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Snow game on: Light snow Wednesday; much bigger storm likely Friday

Jan 15, 2020 07:17AM ● By Editor
Traffic is slow on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis on Monday, Dec. 30, 2019, as a major winter storm dumps multiple inches of snow across Minnesota.  Photo: Andrew Krueger | MPR News


By Paul Huttner of Minnesota Public Radio News - January 14, 2020

Here we go — again.

Two more snow systems cross Minnesota this week. The next one arrives Wednesday. Like our Sunday and Monday snows, this one will be on the lighter side of the Minnesota winter snowfall spectrum.

But Friday’s system has all the ingredients to produce heavier snowfall across a big chunk of the Upper Midwest. The only remaining forecast question appears to be where the heaviest snow bands will end up.

Light snow Wednesday

Wednesday’s system brings another shot of mostly light snow to Minnesota. A few flakes may drift earthward overnight, but the bulk of the light snow shield spreads across Minnesota from west to east Wednesday.

NOAA’s NAM 3 km resolution model tracks snow across Minnesota Wednesday. 

NOAA NAM 3 km model Wednesday
NOAA NAM 3 km model Wednesday
NOAA via tropical tidbits

Most models suggest the bulk of the snow in the Twin Cities will fall between about 8 to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the Twin Cities. Snow lingers longer in northeast Minnesota.

Snowfall totals

The highest snowfall totals favor a zone either side of a Fargo, N.D.-Brainerd, Minn.-Hinckley, Minn. line Wednesday. Duluth could fall into the 2-to-4-inch snowfall zone. I’m favoring about an inch around the Twin Cities once again Wednesday. That should be enough to grease up roads again during the midday and afternoon hours.

Snowfall projection
Snowfall projection for Wednesday
Twin Cities National Weather Service

Friday: Heavy snow potential

Friday’s system looks significantly more potent for much of Minnesota. Storm tracks still vary on several forecast models, but many favor a Colorado low-pressure system packed with plenty of dynamical energy and moisture.

Here’s NOAA’s GFS model version of events Friday. Snow looks likely most of the day Friday through early Saturday.

NOAA GFS model Friday and Saturday
NOAA GFS model Friday and Saturday
NOAA via tropical tidbits

A cool foot by Saturday night?

I don’t usually show model snowfall output 72 hours in advance of a system. But I wanted to give you a general idea of the widespread and possibly heavy nature of snowfall through Saturday. Keep in mind this is total snowfall between two systems — Wednesday and Friday — and subject to change.

European model ECMWF snowfall output
European model (ECMWF) snowfall output through Saturday.  Image: ECMWF via pivotal weather

I wouldn’t focus on specific totals here, but the takeaway is that most of Minnesota is likely to see 6 or more inches of snow by Saturday afternoon. Some models crank out double-digit totals.

Colder, too

It still looks like we’ll see subzero cold behind this week’s last two snow systems. But the outbreak doesn’t look as cold as it did last week.

Temperature forecast for Twin Cities
Temperature forecast for Twin Cities.  Graphic: NOAA via Weather Bell

Keep the parka and the shovel handy!

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