Entering the frigid portion of winter in Minneapolis forecast
Just a few days ago it seemed like this weekend’s cold blast in the Twin Cities forecast was only temporary, and that we’d rebound back to the 20s, at least, promptly. Well, we do rebound a bit, but only temporarily, while we await a longer-term, even colder blast.
Here’s a look at your Minneapolis 7 day forecast (and St. Paul 7 day forecast):
It’s tough to see our pretty moderate temperatures going away – and they’re going away during the same week we finally get more snow (so, complaint time: only the very hardy will actually get to do snow activities when it’s -17° on Friday or below zero on Saturday/Sunday mornings).
Let’s jump right into what’s happening. We’re seeing a shift in the jetstream that’s allowing true arctic air to move in, which some know as the “polar vortex.” The polar vortex can best be summarized as a rotating blob of arctic air that’s always there – it just grows in winter – and rotates constantly in the northern hemisphere.
Picture it as a flat pancake-style blob of ridiculously cold air (example: this coming Wednesday):
That’s how the arctic air is typically set up. Unfortunately, things get stretched out as a series of storm systems break down the wall that’s been protected us in the Twin Cities from the coldest air. The result is a forecast for that pancake-shaped blob of ridiculously cold air to stretch longitudinally – meaning it can reach farther south than usual.
That day will be Thursday. We’ll wake up (barring timing changes) with temperatures that are OK and we’ll rebound to the double digits… and then temperatures will drop like a rock. We’re talking a 20-30 degree drop between Thursday afternoon and evening:
All I could say when I first saw the map above is: “Yikes.” That’s some seriously cold air. If you look at the Hudson Bay you can see a blue marker indicating -36°. Even with maximum warming over snow-free areas (which we won’t be by then), you’d see a high in those areas of -20… Thankfully we won’t be *quite* that cold, but we’ll see highs struggling to reach zero on Friday.
Looking ahead, there are some reinforcing shots of cold air while we try to warm up after next weekend, and we’ll have to keep an eye out for when the pattern looks to shift. Ultimately, it looks like we’re going to still “get to” experience January temps, just a few weeks late.
The good news? We’re still in an El Nino pattern, which means we’re still more likely to see above average temps once we get through this stretch. Stay tuned!
Follow Meteorologist Aaron Shaffer on Twitter. Aaron is a meteorologist who lives in Minneapolis, is on the Midtown Greenway Coalition's board of directors, and is the digital communications and social media associate for the nonprofit Avivo in Minneapolis. Deep down he's a weather geek and has a degree in Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences from UW-Madison to prove it. He's spent time working at TV stations in Wyoming, South Dakota, and Iowa prior to arriving in Minneapolis to work for WeatherNation and now forecasting for MinnyApple. His favorite weather career moment came while storm chasing for his Iowa station (he went on 40+ storm chases during that time), when he saw a mile-wide EF-4 rated tornado.