Flirting with 70?

There is nothing sadder than a bored Minnesota meteorologist. The Doppler radar is (temporarily) unplugged. My feet are propped up on the couch. My face hurts, from being pressed up against my office cubicle window much of the day. I’ve been doodling, dozing, day-dreaming, memorizing my states (which one is Wyoming again?) Going over my shopping list. Adding to my to-do list: install dock, clean garage. No, scratch that: find a neighbor kid who wants to clean my garage. Perfect. O.K. It’s a slow day in the weather department. Meteorologists statewide are at a rare (and welcome) loss for words. Welcome to San Diego — with lakes. Weather the way the Chamber of Commerce would like to see it yearround. Bright sun, low humidity, a gentle breeze, temperatures approaching 70 south and west of the Minnesota River. It’s almost TOO NICE out there.

Number one: it’s frustrating for all of us marooned, stranded indoors. I tried to run a few errands for the boss, and then it dawned on me. I’m the boss! Actually, I’m losing my mind trying to get two companies (WeatherNation and Singular Logic) ready for NAB in Las Vegas next week. I’m looking forward to that as much as my next goiter-removal, but it’s a necessary evil if you’re starting up a tech company. You have to get out in front of prospects and demonstrate your stuff, like being in a 10 hour play every day, telling your story over and over again until you’re blue in the face.

The other reason the weather is “too fine” right now? The combination of tinder-dry humidity levels (hovering around 10% during the afternoon hours), bright sun, a lack of recent rain, and winds gusting to 30 mph has lead to the issuance of a Red Flag Warning by the National Weather Service. Beware of Red Flags! No, in reality the risk is from brushfires — once they get started they’re awfully hard to control when winds are dry and gusty. Most of southwestern MN is under this fire risk, mainly south/west of the Minnesota River. Be careful grilling (and flicking used cigarette butts out the window). The threat will probaby linger until this weekend, when we finally expect a surge of rain to arrive.

• Brushfires are already breaking out, especially in the Shakopee area.

Dry weather should hang on Thursday and much of Friday, the latest computer run looks drier for Saturday as well, at least during the day. Most of the light rain may hold off until Saturday night and Sunday, but amounts still look light, under .15″ of rain right now. The atmosphere will cool during the day Sunday, temperatures falling through the 40s, and it’s conceivable that a cold rain could end as a few hours of wet snow or flurries Sunday evening, especially north/west of MSP. Right now I think ground temperatures may be a bit too warm for any accumulation, but if you do sample a little slush Sunday night, it’ll be gone by 10 am Monday morning. The sun is just too high in the sky for it to stick around for long.

Another broad ridge of high pressure builds into the Upper Midwest next week, leading to a nice warming trend: more 60s by the middle of next week. Long-range computer guidance is hinting at more rain by Friday of next week, maybe a few showers spilling over into Saturday. Next Sunday, the 26th, may be the nicer, brighter day of the week. Stay tuned.

Enjoy the balmy weather, a definite hint of May in the air until Friday. But beware of brushfires. The next couple of days our weather may resemble southern California more than a traditional April weather pattern in Minnesota. Until we get some rain, and spring “green-up” that fire risk is going to hang on.

• Brushfires flare up in the Twin Cities metro area Wednesday. (around Shakopee). The same thing may happen again later today as winds increase, coupled with very low relative humidity.

• 70 a real possibility across the area later today, again Friday.

• Slight chance of an isolated shower or T-shower Thursday PM, most of the rain should hold off until Saturday night and Sunday.

• Cold enough aloft for a few flurries Sunday night? Right now no accumulation is expected close to home.

• Rapid warming returns next week, more 60s by midweek.

• Another chance of (more significant) rain toward the end of next week.

• Don Shelby files a story on WeatherNation tonight at 10 PM on Channel 4.

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