Saturday, January 23, 2010

Vikes Warning: New Orleans Threatened

What a waste of moisture. Too much rain (Saturday), too much dry air aloft (today). Everything that could go wrong DID go wrong for Minnesota snow lovers. For the better part of 10 days we've been talking about an unusual rain event for much of Minnesota this weekend; amazingly, things panned out pretty much as predicted - a cold rain much of yesterday, changing to wet snow today. But here's the rub: just about the time the lowest mile of the atmosphere is cold enough for snow, a surge of dry air direct from the Desert Southwest (the dreaded "dry tongue") is cutting off the most significant precipitation, keeping snow very light today. Getting to that Vikes party/viewing/reception won't be too bad later today, a coating to at most an inch of snow on secondary roads and side streets, temperatures still just (barely) warm enough to keep major roads and freeways mostly-wet.

Barely plowable
. A period of light, accumulating snow is still likely from late Sunday night into Monday. Models are suggesting 1-3" of snow from St. Cloud into the Twin Cities. Travel conditions will gradually deteriorate today as the mercury drops below freezing, but I have a hunch that Minnesota's highways will be in much worse shape Monday into Tuesday morning, the result of a couple inches of snow coupled with temperatures in the teens and 20s. Give yourself extra time to get around town Monday and Tuesday AM.

Outlook: a very quiet Superdome by Q4. Morning showers in New Orleans, some PM sun, high near 68. Vikes by 7.

Get this: moisture wrapping around our ill-fated Great Lakes storm will approach from the NORTH late Sunday night and Monday, we may still wind up with a couple inches of snow, and travel conditions will go steadily downhill as the mercury drops through the 20s, gusty northwest winds picking up on the backside of this rare January slop-storm. That said, Saturday's soaking rain turned our snow to mush, and now that mush will freeze solid this week as daytime highs flounder in the teens to near 20, a couple degrees below average - but not quite as numbing as it was in late December and the first week of January. The GFS is still hinting at 20s returning by the first week of February, even a shot at 30.

An inevitable downward spiral. No more 30s in sight for the next 7-9 days. The same storm that dumped unusual amounts of rain (and ice) on Minnesota will inhale a fresh burst of numbing Canadian air into Minnesota - shortly it will feel like classic late January weather!

No more significant storms are showing up on the horizon, long-range models hinting at an inch or two of snow roughly 7-8 days from now. A word to the wise: even though all thoughts are on our beloved Vikings today, sneak outside and try to get the water/slush off your driveway or sidewalk today, because if you don't - it'll turn into an icy, cement-like, immovable coating of sheer ice within 24-36 hours. Yes, this is the coldest week of the year (on average) and Old Man Winter is about to prove it to us. We've been pampered for the better part of 2 weeks, but a serious reality check is right around the corner.

Paul's Outlook for the Twin Cities

Today: Overcast with a cold wind, periods of (very) light snow/flurries. Coating to an inch possible. Mainly wet major roads/freeways, some snow on side-streets by this evening and tonight. Winds: NW 15-25. High: 34

Tonight: Light snow, roads become increasingly slick. Low: 23

Monday: Light snow, another 1-2" (total of 1-3" from this system). High: 24

Tuesday: Flurries taper, PM sun, much colder. High: 15 Low: -1

Wednesday: Bright sun, numbing breeze. High: 16 Low: -5

Thursday: Mix of clouds and sun, few degrees colder than average. High: 18

Friday: Plenty of sun. High: 19

Saturday: Drier day of the weekend, fading sun. High: 22

Sunday: Cloudy, a little light snow possible late. High: 24

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