MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The mild, but not wild, weather is something that seems to pop in every January here in Minnesota. For some reason Mother Nature decides to give us a break from the cold harsh reality of winter in the Upper Midwest. This may have a lot of you may be asking if this is El Nino, and the answer to that question is yes and no. Anytime the jetstream flows from West to East in the winter months, mild weather travels into Minnesota. Yes, an El Nino weather pattern has this happening more often, but its a break that we get most winters.
The zonal flow in the jet stream is when things simply go flat. A lack of kinks and bends in the jet means a lack of storms, that in return, means a lack of cold air intrusions. This ZONAL FLOW in the jet will be with us through most of the upcoming weekend, thus so will the mild conditions.
When the jetstream is not on the straight and narrow, then there is usually trouble brewing somewhere. This should be the case as we head into the first of February. Large "kinks" in the jet result in strong areas of low pressure that can pull in the cold air once they pass us by here in Minnesota. Those storms can be quite intense and bring in a lot of precipitation and mild air ahead of them followed possible cold blast behind them.
THE PROS AND CONS OF JANUARY THAWS
Obviously, the first thing that comes to mind is the break from winter that 40 degrees in January brings to Minnesota. The mild side of the weather can lure Minnesotans to venture out of their winter hibernation. Stubborn icy sidewalks get a chance to clear and we can finally run the car through the wash without the risk of frozen locks.
On the flip side, a January thaw can throw a wrench into the plans of winter sports enthusiasts. the freeze thaw cycle can affect the integrity of ice on area lakes. Also, the warm air over cold ground can lead to dreary fog, low clouds, and occasional misty drizzle.
The warm air that moves in can also act as a lid and keep a stagnant layer near the surface that can fill up with pollution and lower the air quality. The link below provides the daily air quality forecast from the Minnesota DNR. https://www.pca.state.mn.us/air/current-air-quality-index
Enjoy the mild up everyone! This is Minnesota in January and above freezing temps can't last forever. Incase you're wondering, the average high and low for late January is 25° and 8°.