Forecast: Major Christmas Storm


NOAA SREF forecast model ensemble paints heavy snow moving into Minnesota by Christmas Eve.

You may be dreaming of a White Christmas, but maybe not this white.

All signs today point to a major winter storm tracking into Minnesota for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. If you are planning travel anywhere in the Upper Midwest by car of air later this week, be prepared for heavy snow and major winter storm conditions.

It is still early in the forecast process for major winter storms, but here’s what I see this morning.

-A potent upper and surface low pressure system will wind up in Texas Wednesday, then eject northward toward Minnesota.

-The track of this low will start near the Gulf of Mexico. We call these storms “Gulf Storms” because of the track and the fact that they pull in deep Gulf moisture. These can be some of the heaviest and wettest snows for Minnesota.


-The storm looks as if it will move very slowly, meaning a potential long duration snowfall event of 48 to 60 hours.

-It appears now that snow could begin anywhere from late Wednesday into early Christmas Eve morning.

-The heaviest snow may be during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

-Snowfall could last until Saturday in parts of the area.

-The snow could mix with freezing rain and sleet in eastern Iowa and southwest Wisconsin.

It is too early to pinpoint snowfall amounts, but it should suffice to sat that many areas could get slammed with over a foot of snow with this storm. There could be much higher totals in some areas. The snow will combine with wind in open areas making travel difficult to impossible Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

If you have travel plans Thursday into Saturday, at this point I would encourage you to consider travelling Wednesday or Sunday instead.

I’ll keep updating things this week as the new forecast model runs come in.

As we say in the weather biz…stay tuned.


  • James

    I’m hoping to move up our travel schedule so we can get to our destination and enjoy the snow from the fireplace rather than the car.

  • CS

    I think that is right idea James.

    So what is the confidence that the models and forecasters are putting into the projections currently?

  • adam

    Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!

  • Tanya

    I read this to my kids and their eyes got wide open.. The sliding hill by us is getting worn down.. Thanks for the snowy forcast Paul.

  • Annie

    Glad we only have 20 miles to go and drive a Suburban…bring it on!

  • bsimon

    I think I will stack some wood closer to the back door.

  • Brian

    I’m planning to drive to western ND on Wednesday, I hope to arrive before the storm.

  • Melissa

    What is the total accumulation expected?

  • Tommy Lenahan


    Can you post a link to the top map showing the 12 hour snow fall total? It would be helpful for monitoring purposes over the next few days.

    Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!


  • Ari

    @CS I think the confidence is getting pretty high. The MPX NWS office has posted a winter storm watch and all the models have lined up pretty well. Six inches is almost a given, twelve is rather likely and more is not out of the question. That was not the case yesterday.

  • Peter Fleck

    An obvious question (to me at least): Does this storm have any connection to the east coast storm outside of the point of origin in the Gulf?