March 31

National Weather Service Experiencing Internet Failures – Is Tornado Alley Shifting South/East?

Weather Service Internet Systems Crumbling as Key Platforms Fail. Well this isn’t good, coming as we enter prime time for severe weather across the USA. Capital Weather Gang explains the scope of the problem: “The National Weather Service experienced a major, system-wide Internet failure Tuesday morning, making its forecasts and warnings inaccessible to the public and limiting the data available to its meteorologists. The outage highlights systemic, long-standing issues with its information technology infrastructure, which the agency has struggled to address as demands for its services have only increased. In addition to Tuesday morning’s outage, the Weather Service has encountered numerous, repeated problems with its Internet services in recent months, including:


highs-wednesday-3.31-radar

Warm Bias Continues. I keep waiting for the bubble to burst, but GFS is consistently warmer than average east of the Rockies into the first 2, possibly 3 weeks of April. Only the west coast and Pacific Northwest will experience consistently chillier weather in the weeks to come.


James Wilson, Twitter

A look at the traditionally-defined “Tornado Alley” and where tornadoes actually have historically occurred.
NWS/SPC/Matthew Cappucci

Experts Recommend Moving Away from Term “Tornado Alley”. It’s a pretty big alley, come to think of it. Here’s an excerpt from an informative post at Capital Weather Gang: “…The real area at risk for tornadoes stretches from northern and Central Texas to the Dakotas and all the way eastward to the Midwest and Appalachians; it most certainly includes the Deep South, Mississippi Valley and Tennessee Valley, as well as Florida. The case could even be made to lump tornado-prone parts of the Mid-Atlantic in there. “I think there are several reasons to move away” from the term, wrote P. Grady Dixon, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Fort Hays State University in Kansas, in an email. “But ultimately, I think the most important thing is to continue raising awareness.” Might we rename this much larger area “tornado country?…”


This view of devastating storms over Alabama as seen by the GOES East satellite on March 26, 2021.
NOAA

Deadly Alabama “Supercell” Spotted in Satellite Imagery. High-resolution satellite imagery and lightning frequency can be one tip-off, but Doppler radar still works best at identifying the spinning thunderstorms most likely to spawn tornadoes. Here’s an excerpt from Space.com: “…The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GOES East satellite captured an animation of a “supercell” creating a large tornado in central Alabama, near Brent and Centerville. “In the 16-second timelapse, you can see the lightning that accompanied the storm during March 25,” NOAA tweeted Friday (March 26). Earlier Friday, several tornadoes touched down in the state, killing at least six people and leaving effects for local populations across the state ranging from no power, to torn-down houses, to downed trees, according to the New York Times...”


Damage from the Joplin, Missouri EF-5 tornado in May 2011.

A Look at the Biggest and Deadliest Tornadoes: EF5s. A story at baynews9.com has interesting perspective on the most destructive tornadoes: “...There are also other oddities on the map. For example, Florida has never had a EF5/F5 tornado. The furthest west an F5 tornado was documented was in the Texas Panhandle in Lubbock, Texas, in 1970. The furthest east F5 tornado was in Niles, Ohio in 1985. The southernmost was the monster and slow-moving Jarrell, Texas tornado in May 1997. The northernmost was in Fargo, ND in 1957. Other oddities include two cities that were struck twice: Waco, Texas and Moore, Oklahoma. Waco, TX had F5 tornadoes in 1953 (killing 144) and in May 1973 (on the ground only 100 yards and causing no injuries or fatalities). Moore, Oklahoma (a suburb of Oklahoma City) has also been hit twice and both twisters were devastating. Moore was hit in May 1999 (36 killed) and again in May 2013 (24 killed)...”


Dust on March 24th, 2021 in the Red Sea.
NASA WORLD VIEW

Meteorology, Tides and Big Ship Stuck in the Suez Canal. The cargo ship has now been freed, in part thanks to a “supermoon” and the tidal tug of the sun and moon. Yes, blowing sand can be a hazard to shipping, too, as Dr. Marshall Shepherd explains at Forbes.com: “…According to published reports, a strong sandstorm caused by winds in excess of 40 mph is a primary culprit in how the massive 400 meter Ever Given got turned sideways and wedged into one of the most vital passageways on the planet. The sandstorm occurred around March 23rd, 2021. I decided to see if I could find it so pulled up one of my favorite resources, NASA’s Worldview. I tinkered with a few parameters and made some adjustments to produce the image above for March 24th. Dust is clearly evident in the Red Sea – Suez Canal region from the satellite imagery…”


Climate Stories….

Source: Reconfigured image from “Forest Ownership in the Conterminous United States,” by Mark D. Nelson, Greg C. Liknes and Brett J. Butler, U.S. Forest Service.
Patterson Clark, POLITICO

The “Green Energy” That Might be Ruining the Planet. Politico explains: “Here’s a multibillion-dollar question that could help determine the fate of the global climate: If a tree falls in a forest—and then it’s driven to a mill, where it’s chopped and chipped and compressed into wood pellets, which are then driven to a port and shipped across the ocean to be burned for electricity in European power plants—does it warm the planet? Most scientists and environmentalists say yes: By definition, clear-cutting trees and combusting their carbon emits greenhouse gases that heat up the earth. But policymakers in the U.S. Congress and governments around the world have declared that no, burning wood for power isn’t a climate threat—it’s actually a green climate solution. In Europe, “biomass power,” as it’s technically called, is now counted and subsidized as zero-emissions renewable energy. As a result, European utilities now import tons of wood from U.S. forests every year—and Europe’s supposedly eco-friendly economy now generates more energy from burning wood than from wind and solar combined…”


The Tesoro High Plains Pipeline carries crude oil beneath the Little Missouri River beyond the boundaries of the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. A Biden administration official wants a fresh look at the multi-million-dollar dispute between hundreds of Three Affiliated Tribes landowners and the pipeline company.
Jodi Spotted Bear/Buffalo’s Fire

When an Oil Company Profits From a Pipeline Running Beneath Tribal Land Without Consent, What’s Fair Compensation? Inside Climate News has a fascinating and troubling story: “Tribal landowners tried for years to get fair compensation for an oil pipeline that cuts across the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, only to see officials and the courts dismiss their concerns. But now, thanks to new leadership at the Department of Interior, the federal government is taking a fresh look at their claims. Some see it as a sign that, not only might their voices finally be heard in this case but also that a turnaround has begun in the nation’s long history of injustices toward Indigenous people. For Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation members with land allotments at Fort Berthold, an encouraging signal came earlier this month. That’s when the Department of Interior’s Acting Secretary Scott de la Vega scrapped the Trump administration’s decision to reduce a $187 million penalty assessed against the oil company that owns the Tesoro High Plains Pipeline for trespassing on the reservation for seven years after its contract lapsed...”


Biden Announces Major Offshore Wind Expansion In ‘Build Back Better’ Buildup: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “The Biden administration announced a plan to dramatically expand wind energy generation along U.S. coasts on Monday amid its ramp up for a major legislative push on infrastructure and climate change. The offshore wind plan aims to generate thousands of union jobs and 30 gigawatts of power capacity over the next nine years — enough to power more than 10 million American homes and prevent 78 million metric tons of carbon pollution. “We are ready to rock-and-roll,” national climate adviser Gina McCarthy told reporters Monday. President Biden will pitch his major ‘Build Back Better’ infrastructure agenda on Wednesday in a speech in Pittsburgh. The plan is expected to be a multi-trillion dollar package that aims to revitalize the U.S. economy by addressing climate change and domestic inequality, targeting environmental racism and aiding communities ravaged by the fossil fuel industry through major infrastructure investments. Biden hopes to pass the measure over the summer. The administration’s infrastructure and climate efforts would expand on clean energy investments made under the 2009 Obama stimulus package, the implementation of which then-Vice President Biden oversaw. The political environment has shifted and the scientific consensus for accelerated action on climate has grown since 12 years ago, however, and whereas Obama’s stimulus merely included climate and clean energy provisions, they will be a centerpiece of Biden’s.” (Offshore wind: New York Times $, Washington Post $, AP, E&E $, The Hill, Axios, Reuters, Bloomberg $, Reuters, Politico Pro $; Speech: Reuters, E&E $, Axios; BBB agenda: New York Times $, Vox, CNBC, E&E $; Legislative timeline: AP)


Here’s How Biden’s Infrastructure Package Will Likely Tackle Climate Change. CNBC.com has an analysis: “President Joe Biden this week is set to unveil details of a major infrastructure package that’s expected to include record spending on mitigating climate change and accelerating a nationwide transition to clean energy. The president is expected to introduce up to $3 trillion in spending on efforts to boost the economy, including rebuilding aging infrastructure like highways, bridges and rail lines, and investing in technologies to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Some of the policies on the table include:

  • Installing thousands of new electric vehicle charging stations
  • Funds to build energy-efficient homes
  • Constructing new electric power lines...”

File: Hurricane Delta
NASA ISS

Why Hurricanes and Typhoons Will Become More Dangerous. Dr. Marshall Shepherd has analysis of recent research at Forbes.com: “…A new review study just published in the journal ScienceBrief Review analyzed over 90 peer-reviewed articles to see if there was a consistent signal of human activities affecting typhoons, hurricanes, and other tropical cyclones. As a reminder, these are studies that have been vetted, reviewed, and critiqued by experts. They are not opinions in social media, blogs, or editorials. The researchers were made up of a team of scientists from Princeton University, University of East Anglia, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). According to a press release from the University of East Anglia, “studies showed growing evidence that climate change is probably fueling more powerful hurricanes and typhoons, a trend that is expected to continue as global temperatures rise…”


File image
AFP

Why the Climate Crisis Will Intensify the Border Crisis. Axios explains how the two are intertwined: “…People make the difficult decision to leave their homes for many reasons, including conflict and crime, political persecution, and the simple desire for a better life. But a factor now — and even more so in the future — is the push of extreme weather and climate change, which will disproportionately affect the people living in the poorer, hot countries that are already a major source of migrants to the U.S. That means the U.S., as well as the rich nations of Europe and even countries like India, will likely face a permanent and likely growing flow of climate migrants that they and the international refugee system more broadly are ill-equipped to handle...”


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National Severe Storms Lab

Is Hail America’s Most Underrated Climate Risk? The data on hail in a warming climate is still largely inconclusive, but some insurance companies aren’t waiting for more data, according to a post at The Atlantic: “…This runaway hail risk is discombobulating the insurance market: In 2018, the insurance giant Zurich North America announced that it would no longer insure hundreds of Midwestern car dealerships because of “catastrophic” hail damage. Second, I’m intrigued by who the study’s authors are. Kubicek and his colleagues have scientific credentials, but they’re not academics. They work at an insurance start-up called Understory, which protects car dealerships against hailstorms. Kubicek is, in fact, Understory’s chief executive. Insurance is where the economy of spreadsheets and Zoom invites meets the economy of flesh and steel and falling chunks of ice…”


Paul Kedrosky, Twitter

Home Sweet Home
NASA

Earth’s New Gilded Era. Income inequality? A sharp divide between the haves and have-nots includes an ability to deal with the implications of a rapidly-changing climate. The Atlantic (paywall) has the post: “…Scientists and people with good sense around the world recognize the manifold perils of a climate crisis: an onslaught of tropical systems in the Atlantic Ocean, the relentless burn of wildfires in California and Oregon, the hundred-year floods that now encroach annually. Less appreciated, perhaps, are the direct effects of that increasing warmth on human bodies and communities. Heat is already often deadly, and even below fatal thresholds it is a grinding attrition that saps personal and economic vitality a little more each day. In the coming century, when wealth inequality will likely increase and the spaces where humans can live comfortably will shrink, the heat gap between rich and poor might be the world’s most daunting challenge…”

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