Ring the church bells, sound the air raid siren three times, then run for the hills! Snow is on the way!!
Which would be noteworthy if we lived in Maui or Miami.
"It's Minnesota. It's winter. It snows here. Get over it." a friend helpfully reminded me yesterday. I couldn't agree more.
But the first snow is always tricky, as we all try to regain our snow-legs. Traffic? A vehicular version of The Walking Dead. Gruesome. Be extra generous & patient on the freeways later today.
A fast-moving wave of low pressure taps moisture from the Gulf of Mexico; temperatures aloft cooling as the day wears on. A cold rain changes to wet snow by late afternoon or evening (but roads remain mostly-wet for the PM commute). After a few days in the 40s and 50s ground temperatures are still mild, and I still expect significant melting of snow on contact for a time Tuesday evening, cutting down on snowfall totals. After 6 or 7 PM, as ground temperatures cool, snow should begin to stick, and accumulate.
"How many inches!"
Expect a big range across the MSP metro, maybe an inch northern suburbs, but closer to 3-4 inches south metro, and a few lucky towns could wind up with 5-7" closer to Northfield, Le Center and Mankato. Plowable for much of the south metro, but again, this will NOT be Snowmageddon or Snowpocalypse. Lower your expectations.
If you like snow (and you know who you are) get out there and romp around in it first thing Wednesday, because highs may hit 50F by next Tuesday. In fact long-range guidance shows 50s, even 60F around November 18. No parades of snowstorms or bitter blasts are brewing just yet. Yes, November is one dark, cruel & fickle month.
Oh noooo. Snow!
* 2-4" amounts expected, locally 6" south of the Twin Cities and portions of western Wisconsin Tuesday night.
* Twin Cities: roads remain wet up until 5 PM. Highways will become slushy and slick by Tuesday evening.
* 5-7 hour burst of heavy, wet snow. Leaves still on many trees - increasing potential for small tree limbs to come down between 6 PM Tuesday and 2 AM Wednesday morning, minor/sporadic power outages possible, especially south/east of the Twin Cities.
* Travel conditions rapidly improve Wednesday.
* Pattern trends milder into mid-November. No sign of a persistently snowy/icy or bitter pattern looking out the next 2 weeks.
Summary: the first accumulating snow event of the season is shaping up for a relatively narrow swath of the Upper Midwest late Tuesday and Tuesday night. The average date of the first 1"+ snowfall in the Twin Cities is November 18, so this is coming about 2 weeks ahead of schedule. That said, there is no evidence that we're heading into a persistently snow or bitter pattern, in fact guidance shows warmer and drier conditions for much of the USA (east of the Rockies) into the third week of November. We'll keep an eye on the maps and keep you posted.
Mild Bias Into Third Week Of November? NOAA's NAEFS model shows unusually mild weather from November 12-18 east of the Rockies, some of the biggest temperature anomalies I've ever seen over Canada's Arctic region.
File photo above: "This Aug. 24, 2013 file photo shows firefighter John Curtis, of Big Bear, Calif., watching the Rim Fire burn near Yosemite National Park, Calif. Starvation, poverty, flooding, heat waves, droughts, war and disease already lead to human tragedies. They're likely to worsen as the world warms from man-made climate change, a leaked draft of an international scientific report forecasts. For North America, the highest risks over the long term are from wildfires, heat waves and flooding."
File photo above: "A man pushes a bike onto a bridge during a day of heavy pollution in Harbin in northeast China's Heilongjiang province Monday Oct. 21, 2013. Visibility shrank to less than half a football field and small-particle pollution soared to a record 40 times higher than an international safety standard in the northern Chinese city as the region entered its high-smog season." (AP Photo).
- PwC: "Twenty of the 30 most costly insured catastrophes worldwide from 1970 to 2011 have occurred since 2001. With the exception of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, they were all natural disasters."
- Munich Re: The number of weather-related loss events in North America over the last three decades has "nearly quintupled."
- Swiss Re: Large-scale weather events in 2012 led to the "third highest insured losses since 1970," adding up to $71 billion worldwide from natural catastrophes.
Power Plants Try Burning Wood With Coal To Cut Carbon Emissions. Here's a clip from an interesting story at The New York Times: "Even as the Environmental Protection Agency considers requiring existing coal-fired power plants to cut their carbon dioxide output, some utilities have started to use a decidedly low-tech additive that accomplishes that goal: wood. Ranging in size from sawdust to chunks as big as soup cans, waste wood from paper mills, furniture factories and logging operations has been used with varying levels of success. Minnesota Power, which once generated almost all of its power from coal and is now trying to convert to one-third renewables and one-third natural gas, found that co-firing with wood was a quick way to move an old plant partly to the renewable category..."
Photo credit above: "Kulluk rig."
Photo credit above: "Aerosols such as this smog over Mexico City have helped keep temperatures down. What would happen if they were cleaned up?" Flickr/brian.gratwicke.