Sunday, April 11, 2010

Forecast calls for outdoor baseball

Baseball Bulls-Eye. The good news: it won't snow for today's big Twins Opener at Target Field. The bad news: we can't guarantee a dry game. Computer models show a warm front straddling the state, the best chance of showers and storms flaring up tonight. Precipitation will be "convective" (ie. scattered showers and storms) impacting 5-15% of the state at any given time, not the widespread shield of rain/snow that we deal with much of fall, winter and early spring. Forecasting the growth of individual showers/storms is impossible (too small/brief) - they don't show up in the computer models. All we can say is that conditions will be ripe for a few showers/T-storms, mainly north/west of the Twin Cities by late afternoon and evening. Take something waterproof to Target Field, hope you won't need it. At least it will be mild: opening pitch temperatures in the mid 60s!

* 1 in 4 chance of a (heavy) shower/T-storm for today's Twins Opener at 3 pm at Target Field, temperatures near 65 F.

* 69 on Sunday, 70 at St. Cloud and Redwood Falls, 15-20 degrees warmer than average statewide.

* April temperatures: 10.4 degrees F. warmer than average, to date.

* String of 70s this week? Ripe for widely scattered showers/storms from today through Thursday. Rainfall amounts will be extremely variable, ranging from .05" to .75" (most of us will see less than .25").

* Clearing trend by Friday as winds swing around to the northwest, another glorious spell of weather seems to be shaping up for next weekend.

* Weather probably a factor in the Saturday plane crash in western Russia that claimed the life of Poland's president and top government/military officials. Visibilities were reported to be under 3/10ths of a mile in dense fog.

* How clean is your favorite lake? You may be surprised, even shocked by the results you find at I know I was. More below.

* Favorite iPad apps? I don't profess to be an iPad power-user, but I've found a few must-have apps that really show off the full functionality of the device. Will it change the way we consume information? No idea, but so far I'm pretty impressed. The real power is having it as a multi-tasking device, sprawled on the couch with the TV on in the background (video Muzak) while calling up stories, scores and videos. Will any of us ever be able to FOCUS again? More below.

Sunday Sunshine. Check out the high-res (1 km. resolution - visible) satellite image from 10:30 am. Not a cloud in the sky across most of Minnesota, individual lakes showing up clearly. Ice is coming off even far northern lakes, 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule.

A Sunday in May. Is it really April 12? You wouldn't know it gazing at yesterday's weather almanac. 70 in St. Cloud and Redwood Falls, 69 at MSP, a cool breeze off Lake Superior keeping Grand Marais at 55, but Duluth enjoyed a very respectable 64. Truly a spring to remember...

I brushed the cobwebs off the lawn furniture Sunday, dragged them out of cold storage, set up the Adirondack chairs, marveling at our good luck. Mother Nature has been in a benevolent mood, well, since mid February. While much of the south and east has been pummeled by storms, record rains, record snows, we've been fat, dumb and happy up here on the (alleged) "tundra", watching in dazed wonderment at the flurry of wild weather, yawning during the weather report.

I can't remember ever dragging the chairs out on the 11th day of April, ever. We're in uncharted waters here - but I'm almost giddy over the prospect of a 6 MONTH boating season this year. If Kansas City had lakes they would have a season like we're about to enjoy. I still don't see any setbacks or relapses, Old Man Winter is nowhere to be found, he's MIA. This week winds at nearly all levels of the atmosphere will blow from the Gulf of Mexico, pumping enough moisture north to fuel a few scattered showers and storms, starting today. Figures. We go nearly a month without significant rain. Mother Nature has a cruel sense of humor - it just makes sense that the one day we hope and pray for a few hours of dry weather to celebrate our new aluminum shrine to baseball in Minneapolis, there's at least a 1 in 4 chance of the sky opening up overhead. I hope the models are wrong - odds still favor a dry game, but I'd be borderline mad to guarantee a dry game vs. the Boston Red Sox. Take rain gear and be pleasantly surprised if the showers don't materialize. We're tracking a warm frontal passage - these boundaries tend to be more "active" at night, when low-level jet stream winds can focus upward motion, causing showers and T-storms to sprout next to these retreating boundaries of cool vs. warm. The chance of rain will spike after dark - at least it will be mild with game-time temperatures in the 60s, well above the average high of 55 for April 12. Not bad, considering we could be ankle-deep in slush right now.

Monday PM Shower Potential. With a warm frontal boundary snaking directly over St. Cloud and the Twin Cities any showers or T-storms that sprout should be isolated in nature, but more widespread/heavy just north of the metro area. It'll be a very close call.

The same fickle front will be with us much of this week, meaning a threat/opportunity for scattered showers and T-storms from today through Thursday. Wednesday appears to be the wettest day of the week, the best chance of more widespread rain, even a slight risk of a severe storm outbreak. If the sun comes out at all (likely) we'll see highs in the low to mid 70s, nearly 20 degrees above average. Again, the sheer persistence of this mild spell is remarkable, coming off an unusually mild, snow-free March. This is probably still a symptom of El Nino, possibly a little climate change thrown in on top, but there's ultimately no way to know. Proving cause and effect with day-to-day weather is easier said than done. Showers linger Thursday, but winds should turn around to the northwest by Friday, pumping drier air back into Minnesota in time for another three-star, blue-ribbon, award-winning weekend. Saturday appears to be the nicer day with brilliant sunshine, highs in the 60s, light winds as high pressure passes overhead. High clouds may dim the sun on Sunday, but dry weather should prevail throughout the day, the next round of showers probably holding off until next Sunday night and Monday.

High Pressure Saturday. The GFS model brings a fair-weather bubble of high pressure into the Upper Midwest Saturday - right now it looks like blue sky and 60s statewide with light winds, perfect for a little mid-April boating, a bike ride, a nice long hike on your favorite trail? As far as the atmosphere is concerned it's mid May.

Fog From Space. This image, taken from NASA's "Terra" low-orbiting satellite shows patches of dense fog over western Russia at precisely the same time the plane carrying the Polish president and other top political/military representatives attempted to land at Smolensk, Russia. Local air traffic control operators warned the pilots not to land, dense fog made conditions too dangerous - they tried to divert the plane to nearby Minsk, which had better visibility and cloud ceilings, but to no avail. Russian media reported that the pilots attempted to land anyway, several attempts, the plane clipped some tall pine trees and broke apart upon impact - an unimaginable tragedy for Poland

Smolensk, Russia Hourly Weather. At the time of the crash visibility was close to zero (reportedly 3/10th's of a mile) in dense fog and low cloud cover. Data courtesy of Weather Underground.

Pelican Lake, Crow Wing County. I was surprised to see an advisory for eating fish out of Pelican Lake, a lake I thought was crystal-clear. The fish advisories apply to pregnant women and children, the concern: trace amounts of mercury and other chemicals that can be harmful if ingested in significant amounts. Conservation Minnesota has assembled a terrific web site, called To see how your lake rates click here.

Favorite iPad Apps. We've been using iPads around the WeatherNation office for the last week or so, to receive updated warnings while we're in the office, scheduling, latest video feeds - it really IS a productivity tool, not a toy! Hope my wife is reading this - she thinks it's a big-boy-toy. It's that too, but with a little effort you can find a way to justify this for work. Get creative.

For what it's worth, here are the iPad apps that I've stumbled upon that really show off what this device can do:

Weather Apps

* Wundermap: from Weather Underground. Great interface, customizable for the locations you care about, a hint of what's to come...

* WeatherBug. Real-time traffic/weather cameras, real-time weather conditions from nearby schools, easy to master. Another good interface with useful data streams personalized for the towns you care about across the USA.


* New York Times Editor's Choice: a free app that gives you some of the best content from the New York Times.

* BBC News. For more of a true worldview you can't beat this app. The video segments make this free app a must-have, the British accents will soon become rather endearing.

* Zinio: another free app that gives you a taste of various magazines, you get to read a (free) article or two from each, then given the option to purchase the entire magazine on the iPad. The latest issue of Car and Driver magazine is there - looks absolutely amazing. If you're a car-nut you'll get a kick out of this app.

* USA Today. Free, great functionality, easy to zip around between stories and categories. The Sports Section is especially well thought out. Grazing for information is so much easier and more satisfying using the iPad than muddling through bookmarks on your PC or Mac.


* ESPN ScoreCentral XL. A good overview of what's happening, golf, baseball, latest scores, some video clips, a taste of what you'll see later on Sports Center.

* MLB At Bat 2010. A little pricy ($14.99) but if you're a Twins fanatic you may just want to give it a try. It gives you (real-time) information as the game is underway, allows you to drill down and get the latest, greatest statistics, ERA's, location, speed and type of every pitch thrown. The bottom line: have this thing in your hands as the game is playing on the tube and you'll be in baseball heaven. When the 3G version of the iPad comes out later this month you can take this to Target Field and get an incredible perspective of the game, as it's unfolding.


* Star Walk. If you love astronomy you will FLIP for this app. Click off the main/home screen to see a real-time plot of the constellations, stars and planets above your head, anytime, anywhere. Move it around and you'll see it change before your eyes. This thing takes FULL advantage of the iPad's functionality. You have to see it to believe it - worth every penny. Take this thing out on the dock the next clear, moonless night and you'll see what I mean.

* Elements. Again, a bit on the expensive side ($13.99) but it makes the periodic table (stuff you've been trying to forget for 30-40 years) spring to life. It's nothing like a static web page, it's an entirely new way to consume information, maps and graphics - one that makes learning visual and (almost) fun.


* Pandora. It's even better on the iPad than it is on your PC, Mac or mobile device. As your favorite tunes are cranking away you can learn more about the group. Too bad this thing doesn't multi-task (yet).


* ABC Player. A free app from the ABC Television Network you can watch full episodes of "Lost" or "Dancing With The Stars" from the comfort and privacy of your favorite couch, bed, or toilet. Just waiting for the first bozo to drop an iPad in the commode. No, they're not waterproof.

* RealRacingHD. Looking to waste away a few hours? Like cars/driving/racing/NASCAR? You'll love this app.

* SlingPlayer. If you already have one of these (amazing) devices hooked up to your cable or satellite TV you'll want to have - there is no iPad version (yet) but the iPhone version translates pretty well to the iPad.

* Marvel. O.K. I'm not a big comics guy, but I have to hand it to Marvel, they created something truly eye-catching and interactive. Extra points for creativity.

* IMDb. Movie buff? You'll go nuts when you see the IMDb app. Track your favorite stars, get movie reviews, see the latest box office take from "Date Night." Impressive.

* Yahoo Entertainment. Free, powerful, you'll spend hours zoning out on this app, finding the latest tantalizing details about Lady Gaga's latest meltdown, tracking the Adventures of Tiger, whatever strikes your fancy.

* Netflix. Manage your DVD or on-demand cue from your couch without even having to lean ALL the way down to punch commands into your laptop. A real back-saving app!

Social Media

* Titteriffic. Manage your Twitter account using this app - so far so good. It gets the job done.


* Keynote. Transfer over your Powerpoint presentations into this app and you can show them on the iPad (won't work for an auditorium full of people - yet) but perfect for a conference room.

* Pages. Compatible with Windows Word, you can pull in any Word doc into your iPad, or transfer a document back out as a Word doc. Pretty cool.

* iTeleport. Have valuable stuff on your PC or Mac you want to see anywhere you have a WIFI connection? With iTeleport you can tap into the real-time screen from your computer, anywhere on the planet. Any program or file you can call up on your PC you can now pull up on your iPad, using iTeleport. No, I'm not getting a kick-back or commission.

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

Today: Increasing clouds, growing chance of a shower or T-storm, especially central Minnesota. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 63

Tonight: Few showers, heavier T-storm possible (especially north of the metro area). Low: 52

Tuesday: Some sun, more humid - a stray T-shower, but most of the day should be warm and dry. High: 71

Wednesday: Still unsettled, muggy with scattered showers/storms, some strong, even severe. High: 75

Thursday: Lingering showers, still unseasonably warm and humid for mid April. High: 74

Friday: Gradual clearing, breezy - drying out. High: 68

Saturday: Bright sun, beautiful. High: 64

Sunday: Sun dimmed by increasing clouds, any showers probably holding off until next Sunday night. High: 65

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