Friday, March 23, 2012

March 24: Tornadoes, Fog, Flooding and Heat ("dog days of March")

"When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race." - H.G. Wells. Photo:

+16.5 F. The first 22 days of March are running 16.5 degrees above normal in the Twin Cities.

50.5 F. average temperature during the last year. The preceding 365 days were the warmest on record, dating back to 1871, according to NOAA.

 18 new daily maximum and minimum temperature records so far this month in the Twin Cities, all since March 10.

From Shorts To Jackets in 36 Hours. Today should be balmy, low to mid 70s, close to the MSP record of 76 by mid afternoon. Soak it up because a wind shift to the north cools us off Sunday - by Monday temperatures may be unable to rise above 50 with a cold rain. We bounce back up into the low 70s Tuesday (risk of strong/severe storms) before cooling off a bit later next week. You may even need a light jacket.

Foggy Morning Blues. Recent rain coupled with light winds may cook up some lazy clouds this morning - thick fog, which should burn off by mid or late morning. The best chance of pea-soup fog: west of the metro area. But the sun is now high enough in the sky and strong enough to burn away most of this stratus cloudcover.

Fishing On March 23. I snapped a pic of these guys out on the Main Upper Lake of Minnetonka Friday evening, a smoldering sunset, not even a whisper of a breeze.

40 F. water temperature on Lake Erie at Buffalo; first 40 F. ever observed in March. Records go back to 1927.

"The tulips are already in flower, weeks ahead of schedule. The apple tree has blossomed. The cherry trees have peaked and we’re only a couple of days past the equinox. And the birds are as chattery already as they usually are on the first of May. It’s a bloomin’ buzzin’ confusion of nature out there, and even if we cannot incontrovertibly ascribe this to climate change (the jet stream is the proximate cause), we can nod our heads when someone says that this is what climate change looks like." - from a Washington Post Op Ed below.

10 days. Spring comes an average of 10 days earlier than it did 20 years ago. Details below.

Remarkable Twin Cities Warm Weather Statistics. This is from the Twin Cities NWS Office:

- As of March 22nd, the maximum temperature in the Twin Cities has reached or exceeded 70 degrees on six days, breaking the March record of 5 days set in 1910.

- The Twin Cities maximum temperature reached or exceeded 70 degrees for four consecutive days (March 16-19), breaking the previous record of three consecutive days, which occurred on March 23-25, 1939 and March 22-24, 1945.

- When the Twin Cities temperature reached 80 degrees on March 17, it was the first 80 degree temperature since October 9, 2011. The span without 80 degree temperatures was 159 days, the fewest consecutive number of days without  80 degrees in the modern record.

- March 23, 2011 through March 22, 2012 was the warmest 365 day period on record, back to 1871, with an average temperature of 50.5 degrees.

- Temperatures in the Twin Cities haven't dropped below the average high temperature since March 13.

"As to whether global warming might be contributing to the recent hot wave, Randall M. Dole, a deputy director of research at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, Colo., said, "Absolutely. The planet as a whole is warming, the continents on average are warming faster than the oceans, so there is a great body of scientific evidence that would support such an interpretation. The question is how much.” - from an article at Climate Central below. Satellite image above: NOAA.

"The Gulf of Mexico is warmer than normal since there was almost no winter weather down there this year," Gallus said. "With the water being warmer, winds can sweep larger amounts of moisture off the Gulf and bring it north, which creates more fuel for thunderstorms and tornadoes." - from an article at Iowa State Daily below.

"Last year’s losses seem to be an escalation of a trend that began several years ago of increasingly frequent and more powerful storms. Tornadoes that once damaged a few homes now seem to level full city blocks." - from a Columbus Dispatch article focused on severe storms and insurance claims, details below.

"..And let me say that I think that there is a campaign of disinformation going on about this, and there has been before. We saw it before with the attempts by the tobacco industry to throw cold water on the notion that there was a connection between cigarette smoking and cancer... if [conservatives] simply deny that there's any problem at all they have automatically opted out of the conversation about what the solutions to the problems are going to be". - MIT Professor Kerry Emmanuel in a Huffington Post article below on why the GOP is ignoring conservative climate scientists.
"Once In A Lifetime Temperature Records". Dr. Mark Seeley delves into our historic March heat in his weekly WeatherTalk blog: "March of 2012 is delivering once in a lifetime temperature records. It has surpassed June of 1933, July of 1936, and February of 1981 in the total number of warmest maximum and minimum daily temperature records set. At last count (as of March 23), the Twin Cities have seen 17 new daily record temperature values (both max and min) so far this month. Rochester and International Falls have seen 16 new record temperatures so far this month, while St Cloud reports 14 new temperature records. Even Duluth, which has a climate that is highly regulated by Lake Superior, has reported 10 new temperature records so far this month."

Record-Smashing Heat In Chicago. From the Chicago office of the National Weather Service: "Over the past nine days, Chicago has broke or tied daily high temperature records on all of them! Only one stretch of standing daily temperature records since 1871 is longer. During the ten day stretch from August 25th through September 3rd, all the record highs belong to 1953."

Soaring Into The 80s, Warm Weather Breaks Thousands Of Records. From an article at "Researcher David Barriopedro of the University of Lisbon in Portugal found that 2003 and 2010 were the warmest summers since 1500. But he cautioned against blaming the heat waves on climate change. "It's very difficult, if not impossible, to attribute a given extreme event, like the 2003 mega heat wave, to climate change," he told LiveScience. "What we can do is estimate what has been the contribution of humans to increase or decrease the likelihood of an analogue, an event like that."

* the last week's worth of records above, courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

Total Records: 1746
Rainfall: 514
Snowfall: 66
High Temp: 436
Low Temp: 29
Low Max Temp: 146
High Min Temp: 555

European Solution. The ECMWF seems to do a better job (at least recently) from Day 3 to Day 10, the NAM does a better job of nailing short-term weather. The European model shows a big dip by Monday (temperatures stuck in the 40s outside the metro with a raw wind and a cold rain, possibly a few wet snowflakes north/east of MSP (?), then a rapid warm-up Tuesday as a vigorous storm passes to our north, brushing us with heavy to severe T-storms. We cool off a bit the latter half of next week before warming to near 70 again by next Saturday.

Good Timing. I think we have this down now: 70s on Saturdays, welcome rains during the week. Models show a divergence in rainfall predictions, but a cool half inch of rain may fall from Monday PM into Tuesday, spiked by a few Tuesday T-storms.

Deep Breaths. I don't want to trigger civil unrest, but the latest NAM model is hinting at a little slush just east of MSP Monday. Temperatures aloft should be (just) warm enough for a cold rain in the metro, but I would not be surprised to see a little wet snow mix in just north/east of the metro. Right now I doubt we'll see any accumulation, but at the rate this wacky year is going - nothing would surprise me anymore.

Monday Night - Tuesday: Ripe For Severe? We'll go from 40s to low 70s in less than 24 hours, sparking strong winds, with sufficient wind shear for strong T-storms Monday night into Tuesday. A vigorous warm frontal boundary sweeps northward Tuesday - if skies brighten, even for a few hours, we should easily top 70 in the metro. With strong instability and shear, dew points near 60, I wouldn't rule out a severe storm outbreak somewhere close to home Tuesday.

Extended Outlook: 70s And An Early April Frost-Risk. In spite of historic March warmth, I've been asking you to a). keep a jacket handy, and b). don't even think about planting annuals for at least another 50-60 days. At some point the other shoe (boot) may drop. The GFS suggests highs near 70 in early April, followed by a temperature tumble between April 5-8, a few nights at or below 32 F. Nothing etched in granite yet (it never is), but there's a 60-70% probability we'll see at least one, possibly two more frosty encounters before spring sticks. And it pains me to say this - but I can't rule out at least 1 or 2 more "snow events" between now and early May. I just can't believe we'll tip-toe into May with no collateral damage.

New England's "Fast Forward" Snow-Melt: March 1-21. From the Boston office of the National Weather Service: "The rapid arrival of springtime temperatures throughout New England is causing an equally rapid melt of the snowpack throughout the Adirondack Mountains in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. This image shows the total snow melt from March 1-21, 2012, using data from the NOAA National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center."

Lake Erie Water Temperature At Buffalo Is 40 F. From the Buffalo office of the NWS: "The water temperature on Lake Erie at Buffalo reached 40 degrees this morning. This is the first time on record the lake temperature has hit 40 degrees in March. The previous record for the first 40 degree reading was on April 1st, 1998. Records for Lake Erie water temperature go back to 1927." Image: NASA "MODIS", University of Wisconsin.

Ah, The Memories. A year ago (yesterday) it snowed over 4" in the Twin Cities, but parts of Wisconsin saw far more than that. Here are some good memories from the Green Bay, Wisconsin office of the NWS: "A late-season winter storm produced heavy, wet snow and occasional thundersnow across parts of central and northeast Wisconsin on March 22-23, 2011.  During the two-day period, many locations reported over a foot of snow.  Green Bay officially recorded 17.8 inches.  That’s the highest snowstorm total in over 120 years of weather records; only two storms produced more snow (29.0″ in March 1888 and 23.1″ in January 1889).  In addition, this storm is the third one this season to produce 10 inches or more of snow in Green Bay, the first time that’s ever happened during a winter season." Photo: GRB National Weather Service office.

Tornado Damages About 7 Homes In Southeastern Louisville. Details from the Courier Journal: "An unexpectedly severe storm ripped through Jefferson County Friday afternoon, damaging six or seven homes in Fern Creek, Louisville police said. A Louisville police officer who was on a run in the area of Brook Chase Court and Independence School Road saw a funnel cloud pass through, said Maj. Mark Fox, a 7th Division commander. The National Weather Service confirmed there was a tornado, based on the damage east of McNeely Lake, said meterologist Andrea Schoettmer. The weather service was still trying to determine the strength of the tornado."

"Cold Air Funnels." This funnel was spotted just northwest of the Wichita, Kansas NWS office Friday evening. These brief, usually harmless funnels form in cooler air, where large, long-lasting, violent tornadoes are unlikely, but brief instability can trigger miniature funnels that can descend toward the ground. When they do touch down, on rare occasions, damage is usually minor. Here's more from the Wichita, Kansas National Weather Service: "Cold air funnels occur in a relatively “cold air mass” in a synoptic (or large scale) setting, quite different from conditions that favor tornadoes in “warm air masses”. In brief, they usually occur in the spring and fall under slow moving areas of low pressure in the upper atmosphere with the highest frequency during the mid-day hours. Radar signatures generally associated with tornadoes are not observed and the funnels are usually short-lived."

After An Early Wave Of Violent Storms, Insurers Wonder Whether 2012 Will Turn Into Another Year Of High Claims. Some interesting storm statistics from The Columbus Dispatch: "This year is looking a lot like 2011 as far as the insurance industry is concerned, which is to say worrisome. Powerful, violent storms in the past few weeks already have claimed lives in the South and Midwest, including three in southern Ohio. Couple that with the recent unseasonably high temperatures, and it’s no wonder that insurance companies are feeling like 2012 is picking up right where the record-setting claims of 2011 left off. “It’s only the beginning of March, but Mother Nature looks to be repeating herself,” said Bob Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute, who was in Columbus this month for a presentation at the Ohio Insurance Institute.  Last year’s losses seem to be an escalation of a trend that began several years ago of increasingly frequent and more powerful storms. Tornadoes that once damaged a few homes now seem to level full city blocks.

Photo credit above: Fred Squillante, Dispatch.

"In the meantime, it will be harder and harder to ignore the freakish weather patterns and impacts they are having like flooding, wild fires, and drought. After all, CO2 molecules do what they do and are not influenced by any skepticism on the right." - from a Huffington Post article, details below the 7-Day Outlook.

Do Warm Winter And Record Warm March Mean Long Hot Summer? I feel a long, hot summer coming on, but that's based more on intuition and gut feel than solid science. Here's an excerpt of an interesting post from the Atlanta Weather Examiner, meteorologist Kirk Melhuish: "Does the warm winter mean a scorching summer and spring? Climatologic data shows surprisingly there is little correlation between the winter weather and the summer that follows. They are about evenly split in Georgia between staying warm or going in the opposite direction and being neutral. While neither a real hot nor real cold spring is forecast the summer outlook is too soon to call. The rest of spring is still expected to be warmer than normal when averaged over the 60-day period. The two-year La Nina in the Pacific Ocean (cooler than normal sea water) is expected to reverse to an El Nino (warmer than normal ocean temperatures) this fall and winter. In addition the Atlantic Ocean which has been on fire compared to normal is cooling to near normal levels and this trend is expected to continue, perhaps even going to cooler than normal in the years ahead." Graphic: NOAA's CPC, Climate Prediction Center.

Floods Continue To Swamp Louisiana. An update from USA Today: "NEW ORLEANS – Beauregard Parish sheriff's deputies and state wildlife agents took boats to Bundick's Lake on Thursday to rescue people who didn't hear or didn't heed warnings that storm runoff would raise it to dangerous heights. Three sheriff's office boats and one from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries were at the lake, Chief Deputy Joe Toler said. On Wednesday, sheriff's office news releases had urged people there to take precautions against high water but did not require evacuation. Those rescues weren't the main problem, though, Toler said. "Our biggest problem is people trying to make it through the water on the roads," he said.

Photo credit above: "As residents of Carencro, La. cleanup after Mondays flooding, areas in the West of Lafayette Parish are still fighting flooding Tuesday, March 13, 2012. Trucks travel past flooded fields on Mills Street as the sun comes out. (AP Photo/The Advertiser, P.C. Piazza)."

Tornado Season Has Begun. Here's an excerpt from Iowa State Daily: "Tornadoes are highly unpredictable phenomena, so climatologists say it is hard to say exactly what lies ahead for the 2012 tornado season. However, there are some climatic factors that may suggest an increase in tornado activity this year. “The Gulf of Mexico is warmer than normal since there was almost no winter weather down there this year," Gallus said. "With the water being warmer, winds can sweep larger amounts of moisture off the Gulf and bring it north, which creates more fuel for thunderstorms and tornadoes." There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that Earth's climate is changing. Some scientists are wondering if global warming might lead to a dramatic increase in extreme weather events."

Thunderstorms And Flying. I keep reassuring my wife every time we fly that pilots want to live to see their grandkids too. They never (purposely) fly into T-storms, due to a very real risk of wind shear and damaging hail. A plane is designed to survive a direct lightning strike (this happens many times every year) but severe turbulence can cause a plane to lose lift, with potentially tragic results. has a good overview of the risks posed by thunderstorms: "Aircraft must avoid thunderstorms as well as the surface conditions they produce. In terms of wind shear, pilots avoid both taking off and landing during such conditions. Often the passage of a storm near or over an airport causes operations to grind to a halt. For aircraft attempting to take off, a tarmac delay can result until the storm passes. Returning to the gate is not usually possible either, as ground personnel are not allowed on the ramp when lightning is present. That means there’s nobody available to marshal an airplane into the gate, let alone to retrieve baggage. For aircraft attempting to land, an airport closure results in aircraft holding pattern assignments. Of course flights can only hold for so long with fuel endurance becoming an issue. When holding is no longer possible, and the destination airport is still closed, the pilots are forced to divert to an alternate airport to refuel and wait out the storm. If you have a connecting flight, chances are your connecting aircraft is in the same situation and therefore there’s still hope that you won’t be stranded."

Protecting Your Horses (And Livestock) During Thunderstorms. Here's some great information from The Daily Ardmoreite in Ardmore, Oklahoma: "Severe weather can be a troubling event, especially when there are animals whose welfar and comfort is of concern as well. Small pets can usually take cover with their owners, but what precautions can an owner take for larger animals such as horses? "The first step in protecting your horses and other livestock from severe weather is to realize what the severe weather risks are in your area," said Dr. Brandon Dominguez, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, and member of the CVM Veterinary Emergency Team. "For many areas, springtime brings threats of severe thunderstorms, lightning, flash floods, and tornadoes." Photo credit: "Restless Skies".

Climate Change We Can Believe In. It's not what you may think - this article at The Chicago Tribune focuses on "micoclimates", dramatic changes over the span of your back yard: "Every spring, the magnolia growing on the side of our house is the first tree in the neighborhood to burst into bloom. Some years, it is a full two weeks ahead of trees just like it growing in yards nearby. The secret to its early bloom is not special attention paid to its care; on the contrary, I probably neglect it more than other trees in the yard. The reason this magnolia is the first to bloom is that it is growing in a microclimate. Microclimates are, as their name implies, small areas or locations affected by environmental factors that set them apart from the norm. Environmental influences such as radiant heat, protection from wind and sun, or nearby bodies of cold or warm water can all create microclimates. These areas may a few degrees warmer or a few degrees cooler than the surrounding environment, and that can make a marked difference for what kind of plant will grow there. In the magnolia's case, growing close to the southwest side of our home, it enjoys radiant heat from the house and is sheltered from any direct wind." Photo: Tricia Frostad, Chanhassen.

Half Dome. Check out this spectacular webcam shot on Friday: "Here’s a nice shot of Half Dome amidst the clouds from the Yosemite Conservancy’s Sentinel Dome webcam from a few minutes ago." Check out the Yosemite webcams for yourself at The Yosemite Conservancy.

2011 Earthquakes Worldwide. Someone spent a fair amount of time aggregative quake data and plotting it in different formats - the YouTube clip is definitely worth a look: "This is truly profound to see --- the year of 2011 earthquakes plotted out on a orthographic (globe) map -- ANIMATED WITH SOUND INTENSITY for each earthquake!!"

German Lakeside Resort Features A Collection Of Floating Homes. Hey, if climate scientists are right (and I fear they are), many of us living on or near the coast may be inquiring about floating homes later this century. Details from "Within the Lusatian Lake District in Germany, lies the unique Lausitz Geierswald Resort with its collection of floating residences. Designed by the German architectural firm Steeltec37, the floating village includes a collection of modular buildings designed to offer sustainable living and lakeside luxury."

10 Ways To Prevent Auto Theft. Beat The Traffic has some good advice on how to lower your risk of being the victim of auto theft: "In the United States a vehicle is stolen an average of every 21 minutes. Not only does auto theft costs the victim time and money, but it cost society, because it drives insurance premiums up and many times stolen vehicles are used to commit other crimes. Below are some tips you can use to avoid being the victim of a car thief:
  1. Don’t leave your car unlocked. Approximately 50 percent of all vehicles stolen were left unlocked.  
  2. Never leave your car running, even if you’ll only be gone for a minute. Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations, ATMs, etc. Many vehicles are also stolen on cold mornings when the owner leaves the vehicle running to warm up.

Boat 2.0: The "Wider 42": More Deckspace And Stability In 12 Seconds. Ah, in a perfect world. Sadly, it ain't. Highlights from those inspired techno-geeks over at "One of the stars of the Palm Beach International Boat Show which began today is the Italian Wider 42 footer, with Wider being both an appropriate adjective and the master brand name. The Wider works ingeniously in that you can activate mobile extensions either side of the hull, double the deck area and give the boat complete stability, all at the press of a button."

"Kissing A Cow"? This Must Be Local Television. has the compelling details. Are we in a ratings period? "The producers at Detroit CW-affiliate WKBD had a little fun with anchor Syma Chowdhry yesterday morning. Chowdhry was reporting a story about a cow-kissing event when a photoshopped picture of her kissing a cow appeared in an over-the-shoulder graphic. “I did not kiss a cow!” she exclaimed. “That cow looks a little disturbed, in that picture,” weather anchor Jill Washburn remarked. “No it doesn’t,” Chowdhry said. “It’s smiling on the inside.”

"March-uly 24"

"March of 2012 is delivering once in a lifetime temperature records" wrote local climate expert Dr. Mark Seeley, in his weekly WeatherTalk blog. Everywhere I turn meteorologists and climatologists are incredulous. Speechless. Not a bad thing for a meteorologist, come to think of it.

17 warm weather records for the Twin Cities. Warmest March on record, to date. 7,000 plus weather records since March 12 nationwide. 8 days above 80F in Chicago, breaking an APRIL record. From a 47" pile of snow to 81F at Marquette, Michigan, in 2 weeks. The maps look more like July than March.

High amplitude patterns in March aren't unusual. But the persistence of this pattern is unprecedented, and nobody has a good reason WHY this is happening.

The North Atlantic Oscillation? The same holding pattern that treated (?) us to 22.3 inches of snow (10th least dating back to 1884) is lingering. Theories include melting Arctic ice, but even climate scientists are baffled.

More 70s are likely today, the warmer, nicer day of the weekend. Mow the lawn. Put in the dock. Why not? Soak it up because temperatures fall through the 60s into the 50s tomorrow (at least the sun will be out). By Monday highs may be stuck in the 40s to near 50 with a cold rain, before bouncing back above 70 on Tuesday with a few strong/severe T-storms. Something for everyone. No more 80s in sight - looks like a more volatile pattern shaping up.

The (usually more reliable) ECMWF model shows a warm bias into early April; probably frost-free. The GFS cools us off quite a bit late next week, but I'm not buying it - at least not yet.

That said, don't pack away the jackets just yet. And don't even think of planting annuals just yet. I can't believe I'm writing this in late Minnesota.

Happy Saturday!

"Human destiny is bound to remain a gamble, because at some unpredictable time and in some unforeseeable manner nature will strike back." - Rene Dubos, "Mirage of Health", 1959

Climate Stories...

Early Spring: A Not-So-Early Warning. A good summary from The Huffington Post: "March used to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. Now it comes in like a lamb and goes out like a mouse. Although the vernal equinox occurred last Tuesday, some parts of the country have been experiencing spring-like, even summer-like, temperatures for several weeks. In fact, March temperatures have shattered records across the Central and Eastern United States and much of Canada. Nearly 850 U.S. cities and towns notched record highs from March 15 through 22, according to Hamweather. Chicago, which suffered a deadly heat wave in 1995, experienced record highs six days in a row, from March 14 through 19, with temperatures above 80 degrees. Climate scientists call this phenomenon "spring creep." For quite some time they've been projecting that man-made global warming would make spring arrive earlier than normal, and it is--an average of 10 days compared with just 20 years ago."

Photo: Ron Edmonds/AP.

Coping With Climate Change: 2 Texas Towns Struggle For Water. The PBS NewsHour has been running an excellent series on how climate change is making water shortages worse over time; highlighting the first Texas town to ever run out of water (they're digging an 11 mile pipe to pump in water from a nearby town). Here's an except of Thursday night's video segment: "....But it did not rain enough. During last year's drought, the state only received 11 inches of rain. That's 16 inches less than normal. Large bodies of water are measured in what's known as acre feet. That's the amount of water it takes to cover an acre of ground in a foot of water. Lake E.V. Spence, when it's full, has 517,000 acre feet of water. Now it has less than 1,000. Robert Lee is not alone in feeling the heat. Nearly 1,000 public water systems in Texas restricted water last year. Even now, after some winter rains, 17 systems are projected to run out of water in six months or less. The 2011 drought was the most intense one-year drought in Texas since at least 1895, when statewide weather records began. Losses reached $10 billion in crops, livestock and timber. Without water, farmers and ranchers like Bartley Murray are scaling back."

Global Warming May Have Fueled March Heat Wave Odds. Is our March heat wave a symptom of a warming planet? Andrew Freedman from Climate Central has a good explanation. Here's an excerpt: "Gabi Hegerl, Chair of Climate System Science at the University of Edinburgh, said there is evidence that extreme heat events have become more common and more severe, including at the regional level in parts of the U.S. ”This is consistent with observing more and stronger heat waves,” she said. Hegerl said that in order to draw conclusions about global warming’s role in this particular heat wave, one would need to conduct modeling studies where you compare the odds of this event occurring with and without added greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, “to see how much the warming has changed the odds.” The reasoning behind such an approach is because both global-warming trends and shifts in atmospheric circulation may contribute to a certain event, so scientists need to observe the whole climate system at play to investigate how often an event with these extreme characteristics takes place under the two alternative scenarios."

Map credit above: "Surface temperature departures from average from march 13-19, showing the heat in the U.S. and Canada (in orange and red). Click on image for a larger version. Credit: NOAA/ESRL."

Weather Records Tumble By The Thousands As U.S. Swelters And Global Warming Gains Converts. Here's an article from the U.K. Telegraph: "Think the drought's getting bad? You should be in Spicewood, 35 miles northwest of Austin, Texas. In January it became the first town to run out of water in an acute dry spell in the state. Now a 7,000 gallon tanker has to roll into own each day to bring the stuff of life – there's a ration of just 50 gallons a day per household – and the regional water utility expects this to go on for months. A couple of hundred miles away, the town of Robert Lee is not much better off. The lake that supplies its sole source of water is now less than one per cent full. It has cut consumption by 80 per cent, but is still racing against the clock to construct a 12 mile long emergency pipeline to bring water from the nearby town of Bronte before it runs out altogether. In all some 17 towns in the state face their supplies drying up within six months if the drought continues. And 1,000 Texan towns and cities had their supplies restricted last year. Then, too, some towns – including Robert Lee – sweltered in 100 degree heat for more than 100 days."

U.S. Intel Says Water Scarcity, Floods A Source Of Instability In Coming Decades. Here's an overview of an important story from AP and The Washington Post: "WASHINGTON — Drought, floods and a lack of fresh water may cause significant global instability and conflict in the coming decades, as developing countries scramble to meet demand from exploding populations while dealing with the effects of climate change, U.S. intelligence agencies said in a report released Thursday. An assessment reflecting the joint judgment of federal intelligence agencies says the risk of water issues causing wars in the next 10 years is minimal even as they create tensions within and between states and threaten to disrupt national and global food markets. But beyond 2022, it says the use of water as a weapon of war or a tool of terrorism will become more likely, particularly in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa."

Photo credit above: "Boats lay on a dried-up bed of the artificial lake on river Neretva near the Bosnian town of Konjic, 45 kms south of Sarajevo, Bosnia, on Friday, Dec. 2, 2011. A lack of rain has caused a drought across the region making water shortages in some parts of the country and difficulties in production of electric energy in hydropower plants. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)."

Do You Believe In Climate Change? To quote the U.K. Guardian, "Climate change is not a matter of belief, but of empirical evidence." Here's an excerpt of a recent article: "This may seem like an odd question for a climate scientist to ask, but it is one I am constantly asked now. The typical discussion starts: "I know that the climate is changing, but hasn't it always changed through natural cycles?" Then they will often give an example, such as the medieval warm period to prove their point. Those asking the question include a wide range of people I meet in the pub, friends, politicians and increasingly even some of those active in sustainable development and the renewable energy businesses. What I find interesting is that I have known many of these people for a long time and they never asked me this before. Recent studies show that public acceptance of the scientific evidence for man-made climate change has decreased. However, the change is not that great. The difference I find in talking to people is that they feel better able to express their doubts."

Photo credit above: Etsa/Corbis.

Is There A Single "Face" For Climate Change? Here's an excerpt from an article written by Bud Ward at The Yale Forum On Climate Change And The Media: "And, perhaps the toughest question of all: If not Al Gore … then who? Those serious about the climate issue need to do more than merely find fault with Gore as their most visible leader. They should also have to flag their alternative? So, who is it?

Let’s try a simple math equation, looking not so much to the past or even the present, but rather to the future:
Martin Luther King, Jr.
___________________ Civil Rights Movement
___________________ Climate Change
"What’s your answer? Have you got one? Think back: You could change the equation to Ralph Nader is to auto safety in the 60s as “X” is to Climate Change in the second decade of this century. Or try even Michael Jordan is to professional basketball as “X” is to Climate Change, or Bill Gates is to Microsoft as “X” is to Climate Change."

  Why Is The GOP Ignoring Its Own Climate Scientists About Climate Change? The story from Huffington Post: "According to a fascinating article by Katherine Bagley prosaically titled "GOP Not Listening to its Own Climate Scientists on Climate Change," a group of prominent conservative scientists, many of them evangelicals, approached conservative politicians to educate them on climate change and predictably the pols have not "warmed," shall we say, to their efforts. Although usually loath to announce their political leanings, these Republican-affiliated scientists thought conservatives may be receptive to scientists with conservative credentials. Who are these concerned scientists and how do they get conservative politicians to embrace climate change when many of them see the use of alternative energies as a step toward anarchy?"

  Climate Change: The Spring Jailbreak Of 2012. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed in The Washington Post: "There is legitimate debate about what’s the best way to combat climate change, but it’s unfortunate that we spend so much time listening to people claim that there’s no such thing as global warming, that it’s some kind of hoax by nefarious scientists who think the way to get ahead in their profession is to make up a bunch of stuff that’s not true. What worries me is our inability to think long-term — and this gets back to what we were talking about just a few days ago. How can you take on a problem as daunting as climate change when you can’t solve a fundamentally easy problem like crafting a sensible federal budget?"

  U.S. Inches Toward Goal Of Energy Independence. A story from The New York Times: "MIDLAND, Tex. — The desolate stretch of West Texas desert known as the Permian Basin is still the lonely domain of scurrying roadrunners by day and howling coyotes by night. But the roar of scores of new oil rigs and the distinctive acrid fumes of drilling equipment are unmistakable signs that crude is gushing again. And not just here. Across the country, the oil and gas industry is vastly increasing production, reversing two decades of decline. Using new technology and spurred by rising oil prices since the mid-2000s, the industry is extracting millions of barrels more a week, from the deepest waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the prairies of North Dakota." Photo: city of Palm Desert.

20 Experts Who Say Drilling Won't Lower Gas Prices. A story from Media Matters: "In a pretty impressive act of journalism, the Associated Press recently conducted a "statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production." The result: "No statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump." It's neat to see math cut through the talking points and get straight to thetruth of the matter -- which is that expanding drilling is a fundamentally ineffectual response to gas price spikes. Given that changes in U.S. oil production don't move gasoline prices, it should be clear that U.S. government policies related to drilling are of even smaller consequence. Indeed, 92 percent of economists surveyed by the Chicago Booth School of Business agreed this week that "changes in U.S. gasoline prices over the past 10 years have predominantly been due to market factors rather than U.S. federal economic or energy policies."