Grooming update: Trail closes Tuesday

The Birkie Trail will close on Tuesday to skiing. Exact timing is to be determined, but will likely depend on exactly what the snow and weather looks like at that point.

Once the trail closes, please heed the closing. Depending on conditions, a single skier can ruin the groomers’ work, and potentially create a dangerous situation for skiers on race day. The groomers have to tackle preparing more than 100 km of trail for 9,000 skiers, so they have enough work as it is.

Want to find out more? The podcast sat down with Kurt Proctor, the Birkie’s head groomer, to talk about what goes into that perfect trail on race day. You can find the podcast on iTunes, or download it here.

10 days to go!

Weather speculation: Last of the snow?

From the Birkie Start webcam. This is what we like to see!

Live from the Birkie Start webcam. This is what we like to see!

The snow continues to pile up in Hayward. Nearby reporting sites in Spooner and Clam Lake have seen accumulating snow 7 of the 12 days so far this month with 15 to 21 inches of reported not including more snow today; already more snow than fell in the entire month of January (and, it’s possible, more snow in the first two weeks of February than the rest of the winter up until the start of the month). The Birkie Trail has seen a similar surfeit of snow, and should clear two feet in February by the time the storm today comes to a close.

This has been a godsend. A week ago, we would have been happy with six inches, since the base, while present, was thin. Twelve would have been terrific. Two feet? That makes the race. And the timing is perfect. With cold weather predicted between now and the race, the snow won’t go anywhere, but it will have plenty of time to be packed, groomed, and set up.

The weather between now and race day looks to be cold, but dry. There may be some light snow to freshen up the snowcover, but none of the models is pointing towards the active storm track continuing. Anything is possible, from a blizzard to a rain event, but the most likely scenario for the next 11 days (and, yes, the Birkie is just 11 days away!) is for cold, dry weather to rule. With the snow on the ground and cold in place, I see no real chance the race is anything but a full-course race from the start in Cable to Main Street in Hayward. I’ll never say never, but the chance of a full Birkie today is 99+%.

See you in Cable.

We are the 99%

I think last time I checked in I said there was a 97% chance of the Birkie happening.

It’s up to 99%. It probably won’t reach 100 for a while, but it’s really that good.

First, it has snowed. It’s snowed pretty much every day this month in Hayward, with about a foot of snow piling up. And more is on the way. Depending on how a storm swings, there could he half again that much on the ground by midweek. And this is on top of a hard base on cold ground.

That’s all well and good, but the snow needs to stick around. The verdict? It is very likely to do so. No model has shown temperatures pushing 30 by race day. It’s just cold, cold and cold, with the possibility of some snow. In the next 10 days (and indeed through race day) the American model tops the temperature out at 25; the European model doesn’t go above 23. It’s hard to melt snow when it’s nowhere near freezing.

The groomers should have plenty of time to pack down the snow and get it ready for race day, and hopefully they’ll get some refreshments between now and then. Could things change? Sure, they could. But for now, things look about as good as it gets.

16 days to go, and looking great

I know it’s 16, because that’s the length of the GFS model. 384 hours. Rest up.

9 of new snow in Birkieland and the GFS has a high temperature in Hayward of 25˚. Even if it doesn’t snow another flake (and, uh, it’s forecast to snow several more flakes) the Birkie should be in terrific shape.

Lots can change, of course. But there’s no signal of doom, so for now, all systems are go. I’d say there’s a 97% chance of a Main Street finish.

Podcast corrupt? Yeah, I fat-fingered something

Did you try to listen to ye olde Podcast and get errors? Me too.

Because I had a lowercase p instead of capital P in my feed.

It should work now. Maybe if you’ve subscribed and got errors you’ll get two episodes at once. As Mitch Hedberg says, “I like to hold the microphone cord like this, I pinch it together, then I let it go, then you hear a whole bunch of jokes at once.” (RIP Mitch.)

So, yeah, I am now producing the podcast on my own, and maybe you’ve noticed a slight decrease in production value, or maybe not. But the xml feed is the issue. It’s fixed. Hopefully it won’t happen again. (it probably will, though.)

Four weeks out preliminary weather speculation

Four weeks to the Birkie!

I, for one, am going on a long ski this weekend. A long march, you could say. Yes, I’m in Italy, skiing the Marcialonga (expect a podcast shortly). But it’s just a long training race (for me): the main event is in four weeks in Wisconsin.

So what does the weather foretell? First, there’s snow, but not that much. Probably enough now, but not enough to survive much of a meltdown. The next week holds some promise, with the potential for a few inches of snow on Monday and no chance of a meltdown thereafter. If nothing else, it will put down some thick ice on Lake Hayward.

After that … the long range trends look good. The US models out for the next four weeks show Hayward in colder-than-normal temperatures throughout the forecast period. Obviously there’s not a lot of “skill” in this forecast, so things can change; and near the end there’s warm air lurking up north, but for the next couple of weeks things look okay. As for some moisture, it doesn’t look wet, but not bone-dry; a few inches of snow in the cold will help.

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But, monthly forecasts can be wrong. At this juncture in 2017, things looked okay, but then went way, way downhill in the week after. So there’s a lot of time to come until we’re lining up next to an airport in Cable, Wisconsin. A lot can happen. But things aren’t dire, yet.