Rain, snow and ice: Major winter storm to hit Minnesota this weekend
Snow potential through Monday

After a brief break and sunny skies Friday, a massive winter storm moves in bringing everything from rain and ice to heavy snow.

Friday’s weather

Friday temperatures started off mild for December, and they will stay slightly above average through the day. Afternoon highs will be in the 20s for most of the state, with a few low 30s in southern Minnesota.

Skies are clearing through Friday morning and by afternoon, most of state will be under mostly sunny skies.

Temperatures and precipitation types

Temperatures will play a major role in the weekend storm system, because as the freezing line cuts across Minnesota, it will determine where we see snow, ice or rain. Except for the very northern and western portions of Minnesota, where rain is less likely, most locations will see all three types of precipitation at some point over the weekend. 

Saturday morning, when the moisture first moves in, it will be cold enough that most places initially see snow. Then by late morning, southern Minnesota will switch to rain and it will mostly stay that way through Sunday night. Although any location could see freezing rain mix in over the weekend, the more widespread chance comes Sunday, as some slightly warmer air aloft moves in. 

Temperatures across the state Sunday will have a dramatic contrast, from highs in only the 20s in the northwest corner of the state, to near 50 in the southeast corner, causing the dramatically different types of precipitation. 

By Sunday night, all of Minnesota is likely to go back below freezing, switching all the precipitation back to snow.

Snow, rain, and ice totals and duration

The upcoming storm is large and potent and will bring in a lot of moisture that will impact the state from Saturday all the way through Monday night. 

Here’s a look at the size of the storm by Sunday:

Most of Minnesota will see at least an inch of liquid equivalent precipitation by Monday morning, with the southwest corner of the state possibly seeing up to 1.5 inches-plus. 

This means heavy rain or snow depending on location. Much of northern and western Minnesota will see at least 6 inches of snow, and west-central Minnesota could see some reports top 12 inches. 

Some of those same areas also have a slightly higher ice potential. Particularly on Sunday, when there will also be gust winds, the heavy snow, ice and wind combination could cause the potential for some tree branches to come down, causing isolated power outages. 

On Monday, the snow lightens as the system departs, and even the places that had been predominantly rain could see a light coating of snow. 

Travel all weekend will likely be slow if not treacherous, and the Monday morning commute will be messy.

Listen to MPR at 100.5 FM in Duluth, 89.3 in the Ely area, 89.7 in the Grand Marais area, 107.3 in the Grand Rapids area, 88.3 in International Falls and 92.5 in the Hibbing-Virginia area.