Saturday, January 30, 2010

Forecast: February Slush

The cold is getting....old. At some point one just grows weary, exhausted by uncontrollable shivering, tired of being assaulted (daily) with the latest wind chill, sick of pleading with your car heater, irritable from clenching your fists & holding your breath every time you wander out to get the mail. It's the cold AND the ice - shuffling out to the mailbox every morning to rescue my morning newspapers, picking each step extra-carefully, trying to keep from becoming instantly-horizontal. Don't get me wrong: I like the snow - enjoy revving up the sleds, hitting the trails, getting pelted in the face by stray ice-balls thrown by my two grown sons. Groundhog Day is Tuesday, and I have a hunch, a gut feel (nausea?) that Punxetawney Phil WILL see his shadow, insuring 6 more weeks of winter. At this latitude that's pretty much guaranteed.

Cue the Hallelujah Chorus. Oh sweet, ice-melting relief! The models are in pretty good agreement. The core of the coldest Canadian air will retreat northward in the coming days, our winds originating from Vancouver and Seattle instead of the Yukon. That should mean highs near 30 by the end of the week.

A Week's Worth of Records. Since last Saturday 2,258 (daily) records have been reported across the lower 48 states. Green: record daily rainfall, red dots: record highs, yellow: record nighttime lows. Check out the record daily snowfall records clustered around Oklahoma and Arkansas. To get specifics (from Ham Weather) for any record event click over to Ham Weather here.

Latest Snow Cover. According to NOAA southwestern MN, the Red River Valley and the North Shore has the most snow on the ground, 10-20" or so. From St. Cloud to the Twin Cities less than 7-8" is on the ground. Our recent (heavy) rain compacted the snow, we're down 2-4" in just the last week.

Winter Overview
. This NOAA graphic shows average temperatures for the USA, Minnesota temperatures 1-2 F. warmer than average, while much cooler weather has been observed from Phoenix and northern Mexico to San Antonio, New Orleans and Mobile, possibly a symptom of El Nino.

That said, the atmosphere is about to shift gears - a Pacific breeze will kick in later this week, meaning 20s, even some low 30s by the end of the week. A weak clipper may brush the area with a very light accumulation late Monday into Tuesday (coating to 1/2 or 1", tops). Another "nuisance" snowfall is possible by late Thursday and Friday, another inch or slush. Some of the long range guidance is hinting at enough warm air aloft for a period of rain around Feb. 11-12 with highs well up in the 30s to near 40.

Clipped Again. Models are hinting at a couple inches of snow next week, the best chance of a light coating Monday night - again late Thursday into Friday. I think the models are overestimating snowfall amounts a bit - no significant accumulation is in sight for the next 7-10 days. Snow lovers will have to be patient another couple of weeks, I'm afraid.

St. Cloud has only picked up .9" of snow all month (we should have picked up closer to 10" of snow in January). This is, at least on paper, the coldest, snowiest month of the year. Right. In spite of a numbing start to the month, and a cold finish, our midweek thaw was significant enough that temperatures for the entire month are running about 1 degree above average, a bit surprising considering all the shivering we've been doing in recent days. Temperatures should trend 5-10 degrees above average through the first half of February; models hinting at a colder front for the third week of February (but not as chilling as recent days).

An early spring? Here in Minnesota? Nice try Paul. Ease up on your meds, would you? Based on a lingering El Nino warming of equatorial Pacific water the deep south is forecast to be cooler, wetter and stormier from February through April, while warmer-than-normal weather is predicted for the northern half of America, including Minnesota. I think this is a believable scenario (but I wouldn't be the farm on a 90 day outlook).

Paul's Outlook for the Twin Cities

Today: Partly sunny, quite cold. Winds: NW 5-15. High: 12

Tonight: Patchy clouds, plenty cold. Low: -2

Monday: Clouds increase, a period of light snow possible PM hours, best chance south/west of the MN River. High: 14

Tuesday: Lingering flurries, few slick spots. High: 16

Wednesday: Feeling a bit better out there, intervals of sun. High: 23

Thursday: Mostly cloudy, few flakes around town. High: 26

Friday: Light snow/flurries, "nuisance" accumulation possible, maybe a coating. High: 27

Saturday: Light snow, potential for an inch or so. High: 28

Sunday: Leftover clouds, above average for a change. High: near 30

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