January 60s in South Dakota; Milder air pushes in; The crack on Mille Lacs

61 Degrees in Winner & Chamberlin, SD Tuesday!

Downslope winds pushing milder Pacific air eastward

48 degrees NAM model forecast high temps for MSP Airport Thursday

Great snow eater:

They call it the “Chinook.” Roughly translated I’m told it means “Great snow eater.”

There are many regional names for downslope winds of the world. It’s Foehn in the Alps, Bergwind in South Africa etc.

Regardless of what you call it, the effect is the same. Air warms adiabatically as it descends down the lee side of mountain ranges. The warm dry gusty winds raise temperatures rapidly, and melt snow at a rapid pace.

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Temps topped out above 60 degrees in central South Dakota Tuesday.

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Minnesota lies too far away from the Rockies to get a true Chinook, but we do feel the effects of Chinook modified Pacific air masses as they push east.

Look for temps to push 40 Wednesday, then surge into the 40s and perhaps even 50s in parts of Minnesota Thursday as snow cover dwindles.

What a crazy winter.

Ice still dicey:

Our flash freeze the past two days has helped firm up some ice on Minnesota lakes somewhat, but I wouldn’t call it totally safe just yet.

High winds have shifted ice around again on the big lakes like Mille Lacs. Calmer air Monday night may have helped freeze some spots, but there were still huge cracks on Mille Lacs as of Monday.

NASA MODIS Terra images from mnlakecams.com (click to enlarge)

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The Minnesota DNR is still advising extreme caution on Minnesota lakes.

DNR ALERT – Warm temps this week create unreliable ice in southern MN

(Released January 3, 2012)

“Forecasted temperatures in the 40s across southern Minnesota this week add yet another reason to be careful if heading out on the ice, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Ice thickness guidelines become unreliable once the temp gets above 32 degrees,” according to Lt. Cory Palmer, enforcement supervisor for the DNR. “Snowmobiles, ATVs and other vehicles should stay off the ice until temps drop below 32 degrees for at least 24 hours.”

Even if the ice seems thick enough, temperature and other factors such as currents, wind, water chemistry and wildlife can impact the relative safeness of ice.

According to Lt. Palmer, last week in Kandiyohi County alone, three ATVs went through the ice. He stresses that there is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice.

Lt. Palmer suggests contacting a local bait shop or resort for ice reports on a specific lake and frequently checking ice thickness with an ice auger, ice chisel or even a cordless drill with a long wood auger bit.”

Stay safe out there as temps warm again this week!


  • Matt Philaya

    Since this winter has been warmer with less precipitation than average, is there reason to believe that spring and summer will be hotter with less precipitation than average? What is the typical trend?

    Matt Philaya

    Montevideo, MN

  • Paul Huttner

    Hi Matt:

    Believe it or not, there is little or no correlation between winter and the following summer season.

    Odd, but true when you look back at the records. It’s anybody’s guess at this point!