Bomb cyclone: Even bigger storm slams Minnesota this weekend

Record-breaking storm heads for Minnesota Friday

Here we go again Minnesota.

A record-breaking California storm is heading for Minnesota this Thanksgiving weekend. The storm broke the all-time record for the lowest pressure ever recorded in the state of California with a reading of 973.4 MB at Crescent City.

The system is likely to bring heavy snow to central and northern Minnesota. It may bring snow and a sleety-rainy mix to the Twin Cities. It should be noted there is still high forecast uncertainty for the Twin Cities with this system.

Here’s a rundown on what we know at this early point about our evolving Thanksgiving weekend weather.

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Quiet Thanksgiving Day

Let’s start with Thanksgiving Day. A weak high-pressure wedge between storms brings quiet weather and relatively good travel conditions Thursday. It will be cold but mainly dry across Minnesota Thursday. Travel should be good for most of the day.

The only exception appears to be southwest Minnesota where snow may develop Thursday afternoon and evening. The Twin Cities could see a little snow or freezing drizzle later Thursday night. Temperatures favor the 30s for highs the next several days.

Temperature forecast for Minneapolis
Temperature forecast for Minneapolis
NOAA via Weather Bell

Record-breaking bomb cyclone

Our inbound low-pressure system set records as it slammed the west coast this week. In addition to breaking the all-time low-pressure record for California, the storm deepened over the North Pacific far more rapidly than the required bomb cyclone criteria of 24 millibars in 24 hours. The storm’s central pressure dropped an incredible 43 millibars in 24 hours.

Winds gusted to 106 mph in Cape Blanco, Ore. The California Highway Patrol recorded this video of a roof peeling off in Crescent City, Calif.

Storm arrives Friday

This powerful storm heads for Minnesota Friday. Winter storm watches are up starting Friday night.

Storm potential this weekend
Storm potential this weekend
Twin Cities National Weather Service

There is little doubt that a deep low will track into our region this weekend. But there are huge model differences on projected temperatures and precipitation types for the Twin Cities Saturday. The Canadian model keeps the rain-snow line near the Twin Cities Saturday.

Canadian model into Friday and Saturday
Canadian model into Friday and Saturday
Environment Canada via tropical tidbits

NOAA’s GFS model pushes warmer air far to the north, producing a transition to rain in the Twin Cities and central Minnesota.

NOAA GFS model Saturday
NOAA GFS model Saturday
NOAA via tropical tidbits

Prolific snow north?

There is higher forecast confidence for heavy snow north of the eventual rain-snow line. Several models suggest the potential for more than a foot of snow this weekend across central and northern Minnesota. Some models suggest as much as 2 feet, especially along the North Shore ridges. This storm is larger and slower moving than our last system. That means plenty of time for snowfall accumulation.

It’s still early to be confident about any one forecast solution. But this European model snowfall map may give a good idea as to the eventual distribution and possible magnitude of snow this weekend. Don’t bet the farm on any model just yet.

European model (ECMWF) snowfall output through Sunday
European model (ECMWF) snowfall output through Sunday
ECMWF via pivotal weather

If the eventual rain-snow line comes further south Saturday, snowfall totals for the Twin Cities could increase dramatically. If it stays nearby, we could have a good old-fashioned sleet storm. If it moves north we could see mostly rain on Saturday.

The most challenging travel time in the Twin Cities will likely be Friday night into Saturday morning, and Saturday night into Sunday. Travel could be difficult all weekend up north.

Stay tuned for likely changes as we update forecasts this weekend.