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Rain brings street flooding; potential for snow Thursday

Vehicles drive through standing water Wednesday, March 13, along Washington Street in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch1 / 5
Motorists traveling from Brainerd to Baxter Wednesday afternoon had to go through standing water on Excelsior Drive. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch2 / 5
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Heavy snow is causing roofs to collapse on buildings, including this one on a 20-by-20-foot storage building south of Brainerd, which caved in Tuesday afternoon. Submitted photo 4 / 5
Red outlines a powerful blizzard delivering more winter across the nation's central states and with Minnesota caught in the struggle between seasons with winter to the west and flooding amid a spring-like warmup on the eastern side. Graphic by the National Weather Service. 5 / 5

Rain moved from south to north during the afternoon Wednesday, March 13, on track to produce about a half-inch to 1.5 inches of rainfall in the Brainerd lakes area.

A low pressure system was expected to bring moderate to heavy rainfall into the Northland late Wednesday into the night, changing to snow Thursday into Thursday night, the National Weather Service in Duluth reported. Snow accumulations likely will not be much—less than an inch in most spots.

A flood watch continued to be in effect until 7 p.m. Thursday for Crow Wing, Aitkin and Cass counties and portions of central Minnesota. The NWS reported flooding is possible due to the frozen ground and deep snowpack in place, which may lead to poor drainage and blocked storm drains. Meteorologists are concerned about the rain being absorbed by the snow, adding weight to an already heavy snowpack. This added weight could lead to roofs and decks collapsing. In addition, water could be an issue in buildings due to poor drainage.

Street flooding will be the most noticeable impact.

Taking a closer look at the weather Thursday, the forecast calls for Brainerd to see rain before 5 p.m., then there's a chance of additional rain and snow. It is expected to be cloudy with a high near 38 degrees and breezy with a north wind of 5-10 mph, increasing to 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph. The chance of precipitation is 70 percent, with little to no expected snow accumulation.

There is a chance of rain and snow before 8 p.m. Thursday, then a slight chance of snow between 8 p.m. and midnight.

No rain or snow is expected Friday through the weekend, except a slight chance after 1 a.m. Saturday. The forecast notes temperatures are likely to linger in the low 30s, potentially reaching 37 degrees by Monday.

Outside the lakes area, the NWS issued a winter weather advisory for Koochiching County. Those residents may see a possible 1-3 inches of snowfall.

While the eastern half of Minnesota—from the Arrowhead to the states southern foot—is in a flash flood watch and the southwestern corner is in a flood warning, a blizzard warning is bringing more winter to the state's western counties. Between the two extremes, a winter weather advisory stretches from just north of the city of Marshall in southwestern Minnesota up through Todd and Wadena counties on to Bemidji and International Falls.

The National Weather Service described the winter storm as a powerful blizzard with the potential to deliver a large swath of heavy snow with 6-12 inches possible in North Dakota. Bemidji is on the edge of the storm where rain and snow are meeting so snow amounts are uncertain, the weather service noted.

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