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More chilly April showers in weekend forecast

Lee Britt, a weather service meteorologist in Duluth, said rain was expected to begin Thursday afternoon, April 28, followed by a slow-moving low-pressure system creeping into the area Friday.

A lightning bolt streaks across a cloudy sky with a border of trees below.
A bolt of lightning flashes across the sky Saturday, April 23, 2022, north of Brainerd. Several cells moved through the Brainerd area ushering in a cold front after a day of 60-degree temperatures.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — “It’s raining again” will likely be a common refrain for Minnesotans this weekend.

More cold weather with waves of sometimes heavy rain sprinkled with some claps of thunder appears on tap for the Brainerd lakes area and beyond.

The National Weather Service in Duluth issued a hazardous weather outlook for the Northland, noting an extended period of rainfall will affect the area, with the potential to cause new flooding or worsen existing flooding in rivers and creeks, mostly in the Arrowhead region. Severe weather is not expected, but thunder and lightning along with heavy rainfall is a possibility.

Lee Britt, a weather service meteorologist in Duluth, said rain was expected to begin Thursday afternoon, April 28, followed by a slow-moving low-pressure system creeping into the area Friday.

“The bigger show is going to be this weekend,” Britt said. “We have a cutoff low moving up to our area that will give us additional waves of rainfall.”

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The Weather Prediction Center placed northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin under a marginal threat for excessive rainfall. The Brainerd area could see anywhere from a half-inch to an inch of rain between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

“It just looks like general thunder, not looking for anything severe right now. I think the main concern would actually just be the excessive amount of rainfall we might be looking at with the system coming through,” Britt said.

Although rainfall is almost certainly on tap, Britt said the lakes area is not likely to see flash flooding as a result.

Lightning Storm
A bolt of lightning flashes across the sky Saturday, April 23, 2022, north of Brainerd. Several cells moved through the Brainerd area ushering in a cold front after a day of 60-degree temperatures.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

“We’re not looking at super heavy rains all at one time. This is going to be much more gentle waves after gentle waves,” he said. “But just the long duration of it will, you know, accumulate over time.”

The depth of the Mississippi River at Brainerd stood at 11.55 feet Thursday afternoon, according to the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service — about 2.5 feet lower than the crest of 14 feet observed in April 2020. No flooding of any kind is likely until the river reaches about 13 feet, when low-lying areas adjacent to the river could become water-covered. The river would need to reach 16 feet to cause flooding on East River Road near Kiwanis Park, but this scenario is unlikely this spring.

Flood forecast graph of Mississippi River at Aitkin
The Mississippi River level at Aitkin was just below the minor flood stage Thursday afternoon, April 28, 2022.
Contributed / Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service

Up river at the flood gauge near Aitkin, the river is approaching minor flood stage of 13 feet and will likely achieve that level Saturday afternoon. At this stage, the boat ramp at the Aitkin city park floods and some driveways and farmland in the Cedarbrook area may become covered with water.

Rainfall in the Brainerd area is only slightly above average for the month of April, with 1.45 inches of rain observed at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport. A typical month-to-date total is 1.39 inches.

Temperatures are expected to remain below normal for this time of year, extending what’s been a chilly spring into May. The low temps of 19 degrees Wednesday and Thursday morning broke records for the Brainerd area. The previous record low temperature of 21 degrees for April 28 reigned for 61 years before this week.

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Friday’s forecast calls for a 30% chance of rain mainly after 4 p.m. and an expected high temperature of 54 degrees and mostly cloudy skies. Breezy conditions are likely with an east wind of 10-15 mph and gusts as high as 25 mph. The wind persists and chance of rain increases to 60% into the evening hours with rain likely and a thunderstorm possible after 1 a.m. Rainfall amounts are expected between a tenth and a quarter of an inch, with higher amounts possible if thunderstorms arrive.

Lightning Storm
A bolt of lightning flashes across the sky Saturday, April 23, 2022, north of Brainerd. Several cells moved through the Brainerd area ushering in a cold front after a day of 60-degree temperatures.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Extended periods of rain are most likely on Saturday, with the weather service calling for a 90% chance and between a quarter- and half-inch of measured rainfall. A thunderstorm is possible again between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. with an east wind of about 15 mph and gusts nearing 30 mph. The temperature is expected to reach 50 degrees. The rain will likely persist through the night with another quarter- to half-inch possible, but temperatures should remain above freezing with a predicted low of 40 degrees.

Sunday’s forecast again notes a chance of rain with mostly cloudy skies and a high near 47 degrees. The wind should die down somewhat and shift its direction to northerly, with gusts expected to reach 20 mph.

With May approaching, Britt said area residents should expect the temperatures to remain about 10 degrees below average in the upcoming weeks. The latest outlook for the month of May from the Climate Prediction Center shows the chances are likely for colder than usual weather and equal chances for below or above average precipitation.

This means gardeners should hold off on planting delicate flowers or vegetables susceptible to frost and keep an eye toward the end of the month or early June for the safest conditions.

“For at least the beginning of May, our lows are dipping down to just above freezing for the Brainerd lakes region,” Britt said.

The three-month outlook for June, July and August, though, shares a more promising prediction of summer’s eventual arrival.

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“If you’re tired of the cold and wet pattern we’ve been in for the first third of the year, hang on!” the weather service stated on Twitter. “It appears there is a very warm and dry Summer on the way.”

Most of the United States is likely to see above normal temperatures, including all of Minnesota. The lakes area southward has a higher chance than the northeastern region of the state. And most of the state is leaning toward below average rainfall.

Does that mean drought-like conditions will prevail for a second summer running? It’s too early to know for certain, but the wet spring thus far is more typical than last year, when snow cover left early and didn’t return. This sparked an early fire season that persisted into the summer months.

Still, the U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday showed a pocket of abnormally dry conditions across northern Cass County and extreme northwestern Crow Wing County. The weekend’s expected rainfall, however, will likely tamp down any dryness in the immediate future.

CHELSEY PERKINS, community editor, may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .

Related Topics: WEATHERFLOODINGBRAINERD
Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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