Heavy snow and tornado risk in Minnesota today

Winter storm warnings and severe weather risk on March 10

Severe weather risk areas
Severe weather risk areas Wednesday.

Updated: 5:46 p.m.

Welcome to March in Minnesota. This is the state where we can get heavy snow and tornadoes on the same day. Winter storm warnings and severe weather risk cover parts of our state Wednesday.

Get up to the minute updates today with the MPR Severe Weather Live Blog.

The system

A low-pressure system is producing rain and thunderstorms through Wednesday afternoon. Colder air on the backside of the system will change rain to snow as we move through Wednesday evening.

Here’s the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s NAM 3 km resolution model between 3 p.m. and midnight.

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NOAA NAM 3 km model Wednesday
NOAA NAM 3 km model Wednesday
NOAA via tropical tidbits

Winter storm warnings

Winter storm warnings are up in west-central and northeast Minnesota.

Including the cities of Isabella, Hibbing, Two Harbors, Silver Bay, Grand Marais, Grand Rapids, Hill City, and Duluth 1249 PM CST Wed Mar 10 2021


* WHAT...Heavy snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 4 to 8 inches with locally higher amounts possible. Winds gusting as high as 40 mph.

* WHERE...Central St. Louis, Northern Cook and Lake, Northern Aitkin, South Itasca, Southern Cook, Southern Lake and Carlton and South St. Louis Counties. This includes the Tribal Lands of the Bois Forte Band, Lake Vermilion area, the Fond du Lac Band, the Grand Portage Reservation and the Mille Lacs Band, Big Sandy Lake area.

* WHEN...From 6 PM this evening to 9 AM CST Thursday.

* IMPACTS...Travel could be very difficult. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning commute.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...Areas around Duluth and Cloquet, and to the south, as well as along the immediate shores of Lake Superior should expect 3 to 5 inches of snow.

Areas of heavy snow between 3 and 8 inches favor the winter storm zones from west-central Minnesota through the Arrowhead.

Snowfall projection
Snowfall projection for Minnesota.

Pockets of 8 inches could fall in parts of northeast Minnesota by midday Thursday.

Snowfall projection
Snowfall projection for northeast Minnesota.
Duluth National Weather Service

Severe weather risk

The atmosphere is unstable on the warmer side of the system. A cluster of thunderstorms is likely between about 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. from the Twin Cities south and east. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has issued the first slight risk zone of 2021 that includes the southeast half of the Twin Cities.

Severe weather risk areas
Severe weather risk areas Wednesday.

Tornado risk

There is enough low-level wind shear late this afternoon to produce possible tornadoes. I can’t rule out a spin-up or two in or near the Twin Cities and in parts of southeast Minnesota and western Wisconsin today.

The highest threat window appears to be between about 4 and 7 p.m.

Stay alert for possible severe weather warnings into the early evening.