“Broken Winter” so far; Big changes ahead – Colder 2nd half of winter?

49 degrees – current record high both Monday & Tuesday at MSP Airport

48 likely high at MSP Monday

52 my forecast high at MSP Tuesday

+12.8 degrees so far in January at MSP

January 11th -18th Coldest week of year on average in Minnesota

Cold front arrives Wednesday

30 degrees colder by Thursday & Friday morning!

January 18th – latest we’ve gone without a sub-zero reading at MSP Airport (2002)

3 above zero – my forecast low temps at MSP Friday morning.

5 weeks from Saturday pitchers & cathcers report to MLB Spring Training in Florida & Arizona! – Feb 18th

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Record Territory:

Here we go again. One more push of unseasonably (and unbelievably) mild Pacific air is sliding into Minnesota early this week. Temps will again push well into the 40s, with some 50s in Minnesota Monday & Tuesday.

The record high at MSP Airport is 49 both days, and we have a shot at breaking it – both days.

I am forecasting a high of 52 on Tuesday at MSP. That’s just plain crazy for January, but it’s the rarefied Pacific air we live in these days.

One last push:

Could this be the last major push of near record warmth in Minnesota for a while?

You would be on thin ice to forecast that in this “unwinter” of 2011-’12. But signs in the long range forecast maps may be pointing in a direction that will lead us to colder weather in the next 6 weeks.

Cold air has been building over Alaska the past few weeks. It’s been -35 to -50 in Alaskan interior, and there are signs that chunks of that cold are going to break off and head south toward Minnesota and the Great Lakes in the next 2-4 weeks.

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Minnesota appears to the on the western edge of these arctic outbreaks, and the cold we receive could come as glancing blows. Still, it looks like enough cold air may get here to push temps to near zero in the metro both Friday and Sunday morning.

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Winter’s 50-Yard line:

Sunday is January 15th, and that’s the halfway point of meteorological winter. (Dec-Feb)

The first half fo winter has been among the warmest such periods on record.

+5.5 degrees in November

+8.1 degrees in December

+12.8 degrees so far in January

0 number of days at or below zero so far this winter at MSP

2 fewest number of sub zero days at MSP (2001-’02)

30 average number of sub zero winter days at MSP Airport

Twin Cities NWS has some interesting data on sub-zero days.

Below Zero This Winter?

“With the the winter of 2011-2012 off to a very mild start, will we see any days dropping below zero across the area? The likelihood of witnessing a below zero temperature across southern Minnesota and west central Wisconsin during any given winter is very good indeed. Never has a reporting location across the Twin Cities forecast area NOT seen a winter when the temperature did not drop below zero. Will this winter be the first?”

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Colder 2nd half?

So what can we expect from winter’s 2nd half?

“Persistence” would seem to dictate a forecast of continued warmth the 2nd half of winter, but I am seeing signs that may push us closer to normal, and toward a cooler and more typical 2nd half of winter.

The so called “Arctic Oscillation” shows signs of leaning more negative in the coming weeks. This should allow cold air to surge south from the arctic with greater frequency the next few weeks.

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Tuesday may be the last time we see temps in the 40s and 50s in Minnesota for the rest of January, and maybe beyond.

The changes in the AO, overall jet stream patterns and my gut tell me we’re trending much closer to normal the second half of winter.

Snow drought:

The lack of snow cover in the USA and Canada is amazing this year.

Just one year ago nearly 50% of the USA was covered with snow. (46.9%)

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Today just 14.6% of the USA is sporting snow cover.

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In Minnesota you have to travel deep into the northeast woods to find decent snow cover, and even that has been fading lately. Last year we were counting it by the foot.

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It’s a little bit “chicken & egg” but the lack of snow cover is one huge factor in our record warmth so far this winter. Here’s a great explanation form the La Crosse NWS.

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In the Sierra and Rockies, there is scant snow cover compared to one year ago. At Vail Colorado, they haven’t been able to open some runs for the first time in years.

Thankfully last year was a record year for western snow pack. Water managers were able to store vast amounts of snowmelt in California and Colorado River reservoirs.

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There will be no immediate water shortages in the west this year, but additional snowpack this winter would be very helpful in assuring the longer term stability of water supplies in the west.

PH

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