More active pattern brings snow chances; Where & how much?

More like December through tomorrow across Minnesota

More “active” pattern brewing later this week

Rain & snow chances increase Thursday through Sunday-Monday

Model chaos little agreement as to rain/snow location & timing specifics (what’s new?)

“It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma…” -Joe Pesci as David Ferrie in Oliver’s Stone’s “JFK” – How it feels at times forecasting snowfall in Minnesota.

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Image: Twin Cities NWS

December Cameo: Colder wind today

This is more like it.

We’re supposed to feel a chill on our faces as our step quickens in December in Minnesota.

Temps are running closer to, but still above seasonal “averages” in the metro today.

Northern Minnesota is finally feeling the sting of sub-zero wind chills this morning.


In the south temps in the upper 30s and 40s are still about +5 to +10 degrees vs. average for December 4th.

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Image: NOAA

Tonight will feel like winter with temps plunging into the single digits up north….and teens south.

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Image: NOAA


Watching snow chances:

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Image: Caltech

When it comes to forecasting snowfall in Minnesota, Joe Pesci may have said it best in Oliver Stone’s JFK.

“It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma…”

Yeah, that about sums it up looking at the winter weather maps some days.

This week is no different. As meteorologists, we look for “consistency” and “clarity” in the suite of various numerical forecast model solutions. That gives us greater confidence that weather systems will behave a certain way. Rarely do we see that in winter…and this week is no exception.

Right now there are 3 different “opportunities” for rain or snowfall in Minnesota, depending which model you want to put your faith in.

System #1: Wednesday night into Thursday:

The GFS and NAM bring a weak system through late Wednesday night into Thursday. This will be the warmest of the 3 possible systems, and may bring a mixed bag of possible rain, ice and snow to central and southern Minnesota.

This is the first of multiple (light?) snow chances the next few days.

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Temps may be just cold enough for some freezing rain early Thursday AM, but the NAM is leaning toward mixing in with some snow. All models agree that temps will warm well above freezing…into the 40s by Thursday PM, so any effects early Thursday should be minimal by afternoon.

The European model skips system #1 altogether. That’s confidence inspiring!

System #2: Thursday night or Friday?

Most of the models agree on two things Friday.

-A minor wave will come through central and southern Minnesota

-It will be cold enough for snow

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Image: NOAA GFS via College of DuPage

What they don’t yet agree on is timing. This morning’s (12Z) NAM favors a shot of snow Thursday night into Friday AM.

Right now the best forecast appears to be for light snowfall totals…maybe 1″ to 2″ with some isolated 3″ totals by Friday night.

Many areas may finally have a white coating of snow on the ground by the time Saturday morning rolls around.

Stay tuned.

System #3: Sunday into Monday?

Again the question mark?

This is by far the strongest system on the map in the next week.

What appears likely is that there will be significant, even heavy snow somewhere in the Upper Midwest Sunday into Monday. The biggest question is where?

The European model is tracking a potent surface low to near Chicago by Sunday evening.

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Image: European Model via College of DuPage

This is a potentially favorable track for heavy snow from Des Moines to Mason City, La Crosse, Madison & Green Bay.

The Twin Cities may still get in on some snow Sunday on this track…but the “heaviest” snow band (likeyl 6″+) would lay out to our south & east under this scenario.

If you’re planning travel to on I-35 to Des Moines, or I-94 to Madison or Chicago this weekend keep up on the evolution of this system. It could be a big one.

Hopefully the models will come into clearer focus in the next 24-48 hours regarding the upcoming weather systems.

I’m not holding my breath.

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Chasing Ice: And finding it Friday at the Uptown

You may have heard about the new movie “Chasing Ice.” It documents one man’s incredible effort to capture disappearing glaciers and other ice formations over the past few years.

Chasing Ice is coming to the Twin Cities Friday Filmmaker James Balog and Arctic explorer Will Steger will be there to kick off the film.

Here’s the trailer for what looks like an amazing piece of filmmaking.


  • derek terveer

    Winston Churchill’s quotation, made in a radio broadcast in October 1939:

    “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

  • Jeb

    About the snow chance on Sunday: is that a relatively east-west moving storm? I’m a bit northeast of Sioux City here, hence my curiosity.