Souring skies, late Wednesday puddles

Tuesday was a good day — I could sneak out of the house without the (Willard Scott) toupee or my gently used Groucho Marx fake-mustache. No cheesy $10 Walgreen’s sunglasses. With the sun out and temperatures close to where they should be in late April I was confident that most Minnesotans would be in a fine mood, inoculated by a big shot of bright sunshine, anesthetized by lukewarm breezes, delighted by low humidity — and a wondrous lack of saucer-size mosquitoes. The bugs don’t realize how nice it is (yet). I wonder if anyone (a bored scientist in some obscure part of the nation) has ever done research into a possible correlation between nice weather and positive outcomes? In other words: are you more likely to encounter grouchy colleagues on a gray, rainy day? Is that “special someone” more likely to accept a date invitation on a sun-blessed, postcard-perfect day? There is some anecdotal research that suggests kids are more likely to be ‘active’ (ie hyperactive) before a storm arrives, more fidgety and nervous. I talk to some folks who swear their migraines act up when the barometer rises or falls rapidly. Considering 87%+ of our bodies are composed of water it’s not beyond the stretch of credibility that we are in fact impacted by changes in atmospheric pressure, humidity and temperature. European researchers are at least 5 years ahead of American counterparts, investigating the effect of meteorological changes of mental and physical health; the field of “biometeorology”. If  you’re especially bored type “biometeorology” into Google and see some of the papers that have been published. Interesting stuff.

Many of us grew up with old-wives (or husbands) tales passed down in the family. “Birds fly low before a storm.” True! It turns out that a rapidly falling barometer triggers pain in the ears of birds — they fly lower to equalize the pressure and relieve some of the discomfort. What I want to know is : who interviewed these birds? I can’t quite picture Mike Wallace from 60 Minutes out there with a little microphone chatting with a sparrow. The bottom line: many of those proverbs and tall tales DO have some scientific validity after all. An approaching storm and rapidly falling barometer can exert more pressure on joints, triggering more pain and discomfort. When Aunt Sally tells you a storm is coming, believe her! Science and technology (Doppler-speak) only goes so far. Some times the best ways are the old ways, the old fashioned but amazing resilient observations passed down over many generations. I’m pretty convinced animals do, in fact, have a sixth sense, they can tell when violent weather is imminent (without consulting a radar map). Think about it: they’re out IN the weather 24/7 — it’s not unreasonable to believe that over the millenia they’ve developed coping skills (internal radar) that allows them to avoid life-threatening conditions. Animals at local zoos can sense a pending earthquake several minutes before people feel the ground shaking. Why isn’t it possible that birds and other animals can “feel” impending storms? Never say never, right? Keep an open mind.

O.K. Enough biometeorology-babble. Yesterday was splendid (insert fake British accent here) but today should bring a few much-needed spring showers, with the puddle potential increasing as the day wears on. Most of the rain will fall later in the day, the bulk of the heaviest rain coming tonight. The computer models are somewhat contradictory (which we never like to see). We’re relieve (and more confident) when the computer models agree, something we call “continuity”. Our confidence level drops when the computer forecasts diverge, and that’s the case with our next storm. The NAM/WRF model (which is probably state of the art right now) is hinting at over .56″ of rain for central Minnesota, while the (global) GFS computer model prints out a more impressive .71″ of rain for the Twin Cities by Thursday morning. Close enough, I guess. Place your bets. Either way tomorrow should wind up as the wettest day of the week, coming at a good time for farmers and gardeners. Considering April rainfall is running almost an inch below average, that’s good news indeed. Yes, Minnesotans are just fine with rain falling on a workday (especially nighttime hours, when it won’t interfere with after-school ball games). Weekend rain — even in a drought — brings glares, clenched fists and indignant howls from people hoping to evacuate to their favorite lake. With the big Fishing Opener weekend looming my nervous tick has returned. What can possibly go wrong? We all know that storms, given a choice, PREFER to come on weekends, holidays, and the Minnesota Fishing Opener. Right now I don’t see any wind chill or ssss-snow for the May 9 walleye and northern opener.

GFS forecast for May 9: Mostly cloudy, breezy & mild with a few showers. High: 74 (Twin Cities) but 60s up north. The weather may be ideal for catching that trophy lunker. Stay tuned!

We begin to dry out Thursday, but residual moisture and a chilly puddle of air swirling high overhead may keep a few (instability) pop-up showers in the forecast Thursday and Friday. There could even be an isolated shower on Saturday, but most of the day looks dry for outdoor plans. Sunday should be the nicer day of the weekend to loiter outside with highs in the low to mid 60s under a sunnier, drier sky.

After another round of showers/storms late Monday/Tuesday of next week we should warm up nicely — 70s, even a shot at 80 by Thursday of next week. We’ll keep fine-tuning that all important Opener Outlook. In the meantime I’ll try to track down a few robins to interview, cover all the bases. Hey, whatever works!

Weather Headlines

• Sun-splattered Tuesday, high of 62, closer to average for late April.

• April precipitation: 1.40″ (.73″ less than average for April in St. Cloud).

• April temperatures: about 1.2 degree F. milder than average (believe it or not!)

• Wednesday showers should hold off until late in the day, after 3-4 pm. Latest (NAM/WRF) computer model prints out .56″ of rain tonight, while GFS predicts .71″

• Isolated shower possible Thursday and Friday as temperatures cool slightly.

• Fairly nice weekend shaping up; Sunday appears to be the sunnier, milder day with highs topping 60.

• Big warming trend next week: 70s return next Wednesday/Thursday, 80 not out of the question.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Robert Saxton on 04/29/2009 - 10:18 am.

    Good stuff, Paul. I taught as a specialist for a few years in an elementary school and so got to see multiple classes and ages each day. I noticed the days that they were all wild and checked with the classroom teachers to see if I was mistaken, but they confirmed my observation. This was OFTEN the case as a weather system was heading into the area. No doubt about it – the changing weather affects the kiddos (and us) just like the walleyes. There’s a Phd just waiting to be done….

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