A big change is on the way… not necessarily with temperatures, although they will be fluctuating as well, winds will really be ramping up through the next few days. The last few weeks have been far from calm with temperatures diving well below zero and winds of 15 or 20 mph to make matters worse, it has not been a calm winter so far. But those winds may pale in comparison to what's likely headed our way. 2 vigorous clipper systems will be moving through the Upper Midwest this week, aggravating the atmosphere, which will be increasing the winds drastically. These winds may not only make it hard to stay warm, and walk in some cases, but driving could be an issue with fresh snow in the forecast as that wind reduces visibility and causes some slick conditions. So how windy are we talking? Well, not record setting by any means, but enough to certainly warrant caution through the week. Here is a look at a probability forecast. The following 2 images show the probability of sustained winds of at least 15mph followed by at least 30 mph during the day Tuesday.
You can see that much of the north central part of the country will likely experience sustained winds of at least 15 mph Tuesday afternoon, but the core of the strongest winds (at least 30 mph) will thankfully stay to the east of the metro, confined mostly to Nebraska.
Now, clipper system number 2, moving in late Wednesday through the day Thursday, will be even stronger. As it moves southeastward out of Canada, expect winds to start increasing late Wednesday and peak through the afternoon hours Thursday. Here is the probability of sustained winds exceeding 15 mph and 30 mph nationwide.
The overall area of winds won't be any larger than those of Tuesday, however the core of the strongest winds likely will be. Once again, the metro is just east of the strongest winds, yet will still experience sustained speeds of 15 to 30 mph. Western Minnesota could see sustained winds over 30 mph. But these probabilities don't even discuss the potential wind gusts. For those, we have to travel a little higher up in the atmosphere. Wind gusts occur at the surface because stronger winds from higher up in the atmosphere get push down to the ground by heating and other atmospheric forces. Now, because there is little heating overnight, wind gusts are more prevalent and often stronger during the day. So let's look at wind speeds 5000 feet above the surface… first for Tuesday afternoon, and then for Thursday afternoon.
The winds are MUCH stronger than what is expected at ground level, which is very common, but also indicates our potential gusts for the day. It can be tough to get winds from this high up in the atmosphere to get pushed down to the ground, but it can happen. Notice that winds on Tuesday are slower at 5000 feet. The metro shows wind gust potential up to 25 knots (~30 mph) with up to 45 knots (~50 mph) in the Dakotas. But Thursday shows wind gust potential up to 45 knots (~50 mph) in the metro and up to 60 knots (~70 mph) toward the Dakotas! This could create near blizzard conditions in open areas, especially if the winds are accompanied by any snowfall. Looks like we are in for another wild week!