Spring Is The Most Fickle of Seasons

Some days I want to hurl my laptop into the nearest lake. I feel like a beleaguered fortune teller, a palm reader with a bad attitude. “No, I do NOT want to say that in public.” I’d rather talk about the Twins.

Last weekend was legendary; the very definition of weather-bliss. But the European model (ECMWF) is hinting at a rain-snow mix on Saturday, with a potential for slush. Keep in mind a trace of snow falls during an average May in the Twin Cities, based on the latest 30-year climate record. There’s a statistic you won’t hear from the local Chamber of Commerce.

With any luck slushy snow won’t materialize, but just in case, I’m covering my (Doppler).

In the meantime, expect 70s today with a few passing showers tonight and early Thursday. Friday will be dry, but the upcoming weekend will leave much to be desired with a cold rain (laced with snow?) Saturday, and another wave of showers on Sunday. A good weekend for spring cleaning (or maybe Netflix).

If this keeps up the 7-Day may get a rating. “PG” for pretty grim, or “R” for…really?

12z Tuesday ECMWF (European) accumulated snowfall prediction above shows total snow by Saturday evening. Map credit: WeatherBell. Heaven help us…

Second Week of May: Trending Warmer. We may experience a cool start to May, but GFS model guidance predicts that the main belt of westerlies will lift northward, allowing 70s, even a few 80s by mid-May.

Even After Hurricane Sandy, Many People Wouldn’t Prepare For a Future Storm. Here’s an excerpt from a troubling Popular Science story: “…The small number of people who said that they had plans to make active preparations was surprising, Burger says. She thinks that reluctance might be for two reasons: To people who might have borne the brunt of the storm—with their house flooded and lives upended—the severity might make them think there’s no point in preparing. “It might be frightening, and hard to see how they could prepare other than leaving,” she says. Others may see the storm as a one-time event, and think that there’s no need to think about another. “With an area like New Jersey, people were not prepared that a hurricane could be this severe,” Burger says...”

Sandy file image: Associated Press.

U.S. Flood Survivors Are Growing in Number, Seeking Answers. A story at Ensia connects the dots. How many times do you have to be hit over the head by a (soggy) 2×4 before you realize the patterns may, in fact, be changing? “…Sea-level rise is inundating coastal cities, where “sunny-day flooding” is now a thing. Rising seas contribute to high-tide flooding, which has grown by a factor of five to 10 since the 1960s in many U.S. coastal communities — and that trend that is expected to accelerate in the future. Farther inland, increased rainfall is a major culprit. Because a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, the past few decades have seen many more “heavy precipitation events,” especially in the Northeast, Midwest and upper Great Plains. In the Northeast, for example, heavy rains pack 50 percent more water than they did before 1991. Not surprisingly, those deluges have led to more flooding from Albany, New York, to Duluth, Minnesota…”

File image: U.S. Coast Guard.

Divining Disaster: Inside The Storm Prediction Center. This is one of the better stories I’ve read about what really goes on at SPC, courtesy of MSN.com: “…The scope — and consequences — of the storms they have charted are similarly sharp in their memories. They know the triple-digit death tolls that sometimes come, even when their forecasts are tragically accurate. Just last month, 23 people died in Alabama after a well-warned tornado outbreak. “You just see the injuries, the damages, the fatalities just piling up, and you’re thinking, ‘What’s the point?’” Mr. Thompson said as he considered some of the larger outbreaks on his watch. “It’s like, I did the best I could, and we just had the most people killed in one of these kinds of forecasts on record. I kind of wondered and thought, ‘Is it just the limit of what we can do?...”

File image: National Weather Service.

Military Leaders Face Off Against a Rising Enemy: The Weather. Military.com has the article; here’s the intro: “As the White House reportedly considers creating a committee to review the scientific evidence for climate change, the military services not only face the task of rebuilding bases destroyed by storms, they are planning replacement installations hardened to the weather and training forces with an eye toward global instability caused by rising temperatures. In a series of congressional hearings this month, Navy and Air Force leaders told lawmakers that rising sea levels, fires and storms affect military personnel at home as well as at work, where they must train for scenarios such as humanitarian crises and civil war brought on by flooding and drought...”

Photo credit: “Airmen from the 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron drain flood-water from a launch facility near Bowbells, N.D., March 29, 2017. The electromechanical team technicians measured rising water levels and relocated water, snow and mud away from critical 91st MW assets.” (U.S Air Force photo/Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong).

Wet Weather and Flooding Are Testing U.S. Agriculture. Here’s a clip from a story at Forbes: “…This heavy moisture from rain and snow, falling on already-saturated ground from heavy rain last fall, caused extensive flooding, highway closures, and destruction of livestock and stored grain. Now, farmers, agronomists and meteorologists are focused on the Volumetric Water Content (VWC) in these areas and what that means for their fields and crops. VWC is a term used to describe the amount of water that is being held by soil. The VWC is a ratio that compares inches of water to inches of soil. With the increased VWC, soils are extremely saturated, meaning water is entering the soil at a rate faster than it can drain downwards with gravity. Many agriculture areas are either currently experiencing this or are expected to soon due to widespread flooding…”

New Wave of Satellites Could Pinpoint Greenhouse Gas Offenders. The Anchorage Daily News has the story: “A wave of satellites set to orbit the Earth will be able to pinpoint producers of greenhouse gases, right down to an individual leak at an oil rig. More than a dozen governments and companies have or are planning to launch satellites that measure concentrations of heat-trapping gases such as methane, which is blamed for about one quarter of man-made global warming. They are looking to track nations, industries, companies and even individual facilities to identify some of the biggest contributors to climate change. “Space-based technologies are allowing us for the first time to quickly and cheaply measure greenhouse gases,” said Mark Brownstein, a senior vice president at Environmental Defense Fund, which plans to launch its MethaneSAT in 2021...”

Photo credit: “Steam billows from the cooling towers of the Yallourn coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley, Australia, on Wednesday, April 29, 2015.” (Bloomberg photo by Carla Gottgens)

The World’s Happiest People Have a Beautifully Simple Way to Tackle Loneliness. A story at Quartz offers a way forward in a world of increasing isolation and loneliness: “…While Ventilen has been around for decades, its simple yet novel approach is getting more attention as governments everywhere wake up to the prevalence, and cost, of loneliness. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study showed that 22% of Americans, 23% of Brits and 9% of Japanese adults said they felt lonely all the time. When the BBC asked 55,000 people about their experiences with loneliness,33% of respondents said they were “often” or “very often” lonely. Among those aged 16-24, the figure was a shocking 40%…”

You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep – And It’s Killing You. WIRED.com has a story outlining why quantity and quality of sleep is critical; here’s a clip: “…According to neuroscientist Matthew Walker, I’m doing serious damage to my health—and life—by not sleeping enough. “The decimation of sleep throughout industrialized nations is having a catastrophic impact on our health, our wellness, even the safety and education of our children. It’s a silent sleep loss epidemic. It’s fast becoming one of the greatest challenges we face in the 21st century,” Walker, an expert in sleep at UC Berkeley and author of the best-selling book Why We Sleep, told a rapt TED audience on Thursday...”

How to Prevent a Hangover. I’m not judging… A story at Real Simple has suggestions on how to take the edge off: “Eat fatty foods. All foods, especially fatty ones, delay the body’s absorption of alcohol, say doctors. And delaying the absorption of alcohol is a good step toward avoiding a hangover. An easy food to eat before going out that’s filled with healthy fats is avocado–guacamole for the table, please! Eat high-fiber foods. Chris Meletis, a dean at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, in Portland, Oregon, says high-fiber foods–like vegetables–break down alcohol and absorb it, keeping it from reaching the bloodstream as quickly…”

65 F. maximum Twin Cities temperature yesterday.

62 F. average high on April 23.

71 F. high on April 23, 2018.

April 24, 1854: It feels like summertime at Ft. Snelling with temperatures in the 80s.

WEDNESDAY: Mild sunshine, breezy. Winds: SW 15-25. High: 74

THURSDAY: Early shower, then clearing. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 51. High: 68

FRIDAY: Comfortable sunshine. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 44. High: 62

SATURDAY: Apologies. Rain may mix with snow. Wake-up: 38. High: 41

SUNDAY: Showery rain, still pretty foul. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 35. High: near 50

MONDAY: Cloudy and cool, passing sprinkle. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 37. High: 52

TUESDAY: More clouds than sun, jacket weather. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: 39. High: 54

Climate Stories….

Climate Change Becomes Key Voter Concern in Minnesota, Across U.S. Star Tribune has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…It’s a ‘from-the-gut’ issue,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “It affects everything about your life. It’s not just taxes. The environment is the future of the world.” But support for action to address climate change is divided along party and generational lines, with the surge of interest concentrated among Democrats and young voters. Eighty percent of caucusgoers surveyed in a recent Iowa Poll conducted by the Des Moines Register said they want a candidate who talks “a lot” about climate. Youth activists in St. Paul and across the country took part in a mass day of protest to demand action from lawmakers. Several leaders of that movement, including Minnesota teens Maddy Fernands and Isra Hirsi, recently launched a new campaign calling on Democrats to hold a forum on environmental issues ahead of the 2020 election...”

Photo credit: Photos by New York Times (left) and Associated Press. “Republicans are taking aim at the Green New Deal, and Democratic activists are fighting for legislation to tackle climate change.”

Nearly Half of Young Americans Say Climate Change is a “Crisis” That Requires “Urgent Action”. CBS News has the story: “Nearly 50 percent of young Americans believe climate change is creating a “crisis” that warrants “urgent action.” A national poll by the Harvard Institute of Politics of young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 found that 45 percent of young Americans — including 50 percent of those likely to vote — agreed climate change is “a crisis and demands urgent action.” Meanwhile, nearly 30 percent of those surveyed said economic inequality is a national crisis that also requires “urgent action...”

Image credit: NASA.

Greta Thunberg’s Full Speech to Britain’s House of Parliament. Here’s an excerpt of a powerful speech, transcribed at The Guardian: “…Because that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once. You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it’s too late. And yet we are the lucky ones. Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard. Is my microphone on? Can you hear me?…”

The Media Are Complacent While the World Burns. The Nation explains: “…Yet at a time when civilization is accelerating toward disaster, climate silence continues to reign across the bulk of the US news media. Especially on television, where most Americans still get their news, the brutal demands of ratings and money work against adequate coverage of the biggest story of our time. Many newspapers, too, are failing the climate test. Last October, the scientists of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report, warning that humanity had a mere 12 years to radically slash greenhouse-gas emissions or face a calamitous future in which hundreds of millions of people worldwide would go hungry or homeless or worse. Only 22 of the 50 biggest newspapers in the United States covered that report…”

Illustration credit: Doug Chayka.

Why is the U.S. News Media So Bad At Covering Climate Change? More perspective at The Guardian.

99.9999% Chance Humans Are Causing Global Warming. USA TODAY reports: “Climate change is real and increasingly a part of our daily lives. New research and studies out in just the past six months highlight the latest facts about the human-caused shift to our global weather systems and its effects on our planet.  First among them, there’s no longer any question that rising temperatures and increasingly chaotic weather are the work of humanity. There’s a 99.9999% chance that humans are the cause of global warming, a February study reported. That means we’ve reached the “gold standard” for certainty, a statistical measure typically used in particle physics...”

Greenland Ice Sheet Melting 6 Times Faster Than It Was in the 80s – Study. Details via TheHill: “Greenland’s ice sheet, the world’s second largest, is losing volume at twice the pace it was in the 1980s, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Greenland’s glaciers, which dumped about 51 billion tons of ice into the ocean from 1980 to 1990, dumped 286 billion tons between 2010 and 2018, the research says. Of about 14 millimeters of sea-level increase caused by Greenland since 1972, half took place in the past eight years, according to the study. The research indicates that the 1980s were the point at which the planet’s climate began to “drift significantly” from natural variability, Eric Rignot, one of the study’s coauthors, told The Washington Post…”

Photo credit: NASA and Reuters.

Melting Permafrost in Arctic Will Have $70 Trillion Climate Impact – Study. The Guardian has an overview of a recent paper: “The release of methane and carbon dioxide from thawing permafrost will accelerate global warming and add up to $70tn (£54tn) to the world’s climate bill, according to the most advanced study yet of the economic consequences of a melting Arctic. If countries fail to improve on their Paris agreement commitments, this feedback mechanism, combined with a loss of heat-deflecting white ice, will cause a near 5% amplification of global warming and its associated costs, says the paper, which was published on Tuesday in Nature Communications...”

Photo credit: “Greenhouse gases, which have been frozen below the soil for centuries, have already begun to escape.” Photograph: John Mcconnico/AP.

Largest Cumulative CO2 Emitters Since 1750. Here’s an interesting post at Observable.

A Lesson on Climate Change: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: “More than 80 percent of both parents and teachers think climate change should be taught in school, according to a new poll by NPR and Ipsos. That number was only slightly lower among adults in general, with two in three Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats believing it should be taught. Despite this, only 42 percent of teachers reported they cover climate change in the classroom. They most common reason cited was that climate change was not related to the subject they teach, but they also reported not knowing enough about the subject, lacking the proposer resources, and being worried about parental complaints. But Brad Hoge from the National Center for Science Education said this poll should show educators that they should feel free to talk about climate change, “and you’re not going to get as much pushback as you expect.” (NPR, Vox, The Hill, Houston Public Media, KJZZ, Romper).

Flight Attendant Association Warns Climate Change is Increasing Dangerous Air Turbulence. I’d like to see more papers on whether this is a fluke or a trend before jumping to conclusions, but a story at TheHill has food for thought: “The leader of a union representing 50,000 flight attendants warned in a column for Vox on Thursday that climate change is increasing in-flight turbulence. In the column, Association of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson notes that turbulence is caused by air currents shifting, and the most dangerous form, the virtually undetectable clear air turbulence, is projected to more than double by the middle of the 21st century, reaching strengths that could “catapult unbuckled passengers and crew around the aircraft cabin.” Turbulence costs airlines in the U.S. $200 million a year, according to Nelson, and is only part of the fallout climate change is causing in air travel…”