Warnings for heavy snow Saturday and Saturday night

It’s not like we need more snow right now. But some heavy, wet snow is in our weekend forecast.

As you shovel or plow the snow this weekend, it might help to remember that our snow melts each and every spring. Golf and gardening seasons might be a bit delayed this spring, but they’ll arrive at some point!

Weekend snowstorm

A major winter storm will bring heavy snow to much of Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin Saturday into Sunday.

The precipitation starts as snow in the west. It starts as a wintry mix of rain, light freezing rain, sleet and wet snow in parts of southern Minnesota and portions of the Twin Cities metro area before changing over to all snow. The timing of that changeover to all snow will have a huge effect on snow totals.

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

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

Winter storm warnings have been issued for much of Minnesota and western Wisconsin for Saturday through Saturday night into very early Sunday:

NWS Twin Cities

The Twin Cities metro area portion of the winter storm warning begins at noon Saturday and runs until 7 a.m. Sunday.

Here are more details:

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
National Weather Service Twin Cities/Chanhassen MN
338 AM CST Fri Mar 8 2019

…MAJOR WINTER STORM SATURDAY INTO SUNDAY MORNING…

.A Winter Storm Warning is in effect north of a line from St.
James to Faribault and a Winter Storm Watch remains in effect for
the rest of southern Minnesota for Saturday into early Sunday.

Heavy snow will develop over the Plains and advance into southern
and western Minnesota Saturday morning, before reaching eastern
Minnesota around midday, and western Wisconsin during the afternoon.
Snow rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour are expected through early
evening before easing Saturday night. Some rain, sleet, or
freezing rain will mix with the snow at times across southern
Minnesota Saturday. The snow is expected to end by early morning
Sunday. Snowfall totals of 7 to 12 inches are expected across
most of the area, except 4 to 7 inches across southern Minnesota
where a mix is possible.

Strong northwest winds will develop Saturday night and Sunday
morning with gusts of 40 to 45 mph possible across southern and
western Minnesota. This will lead to areas of blowing and
drifting snow, but widespread blizzard conditions are not
currently expected. The Winter Storm Warning continues through
Sunday morning across western and portions of southern Minnesota
due to the potential for blowing snow.

MNZ043-050-051-060>063-070-078-081800-
/O.UPG.KMPX.WS.A.0009.190309T1500Z-190310T1800Z/
/O.NEW.KMPX.WS.W.0008.190309T1800Z-190310T1200Z/
Morrison-Benton-Sherburne-Hennepin-Anoka-Ramsey-Washington-Dakota-
Goodhue-
Including the cities of Little Falls, Foley, Elk River,
Minneapolis, Blaine, St Paul, Stillwater, Hastings, and Red Wing
338 AM CST Fri Mar 8 2019

…WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM NOON CST SATURDAY TO 7 AM
CDT SUNDAY…

* WHAT…Heavy snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 7 to 11
inches expected. Winds gusting as high as 35 mph.

* WHERE…Portions of central, east central and southeast
Minnesota.

* WHEN…From noon CST Saturday to 7 AM CDT Sunday.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Travel could be very difficult.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A Winter Storm Warning for snow means severe winter weather
conditions will make travel very hazardous or impossible. If you
must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your
vehicle in case of an emergency.

The latest road conditions for Minnesota can be found at
511mn.org and for Wisconsin at 511wi.gov, or by calling 5 1 1 in

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.

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

Our Friday afternoon highs will be in the upper 20s to lower 30s across Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Saturday highs reach the 30s in most areas:

Sunday highs retreat a bit:

Our average high this time of year is 38 degrees in the Twin Cities metro area.

Metro area highs are projected to be in the upper 20s Monday, followed by mid 30s Tuesday and around 40 Wednesday. We return to the mid 30s next Thursday.

Winter ‘misery’ index?

The Minnesota State Climatology Office has updated their snow and cold index, which is sometimes referred to as the winter “misery” index by people who aren’t fond of snow and cold.

This winter started out mostly mild, with very little snow, in December and early January. Then the snow and the cold ramped up.

According to the climatology office:

As of March 6, 2019 the SCI for the 2018-19 winter is at 135 points: 61 points for cold, 74 points for snow. This is enough for 2018-19 to be categorized as a “moderate” winter. This winter is only 14 points away from being a “severe winter.”

Here’s the chart that compares winters through the years:

Minnesota State Climatology Office/DNR

The Snow and Cold Index (SCI) formula looks like this:

The Twin Cities Snow and Cold Index (SCI) is an attempt to weigh the relative severity of winter when compared with winters of the past. The SCI assigns single points for daily counts of maximum temperatures 10 degrees F or colder, and daily minimums of 0 degrees F or colder.

If the minimum temperature drops to -20 degrees or colder greater, eight points are attributed to that day. Snowfall totals of one inch or greater in a day receive one point. Four-inch snowfalls generate four points for the day, an eight-inch snowfall receives a whopping 16 points.

To quantify the duration of winter, one point is tallied for every day with a snow depth of 12 inches or greater.

We’ll see how many points we tally this weekend!