Thursday, September 10, 2009

Risk of a free lawn watering

What a September. Is it my imagination or have we been blessed with an unusual number of fine, sunny, hazy, (lazy), August-like days the last 2 weeks? At the risk of editorializing the weather has been phenomenal, near-perfection, bordering on magical. I took the boat out yesterday after "work", took a friend and his family out for dinner on the lake - marveling at how amazing it is to have access to gorgeous lakes so close to a major, metropolitan area. Where else can you do this? Which other major cities are water-friendly? Seattle, Miami, maybe Boston and New York? But you don't get the charm (and relative safety) of smaller lakes in those cities; navigating alongside oil tankers and cruise ships is not my idea of a good time. I'll take a lake over an inland waterway, harbor or bay any day of the week.

I've been spoiled - we all have, and the thing is - you don't really realize it - it doesn't sink in until and unless you go somewhere else. I've been in a lot of cities from coast to coast; many have their own unique charms. But I've never found the combination of attributes that I stumbled across in March, 1983, when a wide-eyed boy from Amish Country (Lancaster, PA) started work at KARE-11 (at the time, WTCN, for "Twin Cities News"). When I came out for my initial interview they showed me the Mary Tyler Moore House (Lake of the Isles), they wined and dined me (ok, no wine) at the Orion Room, a once-wonderful restaurant on the top floor of the IDS Tower. And then they drove me to see the Byerly's in St. Louis Park. Carpet, chandeliers, and an art department in a grocery store? That clinched the deal. I knew there had to be something extraordinarily special about this community. I was hooked.

St. Louis Park Byerly's. I don't think I ever had a chance to tell Don Byerly that his flagship store made such a positive impression on me back in '83 that I had to take a chance on Minnesota. It was a decision I didn't regret...

The News Director purposely kept me off the air for a month until I learned how to pronounce Wayzata, Isanti and Shakopee. It took me another another 3 months before I learned NOT to use my car horn (unless someone did something REALLY stupid!) For 10 years some of my aunts thought I was working in Milwaukee. It was fly-over land, but so what? I was hopelessly hooked: on the weather, the scenery, the pristine environment, the lakes, and yes, the people. Minnesotans know their weather. If you're a meteorologist there's no better town on the planet to try and predict the weather than Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Click here to check out "Paul's Links", which has a variety of stories focused on meteorology, storms and climate change. These are stories that make me do a double-take, a high gee-whiz quotient. I can almost....ALMOST guarantee you that you'll see a story that makes you come back for more. Best of all - it's free!

Paul's Outlook

Today: Sun gives way to increasing clouds. A shower or T-storm possible by late afternoon or evening. Winds: S 10-15. High: 77

Tonight: A few showers likely, thunder possible. Low: 62

Saturday: More clouds than sun, unsettled, a few hours of showers - cooler. Winds: E 10-15. High: 75

Sunday: Intervals of sun, slight chance of a PM shower or T-shower. High: 79

Monday: Warm sunshine, quite pleasant. High: 81

Tuesday: Partly cloudy, slight shower opportunity. High: 79

Wednesday: Mix of clouds and sunshine, seasonably mild. High: 77

Thursday: Less sun, a bit cooler - still dry. High: 74

3-Day Outlook for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Showers and storms become more widely scattered with each passing day. Saturday looks considerably wetter than Sunday, more numerous/widespread showers around the state of Minnesota. Model data comes from the GFS.

A slow-moving cool front will shove a few showers and T-storms into town today; the latest (NAM) model prints out a cool .25 to .50" for much of central and southern Minnesota from Friday afternoon into Saturday. Weather systems are stuck in a holding pattern, a storm stalled near New York soaking the northeast, whipping up coastal flooding and beach erosion. That "cut-off low" will, in turn, cause another storm to stall out south/west of Minnesota in the coming days. I still think the heaviest/steadiest rains will slide off from the Dakotas into Iowa and Nebraska, with the best chance of PM instability showers and T-showers popping over far southern and western Minnesota Saturday and Sunday.

QPF (Quantitative Precipitation Forecast) for the next 5 days. Weather systems are stuck in a holding pattern, with storms stalled near New York City, a second "cut-off low" over the central Plains.

It's a tough forecast, but Saturday appears to be the wetter day, when showers will be more widespread, maybe 2-4 hours of rain for many towns. Sunday looks a bit drier, a few more hours of sun, temperatures a couple degrees warmer, the best chance of bumping into a shower coming south/west of the Minnesota River. Right now the models keep us mostly-dry Monday and Tuesday, but I'm nervous about the forecast. It has (pardon me) "high bust potential". We don't like to talk about goofs, mistakes, errors - we refer to bungled forecasts as "busts" and a high bust potential means there is MUCH that can go amiss with the forecast, more so than usual.

Daily Highs/Lows for the USA. Here is a good source of climate data for the entire USA. Click here to see the latest information - you can click on individual cities to get more detailed information. This is bookmark-worthy!

So expect a slightly cooler, more showery pattern from today into part of Sunday, but no cold fronts are in sight - long range computer guidance keeps us milder than normal through the third week of September. No cold fronts, no f-f-f-f-frost, nothing controversial, save for a few foggy mornings. The drought continues to worsen - hopefully we'll see soaking rains in late September and October before the ground freezes up for the winter. We really need to recharge soil moisture before the ground becomes cold and rock-solid. I don't see a "puddly" pattern returning anytime soon, but I'll keep scouring the maps. Better yet I'll light a candle, and go one step further: I'll plan a series of huge outdoor bashes, inviting friends and family for one last bash on the lake. That's sure to attract a minor flood!

Drought Monitor. Moderate drought has spread into portions of northern Minnesota, north of Pequot Lakes and Crosslake, with more pockets of moderate drought near Alexandria, the Twin Cities metro, and southeastern counties, near Rochester and St. James.

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