Winter storm watch issued in advance of weekend snow

One way or another, this storm is going to hit hard in southern Minnesota.
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This weekend's snowstorm is still more than 48 hours away from making a major impact on Minnesota, but it's on a path that could bring blizzard conditions to southern parts of the state. 

A winter storm watch has been issued for parts of northern Iowa, southeast Minnesota, and western Wisconsin.

The watch is just east and south of the Twin Cities metro area and includes the cities of Faribault, Red Wing, Rochester, Waseca, Owatonna, Blue Earth and Albert Lea. 

"A potent winter storm will arrive from the Plains Saturday and move into the Great Lakes on Sunday. Significant accumulating snow along with strong winds can be expected over much of southeastern Minnesota into western Wisconsin Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon. A Winter Storm Watch has been issued for areas along and east of a line from Rice Lake to New Richmond Wisconsin, continuing to Faribault to Delavan Minnesota. Snow accumulations of 6 to 9 inches can be expected along with wind gusts up to 45 mph. Areas of blowing snow along with the accumulating snow may lead to hazardous driving conditions."

Here's more from the La Crosse office of the National Weather Service on what computer models are currently projecting for Saturday night into Sunday morning. 

"Currently have 4 to 9 inches of snow in the forecast. However, there are signals that there could be higher totals. The main question is where exactly this band will be located. With the highest probabilities west of Mississippi River and north of Interstate 90, opted to issue a Winter Storm Watch starting at 6 PM Saturday night."

The narrow band of very intense snow along with winds gusting up to 45 mph will cause blizzard/whiteout conditions. 

Even in areas where less snow falls, strong winds will cause significant blowing and drifting. In fact, there could be parts of the state where no snow falls, but the fluffy snow from Wednesday's storm will be blown around with ease. 

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Light snow will be possible, mainly in western and central Minnesota on Friday afternoon/night before the main event rolls in to southern Minnesota on Saturday night. 

Here's a look at the simulated future radar from the GFS computer model. You'll see a wave of snow move through Friday night and then the much darker blue represents the narrow band of intense snow Saturday night into Sunday morning. 

gfs_mslp_pcpn_frzn_ncus_fh24-72

The storm track will likely change some between now and when it hits, so stay tuned for forecast updates.

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