Today: Warmer day of the weekend with tropical humidity levels (dew points in the 70s!) Expect a partly sunny sky with scattered T-storms, some heavy. With a puddle of unusually cold air swirling aloft there's even an outside chance of a few (isolated) severe storms with small hail. Winds will blow from the southeast at 7-12 mph.
Sunday: Go West Young Man. Showers and T-storms may linger much of the day from Duluth to MSP, the best chance of showers and storms east of I-35. The weather should get sunnier/drier farther west, a partly sunny sky from the Brainerd Lakes and Alexandria to Duluth and Willmar. Winds blow from the northeast at 8-13 with a noticeable drop in temperature and humidity behind a weak cool front.
Record Year For Weather Disasters? "Just past the halfway point, 2011 has already seen eight weather-related disasters in the U.S. that caused more than $1 billion in damages." - excerpt from a Scientific American article below.
Expanding Drought. According to NOAA it's the largest area of "exceptional drought" ever measured. Details below.
June 7, 2011: 103 in the Twin Cities. That's the hottest temperature ever recorded (anywhere in the state of Minnesota) for June 7, according to Mark Seeley. More details below.
Insane Extremes. How is this even possible in the same country? While the south and east broils, over 100" snow remains on the ground over the higher terrain of Montana. A sudden thaw, coupled with heavy rain, is flushing all that meltwater into the Missouri River Basin - flooding will probably worsen in the weeks ahead.
No Need To Water Anytime Soon. A slow-moving front will spark numerous showers and T-storms, the NAM printing out over 1" of rain for much of the metro area, with some 2"+ amounts from near Albert Lea and Rochester to Eau Claire and Rice Lake, Wisconsin.
Severe Risk Diminishes Today. SPC still has far southern Minnesota on the edge of the "slight risk" area. A few storms over eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin may approach severe limits, with small hail and winds approaching severe limits (58 mph). Stay alert: the best chance of strong/severe storms will come around the dinner hour.
Saturday: Scattered Storms (best chance eastern Minnesota). After a very soggy start the sun should break through by midday, more instability T-storms popping by mid/late afternoon, especially from the Arrowhead southward through the metro and St. Croix River Valley into western Wisconsin. NAM model map above valid 1 pm Saturday afternoon.
Overview: Today will be the warmer, muggier day of the weekend: highs in the low 80s with dew points above 70 - very drippy and tropical out there. Winds: SE 7-12. Steady barometer.
Sunday: Best Chance of T-storms East of I-35. The farther west you hang out tomorrow, the sunnier (and drier) the weather should be. A weak cool frontal passage should mean cooler temperatures and a drop in humidity. The heaviest rains are forecast from southeastern Minnesota into western Wisconsin, where some 1"+ amounts are possible. NAM model map above valid 1 pm Sunday.
Overview: Expect partly sunny skies over the western half of Minnesota with a drop in humidity. Showers and T-storms linger from Duluth southward to the Twin Cities, Rochester and Red Wing, and much of Wisconsin, where rain may be locally heavy. Winds: NE 8-13. Slowly falling barometer.
Arizona Wildfires Force Chaotic Evacuation. USA Today has the latest on the fires, which continue to spread across the south, fanned by tinder-dry humidity and winds gusting over 40 mph at times: "PHOENIX -- The Monument fire burning in southern Arizona nearly doubled in size in less than 12 hours, leading to more notices of possible evacuation, authorities said Friday. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer declared a state of emergency Friday for Cochise County because of two wildfires in the area, Monument and Horseshoe Two. Though the Monument fire is about 4% the size of the 773-square-mile Wallow fire, which began May 29 in northeast Arizona, it already has burned more homes: at least 40 vs. about three dozen. "Once that thing starts to run, it's running like a freight train," Chief Deputy Rod Rothrock of the Cochise County Sheriff's Office said of the Monument fire, which began Sunday but surged out of control Thursday, prompting evacuation of an unincorporated area south of Sierra Vista, Ariz., that has 3,200 homes. Police, county sheriff's deputies and fire officials swarmed neighborhoods Thursday with sirens blaring and officers on speakers imploring, "You've gotta get out now!" Many of the residents chaotically evacuated were allowed back home Thursday evening to retrieve pets, livestock, papers and other important items. They had to leave again by Friday morning. But not all were able."
Largest "Exceptional Drought" Area On Record. Summer heat usually peaks in August - it's unusual, almost unprecedented, to have such a huge amount of the USA experiencing severe/exceptional drought conditions in mid June. More details from The Weather Channel: "If it feels like your lawn is ready to shrivel up and blow away, you may not be wrong. According to the new drought monitor, 9% of the continental U.S. is in exceptional drought which is the worst drought level possible. This is the largest area of excpetional drought on record!
--281,000+ square miles in drought
--An area equal to the 13 Northeast states and Washington D.C.
--7.54% of U.S. (including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico) in "exceptional drought"
"This is part of a remarkable meteorological 'haves and have-nots' story," says The Weather Channel Expert Stu Ostro. "(You have) record flooding and exceptional drought, and those two opposites occurring in close proximity to each other." For the past few months, Texas and the Southwest was the main drought region."
Latest Drought Monitor. The "exceptional drought" designation has expanded from 8 states (last week) to 10 states (currently), tinder-dry conditions from Arizona eastward to Georgia and much of Florida. Click here to see the latest data from NOAA.
Last "below average" day in the temperature department:
· Memphis: May 27
· Houston: May 18
· San Antonio: May 16
· Atlanta: May 19
· Savannah: May 19
· Mobile: May 19
The 95 or above club:
- Houston, Texas: Through Thursday, 21 of the last 23 days have been 95 degrees or higher.
- Dallas, Texas: Through Thursday, 17 of the last 21 days have been 95 degrees or higher.
- Shreveport, La.: Thursday was the 16th day in a row with 95+ degree heat.
A month worth of 90s already:
- Atlanta, Ga.: Typically averages 9 to 10 days during June with 90-degree temps. June 2011 tally: 15
- Charlotte, N.C.: Typically averages 8 to 9 days during June with 90-degree temps. June 2011 tally: 11
- Birmingham: Typically averages 11 days during June with 90-degree temps. June 2011 tally: 16
Hot Weather Trivia. In this week's edition of WeatherTalk, Professor Mark Seeley answers a question about extreme heat:
Question: "You mentioned last week that the 103 degrees F reported at MSP on June 7th was a new all-time state record. Is that the only all-time state high temperature record held by the Twin Cities? I cannot find others in your book."
Answer: "State record high and low temperature values are sometimes tricky in that the record values for individual dates are often shared by different weather stations. Throughout the Minnesota records suburban climate stations like Stillwater, Forest Lake, Chaska, and Maple Plain hold all-time records or may be tied with other locations. For example, Maple Plain holds the all-time high temperature record for the month of May in Minnesota (112 degrees F on May 31, 1934). For the date of March 29, Gaylord, Stillwater and MSP ared tied for the record high with 83 degrees in 1986. But reviewing all of the temperature values for June 7th, 2011 I find that the 103 degrees F at MSP International Airport is an all-time state record high for the date and the only such record held exclusively by MSP. So that was quite a unique reading."
A Sea Of Wildfires In 2011. A sustained ("exceptional") drought across the south, coupled with low humidity levels and gusty winds (and a few random cloud to ground lightning strikes) has ignited an unusual number of wildfires for so early in the season. NOAA has the latest: "Wildfires have plagued much of the Southern U.S. in 2011. The data shown here plots the locations of all wildfires detected by sensors aboard the NOAA AVHRR and GOES Imager, and NASA MODIS satellite sensors over the entire year-to-date. Each red point is one fire - and there are thousands of them plotted here. The data shows over 346,000 fires - though that is an overestimate since different satellites may double-count the same fire "target," but some may not see any at all. NCDC has tallied the number of U.S. wildfires at 33,109, but this number relies on human observations on the ground, which is probably an underestimate. The Okefenokee Swamp fire near the Florida-Georgia border, along with the Wallows fire in eastern Arizona are clearly visible as large red areas. The Okefenokee has been burning for months, and the Wallows is now the largest in Arizona history. Persistent droughts and high winds throughout much of the Southwest have created conditions ideal for wildfires during much of the winter and spring of 2011. Many of the fires in Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska are also drought-induced. The large fire signatures south of Lake Okeechobee in Florida are agricultural in nature."
Abominable Snowpack Lurking In Montana Mountains. There is still a staggering amount of snow on the ground in the mountains of Montana, according to the Bismarck Tribune. That snow is (finally) melting, water being flushed into the Missouri River Valley: "BILLINGS, Mont. - Almost on cue, big rainy storm systems that saturated Eastern Montana in May are transitioning into a warmer, drier weather pattern fit for spring. But an abominable snowpack lurking in the mountains will make it a wet season with high water likely through July. Most Montana river basins had well above normal snowpack this winter and spring, and about 85 percent of it is still up there, according to Scott Oviatt, water supply specialist for the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service. It should have started melting a month ago, and rivers would normally be approaching their seasonal crests about now. This year, however, hasn't conformed to any pattern that could be called normal."Many sites are just now reaching their winter peaks in the last two weeks," Oviatt said. "The Bighorns and eastern Beartooths were still accumulating snow with that last storm." Statewide snowpack stands at 257 percent of average for this time of year, and some basins are much higher. The lower Yellowstone, the stretch of the river between Custer and the Missouri River, is at 308 percent of normal."
900 Pets Still Homeless After Joplin Tornado. It's a tragedy for people, and an equal tragedy for their pets, according to KCCI-TV in Des Moines: "JOPLIN, Mo. -- Hundreds of dogs and cats peer out from their cages at the Joplin Humane Society, some with cuts, infections and broken bones from the deadly tornado that turned their lives, like those of their owners, upside down.Since the tornado, the Humane Society has found itself overflowing with animals, with about 900 now calling the shelter home -- three times its usual inventory. One way or another, the pets became separated from their owners in the chaotic aftermath of the May 22 twister that tore through this town, killing 153 people. In some cases, the owners -- scrambling to find housing for themselves after 7,000 homes were destroyed, leaving nearly one-third of the city's 50,000 residents homeless -- have simply given up their pets.But the Joplin Humane Society is determined to find a home for every cat and dog. To that end, it plans an "Adopt-a-thon" the weekend of June 25-26, when animals that haven't been claimed by their owners will be given away free to good homes, after being spayed and neutered."The reality is, a lot of these people aren't in a position to come get these animals," said Joplin native Tim Rickey, a field investigator for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "They've lost everything."
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon is about to roll out an expanded effort to safeguard its contractors from hackers and is building a virtual firing range in cyberspace to test new technologies, according to officials familiar with the plans, as a recent wave of cyber attacks boosts concerns about U.S. vulnerability to digital warfare. The twin efforts show how President Barack Obama's administration is racing on multiple fronts to plug the holes in U.S. cyber defenses. Notwithstanding the military's efforts, however, the overall gap appears to be widening, as adversaries and criminals move faster than government and corporations, and technologies such as mobile applications for smart phones proliferate more rapidly than policymakers can respond, officials and analysts said. A Reuters examination of American cyber readiness produced the following findings:
* Spin-offs of the malicious code dubbed "agent.btz" used to attack the military's U.S. Central Command in 2008 are still roiling U.S. networks today. People inside and outside the U.S. government strongly suspect Russia was behind the attack, which was the most significant known breach of military networks."
Friday: Calm Before The Storm(s). The sun was out for a few hours yesterday, enough blue sky for 78 at St. Cloud, a muggy 83 at Redwood Falls and 84 in the Twin Cities. Alexandria picked up .09" as of 7 pm Friday evening.