2/2/15: The Groundhog Problem

For those of you who are interested Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, meaning according to folklore there will be six more weeks of winter.  Not that a groundhog in Pennsylvania should be used to forecast the weather in the northern plains (or anywhere for that matter).   As someone that grew up in Minnesota, as a kid I always thought when the news stories came out that the groundhog was predicting six more weeks of winter, that was a good thing, not a bad thing that I eventually discovered.  I guess it is all relative to your location.  In North Dakota it is almost always a guarantee that winter will run through mid March.

Although not bitterly cold by our standards it was still a cold morning across North Dakota into northwestern Minnesota this morning with lows mostly below zero with some exceptions in the western part of North Dakota.

February 2, 2015 Minimums
February 2, 2015 Minimums

 

High temperatures are expected in the teens today with a few low 20s possible.

Projected 2/2/15 Maximums
Projected 2/2/15 Maximums

The wind today from the west or shifting to the west/northwest at 10-20 mph from west to east across North Dakota.

hires_uv10m_mw_10

That wind shift may produce some flurries and pockets of very light snow, mainly in central and western North Dakota.  Otherwise, a mix of sun and clouds expected.

Projected 2/2/15 Radar
Projected 2/2/15 Radar

 

Tomorrow a more vigorous disturbance will bring some light snow from western North Dakota to along the North Dakota/South Dakota border through eastern South Dakota into southern Minnesota.  A narrow strip of 1-2″ of snow is expected with most locations staying in the 1″ or less range.

Projected Radar at 10:00 AM 2/3/2015
Projected Radar at 10:00 AM 2/3/2015

Estimated snow from the NAM (North American Model) are presented below.

NAM 42 Hour Snow Forecast
NAM 42 Hour Snow Forecast

The snow tomorrow will in turn reinforce the cold air for Wednesday and Thursday with warmer temperatures (20s) projected Friday into the weekend.  The weekend may bring not 1 but two threats of snow (one Friday and Saturday) into the area.  Below is a representation of the GFS (Global Forecast System) for Saturday (February 7) at 6:00 PM.

gfs_6snow_slp_mw_25
Saturday Projected Surface map and precipitation

The upper wind flow will continue to be from the west/northwest for the next week meaning no big snow events for North Dakota but continued threat for the small ones.

Friday, February 6, 2015 Projected Jetstream
Friday, February 6, 2015 Projected Jetstream

 

Daryl Ritchison