February snowstorms can be notoriously difficult to predict. Friday's storm was no different. A very tight snowfall gradient made forecasting totals extremely tricky. But the picture became clear, another big snow event would once again track south of the Twin Cities.
The Blizzard Potential Index (BPI) above shows the model runs since Tuesday and how the blizzard potential moved from north to south over time.
With a full-blown blizzard across southern #Minnesota, the metro receives a wide range of totals from no accumulation in Elm Creek to maybe six inches near Lebanon Hills. This kind of forecast makes a meteorologist not sleep at night.
Colder weather follows this storm but nothing arctic in nature. Another storm next week could bring a little more rain to mix along with some snow.
Maybe We're Not Alone
Exciting news from NASA this week! Seven Earth-sized planets have been discovered outside our solar system that orbit around a similar sun. Three of the seven planets are in the "habitable zone".
Had Monday's rain been snow we'd be talking about a six inch snowfall. As luck would have it the atmosphere over Minnesota gets a kick back to winter with a potential "packable" snow Friday. Confidence is building that someone in southern Minnesota will see a blizzard and a cool foot of snow. Some models put that potential right over the metro. Must be payback for the 60s we saw over the weekend.
Model Snow Forecast
Model trends favor heaviest snow across the southeast metro. As is typical for February snowstorms the snowfall gradient will be large. Lower totals are likely the further northwest you go in the metro.
Blizzard Potential Index
Heaviest snow is expected to fall Friday morning with winds over 30 mph. A blizzard is characterized by sustained winds to 35 mph or greater with heavy snow and reduced visibility to less than a quarter of a mile. That criteria may be met early Friday.
Cold air return this weekend and sticks around through the first week of March. This year March comes in like a lion. Will it go out like a lamb?
On Friday the Twin Cities were warmer than Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Washington D.C. It's like the weather calendar completely skipped over the month of March and went directly to April!
A full blown thawing of the trails is underway as mild air (that's a good 20F above normal) remains through midweek. Temperatures return closer to normal (30s) by early March.
The three-month seasonal outlook for March through May was released this week. Warmer than normal conditions could continue for the majority of the country. The Northern Rockies, Northern High Plains, and Upper Midwest could receive slightly above normal precipitation. Minnesota may see a mild, wet start to spring.
Cycling & Air Pollution
The study did find, however, that "western cities such as London, Paris or New York would never reach the point where PM2.5 air pollution’s negatives outweigh exercise’s positives in the long term." Let's hope it stays that way.
Ten inches of snow in New York City and Boston this week. I'm beginning to think our Minnesota winter forgot how to snow. Spring may indeed come early again this year. A stretch of above freezing temperatures are expected. Wouldn't even be surprised to see 50 degrees in the foreseeable future!
We've received 26.8" of snow so far this season. That's 9.6" below normal. Along with our small snow drought the area has experienced an unusual streak of warm months. January 2017 marks the 17th consecutive month with above normal monthly temperatures. The second longest stretch is 16 consecutive months in 2011. Gotta go back to August 2015 when the monthly average temperature was below normal.
We can't buy a snowstorm at this point. Long-term trends are favoring warmer-than-normal conditions into mid-February.
6-10 Day Temperature Outlook
Maybe Punxsutawney Phil was wrong in predicting six more weeks of winter. Lately the weather maps have been showing signs of spring with very little snow in the forecast and temps in the 40s this weekend.
The storm that last week looked promising for a decent snow has instead resulted in more ice. Seems to be the theme this winter. COGGS and CAMBA trails get another healthy shot of snow with four to six inches this week. Twin Cities receive a glaze of ice before a dusting by the end of the day Tuesday.
Next shot of precipitation comes on Saturday. Temperature profile in the atmosphere will be warm enough for a light rain changing to snow scenario. Next week is fairly dry with no big snow events looking out the next two weeks.
A bright meteor shot across the sky in the early morning hours Monday. Numerous reports came in across the Midwest of the giant fireball with many reporting a blue/green hue to the meteor.
Gone are the days when the first snow fell in the fall and stayed on the ground well into spring. The MORC singletrack has had more ice than snow this year. Twin Cities trail miss out on snow Saturday with the majority of accumulation falling across Cuyuna and COGGS trailheads. Even still, most locations north of I-94 will receive less than one inch.
The probability of one inch of snow is greater than 70% across the Arrowhead. Best snow potential is generally north of any surface storm track in winter. Therefore, best potential for any accumulation stays north of a storm track from Rapid City, over the Twin Cities, to Marquette.
Next Tuesday, however, is looking promising for a packable snow. What the trails need is a good solid few inches to hide all the ice. This just might come together with the next storm taking more of a southerly storm track.
Maybe this is wishful thinking but the image about shows the GFS model snowfall totals forecast valid Wednesday morning. A four to eight inch swatch covers the metro trails. Awesome! Take in mind that various models disagree with placement and amount of snow. Still too early for specifics but promising nonetheless.
Frigid conditions follow the snow Wednesday-Friday, but not for long. Temperatures in the 40s return in a week. Punxsutawney Phil was wrong. Spring comes early this year.
Trailheads temporarily closed as temperatures rose above freezing to start the week. A colder puff of Canadian air will send temps back below normal (26°) late this week. Icy conditions for now but several inches of snow Saturday could make for a promising weekend of riding.
Amazing what just a few inches of snow could do for the trails. A two inch snowfall would be enough to cover up most of the icy patches. While a few inches Saturday will do the trails good, no significant snow events are expected through early next week.
Temperatures are set to remain below freezing Wednesday on into the weekend. A slightly cooler-than-normal bias stays into early February.
The area saw 14 days this month either at or above freezing. From January 17-24 we had eight consecutive days above freezing. The record is 18 consecutive days.
Ice still lurks below the 1"-3" snowfall we had this week. Luckily this replenishing snow remains in good condition as cloudy, cold weather continues into the weekend. Ongoing flurries and snow showers will amount to less than one inch. A brief return above freezing Monday is followed by a stretch of cold to start February.
With a broad northwesterly flow across the Central U.S. conditions will be unfavorable for a big snow event over the next 2 weeks. A quick-moving clipper may get close to producing some snow across the area Monday-Tuesday. As we saw with the last storm, it really doesn't take much snow to greatly improve trail conditions. Stay tuned!
Your prayers for snow have been answered. There is the potential for a packable snow Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. A storm that has developed in eastern Colorado will drift just south of Minnesota. This type of storm track is favorable for precipitation (in the form of snow during winter) across central and southern portions of the state. Two to four inches (with isolated five inch amounts) of a heavy, wet snow could fall by Wednesday. The I-90 corridor could receive as much as six to eight inches!
The map above shows significant surface lows that will be impacting the nation early this week. The "Colorado Low" (center storm) packs just enough moisture and cold air to help replenish our depleted snow pack. Heaviest snow will fall Tuesday night in the Twin Cities.
Fairbanks, Alaska had a low temperature of -50 degrees on Wednesday. Coldest in 5 years! Makes our highs in the 40s feel balmy. As warm, moist air drifts over our dwindling snow pack low stratus clouds and fog will form. Misty drizzle along with a cold rain Saturday will make it look more like March. Needless to say trail riding is on hold until the cold can make a comeback.
The latest MODIS Terra satellite image shows what's left of the snow cover. Bare ground is now visible across southwestern Minnesota. No big snow events or arctic invasions in the long term outlook. Above normal temperatures will continue for Minnesota through early February.
While the first two weeks of January were unseasonably cold, the latest bout of warm weather will bring our monthly average temperature back above normal. January will likely end up being the 17th consecutive month featuring above normal monthly temperatures in the Twin Cities.
Yet another record warm streak was reached. NOAA and NASA announced this week that 2016 was the third consecutive year of record warmth globally.
Summer brings warm afternoons perfect for biking, but the summer heat and humidity can also spark thunderstorms and severe weather. Be prepared for any type of adverse weather headed your way with Aeris Pulse.
NWS Twin Cities Weather Story