The Brainerd lakes area may be outside the heavy snow expected with a strong winter storm but likely won't miss the return of bitterly cold wind.

"A strong winter storm is still on track to affect the eastern portions of the Northland Saturday (Feb. 24) evening into Sunday, which will bring heavy accumulating snow to portions of northwest Wisconsin and the Minnesota Arrowhead," National Weather Service in Duluth reported. "Expect difficult travel conditions, particularly for Sunday morning travel. Snow totals will diminish west of these areas from a few inches over eastern Minnesota to lighter amounts in the Brainerd lakes and Walker areas.

"Strong northwest winds will develop during the day Sunday, which could lead to blowing and drifting snow, which could result in reduced visibilities, particularly over northwest Wisconsin. Additionally, some bitterly cold wind chills will return Sunday night and Monday morning, with wind chills falling into the -25 to -35 degree range."

The heavy snow, with most of it expected Saturday night into Sunday morning, is expected to go to Wisconsin, where more than a foot of snow may arrive with the weekend storm along with blowing and drifting and reduced visibility Sunday.

Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Wadena, Todd and Aitkin counties may not receive more than an inch or up to 2 inches.

But the region is expected to get strong wind gusts up to 40 mph or higher Sunday into Monday. Wind chill values are expected to become as cold as 34 degrees below.

In the lakes area, the forecast notes snow and freezing drizzle is likely-mainly before 10 a.m. The high may top out at 31 degrees. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. Saturday night, there is a 40 percent chance of snow from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Sunday with a blustery northwest wind. Sunday may bring patchy, blowing snow and a much colder day with a high of 16 degrees and gusts as high as 35 mph.

Anticipate a cold Monday with a high near 5 degrees and a week ahead with continuing chance for snow and colder than normal temperatures with highs in the upper teens. The normal high this time of year is 29 degrees.