Better odds for frozen precipitation; beneficial moisture

Tracking the dry conditions since July, we figured payback would eventually come our way. After experiencing a fairly dry autumn, the weather pattern has become more favorable for precipitation in the Midwest. Although, the Red River Valley has seen moisture skirt mostly southeast of their region this month.

Over the weekend, nearly a half inch of precipitation fell in Montevideo with two thirds of an inch in Long Prairie in central Minnesota. Some of the moisture fell as snow in western and central Minnesota. St. Cloud tallied 1.4 inches of snow on Saturday.

In the first two weeks of December, the Twin Cities International Airport has recorded nearly an inch and a half (1.44) of precipitation.

Ice fog was creating some travel challenges in southwest Minnesota this morning, where visibilities have been reported below a half mile. watch of icy patches on roadways and sidewalks.

A swath of light snow is expected to move through mainly central and southeast Minnesota later tonight and Tuesday morning. Perhaps enough to mess up tomorrow morning’s commute.


Band of snow forecast for Tuesday morning. Source:National Weather Service

Models are indicating that a storm system coming on shore on the west coast today has the potential to become a major snow and wind producer nearby at midweek. Certainly, the odds are more favorable for snow in eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin than last Saturday’s system.

Here’s where the fun starts for meteorologists as weather labs begin to buzz monitoring the development of a snowmaker.


Weather graphic from NWS Chanhassen posted Monday morning.

Comparing two of the models, we see somewhat different storm tracks, but the timing is very similar. The most likely period of hazardous winter weather looks to come late Wednesday into Thursday.


NAM surface low and six-hourly precipitation valid at midnight CST Wednesday. Source:NOAA/College of Dupage

Valid at the same time is this forecast from the GFS.


Note that the GFS model brushes the Twin Cities with measurable snow, while the NAM is a bit further north with accumulating moisture.

Have time on your hands? You can read about the computer models by clicking here.

Today we’ll watch for trends in the model output on surface track and northward extent of moisture. Unless the models are toying with us on this system, that is 72 hours out, there is little doubt that travel will be difficult between the Twin Cities and Madison, Wisconsin on Thursday.


GFS model noon CST Thursday. Surface pressure, wind field and temperatures. Source:NOAA/College of Dupage

Already thinking about your Christmas travel weather? At this time, a period of rather quiet weather is expected Thursday into Sunday. The weather may become troublesome closer to Christmas day. First let’s see what midweek brings.

Still too early to begin to toss out potential snowfall amounts.

Craig Edwards

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