89" amount of total snow necessary to catapult us into 3rd place, the 3rd snowiest winter on record.
Winter Weather Advisory/Winter Storm Watch: nothing is posted yet, but I expect the NWS to issue an advisory, possibly a storm watch, within the next 12-24 hours.
Tuesday evening/night: heaviest snow likely from 5 pm Tuesday through 8 am Wednesday.
3-6" snow possible in the metro area by Wednesday morning, slight chance of 8" (especially east of St. Paul).
60s likely next week in the Twin Cities. Welcome to spring in Minnesota.
Insert Deep Sigh Here. The good news: we probably won't pick up a foot of slush. The bad news: the atmosphere should be cold enough for snow Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. The latest (00z) NAM prints out .74" liquid. If it were all snow we'd pick up 5-8" of heavy, wet snow. I suspect some of this will fall as rain Tuesday afternoon/evening, and some of the snow will melt on contact with a relatively mild ground (keeping final amounts down). That's why I'm predicted 3-6", with the best chance of 6" amounts coming south/east of St. Paul. Whatever falls should be pretty much gone by Thursday afternoon. If not I'm packing my bags and hitchhiking to Dubuque.
Timing. Right now the latest (NAM) guidance, probably more reliable than the GFS model, suggests a fairly rapid changeover from rain to snow around 7 pm tomorrow evening. As precipitation begins temperatures will rapidly cool to the wet bulb temperature, close to freezing - and strong upward motion overhead Tuesday night will also tend to cool the layer. Right now it looks like mostly-snow.
A Cold Profile. Are you sure it's the third week of April? As far as the atmosphere is concerned it's the first week of March. The red line is the predicted temperature "profile" with altitude at midnight tomorrow night, showing a temperature curve well below freezing throughout the lowest mile of the atmosphere, cold enough to ensure mostly snow. Great news.
Keeping Perspective: Preliminary Vs. Final Tornado Reports. Patrick Marsh has an interesting post about establishing a reliable tornado count. Is SPC overestimating or underestimating tornado reports on a routine basis: "Over the last few days, the southern United States has endured a significant severe weather event that took the lives of a still increasing number of people. While many communities are still trying to sift through the wreckage, meteorologists, “meteorologists”, chasers, and other weather enthusiasts have taken to Facebook and Twitter to discuss what has happened. Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation is floating around. Here’s my quick attempt to clarify some of this information. As of this writing, 248 preliminary tornadoes have been reported via the Storm Prediction Center’s Preliminary Storm Report webpage over the three days 14-16 April 2011. Much has been made about this number. Unfortunately this number contains many duplicate tornadoes, and potentially even some tornadoes that never were. Hence the label “Preliminary”. Over the next few weeks, National Weather Service Offices throughout the south will be conducting damage surveys to determine the number of actual tornadoes to the best of their ability. There is no doubt that this has been a significant three-day tornado outbreak. However, until the official numbers are released via the National Weather Service’s Storm Data publication, people should exercise extreme caution in trying to quantify where this week’s severe weather outbreak ranks in history. It used to be the case that the preliminary number of tornadoes underestimated the number of actual tornadoes. However, near March of 2006 the pattern reversed itself with the number of preliminary tornadoes typically overestimating the number of actual tornadoes. For more information regarding preliminary vs. final tornado reports, please read this blog post on the topic by Harold Brooks, which can be found on the United States Severe Weather Blog."
* NSSL has a good recap of how tornadoes form, and how you can better protect your family from these rare and violent wind storms here.
The One Movie You Must See This Year. If you haven't already seen the documentary "Inside Job", go out of your way to track this down (it's available on iTunes to rent or buy - not sure if it's on Netflix yet). You know the story: a deregulated Wall Street took enormous risks, made bad bets, and taxpayers ultimately bailed out the Goldman Sachs of the world. Not one Wall Street executive has been prosecuted or indicted - no one has gone to jail for the Heist of the Century. Is the game rigged? I don't pretend to know, but if this doc doesnt' make your blood boil, nothing will. It's the most important movie you'll see for a very long time. The trailer for the movie is here.
Global Warming Effect On Plants. A good summmary of the impact of warming on plants in this article from opposingviews.com: "With certain areas of the world getting progressively warmer, various life forms like plants are beginning to feel the impact. Overall, the affect of on plants has been both positive and negative, and may be a preview to what the change in climate could mean for humans. As a result of the warmer weather, plants are featuring increased microbial action in the soil, which makes the plants more productive. The combination of hotter temperatures and strong winds, both of which are results of global warming, tends to speed up the spreading of plants, pollen and seeds. This helps plants survive and reproduce in nature – something that is desperately needed given the damage done to forests over the past decade. Further, while less snow cover tends to lead to more thawing and refreezing of soil, the impact on the roots of plants is offset by the increase in microbial action. And, of course, it’s that microbial action that ultimately makes the plants more productive. Global warming also has a very specific, noteworthy impact on weeds. As a result of warmer weather, invasive plants will tend to move to areas with a higher temperature. This should then provide some very necessary space for an increasing number of plants that have otherwise been constricted."