An impressive winter storm capable of dumping a significant amount of snow is taking aim at Minnesota next week.
The timing and specific track the storm system will take is still uncertain, but the National Weather Service (NWS) says it's becoming more likely that the powerful storm will hit Wednesday night through Friday.
"Confidence continues to increase a winter storm will impact much of the central U.S. in the days following Christmas. The best chance for heavy snow accumulations will be across the central and northern Plains to the Upper Midwest. A mix of rain and snow will be found near the low track, with rain and some thunderstorms to the south. It is important to keep up on the latest forecast if you plan to travel during this time."
The map below is not definite, but it's the latest thinking from the NWS, which would bring very heavy snow to much of Minnesota.
The forecast track will likely become more concrete once the storm system reaches the United States on Monday or Monday night. It's currently out over the Pacific Ocean, and once it reaches the Lower 48 the computer models will get a better handle on where it's headed.
The Twin Cities could get hammered with heavy snow, but there's also a chance that rain, a rain/snow mix, or a period of freezing rain falls before changing over to snow. If that happens, snow totals could be less.
"So, there is some concern for rain mixing with the snow especially across southern MN into west central WI," says the forecast discussion Saturday morning from the Twin Cities office of the NWS. "The breadth of the precip shield and the slow system motion means this could be a 36 hour event capable of major snow accumulation."
And nobody should rule out the possibility of this storm system taking a southerly route and missing Minnesota altogether. As forecast with the Duluth office of the NWS say, "that's been the preferred choice this winter so far."
Here's a look at the GFS model forecasters review. It's one of a handful of major models that help them predict where storms are going, and the latest run from this model shows a mostly snow event for the Twin Cities that begins Thursday morning and lasts through Friday evening.
The Canadian model, however, has the system on a more southerly route, which would bring the heavy snow to Iowa and southern Wisconsin.
Regardless, this is going to be a strong storm capable of producing a lot of snow. Where it hits will experience hazardous travel conditions with snow and blowing snow, and potentially ice from freezing rain.
We'll keep the forecast updated day-by-day, and FYI, so will the NWS despite the government shutdown.