Local Forecast

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 5:15 PM
Prepared by Bob Weisman
Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Saint Cloud State University
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department
Saint Cloud and Vicinity Forecast


Snow, Heavy At Times, Through 6-7 PM (Updated for SCSU Snow Depth)

So far, this storm has lived up to expectations (or produced great disappointment for those who would wish it away). The snow began in earnest in central Minnesota around 10-11 AM . As of 5 PM, I measured 7.2 inches of snow at SCSU, so the snowfall rate has been around an inch an hour through midday and afternoon along the main snowband (see NWS Upper Mississippi Valley radar loop). At 4:30 PM, the St. Cloud Prison also had 7.2 inches. This breaks the April 16 snowfall record of 3.0 inches set in 1961. In fact, today's total alone would rank 10th among the 10 snowiest Aprils in St. Cloud.

Not all of the area of radar echoes is seeing snow sticking, but where temperatures are at or below freezing, generally from Fergus Falls through Staples, Brainerd and Grand Rapids on the north side and from Cambridge though Buffalo, Crystal, Benson, and Appleton on the south side, it has continued to accumulate all day (see UCAR Minnesota surface chart loop).

Snowfall reports include 13 inches in Onamia, 12 inches in Little Falls, 9 inches in Cambridge, 8.8 inches in Princeton, 7 inches in Annandale and Isanti, 5.5 inches in Milaca, 5.1 inches in Randall, 5 inches in Long Prairie, 4 inches in Zimmerman, 3.6 inches in Monticello among reports at noon or later.

The western edge of the snowband has been approaching the Minnesota-South Dakota border and will push eastward during the rest of the afternoon. So, the snow should let up substantially in the St. Cloud area by 6 PM, but that's another 4 hours of an inch/hour snowfall. Unfortunately, despite all the begging, pleading and threatening, we will generally end up with 6-10 inches in the main snow band with places between St. Cloud and the Twin Cities possibly getting a foot of snow.

Road conditions have been difficult along this snow band as seen on the MnDOT road conditions site with a steady stream of accidents reported along all major roadways. Those will likely continue past the time that the snow tapers off since it will take a while for road crews to catch up with this heavy snowfall rate.

In the Twin Cities, the snow has only been sticking in the northern and western suburbs and the heaviest precipitation in the next 3 hours will still likely melt on contact with the ground. However, temperatures will begin to fall later this afternoon, so the snow could begin sticking by 5-6 PM. This would still allow 2-4 inches to accumulate with ice hiding underneath in some areas of the Twin Cities.

Cold Continues Late Week

After this storm goes by, another round of cold air will push in for Thursday and Friday. The snow will end by mid-evening, then we will be breezy and colder, with temperatures bottoming out around 20 degrees. That should be a few degrees milder than any record cold lows. Highs, however, will stay in the middle to upper 30's.

We will have a lot of clouds on Thursday night as a weak upper-level storm moves by. The air near the ground will likely be too cold to produce any precipitation, but clouds should keep low temperatures in the 20's, not the teens. It will be a little milder on Friday with highs in the lower 40's.

Warmer Air Begins to Move in After Saturday Cold Rain

Our next storm system will push across Minnesota on Saturday. This system will start pumping much warmer air into the Northern Plains Friday night. The key will be how cold the ground gets when the precipitation begins in the early morning hours on Saturday. Right now, it looks warm enough aloft for rain to develop, but some places nearby could have ground temperatures of freezing or a degree or two below. So, there is a threat of some freezing rain early Saturday morning, but it's too early to pin down where.

Ground temperatures should rise with the southeast winds and daybreak on Saturday, so any freezing rain will quickly change over to rain. The rain should taper off by midday. There will be a lot of afternoon clouds, but we could have some sunny periods. That should allow temperatures to finally climb to the more seasonable lower 50's. The combination of having most of Friday night above freezing, getting some rain on Saturday, and having temperatures climb into the 50's should mean the end of the snow that has fallen today by late Saturday or Saturday night.

The one computer forecast that was holding out on breaking into some more spring-y temperatures has finally caved, so I feel free to forecast highs in the 60's on Sunday and in the 70's on Monday. We certainly will have suffered enough cold this week to bask in some warmth. And, I generally see a warm weather pattern through the middle of next week. So, there is no return to this cold (or snow) in sight.

No, that doesn't necessarily mean we're done with snow this cold season (it doesn't mean that there will be more snowstorms either). We just can't see that far into the future reliably.

I Don't Want to Hear More About Snowfall Records

With today's snowfall, we've "achieved" 48 days with measurable snowfall. That ties 1974-1975 for 9th most. The record total was 60 days in 1950-1951. There were 49 days in both 1993-1994 and 2012-2013.

Through 4:30 PM, the 2013-2014 cold season snowfall in St. Cloud has topped 70 inches again with 74.2 inches. That gets us to 6th highest total and we will likely push near or ahead of 1916-1917 by the end of the day. The next year up is last year with 78.5 inches. That 7.2 inches has pushed the April total snowfall to 10.7 inches.We will likely have 11-12 inches for the month by the end of this storm, pushing us into the top 5.

Tomorrow will be our 128th day of the snow season with at least an inch on the ground. If we hold on to the snow through Saturday, it would only be the 17th time there have been at least 130 days with an inch of snow on the ground during the cold season.

I now pause for more yelling and screaming.......and ducking projectiles......

See Forecast Below

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Current Watches/Warnings

Ground and Air Travel




Winter Storm Warning Continues Through 1 AM Thursday

Rest of Wednesday 4/16: Moderate to heavy snow accumulating at inch/hour rates until tapering to a lighter snow between 5 and 7 PM. Total storm accumulation in the St. Cloud area between 6 and 10 inches with a foot possible in places like Cambridge, Monticello, Buffalo, and Annandale.Breezy and chilly. High: between 30 and 32. (record cold high: 31 in 1953) Winds: NE 10-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 100%.

Wednesday Night: Occasional snow or flurries tapering off by mid-evening with little additional accumulation. Clearing late at night, breezy, and colder. Low: between 18 and 23. (record cold low: 15 in 1907) Winds: N-NW 10-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 30% before 9 PM, 20% after 9 PM.

Thursday 4/17: Morning sunshine, mixed clouds and sun in the afternoon, breezy, and continued cold. High: between 35 and 40. (record cold high: 32 in 1915) Winds: NW-N 10-15 MPH, 5-10 MPH in the afternoon. Chance of measurable snowfall: 10%.

End of "Reasonable" Forecast Certainty

Thursday Night: Cloudy with light winds and not quite as cold. Low: between 22 and 26. (record cold low: 17 in 1928) Winds: NE 5 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 10%.

Friday 4/18: Partly sunny, not as windy, and less cold. High: between 40 and 45. Winds: E-NE 5-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 10%.

Friday Night: Clouding up with a chance of rain developing in the early morning hours. The rain could be in the form of freezing rain at the start Low: between 30 and 35.Winds: ESE 8-15 MPH. Chance of measurable precipitation 10% evening, 60% after midnight.

Saturday 4/19: Cloudy with a good chance of rain (I said rain!) in the morning, then cloudy with perhaps a sunny break in the afternoon. Turning more April-like. High: between 50 and 55. Winds: ESE 8-15 MPH, becoming SW 5-15 MPH in the afternoon. Chance of measurable rainfall: 70%.

Saturday Night: Partly clear and much milder. Maybe some fog late at night. Low: between 35 and 40. Winds: E 8-15 MPH. Chance of measurable rainfall: 10%.

For Entertainment Purposes Only.

Sunday 4/20: Early clouds, then becoming sunny by midday. A return to more springlike temperatures. High: between 64 and 68. Winds: SW 5-15 MPH. Chance of measurable rainfall: 10%.

Monday 4/21: Sunny and warmer. High: between 70 and 75. Morning lows: between 45 and 50. Winds: SW 10-20 MPH. Chance of measurable rainfall: 20%.

Extended: Spring-y-er next week with highs in the 60's (or higher) early in the week.

Forecast Confidence (10 - "Know what gas will cost next week, Bob?"; 0 - "Been a victim of road rage lately, Bob?"): 8 Tuesday through Wednesday, 7 Wednesday night and Thursday, 5 Thursday night through Saturday, 4 Saturday night, 3 Sunday.

Yesterday's High: 36F; Overnight Low (through 4 AM): 29F
St. Cloud Prison Storm Total Precipitation (through 4 AM): 0.01 inch liquid/TBA snow; SCSU Precipitation (through 4 AM): TBA

Normal Temperatures for April 16 - High: 57F; Low: 33F
Next Update: Thursday, April 17, 2014 8:00 AM (or as needed)
Let me know what you think about this forecast and discussion by emailing SCSU meteorology professor Bob Weisman. Please note that I make the forecast, not the weather!

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