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Paul Douglas on Weather

Coating to a Foot in the Metro. I'm Not Kidding

Winter Storm Monday
"Heavy snow and strong winds will develop overnight and persist through Monday. There is still a narrow corridor where a large range of snow amounts are expected over a short distance width. Slight shifts in the storm track may result in large changes of snow accumulation. Nevertheless, confidence is high that south of a line from Ladysmith through the Twin Cities to Mankato will receive near a foot of snow, with strong winds over southwest Minnesota creating blizzard conditions."
Weather Outlook
Here's the weather outlook from early AM Monday to midday Tuesday, which shows our next storm system moving through the Upper Midwest. Note that areas of rain and snow will push through parts of the region with heavy snow on the NW side of the center of the storm as it slides northeast.
Snowfall Potential - NWS Forecast
Here's the NWS snowfall forecast, which suggests a very heavy swath across far southern Minnesota with some 6" to 12" tallies possible. Note that the Twin Cities will be on the edge of the heaviest snow band. Interestingly, some in the northern Metro could see 1" to 2", while parts of the southern metro could see as much as 6" to 10". Any deviation north or south will have a dramatic shift in the heaviest band. Like I said, it is going to be a VERY close call on snow as this band sets up.
GFS Snowfall Potential
Here's the GFS (American) model forecast, which shows the heaviest staying just south of the Twin cities. Interestingly, the northern metro may see just a dusting of snow, while the southern metro could see up to 6"+ !! Talk about a wild forecast.
ECMWF Snowfall Potential
The ECMWF shows the snowband just a little farther north, which includes more of the Twin Cities. Note here that the nothern metro could see as much as 1" to 3" of snow, while the southern metro could see as much as 6" to 12" !! Again, the track of this storm is going to be a BIG factor in how much snow parts of the metro will see. Some may get hammered, while others may get completely missed.
Mild Temps Continue
Here's the temperature forecast through February 5th, which suggests fairly mild temperatures continuing through much of the end of the month. The good news is that post-storm temps won't drop too dramatically with highs only in the 20s midweek. There appears to be another mild surge with readings around 40F by Friday! 

Snow Depth 2018

The snow depth map across the country for January 21st suggests that 36.2% of the country is covered in snow, mainly across the northern half of the nation. At this time last year, 40.3% of the nation was covered in snow. As of January 21st, the Twin Cities officially had 1" of snow on the ground at the MSP Airport, but at this time last year, there was 1" on the ground.

Snow Depth 2017
At this time last year, 40.3% of the nation was covered in snow.
"Minnesota Sees Deadliest Winter In Years"
"Minnesota has already had five ice-related deaths this winter. The state typically averages three during the whole season. Minnesota is on track to have one of its deadliest winters in years. Five people have died this season after falling through ice. The state typically averages three ice-related deaths over the course of the entire winter. The 2015-2016 winter had zero ice-related deaths, while the 2016-2017 winter had two. The last time Minnesota saw ice-related deaths in the double digits was in the 2002-2003 winter, when the state had 10 fatalities. The most recent death this year happened in northern Minnesota where a women drowned after riding an ATV on Rice Lake. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Hannah Mishler has already responded to multiple ice rescue calls. "Ice, especially snow covered ice, is extremely deceptive. You can't see dangerous cracks or the thickness of the ice under the snow," Mishler said in a statement."
Ice Safety!!
Before you go testing the ice on area lakes and ponds, remember that "ICE IS NEVER 100% SAFE!" So when is ice safe? Here is an excerpt from the MN DNR regarding ice safety: 
"There really is no sure answer. You can't judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on all these factors -- plus the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and currents, the distribution of the load on the ice, and local climatic conditions."
General Ice Thickness Guidelines
Here are some general ice thickness guidelines from the MN DNR:
For new, clear ice ONLY:

Under 4" - STAY OFF
4" - Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5" - 7" - Snowmobile or ATV
8" - 12" - Car or small pickup
12" - 15" - Medium truck

Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.
White ice or "snow ice" is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.

See more from the MN DNR HERE:

Temperature Anomaly on Sunday
The image below shows the temperature anomaly across North America from Sunday, which showed a very mild air mass across much of the eastern half of the country. This warm up was ahead of a storm system that will bring heavy snow across Central Plains and Upper Midwest. 
Temperature Trend
Here's the 850mb temperature anomaly from Monday to Thursday, which suggests mild temperatures continuing across much of the Midwest this week. 
High Temps Monday

High temperatures on Monday will be warmer than average across much of the eastern half of the country. Note that most locations across the Ohio Valley will be nearly 15F to nearly 25F above average. In fact, parts of the Central US could see near record highs.

 Weather Outlook Ahead
The weather outlook over the next few days shows a very large storm system working through the middle part of the country. Areas of heavy rain and snow will be possible as this storm system moves east. 
5 Day Precipitation Outlook

According to NOAA's WPC, the 5-day precipitation outlook suggests areas of heavy precipitation across parts of the Central US and across the Great Lakes. The storm system responsible for the heavy precipitation will also be responsible for areas of heavy snow across parts of the Upper Midwest. There will also be areas of heavy precipitation across the Northeast this week as the storm lifts into the area. The other big surge of moisture will be across the Western US with many areas seeing several inches of precipitation. This could lead to flooding and widespread heavy snowfall in the high elevations. 

Snowfall Potential Ahead
The snowfall potential for next week shows heavy snow across the Upper Midwest and also across much of the Western US. The high elevations of the Sierra Nevada, Cascades and the northern Rockies will likely see feet of snow by the time this surge is finished.
National Weather Hazards Ahead...

1.) Heavy snow shifting northeast from the central Great Plains to the upper Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes, Mon-Tue, Jan 22-23.
2.) Heavy snow for northern New England, Mon-Tue, Jan 22-23.
3.) Heavy rain for New England and the Hudson Valley of New York, Mon-Tue, Jan 22-23.
4.) Heavy snow for the Cascades, northern Sierra Nevada Mountains, and parts of the northern and central Rockies, Wed-Thu, Jan 24-25.
5.) Heavy snow for parts of the northern and central Rockies, Fri, Jan 26.
6.) High winds shifting east from the desert Southwest to the central and southern high Plains, Thu-Fri, Jan 25-26.
7.) Much below-normal temperatures for much of mainland Alaska, Mon-Fri, Jan 22-26.
8.) Periods of high winds for the Alaska Peninsula, parts of southern coastal Alaska, and the Kenai Peninsula, Mon-Fri, Jan 22-26.
9.) A slight to moderate risk of heavy precipitation for parts of the eastern and central U.S., Sat-Mon, Jan 27-29.
10.) A slight risk of heavy precipitation for parts of the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies, Sat-Tue, Jan 27-30.
11.) A moderate risk of much below-normal temperatures for southwest mainland Alaska, Sat-Sun, Jan 27-28.
12.) A slight risk of much below-normal temperatures for much of mainland Alaska, the Alaska Peninsula, and the northern Alaska Panhandle, Sat-Fri, Jan 27-Feb 2.
13.) A slight risk of much below-normal temperatures for the northern Great Plains, Wed-Fri, Jan 31-Feb 2.
14.) Severe drought for parts of the Great Plains, Southwest, middle and lower Mississippi Valley, and Southeast.

Coating to a Foot in the Metro. I'm Not Kidding
By Paul Douglas
When in doubt, mumble. Or shrug until your shoulders hurt. When confronted with a tricky forecast meteorologists jokingly predict "a coating to a foot, give or take." Today that forecast may verify, just in the immediate Twin Cities metro.
Minneapolis and St. Paul will be on the (sharp) northern edge of a heavy snow band. Much of far southern Minnesota will pick up a cool foot, with white-out conditions. Blizzard Warnings are posted south of Mankato, where no travel is advised.
Snow picks up in intensity today with a very slow PM commute, especially southern suburbs, where 10-12 inches may pile up. While Maple Grove, Coon Rapids and Mahtomedi pick up a couple of inches; little or no snow from St. Michael to Ham Lake to Hugo. Just once I'd like MSP to be in the center of the snowy bullseye.
Travel improves tomorrow and temperatures thaw into the low 40s Friday before cooling back down over the weekend. No more arctic slaps are brewing - nothing subzero - but models hint at teens in the Twin Cities on Super Bowl Sunday. Odds favor heavy coats, but probably no big storms.

Extended Forecast

MONDAY: 3"-8" MSP. Over 12" south. Winds: N 15-30. High: 32.

MONDAY NIGHT:  Snow ends overnight. Turning blustery. Winds: N 15-30. Low: 18.

TUESDAY: Sunny peaks. Better travel weather. Winds: NW 5-10. High: 26.

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny. Less wind. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 9. High: 28. 

THURSDAY: Clouds increasing. Thawing out. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 18. High: 35.

FRIDAY: Patchy clouds. Still relatively mild. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 31. High: 42.

SATURDAY: A colder front. Few flurries. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 23. High: 28.

SUNDAY: Glimmers of sun, feels like January. Winds: 8-13. Wake-up: 8. High: 19.

This Day in Weather History
January 22nd

1982: The Twin Cities receive 21.1 inches of snow, with a total of nearly 40 inches on the ground.

1936: Perhaps the coldest wind chill the Twin Cities has ever seen occurs on this day; it hits -67 with the new wind chill formula (-87 with the old formula). The temperature was -34 with a wind speed of 20mph. All traffic in the Twin Cities was severely hampered and a number of fatalities were caused by the cold.

Average High/Low for Minneapolis
January 22nd

Average High: 24F (Record: 51F set in 1942)
Average Low: 7F (Record: -34F set in 1936)

Record Rainfall: 0.89" set in 1982
Record Snowfall: 17.2" set in 1982

Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
January 22nd

Sunrise: 7:42am
Sunset: 5:07pm

Hours of Daylight: ~9 hours & 24 minutes

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 2 minutes & 10 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): 38 minutes

Moon Phase for January 22nd at Midnight
1.6 Days Before First Quarter


Temp Outlook For Monday
Temps on Sunday will still be quite cold across much of the Upper Midwest, especially across the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. However, a fast moving clipper will help to briefly warm things up a bit before a reinforcing shot of cold air moves in early next week. Hang in there.
8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

Here's the temperature outlook as we head into the first part of February, which suggests that warmer than cooler than temperatures will start moving back into parts of the region. 

8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

As we head into the early part of February, warmer than average temperatures will be found across the eastern part of the nation, while cooler than average temperatures will be found from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest. 

"The 5 most alarming climate events in a near-record warm 2017"
"Near-record warmth in 2017 helped fuel extreme weather around the planet that caused catastrophic destruction, human suffering and loss of life. NOAA and NASA both reported Thursday that last year ranked among the three warmest on record. All four of the hottest years on record have occurred in the last four years, government scientists said. [2017 was among the planet’s hottest years on record, government scientists report] These abnormally warm temperatures heated the oceans, intensifying monster hurricanes and deadly flash floods. They parched the land spurring devastating wildfires. They led to unprecedented and punishing hot weather extremes in booming population centers. And they continued to melt the Arctic, losing more and more ice with time. Here we list some of the most notable and alarming heat-enhanced extreme events of 2017."

"2017 was one of the warmest years on record — and El Niño can’t be blamed"
"President Donald Trump may not believe in man-made global warming, but government scientists have reported that 2017 was one of the warmest years on record — and the warmest one in which El Niño wasn't a factor. The Earth continued to warm in 2017, which, among other things, caused the Arctic to continue losing sea ice and permafrost and for the Eastern United States to experience an abnormally warm February. While government scientists weren't united on whether 2017 was the second or third warmest year on record — NASA ranked it second after 2016, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ranked it third after 2015 and 2016 — they agreed that it was the warmest year in which El Niño didn't contribute to the heat records."

"This Pic Pretty Much Sums Up the Winter We’ve Been Having"
"Back in October, meteorologists predicted wetter-than-average winter conditions for large swaths of the United States. That extra precipitation could have come down as rain, or it could have come down as snow. Looking at this map—yep, definitely snow. This photo was captured by the GOES east satellite, and it shows accumulating snow across Michigan, Ohio, New York, and many other northeastern states familiar with the freezing fluffy stuff. But it also shows snow in places that don’t often see accumulation. If you look carefully, you can see a faint patch of snow across southern Alabama and western Georgia. Heavier accumulations are visible in parts of Arkansas, southern Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio. At the same time, there’s barely anything in the Mid-Atlantic, including the Washington D.C. area. That’s because “snow-producing storms have frequently tracked to the north or south of the region this winter,” in the words of NOAA. This winter has seen mix of active weather (you know, stuff like bomb cyclones), and below-normal temperatures, delivering snow as far south as Mississippi and Alabama."
"Winter isn’t coming in Alaska, and people are dying"
"Alaska — Winter is off to a late start in parts of the nation’s largest — and usually coldest — state.
Months of higher-than-normal temperatures in parts of rural Alaska have opened dangerous gaps in frozen rivers that residents use to travel from village to village and to hunting grounds, since there are no roads.
One troublesome ice highway is the half-mile-wide Kuskokwim River, where a man died New Year’s Eve after he and five family members — traveling on a snowmobile and sled — fell into a gaping hole. The others survived. 
Search-and-rescue teams in the southwest Alaska commercial hub of Bethel have been marking holes on the Kuskokwim, but there were so many, they ran out of the $300-a-roll reflective tape. While they wait for more supplies to be shipped, residents in villages along the river and its tributaries have been marking the openings with tree branches. It’s a role switch of sorts with much of the lower 48, where dangerously cold temperatures have been blamed for dozens of deaths. The unseasonable warmth in parts of Alaska is a factor in making last month the warmest December on record for the entire state, experts say. The statewide average temperature for the month was 19.4 degrees, far higher than the historical average of 3.7 degrees, according to Rick Thoman, climatologist for the National Weather Service’s Alaska region."

Thanks for checking in and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWX

Southern Third of State to See a Plowable Snowfall Monday

Snowstorm On The Way

Ready for the next snowstorm of the winter? Well, it's on the way as we head into Sunday Night and especially Monday. While light snow will start in southwestern Minnesota Sunday Night, the greatest impacts on the Twin Cities will be during the day Monday with moderate to heavy snow for a number of hours across southern Minnesota. This will easily impact both the morning and evening commutes in the Twin Cities. This simulated radar GIF shows 6 PM Sunday through 6 AM Monday.

Looking at expected snow totals (as of Saturday night), the greatest potential of 6-12" of snow will be across parts of southern Minnesota, potentially including the Twin Cities.

This graphic from NWS Twin Cities shows not only the timeline of snow across the region, but where there is uncertainty in snow totals. That uncertainty is on the northern side of the system as we typically see in systems like these, and unfortunately does include a good portion of the Twin Cities. We'll have a better idea as we head throughout Sunday where that sharp gradient may occur.

As of Saturday Night, Winter Storm Warnings have been issued for southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin across areas that have the highest potential of seeing 6"+ of snow late Sunday into Monday.


Snow Deficit Continues Across The State

The good news with the potential snowstorm? We could use the snow. We have only received just over a foot of snow in the Twin Cities so far this winter, with just under 16 inches in St. Cloud. Larger snow totals have been observed to the north, with over 37" in the Ice Box of the Nation and over 41" in Duluth.

We are over 16" below average so far this winter snowfall-wise in the Twin Cities, making any outdoor snow activities hard across the region. And even though parts of northern Minnesota have seen over three feet of snow, both International Falls and Duluth are still below average by a few inches.

We have only observed four days so far this winter with over one inch of snow falling in the Twin Cities - the largest occurring last Sunday with 3.3" of snow fell for the Minnesota Miracle game.

Sadly, that means parts of the Southeast have received more snow in one day so far this winter than the Twin Cities! Maybe our luck will change over the next couple days.


Record Highs Friday Across Northern Minnesota

But the top of this blog isn't all just snowy news - we actually saw record highs in International Falls and Hibbing Friday as temperatures climbed into the 40s!


Southern Third of State to See a Plowable Snowfall
By Paul Douglas

"Snowstorm. Noun. A heavy fall of snow, especially with a high wind." Wait, I vaguely remember these things from my youth. Big, thick, snowy quilts of white that would come up to my chin. Granted, I was only 2 feet tall at the time. Whatever.

Suspend your disbelief, set aside perpetual skepticism. A big, meaty, respectable snowfall is increasingly likely tomorrow. Models are now in rough agreement, including ECMWF (European) guidance, showing a band of 5-10 inches over roughly the southern third of Minnesota.

At this point in our chat you're thinking: "Paul, what can go wrong, and what time?" A storm track 50-100 miles farther south could leave MSP with only a couple inches. There's a 1 in 4 chance of this unfolding, but odds favor enough snow to shovel, plow, and turn your PM commute Monday into a holy terror.

No worries today getting to your Vikings party. Snow arrives later tonight; falling at 1-2 inches/hour at times Monday. Leave plenty of extra time to get around.

Skeptical? Me too. But at some point the law of averages catches up with you. Let it snow. Please.


Extended Twin Cities Forecast

SUNDAY: Gray, wet roads. High 38. Low 29. Chance of precipitation 20%. Wind NE 5-10 mph.
MONDAY: Heavy snow, potential for 5-10". High 31. Low 15. Chance of precipitation 100%. Wind NE 15-30 mph.
TUESDAY: Peeks of sun, better travel conditions. High 25. Low 11. Chance of precipitation 10%. Wind NW 7-12 mph.
WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, probably dry. High 28. Low 13. Chance of precipitation 20%. Wind SE 5-10 mph.
THURSDAY: Patchy clouds, thawing out late. High 32. Low 28. Chance of precipitation 20%. Wind SE 8-13 mph.
FRIDAY: Cloudy, milder breeze kicks in. High 42. Low 27. Chance of precipitation 20%. Wind S 10-20 mph.
SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy, few flurries. High 33. Low 14. Chance of precipitation 30%. Wind NW 10-15 mph.


This Day in Weather History
January 21st

1936: Warroad drops to a bone-chilling 55 below zero.

1922: The barometer at Collegeville hits 31.11 inches, a record high pressure reading for the state.


Average Temperatures & Precipitation for Minneapolis
January 21st

Average High: 24F (Record: 48F set in 1900)
Average Low: 7F (Record: -41F set in 1888)
Average Precipitation: 0.03" (Record: 0.81" set in 1917)
Average Snow: 0.4" (Record: 15.8" set in 1917)


Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
January 21st

Sunrise: 7:43 AM
Sunset: 5:05 PM

*Length Of Day: 9 hours, 22 minutes and 17 seconds
*Daylight Gained Since Yesterday: ~2 minutes and 7 seconds

*Next Sunrise at/before 7:30 AM: February 3rd (7:30 AM)
*Next Sunset at/after 
5:30 PM: February 8th (5:31 PM)


Minnesota Weather Outlook

Snow will be rolling into southern Minnesota as we head into the overnight hours Sunday Night, otherwise mainly cloudy skies can be expected across most of the state Sunday. Highs will be in the 20s to 30s.

Even with the cloud cover expected, highs will be a good 10-15 degrees above average for this time of year on Sunday.

While we do see a dip in temperatures behind this system, it won't be as drastic as it has been behind some previous storms. Highs will remain in the 20s and 30s through much of next week.

After our snowstorm over the next couple days, we will see a break in the snow department for a few days again, with the long range models not hinting at another snow chance until next weekend.


National Weather Forecast

A forming storm system will cause rain and snow across the central third of the nation on Sunday, with heavy snow likely for the upper Midwest by Sunday Night. Rain and snow will also spread into parts of the Northeast with this system. A frontal system will approach the west coast, bringing another round of rain and mountain snow from Washington into parts of California.

The eastern two-thirds of the nation will see mainly above average highs Sunday, which in some parts of the central Plains will be a good 20-25 degrees above average. The western United States will see mainly below average highs.

We'll see heavy precipitation across both the Pacific Northwest and the eastern United States through next Thursday morning. The precipitation across the eastern U.S. is in association with the storm system that brings the upper Midwest snow Sunday into Monday. Meanwhile, two frontal systems will approach the west coast over the next five days - one Sunday, and another on Wednesday.

You can see the path of the snowstorm Sunday into the beginning of the week from the Rockies into the upper Midwest, with the potential of 6-12"+ along the axis of heaviest snow. Heavy snow will also be possible across the higher elevations in the west with that front moving ashore to end the weekend.


Increasing Fire Danger In Arizona

Dry weather the past few months could make firefighters needed earlier than normal across parts of Arizona. More from the Arizona Daily Sun: “A fall and winter defined by record or near-record dryness has skyrocketed the measures of fire risk around Flagstaff for much of the past several months, though the season’s first storm Jan. 10 did provide some respite.  The dry conditions already have local forest managers looking at bringing on seasonal firefighting resources up to a month earlier than normal, said Duane Tewa, Coconino National Forest fire staff officer.

Snow Drought In The Western U.S. Could Impact Water Supplies

More from Inside Climate News: “Months of exceptionally warm weather and an early winter snow drought across big swaths of the West have left the snowpack at record-low levels in parts of the Central and Southern Rockies, raising concerns about water shortages and economic damage.  Drought spread across large parts of the Western United States this month, and storms that moved across the region in early January made up only a small part of the deficit. Runoff from melting snow is now projected to be less than 50 percent of average in key river basins in the central and southern Rockies.


Thanks for checking in and have a great Sunday! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter (@dkayserwx) and like me on Facebook (Meteorologist D.J. Kayser)!

 - D.J. Kayser