Rain, ice, snow, thunder Friday; southern Minnesota may see severe weather

Potent, messy storm on the way

Severe weather risk areas
Severe weather risk areas Friday
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, via Iowa Emergency Management

Another potent and messy late-March storm system is heading for Minnesota. The first severe weather risk areas of 2023 have been posted for parts of southern Minnesota Friday.

This system will bring a variety of mixed precipitation Thursday and Friday. Different parts of Minnesota will see rain, ice, snow and thunderstorms that could produce severe weather in southern Minnesota Friday.

Severe weather risk zone

The season’s first severe weather risk zone includes a marginal risk of severe weather for southern parts of Minnesota Friday. You can see on the map above that the marginal risk zone includes Rochester, Austin, and Winona on Friday.

A slight risk zone includes areas further south near the Iowa border. Much of Iowa and the Central Plains are under an enhanced risk area, where a significant severe weather outbreak is likely Friday.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is Member supported public media. Show your support today, donate, and ensure access to local news and in-depth conversations for everyone.

Severe weather risk areas 2
Severe weather risk areas Friday

Messy precipitation mix

Our inbound storm system looks messy. The freezing line will hover once again around and north of the Twin Cities with this system. That means a mix of precipitation that could transition from snow to rain and back to snow Thursday and Friday.

In southern Minnesota, it will be warm and unstable enough to produce thunderstorms. Some of those could be severe Friday afternoon and evening.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s NAM 3 km model shows the volatile precipitation pattern. Note the yellow and red colors indicating likely thunderstorms with heavy rain Friday from the Twin Cities southward.

NOAA NAM 3 km model
North American Mesoscale 3 km model between 7 p.m. Thursday and 7 p.m. Friday
NOAA, via Tropical Tidbits

Snowfall potential

There are still a lot of uncertainties regarding precipitation type and timing with this system. We’re still more than 48 hours away from most of the snow cranking up.

Right now forecast models suggest that central Minnesota north and west of the Twin Cities will likely see the most significant snowfall accumulations. But many models bring a shot of potentially heavy snow into the Twin Cities for a few hours Friday night.

Precipitation types
Forecast precipitation types for 8 p.m. Friday

I wouldn’t take this early snowfall projection as gospel. The takeaway here is that there is still wide variation and a high level of uncertainty in forecast model output.

As you can see on the map, we could literally still see anywhere from an inch to many plowable inches across the Twin Cities region.

Snowfall projection for Minnesota
Early snowfall projection for Minnesota. This will likely change as we move closer to Thursday and Friday.

So stay tuned as we see how forecast models try and resolve the finer points of precipitation type as we move closer to the event.