Happy fall! Autumnal equinox at 8:03 p.m.; weekend looks mainly dry

Temperatures will feel seasonably chilly through this weekend

Autumnal equinox
Autumnal equinox and seasons.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Welcome to fall 2022, Minnesota.

The autumnal equinox occurs at 8:03 p.m. in Minnesota. At that time, the sun’s path in the sky will cross directly over the equator en route to favoring the southern hemisphere for the next six months.

The earth’s axial tilt produces the seasons. The simple geometry is we get more direct sunlight in the northern hemisphere in summer and less in winter.

Because the Twin Cites sit at about 45 degrees north latitude, the sun’s angle in the sky Thursday is 45 degrees above the horizon at solar noon. It will dip in the sky and reach a minimum of about 21.5 degrees at the December solstice, then slowly climb higher through winter to reach 45 degrees elevation again on the spring equinox in March.

Earth's orbit and seasons
Earth's orbit and seasons
NASA

Fall weekend weather

September has basically been a Hobbit’s “second summer” in Minnesota, so far. Through Thursday, temperatures are running 4.7 degrees warmer than average in September at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Our record high of 92 degrees with dew points at 70 degrees in the Twin Cities Tuesday felt more like July. Our Tuesday evening lightning and hail show punctuated the end of summer for all practical purposes.

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The first weekend of fall in Minnesota will feel decidedly autumnal. Friday brings scattered rain and a possible thunderclap.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s NAM 3 km model shows scattered rains with isolated small thunder cells possible late Friday afternoon and evening. The loop below runs between 7 a.m. Friday and 1 a.m. Saturday.

NOAA NAM 3 km model
NOAA NAM 3 km model 7 am Friday to 1 am Saturday.
NOAA, via Tropical Tidbits

Most forecast models keep rainfall totals light, less than one-quarter inch, for much of Minnesota, with pockets of more than one-half inch in some lucky lawns and fields.

Here’s the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts model rainfall output into Saturday morning.

European model (ECMWF) precipitation output
European model precipitation output.
European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, via Pivotal Weather

Temperatures will feel seasonably chilly through this weekend. Highs will approach 70 in the south, with 60s for most of Minnesota this weekend. The weekend looks mainly dry across Minnesota.

Forecast high temperatures Saturday
Forecast high temperatures Saturday
NOAA

Happy Fall!