The National Weather Service in Duluth reports that it has high confidence in a significant winter storm impacting the Northland late tonight into Wednesday - including the Brainerd lakes area - with heavy snowfall and strong winds likely.

Confidence in the forecast is highest across northwest Wisconsin where amounts could be as high as 10-18 inches along the south shore. The weather service reports less confidence for northeast Minnesota, where amounts could be a bit higher or lower than currently predicted. The weather services advises people to be prepared in case the storm track shifts west.

The snow is forecast to begin late tonight from south to north. Expect the worst conditions Wednesday morning, then ending from west to east into Wednesday afternoon/evening.

Steve Gohde, observing program leader with the National Weather Service in Duluth, said it looks like the storm track spread a little farther west, which may result in an uptick in snowfall totals for the Brainerd lakes area, or an inch or two more than predicted Monday.

A range of 4-9 inches is predicted, with 5 inches possible around Brainerd, Gohde said. Snow will taper farther north, with 3-4 inches forecast for Hackensack, and 1-5 inches in the Walker area.

Predicted snow totals to the east increased as well, through the Twin Cities into northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Gohde said.

"If anybody's traveling toward the east, we're advising people if they can get their things done tonight, as far as Thanksgiving shopping," Gohde said. "If you have holiday travel plans, maybe avoid driving late tonight or early Wednesday, and maybe postpone travel until Wednesday afternoon."

Winds can be a problem in open areas with blowing snow with strong northerly winds building. Expect wind gusts in the 20-30 mph range straight out of the north. That will certainly compound travel with visibility and driving conditions, Gohde said.

Thanksgiving Day weather should be calm before things get going again around midday Friday. Gohde said to expect a long weather event of snow, around 36 hours into late Sunday.

Gohde advised people to travel safely - take it easy, take it slow and plan ahead. Depart early or postpone travel until Wednesday afternoon.

More information can be found on the weather service’s latest report at https://www.weather.gov/media/dlh/sitreport/SitReport1.pdf