Sunday, August 15, 2010

Global Weather Chaos (and a pretty nice Monday)

We Stop For Canada Geese. Saturday, driving home, I came to an abrupt stop outside Excelsior. After a few seconds I realized what was going on - traffic stopped (politely) to let a family of Canada Geese cross the road. There aren't too many states where traffic would stop for 5 minutes to let geese cross the road.

Weather Conspiracy? By now you've seen the weather headlines: historic flooding in Pakistan, India and China, a vast stretch of Russia on fire, a 100 square mile chunk of ice breaking off Greenland. Could this all be something more sinister, something more than the nasty symptoms of a warming atmosphere? Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura thinks so - he's convinced the weather oddities are the result of a "HARP Weather Weapon", and he said so on a recent show on Tru TV. If you missed it the episode is here. For the record, the amount of raw energy required to pull this off is beyond comprehension (and my personal opinion) not something we need to worry about anytime soon. I've never been much of a conspiracy theorist - I'm pretty convinced we did land on the moon, and 9/11 was the work of Al Qaeda. It makes for great television, but the science just isn't there to support these wild theories.

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

Today: Bright sun, still windy and comfortable. Cool start, lukewarm finish. Winds: W/NW 15-25. High: 77

Monday night: Clear and cool. Low: 55

Tuesday: Sunny start, then increasing clouds, slight chance of a shower late. High: 79

Wednesday: Partly sunny, isolated T-storm. high: 81

Thursday: Intervals of sun, humid, a few showers/storms (mainly southern MN). High: 82

Friday: More sun, drying out. High: 79

Saturday: Plenty of sun - probably dry. High: 82

Sunday: Mostly sunny, summerlike warmth returns. High: 84

September-Like Sunday. Highs statewide held in the 70s yesterday, about 5-8 degrees cooler than average for August 15. Lows dipped into the 50s up north, but this morning should be even cooler, some 40s possible north/west of Brainerd. Enjoy the brief cool snap - more summerlike levels of heat/humidity return later this week.

"What's the deal with the wind, Paul?"

"Why are there whitecaps on the lake?"

"This isn't supposed to happen in August!"

"Turn it OFF you crazy weather-fool!"

So how did your weekend go? After the (crazy) summer we've been experiencing, tornado-count off the scale, an unusually high number of days with drippy dew points, lightning displays you'd expect to see in Nigeria - are you really SHOCKED that we had a taste of late September in mid August? Consider it a friendly reminder from Canada - just reminding us that it's up there, delight us with icy goodness and soft, snowy treats in a couple of months.

Did you know that back in 1942 nearly 2" of snow fell on the Twin Cities in late September?

Talk about bad trivia (stuff that could get you punched out at a church picnic).

Wind-Blown Sunday. At 15:53 (3:53 pm) the wind at MSP International gusted to 39 mph, which is the threshhold for tropical storm force. Granted, in a tropical storm the winds are sustained, not just gusts, but still. Pretty unusual for mid August, capping off a most unusual summer season. To see weather at MSP for the last 24 hours click here, courtesy of the NWS.

Bad morning to bring that snow stat up. Sorry. Won't happen again. I'm disoriented, dazed from being slapped around by gale force winds. In fact Sunday at 4 pm the wind at MSP International gusted to 39 mph, that's marginal tropical storm force). Unusual for August, more typical for October. If you're reading this from up north you can probably see your breath (if you go outside, that is - didn't mean to imply halitosis). Our temporary temperature recession is resulting in wake-up temperatures in the 50s, even some rare August 40s up north under a crystal clear sky. No worries - it won't stay cool for long, the sun is still too high in the sky for any prolonged bout of chilliness (yet). Consider this a teaser cool front, a subtle (yet blunt) reminder that the days are getting shorter, but about 1 1/2 minutes/day, and at some point we will be reaching for jackets on a daily basis. But no time soon.

Any time you experience big swings in temperature the winds have to increase, to keep the atmosphere in a state of equilibrium. That's why the fall and spring months tend to be significantly windier than summer (and even the dead of winter) - these epic temperature swings, going from hot to cool or cool to hot is almost always accompanied by an eye-watering wind....and sometimes a tornado or two. Tornado season peaks in late May/early June in Minnesota, but there's actually a secondary tornado "maxima" in the fall, as (much) colder fronts approach, early autumn "supercells" often tracking from northwest to southeast.

We may actually go an ENTIRE WEEK without a severe weather outbreak in Minnesota. I know - hard to fathom, but in spite of a few T-storms Wednesday & Thursday I don't see conditions materializing for severe storms. Unusually strong jet stream winds howling high overhead will mix down to the ground today, what meteorologists lovingly refer to as "downward transfer of momentum", which translates into "windy." Once again today winds will gust as high as 20-25 mph from the northwest, but expect more sun, fewer popcorn cumulus clouds, low humidity and unlimited visibility, in short a perfect summer day (with fall overtones).

Tuesday starts out sunny, but a frontal boundary surging northward may spark a few late-day showers, by Wednesday there may be enough low-level moisture and instability aloft for a few stray T-storms, best chance over far southern Minnesota - showers which may spill over into part of Thursday.

It's early but we're cautiously optimistic about next weekend's weather - it will be warmer (upper 70s north to mid 80s south), and the sun should be out most of the time (with far less wind than we've endured in recent days - it may actually feel like summer out there again. And the GFS model is hinting at a few more 90s between August 23-27, just in time for the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Can you imagine a Minnesota State Fair that isn't hot & sweaty?

Me neither. Something to look forward to.

Recycled Tropical System? The same tropical depression that pushed soaking rains into the Gulf coast last Friday did one great big loop over Dixie, it's now moving (south) back into the Gulf of Mexico, where there's a 50% chance it will intensify into Tropical Storm Danielle. More from NHC here.

Poisonous Smog Returns to Moscow. It sounds like something out of a bad "B" horror movie. After improving a little late last week the thick, choking clouds of acrid smoke have returned to Russia's capital, carbon monoxide levels 5 times safe, acceptable levels yesterday. More at here.

In Weather Chaos, A Case For Global Warming. Although no single event, storm or summer can be attributed to climate change, what we're witnessing worldwide is consistent with what you would expect to see in a warmer, wetter atmosphere - more drought & heat, punctuated by extreme rainfall events. That's exactly what's playing out worldwide, as chronicled by the New York Times in a story that ran Sunday.

* Dramatic Footage of Flooding From Around The World. An estimated 20% of Pakistan is underwater, but flooding is gripping much of the planet. The story (and some extraordinary footage) is here.

Extreme Weather Plagues Farming, Talks Flounder. Since June the price of wheat has spiked by 70% - the result of severe drought, heat and fires in Russia. What will the impact of a warmer, stormier world be on farming? This article discusses recent trends, and some of the (huge) question marks impacting the future of farming.

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