April 21

Tracking 30-Year Climate Average Trends – NOAA: Hot Summer – Debunking Siren Myths

NOAA Climate.gov
NOAA Climate.gov

Tracking the Trends. NOAA will be shortly releasing (formally) the new 1991-2020 average weather data for the USA. The graphic above shows how much of the USA is trending not only warmer, but wetter over time. The “averages” are reacting to a warming Earth.

Wednesday Highs

Forecast Isolines

Looking Warmer. The transition to summer is always a rocky road, but GFS guidance is showing a stronger warm signal for the first week of May as a ridge of high pressure builds over the central U.S. – an “Omega Block” keeping the west and New England unseasonably cool.

Tornado damage in Calhoun County, AL
On March 25, 2021, a family of six managed to survive in a closet of this house as it was torn apart by a tornado in Calhoun County Alabama.
National Weather Service Birmingham, Alabama via Facebook.

What’s Up with 2021’s Weather? Good question – some crazy extremes since the beginning of the year. Discover Magazine has a good summary; here’s a clip: “…Mind you, through March, this year hasn’t been particularly nasty on average for the U.S. as a whole. According to NOAA, The U.S. Climate Extremes Index was 16 percent below average. But some regions were hit very hard. For example, there were 284 reports of severe weather across the Southeast during March — 143 percent of the long-term frequency. Perhaps the most extreme event to occur so far this year in the United States happened in mid-February: the headline-making, deadly Arctic outbreak that sent temperatures plunging to historic lows across much of North America. Below zero wind chills, along with ice and snow cover, extended as far south as northeastern Mexico — a region more accustomed to being whipped by tropical cyclones than blasts of polar air. The resulting damages in the United States alone amounted to more than $10 billion, making it the nation’s most costly winter weather disaster on record, according to a recent report by NOAA…”

2020 Hurricane Season on a Globe
2020 Hurricane Season

Get Ready for Another Active Hurricane Season in the Atlantic, NC State Experts Say. Details via The News & Observer: “…In their annual report released last week, N.C. State researchers say they expect 15 to 18 named storms in the Atlantic basin during the 2021 season, which runs until Nov. 30…There were an average of 11 named storms each year in the Atlantic between 1951 and 2020, according to Lian Xie, professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences at N.C. State. But since 1991, the Atlantic has seen an average 14 named storms per season, according to the NOAA…”

Changes in North American winter snowfall climatology over the last decade Ethan Sacoransky, Twitter

Snowfall Trends. The latest (1991-2020) 30-year climate averages show an apparent increase in snowfall across New England (fueled by a consistently warmer, wetter coastal storms?) with a decrease in snowfall from the Plains into the southwestern USA.

Severe Weather Siren Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Project Tornado: Debunking Storm Siren Myths. HOIABC.com has a post with a few good reminders: “…Marks said that while people may first think tornado when hearing a siren, they can be activated for other storm threats. “The outdoor warning siren is designed to notify the public of some type of event that they need to seek shelter for. So, if that happened to be softball sized hail and we thought the outdoor warning siren was an appropriate way to get that message to those that might be in harms way, then I think we’d set the alarms off,” said Marks. The sirens may also sound if there is a hazardous material spill. Marks said that on average, the sirens are only activated two to three times per year outside of scheduled tests, so he encourages people to have other ways to receive weather alerts…”

Large Storm Cloud Praedictix

Tornado Safety Tips. Meteorologist Joe Hansel at Praedictix has a timely post; here’s an excerpt: “…The way I like to tell people this is: put as many walls between you and the outside as possible. This way, you generally make it more difficult for what severe weather throws at you to actually reach you. There is a lot of misinformation out there on where to go and what to do while inside your home. Do not waste your time opening windows, or worrying about stuff. Get yourself, your loved ones, and a NOAA weather radio and get to your best place before the tornado strikes. Remember it is best to find the center-most room, in the lowest level of your home. More information right here and in the corresponding picture below. Lesser known, it may also be wise to wear a bicycle helmet. Flying debris causing head injuries and deaths happen every year...”

Rubble created by severe weather damage National Weather Service

Tornado Safety: 4 Essential Planning Tips. A post at Garden Center Magazine focuses on employees at garden centers and nurseries around the USA, but it includes advice for a larger audience: “…Have a survival kit on hand, which is especially useful in the event people are sheltering in place, he says. Include items like water, food, first aid kit, a radio and spare cell phone batteries, to name just a few. He suggests contacting your business’ insurance carrier, as they may be able to provide a survival kit checklist, as well as checking in to see if they have a safety services team that can help businesses develop their plans. He also recommends inspecting the survival kit monthly. Make sure it’s properly stocked, the batteries are charged, and it’s located where it’s supposed to be. The last thing you want to discover during an emergency, is your survival kit is missing or is not ready...”

Lake and docks with an orange sunset Paul Douglas

What the “Probability of Precipitation” on Your Weather App Really Means. Yes, it is confusing, as pointed out in a good post at Mental Floss: “…In meteorology, there are at least five accepted ways to measure PoP. NOAA’s definition looks at the chance that a forecast zone will receive at least 0.01 inches of rain in a certain time span. So, technically, the number says nothing about how much rain a given area will receive. This is the definition most widely used by meteorologists. Another method for calculating the percentage is PoP = C x A—or Probability of Precipitation equals the confidence that it will rain in the forecast zone multiplied by the percentage of the forecast area that will receive rain...”

Tesla on a charger Paul Douglas

How Green are Electric Vehicles? The New York Times (paywall) has a good explainer; here’s an excerpt: “…One way to compare the climate impacts of different vehicle models is with this interactive online tool by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who tried to incorporate all the relevant factors: the emissions involved in manufacturing the cars and in producing gasoline and diesel fuel, how much gasoline conventional cars burn, and where the electricity to charge electric vehicles comes from. If you assume electric vehicles are drawing their power from the average grid in the United States, which typically includes a mix of fossil fuel and renewable power plants, then they’re almost always much greener than conventional cars. Even though electric vehicles are more emissions-intensive to make because of their batteries, their electric motors are more efficient than traditional internal combustion engines that burn fossil fuels…”

Climate Stories…

U.S. President Joe Biden
In this April 15, 2021, file photo, President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington. No nation offers asylum or other protections to people displaced because of climate change. Biden’s administration is studying the idea, and climate migration is expected to be discussed at his first climate summit.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File

AP Sources: Biden to Pledge Halving Greenhouse Gases by 2030. The Seattle Times has the story: “President Joe Biden will pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by 2030 as he convenes a virtual climate summit with 40 world leaders, according to three people with knowledge of the White House plans. The 50% target would nearly double the nation’s previous commitment and help the Biden administration prod other countries for ambitious emissions cuts as well. The proposal would require dramatic changes in the power and transportation sectors, including significant increases in renewable energy such as wind and solar power and steep cuts in emissions from fossil fuels such as coal and oil...”

States in the Northeast and along the Mississippi River are getting more precipitation USA Facts
Average rainfall trend graph USA Facts

Much of USA Trending Warmer and Wetter. USA Facts has some good infographics that explain the link between warmer air and higher water content capable of initiating heavier rains: “…The average amount of precipitation is growing in Northeast states and along the Mississippi River. California had the greatest average annual precipitation drop over the past century. See more, including how the pandemic affected air quality, where the US ranks worldwide for CO2 emissions, and how National Park visits changed over the past year with this data collection from 1895 to 2020...”

2020 was the second-warmest year on record NOAA, USA Facts

2020: Second Warmest Year on Record, Worldwide. More details from USA Facts: “The average global temperature was 0.98 °C (1.76 °F) above the 20th century average. It was also 0.02 °C (0.04 °F) below 2016, the warmest year on record...”

The science of climate change explained Photo Illustration by Andrea D’Aquino

The Science of Climate Change Explained: Facts, Evidence and Proof. The New York Times (paywall) has a good overview; here’s an excerpt: “…This warming is unprecedented in recent geologic history. A famous illustration, first published in 1998 and often called the hockey-stick graph, shows how temperatures remained fairly flat for centuries (the shaft of the stick) before turning sharply upward (the blade). It’s based on data from tree rings, ice cores and other natural indicators. And the basic picture, which has withstood decades of scrutiny from climate scientists and contrarians alike, shows that Earth is hotter today than it’s been in at least 1,000 years, and probably much longer. In fact, surface temperatures actually mask the true scale of climate change, because the ocean has absorbed 90 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases…”

NOAA Three Month Forecast NOAA NCDC

Severe Weather This Summer Could Cause Another Texas Power Crisis. The Texas Tribune explains the challenges of dealing with temperature (and water) extremes: “…Electricity outages in Texas could occur again this summer — just a few months after the devastating winter storm that left millions of Texans without power for days — if the state experiences a severe heat wave or drought combined with high demand for power, according to recent assessments by the state’s grid operator. Experts and company executives are warning that the power grid that covers most of the state is at risk of another crisis this summer, when demand for electricity typically peaks as homes and businesses crank up air conditioning to ride out the Texas heat. Texas is likely to see a hotter and drier summer than normal this year, according to an April climate outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and 2021 is very likely to rank among the 10 warmest years on record globally...”

Twin Cities metro temperature graph
MSP Warming Since 1970.
Climate Central

Warming Since First Earth Day. Climate Central tracks the changes: “Earth Day is the largest civic observance in the world, with more than 1 billion people and 190+ countries participating in environmental activities every year. The first Earth Day was established in 1970 to bring awareness to the health of our environment and planet. In recent years, especially in 2021, the focus is on climate change as global temperatures continue to rise. In advance of Earth Day next week, Climate Central compiled annual temperature data from 246 locations across the U.S. since 1970—the year of the first Earth Day. On average, the U.S. warmed by 2.4°F, and almost every location (98%) reported a rise in yearly temperature. Of those places that increased, 65% warmed more than 2°F and 27% above 3°F. The majority of the top 10 greatest increases occurred in the Southwest...”

U.S. Temperature Graph
U.S. Warming Since 1970
Climate Central
10 Fastest-Warming Locations Since the First Earth Day
Fastest-Warming Locations Since 1970
Climate Central

U.S. Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry
U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry speaks during a roundtable meeting with reporters in Seoul on Sunday. The United States and China have agreed to cooperate with other countries to curb climate change, just days before a virtual summit of world leaders to discuss the issue.
U.S. Embassy Seoul via AP.

U.S. and China Agree to Cooperate on Climate Crisis with Urgency. NPR reports: “The United States and China, the world’s two biggest carbon polluters, agreed to cooperate to curb climate change with urgency, just days before President Joe Biden hosts a virtual summit of world leaders to discuss the issue. The agreement was reached by U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua during two days of talks in Shanghai last week, according to a joint statement. The two countries “are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” the statement said...”

Solar is now 'cheapest electricity in history' confirms IEA Carbon Brief, Twitter

Oil Company Ads Should Carry a Climate Health Warning, Say Activists. Just like cigarette ads? CNN Business explains: “A group of lawyers want oil companies banned from advertising on television and social media unless they include “tobacco-style health warnings” about the dangers fossil fuels pose to the future of the planet. In new research published Monday, environmental law non-profit ClientEarth accused some of the world’s biggest oil firms of misrepresenting the role their businesses play in the climate crisis and overstating the speed at which they are transitioning to clean energy sources. “The companies most responsible for catastrophically heating the planet are spending millions on advertising campaigns about how their business plans are focused on sustainability,” ClientEarth lawyer Johnny White said in a statement…”

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