Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Big Change In The Weather On Tap For Next Week

Slush Alert Up North. No cause for panic (yet) but a week from today temperatures will be in the 30s up north, struggling into the 40s in the Twin Cities metro, strong winds howling out of Ontario and Manitoba. A few flurries may survive the trip into Brainerd, St. Cloud and the far northern suburbs of the Twin Cities by late next week - no accumulating snow is expected (here) but far northern MN may see the first accumulating snow of the winter season. We're due, and next week at this time there will be NO doubt in your mind that November is right around the corner.

First Slushy Accumulation? Get ready for a reality check next week, highs stuck in the 30s and 40s the latter half of next week as Canadian air drains south of the border (finally!) The "540 line", the approximate rain/snow line will be to our south, the GFS model prints out .10 to .20" of liquid ("backlash/"wrap-around") precipitation a week from today. It may be just cold enough aloft for 1-3 inches of wet, slushy snow north of Bemidji and Grand Rapids, toward International Falls and the BWCA. It's time. Let the Winter Games begin!

Forecast: Heavy Jackets, A Few Scattered Coats. The weather honeymoon will draw to a close next week as a reality slap overwhelms Minnesota on raw, gusty northwest winds. No blizzards or arctic outbreaks, but within a week highs will be stuck in the 30s (north) and 40s (south) with wind chills dipping into the 20s. A taste of November is imminent. But first we'll savor one more day of Indian Summer (Friday) with a few models printing out highs close to 70 (!) Make the most of it, the temperature trend next week is inexorably downward. Within 5-7 days there will be NO doubt in your mind that it's late October.

Close Call On Saturday. The GFS model brings a few showers into the metro area Saturday, but I'm more inclined to stick with the "NAM", which keeps rain just south of the Twin Cities Saturday into Sunday morning. It may be a very close call though. Over an inch of rain is predicted for far northern Iowa, a few light showers may come as close as Northfield and Red Wing. The farther south you live Saturday the better the chance of thick clouds and a few hours of showers. Either way clouds will increase, keeping highs in the 50s Saturday afternoon.

"Tree-Bombing." Just when you think you've seen everything, along comes a story about a fleet of retrofitted C-130 military transports (that were designed to carpet-bomb the battlefield with hundreds of thousands of land mines) now being enlisted to plant trees. They literally "bomb" a hillside with seeds from the air, as many as 900,000 new trees can be "planted" in one day using these old aircraft. There are as many as 2,500 of these planes collecting rust in 70 different countries around the world - turns out they're perfect for this new (tree-planting) mission. Amazing.

Toddler's Favorite Toy: The iPhone. "Mommy, can I download a few more apps?" Just what you want to hear coming from your adorable, precocious little 3 year old daughter or grand daughter. The New York Times has a slightly terrifying article about toddlers mastering their parent's iPhones - to the point where it has become their "favorite toy." Time to buy more Apple stock.

Comet Hartley. If you're up early (and have nothing to do, say around 4 or 5 am) consider wandering outside and looking up into the northwest sky to try and get a look at Comet Hartley. You won't be able to see it with the naked eye, you'll need a powerful set of binoculars or even a small telescope. More information on the comet, which is a little more than 11 million miles away from Earth here. A sky chart showing where to look in the coming nights is here.

The Ice Man Cometh (And Taketh Photos). The U.K.'s Daily Mail Online has the story of professional photographer Eric Guth, who spends entirely too much time below the surface of glaciers, taking incredible photographs of the otherwordly sights beneath the surface. He spends days at a time camping out in remote ice caves, (cue the theme from Star Wars) boldly going where no man has gone before. Talk about a cool job.

* Dry, sunny and beautiful weather lingers into Friday.

* Skies sour Saturday as a southern storm brushes far southern MN with a few showers, better chance of rain across Iowa.

* Period of rain Monday marks the leading edge of a real cold front - winds next week may gust up to 40 mph as Canadian air swirls south of the border.

* Last few days of next week: enough cold air aloft for a couple inches of slush over far northern MN. A few flurries may reach central Minnesota.

* First frost of the season for the metro area possible Halloween weekend (if skies clear and winds subside).

* Trick or Treat temperatures: 40s (lingering winds could make it feel like 30s). Right now it looks dry on October 31 - it will definitely look and feel like late October.

Phenomenal Wednesday. A touch of San Diego in late October? Now I've seen everything. Clouds and even a few clipper-induced showers raced across Wisconsin, but the sun was out across most of Minnesota, highs ranging from a brisk 51 at International Falls to 63 in St. Cloud, 68 in the Twin Cities and a balmy 70 at Rochester and Redwood Falls. We are getting soooo spoiled...

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

Today: Bright sun, breezy and cooler. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 56

Friday: Best day in sight. Lot's of sun, one more round of Indian Summer. High: 68 (70 not out of the question).

Saturday: Increasing/thickening clouds, a few PM showers possible, mainly south of the metro area. High: 57

Sunday: Mostly cloudy and damp - probably dry. A little drizzle can't be ruled out. High: 54

Monday: Cloudy with a period of rain developing. High: 57

Tuesday: Windy and cool with a few showers and sprinkles. High: 56

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy, gusty and cooler. Winds may top 30 mph. Flurries possible far northern MN. High: 48

Halloween Outlook: Mostly cloudy and chilly, Trick or Treat temperatures in the upper 30s and low 40s - light winds, slight chance of a sprinkle or even a snow flurry.

Deer in the headlights

Help me out here. When did "hey" replace "hi"? When did texting replace "talking"? When did snow become a rude, 4-letter word? When, exactly, did I get old? In my mind I'm still 20-something but my 52-year old body has other ideas. Don't get me wrong: I love all 4 seasons, but for some reason this year I'm filled with an overwhelming sense of dread. I just got a wake-up call, studying the latest weather maps - showing a November smack on tap for next week. High winds, tumbling temperatures, a few inches of slush far north a week from today? Within a week there will be NO doubt we're sliding into winter.

A clipper cools us off a few degrees today, but Indian Summer surges into town tomorrow, when highs reach the 60s, even 70 close to home. A southern storm soaks Iowa Saturday, pushing a few showers/sprinkles into the south metro. Rain Monday marks the leading edge of a reality slap, an onslaught of colder air whipping up 20-40 mph. winds next week.

Finally, take any winter snow prediction with a huge, grain of salt. We don't have the technology to pin down next week, much less the next 5 months. My bold long-range winter outlook? "Colder with some snow." Take it to the bank.

Super Typhoon Megi. After battering the Philippines with sustained winds estimated close to 200 mph, Category 4 "Megi" is now heading for China. The forecast track takes the brunt of this dangerous typhoon (same thing as a hurricane) north of Hong Kong and south of Taipei. Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated away from the China coast as a precaution - more from the BBC here. USA Today has more on the preparations underway in China here.

Planetary Defense Coordination Office Proposed To Fight Asteroids. A new report is encouraging NASA to develop a new capability to protect the Earth from random, errant asteroids and comets. Think Bruce Willis in the movie, "Armageddon". Or was it "Deep Impact"? Astronomers are routinely tracking tens of thousands of these "near-Earth objects", and although no collisions are imminent (to my knowledge) it's nice to know that bright people are thinking about this stuff. More details here.

Oldest Object In The Universe Found. The Hubble Space Telescope has tracked down the oldest known object in the universe (so far) - a galaxy that formed roughly 600 million years after the "Big Bang". Yes, there was a Genesis, there was (in fact) a "beginning" - ask any astronomer. Light from Galaxy UDFy-38135539 traveled more than 13 billion light years to reach the Earth, and, in all probability, more distant objects will almost certainly be found in the years ahead. More from Discovery News here.

Extended Outlook: More Drought. I know, talk about a paradox: the long range global forecast calls for a trend toward more widespread drought. But when it does rain precipitation is forecast to come down much harder, increasing the potential for flash flooding, something that already seems to be showing up in the data. Last summer we had an epic flood every other day, it seemed. USA Today has a story about the climate trends that are most worrisome: much of Earth's agricultural land is facing long-term drought conditions. There may be a few exceptions: northern Europe, Russia, Canada, Alaska, even India are all projected to get wetter. The story is here.

10 Ways Our Schools Can Build A Nation Of Entrepreneurs. This is a subject that's near and dear to my heart, encouraging young people not to think like employees, but potential business owners. It's something America continues to do better than any other nation on Earth. The ability to take an idea, a passion, and have the freedom to try to take that vision and turn it into a profitable start-up company, fail, adjust, try again. In the words of veteran serial entreprenuers - the key to eventual success is not "failure avoidance", but adjusting to failure until you get it right. I talk to area companies about encouraging their employees to think and act like entrepreneurs - to experiment, tinker, going so far as to kill the cash cow and create dozens of calves. Reinvent your business before someone else does it for you. Andy Grove of Intel said it best, "only the paranoid survive." Tenacity is key. Thomas Edison went through 2,000 experiments before he found the optimum filament to power the light bulb. He "failed" nearly 2,000 times before coming up with the right formula! Click here for a thought-provoking article.

Higher, Colder, Deadlier. If you're even vaguely interested in mountain climbing and high adventure you won't want to miss this engaging article in the current on-line edition of Vanity Fair. Quoting V.F. "Mont Blanc is western Europe's tallest mountain, and the world's deadliest. For four young English climbers - friends since boarding school, two of whom, Rob Gauntlett and James Hooper, had already become the youngest Britons to scale Everest - it held the promise of adventure, camaraderie, and escape from the mundane worries. But on January 9, as the author reports, two of them plummeted nearly half a mile to a brutal death, leaving questions to be answered..."

15 Best iPad Apps. O.K. This is highly subjective, but since many of you are probably gadget (productivity tool) freaks, some percentage of you may be interested in this article, which outlines the apps you HAVE to have on your iPad. Time to bring out your inner geek.

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