Dazzling Mt. Etna video; Lightning vs. plane at Heathrow

Italy’s Mt. Etna is Europe’s most active volcano and erupts frequently, but it doesn’t get much better than this for video. Check out the dazzling images as Mt. Etna erupts again in Sicily.

The story from UPI:

“CATANIA, Italy, May 12 (UPI) — Mount Etna on the Italian island of Sicily sent smoke, volcanic shards and ash thousands of feet into the air Thursday.

The airport in Catania, Sicily’s second-largest city, was closed for a while, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. It partially reopened later Thursday.

Ash fell on the city and surrounding farmland. The eruption, which was not a major one, began late Wednesday.

Organizers said the eruption will not affect Sunday’s stage of the Giro d’Italia, when competitors will be bicycling on Etna’s slopes, The Daily Telegraph reported. Rocks fell on some of the roads that are part of the course.

“Sunday’s stage is not at risk. The stretch in question is only the last 4 miles on Etna,” director Angelo Zomegnan said. “But on-site teams are already working to clear the road. We are calm.”

Lightning vs. plane in London:

I buried this near the end of this mornings post, but it’s probably worth another look.

Check out this amazing video of lightning hitting a plane last month at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Fishing opener weather history all over the map:

My detailed forecast for the fishing opener 2011 is here.

The Minnesota Climatology Working Group has a great recap of historical weather conditions for the Minnesota fishing opener. As you might guess, the weather can be all over the place in mid-May.

2011 Minnesota Fishing Opener Weather

Minnesota’s Fishing Opener weather is typified by partly cloudy to cloudy skies, morning temperatures in the low 40’s, and afternoon temperatures climbing to near 70. Three out of four years are free of measurable precipitation. A trace of snow has been reported in northern Minnesota on at least five of the last 63 fishing openers. On at least four occasions, some lakes were still frozen for the opener. Generally there is enough wind to be felt on the face, maybe enough to ‘fly’ a flag. Weather on Minnesota fishing opener dates is highly variable. 63 years of fishing opener weather data are summarized here to offer a glimpse of what is ‘typical’ and what is ‘extreme’.

Opening day temperatures have started as low as 24 degrees at International Falls (1996,2004), with freezing temperatures possible even in Minneapolis (31 degrees in 1979). On the warm side, St. Cloud saw 92 degrees in 1987, Minneapolis reported 91 in 1987, and International Falls reached 88 in 1977. The average early morning temperature varies from the high 30’s in the northeast to the high 40’s along the southern border. The average afternoon temperature generally ranges from the mid 60’s along the northern border, to the low 70’s in the extreme south. Along the shore of Lake Superior, highs are held in the mid 50’s.

Three quarters of past opening days have been free of measurable precipitation. Two thirds of the fishing openers have been free of any precipitation, measurable or not. On those days with measurable rain, the amounts averaged close to a half-inch in the south and a quarter inch in the north. No amounts over one inch were recorded at International Falls, while Minneapolis experienced 1.15 in 1962 and 1.64 in 1965. St. Cloud saw 1.03 inches in 2008. Snowfall has generally has been limited to traces. Traces of snow were officially recorded in 1963, 1993, and 2009 at International Falls, and in 1968 at St. Cloud. A tenth (.1) of an inch fell at International Falls in 2000.

Statewide, less than one year in five offers totally clear skies. The average amount of cloudiness lies near that fuzzy boundary between ‘partly cloudy’ and ‘cloudy’, but over half of the dates were classified as cloudy.

Average daily wind speeds generally range between 8 and 15 miles per hour. This range can is described as ‘wind felt on face …’ to ‘… wind extends light flag’. The predominant wind direction is split fairly evenly between blowing from the northwest, south, and east.

Fog has been reported on the fishing opener, occurring about one year in ten in the south, about one year in six in the north. By early to mid May, Minnesota is entering its thunderstorm season. The possibility of thunderstorms is greatest in the south (about one in seven), less in the north (about one in eleven). The weather should be monitored carefully if the skies appear threatening.

For May 14, 2011 at St. Cloud, the sun will rise at 5:47 a.m.; sunset will come at 8:39 p.m. For International Falls, sunrise/sunset is 5:34 a.m. and 8:46 p.m. respectively. For Minneapolis, sunrise will be 5:46 a.m. and sunset at 8:34 p.m. Add one minute for each 10 miles west of a given location (at the same latitude) to get a rough estimate of sunrise and sunset times. Sunrise/sunset information can be obtained for any community using a Web site offered by the US Naval Observatory.

Fishing opener 2010 began with very calm winds and plenty of sunshine over northern Minnesota with more clouds than sun over the central and south. Winds were calm in the morning, picking up a bit in the afternoon.

And finally, yes there have been years with ice covered lakes for the opener. On opening day in 1950, lakes were still frozen as far south as Detroit Lakes and Osakis. Four other years with frozen lakes, primarily in the north, were 1966, 1979, 1996, 2008 and 2009. Just a couple lakes in the far northeastern tip of Minnesota still had ice on them for the ’09 opener.

This season, the ice left the lakes a bit later than historical averages over the south and parts of central Minnesota with near average over the north. The 2011 Governor’s Fishing Opener is on Pokegama Lake. The average date of ice out for Pokegama Lake is is April 24. The ice left Pokegama Lake on April 27.

More information about fishing in Minnesota can be found at the Department of Natural Resources.

A history of past fishing openers back to 1948 can be found at the Minnesota Historical Society .

Good Luck!

Dew point records smashed Tuesday:

UM Climate Guru and my MPR colleague Mark Seeley has some great info on how Tuesday’s July like air mass featured tropical humidity levels that smashed dew point record for May 10th.

Topic: High Dewpoint Records for May

“Tuesday, May 10th was quite a day in Minnesota. During the afternoon strong southeast winds brought in very warm, moist air across southern counties. Many observers reported near-record setting or record setting temperatures in the 90s F, spiking between 4:00 and 6:00 pm. Some of the record-setters included:

Waseca 92 F (tied record for May 10th in 1987) Wells, St James, and Fairmont 93 F Amboy and Winnebago 96 F

The readings at Amboy and Winnebago were just shy of the all-time state record for May 10th of 97 degrees F at Beardsley in 1928.

Even more impressive than these high temperatures was the rise in dewpoints. Many observers reported record high dewpoints by late afternoon, including MSP International Airport which reached a July-like 70 degrees F. Windom, Fairmont, St James, and Faribault also reported dewpoints of 70 degrees F. Even higher dewpoints occurred at Hutchinson (73 F), Albert Lea (74 F) and Waseca (78 F). These numbers are incredible amounts of water vapor for the first half of May. In some cases they pushed the Heat Index Value (combination effect of temperature and dewpoint) to 100 degrees F or higher. It is believed that the Waseca dewpoint of 78 degrees F is the highest ever measured in the month of May. In the MSP historical records dewpoints of 70 degrees F or higher have only been reached in 1912, 1916, and 1962.

The dramatic rise in temperature and dewpoint helped fuel severe weather across the state. There were over 40 reports of large hail during the evening of May 10th including 2.0 inch diameter hail stones at Chanhassen, Eden Prairie, Forest Lake, and Brainerd. Golden Valley, St Louis Park, and Fort Ripley reported 2.5 inch diameter hail, and Albertville reported 2.75 inch diameter hail.”

As always, you can hear Mark’s commentary exclusively on MPR’s Morning Edition with Cathy Wurzer at abour 6:45 Friday morning.


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