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First Snow and Freeze for the Upper Midwest

22 Sep 2012, 5:46 am

Freeze Warning tonight for most of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities. A frost is likely over the outlying suburbs.

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 Warning. Much of Minnesota will wake up to a frost or freeze Sunday morning. The immediate close-in suburbs of the metro may avoid 32 F, but outlying suburbs will come very close to experiencing the first frost of the season, about a week ahead of schedule.

 

First Frost/Freeze. The National Weather Service has issued a Freeze Watch for much of the Upper Midwest, Freeze Warnings for the Dakotas. The immediate downtowns and close-in suburbs may miss a frost late tonight, but it’s going to be close. Details:

...FREEZE WARNING FOR TONIGHT INTO SUNDAY MORNING FOR ALL OF
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MINNESOTA AND WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN...

.A FREEZE WARNING HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR THE AREA 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 MIDDLE 20S TO AROUND
30 OUTSIDE OF THE URBAN CORE OF THE TWIN CITIES. THIS WILL LIKELY
RESULT IN A HARD FREEZE FOR MANY LOCATIONS. WITHIN THE URBAN CORE
OF THE TWIN CITIES METRO AREA...TEMPERATURES ARE CURRENTLY
EXPECTED TO REMAIN IN THE LOWER TO MIDDLE 30S. REMEMBER...FROST
MAY BE POSSIBLE EVEN IF TEMPERATURES REMAIN A FEW DEGREES ABOVE
FREEZING.

A COLD DOME OF CANADIAN HIGH PRESSURE WILL BE BUILDING OVER THE
REGION TONIGHT AND SUNDAY. 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.

 

Flirting With Frost. The urban heat island will keep temperatures about 3-7 F. warmer than greater Minnesota Sunday morning. The close-in suburbs of the Twin Cities should avoid a widespread frost, but far outlying suburbs may wake up to a light coating of white on lawns and fields. Forecast temperatures courtesy of NOAA.

 

Down To A Trickle. This is, or was, the Raccoon River at Booneville, Iowa – just southwest of Des Moines. There used to be a river there. Thanks to Sandi Smith for sending this to WeatherNation TV meteorologist Bryan Karrick.

 

Drought Timeline. NOAA’s U.S. Drought Monitor shows the gradual progression and intensification of the drought covering much of the USA in this animation. The statistics are interesting: 70% of the lower 48 states are now described as “abnormall dry”, moderate drought impacting 54% of the USA (up from 24% at the start of the water year). Severe drought is impacting over a third of America, up from 15.8% at the start of 2012.

 

Autumn Forecast: You Might Not Need Heavy Coats For A While. Call me a contrarian. The venerable Farmer’s Almanac is predicting “warmer and drier” for Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. So is CPC, the Climate Prediction Center. Based on recent trends and a brewing El Nino that forecast makes sense, logically. But the atmosphere hasn’t been behaving logically in recent years – I’m pretty sure we’ll have a colder winter than last, but not as severe or snowy as 2010-2011. At this point even an “average winter” would feel like the real thing. Here’s an excerpt of a story at The Star Tribune: “A warmer-than-normal autumn is likely for Minnesota, and may be followed by another mild winter, a meteorologist from the National Climate Prediction Center said Thursday. The agency released its latest three-month outlook, and seasonal forecaster Huug van den Dool said the warm regime that’s been so pronounced across the hemisphere this year is likely to continue through October, November and December in Minnesota and across the United States. January through August of this year was the warmest such period on record for both the Twin Cities and Minnesota. As for winter, “I wouldn’t go as far as saying it will be as extreme as last year, but chances are it will be above normal,” he said in a telephone conference with reporters. “That’s the long-term trend.” Photo above: AP.

3 Month Guess (Outlook). CPC, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, is forecasting a milder-than-average October thru December for a huge chunk of the USA, drier than average for the Pacific Northwest, wetter across the Gulf coast and southeastern USA (which correlates with an El Nino warming over the central Pacific). Again, buyer beware. Odds favor a mild bias into at least the first half of winter, based on the trends of recent winters, but I sure wouldn’t bet the farm on this. Call me perpetually paranoid, but what’s happening in the Arctic (record melting) may have some blow-back across the lower 48. Hope I’m wrong.

Looking Ahead. Everyone wants to know what the winter will be like. Me too. Can you tell me where the NASDAQ will be in mid-February? Interest rates in early March? Looking at recent trends this winter should be milder than average, especially factoring in a mild to moderate El Nino warming, but that warming is taking place in the central Pacific, and in previous El Nino’s like this the biggest impacts were over the Pacific Northwest and the southeastern USA, with little impact (cold or warm) on Minnesota and the Midwest. As I’ve been mentioning ad nauseum for days now, the Arctic is a huge wildcard. Record warming has created a semi-permanent bubble of warm high pressure at the top of the world, which may displace the cold “polar vortex” farther south, meaning more bitter swipes extending southward into the USA. The truth: models have some skill out to 15-20 days. Beyond that, forget about it. We can use ocean temperatures as cues, but there is still no reliable way to connect the dots and make a winter prediction with high confidence. Here is Mark Seeley’s take in the latest installment of WeatherTalk: “On Thursday of this week the NOAA Climate Prediction Center issued new seasonal climate outlooks. The temperature outlook for Minnesota favors above normal values over the October-December period. Actually this trend is seen for about 75 percent of the USA based on dynamical models and past trends. Little emphasis is placed on El Nino at the moment because it remains in a neutral state. The precipitation outlooks shows equal chances for above or below normal values over the October-December period across most of the USA except the southeastern and mid-Atlantic states which are expected to see above normal values.”

Wildland Fires In Idaho. NASA has the details: “One of the Expedition 33 crew members aboard the International Space Station, flying at an altitude of approximately 260 statute miles, recorded this nadir scene of the Mustang Complex wildland fires in Idaho. Close to 300,000 acres have been burned by the Mustang fires and hundreds of people have been forced to flee the area.”

“Ask Paul”. Weather-related questions, comments (and reader explanations!)

 

Paul – 

 


 

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. 

 

Jon Dejong

 

 

Like An Explosion At A Crayola Crayon Factory. Check out the scenery up at Lutsen: “The view from Moose Mountain. It’s a great time to ride the Mountain Tram and enjoy the spectacular foliage!

Category 5 Hurricane Simulator Will Blow You Away, Literally. I need one of these for my garage. Technabob.com has the remarkable details: “After living in New Orleans for a number of years of my life, I can speak from experience that hurricanes can be serious business. So the more we can learn about how hurricanes and tropical storms work, the more prepared that we can be for disaster, and the more lives and property can be spared from nature’s fury. In the interest of learning more about these storms, one university has built the world’s only category 5 hurricane simulator.”

NASA Scientists Used Unmanned Aircraft To Spy On Hurricanes. Drone technology is here (to stay). Expect to see one over I-94 providing real-time traffic reports within a couple of years. Why not? Wired Magazine has the story; here’s an excerpt: “Hurricane researchers are gathering unprecedented data this month by using two NASA Global Hawk unmanned aircraft. The airplanes were originally developed for the military, but have been modified to aid in atmospheric research. One of the Global Hawks was flown to its new base at NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility on Virginia’s Atlantic coast earlier this month and has already flown several missions over developing tropical storms giving atmospheric scientists the ability to watch and measure storms for up to three times as long as they could with manned aircraft, including NASA’s modified U-2 spyplane. The second Global Hawk is set to depart the Dryden Flight Research Center in California and join its hangar mate in the next week or so.” Photo credit above: NASA.

A Reluctant Sunset. Greg Harper captured this photo at De Soto, Florida Friday. Nicely done.

Cloud Appreciation Society. Tsunami-clouds? That’s how one local TV station in Birmingham described the formation in this video clip. The correct answer from the Cloud Appreciation Society: “Clouds that look like a series of breaking waves are known as ‘Kelvin-Helmholtz’ formations. They can appear at the low, middle and high cloud levels. This video, filmed from Birmingham, Alabama, US, shows a particularly low example of Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds. So dramatic were the waves that they were featured in the local news, described by reporters as the ‘tsunami clouds’. We like dialogue between the cloudspotting couple. She want’s him to call the TV weather man to ask what they are. He seems to be too busy using his power tools to put up some shelves at the same time as he’s filming them…

Endeavour. It was a majestic (and somewhat sad) sight over L.A. yesterday. Photo credit here.

Another Perspective. From KQED in San Francisco: “And here’s a beautiful shot of the Endeavour soaring over the Golden Gate Bridge!

The Sites We Love Right Now. How many of the web sites in the “Top 50” do you use on a routine basis? Here’s the run-down, according to Time Magazine Tech: “Just a guess: You’re probably already aware that Google, Amazon and Twitter are worth checking out. So as usual, most of the sites on our 50 Best Websites list aren’t yet household names. They’re ones we TIME editors find to be useful, entertaining, innovative or just plain addictive — and, in some cases, all of the above. Read on, and we’ll tell you about our favorites in 10 categories. Then let us know about yours in the comments.”

iPhone 5 vs. Galaxy S III. It’s getting nasty out there – have you seen the recent Samsung commercials poking fun at Apple’s new iPhone? The knives are coming out – and I was interested to see what the tech-heads at gizmag.com had to say in a head-to-head comparison. Here is an excerpt of their review: “…In 2012, however, the biggest tech rivalry is the match between the two biggest players in mobile: Apple and Samsung. This one has gotten nasty, extending into international courts. Things only get more interesting with the release of Apple’s iPhone 5 this week. A great product is much more than the sum of its parts, but – even in this post-PC era – specs can matter. If one phone has a quad-core chip with 2GB of RAM, and another a single-core CPU with 128MB of RAM, the first one will be much faster. Likewise, a display with 320 pixels per inch (ppi) will look much sharper than one with 163ppi. You’d be foolish to worship at the altar of specs, but technical details can still shed some light on the subject.”

** photo above courtesy of Migizi Gichigumi, who snapped this photo at Washburn, Wisconsin Friday

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Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune startribune.com/weather And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather

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