Falling temperatures are turning rain to ice and snow

Most of Minnesota will see travel problems through Friday

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A cold front moving across Minnesota is sending temperatures plummeting and will switch rain to ice and snow through Friday. Drier weather returns for the weekend.

A strong storm brings a wintry mix

A potent storm is moving across Minnesota, and already Thursday morning, the cold front with it is moving across northwestern Minnesota. It will move slowly across the state, only making it through central Minnesota by late Thursday.

weather graphic
Storm position by late Thursday
National Weather Service

Ahead of the front, temperatures are very mild, but for western Minnesota, as the front passes through, many locations will see falling temperatures Thursday.

Here are the forecast temperatures by late Thursday afternoon, showing that large temperature divide, with 20s and 30s in western Minnesota, behind the front, and some 50s and 60s ahead of it:

weather graphic
Temperatures late Thursday afternoon
National Weather Service

The cold front will continue across eastern Minnesota by Friday morning, spreading the cold air across the rest of the state. By Friday morning, the entire state will be cold, and even in the afternoon temperatures will only be in the 20s and 30s.

It will also be breezy through the duration of the storm, with winds gusting into the teens and 20s, making it feel even colder.

There is a lot of moisture with this storm, and especially parts of northern Minnesota could see over an inch of liquid (rain plus water content from snow or ice), leading to renewed river flooding concerns.

weather graphic
Total liquid equivalent precipitation through Friday
Pivotal Weather

Because of the temperature transition, most places will first see rain, and possibly even thunderstorms for southeastern Minnesota. Then precipitation transitions to freezing rain and/or sleet and finally snow.

Here is how that precipitation transition looked Thursday morning in northwestern Minnesota:

weather graphic
7:30 a.m. Thursday radar
National Weather Service

By Thursday evening, all of western Minnesota is likely to be seeing snow or ice.

weather graphic
Thursday evening precipitation
National Weather Service

Because of this, all of western Minnesota is either under a winter storm warning (pink) or winter weather advisory Thursday, then the advisories extend into central Minnesota for Friday.

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Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories
National Weather Service

Snow will be heaviest for northwestern Minnesota, where some reports could go as high as 8 or 9 inches through Friday.

weather graphic
Forecast snow accumulation through Friday
National Weather Service

Ice will likely be the bigger problem for the southwestern and central portions of the state, with up to a quarter-inch of accumulation possible through Friday.

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Forecast ice accumulation through Friday
National Weather Service

Here is the projected timing of the transition from rain to freezing rain or sleet:

weather graphic
Timing of Freezing Precipitation
National Weather Service

The most likely timing for the Twin Cities to see freezing rain and sleet is late Friday morning into the afternoon, as the colder air continues to move in.

weather graphic
Friday afternoon precipitation
National Weather Service


By Friday evening the storm finally starts moving out, and the weather will clear out from west to east during the overnight.

Extended forecast

Skies clear and more sunshine returns Saturday, with temperatures back closer to average in the 30s and 40s. Temperatures climb back above average by Sunday, and much of the state will see 50s and even 60s Monday and Tuesday.

The first half of next week looks active, with occasional chances for rain, and in northern Minnesota rain or snow, from Sunday evening through Wednesday. It currently looks like most of the precipitation would remain lighter. Here is that extended forecast for the Twin Cities:

weather graphic
Twin Cities extended forecast
Weather.us

Programming note

You can hear my live weather updates on Minnesota Public Radio at 7:48 a.m. Monday through Friday morning.

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