Winter storm warning includes Twin Cites, up to a foot of snow possible west of the metro

It could be the biggest snowfall of the winter for parts of the Twin Cities.
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Snow plow in Richfield

2:30 P.M. SATURDAY UPDATE

The arrival of rain has reduced the expected snow totals in the Twin Cities to around 6 inches, but the central and western parts of the state are still likely to get upwards of a foot of snow.

No travel advisories are already in place in western Minnesota with the snow reducing visibility on local roads.

7 A.M. SATURDAY UPDATE

There are 87 counties in Minnesota and only 20 of them AREN'T in a winter storm warning right now. That's how big this weekend's snowstorm is, and it's already impacting parts of southwest Minnesota as it makes its way east-northeast the rest of the day before exiting the area Sunday morning.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has maintained a fairly consistent snowfall forecast, but they've actually bumped up totals for the metro after dropping them a bit on Friday afternoon. Now they're forecasting 8+ inches for the majority of the metro and 6-8 inches for southern/southeast suburbs.

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Snow will reach the Twin Cities around midday and there could be some rain, sleet or freezing rain mixing with snow to start before it changes to all snow. If it takes longer to change over, snow totals could be less, but the NWS believes the lower snow totals will be along and south of a Mankato to Red Wing line.

Snow rates could be very heavy with 1-2 inches per hour this afternoon.

"Snowfall totals of 6 to 12 inches are likely in the warning area, with the highest amounts over west central Minnesota," the NWS Twin Cities says.

Bill Borghoff, a senior meteorologist with the NWS Twin Cities, gets more specific in this morning's forecast discussion: "Generally expecting 8 to 12 inches north of a line from New Ulm to the Twin Cities, New Richmond, and Rice Lake with amounts dropping off to the south of there."

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Strong winds out of the northwest will develop Saturday night and last through Sunday morning. Gusts up to 40 mph are expected in southern and western Minnesota which will make travel difficult.

The NWS notes that this will be a heavy, wet snow that will add stress to roofs and possibly cause health concerns for anyone shoveling. Make sure to take frequent breaks if shoveling during or after the storm. 

5 P.M. UPDATE

The National Weather Service has released an updated snowfall forecast map for this weekend's winter storm, and it shows a big reduction in snow totals for the southern part of the metro and pretty much all of southeast Minnesota. 

Here's the latest. 

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7 A.M.

A major winter storm will impact Minnesota this weekend and snow will be very heavy, with widespread totals of 8-12 inches expected. 

In anticipation of the heavy snow and strong winds, the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning that begins Saturday morning in southwest Minnesota, at noon in the Twin Cities, and lasts through midday Sunday. 

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Here's a more specific snowfall map from the National Weather Service, which shows 10 inches in the Twin Cities and slightly more to the west. 

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"Snow rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour are expected through early evening before easing Saturday night," the winter storm warning text reads. "Some rain, sleet, or freezing rain will mix with the snow at times across southern Minnesota Saturday.

'The snow is expected to end by early morning Sunday. Snowfall totals of 7 to 12 inches are expected across most of the area, except 4 to 7 inches across southern Minnesota where a mix is possible."

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Northwest winds gusting 40-45 mph will be possible Saturday night and Sunday morning in southern and western Minnesota. Whiteout conditions are expected along with drifting snow. 

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There's also plenty of talk from meteorologists about the possibility of thundersnow on Saturday afternoon during the most intense part of the storm. 

Once we dig out from this storm the weather service will be watching another possible strong storm system for the Tuesday-Wednesday timeframe next week. It's still too early to project if the storm will bring all rain, a wintry mix or all snow, but it will definitely be worth paying attention to. 

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