This weekend will be a great opportunity to check out the vast network of paved trails in the Twin Cities metro. The air is too warm and the snow too soft to ride off-road any time soon. There is hope, however, as the 16-day GFS temperature forecast hints at a deep chill to start March.
March may come in like a lion this year. The long-range temperature outlook indicates a few sub-zero nights late this month. Certainly this would result in a quick freeze and a hardening of the trails. Don't rule out the winter riding season just yet!
The freeze/thaw cycle at its finest. After Wednesday, daytime temperatures look to stay well above freezing (32°) but drop into the mid-20s overnight. Slick ice has a chance to turn soft (if not slushy) during the day and refreeze overnight. If the trails stay open, best time to ride will be early morning.
Very little precipitation will fall between now and early March. A light rain Friday, spits of rain/snow Sunday and, if we stay cold enough, maybe some snow next Wednesday.
Our snowpack peaks late winter into early spring. in general, snowpack in cumulative and does not significantly decrease until melting offsets replenishment by new snowfall. Daytime length increases most rapidly during late March - the point at which days become longer than nights. This is when daytime melting exceeds new snow accumulations. I fear our fatbike riding days in plush snow are numbered.
A polar high pressure originating south of the arctic will settle over Minnesota Saturday morning. Under a clear sky double digit below zero temperatures are anticipated this weekend. Ouch. Luckily the wind will be calm. Unlike the Northeast where a brisk wind drops to wind chill to -45 degrees. Could be worse!
Pretty soon the daytime length will begin to rapidly increase. This usually starts in late March. By then the days become longer than nights and the snow melts more rapidly than it accumulates. For now, the sun is about as strong as it is in late October, still too weak to have any significant impact on warming.
A fresh 1"-3" of snow on Sunday is followed by a modest warm up next week. The extended 6-10 day temperature outlook indicated at least a 40% chance of above normal temperatures late next week.
Sure, Punxsutauney Phil did not see his shadow and predicted an early spring. No early spring for us just yet as arctic air sends temperatures below normal this week. Aside from the cold, the weather remains quiet. No big winter storms brewing anytime soon. As it has been observed during El Nino winters, above normal snowfall in February in Minnesota is not common.
After brief melting on Sunday, what's left of the snow is here to stay. Luckily, temperatures consistently stay below freezing this week to maintain the singletrack snow conditions.
Next week, however, the great thaw will take place. In addition to above normal temperatures (normal ~ 29°), a storm looks to target the Upper Midwest with a sloppy rain/snow mix. Still a ways out, but bet on closed trails next week.
Packing of the deep snow was badly needed after the big blizzard brought a cool foot of snow to our metro trails. A slight thaw this weekend could soften the snow, but expect another artic visit next week. Winter certainly isn't through with us yet.
Over a foot of snow fell from Colorado to the U.P. of Michigan. Many areas saw daily record snowfall, including Nebraska with 18 inches!
Light sleet/snow mix Sunday signals the arrival of an arctic cold front. Next week will be spent below freezing...perfect conditions for solid snow on the singletrack.
Below normal temperatures and a few sub-zero night Tuesday-Wednesday. Concerned about Sunday's temp above freezing but after that the singletrack snow should be set!
El Nino Winter No two El Ninos are alike, but recent observations show that above normal snowfall is not common during El Nino winters in the Upper Midwest. The southern half of the region is actually found to have better odds of above normal snowfall during an El Nino February.
February begins with a winter storms bringing heavy snow and high winds to southern Minnesota. A "packable" snow for the Twin Cities Tuesday followed by below freezing temperatures into the weekend. The new snow combined with extended cold will make for good riding conditions this weekend.
A storm track from Cedar Rapids to Lake Michigan puts southern Minnesota in prime position for significant snow. Expecting as much as a foot of snow near Rochester with winds over 30 mph creating blizzard conditions Tuesday night along I-90.
Light flurries and snow showers Thursday-Friday will amount to an inch or less. Colder air makes a return to the Twin Cities next week. No snow melt along the singletrack anytime soon!
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.
NWS Twin Cities Weather Story