First I want to thank everyone who responded to the “Fireball” blog post yesterday. It is interesting that many people saw it. Many said it had a green hue which makes me wonder if it might have been a piece of space junk. Copper burns green and old satellites and parts of rockets might contain significant amounts of copper. Meteors have been known to burn green as well. As far as the old video I have been searching for, the 1972 video from the Grand Tetons is probably it. Thanks a bunch to those of you who were able to do a successful online search for that video. The video I remember was a bit more clear (and close up), but perhaps the transition to low quality digital form, for posting on youtube, makes it look not quite as spectacular.
The other big news of the day is that the SNOWMELT CONTEST has begun! I could tell people were getting anxious about the contest over the last couple of weeks because we have received quite a few inquiries in the news and weather department. Perhaps people were seeing how little snow there is left on Rib Mountain and worried it might melt before the contest begins! Well, that will not happen, because the contest begins today. The entry period will run from today through the end of the day – midnight – on Friday April 27th, so you have a while to formulate your prediction. If you can’t wait, you can go ahead and enter your prediction here today: http://www.waow.com/story/17396215/2012-snow-melt-contest-is-here The snow melts in June most years but it has melted in May on two occasions. Will it be the earliest ever melt-off this year due to the mild Winter and record warm March? Only time will tell.
The lack of snowfall this past Winter and during March has led to less snowpack up on Rib Mountain for this year’s snowmelt contest and it is also leading to drought conditions across many areas of the Midwest. I can report from the “front lines” that we have below normal precipitation here in Wausau because I kicked up a lot of dust while digging in my garden over the last couple of days. The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that conditions have worsened slightly over the last couple of weeks. The percentage of the state that is reporting abnormally dry or worse conditions has increased to almost 60%. About 5% of the state (in the far west) is considered to be in moderate drought conditions.
Thankfully, there is a chance of rain over the weekend and off-and-on chances next week as well. The first chance of rain will come this afternoon but will be quite light – maybe a tenth of an inch or two. A higher chance of heavy rain and thunderstorms will develop Saturday night and continue on Sunday. There is even a slight risk of severe thunderstorms by Sunday afternoon, as indicated by the SPC. The severe threat will depend on how far north a warm front will move into the state on Sunday. If the front moves as far north as central or northern Wisconsin, we will have an increased threat of high winds and hail and even isolated tornadoes. Right now, it looks like the front will most likely linger in the southern part of the viewing area, south of Marathon county. The front’s position as well as cloud trends (at this time) seem to support the highest chance for severe weather including tornadoes would be in the far south, mainly south of Wood and Portage counties on Sunday afternoon. Rain amounts between Saturday night and Sunday could be in the 1 to 2 inch range.
Have a pleasant Weekend! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on April 13, 2012