Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Local Weather Not Too Threatening; More on the Alabama Tornadoes

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

WEDNESDAY: A few flurries possible early. Clearing trend and warmer. High: 32. Winds: S 5-15mph

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and quiet. Lingering northern lights possible. Low: 23. Winds: SW 5-10mph

THURSDAY: Intervals of sun and breezy. Another thaw. High: 34. Winds: W 10-20mph

FRIDAY: Another clipper approaches, light snow chance later. Low: 17. High: 30. Winds: WNW 10-15
SATURDAY: Turning colder. Partly sunny and a few lingering flurries possible. Low: 15. High: 23.
SUNDAY: Still chilly. Partly sunny and more flurries, mainly north. Low: 8. High: 23.

MONDAY: Slightly warmer, patchy clouds: Low: 12. High: 28.

TUESDAY: Nothing rough. Sun and cloud mix. Low: 20. High: 32.

Paul Sundberg Photography
Nice shot Paul! You can read his commentary below and check out his website HERE: 
"Earlier in the week lots of ice had built up on the Grand Marais break wall. I walked out to take a few pictures but before I got there I was in for a pleasant surprise.
There in front of me right along side of the trail was a beautiful snowy owl. Snowy owls are one of the largest owls in the world. They live on the tundra but sometimes come down to United States during the winter. This snowy was so well camouflaged that I wouldn’t have even seen her had she not moved her head to look at me. The feathers on her back blended right in with the rocks. The snowy was very tolerant of my presence.  As she took flight she gracefully passed right by the windows of the border patrol station before landing out on Artist Point.
The face and beak of the snowy owl has feathers so thin and fine that they look like fur. This insulation can keep them warm as they spend most of their time in the arctic where temperatures can reach -80°F. I felt very fortunate to be able to walk up on one of our northlands most beautiful creatures."

     As we muddle through the last full week of January 2012, I still don't see any major winter storms or bone chilling temperatures in sight. Through today's date, the MSP Airport has only seen 3 sub-zero nights, which is roughly 12 times below normal. The January scorecard continues to come up short in wintry stats as we are still nearly 16" below normal snowfall this season even after the, official, 1.9" of snow that fell at the MSP Airport on Monday.
     Looking back at 2011 data, we've had above average temperatures since June! In fact, 4 out of the last 7 months made it into the top 10 warmest months in recorded history for their respective month. January 2012 hasn't spoiled the mild yet either. So far, we are nearly 7 degrees above average and I don't see any letting up in that department as the mercury flirts with the mid 30s over the next few days.
     Those who snubbed their shoveling duties on Monday will get a little help from Mother Nature as a little sun help the melting process this week. Other than a few scattered flurry chances in the extended forecast, our winter outlook still looks pretty tame. In the meantime, look up for the aurora again tonight!

Northern Lights
A massive solar flare on the sun on Sunday, the largest since 2005, sent charged particles towards the Earth. These particles starting hitting the Earth Tuesday morning and northern lights starting dancing all over the Arctic region and across Europe. The image below is from Spaceweather.com who got them from a sky watcher from Longyearbyen, Norway - take a look at his commentary below: 
"All day I was anticipating a beautiful auroral display. In Longyearbyen, we certainly weren't disappointed. The display lasted for an solid hour before pushing south. I hope the rest of you enjoy the display as much as we did up here. We are too far North to see much more of the storm. 35mm Nikkor with Nikon D80 ISO-1000 f/1.8 6 sec"

 Is It Still Active?
Look at the graph of Estimated Planetary K Index below from earlier Tuesday
When this graph is RED, things are active and there's a good chance the northern lights are dancing around the Arctic regions. Want to know more about the K Index? Check it out HERE:
Another good site for monitoring space weather conditions from NOAA HERE:

Solar Flare
This is amazing... take a look at the solar flare that caused the northern lights HERE: The video covers about 24 hours of activity
More on Monday's Tornadoes
The pictures and stories coming out of the southeast are bringing back bad memories. Take a look at a before and after picture in Clay, AL
Damage Out of Center Point, AL
This is a 360 degree view of some of the damage seen out of Center Point, AL
National Weather Service in Birmingham, AL - Tornado Damage Surveys
The National Weather Service in Birmingham, AL has been working tirelessly since the event to conduct their damage surveys and have come up with at least 6 tornadoes, the strongest of which was an EF-3 with winds up to 150mph.

Tornado Controversy
"ABC News is responding to criticism from a meteorologist at an ABC affiliate in Alabama after a report on “World News” implied Monday’s tornadoes in the region touched down with no warning."

According to @JustingNOAA on Twitter 
"Average warning lead time for recent tornado event was 34.4 minutes"

 What Do We Take Away From This & Similar Events?
2.) If a tornado warning has been issued for your area, get to the lowest floor of your home (basement if possible). If you don't have a basement, get to an interior room (bathroom is best, get in the bathtub and cover yourself with blankets/mattress/pillows) the idea is that you want to put as many walls between you and the tornado as possible!
3.) Many people are killed by flying debris... it may sound funny, but get a helmet (hockey, football, bike helmet). If you were to take a nasty blow to the head, the force may be muted by the added protection! Keep that helmet under your bed in case of overnight emergencies when and if your weather radio goes off!

Tornadoes, Taxes Coincide With Most Stressful Days of 2011
This is an interesting study, which states that in 2011, tornadoes and taxes were some of the most stressful days out of the entire year.

Closer to Home
This is a different look at a longer range model, the GFS. It's giving us a few light chances of light snow over the next few days. Flurries is likely all we'll see through early Wednesday. Another chance of light snow, this time, maybe a light dusting and another light chance over the weekend. Again, it doesn't look like much.

Thanks for checking in and have a great rest of your week.
Don't forget to check me out on Twitter: @TNelsonWNTV 

 -Meteorologist Todd Nelson-

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