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Hot and thundery

O.K. We’re getting a little break in the weather today, if you call this a “break.” Yes, it’s hot out there, and (factoring a dew point near 70) it may feel even hotter Tuesday. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Heat Index rise up into the 97 to 102 degree range tomorrow afternoon before a cooler front breaks the heat with heavy rain, thunder, lightning, and a potential for severe weather close to home. Today the atmosphere over central and southern MN should remain “capped”, quite simply it’s too hot and dry aloft for rising thermals of warm air to sprout into towering thunderheads. Tomorrow the arrival of a cooler front should be the spark that breaks the cap and helps to foster development of a squall line by mid afternoon, a line of strong to severe thunderstorms capable of large hail, damaging straight line winds, even an isolated tornado. I do expect a number of watches and warnings close to home by late in the day tomorrow.

Thunderstorms Tuesday evening/night may be strong to severe, with frequent lightning strikes, large hail, even an isolated tornado close to home. We shouldn’t be too surprised: June is the peak month for not only rainfall (average of 4″) but severe storms as well.

I’m not sure how much of this is “noise” in the weather models, but the latest NAM/WRF computer run prints out nearly 1″ of rain for St. Cloud, with a whopping 2.5″ predicted for the Twin Cities Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. That may be overdoing it a bit, but there’s little doubt, with precipitable water levels so high, that some gulley-gushers are very possible late tomorrow into Tuesday night. Good news: you may not have to do much watering this week.
In the winter we torment you with windchill-babble. In the summer you can’t expect to catch a break, right? Now it’s the Temperature-Humidity Index, or the “Humature”. When there’s a lot of water in the air your body can’t cool itself naturally through perspiration. It’s much harder to cool down, and the risk of overheating, being stricken with heat exhaustion or heat stroke (which can be fatal if not treated immediately) goes up dramatically. Tuesday, with a predicted afternoon high of 90-95 and a dew point near 70 it should FEEL like 95-100 degrees in the shade. Take it easy out there Tuesday, and know that more comfortable air is on tap by midweek.
The latest from SPC, the Storm Prediction Center, showing a slight risk of isolated storms from North Dakota into the western third of Minnesota. A “capped” atmosphere over central and southern Minnesota will probably prevent the storms from drifting too far south and east.
SPC Outlook for Tuesday, showing a slight risk over almost all of central and southern Minnesota, as a cool front plows into hot, humidifed air. A fairly widespread outbreak of hail-producing storms seems likely from mid afternoon into the early nighttime hours Tuesday.

I hope you had a chance to spend some quality time with the favorite dad in your life. My pop is 892 miles east-southeast of home, and I wish I could have been with him yesterday. He’s 79 and still going (very) strong – I pray I inherited some of his DNA. He’s the one who helped to nurture my love of meteorology. I remember coming down to the breakfast table and there would be a stack of weather-related articles next to my cereal bowl. He’d clip magazine stories, newspaper weather pages, anything and everything related to the weather. His clipping service is still going strong, although now he’s more apt to send me a web link. I’m lucky to have him around; he’s one of my best friends, just about the only guy I can confide everything to. Yes, dad has seen me at my best, and my worst – he’s always withheld judgment, encouraged me, offering up unconditional love, something I hope I’ve passed on to my boys, arguably the best gift a dad could possibly offer his kids. He’s set the bar pretty high – I count my blessings every day, and having a helpful, wise and caring father in my life is always at the top of my thank-you’s. Dad, thanks for being there for me. I never take that for granted.

My father, Volker (born in Germany, went to college at Wabash, in Indiana), along with my younger sister, Joan, brother Kent, and mom, Grace – during a trip to Garmisch, Germany last year.

So it boils down to this: either light jackets and drought, or steamy, thundery weather with a slight chance of a tornado? Two fairly unappealing choices. More tornadoes were reported across far southern Minnesota Sunday evening, Kansas-style “supercell” thunderstorms whipping up golf ball size hail and at least 2-4 tornadoes near Manchester and Twin Lakes. The violent storms blossomed along a slow-moving warm frontal boundary, which will push to our north and east today, leaving us in a hazy, hot, humidified airmass – 90 degrees seems likely today, maybe some mid 90s south and west of the Minnesota River Valley. Factor in dew point temperatures near 70 and we may be looking at a heat index in the upper 90s over parts of southwestern MN later today. Yikes.

After a damp, gray start the sun should be out much of today – odds favor any boiling, bubbling thunderheads erupting east of Minnesota across Wisconsin. But a surge of moisture approaching from the south tomorrow may spark more T-storms – the NAM/WRF model prints out nearly 1.5″ of rain by Wednesday, so once again, lawn-watering may be optional this week. It looks like the hottest, most uncomfortable weather will come early this week, a more westerly wind flow dropping humidity levels and temperatures back down a little closer to normal levels the latter half of the week.

More showers and storms arrive Friday, followed by a clearing trend in time for what appears to be a mostly sunny, mostly-dry weekend. Highs reach the low 80s Saturday, but cool off a bit for Sunday, possibly holding in the 70s over the northern half of Minnesota. So again, we should get a brief break from the thunder & lightning today, but more storms sweep back into Minnesota Tuesday and Wednesday, probably the two wettest days of the week. Thursday looks dry, with only a smattering of T-storms Friday PM as a cooler, more comfortable front arrives in time for a pretty nice weekend. Fingers crossed that we can salvage a memorable last weekend of June (without any sirens sounding nearby). My fingers (and eyes) are crossed.

SPC outlook for today, showing the greatest risk of severe storms to our south and west, possibly brushing far southwestern counties of Minnesota. Any storms today should be isolated, but more numerous, potentially severe storms return to almost all of Minnesota tomorrow. More watches and warnings are likely statewide on Tuesday.

.56″ of rain fell on St. Cloud yesterday, 69″ Alexandria, .30″ Redwood Falls, Brainerd saw .16″, .13″ at Rochester, but only .03″ here in the Twin Cities, at least at MSP International Airport. Heavier amounts were reported just south/east of St. Paul from a heavier thunderstorm that brushed the metro area last night. Computer models print out anywhere from 1.58″ to 1.7″ for the Twin Towns over the next 84 hours. We’ll see….

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