The snowstorm wasn't a total bust, but it was definitely underwhelming considering the forecast at 3:30 p.m. Sunday called for 8-12 inches of snow in the Twin Cities with isolated locations expected to pick up more than a foot.
The end result was 3-6 inches in the metro while the heavier amounts still didn't get close to a foot. In fact, the high-end amounts appear to be in southeast Minnesota, with the town of Mabel leading the way with a report of 9.5 inches.
A line from Mankato to Owatonna, Rochester and Winona picked up 6-8 inches.
You can check snowfall reports right here, and below is a list of some leaders.
- Mabel - 9.5
- Brownsville - 9
- La Crosse - 8
- Owatonna - 7.2
- Stewartville - 7.1
- Eau Claire - 7
- Alexandria - 7
- Winona - 7
- Mankato - 7
- Osseo - 6.5
- Faribault - 6.5
- Waterville - 6
- Rochester - 6
- Woodbury - 5.4
- Lakeville - 5.3
- Robbinsdale - 5
- Chanhassen - 5
- Prior Lake - 5
- Rosemount - 5
- Burnsville - 5
- Stillwater - 4.5
- Bloomington - 4.3
- Minneapolis - 4
- Blaine - 3.7
Why was the forecast so far off? The computer models were flat out wrong.
According to Jim Orlando, an Iowa State meteorology graduate, the computer models are to blame for suggesting a lot more moisture than there actually was.
Snow is frozen liquid, and Orlando says the computer models were indicating up to a half-inch of liquid with this storm.
A half-inch of liquid would normally equal about five inches of snow under the general understanding that an inch of liquid is equal to 10 inches of snow (10:1 ratio).
As Orlando says, the computer models were thinking this storm was capable of 20:1 ratios, which with a half-inch of liquid would equate to 10+ inches of snow.
Another possible explanation is that the snowflakes were very light and fluffy and "the strong winds aloft fragmented the snowflakes and not many were allowed to stack up," according to Orlando.
Here's an example of the HRRR model that plays a role in forecasting. At 1 p.m. Sunday the model was indicating upwards of a foot of snow for the metro, and just four hours later that same model was leaning towards 6-8 inches, and much lower numbers west of the Twin Cities (although some of that snow had already fallen and these models predict how much is yet to come).
Overall, the storm was a big enough threat to cancel classes at many schools around the state Monday, which even with the lower snow totals was partially justified by the dangerous travel conditions the blowing snow and cold temps created.