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Another Blast of Winter for the Northern Plains

12 Apr 2013, 11:56 am

What a nice winter we’re having this spring!

Yes, ANOTHER shot of snow is on the docket for the Upper Midwest through this weekend. Places like eastern Montana, North Dakota, and northwestern Minnesota could add another few inches to almost a foot of snow to their April totals.

A Winter Storm Watch is now in effect for the entire state of North Dakota and spills over into Montana and Minnesota for heavy snow along the Canadian border and lighter accumulations through the I-94 corridor between Bismarck and Fargo. As the storm approaches, this watch will be upgraded to either a Winter Storm Warning or a Winter Weather Advisory… or abandoned entirely if the storm fizzles out (we can only hope).

Weather forecasting models are currently having some difficulty resolving the track of the storm as it passes out of the mountains and across the prairie. Below is an animation from the ECMWF (European) weather model, which has been fairly reliable in recent months at predicting our weather.

Side note: Why ARE the Europeans beating us at forecasting our own weather? Here are a few good links that discuss the situation (and how the U.S. could close the gap):

To be the best in weather forecasting via Capital Weather Gang

The U.S. has fallen behind in numerical weather forecasting via Cliff Mass Weather Blog

NWS seeks to improve U.S. weather forecasting via Reuters

Click here to watch this short animation of the pressure and snow accumulation via the ECMWF on YouTube.

Below is the U.S. Global Forecasting System model (GFS), which is predicting heavier snows into Minnesota than North Dakota (map image is valid for 7 PM Monday). The differences between the weather models will (hopefully) shrink as the storm gets closer, but this much disagreement can cause headaches for forecasters. [Image courtesy WeatherBell Models ]

These are only two different scenarios out of many various weather forecasting models. For example, check out this meteogram from Iowa State University showing how big the spread between snow totals can be this far in advance. This forecast shows snow totals for Minot, ND:

Each line above represents a different forecast for snow totals in Minot. The lowest forecast is 4″, while the outliers at the top are printing out over a foot.

We’ll keep you up to date on how this late season snow storm plays out right here on WeatherNation TV. Tune in live or watch your regional forecast ON DEMAND on our website: www.weathernationtv.com/OnTV

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Have fun shoveling the snow up north! -Meteorologist Miranda Hilgers

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