Seasonably mild for Friday; cold front arrives late Saturday

International Falls, Minn., had a nice “warm-up” on the thermometer today. Early morning readings had dipped to 24 below zero.  At 3 p.m., the temperature had climbed to 6 above at the Falls.

It has been a very cold month of December over much of the region. The average temperature so far this December at International Falls is running 14 degrees below normal. There’s a good possibility that this will be the second coldest December on record at the Ice Box of the Nation.

Average temperature so far this December. Image:Midwest Regional Climate Center.

This afternoon’s visible satellite image, in black and white, almost gives the impression of the moonscape.  The clear skies in far northeast Minnesota nicely depict the Superior National Forest.

Image from NOAA at 2:45 p.m.

A warm front is expected to push into the state later tonight. If we get some breaks in the cloud cover on Friday we could see some of the warmest readings of the month.  On Dec. 2, the mercury topped out at 38 degrees in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

We’ll flirt with 40 degrees on Friday afternoon.

Maximum temperature forecast for Friday from the National Weather Service

There is  sufficient snow cover for recreation across the upper Midwest. Friday and Saturday should be quite nice for skiing and snowmobiling.  A bit of a breeze on Friday could create a wind chill.

Snow depth Thursday morning. Image:NOAA

A closer look at the snow depth indicates more than two feet of snow in northeast Minnesota and the rim of Lake Superior.

Image:Midwest Regional Climate Center

Models are suggesting the most likely area to accumulate snow on Saturday afternoon and night will be in far northeast Minnesota and Upper Peninsula  Michigan.

Arctic air will ride in on strong northwest wind on Sunday.  The cold air is expected to settle over Minnesota and Wisconsin as we close out 2013.

New Years Day temperatures at 6 a.m CST  from the Global Forecast System Model. Image: NOAA/Twisterdata.com

The deeper red color paints temperatures of 25 below zero.

The latest medium range outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center favors below normal temperature through the first part of January 2014.

Temperature outlook for Jan. 3 to Jan. 9. Image: NOAA