October blizzard likely in North Dakota; first Twin Cities' flakes of season?
Heaviest snow and wind likely targets eastern North Dakota
A winter storm watch is already up for a big chunk of territory bracketing the Red River Valley. And blizzard watches and warnings may be issued soon.
Our major early-season winter storm now looks highly likely for eastern North Dakota and the Red River Valley. Much of northwest Minnesota will see wintry conditions by Saturday. And all of us will feel the season’s biggest major temperature crash so far.
Let’s dig into the meteorology of the first major wintry storm of the season.
Our inbound low-pressure system swirled out of the Gulf of Alaska over the weekend. It pushed onto the west coast near Seattle Tuesday. The storm drops to the Four-Corners region Thursday then races northeast toward the Upper Midwest Friday.
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The system is already producing snow in the Cascades.
The surface low-pressure system winds up west of Kansas City Thursday morning, then races north toward the Twin Cities into northern Minnesota Friday. As the system moves north, cold air behind the storm feeds in, deepening the storm.
The Canadian model seems to have a decent handle on the storm track and rain-snow coverage as the system moves north.
It appears the Twin Cities will stay on the rainy side of the storm until late Friday night or Saturday morning.
There is more model consensus today that the most likely heavy snow zone will layout across eastern North Dakota. The suite of forecast models now mostly agree on a band of 1 to 2 feet of snow, with some high-end totals to over 30 inches possible. Snowfall totals taper off as you move east into northwest Minnesota, where much of the precipitation should all as rain in the early part of the storm.
Here’s the Tuesday morning Canadian model snowfall output by Sunday morning. Keep in mind this map will almost certainly not verify precisely, but it’s starting to look like the most likely general pattern.
In this scenario, the Twin Cities could get sideswiped by some snowflakes and minor slushy accumulation Friday night into Saturday morning.
As cold air rushes in to deepen the low, high winds on the storm’s backside will drive sustained winds that could reach 40 mph Friday night. Gust may top 50 mph in eastern North Dakota. NOAA’s GFS model cranks out sustained winds of 34 knots (39 mph) Friday evening across eastern North Dakota.
Blizzard conditions would occur under this scenario. Watch for blizzard watches and warnings to be issued in the next 24 hours.
This storm arrives almost precisely a year after last October’s storm in eastern North Dakota.
Stay tuned for possible forecast model changes as the system unfolds.
This system rams the season’s coldest air so far into Minnesota.
Ther are signs temperatures may return to the 60s around the weekend of Oct. 19-20 in the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota.