A perfect Fair opener

Better than fair. There’s something to be said for getting a jump on the Minnesota State Fair, especially when the forecast is as promising as it is today. The weather should be close to idea, temperatures rising through the 70s (peaking at 77 around 4 pm). Factor in a light puff of a northeasterly breeze (under 8 mph) and dew points in the mid 50s and you have a PERFECT day for strolling, pointing, people-watching and heart-healthy food-on-a-stick. If you head out today you will NOT be disappointed.

I saw this on TwitPic last night. These must be Conan’s writers, snapping pictures of the amazing white chocolate bust shipped in by the Minnesota State Fair. I’m getting hungry. You?

Flame-on-a-Stick. O.K. This is the ONLY thing I haven’t tried at the Minnesota State Fair. Hey, how did that guy get my favorite sport coat? Did you see Conan last night? He was very proud of the 200 pound bust of the comedian sent to him by the Minnesota State Fair. It’s made out of white chocolate, his hair composed of orange bacon bits. It was a sight to behold! Yes, we are now officially on the map!

Here we are, focused on another storm with a name: “Danny”, a tropical storm on its way toward becoming a minimal hurricane. Then again, the term “minimal hurricane” sounds a bit odd. ANY hurricane is a pretty big deal, for the record. Danny is still rather disorganized (see the satellite image below) but as the center, the core of the storm passes over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream rapid strengthening is likely. Danny will probably become a Category 1 hurricane by Friday, threatening the eastern seaboard and much of New England by Saturday as it races right up the coast. It will be a close call, a strong Bermuda high forcing Danny to take a westerly track, much farther west than Bill did last week. Danny may impact 60-80 million Americans living from the Outer Banks of North Carolina northward to the Chesapeake Bay, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and a huge swath of New England from coastal Connecticut to Boston and Cape Cod may be impacted by at least tropical storm-force winds of 40 mph+. My hunch is that Danny will make a mess of travel weekend travel plans from Cape Hateras, North Carolina to Portland, Maine. If you’re heading in that direction you’ll want to stay up on the very latest forecast.

WRF/NMM Forecast for 1 pm Saturday, showing the center of Hurricane Danny just east of Ocean City, Maryland, racing north at 30-40 mph.

Thor, the Blizzard! Naming blizzards and major winter storms? Don’t laugh. The Grand Forks Herald newspaper named major winter storms after famous local politicians and hockey stars in the 1970s! They’re no longer doing this, but the whole idea was to a). make storms easier to remember, and b). sell newspapers! Not a bad little gimmick. Think it would work today, in Minnesota? Somehow I think it would end badly…

More art than science. NHC (National Hurricane Center) meteorologists have a lot of challenges in front of them, the track of a given hurricane, and the expected intensity. They use scores of computer models, focusing on a handful that tend to work best in a tropical environment. History shows that forecasters consistently do a much better job predicting the track of a hurricane than the expected intensity, with depends on a myriad of factors, including wind shear aloft and ocean water temperatures below. That’s where the “art” comes in. The biggest fear, what keeps meteorologists up at night? This scenario: a minimal, Category 1 hurricane approaches the coast. Being a “minor” storm most coastal residents decide to ride out the storm – stay put. But the next morning meteorologists are shocked to discover that the hurricane has exploded into a Category 4 storm, a BEAST, with sustained winds of 140 mph and gusts to 165! Millions of coastal residents are threatened, but now there’s just not enough time for all of them to reach safety before landfall. This, truly, is the nightmare scenario, and it almost happened, in 1991. More on that in tomorrow’s weather column (thanks for tuning in, btw!)

Projected path of “Danny”, expected to become a hurricane by 8 pm Friday before racing right up the east coast. For the very latest information on Danny from the NHC, the National Hurricane Center, click here.

Weather Headlines

* Go while the ‘gettin is good! Today: nicest day of the next 3 days. Light winds, low humidity, ample sunshine.

* Friday puddles. Next cool front arrives with a couple hours of showers tomorrow, latest NAM model prints out .13″ of rain (best chance PM hours).

* Saturday sweatshirts? If you’re heading out to the fair early Saturday you may need a light jacket or sweatshirt, temperatures will be in the 50s much of the morning, reaching mid/upper 60s by late afternoon. Saturday is the coolest day in sight.

* Sunday smiles. As the center of high pressure drifts right over Minnesota Sunday winds will ease, with enough sun for low 70s. Sunday still appears to be the nicer day of the weekend.

* Sweating out Labor Day. Long-range GFS guidance is hinting (strongly) at 80s returning the end of next week and the first weekend of September. If you like your state fairs hot and sweaty, you’ll find plenty of like about the Labor Day weekend.

Paul’s Outlook for the Twin Cities

Today: Plenty of sunshine, low humidity, light winds. Winds: W/SW 5-15. High: 78

Tonight: Partly cloudy, showers far northern MN. Low: 56

Friday: Clouds increase, few showers likely by afternoon. Cooler. High: 74

Saturday: More clouds than sun, cooler than average. High: 68

Sunday: Bright sun, less wind – nicer day of the weekend. High: 72

Monday: Sunny and mild. High: 74

Tuesday: Warm sun, closer to “average”. High: 76

Wednesday: Mix of clouds and sunshine, warming up nicely. High: 78

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Kristin Gast on 08/27/2009 - 10:34 am.

    Hi Paul,
    The bust of Conan O’Brien that was featured on “The Tonight Show” was actually commissioned by a client of mine, No Name Premium Meats & Seafood, based out of St. Michael. The fair wasn’t involved in the process, but since Conan wasn’t able to join Minnesotans at the get-together, No Name wanted to send a bit of the fair to him – so they found 280-lb of white chocolate and supplied the bacon for hair!

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