Heat eases this weekend, but storms could be on the way

Park-goers sit in the shade.
Park-goers relax in the shade to beat the heat in Minneapolis on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.
Tim Evans for MPR News 2021

We've had a stormy spring and early summer — what's in store for the holiday weekend? Meteorologist Sven Sundgaard gives an update.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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Audio transcript

INTERVIEWER: We've had that cool spring, a stormy and sweaty start to summer. So let's bring in meteorologist Sven Sundgaard with the latest. Hey, Sven.

SVEN SUNDGAARD: Hey, yeah. And who would have thought two months ago, we'd be talking about a pretty hot June that's wrapping up.

INTERVIEWER: Right? I mean, it didn't seem like it at first. But really, mother nature kind of put the pedal to the metal. And June was pretty toasty.

SVEN SUNDGAARD: Which says a lot about, really, the last couple of weeks. Because the first 10 days of the month, we were running below normal. So we more than made up for it to place us at-- but what will end up being an average temperature for the month, of 73 degrees. That's 3 and 1/2 above normal. So that's averaging all the highs and lows together. And it may not sound like a lot, but the standard deviation for June temperatures is three degrees. So that means that we are outside of the normal range, where 68% of the data falls, by quite a bit. So, we're pretty much guaranteed to be the 11th hottest June, when it wraps up tomorrow.

INTERVIEWER: Wow. And I've been noticing-- and this is, of course, something that we've seen now for a while-- also warm nights. Warm nights.

SVEN SUNDGAARD: Absolutely, that's one of our bigger climate change signals in the summer. The triple digits are one thing, 101 degrees last week, of course, got everyone's attention. But while we were sleeping, or maybe not sleeping that comfortably, we had, of course, some very warm nights, where we dropped to only about just below 80 last week, strong climate change fingerprints on that. But even tonight, a night that wouldn't probably get anyone's attention, we're looking at a low that'll be down into the low to mid 70s. That's significantly warm for this time of the year, and even at this point in the summer.

So Climate Central has this climate shift index that they apply to different variables. And that gives a one or two, which is a pretty strong climate change signal. So, we are seeing this trend in warmer nights, also more humid summers. I think a lot of people are noticing that. And in fact, the DNR senior climatologist, Kenny Blumenfeld, actually had an article out last week, that heat waves are getting more humid so that the heat indices are getting hotter.

Of course, the 1930s have way more 100-degree readings than any other decade. But it was a dry heat. I know it sounds stupid to say that when it was 107 degrees. But we reached that and surpassed that for a heat index last Monday, all because we're seeing this increase in humidity. And of course, what does that humidity spell to, that more water in the atmosphere means a lot more of these extreme rainfall events, especially in the summer.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah, exactly. Let's talk about the wind. Meg mentioned that. She's been noticing that. Almost everybody else has too.

SVEN SUNDGAARD: Yeah, I know. We talked about it this morning too. That's been the number one question I've been getting since winter, really. And it has been a windier than normal year so far. But June as well has been a windy one. It's just that back and forth between cooler and hotter weather. The hotter weather really dominating this month, like a blowtorch blowing in from the south, like it is today, is a great example of why this month has been windier than normal. 16% more wind than normal for the month of June. And this is really another consecutive month since that pattern change that we saw in January that led to a chillier pattern.

INTERVIEWER: It's been kind of wet up in northern Minnesota, in the South, not so much.

SVEN SUNDGAARD: Yeah, we talked about, just a minute ago, about these extreme rainfall events, where they had radar indicated precip totals of 6 to 10 inches of rain in one night. That's what you'd expect from a hurricane, yeah, just north of St. Cloud, last Thursday night. And that kind of thing just did not happen before. And overall, our annual precipitation is increasing too. But that's the one spot. Basically, St. Cloud, Little Falls, Brainerd, Grand Rapids, that north central part of the state has been seeing double the normal precip for the month of June, sort of makes sense.

But then, you get into Southern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, New Ulm, Hutchinson, to Eau Claire, only about a third to a half of our normal precip. And actually at the airport, MSP airport, is even worse. We've seen about an inch of what should be a normal four inches of water in the month of June. So, yeah, you're noticing it's windy? It's also getting very crispy in your lawns.

INTERVIEWER: Any relief coming, maybe this weekend?

SVEN SUNDGAARD: Maybe a little bit. We do at least have some chances. We are in a drier stretch so whenever we see at least that there's a few chances in the next several days, that's a little bit encouraging. But the nature of thunderstorms, of course, is hit and miss. So northern Minnesota is getting showers right now actually, again, where they don't need it, Red Lake, Bemidji, up towards Thief River Falls. We've got some rain, no lightning or thunder in that. But that's some leftovers from storms in North Dakota. But we are going to be watching Eastern North Dakota for storms to develop this evening.

There's a slight risk of severe weather for that northwestern corner of the state. What's left of those thunderstorms will drift across northern Minnesota, but also drifts Southeast overnight. So, early tomorrow morning, in the Twin Cities, south central Minnesota, where we need the rain, we could have some scattered showers, maybe even a couple of thunderstorms.

But then, as we head into the weekend, another shot Saturday night. Maybe also 4th of July night too, so maybe a few natural fireworks mixed in with the real fireworks. And otherwise, pretty hot, we maybe just shy of 90 today. But I think we'll get close to it tomorrow, if we can clear out that morning activity early, little cooler for the weekend. But then, it looks like we're going to be be back up towards 90 much of next week. In fact, the Climate Prediction Center's 6 to 10-day outlook is calling for highly likely warmer than normal temperatures next week. So we may be dealing with some pretty intense heat again.

INTERVIEWER: All right, Sven. Thank you, have a good day.

SVEN SUNDGAARD: You too.

INTERVIEWER: That's Sven Sundgaard, an MPR meteorologist.

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