I'm exhausted - from banging my head against the wall. In a perfect world, 12 hours before a significant weather event, the weather models would agree. No discrepancies. Meteorologists are confident; everyone is on the same page!
Today's scenario is especially murky. NOAA's NAM model kept the heaviest snow bands well east of Minnesota yesterday, but last night's (00z) run finally came in line with guidance from GFS and ECMWF, both hinting at very significant snowfall amounts for the Twin Cities. Snow gets heavier as the day goes on, accumulating at the rate of 1" an hour by afternoon and tonight. By Friday morning there's a good chance many towns and suburbs within 30-40 miles of MSP may wake up to 5-10" of new snow. I suspect this will be the biggest snowfall of the winter, to date. Plan on significant delays and cancellations Friday morning, with travel slowly improving during the day tomorrow.
Blizzard Warnings are posted just south of the Twin Cities, where high winds accelerating into a rapidly deepening storm may reach 30-40 mph, whipping up severe blowing & drifting. But our recent thaw has left an icy crunch on top of the snow, which may prevent a worst-case white-out towards Mankato, Northfield & Rochester. Be careful out there later today and tonight.
Next week will feel more like late January, and any extended thaw in early March appears to be a cruel hallucination, a meteorological mirage. I see a very (VERY) cold start to March, with some recovery after March 5.
A gently used echo of the Polar Vortex is about to pinwheel south the next 2 weeks, temperatures bottoming out (again) roughly 1 week from now. Not as extreme as a few weeks ago, but cold enough.
Isn't this fun?
...SIGNIFICANT WINTER STORM TO AFFECT EASTERN AND SOUTHERN MINNESOTA AND ALL OF WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN THURSDAY AND THURSDAY NIGHT... A BLIZZARD WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR ALL OF SOUTH CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA...INCLUDING AREAS SOUTH OF A LINE ROUGHLY FROM SLEEPY EYE...TO GAYLORD...TO NORTHFIELD...TO RED WING. THIS INCLUDES INTERSTATE 35 SOUTH OF NEW MARKET... AND THE INTERSTATE 90 CORRIDOR BETWEEN FAIRMONT AND ALBERT LEA. A WINTER STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR ALL OF EAST CENTRAL MINNESOTA AND WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN...INCLUDING THE ENTIRE GREATER TWIN CITIES METRO AREA AND ADJACENT LOCATIONS TO THE IMMEDIATE NORTH AND NORTHWEST OF THE METRO...AND ALL OF WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN. TO THE WEST OF THE WARNING AREAS...A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT FOR AREAS FROM SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA INTO CENTRAL MINNESOTA FROM WALNUT GROVE AND REDWOOD FALLS...NORTH- NORTHEASTWARD TO OLIVIA...LITCHFIELD... THE GREATER SAINT CLOUD AREA...AND LITTLE FALLS AND LAKE MILLE LACS. HEAVY SNOW AND STRONG WINDS WILL RAPIDLY SPREAD NORTHWARD ACROSS THE ENTIRE AREA THURSDAY MORNING...AND PERSIST THROUGH THURSDAY NIGHT. STRONG WEST TO NORTHWEST WINDS AND WIDESPREAD SEVERE BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW AND WHITE OUT CONDITIONS WILL OCCUR...ESPECIALLY ACROSS THE BLIZZARD WARNING AREA.
* Severe thunderstorm outbreak still expected Thursday PM hours from the Ohio Valley into the Mid South. A few isolated tornadoes are possible, but the main risk is straight-line wind gusts to 70 mph and 1-2" diameter hail.
* Rapid snow melt coupled with rain increases the risk of urban, stream and river flooding, especially Indianapolis and South Bend to Toledo and Cleveland by late week.
* Slight severe risk for eastern USA Friday; strong to severe T-storms possible as far north as New Jersey. Some straight-line wind damage possible Carolinas to Georgia; tornado risk drops.
* Blizzard Warnings in effect for much of Iowa and southern Minnesota. Potential for significant snow, coupled with high winds and blowing/drifting late Thursday and Thursday night across the Upper Midwest.
Summary: We're watching a variety of weather threats, including severe storms, damaging winds and a risk of isolated tornadoes Thursday afternoon and evening from the Ohio River southward to Nashville and Huntsville. Rapid melting coupled with a squall line of heavy rain may result in urban and river flooding from Indianapolis to Cleveland Thursday and Friday, when a line of severe thunderstorms pushes across the East Coast. Deep into the cold air blizzard conditions may impact travel from Iowa into eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin late tomorrow into Friday morning.
The transitions form winter to spring always leaves Mother Nature in a foul mood. Today is Exhibit A.
Paul Douglas - Senior Meteorologist - Alerts Broadcaster
Photo credit above: "Smoke ruses from a grass fire on Flagstaff Mountain in western Boulder, Colo. on Tuesday Feb. 18, 2014. City officials say the fire, which has been contained, started Tuesday afternoon on private property." (AP Photo/The Daily Camera, Paul Aiken).
TODAY: Winter Storm Warning. Snow gets heavier as the day goes on. Treacherous travel by afternoon and evening. Winds: NW 15-35+ High: 32
THURSDAY NIGHT: Winter Storm Warning for treacherous travel. Snow and blowing snow, heavy at times, with 5-10" expected. Low: 7
FRIDAY: Slow, snowy start with numerous delays. Mostly cloudy, cold wind. Better travel by afternoon. High: 16
SATURDAY: Partly sunny, chilly breeze. Wake-up: -1. High: 13
SUNDAY: Plenty of sun. Go back to sleep. Wake-up: -3. High: 12
MONDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, still dry. Wake-up: -4. High: 10
TUESDAY: An even colder smack arrives. Wake-up: -2. High: 7 (falling by afternoon)
WEDNESDAY: Numb and number. Not spring. Wake-up: -9. High: 4
Graphic credit above: "Graph by Stefan Rahmstorf comparing measured sea level rise (red and blue) to previous IPCC estimates (grey and dashed lines), showing sea level rise is happening faster than expected."
Photo credit above: "Shell calls for action on climate change while exploring the Arctic for oil." Photo courtesy TJ Guiton/Creative Commons.