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Heavy snow, thunder and lightning could accompany incoming Minnesota storm

The could be a narrow band of heavy snow accumulations, but the storm track will be key.

A complex storm system will bring numerous forms of precipitation to the Upper Midwest Friday through Sunday, with Minnesota and Wisconsin expected to be on the receiving end of a wintry mix of rain, freezing rain and snow, while Iowa up to the Minnesota border could have severe thunderstorms. 

According to Bring Me The News meteorologist Sven Sundgaard, the Twin Cities and areas to the south and east could wind up with mostly rain or mixed precipitation, with heavy snow possible at the tail end of the system. 

"We're looking at rain, some snow on the backside, but from the Twin Cities south and east, it is looking like this is going to be a rain, mix with a very narrow area potentially of heavy snow from basically Nebraska through South Dakota and then into west central and northern Minnesota," says Sven. 

"So those are the areas right now, basically Alexandria through Brainerd, the Iron Range cities, that could be setting up ... for a very heavy swath of snow."

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How much snow in Minnesota?

This remains a big "if" since temperatures will be pretty warm, but the NWS says the best chance for accumulating snow remains in western and northern Minnesota. Here's what some of the latest models are suggesting for snowfall. 

American model: Narrow band of heavy accumulation from west-central Minnesota into the Arrowhead

This is the most aggressive model at this point, with Sven saying that if it verifies its prediction of 1-2 inches of liquid being dumped along a narrow swath in Minnesota – and if that precipitation falls in the form of snow – "we're talking easily a foot, a very wet, heavy typical March snow possibly across northern or western Minnesota." 

Mar 2 snow GFS

European model: Light snow accumulations under 4 inches in a narrow stripe across central/northern Minnesota

ecmwf-deterministic-minnesota-total_snow_10to1-6697600

Canadian model: Heaviest snow in east-central and northeast Minnesota

Mar 2 snow Canadian

What the National Weather Service says

"Confidence with the details of this weekend's storm system is increasing," the National Weather Service (NWS) in the Twin Cities said Wednesday. "A period of a wintry mix Friday night should transition to mostly rain Saturday before turning back to a wintry mix Saturday night. Light ice accumulation is possible, with the best chance for any snow accumulation across western Minnesota."

Meanwhile, the NWS Twin Cities says "a few strong or severe storms are possible along the Iowa border Saturday afternoon."

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If the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota gets mostly rain out of this system, it will be falling on a still-frozen ground. That could lead to a lot of runoff into waterways, which could result in ice jams and rapidly rising rivers and streams, according to the NWS in La Crosse.

"The amount of rain is still uncertain. This will impact how high rivers and streams will rise this weekend and whether there could be any ice jams. Continue to monitor the forecast for the end of the week," the NWS La Crosse said Wednesday.

The NWS Duluth says Minnesotans that get the wintry side of the storm system should be prepared for "heavy snow and significant icing." 

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