MCS: potential for a meso-convective system this morning, a large sprawl of strong/severe storms forming along the leading edge of an 80-degree warm front, moving southwest to northeast across the state. best chance: central MN.
80s likely later today - skies brighten later this morning with enough midday sun for low/mid 80s.
Moderate Risk: severe storms are likely again late this afternoon and evening. I expect a tornado watch for portions of Minnesota on Memorial Day, the greatest risk around the dinner hour, when the atmosphere will be most unstable. We can't rule out a few tornadoes in Minnesota later today.
90 possible by Friday in the metro area (mid 80s likely next weekend). It will finally feel like summer out there.
HRRR Rapid Refresh Model. One of NOAA's more reliable models is hinting at a few supercell thunderstorms over central Minnesota, near Little Falls or Brainerd, by 7-8 am this morning. I could envision a few severe storms early today, another (more widespread) risk of severe storms by late afternoon and evening. Map above is valid at 7 am this morning.
Ripe. We have many of the ingredients necessary for severe storms later today. According to the 00z NAM "cape" values (measure of instability) are forecast to be over 2,000, the lifted index (another stability index) is -5 (anything under 0 is potentially unstable). Highs should reach the mid 80s in the metro area - I suspect warm thermals will be able to break through the "cap" (an inversion a few thousand feet above the ground) - initiating strong/severe storms by late afternoon or evening, best chance western and central Minnesota.
The scale number reflects a top three-second wind gust:
■ EF-0 65 mph to 85 mph: Peels surface off of some roofs, damages some gutters or siding, breaks branches off trees and knocks over shallow-rooted trees.
■ EF-1 86 mph to 110 mph: Roofs are severely stripped, mobile homes are flipped or badly damaged and windows and glass break.
■ EF-2 111 mph to 135 mph: Roofs are torn off well-constructed houses, foundations of frame houses move, and it destroys mobile homes, breaks large trees and lifts cars off the ground.
■ EF-3 136 mph to 165 mph: Well-constructed houses are destroyed, damage is severe to large buildings such as shopping centers, lifts heavy cars and carries away structures with weak foundations.
■ EF-4 166 mph to 200 mph: Levels houses, throws around cars.
■ EF-5 More than 200 mph: Well-constructed houses are carried away, cars are turned into missiles and even steel-reinforced concrete is badly damaged. High-rise buildings have their structures deformed.
* thanks to naplesnews.com for including this EF-scale in a larger story about storm threats for south Florida.
■ When to seek safe shelter: Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from the area where it is raining. That’s about the distance you can hear thunder. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Go to a large building or fully enclosed vehicle and wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder to go back outside.
■ Minimize the risk: Stop outdoor activities at the first roar of thunder to ensure everyone has time to get to a large building or enclosed vehicle. Leaders of outdoor events should have a written plan all staff are aware of and enforce.
■ Things to avoid: Stay off corded phones, computers and equipment that puts you in direct contact with electricity. Stay away from pools, indoor or outdoor, tubs, showers and other plumbing. Buy surge suppressors for key equipment. Install ground fault protectors on circuits near water or outdoors.
■ Helping a victim: If a person is struck by lightning, call 911 and get medical care immediately. Cardiac arrest and irregularities, burns and nerve damage are common in these cases. You are in no danger helping a victim. The charge will not affect you.
* Lightning information courtesy of naplesnews.com.
When Warnings Don't Work. The New York Times asks the question: with 25 minutes lead-time why did so many people die in Joplin? Why has the death toll been so high nationwide, in spite of Doppler radar, timely NWS warnings, and continuous media saturation? "TORNADO experts had seen it all before: whole neighborhoods obliterated, big-box stores flattened, even a hospital badly damaged. But what really shocked them about the powerful storm that struck Joplin, Mo., last week was the toll in lives: more than 125 and counting. “We thought we were done with the 100-dead tornadoes,” said Thomas P. Grazulis, a tornado historian in St. Johnsbury, Vt. “With warnings and Doppler radar, there was a lot of feeling that we were done with this stuff.” Experts are not sure yet why the toll was so high. Forecasts were made and warnings were issued, and this was an area, in the heart of Tornado Alley, where people knew what to do to protect themselves. “But something didn’t work the way we’d like it to,” said Harold Brooks , a research meteorologist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla. Experts say there will always be deaths when a strong tornado scores a direct hit on a heavily populated area. The question — for all disasters, not just twisters — has been how low casualty figures can go. “The fundamental characteristic of a major disaster is that there is going to be loss,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, a professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness. “The goal of preparedness is to make that loss as minimal as possible, to optimize survival.”
Don't Ignore Facts About Hurricanes. Jdnews.com has an update on what may be another above-average hurricane season for the USA: "Hurricane season is easy to ignore, especially when earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and tornadoes fill the news. And who wants to think of the worst possible scenario when the weather is finally so glorious? But ignoring the start of the hurricane season is like playing with matches — it’s a dangerous game that can lead to heartache. Instead, those who live in hurricane-vulnerable Eastern North Carolina need to be aware of the facts that surround the season: Fact: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it’s anticipating a busier than average 2011 hurricane season. NOAA officials expect 12 to 18 named storms this year, with six to 10 hurricanes and three to six of those hurricanes turning into major storms. That’s a forecast worth monitoring."
The Trouble With The Echo Chamber Online. I didn't even realize until recently that I was getting (personalized) Google search returns - what I see is different than what you see, for the same search request - based on my previous searches and preferences. Great. Personalization sounds great, but according to the New York Times there may be a downside: "ON the Web, we often see what we like, and like what we see. Whether we know it or not, the Internet creates personalized e-comfort zones for each one of us. Give a thumbs up to a movie on Netflix or a thumbs down to a song on Pandora, de-friend a bore on Facebook or search for just about anything on Google: all of these actions feed into algorithms that then try to predict what we want or don’t want online. And what’s wrong with that? Plenty, according to Eli Pariser, the author of “The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You.” Personalization on the Web, he says, is becoming so pervasive that we may not even know what we’re missing: the views and voices that challenge our own thinking. “People love the idea of having their feelings affirmed,” Mr. Pariser told me earlier this month. “If you can provide that warm, comfortable sense without tipping your hand that your algorithm is pandering to people, then all the better.” Mr. Pariser, the board president of the progressive advocacy group MoveOn.org, recounted a recent experience he had on Facebook. He went out of his way to “friend” people with conservative politics. When he didn’t click on their updates as often as those of his like-minded contacts, he says, the system dropped the outliers from his news feed. Personalization, he argues, channels people into feedback loops, or “filter bubbles,” of their own predilections. Facebook did not respond to e-mails seeking comment."
Potential For Gulley-Gushing Thunderstorms. The latest NAM model prints out some 1-2" rains for far western and southern Minnesota, as much as 3" near Albert Lea - lesser amounts in the Twin Cities.
Gray Sunday. No, the sun wasn't out nearly as much as I had hoped. So much for "partly sunny" (which means the same thing as "mostly cloudy" by the way). No matter - it was pretty well "overcast" most of the day. At least it didn't rain, just a few spotty sprinkles. Highs ranged from 58 at Grand Marais to 65 at St. Cloud, 68 in the Twin Cities and a "balmy" 71 down at Rochester. All these readings were a good 10 degrees cooler than average - nothing new there.
Paul's Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
(May 21 tornado photo taken in Medina by Richard Sennott)
"In the foreword to a new book debunking scepticism of science - Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand - Oreskes argues that fear is the major driver of denial. ''Fear that our current way of life is unsustainable. Fear that addressing the issue will limit economic growth. Fear that if we accept government interventions in the market place … it will lead to a loss of personal freedom. Or maybe just plain old fear of change.''