Winter Storm Wesley Could Smash Snowfall Records

Brian Donegan
Published: April 11, 2019

Winter Storm Wesley has become a blizzard in the Plains, and may set April and all-time snowstorm records in some areas.

(MORE: Winter Storm Wesley Forecast

Snowfall totals in parts of South Dakota, northern Nebraska and western Minnesota may not only smash April snowstorm records, but may also flirt with all-time two-day snowstorm records.

According to NOAA's ACIS database, the following cities may threaten their all-time two-day snowfall records:

-South Dakota: Aberdeen, Huron, Mitchell and Watertown

-Minnesota: Marshall and Redwood Falls

April (first image) and all-time (second image) two-day snowstorm records for several cities where those records will be threatened from Winter Storm Wesley. Some April records were set last year by Winter Storm Xanto.
(Data: NOAA ACIS)

Some of those snowstorm records have been in place since the early 20th century. Some April snowstorm records, however, were set almost exactly one year ago by Winter Storm Xanto, which dumped over a foot of snow in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and the Twin Cities and up to 33 inches of snow in northeastern Wisconsin.

The Twin Cities set their April record during Xanto last year, when 15.8 inches piled up from April 13-16.

Minneapolis/St. Paul has already received one of its 10 heaviest April snowstorms with 8.2 inches so far through late Thursday.

Some parts of South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota are expected to pick up over 20 inches – if not locally over 30 inches – of snow from Wesley.

(MORE: Here’s How Often It Snows in April


Snowfall Forecast

Pressure: Close But No Cigar

Wesley's low-pressure center flirted with, but fell a bit short of setting all-time April low-pressure records in parts of the Plains

The lowest surface pressure documented during the storm was about 982 millibars, just a few millibars higher than April records in the central Plains, according to data compiled by NOAA Weather Prediction Center meteorologist David Roth.

Wesley did not strengthen enough to meet the most commonly used definition of "bomb cyclone," which is a surface-pressure drop of 24 millibars in 24 hours. However, if you adjust for latitude, Wesley strengthened sufficiently to meet the definition, Roth noted in a tweet. According to Weather Underground meteorologist Bob Henson, nontropical low-pressure systems tend to be weaker at lower latitudes. The original 1980 study that coined the term "bomb" therefore suggested adjusting the more common definition by latitude.

This storm is another reminder of how volatile and active April weather can be.


The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.