Fake Spring of 2013? Major April snow “event” possible this week

Seasonal Denial

In this “Fake Spring of 2013” I feel a little like the Blues Brothers playing at the country bar behind the chicken wire.

Please don’t throw bottles, I’m just the weatherman.


Our latest weather maps inspire words I can’t type here and still keep my job.

On the other hand, it is still Minnesota…and it does snow here in April. Sometimes heavily.

Another good “soaking rain” Tuesday saturates now thawed top soils in the metro and southern Minnesota.

Yes, the drought is easing this week.

As colder air works into the slow moving storm, rain will mix with sleet and snow Wednesday and turn to all snow by Thursday.

How much? Most forecast models are leaning in the same direction. A lot.

In this Updraft we look at the incoming storm, try and time out the change over from rain to sleet/ice and snow, and talk about what’s still uncertain with the system.

I can finally see my lawn again. The question is, for how long?

Thanks Mom:

Before I get started today, a brief note to honor a wonderful lady and great mother.

My mom Marge Huttner passed away Sunday. She was 84 years old.

We are saddened with the passing of a great mother and friend, and also relieved her suffering is past.

Born in Minneapolis and a South High graduate, Marge was a longtime Deephaven resident since 1958. She raised 6 children and loved her 14 grandchildren, many attended Deephaven School and Minnetonka High School in the west metro. She volunteered her time as an election judge and served for several years as a volunteer on the Deephaven Police Commission.

Mom had the biggest heart and always supported her family with love, good food and the best chocolate cake on the planet. She was even proud of one son who chose to go astray with a wayward career in the TV/Radio news and weather biz.

Thanks mom. We love and miss you.

Mom at Legoland.jpg

Mom at Legoland in California

April Snowmageddon? Major Minnesota winter storm looking more likely this week

The calendar says April, but the weather maps still scream March.

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Things could still (mercifully?) change, but a major late-season snow event is looking more likely by the hour.

Here’s the best breakdown on the storm as of Monday evening.

Watches & Warnings:

The Twin Cities NWS has pulled the trigger on a Winter Storm Watch for much of central Minnesota including the Twin Cities metro.

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Huge Storm:

In fact this storm spiraling through the Rockies is huge. At least 11 states are under some type of winter weather warning. Blizzard warnings are up for parts of I-25 in Colorado.

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Severe Outbreak:

A severe weather outbreak will occur along the southern flank of the potent storm this week in the central plains in the heart of Tornado Alley.

Here’s the SPC risk area for Tuesday.

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The System:

The storm is a bit of a late season oddity. More like a Panhandle Hook without the “hook” as the low tracks northeast toward Chicago.

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Though the surface low track would normally be too far southeast to produce heavy snow in the metro, the upper level low looks more favorable to generate snow in Minnesota.

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The next wave of rain increases across Minnesota again overnight and Tuesday.

It should be all rain in the metro, but some sleet and snow may mix in in western Minnesota through Tuesday.

Another shot of .50″ rainfall looks likely through Tuesday. On top of the .71″ that fell at MSP early Monday morning…that’s a good soaking for the areas where the first several inches topsoil is now thawed. The rest will run off into rivers and lakes.

The graph below shows the top 8″ of soil is now frost free in Waseca south of the metro.

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Image: University of Minnesota’s Southern Research and Outreach Center via MN Climate Working Group

I poked and prodded down to an average of 6″ of frost free soil in my lawn in the west metro Monday afternoon.

The top few inches of soil in from the metro south are getting a good soaking this week. Good news for putting a serious dent in the lingering severe drought from last fall.

Overall this slow moving storm appears ready to drop 1.5″ to 2″ liquid on southern Minnesota.

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Rain To Snow:

The system will be mostly snow in the Dakotas where Winter Storm Warnings for (gulp) 12″ to 18″ of snow are posted.

Western Minnesota will transsition form rain to a mix Tuesday…to mostly snow Wednesdal with the “rain snow line” running roughly from Redwood Falls to St. Cloud to Hinckley Wednesday.

By Wednesday night, most of the models indicate a transition from a mixed bag… to all snow in the metro…with the potential for heavy wet snow late Wednesday night and Thursday.

I keep looking for a way out, but at this point I don’t see it. Ground temps will be above freezing for much of the event…so it will take some heavy snowfall rates to overcome warm ground. That may happen.

Snowfall Totals: How much?

That’s the magic (and somewhat still unanswerable) question at this point in time.

It’s still too early to credibly bracket snowfall totals on Monday… for Thursday. Especially with this system.

That said, most all the major models…NAM, GFS, Euro and the Canadian GEM strongly suggest the potential for 6″+.

The GFS and Euro are leading the way with some ridiculous “off the charts” (12″+) snowfall totals for central Minnesota…and quite possibly the metro.

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The GFS numbers are crazy high, and the NAM is more restrained but still brings a heavy “plowable” event ot the metro.

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I won’t commit to that today…but at this point I think the most credible weather advice is expect that snow is very likey Wednesday night and Thursday, with a good chance of 6″+ in much of central and southern Minnesota including the metro.

If this event stays on course Tuesday into Wednesday, I will not be surprised if we are forecasting some heavy wet 12″+ snowfall totals close to home…and maybe in the metro.

What could possibly go wrong?

The best chance (hope?) for a stay of execution form a major late season snowfall at this point is probably a shift in the upper air support to the south…and/or a warming of the storm’s temp profile above freezing so that more of the precip falls as rain or sleet.

That’s the best way we may avoid a major shot of heavy wet “heart attack” snow this week.

As we say in the weather biz…stay tuned.


  • David Riggs

    Condolences on the loss of your mom. That’s a great picture!

  • Barbara Lehmann

    Dear Dr. Hutterer,

    My condolences on the loss of your mother. You and your family will be in my thoughts and I hope you hold onto wonderful memories.

  • Dan


    I am touched that you would chose to share your mom’s death with the readers of this blog.

    Take care, and heal quickly.

  • Steve Rudolph

    So sorry to hear of your loss. Thank you for sharing a bit about her with us.

  • Rebecca A.

    I am sorry to hear about the loss of your mom. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  • Kevan b

    Thanks for including a memoriam of your mother. It was nice to read a little about her; she sounds like an awesome lady! I’m sorry that she’s no longer with you.

  • ML

    My condolences for the loss of your mother to you and your family, Paul. Thank you for sharing a tribute to her in your post.

  • Lars

    Dear Paul,

    My condolences to you and your family over the loss of your mother. She was a very special Mom for you all. May God comfort you over her passing.

  • Jo

    My sympathies to you and your family on the loss of your mother! That picture speaks a thousand words. Puts the prospect of snow in a bit of perspective for me.

  • Laurie

    Sorry to hear about the passing of your mother. May your memories bring you peace and happiness.

  • bob hicks

    When is this profoundly ugly weather pattern going to end?

    I normally don’t feel the need to go to Arizona in April, but I’m checking out air fares.

  • Louis Johnston

    Paul: my best to you in this time. I remember your mom from Deephaven School events. Louis

  • bc

    Paul: So sorry to hear of the passing of your mom. She sounds like a wonderful person. Deepest condolences to you and your family — thank you for sharing your memories with us.

  • Paul Huttner

    Thank you all so much for your kind comments regarding my mother’s passing.

    I really appreciate them, and they help during this difficult week.

    Paul Huttner