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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Wednesday was another A+ 3-star blue-ribbon meteorological experience, and if you liked yesterday you will love today (10 degrees warmer). It may even border on hot tomorrow with highs approaching 90F before a few Friday night T-showers cool things down. The weekend looks cooler, but still mostly-pleasant.
Yesterday wasn't hard to take, and today should be even sunnier - about 5 to 10 degrees cooler but I suspect there will be few complaints. We warm back into the 70s Thursday with 80s like Friday before a wind shift. Make the most of dry weather - models suggest a return of cooler, wetter weather next week.
Monday was a postcard-perfect day with blue sky and upper 60s. I'm trying to block out the bugs, which are back. Well that was fast. We warm to 70F or beyond this afternoon with a slight chance of a shower. Thursday and Friday look terrific as temperatures warm up again; I could see low 80s Friday afternoon. We may be sliding into a wetter pattern next week, but I still don't see anything severe. No widespread severe storms for the metro into the first week of May? A bit unusual. I wonder if we'll make up for lost time.
Sunday was a treat, coming after a gray and windy Saturday with rain brushing the south metro. Winds ease today with enough sun for mid to upper 60s - a slight chance of showers and T-showers Tuesday afternoon. Another spurt of warmth arrives late week; Friday appears to be the best day in sight as the mercury closes in on 80 degrees. This week should help to restore some of your faith in a Minnesota spring.
Saturday was an acquired taste: thickening clouds and a chilling breeze - but at least it didn't snow...or flood...or tornado. Rain brushed the southern suburbs but that system moves out today and a drying northeast breeze triggers partial clearing. Temperatures mellow this week; a hint of summer warmth possible by next weekend.