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Moisture Mis-Match: Fires Western USA; Flash Flooding East (“training” storms result in serious flooding Twin Cities)

22 Jun 2013, 6:29 am
Monsoon Season



I’m heading down to the lake, wearing my suit of armor, a portable lightning sensor on my helmet – praying out loud I don’t get blown into the next county. June is the wettest, most severe month of the year in Minnesota, and lately that isn’t hard to believe.



On average weather systems limp along at 15-25 mph this time of year. But when storms or fronts stall, that’s when thunderstorms can regenerate over the same counties, increasing the risk of flash flooding.



One tip: gauge the severity of a storm by the amount of lightning. Almost continuous flashes moving in? Odds are high the storm is severe.



A fickle warm frontal boundary will throw a series of loud parties for consenting cumulonimbus clouds through the weekend with enough midday/PM sun for 80s. If the sun stays out a few hours 90F is possible closer to home. A few severe storms are likely today & Sunday. Stay alert and don’t push the weather. Mother Nature always gets the last laugh.



Last summer the Twin Cities enjoyed 31 days above 90F. This year: 10-14 days above 90? Dr. Mark Seeley says the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo sparked a Summer Solstice FROST across much of Minnesota in 1992.



Yes, things could be worse.



* photo above courtesy of Michael Thompson down at Twin Cities International Airport.



* Flash Flood Watch in effect for most of central and southern Minnesota thru Saturday morning.



Multi-Million Dollar Storm? That’s a WAG on my part, but based on some of the photos I’m seeing, and the scope of the straight-line winds that blew thru, I suspect damage will run into the (many) millions of dollars from today’s rain and wind. There’s no evidence of tornadic winds, but straight-line winds were strong enough (60-80 mph) to bring down big trees. Photo from South Minneapolis (upper right) courtesy of Dominic Hanzely. Photo from Uptown (upper right) from Walt Kruhoeffer.

Big Trees Down. Walt Kruhoeffer sent in this photo from Uptown (Minneapolis, MN), the scene right outside his apartment window – big trees down, still no power.

Serious Flash Flood Potential These are Doppler radar estimates of rainfall amounts from the severe supercell that pushed across the metro area between 6:30 and 8 pm Friday, whipping up 70+ mph (straight-line) winds. Ground already saturated from early morning storms made it easier for trees to topple over, and there are numerous reports of trees down across the metro area from this severe storm. NO EVIDENCE OF A METRO TORNADO. I suspect these were almost entirely straight-line winds from a small, compact, derecho-like severe storm. These are rainfall amounts as of 10:45 pm.

Widespread Water & Wind Damage.  I drove into yesterday evening’s severe storm after appearing on TPT Almanac. It was like driving into a 15 minute hurricane, total white-out, like being in a warm weather blizzard, waves of wind buffeting vehicles, many drivers parked under bridges on I-394. I saw numerous (big) trees down, many roads blocked, too many power outages to count and street lights out. What a mess.

Flash Flood. Lee Huffman sent me this photo from the Loring Park, Minneapolis area this evening, about 2-3 feet of water overwhelming vehicles and people just trying to wade thru the instant-flood.

Incredible Rains. 2.2″ of rain in 30 minutes in Maple Plain. That’s 2 week’s worth. It shows you how much water is floating overhead. Any rain from additional storms will immediately run off into streets, streams and basements. If you often experience spring flooding you may have a long weekend ahead of you.

* Click here for the latest damage metro reports from NOAA.

From Friday morning’s severe storm outbreak between 3 and 6 am:




A Monstrous Swirl. On my smartphone Doppler display at 3:25 AM it looked like a miniature storm system with the advancing warm front, trailing cool front and comma head with steadier/heavier rain. Like every (synoptic scale) storm every MCS (meso-convective system) is different. Last night’s storm sparked 60+ mph wind gusts in the metro and over 1-2″ rain in some communities.



Friday Morning Severe Weather Reports. The MCS system that blasted across the state during the overnight hours produced wind damage, along with hail and flash flooding (and nearly continuous lightning at times). Here’s an interactive map and more details on damage across Minnesota and Wisconsin from the Twin Cities NWS office.


Monsoon Season. Dr. Mark Seeley has more details on excessive rains early Friday in his WeatherTalk Newsletter: “A Mesoscale Convection System (MCS) brought severe weather to the state overnight during Thursday and Friday this week (June 20-21). This complex of thunderstorms produced some hail that ranged from 1 inch to one and three-quarter inch diameter, along with some wind gusts from 60-85 mph, especially in western and central parts of the state where many trees were damage. There were numerous power outages reported, along with some very heavy rainfalls that caused flash flooding in a several Minnesota counties. Many roads were closed for a time. Some of the rainfall amounts reported included…”

3.56 inches at Hawley
3.41 inches at Sandstone
3.73 inches at Little Falls
2.63 inches at Brainerd
2.57 inches at Cloquet
2.25 inches at Staples



Peak Winds from Friday morning T-storms:



MRSSS – – gust 76 mph at 1:56 a.m. EDT / 12:56 a.m. CDT – – WeatherBug at St. Mary’s School, Morris, MN


KMOX – – gust 68 mph at 1:46 a.m. EDT / 12:46 a.m. CDT – – Municipal Airport in Morris, Minnesota


KCFE – – gust 66 mph at 4:14 a.m. EDT / 3:14 a.m. CDT – – Municipal Airport in Buffalo, Minnesota, USA


SCLOD – – gust 60 mph at 3:39 a.m. EDT / 2:39 a.m. CDT – – WeatherBug at Apollo HS in St. Cloud, MN


STCSD – – gust 60 mph at 3:44 a.m. EDT / 2:44 a.m. CDT – – WeatherBug at St. Cloud State EAS Department


KPNM – – gust 60 mph at 4:11 a.m. EDT / 3:11 a.m. CDT – – Municipal Airport in Princeton, Minnesota, USA


NWRMS – – gust 57 mph at 5:15 a.m. EDT / 4:15 a.m. CDT – – WeatherBug at New Richmond HS in New Richmond, WI



* thanks to James Anan at Earth Networks for providing these reports.



The Duluth Mega-Flood of 2012. Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the remarkably destructive flash flood that struck the Duluth area from June 19-20, 2012. The Duluth office of the National Weather Service has a very good summary; here’s an excerpt: “…A swath of impressive rainfall amounts ranging from 5-10 inches fell over much of the NWS Duluth area of responsibility during the period of June 19th – 20th. Numerous roads were washed out from the deluge of rain from Carlton County through the Duluth metro area and into Douglas County and Bayfield County in Wisconsin. A state of emergency was declared in Duluth, Hermantown, Cloquet, Barnum, Moose Lake and Superior, WI. The steep terrain, and numerous creeks and rivers, played a significant role in the devastating damage and flooding that occurred in the Duluth community. The Fond Du Lac and West Spirit Mountain neighborhoods of Duluth and Thomson Township in Carlton County were evacuated. A raging Kingsbury Creek flooded the Lake Superior Zoo, drowning over a dozen animals. Two seals were swept from their enclosures, but were returned safely after being found on a local street. The polar bear escaped its exhibit, but was safely returned after being tranquilized by a dart...”

Photo credit upper left: Bob King, Duluth News Tribune.

Live Local – Think Global. It was a chilly May (and spring) across the Upper Midwest and a fairly sizable chunk of the USA, in fact spring was the first cooler-than-average season in nearly 3 years over the Lower 48 states. But that doesn’t mean the rest of the world is feeling unusual chill. May was tied for 3rd warmest worldwide, spring was the 8th warmest (land and ocean water temperatures) globally, according to NOAA NCDC. In other words, don’t look out your window and assume the weather you’re experiencing is what’s happening (everywhere else). Details in today’s edition of Climate Matters: “The spring of 2013 was colder than average for many across the U.S. But that was not the story across other parts of the globe. WeatherNation Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas looks at the big weather picture.”

Historic Floods On The Increase. Increasingly, when it rains, it pours…and floods. North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan each had a top 10 wet spring season in 2013. Iowa had its wettest spring on record with 17.61 inches of precipitation. Meteorologist Paul Douglas looks at what may be fueling the heavy downpours in today’s edition of Climate Matters. Duluth 2012 Flooding video provided by the Duluth News Tribune. Click here for more of their coverage:…

Historic Flooding. Speaking of flooding, residents of Calgary, Canada are enduring major floods, the worst in decades. As many as 100,000 people have been impacted by the rapidly rising waters, with as many as 75,000 evacuations so far. Thanks to Mookalicious, who snapped and tweeted this photo from Roxboro, Alberta.

May: Third Warmest On Record, Worldwide. Here’s an excerpt of a comprehensive global summary of May, which was chilly over Minnesota and parts of Europe. The rest of the planet? Not so much. Details from NOAA NCDC:

  • The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for May 2013 tied with 1998 and 2005 as the third warmest on record, at 0.66°C (1.19°F) above the 20th century average of 14.8°C (58.6°F).


  • The global land surface temperature was 1.11°C (2.00°F) above the 20th century average of 11.1°C (52.0°F), also the third warmest May on record. For the ocean, the May global sea surface temperature was 0.49°C (0.88°F) above the 20th century average of 16.3°C (61.3°F), tying with 2003 and 2009 as the fifth warmest May on record.


Feds Don’t Do Enough To Prepare For Severe Weather, Report Says. When are we going to stop playing defense and go on offense? But that requires fixing and strengthening our infrastructure, which requires money and vision from Washington D.C., which requires Congress to actually do something. So I’m not holding my breath. The Los Angeles Times has the article; here’s an excerpt: “Federal efforts to bolster community preparedness for extreme weather events are a fraction of what the government spends on cleaning up the damage from storms, tornadoes and drought, according to a new analysis of federal data by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning Washington think tank. The report estimated that from 2011 to 2013, the federal government spent about $136 billion on weather-related disaster relief and recovery but only $22.4 billion on a total of 43 preparedness programs, or about $6 in cleanup for every $1 spent on strengthening defenses or preventing or mitigating damage. A growing body of climate science indicates that the warming atmosphere increases the likelihood of extreme weather-related events…”

Photo credit above: “A home in Sea Isle City, N.J., is moved to an adjoining property to correct damage issues inflicted by Superstorm Sandy.” (Anjalee Khemlani / Associated Press).

We Are Shocked, Shocked. With the recent outcry over NSA overstepping it’s bounds by monitoring electronic communications I found this post from David Simon interesting, and pretty much on the money. Here’s an excerpt: “Is it just me or does the entire news media — as well as all the agitators and self-righteous bloviators on both sides of the aisle — not understand even the rudiments of electronic intercepts and the manner in which law enforcement actually uses such intercepts? It would seem so. Because the national eruption over the rather inevitable and understandable collection of all raw data involving telephonic and internet traffic by Americans would suggest that much of our political commentariat, many of our news gatherers and a lot of average folk are entirely without a clue. You would think that the government was listening in to the secrets of 200 million Americans from the reaction and the hyperbole being tossed about. And you would think that rather than a legal court order which is an inevitable consequence of legislation that we drafted and passed, something illegal had been discovered to the government’s shame. Nope. Nothing of the kind…”

Image credit:

Feeling Paranoid? Here Are 3 Things Actually Worth Worrying About. Yes, we tend to worry about the wrong things much of the time. Instead of fixating on terrorism or agonizing over interest rates we should be far more concerned about the risks caused by a). falling down, b). our diets, and c). infidelity (not necessarily in that order). Here’s an excerpt from a very interesting story at TPT’s Next Avenue: “…Too many Americans, on the other hand, “obsess about the wrong things and we fail to watch for real dangers,” Diamond wrote. We exaggerate the risk of disasters beyond our control while underestimating risks we frequently encounter, like showers, night driving or climbing ladders. It’s no wonder. Terror gets exhaustive media coverage 24/7, even though as we age into midlife and beyond, we face increasing odds of confronting more commonplace adversities. Perhaps it’s time to direct some constructive paranoia in new directions…”

Image: iStockphoto.

Watch: What Do YOU Want To Do Before You Die. A morbid topic? Maybe, definitely not something we tend to chat about with friends or family members, and yet maybe this is a conversation we should have, at least with ourselves. Here’s an excerpt of a post (and great video) from Candy Cang at Huffington Post: “… Contemplating death, as Stoics and other philosophers encourage, is a powerful tool to re-appreciate the present and remember what makes your life meaningful to you. We’re all trying to make sense of our lives and there’s great comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Everyone you’re standing with in line and everyone you’re sitting by in a cafe and everyone you walk past on the street is going through challenges in their life. Yet it’s easy to forget this because we rarely venture beyond small talk with strangers. There are a lot of barriers to opening up…”

Photo credit above: Townsville, Australia. Credit: Kim Kamo.

8 Foods We Eat In The U.S. That Are Banned In Other Countries. This article at made me do a triple-take, and examine the brightly colored foods on my desk. Yuck. Here’s a snippet that may make you go vegan:

Artificial food dye: Makes your food pretty and inhibits nerve-cell development.
Found in: Practically everything we eat: cake mixes, sports drinks, cheese, candy, and even MACARONI AND CHEESE.

Why it’s dangerous: Artificial dyes are made from chemicals derived from PETROLEUM, which is also used to make gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and TAR! Artificial dyes have been linked to brain cancer, nerve-cell deterioration, and hyperactivity, just to name a few.
Where it’s banned: Norway, Finland, Austria, France, and the United Kingdom.
For more information on artificial dyes, visit 100 Days of Real Food.

Land Of The Cloudy Water. That’s the literal translation of “Minnesota”, so why don’t we call it that? Waterfall City sounds better than Stink Onion (Chicago) or Sibling Love (Philadelphia). Good grief. Here’s an excerpt of an eye-opening nugget from Slate: “It’s easy to think of words such as California or Texas or New York as just the places on the map, but those words actually meant something, once, and those meanings offer a little glimpse into history. The above map, designed by cartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust, labels states, cities, and landmarks with the literal meanings of their official names. Most of the meanings are bland descriptions of the terrain or climate of the places they describe. Michigan, for example, is the “Land of the Big Lakes” (duh), and Mississippi is the “Land of the Great River.” Others carry baffling specificity, like Alabama’s “Land of the Thicket Clearers” or Missouri’s “Land of the People with Dugout Canoes….”

Summer Solstice Frost of 1992. I had forgotten about this freakish weather event on June 21, 1992 – linked to the Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption, which had a temporary cooling effect worldwide. Dr. Mark Seeley has more details in this week’s edition of WeatherTalk; here’s an excerpt: “This date is a memorable one in Minnesota history as the only summer solstice that brought damage frost to the state’s corn and soybean crops. The Mt Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines during 1991 was later attributed to be one of the causes of this event which turned out to a singularity in Minnesota’s climate history. Temperatures as cold as 25 degrees F (Brimson) were reported in the north, but even as far south as Preston, Theilman and Zumbrota reported 33 degrees F with frost in low spots. Some corn fields were severely damaged and later only harvested for silage. Soybeans leaves mostly burned by the frost recovered and produced even pods and beans for harvest, but the yields were not very good…” (image of Mt. Pinatubo courtesy of Wikipedia).

Putting Blizzard To Work. Here’s a great photo from St. Cloud State University’s Facebook page: “Blizzard pitches in with clean-up following this morning’s straight-line winds. The Husky is, after all, is a working breed.”

Climate Stories…

Obama Speech On U.S. Climate Measures Could Come Tuesday: Sources. Reuters has more details: “President Barack Obama is likely to roll out a number of measures on climate policy, potentially including a strategy to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, in a speech on Tuesday, sources familiar with the plans told Reuters. The potential move on power utilities, which account for roughly 40 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions, will come as Obama sets the fight to curb climate change as a priority for his second term. Regulations are still pending on yet-to-be-built power plants, after the Environmental Protection Agency in April missed a deadline to roll out emissions rules. But environmentalists have been pushing the administration to go after a bigger target, and set tighter standards for the roughly 1,400 coal-fired burners that are already feeding the nation’s electric grid…”

Climate Change “Will Increasingly Affect Businesses”. Here’s the intro to a story from Environmental Management & Energy News: “Extreme weather events, water scarcity, biodiversity loss and other global warming-related changes in the environment will increasingly affect businesses and how they operate, according to a report released by the United Nations Environment Programme. The report, GEO-5 for Business: Impacts of a Changing Environment on the Corporate Sector, says the private sector’s operating costs, markets for products and availability of raw materials will be affected by climate change. Businesses that adapt by developing goods and services that can reduce the impacts of climate change, water scarcity and emissions as well as seize the demand for sustainable technologies, investments and services will be successful, the report says...”

Obama To Tap Executive Powers To Curb Emissions Blamed For Global Warming. Here’s the intro to a story from AP and The Washington Post: “President Barack Obama is planning a major push using executive powers to tackle the pollution blamed for global warming in an effort to make good on promises he made at the start of his second term. “We know we have to do more — and we will do more,” Obama said Wednesday in Berlin. Obama’s senior energy and climate adviser, Heather Zichal, said the plan would boost energy efficiency of appliances and buildings, expand renewable energy and use the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate heat-trapping pollution from coal-fired power plants…”

Photo credit above: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press. “President Barack Obama speaks in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2013. Obama is planning a major push using executive powers to tackle the pollution blamed for global warming in an effort to make good on promises he made at the start of his second term. “We know we have to do more — and we will do more,” Obama said in Berlin.”

Campaign For Climate Resilience Spreads Across U.S. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman has the story at Climate Central; here’s the introduction: “In the wake of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s announcement of a $19.5 billion plan to make the Big Apple better prepared for future extreme weather events on the scale of Hurricane Sandy, dozens of other cities and counties in the U.S. are showing increased interest in pursuing so-called “climate resilience” plans. On Tuesday, 45 local elected officials from cities A (Ann Arbor) to W (Washington, D.C.) signed on to a new campaign called Resilient Communities for America to share information and take actions that would bolster their communities against the multifaceted challenges posed by global climate change, including more frequent and severe extreme weather events and, in coastal cities, sea level rise…”

Photo credit above: “New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced changes to the city’s building code to make buildings more resilient to extreme weather events.” Credit: Spencer T. Tucker,



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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 And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather

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