April 1st Comet Flyby!
Green comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak is flying over Earth's North Pole this week where sky watchers can find it all night long not far from the bowl of the Big Dipper. At closest approach on April 1st it will be just 21 million km from Earth--an easy target for backyard telescopes and almost visible to the naked eye. This is not a Great Comet, but it should be a good one. The best time to observe is during the dark hours before sunrise when the green fuzzball is high in the northern sky. If you have a GOTO telescope, you can point it using an ephemeris from the Minor Planet Center.
See more from Spaceweather HERE:
(Taken by Yasushi Aoshima on March 22, 2017 @ Fukushima, JAPAN via Spaceweather.com)
According to NOAA's SPC, the risk of severe weather continues right through the weekend and potentially into early next week. The images below are the severe threats on Saturday and Sunday respectively. In these particular areas, large hail, damaging winds, isolated tornadoes and locally heavy rainfall will all be possible.
Southern Rainfall Potential
2017 PRELIMINARY Tornado Count
According to NOAA's SPC, the PRELIMINARY tornado count for 2017 is at 423 (thru March 30). Interestingly, this is the highest number of tornado reports (thru March 30th) since 2012 when nearly 500 tornadoes were reported through that time frame. The 2005-2015 average number of tornado reports through March 30th is 219.
Precipitation Last 90 Days
Here's an interesting map! The radar estimated precipitation over the last 90 days suggests that nearly 40"+ of liquid precipitation has fallen across parts of the Western US since the end of December 2016! A steady stream of Pacific moisture earlier in the year really helped to boost precipitation values across the region.
By Paul Douglas
"Ceraunophilia" is a vaguely irrational love of lightning and thunder. I can't say I suffer from that affliction. I have a healthy respect for thunderstorms, having studied them for 45 year. It's true that a subset of thunderstorms can spawn large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes. But less than 1 in 10 T-storms will turn severe; fewer than 1 in 100 will ever spin up a tornado. If it wasn't for thunderstorms during the warm season Minnesota would have a climate similar to New Mexico. Precious little would grow here.
A higher sun angle will coax warmth & moisture northward from the Gulf of Mexico, increasing the potential for severe storms as we sail into April and May.
Weather apps, NOAA Weather Radio, local media & social media and sirens can keep you informed, but there's still no substitute for common sense. First growl of thunder? Head inside.
Saturday should be the nicer day of the weekend; a late-day instability shower Sunday. Big storms continue to track south of town this week. ECMWF guidance hints at 70F a week from Sunday, with a debilitating case of spring fever.
Average: Low: 31F (Record: 9F set in 1975)
*Daylight Gained Since Winter Solstice (December 21st): ~4 hours & 4 minute
2.5 Days Before First Quarter