• Record 92 degree high in St. Cloud on Wednesday, other records include 94 in the Twin Cities, 97 in Mankato and 88 in Duluth (a 40 degree + temperature rise in one day).
• Winds gust to 53 mph. at St. Cloud, 50 mph in the Twin Cities, gusts reach 54-56 mph. over much of southern Minnesota, strong enough to bring down trees and cause minor roof damage.
• High winds scoop off topsoil — blowing dust reduces visibility to under 2 miles at times on Wednesday.
• Winds were strong enough to close the main runways for a time at Twin Cities International Airport.
• Today: 20-25 degrees cooler as winds shift around to the north/northwest.
• Slight (1 in 3) chance of a light shower or sprinkle today as cooler air arrives. Front may come through dry in many communities.
• Some PM sun later today, sunshine much of Friday, Saturday and Sunday as a weak bubble of Canadian high pressure drifts over Minnesota, keeping most showers/storms just to our south.
• Slight shower/thunder risk on Memorial Day, but most of the day looks dry.
• No more hot fronts: holiday weekend temperatures close to average (upper 60s and low 70s….a few degrees cooler for northern lakes).
Wednesday was the kind of day that left meteorologists stupefied, dumbfounded, downright speechless. Let me get this straight: Most of central and southern Minnesota was hotter than Dallas, Miami, even Phoenix? Straight-line winds were strong enough to down trees, and whip up towering clouds of dust that obstructed visibility, even closed runways? It looked more like Death Valley or Palm Springs (on a bad day) than the Land of Lakes out there. Toss in a few random brushfires and record heat and you have all the ingredients for a STINKING HOT May day. I feel sorry for kids who are still in (un-airconditioned) classrooms. Can you imagine trying to concentrate, focus, in this heat? Dry desert air lured the mercury into the mid and upper 90s once again, with a slew of records. Folks living up in Duluth have to feel a bit confused: 40s Tuesday gave way to a record 88 on Wednesday as the hot front lifted northward across the state. It was the main topic of conversation in coffee shops and water coolers statewide: our crazy, almost Arizona-like outbreak of dry heat in May. And to think, historically, Minnesota’s hottest weather is nearly 2 months away.
Well, you can breathe easier today: winds are shifting around to the northwest, Canada leaking a far more comfortable airmass south of the border. Today will be 20-25 degrees cooler than yesterday, without the wild winds to contend with. The arrival of this wind-shift, this frontal boundary, may spark a stray shower or sprinkle, especially during the morning and midday hours, but moisture is sparse, and many of the computer models are hinting that today’s cool front will sail through town dry. Drag out the jackets again for tonight — lows dip into the 40s. Hey, what’s 50+ degrees among friends?
Consider sending a thank you note to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce: a weak bubble of high pressure drifting in from Alberta will act like a giant atmospheric roadblock, forcing most showers and storms to detour to our south, across Nebraska and Iowa from Friday into Sunday, leaving us with ample sun, and temperatures close to average for this time of year (highs near 70). I don’t know about you, but I’m thrilled to be average for a few days, and the timing couldn’t be much better. By Sunday, as that protective dome of high pressure reaches the Great Lakes, winds will shift around to the southeast, and some of that southern moisture will begin to return northward, sparking a few widely scattered showers, even a T-storm on Memorial Day. That said, most of the day looks dry, with highs recovering to near 70. Just plan on less sun on Monday, and have a Plan B in case we do get a couple hours of rain by afternoon — it shouldn’t be enough precipitation to throw a monkey-wrench into your outdoor plans.
One more look at Tuesday’s temperature extremes, which may have been historic: a 66 degree temperature extreme at 4 pm (100 F. in Granite Falls at the same time it was only 34 in Grand Marais).
The warm front (more like a HOT front) was so vigorous that it actually showed up on the Chanhassen Doppler Radar. Dust, pollen and insects swept up by the winds converged along the frontal boundary, which shows up quite clearly on the NWS radar sweep. To the south of the front temperatures were in the upper 90s with a howling south wind. North of the front readings were in the 50s over the far northern suburbs (Mora, Princeton) with a raging east wind.
For a great write-up on the strange, historic outbreaks of heat and wind over much of Minnesota on Tuesday and Wednesday click here for a detailed summary from the local National Weather Service office.