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A ration of rain

Yesterday people actually stopped in their tracks, frozen with fear, looking up (gawking!) – pointing at a strange sight, a damp, runny sky. A light, clear, tasteless, lukewarm liquid spilled out of some scrappy low clouds, what a few know-it-alls in our midst casually referred to as “rain”. Yes, it was a real head-scratcher, coming after 23-25 bone-dry days in a row. This “rain” fell at a pretty good clip for a time across central Minnesota; .18″ of rain fell on St. Cloud with .12″ at Alexandria, the most in the state. The Twin Cities area got ripped off again, with just a trace of showers, enough to damped sidewalks and throw a little spray onto windshields, barely enough to settle the dust.

WRF/NMM Model Output valid 7 pm this evening. This top map shows expected rain falling between 1 pm and 7 pm today, the majority of the showers popping just east of the St. Croix River Valley and along the North Shore of Lake Superior. The temperature graphic shows the mildest weather to our east, over Wisconsin, temperatures steadily dropping the farther west you drive across Minnesota today. Dinnertime temperatures range from low 70s in the Twin Cities to upper 60s (St. Cloud) to mid and upper 50s over far western Minnesota, near the Dakota line, closer to the cold upper-level low, where locals may need a light jacket much of the day.

Mother Nature is teasing us again, flashing a few showers close to home, a mere glimpse of rain, but I don’t see any significant rainfall amounts until possibly Saturday, when a surge of southern moisture finally reaches Minnesota. That’s right: Saturday appears to be the wettest day in sight. In the meantime most of the showers will push into Wisconsin today, weakening – losing all upper-air support. A storm is in the process of stalling out near Denver (dumping more than 10″ of snow above 9,000 feet near Aspen, Colorado), keeping the Mile High City soggy and cool, highs stuck in the 50s. As that storm in the upper atmosphere drifts away from Minnesota (tracking southwestward!) we should see more of the sun Wednesday and Thursday, temperatures rising well into the 70s to near 80. The latter half of the week looks dry, with rain probably holding off until Saturday (see the models below). Rain may linger into Sunday morning/midday, tapering to sprinkles/drizzle by afternoon as winds swing around to the north or northwest, temperatures falling through the 60s into the 50s. No, it doesn’t look like an awe-inspiring weekend, but (everyone – in unison)….we need the rain! At the rate we’re going this could easily turn into one of the 10 driest Septembers on record for much of Minnesota.

GFS Output for Saturday evening at 7 pm. The map shows surface isobars and expected rainfall, the heaviest amounts showing up as yellows and reds. It’s still early, but right now Saturday appears to be the wettest day in sight, the best chance of significant rainfall amounts we’ve had all September. We’re due…

Temperature Trend for December, January and February. Here’s the latest long-range outlook from CPC, the Climate Prediction Center in Washington D.C. (part of NOAA). Based almost entirely on El Nino, the warming equatorial water off the coast of Peru and Equator there is a statistical bias toward milder winters over the northern tier states, cooler/wetter weather predicted for much of the southern U.S. One thing that isn’t being factored in: sunspots, or a lack thereof. A number of scientists are tracing America’s cooler than average summer to a complete dearth of sunspots, the fewest since the 1920. Stay tuned…this is ‘gonna get interesting. Place your bets.

Paul’s Outlook for the Twin Cities

Today: Mostly cloudy, cooler, a few light showers or sprinkles (better chance of 2-4 hours of rain across Wisconsin). Winds: N 5-15. High: near 70

Tonight: Patchy clouds, drying out. Low: 56

Wednesday: Partly sunny and milder, a drier day. High: 74

Thursday: Warm sun, feels like late August again. High: near 80

Friday: Sun giving way to increasing clouds. Showers, possible T-storm late. High: 77

Saturday: Cloudy, better chance of rain, possibly significant. High: 71

Sunday: Windy and cooler as showers taper off. High: 66 (falling into the 50s later in the day?)

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