The warmest day ever in Minneapolis/St.Paul in January was 58 degrees on the 25th 1944. While conditions won't get quite that warm this weekend, we will make a run at 40 degrees Saturday. Warm enough for massive trail closures this weekend!
This January thaw quickly turns into a deep freeze come early February. In addition, a winter storm looks to threaten the area Tuesday-Wednesday of next week. The blizzard potential is high with this storm and bears some watching in the days to come.
Areas in red/orange indicate significant snow melt. The Dakotas have certainly seen rapid melting, whereas the Twin Cities only minor melting.
Increasing Snow Chances Next Week
The next major winter storm to track across the county will target the Central Plains and Midwest. A strong pressure gradient will result in high blizzard potential with the storm. Good news for fatbike snow lovers, not good news for travel.
Mild with very little snow this week. Blame El Nino. The latest storm track will bring any potential snowstorms either north or south of the metro. While temps surge close to 40 this weekend, colder air awaits us into early February.
Through the end of January temperatures are expected to trend above normal across Minnesota, especially east of the Mississippi River.
A warm up awaits us this weekend. Warm air will ride over the denser, colder air at the surface. This will create what we call an inversion. The atmosphere remaining very stable with little vertical movement in the lower levels. As a result somewhat cloudy conditions will prevail with the risk of poor air quality.
As the Blizzard of 2016 bears down on Washington DC to Philadelphia, Minnesota experiences quiet high pressure. A storm moving into the Pacific NW this weekend will eventually go on to give us a light snowfall Monday. Another light snow late in the week will help to freshen up the singletrack. This bodes well for the Get Phat with Pat race #2 January 30th.
Minnesotans continue to amaze me. Even in sub-zero temperatures we get out and embrace the harsh elements. Still not a fan of the sub-zero temps? Hang in there. This cold won't have quite the bite late this week with 30s on the horizon for the upcoming weekend. A mini heat wave by comparison!
After the dusting Tuesday, next chance for a quick coating will be Sunday-Monday. Either way no big snow storms for Minnesota in the near future. Unlike the East Coast storm that is brewing Friday through Saturday.
With the arrival of the arctic air the ice has begun to accumulate over the Great Lakes. On Monday the Duluth shipping season came to a close with the arrival of the Paul R. Tregurtha. It's the seventh and final laker to lay up in the port for the winter.
During the first 7 days in January 1912 the temperature stayed below zero, the longest consecutive streak on record. By comparison, we'll stay below zero for at least 48 hours this weekend. Wind chill values as low as -40 can be expected. Cold like that can make frostbite in less than 15 minutes. If braving the elements on the bike this weekend, be sure to cover any exposed skin!
Weather records go back to 1872 in the Twin Cities. The coldest day ever recorded was -20 degrees in 1888. We like to refer to that as "pioneer" cold!
We get a chance to thaw out a little later this month. The extended temperature outlook shows above normal temperatures January 22-28.
Back on January 9th I came across this frozen frog along the Theodore Wirth singletrack. I thought frogs hibernated deep into the soil during the winter but here this little buy was, frozen in time.
What happened? And how did the frog meet this fate? Minnesota Biological Survey herpetologist Carol Hall weighed in on this frog mystery. Here is her response:
"Well this is odd, and I suspect it will be an unsolved mystery. I’ve been sent pics of frogs out on lake ice in the winter (likely otter predation), but this is really unusual! Based on the silhouette and the site location, I suspect it is either a Northern Leopard Frog or a Green Frog. Both species overwinter in deep wetlands or lakes, or possibly a river/stream. It could have been dragged to the trail by a predator, but there is no way to tell if there was any open water nearby. In December there were periods where frogs were still active, but if the picture was taken recently it likely didn’t get there on its own!"
In looking back at the climate data I found that the air temperature in the two days prior to finding the frozen frog was above freezing at 34 degrees. In addition 1.5" of snow fell over that same period. This is when another fellow herpetologist, Aaron Crank, chimed in:
I would bet at this time the snow began to melt, the frog sensed this as an opportunity to head to a more suitable overwintering site. It was probably met by freezing temps that night and it may have slowed its locomotion to the point it stopped moving. Seems like it had frozen that night, and more snow has fallen to cover.
Fascinating! Hope you enjoyed this discovery as much as I did.
Does cycling infrastructure investment (like designated bike lanes) mirror gentrification and privilege? Researchers at McGill University and the University of Quebec in Montreal found "a bias towards increased cycling infrastructure in areas of privilege." The study looked at Chicago in particular where "neighborhoods with large white populations, or an influx of whites, were more likely to get these bike investments." But this raises an interesting point:
Do cities build this infrastructure where they believe people live who are likely to use it (or lobby for it)? Or does the creation of bike lanes attract certain people? Are bike lanes really a part of the process of neighborhood change, or a sign when it's underway? The researchers sidestep the answer by suggesting that gentrification and cycling infrastructure "mirror" each other in these two cities.
You can read more about this study and its findings in The Washington Post.
Can conditions be too cold to snow? You bet! There is a direct correlation between temperatures and the amount of water vapor the air can hold. When the temperature decreases the amount of water vapor the air can hold also decreases. In other words, the colder the air gets the lower the water vapor content. Still, under certain circumstances, heavy snow can occur in extremely cold conditions.
In the extended forecast expect a whole lot of cold with very little snow. A few, weak clippers may graze the area with a fresh coating but nothing more. Even colder air arrives this weekend. Some areas may not even break zero degrees for a high. Hang in there, this is the time we typically experience the coldest riding weather of the year!
Your cold weather riding gear will get tested big time. The coldest air of the season arrives this weekend along with our first sub-zero temperature readings. Three waves of arctic air will rotate around the infamous polar vortex sending us into the deep freezer through much of next week.
Historically, the Twin Cities temperature has always dipped below zero at some point during winter. On average we experience 30+ nights below 0F during a typical winter, according to meteorologist Paul Douglas. The extended outlook shows below freezing temperatures through late January. Classic Minnesota weather as the average high for this time of the year is low-to-mid 20s.
A pair of fast-moving clippers next week could bring a quick dusting of snow. Otherwise the arctic air will help keep the current snowpack intact for trail riding.
The Vikings will likely play their coldest game on Sunday. Players and spectators will brave wind chill values 15 degrees below zero. Brrr.
Forecasting winter snow can make a meteorologist go mad. Just take a look at the graphic below of the very narrow snowband that sat over Georgetown recently. This tiny streak was no more than 2 miles wide, yet produced over a foot of snow! Surrounding areas just a few miles away barely received an inch. These microscale weather phenomena can be terribly hard to predict.
Cold enough air remains entrenched across the area to support two rounds of snow this week. The first round occurs Wednesday evening, the second round Friday night. The snow will be fairly light but enough to freshen up the singletrack.
Snow Totals Expect occasional light snow Wednesday-Friday. A fresh inch could coat the trails by the end of Thursday. Maybe an additional inch or two by Saturday morning with the second system.
Following the snow, the coldest air of the season arrives. As the National Weather Service Twin Cities puts it:
THE ARCTIC AIR WILL COMMENCE AS THE POLAR VORTEX DIVES SOUTHWARD INTO SOUTHERN CANADA AND NORTH OF THE GREAT LAKES THIS WEEKEND.
Ah, yes, the infamous polar vortex. Much colder air will arrive on Sunday. In fact, our first sub-zero temperatures are expected on Monday. Classic Minnesota weather for early January.
This arctic cold will make for an interesting Vikings game. Surely the players are preparing by practicing with the doors open at the Winter Park training facility. How will the Seattle Seahawks fair?
A very quiet start to the year across Minnesota and Wisconsin. The national pattern is rather stagnant with very little variation in our day to day weather. No snow storms in sight but the snow that is on the ground will likely stay there as temperatures remain close to normal for early January.
The 6-10 day outlook shows a slight bias toward above normal temperatures in early January, whereas there is a slight trend toward above normal precipitation across southern Minnesota
December 2015 was record setting as being the 2nd warmest and 9th wettest in Minnesota weather history.
Summer brings warm afternoons perfect for biking, but the summer heat and humidity can also spark thunderstorms and severe weather. Be prepared for any type of adverse weather headed your way with Aeris Pulse.
NWS Twin Cities Weather Story