MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The largest April snow event in Minnesota’s recorded history brought 13.6 inches. That was on April 14, 1983.
This year, April 14 could bring an event that eclipses that one, at least in the southwestern portion of the state.
WCCO meteorologist Molly Rosenblatt says that area is likely to see 8 to 15 inches of snow — or even as much as 18 inches — by Sunday evening. The situation in the Twin Cities isn’t necessarily much better, with anywhere from 7 to 10 inches likely. Rosenblatt says that there will be a sharp cutoff to the accumulating snow to the north, where totals will drop off quickly. This also means that a slight shift in storm track – only 50 to 75 miles – could change forecast snowfall totals drastically.
That same storm left South Dakota in blizzard, whiteout conditions Friday afternoon. The strong wind and falling flakes created tough travel and even highway closures in Rapid City. More “no travel” advisories are expected before the storm is finished.
Severe storms already passed through the southwestern reaches of the state, bringing rain showers and thunderstorms with hail and strong, straight-line winds.
In Magnolia, the wind knocked down powerlines on Highway 75, near Interstate 90. Some buildings were damaged just west of Luverne as the National Weather Service reported 75 to 80 mph wind gusts in parts of Nobles and Rock Counties between 7:15 a.m. and 8:15 a.m.
Nobles Cooperative Electric reported outages in Ellsworth after winds broke a number of power line poles along I-90. The storm weakened as it moved through New Ulm and Le Center between 9:15 a.m. and 10 a.m., but it still produced widespread hail.
By 10:30 a.m. the storm was in Dakota and Scott Counties producing ice pellets that aren’t quite sleet or hail — called “graupel.” There were even reports of thunder with that Graupel in Farmington.
As the winter weather moves into the state late Friday and into Saturday, winds will also kick up, with gusts anywhere from 40 to 50 mph. That could contribute to whiteout conditions in parts of the state, especially the southwestern corner.
The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for that part of the state, including Morris, Willmar, Marshall and Worthington. The Twin Cities, Mankato, St. Cloud and parts of western Wisconsin are under a winter storm warning, while Rochester is under a winter storm watch.
As the snow gets going overnight, Rosenblatt says the Twin Cities will see 1 to 2 inches per hour in several bands, though not continually.
In the Twin Cities Friday, raindrops transitioned to hail and sleet by the afternoon, which turned into snow by mid-evening. Saturday is expected to be an all-day snow event for the southern half of the state. That will make the roads very dangerous, with a layer of ice from the rain under the quickly accumulating snow. Lighter snowfall will linger through Saturday night and into Sunday, meaning that travel on Sunday will be slippery and slow as well.
High temperatures should stay in the low 30s over the weekend, during a time of year when upper 50s are normal, and after the storm passes through, highs for next week still look to hover in the mid 40s.
The phrase “Third Winter” has been tossed about a lot, lately. It may be time to start considering the phrase “Fourth Winter,” especially for those looking for good news in the long term forecast — Rosenblatt says there’s another chance at snow by Wednesday.