Local Forecast

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 6:15 AM
Prepared by Bob Weisman
Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Saint Cloud State University
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department
Saint Cloud and Vicinity Forecast


Toasty Today, Cooler But Blustery Tomorrow

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Warm, But Getting Windy

Temperatures climbed back into the 60's for the first time since the middle of March (70 on the 15th). We are set up for an even warmer day today. Temperatures in central Minnesota have only fallen to the middle to upper 40's (see NWS Aviation Center Minnesota map). That's about the level of the average high temperature for April 1. As a low pressure area over central Saskatchewan (see NWS HPC Latest North American zoom-in surface map) is forecast to move eastward today, the winds will shift around to the southwest and increase to 15-30 MPH with higher gusts. Already, those winds have kept temperatures in the high 50's and some 60's in central and southwestern South Dakota (see NWS Aviation Center Dakotas Map). Note also that the air is extremely dry with dew points in the teens and 20's.

We will see temperatures climb rapidly this afternoon into the 70's in a good chunk of central and southern Minnesota into the Dakotas with 80's likely nearby in South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska. St. Cloud has a shot at the April 1 record warm high of 77 degrees, set in 2010.

Dangerous Fire Day Today (First of a Few)

There will also be that very strong southwest wind with gusts possibly in the 35-45 MPH range, especially in the windier areas of south central and southwestern Minnesota. The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory out for southwestern and south central Minnesota, including Marshall, Granite Falls, Hutchinson, Olivia, and southward to the Iowa border.

The strong winds combined with the warm temperatures and air that is initially dry could cause severe fire conditions in much central and southern Minnesota. An area from Jackson and Mankato and eastward to the I-35 corridor and Red Wing is under a red flag warning today, the highest category of fire danger. The rest of central and southern Minnesota are under a fire weather watch for today. Expect the fire danger shown on the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources map to be upgraded later this morning.

Late Day Thunderstorms With Some Wind Potential, Mainly to Our South and East

By late in the day, the cold front from the Canadian low will push into Minnesota, triggering showers and thunderstorms. During the day, the moisture feeding the big blob of thunderstorms across Oklahoma (see infrared loop from College of DuPage Satellite and Radar Menu) will stream northeastward into eastern Nebraska, Iowa, and parts of southern Minnesota. That moisture will arrive just in time for the front to come through late today, setting up showers and thunderstorms from central and southern Minnesota all the way into Oklahoma. Some of these storms could produce straight line damaging winds and perhaps large hail from southern and southeastern Minnesota southwestward. These areas also have a shot at seeing significant rainfall.

There is also a very warm plume of air aloft in place across the Plains states and pushing into Minnesota. This warm air aloft will make it difficult for thunderstorms to form until very late this afternoon, when the high moisture works its way into the state. For northern, west central, and parts of central Minnesota, the front could come through before enough moisture gets here, so it could pass with little or no chance of showers and thunderstorms. So, I only have a 3 in 10 chance of showers and thunderstorms late this afternoon into this evening.

Cooler Through Weekend, High Fire Danger Tomorrow

Behind the cold front, more seasonable air will move in with temperatures returning to below average on Friday and generally staying only average at best through the weekend. Temperatures will mostly stay in the 40's to near 50 tonight, but only recover to the middle 50's tomorrow. Highs will only be in the 40's to perhaps lower 50's from Friday through the weekend.

The west to northwest winds will be howling again behind the front. I don't think the winds will be quite as strong as we saw on Sunday, but 20-30 MPH winds with gusts over 40 MPH are quite likely. This combined with the dry vegetation will set up another period of very high fire danger across most of Minnesota. There is a fire weather watch in southwest and central Minnesota. A red flag warning with temperatures in the 50's would be unusual, but I wouldn't rule it out completely. Keep in mind that people are the usual cause of wildfires.

The winds will ease off a bit by Saturday, blowing at 8-15 MPH. There may be more middle and high clouds on Saturday, but the chance of any rainfall looks to be slim with relatively dry air near the ground. I don't see another shot at significant rainfall until early next week. The computers are trying to show a stronger storm moving through Minnesota on Tuesday. It may be possible to get deeper moisture into this storm in time for some rain, but the computers are having loads of problems with the day to day weather since the Northern Plains are still forecast to be close to the boundary between very warm and coolish air.

At this point, a cooler interlude, cooler than this weekend, is shown for the middle of next week, but we'll see what happens.

A couple of lakes in Wright County have lost their ice in the past couple of days. With the milder weather today and the strong winds during the next few days, expect many reports of ice out to spread across central Minnesota.

See Forecast Below

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Wednesday 4/1: Sunshine through high clouds, windy, and warmer. Slight chance of a late day shower or thunderstorm. High: between 72 and 76 (record warm high: 77 in 2010). Winds: SW 10-20 MPH with higher gusts in the afternoon. Chance of measurable rainfall: 20%.

Wednesday Night: A chance of evening showers and thunderstorms, then partial clearing late. Still very mild. Low: between 42 and 46. Winds: NW 8-15 MPH. Chance of measurable rainfall: 30%.

Thursday 4/2: Fire Weather Watch. Mostly sunny with some occasional afternoon clouds, blustery, and not nearly as warm. Very high fire danger. High: between 52 and 56. Winds: W 20-30 MPH with higher gusts. Chance of measurable rainfall: 10%.

End of "Reasonable" Forecast Certainty

Thursday Night: Partial clearing with slowly diminishing wind and cooler. Low: between 23 and 28. Winds: NW 10-20 MPH evening, 8-15 MPH late. Chance of measurable rainfall: 10%.

Friday 4/3: Sunny and not as windy, but seasonably cool. Elevated fire danger. High: between 42 and 46. Winds: WNW 10-20 MPH. Chance of measurable rainfall: 10%.

Friday Night: Partly clear evening, some clouds late and cold. Low: between 23 and 28. Winds: light S. Chance of measurable rainfall: 10%.

Saturday 4/4: Mostly cloudy, breezy, and not quite as cool. A slight chance of a sprinkle. High: between 50 and 55. Winds: NW 8-15 MPH. Chance of measurable rainfall: 20%.

For Entertainment Purposes Only.

Saturday Night: Cloudy, breezy, and cooler. Low: between 20 and 25. Winds: NE 8-15 MPH. Chance of measurable rainfall: 10%.

Sunday 4/5: Sunshine through high clouds, breezy, and continued cool. High: between 45 and 50. Winds: SE 8-15 MPH. Chance of measurable rainfall: 10%.

Sunday Night: Cloudy, breezy, and still cool. Perhaps a rain shower late. Low: between 30 and 35. Winds: SE 8-15 MPH. Chance of measurable rainfall: 20%.

Monday 4/5: Cloudy and seasonably cool. A slight chance of a rain shower. High: between 50 and 55. Winds: SE 8-15 MPH. Chance of measurable rainfall: 20%.

Extended: Colder Tuesday and Wednesday??

Forecast Confidence (10 - "Know what gas will cost next week, Bob?"; 0 - "Been a victim of road rage lately, Bob?"): 7 Wednesday, 6 Wednesday night and Thursday, 5 Thursday night through Saturday, 3 Saturday night and Sunday, 2 Sunday night and Monday.

Yesterday's High: 63F; Overnight Low (through 6 AM): 44F
St. Cloud Airport Precipitation: None; SCSU Precipitation (Through 6 AM Wednesday): None

Normal Temperatures for April 1 - High: 48F; Low: 26F
Next Update: Thursday, April 2, 2015 8:00 AM (or as needed)

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Let me know what you think about this forecast and discussion by emailing SCSU meteorology professor Bob Weisman. Please note that I make the forecast, not the weather!

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