If this is how finicky storms will be this winter, give me back last year's Snowmageddon!
The season's first serious accumulating snowfall came on schedule, but brought a few surprises for forecasters and some Minnesota communities.
First the snowfall totals.
Detailed city totals below. Top totals and metro range (0.8" to 3.2") highlighted in bold.
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN
1035 PM CST SAT NOV 19 2011
...SNOWFALL AMOUNTS FROM SATURDAYS SNOW STORM...
THE TOTALS BELOW ARE SEPARATED INTO SNOW...AND ICE AND SLEET
CATEGORIES...THEN BY AMOUNT...AND ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE
FINAL AMOUNT FOR EACH LOCATION. ONLY REPORTS FROM 330 PM CST
HAVE BEEN INCLUDED TO ELIMINATE DUPLICATE REPORTS FROM SOME
SITES AND THE SNOW HAD STARTED TAPERING OFF FROM THAT POINT.
SNOW REPORTS LISTED BY AMOUNT...
INCHES LOCATION ST COUNTY TIME
------ ----------------------- -- -------------- -------
11.00 ST STEPHEN MN STEARNS 0413 PM
11.00 2 N SARTELL MN STEARNS 0407 PM
10.50 4 NE ST CLOUD MN BENTON 0721 PM
9.80 5 NW MORA MN KANABEC 0745 PM
ANN LAKE TOWNSHIP
9.00 SARTELL MN STEARNS 0800 PM
7.00 SAUK RAPIDS MN BENTON 0343 PM
6.50 MILACA MN MILLE LACS 0517 PM
6.30 2 W FOLEY MN BENTON 0537 PM
6.00 SAUK RAPIDS MN BENTON 0430 PM
5.80 ST CLOUD MN STEARNS 0500 PM
MEASURED AT ST CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY.
5.60 MURDOCK MN SWIFT 0332 PM
5.50 11 NE WARMAN MN KANABEC 0630 PM
5.50 2 W FOLEY MN BENTON 0359 PM
4.00 NORTH BRANCH MN CHISAGO 0623 PM
4.00 FOLEY MN BENTON 0500 PM
3.50 ST CLOUD MN STEARNS 0600 PM
3.50 KIMBALL MN STEARNS 0417 PM
3.20 WOODBURY MN WASHINGTON 0500 PM
3.00 MONTICELLO MN WRIGHT 1028 PM
3.00 6 NW RICE LAKE WI BARRON 1018 PM
3.00 HAUGEN WI BARRON 0811 PM
3.00 1 ESE CAMBRIDGE MN ISANTI 0755 PM
3.00 LITCHFIELD MN MEEKER 0703 PM
LIQUID EQUIVALENT OF 0.19 INCHES.
3.00 ISANTI MN ISANTI 0635 PM
3.00 MINNEAPOLIS MN HENNEPIN 0553 PM
AT THE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
2.80 PRINSBURG MN KANDIYOHI 0358 PM
2.50 INVER GROVE HEIGHTS MN DAKOTA 0537 PM
2.30 SHAKOPEE MN SCOTT 0517 PM
2.20 LONG PRAIRIE MN TODD 0612 PM
2.20 5 SW ST PAUL MN RAMSEY 0600 PM
2.10 NORTH ST PAUL MN RAMSEY 0542 PM
2.00 ISANTI MN ISANTI 0413 PM
1.90 2 WSW COON RAPIDS MN HENNEPIN 0553 PM
1.80 2 W PRIOR LAKE MN SCOTT 0545 PM
1.70 1 ESE CHASKA MN CARVER 0730 PM
1.70 CHANHASSEN MN CARVER 0542 PM
AT THE NWS
1.70 5 SSE OSCEOLA WI POLK 0525 PM
1.50 HASTINGS MN DAKOTA 0745 PM
1.30 COMFREY MN BROWN 0445 PM
1.20 ST LOUIS PARK MN HENNEPIN 0658 PM
1.00 GLENCOE MN MCLEOD 1018 PM
1.00 ORONO MN HENNEPIN 0658 PM
1.00 FARMINGTON MN DAKOTA 0537 PM
MEASURED AT THE CWSU.
0.80 BROOKLYN CENTER MN HENNEPIN 0700 PM
0.50 DURAND WI PEPIN 0721 PM
0.50 WINTHROP MN SIBLEY 0607 PM
0.50 MADELIA MN WATONWAN 0554 PM
0.50 MANKATO MN BLUE EARTH 0407 PM
This was an interesting and challenging storm from a forecast standpoint the minute it showed up on the maps early last week.
Breaking it down, here's what the models (and we) got right for Minnesota.
• The notion of low pressure tracking through Iowa on Saturday.
• The forecast for the first snow of the season Saturday.
• An excellent lead time on Saturday snow, which was forecast several days in advance
• The general aerial coverage of accumulating snow, from the Twin Cities north to Brainerd.
• The overall storm timing
Let's face it; this storm also threw forecasters (including me) a few surprises.
• Nobody predicted 11" of snowfall in Stearns County! The upper end of snowfall totals were above what even the most aggressive models cranked out for this event.
• There were two bands of heavy snow within the overall storm, with lower totals in between. Numerical forecast modles are not good at pinpointing these smaller features in snow systems.
Two distinct bands of moderate snow, with lighter snow in between. Overall snowafll totals were 0.8" to 11". How do you forecast that?
• The persistent northern band of moderate to heavy snowfall set up about 40 miles farther south than we expected. The heavy snow band was closer to St. Cloud than Brainerd.
• The second, highly localized, band of moderate snow set up the south & east metro. This boosted snowfall totals from Shakopee to MSP Airport into St. Paul & Woodbury. A localized area of enhanced lift or Upward Vertical Velocity (UVV) created the second snow banding structure to the south. This is unusual in many winter storms, but it happened this time.
Localized moderate snow band in south metro Saturday produced a narrow stripe of heavier snowfall.
As a result of the unusual storm structure with multiple moderate snow bands, overall weather lab snowfall forecasts worked out well for some areas, and were a little low in others. The 2" to 3" totals in the south metro were a little higher than forecast. Not a major bust mind you, but a little on the high side. We got an inch at the weather lab in the west metro which verified nicely. Weather Lab snowfall forecasts also worked well for most of the northern and western metro.
Note band of snow cover left behind across central South Dakota and most of the southern half of Minnesota (lighter shading). Cloud cover across Wisconsin was obscurring the ground. Click to see a larger version. NWS graphic
One other note of interest in this storm. The entire NWS Central Region website server went down Saturday. NWS web sites in the Twin Cities, Duluth, Grand Forks Sioux Falls and La Crosse were down for several hours Saturday.
This meant forecasters (and the public) had no web access to NWS snowfall reports, advisories and evloving forecasts for much of the storm. While we did have other sources like radar etc to pinpoint snow bands, early snow totals can be critical "ground truth" for how much snow a snow band is producing. Of course technical glitches happen, but the timing was tough on that one.
Overall this was an interesting storm to watch and forecast! Let's hope the next one is a little less "complicated." Yeah right...good luck with that.
Mild Air returns: 50 by Thanksgiving?
The snow is nice while it lasts, but it looks like sunshine and milder temps will melt it away in the coming days.
A return to southerly flow will boost temps above freezing by Monday & Tuesday. This will probably melt most of the metro snow by mid week. It may take a little longer near St. Cloud & Sartell.
Mild southerly breezes and sunshine should boost temps into the 40s by Wednesday, and to near or above 50 by Thanksgiving and Black Friday. The second half of T-Day weekend looks colder.
Right now I don't see any more snowy interludes in November. We average 8.8" of snow in November. If the maps hold, this will be a below average November snowfall this year.
In fact the last week of November looks milder than average in the Upper Midwest!
Enjoy the coat of winter white while it lasts!