April 1

Dwindling Snow Cover – Expanding/Intensifying Drought – Concern Over NWS Outages

Snow cover on March 31, 2021

Where’s the Snow? Less than 10% of the lower 48 states have snow on the ground as of Wednesday, limited to the higher elevations of the western U.S. and northern Maine. Amazing how quickly it melted, in retrospect.

ECMWF Snowfall by April 4

Snow? We’ll Make More. A powerful blast of Canadian air will drop a few inches of snow from the hills of West Virginia into northern New England. Winter is down, but not out just yet.

U.S. Drought Monitor

Expanding, Intensifying Drought. I’m struck by the extent of exceptional drought over the southwestern USA, with pockets of extreme drought as close as North Dakota and northwestern Iowa.


Cooler Push Mid-April, But Mild Signal Should Linger. Temperatures return to average levels within a week (highs generally in the 50s) but milder, Pacific air from a vast western ridge of high pressure may return toward the end of April, while colder airlingers over the Northeast.

Mike Augustyniak, Twitter

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:

James Wilson, Twitter

In this image taken with a drone, many homes with damaged roofs, Friday, March 26, 2021, in the Timberline subdivision in Calera, Ala., the day after a severe storm swept through the area.
AP Photo/Vasha Hunt

CoreLogic: Southeast Tornado Outbreak Affected Nearly 10,000 Homes. Insurance Journal has details: “Nearly 10,000 homes were impacted by tornado damage that occurred across Alabama and Georgia last week, according to data from catastrophe modeling firm CoreLogic. The March 25 deadly tornado outbreak occurred thanks to prime weather conditions that produced what is known as “supercell” storms that produce the most tornadoes, CoreLogic said. Southern states were rocked by the destructive tornadoes that claimed the lives of 5 people. The severe weather outbreak was especially dangerous due to long-tracked tornadoes – one of which extended for 100+ miles alone, according to CoreLogic’s Tornado Verification Technology...”

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

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...”


Space As a (Weather) Service. Private weather companies are ramping up efforts to differentiate themselves and create new (and proprietary) data sources and high-resolution weather models. Axios reports: “The private weather company ClimaCell has raised more than $185 million in part to help finance its ambitions to build a fleet of satellites designed to monitor and forecast the weather. The company — which announced a $77 million Series D capital raise today — is aiming to do something different than most space-faring weather firms. Instead of gathering data to sell it to others, it plans to use it to improve its own analytical offerings. The company, which also said it’s changing its name to Tomorrow.io, already helps forecast weather’s impact on business decisions for airlines like JetBlue and the maritime shipping industry...”

World Health Organization

Air Pollution Puts Children at Higher Risk of Disease in Adulthood. ScienceDaily has a summary of a troubling new study: “Children exposed to air pollution, such as wildfire smoke and car exhaust, for as little as one day may be doomed to higher rates of heart disease and other ailments in adulthood, according to a new Stanford-led study. The analysis, published in Nature Scientific Reports, is the first of its kind to investigate air pollution’s effects at the single cell level and to simultaneously focus on both the cardiovascular and immune systems in children. It confirms previous research that bad air can alter gene regulation in a way that may impact long-term health — a finding that could change the way medical experts and parents think about the air children breathe, and inform clinical interventions for those exposed to chronic elevated air pollution…”

Climate Stories….

Climate Central

Warming Baseball Season. Climate Central takes a look at the ongoing warming trend during the MLB season: “Opening day is tomorrow, and the baseball season is warming up due to climate change. Since 1970, Major League Baseball (MLB) cities have warmed an average of 2.1°F during the baseball season. The greatest warming occurred in Toronto for the Blue Jays (warmed by 5.2°F) while the least occurred in Oakland, California for the Athletics (cooled by only 0.1°F). As temperatures increase, so does the frequency of heavy rain events and bouts of extreme heat—weather conditions which can postpone games and impact the health of players and fans. And for baseball stats enthusiasts, it can also affect the probability of home runs. MLB has taken strides to become more green and sustainable in recent years, including LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified stadiums, LED field lights, solar energy use, and more…”

Climate Central

Matt Brown, AP

“Immediate and Drastic”. The Climate Crisis is Seriously Spooking Economists. Never a good thing to spook economists worried about a house of cards climate scenario. CNN.com has the story: “Worsening inequality, trillions of dollars in economic damage and depressed economic growth. Those are the outcomes that economists fear we will face unless the world aggressively confronts the climate crisis. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of economists agree “immediate and drastic” action is warranted to curb emissions, according to a survey released Tuesday from the Institute for Policy Integrity at the NYU School of Law. That’s up sharply from 50% in 2015. Since that time, the United States has been hit by an onslaught of extreme and deadly weather events including Hurricane Maria, massive wildfires in California and this year’s deep freeze in Texas…”

Global Flood Risk by 2100
Ebru, Kirezci et al

Survey of Economists Shows Climate Crisis Demands ‘Immediate and Drastic Action’ to Avoid $30 Trillion In Annual Climate Costs: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “A new survey released yesterday by the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law found two-thirds of the over 700 economists polled recognize that climate action is cheaper than inaction. Of those surveyed, 74% agree “immediate and drastic action is necessary” to address the climate crisis, and 70% think climate change will worsen economic inequality. The economists embraced net-zero goals, and estimated that failure to act on the climate crisis will cost $1.7 trillion, annually by the mid-2020s, rising to about $30 trillion a year by 2075. “There is a clear consensus among these experts that the status quo seems far more costly than a major energy transition,” which is why “economists overwhelmingly support rapid emissions reductions,” Derek Sylvan of NYU School of Law, who led the survey, said.” (CNN, The Independent, Thomson Reuters Foundation, E&E $, Reuters, Axios)

World Economic Forum

Vatican Calls for Action to Assist People Displaced by Climate Change. The Catholic Sun reports: “Whether people admit it or not, climate change and environmental destruction are forcing millions from their homes, and Catholics have a responsibility to assist them, Pope Francis wrote in the preface to a new document. “When people are driven out because their local environment has become uninhabitable, it might look like a process of nature, something inevitable,” the pope wrote. “Yet the deteriorating climate is very often the result of poor choices and destructive activity, of selfishness and neglect, that set humankind at odds with creation, our common home.” The papal preface appears in “Pastoral Orientations on Climate Displaced People,” a document released March 30 by the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development…”

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Want to Create 5 Million Green Jobs? Invest in Public Transportation in Cities. A post at Thomson Reuters Foundation caught my eye: “In a world reeling from the impact of COVID-19, investing in public transport could create 4.6 million jobs by 2030 and cut transport emissions, mayors in some 100 cities said on Tuesday. A “green and just recovery” with investment in buses and trains, particularly electric vehicles, would also reduce car use and air pollution, and protect vulnerable residents, said C40, a network of cities pushing for climate action. “The road to recovery is paved with investments in our infrastructure,” said C40’s Cities Climate Leadership Group chairman and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, in a statement. “Public transportation is more than just a way to move people around. It’s a vehicle for opportunity, equity, and a better quality of life...”

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)

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