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First Surge of Spring Upper Midwest – Flooding and Tornado Damage Mississippi to North Carolina


Here in The Land of Low Weather Expectations 40F is considered grilling weather. 70F is an invitation to take off your shirt and bask in the sun. Today may at least partially restore your faith in a Minnesota spring; probably the mildest day of the year, to date.

Soak it up. We cool off a bit Thursday with spotty showers Friday & Saturday. By early next week a major storm is forecast to spin up near the Quad Cities of Iowa, pulling colder air into Minnesota. A cold rain Sunday could, in theory, end as wet snow Sunday night and Monday morning; the best chance of slushy lawns and robins just south and east of the Twin Cities.

ECMWF (European) guidance shows highs holding near 40F Monday, chilly weather much of next week with an atmosphere just cold enough for a rain/snow mix by the end of the week. Something to look forward to.

Look at the bright side: no bugs or drippy humidity levels to accompany today’s lukewarm serenade. No wailing tornado sirens to ruin the fun. Expect a long & luxurious summer; today’s a preview of coming attractions.

And even if it does snow next week any flakes in your yard will be fleeting. The sun is too high in the sky for prolonged snow cover.

* last time we hit 70F in the Twin Cities? October 11, 2013, when the high was 75F. We’re due.

Scratching A Persistent Meteorological Itch. When in a drought, don’t predict rain. When stuck in a cold rut, as we’ve been since December, be careful about not predicting an imminent correction. Whether it’s the AMO, jet stream gymnastics orchestrated by changes in the Arctic, or just natural variability, the pattern continues to favor frequent intrusions of Canadian air. Temperature anomalies next Tuesday show readings 10-25F colder than average for mid-April over much of the eastern USA. Note Arctic temperatures, running 4 to 4.5F warmer than average, a trend we’ve seen much of the winter. Graphic: Climate Reanalyzer.

Carolina Tornadoes & Record Rains Swamp The South. It’s a tale of the moisture haves and have-nots. California is withering through historic drought, while the rains continue to drown much of Dixie. That, and a series of tornadoes in recent days. Even so, the national tornado count, to date, is a fraction of average, which may be at least one pleasant symptom of a lingering cool bias east of the Rockies. That’s the subject of today’s Climate Matters: “WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over the flooding rains and severe weather that moved through the Deep South the past few days. As devastating as the storms may be, we are still well below average for tornadoes for this time of year. Are hints of the Polar Vortex to blame?

Natural Variation In North Atlantic Ocean Caused Extreme Winters In U.S. and Europe. There’s still a fair amount of uncertainty: was it a response to ocean circulations in the North Atlantic or changes in the jet stream related to rapid warming in the Arctic? Here’s one theory, courtesy of Science 2.0: “…The extreme cold weather observed across Europe and the east coast of the US in recent winters is due to to natural, long-term variations in sea surface temperatures, according to a new study published in Environmental Research Letters. The researchers from University of California Irvine show that the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) phenomenon — a natural pattern of variation in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures that switches between a positive and negative phase every 60-70 years — can affect an atmospheric circulation pattern, known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), that influences the temperature and precipitation over the Northern Hemisphere in winter...”

Facts For Features: 2014 Hurricane Season Begins. Technically hurricane season kicks off on June 1, but hurricanes have been observed every month of the year; here’s an excerpt from an interesting post from the U.S. Census Bureau:

8. The number of years since the U.S. was struck by a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher). The last one was Hurricane Wilma in October 2005 over Southwest Florida.


2. The number of hurricanes during the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season. Hurricane Humberto and Hurricane Ingrid were both Category 1 hurricanes but did not reach the United States.

Source: National Hurricane Center

185. The number of coastline counties along the Atlantic (129 counties) and Gulf of Mexico (56 counties) most threatened by Atlantic hurricanes.


Study: Birds Have Highly Developed Weather “Radar”. Now if I can just interview a few robins I’ll be able to figure out the 7-Day. Here’s an excerpt of a story at The Summit County Citizens Voice that caught my eye: “Some migrating birds may be able to sense weather patterns on a hemispheric scale, helping them optimally time their nonstop transoceanic flights. Bar-tailed godwits, the ultra-marathon champions of migration, breed in Alaska and spend winters in New Zealand and a recent U.S. Geological Survey-led study suggests that these birds can sense broad weather patterns…” (Image:

“Don’t Come Into Work Today”. Should (all) employers have guidelines for specific weather conditions that take some of the mystery out of determining when employees should come to work? Here’s a clip from an interesting article at JDSupra: “…Employers may want to put a policy in place to address those occasions when, due to the weather or other emergency, the workplace must be closed or particular employees can’t make it to work. In implementing such policies, you’ll also need to take into account differing legal rules regarding leave time, and payment to exempt and nonexempt employees under both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state law. A Weather/Emergency Closing Policy should address not only winter weather circumstances but any other weather event or emergency that would force a workplace closure. Your policy should address possible grounds for closure, such as snowfall levels, loss of power, hurricanes, governor-declared shut downs, and so on…” (File photo: AP).

The Capitalism of Catastrophe. Will civilization as we know it break down at some point in the future? No idea, but you can bet there’s someone ready and willing to make a buck off low-grade paranoia. Here’s a clip from The New York Times: “…Ever since Isaiah, someone somewhere has been talking about the imminent demise of civilized society. Still, one could argue that today’s connected world of globalized supply chains and multinational banks is especially susceptible to a catastrophic failure. This is not the exclusive opinion of the fringe groups of society: Just last month, a study financed by NASA found that, because of financial inequality and environmental problems, the industrial world could suffer “a precipitous collapse” within decades...”

Photo credit above: “Brian Howard of PrepareNow Outfitters drank dirty water with a purification straw at the National Preppers and Survivalists Expo in Tulsa, Okla.” CreditSteve Hebert for The New York Times.

How To Book Your Next Plane Ticket To Get The Best Deal. Huffington Post has a few good suggestions to increase the odds of truly landing the lowest airfare on your next trip: here’s an excerpt: “…Rick Seaney of and the folks at all agree: To get the best fares, you should always try to fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. In particular, Hopper suggests that travelers should return from domestic trips on Tuesdays (to save up to $50) and from international trips on Wednesdays (to save roughly $60). The most expensive day to return is Friday. Because countless tour groups head across the pond throughout Europe’s high season in the summer, says, you should always play around with your dates if you’re flexible…”

Serious Reading Takes A Hit From Online & Skimming, Researchers Say. I would read the entire article if I had the time (and wasn’t saddled with an acute case of ADHD). Time to move on to the next shiny object. Here’s a clip from The Washington Post: “…I worry that the superficial way we read during the day is affecting us when we have to read with more in-depth processing,” said Maryanne Wolf, a Tufts University cognitive neuroscientist and the author of “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.” If the rise of nonstop cable TV news gave the world a culture of sound bites, the Internet, Wolf said, is bringing about an eye byte culture...”

Google Glass Lets You “Livestream” Events. This opens up all kinds of possibilities, some better than others. What, exactly, would you stream? Here’s a clip “Friends missing a concert? Sister can’t make it to your baby shower? Just strap on a pair of Google Glass and livestream the event. Livestream today launched its first piece of Glass software: Just a tap of the headset and a simple “OK Glass, Livestream” voice command will put online viewers in your shoes...”

“Google Glass May Have Saved My Life”. Yes, they look dorky, but a new form of augmented reality is emerging, one that doctors, police, firefighters and other professionals may be able to tap to do their jobs more quickly and effectively. Here’s a clip from an eye-opening story at Re/ code: “…But here’s a use that’s hard to argue with: An emergency room doctor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard teaching hospital in Boston, Mass., was tending to a patient suffering from massive brain bleeding. Because the doctor was wearing Google Glass, he was able to see that the patient had severe allergic reactions to blood pressure medications. Normally that might have required running to a computer or grabbing a tablet, accessing the patient records and then scrubbing up again. “Google Glass enabled me to view this patient’s allergy information and current medication regimen without having to excuse myself to log in to a computer, or even lose eye contact,” said Dr. Steve Horng…”

The Culture Of Shut Up. Jon Lovett has an interesting story about how social media (new megaphones) may be having an unintended chilling effect on free speech in this essay at The Atlantic; here’s a clip: “…I don’t want those voices to drown out the diverse and compelling voices that now have a better chance of making it in front of us than ever before—even as we still have a ways to go. And what I think we have to do, then, to protect this new wonderful thing of ‘a good idea can come from anyone anywhere’—is we need to stop telling each other to shut up. We need to get comfortable with the reality that no one is going to shut up. You aren’t going to shut up. I’m not going to shut up. The idiots aren’t going to shut up. We need to learn to live with the noise and tolerate the noise even when the noise is stupid, even when the noise is offensive, even when the noise is at times dangerous…”

Photo credit above: Albert Gea/Reuters.

“NOAH” Showing In England Canceled By Flood. No, you can’t make this stuff up. Here’s an excerpt from The PBS NewsHour: “Moviegoers who attempted to flood the Vue Cinema in Exeter, England, to watch an afternoon showing of the movie “Noah” — based on the biblical story of Noah and the great Ark — got to witness a piece of the movie come to life. The staff at the Vue found, upon arriving to work Friday morning, that the theater itself had flooded overnight due to a faulty ice machine. While the flood was not of the biblical scale, the water was enough to cancel the 12:15 local time screening…”

Photo credit above: “The Vue Cinema in Exeter, England got a taste of the movie “Noah” thanks to a faulty ice machine.” Photo by Flickr user


Climate Stories….

Years of Living Dangerously. Showtime is airing a series about climate change, not the theory, but the reality – how climate volatility is already showing up around the world. Episode 1 is now available online.

The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States. Here’s a PDF from the National Wildlife Federation.

NASA Study Finds Arctic Melt Is Now 15 Days Longer Than 30 Years Ago.Environmental News Network has the update; here’s an excerpt: “The length of the melt season for Arctic sea ice is growing by several days each decade, and an earlier start to the melt season is allowing the Arctic Ocean to absorb enough additional solar radiation in some places to melt as much as four feet of the Arctic ice cap’s thickness, according to a new study by National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA researchers. Arctic sea ice has been in sharp decline during the last four decades. The sea ice cover is shrinking and thinning, making scientists think an ice-free Arctic Ocean during the summer might be reached this century. The seven lowest September sea ice extents in the satellite record have all occurred in the past seven years…”

A Report On Climate Change And Flooding In The Northeastern U.S. Huffington Post has an overview of new research on extreme rainfall events in New England; here’s an excerpt: “…A combination of natural variability and climate warming may be affecting both conditions that predispose the land surface to flooding and flood-producing storm events. “In general, most of the Northeast except Eastern and Central Maine has been seeing these upward trends in magnitude and in frequency,” Collins said. The biggest change is the small floods are getting bigger, though they are still relatively small, and they are getting more frequent. These smaller floods are important for stream and floodplain processes and habitat…”

File photo: Associated Press.

Climate Trends In The Arctic As Observed From Space. It’s Melting. Fast.Minnesota climate scientist Greg Laden has the story, a recap of new NASA research on the rate of Arctic ice melt at Here are a few bullet points from the report:

                * Warming in the region has been amplified … with the rate of warming observed to be ~0.60±0.07 o C per decade in the Arctic (>64 oN) compared to ~0.2C per decade globally during the last three decades.
                * sea ice extent has been declining at the rate of ~3.8% per decade,
                * while the perennial ice (represented by summer ice minimum) is declining at a much greater rate of ~11.5% per decade.
                * Spring snow cover [is] declining by -2.12 % per decade for the period 1967 to 2012.
                * The Greenland ice sheet has been losing mass at the rate of ~123 Gt per year (sea level equivalence of 0.34 mm per year) during the period from 1993 to 2010
                * for the period 2005 to 2010, a higher rate of [Greenland ice sheet] mass loss of ~228 Gt per year has been observed.
                * the average area of mountain glaciers has declined by as much as 10% per decade during the period from 1960 to 2000.
                * Increases in permafrost temperature have also been measured in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere while a thickening of the active layer that overlies permafrost and a thinning of seasonally-frozen ground has also been reported.…”


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Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather.

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