1998 to 2007 was a dark period for the Birkie. The race in 2000 was canceled, 1998 and 2007 were shortened significantly, 2002 finished short of Main Street, and 1996 had race temperatures well in to the 40s; I can only imagine that it was a soggy, slushy Birkie. (Our weather history chart is here; I’ll update it soon with more recent data.)
Since then, we’ve had a run of good luck. Even in 2012, where there was hardly any snow south of Birkie, the course was perfect. The only downside has been the cold; some of the coldest Birkies have been held in the past decade. Still, eight races with pretty much perfect snow in a row is not too shabby, especially in a time of warming temperatures across the globe. If you’d told me after we skied 25k on rock skis and slush in 2007 that we’d have perfect snow for the next decade, it would have sounded like wishful thinking in a year where there wasn’t more than three inches of snow on the trail before race day.
This year shouldn’t lack for snow; there’s enough on the trail (although more would be nice) and we’re unlikely to face a 2000-esque meltdown (when 15 inches were washed away in a few days), but unlike most of the races in the past few years, it won’t be cold at the start. So you can leave your buffs, dermatone and maybe even wind briefs at home; it’s very unlikely that we’ll need a “-” in front of the temperature, at least not in Farenheit.
We might not even need it in Celcius. The two models are getting in to range, and both show a warm up at the end of next week. The European model shows temperatures peaking on Friday night just above freezing, with a mix of rain and snow falling on race morning. This would be interesting to say the least, and would cause a run on fluoros at the local ski shops. The American model brings the warm air in a bit earlier, with temperatures in the 30s on Friday, but falling back through the 20s on Friday night. With any moisture added to the snow, this would create a lightning-fast track for Saturday morning. The Canadian model, for what it’s worth, parallels the American model with a cold front swinging through on Friday afternoon.
Unless the models are wildly wrong, there should be no real threat to having enough snow for the race and a ninth straight Birkie with good snow. But it might be the first time in a while the start of the race we won’t have to layer and layer and layer up.