U.S. Climate | April and May 2018

Two contrasting headlines about recent climate in the U.S. this spring caught my attention. Both came from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The headlines were from the assessments of climate in the U.S. for April and May of 2018.

The contiguous United States had its coldest April in more than 20 years.

The contiguous United States had its warmest May on record.

Year-to-Date

The part of the U.S. where you live might not have seemed unusual. However, we noticed these differences in the midwest. Before examining April and May specifically, we will look at the climate for the year-to-date in the next two graphics. Relative to the period from 1895-2018, the upper plains was below average in temperature for the first five months of the year. The west was above to much above normal with record setting temperatures in the southwest.

Not shown in the graphic, the Alaska year-to-date temperature was 20.7°F, or 4.9°F above average. It was the ninth warmest on record. Western and northern Alaska were much above normal. Record low amounts of sea ice in the Arctic likely contributed to the warming.

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The End | Near or Not

In case you didn’t notice, the predicted end of the world on 19 Nov 2017 did not happen. I don’t expect it to happen any time soon. I don’t normally make bold predictions about anything. There was one exception in 1974 in the Nixon administration. I successfully predicted he would resign. I think I was lucky.

If you are a believer in the end times prophesies, you may scoff at my prediction. That’s ok. I will give 10 reasons why I think I’m right. Mine are based on science. Join me below the glowing solar firestorm of death and destruction for the reasons we can feel the end is NOT near.


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Forces of Nature | Only Four

There are only four known types of force found in nature: Gravity, Electromagnetic, Strong Nuclear, and Weak Nuclear. Each has particular characteristics. This table lists them from weakest to strongest. The last column shows if the carrier of the force was observed by experiment and verified.

Forces

Lederman Science Education Center | Fermilab

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Solar Eclipse | Totality

Eclipse day finally arrived. Before dawn broke, we awoke to much lightning and thunder here in eastern Iowa. It seemed a bad omen. I checked the radar and forecast for central Missouri where we planned to drive. No rain there in the morning and still pretty good odds for a visible eclipse.

The phone rang about 7:30 when our daughter called. They were to meet us as we drove south so she and our two grandkids could share the experience with us. She said her daughter woke with a fever and aches and pains. It seemed another bad omen. She gave her some meds and still hoped to go. We would meet them in 2 hours and make the final decision. We met and decided to go anyway. She slept most of the 2.5 hr drive from there to Auxvasse, Missouri. Would the two bad omens spoil the day?

The weather improved as we drove farther south. The Sun came out and blue skies were peeking through the clouds. We reached the park in the tiny town of Auxvasse. It was a party! Maybe 100 people were in the park. Music was playing. Kids were on the playground equipment. We opened our picnic food. It noticeably darkened as it neared 1 pm.

Totality Approached

We watched through our eclipse glasses to keep track of the progress of the Moon across the Sun. A minute before totality I began to record this video. Next to me was Melanie and our 6 yr old grandson. I love his commentary. Notice how dark it got.

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Bug Sex

Bug 1: OK. Now what are we supposed to do?

Bug 2: I don’t know!

Bug 1: You told me this was going to be fun. I’m not feeling it.

Bug 2: I thought it would be. Everyone else is doing it. Let’s see if we can fly.

Bug 1: Nope. I’m staying right here.

Mantis | Grasshopper Devoured

💢 Warning for the squeamish: This post is about insects eating each other.


Friends of ours live on an acreage several miles out of town which includes prairie, trees, a pond, and many kinds of wildlife. There are mantises and grasshoppers. One day, he found a mantis which captured a grasshopper and started to eat it. He recorded many photographs of the events to share with me. Here are but a few selected ones. It’s kind of gruesome. But, as Melanie has often said, “Hey, everybody has to eat.”

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Crepuscular Rays

I looked out the window just before sunset while visiting family near Boulder Colorado. The low sun angle cast a beautiful set of crepuscular rays across the sky. I love seeing those rays of light. I knew the moment would not last long. Our host had the only readily available camera in her phone. She got the photo and sent it to me to share. Do you like it?