And So It Begins. "After hail was reported in Duluth at 7:30 pm (Friday) very light snow has been observed by a fellow meteorologist a short time ago at 8:20 pm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota!" - e-mail from meteorologist Bryan Karrick.
...FREEZE WATCH SATURDAY NIGHT INTO SUNDAY MORNING FOR ALL OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MINNESOTA AND WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN... .A FREEZE WATCH HAS BEEN ISSUED FROM 1 AM TO 8 AM SUNDAY MORNING FOR ALL OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MINNESOTA AND WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN. LOWS SUNDAY MORNING WILL DROP INTO THE MID 20S TO AROUND 30 OUTSIDE OF THE URBAN CORE OF THE TWIN CITIES. WITHIN THE URBAN CORE OF THE TWIN CITIES METRO AREA...TEMPERATURES ARE CURRENTLY EXPECTED TO REMAIN UP IN THE MID 30S AND FROST MAY BE POSSIBLE EVEN IF TEMPERATURES REMAIN A FEW DEGREES ABOVE FREEZING. A COLD DOME OF CANADIAN HIGH PRESSURE WILL BE MOVING IN BEHIND A STRONG COLD FRONT TONIGHT...AND WILL BE CENTERED ACROSS MINNESOTA BY SUNDAY MORNING. THIS WILL RESULT IN CLEAR SKIES AND CALM WINDS SATURDAY NIGHT...WHICH WILL ALLOW TEMPERATURES TO FALL BELOW 32 DEGREES FOR MUCH OF THE AREA BY SUNDAY MORNING.
I believe the DNR image of fall colors that you are seeing is a victim of too little data points. I'm not 100% certain, but I believe the map only uses the foliage reports out of the state parks. If you look at the state parks that are used across the metro areas, you can see that Ft. Snelling is the only park showing 50-75% color (and the only park within the metro area). Minnesota Valley State Park is showing 25-50%, Afton is showing 10-25%, and Lake Maria is also showing 10-25% color. The result is a bulls-eye of 'color' over the Twin Cities. Similar to what happens when an erroneous temperature observation is indicated on a contoured map.
Given so few data points and the likelihood of data smoothing issues, I'd be hesitant to make assumptions on the metrowide color being higher than most. I certainly haven't seen 50% color.
** photo above courtesy of Migizi Gichigumi, who snapped this photo at Washburn, Wisconsin Friday.
"When in a drought, don't predict rain."
There's some truth to that old proverb. Welcome to one of the 5 driest Septembers on record.
Prevailing winds are blowing from the Pacific, a dry pattern for Minnesota. No big southern storms are brewing, able to take the edge off our deepening drought.
96 percent of Minnesota is abnormally dry; 2/3rds of the state in a moderate drought, including the north metro. This may be the strongest "signal" of what's to come this winter.
NOAA predicts warmer and drier into December, based largely on "persistence"; acknowledging the current trends.
8 winters since 2000 saw less than 45 inches of snow in the Twin Cities, 7 of those since 2004. 70+ inches of snow feels like swimming upstream.
But with historic melting of the Arctic - we are in uncharted waters.
I'm tempted to interview a wooly bear caterpillar.
The official kick-off of fall brings a chilly breeze and 50s, in spite of patches of blue sky. Frost is likely tonight, even in outlying suburbs. The "urban heat island" will keep the downtowns frost-free.
60s return next week, 70s next weekend. Showers brush southern Minnesota next Thursday, enough rain to settle the dust.
Photo credit above: "In this Sept. 19, 2012, photo corn plants weakened by the drought lie on the ground after being knocked over by rain in Bennington, Neb. The U.S. Drought Monitor update released Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, says recent rainfall came too late to help already damaged corn crops but may help still-maturing soybeans. The report says dry conditions continue to ease in key Midwest states as farmers pick up their corn harvests." (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Photo credit above: "A badly under-watered Kansas cornfield awaits rain this past August. An end-of-summer wet spell helped nurture soybeans, but came too late for the corn crop -- a development that could raise food prices around the world." (Reuters)
Photo credit above: "The University of Montreal's Alexandre Guertin-Pasquier at his study site in Nunavut in June 2010." (HANDOUT)