Monday 25 June 2012

Record Heat and Fires in Colorado; floods in Minnesota

Denver poised for more record heat Saturday as record wildfire surpasses 100-square-mile mark
Denver's record-breaking heat Friday sets the stage for a potentially hotter day today, warns the National Weather Service

26 April, 2012

The city beat the record of 98 degrees just after 1 p.m., then climbed to 102 degrees before 4 p.m. Friday, eclipsing the high mark for June 22 set in 1874.

Today's high in Denver is forecast to be 102 degrees, which would tie the record for the date set in 1954.

The searing heat should continue into Sunday, with a forecast high of 98 degrees, and remain in the mid-90s through the next workweek, forecasters say.

With the high heat, single-digit humidities and gusty winds across much of the state, a critical "red flag" fire danger warning started Friday at noon, which lasts until 8 p.m. today. Officials characterize the risk for wildfires as "extremely high."

The official city monitor site at Denver International Airport hit 100 degrees and set a record Monday, as well. The normal daily highs for this time of year are in the mid-80s, but so far this month daily temperatures have averaged nearly 6 degrees warmer than the 30-year average.

Although the heat seems unusual, it's somewhat normal, but framed by months of extremely hot and extremely dry months, it seems worse, said National Weather Service meteorologist Frank Cooper.

The Rockies tend to heat up and dry out before the summer monsoon season from mid-July to mid-August.And some of it has just been tough meteorological luck, he said.

"We've just been on the wrong side of these storm tracks," Cooper said.

Nearly all of Colorado is in a drought, after a weak snowpack in the mountains followed by an abnormally warm and dry spring.

Colorado weather forecast: Record heat, critical fire danger concerns Friday

23 June, 2012

KUSA - As of 4 p.m. Monday, DIA reported a high of 102 degrees; a record for the date. The old record was 98 degrees set in 1874. The average high Friday was 85 degrees.

High pressure settled over the region has pushed the storm track north of the area. This means several days of mostly sunny skies, gusty winds and low relative humidity values. Because of this, RED FLAG WARNINGS for high fire danger have been issued for this weekend.

Fire danger will remain high, at least over northwest Colorado, through Saturday. A RED FLAG WARNING will continue for areas near Steamboat Springs, Craig, Meeker and the western slope until 8 p.m. Saturday.

Temperatures along the Front Range will not be dropping anytime soon either. The record high for Saturday is 102 degrees set in 1954, but there is a big chance we could tie that temperature or break it by 3 pm. The triple digit temperatures will continue through Sunday and then remain hot for the rest of the week in the 90s with the next chance for storms until Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota...

Duluth ‘mega flood’ sets new records

24 June, 2012

10.10" – Highest observed rainfall total
(Reported by an NWS employee 4 mi NE of Duluth)

7.24" – Preliminary storm total at Duluth NWS office
(Likely the all time greatest 24 hour rainfall total on record for Duluth)

5.79" – Previous all time 24 hour rainfall record in Duluth (August 22 & 23, 1978)

16.6 feet – New "flood of record" on the St. Louis River at Scanlon
(Reached early Thursday morning)

15.8 feet – Previous flood of record from 1950 (62 years ago)

Counting Catastrophes:

Let the record counting begin.

Weather forecasting is what you see out the windshield, current conditions are what's in the sunroof, and climate is what's in the rearview mirror.

Meteorologists had our day Wednesday trying to keep up with frantically changing conditions in and around Duluth and the North Shore. Today, "climatologists" get to pick up the pieces and tell us what it means.

All time greatest 24 hour rainfall for Duluth? Looks like it.

Highest flood ever on the St. Louis River and many other North Shore streams? Likely.

What just happened?

In every disaster there's usually one photo that captures the essence of the event. The photo of the scared looking seal swept away from the Lake Superior Zoo by floodwaters does the trick for me on this one. I'm tempted to call this "The Great Duluth Seal Flood of 2012."

Here's a good preliminary account of the Duluth Mega Flood from the Duluth NWS.

Three day rainfall amounts of 8 to 10 inches were common across the Minnesota Arrowhead and northwestern Wisconsin from June 17th through June 19th. The heavy rain took its toll on the road infrastructure and caused rivers and streams to flood.

A cold front approached Minnesota from the High Plains on Sunday, June 17th and this front set off numerous thunderstorms through the evening. Duluth NWS received nearly an inch of rain (0.71"). The rains that fell on Sunday had inundated the soil, and created more saturated conditions than normal, which primed the Duluth area for runoff in the extreme rain event that we received. On Tuesday, June 19th another front slowly approached northeastern Minnesota. This front continually formed thunderstorms that developed over east central Minnesota and tracked northeast into the Duluth area, the north shore of Lake Superior and into northwestern Wisconsin. The official rainfall in Duluth on the 19th was 4.14 inches up until 1 am. The thunderstorms finally ended when a strong cold front moved through Wednesday afternoon. The rainfall on the 20th was 3.10". Total rainfall for the large rainfall event was 7.24".

Numerous roads were washed out from the deluge of rain from Carlton County through the Duluth metro area and into Douglas County and Bayfield County in Wisconsin.

A state of emergency was declared in Duluth, Hermantown and Superior, WI.

The Fond Du Lac neighborhood of Duluth and the Thomson Township in Carlton County were evacuated due to the quickly rising St. Louis River. […]

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