This winter, once forecast to be hell, pleasantly defies expectations

Categories: Weather, Winter
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National Weather Service
It barely qualifies as news these days, but Thursday's high should be in the mid-40s.
Remember all that doom and gloom we heard just a month ago about how terrible this winter was going to be?

Hogwash. The day after Christmas, Minneapolis' Chain of Lakes was rife with runners, walkers, and bikers during a record-setting 52-degree day that capped off a glorious holiday weekend, and since then, with a couple short interludes, temps have pleasantly ranged between the 20s and 40s.

And there's more bad news for all you cold-loving masochists out there -- just in time for this weekend, temps are supposed to again hit March-like highs in the mid-40s.

Zwan once wrote a catchy rock n' roll tune about an endless summer. Perhaps it's time for a Minnesotan to write one about our endless fall.

As anyone who lived through last July's brutal heat wave can attest, the latter part of 2011, including a glorious October and an unseasonably warm December, seemed relatively warm. Thanks to something called the Minnesota Climatology Working Group, that impression is now supported by hard data.

This forecast, at least so far, has proven a bit off the mark.
According to the group, the average temperature of 56.3 degrees in the second half of 2011 was the second highest on record (that is, dating back to 1873), only cooler than the unforgettably warm second half of 1931.

Of course, it's only early January, and we're still in Minnesota, so anything could happen between now and April. The Old Farmer's Almanac 2012 long-range weather forecast actually predicts "bitter cold" in the Twin Cities for most of mid-February, meaning that we may still have an opportunity or two to lament the weather we should all expect this time of year after all.

But perhaps the Almanac's forecast should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, those same folks predicted a "cold period" for mid to late December, right around the time Minneapolis runners had April flashbacks while glistening with sweat and running around the lakes in shorts.

Keep this usually warm weather next time you're tempted to believe a long-range forecast predicting a winter that only a wooly mammoth could love. Those running shorts should still be useful for at least another week, if not more, and when was the least time we could say that in January?

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