Sunday Storm: Winter’s biggest? NOAA “Hurricane Hunters” dispatched

18″ season snowfall so far at MSP Airport

38.8″ average season snowfall to date at MSP Airport

-21.6 snowfall vs. average this season in metro

1.77″ GFS model total precip output next 16 days

17.7″ GFS total snowfall for MSP next 16 days

(assuming10:1 snow to water ratio)

Major winter storm potential for Sunday in parts of Minnesota

Still too early to be sure, but chances for heavy snow Sunday are growing!

NOAA “Hurricane Hunter” Aircraft flight into Pacific storm Friday!

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It’s Baaaack!

You knew we wouldn’t totally escape winter in Minnesota.

Our Monday night/Tuesday snow system left some impressive, widespread snow totals for the first time in months.

It was a March-like snow…heavy and wet. Snow to water ratios ran about 9:1 for this snow fest. New Hope in the west metro picked up .44″ of water in the snow. That’s the most precip in the metro in 4+ months, since .54″ fell as rain on October 12th!

Want some good news? While it’s not enough to be classified as a “drought buster” yet, most of this snow (and what falls in the coming weeks) will melt and run into our very low rivers and lakes this spring!

Snow up north too!

This was a widespread snow event, and northern Minnesota got in on the much needed snowfall.

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Here are some snow totals from the Northland (Duluth NWS) as of late Tuesday.

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DULUTH MN

244 PM CST TUE FEB 21 2012

…PRELIMINARY SNOWFALL TOTALS FROM FEBRUARY 20TH AND 21ST…

THE TOTALS BELOW ARE EARLY SNOWFALL REPORTS AND DO NOT NECESSARILY

REPRESENT THE FINAL AMOUNT FOR EACH LOCATION. AT 330 PM SNOW

SHOWERS CONTINUED ACROSS NORTHEASTERN MINNESOTA AND FINAL REPORTS

FOR NORTHEASTERN WISCONSIN ARE EXPECTED WEDNESDAY MORNING.

SNOW REPORTS LISTED BY AMOUNT

INCHES LOCATION ST COUNTY TIME

—— ———————– — ————– ——-

7.00 2 W LITTLEFORK MN KOOCHICHING 1200 PM

6.90 INTERNATIONAL FALLS MN KOOCHICHING 1200 PM

6.50 8 S BIGFORK MN ITASCA 1200 PM

5.50 DIXON LAKE MN ITASCA 0910 AM

5.00 3 E ORR MN ST. LOUIS 1245 PM

4.80 4 WSW BRUNO MN PINE 0800 AM

4.50 7 NW TWO HARBORS MN LAKE 0715 AM

4.10 NASHWAUK MN ITASCA 0830 AM

4.00 2 WSW HIBBING MN ST. LOUIS 0800 AM

4.00 2 NNE STURGEON LAKE MN PINE 0700 AM

3.70 4 E ISLAND LAKE MN ST. LOUIS 0910 AM

3.50 7 W GRAND RAPIDS MN ITASCA 1050 AM

3.50 TWO HARBORS MN LAKE 1000 AM

3.50 LARSMONT MN LAKE 0831 AM

STILL SNOWING

3.50 3 S EVELETH MN ST. LOUIS 0804 AM

3.50 3 NNW ILLGEN CITY MN LAKE 0730 AM

3.50 SANDSTONE MN PINE 0600 AM

3.30 4 S SAWYER MN CARLTON 0930 AM

3.20 GRANTSBURG WI BURNETT 0800 AM

3.10 5 NW DULUTH MN ST. LOUIS 1200 PM

3.00 CLOQUET MN CARLTON 1215 PM

3.00 9 NNE HERMANTOWN MN ST. LOUIS 0930 AM

3.00 ASKOV MN PINE 0930 AM

3.00 BEAVER BAY MN LAKE 0910 AM

3.00 ALBORN MN ST. LOUIS 0845 AM

3.00 FLOODWOOD MN ST. LOUIS 0800 AM

3.00 MOOSE LAKE MN CARLTON 0800 AM

3.00 2 W HINCKLEY MN PINE 0730 AM

3.00 SILVER BAY MN LAKE 0715 AM

3.00 FINLAYSON MN PINE 0700 AM

2.80 CLOQUET MN CARLTON 1000 AM

2.80 TOGO MN ITASCA 0800 AM

2.80 S COTTON MN ST. LOUIS 0650 AM

2.50 5 N PILLAGER MN CASS 0700 AM

2.40 3 NE DULUTH MN ST. LOUIS 0700 AM

2.30 1 W LUTSEN MN COOK 1232 PM

QUARTER MILE INLAND FROM LAKE SUPERIOR.

2.20 NISSWA MN CROW WING 0800 AM

I spent the weekend in Lutsen, and was sad to see the pathetically low river levels along the North Shore. You can also see the effects of severe drought in the forest. The North Shore is dangerously perched for a severe fire season as of now…so today’s snow is a blessing. The North Shore can use all the snow it can get the next month (and a rainy spring) to get the rivers raging again to ease fire danger.

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One of my son Luke’s all time favorite teachers is Brien Getten who now lives (and teaches) in Two Harbors. We were fortunate to be able to stop and visit with the Gettens on Saturday at their beautiful property on the Knife River near Two Harbors. Brian says folks on the North Shore are really concerned about fire danger this year and hoping for more snow and rain this spring!

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Luke & Mr. Getten on the frozen Knife River Saturday

Thanks for being such a great teacher Mr. Getten!

Sunday was perhaps the most beautiful day I have ever spent skiing at Lutsen. It was amazingly mild and clear, and I would estimate the visibility was at 30 to 40 miles. Simply spectacular!

I’ve seen more snow at Lutsen, but what is there was groomed and good skiing.

Here are some photos under a deep blue February sky Sunday.

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Sunday “Snowpacolypse” Ahead?

Storms have been few and far between this winter, but things are looking up in the snowfall department.

A minor system may bring light snow Wednesday night into Thursday, but the big event on the horizon looks like it may roll in Sunday.

It’s early, but this looks like it may have the potential to be the biggest storm of winter somewhere in Minnesota…and maybe the metro.

**It’s just too early to say where heavy snow will fall and how much.**

With that disclaimer out of the way, a let’s take an early look at Sunday’s snow potential.

The System:

A powerful low pressure system is currently emerging into the northwest Pacific from Siberia, north of Japan.

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Forecast Track:

The models move the system almost straight east across the Pacific, to near Vancouver and Seattle Friday. The system then crosses the Rockies, dips slightly south then makes a beeline for southern Minnesota Sunday night according to the GFS model.

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If that track verifies, that is an excellent track for heavy snow in much of Minnesota.

Gulf Wide Open?

It appears the system will tap plenty of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. That could inject deep moisture into the system and wring it out as heavy snowfall over Minnesota Sunday.

Snowfall Potential?

Again…it’s too early to put precise numbers on snowfall 5 days in advance.

But at this point all signs point to potentially heavy snowfall somewhere in Minnesota (and maybe in the metro) Sunday.

Look at the GFS “meteogram” for MSP Airport below. That’s 12″ of snow the GFS is cranking out folks.

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Again the track or system could change…but the potential is looking better by the day.

Thunder Snow?

There is the possibility that this system will be strong enough to produce “Thunder Snow” by Sunday night. Again, this all depends on storm track, but the position of the upper low, “vorticity maxima” and upward vertical velocity or “lift” may be strong enough to create mini thunderstorms within the bigger storm.

If that happens, snowfall rates could reach 1″ to 3″ per hour in local areas.

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NOAA: Hurricane Hunter dispatched to fly into storm over Pacific!

In an interesting twist to this storm NOAA will send a flight of “Hurricane Hunter” aircraft into the North Pacific to fly into this developing storm Wednesday.

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The flight will drop 17 “dropsondes” into the system at altitudes of 41,000 to 45,000 feet. The data will be fed into NOAA supercomputers to help augment forecast model data; which is sparse over the vast Pacific Ocean.

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From NOAA:

NOUS42 KNHC 211630

WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS

CARCAH, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, MIAMI, FL.

1130 AM EST TUE 21 FEBRUARY 2012

SUBJECT: WINTER STORM PLAN OF THE DAY (WSPOD)

VALID 22/1100Z TO 23/1100Z FEBRUARY 2012

WSPOD NUMBER…..11-084

II. PACIFIC REQUIREMENTS

1. FLIGHT ONE — NOAA49 —

A. P55/ DROP 9 (45.0N 157.0W)/ 23/0000Z

B. NOAA9 23WSC TRACK55

C. 22/1930Z

D. 17 DROPS AS PUBLISHED ON TRACK

E. 41,000 TO 45,000 FT/ 23/0600Z

The additional data should help the models like GFS get a better grip on the incoming storm.

NOAA Hurricane Hunters do occasionally fly into Pacific winter storms. This flight is an indication they think this could be a significant storm for much northern of the USA!

Stay tuned!

PH

  • WxFlyer

    Great article! About time for some snow!

    I want to briefly clarify that “NOAA49″ which will fly between FL410-FL450 doing this data collection is in fact N49RF, a NOAA Gulfstream G-IV associated with the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center. Not an Air Force C-130.