Rain, snow have potential to affect Christmas travel
It's a mixed bag of weather this week for those planning to travel for Christmas festivities. The forecast appears tame on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but it's the days preceding the holiday that could dictate road conditions across northern...
It's a mixed bag of weather this week for those planning to travel for Christmas festivities.
The forecast appears tame on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but it's the days preceding the holiday that could dictate road conditions across northern Minnesota.
Rainfall on Sunday and Monday wiped out most of the snow on the ground in the Brainerd area, as temperatures rose above 35 degrees. While snow is in the forecast early Tuesday morning, the low temperature is only expected to drop to 32 degrees and little to no accumulation - be it snow or ice - is expected, the National Weather Service in Duluth reported.
By Tuesday night a low temperature of 27 degrees is expected to help the rain and sleet mix turn over to snow.
William Leatham, meteorologist with the weather service in Duluth, said the Brainerd area could receive up to 1 to 2 inches of snow. Toward the Arrowhead along Lake Superior, as much as 5 inches of snow is possible. Snow also is in the forecast in St. Cloud and the Twin Cities.
"The easiest way to put it is it's kind of messy weather," Leatham said.
Christmas Eve, with a forecasted high temperature of 31, will start a trend of temperatures steadily falling below freezing. A high of 29 degrees is expected Christmas Day, 21 degrees on Friday, 11 degrees on Saturday and 13 degrees on Sunday.
J.P. Gillach, MnDOT District 3 public affairs coordinator, said state officials are closely monitoring the weather. He said there have been reports of bridge decks icing up north of Brainerd.
"The forecast right now has temperatures hovering either just above or just below freezing," Gillach said. "That will kind of dictate how the storm plays out. We do expect to see slushy roads but probably the most important thing is if pavement temperatures drop quickly we could have widespread ice through the region."
The problem, Gillach said, has been the rainfall Sunday and Monday. The longer the roads stay wet, the harder it is to keep de-icing chemicals on them in advance of below freezing temperatures.
"If the roads were dry it would be a lot easier to deal with," Gillach said. "With the rain coming down it's hard to pretreat. If it does get cold we could get a lot of ice in a hurry.
"I would just tell everyone to expect rapidly changing road conditions. We're right on the edge. It looks good now but could change in a hurry."
To that end, Gillach said people should plan ahead and allow for more time to reach their destinations. When out on area highways, he said his biggest suggestions to motorists would be drive as conditions allow, don't use cruise control and make sure everyone is wearing a seat belt or is in a proper restraint.