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Good (wet) weather news

Now that the holiday weekend is behind us I can take off my muzzle (my wife has all sorts of handy ways to use Duck Tape) and shout out the obvious: “we need rain!”
By Paul Douglas

* 84 degree high on Sunday, arguably the nicest outdoor day of the holiday weekend.

* Potentially wet, stormy week shaping up, with rain (and some thunder) in the forecast from tonight into Thursday, some towns may easily pick up over 1″ of rain this week.

* Slight severe T-storm risk into southwestern and central MN Tuesday & Wednesday.

* Cool 70s expected Tuesday and Wednesday, warming up later in the week. No extreme (90 degree+) heat in sight.

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Now that the holiday weekend is behind us I can take off my muzzle (my wife has all sorts of handy ways to use Duck Tape) and shout out the obvious: “we need rain!” I said as much during a little 4th of July parade in my neighborhood Saturday and the neighbors were not amused. For the record it only “sprinkled.” Could have been a lot worse, in retrospect. A huge swatch of central Minnesota is too dry, drought conditions appear to be spreading into new counties just south/west of St. Cloud as well as much of the Twin Cities metro. We need a prolonged, multi-day soaking, 2-4″ would go a long way right now.

I can’t promise that, but a fairly wet week seems to be shaping up, Minnesota on the northern periphery of a vast bubble of hot, steamy air, a tug of war between cooler Canadian air leaking from the north and this lingering hot front just to our south setting the stage for showery rains from tonight into Thursday. Trying to time these fast-moving disturbances is pretty futile. One batch of rain comes in tonight, with another chance late Tuesday into Wednesday morning, yet another surge of moisture streaking southeast on Thursday. Friday may be the first dry day of the week. Although most of the computer models print out less than half an inch of rain by midweek, the NOAA QPF Outlook for the next 5 days is a bit more promising, showing a potential for several inches of rain during the work week. Then again the QPF is historically far too generous with summer rains.

Forecast Weather Map for 7 pm this evening. A frontal boundary draped nearby will act as a shower magnet, increasing the odds of .10 to .20″ of rain tonight. Heavier rains are possible late Tuesday into Wednesday as yet another disturbance races southeast along a sharp temperature boundary.

The odds of 90 degree heat have diminished, the really sweltering, sauna-like conditions should remain south of Minnesota. Tuesday and Wednesday may border on cool, at least for early July, with highs stuck in the 70s both days, the result of persistent clouds and periods of rain. I can’t even rule out a few severe storms both days, SPC has much of southwestern and parts of central MN in a “slight risk” of severe weather Tuesday and Wednesday. Some of our biggest severe weather outbreaks in the past have taken place with a west/northwest wind flow aloft, similar to the set-up this week. The biggest threat appears to be large hail and straight-line winds, rather than tornadoes.

I don’t want to curse/jinx the weekend outlook, but the latest GFS Outlook set me back a little – it prints out a big, thundery bullseye over the southern third of Minnesota Saturday, with Sunday the drier, sunnier day. Too early to make grand pronouncements about the weekend. Right now we can say with utter confidence it’ll fall on a Saturday and Sunday. Beyond that things get difficult. For now enjoy today’s fading sun, plan on a little rain tonight, with more puddles likely through midweek. We should warm back up into the low 80s the latter half of the week, closer to average for this date. The maps look a little more like early June than early July, but unless you’re addicted to 90s and stifling levels of humidity, odds are you’ll be just fine with the stretch of weather on tap this week. Besides, what choice do we really have?

From the MN State Climatology Office, Percentage of Normal Rainfall since April 1. This is why I’m not going to complain (out loud) about this week’s predicted rain. Only the green and blue-shaded counties are in good shape in terms of soil moisture. Most of central MN has experienced HALF as much rain as we’d normally see as of July 6, the red-shaded counties only 30-50% of “normal” rain has fallen since April 1. Bring it on.

75-hour GFS Forecast of Total Rainfall. With a northwesterly wind flow aloft, showers and T-storms are expected to streak rapidly southeast once they bubble up. Note the relatively narrow ribbon of heavy 1-2″ rains predicted for central Minnesota. Duluth and Hayward, WI may not see any rain of substance for the next 3 days, a minor shift in the storm track could make a huge difference in the coming days.

5-Day QPF Outlook for Total Rainfall, courtesy of the National Weather Service. This map tends to over-exaggerate expected rainfall – I doubt we’ll see 3+ inch rainfall amounts over the next 5 days, but I guess we can’t rule out locally heavy amounts as a front stalls overhead. That would be very good news indeed, in light of the expanding drought across Minnesota.

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GFS Outlook for Saturday, showing predicted rainfall from 7 am to 7 pm. Not to bum you out too much on a Monday, which is tough enough, but the GFS is predicting heavy rains over roughly the southern third of Minnesota, maybe an inch or two of rain, with drier, sunnier conditions the farther north you travel up into the lake resorts. Caveat: it’s still WAY TOO EARLY to panic (or celebrate for that matter). There is much that can happen this far out – I fully expect to see big changes in the weekend outlook as we get closer.

Under the heading “what was I thinking?” a potentially appalled neighbor snapped this picture of my wife (Laurie) and me as we drove past in the annual 4th of July parade in our neighborhood. It’s a wonderful little tradition every Independence Day, the entire parade goes about 3 blocks and lasts 10 minutes. Little kids pulling wagons (tossing candy), scooters, farm equipment, you name it – felt a little surreal. And no, there were no adult beverages involved. That came later…

That look on Max’s furry little face kind of summed it up: somewhere between horror and shock. He actually won first prize for “Most Decorated Dog” or something like that, got a nice big bone for having to get dressed up. Max is 13 1/2 years young, still thinks he’s a puppy, just about the only good thing to come out of our Chicago “adventure.” Thanks Max (if you’re reading this) for being such a good sport.