Several rain chances ahead; Wildfire smoke through midweek

Note: Today, August 23rd marked the 50th time this year with a high temperature of at least 80 degrees at Duluth, Minnesota. The record for most number of 80 degree days in a year is 53 days set in 1988. I think we’re going to make a good run at that record this year.

Computer models, including the EPS and GEFS ensemble models have been showing a much wetter pattern developing across the upper Midwest including for us in the Northland over the next 2 weeks.

There are rain chances in the Northland for Tuesday, late Thursday into Friday, and possibly again sometime late Saturday-Sunday.

EPS and GEFS models both show a chance for several inches of rain in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin over the next 2 weeks. Time will tell if this verifies or not.


Highest chances for a half inch or more of rain on Tuesday is over southern portions of the Northland, south of Duluth and south of the Greenwood, John Elk and Whelp fires.

Setup for Tuesday features an area of low pressure (red L) moving east out of the Dakotas while a warm front (red) and cold front (blue) connected to the low move east across the upper Midwest — Southerly winds ahead of this system will draw more moisture northward, while lift provided by the surface low and surface boundaries help in producing some rain and thunderstorms over parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Note: Chances for severe thunderstorms look pretty low in the Northland on Tuesday.

18z simulated radar forecasts valid from 1 AM tonight to 1 AM Wednesday

Both computer models show similar solutions for Tuesday morning, but differ how far north the rain/thunderstorms will get, with the HRRR model more to the north versus the NAM 3km model, and then whether or not we see additional shower/thunderstorm development take place late Tuesday afternoon/evening is highly uncertain as a lot of it will depend on where/how long the rain/clouds stick around Tuesday morning.

NAM 3km model

HRRR model


Wildfire smoke

The Northland will be seeing some more wildfire smoke at times at least through Wednesday afternoon, with most of this smoke originating from the fires out west, but there will also be some smoke (aloft and at the surface) due to the Greenwood fire in northeast Minnesota, and some of that smoke could impact Duluth and Superior on Tuesday as winds become northeast.

Note: Higher concentrations of smoke aloft show up in orange and red colors on the animation below.

18z HRRR model smoke forecast through 1 PM Wednesday.

Hazardous air quality conditions will be found over parts of northeast Minnesota due to the Greenwood fire, with an Air Quality Alert in effect through 3 PM Wednesday, August 25, 2021, including the cities of Hibbing, Ely, Virginia, Hoyt Lakes, Babbitt, Isabella, Two Harbors, Silver Bay and Grand Marais.


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