UPDATED: Double punch of winter could hit area by weekend
Two major winter storms appear to be descending on the Red River Valley and Devils Lake Basin as the year comes to an end, according to the National Weather Service. The Park Rapids area will get a potpourri mix of snow, sleet, freezing rain and wind.
The agency reported today that it expects "significant accumulations" of snow and near blizzard conditions to the region through New Year's Day.
The first of the two systems is expected to arrive late Wednesday, with snow falling in the basin and moving east into the valley overnight. Northerly winds will increase, causing considerable blowing snow and near-blizzard conditions by Thursday night.
This system could bring a freezing mix of rain and snow to the southern valley and west-central Minnesota, Park Rapids included.
After a brief respite Friday morning, a second round of snow is expected to arrive Friday afternoon.
Geoffrey Grochocinski, a meteorologist with the weather service, said the second storm also will bring significant snow accumulation but totals are difficult to predict until the storm draws closer to the region.
Both storms will bring "near blizzard-like conditions," with snow and winds between 20 to 35 mph, he said.
"This is going to create a lot of trouble for people who were expecting to travel New Year's Eve," Grochocinski said.
One concern forecasters have now is the lull between the storms, expected Friday morning, may leave people, especially travelers, believing the storm has passed, he said.
The second storm is expected to move into the region Friday afternoon and stay through New Year's Day. The weather service says this storm will bring much colder air and dangerous wind chills to 35 below.
Currently, the weather service has issued a winter storm watch, but Grochocinski said forecasters are monitoring conditions closely to determine whether to issue a winter storm warning.
North Dakota counties under a winter storm watch: Towner, Cavalier, Pembina, Benson, Ramsey, Walsh, Eddy, Nelson, Grand Forks, Griggs, Steele, Traill, Barnes, Cass, Ransom, Sargent and Richland.
Counties in Minnesota: Polk, Norman, Clay, Kittson, Roseau, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Beltrami, Pennington, Red Lake, Clearwater, Beltrami, Mahnomen, Hubbard, Becker, Wilkin, Otter Tail, Wadena and Grant.
Here is the extended forecast for the Park Rapids region:
Today: Partly sunny, with a high near 30. South wind between 6 and 9 mph.
Tonight: A chance of snow and freezing rain after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a temperature rising to around 32 by 5am. South southeast wind between 7 and 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
Thursday: Snow and freezing rain, becoming all snow after noon. Temperature falling to around 19 by 5pm. East southeast wind 5 to 8 mph becoming north between 13 and 16 mph. Winds could gust as high as 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Little or no ice accumulation expected. New snow accumulation of 5 to 9 inches possible.
Thursday Night: Snow. Low around 3. North northwest wind between 13 and 16 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
Friday: Snow, mainly after noon. High near 8. North northeast wind between 9 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
Friday Night: Snow. Low around -4. Blustery. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
New Year's Day: A 30 percent chance of snow. Cloudy, with a high near 3.
Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around -10.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 6.
Sunday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around -6.
Monday: Cloudy, with a high near 16.
Monday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around -3.
Tuesday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 15.