November 10: last time the mercury surpassed 60 F. in the Twin Cities (68 F at MSP International).
October 12: last time temperatures rose above 70 in the metro area (72 F.)
Twins Home Opener: Intervals of sun, probably dry, temperatures ranging from 55-60 F Friday afternoon at Target Field.
Saturday: more like early May with highs ranging from 60s to low 70s with more clouds, the chance of showers/storms increasing as the day goes on. Slight chance of a few severe thunderstorms.
Sunday: lingering showers, possible thunder - cooling off later in the day.
Heaviest Rains: may arrive Saturday evening into Sunday night. Latest solutions show a slower, more intense area of low pressure, capble of prolonging rain (and T-storms) much of the weekend.
.50 - 1.00" rainfall amounts possible over the weekend. It's too early to know what the impact will be on Minnesota's rivers.
Official: Government Shut-Down Would Not Halt Vital Weather Services. Even if politicians in Washington D.C. fail to come up with a compromise to keep the federal government going, some vital services will remain: social security check processing, air traffic control, security screenings at America's airports, and many critical National Weather Service services. Here's an update from the Capital Weather Gang at the Washington Post: "As a potential shutdown of the Federal government draws closer, a looming question is: what would happen to products and services provided by the National Weather Service (NWS) ? Would NWS continue to issue forecasts, watches, warnings, and advisories? A NOAA official says yes. “Agency operational plans are still being finalized, but our current understanding is NOAA will provide weather services to protect lives and property,” the official said. “We still believe there is an opportunity to avoid a government shutdown, but are working to ensure that we are prepared for all possible scenarios.” During the last Federal shutdown in 1996, NWS offices remained at least partially operational. For example, the NWS Office in Sterling, Va. disseminated forecasts and warnings during the Blizzard of 1996 which coincided with the shutdown. In order to pay some contract employees and even utility bills at NWS offices, the agency used 1995 carry-over funds (according to an article published in the Washington Post on 1/17/96). NOAA officials have not provided specifics about which products and services are considered essential and would be supported during a shutdown."
"VISIBLE SATELLITE IMAGERY FROM YESTERDAY INDICATED THE SNOW COVER WAS DOWN TO BASICALLY THE NORTHERN TWO TIERS OF COUNTIES...WITH SOME OF THE DEEPEST NEAR RICE LAKE AND LADYSMITH. GIVEN THE FORECAST THIS WEEK...A GOOD PORTION OF THAT SNOW WILL MELT AND THE FINISHING TOUCHES ON THAT SNOW COVER SHOULD BE THIS WEEKEND WITH THE SURGE OF WARM AIR AND RAIN. WHILE RAIN LOOKS LIKELY OVER SOUTHERN MN ON THURSDAY NIGHT...THE PRIMARY TIME PERIOD FOR CONCERN IS INDEED THE WEEKEND. AT THIS TIME...ABOUT ONE QUARTER OF THE MEMBERS OF A MODEL ENSEMBLE /GEFS/ ARE PRODUCING ONE INCH OF RAIN DURING SATURDAY INTO SUNDAY IN MINNEAPOLIS."
Latest Rainfall Prediction. According to the latest NAM model, some .25 to .50" rainfall amounts are possible by Saturday evening over central and southern Minnesota, with over 1" predicted north/east of St. Paul. It's still too early to know (with any confidence) where the heaviest rain bands may set up, or whether showers and T-storms will create a "train-echo" effect, where cells keep forming and redeveloping over the same counties - which could result in considerably higher rainfall amounts.
* Accu Weather has more on the EF-2 tornado that ripped into an auto plant outside Hopkinsville, Kentucky Monday, injuring 7 people in this post. According to the local National Weather Service office there was 27 minutes lead time between when the tornado warning was issued, and when the plant was hit by winds estimated at over 110 mph. The average lead time for tornadoes has improved from roughly 6 minutes in the 70s to 12-14 minutes today. That's largely thanks to Doppler radar (which can pinpoint the rotating storms most likely to spin up tornadoes) and an improved network of volunteer spotters: Skywarn, police, fire and local civil defense, deployed to scan the skies and confirm which rotating storms on radar are actually producing wall clouds, funnels or tornadoes.
Data As Art: 10 Striking Science Maps. I'm fascinated with story-telling, and using technology to come up with new ways of visualizing data. Seems like I'm hardly the only one. Wired.com has an intriguing series of visuals showing data visualization which you can see here. The map above: "Airline-passenger flow in the Northern Hemisphere is shown in these annual snapshots created using Tulip software. This visualization didn't win, but we are looking forward to a video the authors plan to release that will show the booms and busts of airline travel throughout the past 30 years.
Tools of Tradecraft: Spy Gear From The CIA. A lipstick gun? Talk about the kiss of death. Wired.com has an interesting slide show looking at some of the tools used by CIA operatives and spies over the years: "For the spy-op gone bad, or simply for any Natscha who found herself out to dinner with the date from hell, this Cold War-era KGB lipstick gun delivered the kiss of death with a single 4.5mm shot." Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum
Paul's Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
* Photo above: This true-color image over the North Pole was acquired by the MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), flying aboard the Terra spacecraft, on May 5, 2000. Credit: Allen Lunsford, NASA GSFC Direct Readout Laboratory