Sunday, April 4, 2010

Potential for Green Blobs on Doppler

What a weekend. What a spring! It is still spring, right? Lately I have to consult the calendar or my digital day-planner to remind myself what month it is. Calendar is whispering early April - while the atmosphere is SHOUTING late May! Considering we could all be ankle-deep in slush, muttering about wind chill, or engulfed in swirling flood-waters - or dodging beach ball-size hail and raging tornadoes - I take nothing for granted. We experienced a pretty amazing Easter Sunday, all things considered, 66 degrees in the shade by mid afternoon, 16 degrees above average for April 4. To put this into perspective, the average high for April 4 is 50 degrees. In reality 50 was our observed LOW TEMPERATURE. I am at a rare and welcome loss for words. Won't last.

We're not the only ones scratching our heads, wondering what's up. Canada experienced a record-setting lack of snow and severe cold in March. Ottawa: no snow in March, the first time that's happened since records were first kept in 1845. Same story down the road in Toronto: no snow in March. The average March snowfall in Toronto is 9", 16" in Ottawa. Local meteorologists are blaming/thanking El Nino for keeping the storm track anchored well south, whisking powerful Pacific storms across the southern U.S. and then right up the east coast. While the northern metro of the Twin Cities experiences a (growing) moderate drought, New England is still mopping up from a 1 in 100 year flood. They're calling it a 1 in 500 year flood in the Providence, Rhode Island area, where 10" of rain fell over 3 days. That's 3 MONTH'S worth of rain in less than 72 hours. Remarkable.

Going...Going...Almost Gone. Check out the latest U.S. snow cover map. Not much left, except for a little slush in northern New England, a few piles of dirty snow along the North Shore of Lake Superior, and GREAT snow conditions across the Rockies, where snow melt has been delayed due to a series of reinforcing cold fronts. The higher terrain outside Salt Lake City - Park City area, may see another 6-10" of snow by Tuesday. The skiers are stoked! The locals probably have other ideas...

Now comes news of a moderate earthquake across southern California: 6.9 on the Richter Scale centered in northern Baja, Mexico. The tremor shook buildings as far north as L.A., where rides at Disneyland were temporarily closed, reports of people trapped in elevators. Los Angeles is a meteorological contradiction: sublime, worry-free weather much of the year, but when it's bad, it's REALLY bad. Borderline apocalyptic. Mudslides, floods, fiery brushfires (the local TV weatherguys track flames on their animated weather maps). Kind of puts the isolated tornadoes into perspective; can't imagine what it must be like tracking a wall of flames racing along at 40-50 mph. Good grief. I'll take the occasional cold fronts here in Minnesota, at least I know the ground underfoot is firm, rock-solid, not theoretically capable of turning into waves of jelly. Talk about perspective.

No snow in sight, nothing I'd call a "cold front", at least looking out 15 days or so. Beyond that the old crystal ball gets pretty murky. I don't even see a significant widespread frost through mid April, although I can't believe we'll sail into May without at least one or two more mornings below 32 F. Then again, with the spring we're seeing, all bets are off. This is one for the record books.

The Most Terrifying Minnesota Weather Statistics You'll Ever See. Want to persuade someone NOT to come to Minnesota? Merely forward them this link and chances are you'll never hear from them again. 40" snow in March, 1951. April, 1984 unleashed an unthinkable 21.8" of snow on the Twin Cities, at one point there was 10" of snow on the ground in early April. Big gulp. But wait, there's more! A trace of snow reported as late as May 28, 1965. I can only imagine the venom being directed at local meteorologists that "spring." Come to think of it I should ask Bud Kraeling (who I adore) about that year - he must have gotten an earful. The link from the MN State Climate Office is here. Be careful who you send this to!

A Dry Rut. No burning permits are being issued in the north metro (and Carver county) due to our current dry spell - March rainfall was only a third of normal, and we're getting off to a dry start so far in April. Hopefully our luck is about to turn.

Phantom Green Blobs? Not to kick the weather models when they're down, but the simulations we use to TRY and predict the weather have been much worse than usual in recent weeks. Maybe it's a symptom of El Nino (a much more active southerly storm track robbing northern storms of much-needed moisture?) Once again both the NAM and GFS are hinting at significant rain this week - but I'll believe it when I see it, when big puddles are forming outside my window. If the computers are right Tuesday would be the wettest day of the week. I'm hopeful, but not holding my breath.

Weather Tease. Check out the latest NAM run, hinting at over 2" of rain within 84 hours. One of these times we might actually see a good, long soaking. For the sake of farmers and gardeners I certainly hope the models are right this time.

Dueling Computer Models. Check out the variance in what the models are predicting, in terms of rainfall amounts. Anywhere from .5 to over 2" is predicted, and we get nervous when there is such a wide discrepancy between the different models (each use slightly different physics and "initialization" techniques, the raw data that goes into the model to get the number-crunching started). Time will tell...

Moonrise. I get a lot of questions about moon phases, dates of full moons, new moons (good for astronomy), etc. I stumbled upon a handy site that has all the dates - see below.

Moon-Trivia. Information courtesy of the U.S. Naval Observatory. The next full moon is April 28. Mark your calendar. Better yet click here to bookmark the site on your PC, Mac (or iPad). What do you think, is the iPad a game-changer? Interested to hear your opinions. So far I like what I'm seeing...

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

Today: Clouds increase/thicken, growing chance of showers by afternoon. Winds: S 5-10. High: 62

Monday night: Periods of rain, damp breeze. Low: 49

Tuesday: Wettest day of the week? Rain, even a clap of thunder. High: 58

Wednesday: Damp start, then some sun returns by afternoon. high: 59

Thursday: Lot's of sun - few complaints. High: near 60

Friday: Mostly-blue-sky, still feverish. High: 62

Saturday: Partly sunny, warming up. High: 65 (probably the nicer day of the weekend, although that could change as new data arrives)

Sunday: Less sun, unsettled, chance of a PM shower or T-shower. High: 63

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