"Lyrid meteor shower: All you need to know"

A few folks have been reporting shooting stars or meteors over the last few nights and that's because the annual Lyrid Meteor Shower is only a few days away from peaking on Apirl 23rd!!

"The annual Lyrid meteor shower is active each year from about April 16 to 25. In 2019, the peak of this shower – which tends to come in a burst and usually lasts for less than a day – is expected to fall on the morning of April 23, under the light of a bright waning gibbous moon. Should you skip the shower? Well, maybe. But we’re already hearing from skywatchers who don’t plan to skip it, especially after the months-long meteor drought that always comes between early January and the Lyrid shower each year. There are no major meteor shower during those months, as you can see by looking at EarthSky’s meteor shower guide. So, many meteor-watchers are itching to get going, and it’s unlikely moonlight will dampen their enthusiasm. No matter where you are on Earth, the greatest number of meteors tend to fall during the few hours before dawn. Keep reading to find some tips for watching the 2019 Lyrids in moonlight."

See more from Earth Sky HERE:

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"EarthSky’s 2019 meteor shower guide"

You might be interested to know that there are several metero showers during the year, but there are certainly a few more notible ones like the Perseids in mid August. Take a look at the list of meteor showers that EarthSky has compiled as they have everything you need to know about each one for the rest of 2019!!

See more from EarthSky HERE:

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Cooler and Unsettled Wednesday Ahead

High temps on Wednesday will certainly be quite a bit cooler than it was on Tuesday. Reading will only warm into the 40s and 50s across the state, which will be nearly -5F to -10F below average.

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Severe Threat Wednesday

According to NOAA's SPC, there is a Marginal Risk of severe storms across far southeastern MN, parts of Iowa and into southwestern Wisconsin for Wednesday. At this point, the main threat looks to be damaging winds and large hail. Stay tuned!!


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Weather Outlook Wednesday - Thursday

Here's the weather outlook from AM Wednesday to PM Thursday, which shows our next fairly potent storm system developing and sliding through the Upper Midwest during the 2nd half of the week. While a few strong to severe storms can't be ruled out, areas of locally heavy rain can't be ruled out either, especially across far southeastern MN and into central and northern Wisconsin.


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Pockets of Heavy Rain Wednesday - Thursday

Here's the latest precipitation outlook from NOAA's NDFD data. The good news is that we aren't expecting quite as much rainfall as previously through earlier this week. However, there still could be some 1"+ tallies across parts of southeastern MN and into central and northern Wisconsin, especially where thunderstorms develop.

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Snow Depth

Here's the latest snow depth across the region, which really doesn't show much left after our big snow storm from late last week. There is still 6" on the ground in Huron, SD, but there's only a trace of snow on the ground in the Twin Cities metro from the 9.8" that officially fell at the MSP Airport.

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10th Snowiest April on Record at MSP So Far...

Our April 10-12 snow event accumulated 9.8" of snow at the MSP Airport, which not only made it the 5th largest April snow event on record, but it also pushed us into the 10th snowiest April on record spot! Note that MSP only averages 2.4" of snow in April, so we are wewll above average!

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April 2019 Snowfall So Far...

Thanks to our latest April snow storm, areas of heavy snow fell across the region. Note that some of the heaviest fell across parts of South Dakota, Central MN (including the Twin Cities) and into northern Wisconsin. Quite a few locations have seen double digits tallies, which is well above average!

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Snowfall Season To Date
 
WOW - What a snow season it has been! Despite a fairly lackluster start to the winter season, we sure made up for it in a hurry during the 2nd half of winter and so far this spring. With that said, MSP has now seen 77.1" of snow, which makes it the 11th snowiest season on record!
 
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Temperature Outlook Ahead
 
Here's the temperature outlook through the end of April, which shows cooler temps after on Wednesday and Thursday. However, the weekend looks much warmer with highs around 70F on Saturday and back in the 60s on Sunday.
 
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Signs of Spring!!

Here's a neat map from Journey North, which shows the return our MN State Bird, the Common Loon! Now that lakes are starting to become ice free, the loons are starting to show up! Welcome home friends!! It'll be fun to see you on lakes and ponds this summer.

See more from Journey North HERE:

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More Signs of Spring from the MNDNR
 
This time of the year can be a little dank and dreary at times, but we're not too far away from several signs of life returning to a backyard near you! There's a phenology reporting locating in Maplewood, just north of St. Paul and they record things like the first red-winged blackbird to the first dandelion and even when the lilacs bloom. This phenology location recorded the first "conk-la-ree" from a red-winged blackbird on March 20th this year, which was a few days later than average. By the way, the average bloom date of lilacs in the Twin Cities is typically around May 10th. Last year, lilacs didn't bloom until mid May.
 
"The songs of the first red-winged blackbirds of the season were heard in north Maplewood on Wednesday, March 20, six days later than the median date of March 14, and on the first day of Spring! Phenology which is derived from the Greek word phaino meaning to show or appear, is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events that are influenced by environmental changes, especially seasonal variations in temperature and precipitation driven by weather and climate. The USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN)  collects phenological data from across the United States. Also track the progress of The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds  as they migrate north. Here is some recent spring phenology for a site in Maplewood just north of St. Paul."
 
 

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"Phenology Report: April 2, 2019"
 
Here's the latest Phenology from John Latimer who hails out of Grand Rapids, MN. He shares his latest findings on what is springing up across parts of central/northern MN. 

"Phenology is the biological nature of events as they relate to climate.  Every Tuesday morning, our resident Phenologist John Latimer gathers his phenological data and reports his findings in the weekly Phenology Report. This week, John kept track of some special spring events: the drumming of roughed grouse, killdeer, woodcock, garter snakes, the call of the saw whet out, and the developments on the speckled alder.   Also in this segment is a conversation with special guest and longtime contributor to KAXE-KBXE, retired DNR Biologist Bill Berg."

Listen to the full report from KAXE HERE:

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"Thunderstorms kicked a wall of pollen into the air. A drone captured these images of the yellow haze."

"Congratulations! You now own a yellow car! If Mother Nature has been making your life a nose-running misery for the past few weeks, you’re not alone. Forget the amber waves of grain. We’re talking amber waves of pollen. That’s exactly what Jeremy Gilchrist captured Monday on drone footage above Durham, N.C. “I noticed the green haze just after lunch so I decided to put the drone up,” Gilchrist told the Capital Weather Gang. “I also used it to chase the storms when they arrived later.” The images shot shortly after noon, including the one above, look like they were taken through a yellow filter — but they weren’t. Instead, a golden haze has descended on the city. From above, it looks like a yellow smoke from distant fires smoldering at ground level. This pollen cloud is real, and it’s spectacular — unless, of course, you’re someone who likes to breathe."

See more from Washington Post HERE:

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Pollen Levels on the Rise!

AHH CHOO! Oh boy... Spring allergy sufferers are in rough shape right now as pollen levels pick up over the next few days. The worst looks to return by the end of the week and into the weekend.
 

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Ice Out Dates

We're just beginning ice out season here in MN and according to the MN DNR, there are only a few lakes that are officially ice out across the southern half of the state including a few in the Twin Cities. In fact, Lake Calhoun went out on April 10th, which is only one day later than the average ice out on April 9th. We are still waiting for Lake Minnetonka to be ice free, which typically goes ice free on April 13th.

Average Ice Out Dates

Here's a look at average ice out dates across Minnesota. Note that most lakes around the metro go out in April, so within the next week or 2, you should see open water. However, folks closer to the international border may not see open water until the end of April or early part of May. Spring is on the way!!


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Ice Safey Reminder

As we head into the next several weeks, ice stability is going to deteriorate rapidly! Warmer temps will weaken ice on area lakes/ponds, so please be careful! The MN DNR has ice safety reminders that you can review and remember that ice is never 100% safe!
 
 

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 Temperature Outlook
 
According to NOAA's CPC, the temperature outlook from April 24th - 30th looks warmer than average across much of the nation. Note that Alaska will finally be seeing below average temps after such an extended period of well above average temps.
 
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Spring Leaf Anomaly
 
Here's an interesting map for folks that are looking forward to spring. It's the NPN Spring Leaf Anomaly map, which shows that spring has indeed sprung across the southern tier of the nation. The red colors indicate that spring leaves are actually emerging earlier than average in those areas, while blue colors indicate that we're a little behind average in other spots.

"Spring leaf out continues to spread north. In the west, spring leaf out is 1-2 weeks early in parts of California and Nevada, and 2-3 weeks late in much of Oregon and Washington. In the east, spring leaf out is 1-2 weeks early in the upper Southeast, and 1-2 weeks late across the Great Plains, southern Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. Spring leaf out is 4 days late in Boston, MA and Detroit, MI and 2 days early in Madison, WI. Spring bloom has arrived on time to 2 weeks early in much of the South. Nashville, TN is 4 days early. Parts of Arizona, California, Nevada, and the Southern Great Plains are 1-2 weeks late."

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Today Should Be The Wettest Day of the Week
By Paul Douglas
 
Fake Spring? True Spring? Will it stick this time around? A couple of weeks ago it looked like we were turning the corner. And then 10 inches of snow fell last, crashing our party like a loud drunken uncle at a wedding reception.
 
I don't see any more winter relapses, but that's looking out 1-2 weeks. Let's not even discuss the possibility of snow in May. I'm not going there.
 
Today will be the wettest day of the week, with nearly 1 inch of rain in some spots. We dry out Thursday, with another outbreak of fine spring weather this weekend. With sunshine and a stiff southerly breeze, low 70s are possible Saturday. Sunday looks drier, with a northwest breeze and highs in the 60s. Models suggest the biggest, wettest storms will track south of Minnesota next week.
 
NOAA's CFSv2 climate model is predicting a warmer, wetter than normal May. Payback for a few colder than average months in a row? Perhaps. The atmosphere has an uncanny ability to "even things out". In the meantime, think of today's soaker as a catalyst to turn your lawn green.
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Extended Forecast

WEDNESDAY: Rain, heavy at times. T-storm risk. Winds: E 10-20. High: 52.

WEDNESDAY NIGHTRain likely . Winds: N 10-15. Low: 40.

THURSDAY: Cooler and drier with a passing rain shower. Winds: N 10-20. High: 51.

FRIDAY: Sunny and milder. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 39. High: 63.

SATURDAY: Partly sunny. Seriously feverish. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 46. High: 70.

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sunshine. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 49. High: 64.

MONDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 42. High: 61.

TUESDAY: Clouds increase, mild breeze. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 45. High:63.
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This Day in Weather History
April 17th

1965: The Mississippi River at St. Paul has a record crest, 4 feet above the previous record. High water records would be set all the way down to Missouri in later days.
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Average High/Low for Minneapolis
April 17th

Average High: 59F (Record: 85F set in 1985)
Average Low: 38F (Record: 10F set in 1875)

Record Rainfall: 1.44" set in 1975
Record Snowfall: 2.7" set in 1939
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Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
April 17th

Sunrise: 6:25am
Sunset: 8:00pm

Hours of Daylight: ~13 hours & 36 minutes

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 2 minutes & 59 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): ~4 hours and 51 minutes
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Moon Phase for April 17th at Midnight
1.2 Day Until Full "Pink" 
Moon

"6:12 a.m. CDT - The grass pink or wild ground phlox is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names were the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon and — among coastal tribes — the Full Fish Moon, when the shad come upstream to spawn. In 2019, this is also the Paschal Full Moon; the first full moon of the spring season. The first Sunday following the Paschal Moon is Easter Sunday, which indeed will be observed two days after the full moon on Sunday (April 21). This is an unusually late Easter, four days shy of the latest date that Easter can fall." 

See more from Space HERE:

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What's in the Night Sky?

According to EarthSky.org this is what will be visible in the night sky over the next several nights: 

"These new several nights – April 16, 17 and 18, 2019 – find the brilliant waxing gibbous moon on a course to move between two bright and beautiful stars, Arcturus and Spica. Sparkling above the eastern horizon at early evening, these stars travel westward (along with the moon) throughout the night. Arcturus and Spica shine high in the southern sky around midnight, and as dawn starts to color the sky, these gems light up the western sky."

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Average Tornadoes By State in April 
 
According to NOAA, the number of tornadoes in April really starts to go up across the southern US. Note that several states typically see nearly a dozen tornadoes, while Texas takes the cake with nearly 30. Meanwhile, Minnesota only typically sees 1 tornado during the month of April and the most active month is typically June, when Minnesota typically sees 15.
 
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2019 Preliminary Tornado Count
 
Here's a look at how many tornadoes there have been across the country so far this year. The preliminary count through April 15th suggests that there have been a total of 252, which is still below the 2005-2015 short term average of 348.
 
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Weather Outlook Wednesday & Thursday
 
According to NOAA's SPC, there is an ENHANCED risk of severe weather in orange on Wednesday and Thursday, which means that there is a pretty good chance of severe storms. Large hail, damaging winds and a few tornadoes will be the primarty threat in this region, but the threat could stretch as far north as Minnesota and Wisconsin on Wednesday to near Chicago, IL on Thursday.
 

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More Severe Storms on Friday
 
According to NOAA's SPC, there is already a highlighted risk for severe storms in the shaded yellow areas below. The SPC typically only issues extended severe weather risks this far in advance is severe weather is really a big threat. With that said, keep an eye on latest forecasts as we head into the week ahead.
 
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Weather Outlook Wednesday
 
Here's a look at high temps across the naiton on Wednesday, which shows temps along and east of the Mississippi River warmer than average, while folks in the Upper Midwest and the Intermountain West will be cooler than average as a storm system kicks out areas of rain and storms.
 
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National Weather Outlook

Here's the weather weather outlook Thursday, which shows our next storms system moving through the central part of the country with areas of strong to severe thunderstorms and locally heavy rain. 
 

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7 Day Precipitation Forecast
 
According to NOAA's WPC, the 7 day precipitation forecast suggests areas of heavy precipitation along and east of the Mississippi River Valley. Some of the most widespread and heavy rainfall could be found in the Lower Mississippi Valley, which could lead to more flooding potential.
 

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"To Nurture Nature, Neglect Your Lawn"
 
"Why poison the earth when you can have wildflowers at your feet and songbirds in your trees without even trying? “Nothing is so beautiful as Spring,” the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, “When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush.” I say that poem to myself every day now because I can’t think of any place more beautiful than the American South in springtime. The flowering trees — dogwoods and redbuds and serviceberries, the crab apples and peaches and cherries — are in full glory, and the woody shrubs, cascading with blossoms, are like something out of a fairy tale: forsythia and quince and lilac and bridal veil spirea. Every time it rains here, the streets are paved with petals."
 
 

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"Two Tornadoes Narrowly Missed Destroying A Mississippi Weather Radar"
 
"This weekend’s severe weather outbreak across the eastern United States claimed nine lives and caused damage from the Deep South to New England. The extent of the severe weather on Saturday, April 13, wasn’t quite as bad as forecasters had initially feared given the extremely favorable dynamics across parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. However, several storms did manage to take advantage of the environment and produce destructive tornadoes. Two of those tornadoes touched down within a few miles of a weather radar in Mississippi, giving us an incredible view of how quickly an intense tornado can develop. A squall line with embedded supercells moved through northeastern Mississippi late in the evening on Saturday. One such supercell produced a duo of violent tornadoes as it passed through Monroe County, Mississippi, which is home KGWX, a weather radar located about 28 miles north of Columbus Air Force Base."
 
 

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"Blobs 500 times the size of Earth are being burped from the sun"
 
"We now know more about the gigantic "periodic density structures" that emerge from the sun every 90 minutes. The Parker Solar Probe is currently en route to the sun, in order to better understand the near perfect sphere of hot plasma that powers our solar system. But back on Earth scientists have looked to decades old data, and they've found something interesting: blobs. Literal blobs. Not just regular blobs. Big blobs. Officially called "periodic density structures", these blobs in the solar wind emit from the sun in burps and they can be anything from 50 to 500 times as large as Earth. Apparently these things emerge from the sun roughly every 90 minutes. "They look like the blobs in a lava lamp," said Nicholeen Viall, a research astrophysicist at NASA/Goddard Space Centre, speaking to Space."
 
 

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"Quivering strips provide wind power where turbines cannot"
 
"Back in 2014, US Army engineers Charles Marsh and Carl Feickert envisioned a wind-power system inspired by Venetian blinds fluttering in an open window. They have since teamed up with eight colleagues, creating a system that generates power in breezes that are too light to turn the blades of a traditional wind turbine. The prototype device features eight flexible "elastic tension gradient" strips that are a mounted vertically in a row, and that are attached to PVC tubes at the top and bottom. Those tubes can be twisted to adjust the tension of the strips. Angled so that they're parallel to the direction of wind flow, the strips wiggle snake-like in breezes blowing as slow as less than 9 mph (14 km/h). As they do so, a copper induction coil at the bottom of each strip moves back and forth along a smooth magnet-filled pipe that passes through it horizontally. The motion of the coil against the magnets creates an electrical current, which is carried by wiring within the pipe to a power converter. From there, it can be used to power devices, or to charge batteries."
 
 
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"The Best 20 Websites Where You Can Learn Science For Free"
 
"If you love science or are interested in learning more, you should check out our ‘top 20’ list of the very best websites where you can learn science for free. We have had a really good look at each website and have only included what we consider to be the very best. Where we think a website is particularly excellent we have highlighted this in the description. We are not affiliated with any of these websites we just wanted to provide a useful resource for teachers, students or people just keen to learn more about the subject. Hopefully you will find our list useful and it will save you time having to search Google. So bookmark this page, share it with your friends and above all use it to learn more about the wonderful world of science. (1) NASA.com -This is another Space related site with lots of great information on planets, the International Space Station, photos, videos, the journey to Mars, interviews, technology, aeronautics and lots more."
 
 

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"Debunking A Dangerous Myth About Tornado Sirens - They Shouldn't Warn You Inside"
 
"Over the past 36 hours or so, I have watched tornadic storms ravaged parts of the southern United States. The Storm Prediction Center of the National Weather Service has been warning for days that a potent storm system would produce this type of activity. Even as I write this essay, parts of Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas should keep a weather eye out this Palm Sunday. As I write this, my area of Georgia is under a tornado watch until 2 pm. Unfortunately, Palm Sunday has seen its share of tornado outbreaks over the years, and some churches even decided to cancel services today. I had no intentions of writing anything today until I saw the following Tweet: No tornado siren could be heard in highland lakes! Large oak and pine trees on houses. Could have been very bad with children’s bedrooms mostly upstairs. Thanks for the heads up @spann Any idea why they didn’t go off? The person tweeting this had nothing but the best intentions so there is no intent to ridicule him. In fact, the Tweet is useful because it provides an opportunity to remind the public facing tornado danger why you cannot rely on tornado sirens indoors."
 
 

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Thanks for checking in and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWX

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