They say there are no guarantees in weather, but there are a few things we seem to be able to count on in Minnesota in May.
-We'll likely get our first bouts of severe weather
-We usually hit 80 for the first time
-It seems the fishing opener is usually cool and wet
Check, check, and check this week.
The next low pressure wave is lifting north into Minnesota today. Bands of showers wrapping around the low will spiral through, and gain intensity this afternoon.
It looks like most areas will see between .25" and .50" of rainfall by late tonight. Southwest Minnesota may as much as 1"+ as the system spins through today.
A cooler northeast wind is dropping temps into the 40s and 50s.
We may catch a break in the rain Friday before more rain wraps in Saturday. There may be some 1"+ totals through Sunday.
Chilly soggy fishing opener:
It sometimes seems fishing opener weekend is plagued by cool windy wet weather. This year will fully live up to expectations.
A cool low pressure system will swirl over Minnesota this weekend. Rain should be on the increase Saturday, with weather gradually improving from north to south Sunday.
Here's the breakdown.
Friday: Windy & cool with mixed sun south & west, showers north & east. Highs in the 40s north and 50s south. Wind NE 10-22mph with choppy lakes.
Saturday: Windy & cool with scattered showers increasing statewide. Highs 40s north & 50s south. Wind NE 15-25 mph. Again, choppy water with some bigger waves on the big lakes.
Sunday: Weather improves from north to south. Sunny with lighter winds north. Showers south. Afternoon highs in the 60s from Brainerd north. 50s south. Wind NE gradually diminishing north to 5-12 mph. NE 10-20 mph south.
Weather tip: Find a quiet bay on the north end of your favorite lake where wave action will be less. A fireplace in the cabin will be very nice this weekend!
Good luck on the opener. Stay warm and dry, and remember those lake water temps are still hypothermic! With the cold water, wind and waves, life jackets are not optional this weekend.
Minnesota's first tornado of 2011: St. Michael EF1
The damage survey is in and it confirms what we saw Tuesday. Minnesota's first tornado of the year tore through St. Michael Tuesday evening.
Here are the details from Todd Krause and the survey team at the Twin Cities NWS.
Location: St. Michael, MN
Time: Approximately 7:58pm
Path length: 3 miles
Intensity: EF1 rating with top winds of 90 mph. Most of the damage was EF0 with 70-80 mph winds.
The details from Twin Cities NWS.
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN
514 PM CDT WED MAY 11 2011
...PRELIMINARY RATING ASSIGNED TO THE ST MICHAEL AREA TORNADO...
A NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE STORM DAMAGE ASSESSMENT WAS DONE TODAY
FOR THE STORM THAT OCCURRED IN FAR EASTERN WRIGHT COUNTY ON
TUESDAY EVENING. HERE ARE THE PRELIMINARY DETAILS...WHICH ARE
SUBJECT TO FURTHER REVIEW IN THE NEXT 24 HOURS.
EVENT...EF-1 TORNADO. EF-Scale
MAXIMUM WIND SPEEDS...NEAR 90 MPH.
PATH LENGTH...APPROXIMATELY THREE MILES.
PATH DETAILS...FROM TWO MILES NORTHWEST OF DOWNTOWN HANOVER...NEAR
THE INTERSECTIONS OF COUNTY ROADS 34 AND 120...NORTH NORTHEAST TO
ONE MILE WEST OF ST. MICHAEL...DISSIPATING JUST SOUTHEAST OF THE
45TH STREET AND JAMISON AVENUE INTERSECTION.
TIMING...THIS IS STILL BEING DETERMINED...BUT LIKELY TOUCHDOWN
OCCURRED JUST PRIOR TO 800 PM.
OTHER NOTES...MUCH OF THE DAMAGE WAS IN LINE WITH EF-0 DAMAGE AND
WIND SPEEDS OF 70 TO 80 MPH. THE STRONGEST INTENSITY OF EF-1 WAS
SEEN NEAR THE END OF THE PATH...WHERE A GARAGE WAS HEAVILY
Summary of the Tornado
"The tornado touched down just east of the intersection of County Roads 34 and120 and tracked north-northeast for 3.1 miles. The only time it deviated from this track was toward the end of its existence, when it made a slight turn toward the north-northwest and intensified. After hitting the house, it turned back toward the north-northeast and quickly dissipated. The tornado was narrow, only 75 feet wide at most, and it was often narrower than 75 feet.
Most eyewitnesses did not realize there was a tornado, because they did not see the debris swirling at ground level and the funnel did not extend all the way to the ground. It turns out that the condensation funnel only extended downward for some distance, then it appeared like there was nothing, then the debris at the surface. However, the violently rotating wind made it all the way to the ground but there was not enough humidity in the few thousand feet above the ground to condense and create the cloud that makes the tornado visible."
Mississippi falling at Memphis:
The mighty Mississippi has crested is finally starting to fall at Memphis.
The 47.87' crest Tuesday appears to be the 2nd highest flood of record in Memphis, within 1 foot of the record of 48.7' reached in 1937.
Historical Crests for Mississippi River at Memphis
(1) 48.70 ft on 02/10/1937
(2) 45.80 ft on 04/23/1927
(3) 40.76 ft on 03/14/1997
(4) 40.50 ft on 05/08/1973
(5) 40.50 ft on 02/22/1950
(6) 40.30 ft on 03/07/1975
(7) 40.20 ft on 05/22/1961
(8) 39.20 ft on 04/06/1945
(9) 39.20 ft on 05/15/1983
(10) 39.10 ft on 06/01/1995
The Mississippi river did set new records this year near Memphis.
The flood bubble is now moving downstream to Vicksburg, Mississippi where the river is expected to crest next week at record levels.
Flood from space:
Ironically, one of the best ways to see a big flood like this is from space. The Mississippi has swollen to 3 miles wide near Memphis.
Check out the before and after images form NASA's Earth Observatory (Landsat 5 satellite) as the river swells near Memphis.
Lightning strikes plane landing at London's Heathrow Airport:
Believe it or not, airplanes are largely safe from lightning strikes. Want proof? Check out this "striking" video from a plane on final approach to London's Heathrow Airport.
The UAE jet landed minutes later with its more than 500 passengers and crew unscathed... without a scratch on the plane.
The footage was captured last month in South West London by photographer Chris Dawson, who said he thought the weather conditions that day would be perfect for a lightning storm. Boy was he right.
A phenomenon known as the skin effect generally keeps people in cars and airplanes safe from lighting strikes.
Italy's Mt. Etna is Europe's most active volcano and erupts frequently, but it doesn't get much better than this for video. Check out the dazzling images as Mt. Etna erupts again in Sicily.
The story from UPI:
"CATANIA, Italy, May 12 (UPI) -- Mount Etna on the Italian island of Sicily sent smoke, volcanic shards and ash thousands of feet into the air Thursday.
The airport in Catania, Sicily's second-largest city, was closed for a while, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. It partially reopened later Thursday.
Ash fell on the city and surrounding farmland. The eruption, which was not a major one, began late Wednesday.
Organizers said the eruption will not affect Sunday's stage of the Giro d'Italia, when competitors will be bicycling on Etna's slopes, The Daily Telegraph reported. Rocks fell on some of the roads that are part of the course.
"Sunday's stage is not at risk. The stretch in question is only the last 4 miles on Etna," director Angelo Zomegnan said. "But on-site teams are already working to clear the road. We are calm."
Lightning vs. plane in London:
I buried this near the end of this mornings post, but it's probably worth another look.
Check out this amazing video of lightning hitting a plane last month at London's Heathrow Airport.
Fishing opener weather history all over the map:
The Minnesota Climatology Working Group has a great recap of historical weather conditions for the Minnesota fishing opener. As you might guess, the weather can be all over the place in mid-May.
2011 Minnesota Fishing Opener Weather
Minnesota's Fishing Opener weather is typified by partly cloudy to cloudy skies, morning temperatures in the low 40's, and afternoon temperatures climbing to near 70. Three out of four years are free of measurable precipitation. A trace of snow has been reported in northern Minnesota on at least five of the last 63 fishing openers. On at least four occasions, some lakes were still frozen for the opener. Generally there is enough wind to be felt on the face, maybe enough to 'fly' a flag. Weather on Minnesota fishing opener dates is highly variable. 63 years of fishing opener weather data are summarized here to offer a glimpse of what is 'typical' and what is 'extreme'.
Opening day temperatures have started as low as 24 degrees at International Falls (1996,2004), with freezing temperatures possible even in Minneapolis (31 degrees in 1979). On the warm side, St. Cloud saw 92 degrees in 1987, Minneapolis reported 91 in 1987, and International Falls reached 88 in 1977. The average early morning temperature varies from the high 30's in the northeast to the high 40's along the southern border. The average afternoon temperature generally ranges from the mid 60's along the northern border, to the low 70's in the extreme south. Along the shore of Lake Superior, highs are held in the mid 50's.
Three quarters of past opening days have been free of measurable precipitation. Two thirds of the fishing openers have been free of any precipitation, measurable or not. On those days with measurable rain, the amounts averaged close to a half-inch in the south and a quarter inch in the north. No amounts over one inch were recorded at International Falls, while Minneapolis experienced 1.15 in 1962 and 1.64 in 1965. St. Cloud saw 1.03 inches in 2008. Snowfall has generally has been limited to traces. Traces of snow were officially recorded in 1963, 1993, and 2009 at International Falls, and in 1968 at St. Cloud. A tenth (.1) of an inch fell at International Falls in 2000.
Statewide, less than one year in five offers totally clear skies. The average amount of cloudiness lies near that fuzzy boundary between 'partly cloudy' and 'cloudy', but over half of the dates were classified as cloudy.
Average daily wind speeds generally range between 8 and 15 miles per hour. This range can is described as 'wind felt on face ...' to '... wind extends light flag'. The predominant wind direction is split fairly evenly between blowing from the northwest, south, and east.
Fog has been reported on the fishing opener, occurring about one year in ten in the south, about one year in six in the north. By early to mid May, Minnesota is entering its thunderstorm season. The possibility of thunderstorms is greatest in the south (about one in seven), less in the north (about one in eleven). The weather should be monitored carefully if the skies appear threatening.
For May 14, 2011 at St. Cloud, the sun will rise at 5:47 a.m.; sunset will come at 8:39 p.m. For International Falls, sunrise/sunset is 5:34 a.m. and 8:46 p.m. respectively. For Minneapolis, sunrise will be 5:46 a.m. and sunset at 8:34 p.m. Add one minute for each 10 miles west of a given location (at the same latitude) to get a rough estimate of sunrise and sunset times. Sunrise/sunset information can be obtained for any community using a Web site offered by the US Naval Observatory.
Fishing opener 2010 began with very calm winds and plenty of sunshine over northern Minnesota with more clouds than sun over the central and south. Winds were calm in the morning, picking up a bit in the afternoon.
And finally, yes there have been years with ice covered lakes for the opener. On opening day in 1950, lakes were still frozen as far south as Detroit Lakes and Osakis. Four other years with frozen lakes, primarily in the north, were 1966, 1979, 1996, 2008 and 2009. Just a couple lakes in the far northeastern tip of Minnesota still had ice on them for the '09 opener.
This season, the ice left the lakes a bit later than historical averages over the south and parts of central Minnesota with near average over the north. The 2011 Governor's Fishing Opener is on Pokegama Lake. The average date of ice out for Pokegama Lake is is April 24. The ice left Pokegama Lake on April 27.
More information about fishing in Minnesota can be found at the Department of Natural Resources.
A history of past fishing openers back to 1948 can be found at the Minnesota Historical Society .
Dew point records smashed Tuesday:
UM Climate Guru and my MPR colleague Mark Seeley has some great info on how Tuesday's July like air mass featured tropical humidity levels that smashed dew point record for May 10th.
Topic: High Dewpoint Records for May
"Tuesday, May 10th was quite a day in Minnesota. During the afternoon strong southeast winds brought in very warm, moist air across southern counties. Many observers reported near-record setting or record setting temperatures in the 90s F, spiking between 4:00 and 6:00 pm. Some of the record-setters included:
Waseca 92 F (tied record for May 10th in 1987) Wells, St James, and Fairmont 93 F Amboy and Winnebago 96 F
The readings at Amboy and Winnebago were just shy of the all-time state record for May 10th of 97 degrees F at Beardsley in 1928.
Even more impressive than these high temperatures was the rise in dewpoints. Many observers reported record high dewpoints by late afternoon, including MSP International Airport which reached a July-like 70 degrees F. Windom, Fairmont, St James, and Faribault also reported dewpoints of 70 degrees F. Even higher dewpoints occurred at Hutchinson (73 F), Albert Lea (74 F) and Waseca (78 F). These numbers are incredible amounts of water vapor for the first half of May. In some cases they pushed the Heat Index Value (combination effect of temperature and dewpoint) to 100 degrees F or higher. It is believed that the Waseca dewpoint of 78 degrees F is the highest ever measured in the month of May. In the MSP historical records dewpoints of 70 degrees F or higher have only been reached in 1912, 1916, and 1962.
The dramatic rise in temperature and dewpoint helped fuel severe weather across the state. There were over 40 reports of large hail during the evening of May 10th including 2.0 inch diameter hail stones at Chanhassen, Eden Prairie, Forest Lake, and Brainerd. Golden Valley, St Louis Park, and Fort Ripley reported 2.5 inch diameter hail, and Albertville reported 2.75 inch diameter hail."
As always, you can hear Mark's commentary exclusively on MPR's Morning Edition with Cathy Wurzer at abour 6:45 Friday morning.