1st severe weather warnings and damage reports of 2012 Monday evening
Possible tornado near Elysian in Le Sueur County just south of the metro?
.52" much needed rainfall at MSP Airport
.56" at Flying Cloud in Eden Prairie
1"+ in parts of southern Minnesota
12,000+ without power at the height of the storm
Unsettled & showery - April like weather the rest of this week
Ice out on Minnetonka and severe storms in on the same day in March? Ugh...
If Monday's first shot of severe weather coming on March 19th is any indication, it's going to be a long, busy summer in the weather lab.
The line of storms rolled though Monday evening with downpours, wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph and bright flashes of lightning.
There are a few reports of damage.
PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT...SUMMARY
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN
946 PM CDT MON MAR 19 2012
..TIME... ...EVENT... ...CITY LOCATION... ...LAT.LON...
..DATE... ....MAG.... ..COUNTY LOCATION..ST.. ...SOURCE....
0602 PM TSTM WND DMG EAGLE BEND 46.17N 95.03W
03/19/2012 TODD MN LAW ENFORCEMENT
DAMAGE TO BARN AND A FEW TREES SNAPPED OFF.
0605 PM TSTM WND DMG CARVER 44.76N 93.63W
03/19/2012 CARVER MN NWS EMPLOYEE
DAMAGE TO GAS STATION IN DOWNTOWN CARVER. ROOF OF GAS
PUMPS HAD SHEET METAL RIPPED OFF.
0615 PM TSTM WND GST GLENVILLE 43.57N 93.28W
03/19/2012 M56.00 MPH FREEBORN MN TRAINED SPOTTER
0636 PM TSTM WND DMG ELYSIAN 44.20N 93.68W
03/19/2012 LE SUEUR MN LAW ENFORCEMENT
FORTY FOOT EVERGREEN TREE TOPPLED.
0636 PM TSTM WND DMG ELYSIAN 44.20N 93.68W
03/19/2012 LE SUEUR MN EMERGENCY MNGR
NUMEROUS ROOFS RIPPED OFF BETWEEN LAKE ELYSIAN AND LAKE
FRANCIS. PUBLIC REPORT OF POSSIBLE TORNADO.
0642 PM TSTM WND DMG ELYSIAN 44.20N 93.68W
03/19/2012 LE SUEUR MN LAW ENFORCEMENT
TWO SMALL BOATS FLIPPED OVER AT LAKE ELYSIAN.
The good news? I picked up .a much needed .40" of rainfall at the weather lab. As much as .50" to 1"+ fell over much of the metro and southern MN.
Tonka ice out Monday?
Still awaiting official announcement from the Freshwater Society, but to my eyes it looks like Lake Minnetonka was ice free and navigable Monday afternoon.
Photo credit: Paul Huttner
If true, it's the 3rd earliest ice out on record for the big west metro lake, and the earliest in 12 years.
Look for an unsettled April like week with temps in the 60s and occasional bouts of (much needed) showers.
49 degrees record "high minimum" at MSP Airport this morning
40 degrees - average high in the metro for today, March 14th
64 degrees - (soon to be previous) record high for today March 14th
75 degrees forecast high today in the metro
June 3rd date when average high is 75 in the metro
Ice out on Lakes Mendota & Monona in Madison, WI
Ice out already on some southern Minnesota lakes?
Ice out this weekend on some metro lakes like Calhoun & Harriet?
Instant June: Record highs in the 70s today!
Get ready for instant June.
Bright sun and warm breezes should boost temps into the 60s and even 70s in southern Minnesota including the metro today and later this week.
The mild air mass is nearly 3 months ahead of schedule. Highs in the 70s are average for early June, not mid March.
We've already set record "high minimum" temps this morning, and the record high of 64 at MSP Airport should be history by early PM.
A weak cool front will shift winds into the northwest today, and may temper the soaring temps a little later this afternoon.
More records this week?
We average 1 day of 70 degree warmth in March, and the record is 5 days set in 1910. Our mini cool front will be a brief speed bump in temp rises, and temps should return to the 70s by Friday.
Ice out: Lakes out 2-3 weeks early this year
Surface reports and satellite shots show ice out is moving north fast this year. Mendota and Monona, the big lakes bracketing Madison, Wisconsin went out in the past 3 days on March 11th & 12th.
Satellite shots indicate some southern Minnesota lakes are now ice free. Lakes are quickly losing ice as close as far north as Lakeville.
I took a good look at the ice on Carson's Bay on Lake Minnetonka near the weather lab...and the ice is turning "black." This is a sigh that "candles" are forming...and it won't be long until the combination of sunlight, melt water and wind this weekend have a good go at metro lakes.
I expect at this point that smaller metro lakes like Calhoun and Harriet, Nokomis may go out by this weekend.
With more 70s on the way and winds kicking up this weekend It would not shock me to see Waconia and Tonka go out this weekend, or at least be open in many areas.
The last time the ice went out on 'Tonka in March was 12 years ago...March 18th, 2000.
Here are some great resources to track ice out on Minnesota lakes this year.
And by the way, I'll be hosting the 2nd annual "Ice-Out/Loon-In" event for the Freshwater Society again this year. The event is Thursday April 12th at the Lafayette Club on Lake Minnetonka.
Please come and support an organization that does plenty to keep our Minnesota lakes and rivers clean and healthy.
Hope to see you there!
67 degrees another record high at MSP Tuesday!
Ice free lakes near Iowa border on NASA MODIS Terra image Tuesday
12 years last March "ice out" on Lake Minnetonka (March 18, 2000)
Arpil 14 Ice out on Minnetonka declared last year (at 5:14am)
70s a "sure thing" Wednesday in southern Minnesota
80 degrees possible Wednesday PM in southern Minnesota!
Ice free lakes already in southern Minnesota?
There are signs that some lakes near the Iowa border are ice free as of Tuesday afternoon. Take a look at NASA's MODIS Terra image below.
I expect confirmation on ice out in some southern Minnesota lakes in the next day or so. If true, it would be a full 2 weeks ahead of schedule. The average ice out date for lakes near the Iowa border is about April 1st.
Records fall Wednesday: A shot at 80 in southern MN?
Forget our 1st 70, that's a lock Wednesday. It looks like we have a real shot at seeing the first 80 of 2011 in southern Minnesota Wednesday!
If you look at forecast 850mb temps (5,000 feet above ground) Wednesday afternoon you could easily get temps in the 80s later in spring. It looks like we might get enough sun to mix down some warmer air and send temps soaring into the lower 80s in southern Minnesota Wednesday afternoon!
Right now I'd say the Twin Cities could top out as high as 77 Wednesday afternoon...and 80 is not out of the question!
Would you believe back to back days of fabulous spring like weather?
Today is the day to get out for an outdoor lunch or walk. Look for traffic jams with walkers, runners & roller bladers around area parks this evening.
Temps will push into the 60s today (Metro near 67) under bright sunny skies. Enjoy!!
Jekyll & Hyde weather week:
If this week's weather is like a roller coaster, we're at the top of the hill. Get ready to put your arms up in the air and scream as we take a dive down the hill Tuesday.
Three glorious days in a row seems too much to ask this spring, and it looks like a change in weather mood will move in Tuesday.
The next low pressure system will spin up over the Upper Midwest Tuesday & Wednesday.
The result is rain for the southern half of Minnesota, and some of it could add up to between .50" and 1"+ including areas in and near the Twin Cities.
It looks like the system may have a sharp northern edge cut off, meaning little or no rainfall to the north around Brainerd and other spots in central Minnesota.
There is some indication the atmosphere could be marginally cold enough for a few wet snowflakes to mix in late Tuesday night & Wednesday morning, but at this point I don't see much chance of anything more than a brief accumulation on grassy areas, especially north of the metro.
Weather improves again late week:
The fast moving jet stream flowing over the Upper Midwest will send another brief break in the weather toward Minnesota Thursday & Friday. Look for sunshine to return and increasingly mild weather with highs back into the (upper?) 60s Friday.
Right now, Monday, Thursday & Friday look like the best days this week for baseball practice or other outdoor activities.
Rain returns Friday night & Saturday?
The next low pressure storm (after Tuesday's system) appears headed this way Friday night into Saturday. We could see a bout of thunder late Friday night or early Saturday morning as this system approaches.
Weekned: Windy & cooler
It's early, but at this point the weekend looks windy & cooler. One of these weekends we'll time things to get two sunny mild days in a row...but probably not next weekend.
St. Louis EF-4 tornado damage surveys in:
NWS St. Louis has the latest on the devestating EF-4 tornado that blasted St. Louis Airport Friday evening.
"During the evening of Friday April 22, an intense supercell thunderstorm produced a long-track tornado which tore a path of destruction from west to east across the St. Louis Metropolitan Area. The tornado reached a maximum intensity of EF4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale as it tracked through the community of Bridgeton, just west of Lambert St. Louis International Airport. The total path length was 22 miles, with a width of up to 0.4 miles."
Drought, tornadoes, floods, & spring snowfall: Blame it on La Nina?
Meteorologists sometimes like to explain several events with one "big picture" answer.
This may be one of those years where we can do that.
What do massive Texas brush fires, Oklahoma drought, Iowa & Missouri tornadoes and Minnesota floods and spring snowfall have in common? The answer just may be La Nina.
All of these things have a tendency to occur in La Nina years.
The explanation from NOAA:
"Since a strong jet stream is an important ingredient for severe weather, the position of the jet stream determines the regions more likely to experience tornadoes.
Contrasting El Niño and La Niña winters, the jet stream over the United States is considerably different. During El Niño the jet stream is oriented from west to east over the northern Gulf of Mexico and northern Florida. Thus this region is most susceptible to severe weather. During La Niña the jet stream extends from the central Rockies east- northeastward to the eastern Great Lakes. Thus severe weather is likely to be further north and west during La Niña than El Niño."
More La Nina answers from NOAA here.
Ice out update: Gull Lake mostly ice free
I had a chance to visit my place on Gull Lake over the weekend, and it looks like Gull is mostly ice free. I would estimate there about 30% ice cover as of Easter Sunday, with about 70% of the lake open water.
Here are some photos.
Get the latest ice out updates here.
Judging from the traffic coming home along I-94 late Easter Sunday, many folks took the Easter weekend to open up the cabin for the first time!
Winter Severity Index 2010-'11: Moderately severe?
You probably don't need me to tell you we just lived through a moderately severe winter in Minnesota.
Believe it or not, the Minnesota DNR keeps tabs on just how "severe" the winter is when it comes to deer survival. Here are the categories for last winter up north, courtesy of the Duluth News Tribune.
Minnesota winter severity: Moderately severe
"The final Winter Severity Index numbers are in for stations across Northeastern Minnesota, and in many places, it was a "moderately severe" winter by Department of Natural Resources standards. The agency uses the readings primarily to calculate the effects of winter on deer survival.
One point is added to the WSI each day the temperature falls below zero, and another is added for each day the snow depth is greater than 15 inches.
The highest reading, 193, was at Poplar Lake along the Gunflint Trail. That was the only station that fell into the "severe winter" category, although Snowbank Lake near Ely was close at 177. Here are some other final readings: Grand Rapids, 98; International Falls, 150; Isabella, 159; Eveleth, 150; Cloquet, 112; Brimson, 149; Tower, 164.
Here's how the DNR classifies winters based on the WSI:
Mild winter -- WSI less than 100
Average winter -- WSI of 120
Moderate winter -- WSI 121-140
Moderately severe winter -- WSI 141-180
Severe winter -- WSI more than 180"
Enjoy the sunshine today!
Posted at 3:07 PM on April 14, 2011
by Paul Huttner
Filed under: Ice out
It's officially boating season on Lake Minnetonka.
Okay, maybe I'm pushing it with icy water and the cold blustery weather forecast, but the official ice out on Lake Minnetonka was declared early this morning.
2011 Lake Minnetonka ice-out declared
"The 2011 ice-out on Lake Minnetonka was declared at 5:14 am on April 14 by the Freshwater Society.
The ice-out came 12 days later than last year, when the lake became ice-free on April 2.
This year, the Freshwater Society this year is celebrating two sure signs of spring -- the ice-out and the stop-over of migrating loons on Lake Minnetonka -- with a party and fund-raiser on Thursday, April 21. Check out information on the party and register to attend.
Click here to view a calendar of ice-out on Lake Minnetonka, as compiled by the Freshwater Society, from 1855-2010. Or check out another version of the calendar showing the number of times ice-out has occurred on specific dates.
Since 1968, the Freshwater Society has kept close records of the day the ice yields to warmer temperatures on Lake Minnetonka. Freshwater founder Dick Gray described the standard for determining ice-out in a 2003 column: The ice is considered to be "out" when it is possible to travel from any one shore to any other shore through any passage on the lake, he said.
In addition to declaring the ice-out every year since 1968, Gray has compiled a list of all recorded ice-out dates on Lake Minnetonka, dating back to 1855. The earliest recorded ice-out, measured by noted naturalist Dr. Thomas Roberts, was March 11, 1878, and the latest recorded date was May 8, 1856.
Pete Boulay of the State Climatology Office recently found two long-missing ice-out dates -- for 1863 and 1873 -- in Smithsonian Weather Observer records. Ice-out dates on Lake Minnetonka are still missing for more than 20 years in the 1860s, '70s and '80s. Anyone with information regarding ice-out dates for Lake Minnetonka, or any other body of water in Minnesota, for that period, should send the data to the Freshwater Society, c/o Richard G. Gray, Sr., 2500 Shadywood Road, Excelsior, MN 55331."
Freshwater Ice Out/Loon in Event April 21st:
I'm honored to have been asked to serve as the emcee for this year's Freshwater Ice Out/Loon IN event next Thursday April 21st at the Baywiew Event Center on Lake Minnetonka in Excelsior.
The event is open to the public and you can get details here.
This should be a great evening. I hope you can come out and join us as we celebrate the start of a new summer season on Minnesota's lakes.
Two steps forward, one step back.
That chilly breeze you feel today is our latest reminder that the Spring of 2011 is taking its sweet time to show up. It may feel more like March out there for the next 48 hours in Minnesota at times.
A slow moving low pressure system will track through Missouri & Illinois over the next 48 hours.
The system will impact Minnesota weather with windy, cool wet weather and some snow...but not the heavy metro "snowmageddon" advertised by some weather models over the past week.
Thursday: Expect a chilly northeast wind from 15 to 25 mph today. Showery weather in southern Minensota, dry air from the metro north with a mix of sun & clouds.
Friday: Showers increase from west to east. Dry air near the metro may hold rain at bay much of the day. Rain showers change to wet snow overnight.
Best chances for accumulating snow in the eastern Dakotas to Duluth where several inches may fall. Maybe a slushy inch in the metro by Saturday morning.
Saturday & Sunday: Saturday will start blustery and cold, but the weather will improve as the weekend wears on.
Look for a return to sunshine Saturday, and brisk NW winds will ease by late afternoon. After morning temps in the 30s (and wind chills in the 20s) highs should struggle to reach 50 by around 4pm.
Sunday should feature a sun-cloud mix with lighter winds and temps in the lowers 50s by afternoon.
Searching for spring: Major warm up in sight?
Okay this is going way out on a limb...but with everybody searching for spring I thought I'd pass along this ray of hope for much warmer weather.
The GFS (yes... the model we don't trust lately that has been overpredicting snowstorms) is hinting at a possible major warm up in about two weeks.
The GFS seems to be better at identifying high amplitude temperature trends than handling potential low pressure systems.
The GFS paints a big, (high amplitude) high pressure ridge over the central USA sometime around April 29th-30th. If that verifies, we could see a big warm up...maybe our first real taste of late spring or early summer like temps in Minnesota. The pattern suggests 70s, and maybe even the first 80 degree readings of 2011 for the metro.
It may be weather fantasy at this point...but it's all we've got and I'll take it! I'll keep an eye on a potential warm up in the next week or so.
Ice out reaches the metro:
Southern Minnesota lakes have been ice free for about a week now, and the thaw is moving north by the day.
-Albert Lea Lake ice out was Friday April 8th
-St. Olaf Lake ice out Sunday April 10th
Some metro lakes are now ice free, pretty much on schedule.
-Lake Calhoun ice out occurred Sunday April 10th
-White Bear Lake ice out occurred Wednesday April 13th
-Lake Minnetonka still had partial ice cover as of Wednesday
Here's the latest, updated list of ice out for Minnesota from the Minnesota Climatology Working Group.
What defines "ice out?
"Ice out" is defined in different ways according to the Freshwater Society in Navarre.
Here's how they define ice out on Lake Minnetonka.
"On Lake Minnetonka, the ice is designated as "out" when it is possible to travel by small boat from any one shore to another shore through any passage on the lake. Ice-out dates have been determined using this method since 1968. Previous methods include: when the ice was 50% gone, when a boat could circle Big Island, when a boat could travel between Wayzata and Excelsior, when a car fell through the ice and by visual
observations from a number of lake locations."
Today, April 14th is the median (average) ice out date for Lake Minnetonka. Oddly enough, the ice has never gone out on the lake on April 15th. Last year the ice was out on Tonka April 2nd.
Ice melts from the bottom!
I was surprised to learn several years back that ice actually melts form the bottom up!
Here's a great description from the MN Climate Working Group.
How Lake Ice Melts
"Ed Swain, of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency describes the process of freezing and thawing lakes.
In the late fall, the lake loses heat to the atmosphere, and then on a day or night when the wind is not blowing, ice forms. The ice gets thicker as long as the lake can continue to lose heat.
In most Januaries and Februaries, snow both reflects sunlight and insulates the lake. With a thick snow layer, the lake neither gains nor loses heat. The bottom sediment is actually heating the lake water slightly over the winter, from stored summer heat.
Around March, as the air warms and the sun gets more intense, the snow melts, allowing light to penetrate the ice. Because the ice acts like the glass in a greenhouse, the water beneath it begins to warm, and the ice begins to melt FROM THE BOTTOM.
When the ice thickness erodes to between 4 and 12 inches, it transforms into long vertical crystals called "candles." These conduct light even better, so the ice starts to look black, because it is not reflecting much sunlight.
Warming continues because the light energy is being transferred to the water below the ice. Meltwater fills in between the crystals, which begin breaking apart. The surface appears grayish as the ice reflects a bit more light than before.
The wind comes up, and breaks the surface apart. The candles will often be blown to one side of the lake, making a tinkling sound as they knock against one another, and piling up on the shore. In hours, a sparkling blue lake, once again!"