A complex winter storm is arriving in Minnesota this morning and will hang around into Tuesday.
Light snow has been falling across central Minnesota as it makes its way toward Duluth early this Monday morning. Meanwhile, an area of mixed precipitation has been expanding across southern Minnesota.
Areas of snow will expand, track to the northeast and gradually cover most of the state today. Mixed precipitation likely consisting of freezing rain, ice pellets and snow will expand across southern parts of Minnesota.
Winter weather advisories have been issued for all of Minnesota except the northwest corner.
Freezing rain means icy travel
Freezing rain will cause icy conditions in southeastern Minnesota, and possibly as far north as the Twin Cities, today.
Some of the warm air from Sunday is lingering above the surface layer across the southeastern part of Minnesota. As shown in the diagram below, freezing rain occurs when snow forms in the clouds, falls through a warm layer thick enough to melt it into raindrops, and then falls onto a sub-freezing surface where it forms a glaze of ice.
If the air below the warm air is colder than 32 degrees and fairly thick, the rain can freeze into ice pellets, commonly called sleet.
Snow and freezing rain should taper off considerably Monday evening.
Then a reinforcing surge will arrive later in the night with more snow for most of Minnesota and freezing rain or a wintry mix in the southeast.
Precipitation should end in much of Minnesota Tuesday morning but will hang on in the Arrowhead into the afternoon.
Snowfall amounts are likely to be generally 3 to 6 inches from west central Minnesota to the northeastern corner, including Montevideo, Alexandria, Fergus Falls, St. Cloud, Cambridge, Aitkin, Mille Lacs, Brainerd, Duluth and the Arrowhead.
Lesser amounts of snow will fall southeast of that area. The Twin Cities metro should should pick up around 2 inches to maybe as much as 4 inches on the northwest side.
Of greater concern than the snow will be the icing caused by the freezing rain.
While the Twin Cities likely will experience periods of light freezing rain along with the snowfall, conditions will become dangerously icy in southeastern Minnesota including around Austin, Rochester, Winona and Caledonia. Ice accumulations of from a tenth of an inch to as much as a quarter of an inch are likely in that area by the time the storm ends Tuesday morning.
Travel is expected to become difficult in southeastern Minnesota today and tonight.
The storm will spread rain and freezing rain to areas well to our southeast on Wednesday. We will be embraced by a large, cool area of Canadian high pressure.
Milder again by late in the week
Temperatures will rebound back up toward highs in the 30s by Friday and for the weekend.