Forecast evolving, but snow still likely tonight and Friday morning

So much for “consensus.”

I knew it was a little scary when all the major forecast models agreed on the scenario for our incoming winter storms yesterday. Overnight the usually uber reliable European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts model threw a big monkey into that wrench.

Today, I’m watching some forecast model changes that may cause me to reassess the going forecast. Overall it still looks like a significant shot of snow and wind is on the way after midnight through Friday morning.

In the meantime, here’s the latest thinking on where we stand with the incoming late season winter storm.

  • Winter storm warnings are still posted for late tonight and Friday for much of Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin.
  • Scattered mixed precipitation today, and temps mostly above freezing should mean fairly good road conditions with few problems until late int he day
  • Latest trends suggest rain changes to snow this evening in the Twin Cities
  • Moderate to heavy snow still likely in the warning area (including the metro) Friday morning
  • Friday morning rush hour still looks dicey, with potentially heavy snow and wind creating rough travel conditions
  • My latest thinking on snowfall totals is a metro range of 5″ to 10″ from south to north metro.
  • Heavier snow of 6″ to 12″ is likely north of the metro including St. Cloud, Hinckley, Duluth, the North Shore and northwest Wisconsin.

403 lse

Evolving forecast

Yesterday I wrote I kept looking for an escape hatch in our incoming weather system. That door may have  cracked open slightly overnight.

Most of the U.S. forecast models still suggest a serious shot wind and of heavy wet snow overnight into Friday morning.

The overnight European model has backed off snowfall totals considerably. The latest Euro now favors an “open wave” system that could sail through more quickly with lower snowfall totals. What do you do when one of the most reliable forecast models does a U-turn?

Needless to say, forecast confidence is considerably lower than it was yesterday. Forecasting snowstorms in Minnesota is always fascinating, and sometimes a frustrating process. That said, don’t let your guard down just yet on this one.

Warnings still flying

Even with some of the models in flux, I’m not totally ready to back off on the idea of snow and gnarly winter weather and driving conditions Friday morning.

The Twin Cities National Weather Service agrees. Here’s the latest winter storm warning map.

Twin Cities NWS

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN
744 AM CDT THU APR 3 2014

…SIGNIFICANT WINTER STORM BEGINNING IN WESTERN MINNESOTA THIS AFTERNOON AND SPREADING EAST TONIGHT AND FRIDAY…

A WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT THROUGH FRIDAY FROM SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA THROUGH CENTRAL MINNESOTA AND NORTHERN WISCONSIN. THIS INCLUDES THE TWIN CITIES METROPOLITAN AREA. A
WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR AREAS OF SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA AND WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN…EAST OF A LINE FROM BLUE EARTH TO MENOMONIE AND CORNELL IN WISCONSIN.

A STORM SYSTEM…WITH COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF MOISTURE….WILL TRACK FROM THE SOUTHERN PLAINS TODAY TO MISSOURI BY TONIGHT…WITH THE STORM REACHING THE WESTERN GREAT LAKES BY FRIDAY NIGHT. A LARGE
SWATH OF PRECIPITATION… BEGINNING AS A WINTRY MIX…WILL TURN TO ALL SNOW THIS AFTERNOON OR EARLY EVENING AND CONTINUE THROUGH FRIDAY. THERE REMAINS UNCERTAINTY AS TO WHEN THE MIX WILL TURN TO ACCUMULATING SNOW FROM FAR SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA TO WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN WITH A WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINING IN EFFECT.

THE SNOW WILL BE HEAVY AT TIMES TONIGHT AND FRIDAY…WITH 1 TO 2 INCH PER HOUR RATES POSSIBLE. THUNDER SNOW CANNOT BE RULED OUT… WHICH WOULD ENHANCE THE SNOWFALL RATES FURTHER. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 6 TO 12 INCHES ARE EXPECTED…WITH THE HEAVIEST AMOUNTS IN AN AREA FROM REDWOOD FALLS AND NEW ULM THROUGH SAINT CLOUD…MORA AND RICE LAKE IN WISCONSIN.

Here’s the latest notion of the unfolding storm from the Twin Cities NWS. Snowfall totals may still change later today as new model runs come in and we get a better handle on changes with the incoming system.

403 msp

The potential model changes still favor a heavier snow scenario for northwest Wisconsin and Interstate 35 heading for Duluth. Here’s the view from the Duluth NWS this morning.

403 dlh

Bottom line? A major winter storm still looks likely for much of Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin tonight and Friday. Recent forecast models have shown some changes, so be prepared for potential changes in snowfall forecast today.

A new set of model runs is due in this morning.

Stay tuned for updates!

  • Lauren

    Thanks so much for all of your up-to-date information on this storm that’s headed our way! I’m curious about something that’s mentioned in the NWS alert. They say that thundersnow “cannot be ruled out, which would enhance the snowfall rates further.” Why would this be the case? Thanks!

    • Rob

      I imagine it would be due to the convective nature of the cell. Just like a summer downpour, you would get a burst of precipitation where thundersnow occurs.

  • http://www.fark.com/ Onan

    Sorry about the snow. I think I prompted it by putting new summer tires on my summer rims for my car.

    *hangs head*

    • Joshua

      Sinner!

  • Chris Rathbun

    It’s not winter anymore… how about just call it a storm and not classify it as a winter storm? it may be all semantics, but… we are sick and tired of Winter!

  • Commentarian

    Are the new models in yet?
    What should we expect on the North Shore?

    As a side note, the home page of the Duluth NWS office seems to be experiencing technical problems right now.

  • pjm

    Any details on the snow amount in the Grand Rapids area? We have a family trip planned for Friday afternoon and wondering about the amount we could expect at the cabin. thanks. pjm