Friday, October 12, 2012

Heaviest Rains Stay East (60s return; 70s by Monday)

53 F. high Friday in the Twin Cities.
60 F. average high for October 12.
69 F. high on October 12, 2011.

0" rain now predicted for the Twin Cities into Sunday.

60s likely today, 70s expected Monday.

Rare October Severe Outbreak. SPC has a broad swath of America in a "slight risk", from Green Bay and Rochester, Minnesota southward to Austin, Texas. The red area shows an enhanced risk, a 30% probability of severe weather within 25 miles of any location from Oklahoma City and Tulsa to Kansas City and Des Moines. Expect severe storms later today, a few supercells sprouting along the I-35 corridor may produce large tornadoes.

Lifted Index. According to lifted indices are forecast to drop as low as -7 to -9 from Oklahoma City to Wichita this evening, enough instability (coupled with wind shear aloft) capable of spinning up a few large, long-lasting tornadoes.

So close...and yet so far:
Total Rainfall By Sunday Night. Here is 4 km. NAM model data valid 1 am Monday morning, showing some 2-3" amounts near Madison and Milwaukee; the heaviest rain bands passing south and east of Minnesota.

Indian Summer Into Midweek - Touch of November Late Next Week. The ECMWF solution (above) shows 60s today, 70s Monday, 60s Tuesday before cooling into the low 40s by next Friday. The arrival of Canadian air spins up a major storm over the Great Lakes late next week, capable of a cold rain by Thursday and Friday. Temperatures aloft may be just cold enough for a little wet snow close to home late in the week - probably no accumulation.

Hints of Winter. The ECMWF model output above shows a storm "cutting off" from the main belt of westerlies over the Great Lakes midnight, next Thursday, moisture wrapping all the way around the low pressure system, approaching from the north. With 850 mb temperatures close to 32 F. I wouldn't be surprised to see a little wet snow mix in, especially over the northern half of Minnesota. Map above: WSI Corporation.

We only have so many major physical features on the planet, four or five, and you don’t really want to just start breaking them. That’s why we can’t have nice things.” - enviromentalist Bill McKibbon, appearing on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher". Check out one of the more important video clips you'll watch this year, a 12 minute interview from Image: NOAA/PMEL

Expected Rain A Drop In Bucket. Amen to that. Bill McAuliffe at The Star Tribune summarizes the state of our drought, and (growing) impact on lake and river water levels statewide; here's an excerpt: "...Across Minnesota, meanwhile, rivers and lakes are gasping. The St. Louis River near Scanlon, which rose to a record height in June and tore apart Jay Cooke State Park, was at what appeared to be its second-lowest height in more than 60 years Wednesday. The Minnesota River at Jordan was down to one-seventh of its historical average for the date. State rivers are contributing so little to the Mississippi that three-fourths of the water in the river downstream from La Crosse is now from the Wisconsin and Chippewa rivers, according to Steve Buan, hydrologist with the North Central River Forecast Center, an NOAA agency based in Chanhassen. And Lake Minnetonka has dropped 1.5 feet since late June. The low rivers could mean problems later, Buan said. Lack of flow allows logs and other debris to pile up, and can create obstructions when the water rises..."

Photo credit above: "Eden Valley farmer Tom Haag emptied corn into a holding wagon used to shuttle the grain to a nearby semi-trailer for transport back to the farmstead and a storage container." Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune.

Cyclones Brace For Storms. One of the more memorable headlines I've stumbled across. Storms over Ames, Iowa may be stormy for today's Iowa State home game; more details from The Ames Tribune: "...Rob Bowers, associate director of ISU’s department of public safety, said ISU public safety personnel are meeting today with officials from the city of Ames, including police, emergency medical services, fire and public works, to discuss the potential for bad weather and plans for reacting to it. Bowers said his staff has been working with the National Weather Service and the university’s own meteorology department since Tuesday, and has had ISU meteorology personnel running models on a daily basis to better track severe weather that may be headed to Ames. Large storms including lighting, hail and possibly tornadoes, are expected across the state Saturday. According to the National Weather Service, a strong area of low pressure from the southwest will head north tonight through Saturday..."

A Warm, Dry Bias. Here is an excerpt of this week's WeatherTalk blog from Mark Seeley: "This week NOAA also released a summary of national climate conditions during September. Nationally it was the 23rd warmest September on record, and the 16th consecutive month with above normal temperatures. It was also a dry month, with near record setting low statewide values for monthly precipitation in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. For the 2012 year so far the period from January to September has been the warmest first nine months in the USA climate records nationally. You can read more at

Photo credit above: "In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, farmer Bob Schaefers walks from the exit of a trail through his corn maze near Lollie, Ark. Devastating spring freezes and this year's historic drought have taken some of the charm out of rustic fall destinations, leaving some corn mazes too short for labyrinth duty, orchards virtually devoid of U-pick apples and fall colors muted." (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Up To The R's. It's the proverbial "bear in the woods" dilemma. If a hurricane forms out over open water in the mid-Atlantic does it still count? Absolutely. Rafael is the newest tropical storm getting its act together over the Lesser Antilles.

Rafael's Track. Right now it looks like Tropical Storm Rafael will not pose any risk to the USA, based on GFDL hurricane model guidance from NOAA. Once again the Canadian Maritimes may see the soggy, windblown dregs of a somewhat weakened storm by the end of next week.

U.S. Runs Out Of Funds To Battle Wildfires. Details from The Washington Post; here's an excerpt: "In the worst wildfire season on record, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service ran out of money to pay for firefighters, fire trucks and aircraft that dump retardant on monstrous flames. So officials did about the only thing they could: take money from other forest management programs. But many of the programs were aimed at preventing giant fires in the first place, and raiding their budgets meant putting off the removal of dried brush and dead wood over vast stretches of land — the things that fuel eye-popping blazes, threatening property and lives..."

Photo credit above: "Flames roar down the hill toward Paschal Sherman Indian School shortly after 51 live-in students were evacuated from the campus six miles from Omak, Wash., on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012." (AP Photo/The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle, Cary Rosenbaum)

A Wild Sky Above Phoenix. Kudos to Paul Alder for this time-lapse of cloud to ground lightning in the Phoenix area Friday via Facebook: "Fall Thunderstorms from Central Phoenix, Arizona this evening!!!! The cells were moving quickly to the north, so the clouds look fuzzy, but the lightning was beautiful!!!"

Touch of Disney. Thanks to one very prolific photographer by the name of Mike Hall for sending in this fabulous photo from Lewisport, Kentucky Friday. Very nice.

Frosty Start. Just staring at a photo like this one (snapped at Delta Junction Alaska) has a way of lowering my blood pressure. Thanks to Birch Leaf Photography and WeatherNation TV for sharing this one.

Looks Like Snow Showers. This photo comes from the Burlington, Vermont office of the NWS: "Great shot from the roof of the Burlington International Airport of some snow showers over the Bolton region.

"Smart Bra" Acts As An Early Warning System For Breast Cancer. The arc of technology is truly remarkable; new breakthroughs may allow women (wearing the right bra) to get notification if something isn't quite right. has the story; here's an excerpt: "We’ve previously seen bras that monitor a wearer’s heart rate, double as an emergency facemask, or help women search for a husband. But the BSE (breast self exam) bra being developed by First Warning Systems looks to be the best bit of added functionality for the support undergarment we’ve come across yet. Using sensors integrated into the cups, the bra looks for the slight variations in temperature on the surface of the breast that can indicate a tumor growing within..."

9 Things Not To Wear On A Plane. This caught my eye (how could it not?) Mea culpa. Men are such simple (borderline pathetic) creatures. Here's a clip from a visual, laugh-worthy article at "The rules of in-flight fashion are different from those on the ground. When you're sitting for hours in a metal tube flying 35,000 feet in the air, comfort trumps style. Wear an outfit that keeps you cozy and relaxed, and you'll likely appear more chic than the traveler struggling with heavy bags in four-inch stilettos or the one sweating in too-tight synthetic fabrics. To look and feel your best while jet-setting, avoid the following in-flight fashion faux pas."

Jacket-Weary. Yes, it's too cool, too early. Which means we're due for a correction, starting today. 60s are likely over central and southern Minnesota, a few degrees above average for a change. Friday highs ranged from 42 at Grand Marais to 52 St. Cloud, 53 Twin Cities, 54 Rochester and 55 Redwood Falls.

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

TODAY: More clouds than sun, milder, Showers far southeast. Winds: S 10. High: 66

SATURDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds. Low: 47

SUNDAY: Clouds & sun, turning a bit cooler. Winds: NW 15. High: 63

MONDAY: Indian Summer! Lukewarm sun - very nice. Low: 46. High: 74

TUESDAY: More clouds, stray shower possible. Low: 52. High: 68

WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase - PM rain likely. Low: 48. High: 61

THURSDAY: Windy. Cold rain. Low: 41. High: 46

FRIDAY: Rain mixes with wet snow? Cold, windy and raw. Low: 37. High: 42

* Photo above: Mike Hall.

What Rain?

You should see my office. It's the one with little dents in the sheet rock - from me banging my big fat head against the wall.

I feel cheated, meteorologically violated.

Here, let me blame the computer models.

The future is never black or white. It's always some nebulous shade of gray. Our confidence goes up when a). all the models agree, and b). there is continuity from run to run. Such was the case earlier this week - but the latest solutions show the heaviest rain bands (and severe storms) from Iowa into Wisconsin, brushing southeast Minnesota. We may see a lonely shower, but not the soaking we had hoped for.

One silver lining: you can stash the heavy jackets - for now. This soggy southern storm pulls mild air north; highs top 60 today & Sunday, 70s are likely Monday.

Then it gets interesting. A soggy cold front Wednesday "cuts off", stalls over the Great Lakes, sending a swirl of rain, possibly mixed with wet snow, into Minnesota by next Friday. Slushy lawns in a week? I wouldn't be shocked. In fact very little surprises me these days.

Long-range models bring more 60s into town the last week of October. Wait, these are the same models that said it would rain today.

Buyer beware.

Climate Stories...

Hottest Year So Far In Philadelphia. And a large chunk of the USA, for that matter. Here's an excerpt from a story at "2012 is on pace to be the warmest on record in more than 100 U.S. towns and cities, including Philadelphia, and for the continental United States as a whole, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Philadelphia has certainly seen some extremes in recent years. 2011 was Philadelphia's wettest year on record, with precipitation equalling 64.33 inches of water. The winter of 2009-10 had the most snow ever, 78.7 inches. For the first nine months of 2012, Philadelphia's average temperature was 62.2 degrees, 3.5 degrees above the average during the two decades from 1981 to 2010. The city's record covers the last 65 years..."

Graphic credit above: "The continental U.S. had its hottest average temperature in 118 years, according to federal researchers. Five of eight regions also set records (in red), while three others had their second or third highest average temperatures. The Pacific Northwest was also "above normal."

Yale Poll: Large And Growing Majority Of Americans Say "Global Warming Is Affecting Weather In The United States." Here's a snippet from a story at Think Progress"Yet another survey finds that the public accurately understands global warming makes extreme weather events worse. This new poll from George Mason University and Yale’s Project on Climate Change Communication matches the finding of a February Brookings poll that found Americans’ understanding of climate change was increasing with more extreme weather and warmer temperatures. Heck, the weather has been so off the charts that even the major media have taken notice (see Every Network Gets Extreme Weather Story Right, ‘Now’s The Time We Start Limiting Manmade Greenhouse Gases’ — ABC). And the public’s understanding certainly matches the science (see “Has Global Warming Caused A Quantum Jump In Extreme Weather?” and links below)."

Forests To Feel Climate Change Effect - Damage Could Cost Billions. One of my fears, one of many, is that these problems with bark beetles and other pests begin to impact Minnesota's North Woods and the BWCA. I'm holding my breath, especially after reading this article at; here's an excerpt: "Researchers from Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland believe that changes in both temperature and precipitation will affect the range of most tree species. Their estimates were calculated on a wide range of temperature increases, between 1.4 C and 5.8 C. The anticipate this will occur even if the climate change scenario is not extreme. Cold-adapted and mesic species, including Norway spruce, which is the biggest contributor to the economic value of European forests, will feel the biggest crunch..."

Image credit above: "A new pan-European study suggests that the economic value of forests will decline between 14% and 50% due to climate change. If measures are not taken to change this, the damage could reach several hundred billion euros, say researchers led by the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) in Switzerland. The study was presented in the journal Nature Climate Change."

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