Thursday, January 28, 2010

Keeping a little perspective

"Any day you can crawl to the window and look out is a good day."

- anonymous

Yesterday was a tough day. I went to a funeral for a close friend, a next-door neighbor who died at the age of 52, a tragic death. She leaves behind an amazing husband and 4 exemplary boys. It was a painful reminder of the fragility of life - the stuff most of us take for granted every day. So I won't complain about the current temperature or the predicted wind chill. Not today. No time soon.

Anatomy of a cold wave. Here are the predicted temperatures across North America for 7 am this morning. Purple connotes subzero readings - the freezing line extending way south from near Dallas to Little Rock to Wilmington, North Carolina. This is about as cold as it's going to get, nationwide, looking out the next 2-3 weeks.

A welcome February thaw. The GFS brings the (wondrous!) 32 degree isotherm into central Minnesota by 7 pm next Thursday, Feb. 4. The worst of our current cold wave will be winding down by early next week.

A welcome warming trend is still showing up on the horizon, the atmosphere forecast to shift gears from a Yukon breeze to more of a Pacific flow by the latter half of next week. That means a rerun of 20s and 30s, temperatures trending 5-10 degrees ABOVE average by the first full weekend of February. The pattern still isn't ripe for a major storm anytime soon - a weak, clipper-like system capable of whipping up a coating of light snow Monday of next week. The GFS model is still hinting at a more significant storm between Feb. 7 (Sunday) and Feb. 9 (Tuesday). Right now it looks like rain ending as a couple inches of slushy snow, but a lot can change between now and then. Until then: relatively smooth sailing, no travel-busting storms, toe-curling cold through the weekend, followed by some real moderation, a definite mellowing of our weather, by the end of next week.

Rain/snow mix? The GFS model is suggesting that the air will be marginally warm enough in the lowest mile of the atmosphere for mostly-rain by the weekend of Feb. 6-7. The rain/snow line is forecast to set up from Duluth to St. Cloud to Pipestone by midday Monday: rain east, mostly-snow west. A changeover to wet snow is possible Monday-Tuesday with a potential for a couple of inches. The confidence level is low, this event is still 9-10 days away.

Paul's Outlook for the Twin Cities

Today: Plenty of sun - yes, it's "cold enough for me." Winds: SE 5-10. High: 9

Tonight: Mostly clear, numbing. Low: -7

Saturday: Sunshine much of the day. High: 15

Sunday: Increasing clouds, flurries possible late. High: 17

Monday: Light snow/flurries, coating possible. High: 19

Tuesday: Flurries giving way to partial clearing. High: 17

Wednesday: More clouds than sun. High: near 20

Thursday: Mostly cloudy, noticeably milder. High: 26

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