Thursday, February 4, 2010

Winter Lite

Lately it seems that most (but not all) of our Minnesota winters have been neutered. De-fanged. Immunized against old-fashioned, tire-spinning, headline-grabbing, school-closing, water-cooler-bragging snowstorms. When it snows now (with a few notable exceptions, like the Christmas Day storm) it tends to be in dribs and drabs: an inch here, 2 or 3 sloppy inches there. While Washington D.C. is bracing for a cool foot (or two) of new snow by Saturday evening WE are under a winter weather advisory for a MIX of rain, ice and snow. To make matters worse we had an air pollution advisory yesterday. Wait: rain, ice and smog in early February - in Minnesota? What have we become: Sacramento? Even the alleged experts can't say (with anything approaching 100% certainty) that big, wet, sloppy storms detouring well south of Minnesota much of the winter is a symptom of El Nino. It is consistent with an El Nino winter, when storms tend to be pushed farther south, resulting in cooler, stormier conditions for the deep south and east coast, while the northern tier states trend drier (and milder). The milder part is still very much up in the air. The Climate Center folks at NOAA are convinced that February will wind up warmer than normal, and for that matter so will the next 3 months, through the end of April. I'm not convinced, not yet. Looking out the next 2 weeks or so temperatures will run a good 10 degrees below average, nothing even remotely resembling a real warm front is shaping up through the third week of February. Spring fever? Give it 8 weeks, minimum. Of COURSE it will inevitably snow on the new Twins outdoor stadium, and that (in turn) will make national news, which will just reinforce the old, tired image of Minnesota as a frozen wasteland frequented by Prince and Garrison Keillor. That in turn will keep our population stable and prevent us from becoming "L.A with lakes", which is a very good thing for all of us. Just a theory. We'll see.


One Mixed-Up Map. Over 16" for Baltimore and Washington, maybe 1-2" for the Twin Cities, 2-3" for St. Cloud, over 6" for far western Minnesota and much of North Dakota.

The Stormy Details. Check out the latest watches, warnings, advisories from NOAA, winter weather advisories for much of Minnesota, but full blown winter storm warnings from Indianapolis to Columbus, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Blizzard warnings are posted for Delaware and much of New Jersey for near white-out conditions late tonight and Saturday. For the latest (clickable) watches and warnings, click here for an interactive map from NOAA.

We're just getting brushed, side-swiped by the mega-storm now churning toward Washington D.C., where 27" of snow has already piled up - that number will be closer to 40" by Sunday. How did that happen? A sloppy inch or two is possible today, expect a white-knuckle morning commute, but the steadiest snow should taper off a bit for the drive home later today. Freeways that have been successfully treated by MnDOT should be mostly wet and slushy, but watch the side streets and alleys - they may be snow-covered and very icy. A push of drier air approaching from the Great Lakes will cause flurries to taper Saturday, but a southbound cold front whips up another period of light, powdery snow Sunday as temperatures fall through the 20s - I could see an inch, maybe 2" in a few towns. It still looks cold the first half of next week, not quite as numbing as it appeared yesterday at this time. Let's just say the Groundhog had the right idea. 6 more weeks of winter? Count on it.

Paul's Outlook for the Twin Cities

Today: Light snow, about 1-2", tapering to mostly flurries by late afternoon. Slippery roads. Winds: E 10-15. High: 28

Tonight: Lingering clouds, few flakes around town. Low: near 20

Saturday: Mostly cloudy, a few flurries possible. High: 26

Sunday: Another period of light snow, about 1" of powder possible. High: 23

Monday: Flurries taper, feeling colder again. High: 20

Tuesday: More clouds than sun, more flurries. High: 16

Wednesday: Peeks of sun, colder than average. High: 17

Thursday: Partly sunny and chilly. High: 18

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