Snow, strong wind combining for winter white out
Travelers should plan extra time to reach destinations — or may want to stay off open highways altogether — as white-out conditions arrive with strong northwest winds Thursday.
A combination of “strong winds and falling snow will result in near zero visibilities at times in open areas” through Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service reported.
The weather service issued a winter weather advisory from 2 p.m. Wednesday through 4 p.m. Thursday as areas from Cass Lake to the Brainerd lakes region, including Walker, Pine River and Aitkin. Those areas should see widespread blowing snow.
“The strongest winds and lowest visibilities will be found Thursday,” the National Weather Service in Duluth reported.
Snow is expected across north central Minnesota. In addition to the snow, Thursday is expected to bring falling temperatures and strong winds from the northwest.
Another 1 to 2 inches of snow Thursday may add to any totals from Wednesday, possibly 2 inches overnight. Wind and blowing snow won’t just be a visibility concern for those in the open spaces. The wind chill may drop as low as 30 below by Thursday afternoon. Air temperatures may dip to about 5 below overnight.
After the Alberta clipper system moves through the area Thursday, a warm front is expected to moderate temperatures briefly. “Quick on its heels, a strong arctic cold front will move across the area on Thursday, bringing much colder air and strong northerly winds,” the weather service reported. “The combination of strong winds and light snow will result in blowing snow and reduced visibility at times, especially in the open areas from International Falls to Walker, Brainerd and east toward Hinckley.”
Conditions to the west were upgraded to a blizzard warning for the Red River Valley into Thursday night with 60 mph wind gusts able to create zero visibility even in larger towns and cities.
“Travel will likely become impossible at times during the Thursday morning commute when light snow combines with the intense northerly winds,” the weather service in Grand Forks, N.D. reported. “Spread the word to family and friends and take proper precautions for localized power outages with the potentially damaging wind gusts that may occur.”
In the Brainerd lakes area snow is likely again on Friday, mainly after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. The high on Friday may not top 12 degrees.
The best day for the weekend appears to be Sunday with predictions of sunny skies and a warm high of 30 degrees. For Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, there is a slight chance of snow but temperatures are expected to remain mild and near 30 degrees.
But mild conditions may be short-lived. The extended forecast calls for sharply cooler temps with Tuesday’s high back in the single digits and an overnight low of 7 below zero.