Sunday, November 14, 2010

1-12" Fell (Officially: 7.9" at MSP)

Next Time I'll Do It Myself. O.K. I should have known (based on age) that my driveway wasn't going to be professionally shoveled out yesterday - but how could I say no? The neighbor kid looked so earnest, helpful and I swear she had a good work ethic! Photo courtesy of the Star Tribune - check out a ton of great photos at
One VERY Respectable Snowman in Independence! It looks like Maple Grove may get the coveted Golden Snow Shovel Award from yesterday's snowy dumping - 12" fell, according to professional weather observers, followed closely by Waconia and Eden Prairie. Meanwhile, Stillwater picked up only 3" of snow, with a lousy inch for St. Cloud. The band of snow with this thing was exceptionally narrow, compact - a tight little burst of snow that rippled northward out of Iowa and then made a bee-line for Duluth - the shield of snow wasn't nearly as wide as the models were hinting, meaning that much of central Minnesota missed out on signfificant accumulation. (Photo courtesy of the Star Tribune).

INCHES  LOCATION                 ST  COUNTY           TIME
 ------  -----------------------  --  --------------   -------
 12.00   3 WSW MAPLE GROVE        MN  HENNEPIN         1111 PM
 11.20   WACONIA                  MN  CARVER           0600 AM
 11.00   EDEN PRAIRIE             MN  HENNEPIN         1030 AM
 11.00   1 SSW WYOMING            MN  CHISAGO          0400 PM
 10.40   CHANHASSEN               MN  CARVER           0600 AM
 10.10   NEW HOPE                 MN  HENNEPIN         0102 PM
 10.00   3 N FOREST LAKE          MN  CHISAGO          0104 PM
 10.00   SW BURNSVILLE            MN  DAKOTA           0216 PM
 10.00   MANKATO                  MN  BLUE EARTH       0951 AM
 10.00   MONTGOMERY               MN  LE SUEUR         1130 AM
 10.00   AMBOY                    MN  BLUE EARTH       0930 AM
  9.50   NEW MARKET               MN  SCOTT            0258 PM
  9.50   VADNAIS HEIGHTS          MN  RAMSEY           0708 PM
  9.40   RUSH CITY                MN  CHISAGO          0510 PM
  9.20   ST LOUIS PARK            MN  HENNEPIN         0703 PM
  9.20   NORTH BRANCH             MN  CHISAGO          0703 PM
  9.00   3 NNW MINNEAPOLIS        MN  HENNEPIN         1243 PM
  9.00   CHISAGO CITY             MN  CHISAGO          0301 PM
  9.00   1 NE MINNESOTA LAKE      MN  BLUE EARTH       0953 PM
  8.90   2 W PRIOR LAKE           MN  SCOTT            1239 PM
  8.60   MADELIA                  MN  WATONWAN         1025 AM
  8.50   1 SE CHASKA              MN  CARVER           0112 PM
  8.50   EDINA                    MN  HENNEPIN         0505 PM
  8.30   5 SE ELK RIVER           MN  ANOKA            0148 PM
  8.20   INVER GROVE HEIGHTS      MN  DAKOTA           0715 PM
  8.00   SHAKOPEE                 MN  SCOTT            0703 PM
  7.90   MINNEAPOLIS              MN  HENNEPIN         0600 AM
         4.0 INCHES SET IN 1997.
  7.30   BLOOMINGTON              MN  HENNEPIN         1248 PM
  7.00   GLENCOE                  MN  MCLEOD           0150 PM
  7.00   WOODBURY                 MN  WASHINGTON       0335 PM
  6.70   LAKEVILLE                MN  DAKOTA           0703 PM
  6.20   ST PAUL                  MN  RAMSEY           0505 PM
  6.00   5 S FARMINGTON           MN  DAKOTA           0505 PM
  5.40   CHAMPLIN                 MN  HENNEPIN         0335 PM
  5.00   1 E CUMBERLAND           WI  BARRON           0205 PM
  4.00   CLAYTON                  WI  POLK             1230 PM
  3.00   WNW FARIBAULT            MN  RICE             0112 PM
  3.00   7 S HILLMAN              MN  MORRISON         1111 PM
  0.90   ST CLOUD                 MN  STEARNS          1159 PM

Anatomy Of A Snowstorm. The University of Wisconsin CIMSS blog has a terrific satellite loop showing the evolution of yesterday's snowstorm. It took a perfect track for heavy snow, from Des Moines to Eau Claire - far enough east to prevent warm air from mixing in from the east and changing precipitation over to rain/sleet.

Sunday Surface Map. Don't panic - the red dots symbolize areas of "IFR" flight rules with low visibilities and low ceiling (cloud heights). The snow has already shifted north into Ontario and I don't expect any additional accumulation today.

Flashback. Here was Saturday afternoon's surface map - showing a relatively narrow (north-south oriented) band of heavy snow setting up over eastern and portions of central Minnesota. Take a careful look - warm air had completely wrapped around the storm (it was raining over most of Lake Superior!) with just enough cold air in place over Minnesota for mostly-snow. A snowstorm is a fragile dance, a delicate balance of cold air and southern moisture. Too much of either ruins the recipe and either a). pushes the track too far south/east (in the case of too much cold air) or b) sparks a changeover to rain/ice - which kills final snowfall amounts (in the case of too much southern moisture/warmth). Yesterday - for a rare, fleeting, 18 hours - the balance was PERFECT over the Twin Cities. Meanwhile St. Cloud picked up less than an inch. 1-12", over the span of 60 miles. This is why we have gray hairs - if we have any hairs at all left on the tops of our pointy little heads.

Safest Way To Spend A Saturday? Emmet Rice (age 11) showed good form doing a little shredding at Pearl Park in South Minneapolis Saturday, enjoying a fresh 9-10" snowfall. Yesterday's storm sparked over 400 traffic accidents across Minnesota - power outages affected at least 150,000 people for a time Saturday, the result of heavy, wet snow piling up on tree limbs and powerlines. USA Today has more on yesterday's snow blitz here.

Snowpack Temperatures. If there's less snow in your yard now than there was 24 hours ago, blame (or thank) soil temperatures. Keep in mind we had 4 days/row above 60 early last week, close to 70 on Wednesday! Ground temperatures are still milder than average - some of yesterday's snow melted on contact, and that melting continued (from below) after the snow fell. The peril's of an early-season snowfall coming immediately after a prolonged spell of Indian Summer - harder to keep the snow on the ground! NOAA's National Snow Analyses is here.

Cold Turkey! Enjoy this relatively mild weather - because long-range computer guidance is hinting at a taste of January Thanksgiving week. Highs may be stuck in the 20s, lows dipping into the teens - the GFS  model is even suggesting a few inches of snow Friday - Saturday, November 26-27. We'll see, but I don't see any signs of Indian Summer brewing anytime soon.

Saturday Slush-Fest. 1" of liquid precipitation in the Twin Cities translated into 7.9" of snow (officially at the airport - a new 24 hour snowfall record for November 13, old record 4" in 1997), but some 10-12" amounts were reported from Burnsville and Eden Prairie to Lake Forest. Because of melting that 7.9" had already shrunken to 5" on the ground by evening. Highs were stuck in the mid 30s statewide.

Paul's Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:

TODAY: Mostly cloudy with flurries - no additional accumulation. Much better travel. Winds: W 15. High: 38

SUNDAY NIGHT: Flurries wind down, partial clearing late. Low: 25

MONDAY: Partly sunny and dry. High: 37

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy - melting snow by afternoon. High: near 40

WEDNESDAY: Clouds, few flurries possible. High: 37

THURSDAY: Cool sun, light winds - good travel conditions. High: 32

FRIDAY: Getting sunnier, cool wind. High: 35

SATURDAY: More clouds than sun, still quiet. High: 36

Digging Out

Dear diary: it actually "snowed" in the Twin Cities yesterday; a big, heaping pile of cold, cement-like slush, a cool 8-12" of white frosting, the biggest pre-Thanksgiving snow in 19 years. We got a little of our Minnesota Mojo back this weekend.

Fire up the snow-blowers, snowmobiles and sleds - today will be a great day to play in the snow; travel conditions slowly improving as temperatures thaw into the mid & upper 30s, roads in pretty good shape for Monday's commute. It was (for many) "The Perfect Storm", coming on a weekend, when most of us could snub the new & improved Crosstown Expressway and enjoy the winter wonderland emerging outside our windows. There's nearly 1.5" of liquid water tied up in that snow-pack, heavy enough to snap tree limbs - but snow lovers finally have something to celebrate.

"Americans are too preoccupied with inches, and technology doesn't allow us to get that precise," my favorite professor warned. He suggested the "nuisance/plowable/crippling" scale which I use to this day.
No more big storms are brewing, but long-range models hint at a cold smack in time for Thanksgiving week, highs stuck in the 20s to near 30. So much for Indian Summer.

Snow Extremes In The Twin Cities. If you like snow you may get a (small) kick out of this link from the MN State Climate Office - which delves into snowy extremes for MSP: maximum snow depth, most snow from a single storm, earliest & latest snowfalls, etc. You'll be a ton of fun at the next party.

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