Saturday, May 1, 2010

The 5 Worst American Cities For Breathing

* Lingering storm aloft whips up strong winds again today, blowing from the west/southwest at 15-30 by midday. 30-90 minutes of showers possible this afternoon.

* Drier day on Monday - no rain expected.

* Tuesday: mildest day in sight, 70s likely.

* T-storms late Tuesday night ahead of a cool frontal passage.

* Steadier/heavier rain possible Thursday into Friday morning as a storm passes south of Minnesota.

* Cooler pattern imminent - highs in the 50s by late week.

* Slight shower risk next Saturday, highs hold in the 50s over much of the state.

Doppler "Couplet". Doppler radar last night around 10 pm showed a strong "couplet" east of Little Rock, Arkansas - the second evening in a row with large, violent tornadoes in the Little Rock area. 3 1/2" diameter hail (roughly baseball size) was observed just north of the couplet/tornado. The red/green contrast shows a region of strong rotation - the tornado itself is usually too small to show up on radar, all we can do is track the parent thunderhead, and look for evidence of spinning. Unfortunately only 20-30% of rotating supercell thunderstorms go on to spin up a tornado - that's why we rely on law enforcement, SKYWARN storm spotters and professional storm chasers to confirm that rotation is actually reaching the ground in the form of a funnel.

Rare "High Risk". SPC issued a high threat of tornadoes late Saturday, which happens maybe 2-3 times a year - meaning a very significant risk of large, violent, long-lasting tornado outbreaks.

Storm Reports. As of 10 pm 8 tornadoes had been confirmed by SPC, a division of NOAA. I'm absolutely positive the final number will be considerably higher, possibly 30+ tornadoes from Saturday evening's outbreak. Click here to see the latest tornado-count from SPC (hit refresh to get the latest information, the site updates every 10 minutes).

Saturday Almanac. Highs yesterday ranged from 51 at Grand Marais to 60 in St. Cloud, 64 in the Twin Cities, and 66 in Rochester. Grand Marais picked up .48" rain, with .02" reported at St. Cloud.

I'm tried, lately there have been no weekends for yours-truly, in the middle of the biggest challenge of my life. Thank God I've surrounded myself with smart, creative, hard-working people who are friends as well as colleagues. There is no mystery in starting a company: find people who are smarter than you are (not hard to do in my case), give them a goal, give them the means to reach the goal, and give them a piece of the action, make them think like owners, not employees. Then get the heck out of their way. What is truly humbling is the arc of business, how you set out in one direction, only to find the real opportunity (2 years later) is in a direction you couldn't even imagine months earlier. The key to ultimate success is being fast and nimble enough to turn on a dime - take your resources and set out in the direction the marketplace is moving. I must spend 3-4 hours/day just reading about weather, business, media - the direction this great, big, terrifying media-mess seems to be heading, then trying to connect the dots, before it's apparent to everyone. If it's obvious to everyone (including your parents) then the opportunity has passed. The key, the trick is to try to develop a product or service, out ahead of the curve, in "stealth mode", version .9 - so that you are in the right place at the right time when the market moves in the direction you think/hope/pray it will move. There are no sure things, but I'll tell you this: there has never been a better time to start a company. The 'net has made it possible to reach a global audience in real-time. That has never happened before. Communications and distribution costs are approaching zero. In the end it comes down to creativity, innovation, and finding people who can turn a vision into a profitable reality. If you truly surround yourself with amazing people - and create a virtual organization that can turn on a dime - head off in a new direction literally overnight - you will be successful. That, and finding a spouse/significant other who is patient, and believes in you, in spite of certain setbacks and disappointments. Good luck.

Now, back to the weather - another violent night across the south, what will probably wind up being dozens of tornadoes from Arkansas to Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi. The SPC issued a PDS Tornado Watch for most of these regions hours in advance, a "Particularly Dangerous Situation", with a high probability of large, long-lasting and violent tornadoes. A rare "high risk" was issued for the Lower Mississippi Valley, and the meteorologists in Norman, Oklahoma nailed it. Many of the tornadoes spun up after dark, the most dangerous scenario. The twisters that strike at night take a disproportionate number of lives - people simply can't see them coming, many are asleep and shocked when their home begins to VIBRATE and DISINTEGRATE. Bottom line: no TV station or web site will wake up you late at night in the unlikely event a tornado strikes late. The only device that will give you any advance warning is NOAA Weather Radio, costing $30-60. They carry them at Radio Shack and many other electronics stores - I would HIGHLY recommend that you buy one for the home. Most are battery-powered, in the event the power goes out you can still get the warning in time to take evasive action.

NOAA Weather Radio. Click here to see a good, long list of NOAA Weather Radios, one for every budget. Full disclosure: I am Weather Director for La Crosse Technology, which is a client of WeatherNation. They make a "talking" NOAA Weather Radio that gives you current weather conditions, as well as NOAA warning information. Very cool.

Sunday Pop-Up Showers. After a sunny start I expect clouds to mushroom overhead, some thick enough to leak a few showers by midday and afternoon, the chance of a couple hours of showers increasing the farther north you go. Highs will hold in the 50s central and north, reaching low 60s over the southern third of Minnesota - winds will gust from the west at 20-30 mph, not a great day for the lake, I fear.

Temperature Roller Coaster. 70s are likely Tuesday, followed by a late-week cooling trend, 50s return by Thursday and Friday. Don't retire the (light) jacket just yet.

Monday looks drier and milder with less wind - more sun, highs topping 60. Tuesday should be the mildest day of the week as winds blow from the south, afternoon readings poking into the 70s. A cool frontal passage arrives with showers and possible thunder late Tuesday night, we dry out (temporarily) before a wave of low pressure slides off to our south late in the week, throwing a shield of rain into southern and central Minnesota Thursday and Friday. We should dry out (a little) by next weekend, but a lonely shower can't be ruled out Saturday, highs in the 50s and low 60s (south).

Lawn Watering Optional. We may see some rain Tuesday night, but heavier, steadier rain is expected Thursday into early Friday, over 1" for many lawns, gardens and fields by the end of the week. Most gardens/fields need about 1" of water/week for plants and crops.

No question: we are in a cooler, stormier pattern - good news for the 33% of the state suffering through moderate drought right now. We continue to schedule the soaking rains for weekdays and fleeting sun for the weekends. Working on our timing. Have a great Sunday!

Thursday Puddle Potential. An atmospheric tug-of-war is forecast to unfold directly over central and southern MN by Thursday as a wave of low pressure passes off just to our south. Any severe weather will probably pass south as well, possibly as close as Iowa Thursday PM hours.

America's Smoggiest City? Big surprise: it's L.A. In fact the 5 smoggiest cities in America are all in California, land of sunshine, movie stars, and way too much ozone. Although ozone is necessary in the stratosphere (shielding the earth from the sun's harmful UV radiation) at ground-level ozone, from car/truck exhaust, can combine with sunshine to produce "smog". Some doctors compare inhaling ozone to "getting a sunburn on your lungs", prolonged exposure can lead to a myriad of health-related problems. Minnesota sees 10-20 days/year with unhealthy levels of ozone. Smog is most likely on sunny days with winds are light, trapping man-made pollutants near major urban centers. BTW, the other smoggy cities on the list: Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento and Visalia. The dubious ranking is courtesy of the American Lung Association, the story is here.

Leaked Report: Government Fears Deepwater Horizon Well Could Become Unchecked Gusher. The situation is most definitely NOT under control in the Gulf of Mexico, according to NOAA, in a report that was (apparently) not meant to become public. A kink in the piping 5,000 feet underwater is preventing a full-blown release of crude into the Gulf - but in many ways the BP well is in uncharted waters. The story is here.

Worst Case Scenario? If you have a strong stomach click here to read a harrowing story about what COULD happen if officials can't contain the spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Not good.

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

Today: Sun early, then increasing clouds (windy!) with a few spotty PM showers. Winds: W/SW 15-30. High: 61

Sunday night: Gradual clearing, cool. Low: 43

Monday: More sun, less wind. High: 63

Tuesday: Mildest day of the week, fading sun, breezy (showers/storms Tuesday night). High: 73

Wednesday: Becoming partly sunny. High: 64

Thursday: Cloudy, rain developing southern half of MN. High: 55

Friday: Rain tapers to showers. High: 57

Saturday: More clouds than sun, still cool and unsettled. High: 61 (holding in the 50s over much of MN

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