantic Basin. The new 30 year averages show an increase in the number of named storms and hurricanes. One explanation: consistently warmer water.

Plastic, Plastic Everywhere…
Janice Brahney

Plastic is Falling From the Sky. Where’s it Coming From? WIRED.com (paywall) has some answers and results of new research: “…But new modeling published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that 84 percent of airborne microplastics in the American West actually comes from the roads outside of major cities. Another 11 percent could be blowing all the way in from the ocean. (The researchers who built the model reckon that microplastic particles stay airborne for nearly a week, and that’s more than enough time for them to cross continents and oceans.) Microplastics—particles smaller than 5 millimeters—come from a number of sources. Plastic bags and bottles released into the environment break down into smaller and smaller bits. Your washing machine is another major source: When you launder synthetic clothing, tiny microfibers slough off and get flushed to a wastewater treatment plant...”

Google, Wikipedia

Airborne Plastic Pollution “Spiraling Around the Globe”, Study Finds. The Guardian has more perspective; here’s a clip: “…The analysis calls plastic pollution one of the most pressing environmental issues of the 21st century. It indicates that the billions of tonnes of plastic discarded into the oceans and land and being broken down into tiny pieces are being thrown back into the air by road traffic and winds over seas and farmland. People are already known to breathe, drink and eat microplastics and the other research suggests levels of pollution will continue to rise rapidly. The scientists said this “raises questions on the impact of accumulating plastics in the atmosphere on human health. The inhalation of particles can be irritating to lung tissue and lead to serious diseases...”

Uh oh
Elena Lacey

How to Survive a Killer Asteroid. A post at WIRED.com (paywall) has helpful advice: “…If you make camp on the right continent, in the right environment, and you seek out the right kind of shelter, at the right altitudes, at the right times, you might stand a chance, says Charles Bardeen, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research who recently modeled the asteroid’s fallout for the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. Of course, even if you are on the opposite side of the world at the time of impact—which is the only way you can hope to make it out alive—he recommends you act quickly. As soon as you hear its sonic boom (don’t worry—you’ll be able to hear it from the other side of the world), get yourself to high ground and find underground shelter. Immediately…”

Are you from the Land of Queen Henrietta Maria or mountainous Montana?
Expedia.ca // CC BY-SA 4.0

This Map Shows the Meaning of Place Names in the U.S. and Canada. Mental Floss has an interesting story: “One glance at a map reveals plenty of hints about the history of North America. British Columbia, for example, was clearly settled by the British; and Louisiana’s name presumably pays tribute to one of France’s former kings (it does—King Louis XIV). Other names were taken from the languages of Native Americans forced off their land by European explorers. The meaning of certain monikers is well-documented and simple. England’s Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, named Maryland after Queen Henrietta Maria, whose husband, King Charles I, had granted Calvert the territory charter…”

37 F. maximum temperature yesterday at MSP.

57 F. average Twin Cities high on April 13.

37 F. high on April 13, 2020.

April 14, 1983: A ‘surprise’ snowstorm covers east central Minnesota. The Twin Cities receives 13.6 inches, the all-time record for April. Brilliant blue skies and bright sun appear the next morning.

April 14, 1886: The deadliest tornado in Minnesota’s history rips through St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids, leaving 72 people dead. 80 percent of all buildings in Sauk Rapids would be leveled as the tornado’s width expanded to 800 yards. As it crossed the Mississippi it knocked down two iron spans of a wagon bridge and local witnesses said the river was ‘swept dry’ during the tornado crossing. 300,000 dollars damage would occur in Sauk Rapids, only 4,000 dollars of which was insured. The forecast for that day was for local rains and slightly warmer with highs in the 50’s.

WEDNESDAY: Cloudy, breezy and cool. Winds; NW 10-20. High: 47

THURSDAY: More clouds than sunshine. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 37. High: 52

FRIDAY: Sunshine sighting. Feels like spring. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 35. High: 54

SATURDAY: Peeks of sun, cool breeze. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 36. High: 53

SUNDAY: Plenty of sunshine, almost pleasant. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 34. High: 57

MONDAY: Light rain-snow mix. Wet roads. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 35. High: 41

TUESDAY: Cool sunshine, quiet. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 29. High: 51

Climate Stories…


We Are Living in a “Climate Emergency” – And We’re Going to Say So. Scientific American is not mincing words; here’s an excerpt: “…Given the circumstances, Scientific American has agreed with major news outlets worldwide to start using the term “climate emergency” in its coverage of climate change. An official statement about this decision, and the impact we hope it can have throughout the media landscape, is below. This idea is not a journalistic fancy. We are on solid scientific ground. In January Scientific American published an article about a study entitled “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency.” At the time, more than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries had signed a report to signify their agreement that the world is facing a climate emergency that requires bold action. As of April 9 another 2,100 had signed on. As our article said, “the adverse effects of climate change are much more severe than expected and now threaten both the biosphere and humanity…. Every effort must be made to reduce emissions and increase removal of atmospheric carbon in order to restore the melting Arctic and end the deadly cycle of damage that the current climate is delivering…”

WMO, Twitter

Photos of Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park, taken in 1910 and 2016, show that it has shrunk markedly.
Morton J. Elrod, K. Ross Toole Archives / NPS and Lisa McKeon / USGS / NPS

Forests Ablaze, Glaciers Melting: Climate Change Threatens US Parks. A post at Steamboat Magazine caught my eye: “…In a groundbreaking 2018 study, Gonzalez and other researchers reported that US national parks, which cover 4 percent of the US, are experiencing human-caused temperature increases at twice the rate of the rest of the country, causing a vast array of ecosystem disturbances to plants, animals, and the humans living in, working in, and visiting these parks. The park area is being exposed to more severe heat and aridity than the rest of the country, the study warned, adding that in a worst-case scenario, park temperatures could increase from 3 to 9 degrees Celsius by 2100. These findings, and those in an updated report Gonzalez published in 2020, are particularly alarming given that the national parks hold some of the country’s last intact refuges for climate-sensitive plant and animal species...”

Sustainability scientist Kimberly Nicholas says confronting climate change requires acknowledging values and feelings as well as advancing science and policy.
Janet Nichols

“Sink Into Your Grief”. How One Scientist Confronts the Emotional Toll of Climate Change. Science AAAS has the post; here’s a clip: “…“I was trained to be calm, rational, and objective, to focus on the facts,” sustainability scientist Kimberly Nicholas recalls in her new book, Under the Sky We Make: How to Be Human in a Warming World. But as research has increasingly revealed how climate change will forever alter the ecosystems and communities she loves, she has struggled to address her feelings of sadness. “My dispassionate training,” the Lund University researcher writes, has “not prepared me for the increasingly frequent emotional crises of climate change,” or how to respond to students who come to her to share their own grief. It’s a situation many scientists and professors are facing these days, Nicholas writes. “Being witness to the demise or death of what we love has started to look an awful lot like the job description…”


Why is the Debate Over Climate Change So Contentious? Here’s a clip from an interesting Op-Ed at Deseret News in Utah: “…With fossil fuels more expensive, families and businesses will either find ways to conserve or switch to cheaper, cleaner energy alternatives. Meanwhile, the dividend puts money in the pockets of families to spend as they see fit. The vast majority of lower- and middle-income families will find their dividend equals or exceeds the higher costs associated with the carbon price. This bill doesn’t have a lot of intrusive regulations. Rather, it sees the role of government as setting a direction, then relying on businesses to compete and innovate to provide abundant, affordable and reliable clean energy. Independent analyses have concluded that this bill will be good for the economy. And importantly, they also show that this bill will be highly effective, taking us most of the way to net zero carbon emissions by 2050…”

The Larsen C ice shelf.

Over a Third of Antarctic Ice Shelf Could Collapse as Climate Change Warms the Earth. Space.com takes a look at the implications of a harrowing headline: “Over a third of the Antarctic ice shelf is at risk of collapsing as Earth continues to warm. In a new study, scientists at the University of Reading have found that as climate change continues, if Earth’s global temperature rises to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels, about 193,000 square miles (500,000 square kilometers) of the Antarctic ice shelves could collapse into the sea. Ice shelves are permanent floating slabs of ice attached to coastline, and the collapse of these shelves could significantly raise global sea levels, the researchers suggest...”

Zack Labe, Twitter

What’s in Biden’s Budget Proposal. The Wall Street Journal (paywall) breaks it down, including climate-related proposals: “…The budget outline sprinkles climate policy throughout, in line with Mr. Biden’s goal of turning the entire government’s attention to the issue. The 61-page document mentions “climate” 151 times. The document calls for increased funds for lowering carbon and methane pollution, tax credits for clean energy, conservation incentives for farmers, increased disaster funding and funds for climate-related research. The proposal would reboot the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps with the goal of conserving 30% of U.S. land and waters by 2030. The outline also supports the goal of creating 250,000 jobs to remediate abandoned mines and oil and gas wells. Mr. Biden also wants outlays for training workers for jobs in the clean-energy sector…”

Global Temperature Anomalies

NASA Earth Observatory

Biden Administration’s Methane Emission Curbs to Exceed Obama’s: EPA Chief. Reuters explains: “The Biden administration’s curbs on methane from the U.S. oil and gas industry will be more ambitious than those imposed by former President Barack Obama and will go a long way to helping the United States achieve its overall targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade, the nation’s top environmental regulator told Reuters. The comments provide a sense of President Joe Biden’s ambition to limit output of the powerful greenhouse as it drafts new rules for release later this year. Ex-President Donald Trump had scrapped Obama-era rules requiring oil and gas companies cut the sector’s methane emissions 45% below 2012 levels by 2025...”