Duluth heats up in a hurry, with stormy weather to follow

A shift in the wind led to a rapid rise in downtown temperatures, and the region is setting up for storms with strong winds this evening.

Man sunbathing
Mickelos Vue catches some rays at Chambers Grove Park on Monday. “It’s about time,” he said of the high temperatures. “This is just awesome.”
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — What started out as a fairly comfortable day on the shores of Lake Superior quickly escalated into a scorcher Monday afternoon, with downtown temps jumping from 68 degrees at 12:55 p.m. to 88 degrees just 40 minutes later. The mercury continued to rise through the afternoon, topping out in the mid-90s, and humid dewpoints in the lower 70-degree range only added to the discomfort.

"That's pretty juicy for our region," said Justin Schultz, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Duluth.

As for the sudden switch in conditions, Schultz pointed to a southerly wind shifting to the southwest.

"Usually these are the kinds of scenarios that tend to keep the lake breeze at bay," he said, explaining that southwest wind quickly funneled warm air into the then-unbuffered area. "So, that's why we couldn't rely on Lake Superior to keep us cooler by the lake, as it usually does, because of that southwest flow," Schultz said.

Man kayaking.
Mark Grover was one of the people taking to the water to deal with the weather Monday. “I have no air-conditioning at home so this is my only escape,” he said before putting on the St. Louis River at Chambers Grove Park.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Away from the lake, Northland temperatures had already climbed into the 90s Sunday, and Brainerd recorded a high of 98 degrees as a warm air mass settled into the region.


Storms were expected to follow.

"We have a cold front that's pretty much draped over extreme northwest Minnesota down toward the Dakotas," Schultz said Monday afternoon, and that cold weather mass was moving east.

"That will bring at least some relief to the heat, but as you have this cold front colliding with this really warm, moist air mass that we've got in place, you really have the ingredients for thunderstorm activity.

Duluth is on the margins of the area at risk for severe weather, with the likelihood of intense activity rising to the west.

The area in greater danger of violent weather runs from around Big Falls down to Grand Rapids, the Brainerd Lakes area and points west, Schultz said.

People by Lake Superior
People enjoy Lake Superior’s shore in Canal Park.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

The National Weather Service warned the system could produce damaging straight-line winds in excess of 70 mph, large hail and possibly some tornado activity.

On the upside, temperatures Tuesday are expected to moderate. Schultz said conditions should less oppressive, but temperatures are likely to remain above average in the lower- to mid-80s in Northeastern Minnesota. Expect some stiff winds, too, with gusts of 20 to 30 mph anticipated.

Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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