Mother Nature likely to give Minnesota a one-two punch of snow

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Widespread light to moderate snow will move into Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro late Thursday through the early overnight.

This will be one of those storms that everyone will get roughly the same amount of snow, meaning large snow gradients or banding is NOT expected. This storm has more widespread light areas of vertical lift, what we meteorologists call isentropic lift.

This type of event is not conducive for large amounts of snow, nor is it conducive for big gradients. It’s very common for everyone to get roughly the same amount. That said, moisture and temperature fluctuations can give some areas a little more than others which is why overall amounts of 2 to 5 inches are expected, with the most likely falling just west and north of the metro.

Amount of moisture moving in with this system is also on the low side.  This can lead to precipitation type issues, meaning the snow may change over to freezing drizzle at times.  Areas southeast of the metro have the highest likelihood of this occurring, so expected snow totals southeast of the metro are generally on the lower end of our 2 to 5 inch expectations.

Metro snow arrival will be right around the evening commute with the heaviest snow likely occurring between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. Snow should taper very quickly overnight with just a few flurries left for the morning commute.

The Friday morning commute will be very slow just because roads will not be cleared, but blowing snow and very cold temperatures are NOT a factor with this storm, so the MNDOT salt/sand solution should work pretty well, it just needs time to get going which won’t happen before the commute begins.

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for just about the entire viewing area from late Thursday afternoon through early to mid-morning Friday. Below is a visual representation of what can be expected on radar, according to futurecast.

After Thursday night, another storm is on the horizon and this one has the potential to be stronger than the first. While exact details are still a bit fuzzy, the overall U.S. pattern will be conducive for a large swath of snow somewhere in the Upper Midwest.  The best way to show you this is with the jet stream, that river of air at the top levels of the atmosphere.

As of midday Thursday, a storm system is rolling down west coast of the U.S. following the trough that is already in place.  As it begins to push into the center of the country, it taps into some Gulf of Mexico moisture, which should allow it to strengthen.  But what really gets my attention is the “kink” noted in the forecasted jet stream.

Think of the jet stream like a rope in the atmosphere.  When an outside force pushes or pulls on the rope, it will move and eventually kink.  Well, this storm is potentially strong enough to kink our rope.  For reference, our expected storm Thursday night doesn’t even nudge the rope, let alone kink it.  This shows that there could be some serious power behind this weekend’s storm… just something to keep in the back of your mind as we head through the next couple of days.