Thursday, July 30, 2009

A July of Wild Extremes

Weekend Headlines

- Best chance of rain: tonight, few hours of showers and storms.

- Warmer day: Sunday, better chance of sampling 80 degrees up at the lake (or river).

- Windiest day: Saturday, northwest winds gust to 25, even 30 mph during the afternoon.

- Temperatures average 5-10 degrees cooler than normal.

- Risk of severe weather? Close to zero.

- Dew points: 40s and 50s, more like mid September than early August, unusually dry.

Satellite Image (late Thursday). If you click on the image and take it full screen you can see the hit-or-miss showers and thundershowers that popped up Thursday afternoon/evening in response to strong instability over Minnesota. A more stable airmass should result in more sun today with highs near 80 before the next cool front arrives with showers and a few T-storms Friday night.

WRF/NMM Model valid Saturday evening at 7 pm. This field shows expected rainfall between 1 pm and 7 pm Saturday - showers and storms pushing east across Wisconsin, most of Minnesota experiencing a dry day, with the possible exception of far northern Minnesota, where a few late-day (pop-up) instability showers are possible.

Paul's Weekend Weather Outlook

Today: Plenty of sun, warmer, drier than yesterday. Winds: SW 10-20. High: near 80

Tonight: Showers arrive, a few claps of thunder possible. Low: 56

Saturday: Damp start, clouds give way to partly sunny conditions, breezy, cooler. Winds: NW 10-20 (gusts to 25 in the afternoon). High: 76

Sunday: Sunnier, warmer, a fine summer day. Winds: W/NW 5-15. High: 82

Monday: Plenty of sun, still lukewarm. High: near 80

Tuesday: More clouds, fleeting shower or thundershower. High: 79

Wednesday: Sun giving way to increasing clouds. High: 82

Thursday: Showers/storms possible early, then clearing. High: 80

(GFS computer hinting at a few 90s the second week of August. At the rate we're going this summer don't hold your breath).

Just when you think you've seen everything...along comes a year like 2009. Weather is always variable, changeable, zigging and zagging from one extreme to the next. The concept of "normal" or "average" weather is a joke, a statistical fluke, bearing no resemblance to reality.

Even so, when the Canadian Yukon is 10-20 degrees warmer than Minnesota, on a consistent basis, day after day in July, a mere MONTH after the Summer Solstice, meteorologists start to scratch their heads. Here's why we're all a bit dazed, shell-shocked right about now:

- Coolest July in 17 years for the USA and North America.

- Many towns in northern Minnesota are experiencing one of the 10 coolest July's since accurate, reliable weather records were first started in the late 1800s. International Falls may have just seen the coolest July ever. At least it didn't snow (thank God). July is STILL the only month in Minnesota where flurries haven't been reported - officially - somewhere in the state. Talk about a vaguely terrifying statistic!

- Cooler, drier weather is responsible for a tornado drought. We should have seen 21 twisters as of late July. So far only 9 tornadoes have formed from the Dakota line to the St. Croix River.

- 70 in Barrow, Alaska yesterday, mid 80s in Fairbanks, 10 degrees warmer than most Minnesota towns. Much of western Canada has been experiencing record heat with a string of 90-degree highs as far north as the Yukon!

- 103 in Seattle on Wednesday, a new record for July 29.

- Portland, Oregon has set a string of records, highs above 100 degrees every day this week. These readings are 20-25 degrees warmer than "normal" for late July. Keep in mind most residents of the Pacific Northwest don't own air conditioning. They haven't needed it, at least not until this summer.

- While the west bakes and sizzles, unusually cool weather is gripping much of American east of the Mississippi.

- New England just had its third coolest July ever, lagging only 1962 and 2000.

- New York City @ Central Park: 16.5" of rain in July, second wettest on record.

- Little Rock, Arkansas: wettest July on record.

We just ricochet from one extreme to the next, like a meteorological version of Pac Man!

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