Friday, May 15, 2009

Rotation showing up near Redwood Falls

(update: 2:30 pm) Doppler shows fairly strong rotation just north of Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Although no tornado watch is in effect, there is always a slight risk of an isolated tornado in this kind of pattern. Conditions are very marginal for tornadoes (dew points in the low to mid 50s) but there is sufficient wind "shear" (changing wind speed/direction as you rise up through the atmosphere) to spin up a brief, isolated tornado in parts of Minnesota. It's worth repeating that most towns will only see a downpour, possibly small hail, thunder and lightning. But you'll want to stay alert and be ready to move to a safe area if threatening conditions approach. The safest spot: in the basement, under the stairs. If you don't have a basement a small, ground-floor room on the lowest level is safest, a closet or bathroom. Avoid outer walls and windows. More updates as warranted....

(update 2:00 pm) Doppler shows strong T-storms approaching from the west. There are indications that some of these cells are producing 1/2" diameter hail. If the hail size reaches 1" diameter warnings will be issued for specific counties. Time to move the kids indoors (get the car in the garage if possible, to avoid potential hail-dings!) The greatest risk comes from 3:30 to 6:00 pm, west metro obviously the first to feel the effects of these storms, which may drop a quick .50" of rain. A few isolated storms may go severe, with large hail, 58 mph+ winds, even an isolated tornado. Stay alert and stay tuned for possible warnings.

(update 1:05 pm) SPC (Storm Prediction Center) has placed much of Minnesota in a "slight risk" of severe thunderstorms. We're getting enough sunshine and surface heating, coupled with an increasingly ripe wind profile aloft. Dew points are rising through the 50s, ample moisture to fuel storms capable of 1" hail and wind gusts > 60 mph later today. The greatest risk of a few isolated severe storms will come around the dinner hour, between 4 and 7 pm. Stay alert, check into this site for updates, and stay tuned for possible watches and warnings later this afternoon.

When I was working at WCCO-TV co-anchor Amelia Santaniello liked to tease me by asking me, "Paul, can you guarantee this is going to happen?" I would always shake my head no, and explain that the only thing I can guarantee is sunrise and sunset. Everything else is a crap-shoot. This was a running joke that would surface every couple of weeks. Meteorology is a humbling profession. Just about the time you think you have it all figured out, you have a true handle on Minnesota's fickle, unpredictable weather patterns, Mother Nature (or the Good Lord) would humble me in front of a few hundred thousand viewers and give me a swift kick in the Doppler!

No complaints, I had a blast at 4, and I'm having even more fun working for myself now, focusing on tailoring weather for forward-thinking companies like Conservation Minnesota and The Internet is now deconstructing established, legacy media, from newspapers to local TV to magazines - now that choices are almost unlimited and everyone is publishing their own content the old models aren't working out so well. Weather should be a conversation, an ongoing dialogue, with frequent updates throughout the day as the patterns change and evolve. With media in general we're going from a one-way flow of information, a speech (ie newspaper headline or a TV newscast) to more of a conversation. Consumers want skin in the game, they want to be more than just passive observers. That's what has me so excited about trying to reinvent weather for on-line. Here you can have the best of both worlds: streaming video (for the big picture, the narrative, the explanation and traditional weather guy or gal in front of a weather map) PLUS the personalization capabilities of the Internet, the ability for everyone to tailor their own weather experience, personalize it for their tastes and needs. From one-size-fits-all weather to personalized weather - that seems to be the natural evolution, and we'll be trying some new things in the weeks and months to come. I encourage you to check back several times a day to this site, I'll try to post updates, new maps, graphics and Doppler images, especially on the big, severe weather days. No need to wait up until 10 pm to get the 7-Day Outlook. Now you can check the latest outlook anytime during the day, on your schedule, on your terms. That's the power of instant-gratification, weather-at-your-fingertips. End of sermon.

Yesterday was a fresh tonic for the soul with bright sun and a refreshing breeze. Today's weather will slowly sour, a promising sputter of morning sun fading behind a smear of thickening clouds. An eastbound cool front arrives by mid afternoon, temperatures fall from 70 into the 50s by evening as a light rain falls. By tonight skies will clear and temperatures will tumble, reaching frosty levels by morning. If you have some plants poking up in your garden you want to keep around indefinitely you might want to cover them up (old newspaper will do just fine). I don't expect a frost withing 20-30 miles of the downtowns (the close-in suburbs should stay frost-free) but if you live near Elk River, Monticello, Delano or Medina, better to be safe than sorry.

Weather Headlines

* Some AM sun, enough for 70 by midday, before a cooler front arrives this afternoon.

* Latest (NAM) computer model prints out .07" of rain this afternoon and evening for the metro area.

* Potential for frosty suburbs Saturday morning over central MN, but probably not for the Twin Cities or immediate suburbs.

* Light coating to 1" of snow possible for far northern Minnesota tonight, from International Falls to Tower and the BWCA. Duluth may see a coating, with flurries as far south as Bemidji and Grand Rapids.

* Brisk Saturday on tap, highs stuck in the 50s. Light jackets required.

* Sunday still looks like the finer day of the weekend, temperatures top 60 (less wind).

* BIG warming trend next week. 80 possible by Wednesday, daytime highs reach the upper 70s and low 80s through Friday of next week. Showers and T-storms may hold off until Saturday of next week, the 23rd.

Paul's Outlook

Today: Partly cloudy morning - clouds increase/thicken with some light rain by afternoon. Winds: SW/NW 10-20. High: near 72 (lunch hour), falling through the 60s into the 50s by evening.

Tonight: Rain tapers, skies clear, turning colder with a light frost possible by daybreak. Low: 35

Saturday: Patchy morning clouds, a cold breeze. Getting sunnier by afternoon, but brisk. Winds: NW 15-25. Choppy on area lakes, more like mid October. High: 57

Sunday: More sun, less wind, better day of the weekend for outdoor plans. High: 66

Monday: Warm sun, feels like spring again. High: 74

Tuesday: Partly cloudy and warmer. High: near 80

Wednesday: Warm sun, odds favor dry weather. High: 82

Thursday: A taste of summer. Partly sunny, more humid. High: 83

Friday: Mix of clouds and sun, dry weather hangs on. High: 81

Saturday (May 23): More clouds, growing risk of a shower or T-storm. High: 78

(If you live in the far northern or western suburbs of the Twin Cities this may be the view outside your window first thing Saturday morning. The risk of frost or a freeze is higher in St. Cloud, Brainerd and the Lake Mille Lacs area, but we can't rule it out 30-60 miles north and west of the cities).

1 comment:

  1. Good morning, Paul. I'm loving checking out your weather blog each morning before I start my day. Your thoughtful additional insights make this weather report a joy to read. I admire your creativeness in grabbing hold of the new media and demonstrating the ways in which it can be used. I, too, enjoy the new media for sharing my passions in life. is my blog.
    God Bless you today. We are out here following you. Keep up the good work.

    P.S. Love the photography too.