Bright and mild this weekend; a timely ice safety reminder

Friday’s sunshine was a nice change from the mostly cloudy skies of Monday through Thursday.

Our Saturday will be mostly sunny across Minnesota and western Wisconsin, so sunglasses will come in handy.

Temps will be warmer than normal throughout the weekend.

Temperature trends

Our average high temperature is 27 degrees in the Twin Cities metro area this time of year.

The high temp was 39 degrees at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Friday, and we could reach 40 degrees or a bit higher this afternoon.

Highs in the lower 40s are expected across much of Minnesota this Saturday afternoon, with some mid 40s possible in west-central Minnesota. A few spots in southern Minnesota that have deeper snow cover, like Mankato and Rochester, could top out in the upper 30s.

On Sunday, highs in the 30s will be common across much of Minnesota, with a few lower 40s southwest.

The Twin Cities metro area should reach at least the upper 30s on Sunday, with a few spots touching 40.

Metro area highs are expected to be in the lower 30s on Monday, followed by mid to upper 30s Tuesday and Wednesday. Highs return to the lower 30s for Thursday and Friday.

The warmer-than-normal temps could continue through Christmas week; the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center shows a tendency for warmer than normal temps over Minnesota and Wisconsin during the Dec. 22 through Dec. 28 time period:

National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center

Snow depth

Our snow cover will be shrinking over the next few days, due to the warmer-than-normal temps.

The latest Minnesota snow depth map from the Minnesota State Climatology Office shows 4 to 8 inches of snow cover across parts of southern Minnesota and northern Minnesota:

Minnesota State Climatology Office

There is little or no snow cover across central Minnesota and the far northern edge of the metro area.

Much of the Twin Cities metro area is in the 2 to 4 inch category.

Snow chances

There aren’t any big snowstorms in the forecast models over the next 7 days.

Minnesota and western Wisconsin could see a mix or rains showers and snow showers Wednesday and Wednesday night.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Global Forecast System model shows the potential precipitation pattern Wednesday through Wednesday night:

NOAA GFS precipitation rate (mm/hour) Wednesday through Wednesday night, via tropicaltidbits

The color chart to the right of the loop refers to the precipitation rate (mm per hour), not to the total amount of rain or snow.

As always, updated weather information can be heard on the Minnesota Public Radio Network, and you will also see updated weather info on the MPR News live weather blog.

Ice safety

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has posted a lot of excellent information regarding ice safety on Minnesota’s lakes.

Lake ice is never 100% safe, but here are DNR guidelines for the minimum ice thicknesses to look for when venturing out on lakes:

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

The DNR guidelines for new, clear ice are as follows:

UNDER 4″ – STAY OFF
4″ – Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5″ – 7″ – Snowmobile or ATV
8″ – 12″ – Car or small pickup
12″ – 15″ – Medium truck

The DNR states that:

White ice or “snow ice” is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.

According to the DNR:

The DNR does not measure ice thickness on Minnesota lakes. Your safety is your responsibility. Check ice thickness at least every 150 feet.

Temperature, snow cover, currents, springs and rough fish all affect the relative safety of ice. Ice is seldom the same thickness over a single body of water; it can be two feet thick in one place and one inch thick a few yards away. Check the ice at least every 150 feet.

Programming note

You can hear my live weather updates on Minnesota Public Radio at 7:49 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and at 7:35 a.m., 9:35 a.m. and 4:35 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday.