A strong winter weather system will bring drizzle, sleet, freezing rain, snow, gale-force winds and then subzero cold to the Northland just in time for holiday travel.
The National Weather Service in Duluth has issued a winter storm warning from 6 a.m. Wednesday to 12:01 a.m. Thursday with a combination of freezing rain and snow expected to spread from west to east across the region Wednesday.
The heaviest snow is expected Wednesday afternoon into the evening, with temperatures dropping from the mid-30s in the morning to the lower teens by evening, when wind chill levels will drop below zero.
Snowfall is expected to be heaviest to the north, with 8-12 inches expected across the Minnesota/Ontario border and across the Arrowhead region.
The Twin Ports and Northwestern Wisconsin should see 6-8 inches of new snow with higher amounts in Wisconsin’s snow belt where lake effect snow could linger into Thursday.
Snowfall should be less to the south, with 2-4 inches expected for the Twin Cities.
North winds are expected to hit 25 mph by Wednesday afternoon with gusts to 45 mph causing blowing, drifting, reduced visibility and dangerous wind chill levels. Areas of north-central Minnesota — from Itasca County south to Cass and Crow Wing counties and east to Aitkin County — could see blizzard conditions, the Weather Service noted.
Temperatures will continue to drop well below zero by Thursday morning with highs on Thursday — Christmas Eve — only in the single digits above zero.
Christmas Day looks to be clear and cold, with a low of 9 below zero in the morning and highs in the teens above zero by afternoon.
This story was updated with further information from the National Weather Service at 10:04 p.m., Dec. 22. It was previously published at 4:52 p.m., Dec. 22.