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22.3″ of snow reported in Duluth

* Heavy, accumulating snow is over.
* Over 9″ at MSP International Airport, but more than 12″ reported in Prior Lake, Waconia, Fridley and North St. Paul. Fairmont picks up 16″
* Temperatures fall through the 20s, slush turns to ice.
* No storms for New Year’s Eve festivities.
* A couple of subzero nights possible the first few days of 2010.
* Long range computer models hinting at 30s the second week of January.
* Snow amounts for Minnesota: scroll down to the bottom. 22.3″ reported in Duluth!

Well, wasn’t THAT exciting? My faith is restored, in Santa, and the notion that the Twin Cities winters have not been hopelessly neutered – we can still pick up a foot of snow from time to time. A friendly word to the wise: try to get out and push that slushy, sloppy concoction off your driveway or sidewalk (slowly, carefully – this is VERY heavy, wet snow with a high water content, what some doctors euphemistically call “heart attack snow.”) The reason? If you don’t get out there fairly soon it may become a cement-like, semi-permanent part of your yard. Temperatures will drop off fairly quickly today as cold, gusty north/northeast winds whip up on the backside of our Christmas Slop-Storm. Much of Minnesota, at least from the Twin Cities north and west to Brainerd, St. Cloud, Willmar and Alexandria, did pick up a cool foot of snow before the storm sucked warmer, drier air into the state Friday afternoon. At one point the storm had what appeared to be an “eye”, dry air trapped near the center of this low-pressure “bomb”. Of course it wasn’t the same phenomena as a true hurricane eye, the physics are radically different, but it points out something I mentioned before the storm struck, something that had me worried all along. Big, mature storms almost always inhale dry, desert air into their circulation – believe me: I have been hosed more times by the “dreaded dry tongue”, a sudden surge of low-humidity air capable of cutting off the heavy snow/ice and turning it into drizzle or “snizzle”.

“Eye” of the Storm. Friday night’s weather map showed the storm’s circulation getting tangled up in dry air, warm air wrapping completely around this “occluded” storm, turning snow over to rain over much of Minnesota. A changeover back to snow is likely today, but amounts should be light as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico finally gets cut off.

There was one other big factor that prevented us from seeing 2 feet of snow. The storm pushed into northwestern Iowa, counterclockwise winds yanking relatively mild air into Minnesota, resulting in a changeover from snow to ice and rain, helping to keep ultimate amounts down. A perfect track for ALL SNOW is roughly Des Moines to La Crosse to Eau Claire. Any track west of that (ideal scenario) usually – usually means a changeover to ice and rain, again, keeping amounts down. On Monday and Tuesday we went with 8-12″, which turned out to be pretty close to reality for much of the region. In the heat of battle I upped the amounts Christmas Eve to 10-15″, a big range, but (as you can see below) the final snowfall amounts were all over the map!

Duluth – a wild & turbulent Christmas Day. This image was taken from a webcam, reports of 50 mph. gusts and some 6-8 foot waves. Check out the water – yikes!

Coming out of the movie “Avatar” Friday evening (yes, it is as good as the critics say it is – try to see it in IMAX, it’s worth the extra few bucks, trust me) I was disappointed to see a steady rain falling, knowing that snow lovers would be bumped beyond recognition. We finally get a foot of snow only to have RAIN spoil the fun! It was more of a March snowfall, with a snow/rain ratio closer to 8:1 or even 7:1 (it’s usually closer to 10:1, and when the temperature is cold, around 15 F or so, can be as high as 20:1, producing the powdery snow more prone to severe blowing and drifting). So we caught a few breaks with this storm: air temperatures climbed above freezing as far north as Duluth (where 20+” piled up, winds gusted to 50 mph and huge 5-10 foot waves were spotted!) That kept roads, especially interstates and major freeways, more wet/slushy than snow-covered, so it wasn’t too bad getting around yesterday. Snow falling at 10-15 F is MUCH tougher to drive on and, ultimately, remove from area highways.

Predicted Weather Map for 6 am Saturday. The unusually powerful storm that did a full loop over Iowa Friday is finally lifting northeast toward the Great Lakes, a counterclockwise wind flow around this “low” sucking colder air into Minnesota today and Sunday.

It’s something of a paradox: snow at 32 is far more slippery, liquid water lubricating the snow. Traction is MUCH worse at 30-32 than it is at 10-15 F. And yet snow falling at 10-15 F is much more problematic in many respects – the salt/sand mix used by municipalities is very ineffective when it gets that cold – it just doesn’t melt!

A few windblown flakes are possible Saturday as temperatures fall through the 20s. Another coating to 1/2″ of so of accumulation is possible, but no substantial accumulation is in sight. The good news: no meaty fronts or ill-timed storms will torment you around New Year’s Eve (or Day). A couple subzero nights are possible immediately after the New Year – but no prolonged arctic invasions are setting up just yet. In fact the GFS model is strongly hinting at a thaw the second week of January, a few days in a row in the 30s. I’ll believe it when I see it. I keep waiting for El Nino to kick in and save us from an old fashioned Minnesota Winter. Still waiting!

SNOW REPORTS LISTED BY AMOUNT

INCHES LOCATION ST COUNTY TIME
------ ----------------------- -- -------------- -------
16.00 FAIRMONT MN MARTIN 0100 PM
14.20 HAMBURG MN CARVER 0800 AM
13.30 1 ENE MINNESOTA LAKE MN FARIBAULT 0339 PM
13.20 2 W PRIOR LAKE MN SCOTT 0700 AM
13.00 SACRED HEART MN RENVILLE 1110 AM
13.00 WELCOME MN MARTIN 1022 AM
13.00 NORTH ST PAUL MN RAMSEY 0842 AM
13.00 7 SSW LAKEVILLE MN SCOTT 0715 AM
12.50 PRIOR LAKE MN SCOTT 1212 PM
12.50 MORA MN KANABEC 1129 AM
12.50 LESTER PRAIRIE MN MCLEOD 0715 AM
12.50 WACONIA MN CARVER 0350 PM
12.50 3 N KIMBALL MN STEARNS 0243 PM
12.20 WATERTOWN MN CARVER 1100 AM
12.10 1 SSW JORDAN MN SCOTT 0800 AM
12.10 FRIDLEY MN ANOKA 0225 PM
12.00 GLENCOE MN MCLEOD 1209 PM
12.00 WATERVILLE MN LE SUEUR 1107 AM
12.00 BROWNTON MN MCLEOD 1022 AM
12.00 MORGAN MN REDWOOD 0912 AM
12.00 OLIVIA MN RENVILLE 0817 AM
12.00 MANKATO MN BLUE EARTH 0800 AM
11.90 3 WSW PRINCETON MN SHERBURNE 0800 AM
11.60 1 NNE BUFFALO MN WRIGHT 0705 AM
11.50 LAKEVILLE MN DAKOTA 1109 AM
11.50 NEW HOPE MN HENNEPIN 0922 AM
11.50 WINNEBAGO MN FARIBAULT 0800 AM
11.50 1 SSW LONSDALE MN RICE 0800 AM
11.50 3 NW PLYMOUTH MN HENNEPIN 0745 AM
11.50 3 ENE MONTGOMERY MN RICE 0700 AM
11.30 FARIBAULT MN RICE 0927 AM
11.30 ST LOUIS PARK MN HENNEPIN 0829 AM
11.20 2 SSW CAMBRIDGE MN ISANTI 0423 PM
11.00 ISANTI MN ISANTI 1242 PM
11.00 CHANHASSEN NWS MN CARVER 0600 PM
11.00 DARWIN MN MEEKER 1134 AM
11.00 BLOOMINGTON MN HENNEPIN 1109 AM
11.00 SPRINGFIELD MN BROWN 1107 AM
11.00 WINTHROP MN SIBLEY 1022 AM
11.00 15 W SANDSTONE MN KANABEC 1012 AM
11.00 CYRUS MN POPE 0922 AM
11.00 ANNANDALE MN WRIGHT 0912 AM
11.00 2 N NORTH BRANCH MN CHISAGO 0907 AM
11.00 DARWIN MN MEEKER 0826 AM
11.00 ROCKFORD MN HENNEPIN 0800 AM
11.00 MORA MN KANABEC 0800 AM
10.80 WILLMAR MN KANDIYOHI 0800 AM
10.60 2 NE BUFFALO MN WRIGHT 0800 AM
10.50 HAM LAKE MN ANOKA 1049 AM
10.50 1 N ANDOVER MN ANOKA 0800 AM
10.50 LITCHFIELD MN MEEKER 0634 AM
10.40 3 SSE ELMDALE MN MORRISON 0430 PM
10.30 LONG LAKE MN HENNEPIN 0700 AM
10.30 2 N CHASKA MN CARVER 0530 AM
10.20 3 WSW PRINCETON MN SHERBURNE 0830 AM
10.20 4 N ALBANY MN STEARNS 0745 AM
10.10 5 WNW ST CLOUD MN STEARNS 0800 AM
10.10 1 NNW COLD SPRING MN STEARNS 0800 AM
10.10 2 N COON RAPIDS MN ANOKA 0730 AM
10.10 ST PETER MN NICOLLET 0717 AM
10.00 1 WSW NEW BRIGHTON MN RAMSEY 0107 PM
10.00 1 ESE ST JOSEPH MN STEARNS 0105 PM
10.00 BELGRADE MN STEARNS 0833 AM
10.00 FAIRMONT MN MARTIN 0800 AM
10.00 RICE LAKE WI BARRON 0708 AM
10.00 EDINA MN HENNEPIN 0700 PM
10.00 BRUCE WI RUSK 0616 PM
10.00 7 NW ONAMIA MN MILLE LACS 0604 PM
10.00 RICHFIELD MN HENNEPIN 0507 PM
9.90 DASSEL MN MEEKER 0800 AM
9.80 ST CLOUD AIRPORT MN STEARNS 0600 PM
9.80 ST PAUL COMO PARK MN RAMSEY 0842 AM
9.80 RUSH CITY MN CHISAGO 0826 AM
9.80 RICE LAKE WI BARRON 0730 AM
9.80 3 NE RUSH CITY MN CHISAGO 0700 AM
9.70 1 W WOODLAND MN HENNEPIN 0800 AM
9.60 12 NW LADYSMITH WI RUSK 0607 AM
9.50 3 NNW MINNEAPOLIS MN HENNEPIN 0107 PM
9.50 BLOOMINGTON MN HENNEPIN 0826 AM
9.50 5 W ST CLOUD MN STEARNS 0800 AM
9.50 BLUE EARTH MN FARIBAULT 0800 AM
9.50 1 E OWATONNA MN STEELE 0700 AM
9.50 ALBANY MN STEARNS 0515 AM
9.50 GLENWOOD MN POPE 0704 PM
9.40 5 NE FOREST LAKE MN CHISAGO 0800 AM
9.40 1 NNE WOODBURY MN WASHINGTON 0700 AM
9.40 BENSON MN SWIFT 0930 AM
9.30 1 ESE ST JOSEPH MN STEARNS 0912 AM
9.30 2 W FOLEY MN BENTON 0837 AM
9.20 SAUK RAPIDS MN BENTON 1020 AM
9.20 REDWOOD FALLS MN REDWOOD 0800 AM
9.10 DONNELLY MN STEVENS 0912 AM
9.00 8 S HILLMAN MN MORRISON 0504 PM
9.00 ELLENDALE MN STEELE 1057 AM
9.00 OWATONNA MN STEELE 0800 AM
9.00 1 SW MONTEVIDEO MN CHIPPEWA 0800 AM
9.00 MELROSE MN STEARNS 0800 AM
9.00 LITTLE FALLS MN MORRISON 0800 AM
9.00 OAK GROVE MN ANOKA 0645 AM
9.00 MINNEAPOLIS ST PAUL APT MN HENNEPIN 0600 PM
8.90 CHETEK WI BARRON 1200 PM
8.70 LONG PRAIRIE MN TODD 0800 AM
8.70 LITCHFIELD MN MEEKER 0800 AM
8.70 HASTINGS MN DAKOTA 0657 PM
8.60 3 N BOYCEVILLE WI DUNN 0600 AM
8.50 CUMBERLAND WI BARRON 0742 AM
8.20 3 SSW WHITE BEAR LAKE MN RAMSEY 1100 AM
8.20 ST CLOUD SCSU MN STEARNS 0800 AM
8.00 3 NW GILMAN MN BENTON 0944 AM
8.00 1 NW MILAN MN CHIPPEWA 0600 PM
7.90 2 WSW RICE MN STEARNS 0800 AM
7.80 5 NW MINNEAPOLIS MN HENNEPIN 0800 AM
7.60 4 NE WOODBURY MN WASHINGTON 0700 AM
7.50 MENOMONIE WI DUNN 0817 AM
7.50 CLEAR LAKE WI POLK 0800 AM
7.30 RICE MN BENTON 0800 AM
7.20 7 NNW OGILVE MN KANABEC 0609 PM
7.20 BERTHA MN TODD 0249 PM
7.00 ROBERTS WI ST. CROIX 0800 AM
7.00 MILACA MN MILLE LACS 0800 AM
7.00 MURDOCK MN SWIFT 0759 AM
7.00 CONNORSVILLE WI DUNN 0708 AM
6.50 RED WING MN GOODHUE 0912 AM
6.50 ZUMBROTA MN GOODHUE 0800 AM
6.30 2 SW STILLWATER MN WASHINGTON 0800 AM
6.00 CLAYTON WI POLK 0842 AM
6.00 BALDWIN WI ST. CROIX 0800 AM
5.00 BLOOMER WI CHIPPEWA 0800 AM
4.50 ELK MOUND WI DUNN 0800 AM
3.60 EAU CLAIRE WI EAU CLAIRE 0127 AM
2.80 JIM FALLS WI CHIPPEWA 0800 AM
2.60 STANLEY WI CHIPPEWA 0830 AM

Paul’s Outlook for the Twin Cities

Today: Light snow and flurries, little or no additional accumulation. Winds: N 10-15. High: 25

Tonight: More flurries. Low: 17

Sunday: Mostly cloudy, a few leftover flakes in the air. High: 24

Monday: Sunshine returns, chilly. High: near 20

Tuesday: Subzero start possible, mix of clouds and sun. High: 18

Wednesday: More clouds, few flurries. High: 22

New Year’s Eve: Storm-free. Patchy clouds, passing flurries High: near 20

New Year’s Day: Still relatively quiet. Partly sunny, turning colder. High: 18

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