Update: 1-2" Icy Slush Much of Metro, 3-6" Expected Northern/Western Suburbs (up to a foot parts of central Minnesota)
April 16, 2014 — 6:48pm
Amazing Snowfall Gradient Across Metro Area. Otsego reports 9" of snow on the ground, with 7" at Ham Lake, 5" Forest Lake, 4" Maple Plain and 5" at Delano. Expect a burst of moderate to heavy snow this evening, capable of a couple inches of slushy accumulation across most of the metro, but as much as 3-6" for portions of the northern and western suburbs before snow tapers around 10-11 PM.
Latest Snowfall Reports, Updated 6:30 PM. 10.5" of snow has already piled up near Big Lake with 10" at Annandale and 9" at St. Francis, in northern Anoka County. An icy mix of snow, freezing rain and sleet changes to mostly snow this evening with 1-2" for the immediate downtowns, less south of the airport, more north and west of Minneapolis. The far northern and northwestern suburbs will see a plowable snowfall; most of it cutting off after midnight. Latest snow reports from NOAA are here.
Latest WRF Model. The 18z HopWRF (3 km resolution - it's done a pretty good job this winter isolated snowfall amounts) shows a band of 5-8" from near Willmar and St. Cloud, as much as 10-12" from Sandstone and Hinkley to near Duluth and Superior by Thursday morning. Expect some 3-6" amounts for the far northern and western suburbs. The farther north and west you drive up I-94 or I-35 the more treacherous travel conditions will be overnight. Pretend it's still February.
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Today's rain will be a fitting way to end the month of February, a month when only 3 tenth's of an inch of snow fell on the Twin Cities. More south of the metro, no doubt, but the snow drought lingers for much of the state. NOAA predicts warmer and wetter into May, which seems believable. Speaking of NOAA let's hope plans outlined in a PPT don't come to pass. We need a full-time National Weather Service with full-time, fully-staffed offices around the USA. Because our weather is rarely "part-time".
We will see cold relapses into March and April, but nothing bitter/arctic is on the horizon looking out 2-3 weeks. A mild bias continues with temperatures 10 F. above average today and Tuesday. After cooling off late in the week 50s may return next weekend. No headline-grabbing storms (you remember those) on tap, just a little rain tomorrow. Winter is winding down faster than expected...
Natural variability, El Nino kicking in - many factors may explain why it's been in the 70s and 80s out east (with tornadoes in unusual places for February). Minnesota just experienced the warmest, most prolonged February warmth on record (since 1871). A fluke? Perhaps, but what we're witnessing is consistent with a slowly warming planet. Hate to keep banging the drum, but ignoring the trends won't make them go away.
How did you cope with the (fake) Blizzard of '17? Residents of the metro are rolling their eyes, but 75 miles southeast of MSP it was a full-blown blizzard with a foot of snow, ice and high winds creating treacherous travel conditions. Which is vaguely interesting, but it didn't happen in my yard, so it doesn't matter, right? I get it: all weather, like politics, is local. The sun comes out today with less wind; temperatures moderating into the low 40s early next week.
Back on Monday I predicted "a couple of inches" for today. Then some of NOAA's models began showing crazy amounts of snow, as much as 12-15" in the immediate metro, so I ratcheted up expected snowfall amounts (you can't ignore the NAM model, right?) Turns out my initial instincts were closer to the mark. Heaviest snow bands set up south of the metro with a full-blown blizzard over southern Minnesota. Yet another example where the ECMWF (European) outperforms NOAA's models. Which doesn't make me happy, btw.