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Brainerd misses initial brunt of winter snowstorm

Sharing an umbrella, a couple Monday afternoon walk in the rain away from the Brainerd Post Office. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Though snow was in the forecast, with as much as 4 inches possible in Brainerd by Tuesday morning, it appeared the initial storm surge bypassed the lakes area Monday night.

The storm began with light rain Monday morning, which turned to a downpour at times. The rain was expected to turn to snow by 6 p.m. Monday with the possibility of near-blizzard conditions by midnight.

On cue, the rain switched to snow around 6 p.m. but didn’t accumulate outside of a little slush on grass and vehicles. By 8 p.m. the snow had stopped and was replaced by strong winds. National Weather Service radar images showed the bulk of the storm skirting to the south and east of the Brainerd area.

The National Weather Service placed the lakes area in a winter storm warning until 6 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5. The winter storm was expected to affect all of the Northland, which includes the cities of Brainerd, Walker, Pine River and Hill City. The NWS stated the rain would rapidly change to snow from west to east Monday night, with temperatures rapidly falling into the teens to above zero; and winds to increase to 25 to 40 mph.

“All these factors will result in near blizzard conditions in open areas and near inland lakes, and roads rapidly becoming snow and ice covered,” the NWS stated. “These winter storm conditions will then rapidly spread eastward across the remainder of northeast Minnesota through roughly 10 p.m. (Monday).”

Light snow and wind could persist in many areas for much of Tuesday, before diminishing by Tuesday night. Some areas in the storm’s path were expected to see 4-7 inches of snow, with as much as 9 inches possible. Winds could gust as high as 40 mph Monday night.

Brainerd public schools took action early Monday and canceled all Monday night activities, including community education classes.

In an interview early Monday afternoon, NWS meteorologist Bill Mokry said in addition to snowfall a concern was very strong winds followed by a drop in temperature. He said motorists should prepare for difficult travel conditions Tuesday morning.

There is a 30 percent chance of snow Tuesday afternoon in Brainerd. Temperatures are expected to fall to about 13 degrees by 5 p.m. Tuesday, with a west wind around 20 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph. The forecast low Tuesday night is 9.

Temperatures then will be in the teens for the remaining days of the week, with a slight chance of snow showers Thursday night.

A winter storm warning for snow means severe winter weather conditions are occurring. The NWS states if people must travel, they should keep an extra flashlight, food and water in their vehicle in case of an emergency. Motorists are asked to slow down and allow plenty of extra time to reach their destination. People also should watch out for downed tree limbs when driving and to avoid parking underneath trees.

The latest road conditions for Minnesota can be obtained by calling 511 in Minnesota or 800-542-0220.

People also can follow MnDOT District 3 on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MnDOTcentral for weather updates.

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