Posted at 6:26 AM on January 7, 2013
by Craig Edwards
Conditions were nearly ideal for outdoor recreation this past weekend. Snow depths ranged from around 3 inches in far northwest Minnesota and in some locations in the Twin Cities metro to 8-9 inches at Brainerd, Orr, Willmar and International Falls.
Winds were fairly light and the afternoon sunshine made the sensible temperature feel several degrees warmer. International Falls recovered nicely from a Sunday morning low of 9 below zero to a high in the teens.
Even the weather guy brought out the fragile saucer sled for a few short hill runs. Can't take the boy out of the grandpa!
Temperatures warmed overnight and were already approaching the thawing point of 32 F at daybreak in southern Minnesota. At 7 a.m. it was 30 F degrees in Owatonna, but the stiff southwest winds of 24 mph created a wind chill reading of 16 F. The trade-off in the next 36 hours will be wind offsetting the milder temperatures.
There is still quite a bit of concern about the lack of precipitation this winter in the central part of the nation, extending into Minnesota. On Sunday afternoon I ventured outside the weather lab to take a snow water equivalent (SWE). Here's the regional graphic from Sunday of the water content in the snow pack.
The good news in this image is the more than 1 inch of water in the snow pack in parts of southwest Minnesota. Some of this snow is expected to melt early this week. Evaporation is likely as the winds stir up the air.
The process of capturing SWE begins with taking a core sample of a representative snow depth.
Push the inverted rain gauge through the snow pack to the ground. Slide a slim board or piece of cardboard under the gauge to capture core sample.
Immerse the gauge with the snow in a warm water bath, or you can pour a measured amount of hot water in with the snow, subtracting that amount from the total.
My backyard SWE on Sunday afternoon was just shy of seven-tenths of an inch.
Grass was captured from the sample, validating the core was to the surface.
I was reviewing Paul's previous blog about the model forecast precipitation this week. You can take a look at it as well and compare the GFS models prediction of rain/snow valid at noon on Thursday.
The overnight GFS model run paints the bulk of precipitation from 6 a.m. to noon CST on Thursday to our south.
Moisture in Missouri is expected to track north Thursday afternoon. This will be much needed rain for St. Louis area. Temperatures should be just above the critical thawing point of 32 F in southern Minnesota Thursday evening. Rain or freezing rain looks to arrive late Thursday.
Thursday's expected maximum temperatures.
A more interesting system; possibly a snowmaker is showing up on the model run for Saturday. I'll not tease you with a graphic of that potential snowfall. As a rather old school meteorologist I'm tentative with predictions beyond five days.
However, I will toss out the GFS prediction of the cold air still expected to track our way around the middle of the month, which is typically the coldest period of the winter season.
You might want to check the level of your window washer fluid today.