Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Just when the warm-up begins, a new arctic air mass looms - Temperatures across the central United States (including the high plains of Colorado) soared into the 70’s and 80’s this last Sunday of April. St. Cloud, Minnesota reached 76 degrees; Denver, Colorado topped out at 77 degrees; and Lincoln, Nebraska rose to 81 degrees. These readings were about 13 degrees above seasonal average.
While Denver has been periodically very cold this month, St. Cloud has been consistently chilly. In fact, only in the past few days have temperatures across Minnesota risen to above seasonal readings. This warm-up is about to end during the next few days, thanks to an intense low-pressure system in the central Pacific. That low is allowing warm air to surge northward to its east, helping to build an upper level ridge or high-pressure system across the Gulf of Alaska. This, in turn, will allow an arctic high-pressure system to build across the northeast Pacific and western Canada and the western U.S.
As a result, by Wednesday, the mercury at St. Cloud should struggle to reach 45 during the day (18 degrees below seasonal average) as temperatures drop to near freezing Wednesday night (6 degrees below average). The story will be similar at Denver (35 Wednesday {30 below average} and 25 Wednesday night {12 below average}) and Lincoln (46 Wednesday {14 below average} and 36 Wednesday night {7 below average}).
At St. Cloud, precipitation is expected to involve a mix of rain and snow from Wednesday night into Thursday night. Denver should see some snow Wednesday into Wednesday night. Lincoln will see mostly rain. The best news about this cool down is that it will slow the snowmelt across North Dakota and northern Minnesota. Still, the Souris and Red Rivers will remain above flood stage.

**Always borrow money from a pessimist.
He won’t expect it back.**
Oscar Wilde


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Mount Etna put on another spectacular display on Saturday, for the 13th time this year, shooting bursts of lava and columns of ash high into the air. Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said the eruption posed no risk for the population.

Popocat├ępetl volcano (Mexico) - Increased activity. Activity at the volcano picked up in the past 48 hours. Following an earthquake swarm on Saturday with volcanic-tectonic quakes of magnitudes up to 2.3, which was probably the result of a new magma batch rising, an increase in small emissions occurred.


Tropical Cyclone Zane was located approximately 315 nm northeast of Cairns, Australia. There is a high level of uncertainty with the forecast as the system moves back into the Gulf of Carpentaria, due to the mix of dry air entrainment and favorable surface conditions competing for the dominant influence on intensity.

Cyclone Zane forms off Australia's north Queensland coast - Tropical cyclone Zane, packing 100km/h winds, has formed off far north Queensland on the last day of the official cyclone season. The category-one system is predicted to hit the Queensland coast near Lockhart River on Cape York sometime tomorrow.


California - Bay Area residents can put away the long sleeves for the rest of the week as a wave of warmth is headed their way, with possible record-breaking high temperatures by Friday. They can thank -- or blame -- high pressure building over the area in conjunction with warming offshore winds.
Daytime highs are expected to hover in the 80s and 90s inland, which for many cities will amount to a 20-degree jump from normal temperatures for this time of year. But the heat should not be taken as a harbinger of the coming season. Forecasters expect two weeks of higher-than-average temperatures before the numbers settle down in the 60s and 70s. "These temperatures are well above normal, but we see this year to year. We'll get a week or two of really warm temperatures, then it will normalize out."
No heat records were broken Monday, according to the weather service. In San Jose, the temperature reached 87, short of the 1981 record of 93. Friday could see some records broken, but only because that day has modest record highs. In San Francisco, the May 3 all-time high is 79 degrees. "Some of the records are quite low. And we're going to get warmer into the week."
Fire officials are keeping a close eye on the heat's effects on grassy hillsides with the fire season fast approaching in June. Wildland fires are up 61 percent through the first four months of the year, propelled primarily by a dry winter. "We didn't receive enough rainfall to soak into the grass and brush. With significant wind events, it's bringing drier conditions than normal." Residential burns have been banned in a number of Northern California counties to limit the risk.


EU to ban bee-harming pesticides - The European Commission will restrict the use of pesticides linked to bee deaths by researchers, despite a split among EU states on the issue.


H7N9 found in China's Hunan province as outbreak grows to 126 - The reach and number of H7N9 infections in China continued to expand over the past 3 days, with Hunan province reporting its first case and four others reporting six more, lifting the outbreak's total to 126.