A classic "January Thaw" is underway. The Twin Cities area is set to experience above normal and, at times, above freezing temperatures well into the weekend. The two inch snow depth out on the trails will slowly melt to slush. After a bout of rain (yes rain!) and snow this weekend temperatures will return closer to normal (highs in the 20s) late next week.
The official definition of a January Thaw is a period of unseasonably warm (usually above freezing) weather in mid to late January. The forecast for number of days (including nights) spent at or above freezing (32F) is currently nine. The record stretch is 18 days set in January 1944.
6 TO 10 dAY tEMPERATURE oUTLOOK
Each of the past 16 consecutive months had above normal average monthly temperatures. That's an impressive streak. This January has been trending slightly colder than normal but with the warmer air this week and the 6-10 day temperature outlook (above) indicating above normal temperatures, this month may make the 17th consecutive month with above normal temperatures.
The next potential ice event stays south of the Twin Cities. Instead a fresh blanket of snow will temporarily freshen up the snowpack...that is until the January thaw kicks in.
You may want to hold off on washing your bike anytime soon. A much anticipated thawing out period begins this week. A warm south breeze ahead of an approaching storm will send highs into the 40s this weekend. Rain (yes rain!) is looking more likely Saturday and Sunday.
By now it is no secret that the trails are icy. Studded tires have been recommended at all Twin Cities trailheads. A few opportunities of snow this week may be enough to hide the ice and gain some extra traction on the singletrack.
California is getting hammered by Pacific storms this week. This Pineapple Express weather set up will draw unusually warm, moist air into the West Coast to produce dangerous flooding. Energy from these storms will routinely move across the Upper Midwest, significantly increasing Minnesota's likelihood for snow.
Occasional, light snow can be expected almost every day this week with the model average snowfall forecast indicating around 4 inches of new snow by Thursday.
The snow is then followed by the coldest stretch of weather yet this winter. (Yes! The air is about to get even colder!) We will spend Friday far below zero degree with a record strong Canadian high pressure right overhead. The brutal cold is short-lived, however. We thaw out by late January.
MORC Trail Conditions report very icy conditions at various trailheads across the Twin Cities. Nearly an inch of precipitation followed by a 25 degree temperature drop has turned the trails into an ice rink. In addition, 50 mile per hour winds have likely downed trees and branches along the singletrack.
This year is officially the wettest on record in the Twin Cities. The Christmas Day storm topped off the yearly precipitation to 40.32 inches. The wettest month this year was August.
New Year Storm
What the trails need is a good blanket of fresh snow. A storm Monday-Tuesday of next week may bring that potential. Depending on the exact storm track the area may see significant rain or heavy snow. A colder, snowier solution is favored at the moment.
Our 6" snow depth may be reduced to 2 inches of slush as heavy rain falls this holiday weekend. A powerful storm draws up warm air and plain rain into the Midwest with blizzard conditions on the backside of the storm over the Dakotas.
GFS model forecast (above) Sunday-Monday showing potent surface low tracking through the Dakotas. This storm track west of the Twin Cities results in primarily rain. Colder conditions return behind the departing storm on Monday.
An icy mix will likely develop Christmas morning before changing over to all rain. From the National Weather Service Twin Cities regarding rainfall:
Generally 0.75-1.00" [of rain] expected by Monday. We do not expect to see significant flooding issues from this and sub-freezing temperatures quickly coming in Sunday night into Monday, any water should begin to freeze up which would cause issues on any untreated surfaces.
While very little if any snow will accumulate in the Twin Cities during the event, the rainfall could be one for the record books.
The historical probability of a white Christmas in the Twin Cities is 74 percent. Believe it or not, the last Christmas with snow on the ground was 2013!
Current Snow Depth
Congratulations! You survived one of the coldest days of winter. The temperature on Sunday officially bottomed out at minus 20 degrees with a wind chill of 27 below zero. Lucky for us the temperature looks to stay above zero this week. More of a westerly flow of mild Pacific air streams across the country helping to ease the cold into Christmas.
A quick-hitting snow can be expected on Wednesday. Less than one inch in the Twin Cities with higher totals (1"-2") north of I-94. Just enough to freshen up the packed singletrack.
Fortunately the arctic chill breaks next week. Partial melting of the snow crystals will promote better bonding and better fatbike conditions. Also starting December 21 (winter solstice) the length of daylight starts to increase!
The snow on the singletrack is here to stay with an extended period of well below normal temperatures. This extreme cold, however, will make it tough to keep the fingers and toes warm on that fatbike ride. We battle the numbing cold through next Monday. Wind chill values Thursday morning could be -20 to -30 degrees F. Even colder air arrives this weekend with wind chill values Sunday morning a frightful -45F!
There is a growing potential for more snow Friday through Saturday. Rochester, Albert Lea, and spots south of the Twin Cities have a greater chance of 6 inches or more. Either way, Twin Cities singletrack will see accumulating snow, enough to freshen up the snowpack before the weekend!
This has been the coldest air since last February. An even bigger arctic blast arrives next week. Tuesday will be the coldest with lows well below zero. For reference the coldest reading ever in Minneapolis/St.Paul in December was -39F in 1879. Could be worse!
A quick-hitting snow Saturday will leave 1-2 inches across the area with higher amounts farther south of the Minnesota River Valley.
The most snow that ever fell during the month of December was 33.6" in 2010. Remember that? The Twin Cities typically get 3" snowfalls once every month from November through March.
An extended period of below normal temperatures can be expected through late December. The singletrack will stay frozen solid. No temperatures above freezing through Christmas.
We're due for this cold. The average first date for a 0°F temperature is the 8th of December.
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