Monday, March 9, 2009

update FCST on Major Winter Storm/Blizzard March 10/11

Models are still showing a strong low pressure system moving northeast across the region on Tuesday. A major winter storm and blizzard now look iminent for central and northern Minnesota. I could try to forecast this event for the entire upper midwest, but that would take a lot more time than I have so I will focus on just Minnesota. GFS and WRF pull the center of the low from southern Iowa in to southern Wisconsin and northeast from there. Both models have been in consistent in showing .5-.75 inches of precipitable water. Areas west of and north of the Twin Cities should see mostly snow, but the Twin Cities and areas east and south will start out as a mix of rain and snow before changing over to all snow from west to east throughout the afternoon. For us here in the Twin Cities it looks like temps will fall below freezing later in the afternoon, but the heaviest precip isnt forecasted to start until just about the time this heavy precip moves in. MPX just issued a winter storm warning for the western half of the metro, the eastern half of the metro is under a winter weather advisory. Depending on when the transition to snow happens, we may end up with more or less snow.

Now, for the rest of Minnesota. At this time, blizzard warnings are in effect for counties in western Minnesota, blizzard watches are in still in effect for northwest Minnesota although I expect the NWS-Grand Forks to upgrade them to blizzard warnings soon. Winter storm watches are still in effect for all of Duluth's CWA, which will likely be upgraded in to Winter Storm Warnings shortly. Most areas of western and northern Minnesota should pick up between 7-12 inches, with locally higher amounts possibly reaching 20 inches. Winds will be sustained 30-35, with gusts to 40 or even 50 mph during the afternoon. Blizzard conditions for conuties in the blizzard warning, periodic whiteout conditions which may last in to the day Wednesday due to blowing snow. Arctic air will pour in behind the front with the potential for below zero temps overnight Tuesday. This combined with strong winds will create dangerous windchills over central and northern Minnesota in to Wednesday morning. Blowing and drifting snow will continue in to Wednesday. Arctic high pressure will build in to the region on Wednesday which will keep temperatures very far below average. Highs on Wednesday may not get above 0 degrees F along the Canadian border with highs in the sinlge digits across the majority of the rest of Minnesota. Temps will bottom out Wednesday night but as the arctic high moves out of the region warmer air will begin to advect north with highs in the 20's across most of the state.

Another update is possible tomorrow as the event unfolds...

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