Local Forecast

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 3:04 AM
Prepared by Bob Weisman
Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Saint Cloud State University
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department
Saint Cloud and Vicinity Forecast


Welcome to January

Teens for the Second Half of This Week

The teeth of the cold air that has raced southeastward from the Yukon Territories in the past two days is now into the US from Montana into Iowa. Temperatures have fallen back into the teens in central and southern Minnesota into Iowa (see UCAR Minnesota surface chart) with single digit readings in the Dakotas. On top of the cold, the strong winds have continued overnight with typical wind speeds of 15-25 MPH and gusts over 30 MPH (see NWS Minnesota Hourly Weather Round-Up). That is producing wind chills around zero or even a few degrees below zero in central and northern Minnesota.

Where there was substantial snow from yesterday's storm (8-12 inches from Lancaster and Hallock through Grand Forks to Hanneford on the NWS Grand Forks snow accumulation map) and earlier storms, the blizzard conditions continue. I-29 and I-94 have been closed from Fargo north and west since yesterday morning. No travel was advised in the eastern two-thirds of North Dakota and portions of northwest Minnesota, including Thief River Falls and Hallock. Conditions should slowly improve today (blizzard warning expires at 9 AM), but it may take a while to get roads reopened. Expect to be driving on slippery compacted snow when those roads reopen.

Elsewhere, the very light snow that fell yesterday, combined with temperatures in the teens have produced icy spots on roads. These icy spots will remain since salt is not effective in melting the ice at temperatures of 15 degrees or colder.

Over the next three days, the winds will slowly ease off as we get deeper into the cold air. We have about 30 hours of the worst combined cold and wind. Temperatures will only rebound to about 20 and winds will continue at 15-25 MPH with gusts to 30-35 MPH. Morning wind chills will be around zero, easing to near 10 this afternoon. We actually could see some sunny periods as the clearing line is parked across central Minnesota (see Colorado State RAMDIS Western US Fog/Reflectivity Product). There will be some snow flurries, but they won't be as frequent as yesterday. Tonight, the winds will ease back to 10-20 MPH. Low temperatures will be a little bit colder, dropping to the 10-15 range with wind chills again around zero. Tomorrow, we will have a chance of more sunny periods with highs again around 20 degrees.

By tomorrow night, those winds will finally drop off, so St. Cloud will have a shot at its first low of zero or colder by Friday morning. In an average winter, St. Cloud has 43 such mornings. Friday will be partly sunny with high temperatures stuck in the middle teens, but without the strong winds, it will feel nicer than yesterday or today. We have another cold night in store Friday night with lows again making a run at zero.

Even though we will be in this very cold air, the northern edge of milder air will stay in the Central Plains. That means that any modest low pressure system will have a chance to produce a narrow band of fairly heavy snowfall due to the big temperatures difference between the two air masses. For the past couple of days, a low pressure system has been forecast to affect parts of Minnesota sometime on Saturday or Saturday night. The latest information puts the bulk of the snowfall along the Minnesota-Iowa border with St. Cloud on the northern fringe of the system. This storm has the potential to produce snow totals of 4-8 inches in the heavy snow band with additional problems due to blowing snow. On the current track, St. Cloud would see a lighter accumulation, beginning late Saturday afternoon and continuing into the early morning hours of Sunday. Any snow falling would be quite fluffy, so there would be blowing and drifting problems.

I would expect the snow band to move more in the next couple of computer runs, so I'm not willing to really say specifically whether we miss the storm, get on the fringe, or a direct hit. However, if you have travel plans for Saturday night, keep advised of the changing forecast.

If you're looking for a return to 60-degree highs, don't count on it. We are forecast to either be on the edge of the arctic air or in the middle of it through much of next week. So, here's where we pay for our mild fall.

The main benefit of this weather pattern is that a new storm system is set to move onto the West Coast today (see infrared loop from College of DuPage Satellite and Radar Menu). That storm will produce some significant rain as far south as central California with more snow in the Sierra Nevada. At least some of this precipitation will be over the area that needs it the most (see US Drought Monitor).

Cold Weather Safety

You may want to review the winter safety checklists in the National Weather Service cold weather safety page. Even though the temperatures and wind chills won't reach dangerous levels, this would be a good time to make sure your vehicle is prepared for the colder season. It certainly won't be comfortable to get stuck in the weather of the next 10 days.

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Confidence Level: "It Will Be Cloudy Today"

Wednesday 12/7: Mixed clouds and some sunny breaks, breezy, and colder. A few flurries possible, but snow not as frequent as yesterday. High: between 18 and 22. Winds: WNW 15-25 MPH. Morning wind chill: between -10 and 5. Chance of measurable snowfall: 20%

Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy, breezy, and continued cold. Maybe a flurry or some light snow. Low: between 12 and 16. Winds: NW 10-25 MPH. Morning wind chill: between 0 and 10. Chance of measurable snowfall: 20%.

Thursday 12/8: Cloudy, not quite as windy, and still cold. High: between 17 and 22. Winds: NW 10-20 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 20%

Thursday Night: Partly clear, diminishing winds, and colder. Low: between 0 and +5. Winds: NW 5 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 10%.

Friday 12/9: Partly sunny, light winds, and continued January-like. High: between 12 and 16. Winds: NW 5-10 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 10%

Confidence Level: "It Will Be Cloudy Most of the Week"

Friday Night: Partly clear early, some clouds with perhaps a flurry late. Light winds. Low: between 0 and +5. Winds: light E. Chance of measurable snowfall: 20%.

Confidence Level: "A Cloud Will Remain Over My Head for the Next Year"

Saturday 12/10: Thickening clouds with a chance of snow developing in the afternoon. An inch or two of snow is possible by evening. High: between 12 and 16. Winds: E 8-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 20% in the morning, 50% in the afternoon.

Saturday Night: Snow continues through the evening, then tapers off to flurries after midnight. Potential for between 1 and 4 inches of new snow Saturday afternoon and evening. Breezy with areas of low visibility due to blowing and drifting snow late at night. Not quite as cold. Low: between 0 and +5. Winds: light E evening, becoming N-NE 10-25 MPH late. Chance of measurable snowfall: 70% evening, 20% after midnight.

Sunday 12/11: Partly sunny, windy with blowing snow problems in the morning, and continued cold. High: between 12 and 16. Winds: N 10-25 MPH in the morning, NW 5-10 MPH in the afternoon. Chance of measurable snowfall: 10%.

Extended: More snow Saturday night into Sunday???

Forecast Confidence (10 - "Know what gas will cost next week, Bob?"; 0 - "Been a victim of road rage lately, Bob?"): 8 Wednesday and Wednesday night, 7 Thursday and Thursday night, 6 Friday, 5 Friday night, 2 Saturday through Sunday.

Yesterday's High: 34F (set at midnight Monday night); Yesterday's Daytime High: 23F; Overnight Low (through 3 AM): 15F
St. Cloud Airport Precipitation (through 3 AM Wednesday): 0.05 inch/0.1 inch snow; SCSU Precipitation (through 3 AM Wednesday): TBA

Normal Temperatures for December 7 - High: 27F; Low: 10F
Next Update: Thursday, December 8 8:00 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!

Are you interested in studying meteorology? If so, go to the Atmospheric and Hydrologic Sciences Department home page.

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