Sunday, March 28, 2010

Instant May

Paul's Conservation MN Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota

Today: Bright sun, breezy, getting milder. Winds: S 10-20. High: near 60

Monday night: Mostly clear, relatively mild. Low: 45

Tuesday: Blue sky, gusty winds - heightened risk of brush fires. Winds gust to 30. High: 69

Wednesday: May in early March. Plenty of lukewarm sun, hard to concentrate. High: 72

Thursday: Fading sun, still balmy. High: 74

Friday: Mostly cloudy, unsettled, a few hours, even a stray T-shower. High: near 60

Saturday: Damp, gray start, then sunshine returns by afternoon - cooler. High: 59

Sunday: Nicer day of the weekend. Mix of clouds and sun. High: 62

Early Ice-Out. The ice is already off Lake Pepin (came off officially on March 24). Minnesota's lakes are still ice-covered, but expect an ice out 1-2 weeks early this year, as much as 3 weeks ahead of schedule over northern lakes. The MN DNR keeps track of the ice-out conditions here.

Weather Headlines

* The last few days of March bring May-like conditions to Minnesota, highs reach the 70s by midweek (normal high for today is 47 F).

* So far in March, Twin Cities temperatures running 8 degrees above average; St. Cloud: + 8.6 F, International Falls: + 10 F, Duluth: +11.2 F.

* 3-5" of rain from Philadelphia to New York and Boston, reports of significant flooding across much of the northeast - expect some airport delays.

* 1-3 feet of snow expected for the higher elevations of the Pacific Northwest.

* Australia suffering through "The Big Dry", the worst drought in over a century. Sydney growing by an estimated 1,000 people every week, officials taking emergency measures, building new desalination plants to turn ocean water into drinking water.

* Southern China: worst drought in decades; millions of residents without water - more than 1,000 schools closed.

* Early season heat wave gripping northern India, temperatures as hot as 104 F. reported.

Wintry Relapse for the British Isles. The latest "Meteosat" satellite image shows a particularly intense storm bearing down on Scotland and Ireland, where winds may gust to 50 mph, producing near-blizzard conditions later today and Tuesday. The latest European satellite loop is here.

* Northern British Isles expecting near-blizzard conditions by Tuesday as a major winter storm pushes inland. Higher elevations of Scotland and Ireland may see several inches of slush and near white-out conditions.

Soggy Bookends. The northeast is experiencing flooding rains, while Seattle and Portland may pick up 1-2" of rain through midweek, relatively dry weather expected over the next 5 days across the nation's mid-section. The only real chance of rain in Minnesota: Friday.

There will be few complaints about the weather this week. At this rate we can expect a "super-sized" summer, ice coming off area lakes 1-3 weeks ahead of schedule. If we get a good soaking rain (possible next week - the GFS weather model is hinting at .50 to 1" of rain) it will green up virtually overnight. Until then a combination of meteorological factors will trigger a growing risk of brush fires and wild fires. Bright sun, a lack of rain going on nearly 3 weeks, tinder-dry relative humidity and winds gusting as high as 30 mph. by midweek will fan any flames once they get going. I fired up my grill for the first time Sunday (one of the earliest grill-christenings I can remember) - just be extra-careful with discarded matches and cigarette butts in the coming days.

Growing Fire Risk. No campfires are permitted in Anoka and Carver counties, as well as the Brainerd area (Crow Wing county). Expect conditions to get worse as the week goes on, a combination of low humidity, gusty winds, bright sun, and a lack of rain for 2 1/2 weeks all contributing to our growing fire threat statewide.

The sun should be out today, Tuesday, Wednesday and much of Thursday, each day warmer than the last. By midweek highs will be topping 70 - 80 is not out of the question somewhere in southern Minnesota by Wednesday or Thursday. Only in Minnesota could you be sweating it out, standing around in shorts, peering out at ice bergs on your favorite lake. Yep, spring comes in a hurry (some years). If you blink, sneeze, turn away for even a second, you may miss it altogether!

Soggy Twin's Exhibition Game? Friday's game vs. the Cardinals may be partly-soggy, the front moving a bit faster than we though yesterday. Expect a few hours of showers Friday, even an isolated risk of thunder, although a widespread severe outbreak is unlikely. Plan on taking something waterproof to Target Field. Are you even allowed to bring in umbrellas? Not sure about that.

An eastbound cool front will increase the chance - the OPPORTUNITY - for a few rain showers Friday, winds turning around to the west, cooling us off into the 50s and low 60s. We can't even rule out a few claps of thunder, although I doubt conditions will be ripe for any strong/severe storms the end of the week. The weekend outlook is still murky and tenuous - but right now the models indicate that Friday's front will keep sailing east, a damp, partly-gray start Saturday giving way to rapid sunshine, Sunday probably the sunnier, milder day of the weekend as winds diminish a bit.

We are due for a "real storm", and models are strongly hinting at a stormier, wetter pattern returning next week - by next Tuesday or Wednesday a significant storm may spin up over the Upper Midwest, pumping moisture from the Gulf of Mexico northward. That could translate into heavier rainfall amounts, maybe some .5 to 1" numbers close to home by the middle of next week, although this far out that is pure speculation. A cooler front arrives by mid April, expect a few days with highs struggling into the 40s and 50s. Snow? Ice? Arctic cold? I don't see it, and with each passing day the odds of a wintry relapse diminish rapidly. I'd keep the jackets handy, but I think you can safely lug the parkas, coats and snow shovels into cold storage. Man, I hope I don't come to regret that last sentence. Just when you think you're in the clear....

Man-made Weather. We are nudging the weather in subtle yet profound ways every day. When conditions aloft are ripe jet contrails can spread out into a high, thin veil of cirrus clouds, capable of keeping daytime highs a few degrees cooler - nighttime lows a few degrees warmer. When all jet traffic was grounded in the immediate wake of the 9-11 attacks data showed that national temperatures were 1-3 degrees warmer from coast to coast, the result of fewer jet contrails and high cloud cover.

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