Wednesday: Snow & Sleet for Minneapolis

Well, we did it. After enough talk all week about not wanting snow, the atmosphere has warmed a little bit in the forecast – enough to reduce our snowfall totals.

That doesn’t mean it’ll be good weather, though, and we could end up with some significant amounts of slush. Here’s the breakdown on timing with this storm:

Wednesday midday to Wednesday evening: Moderate to heavy snow/light to moderate rain – temperatures will warm to just barely above the freezing mark near the surface, so the question is whether or not they’ll warm enough to melt what would be pretty moderate snow. If all snow, this ends up as 2-3″+ of snow today.

Possible snow or rain/snow mix – moderate to heavy if snow, lighter to moderate if rain.

Overnight to Thursday morning: Any lingering light precip stays light through very early Thursday. By around 5-6 a.m. Thursday, convective storms move north and contain heavy precipitation. These were the times that we would have expected blizzard-like conditions in previous forecasts – now it looks like a good chance for sleet.

Forecast models starting to show more sleet and less snow during the heavier periods (for Minneapolis/St. Paul). NW/Northern suburbs could still see heavy snow.
Vertical sounding forecast for period of peak precip in the image above. That circled area shows why we’d be seeing sleet vs. snow: a region of well above freezing right in the middle of the lower atmosphere, with below freezing temps closer to the surface.

Thursday midday to evening: Sleet or rain much of Thursday – likely rain for some periods, transitioning to sleet/snow by afternoon, and all snow by Thursday evening.

Thursday night to Friday: Light snow accumulations through Friday morning, with scattered snow showers after that.

Some conclusions are that even if we see a lot of snow early on – rain could/would erode it, so final snowfall tallies might be low.

Forecast snow through Friday morning – note that while the Twin Cities are close to 8-9″, there will be sharply higher totals to the north and west.

Unfortunately, the dividing line between all snow and a mix/rain/sleet falls right over Hennepin County, most likely. As a result, totals will vary sharply across the county and region – so some of you will hate me for my previous forecast inaccuracy, while some will be thankful.

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.