Weather Speculation: Meltdown survival and cold to come

Things look good. The Birkie Trail survived the meltdown (as much as it was one) and a bit of rain/freezing rain and while it may have some thin spots, reports are that it is in good shape.

Looking ahead for the next 10 to 15 days, things look cold. That’s good on it’s own; if it doesn’t go above freezing in the next three weeks, we’ll have a good Birkie. But more importantly, it looks cold with some moisture. A couple of inches Tuesday in to Wednesday, a couple more Thursday in to Friday, and we could be in good shape. We’re not home free until we get a couple of feet of snow down on the trail, but long-range trends look good to stay cold at least through race day.

Starting later this week the medium-range models will start pushing out to Race Day and Weather Speculation will get much more involved.

Weather Speculation: Can we get through next week?

The weeklies still look good. But after near-all-time-record cold (-56 in Minnesota, only -33 in Hayward) temperatures will moderate nearly 100 degrees in the next week. By the end of the weekend, it will be pushing towards 40 in Hayward. 40 is fine. 40 and rain is … less fine. Sunday and Monday are still out, it could be 40 and dry, and then cool down and snow a bit. That would be fine. The snowpack and ground will be so cold that a little warmth probably won’t penetrate the snowpack without significant wind. A tiny bit of 35˚ rain is probably fine. 40 and pouring is not so good. So hope for the best, since if we can get over this hump things look better for a while. If it’s bad, though, at least there’s some time before race day.

If nothing else, the cold snap has probably put another few inches of ice on Lake Hayward.

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.


Friday Update

It’s on, guys. It’s definitely on.

Change of a full Birkie: 100%. 1000%. No snow issues this year.

It snowed about half a foot last night in Hayward, so grab your soft skis and fluoros. It’s a winter wonderland out there on the Birkie Trail, with snow coating the trees from Cable to Hayward. A far cry from last year. The groomers haven’t slept, the parking lots are clear (but leave some extra time, especially if you’re coming up Highway 63) and the race is going to be great.

We (I) recorded a quick podcast this afternoon with some updates, it should be in the Podcast feed, or you can grab it here and put it in your Birkie playlist for the drive up.

Sounds of the Birkie: Please Contribute!

This year, in addition to recording audio for a podcast myself, I’d like to see if we can crowdsource a podcast: Sounds of the Birkie. But I need your help! As you ski, or cheer, or volunteer, take out your phone and record a sound file. It can be a short interview, it can be a poem, it can be the sound of cowbells or drums or spectators or skiers. We’re looking for short clips: 15 seconds to 2 minutes (at most, although multiple files are fine). We’ll then stitch them together in to a sounds of the Birkie podcast, and everyone who contributes will get some sweet swag (a lie, we have nothing).

Details: if you have an iPhone, it’s easy, just open the Voice Memo app and hit record (it’s usually hidden in utilities with the alarm clock and such). If you have an Android, you’ll probably have to download an app, preferably one which can save files as .mp3s. Once you have them, save them and send them to And thanks!

(Thursday weather speculation: 3-6″ of snow tonight, perhaps on the high end, so a soft Korteloppet, but warm/dense enough snow it should pack well, still I’d expect a pretty soft Birkie. A pretty perfect Birkie. Snow starts Saturday after the race; there may be more than a foot of new snow by Sunday morning. Perfection!)

Quick weather update

Not many changes:

Thursday night: 20, 2-5″ of snow. The Korteloppet will be soft!

Friday for the Korte: snow tapering in the morning, potentially becoming freezing drizzle (fast, glazing, and just nasty waxing conditions for kick), highs around 30. Mostly cloudy, light winds.

Friday night: lows near 10, so the snow may have a chance to set up. The Birkie will still probably be pretty soft. Get those fluoros out.

Birkie: teens rising in to the 20s. Winds light becoming east/southeast (tailwind on the Lake!). Snow beginning some time in the afternoon becoming heavy in the evening.

Sunday: Great day for a post-race ski.

An active pattern

Yesterday, we posted that the Birkie may relive its 2009-2010-era glory, with a sunny, springlike (well, 35˚ often seems like spring in Northern Wisconsin) finish.

Today, the models have changed. But not really for the worse. Nearly every model, in addition to advertising 2-5 inches of snow on Friday morning (mostly ending for the Korteloppet, but certainly keeping the grooming crew busy), has been showing a storm on Saturday, too. The timing is mostly post-race, at least for faster skiers, although those in later waves may encourage some flakes during their ski. Winds may be out of the east, a potential tailwind across Lake Hayward (I’m not sure this has ever happened, but don’t worry, it will still feel like a headwind) and by some counts, half a foot of snow, or more, on Saturday afternoon and evening. It’s hard to say exactly where and how much snow will fall, but it’s looking to cloud up in the morning and start snowing by afternoon if it does.

This may make the drive home after the race difficult, although the storm is advertised to move out by Sunday morning, so, stay in Hayward! Cheer in the snow! Grab some food, grab some beer, stay off the roads (especially if you’ve grabbed some beer), head up to Seeley or, well, or go to sleep early after the race.

If the American model is right, there may be three feet of snow on the Birkie Trail in the next two weeks, so the Fat Bike race will be in plenty good shape and there may be skiing until April.