Snowy Friday PM appetizer; Growing chances for heavy weekend snow

Update 10:15pm Thursday evening:

Tonight’s model runs are in, and all major models have dramatically increased snow potential for Saturday night & Sunday.

With less than 48 hours until the system arrives, the NAM model now cranks out as much as 4″ for the metro Saturday night into Sunday.

The GFS is even more bullish, suggesting 18 hours of snow that could pile up to over 6″+ in the metro by Sunday night.

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Image: Iowa State University

Up north, longer snowfall duration and higher intenisty could produce a major winter storm, with totals well over 6″ in some areas.

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Image: NOAA NAM model via

These totals may (or may not) be aggressive, but the main point is that it now appears that Saturday night & Sunday system may be more “productive.” Snow lovers may finally have something to cheer about this weekend.

Stay tuned as Friday’s model runs come in.


Light snow likely Friday PM/evening could affect Friday PM rush hour

1″ to 2″ possible in metro Friday PM & evening

Up to 3″+ possible south of metro & along I-90 corrridor

Better chances for accumulating snows Saturday night into Sunday

NAM: 4″ snowfall Saturday night & Sunday?

GFS: Up to 6″+ totals through Sunday for metro??

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0.8″ season snowfall so far at MSP Airport

12″ average season snowfall to date

8″ as of this date last year (and we finished with 22.3″ for the season)

100% of Minnesota in some stage of drought

83.44% of Minnesota in “severe” drought (or worse)

25.25% of Minnesota now in “extreme” drought

Already “preloaded” for major drought in Spring 2013?

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Image: Caltech

Snow chances: A few Friday flakes but best shot Saturday night

Friday will bring a few snowflakes to southern Minnesota.

Our best shot at picking up a few inches of snow in Minnesota comes this weekend. Here is how the two weather systems lay out at this point.

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Image: Twin Cities NWS

System #1) Friday PM & evening:

A weak weather system slides through southern Minnesota Friday, and should produce a coating of snow from the metro south by Friday evening.

There are still model differences, but the best consensus seems to center around a scant coating to an inch around the Twin Cities, with as much as 1″ to 3″ possible in southern Minnesota centered on the I-90 corridor.

The timing of the precip should favor late PM & evening in the metro area. With temps near or just above freezing, any treated roads should be mainly wet.

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Image: Iowa State University

System #2) Saturday Night & Sunday:

The stronger of the two weather systems to bracket the weekend rolls in Saturday night into Sunday.

This one has the potential to produce a few inches of snow for much of Minnesota, especially up north.

Timing appears to favor snow developing in western Minnesota Saturday afternoon, spreading ont the Twin Cities anytime after about 6pm Saturday. The bulk of accumulating snow should come Saturday night.

Right now the NAM model is the least impressed with this system. The NAM brings a brief burst of snow (1.5″?) into the metro between 6pm and 9pm Saturday evening.

The Euro is a bit more impressed, and cranks out .20″ liquid which would translate into about 2″ of snow Saturday night into early Sunday AM.

The GFS is the most bullish, still painting several hours of snow between 6pm Saturday evening and 6 am Sunday morning. Thursday PM’s GFS run cranked out an eye opening .56″ liquid for the metro. That would translate into as much as 6″ of fresh snow by Sunday night if it pans out. Emphasis on “IF.”

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We’ll need to see more runs Friday before we can get an accurate gauge on this evolving system for Saturday night. Right now, leaning toward a 1″ to 4″ solution for the metro and much of central Minnesota seems logical, with the best chance for 4″+ to as much as 6″ to 8″ up north.

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GFS 120 hour snowfall via

Stay tuned as Friday’s model runs try and nail down Saturday evening’s snow system.

Brown December Landscape:

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Bleak and brown best describe the landscape around most of Minnesota today.

What should be a picturesque early season Currier and Ives scene with snow covered fields in Minnesota looks more like a sad landscape stuck somewhere in between fall and winter.

It’s as if we’ve fallen off our own versions of a “fiscal snow cliff” in Minnesota this December. Take a look at the area of the Upper Midwest covered by snow the past 3 Decembers. Data from NOHRSC.

92.6% Dec 6, 2010

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73.1% Dec 6,2011

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11.8% Today

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As we anticipate the chances for snow this weekend, it is clear that Minnesota is in an early season “snow drought” so far for the winter of 2012-’13.

Drought 2013? Minnesota already “preloaded”

It’s amazing how fast Minnesota went from flood to drought in 2012. And there is no doubt that we close the year with an expanding drought as soils freeze up this month.

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What’s troubling is that as the ground freezes, we’re pretty much locking any additional moisture penetration out of the soils until the thaw in spring.

Even if we get heavy winter snows (and that seems like the mother of all “ifs” right now) most of our winter snow cover will evaporate or run off into rivers & lakes next spring. That’s a good thing for boosting water levels, but it won’t help our parched soils.

We’ve now missed our window of “fall rain” to recharge soils in Minnesota. Now we’ll need heavy rainfall next spring when the ground thaws if we have any hope of catching up.

If we don’t get above average rainfall in April & May of next year, we’re going to enter the growing season with major soil moisture deficits. Drought may be the big weather story in 2013 unless our weather pattern changes for the wetter next spring.

$8 corn may seem like a bargain in 2013 if the drought persists in the nation’s bread basket.

Dr. Mark Seeley expands in this week’s Weather Talk. Here’s a preview.

Briefing highlight statements from Brad Rippey of the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board for the drought-monitoring period ending 7 am EST on December 4 include:

-There was little change in overall U.S. drought coverage, as improvements in the Far West were offset by some drought expansion in the Southeast. The portion of the contiguous U.S. in drought fell slightly (less than one-third of a percentage point) and currently stands at 62.37%.

-The portion of the contiguous U.S. in the worst category ­ D4, or exceptional drought ­ remained virtually unchanged at 6% (rounded) for the seventeenth consecutive week (August 14 ­ December 4).

-Hay in drought was unchanged at 65%. However, that value is up five points from November 13.

-Cattle in drought was also unchanged at 73%. That value is up four points from November 13.

-Winter wheat in drought was unchanged at 65%, after being as low as 63% in mid-November.

-NOTE: Since the 1950s, there have been only two years when U.S. winter wheat abandonment reached or exceeded one-quarter of the crop: 1988-89 (25% abandonment) and 2001-02 (29%). Current U.S. winter wheat conditions are lower than those observed late in the year in both 1988 and 2001­and for that matter, current conditions are the lowest on record for this time of year (period of record, 1986-2012). The 1988-89 crop was planted during the drought of 1988 and was further harmed by a severe cold wave in February 1989. The 2001-02 crop was adversely affected by a La Niña-driven drought.


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