Saturday, August 31, 2013

WNTV Blog for AM Sunday; Cooler Canadian Air Surges South of the Border

PM Saturday Severe Recap
One of my favorite weather products is the visible satellite. If you look at it long enough, you can pick out more and more features. The image below is a picture from nearly 23,000 miles high that shows thunderstorms mushrooming over the Dakotas and northwestern Minnesota from around 4pm Saturday. Those thunderstorms were nearly 10 miles high!

Satellite @ 4pm

Radar @ 4pm

Satellite @ 6pm
Radar @ 6pm

Storm Reports
Here's a look at the storm report map from PM Saturday. Unfortunately for those hoping for a more thundery outcome in the Twin Cities (perhaps for more rain) it dissipated into just some light to moderate showers with a few claps of thunder.

Double Rainbow
This was the view from Leech Lake in Minnesota on Sunday evening as thunderstorms rolled through. It's a double rainbow... it's so intense!!

Unofficial End to Summer Weekend
I'm assuming there a lot of folks out there this weekend trying (as best as they can) to soak in this last, unofficial end to summer weekend. Whether it be at the Fair or with family/friend, I hope you're enjoying yourself! Thanks to my good friend Lindsey Elyse Holmes for the picture below, who seems to have the right idea, spending a weekend in Ely, MN. Happy Birthday by the way!

 Fall-Like Temps Rest of Weekend
BIG changes are expected post front in parts of the Upper Midwest, especially closer to the international border where temperatures on Sunday are expected to dip into the 60s! In fact, some may not even struggle to get out of the 50s! Here's a look at the temperature trend in Ely, MN.

Happy Meteorological Fall!
Today marks the date at which the warmests 3 months, on average, are behind us (June, July and August). Interestingly, we went through, what should be, the warmest part of the year and there was a certain fall-like chill in the air. Then we hit mid to late August and summer came roaring back. Take a look at the observed Arctic Oscillation below. Note how the Arctic Oscillation goes negative around mid summer, also coinciding with the cooler than average temperatures for much of the eastern half of the country then. Also note how at the the end of August, the Arctic Oscillation goes negative. This follows the popular belief that when the AO is negative, we're cooler and when the AO is positive, we're generally warmer.

What's Ahead For September?
According to NOAA's CPC, the AO (Arctic Oscillation) forecast suggests that after a few days of cooler weather surrounding Labor Day, we may see temperatures trend a little more toward average for the eastern part of the country.

What Do We Look For?
Forecasting weather more than a few days out can be a bit tricky, but it can be easier to follow weather model trends. For example, watching where large ridges and troughs set up can make extended forecasting a little easier. What I'm notcing in the extended weather models are troughs of low pressure trying to make frequent visits to the northeastern quadrant of the nation through the middle of September. See the images below.

Labor Day Monday
Take a look at the small trough or buckle in the jet stream over the Great Lakes region, that's our current blob of cooler air making its way through the northeastern quadrant of the nation now and what seems to be the start of a little more active/cooler pattern for folks in that part of the country.

Thursday, September 5th

By the middle and end of next week, there appears to be another (perhaps even colder) surge of Canadian air that will just clip the international border around the Great Lakes and Northeast. Additional showers and storms may be possible as it sags southeast.

Sunday, September 8th
By next weekend, another surge of cooler air will clip the northeastern quadrant of the nation, keeping that area in the line of fire. Frequent fronts through early September will keep thing interesting there, but notice how the western part of the country stays relatively warm and dry under a nearly stationary ridge of high pressure.

Mid September Temps
There doesn't seem to be any change in the western part of the country until possibly the middle part of the month when a possible cool front blows through portions of the Northern Rockies/High Plains. Again, it is important to keep in mind that anything past a few days tends to get a little tricky, but the trend shows a more active first half of September (for some) than what we ended the month of August with.

The Legendary Tornado Chaser Tim Samaras' Last Ride
Some of you may remember that earlier this year, the meteorological community lost some very important people in earlier this year in the El Reno, OK tornado. This is an interesting read by Brantley Hargrove:
"The curtain overtook him again and the rain came faster, with a sound against his windshield like stones against glass. His Toyota lurched to the side in 100-mph gusts and began fishtailing in the gravel, causing the car's traction control to cut power to the wheels. He backed off on the accelerator to override it. He did this again and again, never maintaining a speed faster than 42 mph. "The car won't go!" he said.

He punched through swirling eddies of rain. His windshield wipers couldn't clear the water from his windshield. He drove on, blind."

New Information on El Reno, OK Tornado
I thought this was interesting about the El Reno tornado that was originally rated an EF5, but recently changed it's rating to and EF3.

"Most of us will never forget the tornado outbreak in May. On May 31, a large tornado moved through El Reno and was originally rated an EF-5 by the National Weather Service in Norman."

Read more from out of Oklahoma City, OK HERE:

Thanks for checking in, have a great rest of your long holiday weekend!
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV

Friday, August 30, 2013

WNTV Blog for AM Saturday: Relief in Sight (For Some)

Meteorologists Favorite Shoe?
I don't know about you, but this could be my new favorite shoe! It's a shoe made by Nike... Nike Air Force 1 Comfort Weatherman QS. Sporty, yet geeky. Check it out HERE:

More on the Hill City, MN Tornado
Things have certainly been very active across the Midwest lately, more so along the international border. Thanks to a BIG bubble of hot and humid air, thunderstorm activity has been developing on its outer periphery. Much of the work week highlighted thunderstorms and heavy rain across central and northern Minnesota, some of which was severe. There was even a tornado on Thursday evening near Hill City, MN, which was caught by storm chaser Bob Conzemius

Thanks to Bob Conzemius for the information below:
"Caught this one very close to home. I was really surprised what happened today, but in retrospect, it certainly makes sense. Everything had to come together just right."

See more of Bob's storm chase HERE:
See the video of Bob's storm chase HERE:

Hill City, MN Tornado

Thanks to the National Weather Service out of Duluth, MN for the information below:
"A tornado touched down west of Hill City early evening on Thursday, August 29th.  A skywarn spotter reported the tornado at 6:33 pm two miles east of Remer. The tornado then moved southeast.  The Aitkin County sheriff's department reported that numerous trees have been blown down in the area and roads were blocked."
See more from the NWS Duluth HERE:
This is what the tornado looked like on radar at 6:50pm

A Lack of Minnesota Tornadoes
It certainly has been a very quiet year when it comes to severe weather and tornadoes. According to NOAA's SPC, there have only been 9 PRELIMINARY tornado reports so far through August 30th. According to NOAA's NCDC, Minnesota typically sees around 45 tornadoes per year!
Average U.S. Tornadoes by State
Here's a look at NOAA's average U.S. tornadoes by state. Note that the U.S. average annual (according to 1991-2010 data).

 Quiet 2013 Tornado Season
Here's how quiet it has been! According to NOAA's SPC, there have only been 721 PRELIMINARY tornado reports across the country from January 1st to August 29th. The short term average (2005-2012) is 1260 through that date. Interestingly, this is the quietest tornado year so far, within the 2005-2013 time period! Last year at this time, we had seen 1,114 and in 2011 there were nearly 1,900 through August 29th.
See more from the SPC HERE:

Classic Summer Pattern
Have you ever heard of the term "Ring of Fire"? It is a pretty classic pattern in the middle part of the summer when extremely warm air sets up. Thunderstorms tend to develop along the outer periphery of that big hot dome of high pressure in an arc-like fasion. The traditional radar shows up in orange and red when thunderstorms and heavy rain develop, so when this type of pattern sets up, you tend to get an arc-like shape of orange and red, which ends up looking like a "Ring of Fire". It's pretty easy to see where this activity was located when you look at the 7 day radar estimated rainfall map from NOAA. Note the void of precipitation accumulation in the central part of the country!
Record Late August Heat
Hot enough for ya? According, there were 533 record high temps and record low maximum temperatures either tied or broken with the last 7 days!

Relief in Sight!
For the first time in a long time, there's an actual cool front in the forecast! Take a look at the extended forecast into Labor Day Monday. It'll still be a bit warm and humid on Saturday, but by late weekend and early next week, big changes will be taking place!
Saturday, August 31st
A cool front begins moving into the Upper Midwest with scattered showers and thunderstorms expected by late day, some of which could be strong to severe.

High Temps Saturday
Severe Threat Saturday
As the cold front plows out of Canada on Saturday, strong to severe thunderstorms could break out along it's leading edge. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a SLIGHT RISK of severe weather for parts of the Midwest.
Sunday, September 1st
The front is expected to be moving into the Great Lakes region by the first day of Meteorological Fall. By then, there will be many across the Upper Mississippi Valley feeling more fall-like temperatures!
High Temps Sunday, September 1st
After spending several days in the 80s and 90s this week across the far north, we could actually see spots struggling to get to 60F by Sunday across the international border in the Upper Midwest!
Labor Day Monday
The cool front responsible for the break in the heat and humidity will have pushed all the way into the Ohio Valley/Northeast by Labor Day Monday. Scattered showers and storms are also expected to continue sliding east along with the front.
High Temps Monday
Note that by Labor Day Monday, there will be several locations in the Midwest and Great Lakes region in the 70s or colder!

Thanks for checking in and have a great LONG weekend ahead!
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Shrinking Heat Wave Central USA (why persistently warm 80-degree nights are deadlier than hot days)

Relief by Sunday

Weather forecasting, as in life, is a painful learning curve. "You'll earn a college degree to call yourself a meteorologist, but I predict most of what you learn will be on the job" my father told me at a tender age. Learn from your mistakes.

Ask a stock broker, financial planner, entrepreneur or CIA analyst - the future is always some unknowable shade of gray.

We have a pretty good grasp of what's happening now, and hundreds of weather models simulate what MAY happen days from now, with varying degrees of skill.

Which model do you trust and why? How many times have you been burned by a similar scenario? Maybe someday we'll be able to fully automate & computerize the forecast ("Siri" on steroids?) but today the most reliable weather predictions tap computers & meteorologists, who know what to believe, and when.

Highs approach 90 into Saturday, when a late-day T-storm marks the arrival of a refreshing front of Canadian origin.

By Sunday & Monday highs hold in the 70s, with 60s up north. Take a sweatshirt if you're heading to the cabin. Next week looks comfortable; 70s and low 80s with lower humidity. Students & teachers will be happier.

A perfect Labor Day for the fair? Yep.

Saturday: Best Lake Day? If you're looking for warmth, enough degrees to justify a dip in the lake or pool, consider Saturday your best bet. Highs reach or just top 90F in the metro, 80s extending up in the Brainerd Lakes area and Duluth. But from Detroit Lakes to Bemidji, closer to an advancing cool front (with more clouds, showers and T-storms) temperatures may not get out of the low to mid 70s. Map: Ham Weather.

Sunday: Free A/C. Under a mostly sunny sky with a brisk northwest breeze (10-20 mph) temperatures will hold in the low to mid 70s over the southern half of Minnesota, holding in the 60s north of Little Falls and Alexandria. In the sun it should feel pretty good out there, but expect a choppy lake with those stiff northwest winds. Map: Ham Weather.

Temperature Roller Coaster. After peaking in the upper 80s and low 90s Saturday, a fresh surge of Canadian air drops highs into the 70s Sunday and Labor Day, then we warm back up into 80s the latter half of next week. I hope the ECMWF is temporarily out to lunch, because it shows us falling off a temperature cliff by next weekend, a high of 84 a week today, then 30 degrees cooler on Saturday. Dew points in the sticky 60s linger into Saturday night, falling into the 40s by Labor Day and Tuesday before returning to muggy levels by midweek. Hang on. Chart: Weatherspark.

Shifting Gears. The arrival of air that's 20-25 degrees cooler will set off a smear of heavy showers and T-storms from the U.P. of Michigan into New England, where some 1-3" rainfall amounts are possible. Expect a soaking from the Florida Panhandle into the Ohio Valley, more heavy rain and flash flooding potential for northern Arizona.
Parade of Cool Fronts. The 84 hour NAM model (NOAA) shows a series of Canadian fronts sweeping across the northern tier of the USA, sparking a few waves of showers and T-storms. The tropics remain quiet, monsoon-related showers and T-storms over the southwest USA.

A Sinister Sky. Thanks to Jim Plucinak for snapping this photo of an advancing squall line in the Duluth area Thursday; an inversion (warmer air aloft) creating the smooth, laminar, lens-like cloud formations ahead of the advancing thunderstorm wedge.

Record-Setting Late Summer Heat Wave. Residents of the Midwest are losing their sense of humor when it comes to hot and humid. Add dew point and heat index to the list. It feels more like the 4th of July than Labor Day Weekend. But there are signs that the Heat Bubble stalled over the nation's midsection will shrink and migrate south, setting the stage for a welcome taste of September by Sunday and Monday. Heat-related school closings in Minneapolis are a reminder that heat is America's #1 weather-related killer and needs to be taken very seriously. It's not so much the daytime highs, but unusually warm, sultry nighttime temperatures that can build over time, taking a toll, especially on the elderly and chronically ill. We take a look at unusual late-season heat in today's Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas looks at the recent heatwave in the Midwest. Schools are closing and there are unfriendly reminders of deadly heatwaves of the past. When will we see relief?"

Fiery Perspective. If you were to superimpose the Yosemite Rim Fire over the Twin Cities it would stretch from Excelsior to Woodbury, from Fridley to Bloomington and Inver Grove Heights. It is now the 6th largest wildfire in California history. Map credit:

Why Big, Intense Wildfires Are The New Normal. National Geographic takes a look at California's Rim Fire at Yosemite as a new piece in a larger puzzle - here's a snippet: “...This probably is the new normal,” he says. “If we look at how the climate has changed over the past 50 years—with warmer temperatures increasing beyond what we used to see in the early part of the 20th century, and changes in precipitation—fires will continue to happen and get worse and worse,” says Wuebbles, who co-authored a draft federal report linking climate change to an increase in severe weather trends. The numbers certainly back him up: Wildfires are roaring through twice as many acres per year on average in the U.S. than they were 40 years ago, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell told the Senate in June. That number could very well double again in the next 30 years, says Wuebbles..."

Image credit above: "A satellite image of the 2003 Cedar Fire in San Diego County, known as the largest single fire in modern California history." Photograph courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC.

Money To Burn - Paying To Fight California's Wildfires. Here's a clip of an Op-Ed at The Los Angeles Times: "In seven weeks, California has burned through more than a quarter of its state firefighting budget of $172 million. The Rim fire in and around Yosemite alone has chewed up 15% of that budget, and the fire season is in its early days yet. Statewide, California 2013 has gotten maybe a quarter of the rainfall of California 2012. The Rim fire is the seventh largest in the state’s history. The average wildfire is now five times bigger than it was 30 years ago. Get my drift? The blaze business as usual isn’t going to cut it. Conflagration is the new normal..."

Photo credit above: "A blue sky behind a stand of charred ponderosa pines along Highway 120, burned by the Rim fire that has eaten up more than 230 square miles and 15% of the state's firefighting budget." (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times / August 26, 2013)

Amazing Yosemite Fire Time Lapse. Check out this remarkable YouTube clip, courtesy of Yosemite National Park: "Time-lapse photography shows various perspectives of the 2013 Rim Fire, as viewed from Yosemite National Park. The first part of this video is from the Crane Flat Helibase. The fire is currently burning in wilderness and is not immediately threatening visitors or employees. The second half of the video is from Glacier Point, showing Yosemite Valley, and how little the smoke from the fire has impacted the Valley."

Busted: Dieting Myths. There are a few interesting nuggets here I wasn't aware of. Yes, it's kind of sad I feel inclined to include dieting tips in my (alleged) weather blog. Tomorrow: favorite hair care products! Here's an excerpt from
Dieting Myth 1: Eating Fat Makes You Fat

"The name says it all: Fat makes you fat, right? Wrong! Eating a small amount of fat actually helps you feel fuller faster as it triggers satiety (or fullness) signals, causing you to eat less overall. Not only that, eating the right fats aids in the absorption of healthy vitamins. Seek out the polyunsaturated fats you’ll find in liquid oils, like canola and safflower oil. Unlike saturated fats, they won’t raise bad blood cholesterol levels and may even reduce the risk of a heart attack. To get your healthy fat fix, also look for omega-3 oils from fish, krill, seafood, algae, flaxseeds and/or walnuts, and olive oil, which is a source of both monounsaturated fats and omega-3s..."

Graphic credit: one of my favorite sites,

95 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.
78 F. average high on August 29.
93 F. high on August 29, 2012.
7 days above 90 F. in August. Average is 3.

4 days of 95 F. or higher this week - making it the hottest Minnesota State Fair on record.

Perspective. I'm still not complaining too loud about the heat, the dew point, the heat index. Because it wasn't all that long ago that we were cursing spring. We earned this heat. Photo above taken on Memorial Day. I think.

Climate Stories...

World On Fire: Climate, Population And Intensifying Wildfires. Time Magazine has more information on the trends we're seeing, especially in the western USA, which continues to dry out over time. Here's a clip: "...Forest fires in the West do seem to becoming more common. A University of Arizona report in 2006 found that large forest fires have been happening more often in the western U.S. since the mid-1980s, a period when temperatures have been on the increase. A 2012 study found that climate change is likely to significantly change the fire pattern around the planet by the end of the century, with increases projected in the high-altitude boreal forests in the northern hemisphere — which happens to include places like Yosemite. Climate change is expected to increase periods of intense heat and intense dryness, even as precipitation increases globally overall. That’s a formula for more fires..." (File image: NASA).
Global Warming And Oceans: What Are The Known Unknowns? Here's an excerpt of an article at The Guardian authored by St. Thomas University climate scientist John Abraham: "...The paper found that while all the evidence shows the Earth is warming, without pause, there are still unanswered questions and unmeasured parts of the oceans. Underneath ice sheets and deep in ocean basins are just two regions that need more attention. One of the world's pre-eminent oceanographers for, among other things, his important work measuring heat transferred to very deep ocean waters, is Dr. Gregory C. Johnson. Dr. Johnson works as an oceanographer at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington; he is also a co-author on the paper. He notes, "This review points to the need to expand the innovative, year-round, broad-scale measurements of the upper half of the open ocean volume so successfully pioneered by the international Argo Program all the way down to the ocean floor and into the ice-covered polar regions, so we can make well-resolved, timely, and truly global assessments of the amount of heat being absorbed by the ocean..."

Photo credit: "Most global warming is absorbed by the world's oceans." Photograph: Alamy.

Scientists Leave GOP Due To Attitudes Toward Science. Here's an excerpt from an article at the Salt Lake Tribune: "Scientists used to be well represented among the nearly half of Americans who voted Republican. But that’s changed over the years, and one poll found that just 6 percent of scientists call themselves part of the GOP now. What happened? There might not be textbook answers, but there are theories. Barry Bickmore, a professor of geology at Brigham Young University and onetime Republican caucus delegate in crimson-red Utah County in the nation’s reddest state, has pondered the issue at length. He contends his party is increasingly ruled by zealots and a demand for "ideological purity" that turns off scientists..."

Climate Change And Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Call To Remain Awake. The Huffington Post has the story - here's a clip: "...For the Americans watching Washington in action today, our policymakers look anything but awake. We're stuck in a place where many of our leaders are actively choosing to block progress, following a path that ensures that little to nothing gets accomplished. In Dr. King's framework, they have chosen to sleep. Sadly we all paying the price. But we must also not let their inaction determine our fate. As I read on, another passage in the sermon also struck me: "Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we... must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, ... And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly..."

File Photo credit above: Wikimedia Commons. "Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking against the Vietnam War, St. Paul Campus, University of Minnesota."

Peak Oil: A Fertile Concept. Has "peak oil" merely been delayed by breakthroughs like fracking? Here's a clip of an interesting article at Cassandra's Legacy: "...What happened, instead, was that large amounts of financial resources were invested into the exploitation of everything that could possibly be drilled, fracked, smashed, squeezed, boiled, or otherwise processed in order to get a few drops of precious, combustible liquids, and that is what has avoided decline, up to now.  But this result has come at a high price; higher than anyone could have imagined. One problem is that all this tremendous effort is simply postponing the unavoidable. When decline will start, it may well be much faster than its “natural” rate along the bell shaped curve....The real trouble is rapidly emerging in terms of accelerating climate change, with all the costs and dangers involved. We are seeing today the conclusion of a debate that had started with the beginning of the peak oil movement. Is peak oil more important than climate change? And, is peak oil going to save us from catastrophic climate change by forcing us to burn less fuels? Initially, the hope was that, yes, peak oil would have saved us willy-nilly from destroying our own planet. Unfortunately, however, it is starting to appear clear that this hope was misplaced. The impending peak is actually worsening the climate problem because it has led the industry to exploit less efficient, and hence more polluting, resources..."