Accumulating Snow on the way for parts of the Northland, winter storm watches and advisories in effect

A difficult forecast ahead, but before I get into that, let’s check out the temperatures in Minnesota on this mid-January day, balmy stuff!

50s in southwest Minnesota this afternoon, 30s in the Northland!


Temperatures this afternoon are running 20 to over 30 degrees warmer than normal from the Plains to upper Midwest – the blowtorch continues!


…Now onto the fun stuff…

Computer models are bouncing around from one run to the next regarding where the snow sets up and how much accumulation will see for the Thursday-Friday system. Weather forecasting is fun.

I would expect a few more changes to the forecast through Thursday morning, it really is going to come down to the final minutes to see how this system plays out.

One thing a forecaster shouldn’t do is alter a forecast off of one model run, but here I am changing my forecast based off this morning’s model run, but with the majority of the models today showing a shift to the west/south, plus what appears to be a pretty sharp cutoff between snow and no snow, I had to make some changes to my snowfall forecast.

A few things that could lead to more than 3″ of snow in Duluth and Superior

  • A longer duration of lake enhanced snow, but the overall setup for lake enhanced snow is already very marginal to begin with as 850mb temps are only forecast to be around -2 to -4C, would like to see those a lot colder by some 4-7 degrees.
  • Pivot point ends up farther north than where the models show it today.

Note: I don’t think these totals are set in stone just yet as I could see them increase or decrease a bit by Thursday afternoon. Stay tuned.

A period of freezing rain is possible early Thursday morning across western parts of the Northland with ice accumulations of up to 0.05 inches possible roughly west of a line from International Falls to Hinckley.


Moderate (orange) to Minor (yellow) winter weather impacts are expected in most of the Northland Thursday afternoon into Friday per Winter Storm Severity Index.

Note: The fact that this looks to be a long duration of mostly light to at times moderate snow the overall impacts shouldn’t be too significant in most of the Northland. Hourly snowfall rates should remain <1″/hour through the event. Of more concern may be the water content to this snow as temps will be on the mild side which leads to a rather low snow to liquid ratio with SLR’s likely around 10:1 or even a little less than that so this likely won’t be the fluffy snow that we often see in January, instead it will probably hold quite a bit of water.



A wintry mix (pink and purple colors) including some freezing rain is expected in western parts of the Northland early Thursday morning – Forecast valid Midnight tonight to 9 AM Thursday per 21z RAP model.

Note: It looks dry in Duluth and Superior through Thursday morning.


Will the cutoff line from snow to no snow setup a little farther south or north (orange line on map) It could go either way that’s why I don’t think the forecast is set in stone quite yet.

Radar forecast valid from 9 AM Thursday to 6 PM Friday per 21z RAP model.

Note: Some snow or a mix is possible in Duluth and Superior starting Thursday afternoon (~12 PM to 3 PM) with precipitation possibly lingering into Friday morning before ending Friday afternoon.

…Winter Weather Alerts per NWS Duluth, MN…

  • Winter Storm Watch in effect Thursday morning through Friday afternoon including the cities of Duluth, Cloquet, Moose Lake, Hinckley, Pine City, Superior, Solon Springs, Minong, Siren, Washburn, Bayfield, Ashland, Hayward, Winter, Hurley and Gile.
  • Winter Weather Advisory in effect from Midnight tonight through Friday afternoon including the cities of International Falls, Bigfork, Grand Rapids, Cass Lake, Walker, Brainerd, Hill City, Aitkin and McGregor.

Travel could be difficult at times due to snow and mixed precipitation in the watch and advisory areas.

Note: The watch will likely be upgraded to either a warning or advisory or I guess it could even be cancelled altogether for some of us, those decisions will be made by the NWS by Thursday morning.


Various weather headlines in effect across the region.

Road Conditions



Low pressure which will impact the upper Midwest Thursday and Friday continues to move quickly to the east out of southern Alberta and into southern Saskatchewan this afternoon. This low will continue to move east tonight, but then drop SE into the Northern Plains and upper Midwest on Thursday.

Water vapor loop from Wednesday, January 13, 2021 (loop time 8 AM to 3 PM)


Strongest winds on Thursday should pass west and south of the Northland where wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph will occur from the Dakotas to western Minnesota.

The circled area around Lake Superior is for the potential for a period of gusty NE winds Thursday evening into Friday morning with wind gusts of 20 to 30 mph possible.

18z HRRR model wind gust forecast valid from 6 PM this evening to 12 PM Friday.



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