Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 33 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist for WeatherNation TV, a new, national 24/7 weather channel with studios in Denver and Minneapolis. Founder of Media Logic Group, Douglas and a team of meteorologists provide weather services for media at Broadcast Weather, and high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster. His speaking engagements take him around the Midwest with a message of continuous experimentation and reinvention, no matter what business you’re in. He is the public face of “SAVE”, Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education, based in Bloomington. | Send Paul a question.

Much Needed Precipitation; Drought Update

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: September 26, 2013 - 10:16 PM

Positive spin

By Paul Douglas

"Summer didn't seem nearly long enough." I get some of my best material and quotes from my colleagues, the 12 on-air meteorologists I work with at WeatherNation TV, including Todd Nelson, who fills in for me at The Star Tribune when I'm out of town, sick, crazed or temporarily incarcerated. "One advantage of fall and earlier sunset times? My kids go to bed early without pleading & threatening" Todd conceded.

There's always a silver lining, right? Sometime you just have to look a little longer to track it down. Is today summer's last hurrah? Good question. We've probably seen the last 90-degree high of the summer season. More 80s? Are you an optimist? ECMWF models shows a significant cool-down the second week of October; a metro frost risk by October 7-8.

Dean Scheidler lives in northwest Maple Grove, where there's already been a light frost, and the rest of us may catch up within 10-11 days. The end is near (to the growing season).

Considering 71 percent of Minnesota is abnormally dry and parts of the metro are in a severe drought I won't whine about showers in the forecast tomorrow, but it won't be the prolonged soaking we need. A surge of steadier rain arrives late next week.

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Todd's StarTribune Weather Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:

FRIDAY: Warm south winds, some sun. Stray T-storm. Dew point: 58. High: 82. Winds: S 20mph

FRIDAY NIGHT: Increasing clouds, isolated shower/storm possible. Low: 68.

SATURDAY: Mild start. Gray, few showers. Wake-up: 67. High: 72 (falling into the 60s by afternoon).

SUNDAY: Cool start, mild finish. Bright sunshine. Wake-up: 44. High: 71

MONDAY: Lukewarm sun, still too dry. Wake-up: 54. High: 75

TUESDAY: What October? Lingering warmth with plenty of sun. Wake-up: 59. High: 75

WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, still mild. Wake-up: 57. High: 71.

THURSDAY: Showers, possible thunder. Wake-up: 59. High: 73

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Snow?

Say it ain't snow... I don't feel like the time between these types of images this spring and what we're seeing now was long enough, do you? Honestly, it feels like we just got done with the late season snow a couple of weeks ago. UGH! Anyway, here we are in late September and the first round of winter weather headlines are in the books for the West. Scenes like the ones below will become more and more common as the weeks wear on - that's good news for skiers and snowboarders! For those who fly south for the winter, it just means that the time has come to make the necessary preparations.

(Image courtesy: Adam Painter)

Snowy Webcam Tour

Below are some webcams that were looking very wintry on Thursday afternoon...

Togwotee Pass, WY

Gates of the Mountain Wilderness, MT

Mt. Rainier, WA

Heavy Snow Tallies

Here were some of the impressive snow tallies that we found across the northern Rockies. As of midday Thursday, there had been reports of nearly 1 1/2 ft. across some of the higher terrain.

September Snow; Not Uncommon

Snow in the Rockies in September is not uncommon. In fact, it is pretty typical. Take a look at some of the early snows that have occurred in Wyoming.

Average First Snows Across the Nation

Here's an interesting map... According to NOAA, this is how the average first snowfall of the season lays out. Note how there are pockets in the Mountain West that typically see snow before October 1st. The Midwest typically sees their first snow into November.

Record Precipitation

This latest waterlogged Pacific storm brought record precipitation to places in the West. Take a look at some of the daily precipitation records that fell on Wednesday.

Much Needed Moisture

These Pacific storms are wonderful news for folks in the west as the yearly precipitation from normal shows more deficits than surpluses. The deficits are crazy large across western Oregon and California. This is where we need quite a bit more moisture to bring us back to normal/end the drought.

September Precipitation

Below are tallies of September precipitation, which are quite heavy in spots. The significant rainfall earlier this month from the Southwest to the Front Range of the Rockies to the more recent precipitation in the Northwest. Other than the significant and deadly flooding headlines, this moisture has been much welcomed for many in the west.

The Ying and Yang of Weather

Interestingly, there can be great differences in precipitation over short distances over time. Take a look the big differences in records between locations along the Front Range of the Rockies and into the Central Plains so far this September.

Cheyenne, WY

So far, it has been the All-Time Wettest September on Record, but we're nearing the Wettest Month on Record, which is 7.66" set in April of 1900!

Denver, CO

Denver has seen 5.47" of precipitation this month, which is considered to be the All-Time Wettest September on Record, beating the previous record of 4.67" set in 1961.

Oklahoma City, OK

On the contrary, Oklahoma City, OK thru September 25th was sitting as their 8th driest September on record. The driest September on record was set in 1939 with only 0.06" of precipitation. Normal September precipitation comes in at a little more than 4".

Dry September in Oklahoma

According to Oklahoma Climatological Survey, the percentage of 1971-2000 normal rainfall is only about 10% to 40% in many spots through the state. However, the far western tip of Oklahoma is nearly 150% or more of that normal.

Drought Comparisons

Take a look at how the drought has changed since the early part of July. We've seen some pretty dramatic changes in spots, but there have been other spots that have seen a drought increase due to a lack of precipitation since then.

The Great Plains: Like the Midwest, varying amounts of rain dampened the Great Plains. Heavy rain soaked much of the southeastern half of Texas, while another significant rainfall event drenched northeastern Colorado and neighboring areas. Both areas saw substantial reductions in drought coverage and intensity. However, little or no rain fell in several other parts of the region. In the heart of Colorado’s flood zone, an official observation site in Boulder received 16.69 inches of rain during the first half of September. Boulder’s previous wettest month had been May 1995, when 9.59 inches fell. According to emergency operations reports, Colorado’s flooding claimed seven lives, destroyed nearly 1,900 homes, and damaged more than 16,000 others. Meanwhile, month-to-date precipitation climbed to 6.80 inches in Cheyenne, Wyoming, most of which (5.80 inches) fell from September 9-16. Prior to this year, Cheyenne’s wettest September had occurred in 1973, when 4.52 inches fell. In Nebraska, a record-setting crest on the South Platte River passed Roscoe (3.20 feet above flood stage) on September 20, and arrived 3 days later in North Platte (1.36 feet above flood stage). Previous high-water marks had been observed in June 1995 at Roscoe and in June 1935 at North Platte. The Platte River at Brady, Nebraska, crested 3.23 feet above flood stage on September 23, surpassing the May 1973 high-water mark by more than a foot. Despite all of the rain, rangeland and pastures across some parts of the Great Plains continued to suffer from the cumulative effects of multiple drought years. On September 22, rangeland and pastures were rated at least one-third very poor to poor several states, including Texas (54%), Colorado (43%), Nebraska (40%), and Kansas (36%).

The West: With the 2013 summer rainy season having ended across the Southwest in mid-September, further assessment of the robust monsoon led to additional reductions in drought coverage and intensity in the Four Corners States. In southeastern Arizona, Douglas experienced its greatest monsoon season rainfall on record, with 16.24 inches of rain having fallen from June 15 – September 24. Several other parts of Arizona also experienced near-record to record summer rainfall totals. Farther north, some early-season precipitation from winter-like storms began to arrive in northern and central California and the Northwest. For example, daily-record rainfall totals were noted on September 21 in locations such as Redding, California (1.22 inches), and Roseburg, Oregon (0.56 inch). No changes in the drought depiction were yet introduced in the Northwest, but the region will be monitored as precipitation continues to spread inland. Nevertheless, precipitation is beneficial for newly planted winter wheat, which by September 22 was 59% planted in Washington.

National Drought

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 62% of the nation is considered to be 'Abnormally Dry' - 25% in a 'Severe Drought' - 4% in an Exceptional Drought.

Weather Summary: Rain lingered in parts of Colorado and neighboring states for a few days in the wake of historic flooding, but mostly dry weather thereafter allowed recovery efforts to progress. However, a flood crest on the South Platte River coursed through northeastern Colorado and southwestern Nebraska, inundating some agricultural lowlands. Meanwhile, the tropical plume of moisture partially responsible for Colorado’s flooding shifted eastward in advance of a cold front. As a result, 1- to 3-inch rainfall totals were common along and east of a Wisconsin-to-Texas line. The rain temporarily halted fieldwork, including harvest activities and winter wheat planting, but aided some late-developing summer crops. Even heavier rain, locally 4 inches or more, curtailed fieldwork but eased drought from central and eastern Texas to the Mississippi Delta. Elsewhere, generally dry weather across the Southwest and the northwestern half of the Plains contrasted with scattered showers from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies. The weather change in the Southwest signaled the end of the summer rainy season, while dry weather on the northern Plains promoted winter wheat planting and other fieldwork.

U.S. Drought Monitor.

Weather Summary: Rain lingered in parts of Colorado and neighboring states for a few days in the wake of historic flooding, but mostly dry weather thereafter allowed recovery efforts to progress. However, a flood crest on the South Platte River coursed through northeastern Colorado and southwestern Nebraska, inundating some agricultural lowlands. Meanwhile, the tropical plume of moisture partially responsible for Colorado’s flooding shifted eastward in advance of a cold front. As a result, 1- to 3-inch rainfall totals were common along and east of a Wisconsin-to-Texas line. The rain temporarily halted fieldwork, including harvest activities and winter wheat planting, but aided some late-developing summer crops. Even heavier rain, locally 4 inches or more, curtailed fieldwork but eased drought from central and eastern Texas to the Mississippi Delta. Elsewhere, generally dry weather across the Southwest and the northwestern half of the Plains contrasted with scattered showers from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies. The weather change in the Southwest signaled the end of the summer rainy season, while dry weather on the northern Plains promoted winter wheat planting and other fieldwork.

Rainfall Potential

The western storm that is currently kicking out mountain snows will move east into the central part of the country over the next few days and bring heavy rain potential to some. According to NOAA's HPC rainfall, there could be 1" to 2"+ rain possible for some thru Sunday.

East Coast Storm?

According to some of the latest computer runs, early next week for folks along the Eastern Seaboard could be a little interesting. The GFS is still developing a coastal low, which could impact the coastal communities with gusty winds, rough seas and scattered showers. Stay tuned for more!

(image courtesy: WeatherBell)

Thanks for checking in, have a great weekend ahead and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV

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