Thursday, June 14, 2012

10" Rains Near Cannon Falls (sunniest days: today & Father's Day)

70 F. high on Thursday at KMSP.

79 F. average high for June 14.
80 F. high last year, on June 14, 2011.
.83" rain fell at Twin Cities International Airport Thursday.

Sunshine likely much of today and Father's Day. Showers/T-storms expected Saturday (.39" rain predicted by NAM).

Dew Point Outlook:
63 F. Today
68 F. Saturday
55 F. Sunday
* thanks to for the lovely Father's Day sentiment above.

Staggering Amounts Of Rain. The map above shows Doppler radar rainfall estimates from the Twin Cities (KMPX) Doppler; as much as 10" between Northfield and Cannon Falls. To put that into perspective, that's more than 2 month's worth of rain, falling in 8 hours. Some of these returns may have been tainted by hail in the storm, but I'm fairly confident at least 7-8" of rain fell over the far southern suburbs of the Twin Cities, resulting in serious flash flooding.

Thursday Damage Reports. Here's a useful link that displays (on a navigable Google map) the very latest damage reports, including hail, high winds, even a report of a funnel cloud near Faribault Thursday evening; map courtesy of NOAA.

* the very latest damage (and rainfall) reports from NOAA are here.

Cyber Pearl Harbor: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has a dire warning about America's ongoing vulnerability to cyber-attacks; details below. Image above courtesy of

Freak Dallas Hailstorm. Officials estimate as much as $400 million in damage from Wednesday's raging hailstorm. Details below. Photo above courtesy of

A Wild Sky. Thanks to Lori Hecamovich who snapped these photos near Rochester Thursday evening as torrential rains approached. She described the rain as the heaviest she had ever witnessed....ever.

Nickel-Size Hail. Thanks to WeatherNation TV meteorologist Addison Green for sending in a photo, showing hail-size from Thursday morning's storms - hail the size of dimes and nickels in Uptown!

Friday Severe Threat. Things settle downa  bit today, but storms may exceed severe limits from the Black Hills of South Dakota southward to Denver, according to SPC.

Parade Of Storms. It seems like we get whacked every other day, a trend that will continue through Thursday of next week. According to the latest ECMWF (European) model Saturday and Tuesday appear to be the wettest days.

Weekend Details. As I've been saying for a few days now, best to have a Plan B for part of the day Saturday. It won't rain all day, but the ECMWF forecast (above) shows a high chance of showers and T-storms much of the day. Sunday looks dry - good news for Dad. Grad party our outdoor wedding tomorrow? Rent the tent!

Serious Puddle Potential. We get a badly needed break from monster-puddles today, again Father's Day. I suspect we'll pick up less than half an inch of rain Saturday, although - locally - some 1"+ amounts are possible. A series of low pressure waves rippling along a stalled east-west frontal boundary next week will mean more heavy showers and storms. The 18z GFS hints at 7" of additional rain by next Thursday!

A "Best Buy" Tornado Sale. Something good came of the 1981 Har Mar Tornado that swept through the heart of the Twin Cities, a "best buy" sale that had such good results that it resulted in the birth of the company we now know as Best Buy. YouTube video of the original 1981 tornado is here; Rick Kupchella's Bring Me The News has more details: "The tornado damaged a Roseville "Sound of Music" store, which led to a State Fair "best buy" tornado sale. That sale launched a low-price, no-frills retail environment."

Anniversary Of "Tornado Sale" That Changed Everything. Talk about an amazing "creation story". The Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal has more details on a 1981 tornado that gave rise to a tech empire; here's an excerpt: "Best Buy didn’t exactly rise from the ashes, but its name and marketing strategy were spun out of a tornado 30 years ago Tuesday. Best Buy founder Richard Schulze called his company Sound of Music when a tornado whipped through Roseville on June 14, 1981, destroying the store and littering the area with merchandise. (See the photos to the right). Employees recovered the scattered inventory and stacked it on tables in the store’s parking lot. Sound of Music slashed prices and advertised a “Tornado Sale.” The sale also was promoted as a “Best Buy,” and people stood in long lines to buy the discounted goods."

New Mexico "Little Bear" Blaze. You can see the fire retardant dropped on the "Little Bear" fire near Ruidoso, New Mexico, courtesy of Kari Green at the U.S. Forest Service.

Did you know:
Most fire retardant dropped from planes is a diammonium phosphate with a guar gum thickener. It acts as both a flame retardant and fertilizer after the fire to promote plant growth.

High park fire: Over 1,200 personnel, 46,820 acres burned, 10% contained.
Whitewater- Baldy fire: 446 personnel, 289,478 acres burned, 56% contained
Little Bear fire: 37, 912 acres burned, 40% contained.

* information courtesy of Inciweb and Wikipedia.

Monsoon Awareness Week. Not something we need to worry about in Minnesota (or do we?) Sizzling heat over the desert southwest pulls Pacific moisture inland, resulting in torrential rains and winds capable of whipping up blizzard-like duststorms. More from the Las Vegas office of the NWS, via Facebook: "June 10th through the 15th is Monsoon Safety Awareness Week in Arizona and New Mexico. Today's topic is Winds & Dust Storms."

Freakish Hailstorm Pummels Dallas (Video). Some amazing details (and video) from Yahoo News; here's an excerpt: "The images look like snow, but Dallas residents will tell you it was no winter wonderland. "Oh my gosh, this is the biggest hailstorm I have ever witnessed in my life," shouted Hannah Jones while videotaping chunks of hail pelting her pool and backyard. Supercell storms packing  heavy rain and droves of damaging hail swept across parts of North Texas Wednesday evening. Some stones were as big as baseballs."

Sitting Ducks. Don't you just love the people who stop under a highway overpass during a hailstorm, to protect their precious vehicles, leading to a back-up of vehicles behind them? Everyone else is a sitting duck. It's an "every man for himself" mentality. I understand the desire to keep your car or truck ding-free, but by doing so you threaten everyone else on the highway behind you. Not good. Here's an explanation of the hailstorm that hit Dallas Wednesday evening, from the Norman Office of the NWS, via Facebook: "This pic is from the DFW area yesterday, where a hailstorm caused a lot of damage. This is why we urge you to not park under highway overpasses in storms. The vehicles you see here are trapped out in the hail with nowhere to go. It’s a very good thing there wasn’t a tornado with this storm!"

Local Storm Chaser Risks Life For "Perfect Shot". I enjoyed this article, courtesy of Houston Public Radio. If you're a storm chaser or interested in severe weather, it's worth your time to dig in. Here's an excerpt: "If you’re unlucky enough to get caught in a weak tornado, it would sound something like this ..."I’m escaping the tornado. Its right next to me … oh god, here we go. This is the tornado. Oh god, oh help me …" That’s storm chaser Hank Schyma, scrambling desperately in his 4Runner to escape a mile wide F1 tornado in Cooperton, Oklahoma earlier this year. The tornado literally chased him down the road. It’s hard to imagine Schyma in that situation as he sits in the safety of his home in Midtown surrounded by cameras and maps, the tools of his storm chasing. But here’s how it happened: "The tornado just did this freak figure eight maneuver and it was like your worst nightmare. I kept moving out of its way and it kept changing direction, it would not stop chasing me. The whole things on video."

Photo credit above: Hank Schyma

Weather Poetry. Keith Olbermann (yes, that Keith Olbermann) sent in this photo from Manhattan, writing: "And some of the sunset playing off the clouds over midtown." Photo courtesy of Twitpic. Thanks Keith.

"Ask Paul." Weather-related Q&A:
"I was wondering if maps showing yearly precipitation for Minnesota or the Metro Area are available somewhere. I have attached a sample of what I'm looking for but it is for average annual precip - I would like a map of actual yearly data."
Mark Larson

2011 Precipitation. Thanks to Pete Boulay for tracking down this URL that has actual precipitation amounts (in map form) for Minnesota, dating back to 1990. I don't have a map for 2012, to date, but I'l lkeep looking. Data courtesy of the Minnesota Climatology Working Group. Mark, I hope this helps you in your quest.

Tropical Storm Carlotta Aims At Mexico Pacific Coast. Details from Reuters: "Tropical storm Carlotta strengthened off Mexico's Pacific coast on Thursday and was expected to become a hurricane on Friday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Carlotta, the third named storm of the Pacific hurricane season, is set to graze the coastline south of tourist city Acapulco and pass north of Mexico's largest oil refinery. State oil company Pemex said it was monitoring the storm and the 330,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery was operating normally on Thursday. Carlotta's path is far from the Baja California resort of Los Cabos where world leaders are set convene next week for the Group of 20 leaders of top economies on June 18-19." Map courtesy of NHC and Ham Weather.

Where Is June? This photo was snapped on June 12 at the Logan Pass, Montana visitor center, in Glacier National Park. Good grief.

Panetta Warns Of Cyber Pearl Harbor: "The Capability to Paralyze This Country Is There Now". The next wave in military threats: drones and cyber-attacks. When you consider that a guy, sitting in his underwear somewhere in central China, could (in theory) bring down America's electrical grid, it kind of puts other threats into stark perspective. Here's an excerpt of a must-read article from "Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned a Senate panel today that America faces "the potential for another Pearl Harbor" launched by enemies who have the capability to wield a cyberattack that would “paralyze this country.” Panetta made his remarks under questioning by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) during a Department of Defense (DOD) budget hearing held by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. Referring to a potential cyberattack against the United States, Graham asked, “You said something that just kind of went over everybody’s head, I think, that there’s a Pearl Harbor in the making here."

"Lucky You." You probably know a few people who have a sense of entitlement. They went to the "right school". They "paid their dues". America owes them now, and they will take what's their's for the taking. If you have a couple of minutes you might want to read author Michael Lewis's commencement address to the graduating students at Princeton. He talks about luck. How lucky we all are to have been born in the USA. Yes, we all work hard, but there's no denying the role that luck plays in each of our lives. His message: those who have been lucky in life have a moral obligation to give back to those who have been unlucky. I'm sure Wall Street bankers, the so-called "Masters of the Universe" won't especially want to read this, but I think Lewis makes a very important point. Here's an excerpt of his speech from The Atlanta Journal Constitution: "This experiment helps to explain Wall Street bonuses and CEO pay, and I’m sure lots of other human behavior. But it also is relevant to new graduates of Princeton University. In a general sort of way you have been appointed the leader of the group. Your appointment may not be entirely arbitrary. But you must sense its arbitrary aspect: you are the lucky few. Lucky in your parents, lucky in your country, lucky that a place like Princeton exists that can take in lucky people, introduce them to other lucky people, and increase their chances of becoming even luckier. Lucky that you live in the richest society the world has ever seen, in a time when no one actually expects you to sacrifice your interests to anything." Photo above courtesy of

These 6 Corporations Control 90% Of The Media In America. Business Insider has a great infographic, and some amazing details; here's an excerpt: "This infographic created by Jason at Frugal Dad shows that almost all media comes from the same six sources. That's consolidated from 50 companies back in 1983. NOTE: This infographic is from last year and is missing some key transactions. GE does not own NBC (or Comcast or any media) anymore. So that 6th company is now Comcast. And Time Warner doesn't own AOL, so Huffington Post isn't affiliated with them."

John Deere's "Tango EF" Autonomous Lawn Mower. Your lawn mowing chores may get easier in the years ahead, at least if John Deere has anything to say about it; details from "The TANGO E5 will not only mow your lawn without you having to move off your garden lounge, but it will do so at times when you’d rather be indoors. This is because the unit boasts all weather capability which allows it scythe its way through your overgrown greenery no matter how persistent the precipitation. The unit is powered by a 36 volt, 2600 mAh lithium-ion rechargeable battery and will mow an area of up to 1,800 square meters. This space has to be defined by a user/specialist dealer installed boundary wire that helps to keep the mower from heading across the road and visiting your neighbor’s petunia bed."

New WGN Promo: "We Put The Suck In Succeed". Well, here's a new angle. has more compelling, head-scratching details (and the video itself): "WGN, a station that bills itself as “Chicago’s Own,” unveiled a new promo this week that urges viewers to tune into the station’s morning show for its “robots, transvestites, giant vegetables, and lots of explosives.”

Monsoon Season. Did I mention that June is, historically, the wettest, most severe month of the year in Minnesota? No kidding Paul. After 1.2" of rain early in the day the sun came out at Alexandria, and the mercury shot up to 81, 88 at Redwood Falls. Clouds and heavy rain kept temperatures cooler farther east, a high of only 72 at St. Cloud, 70 in the Twin Cities, only 65 at Eau Claire.

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

TODAY: Plenty of sticky sun. Drier than yesterday. Dew point: 63. Winds: E 5. High: 88

FRIDAY NIGHT: Dry evening. T-storms possible late. Low: 67

SATURDAY: Wetter day of the weekend. Showers, possible thunder. Dew point: 68. Winds: SW 10. High: 81

FATHERS DAY: Sunny and pleasant, risk of sunburn. Dew point: 55. Winds: S 10. Low: 65. High: 86

MONDAY: Hot, sticky, heavy T-storms. Dew point: 65. Low: 69. High: 88

TUESDAY: Unsettled, more showers and T-storms. Low: 66. High: 82

WEDNESDAY: "Stinking hot". Some sun - severe storm risk later. Low: 68. High: 92

THURSDAY: Windy and cooler - Showers taper, turning less humid. Low: 62. High: 76

Tornadic Silver Lining

Sometimes bad things have a silver lining, a good outcome over the long term. The massive F5 tornado that leveled much of north Rochester on August 21, 1883 left 37 dead and hundreds injured. But Wikipedia reports "(Doctors) banded together to form St. Mary's Hospital, which ultimately led to the creation of the Mayo Clinic and the Tornado Guild, a group dedicated to protecting all Minnesotans from the ravages of the swirling winds."

The 1981 Har Mar tornado damaged a Roseville Sound of Music store. A subsequent State Fair "Best Buy" sale was a success, launching the chain that has lured tech-enthusiasts ever since. Strange, but true.

"The animals are pairing up and collecting wood for the ark" reported Northern Trust's Jeff Huybrecht yesterday. Welcome to June, monsoon season in "Mud-esota"; the wettest, most severe month of the year, on average.

The weekend outlook has crystallized. Sticky sun today gives way to heavy T-storms late tonight and Saturday. Have a Plan B for a few hours tomorrow.

Amazingly, Father's Day looks like the sunnier day: mid 80s (and a risk of sunburn). A stalled front keeps us stormy from Sunday night into Thursday.

A free watering for all!

Climate Stories...

The Vanishing North. A warming Arctic will bring new prosperity to some, opening up waters for drilling and exploration. But in this article from The Economist, a rapid thaw up north will bring potential problems and challenges as well. Here's an excerpt: "NOW that summer is here, the Arctic is crowded with life. Phytoplankton are blooming in its chilly seas. Fish, birds and whales are gorging on them. Millions of migratory geese are in their northern breeding grounds. And the area is teeming with scientists, performing a new Arctic ritual. Between now and early September, when the polar pack ice shrivels to its summer minimum, they will pore over the daily sea ice reports of America’s National Snow and Ice Data Centre. Its satellite data will show that the ice has shrunk far below the long-term average. This is no anomaly: since the 1970s the sea ice has retreated by around 12% each decade. Last year the summer minimum was 4.33m square km (1.67m square miles)—almost half the average for the 1960s." Image above: NOAA.

Major Cities Already Being Impacted By Climate Change. has a long look at major metropolitan areas around the world already seeing the effects of a changing climate; here's an excerpt: "The April 2010 storm brought the heaviest rains to hit Rio in decades, triggering mudslides that crushed shacks in hillside slums and caused traffic chaos on flooded city streets. At the time, Mayor Eduardo Paes described the city's preparedness as "less than zero." A little less than a year later, in January 2011, flooding and mudslides ravaged several cities in the north of the state of Rio de Janeiro and 1,000 people lost their lives, according to the city. In the latest CDP Cities report, Rio anticipates climate change will produce an increase in landslides, flooding and water pollution."

Climate Change To Increase Wildfires. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Hill: "A major new study finds wildfires in the western U.S. are likely to increase because of climate change. The findings arrive as fires in the West are forcing federal officials to try and boost resources to confront the blazes. New Mexico is fighting the largest fire in its history, while Colorado’s wildfire is among its worst. President Obama on Wednesday signed legislation to speed up federal contracting for big aerial tankers to fight the wildfires in an effort to provide help to states in trouble. The study in the journal Ecosphere suggests a growing danger for the United States."

Climate Change Drives Researcher. has a fascinating article; here's an excerpt: "Clutching his remote control, Steven C. Amstrup watches the news of killer tornadoes, destructive hurricanes, hot and cold temperature extremes -- and wishes he could put words into the mouths of those reporters and weather forecasters. "They should add on the end of every one of these stories . . . 'these sorts of events will continue to increase in number and severity as the world continues to warm,' " Amstrup said from his home in Kettle Falls, Wash. "Adding that to the broadcast might begin to get people's attention." More attention to global warming's impact on weather extremes can lead to more action. More action can lead to real solutions."

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