Hearing the phrase “mixed wintry precipitation event,” one might expect a swirling, magical scene straight out of the movie “Frozen.”
Instead, get ready for ice, snow flurries and freezing drizzle, a concoction that could lead to dangerous driving — and walking — conditions.
In the Twin Cities metro, the sloppy weather is expected to begin early Sunday and run into Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
“Confidence is growing on having a mixed wintry precipitation event Sunday through Tuesday,” the Weather Service reported Saturday. “Multiple rounds of light snow and freezing rain are expected, starting early Sunday and continuing through midday Tuesday.”
The best chance of accumulating snow will be over central Minnesota into northwestern Wisconsin, where 3 to 6 inches of snow will fall over the three-day Presidents’ Day weekend, forecasters said.
Southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin will get less — 2 to 4 inches of slushy snow — but a bigger problem could be ice, as Sunday’s high in the upper 30s gives way to Monday’s and Tuesday’s highs in the low 20s.
“If you have a warmer layer [of air] ... some of the ice crystals can melt on the way down and then refreeze on the surface,” said Eric Ahasic, a meteorologist at the Weather Service’s regional office.
Residents can expect “several hundredths of an inch to around a tenth of an inch of ice” before falling temperatures turn the wintry mix to mostly snow, the Weather Service said.
That doesn’t sound like much, but it is likely to make travel difficult and may even cause some power failures if lines glaze over and slump, or if ice-heavy branches weigh them down, forecasters warned.
Monday’s commutes could be messy, so it may be a blessing that some workers and students have Presidents’ Day off.
“The main hazard is just going to be travel, whether it’s driving or walking places,” Ahasic said.
Ice is expected to glaze roads and sidewalks that in many cases had reemerged in recent melting, a situation that could be made even more hazardous if subsequent snow conceals the ice.
By Wednesday, the weather will be clear and crisp, with sunny skies and a high around 20. Snow may reappear Friday, but no major storms are in the extended forecast.