"It's almost as if the atmosphere has forgotten how to snow," a friend lamented. Once again it's awfully brown for early February. A trend or an atmospheric fluke?

The last above-average winter for snow was 70 inches in 2013-14, the year the "polar vortex" set up shop just to our north. It was consistently cold enough for snow most of the winter. This year? Not so much.

Big snowstorms require cold air and a fire hose of southern moisture. But this winter, temperatures have been too warm aloft; big storms have dumped more rain and ice than snow. Winter temperatures have warmed over 5 degrees at MSP since 1970, so we shouldn't be shocked by the changes.

A snowy coating is possible Saturday — models still hinting at a plowable snow Tuesday, followed by subzero nights.

Any arctic fling will be brief. Mild, Pacific air may dominate our weather pattern much of February, adding insult to injury for snow lovers.

No matter what the groundhog sees or doesn't see — six more weeks of winter seems like a good bet at this latitude.