Category Archives: Story

July forecaster of the Month

It always seems like a slow month here, but once again, we pumped out 12 forecasts, which isn’t bad. Also not bad, the competition. There was a tie at the top, with a half a point separating those two from third place, The Weather Channel. It came down to the very end, but Victoria-Weather was able to catch up to the National Weather Service, and we will both end up having to share this trophy.

A dose of autumn in August

Usually in the summer, we see a lot of thunderstorm activity over the Plains, and the eastern Seaboard, but for the beginning of August, we can look forward to an alternative forecast, at least for a few days. The CPC is forecasting temperatures to be below normal, perhaps substantially so in the southern Plains

Don’t get too excited over this chilly spell, and for the time of year, it will be chilly, the forecast for the region for the month of August is for slightly warmer than normal temperatures. Given the fact that a big chunk of the middle of the country is going to experience a chill early in the month, you can only imagine what kind of a warm up the country is in for (relative to average) later in the month.

Snow in Wyoming?

If there was any snow in Wyoming yesterday into this morning, it would have fallen in the highest terrain, without any real observations. I haven’t seen any news reports about this snow as of yet, so it may not have verified, but it is still very unusual to even see a forecast for snow anywhere in the Lower 48 for July!

The system that would have brought the necessary moisture to the region has already shifted into the Plains.

Wet Wednesday

It’s been quite the busy day over the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains today, as a slew of activity has been centered around a stationary front found from the ND/SD border southeastward into northern IL. Earlier this morning, a cluster of cells emerged from Central/Eastern SD and barreled eastward over southern MN. It expanded into a rather violent MCS as it shifted into far northern IA and eventually into Northern IL, leaving a trail of wind damage in its wake as reports of 50-65mph were plentiful. Eventually the storm petered out some over northern IN, but a second line developed earlier this evening over southern MN into western WI. This line didn’t really become severe throughout the night, but the slow-moving, training motion of the storms dumped heavy here in the Southern Twin Cities metro area. Several reports of 1-2″/hr have come in, with storm totals of 3-5″ causing flooding issues here into western WI. Thursday should be a bit quieter around here, but the focus will shift eastward into the Central/Eastern Great Lakes region, which will be nice because we need to dry out some up here!

MLB’s commitment to safety

Two nights ago, thunderstorms moved into the Twin Cities as the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees were wrapping up the first game of their series. They got the game in safely, although with rain at the end. It was a good forecast, and everyone was happy. Except this one guy, who was transparently shilling for his event safety summit.

Kevin Kloesel is a very bright man, and is well versed in the science of meteorology, but in this regard, he stepped over the line. It is clearly part of a petty campaign because MLB is a large organization that does not participate in his particular event, but in truth, Major League Baseball takes every precaution when it comes to fan and player safety.

Full disclosure, I worked with a company that was contracted to provide weather information to the League and individually to several teams, all of whom took great care to be in constant communication with the meteorologist charged with providing excellent forecasts for a point and in the shortest of time frames.

Basically, MLB gets the best forecasts that are available from very good meteorologists. And while it is the umpires that make the decision, they are usually on the calls with meteorologists, if they are remote, or will converse face to face with meteorologists on the scene, which is the case in Minnesota, where the Twins have a meteorologist on staff.  I reached out to that meteorologist, and he confirmed that umpires were in constant contact with him throughout the day, and he confirmed that they had a window to finish the game, which they did, safely.

The problem I have, therefore, is with Kloesel’s assertion that MLB disregards public safety, when I can say, with certainty, that they do not. If he believes that they are putting people in danger, that is an implicit distrust in the forecasters who are on the scene, providing the forecasts. I’m not OK with that.

Just for fun, here is a tweet that Kloesel made this evening, a few minutes after the tarp was pulled on the Southside of Chicago.

I can confirm that the White Sox are among the teams that have meteorologists under contract. Kevin Kloesel’s zeal for his event safety seminars has missed its mark, and his opinions are clearly poorly researched, and his aggressive tweets have the effect of undermining good forecasters.

Fernanda Strolls Along

While the Atlantic Basin is pretty quiet as far as tropical systems go, the Eastern Pacific is seeing a powerful storm churn westward. Hurricane Fernanda is moseying along at 12mph just north of due west, and expected to go west-northwest over the next several days. Luckily for anybody really concerned, it doesn’t look like it’s going to affect land anytime soon as it’s still thousands of miles away from affecting Hawaii. Fernanda is a powerful yet compact Category 4 hurricane right now, with top sustained winds of 145mph. Hurricane winds only extend out about 30 miles from the eye, and tropical storm force winds another 40 miles past that. Some minor strengthening is possible today which could move it into Category 5 range, but the only thing it’ll be affecting is schools of fish. Here we see the very compact nature of this hurricane and its’ eye as well. Very picturesque, and luckily, very much benign to most of civilization.

Snow in July

The US has enjoyed a brief respite from the heat of summer. Nights were comfortable, and even the southeastern US hasn’t been parked in mid 90s for several days now. It’s been surprisingly cool, but I didn’t think it was this cold!

All right, OK, that picture is from New Zealand, where it is winter, but it was taken from near Rotorua, which is in the northern part of North Island, nearly to Auckland. This snow is indeed unusual.  According to the New Zealand Herald, it is a once a decade event!

“The last time I remember this happening was eight, maybe 10 years ago. I didn’t get a chance to go out and see, we were in a council meeting watching the snow falling into the trees.” – Trevor Maxwell, Rotorua Councilmember

Areas around the city of Rotorua, and particularly at higher elevations saw snow accumulations that were even greater than the dusting seen in town. Further south, towards Wellington, it was even snowier.  Snow is expected to turn to rain once again before things warm up in New Zealand.

South Dakota sees a new hail size

There have been a few clusters of thunderstorms in the Upper Midwest today, with large hail and even some isolated tornadoes around Grand Forks. The thunderstorms in South Dakota were notable mostly for their large hail. How large? Let’s ask the weather service in Aberdeen.

Goofball sized hail is the size at which hail needs to be to concuss any goofball that goes outside in such weather.

Storms are continuing overnight into Minnesota, and will be smothering Wisconsin and Michigan by morning.

Southwest Continues to Swelter

Extreme heat and the Desert Southwest are two terms that go together during the summer months like peanut butter and jelly. Having been to Las Vegas in the midst of a June heat wave myself in years past, I can attest to how unpleasant it feels. Trust me, a “dry heat” is still ridiculous when it’s 110F+. These last couple of weeks have seen cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, places no strangers to heat, crushing decades or century-old records. Las Vegas hit 106 degrees for a high on June 15th. They’ve hit 105+ every single day since then, making it 25 consecutive days of 105+ (an all-time record streak that could be in jeopardy over the next couple days since forecasted highs are around 106). Phoenix has hit 118+ 3 times in the last 3 weeks. Palm Springs, CA hit 122 4 separate days in that same time-span, tying their all-time record high for the month of June in the process. Los Angeles broke their record high for the day Saturday, hitting 98 at the USC campus before cooling a smidgen to 96 Sunday (record was 100). With most of summer still ahead of us, we can expect more sweltering records to fall.

A few videos from Minnesota storms during the past week

The fun part of the summer for a meteorologist in the Plains is that thunderstorms tend to erupt with higher tops and more abundant lightning. In that spirit, here are a couple of videos that celebrate both of those ideas. The first is a thunderstorm rolling into the Twin Cities from the northwest on the 4th of July. Look of over the tops of the trees, and you can see some fireworks in the foreground as the storm moves in.

The below video is from tonight, and looks at the top of a developing storm to the southwest. Look how tall that storm gets up there! We only took a glancing blow from this storm, but it continued on south, and continues to bring strong thunderstorm with severe wind and hail in southern Minnesota.

Thunderstorms are entertaining, especially from a safe vantage point. These videos are just two examples that demonstrate their beauty from a distance, in my opinion.