Tracking Blizzard-Like Conditions in the Midwest
Heavy snow began to fall overnight across the Dakotas and Minnesota. Conditions in these areas will continue to deteriorate today as winds increase and temperatures drop.
Above image is satellite and radar imagery from the mid morning hours showing impressive and persistent areas of snow. At this point many locations in South Dakota and central Minnesota have reported over 6″. With snow not expected to stop anytime soon, some locations could see up to foot by the time the storm winds down. Potential snow totals through noon on Monday:
Yesterday, models indication a slightly southward shift in the center of this storm. This means that the heaviest snow totals will be closer to the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. Totals on the north side of the cities are likely to higher than on the south side of the cities.
Heavy snow is only one part of the equation. Winds behind this system will be pick up this freshly fallen snow and generate large drifts and areas of limited visibility. As that air streams in from the north, temperatures will be dropping. Combine that cooler air with those high winds and that will mean wind chill values well below zero.
On the south side of this system, it is much warmer. With the colder air sliding south, temperature changes between today and tomorrow will be rather dramatic. There is also the possibility of evening thunderstorms, some of which may be severe.
Severe risk for today in the yellow shaded areas:
Wintery weather also extending from the Colorado Rockies into the north central New Mexico.
Travel in all of these areas that are under a Winter Storm Warnings and Blizzard Warning is not advised, at all. If you absolutely must take to the roads, here are a few ideas of items to have in your car.
The weekend winds down with quieter weather across the rest of the nation. It is still very mild from the northeast down to the southeast as temperatures are as much as 20 degrees above average for this time of the year. Another brief round rain is expected in the Pacific Northwest before skies clear out tomorrow.
Monday features frigid conditions across the Midwest and temperatures plunging as much as 30 degrees as far south as Texas. Notice Houston, TX: 81 today, 49 tomorrow. The sun makes a short appearance in the Northwest. Cooler and breezy conditions impact Arizona.
Have a great Sunday!
A Real Snow Storm? “Yeah – right. We’ve heard that before.” You have every right to be skeptical. I was too. After last winter’s snowy disappointment, where 2″ morphed into Breaking News! I tried to be extra-cautious with this snow event, because I didn’t want to get my hopes up…or yours. But during the day Saturday computer models became more and more impressive, and that heavy band of snow forecast to set up from Alexandria to Brainerd to Duluth? It now looks like it’s going to set up directly over the Twin Cities Sunday. Snow may not taper until late afternoon or evening. By then we should be digging out from 5-10″ of snow, the biggest snowfall in 2 years. A real snowstorm. Imagine that.
* heaviest snow: morning into early afternoon Sunday. Snow may fall at the rate of 1″ hour during the AM hours.
* temperatures near freezing morning hours: meaning heavy, wet, slushy snow. Temperatures drop into the 20s by afternoon, meaning a more powdery snow by late afternoon, more prone to blowing/drifting.
* Blizzard Warnings posted for parts of central and west central Minnesota. Never tell a Minnesotan not to travel, but I would seriously think twice on Sunday, especially heading west on 7 or 12. White-out conditions are possible as close to the metro as Mankato, Willmar and Glencoe.
00z NAM Numbers. I’ve been falling off my couch for the last 2 hours. The latest NAM guidance prints out .99″ liquid; with a 10/1 snow/rain ratio that equates to 8-10″ of snow. I know, impossible. But the prospect of a real storm just went up. Way up.
Gathering Storm Clouds. GR:earth shows the developing area of low pressure near Pierre last night, destined to track into central Minnesota this morning, pushing a shield of heavy, accumulating snow (and some ice) into Minnesota. Plan on a very snowy start Sunday morning.
Blizzard Warnings Expanded Closer to Metro. Winter Storm Warnings are posted for much of the metro, snow expected to get heavier the farther north you go. Winter Weather Advisories are in effect for the south metro. NWS has issued Blizzard Warnings for far west central and central Minnesota for tomorrow. Details:
URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN 336 PM CST SAT DEC 8 2012 ...MAJOR WINTER STORM BEARING DOWN ON THE UPPER MIDWEST TONIGHT THROUGH SUNDAY EVENING... ...BLIZZARD CONDITIONS EXPECTED ACROSS WESTERN MINNESOTA SUNDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING... .A POWERFUL WINTER STORM CONTINUES TO ORGANIZE ACROSS THE DAKOTAS AND WILL BEGIN AFFECTING WESTERN MINNESOTA THIS EVENING...AND EASTERN MINNESOTA AND WESTERN WISCONSIN AFTER MIDNIGHT. LOW PRESSURE WILL TRACK FROM ABOUT NEW ULM TO ROCHESTER ON SUNDAY WHICH IS A LITTLE FURTHER SOUTH THAN EARLIER ANTICIPATED. MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW CAN BE EXPECTED AHEAD AND NORTH OF THIS LOW TRACK TONIGHT AND SUNDAY. BECAUSE COMPUTER MODELS HAVE SHIFTED SOUTH WITH THE TRACK OF THE LOW...WINTER STORM WARNINGS AND WINTER WEATHER ADVISORIES HAVE ALSO SHIFTED SOUTH. WINTER STORM WARNINGS ARE NOW IN EFFECT NORTH OF A LINE FROM REDWOOD FALLS...TO RED WING MINNESOTA...AND EAU CLAIRE WISCONSIN TONIGHT THROUGH SUNDAY EVENING. TOTAL ACCUMULATIONS WILL RANGE FROM 5 TO 9 INCHES...WITH THE HEAVIEST TOTALS NORTHEAST OF INTERSTATE 94. WINTER WEATHER ADVISORIES HAVE BEEN ISSUED SOUTH OF THE WINTER STORM WARNING DOWN TO THE IOWA BORDER TONIGHT THROUGH SUNDAY EVENING. TOTAL ACCUMULATIONS HERE WILL RANGE FROM 3 TO 5 INCHES. BEHIND THE LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM...SUSTAINED NORTHWEST WINDS OF 25 TO 35 MPH ARE EXPECTED OVER WESTERN MINNESOTA SUNDAY AFTERNOON BEFORE TAPERING OFF GRADUALLY SUNDAY EVENING. SOME GUSTS MAY EXCEED 40 TO 45 MPH. CONSIDERABLE BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW WILL RESULT IN WHITEOUT CONDITIONS MAKING TRAVEL NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE BY SUNDAY AFTERNOON. THEREFORE...A BLIZZARD WARNING WILL REPLACE THE WINTER STORM WARNING FROM 11 AM SUNDAY THROUGH MIDNIGHT SUNDAY NIGHT WEST OF A LINE FROM MANKATO TO ALEXANDRIA. AREAS OF BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW ARE ALSO EXPECTED FURTHER EAST...BUT LIGHTER WINDS PRECLUDE THE ISSUANCE OF A BLIZZARD WARNING AT THIS TIME. TEMPERATURES WILL PLUMMET BEHIND THE SYSTEM TO WELL BELOW ZERO LATE SUNDAY NIGHT OVER WESTERN MINNESOTA WITH WIND CHILL READINGS AS LOW AS 20 TO 30 BELOW. DO NOT TRAVEL. SHOULD YOUR VEHICLE GET STUCK...YOUR LIFE WILL BE AT RISK. ...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING TO 11 AM CST SUNDAY... ...BLIZZARD WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 11 AM SUNDAY TO MIDNIGHT CST SUNDAY NIGHT... THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN HAS ISSUED A BLIZZARD WARNING...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 11 AM SUNDAY TO MIDNIGHT CST SUNDAY NIGHT. * TIMING...SNOW...HEAVY AT TIMES...WILL BEGIN EARLY THIS EVENING AND CONTINUE INTO SUNDAY MORNING. THE HEAVY SNOW WILL TAPER OFF SUNDAY AFTERNOON WITH A FEW SNOW SHOWERS EXPECTED THEREAFTER. THE WIND WILL THEN INCREASE FROM THE NORTHWEST WITH BLIZZARD CONDITIONS EXPECTED INTO SUNDAY EVENING. * WINDS/VISIBILITY...NORTHWEST WINDS WILL INCREASE TO 25 TO 35 MPH WITH GUSTS AS HIGH AS 45 MPH SUNDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING. CONSIDERABLE BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW WILL RESULT IN WHITEOUT CONDITIONS SUNDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING WITH NEAR ZERO VISIBILITY. * SNOW ACCUMULATIONS...4 TO 6 INCHES. * TEMPERATURES...UPPER 20S EARLY ON SUNDAY WILL PLUMMET BEHIND THE SYSTEM INTO THE TEENS BY LATE SUNDAY AFTERNOON...AND ZERO TO 5 BELOW LATE SUNDAY NIGHT. WIND CHILLS WILL FALL TO 20 TO 25 BELOW. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... A BLIZZARD WARNING MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. FALLING AND BLOWING SNOW WITH STRONG WINDS AND POOR VISIBILITIES ARE LIKELY. THIS WILL LEAD TO WHITEOUT CONDITIONS...MAKING TRAVEL EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. DO NOT TRAVEL. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL...HAVE A WINTER SURVIVAL KIT WITH YOU. IF YOU GET STRANDED...STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE.
GFS Solution. Good grief – it may actually snow here. The GFS solution seems to agree with the WSI RPM model (below), showing the axis of heaviest snow setting up from Willmar and Glencoe into the Twin Cities and west central Wisconsin, a cool 5-10″. My confidence level is fairly high that we’ll pick up at least 5 or 6″, with some 8-10″ amounts likely in the metro.
WSI RPM Model. I saw this and nearly fell off my sofa. The 21z guidance from WSI’s 12km model is a radical departure – showing the axis of moisture and deformation zone setting up from St. Cloud and Willmar into the Twin Cities metro into Sunday, some 8-10″ amounts close to MSP? The 00z NAM confirms a big pile of snow by Sunday evening. It’s a miracle.
Road Conditions. The University of Wisconsin has a useful site, showing where roads are icy vs. snow-covered vs. hazardous vs. “travel not advised”. Best to check this URL before leaving the house this morning. The good news: It’s not snowing on a Monday.
Go Kiss a Moose. This takes a lot of practice, by the way.
Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune startribune.