Slightly warmer weekend

You just enjoyed/survived/endured a record-breaking July 17.

St. Cloud High: 64 (coolest “high” on record, breaking the old record of 66 in 1927).

Twin Cities High: 65 (coolest “high” on record, breaking the old record of 66 in 1939).

Eau Claire, WI High: 65 (coolest “high on record, breaking the old record of 68 in 1939).

Friday’s high in Fairbanks, Alaska: 77 (no, that’s not a typo).

* Slowly brightening skies today, a mix of clouds and sun, better than yesterday.

* Winds today: NW 10-20. Best chance of sunshine: mid/late afternoon, highs near 70

* Sunday: more sunshine, light winds (under 10 mph). Highs from 75-80. Nicer day of the weekend.

I have no comment about yesterday’s weather. You can only imagine the grief I had to endure, people glaring at me, spitting mad, fists clenched, demanding to know why we had suddenly been transported into early October. “P-P-Paul, this is UNFAIR! Do you have an explanation?!!” Um, yes, the jet stream has shifted 400 miles farther south than usual, the polar vortex has set up shop over Hudson Bay, Canada, possibly some strange (temporary) feedback from the NAO, the North American Oscillation interacting with a persistent ridge of high pressure anchored over the western states. Either that, or maybe the Russians. This could be evidence of the long-wave radiation weather weapon I’ve been reading about on obscure web pages. If it’s on-line it HAS to be accurate, right? Yesterday sure was character-building, nearly 20 degrees cooler than average, whatever that is. I made the mistake of including a wind chill map in my video report for Conservation Minnesota and MinnPost.com and I’m sure that triggered uncontrollable bouts of fist-waving, soul-searching and general angst, a rare, fleeting “where-am-I-living” moment. It’ll pass. By Sunday, with the sun out, light winds, low humidity and unlimited visibility we’ll develop a case of mass amnesia, forgive and forget, right? Well, hopefully forget – it may take a little longer for me to forgive…

USA Highs on Friday, courtesy of the Plymouth State Weather Center, showing a 40 degree contrast in temperature from Minnesota to Texas, the kind of extremes one would expect in April or late September, very rare for mid July.

An unusually vigorous storm pinwheeling over the Great Lakes will finally get an eastward nudge today, clouds will give way to a mix of clouds and sun, temperatures closing in on 70 by late afternoon – still breezy, but not quite as gusty as yesterday. As a weak ridge of high pressure drifts overhead Sunday winds will ease even more (under 10 mph. most of the day) and the sun should be out most of the day – a few thermometers approaching 80 by the dinner hour – definitely the nicer day of the weekend, truly a sight for sore (chilled) eyes.

WRF/NMM Model for 1 pm today, showing predicted temperatures. The mercury should approach or even top 70 over parts of central and southern Minnesota, in spite of stubborn, patchy clouds. Cooler weather is likely farther east in Milwaukee and Chicago, where thicker clouds should linger most of the day.

WRF/NMM Model for 1 pm Sunday. Temperatures will run about 5-8 degrees warmer on Sunday with more sun and lighter winds, the nicer day of the weekend for the lake or pool.

Low 80s are predicted Monday before a weak, eastbound cool front pushes a ragtag band of showers into town Monday night; rainfall amounts could be fairly significant (some 1″ amounts are predicted Monday night across some central Minnesota counties). That could put a minor dent in our slowly expanding drought (see yesterday’s post) but central Minnesota needs at least 3″ to recover, the Twin Cities metro is down 6-7″, especially the eastern suburbs of St. Paul. Temperatures much of next week will be closer to normal for mid/late July, highs in the upper 70s and low 80s, although a cool-down is likely the end of next week, maybe mid 70s for highs by next Saturday, and a growing chance of showers popping up close to home by next Sunday.

4-Panel WRF Model from Unysis. As high pressure approaches from the Dakotas the pressure gradient (contrast in air pressure) will weaken, and so will the winds blowing over Minnesota. Rainfall shows as purple/blue blotches – as you can see a dry weekend is predicted for most of the Upper Midwest.

84 Hour WRF/NMM Model Output, showing predicted rainfall from 1 am to 7 am Tuesday morning. Computer simulations are hinting at some .50 to 1.00″ rainfall amounts late Monday night, especially over central and western counties, probably the best chance of rain all of next week.

The 90s predicted by the GFS model for the end of the month have vanished from the latest computer run. We just can’t buy a hot front in July for whatever reason. Just doesn’t seem like a real summer without neighbors groaning about the humidity. Maybe the mercury will bounce back in August. Or September. Hang on, at this rate odds are the latter half of summer is going to be just as controversial as the first half.

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