Snow is expected to start falling about 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 17, in the Brainerd lakes area — and by the time it is all said and done up to 10 inches is possible.

The National Weather Service in Duluth Thursday upgraded the winter storm watch to a winter storm warning for the counties of Crow Wing, Aitkin and Cass to be in effect noon Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday. Heavy snow is expected.

Weather service meteorologist Justin Schultz with the Duluth office said for the Brainerd area the forecast calls for 3-4 inches of snow to fall between noon and 6 p.m. Friday and another 4-6 inches from midnight into early Saturday morning — meaning as low as 7 inches to a high of 10 inches. The snowstorm is expected to be done by 7 a.m. Saturday.

People should prepare for blowing and drifting snow as the winds are expected to gust as high as 40 mph. The heaviest amounts of snow are expected along the North Shore. Snowfall rates could be up to a half-inch per hour.

“Avoid traveling during the height of the storm,” Schultz said. The blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. If a person must travel, they should keep an extra flashlight, food and water in the vehicle in case of an emergency.”

Schultz said the snow is expected to be more of a wet snow in the beginning part of the system, and then turn to a lighter, fluffier snow toward the end of the snow system.

Friday’s high temperature is expected to be near 23 degrees with a low temp of 11 degrees. But wind will likely make it feel much colder. Friday afternoon is expected to be breezy with a southeast wind of 15-20 mph and gusts as high as 35 mph, with winds slightly slowing down by nighttime.

Saturday's high temp is expected to be near 21 degrees and the forecast calls for blustery conditions. A northwest wind of 5-10 mph will increase to 15-20 mph as the afternoon progresses and wind gusts could be as high as 30 mph. Saturday night’s low may be near 11 degrees below zero.