Our winter riding days are numbered. The last time the temperature hit 50 degrees was back before Thanksgiving. Monday we'll make a run at 50 degrees.
Historically, Minnesota sees 2...maybe 3...winter storms in March. Light rain/snow develops on Tuesday as one storm passes to our south. Long range models show a storm aiming for Minnesota around March 18. Bear some watching.
Monday: Increasing clouds. H: 47 Wind: SW 10
Monday Night: Snow developing. L: 28 Wind: NW 7
Tuesday: Snow showers changing to afternoon rain. H: 35 L: 15 Wind: N 5-10
Wednesday: Partly sunny. H: 36 L: 25 Wind: NW 5-10
Thursday: Sunny. H: 43 L: 31 Wind: SW 10
Friday: Mild! H: 42 L: 30 Wind: SW 10
Saturday: Mostly sunny. H: 38 L: 22 Wind: NW 5
Sunday: Sunny. H: 32 L: 16 Wind: NW 10
Old man winter is hanging on for dear life. The temperature forecast becomes extremely important this late into the snow riding season. March is a month when the coldest of the cold air begins to slowly retreat back north and the warmer air begins to invade from the south in this everlasting battle for atmospheric equilibrium. Also, the sun this time of year is just about as strong as it is in late September.
Per the graphic below from WeatherSpark, we spend more time time above freezing than we do below freezing in March. With that being said, looks like we will spend much of next week above freezing.
Bikers have been making a beeline for the Lake Superior shoreline. The Great Lakes ice cover stands at 92%, nearing the record 94% back in 1979. As tough as this winter was (9th coldest on record), the extended cold has been great for fatbiking. The 93.8% ice cover on Lake Superior has added another place to ride this season with the extra bonus of being able to see the rare ice caves.
With the extent of the ice as great as it is, this may mean a cooler Spring. When the ice melts this Spring, that cooler ice water is likely to keep the air surrounding the Great Lakes cooler, thus delaying any significant warm-up. That might not be such a bad thing says a physical scientist with the federal Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan, George Leshkevich.
“If there’s a prolonged spring because the ice melt is slow, and the water temperatures are cold, that will likely slow evaporation further, and that may help the water levels.”
Recently the Great Lakes has reported record low water levels.
Great Lakes water levels over the past century closely correspond to changes in annual precipitation. However, the abrupt and sustained water level drop in the late 1990s is more closely related to increased lake surface water temperature and greater evaporation, both of which coincided with one of the strongest El Niño events on record. Strong El Nino events typically lead to abnormally mild winters and warmer surface waters in the Great Lakes.
Coincidentally, an El Niño Watch has been issued for the possibility of one to develop during the upcoming summer or fall. Per the National Weather Service:
El Niño, which is marked by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator, is known for influencing weather across the U.S. and other parts of the globe. Currently, the Climate Prediction Center is monitoring a very warm pool of water in the Western Pacific, and is seeing this pool move eastward, which will likely warm the Eastern Pacific in the coming months.
While climate conditions have varied greatly during an El Niño year in the Midwest, there might be a slight bias towards wetter than average conditions during summer. Wet conditions mean wet trails and possible more temporary trail closures this upcoming warm season.
Soil conditions are already primed for a wet Spring. Much of eastern Minnesota received above normal precipitation during the winter season (December-February). In fact, a snow depth of 47 inches at Two Harbors is the most they have seen since 51 inches was measured in March of 1965.
Also with a warming world, there is more water vapor suspended in the atmosphere. This is leading to a trend towards more intense and frequent heavy rain events. For this reason, efficient trail building techniques that reduce water erosion are more important than ever.
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