Don't relax just yet.
This winter storm, with its steady Thursday rain turning to snow, is expected to be replaced by a brief lull, which is forecast to be followed by a second snow-maker and a temperature plunge.
Ed Flenz, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Duluth, said it's uncertain how much more snow may arrive Friday night or Saturday, but he said the break in the action may be brief.
As of Thursday, with Cass, Crow Wing and Aitkin counties all in a winter storm warning, the heaviest snow was falling in Cass County.
By Thursday night 2 inches of snow was reported in Nisswa and Flenz said that was representative of snowfall in the area.
For the Brainerd lakes area, the winter storm warning remained in effect until 6 a.m. Friday.
Late Thursday, even as the snow appeared to lighten considerably, Flenz referred to details in the winter storm warning. The warning included a potential of 4-8 inches of snow by Friday morning, reduced visibility to a quarter mile or less with blowing snow and 10 to 20 mph winds. Wind gusts of up to 25 mph created the possibility for drifting along with continued hazardous and slippery roads.
For residents, the massive temperature change from a balmy 35 degrees and rain to single-digit highs means that heavy lush at the end of the driveway will turn into immovable rock. There isn’t a warm-up in the near future to make removing it any less back-breaking. Just shoveling the sodden slush won’t be easy. And, according to the NWS, more freezing rain is expected Friday with more snow likely, perhaps 1 to 2 inches in the afternoon.
By nightfall, more snow was expected with the NWS predicting as much as 3 to 5 inches of additional snow Friday night. But Flenz said those snow totals are uncertain.
“Let’s just get through this storm first,” Flenz said.
Wadena was in a blizzard warning until 6 a.m. Friday with winds of 25-45 mph combining with falling snow. As the blizzard warning lifted a winter storm watch with heavy snow expected landed in its place. The winter storm warning was listed from Friday afternoon into Saturday morning.
The new year is expected to arrive with a dry pattern after New Year’s Day, which has a 50 percent chance of snow showers under cloudy skies. It will be cold. A high temperature with the first day of 2011 is not expected to climb much higher than 8 degrees.
The entire first week of the new year is a mix of sun and cloud and high temperatures ranging from 14 to 17 degrees. Lows, which should make for a chilly New Year’s Eve, may drop below zero Sunday night and hover around zero during the coming week.
A steady cold rain made for slippery travel Thursday and after 1 p.m. began slipping into a mix of rain and snow. As the hour drew to 5 p.m. Thursday, the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport reported light snow and fog/mist at 34 degrees. Just to the west in Wadena, the temperature had already dropped to 18 degrees.
By 3:30 p.m. Thursday three inches of snow was reported north of Pillager. And a trained weather spotter reported .24 inches of rain three miles north of Brainerd as of 2:37 p.m. Thursday.
Slippery roads made for treacherous travel and numerous reports Thursday of crashes and vehicles in the ditch across the lakes area, including a fatality on County Road 3 that claimed a Merrifield woman’s life.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.