Wednesday, November 19, 2014

First Arctic Siege Nears End, Winter Storm on the Horizon?

With the season's first, most premature cold spell nearing expiration, Upper Midwest weather eyes turned to the possibility of a storm for early next week. Use this space to track your thoughts on what might be spinning up.

Here's what the NWS had to say in their 10:25 a.m. update this Wednesday morning:


SUNDAY NIGHT AND MONDAY REALLY LOOKS TO BE THE TIME PERIOD OF UTMOST CONCERN...GIVEN BOTH GFS AND ECMWF MODELS CRANK NORTHWEST WINDS UP TO 25-35 MPH /SUSTAINED/ IN CONJUNCTION WITH DEFORMATION SNOW TAKING PLACE AS THE AFOREMENTIONED LOW DEEPENS FURTHER AND PIVOTS NORTH-NORTHWEST TO LAKE SUPERIOR. WILL DEFINITELY NEED TO MONITOR FOR THE BLOWING SNOW POTENTIAL...WITH NOTABLE SNOW ACCUMS ALSO A POSSIBILITY. HOWEVER...MODELS HAVE LACKED RUN TO RUN CONSISTENCY WITH THEIR HANDLING OF THE KEY PLAYER...THE STRENGTH OF THE NORTHERN STREAM SHORTWAVE...SO HAVE KEPT SNOW CHANCES IN THE LOW CHANCE CATEGORY AT THIS POINT.

73 comments:

  1. You can't just look @ surface & low level features and assume that nothing is going to happen SUN into MON. A forecaster is a fool if they look at low level features at this stage of the game. Remember, we are a good 4 to 5 days away yet. You must, MUST look at the mid to upper level features first, especially this far out.

    All medium range models are advertising a highly amplified trough digging into the Plains states late this weekend. They are also showing a 300mb Jet structure that features divergence aloft along with a coupled jet structure very close to MN/WI & the Great Lakes. This alone is worth paying attention to.

    I truly feel that it is irresponsible for forecasters to ignore this storm right now & say nothing is going to happen. Granted, this storm system could easily miss the MSP metro entirely, but we need to consider more than just the metro. This is the weekend before Thanksgiving & there will be a ton of people traveling.

    There is no doubt in my mind that this storm on SUN into MON will be a major Winter Storm somewhere in MN/WI. DLH, Hayward, BRD, MSP, EAU, etc. Hell, significant snow could fall in all of these communities. That is a long shot, but this thing has the potential to be a monster.

    12z GFS looking much more promising now. Can't wait to see the 12z Euro solution.

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  2. here we go! https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B21EqGWIIAE-1ZU.png

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  3. I'm sure this will be a whopper of a snowstorm. For somebody else. I look forward to the rain and mixed precip.

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  4. Dr. Novak has his "travel impact" map up. MSP is NOT in his moderate or high category, but as we know things can change.

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  5. We'll be doing a video with Dr. Novak at 9. If you have questions you'd like to ask, let me know and we'll try to get them in. Should have the video available by 10.

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    1. 1. What his coinfidence level is for major snow at MSP at this time.
      2. What he thinks will happen with the system for the TC.
      3. What needs to occur for there to be more snow then rain.
      4. Has he ever lived thru snow like what were seeing in the Buffalo area.
      5. When will Bill walk on snow again.

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  6. 1. Hearing that more wet than white with this storm (at this time) in southern MN and knowing how cold it's been lately wouldn't any wet precip hitting the surface turn into a big icy mess?
    2. How does phrasing of the north jet and south jet affect the possibility of snow.
    3. Talk of another storm around Turkey day. Can you comment on that at all?
    4. Why do we all live in California?

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  7. NWS updated graphic for the storm has a hurricane feel to it with the cone of proabilities for track of the storm, most times it goes somewhere in the center, so impressive storm yes, but impacts on MSP proper look minimal. Rumors are there may be another storm on Thanksgiving now that would be interesting, when was the last time we had a storm on a major holiday?

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    1. Christmas 4-5 years ago??? It came in two phases and we got a lot more in the west metro than the Twin Cities got, 12+ total.

      My family has a lot of travelers for the first time this year, so I'm praying that any storms next week miss the MN/WI area.

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  8. With the Novaks graphic showing low to east of Minnesota going north east. That's usually the sweet track for heavy snow in Southern MN. How come I'm hearing rain/mix in some of the talks

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  9. Here's our latest video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5Kdz3qU8j4

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  10. Way too early. Let's go back to the last storm which waffled all over the place and was a dud for most of the Metro. Love the videos with Bill and Novak, just feels early to get too interested. Suggestion Bill, shoot the video outside so we can really feel crappy.

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  11. NWS says a watch may be warranted for the Sunday/Monday system, still 80+ hours to iron out the details, but for sure more accumulating November snow is looking likely.

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  12. Text from NWS....

    SUNDAY NIGHT AND MONDAY REALLY LOOKS TO BE THE TIME PERIOD OF
    HIGHEST CONCERN...GIVEN MODELS TRANSITION THE PTYPE TO SNOW AND
    WINDS BECOME BLUSTERY FROM THE NORTHWEST. WILL DEFINITELY NEED
    TO MONITOR THE BLOWING SNOW POTENTIAL. STILL TOO EARLY TO REFINE
    SNOWFALL ACCUMS...BUT COULD NEAR WATCH CRITERIA GIVEN THE
    ANTICIPATED WIND SPEEDS AND POTENTIAL FOR BLOWING/DRIFTING.

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  13. storm dead? been awful quiet on here.....

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  14. Yeah I agree. Guessing it isn't going to be as strong or track close enough to cause a major event around here. Didn't see any updates yesterday from Novak.

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  15. Yup, storm is dead! Especially when Novak doesnt say much about it for the last two days. Yeah we will see some snow and wind but it will not be what was depicted on the video the other day. Also Turkey Day storm vanished as well, maybe some snow showers at best. Remember El Nino pattern coming to life, snow will not be abundant for us!

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  16. I never like saying anything for certain until the main system comes ashore and the full data set gets into the models. The upper levels are still supportive for a large storm to spin up, and as Novak and Hammer were saying, the models don't really see the snowpack which can cause temps to be cooler than expected. The main part I think we'll have watch is the trough coming off the low. Moisture may be limited with it, but it may be some decent snow making conditions where we can squeeze out a couple inches of snow. The wind will still be a factor and any fresh powder will be blown around. If we do warm up, and get rain/drizzle/sleet/whichever, it could crust up the top layer of snow to at least help a little bit initially with keeping the snow from blowing around. Will continue to wait, and watch.

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  17. You know whats a joke, the graphic up at NWS right now, which has a timeline on the bottom that states "snow and blowing snow contiues, travel possibly becoming difficult" from midnight Sunday thru all of Monday and then "light snow continues" Monday night, yet their point forecasts has snow chances between 30 and 40 percent throughout the whole event. Their graphic shows certainty and their forecast shows low coinfidence.

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  18. It continues to amaze me to see how rapidly this storm system strengthens once the two areas of energy meet up. Rapid pressure drops, and this thing still looks like it will bomb out and create quite the storm over the Great Lakes. The overall track of the system may end up being too far east for the snow effects to be felt across the metro area, but this thing is still getting its act together. Saturday's evening run of the models should really start to get a better picture at how this may play out. Please also keep in mind that even if a little light snow falls across Minnesota, it will not take much at all for the wind to create ground blizzard conditions. We saw this on numerous occasions last winter. Remember, snow totals aren't the only thing when thinking of travel impact. Can't wait to see this thing take shape. Even if it is too far east, it will be pretty interesting to watch it deepen rapidly.

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  19. Okay then weather fans...great to love the snow and hold everybody else accountable on the MN Forecaster...so where's the crowd on the MN forecaster Chief Met Novak calling for heavy snow on Monday?

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  20. Read his forecast again. He didn't say that. So far, his forecast is accurate.

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  21. Don't worry, guys. There is a cold front coming, which will end our extremely brief respite of being in a frozen hellhole.

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  22. Friday is looking kinda interesting. Nice looking frontogenesis/clipper system setting up. Nothing major, but enough to cause issues (especially at TCF Bank Stadium).

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    1. Just like four days ago todays storm looked good for MSP and just two days ago the clipper for Wednesday looked good for MSP. Point is whatever looks good or in your words interesting so many days in advance usually don't come to fruition, I've learned to keep expectations low on long range guidance and its usually the ones that don't look good that have more of an impact for us.

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    2. First of all, four days isn't long range.

      Second, both of these systems were correctly predicted more than four days in advance. The fact that the models are so good that we can complain when they have an error of 150 miles at four days out is just absurd.

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    3. Incorrect sir, Mark is correct most models on Thursday AM were showing MSP to be getting various degrees of accumulating snows on Monday depending on which model you follow, I do not consider the candy coating of fluff yesterday accumulating snows. Also about the same time(maybe even a day sooner) the system to affect us tommorrow was getting alot of play/hype as a possible "long duration snows"(as tweeted by an highly regarded ex-TV personality) for Thanksgiving, now it has sped up and will effect us a day sooner but as late as Saturday NWS, following model guidance had MSP in the path of heaviest snowfall with the clipper saying areas along I-94 were inline for that swath, since then it has progressively moved south to the tune of NWS only having 30% of snow for MSP yesterday morning. Now it has shifted again and snow is likely for 1-2". In ending they were not correctly predicted four days out, yesterdays storm was a miss for MSP and tommorrow's albeit with alot of waffling and sped up timeframe is to be determined what impact it will leave.

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    4. You didn't understand my point. The existence of the storm and band of snow was correctly forecasted four days in advance. The placement was off by about 150 miles. Thats still a remarkably good forecast..

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  23. Here's my .02 on approaching model solutions.

    10+ days out = Don't trust them. Just have fun with the solution.
    5 - 10 days out = simply a blue print. Take it with a grain of salt.
    3 - 5 days out = Take the solutions seriously & start giving the public a heads up.
    1- 3 days out = Start to pinpoint areas of concern & try to get specific with expectations
    1 day out = Come out with potential snow total graphics.
    12 hours out = swear by them & use them as hour by hour guidance.

    The problem is that the general public doesn't understand that there is a ton of guessing even as close as 3 days out. Lots of room for error. This is why we get paid the big bucks! LOL.

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    1. People seem to understand the cone of uncertainty when it comes to hurricanes. Doesn't seem to happen with mid-latitude systems.

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    2. I think probabalistic forecasting is under utilized. For a 7-day-out forecast when a big snow is a possibility, set it up like this:
      10% of >12"
      10% of 8-12"
      20% of 4-8"
      20% of 2-4"
      20% of 1-2"
      20% of total miss

      And then just revise it with each passing day.

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    3. I love the probabilities but 7 days out is still way too early. I'd start them around 4 days.

      Anyway, I tracked the vorticity that the GFS is showing on Friday back to its current location. Its currently well south of the Aleutian Islands. In fact, I made a (very poor...Ferguson is distracting) image showing the current location of the vort lobe and the path it will take over the next 3-4 days. The fact that the models are even within 500 miles I find amazing.

      http://i.imgur.com/Jyw9Oz4.jpg

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  24. The issue with probabilistic forecasting is that it doesn't make for good media. There is a perception (right or wrong) that people want to know exactly how much snow will fall, and exactly where. Probabilities are essentially hedges. If the NWS (or Joe Schmoe, AMS) started using that system, people would complain that they are being too vague in their forecasts, even if it might be the right way to do it. At least that's how I see it.

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    1. I think probabilities are the way to go...we just need to get better at not making them look like probabilities while at the same time expressing uncertainty when it is high.

      The cone of uncertainty from the hurricane center is an example. The width of the cone is the 67th percentile average error over the past 5 years. So that means the NHC is expecting the center of the storm to be completely outside of the cone 33% of the time. Its a probability forecast without it looking like a probability forecast.

      Plus, I don't completely buy into the "public won't understand it". They understand what they are used to. The way tornado warnings may look in 20 years with the FACETs program is almost inconceivable. "A probability based tornado warning? The public will never understand!" I think they can, it just needs to be explained well.

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    2. I guess I agree with you, but hurricane forecasting is very different from continental storm forecasting. Twelve hours in advance, you pretty much know exactly where that hurricane is going. The error in that cone is only around 30 nautical miles at that point.

      Now think back to our snowstorm a couple weeks ago. Twelve hours out, they were still predicting much higher snowfalls for the areas that only saw a couple inches. That's a HUGE error.

      Like I said, I agree that probabilities are the way to go.

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    3. If we don't try to introduce probablistic forecasts to the public, we'll never know if they can digest it.

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    4. I think that storm from a few weeks ago is a perfect example of needing to get better at explaining uncertainty. I love the WPC probabilistic forecasts for winter weather. I like looking at the 10th and 90th percentile forecasts. They help show the possible extremes. The 10th percentile can almost be used as a "we are going to get at least this much even if it busts" and the 90th can be used as "if everything goes right and the storm over performs we are looking at this much".

      Anyway, the WPC did a great job of catching the uncertainty. For MSP, the 10% was something like 2" while the 90% was above 12 I think. While up here in St Cloud, our 10% was around 6 or 8" and the 90% was near 18 to 20".

      The night before, the most likely outcome was the airport getting 8 inches or so, but a small shift in this case had a massive impact across the metro. Thats the beauty of ensemble forecasting. It helps show the times when a small change results in a huge difference. Now the question becomes, how do you explain these types of systems without putting out 2-12" as your forecast?

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  25. Woo-hoo we might get our white Thanksgiving back!.......NWS says 2-6" between our two events(tommorrow and turkey night).
    Question for the group.....why did the NWS for Lacrosse put out the AFD for our area in this mornings update?.....did anyone catch that?

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    1. Hmm...no idea. Looking back they've issued them all the way back to yesterday. MPX may be having communication issues or it may be some sort of office backup test/drill.

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  26. NWS and Paul Huttner raising the alert that snow amounts for MSP can run higher......the aviation update at the NWS definitely seems that way.

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  27. Latest graphical forecast seems to raise the bar for at least the western metro.

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  28. Advisory now issued for the metro......2-5" is now the call from NWS.

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  29. Gonna be another impressive gradient across Hennepin County except this time it will be west to east.

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  30. heavy snow in the mankato area, just upgraded to Winter Storm Warning. calling for 7-10 inches now, small clipper with a BIG punch.

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  31. Yawner in mpls. Maybe 2 inches, if lucky. Driving is a piece of cake. Still see my grass poking through the snow.

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  32. Plymouth Weather LoverNovember 26, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    It is not fun when Plymouth is the "victim" of the crazy sharp cutoff that happens with a number of storms! We were cutoff from the huge storm a few weeks ago as the north metro got hammered. We are now currently cutoff as the snow line set up just enough to have the heaviest fall south and east of us. I like sharp cutoffs when it comes to people who talk too much.....people who have all the answers......negative energy.....They should all be cutoff!! BUT NOT THE SNOW! I know I am complaining and am glad that my "bring its" bring others very close to my neighborhood large amounts of snow. Happy for you. My next bring it is for Plymouth. Bring that!

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  33. Jesus this weather sucks.

    Pitchers and catchers report on February 20th. Are we there yet?

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  34. I've heard a few mets talk about very mild temps for the first couple weeks of December. Any one else? Also, PD and PH have mentioned a strengthening El Nino in their latest blogs. It'll be interesting to see if that pans out or not. Sure would be strange to have such an arctic November and a mild December.

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    1. My take on this. First of all the El Nino signal is still forecast to be a weak one, and it has come on late in the season and the atmosphere doesn't normally change on a dime.

      There are three things that I looked at when October was in the books that would give us a hint at what the Arctic Oscillation may do this winter. 1) The October pattern index was very negative. 2) The snow advance index over Eurasia was the second strongest on record trailing only 1976, which by the way was a brutally cold year. 3) The Quasi-biennial oscillation was strongly negative (-23.8), there have been studies that show the AO going negative if the QBO is -8 or lower. When the AO goes negative that means the Polar Vortex is weak and can break down.

      Now lets take a look at the Pacific North American Oscillation (PNA). It is forecast to go strongly positive during the next two weeks and that would put a ridge out to our west and should help to pull cold air down over the eastern US. At the same time the AO is forecast to go negative and weaken the polar vortex.

      Now lets throw one more detail into the mix and that is the Madden Julian Oscillation which is showing sings of moving into phases 7 and 8 and possibly into phase 1 after that, those are all cold signals as well.

      So what is the modeling really showing us? For that you have to look at ensemble forecast's and just not the operational runs of the models. I have looked at the latest 2m temp analogies off the GEM and GFS ensemble forecast with respect to the 1-5, 6-10,11-15 day averages. They show the 1-5 day average mean temp to be from -5 to -7, the 6-10 average mean to be from -3 to -5. When we look at the 11-15 day average it looks like equal chances of above or below temps.

      I think you can get the idea. There are way to many cold signals that are going to override the weak El Nino. I'm not backing off my colder than normal winter forecast.

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    2. As always great stuff Randy.....and I hope your correct.....now I dont wish last years cold again(with the 50 or so below zero temps)....but I can live with 20's everyday with the occasional thaw of near freezing now and then.....so that we dont lose much snow cover, I like my winters with snow cover.....also temps below freezing would eliminate any talk of mix or changeover to rain....theres nothing worst then r ain in the winter, especially at this latitude.
      So I see some more snow is forecasted for tonight and tommorrow with advisories......any chance the heavier swath of snow sinks south to include the metro and is there any surprises like the near foot at Fairbault yesterday.
      Anyhow I wish each and everyone of you a happy Thanksgiving,.....hope you all get to enjoy the four F's today......family, friends, food and football and Bill I am thankful for this blog.

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  35. Snow-covered roads this morning. Freezing rain now. It was accumulating on my windshield faster than I could melt it off. People driving like total jerks.

    There is simply no end to the creative shit show that a Minnesota winter will dump on you. The most depressing part is that it is not even bleeping DECEMBER yet.

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  36. Novak is really thinking that this week el nino is going to give us a warm and dry December. Other sources are saying that there are too many variables that point otherwise, including randyinchamplin and http://www.scmweather.com/?p=5279 .

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    1. Like with all things weather, I'll believe it when I see it. The more I follow weather, the more I see rather poor forecasts. It's almost 2015 and our computer models still have a pretty tough time forecasting temperature even 12 hours out.

      Case in point. My wife ran a 10K Thanksgiving morning. The temp was around -2F when the race started. The evening beforehand, the forecast low for the race was something like +8. A 10-degree error for a 12-hour forecast.

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  37. Boring, blah, el nino winter kicks in this week. Nothing but milder then average temps by Friday with thaws and rain chances the following, not snow. I can hear whispers of a brown Christmas already, what a shame after such a promising November. I guess Bill and this blog will be hibernating here for awhile.

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    1. What forecast are you even looking at? It's all below average this week with MAYBE a shot at average on Friday.

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    2. Same forecast your looking at, like I said boring and blah el nino pattern with nothing happening and by Friday milder then average temps with thaws and rain chances the following week, what did you not understand??

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  38. New graphic just up at NWS website and social media pretty much says it all. Quiet, boring, uneventful el nino pattern kicking in this week, thaw with dry conditions next week!

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  39. I don't know if it is just me, but this year the sun feels stronger. Even on a cold day like today, being in the sun feels much warmer than a sunny day last year, with the same air temperature. The side of my house exposed to the sun is definitely much warmer than last year.

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  40. Only 21 days until the days start getting longer again!

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    1. Opening day is just four short months from now!

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  41. Looks like a possible repeat of the winter of 2006-2007 where we had extensive 40s well into December and early January. That was followed by a very strong arctic cold wave in early-mid february that then set the stage for 2 big-back to back 8-inch+ snowstorm within a week between end of february and first week of March.
    That was also an el-nino labelled winter, although November was also milder, differenttly from this one.
    We shall see. Signs do not seem good as of right now for snow lovers this winter, but look good for those who love milder, less snowy weather.
    We shall see.

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  42. There is a lot of El Nino (e.g. hot/dry MN winter weather) chatter going on (Paul Douglas, Paul Huttner, etc.). I am also hearing the exact opposite, that the sudden stratospheric warming will result in a brutal arctic onslaught come mid-December. Can anybody here shed any light on these two schools of thought?

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    1. Warm and mild month ahead, all signals point that way.

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    2. I'll believe a warm and mild month ahead when I see it. If it comes to pass, they can look back and say they got one right for a change.

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  43. Might be time for anew topic heading.

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  44. Rumblings of a snow system for Sunday.......thoughts?

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    1. Dave Dahl is partially in for Sunday citing the Euro model, even uses the word "significant".

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    2. Weather.com now has 80% chance of snow Sunday afternoon into Monday morning. Something popping up out of nowhere, less hyped storm deliver big punch?

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  45. Models are calling for several days of highs in the 40's and 50's starting late next week. UUuggghhh! Really??!!! This sucks!! It's December in Minnesota for crying out loud!!

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  46. Plymouth Weather LoverDecember 3, 2014 at 6:27 PM

    Bring on the big surprise storm and it won't get quite that warm. A heavy blanket of snow and low 30's sounds perfect. Bring it, baby, Bring it!!

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  47. NWS Duluth says best chance for maybe a few inches is northern MN and the arrowhead. Don't get your hopes up. Meanwhile, the warm-up is still being talked about everywhere I look. I even saw some saying today that some models are seeing this spill over into January. And even if it doesn't occur (or to the high degree), a drier pattern looks to ensue as well.

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