Buckle Up: 4″ to 8″+ likely tonight; “Instant Spring” & 70 by Sunday?

Cover Your Eyes


Look away now if you’re squeamish, or suffering from Post Traumatic Winter Stress Disorder. The rumors are true.

Our next (and last?) major “winter storm” in spring is taking direct aim at the Twin Cities tonight. It’s already snowing heavily in South Dakota.

Early morning sunshine in the Twin Cities gives way to developing rain this afternoon, and then to all snow…heavy wet cement snow again later today and tonight.

Winter Storm Warnings are out for a narrow but potent system that looks to center right over the Twin Cities metro toward Duluth and northwest Wisconsin.

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(Yes, NWS still calls them “Winter” Storm Warnings in “spring” to best convey the type of weather we expect.)

By the time we wake up Tuesday, the system will be winding down, but not until another “plowable” almost too wet and heavy to be shovelable snow graces our driveways, streets and lawns.

The “Spring of our Discontent” continues for a few more days. The Minnesota Twins 3rd rainout/snowout already this season? Count on it.

The good news? In an abrupt upper air pattern change is coming by this weekend. Our 1st 60s…and possibly 70s are on the way by Saturday & Sunday.

And yes, this time I really mean it.

14.1″ April snowfall at MSP so far

4th snowiest April on record

7.8″ snowfall needed for snowiest April on record

-9F temps vs. average so far this month

Please sir, may I have another:

It’s as if we did something really, really wrong to deserve this “spring” in Minnesota. Or is Mother Nature just balancing out the scales of weather justice for our amazing record warmth last spring?

Either way, like it or not, get ready for the next April Snow Blitzkrieg.

The System:

A rapidly developing, quick hitting low jetting from the southwest USA around a lingering dome of chilly high pressure. It’s the perfect setup for a late season heavy snow storm aimed right at Minnesota & Wisconsin.

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It’s already snowing heavily in South Dakota.

Rain spread across southern Minnesota and into the metro around lunchtime. As colder air works in rain will change to heavy, wet, wind driven snow later this afternoon into tonight.

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Snowfall Totals:

The models are consistent. The track of this storm looks perfect to lay the (relatively narrow) heaviest band of snow right over the Twin Cities metro into northwest Wisconsin.

The Twin Cities should see a big snowfall range of between 4″ and 8″+ by Tuesday morning.

Heavy snow with total close to 1 foot are likely in northwest Wisconsin.

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Quick Hitting:

The storm will be intense for several hours tonight. I can’t rule out a clap of “thunder snow” with heavy snow bursts up to 1″+ per hour at times.

The storm will exit quickly Tuesday morning, but damage may be done for AM rush hour.

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Instant Spring? Major upper air pattern change brings warmth this weekend

All…and I do mean all forecast models agree that the same deep, wavy upper air pattern that brings out storm tonight will shift enough to bring a rapid warm up to the Upper Midwest by this weekend.

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We should enjoy the season’s first 60s…and possibly even 70s this weekend.

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And yes…I really mean it this time.

Strap in & buckle up. We’re in for another a wild weather ride this week!


  • Luke

    Can you please explain “why” rather than just saying what you think is going to happen?

    You don’t really predict anything anymore, Paul…I can stick my head out the window and get better weather information. Your models are all busted, they don’t work, they aren’t accurate or predictive.

    Give us some info about why this came up out of the blue, and what’s going on in the atmosphere that’s causing such a fierce storm to erupt this late in the season.

  • Jenn Radtke

    You can’t suffer from “post” traumatic winter stress disorder if it isn’t over yet. Ugh.

  • Tyler

    Gettin’ real tired of your trolling, Luke.

  • Fr. Paul Kammen

    Hi Paul,

    I appreciate your hard work and know you put up with a lot being the messenger of news that no one wants to hear.

    Did the models just get really confused on this one? Usually they do a better job seeing things, but is this time of year just too hard? Saturday they seemed to show snow to our south and east. Last night I went to bed watching the 10 p.m. news where one station predicted an inch, another 3 to 7. There were no watches at all prior to this and then I woke up and now have to call Apple and hope that they cover damage done to a Macbook from throwing it against the wall when I visited the NWS home page. (No, that didn’t happen of course). Even this morning, one media station says there are 2 scenarios; some rain gets mixed in and heavy snow hits more towards Saint Cloud, or we get all snow and about 5 inches.

    Here’s hoping that forecast later in the week is indeed true. It’ll take a few days to get rid of this latest mess.

    Hang in there,

    Fr. Paul

  • Connie

    You guys at MPR are amazingly good. I love the blog, even when I don’t love the weather. Thank you! And I’m writing from Duluth, where if you all in the Cities want to see some snow…come on up!

    Looking forward…


  • Chris

    There is at least one family still loving the current weather. Still have never seen too much snow.

    And its just a bit better this year with … Schadenfreude

  • Paul Huttner

    The models did pick up on this system as a minor system…favoring a track just south of the metro area last week.

    Here’s an excerpt from Friday’s Updraft nobody probably paid much attention to during/after our big storm Thursday.

    “Mixed bag again early next week:

    This may come with a plug your ears warning if you just can’t take it anymore.

    Monday into Tuesday may feature another weather system that has the potential for a mix of rain-sleet & snow once again.

    Too early to say how this will pan out, but right now it does not look anything like what we saw Thursday.

    Stay tuned.”

    So there was the notion of snow chance for tonight, late last week.

    The Sunday night models ramped this system up, and favored a track right over the metro. Snowfall systems often come together in the 24 hours before the event on the maps.

    Meteorologists use the best forecast models in the world to predict snowstorms. And snowstorms are harder to predict than hurricanes in many ways. That’s why our hair gets prematurely gray.

    I’m not sure what some would have us use instead of numerical forecast models. Even though they sometimes miss snow systems…they are remarkably accurate and valuable overall. We often get up to a week lead time on storms. That’s simply remarkable if you think about it.

    Now let’s see if tonight’s forecast pans out as projected.


  • Chris Nelson

    Fr. Paul, in the absence of a better answer from Mr. Huttner I would have to guess that the models have a harder time when you get into volatile transition periods, like that going from winter to spring.

    I would also bet that the weather modeling software is built on a mix between a) mathematical equations describing the various things that make weather, for example, how heat and moisture move around in the atmosphere and b) assumptions based on what we know has happened in the past. If so, the problem is that with climate change, what we know about the weather in the past may not apply as well to weather now. The forecasters would be chasing a moving target, of sorts, as climate changes the way that weather occurs in a given area.

    Just remember that there’s a reason some of the most powerful supercomputers in the world are used for weather and climate modeling: it’s just really hard to do.

  • Jeffrey

    Another week, another snowstrom ah the joys of spring in Minnesota.

    T S Elliot said April is the cruelest month; he must have been talking about a year similar to this one.

  • Katie Nosbisch

    I live in Decorah, IA, 15 miles south of the MN border and am sending hope…purple crocus started to bloom yesterday; daffodils are 4 inches out of the ground; rubarb is up; peonies are up, all the trees have big buds on them. Spring is moving north!

  • John Reinert Nash

    Modeling is hard. Modeling a complex system with a large number of variables is very hard. The numerical models do rather well, considering the task they are asked to do. They are not as accurate as they can be, and the fact that meteorologists look at several models to make a forecast shows that they are quite aware of the shortcomings.

    The good news is that every day brings in more data. 2013’s historical data set is ten years bigger, and the compute power is much greater than that of 2003. Ten years from now, the models will be yet refined, or replaced.

    Those who think they can do better by sticking their heads out the window have very short memories and selective memory at that.

    Thank you for the analysis and discussion, Paul, and thank you NWS for the really amazing access that citizens are given to the data and models behind the forecasts.

  • David

    Hi Paul, Thanks for putting together such a great weather analysis. Your the best, we are lucky to have you at MPR. I much prefer this spring to some of the early ‘instant’ ones we’ve had in recent years. The cure for PTWSD–snowshoes, snowboard, closed ski area, hike up and ride down! Slurfing Minnesota tomorrow!

  • Lanny

    Dang, another big snow storm. Hey Paul, it must be tough with some of the angry emails.

    You’re doing a good job.

  • Fr. Paul Kammen

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the update. I do appreciate your hard work and all you do, and I’m sure some people unfairly vent frustration on you. Models can be helpful but I guess every so often they really mess up. I remember in early February I had dinner plans, checked the weather forecast from the NWS for that afternoon and was assured there would be no accumulation. A few hours later I was on a snow-covered 694, unable to see any lines between lanes, and in a small car had a horrific ride home. So I guess storms can just do that when you expect something different. Trying to be optimistic and not have the old Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football thing happen later in the week so the 60s become 50s and then 40s. As normal is 63 by late in the week hopefully once they come they are truly here to stay. The warblers want some insects to eat!

    Hang in there,

    Fr. P

  • JB

    I find the forecasts by Paul and the gang to be the most accurate and in-depth forecasts that the general public can access. Anyone who sends these guys hate mail or gives them a hard time (Luke) needs to get a life. Go make your own forecasts if you don’t like Updraft.

    Let’s not forget last year when all the TV weather people were screaming about the 18″ snow storm we were getting, and a week out Paul saw it going south of us. Paul ended up being correct while no one else bothered to update their forecasts.

    If you aren’t happy with Updraft (Luke), go somewhere else…

  • Chris M.

    Hello Paul,

    I just want to second (and third) the others expressing their appreciation of all the excellent work you’ve done over a very active winter. I commute for work between St. Paul and Menomonie, Wisconsin and your forecasts have kept me prepared and safe all season. Minnesota is lucky to have you!