It’s been a Katy Perry-esuqe couple of months over the Upper Midwest, by that I mean it’s been “Hot N Cold”. MSP had their 4th coldest April on record then rebounded with their 2nd warmest May on record, which had their longest May stretch ever of 6 straight days of 90F+ days (and included the first 100F reading in 6 years!). June so far, has been very moderate, with no days reaching more than 9 degrees either above or below normal. Dew points today actually bottomed out in the upper 30s in the early afternoon hours, making for a picture perfect day across the region!
The heat and humidity will be returning with a vengeance once again this weekend as an area of strong low pressure is expected to push up into the Dakota, tapping some gulf Moisture to pump it up through the Plains and fuel thunderstorms over the Northern Plains and into the southern Canadian Prairie Provinces. Temps around here look to push into the 90s over the weekend with juicy dew points returning to the low 70s. We’ll see how long it sticks around or if it will settle back down towards normal, where this month has been so far.
We didn’t spend a lot of time in the forecasting fields this month, focusing on the big stories, like a heat wave and Tropical Storm Alberto, but there wasn’t much doubt over who the top forecaster was. The weather moderated and brought us unseasonably warm weather after a chilly April, and it brought us some white hot forecasting from The Weather Channel, who gets this shiny trophy.
The model tracks are beginning to reach a consensus on the coming course of Tropical — sorry, SUBtropical — Storm Alberto. The timing and intensity still look to be in line – arriving late Monday, and bringing with it more rain than anything, as it won’t strengthen past “modest tropical storm” intensity.
The trac has been refined, with landfall now expected to be in the Destin, Florida area. Fortunately, and despite States of Emergency from Mississippi to the Florida Panhandle, Alberto looks like a storm that will come and go fairly quickly. Tropical Storms possess many dangers, much like Alberto will, but this isn’t the type of storm that is going to require an evacuation or anything like that. Stay indoors and venture out only if absolutely necessary.
One interesting thing about the storm is what he will do after making landfall. I’ve noted that Alberto is going to continue moving fairly quickly after landfalling. Usually, this means a curl back to the east, but in this instance, Alberto is forecast to move due north before merging with a subtropical wave over Michigan by Thursday morning. Not very often you get tropical features in the Great Lakes!
There is a heat wave gripping the eastern two thirds of the country. Given that the 90s are going to last for most everywhere east of the Rockies through Memorial Day, we can accurately call it a heat wave. It will break by Tuesday, thanks to an advancing system from the northern Rockies, and Alberto, from the Gulf of Mexico, but in the meantime, Sunday looks to be the hottest day of the three. Take a look at the NWS forecast highs for Sunday.
It’s going to be a little drier through southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, which is why it will actually be a bit warmer. It won’t feel any better in St. Louis, where it’s 93, than Minneapolis at 97, I can tell you that much.
We were considering a potential, albeit weak, storm moving into the Gulf and eventually ashore over the holiday weekend, and now that storm has a name: Alberto. For some reason, this storm, formed in the tropics, is called a “subtropical” storm. Perhaps because it has formed outside of the official hurricane season, which starts next Friday. Weird decision.
Other things that have changed since we last spoke:
The storm is now expected further west than where it was earlier. Expect a landfall late Monday between Lafayette, Louisiana and Pensacola. (The NAM, not included in this spaghetti plot, carries Alberto further west, towards Lafayette)
Also, as you might imagine, since we already have a named storm, the intensity will be a bit stronger than our initial thought of a marginal tropical storm.
Alberto’s primary concern remains heavy rain, but he will also be pulled out of the picture fairly quickly. It’s an unfortunate way to spend the weekend, but I think the region will get through it soggy but otherwise unscathed.
Hurricane season doesn’t officially start until June 1st, but we are already keeping an eye on the Tropics, and most notably, a disturbance off the Yucatan. Let’s first get the scary image out of the way. Here is what the GFS has for Saturday afternoon.
That is a closed isobar around a tropical feature off the Florida Peninsula. Yikes!
Now some sanity. Model guidance doesn’t have this storm getting any stronger than a very modest tropical storm, and the biggest threat is a ruined weekend on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The feature will landfall around Apalachicola sometime on Sunday. There might be some light tree damage, and as I noted the rain could be heavy at times, but the feature won’t linger. The feature will pull away from the coast by the night of Memorial Day.
So yes, there is a little feature that will likely make some news, but it’s not going to be the end of the world. Somewhat more importantly, one early storm, even a named storm, is not indicative of how the season will unfold in it’s totality, however the NHC is predicting a somewhat above average season in the North Atlantic.
Ever since Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), the country’s largest EDM festival, moved to Las Vegas in 2011, extreme heat has always been an issue. With the festival being held on the weekend closed to the Summer Solstice, high temperatures would often push into the mid 100’s, nearly 110 in some cases during festival weekend, with overnight lows struggling to drop into the 70s (the festival runs overnight, from roughly 830p to 530a), so even without the intensity of direct sunlight, some people can be easily overwhelmed if not properly hydrated.
2018 was a first for EDC Vegas, however, in that they moved it to mid-May, mainly to avoid the intense June heat. So far, this decision has proven to be an excellent one! The daytime highs for Las Vegas the last couple of days have peaked in the low 90s, and temperatures between midnight and 4am were in the low 70s. Also, a cirrus deck moved over the valley in the early evening hours last couple of days, tempering the heat just a bit as well. The wind on night 1 was fairly calm at the festival, while last night’s winds got some decent 20-25mph gusts going through midnight – 1am before settling down just a little bit for the rest of the night. It looks like it will be another windy start to the festival tonight, but certainly nothing like 2012 when gusts of 40+mph caused the festival to shut down due to safety concerns.
There are many factors which can cause a festival experience to go sideways, but thanks to the decision to move it forward a month to avoid the extreme summer heat in Vegas made sure that the weather wasn’t one of them. An absolutely picture-perfect weekend weather-wise!
Or at least that is my interpretation of the SPC’s graphic this morning. That IS the Loch Ness Monster leaping out of the Rio Grande to gobble up part of the Tennessee Valley, isn’t it?
A strong ridge is expected to build ingo the western part of North America in the coming days, and will likely be in place for the Memorial Day weekend. While most of the country will be above normal, no place will be quite as abnormally warm as the Rocky Mountains.
In Grand Junction, Colorado, temperatures will be in the upper 80s to near 90 over Memorial Day weekend, as compared to a seasonal average of 80. Billings, Montana will be in the low to mid 80s, compared to an average high near 70.
The eastern part of the country will be somewhat warm, but that patch of relatively cool temperatures in the southeast is suggestive of the continued activity in the region. Every where east of the Mississippi is in line for some showers and thunderstorms, particularly in and around the Florida Peninsula
The pictures above, courtesy Jane Carpenter via Cory Reppenhagen of 9 News in Denver, highlight a narrow area that had intense hail near the Wyoming border in Colorado. As Mr. Reppenhagen notes, this probably fell overnight, and this photo was taken during the day, which means that the hail was so heavy it took at least several hours to melt down. The coating even at this point looked like snow, but it took a much smaller slice out of the High Plains countryside.
It’s a cool looking image, and a reminder of just how intense hail storms can be!