Storms This Week Will Lock In Snowiest February

So many winters I feel more like a demented weather therapist for snow lovers. “It’s going north but there’s always next time!” Or “Here comes a huge storm, but sadly it’ll change to rain and ice!” Or last year’s sick meteorological joke: “Great news, a couple FEET of snow is coming, but it’ll fall in mid-April!”

It’s been 5 years since snow aficionados living in MSP have had something to crow about. That winter nearly 70 inches of snow pasted the metro. At the rate we’re going this year, with persistent cold and
a southerly storm track, we may wind up with 55-65 inches.

3 to 5 inches of snow is predicted tonight into Wednesday. This weekend a more powerful storm tracking from Amarillo to Madison may dump an additional half foot or more. Yowza!

If you’re keeping score, the MSP metro only needs another 4 inches for this to be the snowiest February on record. That should be a slam dunk.

A warm bubble over Alaska keeps Minnesota colder than average into mid-March. Sorry Punxetawney Phil, no early spring in 2019. Just heaps & tons of snow.


European Snowfall Solution by Wednesday Evening. ECMWF prints out 4-5″ for much of central and southern Minnesota late Tuesday night into Wednesday, which is hardly gospel but an important data point. It looks plowable to me, based on everything I’m seeing. Map: WeatherBell.




NOAA Model Spaghetti Plot. Models are suggesting 3-6″ Wednesday, with another (wetter) plowable snowfall late Saturday into Sunday morning. Welcome to what will almost certainly become the snowiest February on record for much of Minnesota.

February Snowfall Records. Thanks to Praedictix (and NOAA) for updated numbers. Rochester has already set a new February snowfall record with 21.8″, breaking the old record in 2007. But wait, there’s more!



Chilly Start to March. The ground hog lied, plain and simple. Meteorological Spring kicks off around March 1, but you’d never know it gazing at the forecast for winds aloft roughly 2 weeks out. Cold air continues to generously splatter the northern tier of the USA into the first week, possibly first 2 weeks of March.


Praedictix Briefing: Issued Monday, February 18th, 2019:

  • A system pushing east across the central part of the nation will spread wintry weather – including snow and ice – Tuesday into Wednesday from the upper Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic. Snowfall tallies of at least 5” can be expected across parts of the upper Midwest and in the D.C. metro, with some icing across the regions as well. Due to the threat of wintry weather, Winter Storm Watches have already been issued across parts of the Mid-Atlantic as well as Iowa and Missouri.
  • The same system responsible for the widespread wintry weather threat will also bring heavy rain Tuesday and Wednesday to parts of the Southeast with the threat of flooding. Additional rain across this region through the weekend will lead to totals of 7”+ in spots and an increased flood threat.

Winter Storm Watches. As a system moves east through the middle of the week, the potential for heavy wintry precipitation – including snow and ice – will exist Tuesday into Wednesday from the upper Midwest into the Mid-Atlantic. Due to this threat, several Winter Storm Watches have been issued across the region, including for the following locations:

  • Des Moines, IA: From Tuesday evening through Wednesday morning for the potential of 5-7″ of snow.
  • Washington D.C. and Baltimore, MD: From Tuesday evening through Wednesday evening for the potential of 5″+ of snow and some ice accumulation.
  • Roanoke, VA, and Boone, NC: From Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon for the potential of 4-8″ of snow and up to a quarter inch of ice.

Timing Wintry Precipitation. Snow will spread across parts of the Plains and upper Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic through Tuesday and Tuesday night, continuing into the day Wednesday. For areas like the Twin Cities, snow will start Tuesday Night continuing through Wednesday evening. In Cincinnati, precipitation will start as snow early Tuesday Night before it transitions over to a snow and freezing rain mix overnight and then over to all rain Wednesday. In Washington D.C., snow will be likely late Tuesday Night before changing over to a mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain Wednesday, and then over to all rain Wednesday Night.


North Central Snowfall Potential. The heaviest snow is expected to fall across central Iowa to southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin, where snowfall totals of 5-7″ are currently expected.


North Central Ice Potential. This system will also bring some ice south of where the heaviest snow is expected to fall from Kansas and Oklahoma to Michigan and Ohio. In these areas, ice totals of up to a tenth or two-tenths of an inch will be possible.



Northeast Snowfall Potential. The heaviest snow with this system is expected to fall west of D.C., where some areas could pick up over a half a foot of snow. In Washington D.C., snowfall totals of 3-7” are possible. Note that some of the snow on the Northeast map – mainly across New England – is falling today. Winter Storm Warnings are in effect south of Boston (including Providence and Plymouth) for the potential of at least 2-4” of additional snow with the snow moving through today.



Northeast Ice Potential. While ice totals of a few hundredths of an inch are currently expected in Washington D.C., the highest totals are expected into parts of Virginia and West Virginia where a quarter inch or more could fall. That amount of ice would impact travel across the region through the middle of the week.


Midweek Heavy Rain Event. The same system that’ll bring the widespread wintry weather threat will also bring heavy rain to parts of the Southeast and Mid-South Tuesday into Wednesday. During this timeframe, rainfall amounts of 2-4” are likely with the potential of locally higher (5”+) totals.


Flooding Potential. Due to that heavy rain potential across the region for the middle of the week, the Weather Prediction Center has a Moderate Risk of excessive rain that could lead to flash flooding both Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday, the threat exists across parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, which is where the axis of heaviest rain is expected. While the heavy rain will subside a little heading into Wednesday, heavier rain will once again develop into Wednesday night across portions of southern Tennessee into northern Alabama. Overall 48-hour rain totals of at least 3-5” can be expected in these Moderate Risk areas, which is why we will have to watch the potential for flooding.


More Rain Through The Weekend. Additional rounds of heavy rain will be possible through the end of the week into the weekend across this region as moisture feeds into a surface boundary that will remain in place. Through next Monday morning, the 7-day rainfall outlook shows the potential of at least 7” of rain across portions of the region. With more heavy rain possible on top of what is expected during the mid-week timeframe, the flooding potential will have to be monitored through this entire period.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix.


Atmospheric Rivers Get an Intensity Scale – Like Hurricanes. WIRED.com has an interesting post; here’s a clip: “…Ralph’s team unveiled their AR Cat scale earlier this month, in an article published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The key feature it uses to assess the severity of such storms is the amount of water vapor flowing horizontally in the air. Called integrated vapor transport, or IVT, this number tells you how much fuel is feeding the system. It’s not an easy number to calculate. To do it well requires taking multiple wind and water vapor measurements across miles of atmosphere. In the same way that terrestrial rivers flow at different rates at different depths, the water vapor molecules in atmospheric rivers travel at different speeds in the air column…”


FV3: The Next Step to NOAA’s Global Forecast Modeling. Here’s an excerpt of a good explainer on how NOAA is proceeding with a next-gen version of its GFS model: “NOAA is developing its next generation global prediction system, and at its heart is the Finite­ Volume Cubed-Sphere dynamical core (FV3) modernizing the National Weather Service’s approach to weather modelling. A dynamical core takes equations describing movement in the atmosphere, such as moisture traveling through the water cycle, and translates them into computer-solvable language. It’s the engine of a weather forecast model , tracking how the Earth’s atmosphere is changing and what weather might develop as a result, but it doesn’t have all the parts needed to make a forecast. Every model needs three fundamental pieces: a dynamical core, a set of physics equations representing weather processes, and data about the real atmospheric conditions before forecasting…”

Image credit: “A comparison between the current GFS and FV3 modelling annual mean rainfall across South America. The results from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) show what actual values were. FV3 can resolve small-scale features without the dot-like distortion current GFS shows, which represents false storms.”


Implications of New Solar Mandate in California. CNBC has perspective: “Starting next year, every new home built in California will have something extra on top. Recently, California became the first state in the nation to make solar mandatory for new houses. Beginning in 2020, newly constructed homes must have solar panels, which could be costly for homeowners: According to California’s Energy Commission (CEC), that mandate will add between $8,000 and $10,000 to the cost of a new home. CEC estimates suggest that the solar addition will increase the average monthly mortgage payment by $40, but new homeowners will save an average of $80 a month on their heating, cooling and lighting bills…”

Photo credit: De Young Properties. “A home within De Young Properties’ Envision at Loma Vista community outside Fresno, California.”


Farm Belt Bankruptcies Are Soaring. The Wall Street Journal reports: “A wave of bankruptcies is sweeping the U.S. Farm Belt as trade disputes add pain to the low commodity prices that have been grinding down American farmers for years. Throughout much of the Midwest, U.S. farmers are filing for chapter 12 bankruptcy protection at levels not seen for at least a decade, a Wall Street Journal review of federal data shows. Bankruptcies in three regions covering major farm states last year rose to the highest level in at least 10 years. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, had double the bankruptcies in 2018 compared with 2008. In the Eighth Circuit, which includes states from North Dakota to Arkansas, bankruptcies swelled 96%. The 10th Circuit, which covers Kansas and other states, last year had 59% more bankruptcies than a decade earlier…”

Image credit: “Nebraska farmer Kirk Duensing filed for bankruptcy after several years of low corn and soybean prices meant too many bills he couldn’t pay.” Terry A. Ratzlaff for The Wall Street Journal.


The Senate Just Passed the Decade’s Biggest Public Lands Package. Here’s What’s In It. Some good news out of D.C. from The Washington Post: “The Senate on Tuesday passed the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade, protecting millions of acres of land and hundreds of miles of wild rivers across the country and establishing four new national monuments honoring heroes including Civil War soldiers and a civil rights icon. The 662-page measure, which passed 92 to 8, represented an old-fashioned approach to dealmaking that has largely disappeared on Capitol Hill. Senators from across the ideological spectrum celebrated home-state gains and congratulated each other for bridging the partisan divide…”


I Cut the Big 5 Tech Giants From My Life. It Was Hell. As tempting as it is to disconnect, first read this post at Gizmodo: “A couple of months ago, I set out to answer the question of whether it’s possible to avoid the tech giants. Over the course of five weeks, I blocked Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple one at a time, to find out how to live in the modern age without each one. To end my experiment, I’m going to see if I can survive blocking all five at once. Not only am I boycotting their products, a technologist named Dhruv Mehrotra designed a special network tool that prevents my devices from communicating with the tech giants’ servers, meaning that ads and analytics from Google won’t work, Facebook can’t track me across the internet, and websites hosted by Amazon Web Services, or AWS, hypothetically won’t load…”


People Laughed When This Philly Lawyer Sued Led Zeppelin. Nobody’s Laughing Anymore. Philadelphia Magazine has an amazing tale – here’s the intro: “The fact that Philadelphia barrister Francis Alexander Malofiy, Esquire, is suing Led Zeppelin over the authorship of “Stairway to Heaven” is, by any objective measure, only the fourth most interesting thing about him. Unfortunately for the reader, and the purposes of this story, the first, second and third most interesting things about Malofiy are bound and gagged in nondisclosure agreements, those legalistic dungeons where the First Amendment goes to die. So let’s start with number four and work our way backward. At the risk of stating the obvious, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, let the record show that “Stairway to Heaven” is arguably the most famous song in all of rock-and-roll, perhaps in all of popular music…”


11″ snow on the ground in the Twin Cities.

23 F. high yesterday at MSP.

30 F. average high on February 18.

45 F. high on February 18, 2018.

February 19, 1928: A dust storm moves across Minnesota, causing lights to be turned on in the daytime in the Twin Cities.


TUESDAY: Sunny start, clouds increase. Winds: SW 5-10. High: 21

TUESDAY NIGHT: Snow possible late. Low: 15

WEDNESDAY: Potential for 3-5 inches of snow. Winds: E 8-13. High: 26

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, better travel weather. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 17. High: 25

FRIDAY: Cloudy, light snow arrives late. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 13. High: 28

SATURDAY: Heavier wet snow arrives PM hours. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 24. High: 33

SUNDAY: Potentially plowable snow tapers to flurries. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 26. High: 29

MONDAY: Sunny peeks, digging out (again). Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 10. High: 24


Climate Stories…

Time to Panic. David Wallace-Wells argues that the planet is warming in catastrophic ways – and our fear may be the only thing to save us, long term. Here’s his intro at The New York Times: “The age of climate panic is here. Last summer, a heat wave baked the entire Northern Hemisphere, killing dozens from Quebec to Japan. Some of the most destructive wildfires in California history turned more than a million acres to ash, along the way melting the tires and the sneakers of those trying to escape the flames. Pacific hurricanes forced three million people in China to flee and wiped away almost all of Hawaii’s East Island. We are living today in a world that has warmed by just one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 1800s, when records began on a global scale. We are adding planet-warming carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at a rate faster than at any point in human history since the beginning of industrialization…”

Image credit: Jules Julien.



Climate Change is Fraying our Nerves. Here’s a snippet from a story at Mother Jones: “…Forty percent of Americans reported hearing about climate change in the media at least once a month in 2015, and about half said they were worried about the topic that year, making it “a powerful environmental stressor,” according to a 2016 federal report. And that’s not the only way global warming causes psychological problems: A recent report from the American Psychological Association and Washington-based nonprofit ecoAmerica details some of the effects of natural disasters on mental health, including social disruption, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide. Research suggests that heat waves affect our neural regulation, weakening our ability to regulate our emotions, and that people are more aggressive and less empathetic during warm periods. As Stanford University researcher Sanjay Basu put it to me, “We kind of lose our cool...”


A Kansas-Like Future for Minnesota by 2080? Well there’s something to look forward to. Here’s an excerpt of a story focused on new predictions at Star Tribune: “…We don’t think most Americans will know what the climate is like in a city in China or India,” Fitzpatrick said. “The goal is to make climate change less abstract and something people can relate to based on their own experiences.” Indeed, all of the climate data in the new report has been published before, the authors said. What makes this work different from previous studies is how it is presented. “What we wanted to do was translate these climate forecasts that we hear all the time into something that is more digestible,” Fitzpatrick said. The Twin Cities would have a climate more like Kansas. Winters will be, on average, nearly 16 degrees higher and 38.5 percent wetter, according to the calculations...”

Map credit: Nature.com. “Variation in climatic analogs by future climate scenario. For each of the six example cities, colored triangles and circles indicate the location of the best contemporary climatic analog to 2080’s climate for the 27 future climate scenarios for a RCP4.5 and b RCP8.5. Triangles indicate representative contemporary analogs (<2σ) and circle size indicates increasingly poor analogs. Colored diamonds and bold lines indicate contemporary climatic analogs for the ensemble mean across the 27 individual projections.”


The Tiny Swiss Company That Thinks It Can Help Stop Climate Change. Will technology save us (from ourselves?) Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times Magazine: “…The ultimate goal for air capture, however, isn’t to turn it into a product — at least not in the traditional sense. What Gebald and Wurzbacher really want to do is to pull vast amounts of CO₂ out of the atmosphere and bury it, forever, deep underground, and sell that service as an offset. Climeworks’s captured CO₂ has already been injected deep into rock formations beneath Iceland; by the end of the year, the firm intends to deploy 50 units near Reykjavik to expand the operation. But at that point the company will be moving into uncharted economic territory — purveyors of a service that seems desperately needed to help slow climate change but does not, at present, replace anything on the consumer or industrial landscape...”

Photo credit: Christoph Gebald, left, and Jan Wurzbacher, the founders of Climeworks, at their plant in Hinwil, Switzerland.” Credit: Luca Locatelli for The New York Times.


Are Global Warming, Recent Midwest Cold Snap Related? Here’s an excerpt from the Illinois News Bureau: “…With the Arctic warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, the temperature difference is declining between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, which leads to a weaker jet stream. The jet stream generally used to have a small s-shaped oscillation around the planet, but now we are getting a much wavier pattern than before. This can lead to situations where warm air can penetrate much further northward than previously, and where cold air can penetrate much further southward – like this past January. This can also lead to slower-moving weather systems. The combination of increased waviness in the jet stream and slower-moving fronts can worsen severe weather at a given location….”