Sub Zero streak ends; Cold gradually eases; +30F in sight; Snow chances ahead

+1F at MSP Airport at 3pm Tuesday

39 straight hours of sub-zero temps in the Twin Cities

186 hours all time Twin Cities consecutive sub-zero record set in 1912

Cold eases (gradually) next few days in Minnesota

+30F in sight by Sunday or Monday

Light snow chances return with the “milder” air Thursday, Sunday & Tuesday?

20 days until pitchers & catchers report to Twins Spring Training in Fort Myers, Florida

It’s all connected? Did tropical rainfall pattern trigger arctic outbreak?

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The worst is over

After bottoming out at -38 in Babbitt, -36F in Embarrass and -12F in the Twin Cities this morning, I think we can say the worst of this cold snap is probably over.

We’ll hover a few degrees either side of zero for the next few days, but a significant warm up is in sight starting Saturday afternoon.

By Sunday & Monday, 30 above zero will feel like spring.

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Light snow chances ahead?

As milder air bumps into the cold dome over the Upper Midwest, a few weak clippers will ride over Minnesota and bring chances for light snow.

Thursday, Sunday and next Tuesday look like the best shots. We may only squeeze out an inch or two for the metro….but northern Minnesota may pick up some 3″+ totals.

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Image: NOAA via Iowa State University

The GFS is hinting at a potentially more productive system Sunday. We’ll see…..

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Close Call Tuesday?

This winter’s storm track has favored systems tracking southeast of Minnesota.

It looks like another near miss will plow through parts of Wisconsin & Iowa…and may clip southeast Minnesota next Tuesday. The system could dump some significant snow along its path.

It’s too early to tell if the track is solid…but the history of most storm this winter is to favor the southern storm track.

Stay tuned…things could still change.

Still another cold shot around Feb 1st?

The Arctic Oscillation goes “negative” we know to expect cold air in Minnesota. That’s what happened this past week during our arctic outbreak.

After next week’s warm up…there are signs the AO could go negative again. That could lead to another arctic smack late next week.

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Did Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) play a role in our Arctic Outbreak?

We’re always trying to connect the dots with so called “teleconnections” as multiple, identifiable weather patterns like ENSO, the AO & PDO spin around the globe like plates in the air.

These “oscillations” all play out in different regions of the globe…on different time scales.

Andrew Freedman from Climate Central reports on an interesting take on the MJO, and the theory it may affect even arctic circulation patterns.

In addition to the sudden stratospheric warming event, there may be another natural climate phenomenon at work as well. According to Michelle L’Heureux, a climate scientist at the Climate Prediction Center, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a phenomenon known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation, or MJO, also favors colder-than-average conditions in parts of the U.S. right now, and may even be a bigger factor than the more dramatic stratospheric warming event.

L’Heureux has been studying ways to use the status of the MJO to predict large-scale weather patterns beyond a two-week lead time, when forecasts using current techniques tend to diminish.

The MJO is associated with a pattern of tropical rainfall that moves eastward along the equator, going around the world in about 30-to-60 days. Because the MJO influences atmospheric heating through tropical rainfall, it can modify weather patterns far away from the equator.

In a study published in the journal Climate Dynamics in 2012, L’Heureux and her colleagues found that when the MJO is located in a particular phase, as it is now, it can favor more cold air outbreaks over the eastern U.S.


Image showing an area of heavy tropical rains associated with the MJO in the Western Pacific Ocean. (Scientists use outgoing long wave radiation as a proxy for locating areas of persistent, heavy precipitation.)

Credit: NOAA/CPC via Michelle L’Heteureux.

Image: NOAA via Climate Central


  • Tyler Gruetzmacher

    It seems like there has been far more snow forecasted 5+ days out this year that hasn’t materialized. Whereas dry soil/vegetation conditions lower humidities and break rains up in the summer, does our lack of a snowpack in the midwest hinder snowstorm development?