UPDATED: NWS reports freezing rain, snow and then dangerous wind chills expected - snow totals increase in forecast.

Cold wind chills as low as 28 below zero could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes with cold temps expected Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and coming on the heels of a snowstorm Wednesday that is inspiring winter storm and blizzard warnings in the area.

Weather Graph
Reported Tuesday morning, Dec. 22, by National Weather Service in Duluth. Screenshot

A winter storm is expected to sweep across the Brainerd lakes area just in time for Christmas.

As the Peanuts character Charlie Brown would say, “good grief.” The National Weather Service in Duluth issued a winter storm warning, which is in effect from 6 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23, to midnight. The storm is developing through the Northland and cities to be impacted include Brainerd, Pine River, Walker, Hill City and Aitkin in Crow Wing, Cass and Aitkin counties. The weather service reported the system will begin Tuesday night as a mixture of freezing rain/drizzle and then turn into snow, which is expected to accumulate Wednesday into Wednesday night. The National Weather Service updated its situation report after 9 p.m. Thursday to increase anticipated snow totals. Snow may be heavy at times Wednesday afternoon and evening. Dangerous wind chills are expected to follow the snowfall. The wind chill may drop to 28 below Wednesday night.

The weather service reports snowfall amounts will depend on the final track of the storm system — with a forecast of 3-6 inches of snow possible in the Brainerd lakes area, with the snow possibly covering ice.

Snow totals were upgraded to a possible 4-6 inches in Wadena, Todd, Cass, Crow Wing and Morrison counties. with slightly heavier amounts of 6-8 inches possible for the eastern Aitkin and Mille Lacs counties. Even heavier snowfall of 8-12 inches may fall at at the top of the Arrowhead to the international border. A blizzard warning is in effect for central and southwest Minnesota with whiteout and blizzard conditions expected from west of Mille Lacs Lake to Waseca and points west. Todd, Morrison and Mille Lacs counties are included in the blizzard warning. The blizzard warning extends along the far western edge of the entire state.

The arctic cold front and strong northwest winds, which could gust as high as 50-60 mph in parts of the state are expected to plummet temperatures by Wednesday night and make for bitterly cold shoveling and snowblowing conditions in the storms aftermath. As of Wednesday night, all of Minnesota was covered in a weather warning or watch, save for Houston County in the far southeast corner of the state.


“Plan on slippery road conditions,” the weather service stated. “Areas of blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. The hazardous conditions could impact the Wednesday morning and Wednesday evening commute. Gusty winds could bring down tree branches.”

And if a person thinks it can’t get worse, think again. Dangerous wind chills are also possible Wednesday night through Thursday, with wind chill values up to 26 degrees below zero with possible 45 mph wind gusts for the city of Brainerd. Cold wind chills as low as 25 degrees below zero could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes. Wind chill denotes how the wind and cold feel on exposed skin.

Specific to the Brainerd area, the weather service Tuesday reported no ice was expected to accumulate. Icy areas are possible just north of Walker into International Falls and in Grand Marais.

Most of the snow is expected to fall Wednesday. The weather service said Brainerd has a 43% chance to receive 4 inches. Cities along Lake Superior in Minnesota and Wisconsin have a higher chance to receive 4 inches of snow.

The weather service stated there may be a period of blizzard conditions late Wednesday morning into late Wednesday night, and meteorologists may issue a blizzard warning.

If people are planning to travel during this storm, as Christmas Day is approaching, they are advised to keep an extra flashlight, food and water in their vehicle. People also can check out the latest road conditions by calling 511 or going online at for updates.



Detailed forecast for Brainerd

  • Tuesday night: A slight chance of rain between 3-4 a.m., then a chance of snow and freezing rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 22 degrees. Breezy, with a southeast wind 10 to 15 mph becoming west to 5 to 10 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

  • Wednesday: A chance of snow and freezing rain before 9 a.m., then snow likely. Cloudy, with temperatures falling to around 7 degrees by 5 p.m. Windy, with a northwest wind 5 to 15 mph increasing to 20 to 30 mph. Winds could gust as high as 45 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Little or no ice accumulation expected. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches are possible. Wednesday night there may be a 20% chance of snow before midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 7 below. Wind chill values between 15 to 25 degrees below zero. Windy, with a northwest wind 20 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 45 mph.

  • Thursday: Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near 3 degrees. Wind chill values between 20-30 below zero. Blustery, with a northwest wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. At night, partly cloudy, with a low around 9 degrees below zero. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southwest after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 15 mph.

  • Christmas Day: Mostly sunny, with a high near 21 degrees. West wind 5 to 10 mph.

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Contributed / Metro Newspaper Service

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