El Nino forces pond hockey changes, arctic weekend

A month ago I posted about the likelihood that our mild El Nino winter and late ice-in on area lakes may impact local pond hockey tournaments. That unwelcome prediction has come to pass.

This week the North American Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Minnetonka in Excelsior announced changes to the event.

The charity event goes on, without the pond hockey. That means a weekend of bands, bean bag toss, and fun for charity, sans the hockey. Event organizers and local officials like the Hennepin County Sheriff and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources agree that the ice is just too thin, and too unstable to host the event on ice this year.

Full disclosure here. I have played in this event the past three years and organizers have asked my input regarding ice making conditions and forecasts the past couple of months.

I wish I had better news to give them the past few weeks, but the reality of the strongest El Nino on record this winter has been realized on Minnesota's lakes.

It's no fun to be the messenger sometimes, even when the information you pass along is accurate. As a hockey player, I had hoped for a sort of miracle of ice. It's still going to be a great weekend and I know I'll be there to support a good cause.

On Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships have been pushed back two weeks in hopes of adequate ice. It's possible given this weekend's arctic outbreak they could make enough ice to squeeze that event in. I'm told they may have to consider the amount of spectators and heavy equipment they will allow on the ice.

Making ice

The good news for ice enthusiasts? We'll be making some ice this weekend.

The latest read on this weekend's Arctic outbreak suggest that -15 is likely in the metro both Sunday and Monday morning. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts outlook is even colder, pushing temps to -23 Monday morning.

That may be too aggressive, but it gives you the idea of the magnitude of this inbound cold wave. I still think we'll see about 60 hours of subzero temps in the Twin Cities between 1 a.m. Saturday morning and noon Monday.

200 114 kky
Weatherspark - ECMWF data

Any chance "House of Cards" will come out this weekend for a quality indoor Netflix binge?

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