A dry rut

Only .53″ of rain falls at MSP in May, 2.58″ below average….driest May since 1934 for most of the Twin Cities metro, third driest on record!

Welcome to June, what is (historically) the wettest month of the year across just about all of Minnesota. On average nearly 4″ of rain SHOULD fall this month, but keep in mind that our weather is rarely “average” in reality. We tend to ricochet from one extreme to the next. If you have one year with 6″ of rain and the next year only 2″ of rain falls, the average will be 4″, but that hardly tells the tale accurately. But if you go back and look at June rainfall, every year since 1891, the average of all those years jumbled together is close to 4″. June is also the most severe month of the year, when the incidence of large, damaging hail and tornadoes tends to peak, the sun highest in the sky by the 21st, the atmosphere most unstable and capable of whipping up atmospheric trouble.

Yesterday sort of summed up the strange spring we’re experiencing. Severe storms hit the Brainerd area, winds gusted to 62 mph, strong enough to bring down some big trees in the Baxter area, but the line pretty much fell apart as it continued to slosh south and east, literally leap-frogging over much of central and southern Minnesota. Officially no rain fell at St. Cloud or the Twin Cities. While we are starving for a real shower, it rained hard over northeastern Minnesota: .73″ of rain soaked Duluth (high of only 50!) with .43″ at Hibbing. Temperatures never climbed out of the 40s along the North Shore of Lake Superior Sunday. Some spring huh? The moisture situation is substantially better over western and central Minnesota than it is from the Twin Cities on south and east, now in a moderate to severe drought. Many communities south/east of Minneapolis are running a 2-4″ rainfall deficit, and it’s starting to show: unusually low lake water levels, yellowing fields and lawns, wilting flowers and shrubs, stream water flows slowing to a trickle. There was some partial relief last week south and east of Rochester, where some moderate rain did fall, over 1″ in some areas, but it still wasn’t nearly enough.

At the rate we’re going, with a mild/moderate El Nino kicking in and the larger pattern favoring frequent cool intrusions into southern Canada and the northern tier states of the USA, I would probably bet on a cooler, drier rest of the summer. Would I wager any money on that outlook? No: it’s a WAG (wild, articulate guess). Um – right. Then again in Minnesota the pattern can shift gears virtually overnight: June may wind up producing frequent, soaking rains. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if that happens, right now I’m a bit pessimistic that we’re going to break out of this dry rut anytime soon. I hope I’m very, very wrong and it just POURS in June (especially during the work week, at night, preferably between the hours of midnight and 5 am).

The sun should be out much of today, temperatures cooler than yesterday, when the mercury hit 84 at St. Cloud and 83 at the Twin Cities. A fizzling cool front may spark a few showers over far northern MN tonight and Tuesday morning along the MN/Manitoba border, but I don’t see showers reaching any farther south than Grand Rapids or so. Significant moisture/heavy rain and T-storms remain supressed to our south much of this week, soaking Iowa, possibly brushing far southern counties, near Albert Lea and Fairmont with a few showers. But most communities will stay dry from today through Thursday.

A southbound cool front increases the “opportunity” of showers and thunder on Friday, and the long-range (GFS) guidance for the weekend looks wet, potentially REALLY WET! It’s still very early, but computer models suggest that a storm may slow down, even stall out directly over Minnesota by Saturday and Sunday. That could mean highs only in the 50s up north, maybe some 60s. It’s premature to speculate too much about next weekend’s weather, we’ll obviously keep an eye on things and tweak the forecast as new data, new model runs, come into WeatherNation. I was hoping to head up to our cabin on Pelican next weekend. Of COURSE it’s going to pour!

Curious about the current temperature trends across Minnesota and the USA? Coolwx.com has a great site where you can call up everything from current temperatures to cloud cover, wind speeds – all very intuitive and easy to interpret. You can also see, at any given time, where the hottest, coldest and wettest spot on Earth is (which can leave you feeling a little better about our current state of the atmosphere). To see the very latest conditions click here.

Weather Headlines
• Severe storms whip up 62 mph gusts at Brainerd Sunday afternoon, strong enough to bring down a few big trees in nearby Baxter.

• 84 degree high at St. Cloud Sunday, 83 in the Twin Cities, but only 50 at Duluth and 48 at Grand Marais.

• Sun reappears today, about 15 degrees cooler than yesterday.

• Basically dry weather prevails through Thursday.

• Growing chance of showers, even some steadier, heavier rain by Friday, potential for heavier, steadier weekend rain – unusually cool, with weekend highs in the 50s (north) to 60s (south).

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