Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sun, Smoke and a Saturday Severe Risk

Thanks to meteorologist Todd Nelson for helping out with the blogs for the last week while I was attempting to disconnect (while studying tropical weather patterns in Italy). He's incredibly creative, I'm lucky to have him as a friend and a meteorological colleague at WeatherNation.

After spending 14 hours in the air Thursday I came back to 952 e-mails. So I ask you a rhetorical question: better to answer a few e-mails during a vacation (which I realize defeats the purpose of trying to "get away") - OR - dread coming home to 952 e-mails? Not sure which is the lesser of the two evils. Ugh.

It's good to be home; Italy was extraordinary, but the entire time I was there I kept thinking "12 weeks of Minnesota Magic" - why am I away from home during some of the best weather of the entire year? Come to think of it EVERY Minnesota summer is an extended vacation, especially this year. So far in 2010 we've missed the worst of the heat, the floods, the flames & drought now gripping much of the planet, it seems. We've been relatively lucky this year, all things considered.

Smoky Thursday. This was the view looking west yesterday evening around 8 pm, a murky red sun set against a milky, hazy sky. Wildfires hundreds of miles upwind over Canada generated a thick pall of smoke that drifted downwind over Minnesota, creating the kind of sky you'd expect to see in L.A. or Phoenix.

Did you notice the hazy, murky sky draped over Minnesota yesterday? It was more than just summer haze, it was SMOKE from fires burning hundreds of miles upwind, over Canada, a pall of thick smoke being swept along by jet stream winds.

We salvage a partly sunny Friday, more 80s, a bit more humidity creeping back into town. A frontal boundary sparks more ill-timed thunderstorms late Saturday and Saturday night (a few of the models are hinting at 2-4" rainfall amounts across parts of southern and central Minnesota by Sunday morning). As wind shift to the west/northwest on Sunday the brunt of the thundery weather rumbles into Wisconsin and Iowa, with enough sun for mid to upper 80s. Scattered T-storms linger much of Monday, Tuesday, even Wednesday of next week, before skies dry out a little the latter half of next week, highs well up into the 80s every day, although I don't see an extended stretch of 90s for Minnesota.

Saturday Soakers? The latest NAM/WRF model prints out some 1-3" rains late Saturday and Saturday night. The best chance of salvaging warm sunshine? Saturday morning/midday and much of the day Sunday.

Severe Risk. SPC has most of Minnesota in a "slight" risk of isolated severe storms Saturday - best chance between 3 pm and 8 pm, when the atmosphere is forecast to be most unstable. When you head out Saturday keep a radio on for possible watches/warnings, better yet set up your cell phone to receive e-mail or text warnings - one of the best ways to get severe weather information. Check back to for updates as well.

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

Today: Partly sunny, warm and humid. Winds: N/NE 3-8. High: 85

Friday night: Partly cloudy and mild. Low: 67

Saturday: Intervals of sunshine, sticky. Heavy T-storms possibly by afternoon, LIKELY Saturday night. Locally heavy rains possible. High: 85

Sunday: Drier and sunnier statewide. High: 88

Monday: Some sun, muggy - a few scattered T-storms. High: 86

Tuesday: Warm and sticky with a few storms. High: 88

Wednesday: Mix of clouds and sun, an isolated storm. High: 87

Thursday: Drier with more sun than clouds. High: 85

2010 has quickly mutated into the Year of the Flood: from Nashville and Oklahoma City to Brazil and Pakistan, I think it's more than just coincidence, more than just "we're doing a better job of finding the flooding that has always been there." It's true that in the age of YouTube there are more people (worldwide) posting video of extreme weather events, and this may be part of the equation, but there have been far too many "1 in 500 year flood events" for this to be one great big meteorological coincidence. The tempo and intensity of flooding events has spiked - worldwide - during the same year that all-time record highs are being recorded from the U.S. to Iraq, Kuwait, India and China. We're still on track for 2010 to be the warmest year ever recorded worldwide. 10 of the 12 warmest years have been observed since 1995. No, you're not imagining it - something has changed. Welcome to the new normal. "Heat, drought, 2-4 times more record highs than record lows - occasionally interrupted by extreme floods." Not a very inviting climate for agriculture.

* Intense Heat Bakes 18 States from Texas to New York. Records are falling left and right, roads are buckling from the heat in Virginia - more on the blazing summer of '10 here.

Extremes are multiplying - you've no doubt heard of the fires gripping Russia, enduring the hottest, driest summer in 30 years, highs topping 100 degrees near Moscow - thousands of fires, extreme drought taking a huge toll on Russia's wheat crop. 25 million acres of rich farmland has been decimated by the heat, that's an area roughly the size of the state of Kentucky. Much of Asia is facing an agricultural crisis - for the first time ever leaders in Russia are linking the heat, drought and fires to climate change.

* Russian President: Heat Waves are "Wake Up Call" to Climate Change. This is a significant change in philosophy for Russia's leadership, who up until now referred to climate change as a hoax "dreamt up by western powers to cripple third world countries." After the events of this summer they're changing their tune. The story is here.

Best Weather Photos of 2010. Click here to see some of the most spectacular images of 2010. No Photoshopped pics here (at least that I could find).

Beware of Spitting Goats. This has nothing to do with weather, but I felt an uncontrollable urge to share this video clip. Never....NEVER get into an argument with an irritable goat!


  1. Welcome back home Paul. Hope you were able to enjoy your trip along with learning.