If you've been to the north shore recently you've experienced some wacky weather: record heat and record ice. Temperatures all week have been pushing 90 degrees at the same time huge ice chunks still linger in Lake Superior. This is the largest ice cover in late May since records began.
Rounds of rain can be expected through early next week. Rain totals could exceed 2 inches resulting in temporary trail closures.
Saturday: Storms slowly roll into western MN. Metro may stay dry for the majority of the day. H: 85 Wind: SE 10
Saturday Night: Thunderstorms increasing. L: 68
Sunday: Showers and thunderstorms. H: 86 L: 67 Wind: S 5-10
Monday: Rain, thunder. Mostly cloudy H: 83 L: 59 Wind: SW 10-15
Tuesday: Mostly sunny. H: 78 L: 56 Wind: NW 10
Wednesday: Thunderstorms. H: 71 L: 55 Wind: SE 10
Rain may put a damper on our riding plans, but at least it isn't snow! Back in 1947 an unprecedented snow storm cruised through the Midwest. A cool foot of snow fell in Harrison, Nebraska. This storm just clipped southern Minnesota but went on to bring measurable snow to Wisconsin May 27-29.
Despite starting off this year one of the wettest on record, drought conditions have crept back into southwestern Minnesota. California is far worse with drought conditions expected to cost $1.7 billion and 14, 500 jobs.
Often times drought and wildfire danger go hand-in-hand. But as WeatherBELL meteorologist Joe Bastardi points out, wildfires have been trending below normal and drought conditions globally haven't changed much.
Blizzard conditions can only mean one thing to the Minnesota fatbiker: trail maintenance. Winds packing over 30 mph combined with the 4"-6" snowfall we received this week has made the snow deep on spots. Any exposed area of trail likely has significant drifting. Carver Lake Park, for example, is planning trail maintenance and packing before the Cold Catfish Cup on Sunday.
A fresh round of 2"-4" of snow by Saturday should make the Get Phat with Pat River Bottoms Race interesting! Winds are always an issue when these strong Alberta Clippers race through Minnesota this time of year.
Saturday: Morning snow ending throughout afternoon. H: 18 Wind: S 10 G 20
Saturday Night: Clearing. L: 10 Wind chill: -4
Sunday: Mostly sunny. Breezy. H: 17 L: -7 Wind: 10-15 G 30
Monday: Cloudy and COLD. H: 0 L: -14 Wind: NW 7
Tuesday: Partly sunny. H: -2 L: -12 Wind: W 2-4
Wednesday: Cloudy. H: 5 L: -10 Wind: NW 7
The words 'polar vortex' have been thrown around a lot lately in the media. There's absolutely nothing new about the polar vortex. It has always been in the arctic! The polar vortex is simply the low pressure associated with the core of the coldest air in the northern most latitudes. This swirling low can often swing down lobes of cold air during winter. A piece of the polar vortex is back early next week...beware.
We spent 62 hours below zero this week. That number doesn't even come close to the record of 186 consecutive hours back in 1912. Either way, that crazy arctic outbreak is behind us. A 50 degree temperature swing has occurred over a 4 day period. 30s never felt so good!
There will be a couple opportunities for fresh snow on the trails this weekend. The first round comes in Friday night with 1 inch accumulation in the metro. A light wintry mix early Sunday could cause glaze on the groomed trails.
Saturday: Morning snow ending, staying cloudy. H: 29 Wind: NW 10
Saturday Night: Partly cloudy. L: 16 Wind: SW 10
Sunday: Morning light freezing drizzle, very brief. Crusty trails? H: 35 L: 13 Wind: SW 10
Monday: Snow showers. H: 23 L: 16 Wind: SW 10
Tuesday: Partly cloudy, breezy. H: 24 L: 5 Wind: NW 15-20
Wednesday: Partly cloudy. H: 22 L: 13 Wind: SW 10
Fewer Frigid Nights
Despite the recent extreme cold, the numbers show that overall there is a downward trend in the number of extreme cold nights.
Ash Borer Larvae and Cold
If you've been up north lately, you've seen the devastation these little buggers have done to the ash trees. Across the United States, 150-200 million out of 8 billion ash trees have perished. The good new is that many of the ash borer larvae in Minnesota may not be able to survive our recent cold winter. A recent study "showed that 5% of the insects die at 0F, 34% at -10F, 79% at -20F and 98% at -30F." You can read more about this in Paul Hettner's weather blog.
2014 MORC Board of Directors
Introducing the 2014 MORC Board of Directors! We're excited about the upcoming year. I will be posting our latest webinar discussing the past, present and future of this great organization. Lots of good stuff in the pipeline so stay tuned!
Hang in there, we're stuck in this cold abyss for a while. In fact, temperatures look to stay below normal through the middle of January. Praying for a warm front. The lack of any thaw, however, will allow for pristine trail conditions for fatbikes.
Monday Night: Snow showers. About 1 inch accumulation. L: -9 Wind: NW 7
New Year's Eve: Cold, increasing clouds. Snow after midnight to ring in the new year. Accumulations ~1" H: 0 L: -9 Wind: NW 2-4
New Year's Day: Cloudy. H: 5 L: -7 Wind: NE 10
Thursday: Sunny. H: 3 L: -10 Wind: NW 4
Friday: Partly sunny. Slight warming thru the night. H: 15 L: 20 Wind: S 5-10
Saturday: Snow showers. Little to no accumulation. H: 20 L: 7 Wind: NW 15-20
Sunday: Partly cloudy. H: 13 L: -8 Wind: NW 10-15
Hey, it could be worse. Scientists recently discovered the coldest place on the planet. The temperature just off a ridge in the East Antarctic Plateau reached minus 135.8°F, in the middle of August no less! Really puts our cold into perspective.
After a quick 1-2 inch coating of new snow on the trails, cold settles in again for the weekend. A storm that passes to our south and brings accumulating snow to Iowa and Wisconsin and flooding rains to the Ohio Valley. Minnesota is spared.
Saturday: Mostly cloudy, light wind. H: 22 Wind: NE 2
Saturday Night: Cloudy. L: 11 Wind: N 7
Sunday: Cloudy. H: 16 L: -7 Wind: NW 10 mph
Monday: Sunny but wind chill sub zero. Bitterly cold. H: 1 L: -7 Wind: NW 7
Christmas Eve: Partly cloudy, breezy. H: 16 L: 12 Wind: S 10-15
Christmas Day: Cloudy, light snow showers. H: 22 L: 1 Wind: SW 10-15
Thursday: Partly sunny. H: 9 L: 0 Wind: W 10
Friday: Mostly sunny. H: 11 L: -1 Wind: SW 7
Okay, do you want the good news or the bad news first? Though the amount of daylight will decrease for a few more days as the sun continues to rise later, we have passed the earliest sunset of the year and will see the sun set later each day. The winter solstice and the official start to winter is Saturday. Bring on the bright summer evenings!
Something odd fell from the sky Monday, December 16...snow in the shape of corkscrew pasta! I've been scratching my head trying to figure out how these individual snowflakes obtained this odd shape. Maybe it has to do with the type of tiny air particles and just the right atmospheric conditions? No clue! Some things defy explanation.
Minnesota Heat Waves Linked to Lost Cryosphere
New study links loss of arctic sea ice and snow melt to extreme weather in the mid-latitude, including in Minnesota. Warning, technical weather talk:
Atmospheric changes associated with the combined snow/ice reductions reveal widespread upper-level height increases, weaker upper-level zonal winds at high latitudes, a more amplified upper-level pattern, and a general northward shift in the jet stream.
More frequent extreme summer heat events over mid-latitude continents are linked with reduced sea ice and snow through these circulation changes.
You may have seen this story but I though it was the coolest thing. Imagine raindrops that fall today being preserved for billions of years.
Recently discovered raindrops in South Africa were fossilized in volcanic ash 2.7 billion years ago. This discovery provided a clue as to what our atmosphere was like during that time. Based on the size of the imprints, scientists were able to conclude that the atmosphere that created the preserved raindrops was nearly twice as thick as today.
Welcome to the coldest weather since 2008! Temperatures will struggle to break even 10 degrees and wind chill values 20 below zero will test even the best cold weather riding gear. After everybody's frozen we only modestly start to climb out of this arctic abyss late next week. Good grief!
Saturday: Partly sunny, dry for Global Fatbike Day. Wind chill: -5 to -10 H: 5 Wind: W 5-10
Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy. Wind chill -16. L: -1 Wind: W 10
Sunday: Snow continuing overnight. Totals: 1-2" H: 15 L: 4 Wind: SE 2-4
Monday: Mostly cloudy. H: 8 L: -3 Wind: WNW 10-15
Tuesday: Snow showers. Less than 1 inch accumulation. H: 11 L: -7 Wind: NW 10-15
Wednesday: Partly sunny. H: 10 L: -4 Wind: SW 5-10
When the air is so bitterly cold, ice crystals can form out of clear air. These ice crystals are sometimes referred to as diamond dust and can cause beautiful optical phenomena in the sky. The pillars of sun like the ones shown above are a common sight in Minnesota on very cold mornings and form when ice crystals refract sunlight low on the horizon.
Find Fatbike Snow
If you want to crush some snow you gotta head up north. Duluth and areas along the north shore of Lake Superior got hammered by over 20 inches of snow this week! Duluth had a storm snow total of 23.3 inches Monday-Wednesday.
Minnesota Cimate Change
Milder winters, more heat waves, heavier rain events. The jury may still be out on wether climate change is natural of human caused but change is evident even for an ordinary observer. For Minnesota, 7 of the past 10 warmest years have occurred in the past 15 years. The state has also experienced more intense droughts and heavy rain events. You can read more here about Minnesota climate change and weather hazards from state climatologist Mark Seeley and the University of Minnesota Extension climate team.
NASA has just released this most detailed movie to date of Saturn's north pole, known as 'the hexagon'.
The hexagon is a wavy jet stream of 200-mile-per-hour winds (about 322 kilometers per hour) with a massive, rotating storm at the center. There is no weather feature exactly, consistently like this anywhere else in the solar system.
Best part about the hexagon?....astronomers aren't exactly sure how it takes on that shape.
Thanksgiving and Hanukkah occurred on the same date this year. The last time this happened was 1888 and the two holidays won't occur together again until the year 79,811! For kicks and giggles, here are a few things that will happen by the time Thanksgiving and Hanukkah occur together again...
Big thumbs up to my weather producer, Alex Buck, for coming up with this list!
Snow chances begin to increase Monday-Wednesday next week. Accumulations will be possible as a winter storm tries to develop across the plains. The bigger story is the potential for record-setting cold the first half of December. We're talking highs barely getting to zero and lows well below zero. North Dakota and Montana might see high temps around -20 degrees! According to the National Weather Service, this might rival the February 1996 cold weather outbreak. Yikes.
Saturday: Mostly cloudy. H: 36° Wind: NW 2-4
Saturday Night: Some clearing. L: 20° Wind: N 2-4
Sunday: Mostly cloudy. H: 32° L: 22° Wind: E 2
Monday: Light snow showers. H: 33° L: 24° Wind: SE 7
Tuesday: Snow, heavy at times. H: 34° L: 26° Wind: SE 10
Wednesday: Snow showers. H: 34° L: 21° Wind: SE 7
Feeling unusually cold lately? For the past week, temperatures across the Midwest have been trending colder than normal. Odds now favor this cold persisting into mid December.
Men and women feel cold differently. Men, on average, have more muscles than women and muscle is good at producing heat. Guess I gotta start hitting the gym.
Exercising out in the cold is like a double workout because in cold weather the body works harder to warm itself up, thus helping you to lose weight.
Smart Phone Thermometer
This year 2WheelWeather will be providing a CycleCast for the upcoming Fatbike Frozen40 in February. I had a chance to catch up with Brad Boyd, the race director and starter of RideFatBikes.com. During our meeting, he asked an interesting question..."will we ever have access to accurate pinpoint/neighborhood weather?" Turns out that getting this hyper local forecast data for your backyard isn't too far off. Various companies have developed ways to utilize our already exiting technologies like traffic cameras and smartphone to acquire and repurpose weather data. So, is a smart phone thermometer...a SmaPhoTherm?
Kids and Bikes
Organizations like the MN League and Crank Sisters have grabbed the interest of young people and have gotten them more involved in cycling. These efforts are contagious and now bike youth programs are popping up all over the metro. The Pillsbury Elementary in Minneapolis, for example, has added biking to their fourth grade curriculum.
The program focuses on kids learning through activity and adventure. Underpinning this idea are the convictions that communities can offer a wealth of bike-accessible resources, and that becoming a safe urban biker empowers kids and builds connections to their communities.
Taking Fatbikes to the Next Level
I always admire cyclists who think outside the box. The Ktrak is like a fatbike...but without the fat tires. Could be cool?
A friend of mine owns a bike shop in State College, PA that specializes in building custom bikes from a mix of new and recycled parts. The shop is called Freeze Thaw Cycles...appropriately named, huh? Here in Minnesota, the freeze thaw cycle takes on a totally different meaning. The Hoosier Mountain Bike Association explains the process:
"When soil freezes all the moisture turns to ice crystals between the particles of the soil, and in clay or loam soil they are tightly packed together. As the moisture freezes the crystals expand and tear the clay apart which shatters it, then as it thaws the soil becomes more porous and allows more moisture in. This is repeated with every successive thaw."
Minnesota sees over 100 freeze thaw cycles a season. Now is the time to respect the trails and ride only when conditions are right, usually when the trail is frozen in the early morning or late evening. If you enjoy mountain biking the Twin Cities trails, please support the organization and volunteers that make the trails a reality.
The coldest air since last March dumped into Minnesota this month. The air has been so cold yet the lake water so warm that lake effect clouds have been spotted as far south as St. Cloud from Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg, Canada!
With another whiff of Canadian cold early next week, this list of essential cold weather riding gear can help keep you warm when out in the elements.
Introducing 2WheelWeather Talks, where we discuss weather and its impacts on cycling! Our very first guest is competitive cyclists, April Morgan. She discusses the challenges weather can put on training and racing through all four seasons.
November is known for wicked storms like the Armistice Day Blizzard and the White Hurricane. So far, so good this November but as we know conditions can change rapidly. During the 1940 Armistice Day Blizzard, for example, the temperature fell 40 degrees in a 24 hour period. These storms tend to wreak havoc over the Great Lakes like during the 1913 White Hurricane. That storm produced white out conditions over Lake Huron with winds over 90 mph and 35 foot waves!
Carson from Welch shares this video from the North Shore over the weekend. The smooth lake surface provides very little friction so the wind can actually pick up speed. If the wind direction is steady then gigantic waves can be generated. I'm still amazed at how big those waves can get!
Speaking of disasters, a group of climate scientists have released a summary about "observed and projected changes in weather and climate extremes along with their impact on air and water quality." This article covers the impact of weather and climate extremes on air and water quality. Turns out that Minnesota is more susceptible to extreme flooding events. This is why we should be concerned:
Floods resulting from increases in heavy precipitation events or from snowmelt can cause combined sewer overflow systems, which are designed to discharge excess wastewater when under extreme duress, to overflow more often into nearby lakes, rivers, or other bodies of water, causing water quality challenges in these typically urban areas. Flooding of industrial areas or agricultural chemical storage locations can cause chemicals to move into nearby watersheds, also degrading water quality and even contaminating some residential areas. Low water levels due to drought can also contribute to deteriorated water quality.
After a wet yet warmer weekend another cold blast hits Minnesota. Highs will barely break freezing Monday and Tuesday followed by another thaw later in the week. No big chance of snow in the short term forecast. Fingers crossed Frozen 40!...hoping for a healthy snowpack this year.
Winter weather forecasting is hardly every black and white. Too many factors can easily tip the balance into that grey area. Rarely does the general public demand a rain forecast to be accurate down to the hundredths of an inch. No big deal if the rainfall forecast calls for 0.25" and it rains 0.37", right?
When it comes to snow, however, stuff starts getting serious. People expect an accurate snowfall forecast right down to the inch. Nailing down that precise number can be extremely difficult. Think about this...just 0.1" of liquid water equals 1" of snow when assuming a 10:1 ratio. Better get that liquid precipitation forecast right, not to mention a plethora of other factors like the water content (wet vs heavy snow) and atmospheric temperatures. This is the kind of forecasting difficulties that can keep a meteorologist up at night.
Our first (measurable) snow event in the metro has occurred this week. The first one is always tricky because the ground is still warm from summer and can wreak havoc on snowfall totals. Tough forecast but I'm going for 3 inches of slush by Wednesday morning.
Tuesday: Rain changes to snow Tuesday evening. ~5 hours of snow Tuesday night...some heavy at times. H: 41 Wind: NE 5-10
Tuesday Night: Snow, some heavy at times, ending after midnight. L: 28 Wind: N 9
Wednesday: Sunny. H: 40 L: 25 Wind: NW 10
Thursday: Mostly sunny. Dry. H: 41 L: 27 Wind: W 5-10
Friday: Increasing clouds, flurries/sprinkles mix. H: 44 L: 35 Wind: SW 5-10
Saturday: Light rain/snow mix. Clearing overnight & cold. H: 42 L: 25 Wind: SW 5
Sunday: Mostly cloudy. H: 38 L: 30 Wind: S 2-4
Last winter of 2012-2013 was long and snowy but the winter of 2011-2012 was fairly mild. Honestly, this upcoming winter outlook is a bit of a toss up. The average winter snow for the metro is between 40-50 inches. Get the fatbikes ready...Minnesota winter is right around the corner!
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