Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tracking Another October Soaker

The rain on the Plains falls mainly on....Minnesota. At least this month. If we pick up another .80" or so we'll set a new October rainfall record. Just over 5" of rain has already soaked the region this month, 2-3 times the normal amount (yes, the drought is pretty much history). The good news: farmers are breathing a huge sigh of relief statewide. Soil moisture is being recharged - trees and shrubs have gotten a long, cool drink. All this rain arrived in time to do some real good, to soak deep into the ground before cold temperatures had a chance to freeze up the top 1-2 feet of topsoil. The bottom line: we'll be in great shape for the '10 planting season.

An approaching storm will tap Gulf moisture today, some of the rain will be moderate to heavy from this afternoon into late tonight. The latest models are hinting at over 1" of rain by the breakfast hour tomorrow. On the backside of the storm wind shift to the southwest tomorrow morning, the rain quickly tapers off, and temperatures begin to tumble Friday afternoon as winds blow from the west/northwest, setting the stage for a cool Halloween.

The good news? Halloween '09 doesn't look quite as chilly as it did a couple days ago. Temperatures should peak in the mid to upper 40s with Trick Or Treat temperatures around 40, possibly upper 30s over central Minnesota. Computer models are hinting at a stubborn wind around the dinner hour Saturday, sustained at 10-15 with gusts as high as 20 mph. So there WILL be a noticeable whiff of windchill. Factoring in the wind it will FEEL like mid 20s at times, so a few extra layers are still advised underneath those crazy costumes.

Another full latitude low pressure system. From space storms look like "comma clouds" or giant, sprawling atmospheric question marks. Fitting. The slow forward motion of today's storm will give it enough time to ingest moisture from the Gulf of Mexico - shooting it north in the form of moderate rain from this afternoon into much of tonight, resulting in some 1"+ amounts.

Rainfall Meteogram. All the weather models agree that significant rain should fall later today, anywhere from .5 to 1.2", but there's still a fair amount of disagreement between the various weather simulations. Ah, the joy of weather prediction. The more the computers agree, the more our "confidence level" rises...

The Perils of Prognostication. This is why meteorologists have gray hair (if they have any hair left at all). Check out the [amazing] contrasts in predicted rainfall across the region. The heaviest 1.5"+ amounts are forecast to fall from the Twin Cities on south and east toward Albert Lea and Rochester. Meanwhile less than .50" is forecast to fall west of St. Cloud.

Daylight Saving Time kicks in late Saturday night (an extra hour of sleep this weekend as we all "fall back" - hooray!) The downside: the sun will set around 5 pm Sunday. Yes, we're sliding into the dark days of winter - a lack of sunlight seems to effect more people than the actual cold itself. I'm thinking about investing in a full-spectrum reading lamp this winter. Most lamps only shine with one frequency. Full spectrum lights have multiple frequencies, mimicking the sun, and they've been proven to pull many SAD (seasonal affective disorder) sufferers out of their cold, dark funk. Check with a doctor first, but consider a full spectrum light. Treat yourself - you won't be disappointed.

Temperatures trend a few degrees below normal much of next week, highs mostly stuck in the 40s north and the low 50s south, but models are hinting at a glimpse of Indian Summer by next weekend, the first full weekend of November. It's early to get too specific, but the GFS model is suggesting a shot at 60 by November 7-8. After the chilling October we've all been muddling through we are (statistically) due for a temperature turnaround, a brief upward blip in the mercury, one last romp with Indian Summer. We're due, and Mother Nature may just oblige.

Halloween Details. According to NOAA Saturday highs should be in the mid 40s across much of the area, but only low 40s over far northern counties. The sun should be out part of the day, virtually no chance of any rain (or snow) to complicate late-day Trick or Treating. Below you can see predicted wind speeds for 5 pm Saturday, showing sustained winds of 10-15, with gusts over 20 mph at times. Expect a stinging windchill when you take the kids out late Saturday.

Paul's Outlook for the Twin Cities

Today: Cloudy with rain likely (heavier and steadier by afternoon/evening). Winds: East 10-20. High: 55

Tonight: Rain lingers, wet roads. Low: 45

Friday: Rain tapers, turning windy and cooler with lot's of clouds and a few sprinkles. High: 46 (falling into the 30s by late afternoon).

Saturday: Partly cloudy, breezy and cool (dry for Trick or Treating). High: 51 (winds NW 10-20)

Saturday night: Mostly clear, chilly. Low: 35 (Daylight Saving Time - extra hour of sleep!)

Sunday: Increasing clouds, chance of a few showers/sprinkles by PM. High: 48

Monday: Plenty of sunshine, seasonably cool. High: near 50

Tuesday: Dim sun, high clouds increase. High: 53

Wednesday: Partly sunny, turning slightly cooler (still dry). High: 49

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