Tuesday, March 16, 2010

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

Today: Mostly cloudy with a few light showers and sprinkles. Winds: NW 8-13. High: near 50

Tonight: Patchy clouds, damp. Low: 36

Wednesday: Sun returns, more like early April again. High: 57

Thursday: Fading sun, still relatively balmy. High: 56

Friday: Clouds, showers, turning cooler - a little slushy snow can't be ruled out by Friday night. High: 45 (falling)

Saturday: Flurries/sprinkles early, then some afternoon sun, closer to "average". High: 43

Sunday: Plenty of sun, seasonably cool. High: 45

Monday: Mix of clouds and sun. High: 48

Tuesday: Clouds increase, growing chance of (rain) showers. High: 45

Time Warp, part II. It's still mid March, right? Are you sure? The calendar on the wall (and on my cell phone) is pretty insistent - then why did the Twin Cities bask under a 60 degree sun Monday afternoon? Clouds lingered in St. Cloud, where the high was only 52, still 15 degrees above average. Minnesota temperatures are not on a dimmer switch, warmth is either "on" or "off" right?

Another 60-degree day, in mid March - in the Twin Cities (of Minnesota?) Excuse me, we seem to have skipped a season somewhere along the way. 60s seem especially odd staring out the window at the snowy, gritty, stubbly detritus of miniature glaciers leftover from January. There's a strange disconnect going on - spring fever is in high gear, but you see these lingering reminders of what a Minnesota winter is capable of all around you. At this rate those hulking towers of gray-snow will be largely gone by the end of the week, and that's why river forecasters at the NWS have their work cut out for them in the coming days and weeks.

Click here for the latest warnings from the local NWS office - moderate flooding is expected across much of the state in the coming days. Todd Krause works at the Chanhassen office. I asked him what his gut feeling was about the flood threat and here was his (e-mailed) response:

"Definitely worse than last year around the metro, Delano, southwest MN. Of course last year did not have much significant flooding in those areas, so that's an easy call. Hard to say re. the Red River.....looking at the HPC QPF maps it sounds like not much precip. is predicted for a while, and that would be excellent."

Flood Forecast within 48 hours. Click here to see the latest details from the National Weather Service for streams and rivers in your county. A comprehensive NWS Spring Flooding Monitor is here.

Our only saving grace? No significant rain (or snow) is forecast for the next 10 days or so. Light (rain) showers are possible today as a cold swirl (what meteorologists lovingly call an "upper air disturbance" passes over Minnesota) but rainfall amounts are projected to be under .05" or so. Models are hinting at a potentially significant rain/snow event, not this upcoming weekend, but the following weekend, March 27-28. The GFS prints out nearly 1" of precipitation, starting as rain, possibly changing over to wet snow. That is WAY out on the horizon, our confidence level pretty low at this point - we'll watch to see if there is continuity between the models and some consistency from run to run (we get 4 new computer updates every day - in theory the forecast should get more accurate with each passing run). In theory. Reality tends to be a bit messier.

High-Res Satellite Image from Monday. Where the sun came out, far eastern counties of Minnesota, temperatures soared 20-25 degrees above average, a whopping 60 in the Twin Cities, 66 at Eau Claire, WI. Welcome to an early May. The latest MODIS "Terra" image from NASA is here. Click on the map to zoom into Minnesota - the best resolution you'll ever see on a satellite image.

Today will be a few degrees cooler than recent days (yes, we've been hopelessly spoiled, temperatures 20-25 degrees above "average.") We passed average a long time ago. You'll have to be content with low to mid 50s today, along with more cloud cover. Sunshine returns tomorrow and much of Thursday as temperatures mellow well into the 50s to near 60 once more. Amazing. We skipped a month and a half and jumped right to early May. Only in Minnesota.

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