Friday, March 14, 2014

Atmospheric Tug O' War

Tug O' War

By Todd Nelson 

The month of March is always a month of change. The atmosphere responds to the increase in sun intensity by not only warming the atmosphere, but whipping up stronger storm systems responsible for heavy snow and severe weather.

Would it surprise you to know that the sun is about as strong now as it was in late September? The sun's most direct rays will cross the Equator this Thursday (Vernal Equinox), meaning it will officially be Spring in the Northern Hemisphere!

We've gained nearly 3 hours of daylight since the shortest days of the year in late December. It sure is nice having that extra hour of daylight when you get home from work or school, but I think I'm still adjusting to the time change. It's never easy losing that hour, especially with kids.

Even though the calendar says Spring, it's interesting to note that March is typically our 3rd snowiest month, averaging a little less than 11" over the past 30 years. So far this March, we've only seen 0.3", so that makes me think we're due for something.
Weather maps look more interesting as we head into early next week. It appears that there is some accumulating snow potential close to home, stay tuned!

FRIDAY NIGHT: Still breezy. Partly cloudy and colder. Low: 18. Winds: Turning NNE 10-15mph.

SATURDAY: Clipper potential. Coating of snow possible, mainly across extreme southern MN. High:30. Winds: NE 10-15mph

SATURDAY NIGHT: Gradual clearing and colder. Low: 8. Winds: NE 10-15mph

SUNDAY: Chilly start with sunshine. Clouds thicken late with a light wintry mix developing overnight, mainly across northern MN. High: 24.

MONDAY: More clouds. Light wintry mix possible. Wake-up: 15. High: 35

TUESDAY: Growing snow chance. Wake-up: 26. High: 37

WEDNESDAY: Lingering light snow early. Cooler. Wake-up: 25. High: 37

THURSDAY: Happy Spring! Feeling warmer. Wake-up: 22. High: 42

FRIDAY: Clouds thicken, chance of PM rain? Wake-up: 27. High: 45.

Minneapolis Temperature Trend

The image below shows the temperature trend for Minneapolis through midweek next week. This will actually take us through into the early part of astronomical spring as the Vernal Equinox is next Thursday, March 20th! Note that the temperature trend still looks to be on a bit of a bender over the next couple of weeks. Temperature could spike to above normal levels just after the Vernal Equinox next Thursday, but may yet again dip by the end of the month. Stay tuned!

Saturday Clipper

I'm keeping an eye on this fast moving clipper that will be moving quickly across southern Minnesota on Saturday. This will have the potential to drop a quick coating to a few inches of snow across the extreme southern part of the state. If your travel plans take you near I-90 on Saturday, roads could become snow covered and slippery, travel with caution.

Saturday Snow Potential

It'll be a close call for folks in the Twin Cities, but it appears that the heaviest accumulations with this particular clipper will be south of the city.

Lake Superior

Thanks to Aaron Weidner for the image below from the North Shore of Lake Superior. He managed to snap this picture from Grand Superior Lodge on Friday.

Lake Superior Ice Coverage

The picture above from near near Two Harbors, MN shows a little open water near the shore, but according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory suggests that Lake Superior was still 94.2% ice coverage as of Friday, March 14th.

Great Lakes Ice Coverage Update

According to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, the Great Lakes Ice Coverage was was still at 85.6% as of Thursday, March 13th. this is down from it's peak of 92.2% last Saturday, March 8th. The record Great Lakes ice coverage occurred in 1979 at 94.7%.

March Temperature Anomaly

Meteorological Winter was one of the coldest winters on record for a number of states in the Midwest. Interestingly, temperatures through the first half of March have been trending cold for some of the same areas.

Temperature Outlook

Stuck in a cold rut... UGH! Take a look at the 8 to 14 day temperature outlook. Note that the northern half of the U.S. looks to stay cooler than average for the last week of the Month.

Developing Storm System

A developing storm system across the southern portion of the country will intensify through early next week to bring thunderstorms and wintry precipitation from Texas into the Northeast. Keep in mind that some of the thunderstorms could be a little on the strong to severe side, while some of the wintry precipitation could be problematic for travelers. 

Severe Threat Saturday

The Storm Prediction Center has issued a SLIGHT RISK of severe weather for parts of the Southern Plains, including the northeastern part of Texas for Saturday. The primary threat with an thunderstorm activity would be hail and high winds, but an isolated tornado can't be ruled out.

Future Radar

Here's a preview of what the radar could look like into Saturday evening/early Sunday morning as a line of thunderstorms develops over eastern Texas and pushes east into the Lower Mississippi Valley. Note also that heading into early Sunday morning, there appears to be some decent wintry precipitation developing along the northern periphery of the storm! This is going to be something to watch!

Severe Potential in Texas

Here's a 'Graphicast' from the National Weather Service out of Dallas/Ft. Worth.

A spring-like storm system will bring a round of rain and thunderstorms to North and Central Texas tomorrow, mainly during the afternoon and evening hours. Some storms will be strong to severe, especially for the red shaded area where the atmosphere will become more unstable. The main severe threats tomorrow are large hail and damaging winds, but there is some potential for an isolated tornado. Rain coverage will be highest across the northern and eastern areas where average rain amounts will be near a half inch to 1 inch. Rain amounts will be more spotty as you head southwest as the coverage of storms becomes more scattered, but again, the storms in this area will be more intense.

See more from the NWS Dallas/Ft. Worth HERE:

Precipitation Outlook

Here's the NOAA 3 day precipitation outlook through PM Monday. Note the heavier precipitation potential across the Gulf Coast States. This heavier precipitation potential will be aided by thunderstorm activity, which again could be strong to severe in spots.

Upcoming Snow Potential

According to NOAA's WPC, the probability of at least 2" of snow or more is quite high from the Middle Mississippi Valley to the Mid-Atlantic states through early next week.

Snow Storm Potential

According to NOAA's WPC, the probability of at least 8" of snow or more is still fairly high through early next week. Note the probability of at least 8" of snow or more is greatest near the D.C. area! Stay tuned for more!

Thanks for checking in and have a great weekend ahead! Don't forget to check me out on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV


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