Tuesday: Update on late-week Minneapolis snowstorm

With our late-week snowstorm still approaching Minnesota and the Twin Cities, it’s time to start narrowing in on what to expect. Here are the latest watches/warnings as of Tuesday morning:

Already, with wind in the forecast and heavy snow, you’re seeing blizzard warnings in red from St. Cloud to Willmar and SW MN. It’s still looking like intense snowfall totals, although the overall scope of this storm (ignoring specific locations) looks a little lower – with totals around 12-24 inches for areas seeing mostly snow.

It’s possible that people living in the metro area would see blizzard conditions out of this storm as well, but in the urban areas like Minneapolis/St. Paul, we’ll likely see near-blizzard conditions.

That image above shows the future radar for this whole storm around 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, with light snow starting to edge in. There’s still a difference of opinion in the long-range models… and that’s still where uncertainty on the totals comes in. The European model keeps rain/mix in the forecast through midday Thursday for Minneapolis, while the American/GFS has mostly snow. That’s a difference of about 6-10″ of snow, so it’s significant.

Regardless of what happens, but midday to afternoon/evening of Thursday, we’re looking for the heaviest snow. Totals could add up at a rate of about 1-2″ per hour, with some significant winds a possibility during this time as well.

By Thursday night to Friday morning, we’ll see all snow, regardless of the computer model used. It’ll be on the tail-end of the storm, so the question will be how much moisture remains. We could still pick up another few inches on the backside, however. Thursday’s commute(s) and Friday morning’s commute could be anywhere from treacherous to impossible, depending on final outcomes.

Finally, you see the storm breaking apart and lingering snow showers Friday afternoon to evening in the future radar image above. Once that goes away, it’ll quickly start to clear up for the weekend.

One thing to keep an eye on is the overall liquid equivalent precipitation:

In that map above, you can see Hennepin County under a roughly 1.5″ total liquid forecast. At a 10:1 ratio that would be about 15″ of snow. I doubt the ratio would be any higher than that. Last April we were close to 8:1 ratio, with 15.8″ of snow. The question, of course, is how much of that liquid would fall as snow – and will the liquid amounts change?

Knowing all of this, the GFS is putting out the following forecast:

Because the GFS is keeping precip as mainly snow, right now there’s a roughly 12-15″ range of snowfall for the Twin Cities. That seems like a reasonable expectation – with the European/ECMWF closer to 6-10″ of total snow.

With this heavy of precipitation, it’s important to keep in mind that some locations might end up with localized heavier totals as well, due to thundersnow.

Stay tuned!

Aaron Shaffer About Aaron Shaffer
Follow Meteorologist Aaron Shaffer on Twitter. Aaron is a meteorologist who lives in Minneapolis and is the digital communications and social media associate for the nonprofit Avivo in Minneapolis. He is Ward 8's representative on the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee, Deep down he's a weather geek and has a degree in Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences from UW-Madison to prove it. He's spent time working at TV stations in Wyoming, South Dakota, and Iowa prior to arriving in Minneapolis to work for WeatherNation and now forecasting for MinnyApple. His favorite weather career moment came while storm chasing for his Iowa station (he went on 40+ storm chases during that time), when he saw a mile-wide EF-4 rated tornado.