55.7″ snow this season at MSP.
Trace of snow fell Saturday.
1-2″ possible by Monday AM rush hour.
3-6″ possible by Tuesday morning.
10″ on the ground in the Twin Cities.
32 F. Warmest January temperature so far in the Twn Cities (for 3 consecutive hours late Friday night).
54 number of minutes of daylight since December 21 (by the end of January).
55 number of days until the spring equinox.
34 number of days until “meteorological spring” (the real start of spring is March 1, as far as the atmosphere is concerned). Historically the 90 coldest days of the year run from roughly December 1 through February 28.
52 number of years I’ve been on planet Earth.
26 number of winters I’ve spent in Minnesota.
1190 Paul’s SAT score in 1976 (really messed up on the math section, not proud of that number, no).
11 years: my maximum life expectancy at any local, Twin Cities TV station.
6: companies I’ve started since graduating college.
10 number of on-air meteorologists at WeatherNation (most in Minnesota).
Blizzard Potential. NOAA has a special (experimental) product capable of predicting blizzard conditions (visibility under 1/4 mile in falling/blowing snow, sustained winds over 35 mph). This graphic, valid around 7 am Wednesday morning, shows near-blizzard conditions from near St. Louis and the Quad Cities to Chicago, South Bend, Detroit and Buffalo.
How Much? The NAM model is printing out 3-6″ for the metro, with the greatest amounts south and west of Minneapolis, a long-lasting snow event starting Sunday evening, with light snow spilling over into Monday, possibly Tuesday morning.
Metro Close-Up. With a temperature close to 20 much of Monday, a snow ratio of 15:1 is possible, and a very real possibility of some 3-6″ amounts in the metro, maybe closer to 8″ for some of the southern suburbs. Models are suggesting more than 8-10″ south/west of Willmar and Morris.
Take Your Pick. There’s still a fairly wide spread in predicted amounts from over a dozen different weather models (each running slightly different physics and initiatlization schemes). A good midrange amount would be 4-5″, enough to shovel and plow, although with a snow/rain ratio close to 15/1 amounts may be closer to 6-8″ in some towns.
Latest NAM Model. The 00z Saturday night run prints out .41″ by late Monday night/Tuesday morning – 3 runs/row around .4 to .5″. Could we still see less? Absolutely. But I’m not sure how we see anything less than 1-2″ Monday. Upper end: 5-6″, most likely southern and southwestern suburbs by Tuesday morning.
Winter Storm Warning. The local NWS has issued a winter weather advisory for all of central and southern Minnesota for a much as 3-6″ of accumulation Monday and early Tuesday. The immediate metro area is in the watch area – but Winter Storm Warnings are posted for the far southwestern suburbs, with some 6-10″ amounts possible from Mankato and Glencoe to Willmar and Hutchinson by Tuesday morning. More details here.
Monster-Storm. Some 10-20″ amounts are predicted from Kansas City to Chicago, Detroit and (by Thursday) the northern suburbs of New York and Boston. In terms of counties impacted – this could be the biggest winter storm in a decade.
How Much Snow After February 1? I asked Pete Boulay, at the MN State Climate Office, and he spent me this spread sheet, showing the last 10 years. The magic number (averaging the most recent 10 years): 23.6″ from Feb. 1 through the end of the snow season in April. Before you stick your finger down your throat – remember that snow falling in March and April melts (almost instantly) – very different from snow in January and early February. By Tuesday we’ll probably have close to 60″ for the winter so far. At this rate we may easily see an 80″ winter.
A More Active Week. The meteorologists at Planalytics, outside Philadelphia, are predicting another series of significant storms from the Upper Midwest and central plains into the northeast, as the next surge of Canadian air interacts with warmth and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic.
Interactive Snow Amounts. Ham Weather, a division of WeatherNation that focuses on data, maps and interactivity, has a new map that shows how much snow is on the ground. You can also call up radar, different satellite images, and the probability of snow 3 days into the future.
Metro Snow. I find it (vaguely) interesting that the heaviest snow has fallen over the south metro, where a cool 20-30″ is on the ground, with lesser amounts north of MSP and St. Cloud. See for yourself here, courtesy of NOAA’s Interactive Snow Information tool.
MSP Meteogram. Click any zip code into this site and you’ll get a forecast for the next 12 days (highs and lows). The Ham Weather calculator also superimposes the “normal” highs and lows over the predicted data, to better put things into perspective. Note that the average high rises from 21 on January 29 to 23 by Feb. 11. Progress?
Growing Flood Threat. Here is the latest from NOAA’s North Central River Flood Forecast Center, showing a greater than 80% of flooding on the Red, Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers through early May. With more snow in the forecast, as much as 6″ of liquid water trapped in the snow pack near Montevideo – and the prospect of a rapid thaw in late February and early March, I suspect river flooding in late March/April may be worse than anything we’ve seen in recent years. The primary factor: this could wind up being the snowiest winter since 1992. Depending on how much rain falls in March, we could be facing some of the worst flooding conditions since 1997 on many of Minnesota’s rivers. I want to emphasize that I am NOT a flood forecaster. I have immense respect for NOAA’s team of hydrologists focused on the upcoming flood risk; they do an amazing job. But just looking at the meteorological ingredients necessary for major flooding – we have all of them. Factors that can’t be predicted: 1). How quickly we thaw out, and 2). Whether the coming thaw will be accompanied by frequent/heavy rains, which would accelerate snow melt and make a bad situation much worse. People that live in flood-prone areas should check their insurance policies and get serious about creating a plan, should conditions go downhill in 45-60 days. We’ll know more by mid February – but right now I do not have a good feeling about the potential for major, widespread flooding. I think it’s all but inevitable.
Heavier Snows May Stick Around, Climate Experts Say. Renee Schoof from the McClatchy Newspaper Company delves into the sheer quantity of snow in the east, and how a “real winter” is muddying the message that more frequent and intense snowfalls may be yet another symptom of a warmer, wetter atmosphere:
“Tree limbs snap, the power goes out, the car needs digging out again. Along with the grumbling about winter snow there’s also a common curiosity: So what does all this say about global warming? How can the average world temperature be inching up and 2010 be tied for the warmest year ever, when places from North Carolina to New England get buried by whopper winter storms? There are several scientific explanations that help sweep away the snow confusion. But like everything else related to climate science, it’s all rather muffled these days, at least in the nation’s capital. Those who don’t accept climate science are vocal. Some of those who do accept it think it’s better to talk about jobs or technology, rather than what’s going on with warming oceans and atmosphere.”
How Bad Is The Snow? Depends Where You Live. The New York Times points out the different responses to the snowiest January on record for the Big Apple: there is Manhattan, and then there’s everything else. The article explains: “The difference between Manhattan and the rest of the city is so ingrained in the local psyche that residents of the other four boroughs are more likely to take pride in, rather than offense at, the notion that they live in a different New York City. But rarely have those two New Yorks felt more different than in the last 34 days. New Yorkers in Manhattan have mostly had their building superintendent shovel out their stoops and sidewalks. New Yorkers in Bayside, Queens, have had to do it themselves, using shovels and another tool foreign to apartment-dwellers in Manhattan: electric or gas-powered snow blowers. New Yorkers in Manhattan walked to the subway, which ran smoothly for the most part there, or took a cab. New Yorkers in Flatlands, Brooklyn, or in nearby Mill Basin — where the closest subway is two miles away on some blocks — shoveled the stoop, and then the sidewalk, and then the driveway out back that leads to the garage. New Yorkers in Manhattan were often late for work. New Yorkers elsewhere had to burn vacation days.”
Tornado In A Box. This “tornado simulator” was constructed by Landon and Payton Frostad for the Imagination Fair at the Excelsior Elementary School (with a little help from their father – my friend and business partner, Todd Frostad). It’s really quite extraordinary, powered by a fan at the top, and dry ice to create the visible funnel vortex. If you have the time, the (basic) materials and the desire, you can build your own tornado simulator, maybe score some points for your kid’s next science fair? The specs can be found here.
Saturday Statistics. Yesterday’s high was 32 (around midnight) falling through the 20s during the day with a trace of snow. Highs ranged from 16 at Alexandria to 22 in St. Cloud.
Paul’s Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Intervals of sun, a few flurries, but little accumulation. Winds: N 7-12. High: near 20
SUNDAY NIGHT: Light snow likely, 1-3″ possible by daybreak Monday. Low: 12
MONDAY: Light snow, 3-6″ possible by Monday night. Icy roads – more south/west of the metro area. High: 22
TUESDAY: Snow tapers to flurries. Colder. Low: -2. High: 8
WEDNESDAY: Numbing sunlight, parka weather returns. Low: -9. High: 9
THURSDAY: Sun gives way to more clouds. Low: -5. High: 11
FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, “average” again. Low: 6. High: 23
SATURDAY: Flurries, risk of a thaw. High: 31
Here we go again. It’s been 2 weeks since we’ve seen enough snow to foul up our commutes (4.4″ fell January 13-14). The next, slow-moving storm sparks a long-lasting snow event from tonight through Tuesday morning. As much as .45″ liquid water (at 20 F) may translate into 3-6″ snow, most of it coming Monday.
Yes, the natives are a bit restless. Adam Platt, Executive Editor at Mpls. St. Paul Magazine put our winter into stark perspective. “It’s taken me 29.5 winters of living here, but I’ve finally figured out why, no matter how many inches of snow NYC or DC or BOS or CHI get above what we get in a winter, it’s still inconsequential. Their snow MELTS. Ours doesn’t. Here, it just piles and piles for about 90 days.” Good point.
I checked with Pete Boulay at the MN Climate Office. He confirmed, “37 hours above freezing since December 1, all in December.” For 3 hours early Saturday we experienced 32 F. Some January thaw.
The sheer quantity of snow, coupled with the lack of any melting, has me increasingly concerned about river flooding by March. Hope I’m wrong. Monday snow will be followed by a cold week (3 nights below zero) – but 32 F returns next weekend. What a winter.