The Brainerd lakes area is in a winter storm warning today, Wednesday, Dec 23, with snow and dangerous cold in the forecast.

Snow totals are predicted at 4-6 inches for Crow Wing and Cass counties, with 6-8 inches possible in the southeastern part of Crow Wing County.

The National Weather Service in Duluth said a low pressure system will bring a wintry mix of snow, freezing rain and sleet to the area Wednesday morning that will transition to snow during the morning. Snow will be heavy at times during the late morning and afternoon.

Strong northwest winds with gusts of 35-45 mph will lead to blowing and drifting snow. Snow will taper off Wednesday night. Blowing snow may reduce visibility to a half mile or less at times. If traveling, be prepared for sudden changes in visibility, the NWS said.

Dangerous wind chills of 30 below zero will follow Wednesday night as colder air arrives and gusty winds continue, the NWS said, noting at these values it can take just 30 minutes or less for frostbite to develop on exposed skin.

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A glaze of ice causing slick roadways is possible Wednesday morning.

The NWS offers the following winter safety tips.

Driving safety tips:

  • Clear snow and ice from windows and lights.
  • Brake early. Leave twice the amount of room for stopping.
  • Don't use cruise control in wintry conditions.
  • Don't cut in front of other vehicles.
  • Take it slow and delay travel if feasible.

Safety tips:

  • Have an emergency kit in case the power goes out.
  • Avoid driving. If you must drive, drive slowly and give extra space to the cars in front of you.
  • Watch out for downed branches/trees and stay away from downed power lines.

Wind chill safety tips:

  • Minimize exposure: Avoid exposure during the coldest wind chills.
  • Stay dry: Wet clothing causes body heat to be lost faster. Wear waterproof insulated boots.
  • Stay covered: Wear a hat and gloves. At least half your body heat is lost if your head is not covered.
  • Dress in layers: Trapped air between layers helps to insulate.

Wind chill is how the wind and cold feel on exposed skin. Wind and cold combined carry heat away from the body which can cause frostbite and/or hypothermia.

Timing/location details:

  • Start: Snow will spread across the area Wednesday morning and early afternoon, beginning as a brief period of a wintry mix.
  • Worst conditions: Heaviest snow Wednesday afternoon with blowing snow and reduced visibility Wednesday afternoon into early Thursday morning.
  • End: Snow tapers off for most Wednesday night with lake-effect continuing Thursday and Thursday night in northwest Wisconsin.

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