As of 4:30 pm heavy sleet is moving back into the Twin Cities metro. This will change over to all snow over the next hour or two and become heavy at times tonight. As you can see I've made some slight changes to the forecast I posted last night. There's no doubt this has been a challenging forecast for many meteorologists today.

  • Snow is really beginning to pick up to the west of the Twin Cities and will continue to develop towards the metro this evening. 6-8" with remains likely just to the west and northwest of the metro. 
  • My forecast remains consistent from last night as I still expect to see 4-8" across much of the Twin Cities metro. Most of the heavy snow will fall across MSP between 6pm - 2am. Drier air will work into the metro after 2am, limiting accumulations beyond that time.

                                              Storm total forecast for MSP: 6"
  • The biggest change to the forecast comes late this evening and into the overnight hours just to the south and southeast of the Twin Cities. As the main surface low pushes northward a very heavy band of snow will develop from Albert Lea - Owatonna - Red Wing. 6-8" with possibly a few higher amounts will fall within this band overnight with thundersnow possible.  
  • The snow will exit the entire state of Minnesota by late tomorrow morning. The morning rush hour could be very difficult, but temperatures will rise above freezing during the day and should help to make for a much easier evening commute. 
  • As I mentioned yesterday enjoy the snow while it lasts because it won't be around long. We'll still see temperatures rise into the 50s and 60s, with even 70 a possibility next week. Enjoy!

From a personal standpoint I really hope this is the last snowfall forecast I post on this website this spring. From a meteorological standpoint a very impressive storm system will take aim at the entire Mississippi River valley Thursday into Friday. For tomorrow, a moderate risk for severe weather is out for the lower Mississippi River valley including much of southern Missouri and all of Arkansas. The potential is there for all modes of severe weather including damaging winds, hail, and tornadoes. 

The biggest challenge in forecasting snow on the northern side of this system is how much energy will be focused on producing thunderstorms to the south and how much energy will be left over to develop heavy snow to the north. One model (NAM) really winds this system up with a potent closed low which produces a prolonged period of heavy snow through and just north of the Twin Cities. The other models are much more progressive with this system in pushing it more quickly to the northeast, leaving the heaviest snow totals to northern Wisconsin. Below is a timeline of what to expect from this system.

  •  Temperatures will remain near or above freezing at MSP overnight tonight. Rain, possibly mixed with sleet will develop and move northward tomorrow morning. A rumble of thunder may even be possible as heavier rain moves into metro early tomorrow afternoon.
  • Snow will develop and become heavy at times across eastern South Dakota into western and central Minnesota early tomorrow afternoon. 
  • Snow will spread eastward into the metro tomorrow evening, with the northern and western suburbs seeing the fastest changeover to snow. Snow will become heavy in the Twin Cities late tomorrow evening into the early morning hours on Friday. Friday morning's commute could be an ugly one. 
  • I think much of the Twin Cities metro will see 6-8" of snow with the southeastern suburbs seeing closer to 4-6" due to a longer period of rain/sleet. Higher amounts closer to 9" are possible to the northwest from Willmar to St. Cloud to Duluth. 
                                                    Storm total forecast for MSP: 7"

This may be a great time to enjoy what could be our last snow storm of the season - sorry no guarantees though. If you're completely fed up with winter and snow, there is a reason to be optimistic. This snow won't last long as temperatures quickly rise back into the 40s this weekend and 50s early next week. We may even have another shot at 60 next Wednesday, and our first 70 of the spring next Thursday. The snow may frustrate you for the next few days, but a week from now it will feel like a distant memory. 

After a quiet start to March, we're heading into a very active weather pattern to finish the month. Although we continue to see temperatures well below average to begin the spring, late March snow storms are very typical for the Upper Midwest including Minnesota. Three storms have their sights set on the Upper Midwest through next Wednesday, April 2nd. Storm #1 takes aim on South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin tomorrow. Storm #2 could take a very similar path through the area on Monday. Storm #3 currently looks to slide a little farther south towards Iowa next Wednesday, but there is still plenty of time for this to change as this storm remains a week away.

  • Tomorrow's storm will take a nearly identical track to last Tuesday's March 18th's storm. The one big difference with this storm is the amount of moisture it has to work with as it taps into the Gulf of Mexico. This will be evident as rain develops in the warm sector across eastern South Dakota and southern Minnesota tomorrow morning, while the warm sector remained mostly dry with last week's storm. 
  • Rain will move into the Twin Cities around mid-morning tomorrow where a quarter inch or more of rain is possible. At the same time heavy snow will develop across eastern South Dakota stretching into central-northeastern Minnesota. 
  • Rain will change to snow in the Twin Cities tomorrow afternoon. The heaviest snow will fall between 4-8pm,  just in time for the evening rush hour. 
  • The heaviest accumulations are expected from Montevideo-St. Cloud-Duluth, MN, right in line with where the heaviest accumulations were located with last week's storm. 6-9" is possible within this narrow, heavy band. I expect 1-3" across most of the Twin Cities metro, with 3-6" possible for the far northwestern suburbs. With such a high moisture content, this snow will fall as the very wet and heavy variety. 

                                        Storm total forecast for MSP: 2-3"
  • At least we catch a short break in between systems this weekend. We'll see highs on Saturday back into the 40s, with a chance at hitting 60 in the Twin Cities on Sunday! 

Happy St. Patrick's day everyone! As our snowpack continues to melt, most of you (including myself) have spring on your mind. As is typical in March, mother nature likes to throw us a curveball. Although the weather hasn't been too bad over the past week and a half, it has still been a long, cold winter. Unfortunately it is not over yet. A strong low pressure system continues to move southward through Wyoming this evening and will move across the Nebraska/South Dakota border overnight. This will focus its energy on central/northern Minnesota throughout the day Tuesday. A timeline of what to expect is listed below.

  • Light radar echos are beginning to show up near Mille Lacs Lake this evening. Rain/Sleet will develop near this area late this evening, and turn over to all snow overnight. Snow will become heavy by early tomorrow morning along a line from Mille Lacs - Sauk Centre - Benson, MN. 
  • Temperatures will hover around 30 overnight at MSP. A band of light rain/freezing rain/sleet will become possible early tomorrow morning at MSP. This looks very similar to what happened this morning as warm air advects northward from the southwest. 
  • As snow continues to the north throughout the day Tuesday, warmer, drier air will keep MSP dry and above freezing from late Tuesday morning through the early evening as the surface low moves near La Crosse, WI. The forecasted surface low track is just a little too far north to bring the heaviest snows into the Twin Cities metro. Usually for the heaviest snows in the Twin Cities, the low should track just to the south of La Crosse, WI. This is the main reason behind keeping the heaviest snows just to the west/northwest of the Twin Cities, from Montevideo - St. Cloud - Duluth, MN where 6-10" of snow is possible. 
  • As the surface low slides to the east, a band of moderate snow will move through the Twin Cities late Tuesday night. 1-3" will be possible within this band.                                   
                                     Storm total forecast for MSP: 1-3"
  • If you're looking for spring it's not all bad news this week. Above freezing temperatures are expected through the end of the week with highs in the 40s for Thursday and Friday. 
  • Unfortunately the warmer temperatures will not last. A cool down is on the way this weekend, and we could be looking at the possibility of record breaking lows by the middle of next week for the Great Lakes into the northeastern U.S. It looks like we are going to end March just as we started it - COLD. Spring has to arrive sometime, right?

It has only been 18 hours since I released my initial forecast for today's snowfall. A lot has changed since then and can best be summed up by Ron Burgundy. 
As of noon today the ECMWF and the HRRR are in good agreement setting up a band of very heavy snow along I-35 in Minnesota extending into northwest Wisconsin. 

This is turning out to be a classic panhandle hooker and is only picking up more gulf moisture as it heads northward. The slower progression of the storm today will allow the gulf moisture to combine with arctic air and produce heavy snow this evening. The timeline of what to expect is below. 

  • Light rain is currently changing to sleet and snow across the metro. All snow is expected between 1-2 pm.
  • The heaviest snow is expected to fall between 3pm and midnight tonight. Heavy accumulations in the order of 1-2" per hour are likely, especially between 3pm-8pm. Thundersnow is also possible within this time frame. 
  • The snow will end across the area during the overnight hours, but very strong winds will produce blowing and drifting snow through tomorrow. 

Storm total accumulations will range from 8-10" across the far west metro to 12-16" across the eastern metro, with some locally higher amounts possible. 
                          Storm total forecast for MSP: 12-14"

I know many have been waiting for the Twin Cities to receive its first big snowfall of the winter so far. It's here. Settle in with a big bowl of popcorn and the drink of your choice and enjoy the show.

It has been awhile since Minnesota has seen a significant snowfall from anything other than a clipper. Southwest flow arrived just long enough to give us a tiny taste of spring, followed by a very potent storm that will produce heavy snow across Minnesota and Wisconsin, and severe weather to the south for Thursday. To the left is my total snowfall forecast for Thursday. 

The biggest challenge this system will have when it comes to producing snow is overcoming warm air. With a slow arriving arctic airmass to the north, temperatures will remain near or above freezing at the surface. This could lead to a rain/snow mix at first and reduced snowfall ratios on the order of 8:1 or 10:1. A timeline of what to expect is listed below. 

  • A rain/snow mix will develop across the Twin Cities for the morning rush hour. Temperatures will be near or above freezing, meaning snow may have difficulty accumulating at first. 
  • Precipitation turns to all snow by the late morning and becomes very heavy by the early afternoon, with snow ending during the evening. Accumulations will range from 3" across the far west metro, to close to 9" near the Wisconsin border. I think accumulations of 4-7" are most likely inside the I-494/694 metro loop.  Very strong winds will create blizzard conditions across rural areas with blizzard warnings already out for southern Minnesota and northern Iowa.  
                     Storm total forecast for MSP: 6"
  • Unfortunately northwest flow returns behind this system, in which it feels like we have been stuck in since last winter. This means the return of arctic air, with subzero lows likely through all of next week. By late next week MSP could be looking at lows well into the teens below zero. The good news is we are used to the cold by now, and it is almost March. Even though the weather pattern looks bleak, spring is not too far around the corner. 

Hopefully everyone is staying warm through our early December arctic outbreak. It's been awhile since it has been this cold, this early! Tomorrow won't be quite as bad with temperatures at least rising into the lower teens. Along with the warmer air comes more moisture and a chance of snow ahead of our next arctic cold front. To the left is my forecasted snow totals for the day tomorrow.

  • Snow will spread across the area late tonight into early tomorrow morning. This will be a very slow duration event, with very light fluffy snow falling throughout the entire day. Right now it looks like the heaviest snow can be expected between noon - 6pm.                 
                            Storm total forecast for MSP: 3"
  • 2-4" is expected for most of the Twin Cities, with 3-6" possible from Burnsville-Eagan-Woodbury and points southward. Locally higher amounts are possible as you head further south from Mankato to Rochester.
  • Arctic air will remain in place through the week, with below 0 lows continuing. Several quick but weak clippers are possible throughout the week, bringing us periods of off and on light snow.
  • If you're looking for warmer temperatures, we could finally see them by next Friday. There are still uncertainties on whether this warmer air will hang around, or quickly get replaced by more arctic air from Canada.      

Our first major snow storm of the 2013-2014 winter season is strengthening to our west. Below is what you can expect over the next 24-36 hours.

  • Snow is currently developing over the Dakotas and will continue to fill in throughout the overnight as it slowly moves to the east.
  • Drizzle and freezing drizzle will develop over southern and southeastern Minnesota including the Twin Cities overnight as warmer air moves in aloft. With temperatures near or below freezing at the surface, ice accumulations are possible overnight.
  • Light snow is possible overnight in the Twin Cities, but the heaviest accumulations will occur while everyone is at work tomorrow, between 9am-5pm. Warmer air aloft over the southeast metro will limit totals and produce a very sharp gradient across the metro. 1-3" is expected for the southeast metro while the northwest metro could receive 6-9" with a much longer period of snow.
    Storm total forecast for MSP: 5"
  • The heaviest snows will fall across the north shore where lake enhanced snow bands could produce another 1-1.5 feet of snow. 
  • Strong winds will also cause blowing and drifting snow across the Dakotas and western Minnesota. Brutally cold air will move in behind this system Thursday through much of next week with lows dropping well below 0.
  • Snow will become possible again on Sunday as another strong system approaches from our southwest.

It's better late than never, but I finally had time to sit down and take a look at what to expect for the next long 3-4 months of winter. Long range forecasts are never easy but there are several indicators that can be used to come up with a good scientific guess on how this winter may play out. You can start by taking a look at my 2012-2013 Winter Forecast. I won't go into quite as much detail in this forecast, but will still touch on the same components. After a warm December, last year's forecast actually played out closely to how I thought it would. On April 1st, 2013, Minneapolis-St.Paul had received 49.3" of snowfall, only .3" off of my season forecast for 49".  If you're that close on April 1st, most years that ends up being an excellent forecast. Unfortunately I didn't foresee winter lasting into May. Add another 18.4" on top of that bringing our season total to 67.7", didn't make the forecast look quite as good. What do I expect for this year? More snow and more cold, and winter will really begin to set in next week.

ENSO - Neutral Pattern to Continue?

The most helpful tool in making long range winter forecasts is taking a look at the El Nino - Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Very strong correlations to weather patterns can be made when an El Nino or La Nina is present. By taking a look at the graphic to the right, we can see that ENSO neutral to weak La Nina conditions are currently present. Unfortunately ENSO neutral conditions can make weather patterns much more erratic and difficult to predict. Much like last year neutral conditions are expected to continue through the winter, with a chance of a weak La Nina developing.


The Arctic Oscillation (AO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) are two key indices to monitor during the winter. When the AO is negative, this brings very cold air to the Midwestern U.S., whereas a positive AO brings the opposite conditions. The NAO is similar, however, the temperature correlations are not quite as strong. A negative NAO typically brings increased precipitation to the central U.S.

So far this fall the AO has been positive since the middle of October. This is a little different from last year where the AO and NAO were largely negative through the fall.

Research has shown strong correlations between an above average Siberian snow pack in October
producing a negative AO throughout the winter. Once again Siberian snow pack was near to slightly above average in October 2013. This leads me to believe the AO will move into a more neutral to negative phase, especially as we head into January and February. The NAO has remained more neutral over the past few weeks, and I also expect this to remain in the neutral to negative phase throughout the winter.

Analogue Years

After taking a look at some of the basics above, and how our weather has behaved over the past year, I picked out four winters I thought could most resemble our upcoming winter, December-April. They are 1960-61, 1978-79, 1996-97 (I've mentioned in several other posts how I think 2013 has been very similar to 1996) and 2008-09.  None of these winters are good news if you are looking for a warm winter. The northern plains experienced well below average temperatures in all of these winters.

I know April is actually a spring month, but April 2013 definitely felt more like winter than spring. It is common for our snow pack to last into April which is why I included it in this year's forecast.

Taking a look at precipitation anomalies over the same winters shows near to above average snowfall across the northern U.S. and a very wet southeastern U.S. The west coast, especially in the northwest, experienced drier than average conditions.

2013-2014 Winter Prediction


Finally, here's a look at what I expect temperature departures from average to look like across the U.S this winter. The northern/central plains will feel the effects of a negative AO with below average temperatures likely December - April.

If you're looking for a vacation spot this winter, Florida might not be a bad place to go. This is the only state I am forecasting above average temperatures.


Unlike last year where northwest flow completely dominated the weather pattern throughout the winter, southwest flow will develop over the next two weeks. I think this will occur more often throughout this winter compared to last year. This will help produce above average snowfall in the Rocky Mountains as well as into the central/northern plains and the Midwest. This will also produce very wet conditions in the southeast as well as slightly drier conditions for the northwest coast.

Northern Plains and the Twin Cities

Overall, I expect above average snowfall for the southern portion of the northern plains including the Twin Cities. A significant trough looks to set up across the western portion of the U.S. through the first half of December. This pattern is conducive for heavy snow across the central and northern plains bringing us several chances for snow throughout the month. I think December will be the snowiest month followed by a very cold January and February.

Total snowfall prediction for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport: 71"

may seem like a lot, but it is only 3" more than last year. Our snow pack may be slow to melt late March into early April, but unlike last year I don't think we'll see any late April or early May snow storms. After what looks to be a rough winter, maybe mother nature will finally deliver us a more normal spring.
It seems like I make a promise before every summer to keep up with the blog more than I did the previous year. Well, I failed once again as it has been three months since my last post. Summers are way too short in Minnesota to begin with, so I end up playing softball two nights a week, golf on the weekends, and just enjoy being outdoors and not in front of a computer. On top of all of that, I still try to storm chase as much as possible...well except for this year. Everyone thought that 2012 was a rough year for storm chasing, but 2013 has been even worse across the northern plains. Other than a very active two weeks in Kansas and Oklahoma at the end of May, it has been another quiet year for tornadoes around the U.S.

I enjoy blogging about unusual weather, thunderstorms, snow, cold, you name it. My last post at the end of April was about accumulating snow. It has been less than three months since our last accumulating snow. I can safely say that snow is still at least two months away, but we still can't get rid of the unusual cold weather across the U.S, especially for us in Minnesota. Click here to read the Twin Cities WFO write up about the record breaking cold from this weekend.  Lows across northern Minnesota once again dipped into the mid to upper 30s this morning, where a frost advisory was in effect. Crazy for late July!

So what does this mean for the rest of summer? I'll take a look at what I expect for August below.
The image to the left shows the temperature anomalies from January - June 2013. You can see that much of the central U.S. is running below normal this year, especially the Upper Midwest.

As I've mentioned in previous forecasts, this year compares very well with 1996. Over the same time period in 1996 you can see how much of the central/eastern U.S was below normal, especially the Upper Midwest.

Here's a look at how August 1996 turned out. Below average conditions continued for much of the central and southern U.S. The western U.S. remained above average - very similar to what has occurred across the western U.S. through the first half of this year.

Of course, just because a similar weather pattern occurred 17 years ago, doesn't necessarily mean this year will be exactly the same. No correlating years are ever perfect, and the weather will never behave exactly as it has in the past. But the best way to create more accurate long range forecasts, is to base them off of what has happened before in similar years.

Taking a look at the last 9 runs of the climate model - CFSv2 you can see the forecasted temperature anomalies for the month of August. Once again this paints much of the U.S, especially the central and eastern portion with temperatures well below average. This also compares favorably with the image above.

ENSO remains neutral to a weak La Nina, and has changed very little over the last year. This cycle in combination with slightly negative to netural AO/NAO has little effect on summer temperatures.

The ECMWF and GFS can give us a good idea of what will happen for the next 10-14 days, which now extends into the first half of August. These models continue to show a similar solution, with well below average temperatures continuing for the first half of the month, especially for the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest.

The best shot for the Twin Cities to even see 80º comes on Wednesday and Thursday this week, with Thursday being the more likely day. If MSP does not hit 80º on either of those days, it may be at least another week or longer before we see 80º again. Not what most Minnesotans expect as we head into August. I think the worst of the summer heat is over, and it may be tough to even hit 90º again by the end of the year. Don't worry though, summer is not completely over. There is still plenty of 80º days to be had with some humidity by the end of August and into September. The Minnesota State Fair almost always guarantees this. I like the heat and humidity to last as long as possible during the summer, but I'll never complain about an early taste of fall to relieve the AC bills, and make outdoor activities much more pleasant.