Update 9:45 am:
1.22" rainfall (and counting) at the Huttner Weather lab in the west metro as of 9:45am.
***Orignal post 9:02am***
Talk about April showers...on steroids.
A major Midwest storm is wringing out steady moderate to heavy rainfall in Minnesota & western Wisconsin today.
The storm is producing some impressive rainfall totals. Rains have already topped 1 inch in southeast Minnesota, and will likely top 2"+ in some areas by early Wednesday.
To the south, another severe weather outbreak has left at least 7 dead in Arkansas overnight. Preliminary SPC reports indicate as many as 38 tornadoes swept across Texas, Arkansas & Tennessee Monday & Monday night.
The same area remains under a moderate to high risk for severe weather and tornadoes today according the latest convective outlook from SPC.
Here's the alarming verbiage form SPC today.
"The Storm Prediction Center is forecasting a major severe weather outbreak today and/or tonight. Details below."
A powerful spring storm is responsible for both our soggy Tuesday and the deadly severe outbreak in the Southern Plains.
The surface low is winding up in eastern Iowa this morning, and will stall over Wisconsin through tomorrow.
The slow motion storm will mean rain (and some snow) will linger over the Upper Midwest, with another day of severe weather along the trailing cold front in the south.
Rainfall totals are already impressive. Over an inch has fallen near Rochester, with a healthy .95" in the weather lab Deephaven rain gauge as of 8:20 am.
Here are some other rainfall totals as of 7 am this morning.
This NWS storm total rainfall estimate map may end up on the conservative side.
A strong steady wind is howling today as the storm winds up and wraps into Minnesota. Winds are gusting to over 30 mph in some areas.
Snow mixes in tonight & Wednesday?
It does appear the lowest mile of the atmosphere will be just cold enough to mix in some wet snowflakes late tonight and early Wednesday. The best chance for accumulating snow will be north & east of the metro. There could be a few inches of slush early Wednesday morning in Rice Lake, Hayward & Spooner up toward the Brule River.
Any snow that does mix in in the metro will not stick with temps above freezing.
Severe April 2011: All time USA tornado record?
The swarm of tornado outbreaks this month is simply freakish, off the charts crazy.
Remember these are preliminary numbers, but check out these stunning numbers so far in April from SPC.
559 (and counting daily) - Preliminary USA tornado count so far in April 2011.
267 - Previous April tornado record set in 1974 (Year of the "Super Outbreak.")
543 - All time monthly USA tornado record set in May 2003.
39 - tornado fatalities so far this month. (3 year running April average is 6.)
12 - "Killer tornadoes" so far this month. (Annual average is 22.)
38 - Additional tornado reports Monday.
Even with the expected "downward adjustment" from preliminary to final tornado numbers in April, it seems clear we have already smashed the previous April record of 267 tornadoes from the "Super Outbreak" year of 1974.
As we add more tornaodes today, it's possible we may make a run at the all time monthly record of 543 set in May 2003 when the final numbers are counted.
It is clear that this April will be one for the (tornado) record books.
The Big Question: Why?
There is consensus that tornadoes increase in the central plains in La Nina years like 2011.
Here's a post from the excellent 'Capital Weather Gang" blog.
"A study that examined the relationship between sea surface temperatures in the Pacific and the number of tornadoes in the U.S. found a weak correlation between La Nina and a greater number of tornadoes. Another study found tornadoes during La Niña years had longer than average track lengths, more violent tornadoes, and a good probability of having an outbreak of 40 or more tornadoes. Brooks points out that both the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak in 1965 and the Super Outbreak in 1974 occurred during La Nina years."
There is also evidence that though overall annual tornado numbers have increased dramatically since the 1950s. Some (much?) of that increase is due to increased and more accurate reporting of tornadoes.
Today's Doppler networks, high resolutions satellite, TV weather wars and caravans of nomadic storm chasers roaming the plains with digital video cameras and cell phones leave very few tornadoes undetected.
What we don't know is why some years like this year are so off the charts, out of control tornado spawning beasts.
I've had the pleasure if sharing interviews and dinner with folks like Greg Carbin at SPC and Howie Bluestein who are featured in the NY Times piece that came out Monday. It is because of dedicated people like Greg & Howie (and thousands of others) that we have success stories like Friday's EF-4 (possible EF-5?) tornado in St. Louis where NWS warnings gave a 22 minute lead time and nobody was seriously hurt or killed.
We did not get so lucky last night in Arkansas, where violent tornadoes and flash flood claimed multiple lives.
Here in Minnesota we can take away a couple of things. Last year's all time Minnesota tornado record (final tally of 113?) may not have been a freak occurrence. Our overall tornado numbers have nearly doubled since the 1950s from around 26 per year to nearly 50.
Also, severe weather season will move north over the next 4-6 weeks. Now is the time to be ready, so that if the St. Louis & Arkansas type tornadoes move north you'll be prepared.
At least the heavy rain is over.
The core of the steady rain delivering part of our weather system is fading, but the cold, wind, and lighter mist & drizzle will linger overnight into early Wednesday.
Part 2 of our slow motion weather system will bring a return of rain and even some possible snow showers by late Wednesday in the "wrap around" precip shield on the system's back side.
It looks like several locations will set daily rainfall records for April 26th.
So far Twin Cities Airport has bucketed 1.44" of rain as of late afternoon. That smashes the previous daily rainfall record of 1.26" set in 1893.
Here are some additional rainfall totals from today:
St. Paul Holman Field 1.51"
Target Field - Visitor's dugout 1.45"
Eden Prairie 1.44"
Rainfall "Bull's Eye:"
Today's swirling rainfall vortex centered from the metro down to Rochester, with a huge area of 1"+ rainfall totals.
The system's heavy precip "conveyor belt" is breaking down and the heavier steadier rainfall is fading. Now the colder air is wrapping into the system from the northeast. Look for a changeover to snow in many areas tonight into Wednesday. Precip may "phase" back and forth from drizzle to snow Wednesday during the daylight hours with temperatures hovering either side of the critical 32 degree mark in the lowest 5,000 feet of the atmosphere.
It does look like there will be some slushy accumulations from the North Shore and Duluth into northwest Wisconsin.
It may be cold enough for some wet snowflakes in the metro overnight and then again Wednesday evening. Oh the joy!
Twins tie 2010 rain out tally, in April!:
The score is tied at 2, and it's only the top of the 2nd inning.
Today's 2nd rainout of the 2011 season at Target Field ties the entire total for 2010, and it's still only April. There is a chance we'll see rainout or "snowout?" # 3 Wednesday evening at Target Field.
A double header is scheduled for Thursday with the Rays.
Thankfully the Minnesota Twins (and fans) lead charmed weather lives last year. You knew the law of weather averages, and outdoor baseball would catch up in 2011.
How do they decide?
A variety of weather sources and factors go into deciding when a Twins game will be postponed by weather.
MPR colleague and Twin Meteorologist Craig Edwards is in frequent contact with Twins management and grounds crew Chief Larry DiVito. Craig and Larry assess weather and field conditions on game day. Larry knows his field, and how much it water is can take.
The infield is covered and playable under most conditions up to game time. The outfield drains extremely well at TF, but any ground that soaks up 1.5" of rain on game day is going to be wet. It's tough to keep baseballs dry and highly paid athletes from sliding (and risking potential injury) on wet turf.
A little "inside baseball" here. Larry is a bit of a weather geek himself, and I mean that in a good way. He's pretty savvy at using weather toys on his phone and computers in the TF "Weather Lab" to keep track of things. When you combine Larry's field & turf expertese and weather sense with Craig's meteorological professionalism and decades of Twin Cities weather experience, you've got a winning weather team making decisions for the Twins.
Other factors that may go into a decision to postpone are not unique to Minnesota, and are common in MLB. Fan comfort, possible future open dates and return road trips for teams all factor in. Nobody with the Twins has ever told me this, but I have to believe concession sales are much higher on a warm day in August than a on a wet cold 42 degree day in April. If you can get a make up game then, it's bigger bank.
I don't have any inside information on how "baseball decisions" factor in with the Twins, but it wouldn't surprise me if they are a factor. If a team is injured, or using a 5th starter and the ace is up tomorrow, why not postpone and make up the date later when you're healthy?
After my post yesterday on the Cardinals moves before Friday's severe weather outbreak, nothing would surprise me. Hey, all's fair in love, war and baseball right?
To me the bottom line is that we wanted outdoor baseball, and we got it. Fans will have to adjust to rainouts and rain delays, cold days at the ballpark etc. I think the Twins made a good move postponing early today and giving fans a heads up so they could avoid the trip to Target Field well in advance.
There will be plenty of nice warm sunny days at TF this season to enjoy.
Hang in there!