Monday, March 21, 2016

Continued Warmth Tuesday - Mid-Week Snowstorm To Sneak South Of The Metro?

Be On The Lookout For Bald Eagles! My wife and I were out hiking in Lake Carlos State Park back on March 6th and happened to spot this eagle and nest back in the woods. The DNR says that bald eagles are on their spring migration back to Minnesota over the next few weeks, so you may see an increasing number of them yourself soon.

Below Average Snowfall. If you thought this winter has been somewhat of an easy one in the snowfall department, you'd probably be right (unless you are reading this from Sioux Falls). Through Sunday, we have only seen 32.5" of snow in the Twin Cities this winter - an astounding 16.9" below average for the date. The only one-day snowfall total that has been over 4" was back on Groundhog Day, when 8.8" fell in the metro.

On average, March is the third snowiest month in the Twin Cities, with 10.3" typically falling during the month. So far this March, however, we've only seen a whopping 1.7" fall at the airport. Any snow we get would be very helpful later this week, but how much will fall? I've got that information a little bit later here in the blog.

Plowable Slush-Storm for Far Southern Minnesota?
By: Paul Douglas

"You guys are just hyping the storm for ratings!" a helpful reader once shared. Hmm. If you keep hyping storms and nothing happens viewers & readers tune out. Hype isn't sustainable - unless you're running for office.

The real reason meteorologists over-predict snow as a profession? Fear of missing The Big One. Predict an inch and get a foot? Minnesotans will never let you live that down. So there's a natural bias to amp up amounts - just in case.

Enjoy 50F again today because a harsh northeast wind gusting to 30 pulls colder air into Minnesota tomorrow, changing a cold rain to snow. I'm voting for the ECMWF (European) solution, which consistently tracks the storm well south of town. Rochester and far southeastern Minnesota may pick up 4-8 inches, with a couple sloppy inches for the metro area. Most of that will melt by Friday. Annoying yes, but probably not Snowmageddon. That said, I'd think twice about driving into Iowa Wednesday night. Is that hype - or prudence? Winter is wounded but not dead yet.

This is what I get for removing my driveway stakes last week. I'm sorry.


Extended Forecast for Minneapolis

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, breezy. High 51. Low 33. Chance of precipitation: 10%. Wind: NE 10-15 mph.
WEDNESDAY: Rain changes to snow. 1-3" slush late? High 38. Low 25. Chance of precipitation: 90% Wind: NE 15-20 mph, Gusts to 30 mph.
THURSDAY: Flurries taper, slow clearing. High 40. Low 30. Chance of precipitation: 30%. Wind: N 8-13 mph.
FRIDAY: Clouds increase, late (rain) shower. High 45. Low 32. Chance of precipitation: 60%. Wind: S 10-20 mph.
SATURDAY: Light mix tapers, cool breeze. High 41. Low 27. Chance of precipitation: 50%. Wind: NW 10-20 mph.
SUNDAY: Sunny and pleasant Easter, the "better day". High 43. Low 29. Chance of precipitation: 10%. Wind: W 5-10 mph.
MONDAY: More clouds than sun, seasonable. High 44. Low 31. Chance of precipitation: 10%. Wind: NE 7-12 mph.
This Day in Weather History
March 22nd

1991: An intense ice storm, the worst to affect the Duluth area in 25 years, began in the afternoon on the 22 across northeastern Minnesota and lasted until early afternoon on the 23rd before changed to heavy, wet snow. Freezing rain, accompanied at time with thunder, coated the city of Duluth with as much as 6 inches of ice. The 850-foot WDIO-TV tower was topple as winds gusted to 40 mph, buffeting the heavily ice-covered tower. The tower fell onto a nearby utility line which provided power to the remainder of Duluth’s television stations, and all but one AM radio station. Telephone and power lines snapped leaving Duluth and many northeastern Minnesota communities with utility services for 24 hours. The DNR reported that four million pine trees were damaged or destroyed.

1952: A snowstorm dumps 13.2 inches on the Twin Cities.
Average Temperatures & Precipitation for Minneapolis
March 22nd
Average High: 44F (Record: 71F set in 1945)
Average Low: 27F (Record: -14F set in 1888)
Average Precipitation: 0.06" (Record: 1.40" set in 1952)
Average Snowfall: 0.3" (Record: 13.7" in 1952)
Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
March 22nd
Sunrise: 7:11 AM
Sunset: 7:29 PM

*Length Of Day: 12 hours, 17 minutes and 22 seconds
*Daylight Gained Since Yesterday: ~3mins & 9secs

*Next Sunrise That Is Before 7 AM: March 29th (6:58 am)
*Next Sunset That Is After 8 PM: April 16th (8:01 pm)

Tuesday Minnesota Weather Outlook

We should easily climb into the 50s across southern Minnesota, including here in the Twin Cities, again on Tuesday. Some areas in southwest Minnesota could approach the 60s. 30s will be relegated to northern Minnesota, where the heaviest snow pack still is in the state.

Forecast Precipitation and Clouds from 7 AM Tuesday Through 1 AM Wednesday. Graphic: AerisWeather

We won't see much of a break in the cloud cover around the state Tuesday to go along with those 40s and 50s as we take a look at our forecast. The clipper system bringing snow to the north will move out by about midday, setting the stage for another system to start moving in across southern parts of the state. Some light rain/snow will be possible in the early overnight hours across southern Minnesota, with chances increasing toward the morning hours Wednesday.

Snow Forecast Through Wednesday Morning. Graphic: AerisWeather

Through Wednesday morning, snow will be the heaviest in northern Minnesota as that clipper system dives through. Snow totals could be up to 2" in spots. The snow across southern Minnesota that you see will be what is working in Wednesday morning with a system expected to bring parts of the upper Midwest over 6" of snow Wednesday into Thursday.

Midwest Snowstorm For Wednesday-Thursday

We've been talking about the potential of a winter storm across the upper Midwest for a few days now, and yesterday I mentioned that there seemed to be two different camps as to snow potential here across the metro. This graphic from NWS La Crosse lays the two different storm tracks we're looking at quite nicely. The northerly storm track scenario - one that is currently favored by the American GFS (and to an extent the American NAM model) - would have heavy snow as far north as the Twin Cities metro, with the potential of a half a foot or more in play. The second, southerly storm track - one being championed by the ECMWF European model - would have much less snow fall in the Twin Cities.

NAM snowfall through Thursday Evening. Blue = 1"+, Yellow = 6"+, Red = 12". Graphic: AerisWeather

This seems to be a good generalization of what we could be expecting for snowfall totals Wednesday through Thursday across the region, with a few inches (1-3") across the metro. Not far away, though, could be looming a 6"+ band of snow over southern Minnesota and northern Iowa into parts of Wisconsin.

Winter Storm Watches have been put in place from Sioux Falls eastward through southern Minnesota and into Wisconsin for the potential of 6-12"+ of snow Wednesday into Thursday from this system. This watch does include places such as Worthington, Mankato and Rochester. We will keep our eye on how close the heaviest snow gets to the Twin Cities over the next couple days.

Blizzard Potential Index Wednesday into Thursday. Graphic: AerisWeather

As this system moves in, we will also be watching the winds pick up as the storm strengthens, which could cause blizzard conditions from Colorado into Wisconsin at times Wednesday into Thursday. The AerisWeather Blizzard Potential Index shows elevated values, especially during the day Wednesday across parts of southern Minnesota while snow would be falling. This would mean greatly reduced visibility and tough travel, on top of the already heavily falling snow.

National Outlook

As we take a look at the national forecast map, the trough that will be the culprit for the potential snowstorm this week moved onshore Monday and brought parts of the Pacific Northwest over an inch of rain. We'll see a low eject from the Rockies later today and into Wednesday that will move through the Great Lakes with heavy snow on the north side. Ahead of that in the warm sector we expect some showers and thunderstorms to form - some of which could be severe across the middle and lower Mississippi Valley into the Tennessee Valley.

Severe Risk Wednesday. Graphic: AerisWeather

Severe weather will be possible from parts of central Iowa and northern Illinois southward into southern Texas as we head into the day Wednesday, with the best chance of severe storms (the Slight Risk area in yellow) from Springfield, MO to Dallas, TX. Large hail and damaging winds will be the biggest threats from severe weather Wednesday, however a tornado or two can't be ruled out.

Severe Risk Thursday. Graphic: AerisWeather

As the system continues moving east Thursday, so will the severe threat. This is the area that the Storm Prediction Center believes has the best risk of seeing severe weather Thursday, with damaging winds the main threat. I do expect this severe threat area to expand over the next few days as the system comes more into focus.
Thanks for checking in and have a great Tuesday! Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter (@dkayserwx) or on Facebook (Meteorologist D.J. Kayser)!

- D.J. Kayser

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