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October weather bliss to bluster?

Highest snowfall risk favors eastern North Dakota and Red River Valley

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Fall color at the Huttner Weather Lab
Fall color at the Huttner Weather Lab
Paul Huttner | MPR News

Meteorologists are glued to the forecast models this week.

Our blissful early October weather changes dramatically late this week. There is still a great deal of model spread. It is still too early to make credible predictions about potential (heavy) snow chances. But the odds of a significant early season snowfall is growing with each model run from eastern North Dakota through the Red River Valley, and maybe into northwest Minnesota. 

Early trends to watch in the blog below.

Weather Lab dahlia in bloom
Weather Lab dahlia in bloom
Paul Huttner/MPR News

October bliss — for now

Our mild dry weather early this week is good tonic for the soul. Southerly breezes pick up Tuesday and Wednesday. Gust could hit 30 mph on both days. But southerly breezes blow in milder air. Highs push 70-degrees in much of southern and western Minnesota Tuesday and Wednesday. 

The bottom drops out Friday and Saturday as the season’s strongest cold front so far sweeps in.

Temperature forecast for Minneapolis this week
Temperature forecast for Minneapolis this week
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via Weather Bell

Late-week storm: Model watching

Many of us will be obsessing over each new model forecast run this week. The early trends show some significant differences between model solutions as to where significant to heavy snow could fall on Friday and Saturday. 

I’m still not posting specific model forecast totals yet. It’s still too early and the differences are too great for any reasonable forecast credibility. There’s already plenty of click bait postings of what I consider to be highly unlikely snowfall scenarios at this point. 

Here’s what we can credibly say at this point.

  • A powerful low-pressure system is likely to wind up along I-35 and track from near Kansas City to the Twin Cities to Duluth Thursday and Friday.

  • The precise storm track is still in question.

  • There is going to be a huge temperature contrast across the system from west (cold/snow) to east (warm/rain).

  • Significant to heavy snow (and wind) is now likely on the western side of the system.

  • The highest chance for significant ot heavy snow favors eastern North Dakota through the Red River Valley into northwest Minnesota.

Here’s a brief breakdown of the major forecast model solutions.

  • European model: Favors heavy snow and high winds across eastern North Dakota. Lighter snow in western and central Minnesota. Mostly rain in the Twin Cities.

  • Canadian model: Favors a heavy snow zone over eastern North Dakota. Favors significant but lower snowfall totals across the Red River Valley. Favors mostly rain with a light possible dusting inthe Twin Cities.

  • American (GFS) model: The GFS has been the eastern outlier with snowfall accumulation. This solution looks suspect to my eye. And the latest (18Z) afternoon model run has indeed shifted westward closer to the Canadian and European models. The newly upgraded GFS seems to show an eastern, colder bias on our first possible winter season storm. The GFS had placed the heaviest snow zone across the northwest half of Minnesota, with significant Twin Cities accumulations. It’s now shifted westward into the Red River Valley, with possible light accumulations into the Twin Cities. I’m not buying into significant Twin Cities snowfall accumulations at this point. 

Stay tuned.