South-central Minnesota appears to be under the gun with a winter storm readying to deliver a solid late-April punch during the first half of the day Saturday.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning the following counties: Le Sueur, Rice, Blue Earth, Waseca, Steele, Martin, Faribault, Brown, Nicollet, Watonwan, Dodge, Olmsted, Mower, Fillmore, Houston and Freeborn, including the cities of Le Sueur, Faribault, Mankato, Waseca, Owatonna, Fairmont, Blue Earth, New Ulm, St. Peter, St. James, Albert Lea, Rochester, Austin, Preston and more.
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Areas in the warning can expect rain to arrive overnight, rapidly changing over to snow around daybreak with snowfall rates of 1-2 inches per hour. Thunderstorms are also possible within the heaviest bands of snow.
"The heaviest snowfall is expected near and south of a line from Fairmont through Mankato to Lake City," the NWS says.
It's in those areas that 4-8 inches with a maximum of 9 inches of snow are possible.
A winter weather advisory has been issued for areas outside the warning area. The following counties are forecast to receive 2-4 inches of snow: Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Cottonwood, Nobles, Jackson, Pipestone, Rock, Lac Qui Parle, Yellow Medicine, Renville, McLeod, Sibley, Carver, Scott, Dakota, Redwood and Goodhue counties.
The snow is expected to wind down in the early afternoon, with travel conditions improving significantly once the heavy snow wraps up.
Winds will be gusting up to 30 mph in open areas, which could lead to blowing and drifting, although that should be somewhat limited by how heavy and wet the snow will be.