The first significant snowstorm of the year will drop between one and two feet of snow across eight states from the Rockies to the Upper Midwest by Tuesday evening. The heavy, wet snow will cause major travel disruptions and possibly some power outages.
The extent of the snow stretches from eastern Idaho straight through to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but the Minneapolis/Saint Paul is by far the largest population center affected by the snow. While MSP may see the most news coverage, the heaviest accumulations will occur around Marquette, Michigan, where up to two feet of snow could fall as the storm's effects are enhanced by bands of lake effect snow streaming ashore from Lake Superior.
Snowfall totals across the Minneapolis area will grow from south to north, with the National Weather Service predicting about 6-8 inches of snow in Minneapolis proper, down from the predictions of more than a foot just last night. Folks in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula will see the most—when you have to use a yard stick to measure the snow, exact amounts don't matter to anyone but the weather geeks.
Speaking of which...
In the unlikely event that today's predictions are wrong and Minneapolis manages to see more than a foot of snow, the day could land a spot in the record books as one of the top ten snowiest days in the city's history. The most snow ever recorded in Minneapolis in one day was 18.5 inches on November 1, 1991, with the number 10 spot held by a 12.5 inch snowfall on March 8, 1999. If Minneapolis records more than 12.5 inches of snow by the end of the day on Monday, it will go down in the books as one of the snowiest days on record.
Since the snow set up further north than planned and the city is on the southern periphery, it doesn't look like this will happen today. On the other hand, St. Cloud—north of Minneapolis—could easily see one of its top ten snowiest days when the snow is done. The snowiest day on record for St. Cloud was 14.5" back in 1965, while the tenth snowiest was 9.2" back in 2001. With current forecasts of 12-13 inches in the city, today could come in as the 3rd or 4th snowiest day ever recorded in St. Cloud.
Fortunately, this is one part of the country where governments and residents are uniquely capable of handling and removing heavy snow. Nevertheless, the heavy nature of the snow and the knee-deep accumulations will have an impact on travel by both land and air during the day on Monday and Tuesday. Many flights to and from MSP will likely be delayed or cancelled (66 flights have been cancelled as of 11 AM CST), and travel by road will become increasingly difficult as the white doom begins to accumulate faster than crews can keep up.
Some power outages are also possible as it'll be a wet snow, so areas with excessive accumulations combined with gusty winds have a heightened risk of losing power. The trees are fully defoliated now, thankfully, so that lessens the risk of tree-related damage and power outages.
The snow will clear out by Tuesday, but the snow on the ground will stick around for at least the next week and a half. Temperatures will stay solidly below freezing for an extended period of time across the northern United States, eliminating the chance for any significant melting.
On a separate note, it's always worth pointing out that we do not name winter storms in the United States. The Weather Channel assigns names to winter storms as a marketing ploy, and as such, no other organization in the country follows suit.
[Images: Intellicast / NWS EDD / author, data via xmACIS2]