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Weekend verdict: not a total wash-out

Do you realize that half the weekends since May 1 have been dry in the Twin Cities, no rain reported either Saturday or Sunday? The perception is that it’s rained every single weekend, but that’s just not the case. Most of May was too cool to really enjoy the cabin though. Last weekend was pretty close to perfect up north; the upcoming weekend won’t be as spectacular – plan your outdoor events for Saturday afternoon/evening or Sunday and you should be fine.

My nervous twitch is back (is that why I’m kicking the Doppler uncontrollably?) So much weather rage! Yes, drought conditions linger over much of southeastern Minnesota – conditions are “severe” over the eastern suburbs of the Twin Cities. Yes, we need the rain. But here is an undisputed truth, the secret-source of so much weather angst and gnashing of teeth. Summer is flying by much too quickly, I mean we’re already coming up on the 4th of July! Minnesotans have 12-13 weekends to soak up the sun, thaw out, calm down, reconnect with family and friends. Like an anorexic man loading up with bag after bag of “sliders” at the drive-thru down at White Castle, we compress a year’s worth of memories, hopes and outdoor expectations into 3 short, fleeting months. We plan our cabin escapes, always keeping a wary eye on the 7-Day Outlook, hoping (and praying) that the weather “will work out.” We hold our breath, hope for the best, and prepare for the worst, rationalizing sloppy, cool weekends with “well, at least we’ll be together, indoors – we can play board games!” True, but being stranded inside a musty cabin while the rain pours down has a prison-like feel; yes, we’d RATHER be outside, on the beach, in the water, playing with our water toys, fishing, tanning, loitering down at the ice cream shop.

Meteorologists realize these high expectations. Yes, the public wants to know (on Monday) what the following weekend will be like, in intricate detail, even though the science just won’t permit an accurate forecast that far out. We err on the side of pessimism (better to predict a wet weekend and then, as new data arrives, tweak the forecast with better news as the week goes on). The worst sin? Being optimist all week long, only to have Friday come along and change our tune: “Sorry folks, this just in. It WON’T be sunny after all. Plan on rain, hail, flooding, slight risk of a nervous breakdown….back to you, Don!”

With that long preamble and disclaimer firmly in place let me pull my weather-punch just a bit: it won’t be all bad. With planning (and a big does of patience) you should be able to squeeze in many/most of your weekend plans. A slow-moving trough of low pressure will spawn a rather vigorous late-June storm, pumping Gulf moisture into Minnesota tonight and Saturday, resulting in a very good chance of rain, even a few heavier thunderstorms. Most towns will pick up 3-6 hours of rain Saturday, most of that rain falling during the morning hours. Behind a cool front northwest winds will kick in Saturday afternoon, chasing most of the rain & thunder into Wisconsin by mid afternoon. Sunday looks MUCH better, a little on the cool side, but sunshine should be the rule Sunday morning and midday. Clouds will slowly increase Sunday afternoon (especially on your favorite lake up north) and northwest winds will gust as high as 15-20 mph at times, making low-mid 70s feel more like upper 60s. A few instability showers may even pop across far eastern MN and Wisconsin late Sunday and Sunday evening, maybe a clap or two of thunder. The sun returns Monday and Tuesday (of course!) with comfortable, Canadian air firmly in place, temperatures a couple degrees below average.

Weekend Headlines

* 90 F. in the Twin Cities yesterday, today may be a couple degrees hotter, with slightly more humidity in the air.

* Slight severe storm risk over western half of Minnesota: best chance of strong/severe T-storms comes tonight.

* Rainfall amounts range from .25 to .50″ Friday night into Saturday morning.

* Drying out Saturday afternoon as skies clear from west to east.

* Light jacket/sweatshirt weather up north Saturday and Sunday night, lows dip close to 50.

* Sunday: better day with a sunny start, becoming partly sunny by afternoon – late day shower possible from Duluth south to the Twin Cities and the St. Croix River Valley. Sunday will feel more like mid/late September with highs holding in the 70s….even some 60s far northern MN.

4th of July Preview

* Information is still sketchy, the computer models a bit contradictory. Right now Friday looks like the warmest day: highs in the upper 70s to low 80s.

* Friday and Saturday (4th) appear to be the 2 nicest days for outdoor plans with plenty of sun both days, Saturday highs: 75-80 F. High pressure remains in control of our weather both days.

* Sunday: more 70s, growing chance of showers and T-storms, best chance mid/late afternoon. A storm approaching from the west pushes the heaviest showers/storms into northern/western MN, eastern MN/Wisconsin may stay dry much of the day.

SPC Outlook for 7 am today through 7 am Saturday, showing a slight risk of isolated severe storms over western and central Minnesota. Most of the storms should rumble in tonight, probably after dark; a very tiny percentage capable of large hail and damaging straight-line winds.

Latest Drought Monitor for Minnesota, showing drier than average conditions over the southern half of Minnesota. East central and southeastern counties are still in a moderate/severe drought, the worst conditions over the eastern suburbs of the Twin Cities.

WRF/NAM Forecast for 7 am Saturday morning, showing heavy showers/storms pushing across the state. The heaviest rains are forecast for central and northern counties. There is a VERY good chance we’ll all wake up to puddles Saturday morning, but skies should brighten by midday, with some PM sun and a drier, less humid northwest breeze kicking in after lunch.

WRF/NAM Outlook for 7 am Sunday, showing dry weather statewide. The lines crossing Minnesota are predicted isobars, lines of constant atmospheric pressure, implying a northwest breeze. The closer isobars are spaced together, the stronger the winds blowing at the surface. Sunday winds will blow from the northwest at 10-20 mph with higher gusts. Lingering cold air aloft may spark patchy PM clouds, especially over the lakes district up north. A few instability showers are possible far eastern MN by late afternoon, from the MN Arrowhead south to Taylor’s Falls, the Twin Cities and St. Croix river valley. Even so, the vast majority of the day should be dry.

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