Icy start today; 40s ahead?

Widespread fog, freezing drizzle and snow combined for an icy start Wednesday, as expected. Driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, and roads sport a thin film of glaze ice. Roads are slick across the region.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reports several spin-outs on the glaze-covered roadways.

Warm air aloft

So, what’s causing our freezing drizzle? A strong temperature inversion about 5,000 feet up is producing liquid precipitation that’s freezing on contact with the pavement. Even a little glaze ice can ruin your day.

Want warmer weather? All you have to do is drive 1 mile to enjoy temperatures near 50 degrees. Straight up. Temperatures about 5,000 feet above us are in the upper 40s

Milder air getting closer

That Pacific air mass mixes down to ground-level as winds pick up late Thursday into the weekend. That will boost temperatures on the ground where we live.

I still think 40 degrees is a real possibility Friday and Saturday. Milder than average air lingers into next week.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, via Weather Bell

Air quality alert

The inversions and light winds trap pollutants near the ground. Air quality index readings are rising across Minnesota Wednesday.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

The air quality alert is in effect until 6 p.m. Thursday.

MPCA

Breezes blowing in Thursday night will mix in cleaner air and bring milder temperatures.