Meteorologist Sven Sundgaard on this week’s hot weather

CATHY WURZER: You don’t need me to tell you’ve been hot. This is the second full day of Summer 2022. Steamy weather is to be expected, but holy moly, Monday was extreme. More hot and sticky weather is on tap tomorrow and Friday. Meteorologist Sven Sundgaard is here to give us the weather news and the story behind some of these high temperatures we’ve been experiencing. Hey. Welcome back to the program.

SVEN SUNDGAARD: Thanks for having me.

CATHY WURZER: Absolutely.

SVEN SUNDGAARD: How are you?

CATHY WURZER: I am fine. I’m still earlier this morning. So, it’s still going. Hey, let’s talk a little bit about Monday, because that’s what everyone remembers, is the sweat fest that we had. How many records were set Monday?

SVEN SUNDGAARD: Well, in the Twin Cities alone, we broke two records. The high temperature, of course, got all the glory, because 101 is a big deal, but we also broke a warm overnight record of 79, kind of shattered that. The old one was 75 sets in 1943. And the record high for the day, it broke the old record of 98 sets back in the Dust Bowl years of 1933.

CATHY WURZER: And let’s talk a little bit about these 100 degree temperatures. We don’t see 100 degrees very often around these parts.

SVEN SUNDGAARD: Yeah, it’s pretty infrequent. In our current 30-year normals, it happens about once every five years on average. The last time we did it four years ago, Memorial weekend, and then before it was 2012. So, this was the hottest day, Monday, in 10 years, the last time we got above that 100 degree reading.

But it’s really rare to do it in June. Normally when we hit 100 degrees, it’s in July, 71% of the time. So, this is kind of a trend where Junes are getting hotter. Summer’s starting a little bit earlier and a little bit more extreme. So, undoubtedly climate change is at least partly a factor in this. So, the fact that we did it in June makes it even more amazing than if we did it in July.

CATHY WURZER: OK, and that’s the key here in terms of potential signal of climate change, because I’ve seen similar temperatures, very hot conditions back in the 1930s, as you say, the Dust Bowl era.

SVEN SUNDGAARD: Yeah, in the 1930s, we’ve had a lot of, you know, it stands out as anomaly still the 1930s, the Dust Bowl era. But there have been some studies done, attribution studies done, recently that have actually put fingerprints of human caused climate change in the 1930s.

It has been one of the first truly obvious signals of what we have been doing in the atmosphere for, at that point, 50 years or so, plus the combination of land use. We haven’t quite figured out the agricultural practices that we know today.

So, when we look at our 150 years of records, if we look at the first 50 years of the Twin Cities’ records, 1873 to 1923, we had seven days of 100 plus temperatures. But when we look at our most recent 50 years, we’ve had 18 days of 100 plus. So, there is definitely a little trend to see more of those extreme temperatures, but you have to look a little harder.

CATHY WURZER: Interesting. Wow, I didn’t know that. So, maps showing this heat dome is covering a big chunk of the country.

SVEN SUNDGAARD: Yeah, we’ve all kind of been taking turns like a pinball machine. It’s been kind of saying to the South, just to our south, literally today. It’s going to move back tomorrow and Friday, but not as extreme as what we had earlier in the week for sure. And then the trend is to push it into the Northwest.

You know, poor Seattle, they haven’t even hit 80 yet this year, but it looks like they’re going to do that this weekend. So, they’re calling it a heat wave, even though they’re not going to hit 90, but a couple of days in the 80s there. And then that heat could be headed towards us again by the end of next week, we might be talking 90 again.

CATHY WURZER: So, it’s interesting to see with that heat on a Monday, noticing that some grass is looking a little crunchy already. So, are we below normal in precipitation?

SVEN SUNDGAARD: Yeah, it depends where you’re talking. Northern Minnesota still pretty good. Of course, they had quite the surplus. But basically a swath of the Twin Cities, New Ulm, even up to St. Cloud and then into western Wisconsin, so the central part of the state, we’ve only seen about 1/2 of our normal precipitation.

And so, our brightness is right now 5% for this time of year when we look at the top several inches. So, if we continue to get these hot, dry days, that’s going to get things out pretty quickly.

CATHY WURZER: Do we have any storms in the forecast?

SVEN SUNDGAARD: We have some. It’s not going to be widespread soaking, which starts to get typical this time of year. We rely on those spotty thunderstorms, but at least the chance is there. Starting tomorrow night into Friday and Saturday, a cool front swings in. We’re going to see more humidity, which is, of course, an important ingredient for all this.

But it is going to be pretty hit and miss. Looks like the northern 1/2 of the state has the best chance of seeing more widely measurable precipitation and a little less in the southern part of the state. The average of the models for the Twin Cities is that 1/4 inch or less, which doesn’t make up for what we need.

CATHY WURZER: Looks like we may see some isolated severe thunderstorms, possibly tomorrow?

SVEN SUNDGAARD: Yeah, we’ve got a marginal risk for most northern Minnesota, which is a level one out of five, but you can’t rule it out this time of year, but we’re not looking at a repeat of what we had Monday night.

CATHY WURZER: OK, because gosh, there are some areas of northern Minnesota that were really hit by severe weather.

SVEN SUNDGAARD: Yeah, northern and western Minnesota had a lot of wind damage reports. Gusts as high as 91 miles an hour, just east of Grand Forks, and a lot of 70 miles per hour wind gusts. So, folks are still cleaning up up there.

CATHY WURZER: All right. I’ll talk to you tomorrow morning. How does that sound?

SVEN SUNDGAARD: That sounds good. I’m going to be in the afternoon too, with Tom Grant.

CATHY WURZER: You’re everywhere. You’re everywhere.

SVEN SUNDGAARD: You can’t get rid of me, Cathy.

CATHY WURZER: That’s fine, Sven, I like that. All right, have a good day.

SVEN SUNDGAARD: OK. You too.

CATHY WURZER: That’s our meteorologist Sven Sundgaard. He doesn’t join me every morning on “Morning Edition” here on “MPR News.”

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