An impressive storm system remains on track to deliver Mother Nature's full gamut to Minnesota Tuesday through Friday this week.
Strong to severe storms will be possible Tuesday and Wednesday in the region – a tornado outbreak is expected all the way from Iowa to Texas – and the cold side of the storm system will deliver a nasty blizzard to North Dakota and perhaps northern Minnesota.
The severe weather threat Tuesday, Wednesday
According to the National Weather Service, the first impacts are expected as rain and thunderstorms push into southern Minnesota on Tuesday. Temps could rise to around 60 degrees and there will be plenty of moisture and energy to support severe storms that will be capable of dumping hail.
Severe storms are again possible Wednesday, though at this point the best chance for that is east of Interstate 35. The speed of the storm system will determine severe chances both days, so be sure to stay tuned for updates.
One way or another there will be lightning and thunder. Check out the lightning forecast from the European model below. This animation is from 7 a.m. Tuesday through 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Extreme winter impacts possible
All of North Dakota is under the gun for significant snow and high winds, and the threat for jaw-dropping snow totals remains possible in northern Minnesota. The forecast discussion from the NWS Twin Cities notes that the winter aspects for North Dakota and northern Minnesota are "crazy intriguing."
The winter aspect with this system is definitely on the increase. There's still a good deal of spread with how much QPF wraps around this system. The ECMWF is a bit of a worst case scenario right now, but is certainly plausible. It has over 0.5" of QPF falling in the snow bin Wednesday night/Thursday northwest of a Mora, Litchfield, to Madison line. Which if this happens, we would be talking several inches of snow with winds easily gusting over 35 mph. The GFS as much less QPF wrapping around the low, but it still brings near 0.25" of QPF into the snow bin for central MN Thursday. So the winter aspect of this system is certainly starting to look a bit more intriguing for the MPX area (and crazy intriguing for NoDak across northern MN).
The NWS is advising anyone with travel plans in eastern North Dakota into the aforementioned areas of Minnesota to have alternate plans Tuesday through Thursday, and possibly longer "from lingering residual impacts."
"There is a 10% to 30% chance of significant impacts occurring at any location within eastern North Dakota into northwest and west-central Minnesota," says the National Weather Service. "Significant impacts include extremely difficult to impossible travel due to extended period of blizzard conditions and significant drifting snow, as well as heavy snow accumulations leading to snow load issues."
'Crazy intriguing' snow possibilities
So what exactly is possible in terms of snowfall? Timing is going to be critical because the longer it takes rain to change over to snow, the lower the totals will be. And how much falls won't necessarily match what winds up piling up because of compaction and melting.
That said, these are the current projections from the European, Canadian and American models. Let's start with the "weakest" of the three, the American:
Now the Canadian model:
And the most extreme, the European: