An Update on your Messy Halloween Week - KMSP-TV

An Update on your Messy Halloween Week

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What a crazy month it has been, and yet, it has been absolutely normal. It is completely common to go from several straight days of 70's in the beginning of the month to upper 30's in the middle, and then rounding out in the 40's and 50's. It is also pretty normal to have wide swings of precipitation, and this week will be no different. After what is sure to be a mild day on Sunday, another large temperature swing and areas of precipitation will follow. Parts of the state may start out as snow Tuesday morning, including right here in the metro. But numbers are expected to warm as "warm" air and plenty of moisture is lifted into the state from the southeastern U.S. These components will combine to bring the largest storm of the fall season through the central U.S. and could bring areas around here more than an inch of rain. Great news for the drought, but not so great if you wanted to see the sun.

Now some of the biggest questions remain will the precipitation be rain or snow or both, and how much can we expect? Both are very complicated questions but here is as simplistic of an answer as I can give. Right now, temperatures Tuesday morning will quite likely be below freezing at the surface, but just because you are below freezing at ground level, doesn't mean that you will get snow. Temperatures at every level of the atmosphere have to be below freezing in order for it to snow at the surface. The only exception to that is that temperatures right at the surface (the couple hundred feet closest to the ground) can be above freezing because it takes longer than that for the snow to melt. More often than not, the "warm" layer that prevents snow at the surface is around 850mb, or about 5000 feet up. Here is what two different forecasting computer models are predicting for temperatures at that level around 7am Tuesday morning.  The red line indicates the freeze mark.

Notice that the top image is warmer than the bottom image as that red line is further north, with the top one likely giving you rain and the bottom one some snow. With temperatures so close to freezing, it's a tough call even without these models disagreeing with each other. So unfortunately, it still looks like it could be rain and/or snow for much of the southern half of the state early Tuesday. You go north of I-94, and the first few hours of precipitation look to be snow, however very little, if any, accumulation is expected.

So how much precipitation are we talking about and how much of snow versus freezing rain versus rain? Well, if you include all of the precipitation types, add them together in the liquid form then a lot of us could end up with near an inch of liquid.  Here is how much liquid precipitation is expected by the Weather Prediction Center from Sunday morning to Friday morning.

Much of our area is within the three quarters of an inch and the one and a quarter inch category. This would be a significant amount of rain for this time of year and put a pretty good dent in the drought and help the recharge process in the soil before it freezes over for the winter.

Now, the majority of the precipitation will fall on Wednesday and Thursday in the form of rain, but we have to get through some mixed precipitation first.  Here is one forecasting computer model's interpretation on how much snow can be expected across the area.


Clearly, not much is expected area wide, but it does look like there could be some pockets of a half inch or inch on some of the grassy surfaces in central Minnesota.  Now that temperatures are gonna be awfully close to freezing, so sleet and even light freezing rain is a possibility.  In these cases, both would be extremely light as temperatures continue to rise above freezing as the precipitation is falling, but here is that same model's interpretation of our freezing rain accumulation.

You can see for yourself, scattered pockets of a "trace" may be possible through Tuesday morning.  Granted, the ground temperatures are still above freezing so road conditions will likely be just fine through much of Tuesday morning, however, with pockets of freezing rain, sleet, and/or snow, its just a good idea to take it slower than usual because some isolated slick spots aren't out of the question.  But by Tuesday afternoon, temperatures will have warmed enough to not deal with frozen precipitation any longer.  Then we just get to deal with rain right through your Halloween.  Stay dry!

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