May 11

Summer Outlook: Hotter, Drier Western States – 25th Anniversary of “Twister”

25th Anniversary of “Twister”, The Movie

Hey Bryce, you better get over here and take a look at this!13 words that changed my life forever.

Well, not really. That was my line in the movie, “Twister”, which came out 25 years ago.

Director Steven Spielberg used software from a previous weather company for “Jurassic Park”. His team reached out again for “Twister” and we created new, tornado and supercell-centric graphics and special effects for control room scenes. I was drafted to have a line in the movie, and I wasn’t about to say no.

The weather control room shots were filmed in a retrofitted barn outside Ames, Iowa. While there, the director drafted me for a part, but if you blink you’ll miss it.

PS: they shot the movie during a blistering heat wave. If you look carefully you can see shadows during the tornado chase scenes. It was 100F when they filmed my scene, turning off the A/C each time, which created a lot of very sweaty actors and extras.

No twisters, just a warming trend and a few weekend showers for the Minnesota Fishing Opener. No all-day washouts, but pack something waterproof. Consistent 70s within 1-2 weeks? Yep.

Oh, Martha Stewart owes me a dollar. Long story, stay tuned.


“Take 9”. It only took 9 takes before I said my line “Hey Bryce, you better get over here and take a look at this!” with such power and conviction that the director shook his head, muttered something (in Dutch) and then moved on to the next scene. Good memories.

My take: making a movie is hours of boredom, interrupted by a few seconds of sheer terror.


Twin Cities National Weather Service


Maps Looking More Like Summer. No fast-forward into summer this year, but I still have a gut feel that heat in June and July could make up for a cool-ish spring, that we may be surprised by the intensity and duration of the heat this summer. That may be wishful thinking, but I suspect it’s ‘gonna be a hot one.


North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME)
NOAA Climate Prediction Center

Summer Temperature Anomalies. This is one of many climate models showing a hot bias for much of the USA from June through August. Nearly all the NOAA models I’ve seen show hotter than average – it’s a matter of degree. A cool spring does not, automatically, imply a cool summer.


NOAA CPC

Summer Precipitation Probabilities. Drought is already intense across much of the western USA and NOAA suggests a dry trend may amplify over the summer west of Minnesota, with a wetter bias predicted for the eastern USA.


NOAA NCEI

NOAA Delivers New U.S. Climate Normals. The 30-year “averages” have shifted from 1981-2010 to 1991-2020, according to NOAA, which explains some of the shifts, factoring the latest decade of U.S. weather: “…In the transition to the new set of Normals, shifts in the relative frequency of above- and below-normal conditions will occur. Shifts will be most discernible in areas of the country undergoing substantial warming in the last decade, as experienced in the West and Florida. In those cases, comparisons of averages to current conditions will trigger below-normal temperature days more frequently. This does not mean that conditions are “colder” in the absolute sense; in actuality, higher averages have raised the bar for warmth…”


These two side-by-side maps of the contiguous United States depict the change in U.S. annual mean temperatures (in degrees; left map) and precipitation totals (% change; right map) between the new set of Climate Normals, 1991-2020 (most recent last 3 decades) and the previous set of Normals, 1981-2010.
NOAA NCEI

Your City Just Got Hotter. NOAA Announces New Climate Normals. CNN.com has more perspective: “The new climate normals released by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday reveal that weather across the US is warming. The current normals data set, which represent the average temperature, precipitation and rainfall for 1991 through 2020, highlight that most of the country has warmed compared to normals for 1981 through 2010, except for the north-central US. The West is becoming drier and the East is turning wetter. NOAA releases the climate normals every 10 years and they reflect data from the past 30 years…”


Climate Stories….

Faulty Weather Forecasts Are a Climate Crisis Disaster. The forecasts will never be perfect, but they will get better – but how to leverage state of the art simulations for higher confidence predictions of solar, wind and other renewables. A story at WIRED.com (paywall) caught my eye: “…Jack Kelly thinks he knows a way to vastly improve these predictions. A former researcher at DeepMind, the Alphabet-owned artificial intelligence firm, in 2019 Kelly cofounded Open Climate Fix, a nonprofit focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions using machine learning. “I’m a machine-learning researcher who’s terrified by climate change and keen to do everything possible to try and fix it,” Kelly says. He estimates that better solar forecasts in the UK could save 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted each year, and will be critical if the National Grid ESO is going to meet its 2025 target of operating at zero emissions whenever there is enough renewable generation available. Kelly’s idea is to use machine learning to improve what is known as solar “nowcasting”—predicting solar electricity generation less than a few hours in advance...”


CNBC, Twitter

Fossil Fuels, Climate Change and India’s COVID-19 Crisis. Here’s an excerpt from an analysis at TIME.com: “…There’s been some research on air pollution and COVID-19 in India specifically, but it’s probably first worth looking at the bigger picture. A slew of studies have shown direct links between exposure to air pollution and vulnerability to COVID-19. One paper published in December in the journal Cardiovascular Research found that chronic exposure to particulate matter—a type of pollution that results from a mix of chemicals that come from sources like smokestacks and fires—is likely linked to some 15% of global COVID-19 deaths. Particulate matter doesn’t just come from fossil fuels, but the study’s authors found that more than 50% of air pollution-linked COVID-19 deaths are specifically connected to fossil-fuel use...”


Saúl Amaru Álvarez (second from right in blue shirt) and his co-plaintiffs outside court in Lima, Peru.
Saúl Amaru Álvarez

The Young People Taking Their Countries to Court over Climate Inaction. The Guardian reports: “…After we announced that we were six youths from Portugal who were suing 33 countries for not doing enough to reduce emissions and fight climate change, the response was bigger than anything I had imagined. Media called from around the world. And it made me so happy and hopeful. I’ve been worried about climate change for a long time. When I was 11 years old, my younger brother André, who is also one of the young people in this case, had a terrible asthma crisis. The weather was hot and dry, and he was suffocating. Here in Portugal the effects of climate change are increasingly visible: heatwaves that cause water shortages and affect food production, and violent wildfires that give us anxiety…”


NASA

Climate Change May Have Pushed Ancient Humans Into Extinction. Here’s an excerpt from Now, Powered by Northrop Grumman: “Throughout Earth’s history, climate change has pushed animal and plant species into extinction. About 250 million years ago, global warming triggered by massive volcanic eruptions wiped out 96 percent of all marine species during the Permian period, as Science magazine details. Now, some researchers think climate change did the same to ancient humans. A research team led by Pasquale Raia of the University of Naples Federico II in Italy cross-referenced nearly 3,000 archaeological records of human species with temperature, rainfall and other weather data over the past 5 million years. Their findings, published in One Earth, suggest that global cooling episodes influenced human evolution, driving three of modern human’s cousins to extinction…”

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