Monday, October 11, 2010

The Year Without An October

Monday Night Slop-Fest. If you tuned into ESPN for the big Vikes-Jets game Monday night you were treated to a rare rain delay: severe thunderstorms swept through the New York area with high winds, frequent lightning, enough nickel-size hail to cover the ground in some suburbs. Warnings were issued and Jets officials moved players and fans off the field as the worst of the weather rumbled overhead. Unusual for October 11 in New York City? You bet. That's what happens when you get Brett Favre and Randy Moss wearing purple and gold for the first time - fireworks, atmospheric and otherwise!

El Nino & La Nina: Tropical Troublemakers. Meteorologists at the WMO, the World Meteorological Organization, are predicting that El Nino (cooling of Pacific Ocean water) will strengthen in the months ahead. That could mean colder, snowier than average weather for much of the USA this upcoming winter. The jury is still out. El Nino correlates with milder winters for Minnesota and much of the Upper Midwest. La Nina winters tend to be colder and (sometimes) snowier, but every La Nina pattern is different - there are no guarantees that the upcoming winter will be harsher than average - but it appears that (statistically) odds favor a colder-than-normal winter east of the Rockies. Stay tuned. More from USA Today here.

SLICE. Sustaining Lakes In A Changing Environment. Minnesota's fragile lake ecosystem is changing, transitioning, due to a variety of factors: urbanization, changing fish populations, fewer native aquatic plants. The Section of Fisheries of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is leading a statewide, collaborative effort to develop a system to monitor and record biological and chemical changes that occur in a sample of lakes that are representative of the state's most common aquatic environments. Information gathered will be used to develop management approaches that can mitigate or minimize negative impacts caused by conventional "high-impact" residential development and agriculture, aquatic plant removal, invasive species and climate change. Click here for more information, and an interactive MN map showing the specific lakes that are being studied.

Tremors in Arkansas? Monday brought a flurry of small earthquakes north of Little Rock - growing concern among seismologists that this could be precursor for a potentially more significant quake along the New Madrid Fault. More from the Arkansas Geological Survey here.

Floods Hit Queensland, Australia. The BBC reports on severe thunderstorm flooding near Brisbane, as much as 10" of rain from severe storms that swept through Queensland - numerous people had to be evacuated from their vehicles.

"Aug-tober Continues." 80 on the 11th day of October? That's 19 degrees above average, and 40 degrees warmer than a year ago (when 2.5" of snow fell on October 12). Highs ranged from 77 at Eau Claire, WI to 80 in St. Cloud, to 81 at Redwood Falls. MSP missed an all-time record by only 4 degrees.

Surplus Of Records. Click here to see a week's worth of records across the Upper Midwest, courtesy of Ham Weather, a division of WeatherNation. All those red dots: all-time record highs. The yellow dots: records for the warmest nighttime lows ever recorded.

* Monday was the 4th day in a row above 80 in the Twin Cities, the 7th day in a row above 70, typical weather for late August.

* Statewide October temperatures are running 6-10 degrees above normal.

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

Today: Partly sunny, slight chance of a shower (even a T-shower over Wisconsin by afternoon). Winds: W/NW 15-25. High: 71

Tuesday night: Partly cloudy, turning cooler. Low: 45

Wednesday: Mix of clouds and sun, closer to average for mid October - still very pleasant. High: 62

Thursday: Plenty of sun, a few degrees milder. High: 65

Friday: Lot's of sun, warmer than average again. High: 66

Saturday: Blue sky, pretty spectacular. High: near 70

Sunday: Sun fades behind increasing high clouds. High: 65

Monday: More clouds, growing chance of a few showers. High: 59

Perspective. A year ago we were waking up to a brisk 28 F. The high was only 36. A total of 2.5" of SNOW fell on the Twin Cities. Do you remember? Talk of an early winter? Commuters were irritable - just about everyone was irritable. There was no "easing into winter" last year, El Nino or no El Nino.

A year later we're still basking in the afterglow of a remarkable spell of weather. Last week was arguably the best week of the entire year. Today will probably be the 8th DAY IN A ROW ABOVE 70 in the Twin Cities! We've just experienced 4 days in a row above 80. In mid October? Remarkable.

There isn't much "weather" out there to dwell on - a cooler front arrives today, starved for moisture we'll be lucky to see a fleeting shower ot two, even a rare October T-shower possible, especially east of the St. Croix this afternoon along the wind-shift line. Behind the front a brisk northwest wind keeping highs in the upper 50s (north) and low 60s (south) Wednesday - the coolest day of the week. We're still in a modified "zonal" flow, jet stream steering winds blowing from west to east, a mild (dry) pattern for Minnesota hanging on straight through the weekend. Winds shift around to the south the latter half of the week, meaning some upper 60s, even another shot at 70 by Friday and Saturday.

I still don't see anything even remotely resembling a "storm" looking out the next 1-2 weeks. Long-range GFS guidance shows a noticeable cool-down after October 27th, at least a few days with highs in the 40s and low 50s (jacket weather). But nothing I'd call a cold front, certainly no arctic air looking out the next 15-20 days. Odds favor a chillier front in time for Halloween (I doubt we'll be basking in the 60s or 60s for Oct. 31).

Welcome to the Year Without An October. Will we pay for this in November? Possibly. Maybe this is atmospheric payback for a cooler, wetter, stormier-than-average September. Enjoy another amazing week here in the Land of 10,000 Weather Extremes. It's turning into one of the nicest autumns in recent history - and that trend will continue for at least another week.

Minnesota Company Launches Storm Tours In The "New Tornado Alley". Oklahoma storm chasing tours must be at least a little nervous - this summer Minnesota experienced an eye-opening 145 tornado reports. Local meteorologist Andy Revering is taking advantage of an apparent northward shift in tornado alley (however temporary) by launching F5 Tours. The catch? You can chase with "celebrity meteorologists", including WeatherNation's very own Rob Koch (formerly of KSTP fame). More on next spring's storm-chasing options here.

Toxic Sludge From Space. The reservoir of toxic alumina that burst on October 4 was tracked by a low-orbiting satellite from NASA's Earth Observatory System, EO-1. The river of chemical waste swept away cars, inundated homes, a wall of red (toxic) water 6-7 feet deep. More from NASA here.

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