Blockbuster November snow totals may reach 8″ to 16″+

#Snowmageddon. #Snowpocalypse. #Snowvember.

Take your pick of high impact weather hashtags.  All indications point to a blockbuster, and potentially record setting November snow blitz across a big chunk of Minnesota Monday.

I've been following multiple model runs from many different sources for several days now. Sunday's AM & midday model runs seem to confirm a major, potentially debilitating heavy snowfall event across central Minnesota, likely including the Twin Cities metro. The only remaining question seems to be if the heaviest snow bands will set up north of the metro, or favor locations including the north metro.

Winter Storm Warnings continue to bracket much of central and southern Minnesota and Wisconsin surrounding the Twin Cities.

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Twin Cities NWS

Here are some headlines for Monday's inbound snow blitz that reflect my latest thinking.

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  • The main snow shield spreads from west to east across Minnesota late tonight.

  • Snow likely begins in the Twin Cities between 3 am and 6 am Monday morning.

  • Snow will fall at varying intensity most of Monday until around midday Tuesday

  • Snow will be heavy at times, with rates of 1" to 2" per hour likely

  • All rush hours Monday & Tuesday will be impacted, the worst may be Monday PM & Tuesday AM

  • Northeast winds of 15-30 mph will cause blowing and drifting snow in open areas

  • The combination of heavy  wet snow and high winds may cause scattered power outages

  • Overall snowfall totals in the heaviest band may reach 8" to 16"+ from the northern Twin Cities metro to St. Cloud and Hinckley

  • Snowfall totals may be lighter in the south metro if drizzle mixes in Monday

  • The Twin Cities may set a new daily record snowfall Monday. (current record is 5.0" set in 1986)

  • This could be a top 5 all time November snowfall

  • This may challenge a top 20 all time Twin Cities snowfall event

  • The Polar Vortex will likely return by next weekend. The season's first sub-zero temps, and record lows are possible.

The perfect storm?

It's scary when the models are fairly close agreement on the eventual storm track and temperature profile. You have to think something could go wrong. Yes, I may be walking out on the proverbial weather limb here, but I have to call this one as I see it now and not shy away from the evidence of higher snowfall totals. It's tempting to wiggle and obfuscate in winter snows, but I'm paid to make a call. Right now 8" to 16" is my forecast snowfall range for the metro, with heaviest totals favoring the north metro. Hope I'm not scraping too much egg of my face Tuesday.

The favored storm track is still from Nebraska through southern Iowa then re-curving into Wisconsin. That's an almost ideal track for keeping areas near and north of the Twin Cities in the sweet spot of the heavy snow zone. Any shift north and the heaviest snow zone changes accordingly.

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Models: Incredible snowfall totals

The various models continue to crank out some eye opening and back straining snowfall totals. Here's a quick summary from some of Sunday's storm total model runs for MSP Airport .

  • NAM: 10.9"

  • GFS: 14.8"

  • Euro: 1.06" liquid (translates to about 10" to 11" snowfall)

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NOAA model snowfall output via Iowa State University

Here's the bigger picture.

My biggest forecast question at this point...what could possibly go wrong is a slight northward shift in the heaviest snow bands that could keep (especially south) metro snow totals lower. The best bet on digging out from 10" to 16"+ totals appears to lie from the north metro north to St. Cloud, Mille Lacs, Hinckley and Rice Lake. I would not be shocked to see some totals approach 17" to 20" north of the metro.

The 18z NAM run picks up on that trend.

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NOAA via

The 12z GFS puts the storms snowy epicenter over the metro, and absolutely slams the Twin Cities with heavy snow totals that could approach 12" to 16".

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Twin Cities NWS is also bullish on metro totals. 14.4" somewhere in the metro? It could happen.

Top 20 snowfall?

My hunch is this will probably fall short of a top 20 snow event for the metro, but it has a shot. Here's a look at the top 20 snowfalls from the Minnesota Climate Working Group.

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Minnesota DNR

Not too early

On average we get our first inch of snow around November 18th in the Twin Cities. her's a look at when parts of Minnesota average the first persistent snow cover through 1996 from the Minnesota DNR. Dates have shifted a bit later in recent decades.

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Snow Accumulation Season: Onset Date Average start date for the first blowing snow event causing drifts that remain persistent throught the winter. The product was generated using methodology of Tabler and based on the 1971 - 1996 mean monthly temperature records.

Polar Vortex returns

One thing that may get lost in all the snow talk. The maps look to approach record cold levels later this month as the Polar Vortex returns. Not hyping here, the upper air and surface temp patterns looks very similar to last winter in the next two weeks.

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Climate Reanalyzer - University of Maine.

Here's a look at GFS temp output for the metro. Fun with the season's first negative numbers by next weekend? Record lows for next weekend are +1 and -2 Saturday and Sunday. We could challenge those records if the GFS numbers verify.

How lovely.

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GFS via IPS Meteostar

Bottom Line: Buckle up for what looks like a major and potentially debilitating snow event through Tuesday midday.

And let's continue to hear from other weather pros and armchair forecasters. What trends are you seeing as we head into the event?