Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Severe Storm Risk Central USA - Metro Areas Most Threatened by Rising Seas

"...The stakes are high, as nearly five million Americans and hundreds of billions of dollars of property are located in areas that are less than four feet above the local high-tide level..."
- Huffington Post.

Iceberg-free Opener?

There's nothing more enjoyable than fumbling with a fishing rod, wrapped in multiple layers like The Michelin Man, shivering uncontrollably as you grip that can of ice-cold beer, on the lookout for slabs of lake ice.

Amazingly, weather for Saturday's Fishing Opener looks better than that: AM peeks of sun - dry early with PM rain showers and a south breeze at 10 mph (minor walleye chop). Expect dawn temperatures near 40F - highs in the low 60s north to upper 60s on Twin Cities lakes. With a falling barometer and showers in the forecast you might actually catch some fish this year.

Good luck.

I wish I had better news for mom. An embroidered umbrella might make a lovely gift for Mother's Day this year. Expect some rain late Sunday, even heavier on Monday as a storm spins up just to our east. Grilling optional.

Expect some watches/warnings later today; some storms packing hail, even a stray tornado can't be ruled out. It's ripe for severe, but pinpointing which towns will see hail/high winds, more than 30 minutes in advance, is a fool's errand. Keep an eye on the sky today and be ready to move to a shelter.
Enjoy 60s into Saturday but temperatures stumble to April-like levels (50s) by early next week.

Oy vey.

.95" rain by Friday morning at KMSP. (00z NAM model)

Fishing Opener weather details below.

Volatile. Warm air surging north will spark severe storms from Minnesota south to Texas today; a few isolated tornadoes can't be ruled out. Locally heavy rains may trigger flash flooding in some communities; the next round of (lighter) showers pushing into Minnesota in time for Saturday's Fishing Opener. NAM Future Radar courtesy of NOAA and HAMweather.

Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Wednesday night, May 7, 2014.

* Conditions ripe for more severe thunderstorms into Thursday night from Dallas to Kansas City, Des Moines and the Twin Cities.
* NOAA SPC may upgrade "Slight Risk" to "Moderate Risk" - indicating a significant higher risk of large, violent tornadoes, especially from central Minnesota to northern Iowa (area shaded in red below).
* I expect multiple Tornado Watches to be issued Thursday; upper air dynamics favorable for a few significant tornadoes capable of widespread damage and injury. If confirmed tornadoes approach metropolitan areas Tornado Emergencies may be issued.

Relative Risk. Although the Slight Risk extends from central Texas northward to Duluth, Minnesota, the greatest potential for supercell thunderstorms capable of large hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes will be from Brainerd, St. Cloud and the Twin Cities south to Rochester, Mankato, Waterloo and Des Moines. A 30% risk area means a nearly 1 in 3 chance of severe weather within 25 miles of any location. The black (hatched) area shows a 15% potential for significant severe weather, including EF-2+ intensity tornadoes, 2"+ hail and straight-line winds gusting over 70 mph.

TPI: 7 PM Thursday Evening. Alerts Broadcaster's proprietary Tornado Potential Index shows the greatest risk by the dinner hour from near Willmar and St. Cloud into Minneapolis, St. Paul and western Wisconsin. Prepare staff for possible power outages due to high winds associated with Thursday's storms.

Summary: The latest frontal system has already spun up confirmed tornadoes over northeastern Colorado (well away from the Denver market), and I expect more numerous tornadoes Thursday, especially central Minnesota into central Iowa, but a few tornadoes may develop as far south as Kansas City, Little Rock and Dallas. The greatest risk (as always) is high winds and hail. Any tornadoes that do form will impact a tiny percentage of the area - but it's impossible to predict which towns and larger metro areas may be impacted until 15-30 minutes before they strike. Pay attention to all watches and warnings later today.

Paul Douglas - Senior Meteorologist - Alerts Broadcaster

Forecast Calls for Walleye Widows. Many of us are packing up, ready to ship out late Friday or first thing Saturday. Minnesota's Fishing Opener is an institution, and a family tradition passed down from generation to generation. Here's a clip from the Minnesota DNR: "Minnesota anglers consider the fishing opener -- when walleye, northern pike, and sauger become legal game on the state's inland waters -- one of the defining moments of their year. Minnesota's Walleye Fishing Opener is the Saturday two weeks before Memorial Day weekend. This allows most walleyes to spawn before being caught by anglers..."

A Late Ice-Out. Ice is off most Minnesota lakes, local reports suggest Gull Lake just became entirely ice-free earlier this week. Expect patchy ice on far northern lakes though. For an interactive map check out the Minnesota DNR site.

Fishing Opener Weather. Expect morning wake-up temperatures shortly after dawn on Saturday ranging from upper 30s northern lakes to about 43-44F for metro lakes; afternoon highs in the low 60s north to mid 60s central Minnesota, possibly upper 60s closer to Lake Minnetonka and White Bear Lake. The chance of showers will increase during the day, although I expect a dry start to the day, statewide. Maps: NOAA.

Light Winds Saturday Morning. The map above shows expected wind speed/direction at 8 AM Saturday, generally from the south at 5-10 mph; only a light walleye chop this year.

U.S. Climate Has Already Changed, Study Finds, Citing Heat and Floods. The NY Times map above shows observed warming: 1991-2012 data vs. longer term historical averages (1901-1960). What jumps out at me is the warming over far northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, over 3F at Hibbing. This refutes the skeptical argument that "it's all urban heat island showing up in the data). This is exactly what climate models have been predicting for more than 30 years. Here's an excerpt of a very good summary of the latest NCA, National Climate Assessment, from Justin Gillis at The New York Times: "...One of the report’s most striking findings concerned the rising frequency of torrential rains. Scientists have expected this effect for decades because more water is evaporating from a warming ocean surface, and the warmer atmosphere is able to hold the excess vapor, which then falls as rain or snow. But even the leading experts have been surprised by the scope of the change. The report found that the eastern half of the country is receiving more precipitation in general. And over the past half-century, the proportion of precipitation that is falling in very heavy rain events has jumped by 71 percent in the Northeast, by 37 percent in the Midwest and by 27 percent in the South, the report found."

Extended Outlook: Growing Risk of Owning Beachfront Property. I guess if you can afford the (rapidly increasing) insurance premiums go ahead and roll the dice. Certain areas are more vulnerable than others, due to rising seas and land subsidence, metro areas like Miami, Tampa and New Orleans. Water levels are already rising - that's not a climate model, but actual observations. The big question is how much higher, and how quickly. That's the subject of today's Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over which cities are most vulnerable to rising sea levels. What causes the sea level increases besides climate change? What can we expect to see by 2100?"

Tornado Hunter Wants To Walk Into A Twister. I hope he has a chat with his life insurance guy first. No, I would not try this at home. I suspect he's watched the movie "Twister" one too many times. Here's an excerpt from CBS St. Louis: "...Steve Green is a self described “tornado hunter.” In 2004, he spent $500,000 on an armored vehicle and drove right into a tornado. Now, 10 years later, he’s going to try to walk into a twister. His plan is to drive a 4×4 vehicle with a motorcycle attached out in front of the storm, jump on the bike, get in front of the winds, screw himself into the ground using corkscrews (think of what you’d tie a dog leash to) and hold on tight..."

MAT-TER Designs Typhoon-Resistant School for the Philippines. One of my favorite tech sites,, has the details: "In recent years, Gizmag has reported on several architectural projects which aim to aid those living in areas prone to natural disaster, including the Bamboo Lakou community and Blooming Bamboo home. Californian studio MAT-TER is the latest firm to throw its hat in the ring, with a modular, passively-cooled, and typhoon-resistant school that's due to be constructed in the Philippines later this year..."

60 Years: The Road To Color Television Took A Complex Path. I know I'm dating myself but I still vividly remember my first color show (I Dream of Jeannie). It was magic. TVNewsCheck has a fascinating story about the rocky and litiguous transition from black and white to color; here's a clip: "...In the six decades since that first broadcast, the color pictures have gotten better, the screen sizes larger and the cameras smaller. Only the need for rearrangement of furniture — which is called for with each new generation of audio and video equipment — has remained unchanged. However, to those who saw that first color broadcast, it’s the “wow factor” that still comes to mind. Perhaps Omaha’s then mayor, Glenn Cunningham, after seeing those first color pictures at the Paxton Hotel, put it best: “It was most amazing thing I’ve ever witnessed.”

Air-Purifying Billboard Does The Work of 1,200 Trees. This is the best use I've seen of billboards. I'd actually stare at this one, and give thanks for innovation and human ingenuity. Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "Billboards could do more than just advertise, if scientists at the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Peru have their way. While UTEC's earlier billboard produced drinkable water, its latest creation scrubs the air free of pollutants. According to the team, a single billboard can do the work of 1,200 trees, purifying 100,000 cubic meters (3.5 million cubic feet) of air daily in crowded cities..."

Climate Stories...

Climate Change is Happening, Here and Now. Jeff Nesbit takes a look at how the hypothetical has become real at U.S. News; here's an excerpt: "...Climate change isn’t a computer model, a fuzzy prediction, a cute picture of polar bears on shrinking icebergs, or some far-off, distant threat that people who aren’t born yet will have to deal with. It’s here, now – and it’s disrupting our lives. It’s affecting food prices through extended droughts and flooding basements in extreme rainfall events – the types of dry and wet extremes that scientists have been telling us for years would be part of a changing world. Now we can see these things with our own eyes, out our own windows..."

* Increasing CO2 Threatens Human Nutrition. Here's the abstract at Nature.

Observed Temperature Increases. This isn't output from a climate model, but rather observed temperature increases: 1991-2012 mean temperatures vs. the 1901-1960 average. Parts of southern Alabama have cooled, but the vast majority of the USA has warmed, with the greatest warming over the northern and western USA, precisely what climate models were predicting 30 years ago. Source: National Climate Assessment.

Minnesota: Trending Wetter Over Time. It's basic physics: as the atmosphere warms it can carry more water vapor, fueling heavier rains. In general wet areas are getting wetter, dry areas drier. But the increase in precipitation has been most pronounced from the Dakotas and Minnesota into the Midwest and New England. Data: 1991-2012 mean precipitation vs. 1901-1960 average. Source: National Climate Assessment.

Which U.S. Cities Are The Most Vulnerable To The Impacts of Climate Change? The report cited in this Washington Post article delve into resiliency; climate change is one of many factors to consider. Here's an excerpt: "...Climate change is only one of the factors that go into a city’s overall vulnerability rating. It includes an analysis of a city’s vulnerability to rising sea levels, hurricanes and typhoons, wildfires, floods, droughts, and vulnerability to earthquakes and tsunamis. Among U.S. cities, Los Angeles and Seattle are among the most vulnerable to climate change, according to Grosvenor’s rankings. And Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C are among the least vulnerable to climate change, at least among U.S. cities..."

Graphic credit: Grosvenor.

The Risks To U.S. Water Resources from Climate Change. Climate scientist Peter Gleick includes a long list of potential impacts on water, as described in the latest National Climate Assessment; here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "...There are hundreds of pages of information, observations, projections, and conclusions to absorb -- almost all of it bad news. Here, in short form and in the actual wording from the NCA (with page numbers from the "Highlights" summary report), are some of the most important conclusions related to U.S. water resources:
  • Agriculture, water, energy, transportation, and more, are all affected by climate change." (p.33)
  • Climate change is already affecting societies and the natural world (p. 32)
  • Climate change affects more than just temperature. The location, timing, and amounts of precipitation will also change as temperatures rise. (p. 29, Figure)..."

The G.O.P. Can't Ignore Climate Change. Here's the introduction to an Op-Ed at The New York Times from Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah and U.S. Ambassador to China: "TO waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.” These words were spoken by one of the nation’s most passionate conservationists: Republican President Teddy Roosevelt. I admire him for his pragmatism and individualism — foundational traits of the Republican Party. We must summon these qualities and apply them immediately and stoutly to the issue of climate change..."

On Climate Change, Republicans Can't Deny Reality Forever. Here's a clip from an Op-Ed at The Washington Post: "...One look at the comments sections of news articles on this report tells a depressing story. Many conservatives still believe that climate change is an elaborate hoax, that somehow thousands of scientists all over the world have conspired with public officials, the media, and who knows how many other people to pull off history’s greatest scam, and also managed to keep anyone from spilling the beans on the conspiracy. It isn’t all conservatives who feel this way; Republicans as a whole are split on the question. But the faction that inspires fear in Republican politicians — Tea Partiers — are the ones who most fervently believe it’s all a scam..."

Americans Start To Feel Effects of Climate Change. Here's a clip from a story at Politico: "...Rising temperatures will mean more heat-related deaths, asthma and spreads of infectious diseases, while longer pollen seasons will burden people who have allergies. Children, the elderly, the poor and some racial minority communities are especially vulnerable..."

Global Warming: The Inevitability Trap. The problem seems insurmountable, beyond the grasp of any one person to affect change. Which can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. "Nothing I can do about it, may as well sit back and watch TV". Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "Is the biggest hurdle on climate change outright denial? Or is it the sense that of being overwhelmed and too late, that there's nothing we can do? As K.C. Golden writes in an excerpt from my newly updated political hope anthology The Impossible Will Take a Little While, defeat is certain only if we accept it as such. What we often call preordained only becomes so through our resignation. So the only way to discover what's achievable is by taking action, trying new approaches, expanding the bounds of the possible..." (Image: NASA).

Climate Change Impact No. 326: The Birds Start Sleeping Around. Bloomberg has one of many curious side-effects of a warming climate; here's a clip: "Those monogamous birds? Another casualty of climate change. As it gets hotter here on Earth, they're more apt to start cheating on each other, according to the U.S. National Climate Assessment, released today. Scientists have said for years, decades even, that climate change is going to be rough. Storms, fires, heat extremes -- the works. The research tends to get more solid and detailed every year. It's all laid out in the Assessment, and it's mostly a bummer..."

Photo credit: Wikipedia.

Voices: Climate Change - It's Here. USA Today has an Op-Ed that shows how impacts are already being felt around the nation; here's an excerpt: "...In Norfolk, Va., where the sea level is rising, I met Bob Parsons and Jennifer Priest, whose homes have repeatedly flooded. In Spicewood, Texas, drought has triggered severe watering restrictions. Resident C.J. Teare was using soapy water left from washing clothes to try to keep her decades-old oaks alive. And in the Chicago area, doctors and patients said allergies are getting worse as the pollen count rises — and that's also linked to a rise in heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions..." (Flood photo above: AP).