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Paul Douglas on Weather

Winter Outlooks, Hot Off The Presses!

The official Winter Outlooks are out... but CAUTION is advised.

Oh can you believe it? Winter is closing in. Fans of Game Of Thrones perhaps would say winter is coming! Eh, that's a bit too cheesy. In reality, winter really isn't that far around the corner at this point.

Cheesy and cliché comments aside... let's take a quick look ahead at this very long range forecasting stuff. Keep in mind, this outlook is NOT completely perfect but it does give us a general idea at what you can expect for winter. There is a lot of model uncertainty and error involved since we are trying to generalize things for an entire 3 month period, across the entire nation. The USA is huge! Forecasting winter for the whole country is a challenge, to say the least.

So let's get down to the nuts and bolts here. NOAA, The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration recently released their 2017 winter outlook. It shows both the temperature and precipitation outlook for December through February (meteorological winter). You can see both images referencing this below. So here we go!

What we can see here are fairly decent chances that portions of the northern lower 48 have a fairly HIGH probability of a COLDER (colored in blue) and WETTER (colored in green) winter. The southern half has a higher chance of a relatively dry (brown) and warm (red) winter. The darker the color on the map, the higher this probability. Interestingly, Alaska is divided warm and wet to the west and cold to the southeast. But that is typical of La Niña!

NOAA and the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) are generally basing much of this on us having a La Niña year... which is what it looks like we're going to have.

La Niña is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, compared to El Niño. In a typical La Nina winter... you have better odds of having WARMER than average temperatures for much of the southern lower 48. It would also be DRIER than average during winter (shown in image below).

It gets a little bit cooler in the portions of the north as that polar jet stream plummets south over North America from that strong high pressure that sets up over the Pacific. A La Niña winter climatologically sees more cold air outbreaks over the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, and Great Lakes regions.

That would influence more flakes flying in the mountains out west. Also, if those cold outbreaks time just right over the Great Lakes... that could mean more wet, lake effect snow events.

So according to this... Minnesota generally stands to have a colder and wetter than average winter. But again, take this outlook with a grain of salt.

Significant Minnesota cooldown looms... & perhaps the 1st snowflakes of the season... maybe???

Yes, you read that right. I encourage you to get all of your collective gasps out of the way now... because there is not a whole lot about the 'S' word to get excited about... at least not at this time.

Let's walk through your Twin Cities metro 7-day forecast, shall we (pictured below)?

Sunday looks fabulous! Highs in the low to mid 60s with plenty of sunshine. Enjoy!

We sneakily get back near 60 degrees or so Monday before a strong and rather chilly NW breeze plummets in from Canada in a hurry. Tuesday settles right near 50 degrees with lows in the chilly 30s Tuesday night. Fall jackets, anyone? A few rain showers are possible Monday night.

Thursday brings a fairly decent chance of rain showers in the afternoon. And then comes the uncertainty to wrap up the week.

I will mention a chance of rain and snow showers as easily the COLDEST air of the season rocks into Minnesota Friday into Saturday. All long term models can agree on the big cool-down coming (not sure if we'll get as cold as a high of 33 on Saturday though...).

That sun icon you see on Friday is just wrong. We will be watching for chances of rain and snow showers for much of Minnesota Thursday night through Friday night. However... c'mon, dear reader. It is still WAY too early to start talking snow timing and amounts. There's tons of uncertainty right now. Like me, you'll have to stay tuned when a more accurate forecast comes out later this week.

I have problems with snowfall forecasts more than one day out of a potential event... much less 5+ days out. It's still too early to tell if we'll be shaking the Minnesota snow globe by the end of the week.

Have a great day! Sunday will sure be a beauty :)

– Meteorologist Joe Hansel

Stay classy, fellow weather nerds. Follow me on Facebook & Twitter.

Meteors Showering The Globe

The Orionid Meteor Shower peaks Friday Night!
One of the year's best meteor showers will peak this weekend between Oct. 20 and 22, when the Orionid meteor shower gets in full swing. The meteors here are some of the fastest and brightest among our meteor showers!
For viewing this weekend, get away from city lights and light pollution. Go out around 1:30 a.m. and let your eyes adjust to the dark for about 20 minutes. Orionid meteors are visible from anywhere on Earth and can be seen anywhere across the sky. Locate Orion the Hunter (pictured below). The meteor shower's radiant (or point of origin) will be near Orion's sword. Bundle up, sit back, and use only your eyes to watch the sky. Binoculars of course will not help you out.
The particles come from Halley's Comet. This giant chunk of rock, ice, and frozen gases swings by Earth every 75ish years during it's long orbit.
Don't blink or you'll miss some of 'em. Some Orionids will appear very fast and bright as those shooting stars break apart up in the atmosphere. They can whiz by at up to 148,000 mph (238,000 km/h)!

Fall Foliage Hitting Her Stride!

Mother Nature has been busy “lighting up” our Minnesota trees with all that gorgeous color. Those leaves certainly are pretty. At least until they fall and make us grab that rake and stuff them into all those garbage bags that look like Jack-o’-lanterns.

We in the metro had to wait a long time for those brilliant fall colors to hit peak this year. But we finally got there. Huzzah! We were about 2 weeks behind schedule. You can blame that on our wet and warm September and first half on October.


The latest USA drought update is out!

Overall… there is a “Good, Bad, and Ugly” to the latest showing from United States Drought Monitor, pictured above. The “Good” is that there is no D4 or ‘exceptional drought’ across the nation now. I’ll take that and put it in my pocket!

The “Bad” is that 13.75% of the nation is still in drought (D1 to D3). An estimated 34+ million people, including plenty of farmers live in a current drought (statistics pictured below). The “Ugly” is that extreme drought remains in portions of South Dakota, Big Sky Country of Montana, and Hawai’i.

Drought is receding from Oregon to Michigan; but emerging in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, & Rhode Island, and also in portions of Arkansas, Missouri, & Texas.

Typhoon Lan bringing impacts to Japan this weekend... may become a Super Typhoon.

Typhoon Lan is the strongest storm on the planet on Friday with sustained winds of 115 mph. The eye of the storm is massive. It's just about 50 miles in diameter (pictured in infrared satellite imagery above and below)!

As of Friday, Lan was still sitting over the open water of the western Pacific, between the Philippines and southern China. It was traveling north at around 8 mph.

Conditions appear favorable for further strengthening. Typhoon Lan is forecast to move to the north-northeast during the next few days, reaching peak intensity sometime early in the weekend. The forecast of 140 mph winds on Saturday would make it an equivalent category 4 hurricane, and close to Super Typhoon status.

Lan is also forecasted to then weaken a bit as it runs over cooler ocean waters and strong upper level winds (wind shear) as it works closer to Japan. But Japan will be watching for impacts that include: dangerously high surf, damaging winds, heavy rainfall (a half-a-foot to a foot of rain is possible in areas), and potential power outages, especially along the southern coast.

– Meteorologist Joe Hansel

Stay classy, fellow weather nerds. Follow me on Facebook & Twitter.