The storm is coming, and the models are not backing down. Everything has lined up for a textbook blizzard, and it is zeroing in on Birkieland. The National Weather Service has probabilistic snowfall forecasts (here) and it’s a doozy of a storm, with an epicenter pinpointing Hayward, Wisconsin. At the 10th percentile, Hayward would see 9″ of snow. At the 50th, the accumulation would be 16″ and at the 90th percentile, there’s the chance for 21″ of snow. In other words, it’s just as likely that Hayward gets 10″ of snow as it gets 20″. There’s an outside chance that only six inches falls, but about the same chance of two feet.
While this will most likely cause some race-day disruptions, we can thank our lucky stars that it’s falling tonight, not tomorrow night. Two feet of snow on race morning would probably cause the race to be canceled due to too much snow. Even still, it is going to be a Herculean effort on the part of the Birkie staff to get the course, and the infrastructure, in place for the race. There are 5 Pisten Bullys set to groom, but expect a soft course. There’s close to 100k of trail to groom, and the groomers can only make so many passes. There is also a ton of plowing for parking, plowing on roads to get to Hayward, and, just, where do you put all the snow? Expect things to move a bit more slowly than usual.
On the other hand, Main Street is going to have very good coverage.
The snow will start out heavy and wet, but as the storm goes by will get lighter and dryer. Still, it may be a more moisture-ful snow than we’re used to in the Midwest, although once it gets cold it may turn in to powder anyway. I’d expect most of the snow to fall with temperatures in the mid- to upper-20s. Once the storm departs, expect some lingering snow, some blowing and drifting snow, and plummeting temperatures—likely below zero on Saturday morning. Luckily, winds should be light. And we’ll thread the needle again: one day earlier and we’d be in a blizzard, one day later and it might be -10.
This will be a very interesting Birkie.