Friday showers, a touch of wind chill for the Opener

Fishing Opener Update: latest computer models print out anywhere from .45 – .71″ of rain late Friday and Friday night; most of the rain should be over by 4 am Saturday morning. Plan on a wet start early Saturday, but skies should still dry out rapidly during the morning and midday hours, clouds linger, the only chance of light rain much of the day coming over the Minnesota Arrowhead and BWCA region.

The Fishing Opener kicks off midnight Friday night (when it should still be raining). Most of the showers push east into Wisconsin by breakfasttime Saturday morning, but we’ll all be waking up to puddles, no doubt. A damp start gives way to a drier northwest breeze, blowing from the northwest at 10-20 mph, strong enough to warrant a heavy jacket out on that boat. Plan on a choppy ride, temperatures holding in the 40s much of the day from Leech to Gull, Pelican and the Whitefish Chain — the mercury may reach the low to mid 50s by mid afternoon, especially from Mille Lacs on south to Lake Minnetonka and White Bear Lake. The sun may peek through, but I think clouds will linger most of the day — it may look and feel a little more like early October than mid May.

Sunday (Mother’s Day) looks better — naturally! The sun should be out most of the day, a weak bubble of high pressure drifting overhead treating us to lighter winds and highs in the upper 50s to near 60. If you have a choice in the matter you might want to plan your outdoor adventure for Sunday, which will look and feel more like spring than Saturday. Giive your mom and extra hug or two — take my advice and take nothing for granted, especially good health. My mom of 80 years is suffering from dementia, it’s hard to see her in this condition. I realize I’m not the only one dealing with aging parents — but it’s still hard to comprehend some days, especially when she’s half a country away. I tried to convince mom and dad to spend their retirement years out here, but they looked at me like I was crazy. I guess I am a little nutty, come to think of it. A sane person wouldn’t attempt to predict Minnesota’s manic skies.

Are you a white-knuckle flier? Does your heart skip every time the plane shudders, dips or bumps? My wife was the ORIGINAL fearful flier, after we hit a pocket of severe turbulence on a flight to Hawaii (and the pilot came on the intercom shouting “code 4! code 4”, which she was convinced was code for “we’re going down!”) In the late 80s she took a Fear of Flying class from Northwest Airlines. There were classes describing what kept a plane in the air, the physics behind flight, detailed explanations from experts and pilots, all culminating in the final exam: a flight, with the rest of her classmates, to Fargo and back. Ever since then she’s been much better in the air, she can actually relax, read and even nap. I tried explaining to her that it’s a little like going over a pothole in your car, or a speed-bump — you don’t scream every time you hit a pothole (do you?) It’s the same in the air — there are always small, swirling eddies of rotating air, flowing at a slightly faster or slower speed, and that’s why you encounter bumps in the air.

turbulence forecast

This is a map from Weather Underground which shows areas of expected turbulence nationwide, based on jet stream winds, terrain and other meteorological factors. Colorado is almost always a hot-spot for turbulence, the result of air flowing over the Rockies. Keep that in mind on your next flight to Phoenix, L.A. or Las Vegas. BTW, I usually don’t get nervous in the air: clear air turbulence is a fact of life (and yes, airplane wings are meant to “flap”, as disconcerting as that looks when you’re staring out the window). The only time my blood pressure starts to rise is flying into (or near) thunderstorms. The erratic winds in the vicinity of T-storms can cause an airplane’s wings to lose lift, with potentially tragic results. Most pilots won’t think of landing or taking off during a thunderstorm — they’ll usually wait for the storm to move away from the airport, that’s the safe thing to do.

To call up your own turbulence forecast for the USA, based on something called the “Richardson Number”, click here. (the areas where turbulence is most likely show up as bright orange and red).

• Thursday winds up being an almost perfect spring day: 75 degree high in the Twin Cities.

• Friday rain still on track, best chance comes late Friday and Friday night.

• Computer models are widely contradictory (again) ranging from .45″ (NAM) to nearly .71″ (GFS).

• Fishing Opener Saturday: Wet start, but a stiff northwest wind dries things out rapidly. Clouds linger, few PM sprinkles/light showers far northern Minnesota. Pack warm: temperatures hold in the 40s (north) to low 50s (central lakes). Winds blow from 10-20 mph from the northwest, making it feel cooler. Choppy on area lakes.

• Sunday: less wind, sun reappears, 5-10 degrees milder.

• Warming up again next week, another chance of rain by Tuesday PM into Wednesday AM.

Paul’s Column

I don’t know about you but May has turned into my favorite month. It’s a time of rebirth, hope, the promise of a long-awaited summer nearly at hand, so close you can taste it. Have you noticed that, sometimes, the mere THOUGHT of a vacation can be nearly as good as the vacation itself? The daydreaming….the wonderful anticipation. So it goes with summer, right? We struggle through a no-holds-barred Minnesota winter, we suffer silently (well, most of the time) knowing that our reward, our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow awaits: running from the Fishing Opener to Labor Day — 14 precious, irreplaceable summer weekends, a chance to fish, camp, hike, bike, reconnect with our kids, make some serious family memories.

The days are getting longer now, to the tune of 1-2 minutes of extra daylight every day. Maybe it’s my imagination but I swear I have more energy this time of year, getting a little stronger every day, coinciding with the rising sun angle. There’s a buzz in the air, the smiles are bigger, a little more sincere than they are in February. Minnesotans realize that, 4-5 months out of the year, there is no finer spot on the planet than the Land of 10,000 Lakes. We get a lot of grief for living here, for staying here in spite of the consistent cruelties of Mother Nature. Our only revenge (however brief and sweet) is the knowledge that we’ll get the last laugh from late May through September. Yes, Minnesotans EARN their summers.

My boys come home in May, adding to the sense of anticipation and joy. One boy is at Penn State, the other at the Naval Academy, both were born here, and both swear they’re going to make Minnesota their permanent home. It’s great to see their reaction when they get off the plane and tell me how much they missed a). Minnesota, and b). their mom and me — in that order. Seriously! They feel the same way I do about my adopted state. Before accepting a job at KARE in 1983 (WTCN at the time) I had to drag out my almanac and find Minneapolis/St. Paul on a map. Now I know I will never leave, save for a few mental-health-getaways in January and March. I too, like everyone else who lives here, has been spoiled: by the people, the lakes, the love of the outdoors, the work ethic, the small-town feel, even in the very large suburbs, and yes, the weather. It’s a little like an army experiment gone bad, but we keep coming back for more. Welcome to the Major League of Meteorology!

Thursday was pure, unmitigated weather bliss, the stuff of postcards — I hope you had a chance to sneak outside and soak up some of that lukewarm sun. The sky sours today as a Dakota storm system advances, spreading showery rain into Minnesota later today and tonight. Heavier rain bands may set up close to home (one computer model prints out nearly 1″ of rain by breakfast Saturday morning). No need to water the lawn anytime soon.

The Fishing Opener kicks off midnight Friday night (when it should still be raining). Most of the showers push east into Wisconsin by breakfasttime Saturday morning, but we’ll all be waking up to puddles, no doubt. A damp start gives way to a drier northwest breeze, blowing from the northwest at 10-20 mph, strong enough to warrant a heavy jacket out on that boat. Plan on a choppy ride, temperatures holding in the 40s much of the day from Leech to Gull, Pelican and the Whitefish Chain — the mercury may reach the low to mid 50s by mid afternoon, especially from Mille Lacs on south to Lake Minnetonka and White Bear Lake. The sun may peek through, but I think clouds will linger most of the day — it may look and feel a little more like early October than mid May. Come to think of it you may get away with a light jacket for metro area lakes, but if you’re going 2-3 hours north lug along a heavy jacket. Don’t forget the sunscreen: even if it’s cloudy most of the day you can still get a painful burn, the sun angle is that high in the sky.

Sunday (Mother’s Day) looks better — naturally! The sun should be out most of the day, a weak bubble of high pressure drifting overhead treating us to lighter winds and highs in the upper 50s to near 60. If you have a choice in the matter you might want to plan your outdoor adventure for Sunday, which will look and feel more like spring than Saturday. Giive your mom and extra hug or two — take my advice and take nothing for granted, especially good health. My mom of 80 years is suffering from dementia, it’s hard to see her in this condition. I realize I’m not the only one dealing with aging parents — but it’s still hard to comprehend some days, especially when she’s half a country away. I tried to convince mom and dad to spend their retirement years out here, but they looked at me like I was crazy. I guess I am a little nutty, come to think of it. A sane person wouldn’t attempt to predict Minnesota’s manic skies.

Temperatures warm into the 70s by Tuesday as winds increase from the south, another surge of rain moving in late Tuesday and Wednesday. As expected we are in the midst of a more active, soggy weather pattern which shows no immediate signs of going away. The core of the jet stream, the high speed superhighway of air rushing overhead, will be almost directly overhead for the next 1-2 weeks, meaning frequent storms/frontal passages. Good news for the flowers popping up in your yard, and farmers hoping for a bumper harvest later this year.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Stephen Dent on 05/08/2009 - 12:52 pm.

    Hey Paul,

    Thank you for sharing some personal aspects of your life. My mom, of 88 years, just passed away in February and though she also had dementia, I spent as much time with her as I could in her Florida home…a half a continent away. Be good to yourself. Modern life takes modern tolls on us.

    Good luck…may your skies always be bright and blue.

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