MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - By now I’m sure you have heard the hysteria that is our next potential batch of snow. If not, then I will fill you in.
Here is what we know for sure; there will likely be a winter storm of some variety that moves through the center of the country late Sunday through Tuesday morning.
That’s really the ONLY information we know for sure at this point because it’s still a good 72 hours away as of this post. So why don’t we know more? Well, it’s all about where the storm is coming from and how far away it is.
As of Friday morning, this system was still nearly 2,000 miles away AND still in the Pacific Ocean. This is an issue for two reasons; first because it’s 2,000 miles away which means it has a lot of ground to cover to get to us and any small variation in the atmosphere that we can’t see (there are many) can push the precipitation one direction or another. Second, it hasn’t made landfall yet.
The way our computer models forecast the weather is by ingesting an enormous amount of data that comes from instruments all over the planet at various locations and intervals. Many of these instruments as you would imagine are on the surface, but we also use weather balloons and sensors on airplanes to measure as much of the atmosphere as we can. But these weather balloons are released from the ground, NOT in the middle of the ocean. Also, flight paths are far less numerous over the oceans and planes typically fly around the valuable parts of storms because they are more volatile.
Because of this, the computer models don’t have a complete picture of the storm until it comes on shore which means it often misses components that can identify exact track and intensity of any snow, sleet, or rain.
THIS is why we do NOT post exact details of any expected storm until we have all information available, usually 24 to 36 hours in advance. We do this because if the outcome is just going to change anyway, then what’s the point of posting misinformation?
So the map above is about as specific as we can be right now. The best chances to see some sort of precipitation across our area is in central and southern Minnesota where it will likely start as liquid and change over to snow. We will update you with expected precipitation amounts when we know more, likely on the Sunday morning show.
Stay tuned and resist the hype... after all, it's January in Minnesota.