Thanksgiving week forecast: Snow, then bitter cold!

Get ready for a busy weather week for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Our weather pattern is moving rapidly these days courtesy of the fast moving Polar Front Jet Stream overhead. Jet stream winds are roaring over Minnesota at 150mph+ these days, and the rapidly moving jet stream is zipping a series of weather systems through Minnesota in the next week.


The change will culminate with a deep polar vortex settling in over Minnesota by Thanksgiving Day, bringing the coldest weather in nearly 9 months to Minnesota.

Though I don’t see any whopper snow totals like we had last weekend in Minnesota, the timing of the snow (during the work week and busy pre-Thanksgiving travel period) will mean a much greater impact for travel Thanksgiving week. Colder pavement temperatures will also mean MNDOT road chemicals won’t work as well…so expect slippery roads as bouts of snow hitting frozen roads.

Let’s break down the forecast (and snow chances) over the next week. Timing and magnitude could change by Monday!

Saturday: Sunshine early, fading sun PM as clouds move in. High 25. Chance of a shot of light snow (a quick 1″?) or freezing drizzle between 9pm and 3am Sunday morning. Roads could be slick late Saturday night.

Sunday: The mildest day of the next week! Light wintery mix to drizzle…milder. High near 40!

Monday: A shot of light snow possible midday and PM.

(another 1″-2″?) Could gum up the PM rush hour Monday. High near 32.

Tuesday: Possible (dry) break between systems. Colder. High 25.

Wednesday: Snow looks likely. Looks now like the biggest snow of the week. Early (too early?) look SUGGESTS a general snowfall range of between 2″ and 5″ in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. This could gum up PM rush hour in the metro, pre-Thanksgiving road travel in the region, and possible cause some delays at MSP for air travel. High near 21.

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GFS 5-day snowfall hinting at snow for Minnesota, with heaviest totals up north.

Thanksgiving Day & Black Friday: Full blown arctic outbreak! Snow should be gone, but bitter northwest winds will blast in the coldest air of the season. Roads could still be icy in spots.

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Highs only in the teens south, single digits above zero north. Lows below zero north, zero to +5 south. Wind chills well below zero in all of Minnesota.

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This is a bit early for an arctic outbreak in Minnesota, but not unprecedented by any means. If the high is 21 degrees Thanksgiving Day it will be the coldest in 5 years. If highs in the teens verify it could be the coldest Thanksgiving Day in 21 years, when the Thanksgiving Day high was just 18 degrees!

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Saturday & Sunday: Lighter winds, some moderation in temps but it will still feel like February. Highs in the 20s, lows single digits above and below zero (north).

My winter “common sense” to do list just got bigger at the weather lab this weekend. You may want to consider the same.

-Check the air pressure in the car tires

-Get the winter survival kit in the car

-Stock up on sidewalk salt

-Get the holiday lights done this weekend (it will be too cold next weekend)

-Check the furnace filter (and smoke detector batteries) and replace if necessary

-Make a mental list of my older relatives & neighbors who may need help in the coming weeks

The good news is the long range models are hinting at a possible thaw around December 1st. We may not be done with some relatively milder weather just yet…but get ready for our first shot of real winter weather with “attention getting” cold to boot!

Enjoy the weekend!

More on Monday as we ramp up weather coverage on MPR news stations.


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