Thursday, May 20, 2010

A New National Weather Channel

* New national weather channel launches on Dish, originating from WeatherNation in Excelsior.

* Risk of a shower today, more numerous T-storms Sunday through much of next week.

* 80s likely, 90 not out of the question Sunday afternoon as dew points rise into the 60s. Within 48-72 hours it will feel like July.

* Drought eases across the state.

* Updates on the Icelandic volcano, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and a few new, climate stories worth checking out.

Thursday Almanac. Now this is more like it: mid 70s to low 80s, low humidity, a light breeze. Not bad at all for mid May. Highs ranged from 81 in St. Cloud, 82 in the Twin Cities to 83 at International Falls and Hibbing (!) Just down the road in Grand Marais (with a raw breeze off Lake Superior) the high was a chilling 53.

What a day. Thursday afternoon we launched "The WeatherCast" on Dish Satellite Network, something we've been working on for a long time. I can't say much more at this point, other than to say it's the most challenging thing I've ever tried to pull off in my professional career - and it would not have been possible had it not been for a team of amazing friends/employees, developers, engineers, & meteorologists who attempted the impossible. We're using some state of the art technology from Baron Services (Vipir and OMNI) as well as Weather Central in Madison, Wisconsin. The Vipir system allows us to zoom into specific storms, diagnose the potential for severe winds, hail and tornadoes, even track storms down to the precise intersection/neighborhood. With OMNI we can dial up any webcam, traffic-cam or IP address in the USA (or world) and get a real-time look at the sky overhead, a virtual "look outside the window". In addition we're running a high-res 15 km model for the USA, and 3 km models, updating continuously for major cities around the USA, allowing us to pick out (micro-scale) weather features we've never been able to see and track before. For example, now we can try to answer the question: "are T-showers most likely over the southern suburbs or the northern suburbs over the next 12 hours?" It costs millions of dollars to run these high-res weather models - we have some incredible partners helping us. No idea what comes next, suffice to say that I'm proud to be working with Dish Network. There are what, 6-8 different new/business channels out there - I believe there's room for another weather-voice, another way to tell the weather story. We'll see how this plays out. But I'll close with this - 2 years ago, when I launched WeatherNation, had anyone predicted we'd be starting up a national weather channel I would have laughed them out of my office. It's all a bit surreal, but I'm proud of my team. No matter what happens next that will not change.

Drought Relaxes. Here's the latest info from the Drought Monitor. Last eek 30.3% of eastern Minnesota was in the midst of moderate drought - now that number is down to 25.% of the state, 4.5% of far northeastern MN under severe drought. Recent rains have helped - hopefully we'll continue to see slow, steady improvement as we head into a more humid, showery, summerlike pattern from the weekend through most of next week. More MN drought details here.

Weather Map. Thursday night's map showed a stormy swirl just south of Minnesota - a veil of high clouds spreading into Minnesota. The approach of a warm front will increase the chance of a few scattered showers/storms today. Saturday still appears to be the sunnier, drier day of the weekend, a growing thunder threat Sunday as a (dying) cool front approaches from the Dakotas.

I hope you soaked up the sun in recent days, an amazing spell of (perfect) weather with generous sun, low humidity and light breezes. The approach of a warmer front will destabilize our sky today, a few scattered showers will blossom, even a stray thundershower, although I don't envision enough instability or wind shear for anything severe. On Saturday we break out into a hazy, murky, sticky airmass, dew points rising about 60, enough sun for low 80s. Sunday looks like the warmest day in sight - if the sun is out for 4-6 hours (likely) we should see mid to upper 80s, 90 is not out of the question. Toss in a dew point in the mid 60s and Sunday afternoon will FEEL like low to mid 90s, more like mid July than mid May. A cool front limping across the Dakotas will run out of cool push by the time it reaches Minnesota, sparking a few scattered T-storms Sunday (best chance western Minnesota during the morning, again late afternoon hours). There's a slightly better chance of strong/severe storms Sunday along this fickle frontal boundary.

Watering Optional. Looking out 84 hours the models are predicting the most significant rains over central and northern Minnesota, over .50" possible by Sunday night.

Muggy southerly breezes are forecast to linger most of next week, meaning a string of 80s, high humidity levels, and occasional grumbles and growls of thunder (best chance of rain coming over central and northern Minnesota, where some .5 to 1" rainfall amounts may result). We've been very, very lucky on the severe storm front in recent weeks, a parade of storms passing by well south of Minnesota, keeping us relatively dry and sunny. As the storm track lifts north next week the risk of T-storms (some strong/severe) will increase. Hard to pinpoint where/when, but conditions will be ripe for a few memorable storms as early as Sunday, a nagging thunder threat spilling over into the entire week. Good news for eastern Minnesota, suffering through a moderate drought - a severe drought over the North Shore of Minnesota. Trying to schedule the soaking rains for weekdays and lukewarm sun for the weekends. If only life would work like that...

Hennessy, Oklahoma Tornado. A Twitter image of the tornado that touched down near Hennessy, possibly an EF-2 twister. Two semi (18-wheeler) trucks were swept off the interstate, injuring both drivers.

Funnel Cloud. Here's a look at a developing tornado that touched down near Leedey, Oklahoma Wednesday evening. This is storm-chaser country, flat, few trees, you can see 30 miles in every direction.

Tornadoes In Unlikely Places. Here's a video clip of a waterspout (tornado forming over the water) that struck near North Wales, in the U.K. America sees more tornadoes than any other nation on earth, followed by China and Russia, but they can strike Europe as well (although very, very rare).

Gusher. Raw YouTube footage of the oil spill is here.

Government Remains Blind to Underwater Oil Hazard. The story is here.

Florida Worries About Effect of Oil Spill on Tourism. The story is here.

Oily Perspective. Click here to read more about the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Bottom line: even the alleged experts have NO IDEA how much oil is leaking into the Gulf waters. Not good.

Volcano Update. The Icelandic volcano is believed to be ejecting 200 TONS of ash/debris into the atmosphere every second! The story is here.

Climate Stories

* National Academy of Sciences Urges Strong Action To Cut Greenhouse Gases. The story in the LA Times is here.

Another Piece of the Climate Puzzle. Lake Tanganyika, the world's second-deepest lake, is warming rapidly. The story is here.

NASA Update. New study shows that oceans have warmed considerably since 1993. The story is here. Warmer oceans a harbinger of climate change - the story in the Baltimore Sun is here.

Stuff to Check Out If You're REALLY, REALLY Bored....

"Chinglish." What happens when you translate Chinese into English? Some very, very funny interpretations. See a few more below. The complete story in the New York times is here.

"Chinglist. Part II" Yes, these are suitable for sharing...

My Favorite. What on earth....?

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

Today: Mostly cloudy, breezy and unsettled, a passing shower, isolated thunder possible. Winds: SE 15-30. High: 71

Friday night: Patchy clouds, another shower. Low: 59

Saturday: Partly sunny, hazy and humid - nicer/drier day of the weekend. Gusty. Winds: SE 15-25. High: 82

Sunday: Less sun, very sticky and warm with a passing shower or T-storm. Winds: S/SE 10-20. High: 89

Monday: Unsettled with a few scattered T-storms. High: 88

Tuesday: Feels like July. Some sun, murky and muggy - another T-storm. High: 85

Wednesday: Summer-like heat and humidity, a few more T-storms around town. High: 83

Thursday: Ditto. Some sun, sticky - a few T-storms bubble up, best chance late afternoon. High: 82

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