Blizzard warnings include western Twin Cities; 6-12 inches of snow likely

Winter storm warnings include the Twin Cities. High-impact snow and wind event could freeze snow and ice on roads quickly.

Winter storm warnings and advisories for Wednesday
Blizzard and winter storm warnings are posted for much of Minnesota on Wednesday.
Twin Cities National Weather Service

Here’s an update on our rapidly evolving winter storm situation Wednesday.

Morning rain will rapidly change to snow during the midday hours in the Twin Cities. Get to where you need to be by noon and plan to hunker down in the afternoon.

As I said in my 4:48 p.m. weather broadcast on MPR News, this storm has traits that make me think of the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940. This storm will hit quick and hard, with great ferocity.

The late evening 0Z forecast model runs are coming in. The southward storm track shift continues. The southern track, combined with a deepening low-pressure system elevates the chances for a high-impact, heavy snow and wind event for most of central and southern Minnesota including greater the Twin Cities area.

Blizzard and winter storm warnings are posted for much of Minnesota on Wednesday. Blizzard warnings now include the western Twin Cities, and winter storm warnings include the entire Twin Cities area.

Here’s the latest from the evening Twin Cities NWS forecast discussion update.

Heavier snowfall trend continues

NOAA’s late evening (0Z) NAM 3 km resolution model grabs hold of a deepening system passing south of the Twin Cities on Wednesday. Notice the quick changeover from rain (green) to heavy snow (deep blue) around the Twin Cities during the midday hours.

NOAA NAM 3 km model through Wednesday
NOAA NAM 3 km model through Wednesday
NOAA via tropical tidbits

This will produce an impressively dangerous zone of wind-whipped heavy snow across much of Minnesota including the Twin Cities. Wind gusts over 50 mph and heavy snow will create blizzard conditions in open areas. We might even see near-blizzard conditions in the Twin Cities for several hours Wednesday afternoon.

Updated snowfall totals

The late evening forecast models continue to pump up snowfall totals for the Twin Cities. The NAM model runs now lay out the heaviest snow axis from northwest Wisconsin through the Twin Cities to near Mankato. If the NAM is right, snowfall totals could approach a foot in some areas. Other models including the European produce double-digit snowfall totals in or near the Twin Cities.

NOAA NAM model snowfall projection by Thursday
NOAA NAM model snowfall projection by Thursday
NOAA via pivotal weather

Flash-freeze

The rapid onset of freezing temperatures with rain changing to snow and high winds could cause road surfaces to flash-freeze Wednesday. Here’s more from the blizzard warning issued for southwest Minnesota.

Lincoln-Lyon-Murray-Nobles-Pipestone-Rock-Brookings-Lake-Moody-

238 PM CST Tue Dec 22 2020

...BLIZZARD WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 6 AM TO 9 PM CST WEDNESDAY...

* WHAT...Blizzard conditions expected. Total snow accumulations of 2 to 5 inches. Winds gusting as high as 55 mph.

* WHERE...Portions of east central South Dakota and southwest Minnesota.

* WHEN...From 6 AM to 9 PM CST Wednesday.

IMPACTS...Plan on slippery road conditions. Widespread blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute. Gusty winds could bring down tree branches.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...This event could impact holiday travelers. Rapidly falling temperatures could lead to flash-freezing of roads.

Travelers need to be aware of rapidly changing road and weather conditions Wednesday. This is a dangerous storm that will escalate quickly.

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