Let me first say, this has been one of the most difficult storms to forecast in some time. The models have still not converged on a final track for this system, making this extremely tough. Not only are the models not in agreement on the final track, the small-scale features that are already tough to forecast will be even more challenging without track agreement. The first and biggest issue is that the northwest edge of the snowfall gradient will likely be razor sharp. What this means is that a slight shift of only 20 miles will make an enormous difference in snowfall totals. Second, ground temperatures are rapidly warming, so unless we see high snowfall rates, we will lose at least some snow to ground melting. With all of this in mind, there are areas in our region that will indefinitely see significant snowfall totals, so let’s take a look at this event a bit more in-depth.
Off to the left, you’ll notice the latest watches and warnings map. Unfortunately, only 12 hours away from the storm beginning, we still see winter storm watches posted for the uncertainty in the forecast. At this point, the map can best be summed up by stating that those under the warning will almost indefinitely see at least six inches of snow while the watch areas are still uncertain at this point. My best guess is that the watch areas will be upgraded to winter weather advisories by morning, rather than winter storm warnings. While we may see this change a bit, those under the warning currently can expect a major spring-snowstorm beginning tomorrow into Thursday.
Now, let’s talk snowfall totals. As I mentioned earlier on, this is one of the most challenging storms I’ve had to forecast in quite some time. For those areas along an axis from Worthington to Albert Lea to Rochester, you will indefinitely see a significant late-winter storm, with those east of Albert Lea likely seeing double-digit snowfall totals by Thursday morning. For areas further to the north, things are quite a bit more uncertain.
The image you see to the right is the official snowfall forecast by the National Weather Service offices across the region. I agree very much-so with this forecast, hence the reason I am displaying it instead of a forecast I drew myself. I have however outlined the area with the greatest bust potential, which includes the major Twin Cities metropolitan area. It is in this area that if the storm ends up further north or south, much greater or lower snowfall amounts will occur. North of this area, I expect no snow accumulation, though a snow shower or flurry definitely would not be out of the question.
The bottom-line here folks is that a major winter storm will occur over southern sections of the region, with accumulating snow over central areas as well though less severe as in the south. The other problem with this storm will be the strong north-northeasterly winds. This means that the snow will be sticking to trees and powerlines, causing at least sporadic power outages, especially in the southeast. Travel will become very difficult at times tomorrow afternoon into the overnight hours as snowfall rates may approach 2-3 inches per hour along with strong north winds gusting to 40mph. If you live south of the shaded area on the snowfall map, if you have the option, just stay home tomorrow.
I will be updating on the Facebook page tomorrow morning and throughout the day as I am able! Stay safe out there, friends! While we definitely need to get thru this storm before going over anything further out, next weekend into the first week of April needs to be watched closely for some very wintry weather. That’s all I am going to say now, but the potential exists for April to begin on a very wintry note. Stay tuned!