Local Forecast

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 3:40 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


Major Storm to Produce Southern Minnesota Travel Headaches This Afternoon and Tonight

Central Minnesota to Miss Most of Storm

The storm system that has been long forecast for today and tonight is now forecast to produce a much more narrow band of heavy snow. Within this band, 8-12 inches of snow are likely from this afternoon into tomorrow morning. However, this band will concentrate around 30 miles either side of the I-90 corridor, keeping the heaviest snowfall out of even the Twin Cities. The National Weather Service has a winter storm warning covering Marshall, Granite Falls, Redwood Falls, Mankato, Owatonna, Rochester and points south. The northern fringe of this system will brush places like Hutchinson, the Twin Cities Metro, and Olivia with 1-4 inches possible in these areas. However, St. Cloud and the central Minnesota I-94 corridor will only see a few periods of light snow at most this evening, so only a coating of snow is possible.

The storm is moving even more slowly than previously forecast and is now in Wyoming (see infrared loop from College of DuPage Satellite and Radar Menu). There are a few patches of snow across southern North Dakota (see NWS Upper Mississippi Valley radar loop), but the main snow band has just moved into western Nebraska. The snow band will form and intensify over southern South Dakota and northern Nebraska this morning and push eastward quickly this afternoon. Since this band is being propelled by a jet streak with top wind speeds of 170 MPH, the snowfall will move very quickly in and out of the Minnesota-Iowa border area, so the snow will exit quickly by tomorrow morning.

Slightly colder air will build in behind this system, but the mother lode of cold air, which has been producing temperatures in the minus 40s in central Alaska for the past week (see NWS WPC Latest North American zoom-in surface map), has no path into even southern Canada, let along the US.

Will We Dry Out Enough to See Some Sun?

So, the main question will be whether we can break out of the persistent low clouds. Once again, we are under them this morning (see white areas on the Colorado State RAMDIS Western US Fog/Reflectivity Product) as has been the case for the past several days. Temperatures are again hovering in the lower 30's (see UCAR Minnesota surface chart) and will climb into the middle 30's today, away from the area of snow in southwestern Minnesota this afternoon.

Slightly cooler air will get pulled into Minnesota on the back side of this storm. North to northwest winds will blow at 15-30 MPH in southern Minnesota late tonight into tomorrow, although the snow will be wet enough to prevent widespread blowing and drifting problems in the area of heaviest snow. The question is whether the storm can actually tap some drier air. Unfortunately, much of the Prairie Provinces are also locked into low clouds (colored filled-in circles on the UCAR hourly sky cover chart). There are a few "green" stations, which mean the clouds are higher and might have a few breaks in them.

Still, I'm looking for mostly cloudy skies through much of the week. There will be a chance of some flurries or perhaps enough light snow to make a coating on Wednesday night and Thursday. High temperatures will eventually back off to the middle to upper 20's with lows around 20. There might be a slightly better chance for light snow on Friday as the core of the relatively cold air begins to push away. Still, I don't see any major storm over the rest of the work week.

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Confidence Level: "The Rabbits Will Sniff At My Feet While I'm Forecasting"

Tuesday 1/24/2017: Mostly cloudy, breezy, and continued mild. Maybe a few flurries. High: between 32 and 36. Winds: NE 5-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 20%.

Tuesday Night: Mostly cloudy with a chance of occasional light snow or flurries. Between a dusting and an inch of new snow could accumulate by morning. Low: between 25 and 30. Winds: NE 10-25 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 50%.

Wednesday 1/25/2017: Mostly cloudy, breezy, and not quite as mild. High: between 28 and 33. Winds: NW 10-20 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 20%.

Confidence Level: "The Rabbits Will Want Petting with One Hand, While I'm Typing the Forecast"

Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy, breezy, and a bit colder. A chance of light snow or flurries. Low: between 20 and 25. Winds: NW 5-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 30%.

Thursday 1/26/2017: Mostly cloudy, breezy, and colder with a chance of occasional light snow or flurries. Not quite as warm. High: between 25 and 30. Winds: NW 5-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 40%.

Thursday Night: Cloudy evening, some clearing possible late at night, breezy, and colder. Low: between 17 and 22. Winds: NW 8-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 20%.

Friday 1/27/2017: Cloudy with occasional light snow or flurries. High: between 25 and 30. Winds: NW 5-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 40%.

Confidence Level: "The Rabbits Forecast That Most Precipitation Will Be in the Form of Lettuce"

Friday Night: Mostly cloudy, breezy, and mild again. Low: between 20 and 25. Winds: NW 5-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 20%.

Saturday 1/28/2017: Cloudy, breezy, and a shade milder. High: between 27 and 33. Winds: NW 8-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 20%.

Extended: On the cool side Friday with finally more sunshine??

Forecast Confidence (10 - "Know what gas will cost next week, Bob?"; 0 - "Been a victim of road rage lately, Bob?"): 7 Tuesday through Wednesday, 5 Wednesday night and Thursday, 4 Thursday night and Friday, 3 Friday night and Saturday.

Yesterday's High: 33F; Overnight Low (through 3 AM): 31F
St. Cloud Airport Precipitation (through 3 AM Tuesday): Trace; SCSU Precipitation (through 3 AM Tuesday): Trace

Normal Temperatures for January 24 - High: 22F; Low: 2F
Next Update: Wednesday, January 25, 2017 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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