Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Forecast: Oily Tar Balls at Key West

Shorter post tonight, for two good reasons. 1). There's no "weather." 2). We've been working on an impossibly big project at WeatherNation, what Jim Collins, author of "Good To Great" would refer to as a B.H.A.G. Translation: a big, hairy, audacious goal. Something so mind-blowing and ridiculous that I would have laughed if someone had brought it up a little over 2 years ago, when I started up my latest venture. I can't say anything more (yet) without a pack of wild lawyers showing up at my doorstep. With a little luck (and some very good timing) the planets may align and I'll be able to go into more detail, but it's been the most challenging of my career. On paper: impossible, laughably unlikely. Don't-even-try hard. By the grace of God (and about 25 very hard-working people working with me) we have a shot at something that wasn't even on my radar screen 2 years ago. I'm not kidding when I tell you that it NEVER CROSSED MY MIND.

Wednesday Almanac. Bright sun, highs near 80 statewide, low humidity, not too many bugs (yet). What's not to like? Folks living up in Grand Marais are still hoping and praying for spring. Wednesday's high: 61.

The point I'm trying to make? Keep your antenna up - you never know when something indescribably life-changing will fall into your lap. The secret in business (and life, for that matter) is trying to stay lean and mean, building FLEXIBILITY into your DNA, so you can take what you have, and (quickly) adapt it for where the market is really going, where the REAL need turns out. It's stuff you can't always put down in a business plan. It's the Y-Factor, the stuff that comes out of left field in the blink of an eye. If you're flexible, if you have a team of people that is nimble, creative - people who can adapt instantly, you have a shot at reinventing your company and leapfrogging the competition. Easier said than done - but this is my 4th, 5th and 6th companies in Minnesota. It would not have been possible just anywhere, the work ethic here, the sheer number of bright, innovative, creative people living here is staggering. Sorry to sound like a shill for the MN Chamber of Commerce, but I mean every word of it. We have something special here - the expression "quality of life" extends to business here, a better chance of taking a (crazy) idea and turning it into a profitable business that employs other Minnesotans. Hi, my name is Paul. I'm a serial entrepreneur. It's a passion, a disease, a sickness. I'm hopelessly hooked on starting new companies, especially if they have anything to do with weather. Stay tuned for a little "breaking news." We'll see if the planets really do align.

Friday Instability. The approach of a warmer (stickier) front will spark a few scattered showers and T-storms Friday. In a warm frontal pattern showers/storms tend to be most likely around breakfast, again late afternoon and evening. I doubt we'll have enough dynamics aloft for anything severe, although a few isolated cases of hail and strong winds can't be ruled out.

A Great Lakes high hangs on long enough to donate one more extraordinary day, enough sun for upper 70s, a bit more wind (blowing from the southeast at 10-20 mph, a few higher gusts possible during the afternoon). The approach of a warmer front sets off more cloud cover Friday, keeping temperatures 5-10 degrees cooler, the models printing out a whopping .12" of rain - best chance early morning hours, again late afternoon.

90 by Sunday? It's a bit of a stretch, but if the sun stays out much of the day (entirely possible central and eastern counties) we should see mid to upper 80s - 90 is not out of the question by late afternoon. Factor in a dew point in the low or mid 60s, and it will FEEL like low to mid 90s out there - a great day for the lake or pool, no question.

We should break out into a hazy, murky, partly sunny (June-like) airmass much of Saturday and Sunday as the warm frontal boundary lifts to our north, a stiff south/southeast wind treating Minnesota to sticky humidity levels (dew points rising above 60). Highs should reach the low 80s Saturday, 90 (!) is not out of the question by Sunday and Monday if the sun stays out. By Sunday an eastbound cool front will push showers and T-storms across the Dakotas into far western Minnesota. The front is forecast to run out of "cool push", stalling close to home late in the weekend and earl next week, keeping showers and T-storms close to home. I don't expect any steady, all-day rains, just a couple hours of showers each day from Sunday through Wednesday of next week.

A few things seem fairly certain:

* Saturday should be the nicer day of the weekend. Expect choppy conditions on your favorite lake, winds gusting over 25 mph by afternoon, but the sun should be out much of the day. Take sunscreen or risk a memorable burn.

* Neighbors will be complaining about the humidity levels - it will feel sticky, "muggy" by the weekend, no question.

* Hold off on watering - a little rain is possible Friday (although the brunt of the showers/storms may flare up just east, over Wisconsin). Another window of opportunity for a free lawn-watering comes late Sunday into Tuesday as that dying cool front runs out of steam overhead.

* Severe risk: minimal. Although we'll have enough low-level moisture, a lack of severe instability and wind shear should reduce the risk for any damaging T-storms over the next few days, expecting mostly garden-variety thundershowers by Sunday, especially far western MN.

Wednesday Storm Reports. The latest from SPC can be found here - but as of 10:13 pm Wednesday evening a total of 21 tornadoes had been reported across Oklahoma and Kansas, another major outbreak. Oklahoma City was hit hard....again.

Aftermath. The suburbs of Oklahoma City were ravaged by tornadic winds late Sunday, hard to tell whether this was the result of straight-line winds or a tornado - NWS damage teams are on the ground, surveying damage to determine what kind of storm ripped across the suburbs. I guess it's academic - if it's strongest enough to take the roof off your house and smash your car in the garage - doesn't much matter what you call it. The story is here.

Wedge. Courtesy of Severe Studios, an image of a "wedge" tornado that touched down north of Oklahoma City late Wednesday - so big and wide it didn't even look like a classic tornado funnel. Many of these tornadoes were "rain-wrapped", making it even harder for local residents to know that it was, in fact, a tornado. From the ground it looks like a "rain shower". The only tip-off would be unusually strong rotation, a hint that this is no ordinary shower.

Gusher. How much oil is leaking from the ruptured well 5,000 feet beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico? Nobody seems to know, for sure - check out BP video here. Experts now believe the amount of crude flowing into the Gulf may be 10 times more (daily) than initial estimates.

Fear of the Unknown. Tar balls are already washing up on the beaches of Key West, Florida. Bottom line: nobody yet knows (exactly) how much oil is leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, or where the oil will go next. The latest here.

Oil-Cast. Where is the 100-150 mile long plume of oil heading next? Good question: the crude is being swept up into the "Loop Current", a natural, clockwise circulation of water sloshing around the Gulf of Mexico. At some point oil WILL reach the west coast of Florida and enter the Gulf Stream, where it may be swept northward toward the Outer Banks of the Carolinas. A time-lapse of the movement of the oil from a Navy computer model is here. The oil is almost certainly likely to linger into hurricane story - more on the implications of that here.

European Floods. Although not Nashville-size in scope, flooding gripping much of Europe has displaced hundreds of people, killed at least 9. Hardest hit: the Czech Republic and Poland - the very latest here.

Volcanic Time-Out. British Officials Relax Rules Over Ash Cloud. Makes me want to hop the next flight to London or Manchester. Good grief - life goes on, but the first time a passenger plane flies through an unexpected ash cloud - the results will not be good. The story is here. Don't read it if you're flying to Europe anytime soon.

Volcano Timelapse. A spectacular time lapse of the Iceland volcano can be found here.

Useless Trivia. Ever wonder about the Internet, and the scary-rapid rise of Facebook? Me neither. In case you have a few extra seconds to waste - enjoy!

Dr. James Hansimian's National Hurricane Outlook. Who will be more accurate, NOAA or Dr. Hansimiam. Click here to see the most unusual, unlikely hurricane forecast you'll ever witness. Who dredged up this nugget?

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

Today: Warm sun, a bit more wind - still very pleasant. Winds: SE 10-20+ High: 78

Thursday night: Dry evening, clouds increase, shower or T-shower possible late. Low: 56

Friday: Cloudier and cooler with a few widely scattered showers/storms. High: 71

Saturday: Breaking out into a partly sunny, hazy airmass - HUMID! Winds: SE 10-20. High: 82

Sunday: Warm and sticky with some sun - best chance of PM storms far western MN. High: 88

Monday: Partly sunny and muggy, a few widely scattered storms. High: near 90

Tuesday: Unsettled with a few showers and storms in the area. High: 85

Wednesday: More clouds, a bit cooler, a few more showers/storms nearby. High: 84

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