Tuesday, January 3, 2012

March-like Temps Return This Week

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

WEDNESDAY: Chilly start, but mild January sunshine returns. A chance to thaw out. High: 37. Winds: WNW 5-10mph

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and quiet. Not too cold. Low: 26. Winds: W 5-10mph

THURSDAY: Even warmer, feels like March again. High: 42. Winds: WSW 5-15mph

FRIDAY: Unseasonably mild ahead of an approaching clipper. More PM clouds, especially across far northern Minnesota. Breezy. Low: 30. High: 39. Winds: W 10-20mph 

SATURDAY: Partly sunny and colder with a few passing flakes. Low: 23. High:30. Winds: WNW 5-15mph 

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, feels like January again. Low: 16. High: 29.

MONDAY: Warmer afternoon sunshine. Low: 20. High: 38.

TUESDAY: Another mild and fairly quiet day in the neighborhood. Low: 22. High: 35

Another Great Shot by Paul Sundberg
Now this is a picture! It almost doesn't even look real! Paul said:  
"Back in December I conducted a digital photography workshop at Gooseberry Falls State Park. Half of the workshop was inside and the second half was photographing the Lower Gooseberry Falls. The waterfalls are covered with ice right now, creating great photo opportunities. Some of the workshop participants met me at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park that evening to photograph the full moon. The moon couldn't have been more beautiful as it came up behind the lighthouse. The best months to photograph the moon behind Split Rock is December, January and February, so if you missed the last one, you have two more months to look forward to."

Keep up the great work Paul, thanks for the picture!

You can see more of Paul's work at his website:

     Meteorologists and weather junkies across the Upper Midwest have been twiddling their thumbs quite a bit over the last several months, looking for something to do or talk about. Other than the March-like mercury reading expected for parts of Minnesota by the end of the week, weather maps look quiet for a majority of the first half of the month.
     Some folks may be wondering what happened to that harsh winter forecast, which was projected earlier in the season... The 'Arctic Oscillation' may be to blame. A shift in the 'positive' direction is keeping the U.S. much warmer as strong Pacific winds continue to batter the Northwest. The result is a lingering mild Pacific flow across the Upper Midwest, which also keeps the main storm track in Canada. One of the strongest 'negative' phases in recent years may also help to explain why it was so cold and snowy last winter season.
     Regardless if you're a fan of the tame winter or not, one thing can't be neglected and that is the growing drought concerns. Nearly 25% of Minnesota is in a severe drought after recording only 2.35" of precipitation since September 1st, a deficit of over 7" and there are still no big storms in sight.

U.S. Drought Monitor
I wanted to start with the Drought Monitor to show you how dry things are across the state. Again, nearly 25% of the state is considered to be in a severe drought, which has grown 20% in the last 3 months.
Seasonal Drought Outlook
Looking ahead through the next couple of months, it appears that our drought situation will persist through the end of March. The other noticeable area that will have a persistent drought are those across Texas and the South Central Plains. These are areas that have been dealing with intense drought conditions for quite a while.
The Quadrantid Meteor Shower
The nice thing about working as early as I do in the morning; A.) No traffic and B.) I get to see a lot of neat things in the night sky. On my way into work Tuesday, I happened to catch as shooting star. There happens to be a meteor shower early Wednesday morning.
The image below comes from www.spaceweather.com - in 2008, NASA supported scientists flew over the Arctic Circle to gain a better view, they also caught the northern lights, pretty cool!

"The Quadrantid meteor shower is one of the year's best, often producing more than 100 meteors per hour from a radiant near the North Star. In 2012 forecasters expect the shower to peak around 07:20 UT (02:20 am EST) on Wednesday, January 4. The peak is brief, typically lasting no more than an hour or so, and it does not always occur at the forecasted time, so observers are encouraged to be alert for meteors throughout the early hours of January 4th."
Earth at Perihelion
Have you heard of the perihelion before? This is the name given to the event when the Earth is at its closest point to the sun during the year. This will happen on January 4th at 7PM CST and will be nearly 91.4million miles away from the sun. In contrast, the Earth is at its furthest point from the sun (nearly 94.5million miles) around the Summer Solstice. So, why is it that even though we are closer to the sun, we are colder closer to home? It's because of the short days and lack of direct sunlight that we are colder in the Northern Hemisphere. We are actually pointing away from the sun right now, so the amount of direct sunlight we get is very little compared to what we see in the summer.

Snow Streaks
The recent snow event across the Great Lakes and the Ohio River Valley left some unique markings on the ground seen visible satellite once the skies cleared.

Another View From Space - Lake Effect Snow
This last lake effect snow event was really our first big lake effect snow event of the season. A lack of true Arctic air outbreaks across the Great Lakes has many locations downwind of the bodies of water in a snow drought so far this season. The high resolution visible satellite image from earlier today shows some pretty impressive lake effect snow bands. In fact some of the lake effect snow bands originating on Lake Huron traveled across Lake Erie and then eventually into central Pennsylvania.
From One Cold Place To Another
I just found this today. Apparently at weather station at the South Pole reached their all-time record high temperature on Christmas Day.
On 25 December 2011 a new all-time record high temperature of +9.9° F (-12.3° C) was set at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station — the previous all-time record high was +7.5° F (-13.6° C) on 27 December 1978
Speaking Of Warm Air
Can you believe that we're talking about 40s again? It's looking possible here at the end of the week and maybe a couple days in a row! The mild Pacific flow will have well above average temperatures close to home. Here's just a quick look at what some of us might be looking at on Thursday. Yes, we could see March-like temperatures once again by the end of the week.
Thanks for checking in and don't forget to follow me on Twitter:
Meteorologist Todd Nelson

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