Thursday, October 8, 2009

Saturday coating of snow?

Is it too late to become an airline pilot? That would have been my second career choice (up in the clouds, up IN the weather, I can't think of a nicer place to spend much of my day). I tried to get my private pilot's license, spent about 8 hours in the air (flying with a trainer), and then one day I landed in a strong cross-wind, "crabbing" into a 25 knot breeze at Flying Cloud airport. I got out and kissed the ground. At that point I had a pretty good hunch I didn't have the right stuff to be a pilot.

The reason I bring this up: I really don't want to be the guy to tell you that accumulating snow SEEMS to be on the way, a cool, frosty inch of snow possible over southern Minnesota roughly 5 weeks earlier than "average". Whatever happened to average, by the way? I'd like to go just one year with average weather here in Minnesota, where the weather is routinely anything but! Which begs the question: "if you have one foot in ice water, the other foot in boiling water, do you feel average? I didn't think so.

Yes, it's chilly out there right now, temperatures running 10-15 degrees below average (whatever that is). But a reinforcing cold front is on the way, and there should be enough moisture present for a period of light, slushy snow late tonight and early Saturday. The latest NAM model (probably the most accurate and reliable) is hinting at about half an inch for St. Cloud, maybe an inch for the suburbs of the Twin Cities, with as much as 1-3" possible....POSSIBLE for far southeastern Minnesota, and more than 4" for southwestern Minnesota.

May I be excused?

Hey, I like snow, especially between Thanksgiving and April Fool's Day. But we can't order up weather, ala carte, and probably never will. So all we can do is track it, predict it, try to be ready for Mother Nature's various tantrums and eccentricities, and do our best to muddle through. And then brag about it, of course. If we have to endure crazy weather the least we can do is boast about our ability to survive a long, character-building Minnesota winter. A super-sized winter.

Latest Snowfall Prediction, based on the 1 pm output of the GFS computer model. To see the very latest computer output click here.

No worries today, just a steady, gradual increase in cloud cover, temperatures stuck mainly in the 40s. Any wet snow would arrive late tonight and continue through the morning hours on Saturday. Ground temperatures are still relatively warm, so much of the snow will probably melt on contact. But with temperatures at, or just below, the freezing mark, a little slush may accumulate Saturday morning (most of whatever falls will probably be gone by afternoon from St. Cloud to the Twin Cities). But over southwestern and southeastern Minnesota, where amounts may be more impressive, even enough to scrape and shovel, wet snow may linger on the ground much of the day.

Still with me? You haven't flung your PC out the nearest open window? Just think how excited the KIDS will be? Especially 25-55 year old kids with snowmobiles, just aching to fire up their favorite sleds! Skies will start to clear out Saturday afternoon behind this (rude) reinforcing cold front, and the sun should be out much of Sunday, when we may even sample 40 degrees (only 20 degrees below "average"). Does this mean a nasty winter is definite? No. The National Weather Service is sticking with their "significantly warmer than average" prediction through December. But looking at the maps I'm starting to have my doubts.

Time to head down to the airport to practice my "touch 'n goes"....

WRF/NMM Model Output valid 1 pm Saturday. This map shows accumulated precipitation (in this case the atmosphere aloft should be cold enough for wet snow, temperatures throughout the lowest mile of the sky overhead below freezing). Some of the snow will probably melt on contact, with the heaviest amounts predicted for the southern quarter of Minnesota.

** Forecast for St. Cloud State University Homecoming, 1 pm Saturday (vs. Crookston)

Clouds and a few stray flurries giving way to peeks of sun during the second half. Take a heavy jacket or light coat, gametime temperatures from 35-38. Winds gusting to 15-20 will make it feel more like 20. Yes, nothing like an invigorating mid October wind chill to get the heart pumping a little faster.

Paul's Outlook for greater St. Cloud

Today: Partly sunny, cooler than average. Winds: SW -10. High: 47

Tonight: Mostly cloudy, a period of wet snow possible late. Low: 29

Saturday: Light snow in the morning, a coating to 1/2" possible. Windy with some partial afternoon clearing possible. Winds: West 10-20 (windchill: dipping into the 20s). High: 37

Saturday night: Clearing, hard freeze. Low: 26

Sunday: Sunny start, clouds increase during PM hours. High: 42

Sunday night: Another chance of light snow, a little slush possible by Monday morning. Low: 31

Monday: Flurries taper, getting sunnier - stiff breeze. High: 44

Tuesday: Cool sunshine much of the day. High: 47

Wednesday: Clouds increase, a cold rain late in the day. High: 46

Thursday: Rain tapers (possibly mixed with wet snow north of Brainerd). High: 42

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