Snowstorm update for Saturday night and Sunday; Red River flood outlook

The snow switch is stuck in the “on” position this February.

We’ll be adding to our snowfall totals Friday in west-central and northwestern Minnesota. All of Minnesota will see some snow overnight into Saturday. Some areas will see heavy snow late Saturday into early Sunday.

On to the details.

Today through early Saturday

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s North American Mesoscale forecast model shows the potential snow pattern from Friday afternoon through Saturday morning:

NOAA NAM simulated radar from Friday afternoon through Saturday morning, via tropicaltidbits

Notice the wintry mix Saturday morning in southeastern Minnesota. The Twin Cities metro area could see snow overnight and a mix of light snow and drizzle/freezing drizzle Saturday morning.

The heaviest snow from this first wave of snow will be in northwestern and west-central Minnesota:

National Weather Service Grand Forks

Elsewhere in Minnesota, including the Twin Cities metro area, snow amounts Friday night into early Saturday will tend to be in the 1- to 2- inch range.

A winter weather advisory runs from Friday afternoon into early Saturday for much of west-central and northwestern Minnesota:

NWS Grand Forks

As always, updated weather information can be heard on the Minnesota Public Radio Network, and you’ll also see updated weather info on the MPR News live weather blog.

Saturday afternoon through Sunday

A winter storm will bring strong winds and areas of heavy snow to parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Saturday evening into Sunday morning. Some areas will also see some freezing drizzle and freezing rain at times.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Global Forecast System model shows the potential precipitation pattern Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon:

NOAA GFS precipitation rate (mm/hour) Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon, via tropicaltidbits

The heaviest snow is expected to fall in southeastern Minnesota, portions of northeastern Minnesota and much of Wisconsin:

NWS Twin Cities

A winter storm watch starts at midnight Saturday night and runs to 6 p.m. Sunday for most of the southern half of Minnesota, including the southern part of the Twin Cities metro area:

NWS Twin Cities

There is also a winter storm watch starting late Saturday night in western and northern Wisconsin, and a winter storm watch late Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon for Lake and Cook counties of northeastern Minnesota.

Details of the winter storm watch that includes the south metro area:

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
National Weather Service Twin Cities/Chanhassen MN
316 AM CST Fri Feb 22 2019

…SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW EXPECTED TO IMPACT TRAVEL SATURDAY NIGHT
INTO SUNDAY IN WISCONSIN WITH BLIZZARD CONDITIONS POSSIBLE IN
MINNESOTA…

.Snow and blowing snow are expected to impact travel Saturday
night into Sunday. A Winter Storm Watch has been issued for much
of the southern half of Minnesota and parts of western Wisconsin.

The heaviest snow is expected to fall along and east of I-35
Saturday evening and Saturday night. Expect a narrow band 4 to 8
inches of snow from Albert Lea, through Red Wing Minnesota and
Ladysmith Wisconsin. Northwest winds will increase Saturday night
into Sunday, with gusts as high as 40 to 45 mph. This will lead
to significant blowing and drifting snow, and reduced
visibilities. The strongest winds will be in Minnesota, and
blizzard conditions are possible.

Meanwhile areas to the west of I-35 will see less snow, but we
still expect northwest wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph starting after
midnight Saturday night and lasting into Sunday afternoon. There
is a very deep snowpack across the region, and significant blowing
and drifting snow is likely to develop. This could lead to
whiteout conditions, making travel very difficult or impossible in
the open areas of western, central, and southern Minnesota. A
winter storm watch has been issued for possible blizzard
conditions Saturday night into Sunday.

MNZ054>058-064>070-073>076-082-083-091-221730-
/O.EXB.KMPX.WS.A.0007.190224T0600Z-190225T0000Z/
Lac Qui Parle-Swift-Chippewa-Kandiyohi-Meeker-Yellow Medicine-
Renville-McLeod-Sibley-Carver-Scott-Dakota-Redwood-Brown-Nicollet-
Le Sueur-Watonwan-Blue Earth-Martin-
Including the cities of Madison, Benson, Montevideo, Willmar,
Litchfield, Granite Falls, Olivia, Hutchinson, Gaylord, Chaska,
Shakopee, Hastings, Redwood Falls, New Ulm, St Peter, Le Sueur,
St James, Mankato, and Fairmont
316 AM CST Fri Feb 22 2019

…WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM LATE SATURDAY NIGHT THROUGH
SUNDAY AFTERNOON…

* WHAT…Blizzard conditions possible. Total snow accumulations of
one to three inches possible. Winds could gust as high as 50
mph.

* WHERE…Portions of central, east central, south central,
southwest and west central Minnesota.

* WHEN…From late Saturday night through Sunday afternoon.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Areas of blowing snow could significantly
reduce visibility and can lead to whiteout conditions and make
travel very dangerous.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A Winter Storm Watch for blizzard conditions means there is a
potential for blowing snow with strong winds and extremely poor
visibilities. This can lead to whiteout conditions and make travel
very dangerous.

I should note that we could see an inch or two of snow before the winter storm watch begins, so storm totals will be higher than 1 to 3 inches in many areas. The watch kicks in at the time when winds ramp up, and blowing/drifting snow and low visibility becomes a big problem for travelers.

You can check the latest forecasts from the NWS offices in the Twin CitiesGrand Forks, N.D., Sioux Falls, S.D., La Crosse, Wis. and Duluth.

Temperature trends

Much of Minnesota will have Friday afternoon high temps in the 20s. The far northwestern corner of Minnesota might only reach the upper teens, while a few spots in far southeastern Minnesota creep into the lower 30s.

Most of eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin will top 30 degrees Saturday afternoon:

High temps retreat on Sunday:

We’ll have cold high temps next week. Twin Cities highs only reach about 10 degrees on Monday, followed by middle teens Tuesday and Wednesday and upper teens next Thursday. Our average Twin Cities high temp  this time of year is in the lower 30s.

Spring flood outlook

The Grand Forks office of the NWS and the North Central River Forecast Center in Chanhassen have released a spring flood outlook.

Their summary:

– The threat for significant snowmelt flooding has increased substantially across all sub-basins and for the main-stem Red River.

NWS North Central River Forecast Center

Let’s hope for a gradual snowmelt and no heavy rains!

Programming note

You can hear my live weather updates on Minnesota Public Radio at 7:49 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and at 7:35 a.m., 9:35 a.m. and 4:35 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday.