A “Plan B” weekend

Yes, I have good news, and I have bad news. The good news: the moderate to severe drought expanding across Minnesota, the extreme fire danger will ease, air conditioning will be optional for the next few days, and sunburn will not be a significant risk anytime soon. Work with me on this, as I attempt to turn lemons into lemonade. Speaking of bitter, here’s the bad news: it’s going to rain, and only the brave (and reckless) will cram into little boats and set out for trophy walleye and northern this weekend. It won’t rain the entire weekend – there will be breaks. Saturday looks partly “salvageable” over the northern half of Minnesota, including the Brainerd and Alexandria Lakes area – rain may hold off until later in the day. Yesterday’s fleeting 78 degree warmth is history. Canada is leaking an unseasonably, unreasonably cool airmass south of the border and heavy jackets will get yet another workout over the weekend; highs holding in the 50s up north both Saturday and Sunday. You’ll swear it’s early April out there. The warm frontal boundary separating hot, steamy air to the south and chilly, rain-cooled air smothering most of Minnesota will come close to the Minnesota-Iowa border Sunday, and a few strong/severe T-storms can’t be ruled out from Jackson and Worthington to Albert Lea, even the Rochester area.

Although chilly enough (aloft) for snow by late tonight up north, by the time moisture does arrive it should be warm enough for a rain event, thank God. Folks living out in Wyoming and Montana may not be quite so lucky, a “plowable” 6″+ snowfall is possible from near Cheyenne to Bozeman, Montana. That’s right, a little more than 2 weeks away from the Summer Solstice and the “S Word” is still being tossed around. It just isn’t right. I should be babbling about tropical depressions and tornadoes right about now, instead I’m tracking a March-like surge of Canadian air just to our north and west.

Most of Friday looks dry, but with more clouds and cooler temperatures than yesterday as winds blow from the north. Rain will overspread Minnesota from southwest to northeast on Saturday, by Sunday the heaviest, steadiest shield of rain should set up over roughly the northern half of Minnesota. Toss in a raw breeze, temperatures in the 50s from Alexandria to Breezy Point, Cross Lake and the BWCA and you have a fine weekend to drag out the Scrabble board, stake out a movie theater or shop until you succumb to exhaustion. Maybe that, or just one big 24 hour power nap.

(The sky may look something like this over the weekend – skies brightening up every now and then, but clouds will prevail with occasional showers, even a stronger T-storm Sunday). Keep an eye on the sky, especially if you’re boating on the St. Croix River Sunday near Lake City and Winona – a few storms may be strong, even severe. Static on the AM radio band is a tip-off of T-storms within 50-100 miles of your location. It’s not foolproof, but this “Amish Doppler” may be your best bet, especially if you can’t get severe weather alerts (or real Doppler) on your cell phone.

Unusually cool weather lingers much of next week as jet stream winds continue to blow from the northwest (they should be howling from the south/southwest in early June). Count on highs in the 60s most of the week, evenings cool enough for a hefty jacket. Long-range guidance is hinting at 90 degrees by Tuesday, June 16, give or take a day. It will get hot, sticky and summerlike again. It HAS to. Once again Minnesota’s mythic, long overdue summer has been delayed until further notice. Mother Nature wants to make good and sure we are desparate to sweat it out, that we’ll be grateful for every last degree, that even the uptight, ornery neighbor down the street won’t have the nerve to whine about the heat and humidity when it comes. IF it comes.

Have a memorable weekend. Keep telling yourself we need the rain. Because as you’re about to see, we really DO need the rain.

The combination of a). lack of rain, b). bright sun, c). dry, Canadian air with low dew points, and d). gusty winds has created an extreme fire danger, especially around the Twin Cities metro area on up to the St. Cloud area. Southern Minnesota is in better shape, along with far northern counties of the state. Burning restrictions are in effect for Crow Wing and southern Cass counties. Until we do get some significant rain (more than .25″ or so) the risk of wildfires will remain off the scale. Be extra careful with campfires, back yard barbecues and discarded cigarette butts for the next 48 hours. Isn’t that a good reason to quit, come to think of it?

For the latest fire index from the Minnesota DNR click here.

Speaking of dry, check out the latest stream-flow volume from WaterWatch (United States Geological Survey). The red dots signify the least water flow, found mostly on eastern streams and rivers (including the St. Croix). Stream volume tends to increase the farther north and west you travel across the state.

Weather Headlines

* 78 degree high on Thursday in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud, close to average for this date.

* Today: nearly 10 degrees cooler than yesterday with gusty northwest winds at 15-25 mph.

* Chance of rain increases by midday/afternoon on Saturday.

* Computer models print out potential for .5 – 1″ of rain from Saturday PM into Sunday.

* Heaviest, steadiest rain falls over northern half of Minnesota Sunday. Temperatures hold in the 50s both days, wind will make it FEEL like 40s.

* Unseasonably cool weather lingers most of next week, highs in the 60s.

* Long-range GFS model still predicting 80s to near 90 by Tuesday, June 16.

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