Update: Blizzard warnings issued ahead of weekend winter storm

Heavy snow is expected in southeast Minnesota, but the storm track could change.
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4:30 P.M. UPDATE

Blizzard warnings have been issued across southern Minnesota ahead of a weekend storm that is expected to mix heavy snow and high winds.

Carver, Scott and Dakota counties in the southern Twin Cities metro are among the counties included in the warning, but it does not include Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Others include Sibley, Brown, Nicollet, Le Sueur, Lac Qui Parle, Meeker, Yellow Medicine, Watonwan, Blue Earth and Martin counties in western and southern Minnesota.

The warning is in effect starting Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon, and here's what the National Weather Service says you can expect:

"Within the Blizzard Warning, snow accumulations will range from 2 to 4 inches near the South Dakota border to 6 to 8 inches along Interstate 35. The snow is expected from late Saturday afternoon through the early morning hours Sunday, followed by strong winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts to near 50 mph for most of the day Sunday. This could lead to whiteout conditions, making travel very difficult or impossible in the open areas of western, central, and southern Minnesota."

Here's a look at the affected area,

Screen Shot 2019-02-22 at 4.12.39 PM

A winter storm warning meanwhile has been issued for Goodhue County in Minnesota and several counties in western Wisconsin, where snow accumulations of between 6-9 inches are expected, with some localized higher amounts.

Screen Shot 2019-02-22 at 4.31.05 PM

This in turn will be followed by 20-30 mph winds with 40 mph gusts on Sunday.

As for the Twin Cities area, anywhere from 2-6 inches of snow is currently forecast between Friday night and Sunday afternoon, with the higher amounts to the south/east sides of the metro.

Here's the American model's (GFS) simulated future radar from 6 p.m. Friday through 6 p.m. Sunday. It shows Rochester in the middle of a narrow band of very heavy snow as the main part of the storm moves through Saturday night into Sunday morning.

gfs_mslp_pcpn_frzn_ncus_fh6-54 (1)

Remember, the storm track could change between now and Saturday night, so pay attention to forecast changes as to where the heaviest snow is expected to fall.

Regardless, this weekend might be a good one to hunker down and wait out the storm if you live in southern Minnesota.

7 A.M. 

The first impacts of a powerful winter storm that'll affect Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin this weekend will be felt late Friday, before the strongest part of the storm arrives Saturday night through Sunday morning. 

A winter storm watch has been expanded from southeast Minnesota and now covers nearly the entire southern third of the state. 

Screen Shot 2019-02-22 at 7.01.57 AM

Here's the breakdown of what to expect within the watch, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). 

"The heaviest snow is expected to fall along and east of I-35 Saturday evening and Saturday night. Expect a narrow band 4 to 8 inches of snow from Albert Lea, through Red Wing Minnesota and Ladysmith Wisconsin. Northwest winds will increase Saturday night into Sunday, with gusts as high as 40 to 45 mph. This will lead to significant blowing and drifting snow, and reduced visibilities. The strongest winds will be in Minnesota, and blizzard conditions are possible.

Meanwhile areas to the west of I-35 will see less snow, but we still expect northwest wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph starting after midnight Saturday night and lasting into Sunday afternoon. There is a very deep snowpack across the region, and significant blowing and drifting snow is likely to develop. This could lead to whiteout conditions, making travel very difficult or impossible in the open areas of western, central, and southern Minnesota. A winter storm watch has been issued for possible blizzard conditions Saturday night into Sunday."

Minneapolis and St. Paul are not included in the watch, but Scott, Dakota and Carver counties are included. 

"It is possible that the Twin Cities metro could also see significant impacts from this storm, especially if the track shifts west, but at this time did not include those counties in the watch," the NWS says. 

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Friday night through Saturday morning

The first impact will come in the form of light snow. Totals of 2-3 inches are possible in western /northwest Minnesota with totals less to the south and east.

Temps will be warm enough Saturday morning for a wintry mix to lay down a coating of ice before the bulk of the storm arrives later. 

Screen Shot 2019-02-22 at 6.41.09 AM

Saturday afternoon through Sunday midday

This is when things ramp up with an intensifying storm system that'll bring a very intense band of snow through southeast Minnesota. Where that narrow band of accumulating snow tracks will determine who gets in on the biggest snow totals. 

"The winter storm for Saturday night and Sunday is going to be one of the strongest we've seen this winter," the NWS Twin Cities said in a tweet. "Winds should easily gust 40-45 mph. This could lead to blizzard conditions, especially in open areas. Confidence is increasing in significant travel impacts."

The NWS Twin Cities hasn't yet put out a snowfall totals map, but it does have a map showing the highest chances of picking up 6+ inches of snow. 

Screen Shot 2019-02-22 at 6.52.07 AM

The Twin Cities has a 38 percent chance while the higher chances of 60-75 percent are from Albert Lea to Rochester and Red Wing. Of course, these numbers could change dramatically with any slight shift in the storm's track. 

Here's the GFS (American) computer model simulation from 6 p.m. Friday through 6 p.m. Sunday. 

gfs_mslp_pcpn_frzn_ncus_fh18-66

Check back for updates. 

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