February Mega-Thaw brings mixed emotions

I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure - which is: Try to please everybody. -Herbert Bayard Swope

The wise Mr. Swope could have been talking about weather.

Want to start a weather cat-fight in Minnesota? Describe unseasonably warm winter temperatures as "nice" or praise the benefits lack of snow and ice choked streets for the morning commute. Happy commuters will agree. Outdoor winter enthusiasts will rake you over the weather coals for disregarding their wish for deep snow for our many enjoyable outdoor adventures in Minnesota. The more vocal winter weather fans will quickly remind you if you don't like winter weather in Minnesota, there are daily Sun Country flights and rental trucks available for a move to Phoenix.

The reality is most of us have mixed feelings about the the coming thaw. We're both commuters and cross country skiers. We're both ice fishermen who want cold for thick safe ice, and homeowners who appreciate lower heating bills in a mild winter.

For this meteorologist and life-long hockey player, our February Mega-Thaw means no outdoor Friday night hockey this week with a great bunch of guys I've been skating with for many years.

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Pond Hockey in Chanhassen. Paul Huttner/MPR News.

Late winter's quickly increasing sun angle and more days above the thawing point mean this already too short outdoor ice season may be on the brink of extinction.

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Good outdoor ice on a cold day in Deephaven, MN. Paul Huttner/MPR News

Different weather in Minnesota creates opposing forces. Snow removal services who make bank on hefty snowfall vs. city residents who play parking Twister in snow emergencies. Car wash operators business may be affected by the mere mention of rain or snow. Minnesota resort owners breathlessly remind us that exposed lawns in the Twin Cities can still mean plenty of snow to play in up north. Business booms in auto body repair shops after a snowy nightmare commute full of accidents. Ski areas like it cold to make additional snow, but not so cold it keeps the skiers away.

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A good day for skiing at Lutsen. Paul Huttner/MPR news

Allow me to bare a bit of my weather soul here.

I learned a long time ago in this business I make forecasts, but I don't make weather-related decisions for weather consumers based on those forecasts. Should I cancel my trip based on 3 inches of snow? I can't tell you the right decision. That depends on how good you are at driving in snow, how good your car and tires are, how far you have to go. Should I plan my wedding for the beginning or end of June? There are statistical advantages to choice B, but it still might pour on your wedding day.

There is no one size fits all forecast advice. Your results may vary depending on your variables. We provide the forecast details mam. You make the call on your "operational decisions."

As our February mega-thaw kicks in over the next 48 hours Minnesotans of all stripes will view the warm up through different lenses.

With all respect to the talented Mr. Swope in our current meteorological context we might say;

There really is no bad weather,  just different kinds of good weather.

Thaw kicks in

Southerly winds pipe up Thursday and milder air gushes north. Pacific air gushes into Minnesota Thursday. Scattered rain showers develop in the inbound Seattle-moist air mass. Latte sales spike at your local Caribou.

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NOAA

Thursday brings a stiff south wind. Temps push past the 40 degree mark in many spots, but it won't feel as warm with the gusty south wind. Bank, car and maybe even NWS thermometers make a run at 50 degrees by Friday afternoon.

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NOAA

Temps near 50 with another shot of February rain showers? Two inches of snow cover in the Twin Cities start screaming like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Birkebeiner: Soft snow

As we zero in on this weekend's American Birkebeiner event, I am becoming more convinced that temperatures may not fall below the freezing point Friday night along much of the course between Cable and Hayward.

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Weatherspark - ECMWF data for Hayward, WI.

I'm sure the trail groomers will work wonders, but skiers should plan for some soft snow conditions at the Birkie this weekend.

Minnesota #1 in winter warming

It's not your imagination. The background Muzak of climate change is driving warmer winters overall in Minnesota. In fact, we're the fastest warming state in winter. Yes Minnesota, when it come to warmer winters we're #1. Many of us are not happy about that dubious honor.

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Climate Central

Here's more from Climate Central.

A winter heat wave is spreading inland from the West Coast and could bring unseasonable warmth spanning from coast-to-coast by the weekend.

Southern California is on track to continue setting hot temperature records, Phoenix will have its earliest first 90°F day of the year, and parts of the South could see temperatures 20°-30°F above normal.

While the heat is unusual in its magnitude, warmer winters in the U.S. are becoming the rule, not the exception. It’s the fastest-warming season for 37 states that roughly 220 million people call home.

Winter trending rapidly warmer in Minnesota. An El Nino winter running among the warmest on average. A mega-February thaw in the coming days. How do you feel about the season formerly know as winter in Minnesota these days?

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