Slow March Into Spring
I like days like today.
As we begin the transition into a Minnesota spring, there are certain milestones that become apparent.
The last big snowstorm of winter? Probably behind us now.
The last “coldest day” of winter? Probably happened Wednesday. I highly doubt we’ll see another day this spring with a high colder than 21F.
This winter was definitely “back loaded” with cold & snow in February & March.
Looking ahead, I see encouraging signs that we will now start a slow, gradual climb to more spring like temperatures.
In this Updraft we’ll talk about the deepest snow of winter in Minnesota, look ahead to a warming trend and take a swing at the early forecast for the earliest Twins Home Opener so far outdoors at Target Field on April 1st.
The crack of a baseball bat? I feel warmer already.
Twins vs. Yankees in milder days
Image: Paul Huttner – MPR News
Play Ball! Cool Twins Opening Day?
Ten days from Thursday, 40-thousand spring hungry fans, and one meteorologist named Craig will make the 1st pilgrimage of the baseball season to Target Field.
One guy who would really appreciate warmer days is Twins Head groundkeeper Larry DiVito. I aksed Larry where they stand given our frigid “spring” so far and here’s what he had to say.
Paul; thank you for that (forecast) info. Here is where I am at:
Soil temps are hovering around 60-62* F all this week. I will bump that up a bit this weekend as we move forward with our maintenance plan. Our turf blankets, which are permeable, were put on again last Saturday afternoon, the 16th. We will pull them off, hopefully for good, this Saturday. As long as lows at night stay above the low 20’s, the blankets are not needed.
We were able to fertilize on March 14th, twice. We sprayed nutrients early and I put granular fertilizer out late that day. Some turf in the deep shade is struggling, as expected in a March like this. The warning track is not fully heated, so we will focus on thawing that starting this weekend. Looking forward to the return of the Twins. Larry
Larry says the underground turf heating system at TF is working well. Hey, where do I get one of those for my yard to melt the snow away?
It’s too early to bank on a specific forecast for Larry and the rest of us for opening day, but it should come as no surprise that the early read looks chilly, and potentially wet.
The long range GFS suggests a weather system passing south of Minnesota on April 1st. If it’s close to right, that would keep most of the rain south…and a weaker bubble of cool high pressure overhead.
Potentially that could translate into mixed sun and temps in the 40s on game day.
I don’t buy the 60s the GFS cranks out here just yet, but I do think we will be significantly warmer by the end of the 1st week of April.
That would be a pretty good outcome considering the run of cold and snow we’ve just endured…and considering that we average about 3″ of snow in April.
Again this is a forecast that could potentially still change, A lot.
“Peak” Snow Depth:
Take a look out your window.
That’s as much snow as you’re going to see on your lawn or farm field until next winter.
We are likely at peak snow depth, for this winter season this week in Minnesota.
Our late season snow blitz has added 2 to 3 feet of snow to much of Minnesota since February 1st. Some numbers.
Total snowfall since February 1st
28.9″ MSP Airport
33.1″ St. Cloud
35.4″ International Falls
Trapped in that compressing snow pack is 3″ to 6″ of water (SWE) over most of western and central Minnesota. The Twin Cities has between 2″ to 3″ of stored water in the snow. Near International Falls and along the North Shore ridge, as much as 6″ to 8″ of water may be ready to be unleashed into rivers and lakes as temps warm this spring.
Frozen ground underneath the snow pack means the spring melt won’t help the agricultural (soils) drought much, but the “equivalent” of 3″ to 6″ of rainfall will give a significant boost to river and lake levels (and ease “hydrological” drought) this spring.
Spring last year was a rapid boil in Minnesota as highs soared into the 70s. This spring will be more like a simmer…but I do see clear indications of warmer days ahead.
This latest batch of cold air has effectively “drained” most of the coldest air from Canada.
It seems counter intuitive, but getting colder in March is one way we warm up in spring. Cold air masses surge south from Canada and are modified by stronger sun. The remaining air masses in the far north are less severe, and more easily warmed by increasing solar intensity and daylight that is now rapidly growing past 12 hours a day.
Check out the realtively bearable forecast for Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories from Environment Canada. Yellowknife is about 1,400 miles northwest of the Twin Cities.
Thursday will feel better here in Minnesota, with sunshine, mid 20s and lighter winds.
30s will return this weekend, and snow melting 40s are looking more likely by late next week.