Local Forecast

Thursday, December 8, 2016 2:47 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


Cold Facts of Lift This Week (and Likely Next)

Coldest Weather Since Last February

Yesterday, the temperature in St. Cloud failed to reach 20 degrees (see NWS: Last 72 hours of St. Cloud Observations), the first time St. Cloud has experienced a high that cold since February 13 (when the high was 9 degrees). We still have patches of middle clouds circulating southward around the old low pressure system (see infrared loop from College of DuPage Satellite and Radar Menu), so there have been flurries from time to time. These clouds are so low that radar has problem picking up the snow showers very far from the radar, so we only see some echoes within about 30 miles of each radar site (see NWS Upper Mississippi Valley radar loop). There has been a new dusting of snow in St. Cloud overnight. Still, there are some thicker clouds (dark areas on the Colorado State RAMDIS Western US Fog/Reflectivity Product) circulating into Minnesota, so expect these flurries.

Slippery in Places to NW, ND Still Hard to Cross

Winds aren't quite as strong as they were yesterday, but they remain persistently in the 15-20 MPH range (see NWS Minnesota Hourly Weather Round-Up), so wind chills are within a few degrees of zero. In the area of the heaviest snowfall from earlier in the week, there are still some partially snow-covered roads as the snow continues to drift over the road (see MnDOT Minnesota road conditions). In fact, no travel is still advised across much of central and eastern North Dakota (see North Dakota road conditions). A handful of roads are still completely blocked (solid red).

Lower Temperatures, But Wind to Ease Off Tonight

We will again see periods of sunshine, but also periods of flurries today. Highs will again make a run at 20 degrees, but that will be about it.

Finally tonight, the winds will ease off, giving us our first shot at a zero degree low. Our last sub-zero low also occurred on February 13, but it may be a bit more difficult without much of a snow cover (see NWS NOHRSC snow depth chart). We will see more sunshine and less wind tomorrow. Temperatures will be a bit colder, struggling to reach the middle teens, but without the wind, it will feel much warmer.

Potential Saturday Storm Looks Weaker

The large temperature difference between our air mass and the milder than average air still in Indiana and Ohio (see UCAR temperature map) will have the potential to create snowfall when any decent-sized storm moves along the front. However, pinning down the details of how strong each system is and what its track will be is what's causing difficult.

I've been talking about a potential snowstorm for Saturday afternoon and evening most of this week. However, the overnight computer runs have drastically weakened the forecast storm. That's only one run showing a weakened storm, so there are more possibilities, but if this new scenario holds up, the maximum snowfall from this system would more likely be in the 2-5 inch range, and the area of this snowfall would be smaller. St. Cloud is still forecast to be on the northern fringe of this storm, but a weaker storm could mean no more snow than we've seen the past couple of days. I'll have to keep an eye on this system.

Another Cold Surge Next Week??

The new computer information also has a wedge of the coldest air moving into the Canadian Prairie Provinces over the weekend, then trying to surge into the Northern Plains by the middle of next week. In the latest computer information, some of that coldest air would push into Minnesota, so temperatures could be even colder than they are now. Still, that is changing from one computer run to another. Along the leading edge of this cold air push, there is another weak storm forecast, which could spread some light snow over us on Monday. This storm could be stronger or weaker than forecast, so it's much too early to speculate about potential snowfall.

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Confidence Level: "It Will Be Cloudy Today"

Thursday 12/8: Mixed clouds and sun, not quite as windy, and still cold. Occasional flurries. High: between 16 and 21. Winds: NW 10-20 MPH. Early morning wind chill between -5 and +5. Chance of measurable snowfall: 20%

Thursday Night: Partly clear, diminishing winds, and colder. Low: between 0 and +5. Winds: NW 5-10 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%

Friday Night: Partly to mostly clear and even colder. Light winds. Low: between -10 and 0. Winds: light N. Chance of measurable snowfall: 10%.

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

Saturday 12/10: Increasing clouds with a chance of light snow or flurries in the afternoon. High: between 12 and 16. Winds: E 8-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 30%.

Saturday Night: Light snow or flurries ending by late evening. Continued cold. Low: between 2 and 7. Winds: light E evening, becoming NE 8-15 MPH late. Chance of measurable snowfall: 40% evening, 20% after midnight.

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

Sunday 12/11: Partly sunny and continued cold. High: between 12 and 16. Winds: SE 5-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 10%.

Sunday Night: Clouding up. Maybe some light snow or flurries late. Low: between 8 and 12. Winds: SW 5-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 40%.

Monday 12/12: Cloudy with occasional light snow or flurries. High: between 17 and 22. Winds: SW 5-10 MPH, becoming NW by late in the day. Chance of measurable snowfall: 40%.

Extended: Another shot of reinforcing cold for Tuesday and Wednesday??

Forecast Confidence (10 - "Know what gas will cost next week, Bob?"; 0 - "Been a victim of road rage lately, Bob?"): 8 Thursday and Thursday night, 7 Friuday and Friday night, 4 Saturday and Saturday night, 3 Sunday, 2 Sunday night through Wednesday.

Yesterday's High: 19F; Overnight Low (through 2 AM): 14F
St. Cloud Airport Precipitation (through 2 AM Thursday): Trace; SCSU Precipitation (through 2 AM Thursday): Trace

Normal Temperatures for December 8 - High: 27F; Low: 10F
Next Update: Friday, December 9 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!

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