PM Update: Metro ice & 2″- 5″ snow; Heavy snow north

Brief Update 4:30pm:

Models still on track with timing of precip late morning into early PM tomorrow as the system moves in from the southwest.

The wild card in this storm continues to be the location of the “freezing line” which will dictate areas of freezing rain and sleet…versus all snow. It looks like a shallow layer of above freezing air may set up near the metro Wednesday. This may be enough to mix precip to sleet and freezing rain, which will create an icy coating to go along with snow. It may also reduce snow amounts accordingly.

Again it appears the southern metro will be on the razor’s edge for ice/sleet/snow.

Winter weather advisories have been posted for the metro and southern Minnesota.

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Winter storm (and blizzard) watches and warnings are flying up north.

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Winter weather warnings cover much of the norther USA and Rockies with this storm. Blizzard warnings are flying near Salt Lake City

Get the latest warnings here:

Twin Cities NWS

Duluth NWS

Red River Valley NWS

La Crosse NWS

Sioux Falls NWS

Des Moines NWS

Bottom line, the roads and travel conditions will still deteriorate rapidly Wednesday PM & evening. If you leave the metro going east (Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Chicago) EARLY tomorrow AM, you may be able to beat the storm out of town. If you’re headed west (Sioux Falls, Fargo, Omaha)…you’ll drive right into things as they develop.

Also expect delays at MSP Airport to increase as the day wears on.

The next major model run is due in by 10pm tonight. I’ll have another major update then…and hopefully more clarity on where the “ice zone” will set up.


(Original post AM)

Call it a wintery Minnesota cocktail.

A winter storm system will plow into Minnesota Wednesday brining a mixed bag of snow and the potential for sleet and freezing rain to southern Minnesota. The system will make for difficult travel Wednesday, and colder air will spill in behind the storm on Thanksgiving Day and linger into Black Friday.

There are still a few details to be worked out, and maybe a few surprising twists in upcoming model runs today and tonight…but here is my early call for storm parameters and snowfall amounts.

Timing: Expect a band of snow, sleet and freezing rain to move into Minnesota Wednesday morning. The wintry blast should intensify and peak between noon and 8pm Wednesday, then taper off Wednesday evening.

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NAM model paints precip area into Minnesota Wednesday afternoon.

Precip type: Latest model trends this morning are leaning toward mostly snow from the Twin Cities north. Ice may mix in at times from the metro south…and a significant ice storm is possible from the south metro down I-35 into northern Iowa, and east to Rochester and La Crosse. It should be all snow north of the metro.

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NOAA SREF modles bring snow/freezing rain transition zone close to southern metro Wednesday.

Snowfall totals: The morning model runs are leaning toward mostly snow for the Twin Cities area and points north. That could squeeze out much of the forecast liquid precip total (NAM says .50″ for metro) as snow. If it all comes down as snow, that could be around 5″. If it mixes with freezing rain and sleet that will reduce snowfall accordingly. The storm should be a more potent snow producer for northern Minnesota where models are cranking out closer to an inch of liquid precip for Duluth.

Here is my call for snowfall amounts Wednesday. (Subject to change with additional modle data through tonight.)

Southern Minnesota: (Rochester I-90 & I-35 corridors)

A mixed bag of sleet, freezing rain and some snow. Ice storm possible along I-35 in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa east to La Crosse. Ice accumulations of .25″+ possible in some areas, followed by an inch of snow.

South Central MN: (Twin Cites Metro – Willmar)

Mostly snow with some ice mixed in at times. Heaviest “burst” of snow could be intense at times between noon and 8pm. Snow totals 2″ to 4″ with some possible 5″ totals metro. Any transition to ice could reduce snow totals accordingly in the metro.

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Morning NAM model run suggests 3.5″ of metro snow Wednesday.

Central MN: (St. Cloud, Brainerd, Fargo-Moorhead)

All snow. 3″ to 6″ possible.

Northern MN: (Bemidji-International Falls-Ely-Duluth & North Shore)

All snow. 6″ to 10″ likely with some isolated 12″ totals.

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Models hinting at heavy snow totals for Duluth area.

Wind: Stiff SE winds of between 15 and 30 mph will whip the snow around at times Wednesday reducing visibility. I do not expect a full blown blizzard (sustained winds of 35mph) but the wind will be whipping the snow around pretty good with some drifting snow.

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Storm character: This will be a quick hitting storm of relatively short duration. The most intense part of the storm will be bewteen noon and 8pm (metro), a duration of about 6-8 hours. There could be a period of rather intense snowfall…or snow bursts within the system Wednesday afternoon or early evening. Thundersnow is possible in the intense bursts.

Travel conditions: The best travel conditions will be through today, tonight and into early Wednesday. Travel conditions will deteriorate rapidly Wednesday afternoon, and poor travel conditions will linger into Thanksgiving morning as the wind and cold cranks up.

Thanksgiving Day & Black Friday: Frigid polar air will plunge in behind the storm Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. Expect sub zero chill levels until temps moderate into the 20s and 30s this weekend. Wrap arond snow showers will also linger Thanksgiving Day, especially in northern Minnesota.

Strong winds (35mph+) on the back side of the system could whip snowfall into the air and produce a ground blizzard in the Red River Valley Thursday night into early Friday morning!

Bottom line: This will be a quick hitting, hard hitting storm Wednesday, followed by wind and cold Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. Prepare accordingly!

More later today and tonight as new model data spills in.