Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Paul's SC Times Outlook for St. Cloud and all of central Minnesota

Today: Bright sun, warm and comfortable. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 83

Thursday night: Clear and mild. Low: 57

Friday: Blue sky - beautiful! High: 85

Saturday: Hazy sun, warmest day of the holiday weekend. Winds: S 10-20. High: 87

Sunday: Unsettled with increasing clouds, chance of a PM shower or T-shower. Winds: W 10-20. High: 75

Memorial Day: Partly sunny, breezy and cooler. Winds: NW 10-20. High: near 70 (holding in the 60s north of Little Falls).

Tuesday: Clouds increase during the day, chance of a shower late. High: 70

Wednesday: Showers, best chance southern MN. High: 71

Tornado Rage. What happens when a tornado warning is issued during a popular TV show? The results can be ugly, brutal, insulting. Think about it, a typical tornado affects less than 1/2 of 1% of a single county, yet local TV stations interrupt programming for ALL 80-100 counties in the viewing area. Seems archaic, very 1970s. This will change, and sooner than you think. Click here to listen to a funny, fascinating example of what can happen when an ill-timed tornado warning hits the boob tube at precisely the wrong time.

"The Weather Cast" - Post Mortem

Last week WeatherNation launched a national weather channel called "The Weather Cast" for Dish Network. There are a few bizarre rumors and fallacies circulating out there - so because I launch into Memorial Day Weather I wanted to answer a few of them:

- "Did you get screwed by Dish?" Short answer, no. We knew all along there was a risk they would eventually come to terms with The Weather Channel. Did they use us for leverage, to get a better deal? Absolutely. But there were never any guarantees. Like anything else in business, there was considerable risk, but also a huge upside. It's business, nothing personal.

- "How could you possible compete with TWC - your company is tiny, by comparison, right?" True. We have roughly 6% of the staff of The Weather Channel, a budget which was a fraction of the roughly $8.5 million/month budget of the Atlanta operation. The only way we could possible launch a credible service was to take full advantage of the Internet, streaming via (fat) fiber optic bandwidth. We perfected the ability to stream live (HD) quality on the public Internet. We were able to take advantage of massive efficiencies using Internet streaming, some level of automation, and a team of 11 amazing meteorologists, half a dozen developers and 3 engineers to create continuous content out of 3 HD studios.

- "They yanked you off the air, does that mean you're finished?" No. We're just getting started. The entire ordeal/spectacle generated an amazing amount of national publicity for what we're trying to do here in Minnesota. We have an amazing team of meteorologists; we introduce some new faces to a national audience. The new weather graphics we debuted on The Weather Cast include Vipir street-level storm tracking and OMNI 3-D Weather from Baron Services. We're having discussions with other media companies; we hope to take what we learned from the Dish experience and apply them to new opportunities.

- "I thought you just did 3:00 segments for TV stations, newspapers and web sites." We have many customers for WeatherNation and Ham Weather, including CN2, a Kentucky Weather Channel serving 800,000+ cable subscribers throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky - all the content provided by WeatherNation in Excelsior. Why not have a Minnesota Weather Channel, a New England Weather Channel, a Chicagoland Weather Channel, pushing updated weather to any device, any time, everyone watching something different, based on a variety of factors? That's the future, and we're trying to get there as fast as possible.

- "Why are you anti-Weather Channel?" Wrong premise. I have nothing against the Weather Channel, I almost worked there in 1982 when it launched. Founder John Coleman wanted me to come down to Atlanta and help get it off the ground. My fiancee was in Pennsylvania, finishing up a 5 year architecture degree at Penn State, so I honestly didn't want to be that far away. I admire the Weather Channel, I have friends there, think they do a pretty good job (most of the time), but adamantly believe there's room for an alternative, maybe a few different weather voices. Competition is good, right? Call me crazy, but I can still respect TWC and work on an alternative. There are, what, 6-8 different news and business channels - why only one weather channel? The future is personalized weather channels, available on any device, anytime, anywhere - everyone seeing something different.

Headlines courtesy of News Blues, the definitive source for media-related stories online.

Thanks to everyone who supported our efforts with The Weather Cast, on Facebook and elsewhere. Thank you for checking out the blog and supporting THIS site - I'm excited for each and every one of our clients - many of the breakthroughs and enhancements we made for Dish will be applied for ALL our customers. All I can say is stay tuned...we'll be trying new things, launching new capabilities - we're excited for the future.

Speaking of the future - I'm pretty jazzed about the weather forecast for the holiday weekend, definitely above average, better than usual for the unofficial kick-off of the summer season. The beastly-heat is behind us now, Monday's 69 degree dew point a distant, steamy, blast-furnace, humidified memory. Dew points have dropped into the 40s, meaning there is now HALF as much water in the air as there was early in the week. A weak bubble of high pressure camping out overhead will keep our skies blue and sun-scrubbed through Saturday, temperatures slowly warming, humidity levels in the comfortable zone. A cool frontal passage sparks a couple hours of showers (possible thunder) Sunday PM as winds turn around to the west, ushering in cooler, drier, more comfortable air for Memorial Day. Monday will probably be the worst day at the beach/lake with highs holding in the 60s up north after waking up to cool 40s. Clouds will sprout during the afternoon - under a gray sky it will FEEL fairly chilly Monday afternoon. Get in your lake time on Saturday - undoubtedly the best day of the 3-day weekend.

A few weekend highlights:

Warmest day: Saturday (still looks like the best day for the pool or lake, highs well up into the 80s statewide, winds blowing from the south at 10-20, a little chop on area lakes.

Wettest day: Sunday. I still don't envision an all-day rain, maybe an hour or two of showers (possible thunder) as a cooler front pushes east from the Dakotas. Best chance of a little rain? Late afternoon and evening. Expect highs in the 70s, winds turning to the west by afternoon at 10-20 mph.

Coolest day: Memorial Day. Take a sweatshirt of jacket if you're heading up north. You'll wake up to 40s Monday morning, with highs stuck in the low 60s. Clouds will increase by afternoon, with a stiff northwest wind at 10-20 mph. Not a great day on the lake up north, but metro area lakes should be partly sunny with highs in the 69-73 range. Not a bad day, but not nearly as nice as Saturday to hit the water.

Sunday Showers. No sign of the weekend front stalling overhead, the only thing that would prolong the rain. Right now it looks like an hour or two of rain (possible thunder) - best chance late afternoon/evening hours. MOST of Sunday looks dry, highs mostly in the 70s, more cloud cover than Saturday as the front approaches from the west.

Tornado-Palooza! A major tornado touched down between Howes and Faith, South Dakota on May 24 - some phenomenal YouTube video here. The story is here.

2010 Tornadoes. So far Minnesota hasn't seen one tornado so this year. Twisters have touched down in Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas - even California and Washington state (!) We have been very, very lucky so far. More from the SPC is here.
German Tornado. Although rare, tornadoes have been known to touch down on Europe. On May 24 a damaging tornado tore through Rosenheim, Germany. Click here to see video from the outbreak.

* While much of America bakes, residents of California have been battered by a series of sloppy, Pacific storms. They're still skiing near Tahoe! The story is here. The cool, wet weather has delayed planting of crops, and generally made people miserable. More on the soggy, nasty spell of weather out west here.

Welcome Snowpack. Unusually frequent and heavy snowfalls have dumped far more snow than average on the mountains of the far west, good news for thirsty cities from San Francisco to L.A. and Las Vegas that rely on melting snow for much of their water supply. Snow pack is running 137% of normal - some good news for the parched western USA.

Top Kill. BP engineers tried injecting mud and concrete into the runaway oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. It may be days before we know if it worked or not. To see a live stream of the well click here.
Poetry in Motion. The morning weather guy at WDAF-TV in Kansas City got SO excited about the forecast he literally fell off his chair. Nothing like live TV. The clip is here.

Slow Motion Meltdown. Mt. Everest, the tallest peak on the planet, is melting. No, I didn't believe it either, until I read this story.

* Americans Are Becoming Global Warming Skeptics. The story from U.S. News & World Report is here.

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