Major fall storm heading our way

National Weather Service graphic

Hold on to your hats – literally. An intense fall storm is heading our way, bringing rain, high winds and possibly the first accumulating snow of the season.

The National Weather Service reports that a low pressure system is forecast to move up into the western Great Lakes and rapidly strengthen tonight and Tuesday. Rain should start moving into the Northland tonight, accompanied by strong winds that may gust in excess of 40 mph on Tuesday and Wednesday. A few thunderstorms are possible on Tuesday.

Winds will gust out of the south and east as the storm moves in, and then turn to the north and west as it passes. As that happens, some of the rain may turn over to snow. The National Weather Service said Sunday there is the potential for some accumulation, especially toward the Canadian border. However, the ground remains quite warm.

On Lake Superior, waves may reach 28 feet out in the open waters. A host of gale and storm watches are in effect.

NWS meteorologist Kevin Kraujalis told the News Tribune on Sunday that the storm “looks like it will be one of the top big storms of the season. It’s definitely one to watch.” And the Weather Service had this to say in its forecast discussion on Sunday afternoon: “While not quite as intense as the November 11, 1998 storm and the Armistice Day Storm … HPC (the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center) does note similarities in strength to those storms.” Important to emphasize, though, that no one is calling for a mammoth snowstorm like the Armistice Day Storm.

You may remember the 1998 storm, which brought heavy snow, high winds and record-setting low pressure to the Midwest. More details here and here. Winds gusted in excess of 80 mph in southern Wisconsin; I remember that day well, because I was nearly blown over while walking to class at UW-Madison.

And you can find information about the famous (or infamous) Armistice Day storm of 1940 here, here, here and here.

So, to sum up, a major fall storm is forecast to move in tonight and stick around through Wednesday, bringing rain and high winds, and eventually, possibly, some snow for parts of the Northland. Check back here for updates as the forecast becomes more clear.

And, if you get any photos of big waves on Lake Superior or snowfall later in the week, and are willing to share them, send your shots at akrueger@duluthnews.com. I’ll post them on this blog.

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