Hurry Up April. We’re Counting On You
Let me get this straight. March came in like a kimono dragon and went out like a chihuahua? I get my proverbs and animals mixed up. Nope. March came in like a belly-flop and went out like a faceplant.
It felt worse than 1.2F colder than average for the month at MSP. One subzero night, 2 days in the 60s and 5.1” snow – about 3” less than average. Rain put a dent in our drought. Almost 3” of precipitation (snow, ice and rain) fell last month; 1.3” wetter than average for March. So that’s encouraging.
By my rough calculation today is February 60th. The atmosphere is constipated, stuck – and the natives are restless. The average high at MSP is 50F, and I’m happy to predict daytime highs either side of 50F into early next week. A few showers pop up tomorrow with a rain-snow mix slushing up far southern Minnesota Sunday night.
Heavier rain arrives midweek and enough cold air will wrap into the storm for a snowy mix up north. Expect low 40s and showers at Target Field for next Thursday’s Twins Home Opener. Oy.
Less Snow Than Average. That was the case in March for much of Minnesota, during what is now the 4th snowiest month on average in the Twin Cities.
March: More Rain – Less Snow. I was happy to see overall March precipitation amounts higher than average for much of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Precipitation departures from normal were +2-4” from Madison to Green Bay last month!
Sunny Start – Few PM Showers. It’s nice to have the sun out, but cold air aloft may brew up enough instability for a few showers by evening and tonight – warm enough for rain showers statewide.
Never Happier to See 50 Degrees. I have low weather-expectations, and I’m perfectly fine with “normal”. Daytime highs flirt with 50F from today into Tuesday of next week, before a few days of chilly Canadian exhaust next Wednesday and Thursday. I predict a raw Twins Home Opener: 40 degrees with rain showers and winds gusting to 30 mph.
Nagging Cool Bias. This may still be an artifact from a lingering La Nina cool signature in the Pacific, but the jet stream is still (consistently) farther south than it’s been in recent springs, meaning frequent outbreaks of chilly air. We will see 50s, but consistent 60s and 70s are nowhere in sight for Minnesota.
Satellite Images Show Extent of Damage from New Orleans Tornado. It was at least EF-3 in strength with estimated winds of 160 mph. USA TODAY has a link to a video showing before/after imagery from the tornado: “Satellite images taken before and after a tornado struck the Arabi area of New Orleans show the extensive damage.” Credit: Maxar Technologies via Storyful.
When “Tornado” Was a Forbidden Word. Censorship of weather terms, in the USA? Yep. CBS42.com does a good job explaining this story: “What do “the Ed Sullivan Show,” “I Love Lucy,” and early 20th-century weather reports have in common? Censorship. 74 years ago, the first Tornado Warning was issued and the first tornado forecast delivered, but it wasn’t until 1950 that the word “tornado” was allowed to be used over the airwaves. Just like Elvis’ gyrating hips were cropped from view on “the Ed Sullivan Show” and the word “pregnant” was forbidden when Lucille Ball was “with child” on “I Love Lucy,” the word “tornado” was thought to be too provocative. Some feared the word would panic the public, so it was not used on TV or radio. Before Dr. Fujita (for whom the current tornado severity scale is named), there was an Army Signal Service Officer and meteorologist named John Park Finley. Finley was a tornado forecast pioneer and is the first known author to pen a book specifically about the study of tornadoes...”
Wind and Solar Generated a Record 10% of the World’s Power in 2021, Report Shows. CNN.com has a summary: “The world generated a record 10% of its electricity from wind and solar in 2021 and clean sources accounted for 38% of total power supply — even more than coal. That’s according to a report published on Wednesday by Ember. The independent climate think tank found that 50 countries were generating more than 10% of their power from wind and solar, with the fastest transformations happening in the Netherlands, Australia and Vietnam. Those countries have switched around a tenth of their power from fossil fuels to wind and solar in just the last two years. Ten countries generated more than 25% of their power from wind and solar, led by Denmark at 52%...”
Michio Kaku Makes 3 Predictions About the Future. Predictions are hard, especially about the future. Thank you Yogi Berra. A fascinating post at Big Think made me…think. Here’s an excerpt: “…Given the progress in making computer chips cheaper, smaller, and faster, known as Moore’s Law, Dr. Kaku suggests that it is likely only a matter of time before we have access to inexpensive computers everywhere all the time — including integrated with our persons. He provides an image of a brave new world of high technology:
“And who are the first people to buy internet contact lenses? College students taking final examinations. They will blink and see all the answers to my exam right there in their contact lens. And this could be very useful. If you’re at a cocktail party, and there’s some very important people there who could influence your future, but you don’t know who they are, in the future, you’ll know exactly who to suck up to at any cocktail party. On a blind date, they could be great because, of course, your blind date could say that he’s single, he’s rich and he’s successful. But your contact lens says that he pays child support, that he’s three times divorced, and the guy is a total loser…”
35 F. Twin Cities high on Thursday.
49 F. average MSP high on March 31.
36 F. MSP high on March 31, 2021.
April 1, 1882: A record high of 75 degrees is set at Minneapolis.
FRIDAY: Sunny. Nighttime showers. Winds: SW 7-12. High: 49
SATURDAY: Unsettled, few rain showers. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 33. High: near 50
SUNDAY: Sunny start, PM mix far southern MN. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: 31. High: 45
MONDAY: Glimmers of sun, not bad! Winds: W 3-8 Wake-up: 33. High: 51
TUESDAY: Clouds increase, rain at night. Winds: SE 15-25. Wake-up: 37. High: 53
WEDNESDAY: More rain, changing to snow up north. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 34. High: 40
THURSDAY: Chilly with windblown rain showers. Winds: N 15-25. Wake-up: 33. High: 41
It’s Time for Journalists to Talk Climate Change Solutions. Nieman Reports has an interesting post; here’s a clip: “…A study published last year in the journal Global Environmental Change found that only 2% of global climate coverage from 2006 to 2018 focused on clean energy. About 1% of the more than 71,000 stories analyzed covered divestment from fossil fuel companies. And about 1% covered energy efficiency. All three topics are key to making the economy carbon neutral, slowing the climate crisis, and making the planet safer. TV news networks, like ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox, mention solutions in their climate change reporting on their nightly newscasts and Sunday shows less than 30% of the time in 2020 — and that percentage declined from the year before, according to a 2021 Media Matters report. There are plenty of organizations trying to change this and inject a “solutions mindset” into climate reporting…”
What Does the Future Hold for Coastal Cities with Climate Change In Mind. Multiple threats will require creativity and flexibility, and a willingness to take the long view and invest in storm and water-resilient solutions. Here’s an excerpt from ArchDaily: “…As the climate deteriorates, many initiatives have already been put in place by governments and NGO’s to maintain coastal communities. Looking beyond large-scale engineering solutions such as constructing banks and flood walls, the “Sponge City” approach uses nature itself as a planning system, where rivers and canals are integrated with trees, parks, and forests to create a natural infrastructure. Instead of using concrete to build a rainwater channel that redirects the water elsewhere, the land absorbs the excess water like a sponge, and uses it to cultivate the land. Sponge cities can be heavily seen in China, such as in the port city of Ningbo, where a 3km strip of brownfield was transformed into an eco-corridor and public park. Similarly, Shanghai has transformed its “Land of Starry Sky” park into a sponge facility, using permeable materials to absorb rainwater…”
Arctic Greening Won’t Save the Climate. Here’s Why. The Conversation explains: “Satellite images show the Arctic has been getting greener as temperatures in the far northern region rise three times faster than the global average. Some theories suggest that this “Arctic greening” will help counteract climate change. The idea is that since plants take up carbon dioxide as they grow, rising temperatures will mean Arctic vegetation will absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, ultimately reducing the greenhouse gases that are warming the planet. But is that really happening? I am a biologist who focuses on the response of ecosystems to climate change including tundra ecosystems...”
A Recipe for Climate Disasters. A post at The Atlantic (paywall) connects the dots with increasingly favorable conditions for landslides: “…Landslides happen for many reasons, set off by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or human behavior. But “probably the most common driver we see for landslides worldwide is rainfall,” Ben Leshchinsky, an associate professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, told me. “Say you have lots of rain. What that effectively does is it reduces the strength of the soil. When that soil strength decreases, it can reach a point where it fails, and naturally just slides away.” And climate change is creating more extreme rain events. The 13 inches of rain that triggered the landslide in Uttarakhand was a more than 400 percent increase over the daily norm of 2.5 inches. Rain is why landslide researchers are warning that climate change may make landslides more likely, and that we are not prepared for this growing risk…”
Climate Change Impacts Compound Each Other To Make Lots Of Things Worse: More perspective from Climate Nexus: “Drought and extreme rainfall, both exacerbated by climate change, are increasing air pollution and landslide risks, compounding the impacts of continued extraction and combustion of fossil fuels. As drought conditions in the U.S. push east, wildfires are following. Hundreds of thousands of acres have burned in Colorado and Texas in the last few weeks alone, and on Tuesday red flag warnings covered nearly 10 million people across multiple Plains states while fires burned southeast of Birmingham, Alabama. New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences finds dangerous particulate pollution (also known as PM2.5) from wildfires will increase regardless of emissions reductions. Without reductions, air pollution could triple, with extremes in fire and resulting pollution of 2017-2020 occurring every 3-5 years. Extreme precipitation is also increasing due to climate change, thus increasing risks of dangerous landslides. Longer and more extreme wildfire seasons, however, are compounding the danger by incinerating the vegetation that holds mountainside soil in place during heavy rains, even years after the burn.” (Drought and wildfire risks: CNN; Red flag warnings: Washington Post $, CNN; Alabama: AP; Wildfire pollution: Inside Climate News, Yale Climate Connections; Landslide risks: The Atlantic; Climate Signals background: Drought, Wildfires, Extreme precipitation increase)
The Wilted West. Water shortages and perpetual drought may linger and even accelerate during the 21st century, according to research highlighted at Climate Central: “The western U.S. has fallen into an extreme dry spell. California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho have had an exceptionally dry wet season, and more than 44 million people are experiencing drought across these five states. The country’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are both at record-low levels since they were first constructed 86 and 56 years ago, respectively. And drought conditions are forecast to continue for the vast majority of the western U.S. at least through June. Drought and dry spells are common in the west, but recent years have been unprecedented. The ongoing southwestern megadrought (since 2000) is the most severe of the past 1,200 years, and a recent study suggests that the drought would be 42% less intense without human-caused climate change. Exceptional drought and our warming climate put water in the west—and the people, ecosystems, and food supplies that depend on them—at risk…”
White House Officials Open Crypto Climate Inquiry. Axios explains the climate implications of mining cryptocurrencies: “The White House science office is seeking input about climate harm from expanding use of cryptocurrencies — and ways to tackle the problem. Why it matters: Digital “mining” to verify and record transactions often involves the use of very powerful, energy-intensive computing equipment. That’s creating concerns about carbon emissions, especially when mining occurs in regions with fossil-heavy power grids. Driving the news: The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on Friday issued a formal “request for information” that solicits feedback by May 9. OSTP wants info on “protocols, hardware, resources, economics, and other factors that shape the energy use and climate impacts of all types of digital assets...”
Hydrogen Could Replace Much of Russian Gas by 2030. A post at Fortune makes for a good read; here’s an excerpt: “…Since taking the reins as CEO of Snam, one of Europe’s biggest natural-gas pipeline operators, in 2016, Alverà has been repositioning the Italian energy giant as a leader in supplying emissions-free hydrogen power. During the COVID lockdown, he wrote a book, The Hydrogen Revolution, outlining his vision for making green hydrogen a key technology to help the world’s biggest economies achieve their net-zero goals. “It’s simple to make and simple to use. You are essentially bottling sunlight from renewable energy sources in the form of hydrogen, and using it to bring clean energy to every corner of the globe,” Alverà wrote of “green hydrogen,” the latest term for using electricity derived from renewable energy sources—solar, wind, etc.—to produce hydrogen power. Alverà is hardly alone in his enthusiasm. Climate hawks, green-energy startups, and dozens of countries are buzzing about the potential for hydrogen, the most abundant chemical substance in the universe…”