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Looking forward to the weekend

Update: 3:45. Doppler radar shows strong T-storms popping near Glenwood and Starbuck, moving toward Sauk Centre and Melrose. Doppler estimates suggest hail anywhere from 1/2″ to 3/4″ in diameter, marble-size to dime-size. If the hail reaches 1″ in diameter (quarter-size) the local Chanhassen NWS office will issue severe storm warnings for specific counties. The St. Cloud area may see significant rain and hail into the dinner hour, and in this kind of a pattern we can’t even rule out an isolated tornado or funnel cloud. We don’t have all the dynamics of yesterday, but there is still enough lingering instability and wind shear to whip up a rotating, “supercell” thunderstorm capable of damaging hail, violent winds, even a stray tornado.

Showers dissipate this evening as the sun sets and the airmass overhead becomes more stable. Saturday still appears to be the nicer day of the weekend with sunshine and mid 80s, even up north at the lake. Sunday won’t be quite as lake-worthy, I fear, with a growing risk of showers and T-storms by midday. There’s even a slight chance of more severe weather by Sunday afternoon. If you’re planning to be out on the lake hunting for walleye (or a memorable sunburn) keep a radio handy, or sign up for weather warnings on your cell phone. Yes, I’m still a bit partial to My-Cast (up to version 7) from Digital Cyclone, a company I once owned, based in Minnetonka. I’m a little biased but it’s still the best mobile app out there.

Get ready for (stinking hot!) weather by Monday and Tuesday. Low 90s seem likely both days, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some mid 90s close to home both days. Air conditioners will be grinding away and neighbors will be nagging you about the humidity levels. “Yes ma’am, it IS hot enough for me, and thank you for asking!”

And to think, just 8 days ago there was frost up north. A few days from now, factoring in dew points near 70, it may feel like 100 degrees in the shade. That’s a pretty significant change in the weather!


It was a close call, a brush with potentially violent weather. Although conditions were ripe across central and southern Minnesota yesterday evening, the atmosphere remained “capped” (a layer of warm air 1-2 miles overhead prevented the storms from firing). There was no trigger, no spark to be able to break the cap. Severe thunderstorms passed off to our north, grazing St. Cloud with golf ball size hail. The most severe weather stayed to our south over Iowa and southern Wisconsin into the Chicago area. Much of central and southern Minnesota was in a meteorological no-man’s-zone; it FELT like severe weather was imminent, sticky, unsettled – you could tell the atmosphere was locked and loaded.

We caught a break. Today is marginal for severe weather (slight risk south/east of the Twin Cities) and any T-storms should be few and far between, the real focus of severe storms will be Iowa into the Chicago area, Detroit, Columbus and Pittsburgh – all under a MODERATE RISK of severe storms (see the graphic below). The sun should be out much of today, fewer storms mushrooming to life this afternoon, the vast majority of the hail and high water staying southeast of home.

There is some good news: Saturday looks warm, sunny and lake-worthy with highs reaching the low to mid 80s, even up at the cabin. We catch a break tomorrow, but Sunday won’t be as reasonable, weather-wise, as clouds increase, a disturbance approaching from the southwest sparking a few hours of showers and T-storms during the midday and afternoon hours.

If you have a choice in the matter, front-load your weekend by scheduling your outdoor stuff tomorrow, if at all possible. Sunday won’t be a total loss, one computer model, the more reliable model (WRF/NAM) brings in a little rain, but the GFS keeps us dry, statewide, all day Sunday. My hunch is that we will see some rain Sunday, maybe as much as a half inch if some areas.

More good news (at least for summer-weather lovers). There is little doubt we’re sliding into a warmer, stormier weather pattern, one which should linger through the end of June, possibly the 4th of July holiday weekend. I think we’ll sample 90 degrees next Tuesday and Wednesday, daytime highs mostly in the 80s right through the 80s.

Friday’s SPC Outlook, showing the greatest risk of severe weather shifting south & east of Minnesota; the far southeastern counties are still in a slight risk of large hail and damaging winds.

Thursday’s storm reports from SPC. Large hail (anything greater than 1″ diameter, roughly quarter-size is considered severe) swept across the Detroit Lakes and Brainerd lakes area, golf ball size hail passing just north of St. Cloud. Check out the reports of damaging winds (229 separate reports nationwide!) stretching in an arc from the Chicago/Madison area southward to Florida. Amazing.

If it rains on Sunday (likely) keep in mind we still need the rain, at least the southern 2/3rds of Minnesota is still far too dry. Moderate to severe drought conditions linger from the Twin Cities across much of southeastern Minnesota. It will take a few more rounds of T-storms, another 2-4″, to pull these counties back to “average”.

Percentage of normal rainfall since April 1. Only far southeastern Minnesota, near the Iowa border, and northern counties (where this isn’t much in the way of farmland). Rainfall over the last 3 months is running only 40-60% of normal over a huge swatch of central Minnesota.

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