The Difficulties in Forecasting our Snow for Tuesday - KMSP-TV

The Difficulties in Forecasting our Snow for Tuesday

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As you are all aware by now, a potential snow storm is setting up for Tuesday evening and Tuesday night. But these snow storms are extremely tough to predict the key parts of them; where will it fly and how much will you get… especially in the fall and spring months. It takes nearly perfect atmospheric conditions for a snowstorm to occur which is the big reason why these don't happen on a daily basis. There are always many variables working against it; will the atmosphere be cold enough, is there enough moisture, is there "just enough" dry air to help with evaporative cooling, when will the rain switch to snow, how intense will it be, what will the snow to liquid ratio be of the snow that does fall…. I could go on. A couple of those variables, you were probably like "what?" Exactly…. There are many pieces to this puzzle that cannot be seen ahead of time which is ultimately why it can be hard to determine whether your location will get 8 inches or will it get 1. We will dive into all of the variables listed above at some point in the next few weeks on this weather page, so check back, but right now I want to show you just a glimpse at what we are dealing with.

So, as you all probably know, we use computer forecasting models to interpret what's going to happen in the days ahead. Well many of them give us an output of how much snow it thinks is going to happen. Then we have to interpret why it thinks that and ultimately decide a probable outcome based on what we see… there is a lot of experience and past events that go into decision making. So here are 4 different computer models including our very own in house computer model. You can see the amounts key on either the top or bottom of the first three.

Band of 5 to 10 inches with anywhere from an inch or two in the northwest metro to upwards of 7 in the southeast metro.

Much lighter amounts of snow with a band of 1 to 3 inches with the metro generally around 2 inches. Notice the band width is quite a bit wider than the first.

This puts most of the heavier stuff just to our southwest in South Dakota and Nebraska giving the state 1 to 4 inches but keeps the snow out of the northwest metro and gives the rest of the metro generally an inch or two.

Here is our in house model showing a band of 1 to 4 inches statewide and also metro wide depending on your location. This time, the heaviest snow is in the northwest metro versus the southeast metro.

So you see now why this is hard??? Most of the models are showing lighter amounts of snow, but that's only because they are ever so slightly warmer than the first one, which would keep us in the rain longer before switching to snow. The model that gives us a band of 5 to 10 inches is "typically" a little heavy on its precipitation, meaning its "likely" on the high side of the totals. But what if this is the one time it gets it right? That's what we have to weigh. Either way, it does look pretty good for at least some accumulating snow Tuesday evening into Tuesday night, but just how much…. Well you can see why that's a tough call. IF enough cold air can arrive quickly enough, then we may be dealing with quite a bit, but if it holds off, even a few hours, then very little may end up falling. We will keep you updated on our thoughts as it moves through and will just have to wait and see!

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