Snow totals over a foot are possible in parts of North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota as the season's first winter storm barrels through the region over the next 72 hours, with the worst impacts from the snow and wind expected Thursday through Friday morning.
According to the National Weather Service, there is a chance for 12+ inches of snow in localized areas of eastern North Dakota into the Red River Valley and northwest Minnesota. Travel conditions are expected to be brutal, perhaps impossible where heavy snow and high winds combine.
The NWS Winter Storm Severity Index, which is general outline of where the worst impacts are expected, shows extreme potential just west of Grand Forks, and major and moderate impacts elsewhere.
As snow hammers locations on the northwest side of the spinning storm system, heavy rain will continue to soak the warm side. That means significant rain totals and little to no snow for places like Brainerd, St. Cloud, Duluth and the Twin Cities.
The NWS is calling the rainfall forecast for the Twin Cities a "tough" one because the axis of heavy rain, where 1-2 additional inches is likely, is poised to line up just north of the metro.
Here's the HRRR model's precipitation forecast from one of its latest updates. You can see the reds and oranges (the highest totals) in the map below are right on the edge of the Twin Cities. Any minor shift north will keep the metro more dry, while a shift south would bring the metro a bigger soaking.
The NAM 3KM model is further north with the heavy rain. Note: This graphic does not include snow totals, just overall precipitation (water).
The heaviest rain will fall Wednesday evening before things dry out Thursday morning. Redeveloping storms Thursday afternoon could be strong to severe, though those more powerful storms could be in Wisconsin as the cold front is forecast to move through Minnesota in the morning.
Here's the HRRR model's radar simulation from 10 a.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Friday.
Once the front moves through, temps and dew points will plummet. Wind chills in western Minnesota Friday and Saturday mornings will be in the single digits, with daytime highs Friday into next week struggling to get out of the 20s and low 30s.
The GIF below does a terrific job of showing how the Twin Cities will go from "feels like" temps in the 60s Thursday morning to wind chills in the teens by midnight.