Clipper #5 today; Sunday storm trends westward; Another car goes into Lake Minnetonka

February Snow Fest

There’s an old saying in the weather biz:

When in a drought don’t forecast rain or snow.

Don’t look now, but our snow drought appears to be over.

The upper air pattern has changed in the past week. Minnesota now lies underneath an active jet stream howling overhead, delivering snow bursts at regular intervals.

6″ of new snow in your backyard since Friday? That would have been a major weather headline had it not come in 1″- 2″ doses.

In this quickie Updraft update we focus on snow.

The next ship in our Clipper-Fest sails through today. Then, the forecast models have locked onto a potentially bigger system for Sunday & Monday.

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Will Sunday’s system evolve into the next “Big One?” At this point it looks more a question of “where ” and not “if.”

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10 hours daylight Wednesday in the Twin Cities

+ 3 minutes we’re now gaining 3 munites of daylight per day

February 5th National Weatherperson’s Day

per•sis•tence (in meteorology)

In general, the tendency for the occurrence of a specific event to be more probable, at a given time, if that same event has occurred in the immediately preceding time period.

In meteorology, a forecast that the future weather condition will be the same as the present condition.

-Glossary of the AMS

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Clipper #5 in a series

The “Snow Fairies” are busy in Alberta these days.

They keep sending regular waves of low pressure southeast into Minnesota. The systems have been remarkably well timed…mostly at night, at roughly 24 hour intervals.

If you were a “Weather Shaman” 500 years ago with only the sky to read and just arrived in Minnesota you might say. “It only snows at night here.”

This week’s strain of Alberta Clipper has lacked the usual wind-driven, bitterly cold air mass behind the systems. A persistent jet stream flow has kept the core of cold air in Canada and northern Minnesota. Who knows, maybe the climate changes we’re observing in Minnesota have neutered our once ferocious Alberta Clippers too.

Today’s system, the caboose in the Clipper Train, breaks with that pattern and bring some rare “daytime” snow to Minnesota.

A band of snow is easing eastward across the area today. The potential snowy window should slide east of the metro by mid-afternoon.

A 6 hour window of snow should produce another Coating to 1″+ in the metro. If the system gets going a little faster I could see some isolated 2″ totals, especially in the east metro and western Wisconsin. The system will strengthen and produce heavier snows in Wisconsin.

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Northern Minnesota should pick up another 1″ to 2″+ as a rule.

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Sunday Winter Storm? Looking better by the hour

The next major winter storm for Minnesota, and possibly the metro could roll in Sunday.

I’ve been talking about the how Euro model has picked up on the system since Monday. Now the GFS “locked on” to the potential for a major winter storm Sunday & Monday.

The latest trends appear to center around a “Panhandle Hooker” system. The latest model trends tracks appear to center on a westward track shift. That’s a “climatologically favored” track for heavy snow in central & northern Minnesota, with a mixed bag scenario that could include more rain & ice from the Twin Cities south.

The models are cranking out some impressive totals in the past 24 hours.

The 0Z Euro cranked out an impressive .57″ liquid for Sunday.

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Image: Norwegian Met Institute

The 12Z GFS was closer to .65″ liquid, mixed as rain, ice & snow.

It’s still too early to credibly toss snowfall amounts around yet…but you can do the math. That’s a pretty good pile of snow for somebody if it pans out.

Right now that “somebody” appears to be in a swath from eastern South Dakota through Alexandria, Brainerd, The Iron Range & the Arrowhead.

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Expect some more “model gyrations” this week as the models try and grab hold of the potential system.

Panhandle Hooker systems produce much wetter snows than our recent 30:1 Alberta Clipper fluff, more like a 10:1 snow to water ratio.

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The track, temperature profile and favored heavy snow zones will probably change again with this system before the weekend.

Stay tuned, and keep the shovel handy!

Unsafe Ice: Another car goes into Lake Minnetonka

The giant pressure ridge consumed another car near Minnetonka Yacht Club on Lake Minnetonka Tuesday evening.

Steve Erdahl helped rescue the lucky driver, who apparently got out through the back hatch.

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Image: Steve Erdahl

As many as 15 vehicles have gone through the ice on Tonka in the past few weeks.

This is the year to stay off of lake ice unless you absolutely know about changing conditions where you’re headed.


  • Chris B. Critter

    FACT: In the first five days of February we’ve gotten more snow (6.0 inches) than the entire month of January (4.6 inches).

  • Josh

    Paul –

    Thank you for the appropriate response for venturing on the ice. The typical “Stay off the ice or you’ll die” from most of the media is getting a little old. For those of us who ice fish on a consistent basis and know how, where and when to check for ice consistency, this is a breath of fresh air.

    “This is the year to stay off of lake ice unless you absolutely know about changing conditions where you’re headed.”

  • Mark

    A more effective warning might be:

    Keep your vehicle off the ice. If you should be so unfortunate as to break through but fortunate enough to survive the cold, you will be charged several thousand dollars to have your vehicle removed from the water; plus your vehicle will be totaled, and your insurance will most likely not cover the loss.

  • Steve Wilson

    “You can lead a car to water but you can’t stop it from going into the drink.”

    -The Driver