Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The weather just doesn't matter much
Twins photo courtesy of ESPN. The past 48 hours have been a dream-come-true for die-hard Minnesota sports fans. For a brief moment in time the weather is NOT conversation topic #1.
Is it me or did you barely notice yesterday's soaking, drenching downpour? For the first time in a long time the Minnesotans I bumped into weren't ranting about the weather (good or bad). No, it was all about Favre and the Vikes on a winning streak, and a serious buzz about our Minnesota Twins, who did not let us down last night. For a Minnesota sports fan the last couple of days have been surreal - as good as it gets. Well, it COULD be better, and at the rate we're going, with momentum on our side....I can't finish the sentence. Sorry. Could this be the year? I was in the Dome the last time it was really rocking back in '91. I've promised my sons that when (not if) but when the Vikings go to the Superbowl I will sell a kidney to track down a few tickets. Could this be the year? I hesitate getting my hopes too high. After all, when you walk around with low expectations you're never disappointed. And yet....how can you NOT dream?
Rumor has it we picked up a healthy rainfall yesterday. I saw 1.42" of rain in my rain gauge in Tonka Bay yesterday, on top of the 2.3" of rain that fell last week. A whopping 1.16" of rain swamped St. Cloud, 1.47" of rain fell in the Twin Cities in the last 24 hours, the most I could find anywhere in Minnesota. So much for moderation - we just zig-zag from one crazy extreme to the next....from one of the 10 wettest Augusts to one of the 10 driest Septembers. Now the weather pendulum is swinging in the other (wetter) direction again. Amazing - so much for moderation (and predictable, "reasonable" weather). Why am I surprised? It takes a lot to shock me these days...
So the obvious question right now would be: "Paul, how did we go from the driest September in recent memory to 3-5" of rain in the first week of October? Great question. For much of September weather patterns over North America were in a bizarre holding pattern, a stalled storm over the southeast drenching Georgia with a hurricane's worth of rain, some 10-20" amounts, while high pressure stagnated over the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest, resulting in light winds, lukewarm sun and a touch of smog, for nearly 3 straight weeks! Now the weather map looks more typical for October, weather systems "progressive" (translation: they're moving at 20-40 mph, like they should!) The storm track has been just to our south since late September, slow-moving storms able to soak up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and hurl it northward. The slow forward motion prolonged the rain, warmth and moisture running up and over chilly air lingering over Minnesota, this "overrunning" pattern resulting in widespread, drenching rains - just the kind of rain we needed, in light of the lingering drought. It's just what farmers and gardeners needed, a multi-million dollar rain capable of recharging soil moisture AND filling up area lakes, which are still down anywhere from 1-3 feet. We really needed this rain, and it came - in the nick of time, before the ground has a chance to freeze up rock-solid. That's still about a month away.
Surface Weather Map valid Tuesday evening at 10 pm. Check out the intense bulls-eye low pressure system over far eastern Lake Superior. The isobars are packed tightly together, whipping up 30-40 mph winds over the Great Lakes. Yes, the gales of November are blowing a bit early this year.
The S-word has been thrown around in recent days, and I want to bring us all back down to earth. No cause for panic (or wild celebration). No, it's still early to wax up your favorite skis (or snowmobile). Yes, the air overhead will (in theory) be cold enough for snow by Friday afternoon. But the rush of chilled, Canadian air will quickly shove any lingering moisture to our east, limiting any snow flurries to far northern counties of Minnesota over the weekend. You'll need to dig out the heavy jackets though - daytime highs stuck in the 40s much of Saturday and Sunday with a definite whiff of wind chill whipping up out there.
That disclaimer aside: check out the map below. If (and it's a very big if) it verifies - residents of southern Minnesota could theoretically wake up a light coating of white Saturday morning, around the breakfast hour. The models are hinting at a weak wave of low pressure racing eastward behind the cold front, a brief burst of upward motion capable of snow flurries or snow showers - best chance near the Iowa border. Could there be a light coating of slush in the Twin Cities metro area? Yes. The odds are probably less than 1 in 3, but there's a chance. I know - it's way too early. BTW, this next cold front will probably come through dry on Thursday, winds shifting around to the northwest. By Friday there will be NO doubt in your mind that the wicked winds of winter are blowing a little early this year.
GFS Model valid 7 am Saturday morning. This graphic shows expected precipitation between 7 pm and 7 am (Friday overnight hours). The dreaded 540 line (approximate rain/snow line) is well south of Minnesota, hovering over the Missouri/Iowa line, meaning - in theory - it could snow, lightly, over southern Minnesota Friday night. Don't bet the farm on that outcome, but it's a distinct possibility. Stay tuned....this could get mighty interesting!
Paul's Outlook for the Twin Cities
Today: Partly sunny, a bit milder. Winds: southwest 10-20. High: near 60
Tonight: Patchy clouds. Low: 42
Thursday: Mostly cloudy, windy, turning cooler. High: 52
Friday: Intervals of sun, feels more like late October. High: 49
Friday night: Chance of light snow or flurries, maybe a little slush over far southern Minnesota. Low: 32
Saturday: More clouds than sun, chilly for this time of year. Drag out the heavy jackets. High: 45
Sunday: Chilled sunshine, a dry sky. High: 47
Monday: Plenty of sun, a few degrees milder. High: near 50
Tuesday: Sun gives way to increasing clouds. High: 52