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Game on: Winter storm — round one — arrives Wednesday

Feb 19, 2019 05:41AM ● By Editor
Photo:  MPR News

By Paul Huttner of Minnesota Public Radio News - February 18, 2019

My Twitter feed suggests many Minnesotans are done with winter. The weather maps insist winter is not even close to done with Minnesota.

The first of two significant snow events move into southwestern Minnesota in the midnight hour. Snow likely arrives in the Twin Cities before daybreak. Both rush hours Wednesday look snowy. And then we watch a potentially stronger system wind up for the upcoming weekend.

Snow lovers and winter storm fanatics rejoice. Commuters enjoy the respite and remember that Wednesday, I’m just your humble weather messenger.

System No. 1

Might as well just cut to the weather chase. System No. 1 will spawn snow in southwestern Minnesota by late Tuesday night. It spreads northeast into the Twin Cities and central Minnesota by daybreak. Most models indicate excellent “atmospheric lift” mechanics Wednesday morning through the midday hours. That should produce some heavy snow bands.

Here’s a good breakdown of the snowy timeline.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Global Forecast System model paints the widespread inbound snow shield from midnight Tuesday through midnight Thursday morning. We’ve seen this weather model movie before several times already this month.

NOAA GFS model, via tropical tidbits

Wednesday’s system looks like an efficient snow producer. Our deep cold-air dome near the ground and overrunning moisture should produce snow-water ratios around 16:1. That’s dry fluffy snow that will pile up quickly.

Winter storm warnings kick in at midnight.

National Weather Service Twin Cities/Chanhassen MN
342 AM CST Tue Feb 19 2019


.A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for much of east central through southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin starting tonight and continuing through Wednesday evening.

The Warning is along and south of a line from Rush City to Saint Cloud to Litchfield to Granite Falls and Canby.

This includes all of west central Wisconsin, all of the Twin Cities metro and all of the Mankato area, along with Interstate 35 south of Rush City, Interstate 94 between Saint Cloud and Eau Claire, and the Interstate 90 corridor.

Total snowfall accumulations of 6 to 9 inches can be expected within the Warning area, some snow heavy at times, particularly during the Wednesday morning rush.

Snowfall is expected to continue much of the day on Wednesday, potentially with rates around 1 inch per hour. Snowfall will diminish Wednesday afternoon and evening but still impacting the evening

Skiers rejoice. Commuters prepare for icy roads with temperatures in the teens Wednesday.

Milder weekend

Some welcome weather news in this forecast? Commutes look favorable Tuesday and Thursday.

Milder temperatures this weekend will feel nicer, but come with a snowy price. The longer range outlook for the first week of March suggests another potentially brutal subzero cold wave. I know.

NOAA, via Weather Bell

System No. 2

The forecast models still wind up another major storm this weekend. The Canadian model has been the southern outlier. But the European and American models include the Twin Cities in the heavy snow zone.

The American GFS model remains the most aggressive model for heavy snowfall in the Twin Cities. The more northward track would result in a potential icy mix early Saturday. Potent upper-air dynamics could create enough vertical lift to produce convective bursts of thundersleet and thundersnow. How lovely.

NOAA GFS Friday into Sunday, via tropical tidbits

The overnight model runs show the differences with the placement of the heaviest snow bands. The Canadian keeps that zone across Iowa, southeast Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The American model plasters the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota.

Let me emphasize again, track changes are still possible, even likely, with the weekend system. It’s still too early on Tuesday for high confidence in eventual weekend snowfall totals in any one town. Let’s get through Wednesday’s snow and watch the models.

Stay tuned.ITo stay up to date on Minnesota's snowfall this week and ever changing weather conditions, follow this link to Paul Huttner's Updraft blog on Minnesota Public Radio News' website.

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