Near Zero Probability  Chasers

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Winter Storm Set to Impact the Northern Plains Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Posted by Near Zero Probability Chasers on December 22, 2016 at 1:25 AM

As questions came pouring in this morning about the upcoming storm system for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, here is an update on what to expect. Before you read this, please keep in mind that a slight shift in the track of the Low pressure system could mean that you could possibly not be impacted at all by this system. Also, while we generalize “southern Manitoba”, your exact location may experience less or worst conditions, this isn’t a specific forecast. Please keep in mind that we will refine the forecast as the storm nears and finer-scale models come in range.



Feel free to skip to the conclusion if you want to quickly get the main points.




Northern Plains



The European model depicted above has been somewhat consistent in the placement of the Low. As it sits right now, it’s looking like a Sunday to Monday type of storm for the Northern Plains. For southern Manitoba, I’m thinking snow should start sometime Sunday morning with light snow throughout the day and moderate to heavy snow through the evening and overnight hours. This could impact your Christmas Day drive  from whichever celebration you are coming back from!



I have attached a picture of the American model below. After looking at several model runs, this looks fairly consistent. However, the placement of the Low is again critical to which areas receive the highest snowfall. The picture below depicts a typical area of highest snowfall just north of the Low in North Dakota and on the backside of the Low somewhere south of Bismarck, ND. The backside of the Low is usually where blizzard conditions are possible. 




Personally, I think it is far too early to talk about snowfall totals without the NAM model and its finer-scale depiction of the situation. Please monitor our Facebook page daily as we update you on the situation. Here are the thoughts of the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, ND:


 

"FINALLY...CONFIDENCE IS INCREASING IN A SIGNIFICANT WINTER STORM IMPACTING THE AREA FOR CHRISTMAS DAY. HEAVY SNOW...BLOWING SNOW AND MIXED PRECIPITATION ARE ALL POSSIBLE WITH THIS SYSTEM BUT DETAILS AS TO WHERE ARE STILL UNCERTAIN AT THIS POINT. REGARDLESS...IMPACTS TO TRAVEL WILL BE LIKELY FOR THE CHRISTMAS DAY HOLIDAY AND INTO MONDAY." -NWS



I have also attached below The Weather Network's opinion on the subject, which I tend to agree with, as well as the link for the entire article:


https://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/boxing-day-blizzard-to-batter-parts-of-central-canada-/77172/





Conclusion


You will start seeing several media outlets and weather pages on Facebook advertising snowfall totals and forecasting blizzard-like conditions for the Northern Plains, however keep in mind that Colorado Lows are highly unpredictable. Even though models have actually been pretty good this year forecasting the several major storm systems we have seen so far, a small change could mean a very different snowfall amount for your location.



What we know


A storm system should impact most of the Northern Plains this weekend. Main impacts should be felt Sunday (Christmas Day) and Monday (Boxing Day). Tight pressure gradients could lead to blizzard-like conditions on the backside of the Low in the Dakotas and maybe southern Manitoba depending on the track. Will this be the storm of the century? Probably not.



Potential Impacts and timeframe


Potential impacts are pretty high simply due to the fact that there will be a lot of people travelling during this storm. Therefore, even only a few inches could be impactful. People travelling anywhere in southern Manitoba, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and parts of northwest Ontario on Sunday night should monitor road conditions or make alternative plans to stay put. However, southern shift in track of the Low could mean minimal impacts for Winnipeg and surrounding areas.


Timing should be from Sunday to Monday (generally). For southern Manitoba, you're roughly looking at Sunday evening/night seeing the most snowfall and blowing snow (possibly blizzard-like conditions) on Monday, especially in the southeastern part of the Province.

Categories: Winter Forecasts

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