Weather Twilight Zone: White sky, more whiplash ahead

Okay, this is getting just a little weird.

I can’t recall a time in my life in Minnesota where we’ve seen this much wildfire smoke overhead, for this long. In Minnesota’s Crazy Weather Year of 2014, it figures this would happen during the best run of weather all year.

White tinted smoky sky blots out the sun in the southwest metro. Paul Huttner/MPR News

Weather Twilight Zone

It feels like we’re living in a sort of Weather Twilight Zone this year in Minnesota. I fully expect Rod Serling to walk into the Weather Lab at any moment, thin black tie, cigarette in hand.

Rod Serling. Wikipedia Commons/Public Domain

Imagine the creative feast Rod would have had with the concept of climate change.

Picture a summer day in the Midwest.

A landscape full of bustling, industrious happy people under a bright blue summer sky. Just one problem. The sky isn’t blue anymore. Man has changed Earth’s atmosphere and Earth’s climate is in a state of rebellion.

What used to be lush green forests incinerated in the heat drifting overhead as a thick plume of smoke; blotting out the once bright sun in the afternoon sky. Anatomy of a summer day and a changed climate in Minnesota. Upper Midwest. USA. Planet Earth.

Just this side of…The Twilight Zone.

Pyrocumulus in Canada’s Northwest Territory Birch Lake Complex fires, courtesy Mike Gravel, Nwtfire/Facebook

Weather weirding, or climate change in action?

It’s getting much harder to draw the line between weather and climate change these days.

Polar vortex? Record rainfall? Smoky summer?

Just how much of our crazy weather this year, and in years past can we attribute to climate change without overstating the connections?

That’s an important and fascinating question. Sometimes I feel like a doctor who is diagnosing a single patient with a fever. (weather) But as streams of patients keep coming through the door with the same symptoms am I witnessing the unfolding of an epidemic? (climate change)

When, precisely do all individual weather events need to be viewed through the lens of climate change? There are many in the profession who believe all weather is now colored by climate change. As each unprecedented weather event unfolds, that case grows stronger.

Is a week of white sky overhead (when it should be blue) weather, or climate change?


There is clear evidence large western fires are increasing. Is smoke overhead in Minnesota the ‘new normal’ as our climate shifts to a warmer more fire prone state in the Rockies and Canadian Arctic?


I watches millions of acres of prime Ponderosa Pine forests burn in 9 years in Arizona’s mountains. Now, I watch the North American West burn, and changes in Minnesota that are accelerating in our lifetime. It feels like climate change is following me around.

I feel like we are all living witnesses to a rapidly shifting climate in our lifetime.

1731 msp2

Friday thundershowers

Thundershower coverage across the Upper Midwest has been very limited this week. A weak ripple aloft spawns a few more afternoon thundershowers Friday. Expect to see about 10 to 20 percent of the area dotted with thundershowers Friday afternoon drifting slowly southeast.

Scattered rain Friday afternoon. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The bigger picture call for a mostly lovely summer-like weekend, then a return to more numerous rain and thunderstorms next week.


There are signs of a possible mesoscale convective system Tuesday night that could dump some heavy, multi-inch rainfall totals across southern Minnesota including the metro. Expect more rain in the next seven days than we’ve had in the past two weeks.


NOAA’s Global Forecast System is still cranking out some lake and river boosting heavy rainfall totals in the next 16 days.

IPS Meteostar

Flood, to mini-drought to flood again?

Welcome to the new climate in Minnesota. Land of All or Nothing.

Get those gutters cleaned, and keep running that dam on Lake Minnetonka wide open for now, baby.