Saturday, June 6, 2009

Serious Puddle Potential

Get ready to test your sense of humor. There's every indication that today will be character-building, feeling more like early April than early June. A charcoal-gray sky, a damp east wind gusting to 20 will make that 55-57 degree "high" feel more like 40s. Throw in a hard rain by midday and you have all the ingredients for a great movie/shopping/errand kind of day. Repeat after me "we need the rain." Let it be your weekend mantra. Odds are you'll hear that phrase at least a half dozen times between now and Monday. It's true, of course, moderate to severe drought conditions linger over much of southeastern and central Minnesota, so it's hard to get overly indignant about rain, even on a (precious) weekend. It could be worse: a few days ago some of the computer guidance was hinting at temperatures aloft being just cold enough for a few wet snowflakes up in the Red River Valley by Monday. The risk of snow has diminished (thank God) but parts of Montana and Wyoming may pick up a few inches of slushy snow from the same system that's leaking rain on our heads. I still find this amazing & baffling. A little more than 2 weeks from the Summer Solstice and there are still snow advisories over the northern Rockies! I don't know whether to laugh or weep.

(Update: 1:30 pm Saturday. Doppler radar shows the heaviest bands of rain surging across southern Minnesota, where some 1-1.5" rainfall amounts are expected. The Twin Cities metro area should pick up 1"+ of badly needed rain; the heaviest, steadiest rains come this afternoon, rain slowly tapering off to a drizzle by late tonight. Sunday starts out damp & drizzly, but overall it will be a drier day - still gray and unseasonably cool for early June).

The good news: check out the swath of significant rain predicted for the next 5 days, centered over southeastern MN and much of Wisconsin. Rainfall amounts drop off as you head north of St. Cloud and Mille Lacs, but this is the wettest QPF (quantitave precipitation forecast) I've seen in over 3 weeks. Note: the QPF tends to over-predict rainfall amounts, it's the trends that are important. For the very latest 5-Day rainfall prediction for the USA click here.

O.K. In the spirit of full disclosure here's the bad news: these are the predicted HIGHS for today, not the lows. Really! It will look and feel more like early/mid April out there than early June. Skip the sunscreen, save some cold cash on air conditioning (in fact you probably shouldn't be surprised if you hear the furnace kick on). Good grief....

This is the severe storm outlook for Monday, from SPC in Norman, Oklahoma. Even though surface temperatures will be unseasonably cool (50s to low 60s) there may be just enough wind shear (changing wind direction/speed with altitude) and instability available, with a vigorous warm front draped just to our south to spark a few isolated severe storm cells by Monday afternoon. As is always the case any large, damaging hail or violent winds will affect a tiny percentage of the state. Most of us will see heavy rain, possibly a gusty thunderstorm - there's just no way to predict, this far in advance, which counties may see severe weather. For the very latest severe weather updates from SPC click here.

Yes, "we need the rain, you know." No kidding. The southern half of Minnesota is too dry. For the record it would take anywhere from 1.5 to 3.25" of rain to pull east central and southeastern MN from the current drought. Yes, we do need the rain. The lousy timing is unfortunate, but there's not much we can do about that. To check out the latest Drought Monitor map click here.

Paul's Outlook

Today: Periods of rain, unusually cool and breezy. Winds: East 10-15. High: 56

Tonight: Gray, damp and chilly with drizzle. Low: 48

Sunday: Mostly cloudy, still damp and cool. Skies brighten a bit, not quite as raw. Patchy drizzle gives way to a risk of more showers/storms late Sunday & Sunday night. Winds: East 10-15. High: 64

Monday: Still unsettled and humid. Risk of showers and T-storms, locally heavy rain possible. High: 65

Tuesday: Drier, intervals of sun. High: 64

Wednesday: Gray, another round of showers possible. High: 65

Thursday: Partly cloudy, more pleasant. High: 72

Friday: Some sun, probably dry. High: 76

Saturday: More clouds than sun, humid. A few showers, possible T-storms. High: 74

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