Cool front working south through Minnesota today
40s today and Friday in southern Minnesota, 30s north
41 average high for the metro today
+1.3F so far in November for temps the metro
0.2" snowfall so far in November at MSP Airport
-4.16" rainfall deficit at MSP since September 1st as drought continues
Auroras dazzle Northern lights from Dakotas to Norway this week
Iffy Thanksgiving weekend forecast - models all over the map on temps rain and... yes...snow
A weak cool front (read average front) is sliding south today. As winds shift to the northwest, cooler breezes will blow as slightly more wintery air oozes south from snow covered Canada.
Temps will hover near average later today and Friday, with 30s in northern Minnesota and 40s in the south.
Just in case you've lost track of averages this time of year, the average high at MSP Airport is now 41 and the average low is 27 degrees.
50s return this weekend:
Winds will turn southerly again this weekend. Sunshine, bare ground and southerly breezes from snow free territory in Iowa will help boost temps into the 50s again in southern Minnesota.
This will be a great weekend to get the last of the fall yard chores done.
One thing the models agree on, a surge of even milder air will push north through next Tuesday, with highs pushing well into the 50s...and 60 degrees possible next Tuesday or Wednesday.
It appears at this point that travel conditions will be excellent leading up to Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving Weekend forecast: Weather crystal ball still a little murky
Just when you thought it was safe.
The weather models are doing they typical "late November tango" when it comes to next weekend.
The ECMWF (Euro) & GFS agree on a warm push early next week, and then begin to diverge on solutions for Thanksgiving weekend.
The latest versions appear to support slightly cooler (but still above average) temps on Thanksgiving Day in the upper 40s to near 50 degrees with mainly dry conditions.
Black Friday is where things could begin to get dicey.
The GFS is back to the notion of low pressure spinning up and pushing first rain...then possibly snow into Minnesota by late on Black Friday into Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend...with a shot of cold air by Sunday.
This will probably take a few more days to iron out....
Aurora show this week:
It's been a good week for northern lights.
Auroras dazzled both Tuesday night in parts of the Upper Midwest. The show was visible from the Dakotas to Vermont, and as far south as Kansas according to spaceweather.com.
Douglas Kiesling shot this impressive display near Wheaton, MN.
The best displays came from Norway.
The sun has been active this year as we approach the peak of "Solar Cycle 24."
There have been 0 "spotless days" in 2012. Compare that to 260 days (71%) without earthward facing sunspots in 2009 during the deepest solar minimum in a century.
Right now half a dozen sunspots are facing earth, and some are crackling with flares. NOAA predicts a 40% chance of more flares that could trigger northern lights in the coming days.
Keep an eye on the late evening sky!
Soak up all the heat and humidity summer has left folks. La Nina is back.
La Nina is the cool phase of what's known as the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean fluctuate every 3 to 5 years between the warm El Nino phase and cool La Nina episodes. The latest readings show sea surface temperatures around -1.0 degree Celsius in much of the tropical Pacific.
La Nina has widespread impacts around different parts of the globe. It can enhance hurricane activity in the Atlantic. Though the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane season has been relatively quiet so far, The National Hurricane Center today updated its seasonal forecast to continue the prediction of an active season.
For Minnesota and much of the USA, the effects of La Nina are most pronounced in winter. La Nina winters have a statistical bias toward being colder than average in the Upper Midwest. Winters can also trend snowier in Minnesota, especially when compared to El Nino winters like last year. The Twin Cities received 40.7" of snowfall last year. The 30 year average is 55.9".
Have you noticed how loud the crickets are these nights? It seems as if a cricket boom has hit the weather lab. The deafening roar can be beautiful to some, and annoying to others.
Female (left) an Male (right) crickets image by Jim Mason. Courtesy Great Plains Nature Center web site.
Count the number of "chirps" in 15 seconds and add 37. That should give you a close approximation of the current temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. This is a fun exercise for kids of all ages on a warm summer night.
My favorite local phenologist Jim Gilbert used to say that cicadas would only sing (sounds more like screaming to me!) when the air temperature reached about 80 degrees. I guess they like the warmth to get those "cicada pipes" in action.
One more shot at northern lights?
There may be one last shot of solar wind headed for the earth tonight according to spaceweather.com. Keep an eye out if you are out late tonight for possible auroras in the northern sky. Best viewing is away from lights looking north.
What a difference a day makes.
A dry and welcome transfusion of clean Canadian air is giving air conditioners a rest in the Upper Midwest today. Dew points have dropped from the tropical 70s into the comfortable 50s over the past 48 hours.
The drier air will last through Friday, before a warm front gurgles back north and brings a renewed surge of 90 degree heat and sticky humidity this weekend.
As the front bubbles north Saturday, it's likely a few thunderstorms will follow. One or two has the potential be severe later Saturday night into Sunday, according to SPC.
Aurora strikes again:
Reports indicate the northern lights flashed again last night in northern Europe. Apparently the sky was lit brightly enough to show the aurora over the city lights of Stockholm, Sweden. Amazing images were also captured over Norway.
Check out spaceweather.com to see the latest images.
Colin part 2?
The remnants of what once was tropical storm Colin show signs orf renewal in the Atlantic. NHC says there is a 50% chance that the system may reach tropical storm strength once again.
The suite of forecast models steer Colin harmlessly out to sea away from the east coast.
Forecasting weather here on earth is tough. Forecasting space weather is even tougher, but last night's forecasts of auroras hit the jackpot in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
While haze, humidity and clouds made for iffy viewing in parts of Minnesota last night, conditions were perfect along the North Shore. Reports indicate a vivid northern lights show last night in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Check out the photos Travis Novitsky captured last night between 11pm and midnight near Grand Portage overlooking Lake Superior. You can see the green rays of the aurora dancing in the night sky, as the moon rises over the big lake.
(click imgaes to enlarge)
Here's a link to Travis' excellent aurora gallery.
Anatomy of an aurora:
Northern lights are produced when bursts of solar energy rush through space and interact with the earth's magnetosphere.
Here's the scoop on aurora details from Wikipedia:
Auroras are the result of the emissions of photons in the Earth's upper atmosphere, above 80 km (50 miles), from ionized nitrogen atoms regaining an electron, and oxygen and nitrogen atoms returning from an excited state to ground state. They are ionized or excited by the collision of solar wind particles being funneled down and accelerated along the Earth's magnetic field lines; excitation energy is lost by the emission of a photon of light, or by collision with another atom or molecule:
Green or brownish-red, depending on the amount of energy absorbed.
Blue or red. Blue if the atom regains an electron after it has been ionized. Red if returning to ground state from an excited state.
Better show tonight?
Another burst of solar energy is headed earthward tonight.
Here's the latest update from spaceweather.com.
GEOMAGNETIC STORM--MORE TO COME? The solar storm of August 1st sent two CMEs toward Earth. The first one arrived yesterday, August 3rd, sparking mild but beautiful Northern Lights over Europe and North America. The second CME is still en route. NOAA forecasters estimate a 35% chance of major geomagnetic storms when the cloud arrives on August 4th or 5th. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.
Clear skies less haze and lower humidity may make for an even better show tonight in the Upper Midwest. The best place to view the aurora is away from city lights, in a dark sky or overlooking a lake. Look low toward the northern horizon anytime tonight and you could see a rare treat in the night sky. Best viewing could be anytime, but most likely between 11pm and 3am.