Thursday, February 17, 2011

2/17/11: Thursday's Weather Report

Issued at 2:49 PM CST, Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Additional information from Wednesday's record warm day in the Northland.  Source:  NWS Duluth, MN.

*February 16th, 2011 marked just the 31st time in 3,857 February days of weather records or just under 1% of February days with a high temperature of at least 50 degrees at Duluth, Minnesota.

*The period from February 13th-16th, 2011 is now the warmest on record at Duluth, Minnesota.  The average temperature during that period was 35.0 degrees which broke the previous record of 32.8 degrees set in 1983.

*High temperature at Hibbing, Minnesota was 60 degrees on February 16th, 2011.  This breaks the previous record for the date of 48 degrees set in 1981.  The 60 degree high temperature on the 16th also makes it the warmest February day ever recorded since weather records began (1963)  The previous warmest temperature ever recorded during the month of February at Hibbing was 57 degrees which occurred on the 24th back in 1976.

High temperature report for Wednesday, February 16th, 2011.  Source:  NWS Duluth, Minnesota.
Note:  *means a record high temperature was set.

Hibbing, MN:  *60 degrees
Ashland, WI:  57 degrees
Hayward, WI:  53 degrees
Silver Bay, MN:  55 degrees
Ely, MN:  59 degrees
Orr, MN:  57 degrees
Bigfork, MN:  57 degrees
Cloquet, MN:  54 degrees
Phillips, WI:  52 degrees
Cass Lake, MN:  57 degrees
Littlefork, MN:  54 degrees
Babbitt, MN:  59 degrees
Kabetogama, MN:  57 degrees
2 miles south of Tower, MN:  59 degrees
Finland, MN:  62 degrees
Gurney, WI:  62 degrees
Saxon, WI:  57 degrees
Upson, WI:  60 degrees
Danbury, WI:  55 degrees

Duluth, MN:  *52 degrees
Sky Harbor, MN:  52 degrees
Superior, WI:  54 degrees

February, 2011 climate information.  Source:  NWS Duluth, MN.  Data thru the 15th.

Duluth, Minnesota (Airport location)

Average monthly temperature:  13.7 degrees
Departure from average:  +1.1 degrees

Total precipitation:  0.17"
Departure from normal:  -0.26"

Total snowfall:  0.5"
Departure from normal:  Around 6.0" below normal

Note:  February 4th, 2011 was the last time with at least 0.10" of precipitation at Duluth, Minnesota.

International Falls, Minnesota

Average monthly temperature:  9.7 degrees
Departure from average:  +1.4 degrees

Total precipitation:  0.16"
Departure from average:  -0.19"

Total snowfall:  2.3"
Departure from normal:  Nearly 4.0" below normal

Weather Headlines:

*Damaging winds across Lake Superior late Tonight-Friday
*Windy/colder air set to invade the area Tonight and Friday
*Major model swings/differences for late this weekend
*Winter storm late this weekend?

Forecast Discussion for Northeast Minnesota and Northwest Wisconsin

Today's Weather:

Strong low pressure (989mb) was located in far Southeastern Manitoba Province, or north of Roseau, Minnesota as of 2 PM.  Our local area was in the warm sector of this storm Today with plenty of low level moisture in place due to recent snow melt and also because of a southerly flow which is pulling some gulf moisture up this way.  Afternoon dewpoints were in the 30s and lower 40s in our area with 50+ degree dewpoints as far north as Northern Iowa and Northern Illinois.  Latest meso-analysis (2pm) shows an area of elevated CAPE of 500-1000 j/kg which is pushing E/NE through Eastern Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin This Afternoon.  Mid Level Lapse rates are also very steep This Afternoon with values of 8.0-8.5 c/km.  There was an area of thunderstorms earlier This Afternoon which swept through Eastern Ontario Province, well northeast of us, but it shows that there is some instability to support a few thunderstorms Today.  Highs Today were in the middle 30s to middle 40s, but teens were already showing up This Afternoon in Northwestern Minnesota.  Winds Today were out of the south, southeast, or southwest at 5-15 mph with some higher gusts.  Skies for the most part were overcast Today with areas of drizzle and fog, some of the fog has been dense.  A dry slot is moving E/NE out of Western Minnesota This Afternoon, however, which is resulting in some partial clearing in that area.

Today's Upper Level Analysis:

Southwest 500mb flow was in place over the Upper Midwest with a vigorous storm lifting E/NE through the Northern Plains and Manitoba Lakes region per water vapor satellite imagery.  The real deep moisture is unattached from the main low per water vapor satellite imagery which shows a plume of richer moisture stretching from Texas to the Southern Great Lakes.  A very strong temperature gradient continued Today per RUC model analysis with late day 850mb temperatures ranging from -6 degrees C in extreme Northwest Minnesota to +6 degrees C at Bemidji, Minnesota to +14 degrees C at Des Moines, Iowa.


Deep low pressure of 986-988mb will pass north of Minnesota Tonight with a potent vort max swinging E/NE out of the Dakotas which will be accompanied by an 80-100 knot mid level jet and a 130-150 knot upper level jet.  Strong cold air advection will rush SE through our area during the night with 850mb temperatures of +2 to +10 degrees C early This Evening falling to between -4 and -14 degrees C Overnight.  The bottom line for Tonight is this...Wind will become a big issue during the night along with falling temperatures.  Lows will be in the single digits, teens, and lower 20s with southwest winds turning west/northwest.  850mb wind speeds will increase to 40-60 knots Tonight and this will result in widespread 20-30 mph wind speeds at the surface with gusts to 40 mph possible.  Mostly cloudy skies will be found in Northern Minnesota and Northwest Wisconsin Tonight with areas of fog and light drizzle which will turning to flurries, light freezing drizzle, and snow showers from northwest to southeast late in the night.  Snowfall accumulations of around an inch are possible late Tonight north of a Bigfork to Grand Marais, Minnesota line.

Note:  Gale and Storm Warnings are in effect for the open waters of Lake Superior.  W/NW wind will peak in the 40-60 knot range early Friday Morning thru midday Friday with wave heights as high as 21 feet with 30 foot waves possible during the height of the storm.

Friday and Friday Night:

Deep low pressure of 982-984mb will track northeast reaching Southern Hudson Bay Canada on Friday.  Strong northwesterly winds of 15-30 mph with gusts of 35-45 mph will continue Tomorrow with much colder temperatures found in our area especially when compared to how warm it has been lately.  Highs Tomorrow will be set late Tonight when 20s and 30s will be common, temperatures will then tumble to the teens and 20s on Friday with lows Friday Night in the single digits below to around 10 above zero.  Winds Friday Night will diminish to 10-20 mph with northwesterly winds expected.  Partly sunny-mostly cloudy skies are forecast Tomorrow with scattered flurries and snow showers.  Partly-mostly cloudy skies are on tap for Friday Night.

Extended Forecast:

Saturday looks mainly dry at this time with strong high pressure off to our northwest.  Highs will be in the teens and 20s.  The period from Saturday Night through early Monday has to be watched very carefully as the 12z model run from Today (GFS, NAM, and Gem-Global) have trended farther north and bring a winter storm to portions of our area, in fact the 12z GFS would result in borderline blizzard conditions for a time in the Twin Ports due to it's projected 850mb wind forecast (ENE >40 knots) late Sunday Afternoon.

Confidence on this farther north solution is low, since it's only one model run to show this trend, the 06z run from early This Morning kept the bulk of the snow to our south, but the next run 6 hours later made a sudden jump to the north with the GFS, NAM, and GEM-GLOBAL models now cranking out between 5-12+" of snow for Central-Eastern Minnesota, including the Twin Ports, and most of Northern Wisconsin.  If this storm stays on this northerly track, then winter weather headlines will likely be needed for this weekend...Timing of this storm would be from Saturday Night through Sunday Night.

As for the storm track:  Low pressure will move from Eastern Colorado toward Western Iowa then to Eastern Wisconsin.  It should be noted that the ECM (12z run) Japan Model (JMA) and the NAVY model remain farther south and keep most of the snow south of our local area.

Low temperatures Saturday Night will be in the single digits and teens with highs Sunday in the teens and 20s.  Lows Sunday Night will be in the single digits and teens.

The potential for another storm does exist sometime during the middle or end of next week based on latest model projections and the expected 500mb pattern which will consist of a Western U.S. trough and a ridge across the Southeast U.S.  Note:  The EUROPEAN model has looked quite ominous at times for late next week.

5 Day Forecast for Duluth/Superior

.Tonight...  Becoming windy and turning colder.  Areas of fog which could be dense through mid-Evening.  Patchy drizzle also possible.  Flurries or snow showers at times Overnight with patchy light freezing drizzle.  Mostly cloudy.  Low 13 to 18.  Wind south to southwest at 5 to 15 mph becoming west This Evening and increasing to 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 40 mph possible.

.Friday...  Windy and colder.  Flurries or snow showers possible at times.  Considerable cloudiness.  High 30 to 35 which will occur just after Midnight Tonight with temperatures falling to around 20.  Wind west to northwest at 20 to 30 mph with gusts of 40 to 45 mph possible.

.Friday Night...  Partly to mostly cloudy.  Low 3 to 8.  Wind northwest at 10 to 20 mph.

.Saturday...  Partly sunny.  High 20 to 25.

.Saturday Night...  Partly to mostly cloudy.  Flurries possible.  Low 10 to 15.

.Sunday...  Mostly cloudy.  Light snow and flurries possible.  High 20 to 25.

.Sunday Night...  Mostly cloudy.  Flurries possible.  Low 7 to 12.

.Monday...  Partly sunny.  Flurries possible.  High 15 to 20.

Normal temperatures for Today:

High:  25
Low:    6

Sunrise Tomorrow:  7:08 AM CST
Sunset Tomorrow:   5:38 PM CST