Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stubborn Stratus

Update 12:30 pm. A weak (back door) cool front approaching from Wisconsin, coupled with fog/stratus leftover from this morning is producing some patchy cloud cover over the immediate Twin Cities metro area, keeping temperatures 10+ degrees cooler than they would be otherwise. Check out the satellite (the sun is out nearly everywhere - with the exception of parts of central and east central MN). The sun is lower in the sky, making it tougher to burn away AM cloudcover and fog in mid September than during July or August. The sun may peek through later this afternoon, but temperatures will be lucky to hit 70. 80 will have to wait (until Thursday and Friday).

Pinch me, dammit. I must be dreaming. The last few weeks have been an amazing Technicolor dream alright, bordering on surreal. I know - I know; we're still in a drought - a 4 day soaking would qualify as "good weather" right about now. Even so, it isn't often that Minnesota resembles San Diego, Palm Springs or Honolulu, where a few of the local TV stations don't employ a professional meteorologist. Why bother? Every day's the same: "cloudy, showery on the windward side, warm sun on the leeward side, back to you Earl!" San Diego weather is "the same" (most of the time). America's sunniest, most moderate and pleasant climate is not terribly challenging for professional forecasters. "What time will the fog burn off?" That's the big forecast challenge day in and day out, along with the surf report. I honestly can't remember a spell of weather this....perfect/extraordinary/jaw-droppingly spectacular.....hanging on for day after day, week after week....well, ever! I've been here (more or less) since 1983 and this is one of the finest spells of weather I can ever recall. I know it's ironic, coming after the 7th coolest meteorological summer on record for Minnesota and Wisconsin. We've all seen the yin and the yang of Minnesota weather: unusually chilly weather is often (but not always) followed by unusually mild weather. The atmosphere tries - on its own - to balance things out, to reach some sense of equilibrium. Speaking of evening things out, have I told you about next week's weather? No? O.K. Let me stall for a few more seconds....

It's exceedingly rare to get a stretch of (flawless) weather here in the nation's heartland, where we can go through 3 seasons in the span of one calendar day!

By The Numbers....

84 F high on Tuesday.

September is running 5 degrees warmer than average.

Tuesday was the 8th day this month with a high in the 80s.

If the mercury hits 80 today (it'll be a close call) this will be the longest stretch of daily highs above 80 all summer!

O.K. How do I say this delicately. RUN outside - soak up the splendor and magnificence of a "sun-sational" September, the finest in recent memory - because some big changes are brewing for next week.

By Tuesday of next week it will be cold enough (aloft) for a few snow flurries as close as the Minnesota Arrowhead. Big gulp. Yes, next week will be an atmospheric slap-across-the-face with highs in the 50s (some 40s north), gusty winds, and occasional showers and sprinkles, feeling more like early October. The good news? It won't stay foul/windy/brisk for long. After a chilly spell lasting from roughly next Monday, September 21 to Saturday, the 26th, temperatures mellow rapidly the last 4-5 days of September, returning to the 60s, maybe even some 70s by October 1. Consider it a "correction", a mere taste of what's to come. We simply can't sustain this level of warmth and perfection without paying some sort of a price, and that weather payback is brewing for next week. I can't rule out a killing frost into central Minnesota, even some of the far, outlying suburbs of the Twin Cities, by the end of next week. Yes, you will be able to show off your finest jacket collection within about 4-5 days.

Soak it up, spend extra time loitering outside, take in a few extra sunsets (or sunrises). Come up with vague, semi-believable excuses to sneak away from the office for a few extra minutes. Consider this summer's true swan song. I know, very ironic: now that summer is over (in spite of what the calendar on the wall is telling you)...NOW we see some of the nicest weather of the entire year. This would have been nice back in mid July, but oh well, we'll take it!

GFS Outlook for 7 pm next Tuesday, September 22. Look carefully and you'll see a "540" solid yellow line draped over Minnesota. That's the rough cut-off for rain/snow, when the atmosphere is said to be "critical", temperatures 3,000 to 4,000 feet above the ground around 32 F, cold enough for flurries (aloft). Those flurries will probably melt into sprinkles before reaching the ground, but I wouldn't be shocked to hear of some premature snowflakes up north by the middle of next week!

Weather Headlines

Temperatures close to 80 F. every day through Sunday? Very possible.

No rain until late Sunday/Sunday night at the earliest.

Turning much colder next week.

First frost/freeze of the winter season possible the latter half of next week over the northern 2/3rds of Minnesota

Warming up the last week of September, back into the 60s/70s by September 27-Oct. 1.

Fiery Forecast. Spring arrives earlier across much of America, especially west of the Rockies. Out west the fire season in the last 15 years has increased more than 2 months, 78 days to be precise. Detailed fire records go back to about 1960. The 7 worst fire seasons have all taken place since 1999. (source: 60 Minutes)

Paul's Outlook

Today: Mostly cloudy and cooler in and near the Twin Cities. Plenty of sun south/west of the metro area, where the mercury will approach 80 once again. Winds: E/SE 10-15. High: 71

Tonight: Clear and comfortably cool. Low: 57

Thursday: Warm sunshine, hard to stay indoors. High: 82

Friday: Plenty of sun, still beautiful. High: 81

Saturday: Nicer day of the weekend - warm sun, more like mid August. High: 83

Sunday: Sun giving way to increasing clouds. Showers possible late in the day. High: 79

Monday: Windy, showery, turning cooler. High: 64

Tuesday: Jacket weather returns. Some morning sun, PM clouds, few late-day showers possible. High: 62 (holding in the 50s north).

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