Arctic now; Winter Storm Watch ahead; Snowiest month in 2 years

Mini Ice Age

This is quickly turning into the “winter of our discontent” for some Minnesotans.

Yes, it’s a real winter this year.

As thermometers plummet again we endure yet another day of sub-zero wind chills this month. The busy weather week will peak Friday, with yet another round of “plowable” snow for much of Minnesota.

In this edition of Updraft we look at how February is turning into a mini “ice age” and track the next winter storm(s) heading our way.

A “normal” winter?

What a concept.

Sun dog.jpg

Sun Dogs in Mankato this morning

Image: Matt Lutz

14 of 19 days so far this month with snowfall at MSP Airport

10.9″ February snowfall total so far at MSP

February 2011 last month we tallied more snow at MSP (16.1″)

31.3″ season snowfall total so far at MSP

+15.6″ vs. last winter

66 mph wind gusts at Grand Marais harbor at 6:56am this morning!

DLH: GRAND MARAIS,MN (GNA) ASOS reports gust of 57.0 knots from NNW @ 1256

Winter Storm Watches posted for southern Minnesota including the metro Thursday night & Friday


So This is Winter:

Just when you thought it was safe to declare winters perpetually wimpy in Minnesota.

February 2013 is going down in the books as a rigorous winter month. This is now the snowiest month in 2 years in the metro.

Temperature trends this (meteorological) winter have taken a nosedive. Check out the monthly average temperature trend since December.

MSP Airport

December +3.7F

January +1.3F

February -1.7F

As we head toward the last week February, it looks as if we’re poised to wrap up meteorological winter about +1.1F overall in the metro. That’s respectably close to an “average Minnesota winter.”

We’ve shoveled 31.3″ of snow so far this winter in the metro…and 70.3″ in International Falls.

And we’re not even close to done yet.

Next Winter Storm Takes Aim:

The next system in our February snow blitz is on the way.

This is a panhandle hooker, winding up in the Oklahoma Panhandle Thursday morning and shooting north into Iowa by Friday.


Our arctic air dome overhead will assure all snow with this one. That’s good news for us as forecasters, because at least we should realize the full snow potential with this system.

The Euro (.54″) & NAM (.46″) are the leaders with liquid precip predictions with this one. The GFS suggests a weaker system with just .26″ liquid.

Cold air should bring a “drier” snow…with snow:water ratios as high as 15:1.

It’s still early, but if the Euro & NAM solutions pan out…that should translate into a wide area of 4″ to 8″ snowfall potential across the southern half of Minnesota by late Friday night.

nam msp snow.PNG

The system will peak in strength over Kansas, Nebraska and western Iowa.

Anywhere from 12″ to 20″ of snow could fall in these areas…that’s great news for the heart of the Midwest Drought.

Snow nam.PNG

It won’t soak into parched (still frozen) soils, but the melt will help boost river levels this spring.

That’s the good side of a heavy winter snowfall.

A second incoming storm brings another chance of snow…possibly mixed with rain and ice early Sunday night into Monday of next week.

That would make our 9th storm this month by my count.

This February, the weather hits just keep on comin’!

Want some good (as in warmer) news?

The ray of hope in the long range forecast is the maps are hinting at a major thaw potential after about March 5th or 6th. Could temps in the 40s, melting snow and dripping icicles be in our future?

Stay tuned.


  • Fr. Paul Kammen

    Thanks for the bog post, Paul. I really appreciated the ray of hope. I was beginning to believe there was a conspiracy and that the meteor that hit Russia was actually bigger, pushing the earth off it’s orbit and away from the sun, just like in that old “Twilight Zone” episode. Seriously, the parade of snow and cold has gotten me down, and hopefully there might be a thaw come early March.

  • John

    So, does “drier” snow equate to “less weight per inch shoveled?” If it does, count me in.

    Hopefully I can finally get out to do a little cross country skiing this weekend. . . my son has been wanting to learn all winter, and we haven’t had schedules and snow that worked out. Keep your fingers crossed.

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    Even though this month is slightly colder than the new 30-year “normals” it is still warmer than the 20th century average, and this winter as a whole is considerably warmer. It’s deceptive how calculating normal temps every decade, based on the previous 30 years, has downplayed just how much our winters have warmed in recent decades.

  • Jackson

    Please don’t buy into TWC’s lame marketing ploy of naming winter storms. The best way to make this horrible idea go away is to ignore it entirely!