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Weekly Wave: Is it possible to predict weather's perfect day of the year?

Email forecasts Monday, July 18 will feature perfect weather for Minnesota and Duluth ... Weekly Wave is skeptical.

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Rick Lubbers
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DULUTH — When the email message hit my inbox earlier this week, I immediately bit: "July 18th will be Minnesota's most 'perfect day of the year' ... according to weather data."

I'll take that bet.

Now, when there are usually 300 or more emails to sift through during a typical work day, nearly all of these survey and "best of" e-missives are immediately relocated to the e-trash.

But if someone wants to predict the most perfect weather day of the year in a region known more for Mother Nature's fickleness, I'll give it a read.

I've never heard of FamilyDestinationsGuide.com — and they can't be half as accurate as, say, WDIO-TV meteorologist Justin Liles — but they apparently gathered "36 years of historical weather data (that) reveals the date on which each state can expect the best weather."

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It's probably not the most scientific process, but they took the date with the most predicted sunshine (July 10), the day (Aug. 22) with the best average temperature (78 degrees) and the longest day of the year (June 21) and projected July 18 as the most perfect weather day of the year for Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The email did not mention whether Lake Superior was consulted or factored into the equation (kind of seems like they should have, huh?).

The "perfect day" date changes from state to state. If you're living in Arizona, for example, that date is Aug. 4. Denizens of the Buckeye state, circle July 22 on your calendar. If you're living in Michigan, that day is today!

As our luck would have it, July 18 falls on a Monday this year, so if you don't have a vacation day already lined up, you don't have much time to figure out how to play hooky.

Hopefully this bodes well for the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce’s 53rd annual Golf Classic, which takes place Monday at Ridgeview Country Club.

But if Mother Nature decides to throw a weather curveball on Monday, July 18, hey, I'm just the messenger. It was just an email that probably should have landed in my spam box anyway. (My DNT Stormtracker app seems to think it will be hot and steamy Monday.)

Have a great weekend and Monday, July 18 ... no matter how the weather turns out.

Sky on fire

Fireworks fill night sky with moon over harbor
Fireworks explode in the skies above the Duluth Harbor with a waxing gibbous moon on Friday, July 8, 2022, in Duluth. The face of the moon was approximately 65% illuminated.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Photographer Clint Austin has shot Duluth's Fourth of July fireworks numerous times during his DNT tenure, and each year he returns with vivid and unique photos.

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No two of his fireworks shots look the same.

A lot of hard work goes into that. While most of the rest of us are simply pointing and shooting with the cameras embedded in our smart phones, Austin is using his years of experience and his visual creativity to freeze specific moments during a lively pyrotechnics performance.

Photos and video: Rain-delayed Fourth Fest fills Bayfront Festival Park

Austin shared some thoughts on capturing fireworks photos with Weekly Wave:

"Often Mother Nature steps in to provide unexpected elements that really help to link images to a particular night," he said. "This year was fantastic with the waxing gibbous moon lining up perfectly in the sky where the fireworks were launched. Earlier in the week I photographed fireworks in Cloquet and there were low clouds and fog, which really added a unique flavor to the images. One year in Duluth there was a nearby thunderstorm and I was able to capture a lightning bolt with the fireworks."

And like so many things in life, it pays to do your homework.

"Often it is just being aware of what is happening around you and trying to incorporate those elements into the fireworks photo," Austin said. "There is a bit of luck involved, too. Long ago one of my instructors told me, 'Luck favors those who are prepared.' A little research and awareness helps to make unique images of fireworks year after year."

And here's a free expert tip from Austin: "For those who are technically inclined, a lower ISO speed on the digital camera allows for a longer exposure which captures images of the fireworks as we recall seeing them in person," he offered. "A tripod is necessary to accomplish this. However, do not discount the ability of smartphones, many have a low-light mode that will capture nice handheld images of fireworks."

I just love the shot above ... the dazzling colors from multiple fireworks exploding in rapid succession, the red glow on the buildings in the background, the spectators in the boats below the fireworks, and how he snuck the moon into the picture, too.

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Blatnik blueprint

Aerial view of traffic leaving the High Bridge.
Five vehicles follow US 53 South from the Blatnick Bridge, left, Monday, July 11, 2022. Construction of a replacement for the Blatnick, which opened in 1961, could begin in six years. The planned bridge may not connect directly to Hammond Avenue, right, but instead lead directly to US 53.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

This certainly is a decade of major roadway construction, as the Twin Ports Interchange project churns ahead toward expected completion in 2024 and a mission to rebuild the Blatnik Bridge slated to start just four years after that.

DNT transportation reporter Brady Slater keeps a close eye on both projects and gave readers an update this week on what is in store for the Blatnik (or "High Bridge" as many of us call it).

Blatnik Bridge will be rebuilt, likely to feature new Wisconsin connector

Slater writes that "Transportation officials are also recommending that a new bridge exits onto U.S. Highway 53 South, instead of Hammond Avenue in Superior. In order to do so, some existing businesses and residences in the city’s north side will need to be relocated, officials said."

While the planning process is well underway, the cement is still wet and subject to change. One major issue to resolve is where the new Blatnik will land on the Wisconsin side.

According to Slater, "Residents have until July 21 to express their opinions on alternatives presented for a bridge replacement. To comment on the bridge alignment and interchange options, residents and users are asked to visit the project website at mndot.gov/d1/projects/blatnik-bridge."

Jiffy jigsawers

Three women and a man look over jigsaw puzzle pieces.
The four members of the USA's Jigsaw Junkies team, Duluthian Amber Haglund-Pagel, Grey Rogers, Katie Dilks and Geoffrey Scott, compete at the World Championships in Valladolid, Spain on June 26, 2022.
Contributed / Amber Haglund-Pagel

Most jigsaw puzzle mavens enjoy piecing their pictures together at a leisurely pace on a rainy or snowy day.

But Duluth's Amber Haglund-Pagel and a select group of other jigsawers around the world relish the challenge of completing a puzzle with a strict time limit while racing others to be first.

Duluth jigsaw puzzler's team places third in world championships

Weekly Wave understands the sweet triumph of beating a tight deadline and approves of the sporty side of jigsaw puzzling. But I'm lucky to complete a jigsaw puzzle without losing a piece or two in the bargain.

DNT reporter Teri Cadeau caught up with Haglund-Pagel recently to hear about her experiences in the World Jigsaw Puzzle Championship held last month in Valladolid, Spain.

She joined a four-person team dubbed Jigsaw Junkies and performed very well on the world stage. No spoilers here, but please give the story a read when you get a chance.

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Editor's note: Weekly Wave is a newsletter that I publish every Friday morning. Please consider subscribing — it's free — and hits your inbox just once a week. You can sign up here.

Rick Lubbers has been in his role since 2014 and at the News Tribune since 2005. Previous stops include the Superior Telegram (1999-2005) and Budgeteer News (1997-1999). Prior to that, he worked at the St. Cloud Times and Annandale Advocate in Minnesota, and the Greenville Daily News and Grand Rapids Press in Michigan. He received his journalism degree at Central Michigan University.
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