Friday, March 30, 2012

March 31: Pacific Northwest Soaking (end to warmest March on record for much of America)

17,834 daily records set across the USA so far in March. Details from Ham Weather below.

"More temperature records were broken this month than any month since the Dust Bowl Era of the 1930s." - Dr. Mark Seeley; more details in his Minnesota WeatherTalk - highlight below.

Saying Goodbye To One Crazy March. I asked our (amazing) developers at Ham Weather to come up with a special graphic showing ALL records for March, to date. Here is the result. If you go to the Ham Weather site you can call up just record 24 hour rainfall reports, or all warm weather records (more than 13,000 and counting). What a month...

Total Selected Records: 17834
Rainfall: 2826
Snowfall: 519
High Temp: 6766
Low Temp: 289
Low Max Temp: 631
High Min Temp: 6803

Dig Out The Shorts & T-Shirts...Again. All the models are in pretty good alignment: a warm front will pay us a well-timed visit this weekend, 70-75 today, low 80s Sunday (we may top the record of 82 in 1882; it'll be a close call). The ONLY thing that makes me nervous: Sunday winds are forecast to blow from the east/southeast. Our warmest days come with a south/southwest wind. That's the only thing that could keep us from reaching 80 in the metro, but 80s to near 90 are likely south/west of the Minnesota River. Then we cool off next week, but the possibility of frost seems to be diminishing, metro temperatures bottoming out in the upper 30s Wednesday, again Friday. I could see some frost across central and northern Minnesota the latter half of next week thought.

Odds Of Frost Diminish. At least through mid-April. After that all bets are off. I can't, for the life of me, envision that we'll head into early May without one more frosty night in the Twin Cities. Then again, we're having an historic spring - all bets are off. The ECMWF (scroll down) is considerably warmer than the GFS for next week; I have a hunch we'll see more 60s, even a shot at 70 again by the end of next week.

Amazing Stat. Thanks to meteorologist Eric Fisher for tweeting this, and Mark Vogan (in Scotland!) for the retweet. Just to be clear, Chicago just experienced the 5th warmest April on March. Soon pigs will be flying, Snooki will get her PhD and Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow will get engaged. I'm afraid to see what comes next...

"With the onset of El Nino, coupled with cooler water now in the tropical Atlantic and higher atmospheric pressure in the formation zone as well, the signals are suggesting a normal to perhaps even below normal 2012 hurricane season," said Klotzbach. - from a story focused on how severe 2012's hurricane season will be from WDAM-TV below.

Time To Strengthen America's Building Codes? The graphic above is from meteorologist (and engineer) Tim Marshall, who gave a talk at the Des Moines NWS Severe Storm & Doppler Conference. The minimum threshold for building codes across most of the USA is 90 mph. Buildings (commercial and residential) are designed to withstand only a 90 mph wind gust. Those codes are much higher along the East Coast and Gulf Coast, threatened by hurricanes, where minimum thresholds are 90-150 mph. More details on the conference below.

Tornado Averages. Minnesota sees an average of 37 tornadoes every year, 23 in Wisconsin, 48 in Iowa. These numbers have gone up with the latest rolling 30 year (1981-2010) averages. Map courtesy of SPC.

Another Busy Tornado Year. We've already seen 383 tornadoes so far this year, compared to an average of 231 as of the end of March. Graph from SPC.

Confirmed 2012 Tornadoes (So Far). Here is the latest count, with confirmed touch-downs showing up as red dots. Notice the eastward shift in tornadoes - which (call me crazy) seems to be a trend. The biggest, deadliest, most violent and long-lasting tornadoes are touching down in Dixie Alley, not traditional Tornado Alley, which runs from Iowa to Texas. Map: NOAA SPC.

“We work with a lot of sportsmen and -women across the nation, and we constantly hear back from them that they’re seeing the effects of climate change on the ground,” says Joe Mendelson, policy director for the Climate and Energy program at the National Wildlife Federation." - from an article in The L.A. Times below. Photo credit: Dennis Anderson

"We've never seen these kinds of temperatures before. It's quite remarkable," Dave Phillips, a senior climatologist at Environment Canada, a government agency, told local media. "The duration, areal size, and intensity of the 'summer in March' heat wave are simply off-scale," says Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground. "The event ranks as one of North America's most extraordinary weather events in recorded history." - New Scientist takes a closer look below. Image above: NASA.

"Already U.S. insured losses from weather disasters have soared from an average of about $3 billion a year in the 1980s to about $20 billion a year in the last decade, even after adjusting for inflation, said Mark Way, director of sustainability at insurance giant Swiss Re." - from a Chicago Sun Times article below. Image above of the April 27, 2011 tornado aftermath in Tuscaloosa, AL courtesy of AP.

"My take is that there is no longer "natural" weather. Change the canvas (climate) and all pictures (weather) painted on it are affected." - Dr. Scott Mandia, Professor - Physical Sciences, Suffolk County Community College

"The effects on ice fishing are pretty obvious but less so elsewhere. For example, moose in Maine, New Hampshire and Minnesota are dying in record numbers, and the culprit is winter ticks. A moose might ordinarily carry 30,000 ticks; normally, cold weather kills off or controls the parasites. A study cited in the report says that warm winters might increase that number to 160,000 ticks. Enough to kill even a moose." - excerpt from an L.A. Times article below. Photo credit: "Collar about to be deployed on moose in Voyageurs National Park. Sample collection bag on the on right contains supplies for handling this moose. Hair, fecal pellets, and ticks were collected. UMD/NRRI photo credit."

"My climate epiphany wasn't overnight, and it had nothing to do with Al Gore....No, you're not imagining it: we've clicked into a new and almost foreign weather pattern. To complicate matters I'm in a small, frustrated and endangered minority: a Republican deeply concerned about the environmental sacrifices some are asking us to make to keep our economy powered-up...Here's what I suspect: the patient is running a slight fever. Symptoms include violent tornado sneezes, severe sniffles of flooding and raging rashes of jaw-dropping warmth. It's 85 in March. What will July bring? It's as if Mother Nature seized the weather remote, clicked America's seasons on fast-forward, turning the volume on extreme weather up to a deafening 10. This isn't even close to being "normal". Weather Underground's Dr. Jeff Masters put it best. "This is not the atmosphere I grew up with." - from my recent Op-Ed about how acknowledging climate science doesn't necessarily make you a liberal. It sure as heck doesn't make you popular. I'm not expecting a Christmas card from Rush or Fox News this year. So it goes. Details below.

"Now if you’re trying to figure out how to get to your job interview or dinner with friends you can also account for what route might be the fastest. Google Maps has added the ability to see the estimated time of your journey using real-time traffic data." - from an article from Mashable, details below. PS: be on the lookout for the woman above, reading a novel and on her cell phone in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Be afraid.

Nestle Is Making Tastier Ice Cream Using Avalanche Research? Yup. Details below. Photo: ESPN, Mike Moore, NOAA.

"It is when God appears to have abandoned us that we must abandon ourselves most wholly to God." - Francois Fenelon

A March To Remember. Odds are we will never live through another March this (freakishly) warm. Dr. Mark Seeley has a great recap of an extraordinary month in his weekly Minnesota WeatherTalk blog: "What a month! More temperature records were broken this month than any month since the Dust Bowl Era of the 1930s. Within the USA it is estimated that 6,500 to 7,000 daily high temperature records were set or tied during the month of March. This compares to only 300-400 new low temperature records during the month, mostly in western states. Across Minnesota climate stations 424 new daily high temperature records were set and 327 new daily warm low temperature records were set in March, including 8 new statewide daily high temperature records,, and for many observers (MSP included) the earliest date for an 80 degrees F reading (March 17). In addition many observers reported the highest dewpoints ever measured in the month of March, some even in the 60s F. You can see more record setting temperatures at two web sites....."

This Weekend: Hints of June, Then Cooler Next Week. I could envision a few T-showers bubbling up just north of MSP later today, again tomorrow afternoon/evening - but I suspect MSP will stay dry. Expect a better chance (opportunity) for a shower, even a T-storm, by Monday as cooler air arrives. NAM model above courtesy of NOAA.

ECMWF: Trending Warmer Next Week Than GFS. We're always weighing models (grueling work), trying to figure out which weather model has the best handle on reality. The NAM has been doing better (recently) with short-range weather, out about 2-3 days, but the European ECMWF has been nailing the longer-range outlook, so I'm inclined to put more weight on the forecast above (you'll be relieved to hear those red forecast highs are in Celsius).

5-Day's Worth of Rain. The latest NOAA QPF Outlook shows some 1-2" rainfall amounts from near Dallas and New Orleans to Macon, Louisville and Scranton. Much heavier amounts are expected over the Pacific Northwest, where some 2-5" amounts are predicted (another 2-3 feet of snow?)

Easter Preview 2012. From a weather firm called Planalytics: "Recently, more seasonal conditions have allowed for periods of cooler temperatures throughout North America. As we head into the holiday run-up week, cooler conditions to recent weeks will continue, though temperatures will trend warmer than last year and normal for the majority of North America. Most locations in the East can expect light precipitation throughout the first half of the week, while severe weather is expected from the Northern Plains to Texas and the Mississippi Valley. By the holiday weekend, a gradual warm-up will occur for the eastern two-thirds of the continent, with dry conditions favorable for restaurant and retail traffic along the East Coast. Interior locations can expect showers and thunderstorms to continue into the holiday weekend."

Hurricane Season Expected To Be Below Average. La Nina is fading; we may be heading into a mild/moderate El Nino (warming) phase later this year. La Nina summers tend to bring stronger winds over the tropics, shredding developing storms, lowering the risk of intensification of tropical systems. WDAM-TV has a story about the potential for a busy hurricane year in 2012: "...Speaking at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, FL this week, Klotbach presented research that suggested key meteorological parameters just weren't ling up for a big season. "With the onset of El Nino, coupled with cooler water now in the tropical Atlantic and higher atmospheric pressure in the formation zone as well, the signals are suggesting a normal to perhaps even below normal 2012 hurricane season," said Klotzbach." Image above courtesy of NASA.

Fleeing Hurricanes: Southeast Florida Is 5th Worst For Evacuations Problems. Here's a story from The Palm Beach Post that highlights one of our biggest concerns: getting people in high-threat hurricane zones (barrier islands) inland, to safer regions, in a short period of time: " — Southeast Florida, including Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, is the fifth-biggest problem region in the U.S. for hurricane evacuation, an engineering consultant said Thursday. And it doesn't get better: The top two are nearby. The second-worst is Tampa Bay, and the worst is Southwest Florida, Donald Lewis of Tampa-based Atkins North America said on the closing day of the National Hurricane Conference. Those two regions could be evacuating at the same time as each other - and perhaps at the same time as Palm Beach County - in the approach of a monster storm, creating a catastrophic traffic jam."

Year Of The Floods, Part 5: The Flood Next Time. Here's a story (audio) from North Country Public Radio: "(03/30/12) During this pledge drive week, we've been looking back at the North Country's Year of the Floods, from the spring floods last April to the sudden devastation of tropical storm Irene. By all accounts, the immediate response to the floods was swift and professional. That prevented loss of life and limited damage to property. But months later, the clean-up continues and long-term questions remain about future flooding."

Photo credit above: "Governor Andrew Cuomo has called for changes to the way New York plans for future floods (NCPR File photo)."

"Ask Paul". Weather-related Q&A.

"Paul, We have noticed that storms be it winter or summer seem to part at Alexandria and re-join.  Do you know if anyone has studied this or are even aware of it.  Storms generally hit Glenwood then part for Alexandria and re-join for Miltona- Parkers Prairie.  We have often wondered if it is due to elevation, or the many lakes in such a small area.  If it is something you are or others are not aware of I recommend you just keep an eye on Alexandria this summer – it becomes actually funny.  We watch the radar and wait for the “Alexandria parting” whenever there are big warnings. Thanks for all you do keeping an eye on the weather for all of us.  Enjoy the blessings of your day." - Char

Char - you're not the first person to bring this up, and I wish I had an easy, intuitive explanation for this "splitting effect". My hunch (it's only a theory) has to do with river valleys and inflow winds associated with showers and thunderstorms. The natural terrain of the land may impact wind direction, and have the effect of nudging storms in a certain direction. I've never seen any research papers on this - but that's the only thing (that I can think of today) that explains this phenomenon.
"Why are the clouds so beautiful in the Spring? (I'm thinking of the wonderful poem by Wordsworth: "I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud!"

Elaine Ambrose

Elaine - thanks for your note. I too have noticed that clouds seem to be better defined and generally more spectacular than during the summer or early autumn. I thought about this - it may have to due with a lack of haze, humidity and even dust in the air, which is a common appearance during the sultry summer months. With a cold upper atmosphere and heating of the ground you can wind up with more vertical development, more sprouting, cauliflower-like cumulus congestus (right), baby sprouts that often mutate into towering thunderheads. The cumulonimbus mammatus example (upper left) is equally spectacular. "Mamma" form underneath thunderstorm anvils, often a tip-off that a storm has hail suspended 6-10 miles above the ground. That's one thing I never get tired of living in Minnesota: the free show unfolding outside every day. Take time to look up and enjoy the show!
"Hi Paul- I enjoy your forecasts and sounding the global warming alarm. So, why do you tout using the A/C as soon as it hits 80? You do understand the connection between coal burning plants and A/C demand and greenhouse gas emissions, right? At the least, turning the A/C on at 80 is contingent on the dew point, which we hope you would also forecast, or is the dewpoint hard to do? Keep up the good work."
Steve Pelton

Steve- good point. Mea culpa. You're right; I should know better. The fact that I'm even mentioning A/C in late March is beyond odd, but I should have been a little more sensitive to the heat-energy implications. Yes, at 80 you probably don't need air conditioning, just a cold (adult) beverage and some time out on the deck. 80F with a dew point of 50 is quite tolerable; if dew points rise into the mid 60s an 80F reading can be pretty uncomfortable. But the next time I reach for the thermostat I'll remember your admonishment and crack a window instead.

Interested In Becoming A Skywarn Storm Spotter? Doppler radar (even the new "Dual Polarization" radar that can - sometimes - see the "debris ball", the actual debris being thrown up into the air by a tornado on the ground, only goes so far. Meteorologists still rely on experts on the ground for verification, for "ground truth", to confirm that a rotating supercell is producing a wall cloud, or a funnel, or an actual tornado, or the size of hail, etc. Here's more information on classes for interested spotters from the local Twin Cities NWS office: "For Skywarn training in the Twin Cities Metro Area, the Metro Skywarn group also conducts Skywarn Training classes, taught by Metro Skywarn instructors. They are offering over 20 classes in the Twin Cities metro area this spring, and a schedule of those classes can be found by clicking here. Skywarn training classes on this schedule are all free, and last around 2 1/2 hours.  Pre-registration for these classes is required only if specifically stated on this schedule. Additional classes will be added to the list if local officials request a class in their area. For more information on the Skywarn program, click here."

National Weather Service Budget Cuts Misguided, Misplaced. Here's an Op Ed (which I happen to agree with) from Steve Tracton at The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang: "The NOAA fiscal year 2013 budget request (page 7), included in the Obama Administration’s submission to Congress, calls for more than $2 billion dollars for the agency’s weather satellite programs, an increase $163 million from 2012. Not surprisingly, the increase means other areas within NOAA are slated for decreased funding. Of interest here is that the President’s 2013 budget for the National Weather Service (NWS) reduces funding by $36.4 million in operations and research (page 4-63) Is there something wrong with this picture of enormous investments for satellites at the expense of relatively miniscule costs of valuable components of NWS’s operational mission? In the opinion of many, including myself, the answer is a confident yes."

Google Maps Now Includes Real-Time Traffic Data. Uh oh. Is there anything I can't get from Google? The Garmins and Magellans of the world that provide navigation (and some level of traffic) on dash-top units must be watching this development with a certain amount of unease. has the details: "Now if you’re trying to figure out how to get to your job interview or dinner with friends you can also account for what route might be the fastest. Google Maps has added the ability to see the estimated time of your journey using real-time traffic data. The new-and-improved feature offers estimated travel times within Google Maps based on current traffic conditions. So, if you’re heading across town to meet a new yoga instructor you’ll be able to see how long several routes might take with no traffic, as well as how long the expedition might be based on the traffic conditions right now."

The Future Of Mobile. This is a fascinating slide deck from Henry Blodget at Business Insider. What we're seeing (today) is just the tip of the mobile iceberg: "Yesterday, we hosted our IGNITION WEST: Future of Mobile conference in San Francisco. To kick off the conference, our BI Intelligence team—Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, Alex Cocotas, and I—put together a deck on the current trends in mobile. We looked closely at the growth of smartphones and tablets, the platform wars, and how consumers are actually using their devices. You can flip through the deck below (click on the link)."

Attorneys In $1 Million Defamation Case: "Are Investigative Reporters Trying To Get To The Truth?" Here's an interesting story from "Last November, Minneapolis-St.Paul ABC-affiliate KSTP lost the biggest defamation suit in Minnesota history, stemming from a 2009 report about a mentally ill woman who considered suicide after speaking with a holistic healer. Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages now has an in-depth story on the $1 million case, featuring interviews with the holistic healer, her attorney, and the jury foreman. It appears that the defamation case, which the KSTP attorney described as “he-said/she-said,” came down to the station’s unwillingness to thoroughly investigate the woman’s claims against the healer as it raced to promote the story."

Nestle Making Tastier Ice Cream With Avalanche Research. Huh? Just when you think you've seen everything, along comes this article from Here's an excerpt: "Ice cream and avalanches are two subjects that usually only fit together in a child's dreams, but Nestle is now looking at how research on one could help in making the other. The food company recently teamed up with an avalanche research center in Switzerland to study how ice crystals grow within ice cream as it sits in the freezer. Typically these crystals dilute the flavor of the ice cream while also making it harder to scoop and eat. By using the center's equipment and research with their own products, Nestle hopes to develop a method for slowing the ice growth and produce a creamy dessert that will retain its taste and texture much longer."

Photo credit above: "Timmy Fisher, 12, of Kewaskum, Wis. finishes up his ice cream cone with his parents Jane and Steve, as the group sits outside of the Candy Tree in downtown Kewaskum on Wednesday afternoon, March 14, 2012. The temperatures are expected to stay in the high 60s and low 70s the remainder of the week. (AP Photo/West Bend Daily News, John Ehlke)."

20 Great Retina-Ready New Apple iPad Apps. Some great apps to justify that upgrade to the new iPad "3", from "'s new iPad ($499-829, 4.5 stars) has the highest-resolution screen we've ever seen on a tablet. And while all the existing iPad apps run just fine, apps with graphics designed for the new Retina display look especially spectacular. Retina apps are currently flooding into the iTunes store as app developers redraw their graphics for the higher-resolution screen."

"Specialized Turbo" Claims Title Of World's Fastest E-Bike. I didn't even know there was such a thing as an e-bike, but has the details: "Specialized has just announced its new Turbo electric bicycle, which it claims is the fastest e-bike ever made ... a claim that the makers of the BlackTrail e-bike would likely dispute. Whatever the case, the Turbo's top motor-assisted speed of 45 km/h (28 mph) should definitely limit where it will be sold – in the U.S., Britain and most of Europe, for instance, it would be illegal. Nonetheless, limited numbers of the bike should reportedly be available for sale (although it hasn’t been stated in which countries) as of May."

Hybrids May Be The Future, Says Ferrari CEO. Here's another interesting post from one of my favorite tech/geek sites: "Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa appears to have suggested that hybrid technology is ready for commercial rollout. But he hasn't stopped there, hinting at a future in which both hybrid Ferraris and six-cylinder Ferraris may be the rule. "We will roll out new technology that is there first and foremost to introduce a green factor to our cars and ensure that we can keep our product where it is in terms of CO2," Felisa told the UK's Autocar magazine."

Floating Movie Theater? Why not. Although the first time a big wake comes crashing across the bay (or lake) it may not seem like such a great idea. Thanks to for sharing: "I assume that the projection stand and the screen are anchored into the ground, but otherwise Ole Scheeren’s temporary movie theater off the coast of Thailand rocked with the waves. A recent film festival used it for private viewings. What would you want to watch at this theater? Titanic? Spongebob Squarepants? Waterworld?"

Greece Buys Mega Millions Ticket. O.K. This is satire, but if you want a daily chuckle consider signing up for Andy Borowitz's (free) HTML e-mail, in The Borowitz Report. Here is an excerpt from Friday's message: "ZIONSVILLE, INDIANA. In a move that raised many eyebrows among financial ministers across the Eurozone, the nation of Greeze today purchased a Mega Millions lottery ticket in the hopes of winning a jackpot topping $540 million. Prime Minister Lucas Papademos made the extraordinary purchase himself, traveling to a convenience store in Zionsville, Indiana, where he briefly chatted with the Hoosier Lottery's Mega Millions mascot."

Arrested Guy Sings The Entirety Of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" In Back Of Police Car. I had to include this - not sure why, but it's significant. has the story: "Ever since the dawn of streaming video, each of us has experienced millions upon millions of video clips. Those of whose job it is to sit on their butt all day scouring the Internet for cool stuff have probably seen even more.* That’s why it’s so amazing when a video comes out that is nearly perfect. This video, of a drunken guy singing the entirety of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” while sitting in the back of a Canadian police car, is one of those cases."

* I actually don’t consider myself in that group because it’s also my job to watch cable news and, by definition, none of that qualifies as “cool stuff.”

Graphic above courtesy of

Another Benefit To The Rain. Yes, we're in a drought, so I won't gripe about rain, especially on a weekday. The rain also settled the pollen, which is currently in the medium range - expected to shoot up again Sunday with warm winds and hazy, summer sun. Get your own pollen forecast at

"Flavors" of Warnings?

I'm at a NWA (National Weather Association) Severe Storm and Doppler conference in Des Moines.
One theme that keeps hitting me over the head: "Most people don't seek shelter from a tornado until they've had MULTIPLE confirmations that a threat is real and relevant." That was the stark lesson of Joplin, Missouri: a 24 minute NWS tornado warning; yet most people waited until they had 2-4 more validation of the oncoming tornado: (NOAA Weather Radio, TV, a phone call, tweet and/or text) before heading to the basement.

Nearly 70% of all tornado warnings are false alarms, based on rotation on Doppler radar, which helps us pinpoint dangerous (spinning) T-storms, called "supercells", but it's no guarantee that a tornado will drop. This breeds complacency and apathy. Maybe it's time for "Tornado Alerts" (based on Doppler rotation) vs. "Tornado Warnings" (or "Emergencies") when a tornado is on the ground.

"One of these days 1,000 or more people will be killed by one tornado" said Haag Engineering meteorologist Tim Marshall. Tornado alley seems to be migrating east into more populated areas; a worrying trend.

Dan Luna at the local NWS told me Chicago had the 5th warmest April on record - in March!

Low 70s today, 80+ Sunday; we'll probably avoid frost next week; 70 possible by late week. More 50s/60s into mid-April. Wow.

* images above courtesy of NOAA.

Climate Stories...

"Americans can be counted on to do the right thing, after they've exhausted all other possibilities..." - Winston Churchill

"I live near Hibbing, and we've had a ridiculous number of days in the 60s and 70s just this month. This is March in Northern MN. As much as I love warm weather, I'm starting to get freaked out by the lack of cold and snow."

- Amalia Palaganas Spagnolo, Hibbing.

Positive Proof Of Global Warming. Enough said. Yes, we need to (try) and keep a sense of humor as we "debate the science". For the record, I don't read what the trolls hiding behind their laptops have to say. I honestly don't care. The next time someone sends you a link from a denial-blog or talk radio, send them this photo. I take the subject seriously; I'm trying not to take myself seriously. Big distinction. One of these days we'll sit down and have a rational dialogue.

Hunters, Anglers Report Warming Winters Bad For Wildlife. I can't tell you the number of Minnesota fishermen and hunters who are reporting back first-hand observations of changing conditions, literally, out in the field - and in Minnesota's lakes and streams. Changing/morphing migration patterns, impact on the quantity and quality of fish in some of our lakes. You've heard the adage "no atheists in foxholes?" Well, people that spend a lot of time outside, farmers, hunters, anglers, sportsmen (even pilots) report changes to Minnesota's seasons and weather patterns. No, you're not imagining it. Here's an excerpt from The L.A. Times: "The relationship between that community and environmentalists has been testy over the years, but the real effects of climate change are one place they find common ground. And, apparently, a lot of it. “We work with a lot of sportsmen and -women across the nation, and we constantly hear back from them that they’re seeing the effects of climate change on the ground,” says Joe Mendelson, policy director for the Climate and Energy program at the National Wildlife Federation. “The changes might seem subtle to to some, but they see them in their outdoor pursuits maybe more readily than others.”

Photo credit above: "Saugers and walleyes were falling to Dick "Griz" Grzywinski's jig-and-minnow combinations, March 14, 2012, in Red Wing, Minnesota. (Dennis Anderson/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT)."

In U.S., Global Warming Views Steady, Despite Warm Winter. Some interesting data from Gallup: "PRINCETON, NJ -- About half of Americans, 52%, say the effects of global warming have already begun to happen, consistent with views since 2009. However, this remains down from prior years, when as many as 61% believed global warming was already manifesting itself. Today's level of belief that global warming is already apparent is similar to what Gallup found in 1997 and from 2001 through 2005. During those periods, however, somewhat fewer than today's 15% said its effects would never happen."

Has Global Warming Brought An Early Summer To The U.S.? The story from New Scientist: "North America has been experiencing unusual weather of late. After a mild winter over much of the continent, last week it experienced record-breaking summer-like conditions. In Canada, for instance, the thermometer in St John's, New Brunswick, hit 25.4 °C on 21 March, smashing the previous record high for March of 17.5 °C. "We've never seen these kinds of temperatures before. It's quite remarkable," Dave Phillips, a senior climatologist at Environment Canada, a government agency, told local media. "The duration, areal size, and intensity of the 'summer in March' heat wave are simply off-scale," says Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground. "The event ranks as one of North America's most extraordinary weather events in recorded history."

Photo credit above: "In this undated image taken in Bridgton, Maine, an array of spring daffodils, tulips and grape hyacinth are shown in a garden in early summer. (AP Photo/Rosanne Dombek)."

Poking A Hornet's Nest. The recent article/Op-Ed that ran in the Huffington Post and a few other publications gave me a chance to summarize how I feel about the politicization of climate science in recent years - how it's become a bizarre litmus test for conservatism. As I describe in the piece, my "belief" in climate science had nothing to do with Al Gore, and everything to do with what I was seeing with my own two eyes: on Minnesota's weather maps, and out my window. I'm not running a popularity contest (Q Ratings were important when I was in local directors didn't want any "negatives", nothing that might turn off a potential viewer), but no more. This issue is too important, and I'm hoping I can encourage other (moderate) voices out there to step out from the shadows and speak up about your concerns. Contact your politicians. Assume nothing. D.C. is hopelessly gridlocked on climate science and (clean, carbon-free) energy policy.

I have no idea what it's going to take to move things along and start a rational national dialogue (without shouting at each other and the name-calling...I swear we're still in 7th grade, with slightly better wardrobes)...but the status quo is not good for our country. If this keeps up we'll be buying all our wind farms, solar panels and hybrids from China, South Korea, Japan and other countries that (amazingly!) aren't still "debating the science." Are we really going to drill and mine our way to prosperity - indefinitely? I have nothing against drilling and tapping the resources we already have, so long as it's not the only way forward. The trolls can rant and rave all they want - I don't care. Do me a favor and keep track of who the (professional/persistent) deniers are today. Let's come back in a few years and see what they have to say - what excuses they have for ignoring the science and putting our kids at risk. That should be interesting.

Here is a link to Andy Revkin's Dot Earth Blog in the New York Times. Shawn Otto posted the full Op-Ed at his Neorenaissance Blog, and it can also be found at The Huffington Post. And to those of you who have e-mailed, tweeted, texted and called in your support and encouragement. Thank you. I'm no meteorological martyr or Paul Revere - but I've seen enough evidence to make a call on this one. It's either the greatest scientific hoax ever perpetrated on the people of Earth - or the climate scientists are correct. No middle ground on this one. Call me crazy but I think it's possible to lean to the right, and still care about the environment and sound science. If that makes me a "RHINO" (Republican In Name Only) then I wear the badge proudly. Come to think of it...the forecast calls for more rhinos.

General Motors Decides Climate Change Is Real, Pulls Support From Heartland Institute. An update from Huffington Post: "After getting called out by an environmental group, General Motors has pulled support from the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based nonprofit well-known for attacking the science behind global warming and climate change. The automaker told the Heartland Institute last week that it won't be making further donations, spokesman Greg Martin said. At a speech earlier this month, GM CEO Dan Akerson said his company is running its business under the assumption that climate change is real. "We applaud GM's decision and the message it sends -- that it is no longer acceptable for corporations to promote the denial of climate change and that support for an organization like Heartland is not in line with GM's values," said Daniel Souweine, campaign director for Forecast the Facts, a group that urges meteorologists to talk more openly about climate change."

Photo credit above: "This undated image made available by Chevrolet shows the 2012 Chevrolet Volt. (AP Photo/General Motors.)"

Climate Change: Flu Pandemics Linked To Strange Weather? Here is an eyebrow-raising article from The Mother Nature Network by way of The Huffington Post: "What do the Pakistan floods, the Queensland floods, and the drought in Africa during 2010 and 2011 have in common with a hundred years of flu outbreaks? They may all be attributed to the ocean-atmosphere phenomenon known as La Niña -- conspirator of El Niño. Together the two create the broader El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate pattern. Changes in global atmospheric circulation accompany La Niña and affect jet streams and the behavior of storms in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, often resulting in extreme weather bringing about floods and drought."

Photo credit above: "An Indian health official culls a duck to curb the spread of bird flu, as poultry fell ill and died in new areas in the region, in Badha village, Margram, about 270 kilometers (167 miles) north of Calcutta, India, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008. Fears of bird flu and a pandemic that once dominated headlines have largely vanished in the West, but the virus has quietly continued killing people and poultry in Asia as health experts warn that the threat remains unchanged.(AP Photo/Bikas Das)."

Shale Gas, Fueling An Economic Revolution. Gas is (much) cleaner than coal and oil, a big step in the right direction. And America has plenty of it, with new techniques ("hydro-fracking") able to extract natural gas. There's no question (in my mind) that natural gas is going to be a huge part of our gradual, inevitable transition from coal and oil to cleaner forms of energy. The Washington Post has an Op Ed from Fareed Zakaria (who has a terrific show on CNN every Sunday): "No one could have predicted that oil prices would rise to today’s levels. Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, says that they are irrationally high, pointing out that world demand is lower than the available supply and that Saudi oil inventories around the world are largely untapped. The “irrational” cause, of course, is fear of a war with Iran. But it would also have been unpredictable that a 47 percent hike in oil prices since November 2010 would not cause a major slowdown in the U.S. economy. One reason it hasn’t might well be the rise of shale gas."

Photo credit above: "In this July 27, 2011 file photo, Range Resources workers stand near the rig that drills into the shale at a well site in Washington, Pa. The company is one of many drilling and "fracking" in the area to release natural gas. The federal government needs to track safety hazards tied to thousands of unregulated pipelines gathering new oil and gas supplies released through the fracking process, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)."

Climate Change Panel Says Expect More Extreme Weather. Here's another angle on the climate change/extreme weather meme from Voice of America: "Over the last half-century, global warming has led to changes in climate extremes such as heat waves, record high temperatures and in many regions, heavy precipitation. That’s the conclusion of a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The group, founded by the United Nations in 1988, warns that nations across the globe must take steps to mitigate such disaster. Extreme weather cut a swath across the world in 2011.  For Bill Wing, it began a year ago on New Year’s Day as he surveyed the damage from a tornado that touched down in Cincinnati, Arkansas." Photo above: Reuters.

For Katherine Hayhoe, Climate Change Not A Leap of Faith. Here are a few excepts from a Climate Central article: ...“In the U.S., evangelical Christians tend to be politically conservative, and even anti-science,” said the Canadian-born Hayhoe. “So in scientific circles, saying you’re an evangelical Christian is like saying ‘I check my brain at the door.’ I seriously wondered what this would do to my scientific reputation — was I tossing everything I’d done in the toilet?”...But good answers about the science, Hayhoe said, are not always enough, because much of the opposition is emotional, not fact based. So she tries to make a connection based on what she has in common with her listeners. “ I can’t just say, ‘I’m a scientist,’” she said. “I am a human, a mother, an evangelical Christian who knows that Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The impacts of climate change are going to fall disproportionately on the poorest. Who doesn’t believe we should take care of the poor and needy? When I start from that place, I’ve seen dramatic shifts. People say ‘what can I do about it?’

Resource Depletion A Bigger Threat Than Climate Change? An article (and interview) at Huffington Post: "Rising geopolitical tensions and high oil prices are continuing to help renewable energy find favor amongst investors and politicians. Yet how much faith should we place in renewables to make up the shortfall in fossil fuels? Can science really solve our energy problems, and which sectors offers the best hope for our energy future? To help us get to the bottom of this, spoke with energy specialist Dr. Tom Murphy, an associate professor of physics at the University of California. Tom runs the popular energy blog Do the Math which takes an astrophysicist's eye-view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth."

Photo credit above: "Fred Donath, of Dubuque, Iowa, tries his luck fishing at Heritage Pond in Dubuque after the Iowa Department of Natural Resources stocked the pond with about 1800 rainbow trout Thursday, March 8, 2012. More than 130 million fish are stocked annually into Iowa waters, according to the D.N.R. (AP Photo/Telegraph Herald, Jeremy Portje)."

Scientists Warn Of Climate Change Onslaught. An excerpt from The Chicago Sun Times: "....Already U.S. insured losses from weather disasters have soared from an average of about $3 billion a year in the 1980s to about $20 billion a year in the last decade, even after adjusting for inflation, said Mark Way, director of sustainability at insurance giant Swiss Re. Last year that total rose to $35 billion, but much of that was from tornadoes, which scientists are unable to connect with global warming. U.S. insured losses are just a fraction of the overall damage from weather disasters each year. Globally, the scientists say that some places, particularly parts of Mumbai in India, could become uninhabitable from floods, storms and rising seas. In 2005, over 24 hours nearly 3 feet of rain fell on the city, killing more than 1,000 people and causing massive damage. Roughly 2.7 million people live in areas at risk of flooding."

Photo credit above: "In this March 30, 2004 file photo, Tarawa atoll, Kiribati, is seen in an aerial view. Fearing that climate change could wipe out their entire Pacific archipelago, the leaders of Kiribati are considering an unusual backup plan: moving the populace to Fiji. Kiribati President Anote Tong told The Associated Press on Friday, March 9, 2012 that his Cabinet this week endorsed a plan to buy nearly 6,000 acres on Fiji's main island, Viti Levu. He said the fertile land, being sold by a church group for about $9.6 million, could provide an insurance policy for Kiribati's entire population of 103,000, though he hopes it will never be necessary for everyone to leave. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)."

"Republicans and Climate Change: An Audience Analysis of Predictors for Belief and Policy Preferences." Here's a paper for people who may lean toward the right politically, but still acknowledge that the climate is changing, from The Social Science Research Network. Here is the Abstract:

"Climate change is increasingly polarized within American politics. Yet, political orientation and climate change views are not synonymous, and research identifying the characteristics of counter-normative groups — such as Republicans concerned about climate change — is key to communication strategies to encourage wider acceptance of science-based views about climate change across the political spectrum. The evidence presented here demonstrates that there are distinct and reliable predictors of which Republicans are more likely to believe that climate change is occurring and express support for mitigation policies. While some of these variables (such as religiosity) are relatively inaccessible to climate change communication campaigns, others (such as correctly understanding the scientific consensus that climate change is happening) should likely form the cornerstone of communication efforts. The current study provides strong guidance on where to begin, and where more research is needed to better understand these phenomena."