Saturday, April 25, 2009

Crazy temperature roller coaster!

Thanks to WeatherNation meteorologist Todd Nelson for passing along this incredible graphic showing 24 hour temperature changes. People living in Pierre, South Dakota must be feeling a little frazzled right about now - a 48 degree temperature plunge in less than one day! We tend to see our most extreme temperature changes in March and April, setting the stage for epic storms, floods and major tornado outbreaks.

Climate deniers borrow page from tobacco lobby

The Global Climate Coalition, an advocacy group financed by the oil, coal and auto industries and other trade groups throughout the 1990s, kept fanning doubts that emissions of heat-trapping gases were leading to global warming even though the group's own experts were telling it that the science was "well established and cannot be denied." The New York Times' Andy Revkin reported Friday that a document filed in a federal lawsuit gives a peek into how the coalition leaders not only ignored their own scientific and technical experts, but also appear to have suppressed a document that soundly rejected the arguments of climate change skeptics. Here's what the coalition's own scientists said in an internal report compiled in 1995: "The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied." Here is the complete article in the Oregonian.

Insurers, risk managers take notice as losses from tornadoes surge

(An F2 tornado ripped into downtown Ft. Worth, Texas at 6:15 pm, March 28, 2000, killing 5 and injuring over 100 local residents. City officials believe the death toll would have been orders of magnitude higher had the twister struck an hour or two earlier, at the height of PM rush hour. It was another poignant reminder that, statistically, it's only a matter of time before downtowns and city skylines are impacted by tornadic winds. A handful of tall buildings will not deter a large tornado; that applies to hills, lakes and rivers and other geographic features).

Last year marked the worst year for catastrophe losses from tornadoes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with preliminary statistics showing 1,691 tornadoes in 2008—second only to 2004, when there were nearly 1,820 tornadoes. Many of the storms broke out in the early half of the tornado season, with seven states in the southeastern United States experiencing more than 200% of their average annual tornado frequency in just the first half of the season, according to catastrophe modeling firm Risk Management Solutions Inc.

(Are we really experiencing an uptick in tornadoes? Or are we just doing a better job finding and documenting the tornadoes that have always been there? A fluke or a trend? Click here to read the entire article documenting this apparent - statistically valid - increase in tornadoes across the USA).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Squall line from space (GOES geostationary satellite)

Amazing image of the developing (severe) storms mushrooming just to our east. RUN to the window to check these out, they appear to be vast, sprawling, thermonuclear towers of rapidly rising air. Once these violent columns of rising air reach the stratosphere (where temperatures get warmer with altitude) the air spreads out into the classic "anvil" shape, the T-storm's flat "cap". Low 90s in southeastern Minnesota, while recent reports show rain mixing with a little wet snow up in Park Rapids last hour. What a crazy state we live in!

Southeastern Minnesota towns threatened by hail

Severe thunderstorms as of 6 pm, threatening Lake City, Winona and La Crosse, WI. The main threat appears to be east of Rochester. The cell due east of RST was producing 1.6" diameter hail. This grapic shows the red "polygons" issued by the NWS, the "high-threat areas" where severe weather is imminent. These storms will probably continue to strengthen this evening as they move into Wisconsin, capable of tennis ball size hail, even a few isolated tornadoes.

A good weekend for umbrellas (or maybe start a fashion trend with a "nubrella"?)

"Introducing nubrella; "The Ultimate Weather Protector". Nubrella is no ordinary umbrella. It protects you against rain, wind, sleet, snow and extreme cold. It is an umbrella for all inclement weather conditions not just rain."

Hey, I'm not making this up: why carry an umbrella when you could stick your head into a big, transparent, waterproof......uh....THING! It looks like something out of Star Trek or Lost In Space. I'm going out on a limb here, but my hunch is that this device will NOT help you attract members of the opposite sex. Just a gut feel. But if you're determined to plunk down $50 for your own Nubrella, click here.

Weather Headlines

* Cool air surges southward, 88 in Austin, only 38 in Bemidji.
* Severe storm risk greatest over Wisconsin, Iowa and extreme southeastern Minnesota.
* Light rain possible late Friday night/Saturday morning, some drying/clearing possible Saturday PM hours.
* Next surge of rain Sunday afternoon/night, could be heavy at times.
* Weekend jackets: Highs hold in the 50s Saturday and Sunday, some 40s just to our north.
* Fire threat should ease considerably over the weekend as temperatures tumble, humidity levels increase and rain moistens vegetation, farms, fields and lawns.

Heading into a cooler, wetter weather pattern

Check out the 5-Day forecast for rainfall. It's hard to miss the giant red bulls eye in the nation's mid-center, with 3"+ rains predicted from Texas northward to Iowa and southeastern Minnesota. Today's cool front will come through dry in most areas, a few light showers possible behind the front tonight. Heavier, steadier rain is likely Sunday, maybe 1" or more of badly needed moisture. Yes, the timing could be better, but farmers will probably be relieved when the skies open up a little and restore soil moisture in time for spring planting.

Considering that extreme southeastern MN is in a "severe drought", with moderate drought extending into much of the metro area, I won't whine about the rain, even though it's going to fall on a Sunday. Lousy timing, but welcome puddles nonetheless.

So long 80s! Tracking a significantly cooler front

Today's cool frontal boundary is pretty easy to find on the latest temperature map, this one from, which has some terrific imagery you might want to explore. Most of the (light) showers are hanging back in the cool air, 100-200 miles behind the front. The potential for severe storms later today is closer to the 70-80 degree air to our south/east. Dew points are close to 60 near La Crosse - my hunch is that a line of severe storms will blossom from central Wisconsin into Iowa, possibly just knicking southeastern Minnesota near Rochester, Winona and Austin/Albert Lea. Stay tuned...

More great graphics and meteorological eye-candy can be found here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This is the Storm Prediction Center storm outlook for Friday, notice how southern Minnesota is included in the "Slight Risk" area. Temperatures ahead of the approaching cold front will warm well into the 70's to near 80 degrees. The atmosphere will become quite unstable during the afternoon hours on Friday, which will be sufficient for our first, possible, severe weather event of the season. At this point, it appears the heaviest or strongest thunderstorms will stay south of us, but heavy rain will be possible for most of central and southern Minnesota through early weekend. It might be a good idea to get out Thursday, do a little yard work before some much needed rain comes in.

Check here for more:

This image is from NOAA's HPC - it shows accumulated rain through Saturday evening. The dark blue coloring indicates 0.50" of rain, where the lighter blue through Wisconsin indicates nearly 1.0" or more. A slow moving cold front will be the focal point for shower and thunderstorm development over the next couple of days. The first round of storms will develop in central Minnesota Thursday night and the second (stronger) batch of storms will develop from northeastern Nebraska, northern Iowa, southern Minnesota and central Wisconsin Friday night through early Saturday. The weekend is looking a little wet, so have a plan B, especially Saturday. It'll be nice to get the rain, but unfortunately, it'll come over the weekend when most of want to be outside to take advantage of 'sublime' weather. Not this weekend...

Check here for more:

I took this picture early Wednesday morning ~ 6:30am. A little shaky (no tripod) but it shows the close encounter of the crescent moon and Venus. Occulation "eclipse" occurred around around 7:30am in the Twin cities, but it got too bright for me to see. There were, however, others who were able to see the occulation in California, check here:

Full story from

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

SpaceWeather Update:

Two Things happening early tomorrow morning - don't forget!!


MORNING METEORS: Earth is entering a stream of debris from Comet Thatcher,
the source of the annual Lyrid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower
to peak on Wednesday, April 22nd, with a display of 10 to 20 meteors per
hour over the northern hemisphere. Occasionally, Earth passes through a
dense region of the comet's tail and rates surge five- to ten-fold. In
1982, for instance, observers were surprised by an outburst of 90 Lyrids per
hour. Because Thatcher's tail has never been mapped in detail, the outbursts
are unpredictable and could happen again at any time. The best time to
look, no matter where you live, is during the dark hours before dawn on
Wednesday morning April 22nd. Visit for full

Here's another link from

The 2nd happening is...
LUNAR OCCULTATION OF VENUS: Even if the Lyrids fizzle, there is still
something wonderful to see on Wednesday morning, April 22nd. The crescent
and Venus are going to have a close encounter of jaw-dropping beauty.
Look low and to the east just before sunrise. Observers in western parts of
North America will see a lunar occultation: Venus will disappear behind the
Moon's limb just after 5 am PDT and reappear again an hour or so later.
Details may be found in this Science@NASA story:

See you outside bright and early tomorrow morning with a fresh cup of coffee!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Severe Weather Awareness Week begins today for Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota .

This is the List of topics for the week:
Here's more information on the Day 1 topic:

Information on Minnesota Tornado History and Statistics:

*Thursday, April 23rd - Minnesota and Wisconsin will be conducting statewide tornado drills (with the exception of far NW Minnesota because of flooding concerns)

This is from the Twin Cities National Weather Service:
"Tornado Watch/Warning Drills

The National Weather Service, Wisconsin Emergency Management, the Minnesota Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and other state, county and local agencies have come together to host Severe Weather Awareness Week activities. On Thursday, April 23rd, simulated tornado watches and warnings will be issued to test the statewide warning and communications systems. The schedule for April 23rd is as follows:

(all times CDT)

9:00 AM: The National Weather Service will issue a simulated tornado watch for Minnesota (except the northwest portion of the state).

1:00 PM: The National Weather Service will issue a simulated tornado watch for Wisconsin.

1:40 PM: The National Weather Service will issue a simulated tornado warning for 9 counties of western Wisconsin (Barron, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Rusk and St Croix). Note that most cities and counties will activate outdoor warning siren systems.

1:45 PM: The National Weather Service will issue a simulated tornado warning for Minnesota counties (except those in the northwestern part of the state). Note that most cities and counties will activate outdoor warning siren systems.

2:00 PM: The National Weather Service will issue an "End of Test" message using the Severe Weather Statement product. It should be stated that outdoor warning sirens will not be sounded again for this all clear, nor will there be any warning tone on NOAA Weather Radio.

6:55 PM: Another simulated tornado warning will be issued for participating counties in Minnesota. Those counties are: Anoka, Benton, Big Stone, Brown, Carver, Cass, Chippewa, Chisago, Cottonwood, Crow Wing, Dakota, Douglas, Freeborn, Goodhue, Hennepin, Isanti, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lake, Le Sueur, Lyon, Martin, Mc Leod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Olmsted, Pine, Pipestone, Pope, Ramsey, Redwood, Renville, Rice, Rock, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Steele, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wabasha, Waseca, Washington, Watonwan, Winona and Wright.

A graphic of the counties participating in the evening drill is available at

The 6:55 PM warning will be issued by five of the National Weather Service offices that serve Minnesota. It will be issued as a test of family preparedness in the home and for second shift workers."