Wednesday looks to be a difficult day for travel in western Minnesota as strong winds and light snow will lead to blowing and drifting to the point that blizzard warnings are already being issued by the National Weather Service (NWS).
The following counties are in a blizzard warning for most of the day Wednesday: Brown, Chippewa, Lac Qui Parle, Redwood, Renville, Stevens, Swift, Watonwan and Yellow Medicine.
Very little snow is expected to fall with a passing front, but the winds will be fierce and it'll whip the snow around and cause blowing and drifting problems that result in possible whiteout conditions and dangerous travel.
The blizzard warning begins at 6 a.m. in Stevens County and 9 a.m. in the other counties, with the warning lasting in all counties until 6 p.m. Wednesday. Around the blizzard warning there is a winter storm watch, where blizzard conditions are possible in west-central, southwest and south-central Minnesota. Details from the NWS:
"Confidence has increased that portions of west central and southwest Minnesota, mainly west of a Morris to Redwood Falls to St. James line, will have blizzard conditions developing behind a strong Arctic front on Wednesday. The combination of strong gusty winds and whiteout conditions will lead to blizzard conditions for several hours. Confidence is lower on wind speeds farther to the east and thus a Winter Storm Watch has been issued."
"In addition to the blizzard conditions, temperatures will drop off sharply behind the Arctic front. Wind chill values will drop below -30 by the afternoon in west central Minnesota, with wind chills likely dropping below -35 by the evening. Outside the warning and watch area, significant blowing and drifting snow is likely, with locally one to two inches of snow by the afternoon.
"Other areas of Minnesota will have similar temperature dropping behind the Arctic front, with wind chill values likely in the -10 to -20 range by the late afternoon in central, and southern Minnesota."
The weather service warns that falling and blowing snow will make travel "extremely dangerous."
"Do not travel. If you must travel...have a winter survival kit with you. If you get stranded...stay with your vehicle," the NWS says.
Similar conditions will exist in northwestern Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas, where a winter storm watch is also in place.