Wednesday is setting up to be a dynamic weather day in Minnesota and the Midwest, as a powerful low-pressure system will speed through the region and deliver heavy snow, very strong winds and thunderstorms, some of which may be severe.
Severe thunderstorms in Minnesota in mid-December? It's pretty much unheard of. The latest tornado on record in Minnesota history was Nov. 16, 1931 when a twister touched down east of Maple Plain. Could it happen more than a month later in the calendar?
At this point, the National Weather Service says the severe threat in the region on Wednesday is conditional, but certainly possible.
"The concern would be if there is potential for severe weather, especially with strong winds already being a concern. Although the instability is on the weaker side, the strong shear would be very supportive. Just something to keep an eye on with the coming forecasts," says the NWS La Crosse, which covers far southeast Minnesota.
For the Twin Cities, the NWS Twin Cities says severe weather "isn't currently expected at this time but it will be something to watch," noting that the timing and the storm track will play a huge role in where storms are possible.
However, NWS Twin Cities senior meteorologist Bill Borghoff tweeted Sunday that the severe potential Wednesday is being "downplayed."
Meteorologist and renowned storm chaser Reed Timmer has been looking at the models and sees similarities to a setup in April 2011 that spawned a tornado outbreak in Iowa, though this would be happening in December, making it even more unprecedented if something similar were to unfold.
Meanwhile, on the northwest side of the storm system it will be cold enough to support mixed precipitation and heavy snow. Here's a look at the American model simulation.
No matter what happens with thunderstorms and snow, it's going to be extremely windy pretty much statewide, with gusts up to 60 mph possible, perhaps higher.
"Very windy conditions look to develop Wednesday afternoon into Thursday morning. A high wind watch is in effect for parts of southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa with wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph or more especially late Wednesday afternoon into Wednesday evening," the NWS says.
Sven Sundgaard and Tom Novak will have updates on the forecast later Monday so check back for updates.