False summit

It’s that time of the year in Minnesota. We feel like early pioneers on the trail west to California in the 1800s. Just one more mountain range to California and the coast? We make the pass, only to see the next range towering ahead.

For winter “satisfied” Minnesotans the frigid air hangs on. But spring-like temperatures are right around the corner. Or the next corner.

Icicles cling to life in a sunny late winter sky. Paul Huttner/MPR news

Temperatures moderate this weekend as breezes turn southerly across Minnesota. Highs in the 20s make for one more playful outdoor winter weekend — at least in places that have ample snow cover.

Tuesday’s potential snow system is trending toward a more southerly route, and that may spare the Twin Cities from plowable accumulations while southern Minnesota and Iowa dig out from significant snowfall.

After one more cold shot next week, a Pacific breeze kicks in. Temperatures should make a run at 40 degrees in much of southern Minnesota by next Friday.

The sun is as high in the sky this weekend as it was on October 11. Meteorological spring arrives Sunday March 1.

Can true spring be far behind?

Weather Lab hostas in late spring. Paul Huttner/MPR News

An average winter?

It’s hard to grasp, but temperatures have been very close to average this meteorological winter. We categorize meteorological winter as the three coldest months of the year — December through February. Here’s how temperatures at MSP fared overall compared to average this winter.

  • December: +5.1 degrees
  • January: +3.4 degrees
  • February: -9.0 degrees

Overall temperatures ran very close to average this winter.

Snow drought continues

The southern and eastern storm track this winter has Minnesota snow lovers pining for a trip to Boston. Some snowfall stats so far:

  • 25.3 inches: season snowfall so far at MSP Airport
  • -16.1 inches: compared to the average
  • 57.2 inches: season snowfall last year by this date

Yes, one year ago we were digging out from more than twice as much snow in Minnesota. When you consider temperatures and snowfall overall, this winter has been about a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10. Last winter was a solid 9.

Image: snowcrystals.com

There is still deep snow in northeast Minnesota, and a good covering in the southeast. Big holes still exist in central Minnesota and the Twin Cities. It won’t take long to melt an inch or two of snow once temperatures start to budge in warm March sun.

NOAA

I’m still concerned about the potential for growing drought this spring if the usually reliable spring rains fail this year. Nearly all of Minnesota is already in “pre-drought” phase as we approach the spring months.

USDA/UNL

Moderation this weekend

All things in moderation. We work around the backside of chilly high pressure this weekend. Southerly winds boost temperatures into the 20s. A storm in the desert southwest brings precious rain and mountain snow. The east braces for another round of wintry weather.

The southern and east coast storm track looks a lot like an El Niño year.

NOAA

Tuesday snow trending south?

The latest storm tracks favor a southerly path for Tuesday’s snow system. That could mean the metro is on the edge (again) and heavier totals south. Why should this one be any different?

Recent Global Forecast System model snowfall outputs favor the heaviest snow axis along the Minnesota-Iowa border and I-90 corridor, with the metro on the northern edge of accumulating snow.

120 hour GFS snowfall output via wxcaster.com

Thaw next Friday?

The longer range maps hint at another glancing blow of arctic air next Wednesday and Thursday, followed by a rapid thaw next Friday.

Weatherspark

A shot at 40 in the next week?

Stay tuned.

Odds & ends

This is too good to not pass along. Cantore’s thundersnowburst has gone viral in auto-tune. Weather Geek Hall of Fame level stuff.

And finally, it’s way past the holidays I know. But this is precious. Somebody at NOAA has a little too much time on their hands? Slow weather night on the night shift at NWS?