Two steps forward, one step back.
That chilly breeze you feel today is our latest reminder that the Spring of 2011 is taking its sweet time to show up. It may feel more like March out there for the next 48 hours in Minnesota at times.
A slow moving low pressure system will track through Missouri & Illinois over the next 48 hours.
The system will impact Minnesota weather with windy, cool wet weather and some snow...but not the heavy metro "snowmageddon" advertised by some weather models over the past week.
Thursday: Expect a chilly northeast wind from 15 to 25 mph today. Showery weather in southern Minensota, dry air from the metro north with a mix of sun & clouds.
Friday: Showers increase from west to east. Dry air near the metro may hold rain at bay much of the day. Rain showers change to wet snow overnight.
Best chances for accumulating snow in the eastern Dakotas to Duluth where several inches may fall. Maybe a slushy inch in the metro by Saturday morning.
Saturday & Sunday: Saturday will start blustery and cold, but the weather will improve as the weekend wears on.
Look for a return to sunshine Saturday, and brisk NW winds will ease by late afternoon. After morning temps in the 30s (and wind chills in the 20s) highs should struggle to reach 50 by around 4pm.
Sunday should feature a sun-cloud mix with lighter winds and temps in the lowers 50s by afternoon.
Searching for spring: Major warm up in sight?
Okay this is going way out on a limb...but with everybody searching for spring I thought I'd pass along this ray of hope for much warmer weather.
The GFS (yes... the model we don't trust lately that has been overpredicting snowstorms) is hinting at a possible major warm up in about two weeks.
The GFS seems to be better at identifying high amplitude temperature trends than handling potential low pressure systems.
The GFS paints a big, (high amplitude) high pressure ridge over the central USA sometime around April 29th-30th. If that verifies, we could see a big warm up...maybe our first real taste of late spring or early summer like temps in Minnesota. The pattern suggests 70s, and maybe even the first 80 degree readings of 2011 for the metro.
It may be weather fantasy at this point...but it's all we've got and I'll take it! I'll keep an eye on a potential warm up in the next week or so.
Ice out reaches the metro:
Southern Minnesota lakes have been ice free for about a week now, and the thaw is moving north by the day.
-Albert Lea Lake ice out was Friday April 8th
-St. Olaf Lake ice out Sunday April 10th
Some metro lakes are now ice free, pretty much on schedule.
-Lake Calhoun ice out occurred Sunday April 10th
-White Bear Lake ice out occurred Wednesday April 13th
-Lake Minnetonka still had partial ice cover as of Wednesday
Here's the latest, updated list of ice out for Minnesota from the Minnesota Climatology Working Group.
What defines "ice out?
"Ice out" is defined in different ways according to the Freshwater Society in Navarre.
Here's how they define ice out on Lake Minnetonka.
"On Lake Minnetonka, the ice is designated as "out" when it is possible to travel by small boat from any one shore to another shore through any passage on the lake. Ice-out dates have been determined using this method since 1968. Previous methods include: when the ice was 50% gone, when a boat could circle Big Island, when a boat could travel between Wayzata and Excelsior, when a car fell through the ice and by visual
observations from a number of lake locations."
Today, April 14th is the median (average) ice out date for Lake Minnetonka. Oddly enough, the ice has never gone out on the lake on April 15th. Last year the ice was out on Tonka April 2nd.
Ice melts from the bottom!
I was surprised to learn several years back that ice actually melts form the bottom up!
Here's a great description from the MN Climate Working Group.
How Lake Ice Melts
"Ed Swain, of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency describes the process of freezing and thawing lakes.
In the late fall, the lake loses heat to the atmosphere, and then on a day or night when the wind is not blowing, ice forms. The ice gets thicker as long as the lake can continue to lose heat.
In most Januaries and Februaries, snow both reflects sunlight and insulates the lake. With a thick snow layer, the lake neither gains nor loses heat. The bottom sediment is actually heating the lake water slightly over the winter, from stored summer heat.
Around March, as the air warms and the sun gets more intense, the snow melts, allowing light to penetrate the ice. Because the ice acts like the glass in a greenhouse, the water beneath it begins to warm, and the ice begins to melt FROM THE BOTTOM.
When the ice thickness erodes to between 4 and 12 inches, it transforms into long vertical crystals called "candles." These conduct light even better, so the ice starts to look black, because it is not reflecting much sunlight.
Warming continues because the light energy is being transferred to the water below the ice. Meltwater fills in between the crystals, which begin breaking apart. The surface appears grayish as the ice reflects a bit more light than before.
The wind comes up, and breaks the surface apart. The candles will often be blown to one side of the lake, making a tinkling sound as they knock against one another, and piling up on the shore. In hours, a sparkling blue lake, once again!"
Posted at 3:07 PM on April 14, 2011
by Paul Huttner
Filed under: Ice out
It's officially boating season on Lake Minnetonka.
Okay, maybe I'm pushing it with icy water and the cold blustery weather forecast, but the official ice out on Lake Minnetonka was declared early this morning.
2011 Lake Minnetonka ice-out declared
"The 2011 ice-out on Lake Minnetonka was declared at 5:14 am on April 14 by the Freshwater Society.
The ice-out came 12 days later than last year, when the lake became ice-free on April 2.
This year, the Freshwater Society this year is celebrating two sure signs of spring -- the ice-out and the stop-over of migrating loons on Lake Minnetonka -- with a party and fund-raiser on Thursday, April 21. Check out information on the party and register to attend.
Click here to view a calendar of ice-out on Lake Minnetonka, as compiled by the Freshwater Society, from 1855-2010. Or check out another version of the calendar showing the number of times ice-out has occurred on specific dates.
Since 1968, the Freshwater Society has kept close records of the day the ice yields to warmer temperatures on Lake Minnetonka. Freshwater founder Dick Gray described the standard for determining ice-out in a 2003 column: The ice is considered to be "out" when it is possible to travel from any one shore to any other shore through any passage on the lake, he said.
In addition to declaring the ice-out every year since 1968, Gray has compiled a list of all recorded ice-out dates on Lake Minnetonka, dating back to 1855. The earliest recorded ice-out, measured by noted naturalist Dr. Thomas Roberts, was March 11, 1878, and the latest recorded date was May 8, 1856.
Pete Boulay of the State Climatology Office recently found two long-missing ice-out dates -- for 1863 and 1873 -- in Smithsonian Weather Observer records. Ice-out dates on Lake Minnetonka are still missing for more than 20 years in the 1860s, '70s and '80s. Anyone with information regarding ice-out dates for Lake Minnetonka, or any other body of water in Minnesota, for that period, should send the data to the Freshwater Society, c/o Richard G. Gray, Sr., 2500 Shadywood Road, Excelsior, MN 55331."
Freshwater Ice Out/Loon in Event April 21st:
I'm honored to have been asked to serve as the emcee for this year's Freshwater Ice Out/Loon IN event next Thursday April 21st at the Baywiew Event Center on Lake Minnetonka in Excelsior.
The event is open to the public and you can get details here.
This should be a great evening. I hope you can come out and join us as we celebrate the start of a new summer season on Minnesota's lakes.