‘Historic’ winter storm on its way to Minnesota
Total snow accumulations will range from 15 to 25 inches, with the best chance for the higher-end totals across east central Minnesota and west central Wisconsin.
BRAINERD — Anyone thinking of traveling south of the Brainerd lakes area later this week may be wise to cancel their plans.
A winter storm deemed potentially “historic” by the National Weather Service in Chanhassen could make travel impossible Wednesday, Feb. 22, into Thursday.
The weather service issued a winter storm warning for areas of central and southeast Minnesota, including Mille Lacs, Morrison and Todd counties from 6 p.m. Wednesday through 6 p.m. Thursday. A blizzard warning has been issued for southwestern Minnesota.
About 1:45 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service in Duluth also issued a winter storm warning for southern Cass, Crow Wing and southern Aitkin counties.
The winter storm expected Wednesday is the last of three rounds of snowfall to sweep the state since Monday.
Minnesotans are no strangers to extreme weather, but this storm could break records.
The final round of snow will be more widespread, the National Weather Service in Chanhassen reported, and will begin Wednesday afternoon and continue into Thursday with an additional 10 to 20 inches of snow expected. Total snow accumulations will range from 15 to 25 inches, with the best chance for the higher-end totals across east central Minnesota and west central Wisconsin.
“This is expected to reach the top 5 heaviest snow storms,” the weather service reported. “Heavy snow will combine with northeast wind gusts of 35 mph across the region, to near 50 mph in western and central Minnesota. This will lead to significant blowing and drifting snow with whiteout conditions in open areas. Some drifts may be several feet deep, making travel nearly impossible.”
In response to the winter storm forecast, Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday declared a peacetime emergency and authorized the National Guard to provide emergency relief services for stranded motorists across Minnesota.
“Minnesotans are no strangers to extreme weather, but this storm could break records,” Walz said in a news release. “Our agencies are collaborating closely to make sure we’re prepared — and Minnesotans have a part to play, too. Plan ahead, drive safe, and limit travel.”
The declaration was made by Walz at the request of Minnesota National Guard’s Adjutant General, Army Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke; Commissioner of Public Safety Bob Jacobson; and Commissioner of Transportation Nancy Daubenberger.
“MnDOT has more than 800 snowplows and 1,600 snowplow drivers across the state,” Daubenberger said. “Our crews are prepared and ready, and will be working tirelessly day and night to keep highways as safe for travel as possible. We urge Minnesotans to plan ahead, stay home if you can, and check 511MN.org for latest road conditions near you.”
A major winter storm is still on track to impact portions of the Northland. If you live north of the Iron Range (spoiler alert!) you might not see much. The rest of you, this thread is for you! #mnwx #wiwx pic.twitter.com/MeqmmRnIcq— NWS Duluth (@NWSduluth) February 21, 2023
Minnesota State Troopers will be on state highways with dispatchers also ready to assist Minnesotans. The National Guard is prepared to respond quickly to rescue stranded motorists or provide other assistance, at the direction of the Minnesota division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and as requested by county officials. Homeland Security and Emergency Management is also coordinating efforts to prepare for power outages and response challenges.
For motorists who must travel, the National Weather Service advises a full tank of gas, a charged cellphone and warm clothes or blankets in the vehicle. If a motorist gets stranded they should stay with their vehicle.
For Mille Lacs County, the weather service forecast calls for a total of 14-19 inches of snow Tuesday through Thursday. In Morrison and Todd counties, a three-day total of 12-18 inches of snow is possible.
We are in for tricky travel conditions this week! MnDOT plows are out & will remain out, but please stay weather aware & check https://t.co/kt5FT1QgA5. If you can stay home, that's the best place to be. Snow has started in some areas & wind speeds will pick up later. Stay safe! pic.twitter.com/ikKCiXnSRe— MnDOT District 4 (@mndotwcentral) February 21, 2023
Southern Cass, Crow Wing and southern Aitkin counties Tuesday afternoon to a winter storm warning Wednesday afternoon to Thursday afternoon, with 7-12 inches of snow possible Tuesday through Thursday, said Ron Williams, port meteorological officer with the National Weather Service in Duluth.
The Brainerd area was right on the line between the winter storm watches and warnings issued, Williams said, and it is possible the area could be elevated into the warning category.
“Stay tuned with that in case the system moves northward a bit, which with the last couple systems, we’ve seen them move south or north,” of the predicted track, Williams said.
Colder temperatures and elevated winds will bring cold wind chills across northeastern Minnesota overnight Tuesday night through Friday morning. Wind Chill Advisory is in effect for Northern MN Wed morning, and more may be needed. #mnwx #wiwx pic.twitter.com/1i2GGm1vEA— NWS Duluth (@NWSduluth) February 21, 2023
It will be cold and windy into Friday in the Brainerd lakes area. On Wednesday, the weather service forecast calls for a high temperature of 15 degrees and 15-20 mph winds gusting up to 35 mph. Wednesday night, when the snow picks up, the low temperature could be around 0 degrees with 20-25 mph winds gusting up to 40 mph. On Thursday, the high temperature is forecast for 7 degrees with 15-25 mph winds gusting up to 40 mph. The low temperature Thursday night is expected to be 14 degrees below zero, with 5-15 mph winds gusting up to 20 mph. Friday is expected to be mostly sunny with a high of 9 degrees and calmer winds at 5-10 mph.
MATT ERICKSON, Editor, may be reached at email@example.com or 218-855-5857.