Narrowing goalposts (weather speculation)

This is the kind of post I like to write: it’s going to be a good Birkie.

PSA: The Birkie Trail is closed starting Tuesday morning. Please don’t ski on it. We have some suggestions on where to ski here.

We’re five days away. The weather models can change, but at this time frame, they don’t change too much. Last year at this time we were prognosticating a 50% chance of cancellation. This year? It’s basically 0. The Birkie will happen. Almost definitely on a full course, with perfect conditions, and a Main Street finish. Hallelujah.

The details, of course, are important. The trail has enough snow on it right now to survive a bit of above-freezing weather, but that doesn’t look to be in the cards. It’s snowing right now—not a foot as some models had shown, but an inch here and an inch there—and then seasonable, normal weather through Birkie. Lows around and highs around 20 Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to let the snow set up (stay off the trail please as it does). Maybe a tiny bit of sleet tomorrow to put a little moisture in the snow, but most of the snow falling right around 20˚. And then on Friday, just before the Korteloppet, an inch, maybe two, to freshen things up.

Which brings us to the big events.

The Korteloppet looks to start with temperatures in the 20s and lingering light snow. It may be cloudy, but the sun may make an appearance during the race, pushing the temperatures towards freezing. The snow should stay powdery, although some south-facing downhills (I’m thinking of 34k, for example) may get a bit slushy, especially for later waves.

The Birkebeiner is a bit more interesting. It looks to be clear and calm on Friday night and with some fresh snow cover, the temperature should plummet. One model has it bottoming out around 0˚ on Friday night, the others in the single digits. This should let the groomers pack down the new snow, and repack the Korteloppet tracks, and let the snow set up well. Still a day for your soft skis, I think, but not a 2014-style sufferfest. Temperatures during the day on Saturday will rebound quickly, however, as there is warm air aloft, with temperatures making a run at freezing. Sky cover will likely be at least party cloudy (and may be overcast) and surface winds should be light. With some snow lingering in the trees, it should be a postcard-worthy race.

Main Street after the race should be comfortable. There’s a decent chance that, for the first time since 2010, it will be 35˚ and sunny, which makes walking around town and down on the lake with a New Glarus all the more wonderful.

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