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A change in the weather

A Presidential Encounter with Bill? No, not that Bill. Mr. Clinton won’t be anywhere near Martha’s Vineyard this upcoming weekend, when the first family is scheduled to spend some quality vacation time on this small, exclusive island, accessible by ferry only, roughly 2 hours south of Boston. The only problem? A category 3-4 hurricane by the name of “Bill” is forecast to pass just 150-200 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts over the weekend, perilously close to Martha’s Vineyard. Talk about lousy timing. My hunch, gut (nausea?) is that the vacation may be called off due to the hurricane threat. We’ll see (check below for the Sunday morning computer forecast and you’ll have a better idea why I suspect the Obamas may be hanging out in D.C. this weekend).

A Change in the Weather. No kidding! July we couldn’t buy a shower (or a warm front). Now it won’t stop raining! So far, during the first 20 days of August, the Twin Cities metro area has been swamped with 5.7″ of rain. That’s 3″ more than usual for the first 20 days of August! If this keeps up the drought may be drawing to a close sooner than anyone thought.

Thursday Rainfall Amounts

Twin Cities: .52″

St. Cloud: .34″

Duluth: .66″

Grand Marais: .97″

Alexandria: .71″

Rochester: .03″

Drought Monitor as of August 18, Wednesday, at 7 am. Keep in mind the VAST majority of the rain came after 7 am Wednesday. Many neighborhoods have picked up 2-3″ of rain since then. I have no doubt that most of the metro is still in a moderate drought, but my hunch is that next week’s Drought Monitor may ease the severe/extreme drought conditions most severe north/east of St. Paul. Some of these counties have been inundated by 4-7″ of rain since Wednesday!

Doppler Radar Rainfall Estimates for Wednesday. Note the 4-6″ amounts north/east of the metro in Chisago and Isanti Counties, and another region of very substantial rains from near Willmar westward to Milan.

EF0 Tornado that hit South Minneapolis at 2 pm Wednesday afternoon, captured on an iPhone by Kristin Clark from WeatherNation. The video sequence was taken from Kristin’s 7th floor Uptown balcony overlooking the Minneapolis skyline. Even in this still image you can see the lowering, rotating wall cloud.

Check out this video from a security camera at east Lake and 4th Street. The pond at the center of the screen temporarily drains (!) and a tree in the upper right lands on a van. Watch carefully and you’ll see an EF0 tornado pass right in front. Anyone walking in THAT parking lot would have had quite a story to tell!

Here is the latest damage update from the local National Weather Service office, confirming weak tornadoes in south Minneapolis and North Branch. Then again, the term “weak tornado” is something of an oxymoron, right up there with “jumbo shrimp”, “airline food”, and “Senate Intelligence Committee”. It makes no sense. ANY tornado is a pretty big deal, an EF0 twister still capable of wind speeds anywhere from 65 to 95 mph. Thank God these were small tornadoes, or the death toll could have very significant, touching down in densely populated areas.

Tornado Factoid #1: Hennepin County has seen 8 large, violent tornadoes (F3 to F5 strength) since 1951, according to the National Weather Service and the MN State Climatology Office.

Tornado Factoid #2: Tom Clark, who took the video of the tornado on his daughter (Kristin’s) iPhone Wednesday was also in the process of installing a home weather instrument from La Crosse Technology (a little housewarming gift for Kristin from yours truly). Tom had just finished getting this thing mounted on the wall when the tornado formed less than 1/2 mile away. At 1:58 pm the barometric pressure bottomed out at 29.57″ of mercury, just as the tornado was forming nearby.

4 Panel (NAM) Weather Model through 7 am Saturday morning. The same storm that whipped up Wednesday’s crazy tornado buffet and Thursday’s foul, wind-whipped showers, will finally get an eastward nudge over the weekend. By Saturday morning high pressure is forecast to be sunning itself over Nebraska, setting the stage for an increasingly sunny and warm weekend for Minnesota.

Today won’t win any awards for splendor or ambiance – any sun will quickly give way to scrappy, low-hanging clouds leaking light showers and afternoon sprinkles. Winds will blow from the northwest at 20 mph, it will be choppy on area lakes, afternoon “highs” stuck in the mid to upper 60s. But fear not. Under the heading “Good Timing” the storm that has tormented us with unpredictable tornadoes, but lavished us with wondrous, well-timed, SOAKING, million dollar rains will finally get out of Dodge, tracking east toward New England, setting the stage for an increasingly sunny, warm and pleasant weekend. Sunday still looks like the best day to be out on the lake with highs topping 80 under a sunny sky. But the entire weekend looks memorable, dry, with less wind – classic, beautiful late August weather for Minnesota and Wisconsin. Very few complaints are anticipated. A shower may drift into town Monday, followed by slight cooling next week, but no weather drama is shaping up. At least I hope not. Not sure my heart can take too many more weeks like this one!

GFS Computer Forecast for Sunday morning at 7 am. Check out “Bill”, Hurricane Bill, just east of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, where rumor has it the First Family will be trying to escape for a little relaxation and family time. At the very least the Obamas will probably experience moderate to heavy rain from some of the outer bands of Bill, gusts over 40 mph, and waves greater than 10-15 feet coming ashore near their vacation pad at “Blue Heron Farm” near Chilmark, which supposedly rents out for $50,000/week. I wonder if they bought insurance for their vacation?

Paul’s Outlook for the Twin Cities

Today: Mostly cloudy, windy, still cooler than average. A few passing showers and sprinkles are likely, best chance around midday. Some late afternoon/evening clearing is likely. Winds: NW 15-25. High: 68

Tonight: Gradual clearing – cool. Low: 53

Saturday: Plenty of sun, dry – less wind. Winds: NW 5-10. High: 74

Sunday: Nicer day for the lake or pool. Bright sun, light winds. Winds: SW 5-10. High: 82

Monday: Sun gives way to increasing clouds, slight chance of a shower. High: 83

Tuesday: A mix of clouds and sun, still pleasant. High: near 80

Wednesday: Plenty of sun, slightly cooler, but close to average for late August. High: 77

Thursday: Partly cloudy and warm. High: 79

The National Weather Service has put together a great page, summarizing meteorological conditions at the time of the tornadoes. Click here to see what they’ve put together.

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