Winter storm will dump heavy snow in northern Minnesota Saturday night into Sunday night

Lighter snow amounts to the south

(See mid afternoon update regarding updated warnings/advisories)

If you need to travel in northern Minnesota this weekend, it’s best to get that travel done this Saturday. I suspect that some roads will be impassable on Sunday due to heavy snow and strong winds.

Forecast models agree that this weekend’s winter storm will hit northern Minnesota the hardest. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s North American Mesoscale (NAM) forecast model shows the potential precipitation pattern from 5 p.m. Saturday through 10 p.m. on Sunday:

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NAM simulated radar 5 p.m. Saturday to 10 p.m.
NOAA, via Tropicaltidbits.com

NOAA’s High-Resolution Rapid-Refresh (HRRR) model shows a similar precipitation pattern:

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HRRR simulated radar 5 p.m. Saturday to 10 p.m. Sunday
NOAA, via Tropicaltidbits.com

Notice the tight spacing of the isobars Sunday and Sunday night, indicating very strong winds.

Snow forecasts

Snow totals from Saturday evening through Sunday evening are expected to be in the 6 to 8 inch range in much of northwestern Minnesota:

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Snow forecast
National Weather Service

North-central and northeastern Minnesota will probably see many 8 inch or greater snow totals:

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Snow forecast and warnings
National Weather Service

Some spots along and a bit inland from the North Shore could tally over 12 inches of snow.

The Twin Cities metro area will have a chance of occasional light snow showers Saturday evening and overnight, followed by a chance of scattered rain/snow showers on Sunday. Parts of the north metro have the potential for snow accumulations of up to one inch by Sunday morning.

You can hear updated weather information for Minnesota and western Wisconsin on the Minnesota Public Radio News network, and you can see updated weather info on the MPR News live weather blog.

Updated Minnesota road conditions can be found here. Wisconsin road conditions can be found here.

Warnings and watches

Winter storm warnings start at 6 p.m. in northeastern North Dakota and in several northwestern Minnesota counties that border the Red River. There’s a winter storm watch from Moorhead to Detroit Lakes to Fergus Falls that starts Saturday evening:

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Winter storm watches and warnings start Sat. evening in NW Minn.
National Weather Service

Portions of that watch may be included in warnings that are updated later today by the Grand Forks NWS office.

Here are details of the winter storm warnings that begin at 9 p.m. this Saturday in northwestern and north-central Minnesota:

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE National Weather Service Grand Forks ND 957 AM CST Sat Dec 4 2021 MNZ005-006-008-009-013>017-023-024-060600- /O.CON.KFGF.WS.W.0003.211205T0300Z-211206T0600Z/ Roseau-Lake Of The Woods-East Marshall-North Beltrami-Pennington- Red Lake-East Polk-North Clearwater-South Beltrami- South Clearwater-Hubbard- Including the cities of Roseau, Warroad, Greenbush, Baudette, Newfolden, Middle River, Grygla, Red Lake, Redby, Ponemah, Thief River Falls, Red Lake Falls, Fosston, Fertile, McIntosh, Erskine, Bagley, Clearbrook, Bemidji, Alida, Ebro, Lake Itasca, Long Lost Lake, Lower Rice Lake, Roy Lake, Upper Rice Lake, and Park Rapids 957 AM CST Sat Dec 4 2021 ...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 9 PM THIS EVENING TO MIDNIGHT CST SUNDAY NIGHT... * WHAT...Heavy snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 6 to 10 inches. Winds gusting as high as 40 mph Sunday afternoon and evening will cause areas of blowing and drifting snow. * WHERE...Portions of north central and northwest Minnesota. * WHEN...From 9 PM this evening to midnight CST Sunday night. * IMPACTS...Travel will be very difficult. Areas of blowing snow will significantly reduce the visibility. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency. The latest road conditions for North Dakota can be found at dot.nd.gov/travel and for Minnesota at 511mn.org, or by calling 5 1 1 in either state.

By midnight winter storm warnings expand to cover the remainder of the northern third of Minnesota, plus parts of northwestern Wisconsin. Winter storm warnings continue through Sunday and Sunday evening in most areas, and until 6 a.m. Monday in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. Portions of Cook County in northeastern Minnesota will be in a blizzard warning from 5 a.m. Sunday to 6 a.m. Monday.

Here are details of the warnings in northeastern Minnesota:

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE National Weather Service Duluth MN 331 AM CST Sat Dec 4 2021 MNZ020-037-042145- /O.UPG.KDLH.WS.A.0005.211205T0600Z-211206T1200Z/ /O.NEW.KDLH.WS.W.0005.211205T0600Z-211206T1200Z/ Southern Lake-Carlton and South St. Louis- Including the cities of Two Harbors, Silver Bay, and Duluth 331 AM CST Sat Dec 4 2021 ...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT TO 6 AM CST MONDAY... * WHAT...Heavy snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 6 to 10 inches, except 10 to 16 inches for the higher terrain of the North Shore. Winds gusting as high as 40 mph. * WHERE...Southern Lake and Carlton and South St. Louis Counties. This includes the Tribal Lands of the Fond du Lac Band. * WHEN...From midnight tonight to 6 AM CST Monday. * IMPACTS...Travel could be very difficult to impossible. * ADDITIONAL DETAILS...The worst conditions should be during the day on Sunday. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency. The latest road conditions can be obtained by calling 5 1 1. Road conditions can also be found at 511mn.org for Minnesota or 511wi.gov for Wisconsin.

The blizzard warning for portions of Cook County starts at 5 a.m. Sunday:

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE National Weather Service Duluth MN 331 AM CST Sat Dec 4 2021 MNZ021-042145- /O.UPG.KDLH.WS.A.0005.211205T0600Z-211206T1200Z/ /O.NEW.KDLH.BZ.W.0001.211205T1100Z-211206T1200Z/ Southern Cook- Including the city of Grand Marais 331 AM CST Sat Dec 4 2021 ...BLIZZARD WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 5 AM SUNDAY TO 6 AM CST MONDAY... * WHAT...Blizzard conditions expected. Total snow accumulations of 10 to 16 inches. Winds gusting as high as 40 mph. * WHERE...Southern Cook County. This includes the Tribal Lands of the Grand Portage Reservation. * WHEN...From 5 AM Sunday to 6 AM CST Monday. * IMPACTS...Travel could be very difficult to impossible. Patchy blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. * ADDITIONAL DETAILS...The worst conditions should be during the day on Sunday. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... Travel should be restricted to emergencies only. If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you. If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle. The latest road conditions can be obtained by calling 5 1 1. Road conditions can also be found at 511mn.org for Minnesota or 511wi.gov for Wisconsin.

Updates to the warnings will be posted by the Duluth NWS office.

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Here is a mid-afternoon update on the winter storm warnings and advisories

The NWS has expanded the northwestern Minnesota winter storm warning southward to around Detroit Lakes, and a winter weather advisory for lesser snow amounts includes Fergus Falls:

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Winter storm warnings Saturday night and Sunday
National Weather Service

Winter weather advisories also have been posted for Saturday night and Sunday from Brainerd to Hinckley (beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday and over to Rice Lake and Hayward in Wisconsin (beginning at 10 p.m. Saturday):

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Winter storm warnings/winter weather advisories Saturday night and Sunday
National Weather Service

More on the next update.

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Temperature trends

Saturday highs will be mainly in the 30s across central and southern Minnesota plus western Wisconsin. Far northern Minnesota will see some 20s.

Sunday highs range from 20s in the far north to lower 40s in the far south:

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Sunday forecast highs
National Weather Service

An arctic front spreads much colder air across Minnesota and Wisconsin Sunday night and Monday, with Monday highs in the single-digits north to teens south:

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Monday forecast highs
National Weather Service

Strong winds will give us sub-zero wind chill temps on Monday, so find your warmest coat and gloves by then!

Twin Cities highs are projected to reach the lower 20s Tuesday, then around 30 degrees on Wednesday, followed by mid 30s Thursday and lower 30s on Friday.

Programming note

You can hear my live weather updates on MPR News at 7:35 a.m., 9:35 a.m. and 4:39 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday.

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