Our February thaw stays in high gear this week.
Today marks day #5 in a row at or above freezing in much of Minnesota. It looks like the string consecutive of 32 degree plus days will climb to 7 before a cold front delivers a "February reality check" on Friday.
As I posted yesterday, snow cover took a real beating in the Midwest during our "Mega Chinook" last weekend. This truly was a rare event, as the rapidly moving Chinook effect stretched out hundreds of miles futher east than usual due to the fast moving low level jet racing over the Rockies toward the central USA.
It's quite unusual to see nearly half of the nation's snow cover vanish in just 3 days!
I also don't recall seeing 5" of snow melt in one day in the Twin Cities. That's what happened between Sunday's 11" snow depth and Monday's reading of 6". Think about that...we melted snow at the rate of about 1" every 4 to 5 hours Sunday!
Gone by Friday?
At that rate of snow melt, and with nearly continuous temperatures above freezing this week you have to wonder how much of that 5" will be left by Friday? Like losing those last 5 holiday pounds...the last 5 inches of crusty snow can be the toughest to go.
Here at the Huttner Weather Lab in the west metro, I've still got closer to 8" in the more shaded maple forest...and the snow piles are still pushing 2 feet. I don't think that's going to disappear this week.
The south facing slopes my be mostly bare by Friday around the metro, but I think there will still be plenty of snow in north facing slopes and heavily treed areas.
A stiff southerly wind will blow today. Look for gusts over 25 mph at times. The southerly wind will help boost temps...but make it feel cooler than the number flashing on your local bank thermometer.
A Shot at 50?
Gusty south will push another surge of milder air in again Tuesday. The southerly flow will have to travel a longer distance over snowpack through Iowa than Sunday's zephyr which blew in from the west. That may mean temps won't climb as high today, and it will feel cooler with the wind factored in.
The "thermal ridge" or warmest part of our February thaw will arrive Thursday, with the NAM model is cranking out a 50 degree high temp for the metro. The extent of low clouds, fog and possible drizzle will determine temperatures over the next few days, as increased snow melt injects additional moisture into the lower atmosphere.
If the wind stays up enough, the moisture may "mix out" and sunshine could boost temps. If the fog & low stratus deck develops, temps will be held in check. That's a nowcasting scenario, something we'll have to watch hour by hour in the coming days.
"Winter" returns Friday:
A cold front will bring us back to a wintery reality starting on Friday. Look for gusty northwest winds, temps falling back through the 20s and a shot of (probably light) snow Friday as the front sails through.
Classic February weekend?
We may be tempted to call it "winter light" after the past 3 months, but this weekend should be a February classic. A slightly cooler (but not arctic) high pressure center will drift overhead this weekend. We should see plenty of sunshine, and temps will be closer to average Saturday with highs in the upper 20s. Sunday should feature temps back into the 30s, and clouds may increase from the west during the day.
It should be a great weekend to ice fish or play in the diminishing snow cover!
Wintery cameo next week?
Next week is the last week of February, and it looks like we'll get a reminder that winter is not over yet. The medium range forecast models are hinting at chances for snow Monday and again Wednesday of next week. Right now the Wednesday system looks potentially more significant, but it's way too early to tell if or where either system will deliver "plowable" snowfall yet.
Suffice to say that next week will look and feel more like February than our late March/early April weather this week. I still don't see any sub-zero arctic shots on the horizon yet...and the clock is ticking away on those days as we approach March.