Yes, I know we are halfway through the month of November, but I still haven’t mentioned who won the October Forecaster of the Month award. It was a contentious race, right down to the end. The last forecast tipped the balance in the favor of The Weather Channel, who narrowly edged us for the top spot in October.
Normally we like to blog about weather from other parts of the country than just up here in our own backyard of the Twin Cities, because what fun would that be for our faraway readers? However, this week’s hectic weather has been centered over the central part of the country, so I won’t feel quite so bad about putting the focus on Minnesota for this evening. Earlier this week, a very slow moving low pressure system over the Northern Plains pumped plenty of warm air up into our neck of the woods, giving us a rare streak of 4 straight 60+ degree days in November, marking only the 8th time in the last 72 years Minneapolis had such a streak (Note: this was the 3rd straight year of such a streak here at MSP however. Something to look forward to in 2011?). On the 9th we hit 69, missing out on tying the record by 1, the next day we hit 68, breaking the previous record of 67.
Then, Mother Nature came back with a vengeance today. After such a nice stretch of days, it was time for winter to make it’s grand appearance. A band of snow stretching from Omaha, NE through western IA up into the Twin Cities, changing us over from rain to snow here roughly around midnight and continuing throughout the day. With temperatures around freezing for most of the day, the heavy, wet snow accumulated rapidly, bringing down numerous tree branches throughout the city and leaving as many as 70,000 people without power (including myself for 3 hours early this morning) at one point or another. Widespread reports of 6-10″ blanketed the Metro up towards St. Cloud, with 7.7″ officially falling, cracking the record of 4″. So record high temperatures on Wednesday to record snowfall on Saturday. What next will Mother Nature have in store for us? Stay tuned!
After the historic low pressure system in the Upper Midwest a couple weeks ago and the persistent rains from a slow-moving low pressure system along the Gulf Coast region last week, the Central US is enjoying a bout of pretty quiet weather right now as massive high pressure from the Southern US to the Northeast is keeping the area high and dry, and quite chilly as well. Freeze warnings were pretty widespread over eastern sections of the country as the first strong push of lows in the 20s plowed into the TN Valley and the Southern Appalachians, which also brought a few inches of snow to the higher elevations of the Smoky Mountains in the last 48 hours. Most of the country between the Rockies and the Appalachians should be dry through Monday.
The coasts, however, are not as lucky. A strong trough of low pressure is digging into the Western US, with a strong cold front expected to bully its’ way through the West Coast. Portions of the Sierra Nevada are in Winter Storm Warnings as 18-24″ of the white stuff are expected through the end of the day Sunday. Portions of the Northern Rockies look to get a few inches themselves Sunday night into Monday. On the other side of the country, an area of low pressure is expected to develop off the New England coast Sunday afternoon and push over the region overnight into Monday, bringing plentiful rains of upwards of 1-1.50″ in areas possibly. More proof that Mother Nature is quickly switching into winter mode, something I’m sure some of our readers wish would stay away for just a bit longer.
Unfortunately, we were stymied in our third attempt to find local weather blogs as we explored the Janesville Wisconsin internet scene. We did find the Janesville Gazzette, though. It appears they get their weather from Weather Underground, which, by the way, is a great source for historical weather data. We’ll try again somewhere else in a few weeks. Bummer.
I’m sure that having Halloween on a weekend only serves to gear kids up even more than a typical year would. Today, there were probably all manner of classroom parties, and through the weekend there were no doubt a last minute preparations to the costumes. This time of year, a look at the forecast is probably a good idea, just before those last alterations are made.
In 1991, when I was a wee lad of 8, I went trick or treating as a robot. A robot in snowpants. Minnesotans still talk about the great Halloween blizzard of 1991 in reverent tones. For someone my age, the snow was up to my knees by the time I went trick or treating, especially when we tried to cut through the snowbanks left by freshly shoveled walks. In the end, we got about 20 inches of snow in one pop from this system, the greatest single storm accumulation ever at Twin Cities International Airport. It was hard moving my little robot legs.
We had another problem 9 years after that. I was too old to go trick or treating, but I wanted to try to spook some kids that were still out. I got myself in a jacket and pulled it over my head, stuffed in available sleeve of opening with newspaper and sat next to a pumpkin. I was now some sort headless ghoul. I sat lifeless until trick or treaters came, and I spooked them. Good fun. Except it was 70 degrees outside, record warmth, and wearing a jacket and stuffing it with newspaper was dreadfully warm.
Fortunately, however, this year looks to have none of the same hindrances to a good time 1991 and 2000 featured, for most of the country. Expect temperatures to be seasonably cool nationwide, with scant precipitation, unless you know where to look. Where do you look? Interior New England could see a little rain or even snow in higher elevations, potentially melting any wicked witches. In the Pacific Northwest, a cold front crashing ashore could create a damp, dark environment appropriate for ghouls and goblins, but the rain may be coming down a little too hard in eastern Washington and Oregon or northern Idaho to make trick or treating very enjoyable for the kids (or the parents, for that matter) There is also a chance for a flurry in the Black Hills. Everyone else? Enjoy the night, as the weather looks good. Save a candy bar for me!
In case you were wondering, as the Victoria-Weather costume party, new guy Allan is going as a mountain climber, I will be a Line Echo Wave Pattern and Anthony? He’s Justin Bieber.
Well, there is a little. The system continuing to develop over the northern Plains is going to continue to lose pressure to that it’s barometric reading will eventually be equivalent to that of a category 1 or 2 hurricane. Given the friction at the surface, wind speeds will be held in check, and 100mph winds will not be a possibility (unless some conditions come together over Lake Superior. This is a similar situation as the one that saw the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald), however remarkably gusty winds, on the order of 70mph in some areas of Minnesota, will certainly be a possibility.
There is another difference between a hurricane of this intensity and a storm moving through the Plains. Hurricanes are known as “warm-core” while this storm is “cold-core” which, for our purposes, means it is pulling in cold air from the northwest. A storm of this intensity will be pulling in some dramatically colder air into the western flank. There are actually blizzard warnings out for North Dakota thanks to the forecast winds and the likelihood of rain changing to snow with the introduction of the cold air.
Of course, with such a dramatic clashing of airmasses, there will be the threat for very strong thunderstorms on the other end of the storm. There is a high risk for severe weather along the storms cold front, with the high risk running from around Detroit to Evansville, Indiana. There have already been tornadoes reported embedded within a line racing through the Ohio Valley. Frankly though, tornadoes in a line like the one racing through the Ohio Valley aren’t really the big story, as the line will be so broad and far reaching that even those not in a tornado warning thould take shelter while the storm makes it’s way through your area.
I don’t know what to say for residents of North Dakota, though, except for that it might be all melted by the time Halloween rolls around.
As we have tried to emphasize several times here Victoria-Weather, tornadoes can strike any continent, depending on where they have a properly dynamic clashing of airmasses. It so happens that the heart of the United States is the perfect combination of those cool, dry and warm, moist air masses. They do occur elsewhere, but are typically less dramatic.
One of those areas is central South America. Cooler, drier air comes off the Andes mountains, but the narrow continent means that there is a good supply of moisture to be had almost everywhere. A low moving up the eastern coast of South America allowed these airmasses to clash, and in one of the storms, a tornado developed near Pozo Del Tigre, in northern Argentina. Looking at pictures on Google Maps of Pozo del Tigre, it certainly doesn’t look like a particularly wealthy community, so the strength of the tornado probably wasn’t great, despite having killed 14 people. In this regard, we are lucky in the United States that our structures are more well built to withstand such potentially destructive weather.
This is one of those times that I doubt the models. Well, I doubtED the models, but late day runs have come to believe what I believe. Upstate Maine is in for some snow tonight. Earlier model runs called for temperatures with lows in the upper 30s. As of right now, the GFS model is calling for a low of 32 in Caribou, Maine, which is, I think, more likely. Why? Well, take a look at the current observations for Southern Quebec and Maine.
Looking at the convergent winds, the front looks like it is along the Maine/New Brunswick border right now. Note how in eastern Maine, the temperatures have already dropped to below 40, and are at 37 in Quebec City. The back end of the low is still working with a lot of moisture, note the light rain north of Quebec. But it’s only 1030, so those temperatures will only be compelled to drop futher. If that moisture lingers, and Caribou (and Houlton, for that matter) see some clear skies soon to help temperatures drop more rapidly ahead of a trailing band of precip, they certainly could see some snow before sunrise tomorrow.
Recent news from the Philippines is not good. Supertyphoon Megi plowed into the island nation and is poised to make a similar impact on China by Saturday. Given the enormous strength of the storm, the numbers are actually somewhat heartening, if still very sad. Megi has killed 19 and left a quarter of a million homeless. Expect the numbers to climb as reports continue to roll in, however when you realize how strong a typhoon must be to be considered a supertyphoon, you begin to realize how lucky the Philippines really are, if you want to say that.
Megi is among the strongest Pacific typhoons of all time, in terms of central pressure. To be classified as a supertyphoon, Megi needed sustained winds of at least 132mph, which would make it a strong category 4 hurricane. Megi’s highest speeds were estimated at 145mph for 10 minutes and 190mph for 1 minute. This is stronger than Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Andrew, which made their landfall in the United States, a nation with infinitely better infrastructure, but has caused fewer fatalities than both of them. The storm made it’s landfall on the most populous of the Philippine islands, though it did so in a part that was less populated than the rest. No matter what the explanation, Filipinos should count their blessings.
I have exciting news on behalf of Victoria-Weather and The Weather Blog. Starting this Tuesday, Anthony and I will welcome a new writer to the fold, Allan Persons. He is a meteorologist like myself and Anthony, and like Anthony, he is a graduate of St. Cloud State University here in Minnesota.
Allan has a special interest in hiking and mountain climbing, having climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania earlier this year. He will bring his expertise in that arena to his forecasts, which will focus on the needs of the every day outdoorsman.
So, please, welcome Allan to the fold, I have every confidence that he will do a great job!