Atmospheric Vacation

Get ready to take an atmospheric vacation. Only this time the warm tropical breezes are coming to Minnesota.

We’re changing air masses in Minnesota. Today’s warm but dry air mass is about to be replaced by a borderline hot, sticky tropical air mass directly from the Gulf of Mexico by this weekend. Think car ride form New Mexico to New Orleans and you get the picture.

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A placid Lake Superior in Duluth Thursday morning.

(Courtesy Lake Superior Marine Museum Association Webcam.)

Temperatures by Sunday may approach record levels in southern Minnesota. The record high for Twin Cities Airport both Sunday and Monday is 88 degrees. It appears we’ll have a shot at tying or exceeding records both days.

It’s not the heat…

The real star of this weather forecast will be a surge of tropical summer like moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Dew points may approach 70 degrees by Sunday. That’s July-like humidity levels folks. You’ll start to notice the humidity climbing Saturday, and you’ll really feel it by Sunday afternoon.

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Dew points will climb towards 70 degrees Sunday. (click for bigger image)

It looks like temperatures will climb above 85 degrees for a string of days starting on Sunday. That’s good news for those who want our area lakes to warm up (the weather lab skiff measured a hypothermic 59 degree water temperature this week on Lake Minnetonka) in time for the big Memorial Day weekend. Not so good for those who had hoped to give the air conditioners a rest until late June or July. Humidity levels will make air conditioners hum and energy demand soar by Sunday PM.

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Temperatures will take a run at 85 to 90 degrees by Sunday PM.

It’s interesting to note that power utilities like XCEL Energy plan days or weeks ahead for spikes in demand created by hot weather. Most big utility companies use private meteorologists to plan daily and weekly demand through “load forecasts.” I used to work in that end of the weather biz back in the day in Chicago. Check out the range of services provided by my former employer Weather Command based in the Chicago area.

Working in so called “operational meteorology” when I was a young weather buck was extremely challenging and precise. For me it was like meteorological boot camp. The techniques I learned there from the excellent staff are valuable to me as a weather forecaster to this day. I am grateful to so many who helped shape my forecasting skills that led me to what has become a long and fruitful career as a meteorologist.

Rain chances increase:

With the increase in humidity and temperature comes the chance of rain and thunder. A minor low pressure system will sideswipe southern Minnesota Friday, bringing a chance of a few showers and a T-Storm from Duluth to the metro and Rochester and Eau Claire. Rainfall amounts generally look light with this system, most areas may see between .10″ and .25″ of rain Friday.

A second wave could bring heavier tropical downpours early next week.

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Rain chances increase Friday and early next week.

The view from space:

I’ve posted a few amazing satellite images of the Gulf oil spill the past few days. Nasa’s MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer ) satellite orbits the earth from pole to pole every day. The MODIS Rapid Response System was developed to provide daily satellite images of the Earth’s landmasses in near real time.

It’s amazing what you can see form space at in these high resolution images.

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Early in the dry season in Democratic Republic of Congo the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image on May 13, 2010. MODIS detects hundreds of active fires (location marked in red) in southern Democratic Republic of Congo and northeastern Angola, a sign that the agricultural burning season was in full swing.

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Dust plumes blow off the coast of Libya and over the Mediterranean Sea in mid-May 2010. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image on May 13, 2010. Thick dust blows northward off the African coast, past the island of Kriti (Crete), and toward Peloponnisos (Peloponnese). In places, the dust is thick enough to completely hide the land or sea surface below.

Look up and smile next time you see one of those faint red lights passing by in the night overhead. You never know who’s watching!


  • MBM

    Terrific satellite images from Africa!