A busy night staring at the Doppler
Paul Douglas

Deciphering The Evening Weather Report

Meteorologists throw around strange terminology during peak severe storm season. Where to begin? “Hook echoes?” On radar, spinning, tornadic storms often look like hooks, or the number “6”. “Radar-indicated” tornado? Doppler detects swirling winds capable of spinning up a tornado. A warning with a “confirmed tornado” is even more dangerous. Summer warm fronts often strengthen at night, sparking expansive, nearly statewide swarms of strong to severe storms, with torrential rain and vivid lightning. These “meso-convective systems” (MCS) squeeze out 1-6” rains.

If the sun stays out for a few hours this afternoon many of us will sample the first 90 of the summer season, less than a week after experiencing the first 70 of spring! After a chilling April, Mother Nature is throwing our seasons into fast-forward.

A partly sunny, comfortable Fishing Opener is likely: 70s in the metro with 60s and a stray shower up north. We’ve seen worse.

No extended heatwaves in sight, just rapid changes and frequent showers.

Praedictix Briefing: this is an excerpt of a briefing issued Wednesday morning:


Thursday: Enhanced Severe Risk. As we watch a system quickly form across the Dakotas during the afternoon and evening hours on Thursday, we will see the threat of severe weather once again across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest in association with a warm front lifting north across the Upper Mississippi Valley and a cold front moving eastward. For Thursday and Thursday Night, the greatest risk (an Enhanced Risk) exists from the eastern Dakotas and much of Minnesota southward into western Iowa and eastern Nebraska. This includes the Twin Cities, Sioux Falls, Fargo, Grand Forks, and Sioux City. Cities in the surrounding Slight Risk includes Duluth, Des Moines, and Omaha.

Forecast Radar. Storms on Thursday are expected to develop in the mid/late afternoon hours, initially stretching from the central and eastern Dakotas into northern Kansas. The environment will be ripe for these storms to quickly go severe, with very large hail and damaging winds expected along with a few tornadoes across the eastern Dakotas into western Minnesota. As we head into the evening, storms will form more into a line, with damaging winds become the primary threat (but still with a tornado and hail threat).

Severe Weather Threat Breakdown. All severe weather threats will once again be present across the region.

  • Tornadoes: The highest tornado threat will be across the Dakota/Minnesota border intersection stretching into parts of central Minnesota. That is due to the expected location of the warm front and the area of low pressure. The greatest threat of tornadoes will be in the afternoon and early evening. However, we will continue to watch the threat of some embedded tornadoes moving eastward with the line of storms.
  • Very Large Hail: At least up to ping pong sized hail will be possible with severe storms across the upper Midwest. Once again the greatest risk would be with individual storms during the afternoon/early evening hours, but the hail threat could continue eastward with the line of storms
  • Damaging Winds: Damaging winds will also be possible with any severe storm Thursday into Thursday Night, becoming the primary threat as storm mode becomes more linear into the evening and overnight hours.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

Thursday Future Clouds/Radar

Swampy Thursday – Then Turning More Comfortable. We should hit peak heat (and humidity) today with upper 80s to near 90F before another rousing line of strong to severe storms arrive. Isn’t May a blast? A westerly wind returns Friday with a drop in humidity levels, paving the way for a partly sunny, mostly-decent Fishing Opener Weekend.

ECMWF Temperatures for MSP
NOAA GFS Temperatures for MSP

Paul Strauss, WMO

Some of the Most Extreme Heatwaves Fly Under the Radar. A post at Earth.com caught my eye as we move rapidly into severe-heat season: “…A new research study, led by scientists from the University of Bristol, has analyzed heatwaves not only in terms of their maximum temperatures, but also in terms of how much of a deviation they represent from the average temperatures that are normal in each location. The results, published today in the journal Science Advances, reveal the most intense heatwaves ever experienced across the world. “The recent heatwave in Canada and the United States shocked the world. Yet we show there have been some even greater extremes in the last few decades,” said study lead author Dr. Vikki Thompson. “Using climate models, we also find extreme heat events are likely to increase in magnitude over the coming century – at the same rate as the local average temperature...”


Time Spent in Space Changes Astronaut’s Brains. Digital Trends explains: “Researchers have found changes in the brains of astronauts who visited the International Space Station, with parts of the brain called perivascular spaces expanding in volume. This new study looks at how the space around blood vessels in the brain, which is filled with fluid, changed in 15 astronauts. The researchers looked at their brains before they went to space using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), then after the astronauts had stayed on the International Space Station for periods of months, the researchers looked at their brains again at intervals of one month, two months, and six months after they came back to Earth...”

Analysis: When Do Electric Vehicles Become Cleaner Than Gasoline Cars? With the Twin Cities Auto Show coming to the MN State Fairgrounds on Saturday, with a wide range of all-electric options this year, I thought this Reuters post was relevant: “…Jarod Cory Kelly, principal energy systems analyst at Argonne, said making EVs generates more carbon than combustion engine cars, mainly due to the extraction and processing of minerals in EV batteries and production of the power cells. But estimates as to how big that carbon gap is when a car is first sold and where the “break-even” point comes for EVs during their lifetime can vary widely, depending on the assumptions. Kelly said the payback period then depends on factors such as the size of the EV’s battery, the fuel economy of a gasoline car and how the power used to charge an EV is generated...”


State by State Breakdown. The Alternative Fuels Data Center takes a look at EVs and Hybrids vs. ICE vehicles, based on the breakdown of the electrical grid in each state.


Skyscrapers Made of Wood? Much (much) better for the environment, and one is going up in Milwaukee. Fortune.com has the post – here’s an excerpt: “…Added bonus: wood buildings, like a forest, can function as the lungs of a neighborhood. “Tall wooden buildings store carbon, preventing it from entering the atmosphere by sequestering it in the building for decades,” says Warren Mabee, a renewable energies expert, and director of the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy in Kingston, Ontario. “In contrast, buildings made of steel and concrete generate large amounts of carbon emissions per tonne of material produced,” he says, referring to that early step in any building phase: the energy-intensive, high-temperature industrial process of making the steal and concrete. For that reason, and because of the energy expended on heating up or cooling down the massive structures each day for occupants, buildings are one of the biggest polluters, generating nearly 40% of the planet’s CO2 emissions…”

78 F. Twin Cities high temperature on Wednesday.

68 F. Average MSP high on May 11.

63 F. MSP high on May 11, 2021.

May 12, 1922: A strong cold front moves through western Minnesota, replacing shorts with sweaters at Morris. The temperature dropped from 91 to 26 on this date.

THURSDAY: Hot, sticky sun, T-storms late, some severe. Winds: S 15-25. High: 88

FRIDAY: Plenty of sunshine, less humid. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 66. High: 83

SATURDAY: Partly sunny and lukewarm. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 58. High: 76

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sunshine. Winds: W 10-20. Wake-up: 52. High: 71

MONDAY: Cooler, more clouds and wind. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 52. High: 65

TUESDAY: Fading sun, late showers, storms. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 48. High: 63

WEDNESDAY: Showers taper, still cool. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 45. High: 61

Climate Stories…

Paul Douglas

Every Heatwave Now Enhanced by Climate Change: Experts. Details via France24.com: “Burning fossil fuels and destroying forests have released enough greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to also boost the frequency and intensity of many floods, droughts, wildfires and tropical storms, they detailed in a state-of-science report. “There is no doubt that climate change is a huge game changer when it comes to extreme heat,” Friederike Otto, a scientist at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute, told AFP. Extreme hot spells such as the heatwave that gripped South Asia in March and April are already the most deadly of extreme events, she added. “Every heatwave in the world is now made stronger and more likely to happen because of human-caused climate change,” Otto and co-author Ben Clarke of the University of Oxford said in the report, presented as a briefing paper for the news media...”

Climate Central

Thunderstorm Potential Increasing Eastern USA. New research highlighted at Climate Central underscores how a warming climate and more water vapor (and higher CAPES) are increasing the potential for thunderstorm development: “Severe weather —thunderstorms that produce tornadoes, damaging wind, and/or hail—account for nearly half of all billion-dollar weather disasters in the U.S. since 1980. This week, we look at how one key indicator of thunderstorm severity—Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE)—has changed with recent warming. CAPE values generally peak during warmer months in the eastern U.S. But since 1979, parts of the eastern U.S. have seen up to 10-15 more days of high CAPE values during both spring and summer—prime time for thunderstorms. On an annual basis, higher-CAPE days have become more frequent in the eastern U.S. and less frequent in the west. Severe weather is complicated. CAPE is just one ingredient in the severe weather recipe, and it’s unclear how other ingredients could respond to additional warming…”

John Kerry Warns a Long Ukraine War Would Threaten Climate Efforts. The Guardian reports: “The longer the war in Ukraine carries on, the worse the consequences will be for the climate, the US presidential envoy John Kerry has warned. Many countries are struggling with an energy crisis while also urgently needing to cut greenhouse gas emissions to limit global heating to 1.5C, he said. “If it’s a long period of time, obviously that makes [staying within 1.5C] very complicated,” Kerry said. “It depends on what happens with the war, where the war goes and how long it lasts. If miraculously we can somehow find a way to resolve some of the fundamental problems in the next six months, then maybe we could just accelerate everything together. I think we can make up some distance [in progress on tackling the climate crisis]…”

File image

Great Barrier Reef: 91% of Reefs Surveyed Suffered Coral Bleaching in 2022. Why? The water is warming. CNN.com has details: “Warming waters from escalating climate change have caused coral bleaching in 91% of reefs surveyed along the Great Barrier Reef this year, according to new findings from an Australian government agency. Scientists from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) confirmed in March this was the sixth mass bleaching event of the reef on record and the fourth since 2016. But Tuesday’s report, Reef snapshot: summer 2021-22, found almost every coral reef surveyed across the 1,400 mile (2,300 kilometer) system was impacted by bleaching…”

Ohio’s Perry nuclear power plant.
Joana Hahn / Creative Commons

Ohio Bill Would Open Door to Subsidize Next-Gen Nuclear Power. Molten salt reactors, smaller, cheaper and safer (no plutonium) may be part of the solution to decarbonize the grid (faster). Here’s an excerpt from Energy News Network: “...The nuclear authority would “give priority to projects that reduce nuclear waste and produce isotopes.” Testimony from bill supporters suggested this would mean a molten salt reactor. A molten salt reactor ran at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s. Elysium Industries, a New York company working on an updated version of the technology, claims on its website that it could run on spent nuclear fuel, depleted uranium, or a mix of uranium and/or converted thorium ore for up to 10,000 years. Ed Pheil, the company’s chief technology officer, urged Ohio lawmakers to pass HB 434. The process also allows for the extraction of isotopes used in medical treatments and procedures, bill supporters said...”


Earth Given 50-50 Chance of Hitting Key Warming Mark by 2026. AP News reports: “The world is creeping closer to the warming threshold international agreements are trying to prevent, with nearly a 50-50 chance that Earth will temporarily hit that temperature mark within the next five years, teams of meteorologists across the globe predicted. With human-made climate change continuing, there’s a 48% chance that the globe will reach a yearly average of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels of the late 1800s at least once between now and 2026, a bright red signal in climate change negotiations and science, a team of 11 different forecast centers predicted for the World Meteorological Organization late Monday. The odds are inching up along with the thermometer. Last year, the same forecasters put the odds at closer to 40% and a decade ago it was only 10%...”

Scott Duncan

Basically A Coin Flip Whether Earth Hits 1.5°C In Next Five Years — WMO: Climate Nexus has more perspective: “Earth stands a 48/52 chance of heating, if temporarily, 1.5°C (2.7°F) above pre-industrial levels within the next five years, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization said Monday. Fossil fuel pollution is the main driver of global warming. While the annual temperature average of 1.5°C may recede back below the target threshold, above which scientists say the destructive impacts of climate change will worsen beyond what they are even now, the milestone is significant in no small part because of the stark trend in which it is situated. “We’re going to see continued warming in line with what is expected with climate change,” UK Met Office senior scientist Leon Hermanson, who coordinated the report, told the AP.” (AP, The Guardian, Axios, BBC, Reuters, FT $, Forbes)

India’s Deadly Heat Wave Shows the Real-World Effects of Climate Change. The heat waves that would have developed naturally are, increasingly, super-sized, hotter – lasting longer. Here’s an excerpt of an interview at PBS News Weekend: “…There are really two things to keep in mind. First, many parts of India are hot in the summer. But at a time when global average temperatures are going up, heat waves are more intense, more frequent. And that’s what we are seeing now. They’re also more dangerous for the second reason, which is that millions of people lack basic protections, they work outdoors. And if they don’t work, they don’t get paid. Children go to school, in school buses that are not air conditioned. People come home to houses that may not be insulated well enough. Certainly hundreds of millions of people don’t have access to air conditioning. This makes intense heat waves like this, exacerbated by climate change, deadly and dangerous to the health and well well-being of hundreds of millions of Indians...”