Fun with negative numbers

* 2-3″ fresh snow across much of the metro, closer to 1″ far western/northern suburbs.

* Dangerous wind chills Friday morning, feels like -20 to -30 F at times.

* Travel conditions slowly improve over southwestern MN as winds ease and blowing/drifting diminishes.

* Tonight: one of the 3 coldest nights of winter. -30 air temperature over southwestern MN.

* Warming trend next week, possible thaw by Wednesday, 32+ possible.

* Pattern not ripe for big storms/accumulating snow for the next 7-10 days.

Welcome to another character-building day on the tundra. Bug-free, low humidity, no smog to speak of – who could ask for anything more? Just think, all the great civilizations from Greece to Rome to Greater Britannia to the good ‘ol USA have been at northerly latitudes susceptible to the biting winds of winter. Translation: either be ingenious and creative enough to survive/endure or perish at the hands of Old Man Winter. Big weather extremes FORCE us to be more resilient, inventive and creative! This is by no means a slam to nations in the Tropics, blessed with temperature, moderate weather year-round. But it’s no secret that big, sweeping changes in weather and (longer-term climate) can, in fact, be mentally invigorating, just ask Plato, Socrates, Shakespeare and Hemmingway, to name a handful.

Snowfall amounts as of 7 am Thursday morning. As expected the heaviest snowfall amounts from the most recent clipper were across far western and southwestern Minnesota. A couple more inches of snow fell after 7 am. For a complete tally of snowfall amounts scroll down to the bottom of the post.

Are you buying any of this? Hey, it was worth a shot. Minnesotans take precious little for granted, like Californians and Floridians. We power through the blizzards, clippers and non-stop brain-freezes, in fact many of us slap on a few extra layers and go out and play on the tundra, thumbing our collective noses at these occasional love-letters from Siberia. I’ve said it before – we EARN our summers at this latitude. We are a race of weather-warriors, able to take 35 below wind chills on the chin, shake it off, and come back for more. Mercifully our coldest days are often bright and sunny with a dazzling-blue sky. Just having that sun out can help, psychologically. Call me crazy (heard it many times, especially at home) but I’d rather take a few weeks of subzero lows than 5 straight months of gray and drizzle. Not seeing the sun for week after week would (in my humble opinion) be far worse than grappling with face mask and gloves. That said, this is getting old – we haven’t seen freezing since Christmas Day. That’s two straight weeks below 32, not even close to a record, by the way, but yes, the natives are getting restless. Even the old-timers, the cold weather veterans, are beginning to grumble. El Nino? How ’bout El Freezo!

Serious Cold. Here is the WRF model prediction for 6 am temperatures Saturday morning: subzero across all of Minnesota, as cold as -20 from St. Cloud to the suburbs of the Twin Cities, maybe -30 in a few colder pockets near Windom and Granite Falls.

The Alberta Clipper that dumped 10″ snow on Ivanhoe, 6″ on Welcome, 4.5″ Mankato and a cool, powdery, accident-inducing 1-3″ on the Twin Cities is now sailing across the Great Lakes. Counterclockwise winds pinwheeling around this fast-moving low are inhaling a fresh burst of numbing air into the state. We’re waking up to wind chill advisories (it feels like -25 to -35 out there this morning). Make sure the kids have a few extra layers, no exposed skin showing. I’d think twice about an outdoor recess today. Anytime the wind chill goes below -30 F I counsel parents (and school administrators) to use extra caution, since the risk of frostbite is several times higher than it is with a temperature in the teens or single digits. Exposed skin can become frostbitten in less than 15 minutes.

Upward & Onward. The models are in agreement – a nice warming trend is shaping up for next week, possibly a genuine January Thaw by the middle of next week! Click the graphic to see it full-screen.

Two more subzero nights are likely (we may wake up to -20 Saturday morning, but at least the worst of the wind will have eased up). Jet stream steering winds will undergo a major transformation next week, more of a westerly component blowing milder, Pacific air across the Rockies into Minnesota. It still looks like a string of 20s and some low 30s next week, and it will feel AMAZING out there. Watch, a few over-zealous people in our midst (most under the age of 25) will venture outdoors in sweats, celebrating the mythic January Thaw, which hasn’t been this welcome in nearly a decade. You have to go back about 10 years to find a winter with this much snow, ice and cold. We’re due for a shift in the pattern, and it’s about 48 hours away. Next week will restore your faith in a (reasonable) Minnesota winter. Temperatures will run close to “average” through the third week of January, and even though more subzero outbreaks are likely through the end of February, I daresay the WORST OF WINTER WILL BE BEHIND US BY SUNDAY. I may have to eat those words, but looking at the number of hours below zero I stand by my (shaky) prediction.

Congratulations – you’re on the verge of surviving the worst of what Old Man Winter could dole out this winter. It wasn’t terribly pleasant. But just think how good 50 degrees will feel in a few months! The days are getting longer (have you noticed yet?) and in about 2-3 weeks the average temperature will turn upward again, for the first time in 6 months. Thank God for (big) favors!

Paul’s Outlook for the Twin Cities

Today: Intervals of bitter sun, a potentially dangerous wind. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 2 (windchills near -25 F this morning).

Tonight: Clear and numbing. Low: -13 (-20s far outlying suburbs)

Saturday: Bright sun, a bit more tolerable (less wind). High: 10

Sunday: Plenty of sun, back to “average”. Flurries possible late Sunday and Sunday night. High: near 20

Monday: Mix of clouds and sun. High: 24

Tuesday: Partly sunny – milder. High: 29

Wednesday: Risk of a January Thaw. Patchy clouds, well above average (for a change). High: 33 (!) First day above freezing since December 25.

Thursday: Some sun, still quiet. High: near 30

Friday: Clouds increase, flurries, even a period of light snow north. High: 29

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Drew Osborne on 01/10/2010 - 11:04 am.

    Hey Paul…
    I do believe as well that people of Minnesota, and the northern climate are a hardy people, and yes, we have earned our summer this year. Could we get one with some nice, non-property damaging thunderstorms and no mosquitoes? I know it is a lot to ask for. Really hate to see the electric bill for this cold snap, ouch! What a difference it makes already to
    have the temperature near zero when waking up this morning as opposed to -20 as it has been the past couple weeks here. Apartment much warmer 🙂 Am looking forward to the thaw this year!

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