Monday, March 7, 2011

The "Big One" Seen Increasingly Unlikely by Local Weather Prognosticators

The storm that's been better advertised than Geico insurance (but sadly without all the humor) is almost here ... assuming it's still coming, that is. Forecasters, in some cases grudgingly, provided snowfall estimates for a possible snow event on Tuesday night and Wednesday. (And, oh by the way, a much less heralded two inches of snow seemingly made it under the radar on Sunday night.)

As of Sunday night, here's how the menu looked for the potential serving of snow beginning Tuesday night:

WCCO: "Maybe 3 to 5 inches"
KSTP: 10 on a 1-10 confidence scale for measurable; 5 on a 10-scale for plowable (4-6 inches)
FOX: 3 to 6 inches
KARE: "Maybe a few inches."
Strib: 2-4 inches in metro
MPR: Too early to call
NWS: Snow likely Tuesday night. Snow, could be heavy at times, on Wednesday.

The progressive history of the forecasts for this storm can be found here.

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  1. I am rather glad it has fallen apart. I've learned a lot from commentators here.

    But the real question is this: High School baseball starts in 2 weeks. Is their any chance we will see the ground? When is going to start warming and we can stop discussing fake snow storms!

  2. Normal high should be about 39 or 40 right now. Looks like we have a long stretch of below normal temps according to It's been a very cold winter in the sense that we've been below normal a good 75% of the winter albeit only slightly below normal most of the time. Looks like that trend is going to continue. I thought we always heard as kids that all this stuff usually averages out. Couple weeks below normal and you get a couple weeks above normal for instance. We must be due for a nice long above normal temp span at some point. Perhaps a schorcher of a summer is on tap.

  3. FWIW, I think the global models do an amazing job. Basically they take surface data and upper air data, which to be honest isn't that complete. Balloon sites can be hundreds of miles apart over land and thousands over water. The fact that they can use physics to mathematically predict the future of the planets atmosphere to within a few hundred miles 6 days out is actually pretty impressive.

    Just wanted to add that since the models have taken a few negative comments recently.

  4. @NovakWeather on TWITTERMarch 7, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    Storm track from OKC to MKE should yield a solid band of heavy snow across southeast MN, northeast IA, & much of WI. MSP on the northern fringe of this band.

    I'm going with 2"-4" NW metro, 4"-6" SE metro, and 6"-8" Rochester.

    Still a little nervous about T'Storms robbing moisture but a nice Jet couplet (divergence aloft) should creat the classic 'comma head' over southeast MN.

  5. The forecast in the Friday Pioneer Press, KARE-11, totally missed Sunday's 2.5 inches I received. What happen?

  6. NovakWeather, what is your weather background/education? Just wondering. Do you supply forecasts for local businesses? You seem to know more about the forecast models that the average Joe.

  7. Anonymous: Send me your email address to and I will fill you in on my background.

    Long story short, I have a passion for Geography and Weather. I absolutely love Cartography and I'm a graduate of the UofM Twin Cities. I have held several cool jobs in the Weather industry. I'm a Minnesota kid deep down to the bone.

  8. I live in Red Wing so this storm is especially interesting for me to watch. I really dislike the fact the local weatherstations (KSTP, KARE11, WCCO, and FOX) seem to forget anyone else exists except the Twin Citis. So far, I'm not getting a clear picture from them, when they say snow south do they mean Iowa or Red Wing area? Wish they would be a little more descriptive. (Although I must add KSTP does the best job of including us in their forcast than anyone else)

    Anyway, for that reason, I really haven't gotten a vive on if I will be in the heaviest snow band area. NWS has our homepage saying "Heavy Snow" both Tuesday night and Wednesday, and they issued a watch.

    I just thought I'd post and mention this because I am not getting a very good idea from the news stations about how far south of the cities the heavy snow will fall. Maybe I'll get more info from the 5 o clock weather report.

  9. Looking at the forecast soundings on a program called Bufkit for the GFS and NAM at MSP, I'm wondering how fast the column will saturate. There is a easterly wind forecast by both models in the lowest 3k feet from say from 7 12 knots.In the 3-6k feet level they turn to the se at 20 to 22 knots. That easterly wind near the surface is a drying wind making it more difficult to saturate the entire column. The GFS does it by around 9pm Tuesday evening and the NAM waits to 12am on Wednesday. My question is both models reach the saturation point to early??? I would love to here novak weather thoughts on this.

  10. Marc

    according to the GFS and MAM models you could expect 4-6". But according to the European model it is right around 2" At this time my gut tells me that the GFS and NAM are to far north with their tracks. I'm liking the European model at this time.

  11. Marc, 6 to 8 inches of cement! When in doubt, I'll trust the NWS.

  12. Thanks for the help guys. I have seen those links, but when I go my Hourly Weather Graph, it only gives us 4 or 5 inches at most. HHHMMM?

  13. @NovakWeather on TwitterMarch 7, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    randy: I agree, the 12z European runs (ECMWF & UKMET) are a bit alarming. They track the surface low about 50 to 100 miles further southeast leaving ALL of MN out of the Warning type criteria snows. The further the storm tracks southeast, the more dry air will infiltrate our area.

    I'm sure that the NWS is anxious to see the 00z NAM & GFS runs before they forge ahead and issue an advisory or upgrade to a warning.

    I agree with 'anonymous' if reference to the NWS. I will trust there opinions almost more than anyone else. Also, for those who are not familiar, the is a fantastic NOAA/NWS website (Hydrometeorlogical Prediction Center) that talks in depth about upcoming storms:

  14. I guess I should proof read before posting... Sorry!

  15. Anyone else notice that the NWS still says "snow, possibly heavy at times" for Thursday for MSP? How can that be?

  16. Twin Cities avoided a bullet and I think we are glad for that on the impending snow storm. A few inches of snow are better than a foot that is for sure in the grand scale of things when factoring in flood outlook. I'm so over the build up and anticipation of this big storm; I am already looking ahead to Friday as a potent system rolls in from the NW. Uff-dah! Snow and WIND a real threat. Another slap in the face of the Red River of the North Valley dwellers into Minnesota.

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