Saturday, March 31, 2007

Watching for storms

7:17 p.m.: A line of storms has quickly moved through the area, prompting several tornado warnings for Vernon, Richland, and Grant counties. No confirmed tornadoes or damage yet. This was a very complex situation and any tornadoes or funnel clouds that may have formed would likely have been weak and short-lived, and may have even gone unnoticed. The severe weather threat should now be over, but rain could continue for a few more hours.

5:58 p.m.: Tornado Watch in effect this evening. A line of storms is moving north-northeast out of Iowa. Large hail, damaging winds and heavy rain will be the biggest threats, but there is still a chance for an isolated tornado or two.

Link to tornado watch:

12:21 p.m.: Am keeping an eye on the weather picture this afternoon for the potential for some strong/severe storms. Isolated storms are developing across the area right now. A more concentrated area of storms is expected to develop over Iowa as the afternoon progresses, and this is where the greatest threat for severe weather will be. However, a warm front is expected to be located across the region by later this afternoon, and it is not out of the question that severe storms could develop along it as well. Overall, there will be a very narrow window for severe weather development, generally between 3 and 10 p.m. If all the conditions come together, severe storms could be more widespread than currently predicted. I will eagerly await the 3:00 p.m. severe weather outlook.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Storms tomorrow

After rain this morning, the rest of the day has been just cool and cloudy. More rain is coming though, especially tomorrow. There could be periods of heavy rain, mainly later tomorrow, and possibly a few severe storms. The severe weather threat is highly conditional. The location of the dry slot with this system will be the key. (A "dry slot" is a large area of dry air being wrapped into a storm system; these meteorologists can be quite clever when they name these features). Skies could become partly to mostly sunny under the dry slot, which would increase the instability and therefore enhance the severe weather threat. If skies remain cloudy, the chance of severe weather will be greatly diminished, and any severe storms would be more isolated. There will also be a warm front in the area, and those can be quite unpredictable. It will be an interesting day.

More rain will be likely early next week as another strong storm moves through. Some much colder air will move in behind this particular system, bringing a chance of snow as well. Temperatures are expected to be below normal for at least the first half of April, unfortunately.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Where Did Spring Go?

After two days of record highs in the 80s, spring has seemingly disappeared already. The past two days have been much cooler, and cloudy skies and occasional rain showers have really made it feel dreary (and have made me extremely tired). This is actually what early spring is supposed to be like, we were just spoiled (as usual) by a brief period of late-spring-like weather.

Major severe weather outbreak in the Plains last night. Several reports of tornadoes in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado. At least four fatalities so far. The only good thing is that most of these storms affected rural areas, so damage and casualties will be considerably less than if more populated areas had been hit. Meanwhile a blizzard has been raging in Wyoming. All of this is due to a strong spring storm system (say that 10 times fast...) that is slowly headed our way.

Rain and thunderstorms will become increasingly likely beginning tonight, with the best chances likely occurring Friday night and Saturday. Depending on how this whole thing plays out, there is at least a small chance for severe thunderstorms on Saturday. The Storm Prediction Center doesn't have the area in any kind of an outlook yet, but this morning's forecast discussion from the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities contained this little tidbit: "UPPER LEVEL SYNOPTIC SCALE SIGNALS (just fancy words for things going on up high in the atmosphere)ALL THERE THOUGH FOR A SIGNIFICANT SEVERE WEATHER EVENT SOMEWHERE ACROSS IA/SOUTHERN MN/WI AND
NORTHERN IL BY SAT EVENING." Surface conditions, however, may not be nearly as favorable, depending on how this whole situation evolves. More on that later.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Severe Day

8:19 p.m.: Tornado watch cancelled. Forecast was a major bust, again.

6:54 p.m.: This year's severe weather season appears to be picking up where last season left off: wrong. Today's "outbreak" hasn't been nearly as widespread as expected, with only a few reports of severe weather mostly across west central Wisconsin. Some storms may be trying to get going just to the west of the Mississippi River but unless they do so in a hurry it looks like our severe weather threat is rapidly diminishing. But, the watch continues to be in effect, as there is still a potential for storms to turn severe quite rapidly before they completely clear the area.

3:45 p.m.: Tornado Watch is in effect until 10:00 p.m. tonight. Thunderstorms are beginning to develop over southern and eastern Minnesota and are expected to intensify and move into Wisconsin in the next several hours. It may take a couple more hours before things really get going. Otherwise, it has been a nearly perfect weather day, with record high temperatures in the upper 70s and lower 80s, with mostly sunny skies (that are now becoming partly cloudy) and some rather gusty winds.

Link to Tornado Watch:

10:15 a.m.: There is a moderate risk of severe thunderstorms this afternoon and evening. Tornadoes, hail and damaging winds are all possible. The greatest threat time will be between 3:00 and 10:00 p.m. More to follow, if necessary.

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Friday, March 23, 2007


The blizzard of '07 began one month ago today, but all traces of it are now gone. Spring is definitely here. There has already been some flooding (11.38 feet on the Kickapoo River at La Farge last week, not quite flood stage but close enough), unseasonably mild temperatures (66 degrees today), and some isolated severe weather. Storms on Wednesday night brought pea-sized hail locally with some isolated reports of penny- and nickel-sized hail in parts of the region.

The weather pattern remains very unsettled. Showers and thunderstorms are likely tomorrow night as another warm front moves northward, and there is a slight risk of severe thunderstorms on Sunday. A stronger storm system is currently forecast to impact the region around the middle of next week, and could bring another chance of severe storms. Severe weather is not altogether uncommon in late March, but it is rare to have more than one outbreak.

Heavy rain will also be a big concern during this period. About six-tenths of an inch fell during Wednesday's storms, which caused the river to rise nearly three feet here. This is because the ground is saturated from the recent snowmelt, and is still frozen at greater depths. Flooding conditions could redevelop if heavy rain does occur. Something to watch...

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