"Paul, spare me the weather-babble. How many inches of snow in my yard by noon Sunday. Please be precise." Right. The only thing harder than pinpointing a tornado touchdown is calculating, down to the inch, how much snow will fall.
My favorite college professor bemoaned the utter futility of giving inch amounts. He suggested 3 flavors of snowfalls: nuisance (enough to slow things down a bit), "plowable" (self-explanatory), and crippling, where everything shuts down.
I would put Sunday morning's snow in the plowable range. And for purists who need their diet of inches, I'm thinking 2-4 inches in the immediate metro, 5 inches north metro, maybe 8 inches Brainerd and over a foot for Duluth. Hey, it's human nature: if I predict 2-4, you'll probably remember 4. Yes, we all like to round up.
Today will be the better travel day; a 7-10 hour burst of snow from late tonight through midday Sunday.
Leave extra time to get around tomorrow. This is the first legitimate "storm", and we're all a wee bit rusty driving on snow.
We may get our white Christmas after all; no big thaws in sight thru December 25. A couple more inches may fall in 7 days.
Models, maps and alibis on the blog.
URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN 839 PM CST FRI DEC 7 2012 ...LIGHT SNOW TAPERING OFF THIS EVENING...THEN A LARGER WINTER STORM EXPECTED SATURDAY NIGHT INTO SUNDAY EVENING... .THE FIRST OF TWO SYSTEMS HAS BEEN PRODUCING LIGHT SNOW ACROSS MOST OF SOUTHERN MINNESOTA...BUT THE SNOW WAS TAPERING OFF. ACCUMULATIONS THE REST OF THE NIGHT IN SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA WILL BE LESS THAN ONE INCH. IT APPEARS THE SECOND SYSTEM FOR THE WEEKEND WILL DEVELOP INTO A WINTER STORM. A WINTER STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT NORTH OF A LINE FROM MADISON MINNESOTA TO THE TWIN CITIES AND LADYSMITH WISCONSIN SATURDAY NIGHT THROUGH SUNDAY EVENING. SNOW WILL SPREAD INTO WESTERN MINNESOTA BY EARLY SATURDAY EVENING...AND THEN PUSH EAST...ACROSS EASTERN MINNESOTA INTO WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN BY LATE SATURDAY EVENING. THE SNOW COULD BE HEAVY AT TIMES. SNOWFALL ACCUMULATIONS IN THE WINTER STORM WARNING AREA WILL RANGE FROM 5 TO 8 INCHES...WITH THE HIGHEST TOTALS NORTHEAST OF INTERSTATE 94. A WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR A PORTION OF SOUTHERN MINNESOTA INTO WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN...FROM GRANITE FALLS AND REDWOOD FALLS TO RED WING...THEN TO EAU CLAIRE AND CHIPPEWA FALLS WISCONSIN. SNOWFALL AMOUNTS IN THE WINTER STORM WATCH AREA COULD REACH 6 INCHES...IF THE STORM SLIDES A LITTLE SOUTH.
NAM Guidance. The 00z model shows a total of .48", which would translate into about 3-5" of snow by midday Sunday.
Bufkit Analysis. NOAA's Bufkit tool, which does a good job of isolating snowfall amounts, shows a couple hours of rain mixing in at the height of the storm Sunday morning. That would obviously keep amounts a bit lower. Bufkit shows a storm total of 4.1" in the MSP metro area.
- Across Minnesota, snow cover is sparse to nonexistent. At all locations, the present snow depth is below the historical median.
- Stream discharge values are very low at a number of Minnesota reporting locations. At many sites, stream flow ranks below the 10th percentile when compared with historical data for this time of year.
- Soil moisture measurements made during November at University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Centers indicate extraordinarily dry conditions in the soil profile. Ample early-spring rains are critically needed to replenish soil moisture reserves before the commencement of the 2013 growing season.
- It is reasonable to assume that the present drought status will remain relatively unchanged throughout the winter. The historical average precipitation over the next three months is a meager two and one-half inches and the topsoil will soon be sealed by frost. Without abundant spring rains, a number of critical drought issues involving public water supply, agriculture, horticulture, and tourism will rapidly emerge in the spring.
* updated (December 4) U.S. Drought Monitor is here.
* updated (December 4) U.S. Drought Monitor is here.
2/3rds of America remains in drought. The New York Times has a good overview here.
Very Plowable. No, we won't see this much snow either. But a guy can dream...
Photo credit above: "Ski resorts are expected to suffer from global warmng." Marcin Moryc, Shutterstock.
Photo credit: "Melting ice means a Russian gas company can now send tankers to Japan through the Arctic Ocean, instead of the Suez Canal." Tim Lucas - Creative Commons.
Reality: We are currently on track for a rise of between 6.3° and 13.3°F, with a high probability of an increase of 9.4°F by 2100, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Other modelers are getting similar results, including a study published earlier this month by the Global Carbon Project consortium confirming the likelihood of a 9ºF rise.
* excerpt above from Scientific American. Details below.
Photo credit above: (Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) "Skiers ride the lower lift at Park City Mountain Resort on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. A new report warns that global warming will make low-snow years more prevalent and batter the ski industry."
Photo credit above: "Today, ice loss in Greenland and Antarctica is trending at least 100 years ahead of projections compared to IPCC's first three reports. Pictured: Rajenda Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)." Image: Flickr/kk+
Image credit above: "Departure from average of Arctic surface temperatures during the first decade of the 21st century, as compared to the 1971-2000 average. This map illustrates that no part of the Arctic experienced cooler than average conditions during this period." Credit: NOAA.
Photo credit above: "A technician stands on an iceberg in Columbia Bay, Alaska, during filming of "Chasing Ice," which follows a photographer recording the changing Arctic." Photo: James Balog, Associated Press / SF