PGA perfection

No complaints. 83 beautiful degrees on Sunday, as someone remarked to me it was “a soft Sunday”, blue sky, popcorn cumulus clouds, gentle breezes, low humidity. After being serenaded by sirens Saturday evening it was nice to get a break with temperatures a couple degrees above average for a change. The Twin Cities enjoyed 83 degrees, 82 in St. Cloud, where over 1.5″ of rain fell since late Saturday. Nice to be back in a more typical summer pattern with hefty rains, lake-worthy (sweat-inducing) temperatures. We had a little more excitement that we bargained for late Saturday with the tornado that formed over Lake Minnetonka, the first tornado I’ve ever witnessed first hand. I’ve been here since 1983 (3 years in Chicago in the mid 90s, chalk that up to temporary insanity) but the FIRST TIME I’ve seen the real deal! For most of my 22 year tenure I was stuck at either KARE-11 or WCCO-TV, handcuffed to the Doppler, peering into a camera, 2 pounds of pancake makeup on my face….WISHING I was outside, out IN the elements! I got my wish late Saturday, and my photos and video are below. Hardly spectacular, but I was happy to have been able to see anything, grateful that there were no serious injuries from this impressive August outbreak of tornadoes.

Golfing fanatic around the world will be glued to their TV’s and PC’s this week, soaking up PGA headlines, tracking their favorite players, wondering if weather will be a factor. The good news: blue sky, low humidity and seasonably warm weather will be the rule today and tomorrow, as things officially get underway. By Wednesday it will border on HOT with highs topping 90 in Chaska, and gusty winds as high as 20-25 mph. Dry weather should prevail through Thursday, with a growing thunder threat Friday, lingering into the weekend. Saturday looks potentially stormy with highs in the mid/upper 80s, maybe a few hours of (hard) rain, with some PM thunder and lightning. Right now Sunday appears to be cooler, less unstable, with diminishing showers and storms as the heaviest weather pushes off to our south and east.

Weather may be a factor at PGA from Friday into the weekend, the two most volatile days Friday and Saturday with a significant risk of lightning. We’ll keep an eye on the maps and give it our best shot each day. Thanks for tuning in, by the way. I don’t take it for granted. Keep this up and my dear friends in Nigeria may just have to wire some money into your bank account.


More on the Mound/Long Lake/Plymouth tornado from the local NWS office:

…WESTERN METRO TORNADO RATED EF1… ON AUGUST 8TH SHORTLY AFTER THE BOTTOM OF THE 8 PM HOUR…A TORNADO TOUCHED DOWN IN THE NORTHEASTERN PORTION OF THE CITY OF MINNETRISTA. THE TWISTER BEGAN IN THE SOUTHWESTERN CORNER OF COUNTY ROAD 110 AND COUNTY ROAD 151. A BOAT WAS THROWN INTO LONG LAKE FROM THIS LOCATION. SEVERAL LARGE TREES WERE ALSO UPROOTED OR SHEARED OFF IN THIS REGION…WITH SOME MINOR DAMAGE INCURRED TO LOCAL RESIDENCES. THE TWISTER HEADED EAST NORTHEAST ACROSS THE CITY OF ORONO…THROUGH LONG LAKE… AND THEN TREKKED OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN PORTION OF PLYMOUTH. IT FINALLY TERMINATED NEAR GARLAND AND 25TH IN THE SOUTHWESTERN PORTION OF PLYMOUTH. THERE WAS ADDITIONAL DAMAGE ALONG THE WAY OVER THE CITY OF ORONO TO SOUTHWESTERN PLYMOUTH TO INCLUDE SHINGLES RIPPED FROM ROOFS…LARGE TREES UPROOTED OR TREE LIMBS OR TRUNKS SHEARED OFF. A LIQUOR STORE SIGN WAS ALSO DESTROYED IN THE CITY OF LONG LAKE. THE LENGTH OF THIS EF1 TORNADO, (SUSTAINED WINDS OF 73-112 MPH), WAS A RESPECTABLE 9.5 MILES…WITH AN AVERAGE WIDTH OF 200 YARDS.


This is what I saw from my Tonka Bay dock Saturday evening around 8:30 pm. After glancing at the Doppler radar (on my laptop) I mentioned to no one in particular “this crap seems to be blowing up directly over our heads.” We live in a 1930s-built home in Tonka Bay, with a great view to the west/northwest, toward Mound. I ran down to the lake, and I could tell this was no ordinary thunderstorm. The cell was spinning wildly, a classic mesocyclone. Under the “lowering” cloud base I could see little wisps of white, looking like smoke, forming, dissipating, re-forming.

And then the tornado itself became more apparent. At about this time the sirens went off, my kids came running down from the house “Dad, KARE-11 says it’s forming right over Mound – do you see anything?” Sure enough, those unconfirmed reports are now CONFIRMED! They too saw the developing tornado over Mound, moving rapidly toward Long Lake. I will provide more Doppler images shortly, and I want to upload the (spinning mesocyclone) video to YouTube for everyone, but in the meantime here are a couple of still pics of the Mound/Long Lake tornado.

Paul Douglas
Tonka Bay, MN

Mound Tornado. Looking toward the west/northwest from our dock in Tonka Bay. Note the lowering wall cloud, which was spinning very noticeably. The RFD (rear flank downdraft) is approaching from the left of the screen (the southwest) with heavy rain/hail to the north/northeast of the tornado. This is the 3rd tornado I’ve seen, but the FIRST here in Minnesota (both the others were in Oklahoma). It was all a bit surreal, but I’m glad I grabbed my camera and RAN down to the dock when I did!



Mound Tornado #2. The tornado kept “pulsing”, trying to gain momentum and circulation, it took a little while to get its act together, at one point not looking terribly organized. But all the ingredients were there – extreme instability, wind shear, dew points in the 70s; all we needed was for something to break the cap (the warm lid acting as a brake on severe thunderstorms) and that’s what happened, VERY RAPIDLY to the west of Lake Minnetonka yesterday evening, between 8 and 8:30 pm.

To see the parent mesocyclone thunderstorm (spinning like a top) and a ghostly-white tornado funnel forming – during the first :05 to :10 of the video click here for a YouTube segment I was able to upload. I wish I could have been closer to the tornado – it was a good 2+ miles away. The new nickname is “stop jumping” – sorry about the banter/commentary/babble. I was on my dock and my boys, Walt and Brett, ages 21 and 19 respectively, were so excited they were jumping up and down on the dock, thus the admonishment to “stop jumping!”

NWS Doppler around 8:30 pm, at roughly the same time the tornado was forming near Mound. The classic “hook echo” is hard to miss – on radar the suspicious cell looks like the number “6”. You can also see the warning “path”, the polygon defined by the NWS. Warnings no longer encompass an entire county. Too many people were being warned, needlessly. In an effort to refine the warning process (and “cry wolf” less often) the NWS meteorologists began drawing high-threat areas, polygons that outline the area that is MOST likely to see severe conditions in the short term. The system is a definite improvement – I’m looking forward to a day, coming soon, when your Internet-enabled plasma/LCD TV will turn on warning information only for the specific neighborhood homes in the path of a tornado, down to the city block. That seems to be where all this is heading: warn fewer and few people unnecessarily, get the warnings in front of the people who NEED to see them!

The severe cell pushed east, still maintaining the “hook” appearance as it plowed across Long Lake into southwestern Plymouth. Yes, you see a T-storm like this moving in, with high dew points and a tornado watch in effect – time to high-tail it to the basement!

Damage reports from the National Weather Service. The red marker is for the Mound-Long Lake-Plymouth tornado. Green markers show large hail, blue dots show straight-line wind damage. For a complete rundown of all the individual severe weather reports click here.

National Damage Report from SPC for Saturday, August 8. It would appear that the only tornado that formed over the U.S. developed in the west metro of the Twin Cities.

Breathing Easier. You won’t have to spend quality time in your basement today, curled up in the fetal position while furiously sucking your thumb and crying for ‘mamma. No, an advancing cool front has shoved the main storm threat south & east toward Madison, the Dells and Chicago. A few isolated strong/severe storms may still sprout over far southeastern MN, probably south/east of St. Paul.

Weather Headlines

* Tornado outbreak in the Twin Cities metro area late Saturday. Hardest hit communities: Long Lake, Plymouth area – hundreds of homes damaged, trees down, many still without power (tornado details below).

* 3.06″ of rain at MSP the last 2 days, nearly a month’s worth of rain since Friday morning!

* Cooler, more stable air arrives Sunday with pop-up instability cumulus, high of 83 in the Twin Cities

* Dry week on tap. No significant, widespread rain expected Monday through Thursday.

* Storms arrive Friday and Friday night, storms may linger into Saturday as well.

* Next Sunday: a few degrees cooler, can’t rule out another shower or thundershower.

* Making up for lost time….Get ready for a hotter than average week, low 90s by Wednesday, highs well up into the 80s to near 90 ever day from Tuesday through the end of this week. For the week: temperatures average 5-10 degrees above average.

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