I don’t know whether the weather will be good

So, it’s a month to the Birkie. And the weather is … well, not good. Yes, there’s snow up north. But there’s not that much. There’s no base. And one bout of warm weather could wreak havoc on the Birkie.

We’ve seen this before. In 2000—before I had ever heard of the Birkie (horrors!)—the race succumbed to a warm winter and a warm spell the week before the race. In 2007, the same thing happened, only the race was shortened and run on rock ski conditions to Highway OO (today they might run it back on the classic trail). What will happen this year?

There’s room here for some optimism. First of all, there are good conditions in the Wisconsin north woods. According to Skinnyski, there’s enough snow that the trail has a firm skate deck and classic tracks. It sounds like the race could be run today without much of a hitch, but we’re still four weeks away from race day. Temperatures tomorrow should reach in to the 30s, but then a cool-if-not-cold weather regime should set in, with the possibility of some snow this weekend. But the models this year have been finicky, and there’s not necessarily a good sign that a frigid, snowy weather pattern will set up for February.

And lest we get ahead of ourselves, February 2007 (the last canceled or significantly shortened race) started off nice and cold; temperatures didn’t hit 20 until a week before race day, but peaked at 52 the next week—and no snow fell until the evening after the race. 2000’s data is partially missing, but that year it was also the case that the race was only doomed by warm weather the week preceding. Once we get to within two weeks of the race, this page will speculate on the weather. However, let’s not count any chickens until we have deep snow and cold temperatures the week before the race.