Winter storm's heaviest snow to come Thursday night
Light snow from the slow-moving winter storm that could bring 10-15 inches to the area began falling around the midnight hour Thursday.
According to National Weather Service reports, the heaviest snow will come late Thursday night and will continue into Saturday.
The winter storm warning issued for Hubbard County remains in effect beginning at 6 a.m. Thursday and runs through to 6 a.m. Saturday.
The National Weather Service is discouraging unnecessary travel as the storm, which will be accompanied by high winds, will cause blizzard conditions in parts of the area.
"Travel for Christmas Eve and Christmas day will likely be hazardous and anyone with travel plans should stay tuned for forecast updates as the track of the storm and snowfall amounts can change," reads a warning on the National Weather Service Web site.
The system will start slow and snow accumulation by 6 a.m. Thursday should be less than one inch. Periods of snow will continue through Thursday with the heaviest snow falling later Thursday night and into Friday.
The snow will gradually taper off Friday night and into Saturday morning.
The National Weather Services forecasts that Fergus Falls will see the highest snowfall totals in northwest Minnesota.
Winds are not expected to be a significant factor during the overnight hours Wednesday and into Thursday. But the wind is expected to turn north over the Red River Valley on Christmas day and winds are expected to gust between 15 and 30 miles per hour.
Blizzard conditions are expected west of a line extending from Roseau through Fosston and Park Rapids. Strong winds combined with heavy snow may cause roads to become impassable.
East of the Red River Valley, winds are expected to be in the 10 to 20-mile per hour range, which will cause reduced visibility in blowing snow.
On Tuesday afternoon the National Weather Service out of Duluth upgraded its winter storm warning into a blizzard warning.
The warning, which affects the southwest shores of Lake Superior, is in effect from 6 a.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Saturday.
Snowfall amounts of 14 to 18 inches are expected in Duluth with local amounts greater than 20 inches along the higher terrain around Lake Superior. Winds are expected to increase from 15-30 miles per hour Wednesday to 20-40 miles per hour Thursday night.
Road conditions around Duluth will deteriorate rapidly Thursday with any travel becoming dangerous by late afternoon and lasting through much of Christmas.
Snow totals around the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, the Alexandria lakes area and the Minnesota-South Dakota border could exceed 20 inches.
The National Weather Service out of Chanhassen is expecting a major snow event around the Twin Cities and said the snowfall may be comparable to the 1991 Halloween snowstorm that dropped up to three feet of snow in many areas of Minnesota.
The Twin Cities is under a winter storm watch beginning at 9 p.m. Wednesday night and it runs through 6 a.m. Saturday.