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Alberta clipper to coat Upper Midwest, Great Lakes with snow

By Mary Gilbert, Accuweather.com
Alberta clipper to coat Upper Midwest, Great Lakes with snow
Residents of the Dakotas to Ohio and Michigan hoping to line up early Friday morning for Black Friday shopping bargains will need to bundle up. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

AccuWeather forecasters say a quick-hitting storm, known as an Alberta clipper, is forecast to usher in frigid air and the first accumulating snow of the season for some across a wide swath of the country this holiday weekend.

While astronomical winter does not kick off until Dec. 21, meteorological winter begins Dec. 1. Before winter, by any definition, arrives, some residents will have to bring winter coats out of storage and dust off their snow shovels this weekend.

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Due to a dip in the jet stream, frigid air will rush across portions of the Midwest and Great Lakes by early Friday and set the stage for stormy weather to come.

Any residents lining up early Friday morning hoping to take advantage of Black Friday shopping from the Dakotas to Ohio and Michigan will need to bundle up as low temperatures are forecast to dip into the teens and 20s Fahrenheit.

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By Friday night, stormy weather will begin to develop as the Alberta clipper dives out of Canada and reaches the northern United States.

"Disturbances remain active over the northern Pacific, and these will move inland over western Canada. These storms are referred to as Alberta clippers as they sometimes originate from the Canadian province of Alberta and tend to move swiftly along in the southward dip of the jet stream around the Great Lakes and Northeast," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski explained.

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This particular clipper is set to spread a stripe of snow from Minnesota to Illinois during the day Saturday. Saturday's high temperatures across the area are expected to top out in the middle to upper 30s for much of the area, which may cause snow to struggle to accumulate in any significant fashion.

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Forecasters say a general 1-3 inches of snow is possible from northern Minnesota to Wisconsin on Saturday. Larger population centers, such as the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area, are forecast to be just south of any of the steadiest snow on Saturday, with accumulations forecast to be on the lower end of the spectrum. The Twin Cities can expect a coating to an inch of snow from Saturday's clipper.

Snow accumulations across these areas on Saturday are generally expected to be recorded on grassy or elevated surfaces, not paved areas.

However, any slushy or slick conditions that do develop on roadways may lead to travel issues or significant delays as the volume of travelers continues to increase throughout the holiday weekend.

Snow will spread even farther east Saturday night and reach areas from Wisconsin and northern Illinois, through the Great Lakes and into portions of the interior Northeast.

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"Saturday night may get messy for some larger metropolitan areas like Detroit as the sun goes down and temperatures fall," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty said.

As temperatures fall below freezing at the surface, snow will have a better chance at accumulation as the open ground and paved surfaces begin to cool.

Residents of the Motor City may wake up on Sunday morning to snow already covering the ground with more to come as the day progresses.

Snow will continue across much of the Great Lakes region on Sunday, with the steadiest snowfall expected across northern Michigan as well as the state's Upper Peninsula.

Snowfall amounts will remain in the general 1-to-3-inch range across much of the Great Lakes region, with the exception of northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. In these areas, the lake-effect snow machine will kick up for a time on Sunday to produce totals closer to 3-6 inches with an AccuWeather Local StormMax of 10 inches possible in some areas.

With the exception of some lake-effect snow expected to persist into Monday downwind of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, snow will wind down later Sunday across much of the Great Lakes.

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For much of the Upper Midwest, November has been a rather mild month in terms of temperature, so any accumulating snow may come as a wake-up call this weekend.

While major metros such as Chicago are forecast to miss out on the worst of the stormy conditions, this upcoming clipper is still likely to be notable.

So far, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has officially recorded only a trace of snowfall for the season, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.

The city typically records its first measurable snowfall, defined as at least a tenth of an inch of accumulation, by Nov. 15. With Chicago already a week and a half behind schedule, this clipper may help to bring the city back on track.

"Though there is the potential to finally break the snow drought and receive some accumulation late Saturday into Saturday night, the storm track appears such that the best chance of accumulating snow will likely remain north of Chicagoland," Pydynowski explained.

Even if Chicago happens to miss the mark with this upcoming clipper, forecasters say it's unlikely that the city will make a run at the record for latest first measurable snowfall, which is currently Dec. 20, 2012.

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