October Preview. There is no such thing as "average" weather. You know that already, but if you're interested in the normal highs/lows/precipitation and the records for October, day by day, you're in luck. We should see our first frost within the first 10 days of October, our first snow flurries by the third week of October, maybe a little accumulating snow up north by the end of the month. Something to look forward to. Data courtesy of the MN State Climate Office.
Fore! Gurgle Gurgle. My dad (Volker) took this picture of a nearby golf course (Bent Creek) outside Lancaster, PA - reeling from as much as 6-8" of rain yesterday. The small stream running through the course became a raging river - there were hundreds of reports of flooded intersections and underpasses, stranded motorists - much of the east picked up 2-3 MONTH'S worth of rain in less than 18 hours. Thanks Dad.
Better Than Advertised. It's generally ok when the forecast turns out better than expected. We got the "sunny" part right, but temperatures were a good 5 degrees warmer than expected, peaking at 72 in St. Cloud and the Twin Cities, 73 at Redwood Falls. Not a bad way to end the month of September.
Paul's Conservation MN Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
Today: Clouds increase, slight chance of a PM shower/sprinkle, especially north/east of the Twin Cities. Winds: N 10-20. High: 64
Friday Evening: Gradual clearing, dry with a chilly breeze (jacket weather). Temperatures falling through the 50s.
Saturday: A mix of clouds and sun, breezy and cool. Winds: N 10-15. High: 55
Saturday night: Mostly clear with diminishing winds. Potential for the first frost of the season in the outlying suburbs. Low: 38
Sunday: A better day. Bright sun, light breeze, a few degrees warmer. Winds: S 8-13. High: 62
Monday: Blue sky, beautiful! High: 67
Tuesday: Sunny and spectacular - one of the nicer days of autumn. High: near 70
Wednesday: Hanging on to sunshine - still dry and lukewarm. High: 71
Thursday: Sun fades a bit behind increasing high clouds, still balmy. High: 69
"Paul, why does the forecast change?" It's one of the well-known frustrations of tracking the weather here in Minnesota, or anywhere for that matter. You check out the 7-Day on a Tuesday and the weekend forecast looks promising. Check back in 2 days later and - what! - how did a shower get into the Saturday outlook? The accuracy rate for the "Tomorrow Forecast" is holding at about 87% (nationwide average), and that hasn't improved much in the last 30 years, in spite of Doppler radar and supercomputers. Although there is some skill out to about 15-20 days (better than 50/50, better than the flip of a coin) there is no doubt that by the time you get to the 7th day of a 7-Day Outlook the accuracy is closer to 60% (or even lower than that, especially during the winter months, when systems move faster, increasing the potential for a "busted outlook").
The reality: we get new computer data from the NAM/WRF 4 times a day, 4 new computer runs, based on the latest, greatest (real-time) conditions. Our confidence level goes up when the computer models all pretty much agree, but oftentimes there are big discrepencies from one model to the next, or one model RUN to the next. We look for trends ("each computer run takes the storm farther and farther south") - that can be helpful. But in the end it comes down to "which model do you trust the most - which computer tends to do the best job in a given scenario?" All computers have weakenesses and biases (because, after all, they're only as good as the people programming them). The physics in the computer models is good, long-range accuracy is improving by about 1% every year, but there are problems. The math that describes how the atmosphere SHOULD work isn't a perfect representation of how the atmosphere really works, the "fluid" of air floating overhead. And there are limits to how accurately we can input the current (initialization) data - a snapshot of what is happening right now - worldwide. Over oceans we rely on satellites for much of the data - even over land areas weather balloons are only launched twice a day. In other words there are gaps in the data. I tell people it's a little like doing a crossword puzzle with many of the pieces missing! Junk in - junk out. If you put incomplete or erroneous data into the supercomputer you're going to get a flawed forecast.
The USA still has the best weather service in the world. We see more severe weather than any nation on Earth (China and Russia are #2 and #3). Yes, we are #1! In spite of that less than 100 people in a given year will lose their lives to hurricanes and tornadoes, which is pretty miraculous when you think about it. Flooding and heat claims more lives, but most Americans have access to a continuous stream of weather forecasts and warnings that most people around the globe could only dream of. We shouldn't take that for granted (our tax dollars are put to pretty good use, in my humble opinion). Some meteorologists believe that the Europeans have a more accurate weather model, the European "ECMWF" may be a bit more accurate than NOAA's "GFS" global model, but that's open to some debate.
Predicting the future is complex. Ask any economist, stock broker or CIA analyst. Billions of variables - computer help to sort through all these variables, but they're not perfect, and never will be. That said, I'd like to believe that the odds of getting caught flat-footed by another "Armistice Day Blizzard" are small - I don't think you could have an EF-4 tornado roaring through the suburbs of Minneapolis without some sort of warning being issued in advance. All this newfangled technology IS saving lives every year, but there is a limit (financial and mathematical) as to how accurate the 7-Day Outlook will ever get. Sounds depressing seeing this on paper, but it's the truth.
Disclaimer aside, today won't be as spectacular as Thursday was, an approaching "Alberta Clipper" (it's baaaack!) pushing a canopy of clouds and a few embedded showers and sprinkles across the state, from northwest to southeast, as the day goes on. The best chance of 15-30 minutes of rain will come this afternoon, skies probably starting to clear in time for evening high school football games, but grab a jacket: temperatures will quickly fall through the 50s, and a stiff north wind will make it feel cooler than that.
By Saturday there will be NO doubt in your mind that it's October. In spite of some "in and out" sunshine temperatures will be stuck in the low to mid 50s, the wind will make it feel like 40s, and the stage may be set for the first frost of the season by Sunday morning, especially in the outlying suburbs, well away from the 494-694 beltway around the Twin Cities, well away from the warmth of the "urban heat island" which can keep the downtowns and close-in suburbs as much as 5-10 degrees warmer on a clear, calm night. Concrete and asphalt retains some of the sunny warmth of the daylight hours, slowly releasing or re-radiating the warmth during the nighttime hours, keeping Crystal, Edina and Maplewood as much as 10 degrees warmer than Elk River, Delano, Lakeville and Stillwater. As the center of a high pressure bubble drifts directly overhead late Saturday night winds should diminish, setting the stage for a frosty coating of white on many suburban lawns Sunday morning. If you live in an area that normally sees an early frost (at least 15-25 miles away from the downtowns) you may want to cover up any tender plants before you hit the sack Saturday night - it's going to be a close call.
Sunday should be brilliant, fewer scrappy cumulus clouds, more sun, a southerly breeze coaxing the mercuy above 60, the nicer day of the weekend. And right now all the computer models keep us dry and increasingly mild all of next week, a run of 60s, even a shot at 70 by the middle of next week. Not a bad way to kick off the cool, blustery, changeable month of October. CPC is still predicting a warmer-than-average October, and studying the maps I tend to believe them.
September was roughly 1 degree cooler than average in the Twin Cities, with nearly TWICE as much rain as average (5.53") vs. a normal amount of 2.62". We have some catching up (and drying out) to do over the next few weeks.
* 5 Steps To Help Keep Science Straight On Global Warming. This is one of the better explanations of the state of the science, what we know, what we suspect, where there is remaining uncertainty.
• The Summit report states that the United States must adapt to a changing climate now and prepare for increasing impacts on urban infrastructure, food, water, human health, and ecosystems in the coming decades.
• It urges local, regional, and federal decision makers to develop and coordinate climate change adaptation measures across these scales of government and with the private sector.
• Measures that increase resilience to climate change can include changes in technology, management practices, or institutions.
• The report also states that proactive adaptation planning can help minimize negative impacts of climate change on our Nation's communities, businesses, ecosystems, and citizens.
• The Federal Government must help to set priorities and share information about relevant programs and best practices.
The entire article is here.