Friday, April 2, 2010

A nice, quiet, holiday weekend

Weather Headlines

* Cooler front arrives today - still 5 to 10 degrees warmer than average.

* Chance of scattered showers Saturday night, damp start for Easter Sunday services?

* Near 60 Sunday, some PM sun likely.

* Chance of more significant rain by Monday-Tuesday of next week, models hinting at .5 to 1".

* Chilly the latter half of next week, but nothing arctic in sight - odds probably favor a snow-free rest of April (average April snowfall is 3-4").

* 70 by mid-month? Temperatures average 5-15 degrees above normal over the next 2 weeks.

* Last time we had NO SNOW in March: 1878. The following spring and summer was unusually hot and dry. Stay tuned...

* Tornado risk for your Minnesota county? Keep on reading...

First Minnesota Severe Storm Watch. For a brief time early Friday afternoon SPC (Severe Storm Center) in Norman, OK issued a tornado watch for a small portion of southeastern MN and southwestern WI. The atmosphere was only marginally unstable, limited moisture near the ground, but a wind gust of 49 mph. was reported near La Crosse - no reports of anything severe (new criteria is 58 mph+ winds and/or 1"+ hail).

Fast-Forward Ice-Out. The ice came off Lake Minnetonka Friday. It also came off Big Sandy, well north of Mille Lacs, on April 2, 18 degrees ahead of schedule. To see the latest ice-out data from the local DNR office click here.

No more 70s or 80s in our short-term future. To say we've been hopelessly, ridiculously spoiled in recent days would be a grotesque overstatement. So I won't say it. Today will be cooler, but to put this latest "cool front" into perspective, readings will still run 5-10 degrees above average statewide. Expect intervals of sun much of today, highs holding in the 50s, a fresh, comfortable westerly breeze gusting from 10-20 mph. at times. A wrinkle of cold air aloft, one of those pesky "upper air disturbances" that meteorologists love to babble about, will pass overhead tonight, sparking a few Saturday night showers. My hunch: we'll wake up to a few rare puddles Easter Sunday morning, but skies should quickly dry out, some sun expected by midday and afternoon. Typical weather for mid April.

Saturday Night Showers? The NAM model brings a few hours of showers into town Saturday night, but any amounts should be light, under .02 to .05". March rainfall was a THIRD of normal, we only saw a paltry .06" of rain from Friday's frontal passage - the showers moved too quickly to drop any significant rain. If this trend continues the moderate drought conditions over the north metro may start to expand across the rest of the state (again) in the coming weeks.

Chance of a Real Storm? Tuesday evening at 6 pm the GFS model is printing out a MAJOR storm almost directly over the Twin Cities, a chance of heavier showers and even a few embedded thunderstorms. Models print out over .50", but I'll believe it when I see it. The models keep suggesting that we're sliding into a stormier pattern, but as each storm approaches the amounts dwindle, peter out - the storms are tending to fizzle.

Tornado Trends. Based on 10 years of data the risk of "tornado-days" increases the farther south and west you travel across Minnesota. St. Cloud sees an average of 4 tornado watches/year, the Twin Cities experience 5, but parts of far southern MN see closer to 7. As you can see the core of "tornado alley" runs from north Texas into Oklahoma. For more tornado details (for the USA) click here.

2009 Tornadoes. Last year Minnesota experienced a total of 24 tornadoes, pretty close to average. Wisconsin saw 16 - that compares to a whopping 129 in Texas (which routinely sees the most tornadoes/year, because it's one of the larger states, geographically).

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

Today: Partly sunny, breezy, comfortably cool. Winds: W 10-20. High: 57

Saturday night: More clouds, chance of a shower. Low: 41

Easter Sunday: Damp start, then a mix of clouds and sun. High: 58

Monday: Clouds lower/thicken - rain developing PM hours. High: 63

Tuesday: Rain, potential T-storms. High: 66

Wednesday: Drier, windy and cool with clouds giving way to partial clearing. High: 59

Thursday: Partly sunny, pleasant. High: 58

Friday: Clouds increase, showers possible. High: near 60

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