Spring Whiplash: Record 2012-2013 ice out swings?

A Perfect “10”

I’m reaching deep into the weather grab bag for superlatives to describe today’s forecast.

A banner day. A 5-star forecast. Two thumbs up. Spring-a-licious? Maydream.

Okay, enough.

We’re enjoying a more typical spring weather pattern this week in Minnesota. Spring usually features ups & downs, and this week will be no exception. The ups this week include high in the upper 70s in southern Minnesota. These are the kind of “downs” we can handle…highs in the 50s by Saturday for a brisk MN Fishing Opener 2013.

In this Updraft we celebrate the 70s, track some mid-week showers, and look at some unusual (and perhaps unprecedented) ice out trends for 2013.

Finally some spring weather we can all enjoy.

465 flowers.jpg

77F high temp at MSP Airport Monday (+10F vs. average for May 6th)

8:30pm sunset Friday (Sunset at 8:30pm or later through August 7th)

“Budding Plants” New Moon Thursday (Ojibwe)

465 ql.png

Back To “Normal”

This is how May is supposed to be in Minnesota.

Out: Your local weatherman’s threats of snow and sleet.

In: Another sun splashed day with highs in the upper 70s.

We’ll enjoy more “typical” May weather this week. Temperature swings between the 70s and 50s for highs are common in May. The average high this week in the metro is 67F.

Walkers, bikers and all other outdoor modes of transport are back to the delight of all Minnesotans.

The 70s rule much of Minnesota today with a few 60s up north.

465 mn temps.png

Finally, true spring!

Maypril Showers

Our lazy bubble of high pressure gives way to an advancing front tomorrow.

Look for scattered showers to work east through Minnesota tomorrow, favoring western Minnesota in the morning and eastern MN (including the metro) in the afternoon & evening.

The latest NAM model surface map animation (below) shows an increase in the blue-green blobs over Minnesota as we move through Wednesday.

465 nam anim.gif

Rainfall totals should favor between .25″ and .50″ Wednesday into Thursday morning over the southern half of Minnesota, with some isolated totals to 1″ possible.

465 qpf.png

NOAA’s Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) is bullish on rainfall with this system with a wide area of 1″+ rains from Colorado into Kansas & Missouri south through Oklahoma & Texas.

465 hpc 3 day.gif

They’ll take it. Check out the latest U.S. Drought Monitor below. Fore once, the heart of the soaking rains fall right over the worst drought areas. Well timed and well placed.

465 drought.png

Ice Out 2013: Some unprecedented patterns emerge?

2013 is an interesting year for ice out in Minnesota.

465 tonka.jpg

Some trends:

1) “Ice Out Whiplash” 2012-2013: Climate Central’s Andrew Freedman coined the phrase “Weather Whiplash” back in 2009 to describe our wild swings in weather patterns from one extreme to another. It also describes the remarkable swing in ice out dates from 2012-2013 in Minnesota.

Take bellwether Minnetonka as an example. Last year Tonka was ice free on March 21st…tying the 3rd earliest date in the 134 years of records from the Freshwater Society. The result? A 7 month boating season with boats on Tonka from late March into early November.

This year the ice on Tonka finally gave way on May 2nd, tying for the 3rd latest date on record.

The ice on lake Minnetonka went out 42 days later vs. last year.

Ice out can be considered one measure of the start of spring in Minnesota…and spring came 42 days later this year vs. 2012.

Looking at the data, it looks like 42 days is the biggest year to year swing in ice out dates on record or Lake Minnetonka.

465 ice out.png

Biggest year-to-year “ice out” swings on lake Minnetonka: (157 years of data)

42 days 2012-2013

35 days 1857-1858

34 days 1858-1859

2) Unusual ice out pattern?

Take a look at Monday’s NASA MODIS Terra images over Minnesota.

You can clearly see the ice free (black) lakes in southern Minnesota, and the ice covered lakes north of a Alex-Mille lacs line.

465 ice out 2.png

If you look closer at 250 meter resolution map, you can also see some lakes in northwest Minnesota are already ice free, further north than still ice covered lakes in central Minnesota.

465 modis 250.png

Our late season weather patterns kept cold & snow over central Minnesota….with a greater number of sunny & mild days in the red River Valley and the northwest corner of Minnesota. That’s one reason the Red River avoided a major flood crest…and it helped the ice go out sooner on lakes that were further north.

No wonder Minnesotans have been restless and scratching our collective heads this spring. We’ve just endured what may be the biggest case of year to year “Spring Whiplash” ever recorded in Minnesota.

Paul Huttner

Comments are closed.