Friday, April 16, 2010

Postcard Perfect

If there has been a nicer spring in the 27 years I've been living in Minnesota, I can't remember it. Then again I can't remember what I did yesterday, but that's another story. Earliest end to the accumulating snow season on record....a string of 60s in coming off area lakes 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule....a string of unusually beautiful, sunny days. I'm trying to stay objective here, but we've had a REAL SPRING, this has been an extraordinary run of weather! No widespread severe weather outbreaks (yet), April is running 10-13 degrees F. warmer than average statewide. All we have to worry about, at least weathewise, is a high fire risk and a growing stain of dry soil moisture over the northeastern half of Minnesota. Minor league stuff, from a meteorological standpoint (although on some level I am growing a bit more worried about the risk of drought later this spring and summer). Hope that worry proves to be misplaced.

Frosty Start? Here are the predicted low temperatures, the wake-up readings expected across Minnesota Saturday morning. Frost is quite possible north/east of I-94, although a stiff breeze from the north may keep the air stirred up just enough to prevent a widespread frost or freeze. Less wind is expected Saturday night, even though the entire column of the atmosphere over Minnesota will be warming (slowly) I can't rule out another chance of frost first thing Sunday morning, especially central and northern Minnesota, roughly north of a line from Alexandria and St. Cloud to Princeton.

Strangers are waving at me with ALL their fingers - that hasn't happened in years! So often our "spring" passes us by in a tumultuous blur - we go from ankle-deep slush to chirping robins in a few days. Not this year, this year we've had a spring, brought to you by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, our skies have been the stuff of postcards....a legendary spring indeed.

Growing Fire Risk. The driest conditions in Minnesota can be found north/east of St. Cloud and the Twin Cities - vegetation is greening up about 1-2 weeks later than the Twin Cities and St. Cloud, until that occurs brush will be tinder-dry, more vulnerable to brushfires. Be careful out there, especially from the Brainerd Lakes east to the St. Croix River.

A bubble of high pressure passes overhead this weekend, promising a sun-scrubbed sky, less wind than Friday, temperatures mellowing to convertible/shirt-sleeve/grilling on the deck levels more typical of early or mid May. Under clear skies with light winds enough cold air may sink into the nooks, crannies and river valleys for a touch of frost, especially far northern suburbs of the Twin Cities and St. Cloud on north toward Crosslake and Aitkin. Sunday looks even milder, 70 a very real possibility - you WILL want to get up off the couch, turn off the laptop, but your cell phone on vibrate (better yet leave it on the couch) and sneak outside to soak up Minnesota weather at its finest. It just doesn't get any better than bugs (yet) late-day thunderstorms bubbling up (the atmosphere draped overhead far too stable and dry for that).

A Meteorological Mirage? The GFS has been doing a pretty poor job looking out beyond 3 days, so I'm not getting too excited about the forecast for 6 am Sunday, printing out a major storm over Iowa - rain bands wrapping into Minnesota. We'll see - either way I seriously doubt next weekend will be as nice as this weekend. Get out there and soak it've earned it.

Rain? Little chance until next Wednesday, when a weak disturbance ejecting from the southwest may spark a few random showers. Models are hinting at a more formidable storm in roughly one week - but the way the models have been performing lately (the long-range GFS model specifically) I'm not holding my breath. We'll see. Allergy sufferers are, well, suffering....the combination of strong winds and relatively dry conditions, coupled with everything in full fast-forward bloom has triggered a lot of sneezing and wheezing.

Fireball on Doppler. The NWS Doppler radar in the Quad Cities actually detected the descending meteor Wednesday night around 10 pm - latest rumor is that the meteor landed somewhere in Wisconsin, making it a potential meteorite. Wow. Video of the fireball can be found here.

Fun With Weather Statistics. Curious about the average rainfall in August? Want to know which month is drier, snowier, wetter than another? No? O.K. Only the true weather geeks (I prefer the word enthusiast) will appreciate this pdf, but if you're interested in normals, means and averages - click here.

Volcanic Ash Cloud. Look at the countries impacted by the massive plume of smoke and ash coming out of the Icelandic volcano - thousands of flights have been canceled, this is causing real headaches on the other side of the pond, no idea when the situation will improve, but if you have a flight to Europe anytime soon this is one story you'll want to be following. A great summary from the BBC can be found here.

A Celestial Sight. Did you see Venus last night, it was just beneath a sliver moon. Look off to the west, around 8:00 to 8:30 - you should be able to see a beautiful panorama. The way you can tell the difference between a star and a planet like Venus? Planets don't twinkle. True!

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

Today: Bright sun, less wind than yesterday - beautiful. Winds: N 10-15. High: 67

Saturday night: Clear and cool. Frost possible up north. Low: 43 (30s in the outlying suburbs).

Sunday: Even better, near-perfect weather expected with blue sky, light winds. High: near 70

Monday: Lukewarm sun, still phenomenal. High: 72

Tuesday: Partly sunny and mild. High: 69

Wednesday: More clouds, slight chance of a passing shower. High: 68

Thursday: Intervals of clouds and sun, a drier day. High: 69

Friday: Getting cloudier, chance of rain developing PM hours. High: 67

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