Winter storm on track to bring heavy snow, high winds to much of Minnesota

A snowplow pushes snow down a road.
A snowplow moves snow along West Broadway Avenue in Robbinsdale on Wednesday.
Chris Juhn for MPR News

Updated: 6:20 p.m.

Winter isn't taking a holiday weekend in Minnesota, as another major storm is set to bring blizzard conditions to parts of the state from Friday night through Sunday.

Central and northern Minnesota will see heavy snow, with some rain and mixed precipitation lowering snow totals in southern Minnesota. The Twin Cities metro area will be right on or near that dividing line, so there may be a wide difference in snow totals between the north and south metro.

All of that comes on the heels of a storm that dropped up to a foot of snow from Tuesday into Wednesday.

Winter storm warnings are in effect from Friday night through Sunday morning for most of central and northern Minnesota, including Minneapolis, St. Paul and the northern Twin Cities metro area. Widespread snow totals of a foot or more are expected from Moorhead and Alexandria east toward Brainerd and Hinckley.

A blizzard warning is in effect for Duluth and Two Harbors from Saturday morning through noon Sunday. Snowfall may reach two feet in higher terrain along the North Shore; the National Weather Service said there's a chance that the two-day snowfall may reach the top 10 on record in Duluth.

Strong winds are expected to generate big waves on Lake Superior, prompting a lakeshore flood warning for the Duluth area from Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon.

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"Wave heights will again build to 10 feet or more," the National Weather Service reported. "This storm is different than the last one (on Wednesday) in that it will be a more prolonged period of strong winds."

Janell Mussman is general manager of the Comfort Suites hotel along the lakeshore in Duluth's Canal Park. She said that in the past, the hotel has been able to avoid serious flooding from big Lake Superior waves. But she said they're still taking precautions for this storm.

"We might get some straight-line winds. If the winds pick up — and I don't care how tight your building is — it's gonna find a way into the building. So, we're prepared with lots of towels," she said.

Mussman said the hotel saw some guests leave early to get home ahead of the storm — while some storm-watchers booked rooms. The hotel has made arrangements for staff to stay through the weekend, to avoid any dangerous roads while commuting.

The forecast for the Twin Cities remained challenging as of Friday evening, the National Weather Service reported.

“From Canby (Minn.) to the Twin Cities and Eau Claire (Wis.), snow will turn to a wintry mix Saturday and then turn back to snow Saturday night and Sunday morning,” the Weather Service in the Twin Cities said. “There is expected to be a very tight snow gradient somewhere near this line with all snow to the north and a prolonged mix to the south.”

As of Friday evening, it appeared that could mean snow totals of as much as a foot in the north metro by Sunday morning, with a half-foot in the south metro, and lesser amounts toward Mankato and Rochester.

Find more forecast details on MPR Weather's Updraft blog.