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Welcome dose of sunshine

Never in my life have I been more relieved to see Earth’s nearest star, shining down brightly, shimmering off the lake….the sound of motorboats gurgling, kids laughing, a distant lawn mower buzzing away. The last couple of days have been a supreme meteorological disappointment, a blunt reminder that winds can blow out of Canada EVERY month of the year. The last 48 hours has felt like an Inquisition, people haven’t asked me about the weather, they’ve been INTERROGATING me about our absurd mid-summer cold front. “Why is my furnace running during what is, historically, the hottest week of the year, Paul?” I have family visiting from the D.C. area and yesterday’s raw, ragged sky and whiff of wind chill has reinforced every negative stereotype there is about Minnesota. “Does this happen…often?” they asked, peering out the window at whitecaps and a sullen, puke-gray sky. “I didn’t think it could get this bad.” So what did we do today? Packed up the cars and had us a convoy down to the Mall of America. That’s right, if you can’t play in the water you can take out your frustration SHOPPING, burning through credit cards, doing a little people-watching down at the Great Minnesota Get Together.

With any luck I won’t have to wander into any shoe stores today – the stubborn Great Lakes storm that has kept us in a foul, sprinkly, almost October-like stranglehold since late Wednesday is finally getting an eastward nudge. High pressure drifting directly over our heads (look out for the big “H”!) will treat us to plenty of sun, a few popcorn cumulus clouds, and less wind, under 10 mph. much of the day. After a chilly start temperatures will recover nicely, reaching the mid to upper 70s, 80 isn’t out of the question near the Dakota border. So at least we’ll salvage one day of our weekend. Get outside (now) and make up for lost time!

WRF/NMM Precipitation Outlook, from 1 am to 7 am Tuesday morning. The model is printing out about .40″ for St. Cloud, but closer to 1″ for the Twin Cities metro. I’m a bit skeptical – the models have been consistently over-predicting rain so far this summer; this upcoming front will probably be no exception.

GFS Outlook for next Sunday, July 26. Long-range models are hinting at a pretty good chance of showers and scattered T-storms Saturday, especially over the southeastern half of Minnesota, a better chance PM hours Saturday, especially closer to Wisconsin. Although it’s admittedly early Sunday appears to be the drier day, with partly sunny skies, temperatures probably holding in the 70s.

Showery weather will hang on from late Monday night into Wednesday morning, the heaviest, steadiest rains probably passing off to our south and east (again). We dry out a bit during the day Wednesday and Friday, before a series of clipper-like disturbances racing southeastward out of Canada spark a few, mainly late-day showers and storms late Friday, again Saturday. The confidence level (this far out) is low, so tune in (every 15 minutes would be nice) for updates as we fine-tune the forecast for the last weekend of July. How did THAT happen?

Rainfall (Departure from Normal) Since June 1, courtesy of NOAA’s Midwestern Regional Climate Center at the Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, IL. The driest counties of Minnesota stretch from the Twin Cities westward to St. Cloud, Willmar and Mankato. Much of the Minnesota Arrowhead is also running a rainfall deficit of as much as 3-4″. The driest part of the Twin Cities: east metro, also experiencing a 3-4″ deficit, although I’ve heard other figures that place the deficit in moisture closer to 6″ since April 1.

Summer Statistics

The National Weather Service has put together a nice page of updated statistics, showcasing how cool and dry we’ve been since June 1. For all the details click here.

A Few Highlights (or low-lights, as the case may be):

Twin Cities Temperatures: 1.5 degrees F. cooler than average

Twin Cities Rainfall since June 1: 2-3″ drier than average (eastern suburbs of St. Paul are 3-4″ drier than average since June 1).

Days with thunder/lightning so far this summer: 11 (normal as of July 18 is 23).

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