Tracking heavy rainfall potential this weekend

Forecast models cranking out multi-inch rainfall potential

NOAA NAM model
North America Mesoscale model 84-hour precipitation output
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, via COD Weather Lab

Significant rainfall is looking more likely by the hour in Minnesota’s extreme drought zone.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s North American Mesoscale model forecasts bands of heavy rainfall accumulating over the next 84 hours (see map above).

Soaking rainfall in the drought zone

Much of central Minnesota including the Twin Cities area dipped into extreme drought this week. Friday’s latest forecast model runs have shifted to lay out a potential multi-inch corridor of rainfall right over the worst of the drought zone.

U.S. Drought Monitor for Minnesota
Latest drought conditions report
U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Keep in mind that rainfall in these systems is often highly localized and can vary over just a few miles. But the trend is encouraging to see some soaking, potentially multi-inch rainfall totals this weekend.

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The most encouraging forecast models crank out anywhere from 1 to as much as 5 inches of rainfall locally this weekend.

In the map below, check out the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts model output through Monday. It lays out a wide area of multi-inch rains across Minnesota.

It suggests anywhere from 2 to as much as 4 or 5 inches around much of Minnesota including parts of the greater Twin Cities area.

European model (ECMWF) precipitation output
Precipitation output forecast through Monday
European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, via Pivotal Weather

So it’s possible we can go from extreme drought to some local flash flooding this weekend in some places. There’s also a risk for severe storms favoring southwestern Minnesota on Saturday.

Severe weather risk areas
Severe weather risk areas Saturday
NOAA, via Iowa Emergency Management

For the Twin Cities, rainfall looks occasional and spotty for most of Saturday. The heaviest cells likely arrive Saturday evening.

Let’s see how the forecast models handle this system as rainfall increases this weekend.