Early in my forecasting career, my assignment was to observe and report the weather. Each hour I would parade outdoors to gage the sky and the visibility. Remote equipment recorded other reportable information, such as temperature, dew point, wind and pressure. In the 1990s the National Weather Service deployed Automated Surface Observing Systems at local airports. Thus there is a host of surface weather reports plotted hourly from across the state and the nation.
One of my employees would often wisely suggest that automation carries secrets. A couple of days ago one of the automated thermometers in Minnesota was reporting a reading of 111 degrees. Technicians quickly remedied the erroneous data. In the weather business, no data is better than having bad data.
More importantly, part of the drama of forecasting the weather is intuitive. While working in the yard I sensed a change blowing in the wind. It was as if the wind was foretelling a story about an approaching cold front. With winds gusting to 35 mph in western Minnesota, readings in the lower 60s and low relative humidity, forecasters were concerned about a risk of grassland fires.
The chapter of much above normal temperatures written the last few days will end soon. We’ll turn the page to find the mercury tumbling to readings more typical of mid November. Normal is not a bad thing.
Paul Huttner and the MPR weather team will be keeping a watchful eye on the changing weather and the computer models long range forecast for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Intuitively, I’m thinking Mother Nature might have some interesting weather cooked up soon.