Record jet stream speeds driving Minnesota’s winter storm parade

You can thank a speedy jet stream for our relentless barrage of winter storms this month.

The jet stream continues to race high above the Midwest this month. It’s been driving winter storms into the Upper Midwest every 3-4 days.

Record speed

Jet stream winds over New York City hit record speeds Monday night. Wind speeds about 34,000 feet above ground level hit an incredible 230 mph. That’s the highest ever recorded above New York City, possibly the highest ever recorded above the U.S.

The incredibly fast river of air aloft pushed a Virgin Atlantic flight to ground speeds of 800 mph Monday night over Pensylvania.

Next storm moves in

The next significant winter storm event spreads across Minnesota early Wednesday. Snow coverage grows across southern Minnesota after midnight. It’s another snowy morning rush hour for the Twin Cities. Snowfall rates could reach an inch per hour at times Wednesday morning and midday.

Here’s NOAA’s GFS model from midnight to midnight Thursday.

NOAA GFS model via tropical tidbits.

We’re still on track for significant snowfall totals across most of Minnesota Wednesday. The winter storm warning footprint expands further westward in the latest update.

National Weather Service Twin Cities/Chanhassen MN
220 PM CST Tue Feb 19 2019


A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for much of east central
through southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin starting tonight
and continuing through Wednesday evening. The Warning was expanded
westward and is along and south of a line from Mille Lacs Lake to
Sauk Center and Madison. This includes all of west central
Wisconsin, all of the Twin Cities metro and all of the Mankato
area, along with Interstate 35 corridor, Interstate 94 between
Saint Cloud and Sauk Center, and the Interstate 90 corridor.
Total snowfall accumulations of 6 to 10 inches can be expected
within the Warning area. Snow will be heavy at times, particularly
during the Wednesday morning commute. Snowfall is expected to
continue much of the day on Wednesday. Snowfall rates of 1-2″/hr
at times during the storm are expected. Snowfall will diminish
Wednesday afternoon and evening but will still impact the evening

A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for West Central MN from
Morris through Alexandria, Glenwood, Long Prairie, and Little
Falls. Total snowfall accumulations of 3 to 6 inches can be
expected within the Advisory area with the heaviest snow expected
Wednesday morning.

Bottom line: Expect snow for both rush hours Wednesday. Widespread snowfall totals of 4 to 8-inches are likely from the North Shore through central and southern Minnesota. A few local totals could reach 10-inches. Then the focus shifts to a still-evolving winter storm this weekend.

Milder temps

Temperatures moderate as we move toward the weekend. Another blast of sub-zero air greets us in early March. Oh joy.

NOAA via Weather Bell.

Messy weekend storm

There are still major uncertainties in the track of the weekend storm system. The Canadian model continues to favor a southern track. That would keep the heaviest snow across southeast Minnesota and produce less in the Twin Cities. The European model has backed off a bit on possible Twin Cities snow totals but still delivers several inches. NOAA’s GFS has nudged slightly southeast, with several inches for the Twin Cities and heavier totals south and east.

NOAA GFS model Friday through Sunday via tropical tidbits.

Top 10 snowiest for any month on record? 

Since 1885 there have only been 10 months that have produced 30-inches of snow in the Twin Cities. The last one was the infamous Domebuster month of December 2010. So far we’ve had 22.6″ this month. Another 7.4″ will put us at 30″ for February. We have a shot. That’s rarified air for all-time monthly snow totals.

Buckle up for Wednesday and stay tuned for updates on the possible weekend storm track.

  • Michael Larsen

    Virgin Airliner article claims the fast jetstream is producing no big storms, not mentioning the two coming our way. I guess Minnesota is truly a flyover state.

  • Tom Plocher

    What is causing this record high velocity jetstream?