Major winter storm takes aim: A foot of snow and whiteout conditions likely

Widespread snowfall of 6 to 12 inches or more looks likely by Saturday

Share story

NOAA GFS model Friday and Saturday
NOAA GFS model Friday and Saturday
NOAA via tropical tidbits

We’re still on track for a major winter storm Friday and Saturday across Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Here’s a look at the latest system breakdown and forecast model trends.

Winter storm warnings are up for a big chunk of Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.

Winter storm warnings and advisories
Winter storm warnings and advisories
Twin Cities National Weather Service

Timing

Model consensus is high that snow will begin in southwest Minnesota early Friday morning and spread rapidly northeast.

Models suggest snow will most likely begin in the Twin Cities between about 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Snow will quickly spread north across Minnesota toward Brainerd, Duluth and the North Shore during the afternoon hours.

Several models suggest the initial wave of snow could hit hard. Snowfall intensity could pick up rapidly to rates of around an inch per hour Friday afternoon. That means conditions could deteriorate rapidly Friday once the snow arrives at your location.

Ice may be mixed in along the Interstate 90 corridor and Iowa border areas at times during this event.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Global Forecast System model captures the evolution of the system as it pushes snow through Minnesota Friday and Saturday:

NOAA GFS model Friday and Saturday
NOAA GFS model Friday and Saturday
NOAA via tropical tidbits

Snowfall totals

The forecast model snowfall output is pretty consistent and clusters around an 8- to 12-inch range for much of Minnesota by Saturday afternoon. I could see locally higher totals to 15 inches with this system.

The Canadian model is typical of those that bring the potential for double-digit totals into central Minnesota including the Twin Cities.

Canadian model snowfall output by Sunday
Canadian model snowfall output by Sunday
Environment Canada, via pivotal weather

Wind, too

High winds will ramp up quickly behind the system Saturday morning. Gusts will reach 20 to more than 40 mph. That will produce blowing and drifting, and possible whiteout and blizzard conditions in open areas.

Wind gusts Saturday afternoon
Wind gusts Saturday afternoon
NOAA

Stay tuned for updates as we get closer to the start of the event Friday.