March 211 Newsletter

The next SKYWARN meeting is 15-Mar @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month.

SKYWARN Spotter Training
Spotter training is schedule for 01-Mar at 7:00 PM at the Owatonna Fire Station. Spotters must complete the training at least every two years to maintain certification.

Daylight Savings Time
Whether you love it or hate it, Daylight Savings Time begins At 2 a.m. on March 13, the second Sunday in March.

Phenology From Multiple Sources
Phenology is the study of the times of recurring natural phenomena. Examples include the date of emergence of leaves and flowers, the first flight of butterflies and the first appearance of migratory birds. Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center is hosting a Phenology & Weather Observers Gathering the weekend of March 4-6. While you are up in the area, be sure to visit St. Urho in Finland.

Northern Plains Convective Workshop From NOAA
The National Weather Service in the Twin Cities and the Twin Cities AMS will be hosting the 15th Annual Northern Plains Convective Workshop. The conference will be held March 22-23, 2011 at the the University of St. Thomas' St. Paul Campus. The conference will run from approximately 8 AM - 5 PM on both days.

The conference will be a combination of invited speakers and submitted presentations. There will be a poster session in addition to the oral presentations. Topics will include, but will not be limited to, prediction of severe local storms, operational techniques for severe storm forecasting, storm structure and organization, societal impacts and dissemination of hazardous weather information, and climatological patterns for severe local storms.

Satellite Flood Gauges From
Traditional flood gauges are sticks attached to bridges, weighted wire lowered into the water from a known elevation, or electronic sensors. The gauges may automatically report data, or the gauges may have to be manually read. Some flood gages may or may not be referenced to sea level. Steele County has a networt of seven manually read gauges. Meteorologists are currently looking to enhace the use of satellites to make more accurate flood predictions. New satellites can track rainfall and monitor soil moisture using L-band microwaves. Areas where the soil is saturated will tend to flood more. Soil that is simply wet can release more water through evaporation which may develop into rain.

Mercury Thermometers From Multiple Sources
Mercury thermometers are being phased out through combined efforts of the EPA, the NIST, industry and environmental groups. To help expedite the transition from mercury filled thermometers, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will no longer offer calibration services for thermometers containing mercury.

Speeding Snow From Multiple Sources
Falling snow can be a pretty picture, but hard to actually photograph. You need to have an idea of the speed to ensure the camera shutter snaps the image fast enough. Snow is formed at between altitudes of 5,000 and 10,000 feet, and the velocity can be very dynamic at those altitudes. As the snow flake reaches our driveway, it generally is floating at 3mph. Calculating it out, that snow flake you have to shovel took 20 - 40 minutes to fall after it was formed.

Record 2011 From Multiple Sources
The DNR-State Climatology Office determined that 2010 was the wettest year in MN history, with 34.10 inches.

Millibars vs. Inches From USA Today
Millibars are used by most countries' weather services to measure air pressure. The USA still uses inches of mercury. Also, most scientists in the USA and around the world use millibars in their research. Additionally, measurements of air pressure above the surface throughout the atmosphere are also usually given in millibars. Millibars are the same as hectoPascals, the official metric unit of air pressure that is another term you may hear in other countries. The standard atmospheric pressure at sea level is 1,013 millibars, which equals 29.92 inches of mercury.

Ocean Storms From New Scientist
We may beleive life in the oceans is insulated from the vagaries of the weather above the water. New research is suggesting what goes on above the water's surface is intimately linked to the survival of the creatures below it. A single storm hitting at just the right moment, or a particularly icy winter, can lead to bumper catches of fish or traps full of crabs a few years later. A researcher investigating salmon catch records found the fortunes of the salmon were closely tied to the storminess of winters. Other researchers are looking at more subtle, longer-term processes. The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), for example, is a measure of air pressure differences between Iceland and the Azores that see-saws every few years. When the NAO is positive, the westerly winds across the North Atlantic become stronger and shift northward, bringing warmer, rainier conditions to Europe and the North Sea, but cooler, icier conditions to the Labrador Sea and Newfoundland.

Cloud Top Temperatures From Minnesota WeatherTalk
Researchers from the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison reported recently on new high speed techniques to measure and analysis changes in cloud top temperatures detected by satellites. These procedures may help forecasters with the prediction of severe thunderstorms, perhaps improving lead times by as much as 45 minutes over the detection of severe storms by Doppler Radar alone. The technique makes use of cloud top satellite scans done every 5 minutes over the North American Continent. You can read more about this at

Term For The Month From Minnesota WeatherTalk
Thirl and Tirl
Not to be confused with the Tilt-A-Whirl, these Scottish words are used to describe rotation. They might also describe a fresh, strong breeze. April is historically the windiest month of the year.

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Steele County SKYWARN
Owatonna, MN