On May 27 a thunderstorm dropped over 2 inches of rain in much of Moorhead. Fargo and West Fargo on the other hand, especially areas near and west of I-29 picked up less than one inch. By bad coincidence, the sensor at Hector Int’l was not reporting during that timeframe. Therefore, the National Weather Service used the data from the cooperative observer in Moorhead who recorded 2.33 inches.
Eventually, the data was recovered from the automatic gauge at the airport and the official total was dropped to 0.81 inches for that event. This past Wednesday, the airport sensor recorded 2.39 inches from some overnight thunderstorms. The cooperative observer who picked up so much more from the previous event, this time recorded just 0.74 inches. In the end, the summer totals from those two sites now almost match; yet, my house is still running nearly 2 inches shy of both.
These are yet more examples of how a mile or two can make a huge difference in rain totals and how the official reading frequently does not represent other totals nearby.
As your favorite real-estate agent will tell you, it is all about location, location, location. Just as two similar homes will sell for different prices based on location, the weather will vary greatly based on your location as well. You have probably experienced a thunderstorm missing you, yet at the same time knowing it was raining several miles away. One of the most common questions I get during the summer are requests for the location and timing of the thunderstorms that are in my forecast.
Depending on the meteorological set up that day, it can be very difficult to give an accurate estimation because of the random nature of thunderstorms. There are many elements that go into making an accurate forecast, but nailing down the exact location and timing of precipitation can be the most difficult. As our understanding of the atmosphere improves our ability to forecast thunderstorm placement has gotten better, but we still have much to learn.
Rotating thunderstorm near Carrington, ND this morning produced an interesting cloud formation: