Forecast: Major Christmas Storm

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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.

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-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.

PH