Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Below Average Temps (for a change)

By Todd Nelson

Ahh, the lazy days of May continue today. Sure it's a bit cool, but we're within a month of the Summer Solstice, so the sun is quite strong now. If you can get out of the wind and soak up some sun, it actually feels quite nice despite the cooler than average temperatures.
May and June have quickly become my favorite months after the long Minnesota winters. Being a recent home owner, I've come to find out how relaxing it can be to goof and putz around in the yard or garden.

May and June also tend to be the time when cool air retreats into Canada and warm air from the south, makes a return with thunderous outbreaks. There's nothing better, in my mind, than looking at big puffy cumulus clouds, billowing into thunderheads across a bright blue sky.

We'll be free of any significant storms for a while, but a quick moving system will sail south of us today and tomorrow with chilly showers in the southern part of the state.

It'll be a slow and gradual trend toward warming, but we'll get back to average by the weekend. A spike in temps and humidity values into our first week of June could bring in a few more thundery outbreaks.

Don't worry, temps over the weekend will warm too, but have a plan 'B' just in case a few big fat clouds decide to drift overhead Saturday evening or Sunday
Todd's Conservation MN Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:

WEDNESDAY: Fading sun, rain stays across the southern part of the state late. High: 63 Winds: NNE 5-15mph

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Scattered rain showers continue, mainly south of the I-90 corridor in southern Minnesota. Low: 46

THURSDAY: Leftover clouds, showers possible far south. High: 64

FRIDAY: More sun and a little warmer. Low: 52. High: nearing 70

SATURDAY: Comfy June sunshine. Isolated thunderstorm possible overnight? Winds: turning S 10-15. Low: 53. High: 75

SUNDAY: Partly sunny and warmer with a chance of an afternoon/evening thunderstorm Low: 57. High: near 80

MONDAY: Summer-like again, few storms. Low: 62. High: 82

TUESDAY: Feels like June, PM storm?. Low: 62. High: 81

 Blog for Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
Happy end of May everyone (first day of June is Friday), hope all is well! Most folks are back to work and school now after the long holiday weekend and the unofficial start to summer. I'm sure it's tough to get back into the swing of things, so I'll start you off with this cool picture that was shared by

More Pictures
Thanks to Cathy Emmet Palmer for this picture out of Panama Beach, FL as remnant clouds from Tropical Depression Beryl rolled through the area. It certainly made for a beautiful sunset picture!

Intense Lightning
Thanks to Corey Hoffman for sharing this picture on Facebook who says: "This one was taken by my friend while on a chase of a severe warned storm near Ohio, IL in Bureau County."

Memorial Day Hail Pictures out of MN
Thanks to Anna Kate Louks for this picture out of Sartell, MN. Hail fell and neared the severe criteria of 1" diameter, which is the size of a quarter. Everything else is what I call 'small change hail' or non-severe.

Thanks to Chuck Boos out of St. Joseph, MN for the picture below. These stones are clearly severe worthy as they are 1" (quarter-size) or larger.

Thanks to Melissa Woods for this picture, also out of St. Joseph, MN. This too is severe worthy

I doctored it up get a more accurate depiction of the size. According to my dorky calculation, this stone may have been around 3.5" wide!

Extended Temperature Forecast
Sure it's a bit cool now, but warm and more humid air will make a return by late weekend/early next week. Extended model runs show a slow and gradual warming trend through the rest of the week with 80s possible by Sunday and/or Monday!
More Significant Thunder Returns?
I know this is a ways out, but extended model runs are suggesting a better chance of more widespread thunder as we transition into early next week. It makes sense that as some of the heat and humidity returns, so does the chance of thunderstorms... stay tuned! The image below suggests a thundery Tuesday night NEXT WEEK.

5 Day Precipitation Forecast
The good news is that we'll have a chance to dry out for a while. Yes, there is spotty rain in the forecast, but nothing quite as significant as what we've seen over the past couple of weeks. The HPC 5 day precipitation forecast shows a heavier blog of rain sailing south of 'most' of Minnesota Wednesday/Thursday. Also note the heavier streak of precipitation across the Southeast into the Mid-Atlantic region... That's Beryl or our 2nd named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Basin. Get this, it's not even the official beginning yet! The official beginning is June 1st.

Beryl Continues
The radar loop from early Tuesday showed bands of showers and thunderstorms still rotating around the raggedy center of circulation near southeastern Georgia.

Satellite Picture of Beryl From Tuesday

Beryl Track
The interesting thing about Beryl is that the forecast has it becoming a Tropical Storm again has it moves over open water by mid-week. The other thing to note is the close proximity to the coastal communities of the Carolinas. I'm concerned that wind damage may start to creep back into the picture in these areas, especially is the ground is saturated with heavy rains from Beryl. Trees could be toppled a little more easily if both winds increase and heavy rain continues to moisten the ground. Beach goers along the East Coast and especially in the Carolinas should be very weary of rip current potential!

Rip Current Safety
"Rip currents are strong narrow currents moving away from shore. The strongest rip currents can attain speeds reaching 8 feet per second; this is faster than an Olympic swimmer can sprint! On average, more people die every year from rip currents than from shark attacks. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents, and more than 100 people die annually from drowning in rip currents."

Did You Know?
Did you know that (on average) rip currents kill more people annually than tornadoes?

Image Below Courtesy:
Louisville, KY Flooding
Thanks to Laura Yancy for the picture below from near the University of Louisville in Kentucky. Within a matter of hours, several inches of rain inundated downtown Louisville. there were several reports of flooded streets and stalled cars.

Severe Threat on Tuesday was a MODERATE
The Storm Prediction Center had issued a MODERATE RISK of severe weather across parts of the Northeast where hail and high winds were the primary threat with isolated tornadoes possible. There was also a threat of isolated tornadoes across parts of the Central and Southern Plains.

Severe Threat Wednesday
Wednesday could be an interesting day with a MODERATE RISK of severe weather being issued across the Central and Southern Plains. Tornadoes could be an issued here again, so have those severe weather radios handy!

As High as a Cumulonimbus
Thanks to Walt Kruhoeffer for this picture who took a flight to Baltimore over the weekend and saw this towering cumulonimbus cloud in the distance. Note how the thunderstorm seems to flatten at the top... this is where the thunderstorm has reached the tropopause or the highest point in the troposphere. The troposphere happens to be the layer in the atmosphere where all the weather here on earth occurs in.

These are the different layers of the atmosphere, note the thunderstorm icon in the troposphere. Also note how the cruising altitude of the jet is located around the top of the thunderstorm at the tropopause. The graphic below is very reminiscent of picture above.

The reason for thunderstorms flattening out at the top is because as air parcels encounter the tropopause and the stratosphere where the air becomes more stable as temperatures begin warming with height. Air parcel here stop rising freely and become 'capped'. The yellow line below mimics the temperature profile within each layer of the atmosphere.


Took these yesterday on the way back from Saganaga Lake.  First one is of the Temperance River.  The others are at Gooseberry Falls.  Was hiking at Temperance last month and it was nothing like this.  Last time I was at Gooseberry was in March and I was ice climbing.  What a difference!!
Lightning question:

We were camped right by the border on Sag Lake Fri-Mon.  Sunday night we had a few bands of T-storms.  Nothing very severe but the lightning was amazing.  We were inside the tent so I couldn't see bolts but there had to have been 50-100 flashes per minute but rarely was there any thunder.  That might be something I'd associate with heat lightning but it never got above 55 degrees up there (if that).  Any idea what it was?  Also, any good references that explain when the danger is highest for CG lightning with a thunderstorm?


Thanks for the amazing pictures below Steve, they're amazing! I lived in Duluth for 4 years before moving back to the Twin Cities about 3 years ago. My wife and I hiked the North Shore often at different times of the year. It was always neat to see the river swollen (mainly in the spring during the snow melt), but I've never seen it like this after such heavy rains. I bet it was vivaciously loud, yea?

Now for your question regarding the 'heat lightning' - this is an interesting term because like you said, it never got above 55F while you were observing the lightning. Lightning always creates thunder, but either: a.) The lightning bolts occurred too far away from your location, so even the subtle noises of rain or wind drowned out the thunder making it harder for you to hear the thunder b.) the temperature profile of the atmosphere near you helped to refract the noise away from your specific location.

Did you know that the average number of lightning fatalities across the nation is 54? There have already been 3 lightning fatalities this year and in 2011 there were 26 fatalities. The last MN lightning fatalities were in 2009; a 14 year old girl was playing in the rain at her home in Stillwater and a 42 year old man was at home in St. Cloud doing yard work. The National Weather Service has coined a term "When thunder roars, go indoors". If you hear thunder, you are within striking distance! Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away. Ever hear of the phrase "Bolt from the blue"? It could be sunny over you, but a nearby thunderstorm could strike while you're least expecting it. Remember the 30/30 rule. It you can see lightning and hear thunder within 30 seconds (thunder travels at the speed of sound, so 5 seconds = 1 mile away; 30 seconds = 6 miles away) you are within striking distance, seek shelter immediately. Then, wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder to head back outside, this simple rule of thumb with improve your chances of surviving a potentially unexpected and fatal lightning strike!

Temperance River

Gooseberry Falls

Thanks for checking in, have a great rest of your week!
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV

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