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Heaviest snow now expected in Northwestern Wisconsin

A slow-moving storm system is forecast to bring a prolonged period of light snow to the Northland from Monday through Wednesday.

While it won't be a crippling storm, the snow will have the potential to complicate travel in the region leading up to Christmas.

The National Weather Service in Duluth reported Monday morning that the area forecast to receive the heaviest snow has shifted south, into Northwestern Wisconsin, where snowfall may reach 3 to 5 inches - with locally higher amounts in the higher terrain of Bayfield, Ashland and Iron counties. A winter weather advisory is in effect for those three counties, along with Sawyer and Price counties, from 9 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Wednesday.

A winter storm watch that had been in effect for the North Shore has been canceled. Three-day snowfall there - and across much of the rest of the Northland - now is expected to be only 1 to 3 inches.

The Weather Service reports that there remains some uncertainty in the exact track and strength of the storm, which will affect how much snow falls, and where. Check back to www.duluthnewstribune.com for weather updates today.

Some difficult driving conditions were reported around the Northland on Monday morning, after overnight snow and mixed precipitation. Expect light snow to continue across the region Monday, possibly mixed with rain and sleet at times with high temperatures in the 30s. Light snow and rain is forecast to continue Monday night, with light accumulations possible by morning, especially in Northwestern Wisconsin. Additional light snowfall is in the forecast for Tuesday. Any snow that falls is expected to be of the wet, heavy variety.

After the snow ends Wednesday, there should be a break in the precipitation on Christmas Day before a chance of snow returns on Friday. Much colder air will filter into the Northland for the weekend, with subzero morning lows possible on Saturday and Sunday. Highs on Sunday may struggle to climb out of the single digits above zero.

The average high temperature in Duluth at this time of year is about 20 degrees, with the average low about 5 degrees above zero.

As of Sunday night, the Duluth airport had received 22 inches of snow so far this season, 5.6 inches below normal.

Storm anniversary

This Christmas will mark the fifth anniversary of a major holiday snowstorm that buried parts of the Northland under more than two feet of snow.

The 2009 Christmas storm brought three-day snow totals of 26 inches at Pequaywan Lake north of Duluth, about 24.5 inches at the Duluth airport and 19.5 inches at Cloquet. Elsewhere in the region, most locations in the Northland saw at least 8 inches of snow.

The Duluth airport saw 12.4 inches of snow on Christmas Day 2009 alone, setting a record for the date. Winds at the airport gusted in excess of 50 mph.

The record high for Christmas in Duluth is 44 degrees, set in 1881 and again in 1999. The record low is 34 below zero, set in 1879.

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