7:15 A.M. TUESDAY UPDATE
Not much has changed in the National Weather Service's latest forecast for what they're now calling a "potentially historic" winter storm that'll push through Minnesota and the Upper Midwest Wednesday-Friday.
In today's Weather MN blog, brought to you by Pet Evolution, we can tell you that on Monday the weather service issued a winter storm watch that includes the Twin Cities.
That has not changed, but instead of saying 7-15 inches of snow could fall, they've adjusted totals slightly, now ranging 8-12 inches, although totals in the north metro could exceed a foot.
The thing to watch out for, the weather service says, is a very tight snowfall gradient where the rain takes longer to change over to snow. Right now, that area is just southeast of the Twin Cities. Any shift further north/northwest could dramatically lessen snow totals.
If you live in parts of west/southwest Minnesota, look out. Isolated locations could wind up with snow totals of 2 feet. Basically, everywhere from pretty much Marshall all the way to Duluth could get walloped with 12+ inches of snow.
Blizzard warnings have been issued in west/southwest Minnesota and all the way up into Stearns County, including the cities of St. Cloud, Litchfield, Willmar, Redwood Falls, Lac qui Parle and Marshall.
"Blizzard conditions are expected across western Minnesota where wind gusts of 50+ mph will combine with over a foot of snow to produce nearly impossible travel conditions," the NWS says.
Here's a look at the simulated future radar from the North American Model (NAM 12KM) reflective from 5 a.m. Wednesday through 1 p.m. Friday. This is a loop of what could happen, not what will happen.
Minneapolis/St. Paul could end with one of its 10 heaviest April snowfalls if the airport records more than 7.6 inches of snow. The biggest April snowstorm in MSP history was last April 14-15 when 15.8 inches fell.
4:45 P.M. UPDATE
A winter storm watch has been expanded and now includes the Twin Cities metro area.
The National Weather Service says snow totals in the Twin Cities could reach 7-15 inches with winds gusting as high as 50 mph.
"A significant winter storm system is possible across a large part of the Upper Midwest starting Wednesday evening, and lasting through Friday afternoon. Light precipitation will begin to develop late Tuesday night, and into Wednesday morning in far southern Minnesota. A mixture of snow and rain will occur in far southern Minnesota, with little or no snowfall expected. Any snow that falls Wednesday morning will likely partially melt during the day.
By late Wednesday afternoon, and into Thursday night, this is when the bulk of the precipitation will fall across southern Minnesota, and into west central Wisconsin. Confidence has increased that a band of moderate to heavy snow will likely arrive Wednesday evening and continue through Thursday. Snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour will be possible at times.
Winds will increase Wednesday night as the system lifts northeastward. Winds will likely gust to 40 to 50 mph on Thursday. This will lead to areas of blowing and drifting snow.
Blizzard conditions will be possible. In addition, periods of mixed precipitation of rain, and sleet will be possible at times, mainly in southern Minnesota. Snowfall will taper off and winds should subside Friday.
Additional updates to this Winter Storm Watch is possible, with the watch possibly expanding farther south or north. This is dependent on the exact track of the storm."
Higher totals upwards of 20 inches are currently forecast as realistic possibilities in southwestern Minnesota.
Any shift in the storm track could change the forecast so stay tuned for updates.
Two massive April snowstorms in less than a calendar year?
It's definitely becoming more and more likely. A powerful winter storm is expected to blast through the southern two-thirds of Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday, leaving behind a boatload of snow for some and ice and rain for others.
In anticipation of what could be a pretty nasty storm, the National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a winter storm watch for parts of west and southwest Minnesota, and the Twin Cities will likely be included when the watch expands later Monday.
The NWS has made it very clear that they're not sure just yet where the rain/snow line will set up. It could be right over the top of the Twin Cities. Wherever it sets up, there will be way less snow to the south of the line. But areas that get all snow are likely going to get smacked, possibly similar to the way parts of southern Minnesota were pulverized by the powerful storm of April 14-15 last year.
Here's the discussion from the NWS for areas under the winter storm watch.
"Blizzard conditions possible. Total snow accumulations of at least 8 inches and ice accumulations of a light glaze possible. Winds could gust as high as 40 mph."
The Weather Channel has placed a bullseye for the heaviest snow in southwestern Minnesota, but also has the Twin Cities getting hit very hard by accumulating snow. Exact snow totals haven't been announced, but The Weather Channel says there is potential for over a foot of a snow in parts of the state.
AccuWeather is just as aggressive, saying 6-12 inches could fall in the Twin Cities with 12-18 inches possible in parts of western and southwestern Minnesota.
Bottom line: Computer models are in pretty good agreement with the southern two-thirds of Minnesota taking a direct hit, but the biggest factor in snow totals is where the rain/snow line sets up, and whether it stays warm long enough to delay any rain-to-snow changeover.
Here's one computer model's (GFS, the American model) spin on how things could play out from 6 p.m. Tuesday through 1 p.m. Friday. Green means rain, pink is a mixture and blue is snow. The darker the colors are, the more intense the precipitation is.
Stay tuned for updates. It's a good bet that much more of Minnesota is added to a winter storm watch later Monday.