First Tornado Watch of 2013 (posted until 9 pm - includes Twin Cities). Significant Risk of Flash Flooding
May 19, 2013 — 3:34pm
* Doppler estimates: 1" diameter hail pushing into St. Paul and suburbs.
* Tornado Watch posted for the southern half of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities and suburbs, until 9pm.
* A few isolated tornadoes are possible into the evening hours; most locations will see hail, straight-line wind gusts to 65 mph, and localized flash flooding from very heavy rain falling in a short period of time. The vast majority of us will not see tornadic storms.
* 1-3" additional rain possible into the evening hours - falling on saturated soil, resulting in flooding of streets, basements and small streams. If you live in a flood-prone region stay alert.
Ripe. May is peak month for tornadoes across much of the Upper Midwest, so we should take the latest Tornado Watch seriously; an enhanced risk of rotating "supercell" thunderstorms capable of spinning up tornadoes into the evening hours. A stalled storm system aloft is funneling moisture northward - enough wind shear, instability and atmospheric spin for a couple of EF0-EF2 tornadoes.
Monitoring Doppler. Radar is hinting at storms producing 1/2 to 1" diameter hail near Lakeville. The storms to the south of MSP are pushing north, and intensifying. The most dangerous period will be 3:30 pm to 7 pm this evening. NWS Doppler at 3:33 pm.
5 PM This Afternoon. High-resolution HRRR models show the best chance of strong to severe T-storms in the metro between 4 pm and 6 pm, the entire swarm of storms pushing steadily north.
Summary: The first tornado scenario of spring is shaping up over the next couple of hours from St. Cloud and the Twin Cities southward to Mason City and Waterloo, Iowa. I expect a handful of tornadoes into the evening hours, with a 1 in 3 chance of at least one EF-2 or stronger tornado. Stay alert to rapidly evolving conditions and Severe Storm and Tornado Warnings - with the greatest potential for wind damage between now and 8 pm.
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Look at the bright side, we could be tracking tornadic thunderstorms....or flash flooding...or river flooding...or wildfires. A little slush won't hurt anyone on Monday, and whatever falls should be gone by Tuesday. 75-150 miles north and west of MSP may be a different story with enough snow to shovel and scrape, delighting locals! Hard to believe but we should be in the 60s next weekend as spring stages a comeback. Whew...
Oh brother. The entire weather blog should be a series of apologetic disclaimers today. We still don't know what we don't know, but models continue to suggest accumulating slush late in the weekend, especially Sunday night when we lose the sun's infrared radiation. No problems today; the sun may even peek through. Saturday looks tolerable, but Sunday will be a good Netflix-day with a cold rain mixing with or even changing to wet snow late. Monday, the 1st day of May, could bring plowable amounts of snow to portions of Minnesota. Where those heavy snow bands will set up is anyone's guess right now. Stay tuned.
Well, at least you won't be distracted by blue sky and chirping birds anytime soon - easier to focus on work, school and errands. Flurries may provide a mild jolt today; models still hinting at accumulating slush by Monday (but it's wildly premature to speculate about amounts). Spring fever returns in roughly one week. That's the thing about spring - across most of the USA it's taken as a foregone conclusion. Here in Minnesota, not so much. Minnesotans earn their springs.
We're paying a steep price for last weekend. I grant you it was very nice, especially Saturday, but I would have taken 10 degrees off the afternoon high temperature just to avoid saying the s-word again. Then again, July is the only month where snow hasn't been reported somewhere in Minnesota. Share that with a friend if you're hoping for shocked silence.
Monday turned out a little nicer than expected: low 70s with glimmers of sun. I think it sprinkled for 3 minutes or so. Not bad at all. We got all that "nice weather" out of the way, now it's time for a little payback, served runny and cold. Just rain today into much of Wednesday, but enough cold air may mix down for a slushy mix Wednesday PM, even an inch of snow close to the MSP metro by Thursday morning. Spring in Minnesota is a cool, cruel mistress. You'll see.