Forecast calls for wintry mix, blustery wind
Winter is half over.
Maybe that will soften the forecast of freezing drizzle, snow and blowing snow Wednesday and Thursday.
With the latest few inches of fresh snow on top of a glazed surface from the last bout of freezing rain, another batch of wintry mix could make for tricky travel. As it is now, roads, parking lots and sidewalks can be hazardous to negotiate.
The National Weather Service reports an arctic cold front is plunging south from Manitoba bringing snow and followed by gusty winds. The weather service in Duluth expects little or no ice accumulation with the latest wintry mix, but another inch of snow may arrive Wednesday, Jan. 15.
The forecast calls for a chance of snow between noon and 3 p.m. Wednesday followed by snow possibly mixed with freezing drizzle. The chance of precipitation is 80 percent during the day, falling to 50 percent Wednesday night. The anticipated high temp for the day may be reached by midnight with a mild 26 degrees.
If the freezing drizzle doesn’t appear during the day Wednesday, there is still a chance for the snow/freezing drizzle mix overnight, possibly by 3 a.m. Thursday.
While temperatures are mild, breezy conditions are likely to cut into the warmth. Wind gusts may reach 30 to 35 mph, meaning the recent light snowfall — if it isn’t covered with a thin glaze of ice — could take to the air and make for challenging driving conditions in open areas.
The weather service in Grand Forks issued a blizzard watch for western Minnesota and eastern North Dakota. Blizzard conditions are possible along and west of the Red River Valley. The watch expires Thursday night.
In the Brainerd lakes area, snow and blowing snow is likely Thursday before 3 p.m. and may continue after in patchy locations. The overnight low may dip to 7 below zero.
Friday is expected to be sunny but chilly with a high near 10 degrees.
On the positive side, even with the latest polar vortex bringing another round of cold air, the arctic blast won’t be as long or as severe as the last round.
After a crisp Friday, temperatures should rebound nicely with a high near 30 degrees Sunday. That temperature roller coaster continues into the early part of the coming week with a high near 30 expected on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 20, and then a drop to a crisp 10 degrees for a high Tuesday. For the temperatures, it appears to be feast or famine with highs either well above the 20 degree average or well below.
Paul Huttner, chief meteorologist for Minnesota Public Radio, recently reported the worst of winter’s cold is likely in the rear-view mirror and he’s predicting an earlier spring than last year. Although as Minnesota lakes were still wearing coats of ice for the May fishing opener last year, an earlier spring shouldn’t be a target that’s tough to meet.
With January half over, spring is now officially 64 days away.