Historically high winds possible through Thursday morning in Cass and Crow Wing counties in Minnesota
National Weather Service warns of winds up to 60 mph
A strong mid-December storm was expected to bring historically high winds to the Brainerd lakes area, according to the National Weather Service in Duluth.
Both Crow Wing and Cass counties were under a high wind warning starting at midnight and extending into Thursday morning, Dec. 16, with wind gusts up to 60 mph possible.
The weather service said its office has never issued a high wind warning for such a widespread area, and for many counties this is the first high wind warning issued in more than 15 years.
The high wind warning was forecast for central Minnesota, the North Shore and northwest Wisconsin.
A wind advisory was issued for northeastern Minnesota with wind gusts up to 50 mph.
The weather service advised people to tie down or bring in loose objects and to be prepared for power outages.
In addition, Cass County was in a winter storm warning and Crow Wing County in a winter weather advisory through Thursday, Dec. 16. Thunderstorms were forecast to turn to snow with 1-3 inches possible in Brainerd.
The weather service warned of flash freeze - when temperatures rapidly cool before freezing, causing any water on roadways to quickly freeze.
Drivers were advised to slow down, not use cruise control and leave plenty of distance between other vehicles.
The powerful low pressure system was moving across the Midwest and Upper Great Lakes, bringing near record warmth, rain, snow and the very strong winds.
The weather service said people should be prepared for rainfall amounts of between 0.3 inches to 1.5 inches with strong to severe thunderstorms moving through the area Wednesday evening.
That rain was expected to change to snow with light to moderate accumulations mainly along and north of Highway 2 in Minnesota.
Snow and wind was expected to create near blizzard conditions Thursday morning across northeast Minnesota, including in Cass County.