Supersized January thaw ahead; 40s this weekend

A south wind blows across Minnesota Wednesday. It’s the first sign of milder air riding in on another El Niño-driven warm front.

Our inbound January thaw comes early this year. And this one looks to like a major thaw event. Temperatures will run as much as 20 degrees warmer than average by this weekend. The first of two mild pulses arrives Thursday. The second late next week means an extended mild spell as we head into mid-January.

The upper-air forecast maps over the next two weeks look more March than January.

Upper air forecast map for Jan. 10, via National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

40s ahead 

Highs reach the 30s as soon as Thursday across most of Minnesota. Highs in the 40s look likely across much of southern and western Minnesota Friday through Sunday.

A weak cool front arrives early next week. But the next pulse of Pacific air rides in late next week with more unseasonably mild temperatures later next week.

The forecast numbers this weekend could be conservative. Highs in the mid-40s may pop up across the less snowy parts of Minnesota. I won’t be shocked to see a 50-degree temperature somewhere in Minnesota this weekend.

NOAA, via Weather Bell

Losing snow cover

Snow is scant in southern Minnesota. There’s still plenty of snow to play in west and north of Minneapolis-St. Paul for now.

Snow cover, via NOAA

Gaining daylight

We’re gaining about a minute of daylight per day this week in Minnesota. By Jan. 19 it’s two minutes per day.

Combine the growing daylight with a sunnier January climate and the days are now noticeably brighter. Another milestone: sunset time hits 5 p.m. on Jan. 17.

Enjoy the brighter days ahead.

  • John

    With temperatures acting like March, is there a reasonable chance that snowfall could start to act like March too in the coming weeks? I wouldn’t turn down a good foot or two to finally kick off XC skiing near Minneapolis.

    • Michael Larsen