So happy we put out the patio furniture…
Paul Douglas

Emergency Siren Test Later Today

My 90-year old father had it right. “Keep your expectations low and maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised.” A Minnesota spring never moves in a straight line. It’s a roller coaster of promise and pain.

Exhibit A: 2021. After a June-like start to the month, the pattern looks chilly for the next couple of weeks; more March than April. No big storms are brewing, but jackets & sweatshirts will come in handy until further notice.

Sirens sound at 1:45pm and 6:45pm today. Keep in mind sirens were designed for outdoor use only. Have “multiple safety nets”, including media, apps and NOAA Weather Radio to get the information you need to stay safe.

It’s too chilly and dry for severe storms anytime soon. Scrappy clouds linger today but seeing the sun may cheer you up a little Friday into the weekend, with highs in the 50s. A reinforcing cold front sparks showers of rain/snow early Monday, with a chilly bias again next week.

60s and 70s may be delayed until May, but summer IS coming. I can’t wait to whine about bugs.

Spring Leaf Index Anomaly
National Phenology Network

Status of Spring. In spite of recent snows and based on (first leaf) observations, spring green-up has come about 10-15 days ahead of schedule, based on data collected by The National Phenology Network: “Spring leaf out continues to spread north across the country. After arriving early in southern parts of Southwest and Southeast states, cold temperatures halted the progress of spring leaf out for several days across the northern part of the Southeast, Southern Great Plains, and mid-Atlantic. Spring leaf out is now arriving days to weeks early across the northern Great Plains, Midwest, and Northeast. Spring bloom has arrived in Southwest and Southeast states. Spring bloom is patchy, with much of Texas days to weeks late, while parts of Kansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana are days to weeks early...”


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 for severe storms. A test of the sirens is scheduled for today at 1:45 and 6:45 pm. For the latest NOAA SPC severe storm risk for the USA click here.

Flash Flood Reminders. The Twin Cities National Weather Service has interesting nuggets and timely advice about how to avoid becoming a victim of flooding:

Over the last 30 years, on average, more people have died each year due to flooding than tornadoes.

  • The majority of flood fatalities occur in vehicles, with the second leading cause being people walking near or in water. It only takes 12 inches of water to sweep a car away, and 6 inches to knock over and carry away an adult!
  • Communities most at risk are those located in low-lying areas, near water, or downstream from a dam.
  • During a flood, water levels and flow speed can quickly change. You are safest by staying indoors, or seeking higher ground if shelter isn’t available. Never cross flood waters by vehicle or on foot!
  • When it comes to flood safety, it means knowing to never drive around barricades or through flooded roads — the cause of most flood fatalities. Turn around, don’t drown!
  • Learn more flood safety tips at
  • The term 500-year flood doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s only going to happen one time every 500 years. Rather, it’s a reference to the probability of occurrence:

Edging Closer to Average. No rapid warm-ups brewing looking out at least 2 weeks, just a few blips of slightly milder air tugging the mercury close to average. Dry weather persists into the weekend with a better chance of spying the sun by Friday. Rain and snow showers early Monday mark the leading edge of yet another chilly front.

ECMWF Temperatures for MSP
NOAA GFS Temperatures for MSP

Flashes of Average. Our cool bias lingers into late April with only a few days forecast to be warmer than average looking out 2 weeks. I hope GFS (bottom) is way off for the last few days of April. Good grief.

Chilly/Stormy End to April? GFS guidance suggests a cooler, wetter end to the month, but I’m seeing hints of a mellowing pattern as we push into May. That would be nice.


Perceived vs. Actual Risk – Vaccine Lessons Meteorologists Understand. Dr. Marshall Shepherd has a relevant post focused on risk at “…A 2016 study in the Journal of Risk Research looked at how political ideology, socio-demographic background and climate change “beliefs” shaped a person’s perception of weather. The term “motivated reasoning” emerged in their analysis. Motivated reasoning is when people tend to consume or interpret evidence in a way that confirms what predispositions or what they already believe. By the way, you see this all of the time on social media. The study also found that people’s perceptions of weather often take precedence over actual weather...

People overreact to intentional acts and under react to naturally-varying, generic, or accidental events. This probably explains why some people don’t have the same concern about being struck by lightning but are screaming loudly about the vaccine pause…”

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 “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...”

Plastic, Plastic Everywhere…
Janice Brahney

Plastic is Falling From the Sky. Where’s it Coming From? (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...”


All US States, Ranked from Best to Worst, According to Americans. We are #24? I beg to differ. Here’s an excerpt of a post at YouGov: “…Hawaii, which is well-known for its beautiful beaches and warm weather, took the top spot by winning 69% of its match-ups. With its scenic mountains, hiking paths, and recreational marijuana industry, Colorado took second place with 65% of matches won. The third-ranking state was Virginia (64%), a destination for American history and ocean coastlines. Nevada, the home of Las Vegas, landed in the fourth-favorite spot (61%), with North Carolina only marginally behind it (61%). Following the top five, Florida snagged the sixth spot with a 61% win-rate. Another retirement destination, Arizona, won 60% of its match-ups to take seventh. New York — the destination for Broadway, quality food, and the city’s culture — landed in eighth place (59%)...”

Crab Nebula
NASA/ESA, J. Hester and A. Loll (Arizona State University)

Mysterious Radio Blasts from Space Just Got a Whole Lot Weirder, Somehow. A post at caught my eye; here’s a clip: “…For years, scientists have been baffled by extremely loud radio signals, known as giant radio pulses (GRPs), that can be traced to a special type of dead star known as a pulsar. Pulsars are compact, rapidly rotating remnants of supernovae that get their name from the clockwork pulses of radiation they emit from their poles, which have made them useful natural timepieces for astronomers who use their regular bursts to measure other celestial phenomena. For reasons that remain unexplained, some pulsars occasionally spew out GRPs that are hundreds to thousands of times brighter than regular pulsar radio signals. Now, scientists have discovered that GRPs are many times more energetic than previously thought…”

49 F. Twin Cities high temperature yesterday.

57 F. Average MSP high on April 14.

30 F. High on April 14, 2020.

April 15, 2002: An early heat wave overtakes Minnesota. Faribault hits 93 degrees, and the Twin Cities would experience their earliest recorded 90 degree temperature with a high of 91.

THURSDAY: Cloudy and brisk. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 47

FRIDAY: Rare sunshine sighting. Better. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 36. High: 54

SATURDAY: Blend of clouds and some sun. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 37. High: 54

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, a springier day. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 36. High: 57

MONDAY: Early flurries/sprinkles. Chilly. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 35. High: near 40

TUESDAY: Peeks of sun. Sick of March. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 29. High: 44

WEDNESDAY: Gusty winds, few rain/snow showers. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 37. High: 43

Climate Stories…

Bending the Carbon Curve
Paul Horn, Inside Climate News

Biden’s Paris Goal: Pressure Builds for a 50 Percent Greenhouse Gas Cut by 2030. Inside Climate News has details: “The United States is back in the Paris climate accord, but the depth of its commitment will become clear only in the next two weeks, when President Joe Biden unveils the details of the nation’s pledge for reducing greenhouse gas pollution. President Barack Obama pledged that the United States would cut emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025, a goal the nation is not quite on track to meet. But environmental advocates are pushing for Biden to set a goal of at least a 50 percent cut in U.S. emissions by 2030, based on a slew of recent studies, including research by the United Nations and the National Academies of Science, showing that a 50 percent target is both necessary and achievable…”

New York Times. Natural color image via Copernicus Sentinel-2; Radar images via Copernicus Sentinel-1.

This Glacier in Alaska is Moving 100 Times Faster Than Normal. The New York Times (paywall) has the story: “The Muldrow Glacier, on the north side of Mount Denali in Alaska, is undergoing a rare surge. In the past few months the 39-mile-long river of ice has been moving as much as 90 feet a day, 100 times its usual speed. The event has excited glaciologists, who’ve rushed to study it using satellite imaging, specialized aerial photography and global positioning system devices delicately placed on the shifting ice. Surges often last only a few months. Most of them occur on remote glaciers and are detected only after they’ve ended — when, for example, satellite images show that a glacier front has rapidly advanced. But the Muldrow is within Denali National Park and Preserve…”


NFIP, Still Underwater, Paid Out $1.2 Billion In 2020: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “The National Flood Insurance Program paid out more than $1 Billion in claims in 2020 for the record sixth year in a row, continuing trends for higher average claims and increased flooding in “low risk” areas, an E&E analysis of NFIP data found. Just eight counties (and parishes) in Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana, accounted for more than half of the $1.2 billion in total claims — arising from the record-breaking 2020 hurricane season. More than one-third of the claims were caused by Hurricane Sally, which “sucker-punched” Southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle last September. The 2020 claims continue a trend of increased flooding in areas supposedly unlikely to flood, with over one-third of 2020 claims occurring outside the so-called 100-year flood zone, which reflects the failure of the NFIP to account for climate change in its flood modeling. The NFIP, which is administered by FEMA, is supposed to be self-sustaining, but payouts have so far outstripped premiums that it owes taxpayers by $20.5 billion.” (E&E $; Climate Signals background: Flooding, Hurricanes, 2020 Atlantic hurricane season)

Business Green

It’s Not Just Big Oil. Big Meat Also Spends Millions to Crush Good Climate Policy. has the story; here’s the intro: “You probably already know that the fossil fuel industry has spent many millions of dollars trying to sow doubt about climate change and the industry’s role in it. But did you know that big meat and dairy companies do the same thing? According to a new study out of NYU, these companies have spent millions of dollars lobbying against climate policies and funding dubious research that tries to blur the links between animal agriculture and our climate emergency. The biggest link is that about 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from meat and dairy…”


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…”