49 F. average high for April 5.
November 10: last time the mercury saw 60s in St. Cloud (63 F. on November 10, 2010)
60-degree warmth possible as early as Thursday, better chance of 60s over the weekend.
56 degrees under a mostly cloudy, damp sky for the Twins Home Opener vs. the A's Friday afternoon. The sun may peek through - no steady/heavy rain expected right now, but a light shower or passing sprinkle can't be ruled out.
70s possible Saturday and Sunday over southern Minnesota, 1 in 3 chance of 80-degree warmth reaching southern Minnesota by Sunday.
Severe Threat: heavy to potentially severe storms can't be ruled out along a vigorous warm frontal boundary draped over southern and central Minnesota this weekend. With dew points topping 60, a strong south/southeast surface wind at 15-25 mph, and veering winds with altitude, coupled with significant instability (capes over 2,000, a predicted lifted index as low as -4 to -6) the risk of severe storms will be present, especially late afternoon/evening hours Saturday & Sunday.
A Tardy Spring. Time to lose the parka and the boots. Brush the cobwebs off the bike, dig out the tennis shoes. If you don't have spring fever yet - you will within 48 hours. From the local National Weather Service Office in Chanhassen:
"LOOKS HIGHLY LIKELY THAT THE TWIN CITIES WILL SEE THEIR FIRST 60 DEGREE HIGH OF THE YEAR THIS WEEKEND...WHICH IS THE LATEST A HIGH OF 60 OR GREATER HAS OCCURRED SINCE 2002...WHEN MSP WAITED UNTIL APRIL 12TH TO MEET OR EXCEED 60."
Potential For Record Flooding In Fargo. NOAA hydrologists (river forecasters) are predicting a crest of 39.5 feet on the Red River the weekend. That would be about a foot less than the all-time record crest of 40.8' set on March 28, 2009. It's going to be a very close call for residents of Fargo/Moorhead. More details from NOAA here. A crest of 39.5' would still cause considerable flooding - some perspective below:
Flood Update From NOAA. Many locations in the Crow River System as well as the Minnesota and Mississippi (for St Paul and Downstream) River Systems were at high levels and/or were forecast to be near crest when the outlooks were generated on March 23rd. Even though these locations were at high levels, some information can be gleaned from these outlooks for the potential of second crests but the graphics should be interpreted a little differently than in a traditional spring snow melt scenario. In addition, locations in the Upper Mississippi River system (for Minneapolis and upstream) as well as the Sauk and Long Prairie Rivers have not yet experienced the first melt. So for those locations the outlooks information can be interpreted as in normal Spring Snow melt situations. More details here
National Weather Service Hydrology Outlook:
BY THE END OF THE WEEK...ANY REMAINING SNOW COVER ACROSS THE MPX CWA SHOULD BE ALL BUT GONE. FOR PRECIP CHANCES...STILL LOOKS LIKE MAIN BATCH OF PRECIP THURSDAY NIGHT WILL STAY SE OF THE AREA...BUT THERE IS THE POTENTIAL TO SEE UP TO A QUARTER OF AN INCH OF RAIN ALONG AND SE OF A LINE FROM FAIRMONT...TO RED WING...TO CHIPPEWA FALLS. OF MORE CONCERN IS THE LARGE STORM SYSTEM FOR THE WEEKEND. PROBABILITY FOR SEEING MORE THAN AN INCH OF QPF IN 24 HOURS AT MSP IS AT 60 PERCENT SUNDAY ON THE GFS ENSEMBLE. WITH CONVECTION EXPECTED...THE THREAT WILL EXIST TO SEE HEAVY RAINFALL AMOUNTS WITH THIS SYSTEM. WITH AMOUNTS OVER 1.5 INCHES NOT OUT OF THE QUESTION. THIS WILL NEED TO MONITORED CLOSELY AS THE CROW... MISS...AND ST. CROIX RIVERS WILL BE NEAR THEIR PEAKS THEN.
Accelerating Run-Off. From the NWS office in Duluth:
HYDROLOGIC OUTLOOK NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DULUTH MN 1252 PM CDT TUE APR 5 2011 ...SPRING RUNOFF UNDERWAY ACROSS THE NORTHLAND... RECENT PRECIPITATION...ONGOING SNOW MELT AND SATURATED SOILS HAVE COMBINED TO INITIATE OUR SPRING RUNOFF SEASON. WATER PREVIOUSLY LOCKED IN THE SNOW PACK IS NOW BEING RELEASED AND SNOW COVER IS DIMINISHING FROM SOUTH TO NORTH. THE FREEZE THAW CYCLE HAS SLOWED THE RUNOFF MOMENTUM...HOWEVER...WITH WARMER TEMPERATURES EXPECTED INCREASED MELT RATES WILL GENERATE MORE AREAS OF PONDING WATER AND RISING STREAMFLOWS. SOILS ARE SATURATED AND...IN MANY AREAS... WATER IN THE SOIL SITS ATOP A LAYER OF FROST. THERE IS AN INCREASED RISK OF FLOODING OF LOW LYING AREAS...STREAMS AND RIVERS DURING THE NEXT TWO WEEKS. WARMER WEATHER CONDITIONS DURING THE COMING WEEK WILL INCREASE MELT RATES. EXPECT HIGH TEMPERATURES CLIMBING INTO THE 50S THIS WEEK WITH OVERNIGHT LOWS REMAINING ABOVE FREEZING. THIS WILL RESULT IN CONTINUOUS MELT THUS INCREASING RUNOFF. IN ADDITION...WEATHER MODELS INDICATE THE POTENTIAL FOR RAIN THIS WEEKEND AND POSSIBLE THUNDERSTORMS. AREAS RECEIVING HEAVY RAIN WILL MOST LIKELY SEE RAPID RUNOFF IN RESPONSE AS SOILS ARE SATURATED AND CANNOT HOLD ADDITIONAL WATER. MODERATE TO STRONG RIVER RISES WOULD RESULT PUSHING RIVERS AND STREAMS TO BANKFULL OR FLOOD STAGES. DURING THIS RUNOFF SEASON STAY UP TO DATE BY CHECKING THE LATEST WEATHER AND RIVER INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET AT WWW.WEATHER.GOV/DLH
Predicted Rainfall. The next significant chance of widespread rain comes Thursday night into early Friday morning. Half an inch to an inch of rain is predicted south/east of the Twin Cities, with the best chance of 1.5" from Albert Lea to Rochester. The latest NAM model only predicts .12" rain for the immediate metro area Thursday night into Friday morning.
Home Opener Update. Did you know that the odds of a home run increase when the humidity is high? It's true: higher humidity levels mean lower air density, a well-hit ball will carry farther. Go Joe Mauer! And yes, there's a good chance we'll wake up to some rain Friday morning, but the warm front is forecast to lift northward, skies should brighten during the afternoon. I can't rule out a brief/light shower for the game, but odds favor that most of the game will be dry with temperatures in the mid, possibly upper 50s. Damp, but considering what COULD have happened on April 8? Not bad.
Holding Our (Collective) Breath. With any luck we'll get through the weekend without an inch or more of rain. Thursday night the heaviest rain bands should set up south/east of MSP, but a warm front may stall over southern or central Minnesota over the weekend, acting as a focal point for scattered showers and T-storms; a few may produce locally heavy rainfall amounts of .5 to 1.5" rain. It's impossible to predict (this far out) where the heaviest storms will form, whether we'll have a "train-echo effect", with storms tracking and redeveloping over the same counties. If you live in a flood-prone area you'll want to stay alert, and tune into local media for possible warnings and evacuation orders.
QPF. The latest quantitative precipitation forecast (jibberish for rainfall prediction) shows the heaviest amounts of rain, a 1-2" bullseye, setting up from eastern Iowa to Madison and the Chicago area. I'm not convinced. A more westward storm track could bring the heaviest rainfall amounts from northern Iowa into southern Minnesota over the weekend. Keep in mind the ground is a). still frozen, and b). saturated from a very wet fall. Any rain that does fall won't be able to soak into the soil, but run off almost immediately into streets, storm sewers and (eventually) wind up in Minnesota's rivers. Any heavy rain will also melt the remaining snow on the ground up north, water will which drain into the headwaters of the Mississippi River. This is why meteorologists are so nervous right now. The (sudden) warmth would be bad enough. Throw in significant rain and the odds of a (serious) second crest on area rivers just went up - significantly.
Instant May? The ECMWF (European) model solution keeps the storm track farther north/west than other solutions, a chance of 70-degree warmth reaching southern Minnesota Saturday and again Sunday with a slight chance of 80-degree warmth over far southern Minnesota, from Albert Lea and Austin to Rochester. Dew point temperatures may top 60 (translation: it will be downright "muggy" this weekend). There's a word you haven't heard lately. If this forecast verifies I could see a severe storm outbreak very close to home over the weekend - timing and details still very much up in the air. But this forecast map looks like something out of early May. The map series above is valid Sunday morning.
Severe Outbreak. Monday's swarm of tornadoes, straight-line winds and hail may have been the biggest single-day severe storm outbreak since 2000. Andrew Rosenthal, from our partner Earth Networks (formerly WeatherBug) has an update on the wild weather sweeping across much of America. "Where to even begin? There have been more than 1,200 reports since Sunday afternoon (841 wind, 335 hail, 20 tornado)." Click here to see the latest storm reports, courtesy of Ham Weather.
Largest Single-Day Severe Storm Outbreaks. The list below shows the dates with the most severe weather reports, going back to 2006. Data courtesy of SPC.2010 Top Reporting Day:
2009 Top Reporting Day:
2008 Top Reporting Day:
2007 Top Reporting Day:
2006 Top Reporting Days:
Shelf Cloud. From Jeff Gammons and twitpic: "Squall line / gust front racing SE over Lake Okeechobee, FL about 2hrs ago."
Summer Skiing? Head West. Skiing on the 4th of July? Some resorts near Lake Tahoe have seen so much snow (55-63 feet) that they'll stay open through Memorial Day - a few may open up for skiing on the 4th of July, according to an article at weather.com: "Starting in Squaw Valley USA, just to the northwest of Lake Tahoe in California, snowfall has reached a record high for a season. The old record of 55 feet in 1994-95 has already been broken, and there’s a good chance the area will build on the 57 feet it has already received. The resort has said that they intend to remain open under their daily schedule through May 8, and should have enough snow to open every weekend after that until Memorial Day. And for a resort that normally shuts down in April, this will be a beautiful sight for skiers in the area: they are planning on a July 4 opening for one last big extended weekend. A little farther south at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, March snow has come in bunches. They recorded 17 feet of snow in March, a record for the month. This will likely allow the resort to open for Independence Day as well."
NOAA Flickr Photostream. Bored to tears? Trying to look busy, but you'd rather investigate some amazing NOAA photos than deal with that nasty spreadsheet? Click here to see 229 pages worth of photos and explanations from your penpals at NOAA, courtesy of Flickr.
After Breach, Companies Warn Of E-Mail Fraud. Earlier this week I got an e-mail from Target, warning that my e-mail account had been "compromised". Thanks, and have a nice day! It's a reminder of all the sophisticated "phishing" scams out there - and not to EVER give your personal information or passwords out in response to an e-mail request. Here's a harrowing account of the recent hack that may have exposed millions of Americans to e-mail fraud from the New York Times: "SAN FRANCISCO — Security experts said Monday that millions of people were at increased risk of e-mail swindles after a giant security breach at an online marketing firm. The breach exposed the names and e-mail addresses of customers of some of the nation’s largest companies, including JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Target and Walgreens. While the number of people affected is unknown, security experts say that based on the businesses involved, the breach may be among the largest ever. And it could lead to a surge in phishing attacks — e-mails that purport to be from a legitimate business but are intended to steal information like account numbers or passwords. “It is clearly a massive hemorrhage,” said Michael Kleeman, a network security expert at the University of California, San Diego."
Japan Quake Aftermath. Here's a good (graphical) explanation of the recent quake and subsequent tsunami, resulting in one of the worst nuclear disasters on record.
"A Day Made Of Glass." O.K. This is obviously a pitch for Corning Glass, but it's showing some innovations that are pretty amazing. Science fiction or soon-to-be-reality? I need one of those interactive touch-screen mirrors in my bathroom. No, I never want to be away from my Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds and (urgent) e-mails, not even when I'm shaving. From the must-see YouTube clip (over 11 million views - confirming that most of us are very bored): "Watch "A Day Made of Glass" and take a look at Corning's vision for the future with specialty glass at the heart of it."
Duped By April Fool's Prank, KSWB Anchor Licks iPad. O.K. I'm gullible, but I don't think I'd be tempted to lick my iPad, certainly not on the air. Unless it was a ratings "sweeps" period. Media Bistro has the (very funny) video: "Many anchors and reporters are obsessed with their smartphones and iPads, but KSWB morning anchor Shally Zomorodi took the attraction a bit too far last Friday. Raoul Martinez, Zomorodi’s co-anchor on the Fox-affiliate’s morning show, shared an intriguing news item on Friday: a new app that allows you to taste and smell food or beverages right on your smartphone or iPad. Smirking, Martinez asked Zomorodi to try it out with him. After Zomorodi skeptically sniffed and even licked an iPad, it was revealed that the “Virtual Sip” app was, yes, an April Fool’s prank (video above). “My peeps got me good,” Zomorodi wrote on her Facebook page following the prank. “Can’t believe I fell for it!!!”
Temperature Inflation. Under a blue sky much of the day temperatures climbed into the 40s up north, low to mid 50s over much of central and southern Minnesota. Highs ranged from 44 at Hibbing to 54 in St. Cloud, 56 in the Twin Cities. BTW, the average high in St. Cloud is now 49 degrees.
Paul's SC Times Outlook for St. Cloud and all of central Minnesota:
TODAY: Early sprinkle, then partly sunny and pleasant. Winds: W 10-20. High: 55
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and quiet. Low: 33
THURSDAY: Fading sun, rain possible Thursday night, heaviest south/east of the metro area. High: 55
FRIDAY: Damp start. Showers taper, turning milder - dry much of the afternoon. Low: 35. High: 56
SATURDAY: Mild & muggy, more like early May. Heavy showers and T-storms possible. Low: 47. High: 61 (70+ temperatures possible over far southern MN).
SUNDAY: Showers and T-storms, some strong to potentially severe. Low: 51. High: 66 (70s in the Twin Cities - 80 possible over far southern Minnesota).
MONDAY: Windy with lingering rain showers. Winds may gust to 40 mph. Low: 41. High: 48 (falling during the day).
TUESDAY: Sunshine returns, less wind. Low: 38. High: 55
"Living is strife and torment, disappointment and love and sacrifice, golden sunsets and black storms. I said that some time ago and today I do not think I would add one word," said Sir Laurence Olivier. The older I get the more respect I have for nature. In spite of all our technology and scientific breakthroughs we still can't stop a storm (and never will). We rightfully complain about our winters; I still can't fathom how the pioneers survived without central heat, insulation and a thousand other innovations we tend to take for granted.
Spring fever runs rampant this week as winds blow from the south. If the sun comes out for a few hours Saturday & Sunday 70 is not out of the question.
Rain will brush the metro area Thursday night, most showers lifting north in time for the Twins Home Opener at Target Field Friday afternoon. Take a (light) waterproof jacket and be pleasantly surprised if the sky doesn't leak on your head.
A much more potent storm surges north over the weekend, an inch or more of showers & T-storms this weekend. A severe storm outbreak can't be ruled out. By Sunday little snow will be left up north; a second flood crest is probably unavoidable.
* I'm increasingly concerned about an inevitable second flood crest on Minnesota's rivers. The threat will peak this weekend on the Red River in Fargo, but another crest is likely on the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers in the coming week or two, the result of 60s and 70s this weekend, coupled with a potential for heavy thunderstorms and rapid run-off. If you live in a flood-prone area I can't stress enough that you'll want to stay alert and be ready to move if authorities issue warnings. We're still not out of the woods, and won't be until early May.
Pawlenty: Science Divided On Human Contribution To Climate Change. Here's a story from the Iowa Independent: "Science is still unclear how much humans contribute to global climate change, but the consensus seems to be “it’s a modest amount,” former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Friday in an interview with WHO-AM’s Jan Mickelson. “I think climate change occurs, but the bulk of it is natural, historic trends in the climate,” Pawlenty said. “There is some suggestion that humans have caused some of it, but the answer is not a government, top-down scheme.” Pawlenty was responding to a question about his previous support of cap-and-trade legislation, including participating in a radio advertisement in 2007 with then-Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano urging Congress to tackle climate change. Also in 2007, Pawlenty signed legislation in Minnesota that required the state to reduce its emissions 15 percent by 2015 and 80 percent in 2050. The bill also endorsed the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group, a panel charged with drafting a comprehensive greenhouse gas emission reduction plan to meet those goals. The Pulitzer Prize winning website Politifact found Pawlenty to have completely flipped his long-held position on cap and trade in recent years, going from an adamant supporter to full-throated critic. All the big-name potential presidential candidates have embraced climate change at one point or another, Pawlenty said Friday, but supporting cap-and-trade was a mistake."
Multitude Of Species Face Climate Threat. Here's a story in Tuesday's New York Times: "Over the past 540 million years, life on Earth has passed through five great mass extinctions. In each of those catastrophes, an estimated 75 percent or more of all species disappeared in a few million years or less. For decades, scientists have warned that humans may be ushering in a sixth mass extinction, and recently a group of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, tested the hypothesis. They applied new statistical methods to a new generation of fossil databases. As they reported last month in the journal Nature, the current rate of extinctions is far above normal. If endangered species continue to disappear, we will indeed experience a sixth extinction, over just the next few centuries or millennia. The Berkeley scientists warn that their new study may actually grossly underestimate how many species could disappear. So far, humans have pushed species toward extinctions through means like hunting, overfishing and deforestation. Global warming, on the other hand, is only starting to make itself felt in the natural world. Many scientists expect that as the planet’s temperature rises, global warming could add even more devastation. “The current rate and magnitude of climate change are faster and more severe than many species have experienced in their evolutionary history,” said Anthony Barnosky, the lead author of the Nature study."
* More details on the extinction story from the scientist who wrote the artilce is available at discover.com.
Global Warming Myth? Arctic Ozone Thins By 40%. Here's the story from opposingviews.com: "Those who think man-made climate change is fiction, consider this -- the ozone layer over the Arctic has thinned by a record 40% this winter. The United Nation's World Meteorological Organization said that's 10% more thinning compared to the previous season."The Arctic stratosphere continues to be vulnerable to ozone destruction caused by ozone-depleting substances linked to human activities," the U.N. weather agency's secretary-general Michel Jarraud said. The ozone layer is crucial because of keeps ultraviolet radiation from the sun from reaching earth. The thinner the layer, the more rays that get through. Chemicals in air pollutants can eat away at the ozone. The U.N. said very cold weather also contributed to the record thinning. "This is pretty sudden and unusual," said Bryan Johnson, an atmospheric chemist who works in the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Earth System Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. Johnson said even though this is limited to the Arctic right now, there's the concern that "if this were to happen every year — even though the ozone naturally regenerates itself — you might see a trending downward of the atmospheric ozone layer."
Ozone Hole Reaches Unprecedented Levels. Image above is total ozone column and vertical ozone profiles around the pole on March 30, developed by Finnish Meteorological Institute using satellite and ground based data. Here is an excerpt of the full article from UPI: "VIENNA, April 5 (UPI) -- Ozone depletion over the arctic recorded during the spring reached unprecedented levels, the World Meteorological Organization said from Vienna. "The arctic stratosphere continues to be vulnerable to ozone destruction caused by ozone-depleting substances linked to human activities," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement. The ozone column over the arctic region declined 40 percent from the beginning of winter to late March. The previous recorded loss was about 30 percent. The record loss was attributed to colder than average stratospheric temperatures and ozone-depleting chemicals in the atmosphere. WMO said the record loss was despite international agreements from the 1980s aimed at cutting production of chemicals that destroy the ozone layer. The ozone layer is expected to recover to 1980's levels by around 2030."
Climate Change To Bring More Heatwaves. Here's an excerpt of a story from the Sydney Morning Herald: "Australia can expect more heatwaves, fewer cyclones and possibly more floods as a result of climate change, extreme weather experts say. Research meteorologist Dr John McBride from the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research told reporters in Cairns it was clear that the predicted rise in global temperatures would result in more heatwaves. "There will be more heatwaves, most certainly," he said. However, he said the picture was less clear when it came to the impact of climate change on extreme rainfall events, or floods. He said the influence of forces such as the El Nino and La Nina weather patterns made it more difficult to link extreme rainfall events, such as those which resulted in record floods across Queensland this year, to climate change. "You could come up with mechanisms (to link it) to climate change, but they'd be hard to sell to scientists because we know that we have La Nina events which bring increased rainfall," he said. "There are a number of people who believe that there will be more intense rain events, but even that is not really definitively proven because it's partly beyond the abilities of climate models."
Uh Oh. New Gallup Poll Says Americans Don't Care About Global Warming. By the time a significant percentage of Americans care about changes in the climate, it may be too late to do much about it - that's the paradox. Here's the rather grim news from tinygreenbubble.com: "Actually, in truth that is not what that Gallup poll says. What it does say, however, is that of nine environmental concerns that individuals were polled on, global warming is the least of anybody’s concerns, with only 25% of those surveyed saying that they cared a great deal about global warming and a whopping 48% saying that they cared only a little or not at all. That’s not great news since climate change and global warming are set to cause massive changes in the planet and lifestyle if not held in check.
So what were people concerned with? Perhaps largely led by recent water scares due to both the increased attention to fracking and the Japan nuclear disaster, water and soil issues led the list. The most cared about environmental issue was pollution of drinking water, with 51% caring a great deal. Following that were contamination of soil and water by toxic waste (48%), pollution of rivers, lakes and reservoirs (46%), maintenance of the nation’s supply of fresh water for household needs (46%) and finally air pollution (36%)."
Fortune Panel: Bleak Prospects For U.S. Climate Regulation. Political gridlock, and a reluctance to confront the science, is leading to back-peddling in Congress, according to an article at sustainablebusinessforum.com: "What a different just a few years can make. Hard as it is to believe, there was a time not long ago when Congress appeared to be on the verge of a bipartisan agreement to regulate global warming pollution. Republicans John McCain, John Warner, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty all supported efforts to put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Gingrich and Pawlenty went so far as to appear in commercials with the Environmental Defense Fund supporting climate regulation. And now? “It was a mistake, it was stupid, it was wrong,” Pawlenty says.The radical shift in the political climate means that big NGOs like the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club now must fight merely to preserve the status quo in Congress. Environmental groups are playing defense rather than offense in Washington, said Fred Krupp, the president of the Environmental Defense Fund, during a panel today on climate policy that opened FORTUNE’s Brainstorm Green conference. He noted that House Republicans have voted to block funding not just for EPA’s efforts regulate carbon pollution (efforts that are required by a Supreme Court decision) but also for EPA efforts to control, on public health ground, mercury pollution from cement factories. On climate issues, Fred said: “It’s hard to have a meaningful exchange of viewers, a serious conversation in Washington.”