Strong winter storm arriving with arctic air to follow
A strong snow storm is expected to produce gusty winds, heavy wet snow and be followed by another prolonged surge of arctic air.
The cold will mean more subzero temperatures on the heels of two warm days with high temperatures of 44 degrees Wednesday and 47 degrees Tuesday putting an end to the sound of melting snow from rooftops.
The National Weather Service in Duluth reports this major storm will impact the Upper Midwest Thursday and Friday. The heaviest snowfall is forecast for Thursday, Feb. 20, afternoon and night.
“This storm system will produce heavy snow across a large portion of the Northland Thursday night into Friday morning,” the weather service reported. The heaviest snow is expected along the eastern side of the state with a blizzard warning issued for counties in southern Minnesota covering the cities of Austin, Red Wing, Mankato and Rochester. The tip of the Arrowhead and much of Wisconsin may get more than 13 inches of snow.
For Cass, Crow Wing, most of Aitkin and Morrison counties, the forecast is for 2 to 6 inches of snow. The eastern edge of Aitkin County and parts of Mille Lacs County are in the 7 to 9 inch snow band.
Gusty winds are expected to develop late Thursday and continue Friday.
“Strong northwest winds and much colder air is expected on Friday with blowing and drifting snow possible,” the weather service reported. “This storm has the potential to produce major travel impacts region-wide Thursday and Friday.”
A winter weather advisory is in effect for Aitkin, Morrison and Mille Lacs counties with winter storm warnings farther east. A hazardous weather outlook is in effect for Cass, Crow Wing, Todd and Wadena counties and points west.
The weather service reported road conditions will deteriorate rapidly late Thursday morning and into the afternoon.
“Blowing and drifting snow Thursday night and most of Friday will create very dangerous travel conditions,” the weather service noted.
For those thinking of traveling to the tip of the Arrowhead or northern Wisconsin, the weather service said secondary roads will likely be impassible. Wind gusts near Lake Superior may reach 35 mph. Heavy, wet snow on trees and power lines could mean power outages.
By Friday, the high may be near 14 degrees, a 31-degree drop from Wednesday. Temperatures, which recently clung to the mid and upper 20s overnight during the past two days, will once again drop below zero.
The forecast is for a high of 12 degrees Saturday and a high of 10 degrees Sunday. By Monday, the temperature may not reach 10 degrees and is expected to drop to 10 below at night. And then it’s going to get a little colder. Nearly a week after the warm-up, the high will be more than 40 degrees colder. The high on Wednesday, Feb. 26, is anticipated to be sunny and cold with a high near 3 degrees.