Sky Show: Perseids peak, summery comeback, smoky skies and vivid sunsets this week?

Sky Candy

Look up this week, you might see some interesting skyscapes.

A variety of astronomical and meteorological factors converge over Minnesota this week. The Perseids could approach “meteor storm” levels early Tuesday morning, with 70+ meteors visible per hour in some spots. The “Land of Sky Blue Waters” sports a whitish tinted daytime sky and some vivid reddish sunsets thanks to smoke aloft from active western fires.

And those lazy hazy crazy days of summer may be just around the corner as summer makes a last ditch comeback just in time for the Minnesota State Fair.

Hang in there summer lovers. We’re not done yet.

Image: Twin Cities NWS

Sky Show: Perseids Peak next 24 hours

The overnight hours into pre dawn Tuesday will put on quite a show. It’s the peak of the biggest meteor shower of the year, as earth’s orbit passes through the debris field of the comet swift-tuttle.

The purple orbit traces the path of the parent comet, 109P/Swift-Tuttle. It nicely matches the orbits of the Perseids, color-coded green. Earth is marked by a blue dot where all the curves intersect. Image: NASA/ Bill Cooke via

This year’s show looks active. Here’s the latest “meteor count” — up to 75 per hour from the International Meteor Organization. (Yes, there is such a group.)

Image: International Meteor Organization

The perseids are renowned for producing some great “fireballs.” NASA shows why this is often the most dazzling show of the year.

Image: NASA

Check the latest Perseid photo gallery here from


Smoky Skies: Western fires sending smoke over Minnesota

You may have noticed that whitish tint to the sky Monday.

White skies over Minneapolis Monday. Image: MNDOT

That’s smoke from western fires drifting over Minnesota. Numerous blazes in Montana, Idaho and the Canadian Rockies have sent smoke plumes up to 30,000 feet in recent days.

The Pony complex fire sends a 30,000-foot smoke plume skyward on Saturday, Aug. 10. Image: USFS

The elevated smoke  is “upstream” from the wind flow feeding into Minnesota. Here’s the smoke mapper from NOAA’s “firedetect“.


Smoke choking valleys in Montana

The smoke is getting thick as it hang in the valleys of Montana and Idaho. The Missoulian describes the scene.

Smoke poured into the Missoula Valley on Sunday from fires burning in the region, and it could be even more thick and possibly “unhealthy” by Monday morning, according to the National Weather Service and the Missoula City-County Health Department.

Jeff Kitsmiller, an agency meteorologist, said most of the smoke is coming from a complex of fires near Boise, Idaho, and it isn’t likely to clear for at least “a few more days.” He said the air flow could keep smoke around until the middle of next week, and new fires are possible given conditions.

“We are expecting more lightning (Sunday), and we’ve had lightning the last few days, and we are seeing more fire starts,” Kitsmiller said. “So those could add (to the smoke).”

The air quality in the Missoula and Frenchtown areas was “moderate” as of 5 p.m. Sunday, but it could worsen overnight in the Missoula Valley to “unhealthy,” according to the Health Department. Much smoke was coming from the Bitterroot Valley.

As seen on doppler: “Roost ring” at Mystic lake Casino?

We know the National Weather Service’s new dual polarization doppler is extra sensitive. But it still amazes when casino spotlight induced insect swarms trigger a bat feeding frenzy that shows up on doppler. Do they even have an NWS “storm attribute” algorithm for that? Who knew bats like to eat at the casino buffets too?

Here’s the video and explanation from the Twin Cities NWS.

The location is Mystic Lake Casino where spotlights shine straight up in the air. The bright lights attract bugs, and the bugs attract predators such as bats or maybe birds. The radar beam is likely bending to a lower elevation, and seeing the bats/insects. What’s puzzling is the clockwise rotation that is consistent until they all scatter at the end of the video.

Summer, the sequel: Warmer weather returns by the weekend

I’ve been hinting now for a week or two that summer is on the way back by State fair time. Cue the 80s this weekend. Next week looks like a good run of upper 80s with some humidity — and even a shot at 90 degrees again. Here’s the trusty Euro model which cranks out 88 degrees by next Wednesday.

Image: Norwegian Met Institute

Can I get a snow cone please?


  • Israel

    While the Minnesota state fair will have upper 80’s and 90’s, here in Kentucky state fair, we’re having 70’s and lower 80’s. So ironic.