St. Cloud, MN Weather Forecast

Friday, March 23, 2018 2:35 AM

Bob Weisman
Meteorology Professor
Saint Cloud State University
Atmospheric and Hydrologic Sciences Department

Shovelable Snow in West Central and South Central Minnesota But St. Cloud, Twin Cities Get Only Brushed

Clearing, But Not For Long

St. Cloud finally broke out of the peristent low clouds yesterday afternoon (set product to Shortwave Albedo on the Colorado State satellite slider viewer), allowing high temperatures to break above 40 degrees once again (see US high temperature map from NWS/University at Albany). Overnight, the partly clear skies have allowed readings to fall back into the 20's (see UCAR Minnesota surface chart).

The next in the parade of storm that pushed into California overnight (see Pacific water vapor loop from University of Wisconsin SSEC), bringing persistent rain to the central and southern California coast (8-10 inches over the past two days) (see Pacific infrared satellite loop from University of Wisconsin SSEC). That storm is already beginning to spread thicker clouds across Montana and the western Dakotas (colored clouds on the Shortwave Albedo on the Colorado State satellite slider viewer) with some precipitation beginning to break out (see NWS Upper Mississippi Valley radar loop). One of the major stories of this upcoming storm is a shortage of cold air, so some of the precipitation is falling as sleet or freezing rain (double arrows on the UCAR Dakotas surface chart).

Friday Night Storm to Drop Shovelable Wet Snow...

This storm will track through Kansas today and reach northern Missouri tonight. There will be a strong push of much warmer and more humid air over the top of our seasonably cold air, providing the lift and moisture for precipitation. However, the issue will continue to be the lack of cold air in the precipitation area, so areas expecting the most precipitation (South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, northern and central Iowa) won't have enough cold air to keep the precipitation frozen. It appears that only a narrow band along the northeastern flank of the precipitation will have cold enough air to allow for snow and ground temperatures of 34 degrees or colder, allowing accumulation. Right now, the only areas that look to have the right combination long enough to see a 6-8 inch snowfall will be in eastern North Dakota today into tonight and north central and northeast Iowa late tonight into tomorrow morning.

Areas like Wheaton, Willmar, Granite Falls, Mankato, Marshall, Rochester, and Albert Lea could have a prolonged period of snow, beginning in west central and southwestern Minnesota tomorrow afternoon and continuing into south central and southeastern Minnesota tomorrow night with more snow accumulation in northern Iowa Saturday morning. However, it will be too mild at the start to accumulate and the snow will be a wet one, so I'm expecting 3-6 inches of accumulation.

...But St. Cloud, Twin Cities to be on Fringe

Little Falls, St. Cloud, Park Rapids, and the Twin Cities will be on the far northeastern fringe of the snow. Here, it will be cold enough for snow, but there will be a lot of dry air circulating in from a high in Ontario, so it appears there will only be a 6 hour window for occasional snow. So, I'm only looking for between a dusting and 2 inches of new snow. There could be quite a contrast across the Twin Cities with Stillwater perhaps getting little or no snow, while Eden Prairie, Shakopee, or Burnsville could end up with 3 or 4 inches. The snow won't start in our area until after dark on Friday with the best chance for accumulating snow late night until Saturday morning.

Road conditions will deteriorate this afternoon in west central and southwestern Minnesota and get worse overnight in the Minnesota River Valley and southeastern Minnesota. However, if temperatures remain above freezing, the roads would tend to be more slushy, which wouldn't be as big of a problem. We will see that potential for a drier light snow accumulation, so we'll have the usual problem of whether people slow down enough for the slippery conditions.

Snow Begins to Melt Saturday, But Lingering Clouds and Wind Through Weekend

As is typical in a late season snowfall, the melting will begin as soon as the snow lets up. Temperatures will climb back to near 40 on Saturday. There may only be a few flurries Saturday morning, with the snow ending in southeastern Minnesota by midday. However, don't expect much in the way of sunshine. The winds will continue to be strong from the southeast.

The clouds will likely hang around Saturday night into Sunday. That would keep lows in the 20's to near freezing. There should be a persistent southeast wind, so the risk of fog will be relatively low. On Sunday, highs could make it into the 40's.

More Precipitation Chances Monday???

The parade of Pacific storms is expected to continue into the US for a while. Another storm is expected to move to Colorado, then head northeastward by early next week. At this point, it appears that central and southern Minnesota would be on the warm side of the storm for the bulk of the precipitation, so we would have a chance for some steady, cold rain on Monday. It might start as some mixed precipitation sometime on Sunday night or early Monday, but it's too early to pin that down.

Eventually, one of the Pacific storms is going to stall out over the Southwest US. That will temporarily cut off the parade of storms this far north, so the weather should get quieter and cooler than average by the middle of next week.

Confidence Level: "I Will be Up Early to Make the Forecast"

Friday 3/23/2018: Some early sun, then thickening clouds, breezy, and not quite as mild. High: between 37 and 42. Winds: SE 10-25 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 10%.

Friday Night: Cloudy and breezy with periods of light snow or flurries developing by late evening and continuing through the night. Between a dusting and 2 inches are possible by morning. Windy. Low: between 25 and 30. Winds: E 15-25 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 70%.

Saturday 3/24/2018: Occasional flurries in the morning. Just cloudy in the afternoon. Breezy and cold. High: between 37 and 42. Winds: E 10-25 MPH in the morning, SE 10-20 MPH in the afternoon. Chance of measurable snowfall: 30% in the morning, 10% in the afternoon.

Confidence Level: "The Rabbits Will See the Light On and Want Petting Instead of Forecasting"

Saturday Night: Cloudy, breezy, and still relatively mild. Low: between 24 and 28. Winds: SE 10-20 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 10%.

Sunday 3/25/2018: Continued cloudy, breezy, and a bit milder. High: between 38 and 44. Winds: SE 15-25 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 10%.

Confidence Level: "The Rabbits Will Shed Information on the Upcoming Weather, Rather Than Just Fur in My Hand"

Sunday Night: Mostly cloudy, breezy and mild. Perhaps some spotty fog or drizzle. Low: between 30 and 35. Winds: SE 10-20 MPH. Chance of measurable precipitation: 20%.

Monday 3/26/2018: Cloudy with a chance of rain. Maybe some mixed precipitation at the start. High: between 38 and 43. Winds: E-SE 15-25 MPH. Chance of measurable precipitation: 50%.

Monday Night: Cloudy with rain or drizzle. Low: between 30 and 35. Winds: SE 10-20 MPH, shifting to NW 10-20 MPH late. Chance of measurable precipitation: 30%.

Tuesday 3/27/2018: Partial clearing, breezy, and drier. High: between 38 and 43. Winds: NW 10-20 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 10%.

Extended: Remaining cloudy and on the cold side early next week???

Forecast Confidence (10 - "Will more of your hair fall out, Bob?"; 0 - "Will the winning PowerBall Numbers be encoded in your lost hair, Bob?"): 7 Thursday and Thursday night, 6 Friday, 5 Friday night and Saturday, 3 Saturday night and Sunday, 1 Sunday night and Monday.

Yesterday's High: 42°F; Overnight Low (through 2 AM Friday): 25°F
St. Cloud Airport Precipitation (through 2 AM Friday): None; SCSU Precipitation (through 2 AM Friday): None

March 23 Historical Data High Low
Average Temperatures 43°F 23°F
Record Temperatures 81°F (1910) 52°F (2012)
5°F (1974) -16°F (1965)

Next Update: Saturday, March 24, 2018 8 AM (or as needed)





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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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