Turning the corner into spring; Sunshine, milder days & April showers ahead

Sun Splashed

Spring is sneaky in Minnesota.

It often comes in on cat’s paws, silently creeping up on us. It’s not always a bold announcement of seasonal change. Fall and winter have that covered.

Spring in Minnesota is often the absence of a cold breeze, slowly disappearing snow cover, sunshine quietly working minor miracles on the south side of your home.

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This week marks the true beginning of spring in Minnesota. The coldest March in 11 years is history, and we can finally relax a little, and enjoy the ever increasing sunshine and warmth.

In this Updraft we’ll track the warm up, and a much wetter weather pattern that will bring a series of April showers and an elevated flood risk in the next 1-2 weeks.

-5.6F temps vs. average in March at MSP Airport

11 years since we’ve endured a march this cold in Minnesota

13.8″ March snowfall at MSP Airport

49.3″ season snowfall to date in the metro

Bye – Bye March:

The official numbers are in for March, confirming my suspicions that this was the coldest March in 11 years in Minnesota.

The details from the Twin Cities NWS:

March 2013 Coldest March in 11 Years

March of 2013 will be remembered for one thing, cold. After having a March in 2012 that had temperatures that belonged more in April, this March went the other direction as persistent cold air resulted in the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, and Eau Claire all having their coldest March since 2002.

In the end, temperatures across the region for March of 2013 were 5 to 10 degrees below normal, snowfall was 6 to 12+ inches above normal (outside of SW MN), while melted precipitation was near to 1 inch above normal (outside of SW MN). Again, the southwest part of the state managed to watch the heaviest precipitation stay north or east of them and a as a result, southwest Minnesota ended up being the only part of the region to see below normal snowfall and precipitation.

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April Warming Trend

I just wanted to type those words, it’s been so long.

With little wind 39 feels better this afternoon, a good test of how stronger April sun can overcome a wintery hangover on an air mass.

By tomorrow you’ll notice spring in the air. A building southwest breeze will boost temps into the lower 50s metro to 60s southwest, and snow melt will intensify.

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Milder air hangs around the next few days.

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Soils thawing out:

The frost is coming out of the ground in southern Minnesota.

Take a look at real time soil temps in Waseca Minnesota over the past week.

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Image: University of Minnesota’s Southern Research and Outreach Center

You can see how the soil at 2″ depth is already above freezing during the day…and responding to the daily temp cycle.

At 4″ depth, soil temps are around 31 degrees…close to the thaw point. By later this week the frost should be gone from the top few inches of soil in southern Minnesota.

That means rainfall this weekend should be able to soak into the top few inches. Good news.

The start of how we bust a drought in these parts?

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April Showers: Wetter Pattern Emerging

Looking at the maps, I’m optimistic that we may put a significant dent in the drought in Minnesota the next few weeks.

The first in a series of wet April systems moves in Friday & Saturday.

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Image: NOAA GFS via College of DuPage

This one should be warm enough for mostly rain in the metro, with some snow north of Brainerd & Duluth.

This system has the potential to soak us with .50″ to 1″ rainfall in southern Minnesota. Flood risk aside, we’ll take every drop as droughty soils thaw to soak in the welcome spring rains.

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Storm Factory: Bigger system next week?

The overall weather pattern looks favorable for a series of storms in the next 2 weeks.

The jet stream has shifted, and our cold dry northwest flow is giving way to a “western trough.” When low pressure spins over the Rockies, Minnesota turns wet.

This pattern can eject a series of eastbound storms toward Minnesota.

The next system could arrive with potentially heavy rains next Tuesday.

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More systems in the pipeline could bring more April showers in the following week.

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Overall, it’s a very encouraging trend. And one that could significantly change our “drought trajectory” for the better heading into the spring and summer of 2013.

Stay tuned.

PH

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