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Slow Snow Start

Today wasn’t our first snow of the season, but it was the first widespread measurable snow event. Our forecast called for 2-5” of a light, fluffy snow. Although a few locations reached that range, most stayed within 1-2”.

Why? Two specific reasons. First, the bulk of the snow went to our south instead of right over MN/IA as forecast. Second, the size of the snowflakes. We were expecting a very light and fluffy snow because of all the dry air, but we were not expecting the flakes to be quite so small. Because of the dry air, the ice crystals stayed VERY small, almost miniscule. When ice crystals stay small it is difficult for snow to accumulate. In fact, the snowflakes were so small that radar had a difficult time picking up on any snow at all!

At the beginning of the snow season, everything was right on time with climatological averages. We hit our first trace and first measurable snow almost right on the day that we should, but then things started to get off track. Some warmer air moved in during the end of November and beginning of December forcing rain and sleet to fall instead of snow. To date, Rochester International Airport (the official climate station of SE Minn.) is 6.5” below average.

It is hard to tell what impact another slow snow start will have on the rest of the season but the National Weather Service predicts just above average precipitation for the next 2 weeks.

Justin Thompson-Gee
Storm Tracker 6 Meteorologist