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Winter Storm Argos: Roads snow covered, slippery and travel difficult

The first winter storm of the season is still on track. Not many changes to the forecast overnight. Snowfall will be highest today from central Minnesota into northeast Minnesota. Still expecting a wide swath of 10 to 18 inches of snow from the B...

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Screen grab from MnDOT 511.org road conditions website showing current driving conditions at 8:15 a.m. Friday. The two shades of pink are 'Snow-Covered' and 'Snow and Ice Covered' roadways. Blue is 'Partially Covered' and green is 'Normal Driving Conditions'.

The first winter storm of the season is still on track. Not many changes to the forecast overnight. Snowfall will be highest today from central Minnesota into northeast Minnesota. Still expecting a wide swath of 10 to 18 inches of snow from the Brainerd Lakes and Aitkin areas through Grand Rapids, Hibbing, Virginia, and Ely, Lower totals are expected elsewhere.

Roads will become snow covered and slippery and travel difficult in the warned areas. The areas under and Advisory will see accumulating snowfall, but lower totals. Wind may be a bigger factor in those areas, as well.

The heavy snow will reduce visibility to 1/2 to 1/4 mile at times and strong northerly winds will result in blowing and drifting snow in open areas, especially on east-west oriented roads. The heavy, wet nature of the snow, in combination with the strong winds, may result in broken tree limbs and power lines. Widespread power outages are not anticipated at this time.

Expected Hazards

  • Wide area of 10 to 18 inches from Cass, Crow Wing, and northern Aitkin Counties across eastern Itasca, central and northern St. Louis, and northern Lake and Cook Counties.
  • A distinct gradient across Koochiching County with the northwest corner picking up less than an inch and up to 10 inches in the southeast.
  • Lower totals over the remainder of east-central and northeast Minnesota and northern Wisconsin.
  • A sharp gradient in snow amounts is expected between lower elevation areas near Lake Superior and areas inland along the North Shore. For example, the downtown areas of Duluth, Two Harbors, Silver Bay, and Grand Marais will receive several inches less snow than their corresponding airports.
  • Rain/snow mix is likely for the Superior area for much of the day, with higher totals over inland Douglas County.
  • Winds will be strong, especially near Lake Superior in northwest Wisconsin. Sustained winds of 15-25 mph with gusts to 40 mph are likely.

Timing

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  • Rain and snow have redeveloped over the Northland early this morning, and will continue to spread northeast. The rain/snow transition will move eastward across central and northeast Minnesota this morning, and into northwest Wisconsin this afternoon.
  • Most Intense: between 9 AM and 6 PM today.
  • Storm End: Snow will gradually end tonight from southwest to northeast over the Minnesota areas and inland portions of northwest Wisconsin. Snowbelt areas of northwest Wisconsin may see a brief lull overnight, with Lake Effect Snow ramping up late overnight and continuing Saturday.

Uncertainty

  • Main concerns are the changeover times in the downtown areas mentioned above and snow totals in those areas
  • May have a period of thundersnow/thunderstorms this morning into early afternoon
  • Intense snowfall rates of up to 3 inches per hour are not out of the question for brief periods

Snow spotters are requested to report their snowfall measurements today and tonight to the national weather service.

Related Topics: WINTER STORM
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