Weekend split, Monday mix; 70 again next weekend?

Ah, spring in Minnesota. Only here can you experience all four seasons in a week. Sometimes a day.

Get ready to ride another weather roller coaster in the next week. On tap? Sunny cool classic spring days. Gray skies with a potential rain and snow mix. Another sunny run toward 70 degrees by next weekend?

Let's see, sweater, umbrella, slush boots, sunglasses and shorts. That should work.

Buckle up.

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Twin Cities NWS

You don't need to be a meteorologist rocket surgeon to see from the graphic above that Saturday looks like the better day of the weekend. Saturday is a classic spring day.

Easter Sunday looks grayer, as a subdued sky may leak a few stray sprinkles favoring the morning hours.

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I'm still watching a developing low pressure system gathering over the Rockies Sunday night that may bring a rain-snow mix to Minnesota Monday and Tuesday.

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Watching Monday snizzle 

To say the models have been inconsistent with Monday's system is an understatement. In the past 48 hours I have seen solutions that deliver everything from little or no precip, to mostly rain, to a mix, to wet snow.

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts model has been literally all over the map on this one. The latest runs have trended further south. Lack of consistency in forecast models is always a real confidence booster.

The most likely outcome at this point three days out appears to favor a mix of rain and some slushy snow Monday and Tuesday. Temps close to 40 degrees could favor rain during the day, with the potential for precip changing to snow at night.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Global Forecast System output below may have the right idea on this one.

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70 again by next weekend?

The longer range outlook shows a distinct warming trend again by next weekend. The only question is how warm?

The European Centre model cranks out highs in the 60s and 70s by next Saturday and Sunday. That's 10 to 20 degrees warmer than average.

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Play Ball! Mild Twins opener on April 13?

It's still a long way off, but the early read on the Twins home opener April 13 looks promising. Upper 60s for opening day? That would be a bonus for baseball fans and another sure sign of spring in Minnesota.

Target Field. Paul Huttner/MPR News

The overall pattern looks to continue to favor a warm bias the week of April 13. NOAA's longer range 16-day GFS output cranks out a string of 60s and 70s the week after next.

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NOAA via IPS Meteostar

White bear ice out, Tonka getting closer

Ice out reports continue to pour in early from area lakes. Northeast metro bellwether White Bear Lake declared ice out Thursday. That's a full 12 days earlier than the long term average.

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Minnesota DNR

Lake Minnetonka is getting close to ice out status. Most of the lake is open water now.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Water Patrol surveyed the lake Friday afternoon. They found one stubborn huge chunk of ice on the lower main lake. Here's the view of that ice chunk from the Minnetonka Yacht Club in Deephaven Friday afternoon.

Stubborn but weakening ice floe on Lake Minnetonka Friday. Minnetonka Yacht Club web cam.

Steve Woods from the Freshwater Society passed along this update Friday afternoon. Looks like Tonka ice out may have to wait another day or two.

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Kent Carlson has returned from his water tour of the lake with the Water Patrol.

He reports there is a large raft of ice covering a third of the Lower (Main) lake.  Not a lot to see except for a couple eagles standing around on it.  Extends from the north side of Big Island and east towards Carson’s Bay.  All other channels and bays looking clear.

Looks like it will live to see another day.

California water crisis deepens

Think of the water situation in California as a baseball game. This winter was the bottom of the 9th inning. California was 5 runs behind and needed a big inning with heavy winter rain and snow to come back. Instead they went down 1-2-3.

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NASA images show the stark difference on snow-pack today compared to 5 years ago.

California snow-pack March 27, 2010. NASA
California snow-pack March 30, 2015. NASA

Here's more on the dismal snow-pack numbers from Live Science.

California's mountain snowpack will do little to slake the thirsty state this summer — only the tallest peaks are dusted with snow, and the most recent survey showed the driest snowpack in more than 100 years.

"We're not only setting a new low; we're completely obliterating the previous record," Dave Rizzardo, chief of the California Department of Water Resources' snow surveys section, said during a news conference today (April 1).

The Sierra Nevada snowpack typically supplies 30 percent of California's water. But this year, the snowpack's water content was just 5 percent of the average amount in the northern Sierra Nevada and 6 percent of the average in the central and southern Sierra Nevada during a snow survey by the water resources department on March 30. Today, at four key survey sites, they found no snow at all. [The 5 Worst Droughts in U.S. History]

How climate change plays a role

Drought crisis? That's where California is at now. Hotter weather means faster evaporation and a quicker plunge into drought. Jason Samenow from Capital Weather Gang takes a look at how climate change plays a role in the deepening California water crisis.

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California’s astonishingly low snowpack, a pathetic 5 percent of normal, and the severity of the drought afflicting the state isn’t some fluke.  It’s a likely consequence of climate change, specifically the rising temperatures which are intensifying many of the processes causing the state to lose water at an alarming rate.

To begin, let’s make clear climate change is best characterized as a drought amplifier rather than the cause of the drought itself.  The climate system has enormous natural variability and several studies and analyses have linked the drought to a randomly occurring configuration of Pacific Ocean temperatures that encourages atmospheric winds to steer weather systems away from the Golden State.

For three years strong, the atmosphere steering flow has hit a road block along the West Coast (dubbed the “ridiculously resilient ridge”), but connecting that to climate change has proven difficult.

But even as climate change probably isn’t driving the weather pattern behind the drought, it is directing the background temperatures: up.  Atmospheric levels of the heat-trapping gas carbon dioxide, due to the burning of fossil fuels, have risen about 25 percent since 1958.

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There is some potentially good news for California in the short run. Two potential storms may bring some much needed water to the west in the next two weeks.

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It won't be nearly enough to end the drought. But In California these days, they're counting every drop as a blessing.