Friday, December 3, 2010

Winter Storm Warning (3-6" on the way, more possible south/west of MSP)

Storm Headlines:

* Winter Storm Warning in effect for later today, tonight and Saturday morning - includes the metro area.

* Snow arrives at MSP by mid afternoon, a light coating possible for the drive home.

* Most of the accumulating snow arrives tonight, when snow may accumulate at the rate of 1" every 2 hours or so. With air temperatures near 20 even the freeways and interstates will be snow-covered, icy and slippery.

* Another inch possible Saturday (best chance morning hours) - travel conditions should slowly improve as the day goes on.

* Still thinking 3-6" for most of the metro, but a band of 5-8" may brush the western and southern suburbs (Prior Lake, Chanhassen, Chaska and Waconia).

Winter Storm Warning. A watch means "watch out", it MAY be coming. A warning means it's pretty much imminent, it's coming - prepare yourself for some inconvenient weather (to put it kindly). The good news: winds will be relatively light, under 10-15 mph, meaning only minimal blowing and drifting behind the clipper, which is a good thing, considering how "dry", powdery and light tonight's snowfall will be. More info from the local NWS office is here.

Doppler Radar Update10:10 am. Radar shows snow streaking into western and southwestern Minnesota, reaching the ground west of Willmar and Redwood Falls. Snow should reach the metro area by mid afternoon, a light coating of snow possible for the PM drive. A friendly word of advice: if you can leave a little early for the drive home you'll thank yourself. I don't think it's going to be horrible at 6 pm, but conditions at 4 pm will be far better. I expect travel conditions to go quickly downhill during the evening and nighttime hours.

Fun With Math. The models have been consistent the last few runs (which we like to see). The latest NAM/WRF model (probably the most accurate - but all the models have their own unique problems and inconsistencies) prints out about .40" liquid by tomorrow afternoon. Assuming a 15/1 snow/rain ratio that would translate into 6" snow for much of the metro, with a better chance of 5-8" southern and western suburbs, less than 2-3" north/east of White Bear Lake, Hugo and Stillwater. I'm still expecting a sharp northeast/southwest range in snowfall amounts across the MSP metro area.

How Much? I think this snowfall prediction is on the right track, an average of 3-6" across the immediate metro (enough to shovel and plow), with some 8" amounts south/west of Chaska and Prior Lake, maybe 10" piling up on Mankato and Marshall.

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