A big, ugly and unpredictable storm is about to hammer much of Minnesota.
What’s certain is that the Twin Cities and areas north and south could be hit by a trifecta of rain, ice and snow.
The big question is how much of what will fall where. Some parts of the state could be buried in a foot or more of snow while other parts will skid from rain to ice to snow in various amounts as Friday rolls into Saturday.
The bottom line is that central and southern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, is expected to get a “significant” amount of snow, said Twin Cities meteorologist Paul Douglas. “I wouldn’t necessarily say it will be historic, but it will be highly unusual and significant for the month of April,” he said.
But don’t place any bets on how much because the storm could shift. It’s too far out to predict with certainty, Douglas said. But people with plans on Saturday might want to postpone unnecessary travel for much of central and southern Minnesota, he advised.
“Have a plan B,” he said. “I’m not convinced it’s going to be a full-blown blizzard, but it might be pretty rough out there on Saturday. … It’s going to look and feel more like the second week of February than the second week of April.”
Despite the uncertainty, the winter storm is expected to be powerful and possibly one of the strongest that’s hit the Twin Cities this season, said Eric Ahasic, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen. Chalk it up to a major clash between cold temperatures in the north and warm temperatures in the south.
“It’s a proxy for a strong storm,” he said.
Add moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and things will get wet, slick and sloppy.
The heaviest snow — a foot or more — is expected to fall north of the Twin Cities, Ahasic said. How much snow falls in the Twin Cities will depend on when temperatures fall from the mid- to upper 30s on Friday to the 20s on Saturday, he said.
The transition could get treacherous if rain turns to ice, coating roadways, trees and power lines, Ahasic said. Topping it off, a “good amount of snow for April” will coat the Twin Cities, he added. Wind gusts could hit 30 to 40 mph.
The 10.3 inches of snow that has already fallen this month has already surpassed the usual 2.5 inches that falls in April.
The record snowfall total for April is 20-plus inches, Ahasic said.
Douglas said the forecast models are hinting at 6 to 12 inches even in the Twin Cities.
“I’m not predicting 6 to 12 but there is potential with the best chance in the far northern and western suburbs,” he said. At the very least, he added, the Twin Cities can expect to get 2 to 4 inches of snow.
With a spring that has been more like winter, some may be ready to pull the covers over their heads until June. Instead, Douglas offers hope.
“Next week, the sun is as high in the sky as it is in late August,” he said. “So whatever falls, most of it will melt within two days. You just can’t keep snow on the ground for long in April.”