Two Days After Climate March 80 Million U.S. Residents are Under Threat of Severe Weather

This weekend, tens of thousands across the U.S. and around the world took part in a people’s march for climate action.

In the Nation’s Capital alone, it’s estimated that more than 200,000 took to the streets — doubling a projected attendance of 100,000. In a bit of dark irony, DC marchers faced scorching record heat in the low 90s. A late April day that felt more like a hotter than usual mid-July as the streets thundered with loud concern over a warming climate.

In storm-tossed Chicago, thousands braved wind and rain to make their own concerns heard. And in Oklahoma, the Capital of Tulsa echoed with the shouts of a doggedly determined group of climate marchers as the governor declared a state of emergency due to flooding.

Fully 370 sister marches in places as far-flung as West Palm Beach near Trump’s Mar-a-Lago and Dutch Harbor in Alaska occurred across a country wracked by extreme weather all-too-likely related to climate change.

Massive Jet Stream Wave Produces Severe Heat, Storms

Still vastly under-reported in mainstream broadcast weather media is the fact that polar warming in the Northern Hemisphere appears to be having a harmful influence on middle latitude atmospheric circulation. The south-to-north energy transfers contributing to a more rapid warming of the northern polar region as the world heats up overall is combining with larger warming producing more powerful heatwaves and droughts over highly populated areas.

In contrast, as more warm air centers at the poles, more cold air tends to spill southward into large troughs as the Jet Stream slows down. These troughs encounter an atmosphere that is generally more heavily loaded with moisture and charged with convective lift that tends to produce higher cloud tops. An atmosphere that is therefore predisposed to generating far more intense precipitation episodes in these regions.

(A massive jet stream trough in the western and central U.S. produced cooler conditions, blizzards, severe rains and storms during this weekend’s climate march. A facing ridge in the east produced record-shattering heatwaves in DC. North and west, into Alaska, temperatures were 5-10 F above normal. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

The result is an overall increasing prevalence of extreme weather events. Scientific model studies indicate a heightened tendency for extreme middle latitude storms and heatwaves as the Earth warms and the pole heats up. And this weekend, a persistent trough and storm track that, this year, has consistently produced extreme weather and heavy rainfall across the U.S. in 2017 (large sections of the U.S. experienced far wetter than normal conditions this winter with a substantial number of locations experiencing their wettest January through March on record) again deepened — with significant results.

80 Million Under Severe Weather Threat

Saturday and Sunday, this storm system generated record river crests and related extreme flooding as 5-10 inches of rainfall inundated a region including Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. Vicious tornado strikes ripped through East Texas. A late-season blizzard dumped as much as 20 inches of snow on the high plains. And, as mentioned above, record heat stifled the Eastern U.S. ahead of the storm.

(80 million people under threat from severe weather today as a spring storm heads eastward. From the satellite, it looks like a classic spring weather pattern. But record heat in the east, blizzards in the high plains, and record floods in the Central U.S. tell a tale of continued abnormal conditions. Image source: NOAA.)

Unfortunately, though the climate march has ended, the severe weather threat has remained. According to CNN, the same storms that resulted in the tragic loss of 15 souls as floods, savage winds, snow, and tornadoes raged over the Central U.S. this weekend are moving east. Today, reports now indicate that 80 million people from Georgia through New England are again under the threat of severe weather as a result.

Links:

Sprawling U.S. Storm Takes at Least 15 Lives

People’s Climate March

Floods Inundate Plains

Weekend Storms that Ravaged Central U.S. Move East

NOAA

National Center for Environmental Information

Hat tip to Suzanne

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Hat tip to Cate

Hat tip to Jean

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18 Comments

  1. Hello Robert, I really enjoy reading your blogs, I have not missed any since 2016 Earthday. I have a sister who supports Trump and likes Le Pen (France) and my husband just bought a new Chevy Silverado, and I sometimes feel that there is nothing I can do that will make any difference at all to what is happening to our planet. I have no control over anything, and my puny efforts mean nothing. Last Saturday I decided to do something really new for me and make the big trip to Toronto (bus, train & subway) by myself for the Peoples Climate March. A wonderful experience! I eagerly listened to all the speakers, and then joined several hundreds of marchers on some of the main streets in Toronto. Most importantly I met some wonderful people there; one in particular stands out for me. A very polite young man with a view to a sustainable future. I would like to share his website with you, and the readers at this blog. http://www.sustainablejoes.com/
    It must have been my lucky day to randomly meet him. He patiently explained to me what a podcast is, and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. I asked him to write down the website, which he did, and he added “Thanks for being you!” I have already joined his mailing list. This is an amazing young man, and someone who really gives me hope for the future.
    PS: the new truck got hailed on last night thanks to the storm!

    Reply
    • Thanks for the note, the kind words, and the positive message, Karin. I’m glad to see you’re getting involved! Checked out Joe’s site and it’s good to see this kind of innovation underway. Best takeaway is that spending one’s energy to raise climate awareness and to help build a better future is probably the best path forward. Joining the marches this week will also facilitate future networking and leveraging of group responses. I was very heartened by the march. It was nice to see so many people out there supporting clean energy like wind and solar and EVs together with behavior change. Coordinated action of this kind can really snowball in a positive way.

      Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  May 2, 2017

      65karin, thank you for getting involved! I understand your feeling of powerlessness, this is a big problem and the biggest companies in the world are fighting against us. But stay positive and hopeful, we have truth and reality on our side, and they can’t be ignored forever.

      Reply
      • Ryan’s right. And it appears we have economics on our side as well as the fact that a future built on fossil fuels has a liveable horizon for human civilization as we know it on the order of 2 to 8 decades depending on warming scenarios, emission scenarios, and intensity of geophysical responses. This is starting to become pretty clear to anyone who’s paying attention.

        Related: http://www.salon.com/2017/04/30/its-the-end-of-the-world-and-we-know-it-scientists-in-many-disciplines-see-apocalypse-soon/

        A Stephen Hawking Quote from the article:

        “Now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans. Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.”

        Reply
        • Andy

           /  May 2, 2017

          Robert, where do you find optimism? I’m finding myself full of despair whenever I think about these issues, and if truly feels like there isn’t much of a future left.

        • I don’t know about you, Andy, but there’s no way I’m just going to sit down and eat popcorn while the world starts to burn. We all have a responsibility to act. Including you.

  2. Allan Barr

     /  May 2, 2017

    These marches are good, better still would be mobilization for Bob Ingles the congressman who lost his seat back in 2010 when he heard the pleas of his own children to be true to his values. The Koch brothers decided to make an example of him and they succeeded. Ever since the republican party who once were in the forefront of addressing issues relating to climate change have taken the denier stance, fears of losing their seats I imagine? Getting people like Bob back into their positions would be extraordinarily powerful. It’s not well understood by most that Republicans are fully aware of the danger of climate change, and also very aware of arousing the attention of the Koch brothers. Instead we attack them as fools and worse, when they are doing the logical short term strategy. How many people understand the Koch brothers are combined the wealthiest entity on Earth? They rightfully understand they will most likely be dead before their reckless policies completely destroy our biosphere, so its in their own self interest, our species be damned to continue pursuing their monopoly of power. Time to bring all well intentioned people together I say, drop the political slogans which are designed to divide us and which many well intentioned people subconsciously fall for.

    Reply
    • Some decent points to be sure. But what’s the difference between a spineless sycophant and a willing servant? Very little in my view. I’d say the effort to turn the Republican Party is less worthwhile than actually just electing democrats. But I would absolutely welcome efforts toward sanity on the other side and toward influencing those republicans to express more rational views and to support more helpful policies. I’m just not the man to do it. To be clear, I’m a stalwart democrat and have been for about 20 years now. The party lost me as it kept shifting right and, perhaps, as I grew more perceptive. And now, I feel a general but very strong dislike for them because I see them as a threat to those I love and care for and to the future of this country and her constitutional government.

      And pandering to the Koch Brothers, to me, is just one aspect of a multifaceted republican insanity. My views have come more in line with those of Chomsky. But I would hesitate to put the entire party on ‘death ground.’ Would love to see some defections from climate change denial as an act of good faith in the citizens of the US and their future. Am waiting, but not with baited breath. And am definitely in a situation where I can never see myself voting republican again for about a hundred million reasons. I mean, I thought Bush was bad. But your R party really went off the deep end from 2008 onward. Trump is terrible. But he is also a symptom of the larger disaster.

      That said, and as the above may seem harsh from the point of view of a republican, I will say that I have absolutely been heartened by the present legislative resistance to Trump by moderate republicans. And I think there is considerably more in they way of shared values with this group. I just think that it would be much healthier if republicans in general moved back in the direction of these moderates. I would admire such a move and would speak well of it. I also think it would be very helpful to lobby for it.

      Reply
      • Abel Adamski

         /  May 3, 2017

        However if those filthy rich old men have healthy virile active centuries to look forward too, what hen.?

        http://newatlas.com/anti-aging-protein-mice-restore-hair-loss/48606/?li_source=LI&li_medium=default-widget#gallery

        Anti-aging drug research has homed in on senescent cells in recent years. These are damaged cells that accumulate in various tissues and organs as we get older and are known to damage adjacent cells and cause chronic inflammation associated with age-related diseases. A team of scientists has discovered a peptide that targets these cells to reverse symptoms of aging in mice. The treatment restored missing fur, improved kidney function and fitness in mice genetically engineered to rapidly age.
        Many scientists have been working on strategies to find treatments that could kill senescent cells without damaging healthy ones. In 2015, a team at The Scripps Research Institute discovered two compounds selectively targeted specific groups of senescent cells. And in 2016, researchers at the Mayo Clinic trialed a compound that eliminated senescent cells in mice, resulting in an extension of median lifespan by 17 to 35 percent.
        Now researchers at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands have identified a peptide that causes senescent cells to go through apoptosis, or programmed cell death. The therapy works by blocking the communication of a protein called FOXO4 with another protein, p53. It is believed that the interaction of these two proteins is what causes senescence in cells and when that communication is blocked the senescent cells self-destruct.

        What makes this an important discovery is the fact that the peptide only causes cell death in senescent cells, and not healthy cells.

        “FOXO4 is barely expressed in non-senescent cells, so that makes the peptide interesting as the FOXO4-p53 interaction is especially relevant to senescent cells, but not normal cells,” explains senior author of the Erasmus research, Peter de Keizer.

        The research involved administering the peptide to genetically engineered fast-aging mice three times a week for over 10 months. Over the course of the treatment, the researchers identified different effects manifesting in the mice. Within 10 days of starting the treatment patches of missing fur reappeared on their coats, and after three weeks the mice receiving the treatment had the ability to run twice as far as mice that hadn’t received the treatment.

        Biomarkers indicating healthy kidney function were also seen after one month of treatment, signaling an improvement in the animal’s renal function. With almost a year of regular infusions, the research team failed to identify any obvious negative side effects of the treatment.

        The team is preparing to start a human trial soon. It is still unknown whether the peptide is non-toxic in humans or whether it will result in similar beneficial effects. Still, the research into senescent cell therapy is looking promising for the future development of treatments for age-related diseases.

        Reply
  3. Amy

     /  May 2, 2017

    I was so happy to hear that 45 was at the White House during the climate march. He couldn’t have missed the din outside.

    Reply
  4. utoutback

     /  May 2, 2017

    I remember several years ago that one predicted consequence of “global warming”, as it was called back then, was that weather events wouldn’t necessarily change, but would start to occur with greater energy and intensity. Back then the idea of polar amplification was not considered, nor idea of temperature differential changes between equatorial and polar regions.
    Now, we not only have increased intensity, but also a meandering jet stream and to some degree the ability to predict “weather” is being shaken.
    One of my favorite rules is The Law of Unintended Consequence. We are seeing this playing out in real time now.
    One can only wonder what is to come.
    As a healthy 70 year old I intend to be around for at least a little more of this………

    Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  May 2, 2017

      I’ve been noticing that our local weather forecasters have been less accurate than I remember, like their models are based on 20th century atmospheric dynamics and don’t reflect current conditions.

      Reply
      • Ryan in New England

         /  May 2, 2017

        They recently called for clearing and sun and it ended up remaining rainy and cloudy for days, as if the weather system got stuck (something we’ve been seeing a lot lately with the jet stream being out of wack) and the models didn’t replicate the conditions accurately.

        Reply
      • Bill Everett

         /  May 2, 2017

        I have been noticing this, too, for a couple years and found earthnullschool to be better for short-term weather forecasts. The regular weather forecasts have recently become more accurate (I think maybe they have caught on to the fact that we now have a different climate with changed dynamics).

        Reply
    • It’s pretty easy for us to take the climate we’ve come to expect for granted and to not realize how far reaching even a relatively mild change to that climate can be. Unintended consequences is not just about unexpected outcomes, it’s about a kind of mental inability to see things in a context that is different from what we are used to. If climate contexts change, world views have to change to match that new reality. And people have trouble with that.

      Reply

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