More than a foot of snow could fall Thursday in the Twin Ports as a late-season winter storm moves across the region later this week.
Wet, heavy snow is expected to begin early Thursday morning and taper off Thursday night into Friday morning. The heaviest snowfall rate is expected to begin around noon in Duluth and begin tapering off around 6 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for most of Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin, with the exception of Koochiching County.
Winds could gust to 50 mph or more, creating waves as high as 10-15 feet, which could lead to flooding along the lakeshore. A gale watch has been issued on Lake Superior.
The snow is expected to affect commutes on Thursday afternoon and evening with the possibility of Friday morning, the Weather Service cautioned. Travel could become difficult Thursday as high winds make for snow-covered roadways and low visibilities.
Though estimates could change as the storm draws nearer, the Weather Service on Tuesday forecasted 12 or more inches of snow for the Interstate 35 corridor from Duluth to south of Hinkely, the Minnesota Highway 210 corridor from Duluth to Brainerd, the North Shore up to Cook County as well as Douglas and Bayfield counties in Wisconsin.
There may be some lake effect enhancement along the North Shore due to an east wind causing higher totals, Jonathan Wolfe, lead forecaster in Duluth, said Tuesday night.
When asked Tuesday night how confident the Weather Service is on the projected totals, Wolfe said they have moderate confidence.
“Somebody is going to get their bell rung with this storm, it’s just a matter of trying to find out who,” Wolfe said.
Forecast totals drop north and west of that line with 8-12 inches expected on the Iron Range, in Ely and Grand Marais. International Falls is expected to see 4-6 inches with the possibility of rain in the mix.
“This is an April storm so there is a lot of moisture wrapped up in it,” Wolfe said. “That said, the snowfall totals definitely maybe on the high side because the heavy wet snow tends to compact a little bit more, so that may dampen the snowfall totals a little bit.”
The coming storm is part of what meteorologists call a “bomb cyclone,” which refers to a storm that’s expected to intensify rapidly over a short period of time. The system has spurred watches and warnings from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula all the way back to parts of Colorado and Kansas.
Weekend highs are forecasted in the low to mid-40s, according to the Weather Service.
News Tribune reporter Adelie Bergstrom contributed to this report.