Winter Weather Advisory posted for the Twin Cities.
Winter Storm Watch in effect for far southeastern Minnesota
2-3" predicted for the metro area by midday Wednesday. 4+" possible southern/eastern suburbs of St. Paul.
5-10" snow anticipated for far southeastern Minnesota, closer to Rochester, Winona and Lake City.
Heaviest snow expected from 6 pm this evening through 2 or 3 am Wednesday morning.
Freeways/interstates stay mostly wet, but some accumulation is likely on secondary roads and bridges by Wed. AM.
1.2" record snowfall for today (set on April 19, 1982).
1.8" record snowfall for tomorrow (set on April 20, 1982).
* I doubt we'll see the 3.7" additional snow necessary for this to become the 3rd snowiest winter on record, but we may come close.
April Slush. Snow is on the way, a little rain/snow mix developing this afternoon (spreading in from the south), changing to all snow after 6 pm or so, but with temperatures above 32 F. roads should stay wet up until 8 or 9 pm. Snow will first start to stick on lawns and fields, some side streets and secondary roads will become slushy by 10 or 11 pm tonight. I think we'll wake up to 2-3" snow across much of the metro area, maybe a few 3-5" amounts over the far southern and eastern suburbs. Whatever falls will melt (quickly), possibly by the end of the day Wednesday. The sun returns Thursday, we should top 60 Sunday. No worries - this too shall pass.
Southward Detour. The ideal storm track for heavy snow in the Twin Cities is roughly Omaha to Des Moines, Lacrosse and Wausa. Today's storm will track about 200 miles farther south/east, meaning a glancing blow of light to moderate snow for us from late afternoon through Wednesday morning - the heaviest snow bands clipping far southeastern MN.
URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN 409 AM CDT MON APR 18 2011 ...A LATE WINTER STORM BEARING DOWN ON THE UPPER MIDWEST BY TUESDAY AFTERNOON... .THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WATCH FOR PARTS OF SOUTH CENTRAL AND EAST CENTRAL MINNESOTA AND WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN FOR TUESDAY EVENING THROUGH NOON WEDNESDAY. THE WATCH WAS LOCATED MAINLY SOUTH AND EAST OF A LINE FROM SLEEPY EYE...GAYLORD...MINNEAPOLIS TO CENTER CITY IN MINNESOTA...AND LUCK AND RICE LAKE IN WISCONSIN. A LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM OVER THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST...WILL TRACK EAST OVER THE CENTRAL ROCKIES LATER TODAY...THEN MOVE EAST AND STRENGTHEN OVER THE UPPER MIDWEST ON TUESDAY. ACCUMULATING SNOWS ARE LIKELY OVER PARTS OF SOUTH CENTRAL AND EAST CENTRAL MINNESOTA AND WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN. THERE IS THE POTENTIAL FOR HEAVY WET SNOW WITH TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF SIX INCHES OR MORE OVER PARTS OF SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA AND WESTERN WISCONSIN BY WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. THERE COULD BE A BRIEF PERIOD OF SLEET BEFORE MIDNIGHT TUESDAY. THERE REMAINS SOME UNCERTAINTY IN THE TRACK AND INTENSITY OF THIS STORM SYSTEM... SO CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS AND STATEMENTS FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE.
How Much? The trends seem undeniable at this point: the heaviest snow amounts setting up just south/east of the Twin Cities from tonight into Wednesday morning. Will it be 1-2" or 4-5"? Big difference. Once again MSP is right on the line, a tight gradient from southeast to northwest. We may literally go from 1" at Elk River and Monticello to nearly 6" from Northfield to Cottage Grove and Rosemount. Frustrating for you - very frustrating for meteorologists trying to pin down a reasonable range. Still thinking 2-3", give or take.
A Reluctant Spring. Whether it's a lingering La Nina pattern or something else at work, I still don't see any sustained warmth looking out 2 weeks or so, no prolonged 60s or 70s. Yes, it's annoying, this "backwards spring", but there is one big silver lining: it delays tornado season in Minnesota. Snow or tornadoes? Good grief - what a choice.
* Unlike tornado outbreaks of the past, the National Weather Service reports that nearly 90 percent of the past weekend's reported storms occurred in areas where tornado warnings were in effect. In central North Carolina, 97 percent of the tornadoes were in areas where warnings had been issued, with an average lead time of almost 26 minutes.
Tornado Swarm Deals Death, But Also Miracles. We all know how fickle tornadoes can be: one home leveled, while across the street sits a home largely undisturbed. The New York Times has an article highlighting these oddities, and minor miracles: "ASKEWVILLE, N.C. — For all the deaths and broken bones and flattened houses, there were still some miracles packed into the 10 minutes it took for the last of a great roar of tornadoes to chew through this rural corner of the state. There was Glen White, 24, who found the strength to push up a wall that had fallen on five residents of a group home. There was the married couple who were thrown into their backyard as the storm exploded their home. They landed close enough, battered and bruised, to hold hands. And there was Molly, a graying donkey who for years has starred in the town Christmas pageant. People say they saw her lifted into the funnel cloud when the storm hit Saturday night. They thought she was a goner. But Sunday morning, her owner, Jake Dunlow, 75, found her on her back in a ditch about 300 feet away. A day later, she was grazing in her own pasture, oblivious to the splinters of seven mobile homes all around her."
Was the number of tornado reports a record breaker and how does that relate to the number of actual tornadoes? This is a point of contention, and it depends on who you ask. Although officially there were 240 tornado reports during the 2-day outbreak, this number will be reduced considerably when the twister paths are investigated. As storm reports are easier to file with the National Weather Service due to better technology, the number of people seeing the same twister increases greatly. You can read our news story on this for more information. It will be at least a week before we know how this outbreak compares to other major events. It's possible that this system could eclipse the worst outbreak in the states history, which took place on March 28, 1984. During that storm, 22 tornadoes killed 42 people in North Carolina.
UPDATE: CNN is reporting "97 confirmed tornadoes" though I find it hard to believe that the NWS would have had time to calculate that number yet.
Was the Raleigh tornado the widest ever in U.S. history? No. This was a typo in the NWS's initial storm survey report which listed the width as "3." This was later reissued CORRECTED FOR MAXIMUM PATH WIDTH of "0.3 miles." The widest tornado on record occurred in Nebraska in 2004, and was 2.5 miles in length.
Was where the tornadoes struck remarkable, in number, time of year or location? I don't believe so, but I'll have more information on this available later today.
Why did this happen? We are working on a story on what meteorological factors led to this outbreak, in this area, this time of year. It's unlikely, in my opinion, that long-term climatological factors, such as Global Warming or Cooling, had anything to do with this event, and pending answers to the questions above, it may not have been unprecedented.
(Screen capture above is from WRAL-TV helicopter video showing the mobile home pad (upper left) and the stripped mobile home chassis moved off the pad. The mobile home may have tumbled as it moved.)"
Calm Before The (Slush). Under a gray sky the mercury only reached 32 at Grand Marais, 37 in Duluth, 48 in St. Cloud and 50 in the Twin Cities. Statewide Monday temperatures were 10-15 degrees cooler than average with a trace of rain in Redwood Falls, .01" at International Falls.
Paul's Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
PHYSICS FACT #1: The atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has increased rapidly since the beginning of the industrial revolution, after being nearly constant for thousands of years.
PHYSICS FACT #2: The surplus carbon dioxide has an isotope composition that can only come from fossil fuels. The increase in concentration is not natural; it comes from human activities.
PHYSICS FACT #3: The radiative properties of carbon dioxide have been measured by physicists in the laboratory: It absorbs thermal infrared (heat) radiation.
PHYSICS FACT #4: Because carbon dioxide has this heat-absorbing physical property, the increase in its concentration has increased the infrared opacity of the Earth’s atmosphere and blocks the outward radiation of heat."