Tuesday, November 24, 2009

First snowfall in 44 days

Do you realize that (before today) there was NO SNOW reported in St. Cloud during the entire month of November? That's pretty amazing, when you consider that (during an average November) about 8-9" of snow piles up across central Minnesota. The last time we had measurable snow was October 12, when 2.5" fell (chances are you remember that quite vividly). We've had a month devoid of not only snow, but wind chill - an unusual amount of sunshine for what is (historically) the cloudiest, gloomiest month of the entire year. Add weather to a long list of things to be thankful this year. Residents of the U.K. are grappling with a new storm, more rain falling on waterlogged soil, residents still trying to clean up from an historic deluge. In Cumbria (northwestern England, the wettest region in the U.K.) some towns reported over a foot of rain in 24 hours, the most extreme rains in nearly a thousand years, according to local climatologists. For more information on these incredible floods check out a blog from Mark Vogan, a weather enthusiast in Scotland who I met when I was working for 'CCO. He has an amazing recap of the epic flooding here.

For the first time since October 12 we expect some "accumulating snow" in the St. Cloud area today. On my scale (which I borrowed from a favorite college professor) from "nuisance" to "plowable" to "crippling" this still looks a minor snowfall, probably at the upper end of the "nuisance" scale.....just enough slush to stare out your window later on and see the lawn whiten up. We may still wake up to anywhere from a coating to an inch of slushy snow Thanksgiving morning. If you're up early (before 8 or 9 am - yep, that's still "early" for yours truly) you may run into some slippery spots, but many roads will be wet, with temperatures just below the freezing mark. As far as travel today is concerned, a few headlines:

1). The earlier you hit the highways today, the better. Temperatures will fall through the 30s during the day, roads mostly-wet through the midday and afternoon hours. By the time temperatures reach freezing (late afternoon/evening) MOST of the moisture will be pushing to our east, into Wisconsin. But I could still see some icy/slippery roads anytime after 4 or 5 pm.

2). Since the sun sets early now (around 4:30 pm) we'll quickly lose whatever invisible infrared radiation the sun can provide. My hunch is that the drive home will be tougher & slower than the drive in this morning.

3). If you leave this evening/tonight expect slushy/icy roads, especially the side streets and secondary roads. My hunch is that major freeways, county and state roads will stay mostly-wet. MnDot should be prepared and put down their salt/sand mixture during the day.

A "Nuisance" Snowfall. The latest (NAM) model is predicting only a coating to 1" of slushy snow today and tonight for much of Minnesota, just over 1" for southeastern towns, including Rochester, Canon Falls and Winona. As much as 2-4" may pile up closer to the storm track, over southwestern Wisconsin. Keep in mind (in light of recent warmth) ground temperatures are still relatively warm, snow will melt-on-contact for a period of time today, by the time it's cold enough for snow to stick on lawns, fields and highways the bulk of the moisture will be to our east.

Predicted Weather Conditions for 1 pm Today. This National Weather Service forecast graphic shows a band of heavier wet snow from the Twin Cities south/southwest to Mankato, Glencoe and Fairmont, with a mix of rain/snow for western Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota. Lighter snow is predicted for central/western/northern counties, including St. Cloud and Brainerd.

Predicted Weather Conditions for 7 pm Today. Light to moderate snow is predicted over the MN Arrowhead, western Wisconsin, and the counties just south/east of the Twin Cities.

Paul's Outlook for the Twin Cities

Today: A light rain/snow mix changing over to mostly snow by afternoon. Winds: NW 10-20+ High: 39 (early), falling to about 32 by 6 pm. Roads will become slushy and potentially slippery by late afternoon and evening. Plan on a very slow PM commute.

Tonight: Light snow tapering to flurries, potential for a coating to 1" of slushy snow, mainly on lawns and fields, but some roads will become icy. Potential for 1-2" far southeastern MN. Low: 29

Thanksgiving Day: Morning clouds, a few flurries (early). They partly sunny by afternoon. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 36

Friday: Fine weather for shopping (and digesting). Plenty of sun, a bit milder. High: 41

Saturday: Nicer day of the weekend, fading sun as clouds increase - still dry. High: 43

Sunday: A little light snow and flurries - potential for a dusting/coating. Some roads may become slick. High: 37

Monday: Flurries taper, partial clearing - temperatures closer to average for late November. High: 35

Tuesday: A mix of clouds and sun, seasonably chilly. High: 33

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