Biting winds continue this morning. The wind chill reading was 23 below zero at Fergus Falls at 6 a.m. CDT and well below zero over Minnesota.
Shortly before daybreak winds were gusting to 45 mph at Grand Marais along the north shore of Lake Superior.
Despite March sunshine, it will feel bitterly cold if you are venturing out today. Bundle up. The temperatures are more typical of mid-January.
The high in the Twin Cities metro today will be around 20 F. The normal high for this time of year in Minneapolis/St. Paul is 43 degrees.
Additional snow cover was added to the landscape in the past 48 hours. The snow depth as of Monday morning was as 26 inches at International Falls and 17 inches at St. Cloud.
This is National Flood Awareness Week. Hydrologists are monitoring the water equivalent in the snow pack, the frost depth, the temperature trends and the potential for additional precipitation.
When I worked at the National Weather Service in Chanhassen our field observers would take a core sample of the snow pack and report that water value to our office on Tuesday mornings. This information was combined with the analysis made by the staff at NOAA's Remote Sensing Center in Chanhassen.
Through the month of March and into early April, the North Central River Forecast Center hydrologists will track the flood potential.
From the Minnesota State Climatologist Office earlier this month:
Most recent release from the North Central River Forecast Center for the flood risk of moderate flooding on the Red:
Expect a few more scattered thunderstorms again Monday in Minnesota.
SPC places the highest risk for severe weather (slight) over central and northern Minnesota Monday, with the Twin Cities on the southern edge.
A few morning storms may stray into the metro. The latest model trends push the afternoon and evening storms north into central Minnesota. Bemidji, Grand Rapids, Alexandria, Brainerd, St. Cloud and Duluth may see the best chance for heavy storms that could produce severe weather and significant rainfall.
You can track any developing storms here:
Minnesota 2011: Hotter than...July:
If you wanted July hot & humid this year you got what you wished for...and more.
5th warmest July on record for MSP Airport
87.7 average July high temp at MSP Airport
93 high temp Sunday at MSP
10 days in July at or above 90 degrees
14 days at or above 90 so far in 2011
13 average number of 90 degree days each year at MSP
25 days in July 2011 at or above 85 degrees!
The final numbers may change slightly, but we've just endured the hottest July in 5 years, and the 5th hottest on record.
A cool front will bring some relief with temps falling back into the 80s and dew points in the 60s by late Tuesday and Wednesday.
The folks who invented Doppler never expected this.
A massive Mayfly hatch over the Mississippi last night near La Crosse shows up brilliantly on the Doppler radar reflectivity loop last night. The hatch occurred between about 9pm and 10pm from near Winona south through La Crosse and to near Guttenberg, Iowa.
Mayfly "cloud" visible on NWS La Crosse doppler radar Monday night.
As the dense "cloud" of Mayflies hatches and drifts over the river valley, it shows up on Doppler as the radar beam hits the cloud and returns to the radar site. Doppler radar is so sensitive that birds, insects and even dust are visible in clear air mode.
Tropical Storm Bonnie?
The National Hurricane Center has upgraded the chance that a tropical wave near Puerto Rico will strengthen into a tropical storm within the next 48 hours from 20% to 40%. If it does, it would become tropical storm Bonnie.
Many forecast models then track the system toward the southeastern United States.
2010: Hottest year on record so far
It's either the mother of all coincidences or climate change is kicking into high gear.
We're half way through 2010 and NOAA reports that globally this is the hottest year on record so far. Check out these startling facts.
-June 2010 was the hottest on record globally (+1.22 degrees F)
-The past 4 MONTHS (Mar-Jun) have all been the hottest on record globally!
-2010 is on pace to be the hottest year on record globally (+1.22 degrees F)
-June was the 304th consecutive month above average globally!
-The last below average month was 25 years ago, February 1985. That's a lifetime for nearly 1/3 of the world's population.
2010 is on pace to surpass 1998 as the hottest year on record globally.
The data takes the wind out of the sails of those who would claim that the earth has been "cooling" since 1998. The 10 hottest years globally have all occurred since 1998, and there has not been one cooler than average year globally in 25 years.
You do the math.
You know the weather is quiet when we're tracking wind farms on the Buffalo Ridge on doppler radar.
That's the image this morning from the NWS radar at Sioux Falls. You can see the bright yellow line extending from northwest to southeast near Tyler, Minnesota.
Buffalo Ridge visible as bright yellow band northeast of Sioux Falls radar site this morning.
The radar returns are likely wind generation towers on the ridge, and or the ridge itself. The reason you can see the ridge today is that atmospheric conditions are right for superrefraction or ducting, a bending of the radar beam to follow the earth's curvature.
The bending beam hits the high terrain fo the Buffalo Ridge and bounces back to the radar site. Note how the showers in Iowa are moving, but the Buffalo Ridge returns do not.
Rotating turbines from wind farms can cause issues with severe storm detection. NWS has an outreach program to wind energy producers to work on the best placing for wind farms relative to doppler radar sites.
So far July temperatures are running 5.2 degrees above average in the metro. The coolest day before today was 83 degrees on Sunday. Every other day has been at least 85 degrees, with a 92 degree high on the 3rd. This marks the 5th consecutive month of above average temperatures in the metro.
It's interesting to note that while it's been warmer than average, we've only recorded 4 days at or above 90 degrees. The yearly average for MSP is about 13 days, so we're running a little below average when it comes to extreme heat.
Warmest days of the year:
The average high in the Twin Cities hits 84 degrees tomorrow, and will stay there until July 27th. This time period marks the warmest average high of the year in the Twin Cities and other Minnesota locations. Climatologically speaking, we are now moving into the warmest two to four weeks of the year in Minnesota.
Cool start Monday:
Monday morning's cooler low temperatures were the coolest in nearly two weeks in Minnesota. The Twin Cities bottomed out at 61, with 40s in several northeast Minnesota locations.
The push of cooler air also features much drier air with comfortable dew points in the 40s and 50s. Enjoy the free air conditioning and the respite form the heat and humidity!
Check out these actual images from NASA's high resolution MODIS Terra and Aqua satellties of the oil spill over time.
The progression shows just how the spill has grown in area and spread over the past few weeks.
The image below from May 24th shows the oil penetrating the sensitive coastal marshes of the Mississippi Delta.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) released results from a series of computer models Thursday depicting the likely path of the Gulf oil spill plume over the next few months.
The alarming results show vividly how the impacts of the oil plume may spread quickly well beyond the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida and up the East Coast into the Atlantic.
Here is one of the more alarming parts of the report detailing why the oil plume may spread much more quickly in the coming months.
Oil has been pouring into the Gulf of Mexico since April 20 from a blown-out undersea well, the result of an explosion and fire on an oil rig. The spill is located in a relatively stagnant area of the Gulf, and the oil so far has remained relatively confined near the Louisiana and Alabama coastlines, although there have been reports of small amounts in the Loop Current.
The model simulations show that a liquid released in the surface ocean at the spill site is likely to slowly spread as it is mixed by the ocean currents until it is entrained in the Loop Current. At that point, speeds pick up to about 40 miles per day, and when the liquid enters the Atlantic's Gulf Stream it can travel at speeds up to about 100 miles per day, or 3,000 miles per month.
I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to find what we are witnessing in the Gulf surreal and incomprehensible. It seems as if the incredible scope of this disaster is only now becoming apparent. It's unthinkable to comprehend what WILL happen when (not if) a hurricane impacts the spill zone this season.
Check out this great site combining many NOAA projections of the spill zone.
Stay tuned, and hope for the best...somehow.
You know it's getting bad when mayflies are visible on Doppler radar.
Imagine what the forecasters on duty thought when they peered at the Doppler screen last Saturday evening at the La Crosse NWS. Shades of bright pink showed up over the Mississippi River. There were no storms in the area, so what were the radar returns?
Mayflies. Yup. Mayflies.
A mayfly hatch along the Mississippi River was caught on Doppler radar out of NWS La Crosse Saturday evening. The radar view above shows an image at 9:13 p.m. CDT on Saturday, May 29, 2010. The bugs are showing up as bright pink, purple, and white colors along the Mississippi River mainly south of La Crosse, WI. After the bugs hatch off the water and river areas, they are caught in the south-southeast winds while airborne for about 10-20 minutes.
As the mayflies hatched on the Mississippi, the dense swarms reflected the radar beam back toward the Doppler receiver. The radar was in the very sensitive "clear air mode" which results in greater sensitivity and shows things like dust, birds, and well...mayflies.
Check out the remarkably clear image from NASA Monday showing the extent of the oil spill from BP's ruptured oil well on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. The oil changes the reflectivity of sunlight on the ocean's surface, resulting in different appearances depending on the angle of the sun and the satellite's imager.
Several features are noticeable on the image.
-The huge blob of oil (and dispersant?) at the surface is visible a few miles off the tip of the Mississippi Delta in the Gulf.
-Large amounts of oil have clearly infiltrated the marshes and inlets surrounding the Mississippi Delta "bird's-foot" region.
-Streamers of oil extend northeast from the main oil slick just off the Mississippi and Alabama beaches.
-A narrow plume of oil streams southeast away from the main oil slick, possibly a finger having been tapped by the Gulf loop current.
It's remarkably clear (and sad) how extensive the oil spill is when viewed from space.
Perfect weather pattern:
Now for some good news. We are about to enjoy what could be some of the finest weather this spring and summer in the Upper Midwest. Our weather pattern over the next 5 days will feature:
-Sunny days and starry moonlit nights
-A bright full moon Thursday evening (Moon is full at 6:07pm Thursday)
-A dry comfortable air mass with dew points in the 40s and 50s.
-A mostly dry and pleasant Memorial Day weekend with only a couple of hours of rain likely on Sunday.
Twins get a break:
Okay time for my baseball soapbox.
I've heard some criticize the Twins for not finishing last night's game with the Yankees. There are a few things I think need to be pointed out here.
-The call to postpone the game is made by the umpires once the game is underway, not the Twins.
-Those that seem to think you can play through moderate to at times heavy downpours may have never played baseball at a high level. It is extremely difficult to throw, field or hit a wet baseball in those conditions.
-The risk of injuries to players increases greatly when field conditions are wet or muddy. Footing for pitchers is extremely difficult. It is easy to blow out a hamstring or groin for pitchers when their front foot slides out as they can't find purchase on a muddy mound when they deliver a pitch. Is it really worth risking a season or career ending injury to a multi million dollar athlete for playing in a few innings of rain?
-There was ample lighting with last night's storms. This is a risk to players and fans alike.
What would those same people who criticized the decision to postpone have said if players or fans had been hit by lightning last night?
There are some illuminating stats on the dangers of lightning here.
Trust me when I say the Twins have some of the best weather support available. There could always be a bad call during the course of a season, but it was a good call to postpone the game last night. The batting average for the Twins weather support team is high so far this year at Target Field.
Okay, I'm off my baseball soapbox now. Time to enjoy a nearly doubleheader today in this beautiful weather!
Get ready to take an atmospheric vacation. Only this time the warm tropical breezes are coming to Minnesota.
We're changing air masses in Minnesota. Today's warm but dry air mass is about to be replaced by a borderline hot, sticky tropical air mass directly from the Gulf of Mexico by this weekend. Think car ride form New Mexico to New Orleans and you get the picture.
Temperatures by Sunday may approach record levels in southern Minnesota. The record high for Twin Cities Airport both Sunday and Monday is 88 degrees. It appears we'll have a shot at tying or exceeding records both days.
It's not the heat...
The real star of this weather forecast will be a surge of tropical summer like moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Dew points may approach 70 degrees by Sunday. That's July-like humidity levels folks. You'll start to notice the humidity climbing Saturday, and you'll really feel it by Sunday afternoon.
It looks like temperatures will climb above 85 degrees for a string of days starting on Sunday. That's good news for those who want our area lakes to warm up (the weather lab skiff measured a hypothermic 59 degree water temperature this week on Lake Minnetonka) in time for the big Memorial Day weekend. Not so good for those who had hoped to give the air conditioners a rest until late June or July. Humidity levels will make air conditioners hum and energy demand soar by Sunday PM.
It's interesting to note that power utilities like XCEL Energy plan days or weeks ahead for spikes in demand created by hot weather. Most big utility companies use private meteorologists to plan daily and weekly demand through "load forecasts." I used to work in that end of the weather biz back in the day in Chicago. Check out the range of services provided by my former employer Weather Command based in the Chicago area.
Working in so called "operational meteorology" when I was a young weather buck was extremely challenging and precise. For me it was like meteorological boot camp. The techniques I learned there from the excellent staff are valuable to me as a weather forecaster to this day. I am grateful to so many who helped shape my forecasting skills that led me to what has become a long and fruitful career as a meteorologist.
Rain chances increase:
With the increase in humidity and temperature comes the chance of rain and thunder. A minor low pressure system will sideswipe southern Minnesota Friday, bringing a chance of a few showers and a T-Storm from Duluth to the metro and Rochester and Eau Claire. Rainfall amounts generally look light with this system, most areas may see between .10" and .25" of rain Friday.
A second wave could bring heavier tropical downpours early next week.
The view from space:
I've posted a few amazing satellite images of the Gulf oil spill the past few days. Nasa's MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer ) satellite orbits the earth from pole to pole every day. The MODIS Rapid Response System was developed to provide daily satellite images of the Earth's landmasses in near real time.
It's amazing what you can see form space at in these high resolution images.
Early in the dry season in Democratic Republic of Congo the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image on May 13, 2010. MODIS detects hundreds of active fires (location marked in red) in southern Democratic Republic of Congo and northeastern Angola, a sign that the agricultural burning season was in full swing.
Dust plumes blow off the coast of Libya and over the Mediterranean Sea in mid-May 2010. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image on May 13, 2010. Thick dust blows northward off the African coast, past the island of Kriti (Crete), and toward Peloponnisos (Peloponnese). In places, the dust is thick enough to completely hide the land or sea surface below.
Look up and smile next time you see one of those faint red lights passing by in the night overhead. You never know who's watching!
Congratulations. You've just enjoyed a once in a lifetime April.
When the final numbers are tallied, April's average monthly temperature in the Twin Cities will roll in at about 54.7 degrees Fahrenheit. That's 8.3 degrees warmer than average and the 4th warmest April on record in the Twin Cities since Pioneer records began in 1820. The last April that was this warm in the metro was in 1915.
Here are the top 10 warmest Aprils according to the Minnesota Climatology Working Group.
Rank Temp Year
* as of April 27
Weekend Weather: Mixed bag
Look for a blustery unsettled weekend in Minnesota. Generally speaking, the weather will be better in the southern half of Minnesota this weekend, with cooler showery unsettled weather in the north.
Look for scattered showers in northern Minnesota with weekend highs in the 50s. Southern Minnesota will see a bit more sunshine and just a slight chance of a shower with highs in the 60s. Saturday will feature brisk gusty southwest winds at 15 to 30 mph. Sunday will feature lighter winds from the west at between 10 and 20 mph.
Gulf oil spill comes ashore:
Weather conditions will feature steady brisk southeast to south winds along the Gulf Coast this weekend. That will drive the oil slick on the surface of the Gulf Coast onto shore. Trajectory forecasts put the plume into the Louisiana coastline first, followed by Mississippi, Alabama and eventually Florida by early next week.
It is tragic to watch the oil slowly move ashore knowing that the leak is spewing more oil each day 5,000 feet below the surface. What satellites and video can see on the surface is only a small portion of the total oil that is lurking below in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico. Keep track of the lastest developments from NOAA here.
Posted at 8:28 AM on April 27, 2010
by Paul Huttner
Filed under: Remote sensing
There are some remarkable images coming in from the NASA'a MODIS satellite showing the sequence of events surrounding the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Check these out. You can see the high res images here.
There are signs that southerly winds will pick up along the Gulf Coast by Friday and into the weekend. That could bring the growing oil spill ashore along the Gulf Coast and barrier islands by this weekend. Stiff southerly breezes of between 15 and 30 mph will begin to blow ahead of a cold front Friday.
Residents along the Gulf Coast are hoping for a miracle to keep the expanding oil slick away from the shoreline. Looking at the weather forecast that's exactly what they'll need.
Posted at 5:07 PM on April 26, 2010
by Paul Huttner
Filed under: Remote sensing
As 40,000 gallons a day leak from the collapsed oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the signs of the event are now visible from space. The photo above shows the spill southeast of the Mississippi Delta at 1km resolution. You can see the higher resolution images here.
So far the oil appears to be out at sea, but if the leak continues and ocean currents send the slick toward the Gulf Coast we could have the makings of coastal ecological disaster just days away.