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Heavy snow in Wisconsin: Storm may skirt Duluth, Arrowhead

Parts of northern Wisconsin could see nearly a foot of snow through today thanks to a powerful winter-like storm that's expected to mostly miss the Twin Ports and Minnesota Arrowhead.

Parts of northern Wisconsin could see nearly a foot of snow through today thanks to a powerful winter-like storm that's expected to mostly miss the Twin Ports and Minnesota Arrowhead.

A line of heavy snow is expected to fall from south-central Minnesota through parts of the Twin Cities and on to the Hayward and Ashland areas. Less snow, if any, is expected from Hinckley through the Twin Ports up the North Shore.

National Weather Service forecasters said late Wednesday the area of heaviest snowfall appeared to be shifting farther east than earlier expected.

"Most of the snowfall should be in Wisconsin," said Carol Christenson, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Duluth. "This is going to be a prolonged event and there's a chance this could move west into Minnesota Thursday (today) and even into the weekend. So heads up for everyone."

A winter storm warning is posted for Burnett, Douglas, Sawyer, Bayfield, Ashland and Iron counties. But a winter weather advisory posted earlier for Carlton, southern St. Louis, Lake, Cook and Pine counties was canceled late Wednesday.

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While any snow will be an annoying inconvenience, the water it brings could be a real problem. Up to 2 inches of rain equivalent could fall in parts of northern Wisconsin by Saturday, Christenson said.

That's on top of an extreme amount of snowmelt in recent days that has already filled many Northland streams to the brim, with some rivers already spilling over on to roads.

"Flooding is definitely a concern," Christenson said.

Before the rain and snow the St. Louis River at Scanlon already was reaching the level where it causes problems for a couple of businesses along the river, the National Weather Service reported. A flood warning has been issued as the river could reach 10.5 feet or higher, which is the flood stage for low-lying areas. No major flooding is expected.

The weather service has issued a small stream flood advisory through today for rivers in Carlton, Douglas, Ashland, Bayfield and Iron counties. The Nemadji, Polar, Iron, Montreal and Bad rivers are susceptible to flooding for another few days.

Farther east, near Ironwood and Hurley, authorities were warning some areas to be ready to evacuate with several roads closed as rivers spilled over their banks. Sandbagging was occurring along the Montreal River, and the Poplar Street Bridge is closed over the river. Authorities also were worried that Sunday Lake may spill over and flood Wakefield, Mich.

In Aitkin, the Mississippi River reached flood stage at 12 feet Tuesday. The river is expected to rise to above 13.1 feet by Friday, at which point minor flooding occurs, including over some roadways.

Several roads in St. Louis and Douglas counties have been posted as closed because of water over the roadway. The weather service reminds people never to drive into standing water on roadways and to report flooded areas to law enforcement.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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