Monday, April 29, 2013

Mayday! Mayday! Could There Be Accumulating Snow in May?

Mayday (per Merriam-Webster): an international radio-telehone signal word used as a distress call.

We propose a new meaning: a cry from distressed locals who can't believe what some weather models are suggesting. That'd be S - N - O - W.

Updated Tuesday late afternoon/early evening:

If you do the math, it appears the NWS calling for perhaps 3-5 inches of snow.

KSTP's Dave Dahl forecasts "mainly a cold rain." KSTP has been better than most weather outlets recently.
MPR: "At this point, two to as much as six inches."

At 6:24 p.m. this fine spring Monday evening, here's an excerpt from what the National Weather Service had to say in its forecast discussion:


What do you say peeps? Could this really happen???

The scene on April 30, 1984, Mr. TMF's first spring in Minnesota.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Anatomy of an April Meltdown

You often hear about snow coming down at the rate of an inch per hour, but today it almost seemed like the snow melted at the rate of an inch an hour. This is a series of photos taken roughly every hour from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. By our estimate, the snow depth dropped from an average of about five inches to an average of about one inch. Needless to say, the sun's strength on April 23 is quite potent!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Inside Weather: KSTP's Patrick Hammer Offers Thoughts on Forecasting ... and Possible Monday Night Snow

On Sunday, TMF conducted a Google Hangout (video interview) with KSTP TV morning meteorologist Patrick Hammer. Patrick offered his perspective on weather forecast philosophy as well as a few thoughts on what might be in store for the Twin Cities Monday p.m. into Tuesday (hint: snow). We think you'll enjoy hearing Patrick's perspective -- much more than you will his forecast.

Looking Past the Snow: Eyes on Weekend Warmup

While there's still a bit more snow to get past -- at least according to the forecasters -- we're going to shift our focus to the warmer weather expected to arrive late this week and into the weekend. Here are temperatures forecast for the Friday-through-Sunday period from various weather outlets. Note that national forecasters Accuweather and The Weather Channel.

This is the forecast from The Weather Channel as of Sunday evening.

WCCO: 60/63/60
KSTP: 58/60/63
KMSP: 56/59/62
KARE: 60/na/na
NWS: 58/59/62
TWC: 67/71/67
Accuweather: 68/72/67

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Groundhog Day in April -- Another April Snowstorm Possible

Unbelievable as it sounds, more snow seems likely headed this way. At least that's the sentiment of the National Weather Service and Tom Novak from @NovakWeather. Here's our latest video with Tom discussing the possibility of snow coming in Monday night into Tuesday.

The photos below were taken in Minnetonka Friday morning. Is a repeat performance in the offing?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Snow Totals Range Widely Over MSP According to Local Forecasters

In expectation of the latest (and last??) winter shellacking of the year, forecasters placed their bets for snowfall accumulation from Thursday into Friday. KSTP was the most aggressive with the storm, with Dave Dahl showing 7.5 inches of snow. KARE forecast a mere 2 inches of snow while WCCO essentially predicted 3 inches for the central core of MSP. The NWS ( for KMSP) appeared to forecast 2 to 4 inches of snow yet maintained a winter storm warning. Fox9 weighed in at 1-4 (2.6 on the infamous snow meter) on the 9 p.m. newscast.

We interviewed Tom Novak from Novak Weather this evening to get his latest assessment of the storm. That video can be seen here.

We'll try to update forecasts as we sight them. Commenters, please feel free to detail the forecasts you see.

We find the NWS forecasts very confusing. Per the graphics below, a winter weather advisory is in place for zip code 55116 (St. Paul) with a total snowfall (if you add things together) of 3-5 inches. However, for KMSP, a winter storm warning is in place yet the forecast snow accumulation is lower. If anyone from the NWS reads this blog, we'd love to better understand what's going on here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Another April Snowstorm Brewing? Yeppers....

The broken record continues. More snow appears to be in the offing for later this week.

Here's what Tom Novak from @NovakWeather had to say about the prospects for snow this week.

In the meantime, TMF took a road trip to Kansas City this weekend... where spring was found to be more than a rumor!

Outdoor baseball the way it's meant to be -- in Kansas City.

Blooming trees in Kansas City.

Friday, April 12, 2013

How Did Forecasters Perform With This Week's Storm? A Local Meteorologist Provides an Assessment

This has been one of the oddest weeks in recent memory with snow episode after snow episode occurring during what's typically considered the heart of meteorological spring (March through May). It's proven to be a challenge for forecasters as well.

We spoke with local forecaster Tom Novak of @NovakWeather to get a sense of how well he thought forecasters did with this week's long-duration storm. We know that consumers have their own perspective, but we thought it would be interesting to hear from a forecaster on how well he thinks this storm played out according to predictions.

Was the forecast accurate?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Gobbsmacked! Most Forecasters See Hefty April Snowfall Into Midweek

Approximately 1.5 inches of snow fell Tuesday night. Most of the updated forecasts below reflect forecast snowfall from Wednesday night into Thursday night.

Here's our in-depth weather discussion with Tom Novak of @NovakWeather from late Tuesday. Get the inside scoop like you've never gotten it before.

Some have coined this season "Winter II." It certainly doesn't resemble anyone's idea of spring. Forecasters are tossing around some pretty significant amounts. As of 6 p.m. this Tuesday evening, most forecasters were predicting approximately 6 inches of snow while others (MPR and KSTP) were predicting a little more. A notable exception was the National Weather Service, which forecast a whopping 8-18" of snow.

On paper (on monitor?) the amounts forecast suggest a significant storm were this midwinter; however, with April's snow accumulating inhibitors -- high sun angle, relatively warm surface temps, temps edging above freezing, etc. -- and a long-duration snow, we wonder if the impact will be as great as the public might otherwise be lead to believe.

Blue represents forecasts from late news.
Orange-ish font represents forecast as of mid evening Wednesday.

WCCO: 4-8"(Snow meter showed 9.9". Noted half of snow might not accumulate) (6 to 10", meter shows 9.3" for MSP)
KSTP: 6-10" with some 12" amounts. Likely a Top 10 April Snowfall (meaning 7.5") (6-12, maybe a bit more in some place; 1-2 by morning, mostly on grass) (6 to 12")
KMSP: 5-8"(8-10" north, 4-8" south, 7.5 snow meter, "might be conservative" "With compaction, overall 5-8" for metro" "maybe an inch by morning") (5 to 10")
KARE: 3-8" (showed 6" for metro) No change. (6 to 10")
NWS: 8-18" ( for KMSP -- see graphic below) No change. (7 to 15")
Strib: waiting for update (6-12") "This factors in relatively warm ground temperatures and some melting of snow on contact."(4-8" additional)
MPR: 6-12"(another to 5 to 10"by Thursday night)
Accuweather: 4-8"
The Weather Channel: 4-8" ( (Per commenter below, forecast for 7-13" -- is very confusing.
Novak Weather. 6-10" (Wednesday night thru Thursday noon)

NWS forecast ( for KMSP) on Tuesday evening.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Significant April Snow Coming For Midweek?

As of Monday morning, forecasters were predicting snow for midweek that could be more than just conversational. We'll track the forecasts later today.

The scene on April 30, 1984 outside Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.

Looking for a little weather education? Here's our weather instructional video for this week's unfolding situation from Tom Novak at @NovakWeather.

Several have asked us to include Tom Novak's response as to why he thinks the storm may track further north than others are forecasting. Here is his response (copied from a comment in the previous blog post):

I can't speak for those forecasting at the MPX NWS (They have several shifts hence different forecasters), but my M.O. with weather forecast is more of a "top down" approach rather than vice-versa. Let me explain.

When I look at model data, I almost always look at the 250mb level first (Jet Stream level) before drilling lower in our atmosphere. This is especially crucial when viewing a storm that is more than 48 hours out. Once I get a good feel for the upper-level dynamics, then I drill deeper into the mid-levels before finally ending my viewing on the surface features.

It is safe to say that I place much more weight on the mid & upper level dynamics than I do with the surface features especially when forecasting more than 24 hours in advance. Hell, I never trust surface weather maps including QPF (precipitation forecasts) until approx. 36-48 hours before the onset of a storm.

I've learned my lessons the hard way by placing way too much emphasis on surface features, including QPF, too early in the game. This is a trap that many weather forecasters run into especially those with little time on their hands and/or who are simply too laze to view all atmospheric levels.

With the impending storm for this week, I'm pretty confident that the storm will track further north than what some forecasters are predicting. There are several reasons why I'm going with this scenario:

1.) Jet stream dynamics support a further north solution with the mid & upper level lows. All computer models are on board with this. Remember, even though the surface low may track well south of MN through IA, MO & IL, the upper level support will linger well NW of the surface low over so. MN.

2.) Strong forcing at the 850mb, 700mb & 500mb levels will tend to keep the precipitation shield established well north of the surface low.

3.) I can't believe I'm still saying this, but Arctic air is still alive and well in the northern U.S. including much of the Upper Midwest & MSP metro.

Put all of this together, and you have a mess on your hands for much of MN. I hope this all makes sense.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Wet Week Ahead?

The next week seems to hold several opportunities for considerable amounts of precipitation. TMF sat down with Tom Novak from @NovakWeather late on Thursday night to discuss what just might be in the offing. View the video here.

Feedback wanted: We'd seriously love to hear your feedback on the video. Does it hold your interest (be honest)? What do you like about or not like about it? Are there questions you'd like to see asked? Thanks in advance!

Tom sets the record straight in our latest weather video segment.

Monday, April 1, 2013

NWS: Models Hint at Snow For Early Next Week

Your favorite local National Weather Service office came out with this graphic this morning depicting what can happen in April (as if we needed reminding, huh?).

The text accompanying the graphic read as follows:

Northwest flow will continue the unseasonably cold and dry weather pattern through Tuesday night. Temperatures will average 15 to 20 degrees below normal. This cold pattern will end Wednesday as winds become more southwest and usher in a more mild air mass. An active weather pattern will take shape into the weekend, with light precipitation chances late Wednesday into Thursday, and again Friday and Saturday. A stronger system is taking shape for the start of next week. At this time, temperatures appear cold enough for the possibility of a mixture of rain and snow late Sunday and Monday, with a better chance of snow across central Minnesota. It is too early to pin point snowfall accumulations, and even if snow will be the dominate precipitation type. However, a wetter pattern for the Upper Midwest is likely.