Storm next week, then rain & 50s could be “flood trigger”

I’m getting a little more concerned this morning about a pattern change that could be a “flood trigger” in the next two weeks.

Jumping ahead here for a minute…the latest model runs confirms my thinking that a big thaw is now in sight starting the weekend of March 12th, and peaking the following week.

In fact the GFS is cranking out a high of 56 on Friday March 18th! Now that’s going wayyy out on the proverbial weather limb, but if fits with the overall “long wave” pattern changes I’ve been seeing in the medium range forecast models.

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GFS cranking out heavy rain and temps in the 50s by March 18th?

The downside of this forecast is that we could transition into a warmer but stormy pattern that could produce (convective?) rain in the next two weeks. This would not be good news for area rivers and spring flood potential.

Stay tuned…a change to much milder spring weather pattern may be about 10 days away!

Dusting Today East Metro:

The upper wave of low pressure responsible for the snow threat is weak and moving through fast, and the forecast models are picking up on the trend of just adusting of snow, mainly east metro today.

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Latest NAM run likes a dusting for most of metro, with heavier snow totals east.

Right now I am leaning toward a quick shot of snow this morning with a few flurries and snow showers lingering later in the day. It appears overall accumulations under an inch in most areas…with 1″ to 3″ possible as you travel east along I-94 into Wisconsin.

Bottom line: Thursday’s snowfall should fall into the “nuisance” category.

Major storm next Tuesday & Wednesday?

The models are still painting a picture that includes a possible major winter storm next Tuesday & Wednesday for Minnesota.

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Modles cranking out heavy snow next Tuesday-Wednesday.

It’s interesting to watch the medium range forecast models pick up on these systems a week out, and then tinker with timing, track and temperature profile as the days roll by.

Generally speaking, medium range (out to two weeks or so) forecast models perform better with large temperature trends than individual storm systems. But sometimes the models pick up big “high amplitude” wave patterns in the jet stream a week or so out, and that can result in reasonable forecast accuracy with bigger storms.

Still, I have seen numerous times when a big storm is “advertised” by the GFS and other medium range models and it fails to occur. There can be so many reasons for this…a shift in the low pressure track north or south can displace heavy preip bands. A northward surge of warmth can change snow to rain or ice. A previously undetected shift in the overall “long wave” pattern can weaken a potential storm in the days preceding the event.

Still the GFS and ECMWF (European) models are on track with the notion of a big snow maker for much of Minnesota next Tuesday & Wednesday. For now, I’d stick with the idea that a major “classic” March snowstorm is possible, if not likely next week.

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GFS puts powerful surface low in eastern Iowa next Tuesday night.

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GFS cranking out 1.43″ liquid next week, and mixing snow with rain at MSP Airport.

Got Snow Fatigue?

I hear it in the voices of most Minnesotans now. Every time you mention the threat of more snow, they cringe. Cries of “Nooooooo!” and “Make it stop!” are now as common as snow drifts, ice dams and potholes.

We should realize this is not your “average” Minnesota winter…even by your daddy’s standards. This is a winter on steroids. We’re likely to end up with a top 3 snowiest winter on record, and we have a shot at the “title.” The good news is, if you’ve made it this far…you’re closer to “winter’s finish line” than you think.

Yes, I know there are those of you who want more snow and either really are snow fanatics or delusional that all this snow is a good thing, and that we’re macho Minnesotans and… blah blah blah.

If I look at the effects of this winter I’m not laughing any more.

Any additional snowfall is going to make a really, really bad spring flood situation worse. We already had plenty of soil moisture going into winter for farms and trees, adding 80″ of snow on top of that is really a bit of overkill. I hope and pray that those of you in the path of floodwaters will heed the advice to buy flood insurance, and to prepare now for what’s coming in the next 45 days.

I’m not a psychologist, but I can tell you from my daily conversations that people’s moods and mental health seems to be taking a hit from this strenuous winter.

I’ve always been able to look ahead, and I’m probably a bit of a naive optimist…and for some reason I can see that spring, sunnier milder days and green shoots (and outdoor baseball!) are closer than we think this time of year. But still looking out my window and the talk of more snow on the way can even get to me too.

All I can say is “hang in there.” The weather will get better! Spring really is coming soon…and you can trust that I am scanning the weather maps for the first sign of a significant change in our weather pattern that will lead to a more spring like pattern. And it does look potentially milder as we head into the weekend of March 12th & 13th.

What do you think? Are you “done” with winter & snow? Or would you rather have a big March and bust the record? Do tell….


  • John


    Thanks for the analysis. I must be in the snow lover category because I really don’t think this winter has been that bad. For those that have had enough of this winter, maybe it has become more acceptable to complain about it? So far the story of this winter, to me, was the lack of a January thaw. MSP only reached 32 degrees for the high in Jan 2011. How often has that happened? Statistically speaking, I think that was more of an anomaly than the snow. With that said, this winter will be remembered for the snow. Especially if the storm for next Tue/Wed pans out and we get more snow after that to end the season in the top 3.

  • I’m all for being done with the snow. Any more snow could prove to be devastating for area rivers prone to flooding with an already saturated ground from last fall’s precipation. Anything to minimize the flood impact is a good thing.

  • Jeffrey

    I am more than ready for spring. There has been more than enough snow and cold for the last 4 months.

  • Shane

    Well… We’ve come this far.. Go big or go home.

  • Tom

    At this point, we may as well make it worth it and go for the gold:

    Crack triple digits on the snowfall total:D

  • Barbara Anne


    I love your forecasts and the terrific ways you interpret what you are seeing. Thanks!

    I moved here in 1991 and thought the Halloween Blizzard was the type of weather I always would experience. This is the first time it really has felt overwhelming since. More snow would not bother me, but I am deeply concerned for others with the flooding. Keep us posted!

  • Kathleen

    I am all for the record or bust. We’re here because we love the snow – at least I am. Get out there and enjoy the winter, every last bit of it.

  • Amy

    Hi Paul, Thanks for such great coverage on the weather. I can always rely on your forecasts and well-thought-out explanation of what to expect! Even though cabin fever is sinking in, I’m always up for a big snow storm.. let’s have March! Show us what ch’you’ve got!

  • Noelle

    It’s been a heck of a winter, but it’s also the first that I’ve had snow tires – the ease of traveling to and fro in those things during the slippery months has made it bearable. While I’m not devastated by forecasts of more snow, like others have mentioned I’m definitely concerned for folks who are in at-risk areas for floods. It’s going to be a tough spring up in the Red River area…

  • Mel

    I am a true winter-lover, but live on the Red River. I have enjoyed this winter SO MUCH, but keep thinking of how I felt when I had coast guard choppers hovering over my house in 2009. Storms or not it seems we are in for another historically devastating event. With three years in a row now I am starting to wish for a ‘quick like a band-aid’ approach. Flood us out, and make it a GOOD one… no more teasing us year after year.

  • At this point we may as well break the record, though I fear what kind of flooding that might bring, even if I personally am in no danger of flooding (2nd floor apartment). It sure felt like a lot living through this extremely cold and snowy winter but we made it through it just fine and looking back it doesn’t even seem that bad. Hopefully this means we’re in for a warmer, less snowy winter next year (fat chance, I know!).

  • Amy Blumenshine

    Please report on how likely flooding is at the Prairie Island radioactive waste storage. What is being done to protect that area?

  • Rachel

    I live in St Peter. After the crazy flooding this past fall, I’m cringing when I hear that more snow/precipitation is on its way. Time to get my biceps and back muscles all ready for lots of sandbagging!!