December 2008 Newsletter

The next SKYWARN meeting is 16-Dec @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month.

About 10 members attended the 18-Nov meeting. Topics discussed included:

  • The OSCAR Technician class and SKYWARN class will be coordinated. Looks like the timing for the SKYWARN class would be around 10-Mar with dates to be finalized.
  • Todd Krause from NWS advised that Karen Trammell returned to Oklahoma. We enjoyed her traingin presentations over the past couple of years.
  • The MN SKYWARN Workshop is scheduled for 28-Mar. This is also the planned date for the Buffalo Hamfest.
  • The WX Dashboard page has been updated. Be sure to visit the page and update your bookmarks.
  • Chris G. reviewed the sweet spots found in the Merton Township on 08-Nov. Another hunt will take place on 13-Dec. Meet at the Happy Chef at 10:30 AM, following the OSCAR meeting.

Steele County SKYWARN was not activated in November.

2009 SKYWARN Class
The NWS confirmed Tuesday, 10-Mar as the date for the Steele County SKYWARN class. More details will be provided in future SKYWARN Newsletters.

Winter Outlook From Minnesota WeatherTalk
The NOAA Climate Prediction Center seasonal outlook for the months of December through February continues to favor warmer than normal temperatures, but restricted to the southern half of Minnesota. Certainly the models currently favor a warm start to December. On the precipitation side, the outlook models do not favor either above or below normal conditions, so there is still great uncertainty regarding seasonal snowfall amounts.

Home Humidity From USA Today
Winter time can result in wild changes in humidity inside a home. Conventional wisdom is that, for best indoor comfort and health, a relative humidity of about 45% is ideal. Winters dry air can lead to health problems like dry skin, scratchy throat, and nosebleeds. Humidifiers can provide relief by adding moisture to the air and slowing evaporation from the body. However, too much moisture can lead to condensation, mold and rot. A house with relative humidity less that 30% is too dry. One with relative humidity over 50% is too wet.

MN Tornado Statistics From Minnesota WeatherTalk
Todd Krause of the National Weather Service Office in Chanhassen, MN has provided a summary of tornado activity in Minnesota during 2008. In the absence of any further tornado activity in November and December (highly unlikely), these will probably be the final numbers for 2008. He reports 43 tornadoes in Minnesota during the year, including 3 EF-3 (winds 136-165) storms: one struck Hugo on May 25; one struck Emmaville, between Dorset and Park Rapids on June 6; and one struck near Kandiyohi on July 11. The majority of Minnesota tornadoes (23) were EF-0 (winds less than 86 mph). In all 23 injuries and one death were attributed to these tornadoes.

The worst October tornado outbreak in Minnesota history was on the 26th in 1996, when 14 tornadoes were reported across western and central counties between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Dewpoints spiked in the upper 50s to low 60s F during the afternoon just ahead of these storms, indicating a large quantity of latent energy in the atmosphere. The first tornado struck in Big Stone County about 3:00 pm and was on the ground for 1 mile. The last tornado struck near Brainerd (Crow Wind County) about 7:00 pm and was on the ground for less than one mile. Five of the tornadoes were F-2 intensity (winds 113-157 mph). These tornadoes and some lesser ones caused some structural damages to homes, cottages, and farms in Swift, Stearns, Isanti, and Douglas Counties. October tornadoes are very rare in Minnesota, with a total of only 28 documented storms historically. The last October tornado was on the 29th, back in 2004 near Buckman in southern Morrison County.

The latest date on the fall calendar that a tornado has ever been documented in Minnesota is 16-Nov-1931. About 9:35 pm, an F-2 tornado (113-157 mph) passed 5 miles across Hennepin County near Maple Plain. The storm destroyed a number of farm buildings in the area, but did not inflict any injuries. The day was very warm with temperatures from 65 to 70 degrees F and dewpoints in the 50s F. As a result many observers reported unusual November thunderstorms that evening, some with heavy rain.

Snow vs. Rain From USA Today
Most meteorologists would say that there is a 10:1 ratio of snow to water (meaning that an inch of liquid water would result in 10 inches of snow). While many snows that fall at temperatures close to 32F and snows accompanied by strong winds do contain approximately one inch of water per ten inches of snowfall, the ratio is not generally accurate. Ten inches of fresh snow can contain as little as 0.10 inches of water up to 4 inches depending on crystal structure, wind speed, temperature, and other factors. The majority of U.S. snows fall with a water-to-snow ratio of between 0.04 and 0.10.

NOAA WX Radio Milestone From Minnesota WeatherTalk
NOAA announced the activation of its 1000th NOAA Weather Radio transmitter nationwide. This one is located in Nenana, in central Alaska and was done using a partnership grant from USDA. NOAA Weather Radio now reaches close to 95 percent of the US population thanks to a large expansion in the network that has occurred since the 1990s. There are dozens of NOAA Weathr Radio transmitters in Minnesota that cover most of the state, and you can even listen to NOAA Weather Radio on the internet.

Word For The Month From Minnesota WeatherTalk
Toggy Tool
Bill Togstad recently retired from the National Weather Service Office in Chanhassen, MN and studied severe weather for many years. He developed a numerical algorithm to evaluate the risk of EF-2 (winds of 111 mph or greater) or greater tornadoes. This tool, called the Toggy Tool is still used by the National Weather Service, and especially the NOAA Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved
Steele County SKYWARN
Owatonna, MN