The Brainerd area could be under an 8-inch blanket of new snow by Monday.
The National Weather Service in Duluth on Thursday placed northeastern Minnesota, including Aitkin, Cass and Crow Wing counties, in a winter storm watch from Saturday night through Monday morning.
While it was still too early on Thursday to determine exact snowfall amounts and the most likely locations to be affected, the weather service reported it appeared likely that much of area within the winter storm watch could see more than 8 inches of snow.
"With this kind of system, there's a possibility of a lot of snow," said Carol Christenson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth. "It's quite a ways out and we don't have a clear idea yet ... but it could be anywhere from 8-10 inches, maybe more."
Christenson said it could be a long event, starting as a mix of freezing rain and light snow Saturday afternoon and turning to heavy snow Saturday night through Monday morning. The most accumulation is expected on Sunday, she said.
When the system moves out of the area on Monday, mild temperatures in the 30s will leave with it. Highs on Monday are forecast from 3 degrees below zero to 2 degrees above. On Tuesday, highs of 2-7 degrees are forecast.
"People could be caught off guard by that, too," Christenson said. "The best thing people can do now is beat the rush, start thinking about stocking up on some things they may need for a possible winter storm. Keep an eye on the weather and if have you have travel plans, really watch weather and maybe even think about changing them."
If more than 4 inches of snow falls, Brainerd residents are reminded that the city will declare a snow emergency, City Engineer Jeff Hulsether said.
When a snow emergency is declared, parking is prohibited on snow emergency routes and all north-south routes until the street is plowed on the first day following the snow. On the second day, parking is prohibited on all east-west streets until they are plowed.
Vehicle plowed around could receive a $25 parking ticket. If they are not towed within 48 hours the vehicle could be towed.
"The important thing is when we do get over 4 inches of snow, check with the news media, the city, whomever, but know there will be parking restrictions in effect," Hulsether said.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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